• Published 12th Feb 2013
  • 2,513 Views, 95 Comments

Black Canvas - WritingSpirit

Rainbow Dash and her new coltfriend, Taciturn Bleach, paid a visit to his home, where she learns about Taciturn's troubling childhood

  • ...

Two Days Prior: A Nice Father

"That'll be seventy bits, please."

Seventy bits! Seventy ridiculous bits for a five hour carriage ride to a small estate in the outskirts of Fillydelphia! Rainbow wanted to curse and yell at the driver responsible for taking them here, unable to conceive on the possibility of such an expensive price. Sure, she herself couldn't carry Taciturn by herself for five hours on hoof, but at such a staggering price... if only she had enough strength to fly here.

With a grumble, she snapped open a small purse; a gift that Rarity sent on her birthday last year, handing to their driver the said price. Tipping his hat, the driver soon galloped off down the pebbled dirt path to the town of Fillydelphia, the slate roofs and stacks of chimneys visible in the horizon.


Taciturn was sitting on one of his luggage bags, no doubt containing all his art materials to pass the time during their stay. He was weary and tired, his eyelids on the verge of drooping, and the cyan mare would understand why; while she had spent three hours of the trip sleeping (the result of waking up a little earlier than usual), the blanched colt stayed awake, gazing like a watchful owl at the ever-shifting scenery around him.

Giving him an uncertain smile, Rainbow then turned to the gates that stood before them. Like most iron gates, it had rails with blunted tips that pointed up to the sky, with iron grape vines entwining them, already ravaged by freckles of rust, along with a plaque at the center, where there was only one recognizable letter 'B' at the side; the others were covered in an obscure sea of brown, though both colt and mare knew what was it trying to tell them.


"Well, this is it," she muttered, holding Taciturn's hoof. It was her decision to come here and, if necessary, spend some time in Taciturn's former home. She had told the remainder of her disappointed friends about it, knowing they were all too eager to see her and Tassee spend what she had proclaimed 'the best Hearts and Hooves day that anypony could have' during their small meetup yesterday. Best Hearts and Hooves at a funeral... you and your jinxing mouth, she scolded herself.

There was one other reason that she decided to come here, and it can be summed up in one word: curiosity. She had never understood, much less bothered, about Taciturn's past, and to realize that he had family all this time was a little surprising and mystifying. Then, there was the impression of royalty in his family, made evident by the intricate design of the gates before her and the stately mansion lying behind it, to his late father's title of 'Sir' and the presence of a butler mentioned in the letter. She chuckled at the irony; if there is one last thing that she expected Tassee to be, it was as the son of some pompous, royal aristocrat leaving far, far away from Ponyville.

"So... wanna go inside? Take a look around and such?"

Taciturn gave a weak nod, and sure enough she marched forward, pushing the gates with a loud creak. Marching hoof in hoof with her coltfriend, her eyes soon rested upon the estate of the Bleach family, her breath whisked away by such an amazing sight.

As expected, it was grand, with untrimmed vines of ivy crawling up its brick walls and a set of wide, stone steps leading up to the front door. Its three rows of windows adorned silky smooth curtains that flutter in the moist air, and the roof bore a slight shade of verdigris, yet still standing strong as the marble fountain situated on the entrance, spraying out sparkling domes of water from its cairn of lotus bowels.

At the mahogany entrance stood a suited pony, a small smile growing around his pale, grayish azure cheeks. His deep blue and grayish (which she believed was due to age) mane was waxen, his mustache trimmed and his tail equally as neat. With one hoof parting, he suddenly gave a respectful bow, the couple exchanging surprised looks.

"Welcome to the Bleach household," he spoke deeply.

"My name's Fidus Shadowtear. I believe you had received my invitation, Miss..."

"Dash. Rainbow Dash," the mare replied hesitantly. She wasn't keen to bother about formalities, and being called 'Miss' just made her feel a little more... older. She really hates having her age toyed just by a small phrase.

The butler soon turned to Taciturn, his smile reaching to the sides of his cheeks. He suddenly gave the blanched colt a tight hug; one which the colt stiffened up in fear, softening only when Rainbow gave him a warm nod. Simultaneously, Fidus gave him two pats on his back, letting out a hearty chuckle with small tears forming at the side of his eyes.

"It's good to see you again, my lad. After all these years..."

With a whimper, Taciturn was soon freed from the other pony's embrace, though he was still frozen in place by Fidus's two hooves on his shoulders. The butler gazed at him from head to hoof, all the while chuckling happily despite the bleached colt's aversion to his gaze.

"You've really grown up. Oh, if only your father could see you now..."

Rainbow could swear she saw Taciturn's eyes jolt at the mention of 'father', unsure if it was from his emotional turmoil, though Fidus soon diverted his gaze to her, snapping her from her thoughts immediately.

"I presume you were Taciturn's guardian? Doctor Martingale had mentioned him having one in the preceding Hearth's Warming Eve around a month ago."

"Yeah. A-and marefriend, yes."

Fidus's eyes grew wide immediately at her words, his head repetitively turning between both pegasi.

"W-well..." he managed to stutter, forcing out a cough.

"That's certainly a surprise, indeed. I never expected him to be in a relationship already."

Nor did I expect you ruining our Hearts and Hooves Day together with some funeral, she added underneath her breath. Of course, she would respect the untimely passing of her coltfriend's father, but it seemed a little too deliberate. A funeral that slices into her plans for spending their Hearts and Hooves Day together? Purely ridiculous!

"You mentioned that Doctor Martingale told you about me being his guardian?" she asked in a bout of curiosity. It was a little surprising for the butler and the doctor, whom she believed they had never met each other at first, were acquainted with each other.

"Yes," was the answer.

"Doctor Martingale was the family doctor for quite some time. Both he and I would spend some time in the gardens together, until his resignation around two decades ago. Of course, we still keep in touch with each other, and he notified of Taciturn having been adopted by somepony as a guardian."

Adopted. There it was again: that blasted word. Rainbow could feel her heart simmer grudgingly at the phrases that both doctor and butler share; either their choice of words are equally bad, or it was just a metaphor, which was still slightly horrible to her ears. Taciturn's not a foal, despite having a few mannerisms of being one. Plus, they were in a relationship; calling it more like an 'adoption' doesn't seem right. At all.

"Well, it's great to meet you, Miss Dash," he said, shaking her hoof and turning the knob, the mahogany door opening with a slight creak, revealing the grand interior of the estate. Rainbow blinked in surprise and awe, lifting her luggage inside with Taciturn clinging onto her hooves as the butler continued:

"Please do make yourselves at home."

"Hungry, buddy?"

Taciturn shook his head, leaving his marefriend with a sigh of defeat. Rainbow placed her spoon back into the half-full bowl of mushroom soup, served hot from one of the few maids scurrying around the estate and performing their duties. So far, they had been working hard to make their recently-returned master (she couldn't think of a better word) feel comfortable after such a long departure from home, though she herself knew all he needs is a moment of consolation and a small rest.

Almost immediately, she tossed herself back onto the plushy queen-sized bed, slamming her head onto a red pillow as she stared up at the ceiling. Despite the passing of what seemed to be the patriarch of the household, his servants were really doing their job; every antique piece of furniture was clean and kept free of dust, and by antique, she really meant it! Everything here was vintage, from the phone and radio to the television and chandeliers hanging in the hallways. It's almost as if she stepped through another dimension in time.

Their bedroom was no different; the dresser was covered in ornate designs, carved into the pine wood it was crafted from. The bed itself had flowery designs carved around the base, with red and white sheets covering its springy mattress. Judging from a globe and telescope standing quietly in the corner and the various books and slips of paper stacked neatly in a bookshelf at the side, there was no doubt that this was some sort of explorer's room. Rainbow's intrigue perked at that, wondering if any of Taciturn's relatives really was an adventurer.

"Must have some sort of family tree or something," she mumbled, trotting towards the bookshelf. Every royal family should have a family tree of some sort, and she wasn't surprised if the Bleach family (for Celestia's sake, why Bleach?) had one somewhere.

"So..." Rainbow said suddenly, turning to Taciturn and letting out the one question nagging in her head:

"How's your dad like?"

There was a soft shuffle of wings, before came his soft, mellow reply:


That was disappointing, a part of her said. At least having 'a nice father' was a good enough hint that the fatherly bond wasn't horrible, but that only piqued her curiosity even more. If there wasn't a problem between father and son, then why was he sent away from the estate at such a young age? What more, does Doctor Martingale's resignation have a role in this mess?

"Well, he seems like a rich pony," she continued cautiously.

"I mean, look at the house around you! Everything here's worth like, what, a million bits each? You could play all the taxi fares in the world for that!"

Taciturn started smiling, the sight of it making her chuckle, her hoof ruffling his mane. She wasn't actually joking when she said that, however; the seventy bits this afternoon was really a pain in the neck.

Settling next to him, Rainbow soon grabbed the bowl of soup, raising up to him whilst she raised an eyebrow. She saw the colt staring quietly at it the entire time, and that, along with a small grumble from his stomach, was enough to tell her that he was starving. "Come on," she beckoned, raising a spoonful of mushroom soup towards his stubbornly-zipped mouth.

"Open wide. You can't stay hungry forever, you know."

And, with utmost hesitance, Taciturn did as he was told. Rainbow soon stuck the spoon into his mouth, serving him like a mother to a baby, except that the 'baby' was ten times larger and not really a foal anymore, before pulling it out with a loud *pop*. A sincere smile crept on her face at the innocence of her coltfriend; if only she had his outstanding memory to capture this scene.

"You know how to feed yourself, right?" she asked, to which he nodded slowly.

"Well, I'm gonna go explore the house a little. Don't wanna get lost the next time we walk around, huh?"

Rising from the bed, Rainbow left the colt to his soup, peering over her shoulder at the door only to catch him eyeing her leaving the room, to which he immediately glanced away, before she shook her head, trying her best not to laugh as she closed the door.

"Now, let's see..." she muttered to herself, pondering as she gave a quick glimpse on both sides of the corridor. Despite the place being old, they were bright as ever, thanks to the small chandeliers hanging overhead. The walls were layered with floral wallpapers, with one or two paintings (she wasn't sure if it was Taciturn's) and portraits hanging around. There were only a few doors present, no doubt entrances to the remainder of the guest bedrooms around.

She headed to the left, her hoof resounding a thud every step along the creaky floorboards, pausing only to take a peek at the map she had slid under her wings, which detailed the floorplan of the estate and its grounds. Fidus had handed it just in case she ever got lost around the mansion, and she knew it would come in handy sometime throughout her stay here.

There were a few rooms of interest that she had noted on the map, particularly the ballroom, the master bedroom (where she guessed that Taciturn's father had stayed) and the nursery. The latter seemed of more importance to the rest; it might tell her something of the bleached colt's five-year stay here as a child, and could probably answer why his father left him in the care of Doctor Martingale soon after.

Another one that caught her eye was the gallery and library/study, both rooms interconnected by a single door. Rainbow could picture Taciturn and his father spending most of their time together there, with the older pony settling his work and finances whilst watching over his son painting from afar.

Her pondering was soon cut off by the sight of an azure-colored pony at the other end of the corridor, standing among a few suitcases. The cyan mare smiled once she got closer to him, who gave one in return as he brushed back his doctor's coat, giving her a wave.

"Miss Dash! So nice of you to be here!"

"The same, Doctor Martingale," she replied, giving him a welcoming hug.

"Did Fidus invite you as well?"

"None than the butler himself, yes."

The doctor peered over her shoulder for a moment, wearing a baffled expression. Rainbow turned around, expecting somepony to be there, but all that met her was the emptiness of the corridor.

"Wasn't Taciturn supposed to be with you?" he asked.

"Oh, he's just busy finishing up his lunch," Rainbow replied.

"He's a little... you know, preoccupied, about his father's passing. I'm not entirely sure if he's okay being here. It's not really like Tassee to just... not smile at all, you know."

"Well, you can't blame him."

Doctor Martingale let out a small sigh, tucking his glasses into his suit.

"His father was the only thing he had left before you came along," he said somberly.

"There was never a more pony nicer to him in those days than his father. To be honest, I wasn't keen on taking care of him myself back then, and had always tried to avoid him or insisted on doing another job, if his father had assigned me to look after him for a moment. My situation with meeting Taciturn in the beginning and yours was basically the same; it was only when his father handed him to me after my resignation that I realized how astonishingly brilliant yet compassionate he is."

"But I don't really understand," Rainbow asked.

"If his father loved him so much, then why leave him into your care?"

"Back then, things were pretty hectic. His father was always swamped in his work, which reminds me: did you know that his father was a prodigy himself?"

The sentence made Rainbow's eyes widened in disbelief, the doctor chuckling as he continued:

"Yes, Valente Bleach was talented in the field of science, be it physics, biology or chemistry. Like his son, he was always keen to make new discoveries and experiment with all the tools in the world. It's a little amazing really; father and son, two geniuses sharing a familial bond. Then Taciturn had a few... problems, I would call it, and his father was forced to sent him to me, to which I soon nurtured him until you took over the reins."

The cyan pegasus started to smile sheepishly at that, earning a laugh from the other pony. She never forgot the first day of Hearth's Warming, where she helped out Fluttershy on sending a peculiar paintbrush to the peculiar pony, who then became her coltfriend.

"But," she began, snapping out of her thoughts.

"What kind of problems does Taciturn have? What would be so problematic about him that separated him from his father?"

"I have no idea, myself," the doctor admitted.

"Though sometimes," his face suddenly turned into a small grimace, "there are some things that are best left hidden behind these brick walls. Bringing back the past might not be the smartest thing that anypony can do, and for the sake of Taciturn, I hope you take these words to heart."

The suddenly sharp and serious tone forced out a small, uncertain nod from Rainbow, which was enough to coax Doctor Martingale's jubilant smile to return.

"Well, I'm glad we have that sorted out," he said with a chuckle.

"Toodle-loo for now. I have some luggage I need to sort out."

"R-right!" she stammered. "Of course!"

With a parting wave, the pegasus watched as the doctor stumbled clumsily down the hallway, eventually stopping to flimsily reach into his suit pocket for the key. Without further ado, she headed down the steps, her head running through the words that the doctor uttered.

There are some things that are best left hidden behind these brick walls... it doesn't sound like Taciturn had the best childhood that a foal could ever have. Whatever problems he had in the past might be plaguing him now, and the doctor knows something about it, but wants it to be kept secret, even from her. But why?

She wasn't a fan of Sherlock Hooves (Pinkie proved to be a better candidate) but it was beginning to look a little suspicious to her. There was something troubling Taciturn; something that Doctor Martingale and, most probably, Fidus the butler knew about, no doubt. It was possible that it had been lingering all along in all of Taciturn's twenty-two years of his life, and somehow, she couldn't help but mash her button of curiosity over it.

"Tassee..." she muttered his name, clenching her hooves. Such a reclusive yet caring pony doesn't deserve to be abandoned like that. No, there was definitely more to it than it seems, and she's going to dig out something, anything, that will help her learn more about it.


A whimper.

That was what woke Rainbow Dash from her deep, relaxing sleep. A small whimper. Cruel.

She turned to her side, biting her lip as she saw Taciturn cringing up, his hooves hugging tightly on the sheets. Despite the slightly warm air of the night, he was shivering with cold sweat dripping from his forehead, his eyes visibly darting around in its sockets beneath his eyelids.

His wings, as well, were ruffling about, tossing its large, white feathers around the room like it was some sort of minuscule pillow fight. Her decision to sleep through it (and a horrible decision it was, she scolded herself) was soon met with displeasure from the colt, whose whimpers grew even louder with the inclusion of her name.

"D-Da... Dashie..."

Well, she sighed. At least Tassee's the one doing the whimpering.

"Hey, buddy?" she whispered quietly, his eyes opening slowly.

"What's wrong? Got a little nightmare?"

There was a hesitant nod, prompting her to continue:

"You can tell me all about it. I'm here for you, remember?"

Instead of answering (which she surmised he was trying to, though his trembling mouth stopped once it opened, the words whisked away from underneath his throat), he just shuffled closer to her, caressing her hoof. Rainbow just smiled, proceeding to wrap her other hoof around his body, reaching up to his face and fondling his cheeks.

Her surprise was met when she felt it being damp; Taciturn was crying! Was his nightmare that horrible to the point of him breaking down? Then again, he was a vulnerable pony, after all, but still - Rainbow wanted to smack herself - he was crying!

"Don't cry, Tassee..." she consoled, hugging him tighter and wiping away the fresh tears rolling down his cheeks.

"You know I can't really bear to see you like this."

Taciturn just curled up tighter; any more and he would become a makeshift soccer ball. With a sigh, the cyan mare rested her head onto his hoof, watching serenely as he slowly drifted himself back into the realm of sleep, his trembling body calming down gradually.

"Nothing's coming for you, Tassee," Rainbow gave him a few words of comfort.

"Not when I'm around, 'kay bud?"

Breathing in deeply, Rainbow soon shifted slightly closer to him, quietly humming a small lullaby into his ears; a lantern guiding his lost ship back from troubled waters. The blanched colt soon let out a peaceful smile, and it wasn't long before his marefriend soon yawned herself.

"G'night, Tassee," she whispered.

"It's gonna be a big day tomorrow..."