• Published 18th Jan 2013
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Dysphoria, Arc 1: Introductions - thedarkprep



Applejack finds a pony at death's door during one of the worst storms of the year. He is bleeding, his wings are broken, and he's unconscious. This new pony has secrets he wants to hide, but as the saying goes, all things must come to light

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8. The Conversation


8. The Conversation

Time seemed to stand still, dragging itself across the fabric of reality, as the last reverberations of Twilight’s question faded away. If possible, the silence that followed seemed to tick by at an even slower rate. No one dared to move and no one dared to breathe. It was as if all of existence had been placed under a trance, rendering it mute. Twilight was the first to break the spell.

“Slant Rhyme… That is you isn’t it?” she asked.

“You’re being silly Twilight,” answered Pinkie, “That’s Script.”

“I don’t know what you’re both talking about,” said Rainbow Dash. “This is Evening Rose, the mare we met that we had told you about.”

The Mane Six stared at each other for a second before turning their collective gaze towards the pony standing near the doorway, who had yet to say a word.

In the pony’s defense, it wasn’t that they were completely unwilling to clarify the situation; it is that they were unable. The first obstacle for the pony to overcome was that of shock. The pony struggled to understand how these six ponies had come to be in the same room. The pony then struggled to understand how this predicament failed to be avoided. Finally, the pony struggled to understand how, despite all the precautions, the world was still crumbling away.

The pony did not need to look up to know they were still being stared at. The pony could feel the gazes through skin and bone. The group of friends was staring, analyzing, and forming their own conclusions. However, they still waited for a response.

The beating of the pony’s heart was deafening. With each passing second it grew louder, threatening to rupture the pony’s eardrums with its frantic beat. The pony’s body grew numb as the seconds ticked into minutes in the suffocating presence of the group’s unspoken question.

“Who are you?”

The pony attempted to speak, but all that came out were the few noises and word fragments that did not perish in the pony’s throat. The pony took a deep breath, and then spoke with a voice in a far lower register than Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy had heard the pony use.

“Fine, I guess I should come clean.”

“Wait! You’re a stallion!?” Rainbow Dash asked.

The pony flinched and tears welled up in his eyes as if he had been struck with a hot iron, but no word of comfort was uttered. Instead, silence once again threatened to envelop all. That is, until Pinkie voiced the question they all had in their minds.

“Who are you?”

The pony took a few moments to regain his composure before he talked again.

“My birth name is Slant Rhyme. I’m one of the few pegasi living in Canterlot not employed by the royal guard… or at least I was…” he said.

The group turned to look at Twilight for an explanation.

“The Rhyme family is a noble pegasi family living in Canterlot. You all know that the majority of the population in Canterlot consists of unicorns with most of the pegasi population belonging to the Castle’s Royal Guard. Well, as Slant stated, the Rhyme family is one of the few exceptions.” Twilight paused to make sure she remembered everything correctly. “Much like how everyone in Applejack’s family has a talent for things having to do with apples, the Rhyme family has a talent for things relating to writing and literature. The family can be traced back to the beginning of Celestia’s reign, during which the members of the family wrote poems and stories to and about the sisters to gain their favor. Since then, every single member of the Rhyme family has been a famous writer, poet, or literary analyst.” She paused. So far Twilight had only been reciting textbook information, which helped to calm her. Next came the harder part.

“Members of the Rhyme family are automatically admitted to the schools of highest quality for their education. That’s where I met him.” She turned to look at Slant. “he’s not a unicorn and therefore was not able to study or practice magic, but he was allowed to take the magic theory classes, as well as history, literature, and the like. We had a couple of classes together.” Twilight thought back to those classes, trying to remember as much as she could.

“He was always reserved, quiet, and cried way too easily. He was also kind of weird, often isolating himself away from everyone around him, not unlike I did… but… but nothing like this.”

Twilight looked at him again. “He didn’t use to be like this.”

The shock and disgust in her voice was evident. It hurt to hear that edge when she spoke, but instead of shrinking away, he opened his mouth. He had a few points to clarify.

“Actually I always was… like this, I mean, I just didn’t know it yet.” He turned to face the group and although he had tears in his eyes, he did not look away as he talked.

“Twilight is right that when I was growing up I was reserved and often would isolate myself. This was not because I was anti-social… In fact, I would have liked nothing more than to make new friends. However, something always felt wrong to me. There was a clear disconnect between what I wanted to do and what was expected. I didn’t like sports, I didn’t like fighting, and I hated weapons. I also cried a lot, and I preferred to have quiet conversations to running around. I was the complete opposite of what the other colts my age liked and valued. Then, when I hung out with the fillies in my class, I would feel angry and jealous and not know why. So I separated myself from both groups and tried not to feel.” Slant shuddered at the thought. These were painful memories to relive, but he couldn’t stop now.

“It took me until I was a stallion to figure out what was wrong, and it was a slow process at that. It all started with a flowing green dress.” Slant thought back to that day.

“I was walking through a market place when I noticed a pile of clearance garments. Lying near the top was a brand new flowing green dress. To this day I don’t know what possessed me to buy it. It took every bit I had left at the time, and it made no sense… but I bought it and I took it home. When I got there I went to my room, locked the door and tried it on. It fit perfectly. I looked in the mirror, and for the first time in my life I did not hate what I saw. I cried for hours that day.” He paused before continuing. “I didn’t understand why, but this felt right. In fact, it was the first thing that felt right in my life, and that realization hurt me more than the isolation in school did. Isolation, bad as it was, I could deal with. It was simply a physical separation from others. However, what I was facing now was a much deeper problem. I was still isolated from everyone I knew, or would ever know, and this was not a physical separation. I could sit next to somepony, talk to them, befriend them, but at the core I’d still be separate from them. I would always be different from others, and I knew I would find no solace. I was a freak. I was alone.”

“Still, diseased mind or not, this was something I needed. I started collecting discarded fashion magazines to learn as much as I could to make myself presentable. I learned how to hide my wings inside a dress without creating bulges, since my dress didn’t have wing holes. I also learnt how to style my mane, what cuts in clothing and styles worked best for me, how to raise the register of my voice, and how to use clothing to conceal and feminize my body. Eventually I felt brave enough to go out.” He closed his eyes, remembering that day.

“The first time I went out as Rose was probably the best night of my life. I went out at night because I figured there’d be fewer ponies. After sneaking out of my room, I walked through the streets of Canterlot. A few ponies saw me, and what they said reassured me. They would shout things like ‘Hey miss, shouldn’t you be home right now?’” Slant sighed. “The night became my shelter; less ponies were out and about, and the darkness made me harder to observe, meaning it made it easier to… pass. Soon I started going out every night and by the time summer ended, I had already mapped out all of Canterlot. Two years passed with my midnight outings, and I eventually came to terms with who I was. I decided it was time to tell my parents.”

Applejack noticed that Slant, probably subconsciously, put a hoof over the spot on his right leg where she knew it had been dislocated. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.


Shadows danced along the stone walls of Slant’s room as the candles burnt lower and lower. The room itself was neat and orderly, with nothing of note except for the dozen or so ripped and torn sheets of paper lying on the floor near the small trashcan next to the desk. In the middle of the room was a bed, and on that bed was a scared and frustrated pegasus drying the last of his tears. Slant Rhyme was shaking.

“It figures that the one time I have something important to write about I find myself unable,” muttered Slant. Slant had spent the last three hours attempting to write a letter to his parents informing them on his new discovery about himself… or was it herself? No, he’d figure that out later; for now there was no need to muddle up his thoughts any further than they already were. He stared at the pile of torn paper, barely visible over the edge of his bed. He had spent three hours attempting to a write a letter and came up empty-hooved. At first, he couldn’t figure out how to begin, ripping the first 5 drafts before deciding on a beginning. Then he struggled with his word choice or his phrasing. Many a draft were ripped after he was stopped, usually halfway through, due to drawing a blank on a word or due to a weird turn of phrase. Still, he persevered and eventually finished the letter, deciding on calling it the final draft. He read over it again and threw it away.

“It’s not good enough,” he had thought. “It tells them the facts and fills them in on what’s going on… but it isn’t good enough. How can I convey how nervous I am? How afraid? It tells them the information but it does not express the emotions, and right now the emotions are the most important thing.”

That had been half an hour ago.

“So much for the brilliant writing legacy of the Rhyme family,” he scoffed. He wasn’t really angry though. He was scared. Writing this letter had been a last ditch effort in avoiding what he knew was the only way to deal with this properly.

“I’m going to have to tell them in person.”

He turned as if to get off the bed but hesitated. Sitting up instead, he started thinking of what he should do. He considered dressing up to push his point home, but decided that it might be a bit much… plus he wasn’t sure he’d have the courage. His brother Perfect would be asleep, so at least he wouldn’t have to worry about figuring out how to explain things to him yet. Also, he already knew what he wanted to say and get across, due to his many attempted letters. Still, his stomach felt hollow and his throat dry, despite having just had dinner. Worse still was the cold he felt. Even with all the candles going and despite it being the middle of summer, he felt a chill run through his body, the same chill he had carried since he realized the latest development about himself.

He could always not tell them.

He looked at his purple bag, the one that contained a hidden empty pill bottle.

No, keeping it secret wasn’t an option. He had been doing that for two years, and it was only through sheer luck that he was still here. No, if he was going to survive, he needed to do this. He decided to use the mental exercise he used whenever he needed to ascertain his situation.

He asked himself, “What do you know?”

“My name is Slant Rhyme. I am a member of the noble Rhyme family living in Canterlot. I have always been different. Two years ago I found a dress and bought it. Wearing it made me feel happier than I’d felt my whole life. Looking at the mirror was not painful. Things felt right. I was also afraid of being different. For two years I went out as Evening Rose. I also went to the library to find out what’s wrong with me. I found an old medical journal saying I had Gender Dysphoria. It explained my depression and my self-hatred. I realized I needed to be a mare. I need to be a mare.” He stopped, collecting his thoughts before continuing. “What else do you know? My parents have always been supportive of me. They say that it’s ok to be different. I need to tell them. They are very accepting. They know psychologists that could fix me. They could accept me… I cannot keep this secret. They need to know. I need help.”

He stopped, readying himself to leave his room, reciting the last and most important thing he knew.

“They love me, and they always will.”


The walk down the hallway connecting his room to his parent’s room was not very large by any account. A few torches lined the walls, casting their soft light along the stone. The walls themselves were very ornate. Embedded in the walls were display cases showcasing pictures, writing awards, trophies, and coats of arms. This was the legacy of the Rhyme Family. Slant hadn’t really paid much attention to them before, not more than the occasional glance as he walked past them. However, tonight he could not help but to admire them, each a precious memento of what came before and what he was supposed to embody. He did this as he embarked in the longest walk of his life.

About halfway through the hallway there was a door that was slightly cracked open. He opened it a bit to see his brother, Perfect Rhyme, lying asleep. Slant sighed before soundlessly shutting the door closed. For better or worse, it was best for his brother to not overhear this conversation. He would find out later. Turning to look at his destination, he advanced slowly until he reached the door, which was also slightly cracked. He knocked.

“Come in.”

Slant walked inside. His dad, Rich Rhyme, was sitting at a work desk finishing his latest book while his mom, Ilene Rhyme, read over a newspaper on the bed. They both turned to look at him.

“Do you have a minute?” Slant asked.

A warm smile befell both his parents.

“Of course son, what do you need?” said his dad.

“Um… I just need to talk to you about something,” muttered Slant.

His mom narrowed her eyes in a look of concern.

“Is something wrong dear?”

“No. Well, maybe. It’s just something I need to tell you.” He sighed and stared at the floor. There was no point in dragging this on any longer.

“Mom, Dad, I… I think I need to be a mare.”

The silence that followed was such an immense void of vibrations that Slant imagined it paralleled the lack of sound in the voids of space. He chanced a glance at his parents. They were both shocked, eyes wide and mouths open. They were also both silent. Slant continued.

“You know how I always said I felt different and like I didn’t belong? Well, recently I figured out that it was because I am different. I… I was born into the wrong body. Or at least that’s how I feel. That’s why I was never happy, that’s why… “He stopped when he remembered that they didn’t know what he had attempted. Better to change topics.

“Anyway, I have, recently, found that… well, that I want to be a mare. No, that I need to be a mare. To be happy… And I was really scared, and very depressed. And I hated myself for thinking it, but it’s something I cannot avoid.”

His parents started to recover. His mom started to form tears in her eyes while his dad started to tense the muscles in his face. He couldn’t place the emotion. Anger? Confusion? Disgust?

Slant closed his eyes, and continued.

“I’ve been doing research; I found that what I have is called Gender Dysphoria. It’s why I feel the way I do. It’s when the physical body of a pony doesn’t match up with how they identify. And it causes body image issues, and depression, and isolation. So I found out I have it, and I’m scared. And I know what I need but I don’t know how to go about it. And I knew that I needed to tell you. And I want your support, because I feel really alone right now, and I need help to get through this.”

Tears were now falling from his closed eyes into the floor. He did not dare to open them and see his parent’s reactions, so he waited. He waited for a response of some sort. Some indication of what was happening. Some indication that it was all going to be ok. He then heard the soft noise of hooves striking the stone floor. Someone was coming closer. Maybe to comfort him, maybe to speak to him. He waited. No sound came. Then he felt it.

It all happened in a split second, and yet he could dissect the number of things that happened in order. First he felt a hard pressure against his cheek. Then that pressure intensified until it was painful. Then it sent him tumbling into a drawer next to the wall. Lastly, he felt a warm liquid dripping out of his mouth.

Someone had kicked him, and he was bleeding.

A scream followed his fall. He opened his eyes. His mom was still on the bed. Her eyes were wide and tears flowed freely while a look of shock appeared on her features. His dad was now standing next to where he himself had been a second ago. He still had that same look he had had the last time Slant had looked at him. There was no trace of confusion anymore though, just anger and disgust.

“How dare you?” asked Rich. His voice was terse and showcased his barely controlled rage. He was trying not to yell, but it wouldn’t last long.

“Wh…what?” Slant’s voice trembled. The tears had stopped, leaving only fear.

“You think this is funny? Some sort of sick joke? And after everything we’ve done for you this is how you repay us?”

Slant processed the words but was unable to form a response. Rich moved closer, towering over Slant as he continued.

“What did we do wrong!? We gave you everything, a good home, an education! We tried to be good parents. So where did we mess up with you!?”

He was now standing directly on top of Slant’s form.

“I.. Um…”

“ANSWER ME!”

A hoof came down, striking Slant on the face again. This time he couldn’t dissect it in stages. All he felt was pain.

“I SAID ANSWER ME!”

There was another strike, this time in Slant’s stomach, knocking the air out him. Now he couldn’t fight back, even if he had wanted to. Rich grabbed Slant by the throat and threw him at the work desk. Papers scattered everywhere, covering a large section of the floor, as Slant gave out a particularly loud cry of pain. His left wing had caught the edge of the desk. He tried to flex it but he was unable, both because of the lack of response and the pain he felt when he attempted it. He turned to look at his mother who was still staring on in shock, unable to move, or unwilling. He then turned and saw his father walking towards him until he was once again on top of him.

“YEARS OF NOBLE LEGACY AND DECENCY RIGHT DOWN THE DRAIN! CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THEY WILL ALL THINK? A FREAK IN THE RHYME FAMILY!?”

He raised both his hooves and prepared to bring them down on Slant’s head. Thinking quickly, Slant covered his head with front right leg to absorb some of the impact.

To say that the pain was mind numbing would be an understatement. At the moment, Slant was unable to reason. He was unable to think. The pain threatened to take his consciousness with it, but he held on, focusing on his leg. It was sticking at an odd angle, bent backwards at the joint from the way it was normally supposed to be. He tried moving but received nothing for his efforts but a renewed jolt of pain. He then noticed the remnants of a very loud scream of agony, probably his own, fading into the walls as he was kicked once again from the side, landing him near the door.

The scream seemed to have shaken his mother out of her stupor since Slant heard what sounded like her voice and his father’s voice arguing. He couldn’t hear what they were arguing about, the sound being muffled and discarded as his brain focused instead on the pain crying out from every nerve ending. It didn’t matter anyway. All that mattered was that he was near the door, and he needed to escape.

He ran out the door as best he could with his injured leg, turning back to check he was not being followed. They had not noticed his absence yet. As he turned to look forward he noted his brother’s door, which seemed to be cracked open. Probably a trick of the torch lights. He quickened his pace finally reaching his room. He knew he didn’t have much time.

He grabbed his purple bag and filled it with the bare necessities. He grabbed his bag of bits and a few books and diaries that he knew he might need. He then grabbed his green dress. Once everything was secured he closed his bag with a bit of tape, not having time to look for rope. Then he heard the yell.

He didn’t know what the yell had said, but he knew they had discovered he was missing. He left through the window, as he often did during his late night walks, and ran as far away as he could.

He didn’t know where he was going, the train station being closed for the day and his leg rendering him unable to follow the trail down the mountain. Logic told him to go to the police station, or to the castle. He had enough to get his father arrested… but then what? And worse, what if whoever he talked to agreed with his father? He couldn’t risk it. Then he saw the shadow of a pegasus in the air. He was being followed.

Instinct kept Slant running through the back streets of Canterlot where the buildings themselves would keep him shielded from an aerial attack. Whenever the pegasus got too close, Slant would take a sharp turn. He wasn’t thinking about where he was going; there was no time for thought. He just let muscle memory dictate where his escape would lead. This would prove unfortunate.

Before long, he found himself facing down the Cliffside of Canterlot as a pegasus swiftly landed behind him. His father stared him down with unrestrained anger in his eyes. Slant looked behind him. All he could see were trees and small towns scattered down and across the distance. He tried to move his injured wing. It was difficult, and very painful, but he got some movement out of it.

“Maybe it would be enough to sustain flight,” he thought.

His father took one step towards him. Slant jumped.

He immediately opened his right wing preparing for flight. He then struggled to open his left wing. He was unable to. He had been wrong.

He stared at the trees far below him as he plummeted. He was not followed.


Slant took a moment to compose himself before continuing his story.

“When I woke up, I was deep within some woods. My injured wing was just as damaged as before, but I found that on my way down I broke the other one. My injured leg was still unresponsive. I also found I had a lot of scratches and cuts all over, but I had nothing to wash the blood away. I could still see the mountain behind me, and I remembered seeing a town before my jump so I made my way in the general direction I thought it would be in. I got as far as the Everfree before I saw any sign of civilization. Then I headed there in the rain. Then you found me,” he said, pointing at Applejack.

“Why did you lie?” Applejack asked. “When we had that first talk, why did you lie about yourself, or about what happened?”

“I had been away from civilization for a while so I didn’t know how far news of what happened had spread. I didn’t want to risk it.”

“News?” asked Rarity.

“Yeah. The Rhyme family is one of the oldest and most renowned families in Canterlot. I cannot imagine what the tabloids and reporters would do if they found out what happened. The scandal would be the talk of all of Equestria. Even if they didn’t hear about what happened with me, my mere disappearance was probably noteworthy enough for them to write about.” He looked at Applejack. “I didn’t know what you knew. What anypony knew. I didn’t want anypony knowing that I am… I didn’t want my past following me. Besides, I’ve been disowned in the most thorough way possible. I’m not a member of the Rhyme family anymore. Slant Rhyme died in that fall.”

“Is that why you were avoiding ponies? And me?” asked Twilight. “Because you thought we might have heard about what happened and might recognize you?”

“Yes and no.” Slant turned to look at Twilight. “Yes, because that is why I avoided ponies. I didn’t know who might recognize me and if they might have heard of what happened. However, that is not the only reason why I avoided you. Being from Canterlot, you posed a double threat to me. For starters, you could, and did, recognize me. We had classes together, and anypony who lived in Canterlot would probably be able to recognize the Rhyme family members. It was also far more likely that you would have heard what happened since your parents still live in Canterlot, as does your brother, not to mention your connection to Celestia. But it was also possible that you could alert them.”

“Alert them?” asked Twilight, “What do you mean?”

“Regardless of whether or not the public found out about… about me, my disappearance will have made some news. I don’t know how they’re handling it: maybe they declared me dead, or maybe missing, or maybe they are saying I’m sick and can’t come outside. As far as I know, my family probably assumes I’m dead, which works for the best because they won’t be looking for me. However, imagine you had been told I was missing in Canterlot and you saw me here? Or even if you didn’t know what was going on and you told your brother in the guard that you saw me in Ponyville? Imagine if my parents found out I was alive and walking around? I couldn’t risk it. Anypony with connections to Canterlot is a threat.”

They all processed the information in silence until Rainbow Dash spoke.

“So, you’re a transvestite?”

“No, I’m transgender, and not by choice!” Slant yelled. They all stared at him in confusion. He sighed.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled. Let me explain. ‘Transvestite’ is a very derogatory term. It’s an insult. I am transgender, a pony whose gender identity is different from what they were born with. And when I say it’s not by choice, it’s because it’s true.” They continued to stare at him.

“Look, I didn’t choose this. I would like nothing more than to just be a mare and to not have to suffer nature’s mistake, but not even all of the magic of both princesses combined could fix this… I would even settle for someone fixing it so that I didn’t feel the way I do, but that’s not possible either. And I cannot ignore it.”

Still they stared in silence. He couldn’t tell what they were thinking; he couldn’t see any trace of emotion on their faces. There was nothing to tell him what was going on in their minds. There was silence once again, silence enveloping everything except his cursed heartbeat. He couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for lying, I’m sorry for avoiding you, I’m sorry for being what I am. I’ll leave town. All I need is until tomorrow afternoon and you will never see me again. I just ask, no, I just beg that you don’t tell anypony about what happened. Please?”

There was still silence. Taking one last look at them, Slant turned and ran out the door leaving behind six mares who were still trying to process what had happened.

Applejack was the first to recover from the shock. She turned to Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy.

“So none of you knew?” she asked. Rarity and Rainbow Dash both silently shook their heads while Fluttershy stared at the floor. After a moment, her soft voice rang out.

“I did.” They all turned to look at her in surprise. She hesitated for a second due to the new attention she was getting, but then continued.

“It was back at the shop when looking for a dress on the day we met. I’m not sure how I knew, maybe it was all the awkwardness, or the posture, but I figured it out. That’s why I went and picked out the dress I did. Considering what I knew about what she had to conceal, I figured it would be a better dress for her.”

“Um, I think you mean ‘for him’ darling,” Rarity said.

Fluttershy turned to look at her in the eye.

“Do I?”

Author's Note:

So, now all the cards are on the table with only a few chapters left before reaching some type of conclusion.

I'm really nervous about how this will be received.

See you next chapter,
-thedarkprep