• Published 23rd Dec 2012
  • 1,622 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 Five

“Keep watch on that area Gibbs, I don’t want any surprises.” Sergeant Venture waved a hoof over to the broken shop. The armoured stallion to his right nodded, then meandered over to the position while his rifle hung limply at his side. Iron shook his head before looking up into the flaming sky.

The sky wasn’t actually flaming, but the flickering lights of the factory flames made the rolling smoke look like it was ablaze. Couple that with an awe inspiring sunset, the sky truly looked as if it were ablaze.

Dublin was burning. Pure and simple. Iron shook his head again, this time to dislodge the layer of ash that had settled on his NBC suit’s hood. His heavy gasmask did its job in keeping the ash and smoke out, but it didn’t stay the smell.

He wished that he could go home, or work as a volunteer handing out masks to civilians or something. Instead, he was placed in charge of a brand new squad and was given the task of dissuading violence and looting. This meant he was often up for hours on end, trotting around a city coated in ash, looking for ponies who were try to take advantage of the situation. Some ponies had taken a disliking to the army presence in the city, but to be honest they were the only ones who were set up to deal with something like this.

“Sir!” Sergeant Venture looked up and over at the voice. One of the privates was standing at the mouth of a shop; its front window had been kicked in. He trotted over, and heard the voices emanating from the store. He didn’t care if ponies were taking food to survive, but the fact this was a jewelry store had him on edge.

“I’ll take point, Krak, you go around back with Stomper and make sure they don’t run for it.” The massive stallion that he had spoken to smirked dangerously before nodding. Krak grabbed the other stallion, then cantered around back. Iron looked over at the remaining soldiers and pointed at two of them. “You two on overwatch, I don’t want anything happening under our noses. The rest of you on my six.”

Three heavily armed and armoured stallions trotted through the broken store window and into the fairly large store. The voices were louder now, despite the rubber mask and thick hood that covered their ears. Iron pointed to the edges of a door; his squad mates quickly picked up on the order and fell into place. Riot stole up to the door, pressing his hooded ear against it.

“Is that all of it?”

“I think so...”

“Well check!” There was a sound of an impact.

“Fine, dick.”

Another set of hooves came into the room, drawing closer to one of the voices. “We’re almost done in the back, once we’ve got these crates filled we’ll move them to the truck.”

“Good, I don’t want any cops showing up, or Celestia forbid, the REA.”

There was a low chuckle. “Yeah, those assholes have really mucked up any attempts we’ve made.” It was hard to distinguish which of the voices was the leader, but Iron had heard enough. He pulled back from the door, then made the signal for a Bang and Clear maneuver.

The soldiers nodded, then one of them pulled out the flash grenade. Iron pulled back, then bucked the door down just as the pin on the grenade was pulled.

“WA’ THA BLEEDIN ‘ELL?!”
BANG

The grenade went off, blinding and deafening all of the crooks inside the building. Iron charged in; his rifle at the ready. A quiet crack sounded off in the room, and a bit of the wall next to the charging soldier exploded into dust and debris. Irons eyes locked onto the mare with the heavy pistol, which was still smoking from the discharge.

The crook fired, the shots going far wide. A combination of panic, and disorientation from the flashbang sending the bullets flying far off target. Iron had barely moved his head to the side when the round wizzed past. He fired once with his rifle, bringing the pistol bearer to her knees. The mare screamed in pain, dropping the pistol to the ground.

“REA, GET ON THE GROUND!” Iron roared from beneath his heavy rubber shawl.

There was no resistance from the shot burglar, who instantly threw her working hoof over her head, before curling up on the ground, groaning in pain. The rest of the crooks in the room did the same, holding their hooves out as they laid down on the floor.

Iron stepped forward, a bundle of heavy duty zap-straps floating out from one of his pockets. He walked up to the first buck, then strapped his hooves together where he stood. “Corporal, take half of these and do up the rest of them, Private, clear out the back rooms.” The soldiers nodded, then set off.

The first crook spoke, her hooves still over her head. “O-oh goddess.....J-just kill me....” She rolled over, squinting her eyes shut as she held her hooves over her ears, rubbing them to get the ringing to stop.

Riot steadied his rifle at the mare. “Get on your stomach and keep your hooves were I can see them!” The mare complied, groaning as she rolled over onto her belly, her hooves going out flat. Iron let out a quiet breath, his rifle lowering slightly. He finished tying up the first stallion, then moved towards one with a fat clipboard covering one of his hooves.

The sergeant went to kick it away, just as the buck sprang up, tackling him off his hooves.
A small blade flashed in the light of the setting sun, and tried to insert itself deep between Irons ribs. Iron rolled his shoulders and sucked in his gut, giving himself a bit of breathing room. The stallion slashed at him again, opening up a cut in his ash covered webbing. The stallion kicked Iron, sending his head into the concrete floor. The knife raised up just as Irons horn flashed.

BRAK

The knife wielding stallion jerked heavily, falling off the young sergeant. The burglars body bounced off the floor, a new smoking hole sported in his chest. The sergeant stood up just as the back door was booted down by the flanking soldiers.

“Sergeant, are you alright?” Krak asked, quickly sweeping his weapon through the room.

“I’m fine, just a scratch.” He looked over at the flabergasted mare who was still holding her rifle up. “You! Why didn’t you shoot that asshole?”

She lowered her weapon, stammering heavily. “S-sir! I-I cou-couldn’t get a clean shot off!”

He shook his head slowly, looking down at the dead stallion. “Well, at least it’s over now.”

A massive armoured stallion clapped the sergeant on the shoulder. “Glorious fighting comrade, you were a true riot in the field!” Kratonis Ironhide laughed loudly as he helped Iron to his hooves.

Another soldier joined Kraks short laugh before speaking. “Hey, riot...Maybe we should call the sarge that?” The blue mare rubbed her chin before smiling. “Yeah, I like it! Riot!”

Iron rolled his eyes. “Come on guys, what kind of name is Riot anyways?”
________________________________________________________________
Smoke. Smoke filled his nostrils, invaded his being. His eyes fluttered, then shot open completely.Shooting up in bed, or couch rather; He shed his blankets and quickly galloped into the kitchen. Or rather, he would have, if there had been a door where it was supposed to be. Riot shook his head, swiftly remembering that he wasn’t in his home anymore.

“Is everypony alright?!” He asked, looking around as he entered the kitchen. “Where’s the fire?”

“Uhh.....Fire?” The tiny white unicorn standing by the stove asked, two burning eggs in the pan, with a lot of charred breakfast foods strewn across the room.

Riot exhaled heavily, wiping his brow. “Thank Celestia...” He shook his head, dispersing the bit of sweat that had accumulated there. He looked up, then cringed as he realized the eggs horrible fate. “Looks like....You could use some help.”

Sweetie looked down at the eggs she had been vigorously scraping at with a spatula, but had found them to be unyielding foes. “Ummm, just maybe.” The filly stared up at him with pleading eyes.

Riot chuckled lightly before scraping the eggs off into the garbage. “Alright, grab me six eggs.” He pointed at the carton sitting next to the stove. “Now, lets see if your sister has any pan degreaser.”

“Mmhmm!” Sweetie said, saluting. “But....Th-they’re nonstick pans.....We don’t have degreaser.”

He looked up, then over to the filly. “But...How?” He looked over at the charred eggs that had taken a fair portion of his strength to scrape off. “H-How!?” The little filly shrugged, taking some milk out of the fridge.

The buck blinked, before shaking his head and turning back to the stove. “I’ll handle it from here little one, but if you could pour up four glasses of milk, that would be awesome.” He cracked open six eggs into the pan, then immediately chopped up the yolks and stirred.

She saluted again, reopening the fridge, and pulling out a larger carton of milk, She planted her hooves, and her horn glowed brighter, pulling the heavy object through the air. It slowly travelled across the room, sweat appearing on the filly’s forehead.

Riot cringed as he remembered her previous ability in unaided magic and the ensuing fire. He looked over his shoulder and spoke. “Focus Sweetie, just like we practised.” Sweetie took a breath, pulling it the least foot or so, depositing it on the table, safely. She squealed in quiet happiness, as to not wake up the rest of the house. Riot smiled broadly. “Nicely done Sweetie.”

He turned back to the eggs, breaking them up again with the spatula to scramble them. He sighed heavily, letting his horn stir and chop for him. He cracked open the small cupboard above his head, finding Rarity’s spice rack. “Nice, I could use a few of these.” A variety of spices floated out, just as another thought hit him. “I should add cheese...”

“Right away, Mr. Riot!” Sweetie said, opening the fridge, and pulling some old cheddar out, floating it to Riot with much less difficulty due to the decreased weight compared to the milk.

He smiled, ruffling the fillies mane. “Thanks, could you shred it for me? It’ll be good practice for your magic.” He grasped the shredder with his own magic, holding it out to her.

The little filly nodded, and focused, instead of trying to get strength, she needed precision. She held the cheddar block still in her magic, and tried to lift the cheese grater as well, but couldn’t take the strain from lifting both.

“I-I can’t do both...I-I c-can’t focus.” She said, still being able to pick up one object fine, but the it always fell to the counter whenever she tried to pick up the other object.

He turned away from the eggs for a moment, lowering himself to her height. “Alright, imagine a field of your magic, lifting them both as if they were one object. Don’t treat them like two things, treat them like one.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling, before she opened them, her tiny orbs burning with intensity as she focused on the objects. In her minds eye, she created almost a ball of magic, and moved the ball, with the objects caught in it.

“Alright, now, that single object needs to grate up and down, try and imagine it.” He leaned against the counter, proud of her already great progress.

The filly tried to move the grater against the cheese, slowly pushing it up and down against the white block. The cheese wobbled, the field around it wavering, and then fell to the counter. Sweetie groaned, and smacked the floor with a hoof.

“I’m so useless! I can’t even do a little bit of tele...teleki.....telekilnisis.” She said, sinking to the floor.

“Hey, theres no need for that.” Riot sat down next to her, placing a hoof over her tiny shoulder. “You were doing awesome, you just need some more practice. Why don’t you try holding the grater down and moving the block with your magic?”

She sighed sadly. “No....I’ll just mess it up. I can’t do anything right, ever.” The tiny mare put her hooves over her head, burying her face in the meticulously clean floor.

Riot frowned slightly, picking up the fillies chin with the edge of his hoof. “Listen up soldier, we need that cheese grated, stat. Ponies are counting on us, and I’ll be damned if my second in command thinks she’s useless.” He stood up, offering his hoof to the filly. “Let’s get it done soldier.”

Sweetie took his hoof, a hardened expression on her face as she planted all four hooves on the ground, sinking into the ‘power stance’ that Riot had showed her a few days ago. Both objects rose again, the cheese moving slowly against the grater; shredded cheese falling into the plate below the grater. Her eyes shone with happiness, continuing to grate.

He smiled broadly, clapping his hooves quietly in approval. “Way to go Sweetie.” He turned back to the eggs; shaking the spices into them as he stirred. Soon he started sprinkling cheese down onto it. After a short bit, the cheese had melted and Riot turned off the oven. “Welp, breakfast is ready.” He saluted the little filly. “Job well done private Sweetie!”

She giggled, and instead of saluting back, she latched around his foreleg with her hooves, hugging him with a death grip. “You’re the best Mr. Riot!”

He wrapped his free hoof around her, giving her a slight squeeze. “Couldn’t have done it without you kiddo.” He levitated out four plates and divied out proper proportions. “Now, you go wake up the others, I’ll set everything up.” She trotted off happily, her tiny hooves clopping up the stairs as she hummed in delight. Riot smiled as he filled four glasses full of milk, his thoughts were anchored completely in this moment. He didn’t want to think about the fact he was making breakfast in a friends home, with the feeling like he was doing it for...family.

Riots smile faded slightly as he finished setting up the table. The sounds of small clattering hooves, accompanied by a set of larger ones forced him to at least not look like he was in a foul, murderous mood.

“Look, Rarity! We cooked breakfast!” Sweetie said, giggling as she led Hunter and her sister into the clean kitchen.

“O-oh but it’s so.....Clean.” Rarity said, looking around.

Hunter trotted into the kitchen, but stopped dead when he saw the buck who stood inside. “W-wait, Dad? What are you doing here? Did you come here early to help Sweetie with breakfast?”

Riot froze for a second. He wasn’t supposed to be here. “Oh, I came by a little early. Rarity was up, so she let me in. I kinda fell asleep on the couch.” He forced a chuckle before stealing a look at Rarity, who was smiling in agreement.

“Look, Rarity! We made breakfast!” Sweetie said, holding a plate perfectly in her magic.

Rarity squeaked, closing one eye as the food was levitated, but then opened it in surprise. “Look at you, Sweetie! I’ve never seen your magic this strong before.”

Hunter piped up. “My Dad taught us both some magic a few days ago, we both learned a lot!”

“Really?” Rarity asked, looking to Riot with eyebrows raised.

He merely shrugged, smiling at her as he waved to the chairs. “Come on, have a seat. Sweetie put a lot of effort into our breakfast.”

Sweetie smiled at him, but spoke. “I-It wasn’t me, really.....I just grated the cheese, and got out the milk.”

Riot shook his head. “Nope, I seem to remember a certain soldier who helped me when I needed it.” He smirked at the filly, who seemed spurred forward by the remark.

“Well.......Yeah, I guess I was kind of awesome.” She said, giggling as she sat down.

The rest of the ponies took their seats, and began to eat breakfast. There were many ‘hmms’ of approval, and Riot could see Sweetie beaming out of the corner of his eye. He dug into his own food, happy that the spice hadn’t destroyed the flavour.

“These eggs are amazing you two, thank you so very much for making them.” Rarity said, ever the proper lady. Hunter nodded rapidly, swallowing down another massive mouthful of the meal.

Riot looked over at the colt and frowned slightly. “Chew your food Hunter.” Hunter groaned, making sure to chew, shaking his head slightly. Riot smiled, turning back to his own food. He decided to ignore the odd look Rarity was giving him from across the table.

Her eyebrow was raised ever so slightly, her head turned, a slight pout on her full lips. Her mane, even though she had just awoken, was perfectly coiffed, and stayed in it’s purple glory as she winked at him, crossing and uncrossing her legs beneath the table.

His focus on breakfast increased tenfold, knowing that if he looked up for a second, he would be doomed. “So Hunter, are you going to spend the day with Sweetie?”

The colt looked up from his nearly-devastated meal. “It depends, what are you doing today, Dad? Because Sweetie wanted to learn more magic. We were practicing together last night, like you said.”

“I’m...I could could come by later. I’ve got a couple things to do today, but nothing very pressing.” He lied, quite blatantly. Fortunately, the foals bought it.

Hunter sighed. “Alright, we can practice by ourselves, right Sweetie?” He asked, smiling brightly. Sweetie Belle nodded rapidly, pushing her plate away with her magic.

Riot forced down a quick shudder. “You two be good while I’m gone, but try and go over the basic rules that I told you about.”

“Oh you won’t have to worry, they’ve been the best little angels while you’ve been gone. Your little Hunter is the most polite and gentlemanly little colt in ponyville.” Rarity said, a hoof brushing the colts shoulder.

“Thank you Miss Rarity.” Hunter said, blushing at the praise.

“I’m glad he’s behaving, especially considering...Well, yeah. Glad he’s been good.” Riot ruffled the colts mane before standing. “I’ll take the dishes if you’re all done.”

“You two run along now, I’ll see Mr. Riot out.” Rarity said, giving Sweetie a little push to the rear with her magic.

As the two young ponies left, Rarity trotted up beside Riot, sweeping her tail across his back, looking with her nearly-trademarked seductive stare, directly into his eyes. Her flank rubbed on his, her triple diamonds against his crosshairs and shield. They squashed only a tiny amount against his haunch, their large size overridingly firm.

Riot breathed out through his nose, his mouth having been clamped shut. He looked over at the mare, pleading with his eyes.

She did not relent, the tip of her tongue leaving those big, pouty lips, lightly tracing the edge of them. This was a practiced move, shattering hundreds of colts and stallions, leaving them hopeless thralls to her will.

His nose raised in the air as he shook his head; speaking through clenched lips. “Not today seductress.”

Rarity noticed with triumph that his eyes had not left hers, even while moving his head. She batted her eyelashes, taking a step forward, her tail curling around his neck as her flank rubbed down the side of his body.

“I need to go. You know, talk to my wife about why she left me for Cheerilee.” His face was grim, not finding much amusement in todays activities.

The white mare raised her eyebrow, letting him pass. So she lost out today, big deal, the seed was sown. “Goodbye, Captain....” She said, the slightest sultry tone entering her voice..

He blinked athow unrelenting she was. Rarity had given him a place to stay, so that meant he couldn’t just burn down her parade. “Goodbye Rarity.”Riot said, before turning and walking away; picked up his duffel bag and making for the door. The bright door opened, then closed as he trotted out and into the morning sun.

Rarity plopped down on her drama couch by the window on her side, cocking her top leg slightly, continuing to look sultrily out the window at the grey stallion.

Riot continued walking towards his home. He needed this talk, he needed answers. The street was surprisingly full of ponies, causing the stallion to have to duck and weave through the crowds just to get to the other side. He suddenly realized that he was smack dab in the middle of the market.

A tiny filly tugged on his foreleg. “You look pretty hungry, Mister Riot, you should get a few apples!” It was Applebloom, with a small basket with some apples, and a little bucket for bits. “Just three a bit.”

He smiled down at the filly. “Sure, get me the three shiniest apples you got and there’ll be an extra bit in it for ya.” He followed the filly to the stall, taking note that only Big Macintosh was working it, besides Applebloom. “So, Mac. How’s Applejack?”

“Fine.” He said, passing over the apples Riot had requested. The farmcolt eyed the other stallion coldly, before sighing.

Riot nodded, catching the stallions drift. “Alright. Thanks for the apples.” He tossed a pair of coins at the buck, who caught them and handed them to Applebloom.

She smiled up at him through the shiny coins. “Thanksh yah for yer patra....patrrer....”

“Patronage.” Big Mac said. He leaned towards the little filly, and whispered in her ear.

“Alright Mac. I’ll be back in a bit.” She said, putting the bits and the basket down, trotting off.

The big pony looked down at Riot, something that the career soldier was totally unused to.

“Mind tellin’ me why Applejack has bruises?” He asked, knowing Riot already knew what he was talking about.

Riot grunted, looking to the side where the filly had gone. “Tell your sister to lay off the hard liquor. She was about a second away from starting a brawl with some rainbow maned filly. I tried to break them up and they turned their anger towards me.” He looked over to Big Mac. “She’s an apple farmer, meaning she’d buck my guts into the next room.”

“Ah understand.” The big pony went back to arranging the large barrels of apples.

“Yeah, she sure won’t.” The grey stallion shook his head, then started trotting away.

“Eeyup.” Was the only answer.

Riot continued through the market, only recognizing a select few ponies. Most of which he had seen at the club. He passed through the market, and into the park. The tall grey stallion looked to the side, and saw a pair of ponies sitting on a bench. It was the same mint unicorn and beige earth pony from a few nights ago... What were their names again? Lyra and BonBon?

They waved to him. “Hey Riot! How’s Aurora and Hunter?” The unicorn asked.

He cringed a bit. “Oh, Hunters doing well, he’s just spending the day with a school friend.” He thought for a moment. “Aurora’s...Aurora.” He shrugged weakly. “I...I gotta go. I’ll see you around.” The earth pony raised her eyebrows, but didn’t press the issue. Whispering to Lyra as he trotted away; it was obvious the rumors were about to begin.

Riot was very close to his home now. He only hoped that Cheerilee wasn’t there. He wasn’t sure if he could keep his cool if she was. Would we want to though? Nah.

The house sat near the end of the road, just past the park. Riot trotted up the steps and reached for his keys. He stopped suddenly, realizing it wasn’t his house anymore. The soldier sighed, then steeled himself as he knocked on the door.

There was a voice from inside. “Cheer? Is that you? I’ll be there is just a moment.” There was a clattering of hooves, and a rustling of wings, and the door opened. “What brings you here so early Chee........” She trailed off, seeing Riot instead of Cheerilee.

Riot lifted up a hoof and forced a weak smile. “Hello Aurora...”

The mare gulped audibly. “W-what are you d-doing here, Ash?”

“I’m...Just getting some of my things.” He dropped the smile and just let his tired being back out.

She sighed, stepping aside. “You didn’t need to knock.”

He let his head fall as he trotted in. “It’s not my home anymore. It’d be rude to just walk in.”

“Y-you can still come see me when you want.....” She said, sniffing slightly as she looked at the floor.

Riot shook his head as he trotted towards the bedroom. “I don’t think Cheer would like that.” He popped open the dresser door and lifted out a couple pairs of clothes. “I’ll just take what I can carry. Still need to figure out where I’ll be sleeping tonight.” He peeked under the bed, grabbing a small ammunition tin that held his personal belongings. His thoughts went to the firearms he had stored in a large safe near his workbench, but figured that since only he knew the combination, they would be fine for the time being.

“I-I can tell Cheerilee to n-not come by for the next week or two, and you can stay here, and sleep on the couch until you’re back on your hooves.” The mare offered.

He let his hooves fall as he looked at the mare who had been so important to him for fifteen plus years. “Aura...Do you still love me?”

The mare’s breathing quickened visibly. “I....I.....Yes.”

Drawing his hooves back, Riot let his shoulders sag. “I missed you a lot when I was on tour. Sometimes I’d just lay awake, pretending that you were lying next to me.” He looked down, almost ashamed of it now.

She put her hooves over her face, a pained expression marring her pretty features. “M-Maker, I’m s-so sorry...I d-didn’t want this......Hunter, where’s Hunter, I need to see him.”

“He’s still at Rarity’s. Practicing magic with Sweetie.” The soldier kept his sentences short and to the point. He had to keep his composure, he couldn’t break now.

“I-is he alright? W-what I did.....I n-need to talk to him.”

“He’s...He’s fine.” Riot choked out the words, trying to hide his features from the mare behind his medium length mane.

“Ash.....I still n-need to be a part of his life.....We can’t let either of us have full custody...”

Riot nodded slowly. “Yeah....” He sniffed loudly before standing up. “I’m sorry love...I really am...” Riot looked up at her, then went to put a hoof on her shoulder. He stopped, letting his hoof fall back. “I want to ask you to take me back, but...I think we both know that it isn’t going to work.” Riot squared his shoulders, finding strength inside himself.

Aurora gave a shuddering breath. “I-it’s not your fault....I-I’m a filthy adulterer, and a whore.....” She said, clenching her eyes shut at his last words.

“And I’m a coward and a fool.” Riot trotted past the mare, only to stop by her side. “I’m sorry Aura...I’m still in love with you, and I don’t think that’ll ever change.” He clenched his eyes closed. “No matter who you love.” Riot trotted quickly into their room; the dresser opening quickly through his magic. Several clean articles of clothing floated in, and he grabbed what little possessions he had left at the house.

The mare’s tears began to fall, and she tried to put her hooves around Riot. “I-I love you too, b-but I love Cheerilee, too....”

Riot let her place her hooves around him, and he let her soak his shoulder with her sorrow. He didn’t hug back. “I’m sorry Aura...You can’t have both.” At that, he trotted into the living room. “I’ll be...Somewhere. I don’t know where yet.” He stopped for a moment before reaching into his jacket. He pulled out a small, worn picture before hoofing it to the mare. “Here. It’s gotten me through some rough patches.”

The bat pony burst into loud sobs, holding the little thing between her hooves, cuddling it to her belly. She didn’t speak; she couldn’t, not with the influx of tears.

“Goodbye Aurora.”

She let herself sink to the floor, tears soaking the carpet. “G-Goodbye....Ash, p-please.....d-don’t c-come back.....”

The door opened in front of him. “I’m already gone.” The door clicked closed behind him, but the weight of the conversation stayed firmly on his shoulders next to the filled bag.

Riot trotted forward aimlessly, realizing there was nowhere to really go. The stallion was down to two choices, either going to Vinyl, or back to Rarity’s. He needed somewhere to stay, Hunter could stay with Aurora. The thought of Redheart flashed before his mind, but it was nowhere near lunch. He sighed heavily, choosing to go and sulk in the park.

As he set down on one of the benches, lost in thought as he laidback, looking at the sky from between the branches of the tree above him. They shook slightly, even though there was no wind. Riot ignored them, choosing to plop down on the bench below. He placed his duffel next to the bench before sitting on it. A head appeared, a cyan one, sticking out from behind one of the larger limbs.

“Hey! I know you!” She said with a growl. He ignored the mare. Instead, he ran both hooves over his face, groaning quietly. “You’re that stallion who hit me and my friend! Do you always beat on ponies smaller than you?” She asked angrily.

“Do you always get piss drunk and attack bouncers who try and stop you from hurting your friends?” He let his head fall back, allowing him to see the mare as he spit his acidic words at her.

“Well....I....but....Uhg!” She grabbed her pillow, and shot off like a bullet.

He cocked an eyebrow at the prismatic line in the air that the mare had left. “Running away doesn't change anything kid.” He looked down at the duffle bag. “You just die tired.”

The grey stallion was well rested, but there was nothing he could do; but simply lie limply on that bench. His eyes eventually closed. falling asleep with a small ribbon of velvet clutched between his hooves.

Almost immediately, the smell of charred flesh filled his nostrils, and the heaving body of a friend lay in his hooves. Riot blinked through the red tinge and weakly rifled through his vest. A small red bottle floated out, and was placed on the crying bucks lips.

“Dr-drink...You need it...” He tilted the bottle up, letting the buck drink greedily from it.

The blood pouring from Wilds wounds was only slightly darker than the stallions fur; the piles of charred tissue tearing away wetly as he writhed, his half-melted wing falling from his body, the destroyed flesh of the base not strong enough to keep it on his body. The thing flopped to the ground, still twitching.

Riot clutched at the upper half of his body, which luckily wasn’t burned to the extent that his lower body was. The roaring blaze laid in place where the flamedog had stood, spraying broiling death down on his friends and comrades. Riot tilted the bottle until it was vertical; he watched as the stallions hide slowly stopped bleeding, and the melting stopped completely. Riots eyes closed slowly, only to reopen lazily.

“Wild...You’re gonna make it.” He didn’t have the strength to cock his head away as the stallion coughed heavily onto his chest, painting him with more blood. Riot cringed in terrible pain as the shrapnel in his neck bobbed about at every movement, tearing at his flesh.

Wild rocked slowly, grabbing and crying into his mangled wing as his good one folded back into place. He didn’t seem to even notice Riot, burying his tear soaked face in the horribly burned appendage.

Riot let the buck go. His plans were to grab him and drag him to the triage bunker, but as the soldier left his hooves, Riot fell over crippled in pain. He cried out, holding his neck as blood dribbled out from his nose and mouth.

The red pegasus stood, a blank expression on his face. He picked up the wing in his mouth, and limped away, completely unaware of the world around him.

Riot lifted a weak hoof up, trying to get the bucks attention. “Wi-wild...He...help...”

Wild didn’t stop, he didn’t even look, the same blank expression on his face as he limped, wing still clutched between his teeth, no longer even walking back towards friendly lines, just seemingly-mindlessly trotting down the battle line as bullets sprayed around him like hail.

Riot cried out in angry pain as he ripped open his flak vest. He rifled through the pockets with his short burst of adrenaline going through his veins. He soon realized that Wild had drank his last healing potion. The stallion blinked slowly, looking down at the empty pockets and empty magazines.

His helmet lay barely a foot away. Riot reached over as the last of his energy bled away. A small photo, depicting a fresh shaven buck and a beautiful batpony mare who was in a hospital gown. They were holding a tiny bundle in their collective hooves. Riot kissed the picture weakly, then held it against his chest as the light began to fade away as the black in the corner of his eyes began to flood inwards.

_______________________________________________________

Riot awoke with a gasp, clutching at his chest, but finding no fresh wounds, just old scars. Riot was still on the bench, the sun just beginning to set on the warm autumn afternoon. He put his legs over the side, and rubbed his mane. He was sweaty, and unkempt. He hadn’t been able to shower in nearly three days. Rarity would let him use hers if he asked, but the thought of being wet, naked, and vulnerable in her home welled up both an odd feeling of dread.

He stood up, shaking his head as he steadied himself. A short burst of magic saw his burden floating over his back. “Looks like I’m working tonight.” He hoped Aurora would go see Hunter, and explain things to him. Riot didn’t have the willpower to tell his son that he couldn’t stay with his dad.

Riot breathed loudly, starting to trot off for Vinyl’s. At least he would have, if a small, furry, missile hadn’t cracked him in the side. It was a foal, a grey foal hugging at his side, tears soaking his face. “D-dad! I f-f-found you!”

He breathed out in surprise from the impact. “Hunter? What are you doing out here?”

“I-I.....M-momma came for me....I didn’t want to go....But she made me come home with her....She tried talking to me, I don’t want to hear it. When we got back, I sat in my room while she tried to talk to me through the door. I w-wanted to find you....so I got out through the window and-” He was cut off when a tearful shout echoed in the empty park.

“Hunter!” It was Aurora, speedily flying towards the two grey ponies.

Riot hugged the colt tightly against his chest. “I love you Hunter. I always will, no matter what happens between me and Aurora.”

She set down, more scared and sad than angry. “Hunter! What were you thinking? I-I-”

“Go away!” He screamed at her, taking a step back. “This is your fault!”

“Hunter.....Y-you...I...” The mare was dumbstruck, each time she took a step towards her foal, he took another step backwards. “P-please Hunter....Come back to momma...” She said, kneeling, and putting out her hooves.

The young colt growled, actually growled, and pulled back even more, moving so Riot was between the two.

Riot closed his eyes and frowned heavily before turning to the colt and wrapping his hooves over the colts shoulders. “Hunter, you gotta go with momma now.”

The colt shook, trying to escape. “No! I don’t want to! I want to stay with you, lets go back to Rarity’s....I liked it there with you and Sweetie.” The colt snorted at his mother. “Before you ruined everything!”

Riot looked into Hunter’s eyes before speaking. “I’m sorry son...I don’t have anywhere to go. We can’t stay at Rarity’s forever, and I won’t have you sleeping on a park bench.” He picked up the colt and started trotting towards Aurora.

“Y-yes w-we can......R-Rarity really l-likes you....we-we could live there u-until we get a house of our own...” He went limp in his father’s hooves, allowing himself to be deposited, scowling, onto his mother’s back.

He ran a hoof down the colts face, smiling weakly. “I’m sorry buddy...” He took a deep breath. “But it’s for the best. Your momma loves you more than anything, she’ll take care of you.” He nuzzled the colt softly. “I love you Hunter.”

The young pony nuzzled back into Riot, before hopping to the ground, standing alongside Aurora. “I can still walk, I don’t need you to carry me.” He said darkly.

The mare hung her head, trying her best to avoid looking at Riot. “Goodbye, I’ll make sure he stays with me this time.”

Riot didn’t answer as he watched the two trot away. He waved weakly as Hunter looked back at him; the colts cheeks were still stained with tears.

He still had lots of time before the day was out, so he continued on his other plan, going to Vinyl’s. The stallion knocked on the door with a hoof, and the white mare opened it, surprised. “Heyyyy Tiger, what are you doing here so early? We don’t open for two hours.” When she saw what he looked like, she lost most of her cheery demeanor. “What happened to you, Riot? Are you alright?”

He shook his head slowly. “Can I...Can I come in?”

“Of course! Get in here, I’ll get you something to drink, and eat.” She said, taking him by the neck, and leading him inside. “What do you want to drink?”

“Water.” He placed the bag down on the ground, then sat down on his haunches.

“W-....”The mare blinked, staring at him. “O-okay, sit down on the couch and I’ll be right back.” She said, giving him a quick nuzzle, before trotting off into the kitchen. He remained where he was on the floor. There was a small crash and a scared squeak from the kitchen, causing him to look up in confusion.

“Vinyl? You alright?” There wasn’t an answer. Riot exhaled slowly before getting up. “I’m comin I’m comin...”

She was lying on the floor, holding her head. “I-I’m okay, just go sit on the couch.” She said, standing and picking up a bottle of water in her magic. The mare stumbled, only to be caught halfway to the ground. Riot held onto the mare as they both fell to the floor. Luckily nopony was hurt.

The mare looked up at his worn features. “I-I’m sorry, Riot.....Y-you’re m-married, I....th-these feelings won’t go away....”

He blinked at the mare, not quite catching onto what she had said. “Feelings?”

She breathed out, loudly. “It...it just seems sometimes that all the good stallions are gone....e-except for you.....B-but you’re married......What I feel about you is wrong.”
The realization hit him finally. She liked him. A lot. The buck closed his eyes, thinking one single word. ‘FUCK.’

She gulped. “You’re always t-there....an y-you’re so talented, and strong.....handsome.” The DJ said, closing her eyes, hiding behind her hooves. “Noble.”

He exhaled slowly, placing a hoof on hers. “I...I don’t know what to say Vinyl. The timing of all this is just surreal.”

“W-what do you m-mean?” Vinyl asked, taking one hoof away from her face, looking up at his blues with her reds.

Riot licked his lips, trying to figure out what to say. “Vinyl...I” He swallowed a bit then hung his head. A small ring floated out from his pocket, then clattered across the floor.

“W-what is that?” She asked, gripping it in her magic, and floating it up to her eyes. Her eyes widened, and she dropped it in surprise. “I-is that your.....”

“Yeah. Aurora left me, for Cheerilee. I don’t need that anymore.” He tapped the ring about in the floor.

Her mouth fell open. “Oh Celestia that’s terrible!” She hugged him, pulling his head into her warm, fuzzy, chest. “I’m so sorry for you.” She said, rubbing his mane.

He pulled away, looking her in the eyes. “Don’t feel sorry for me. She made her choice, I’m just along for the ride.” He took a deep breath before speaking. “This place is dragging me to hell, and I’m stuck riding shotgun. And all anypony in this shithole can think of is FUCKING.” He didn’t stand up as he made a vulgar gesture towards the window, exhaustion had already driven him into the ground.

The mare slowly continued to stroke his mane, nuzzling his cheek. She tried to ignore his anger at pretty much what she had been doing the entire time of knowing him. “Shh, shh, don’t talk like that.... It’s perfectly normal, you just need to get used to it.”

He shook his head. “No Vinyl. I’m losing my mind, I’m a danger to myself and everypony around me. The doctor was right..” He sneered at the thought of the place where he may have ended his life.

She looked directly into his eyes. “I don’t care.”

He raised a hoof to object, but let it fall back down. “I keep seeing myself die.”

Vinyl smiled at him sadly. “Shh, don’t think about any of that, everything’s fine....”

Riot shook his head; standing up from his spot on the floor. “No, everything isn’t fine. My entire life has been gutted with brutal efficiency within a week.” He looked out the window silently for a moment before speaking again. “I may even lose Hunter.”

“You won’t lose Hunter, you’re such a good father....” She said, cuddling up to him..

“I might lose him, I don’t even have a place to stay.” He looked around, taking in the house. “And if the psychologist says I’m fucked, she can take him and I won’t be able to stop her. STOP. Touching me.” He growled the last part out, causing Vinyl to retract her limbs in an instant.

Vinyl winced. “Well.....You can always stay here for awhile.....” She said, looking down at her floorboards.

“No. I...I can’t. I’ll figure something out. Until then the park benches will work.”

“Are you crazy? You really think I’d let you go sleep outside? Bullshit. You’re staying right here young colt.” She said, patting the top of his head. Riot closed his eyes as he fell to his haunches. He didn’t say anything as he stared at the plain ring at his hooves. “Now, lets have a seat and continue our heartfelt conversation somewhere more comfortable. I know I’ve got a lot of padding, but sitting like this sucks.” She said, wiggling her rear, and standing.

He nodded weakly, standing up and trotting over to the small couch. He sat down heavily and tossed the ring into his open duffel bag. The mare sat down next to him, sitting on her curled legs. “You’re going to stay here, for at least tonight.” Riot nodded again, staying silent.

Vinyl made a grab for one of his hooves, but retreated when he shot her with a glare, his features looking haggard and beaten.

Vinyl pulled her hooves away from him. “Fine, alright. I get it, you like your space, that’s cool. Listen though, maybe you should just have a good cry session!” The mare smiled at him. “That helps me when I’m really sad.” She perked up, hoping to get somewhere.

“Soldiers don’t cry Vinyl.”

She looked at him, raising her eyebrow. “You’ve been through a lot, you can’t just keep it all bottled up, it’s got to leave some time.”

“I bled it all out.” He pushed a grin, then immediately regretted it.

The mare whined, before giving him a disapproving look. “That’s no way to do it....”

Riot cocked an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“Bleeding out your pain doesn’t do shit....it’s worse than bottling it up, because even though it helps relieve some of the pressure, it adds more than it takes. You have to get it out of you...” She said, her hooves edging closer..

“If it makes you feel better, it wasn’t voluntary bleeding.” He lifted a hoof up to his scar absent mindedly.

She winced, rubbing at his scar with a hoof before having it swatted away. “I’m so sorry....You of all ponies deserve some solidity in life, and here I am, whining that I have too much ‘no-strings-attached’ sex.” The mare said, putting her hooves to her face.

The stallion chuckled dryly. “Heh, sex. Haven’t had that in almost three weeks. Seven months before that.” He shook his head slowly, trying to lose any ideas. He wasn’t in the mood for bullshit, and sex almost always required bullshit to get.

The mare put her hooves around his head. “Are you crazy?! You’re gonna kill some poor mare when you cum!” She said, moving slightly, as if getting away from where his member would be pointing. Riot rolled his eyes as he grunted at her before lying down completely. His head rested in his hooves as he nibbled at the fur lining his hoof.

Vinyl sat next to the stallion, rubbing his back, kneading his flesh. “I’m so sorry, Riot.....Going so long without anything, and coming back to that?”

He scowled angrily, not at Vinyl, at himself. “I should have stayed with her. I should have done something...”

“No, no....you did what you thought was right.” She said, still stroking his spine, and the long scar that was there. “I-I’m sure plenty of other mares really like you too....”

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of bullshit I’ve waded through in ponyville. Almost every mare in town looks at me like I’m a hunk of meat with a cock. They don’t care what I’m thinking, they don’t care that I’m married...They don’t care that I’ve bled for them.” Maybe we should make them care. Make them bleed for a change.

“I-I’m s-so sorry.....I-I’m tre-treating you just like that......” Vinyl says, slowing her massage to a stop.

“Whatever, not like it made a fuckin difference.” Riot pulled off his jacket; Vinyl recoiled a bit at the smell, but then realized where he had probably slept the last night.

She coughed. “Woah, somepony needs a shower....”

He sniffed at his hoof and nodded. “Yeah, last night was....Interesting.”

“Come on, Tiger. Let’s get you in the shower.” She said, standing, pulling the stallion to his hooves. “Get you all nice and sparkly.”

“Hm.” He grunted, standing up as well as he could.

She ushered him into the small bathroom, motioning to the tub and shower combo. “Here’s you, shampoo is in the top shelf, soap is in the dish. Take as long as you need. Make sure to holler if you need any......company~” The white mare giggled, shutting the door.

Riot watched as the door closed, then made sure it closed. He turned to the tub, then cranked the shower head on. He was never one for baths. Once the water was set to a nice boil, he shed his dirty clothes and stepped in.

Vinyl opened one eye, biting her lip as she peered through the keyhole of the old-style door, watching as the stallion undressed, eyes widening with each passing second. A part of her felt horrible for doing it, but she still couldn’t resist.

Riot looked about the bath area for the things he needed, but he felt the weight of the day pulling him down. The stallion sighed as he sat down on his haunches, letting the water fall over him. His mane hung down over his eyes, despite the fact his horn tended to keep it out of the way. He looked down at the swirling water and started watching the dirt and grime float away.

The stallion lit his horn up, taking a bar of soap in his hoof, scrubbing himself thoroughly, trying to rid himself from the disgusting, dirty feeling he had from the days of unwashing. His breathing wavered for a moment and he placed the bar on the side. Sniffing loudly, Riot ran a hoof over his face and hardened his features.Riot sat there, staring at the drain as his filth washed away. It didn’t make him feel better about his situation..

Vinyl wavered, feeling dirty herself for what she was doing. She pulled her head away, and leaned against the door, hearing a sigh penetrate the wood, and pass into her ears.

Riot managed to stay quiet after that, but he couldn’t stop the continual wave of emotions that washed over him, filling his heart with hate and anger for a fleeting moment. He hugged his head in his hooves as memories came through, reminding him exactly of what he had lost. He sniffed quietly, then sucked in a breath as he looked down at his cracked hooves.

The mare outside gulped, and then asked through the keyhole. “Riot, are you okay?”

He looked up at the door and got up on his hooves. “Yeah, just trying to get some knots out of my mane, that’s all.”

“A-alright....if you’re sure.” She said, not buying it, and going off to make him something warm to drink for when he left the shower.

Riot shook his head, letting his features harden once again. The bar of soap floated up, along with a small bottle of mare’s shampoo. “Damn, well beggars can’t be choosers...”

A few minutes later, Riot stepped past the bathroom door with his bit of dirty clothing in tow. Part of him felt wrong not wearing any clothes, but barely anypony else wore them. He had to try and fit in...Try to be normal. He walked over to his duffel bag, then deposited the clothes in one of the side pockets.

“Oh, joining the land of the naked, I see.” Vinyl said, giggling at his still slighty wet body. “Wow, you look like the cover of playmare.”

Riot rolled his eyes at the mare. He opened up the diddy bag, then grabbed what he was looking for. A small orange and red hat, given to him by a dear friend before his departure. He donned the cap and looked at Vinyl; ignoring the faded fuzzy tassels hanging past his face.

“Look at that, you had to go ruin it.” She said, slapping him on the wet flank. “You were all sexy and wet before, but now not even I will ride your pony stick.” The mare said, nose rising snootily into the air.

“I knew I kept this thing around for a reason.” He smirked at the mare. “And you really wouldn’t? Not even if I asked nicely?”

She bit her lip, looking at his wet body. “Mmmmm. Well, ask, and we’ll see.”

He shook his head before nipping at his hoof. “Negative Ghost Two.” He pulled on a clean pair of camos; already feeling better about himself. “We better start getting set up. The sunday crowd will demand wubs.”

“No such thing.” She says, leaning onto her back, splaying out her hooves. “We’re closed sundays.”

He cock an eyebrow at the mare as she sprawled out. “But you said we work in two hours when I got here. Are you closing shop just because I had a bad day?” He poked her in curiosity.

“Nah, I just decided to take a personal day with my new roommate.” She stretched her legs. “So, what do you want to do?”

He shrugged, looking around. “I don’t really know...Where will I sleep?”

“Well.....Unfortunately the couch is taken.”

Riot frowned deeply. “By who?”

Vinyl shrugged. ‘Berry likes to drop in late at night, when we aren’t working. So...I guess you’re bunking with me soldier~” Vinyl bit her lips before poking Riot.

“What, you want me to take up all the room on your bed?” He asked with sharp sarcasm.

“Mmm, I’ll find somewhere to fit myself. It’ll get.....close, though.” She said, now lying on her side, tail flicking ever so slightly.

He nodded at the mare, knowing full well what she meant. “Yeah...I’m sure it will.” Riot looked down at his bag and sighed. “Guess I better unpack.”

“Yeah, you can put your stuff wherever. I don’t have a lot of things, ninety percent of the money goes back into the club.”

“Until I came along.” He looked at her, then looked down at the fat bag of bits he had sitting in his duffel.

“Woah! Where did those come from?!” She said, eyes shooting wide.

“Tips.” He answered flatly, before pointing to a smaller, albeit fairly large bag. “That’s what you’ve paid me so far.”

“W-what? Maker, I’ve been paying you too well.” She said, putting a hoof on the large bag of bits.

“You’re actually paying me around minimum wage.” He patted the bag before zipping the duffel back up. “I enjoy my work so much I don’t bitch.” The stallion stated snidely. He started trotting towards her room.

She followed him. “So, what do you want to do tonight? We can do whoever you want.” She said, with a little ‘freudian slip’.

Riot shook his head slowly. “I didn’t get a very good sleep last night...” He pushed open the door to her room. He trotted in, not paying attention to the bits of personal belongings and...Undergarments that laid on the floor.

The mare sighed in momentary defeat. She’d already had dinner, and she was already in her pajamas. ”I guess an early night might be good for me.” The mare said, trotting in behind him, biting her lip at the amount of her personal items he’d seen.

Riot tossed his bag on the floor, wincing a bit as an ammo can impacted the floor loudly. “So, how are we gonna do this? Until I go and buy an inflatable mattress that is.”

“Dunno, you want to be on top?” She said, giggling, before hopping into bed, snuggling into the covers.

“I’ll sleep over here.” He patted the side of the bed she wasn’t on. He was too tired to try and fight with a couch for a good nights sleep, and it wasn’t like he hadn’t slept in Vinyls bed before.

“Sounds good to me.” She said with a yawn as he laid down. The mare turned away, and actually closed her eyes, trying to get to sleep, to Riot’s surprise. He blinked in disbelief, not having to worry about fending her off. Yet. He laid down next to her, his back to hers.

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