• 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

  • ...

The Day Before: Celery Sticks & Innocent Tricks

"Breakfast... is served!"

With a ring of a bell, the pair of doors at the other end of the dining room flipped open, all eyes turning to see two separate rows of ponies, wearing the finest tuxedos with lidded trays of food on their hooves leveled up to their buttoned collars, march down the aisle of seats, aligning themselves behind the chair of each guest.

Rainbow licked her lips as they settled each tray onto the table, removing the domed lids to reveal their requested delicacy that awaits them from beneath. Hers was a salad of diced onions, finely shredded carrots and chunks of potatoes in a vessel of lettuce and purple cabbages, garnished with grated cheese and complete with a small dip of mayonnaise in the center. It wasn't what she would call exquisite; the fancy restaurant back in Ponyville had more elegant foodstuff, but it looked delicious as well as colorful.

Turning to the right, she smiled at Taciturn's watering mouth, his sights set upon his own breakfast; none other than a stack of pancakes, the maple syrup drooling down the tower. Unlike her creation, however, there was a melting block of butter on the top. That's right, she thought to herself upon seeing it. That was what it was missing!

"Is it delicious?" she asked, to which he quickly answered with a cheerful nod. Rainbow personally requested the waiters to serve him those; it is, after all, one of his favorite delicacies, and she couldn't be more happier to have made that choice, seeing how he was enjoying it so much.

Stabbing into her salad with her fork, she glanced at the other guests seated around the table, helping themselves to whatever assorted snacks that they ordered. Besides Fidus and Doctor Martingale, who were both chatting quietly with each other amid their feast, she couldn't recognize anypony else on the table.

They were all dressed flamboyantly, their mannerisms matching those of the ponies in Canterlot. The doctor did mention that they were all friends of Taciturn's father, and were nicer than they look; a sad realization that the only living relative left was none other than Tassee himself, which was a little depressing for her, knowing how he would react to these kinds of situations. Oh well - she tucked her hooves - she hope for the best.

The sweet crunch of the salad soon filled her mouth and, despite how delicious it was, Rainbow chopped a small piece of lettuce for the still-hungry Taciturn, who accepted it eagerly. She couldn't help but giggle as he munched on it enthusiastically, wearing a coleslaw-filled grin that nearly escalated her laughter.

"Well, it seems you two are having fun," Doctor Martingale remarked teasingly, the other guests giving them warm smiles, to which she responded with her sheepish own.

It wasn't long before everypony finished their respective meals, one by one rising slowly from their seats. Of course, Rainbow and Taciturn finished last, having spent most of the time feeding each other, much to the amusement of everypony else. Wiping his mouth with a napkin, the cyan mare soon trotted out of the room, with the blanched colt following closely behind and leaving the clutter of dishes to the various maids around.

"Well, where shall we go first?" she asked. It was now his house, after all.

"There's so many rooms to explore..."

She stopped only when she noticed Taciturn was not following her, his interests set upon one of the many paintings hanging around the walls of the corridors. Once she got closer, however... she thought he was looking at a mirror!

Underneath an efflorescent bronze frame, staring down at both ponies, was a stallion. Like Taciturn, he was white with his mane black, combed smartly to the side. The noticeable differences were that he had a mustache, curled stylishly at the tip of his snout, a small pair of glasses perched like an eagle, and in place of wings, he had a horn instead. At the bottom of the picture was a golden, oval plaque, with the magniloquent words carved into its polished surface reading out:

Sir Valente Accidia Bleach III

"Daddy..." Taciturn muttered, gazing up soberly at the portrait. Rainbow suppressed her gasp, watching quietly with a forceful bite of her lips as the colt raised his hoof, placing it gently onto the cracking varnish of the painting, his eyes glistening with tears.

To see his dad's face for the first time in seventeen years... it was a little breathtaking for the colt, even if it was only from some sort of painting. Rainbow placed a hoof around his shoulder, smiling consolingly at the sight of his despondent expression.

"He really looks like you..."

There wasn't a direct answer, though she knew in her heart that Tassee completely agreed with her. Of course - she assumed from the portrait - his father had more confidence and pride in his work than Taciturn would ever have, seeing how dignified his smile was. Yet, Taciturn was a chip off the old block: both were prodigies, both were geniuses in their own talent and both were admirable. Like father, like son... there wasn't a truer proverb to describe the two ponies.

"Well, one day you'll be like him," she assured, ruffling his mane and making him harrumph, much to her amusement.

"You're gonna go far, buddy, and I'll help you get there."

Taciturn just turned to her, wearing a 'did-you-really-mean-it' kind of expression or, at least, she assumed it to be.

"Dashie?" he questioned with the pure innocence that only a child could give, tilting his head to the side. Rainbow chuckled, her one hoof hugging him tightly around his waist as both pairs of eyes glanced up at the portrait once again.

"Yeah. I mean it."

"Highlanders are move forward. Browning has the ball, then Williams, then he passes to Austin..."

The living room wasn't a place to huddle around a blaring radio and listen to the live news of the Cloudsdale Aerobowl, all the while handing out wads of bits that could've payed for the whole house. Then again, Rainbow wasn't some upper-classed aristocrat who would placed their bets on a harmless sport such as this. Must be a Canterlot thing, she surmised.

She was in, well, the living room, reading a few books that she had took from the bedroom after tucking Taciturn in for an afternoon nap. As she had expected, they were adventure novels, similar to Daring Do, and she would've enjoyed it if not for the cheering ponies at the side, too absorbed in their gambling to notice her disgruntled expression.

Her brows narrowed down at the group, slightly shaking her head at the sight. It was expected for these high society ponies to gamble over sports, but she find it a little disrespectful: one of their friends had just passed away, and they, what, slam their money on his antique tables and holler about his house like it was some sort of celebration? She wouldn't dare do that in any of her friend's house, even if it was something as exciting as the annual Cloudsdale Aerobowl: the one and only pegasi rugby championship in all of Equestria!

It wasn't long before she rose from her seat and left, grumbling loudly only when she was five doors away. They said that walls have ears and, despite not taking it literally like Twilight had once said, Rainbow still scanned the cracks of the aging walls for any secret recorders and such, knowing how desperately sneaky these ponies were. She had met a fair share of them back in Ponyville, and they were anything but friendly.

"Stupid, irritating..." she scorned once she was convinced there was none, though still not as loud as her grumble. Sometimes, she wondered if the ponies even bothered about giving respects to Taciturn's father. Maybe they were here just to get a portion of his will and such. You'll never know, she told herself, these ponies and their blasted greed.

Her thoughts screeched to a halt once she took a glimpse of the map again. If it were right (and she knew it was), the nursery: one of the 'places of interest' in the mansion, would be the next door on the left.

Sure enough, it was the nursery, alright, made evident by the name tag on the door with the exact words printed into it unless somepony here had some morbid fascination to carve it there and toy with her head and her sense of direction around the mansion; for Celestia's sake, her and her confounded paranoia.

Opening the door silently, Rainbow stepped in, glancing around the room. It was sufficiently small, yet she knew it would be a whole empire for any foal crawling about here. Beside the window, underneath a chandelier of planets and stars, was a wooden cradle, painted white complete with the bladed fittings of a rocking chair. Standing against the wall was a cabinet, no doubt filled with whatever toys that could sate the cravings of a child. There was also a small couch, probably for the parents to watch over the children as they read from a stack of magazines and newspapers at the side.

Her attention, however, was soon lulled by the sight of a wall filled with dozens of paper held against its floral wallpaper by strips of tape. Creeping closer, Rainbow held her breath when she realized what they were: paintings, though the more she examined it, the more uncomfortable she became.

All of them, though detailed, were crude; there was one where the body of a pony was scrawled with black and red; another had a small rope dragging him around. The more she looked, however, the more raunchy the paintings became. There was one where it seemed like a mere, black scribble, though she could clearly make it out the silhouette of a pony underneath all that mess. Another was drawn so vividly, with ropes and chains, she couldn't imagine how horrendous it would be if she saw it in real life.

Every line of crayon (she deduced it from its rough texture) was powerful with hatred and disgust, searing across the paper like a cleaver. It's almost as if the painter forced himself to draw them, and judging from how precise they all were, she knew of only one possible pony that could've done that.

"Tassee..." Rainbow muttered one plausible name out loud, her eyes widening in disbelief. These were Taciturn's drawings? But why? Why on Equestria would he draw something this... this macabre?

Her eyes caught sight on a small bulge behind one of the paintings. It showed a door with tendrils sprouting out of the keyhole, which became even more disturbing when she reached behind it and pulled out a key. It was as if Taciturn, or somepony else, wanted her to find it through this... metaphorical painting.

The key was narrow, its spine resembling, literally, a ridged spine, forcibly twisted into an 'S' shape. Its handle was adorned as a miniature pony's skull, with the other end looking like a few skeletal hooves protruding from its body. The pegasus gulped at its design, unable to fathom whatever kind of lock it could open in this house, or the insanity of the locksmith that created this.


Rainbow nearly yelped in surprise at the squeak of the familiar voice, quickly slipping the key underneath her wings and turning around instantly to see Taciturn standing at the door, blinking and staring curiously at her. Beside him was Fidus, who, surprisingly still wore a smile at the sight of catching her in the act.

"There she is, my boy," he muttered to the other colt, patting him on the shoulder.

Taciturn suddenly lunged towards her, catching her in a yelp of surprise as he gave her a tight hug, squealing with delight. She started blushing when he squeaked his name over and over, the sight amusing the butler greatly as he watched from afar, trying his best to hide his soft bout of laughter.

"He thought you left him here and ran away," Fidus said, much to her shock.

"He searched through the hallways to find you. I offered to help after seeing him wandering about. He was worried sick about you!"

"Oh, Tassee, you silly pony," she cooed, nuzzling his snout. "You know I will never leave you here!"

She turned to the butler, giving him an appreciative smile. If it weren't for him, Taciturn would be worried sick of her, and she knew of the shenanigans that he might get himself to when he's worried: the last time she left him when he was asleep to have a reading session with Twilight... let's just say Applejack did not have the best harvest of apples on that day, and Pinkie Pie worked extra hard to make a few consolatory pies for a certain, concerned somepony.

"Thanks, Fidus. For helping him."

"Anything for Taciturn, Miss Dash," he said with a grin, shuffling aside to allow the couple to leave the room, their hooves entwined together.

"However," he whispered into Rainbow's ear as she passed by him, stopping her in her tracks.

"I hope you concur that there are some rooms in this house prohibited to strangers, and for a very good reason. If you fear for Taciturn's and your safety, I recommend that you'll halt whatever your curiosity has gotten yourself into, understood?"

Rainbow never even bothered to give a lackluster nod, instead trying her very best to retain her smile as she and Taciturn marched down the hallway and back up the steps. She couldn't help but feel the butler's disturbing stare piercing through her heart at their departure, relief overwhelming her only when she turned around a corner, out of sight from the aged stallion.

That was the second pony that warned her of her actions and, seeing how closely acquainted they were, there was no doubt that both doctor and butler were trying to hide something from her. His words differed in tone from Doctor Martingale's, however; was he threatening her? Whether he did or not, his morosely tone and choice of words (fear for Tassee and her own safety? Really?) served as a warning, and she didn't like the sound of it.

Not one bit.

"Hearts and Hooves Ball?"

Taciturn nodded happily, having handed her a pamphlet that the butler had issued to every guest when Rainbow Dash went out to get some dinner for both of them in Fillydelphia. The said mare was now scanning through every ornate word written on it.

Rainbow couldn't hold back her surprise at the sight of it, of course. A ball just a few days after the funeral? It doesn't seem appropriate for ponies (or, at least, her and Taciturn) to be in the mood after such a depressing event. Then again, the funeral being set on Hearts and Hooves Day, which was tomorrow, was inappropriate as well.

"Each pony is requested to bring their respective spouses," she stopped with a glance at the blanched colt, "to the ball next Sunday, in honor of Sir Valente Bleach. They are also required to have a suitable attire for the occasion, which can be purchasable in the nearby town of Fillydelphia."

Folding the pamphlet, Rainbow turned to the other pony, unsure of what to say. They had three days to prepare for another ball, and she wasn't really sure of what to do; usually Rarity would be the kind of pony that understand how it works, and especially what attire to choose.

"Well... whadaya say, buddy? Wanna give it a go?"

Of course, Taciturn gave a cheerful nod, which made her sigh.

She wasn't sure how he would react to this if he were actually present at the ball itself. Would he scream from all the strangers that might be attending? Not only the rest of the guests were invited, but the ponies of Fillydelphia itself, which sometimes made her question how big the ballroom is.

Then, there was the dancing. She knew how to bust a few moves (as her number-one fan would call it) but she wasn't sure if Taciturn could do the same in return. Was he a good dancer, she asked herself. She surprised him with his ability to learn in the time they spent together, though she knew dancing wouldn't be an easy feat for him to learn.

"Four hours..." she muttered the small details. "Venue, the White Ballroom. Food and drinks are provided free of charge to all attendees..."

That takes care of dinner for that night, she told herself, though the thought of her wearing a dress again started to bother her. She swore to Princess Celestia's vase collection that she wouldn't be caught dead wearing a dress; she had said it a multiple times already, and to be forced to do so again... fate really knows the best ways to annoy her.

The sound of ruffling paper bags caught her attention, her eyes turning just in time to see Taciturn unpacking his dinner: five raspberry muffins and a chocolate milkshake. Rainbow giggled once he licked his lips tentatively at the sight, already starting to chow down on the first of the baked treats.

"Relax, Tassee," she spoke, her hoof shielding from the crumbs flying out from his mouth.

"You don't wanna mess up the room."

The cuteness of his questioning expression that came after, thanks to his bulging cheeks from the muffins within his mouth, nearly made her heart stop. With a chuckle, she patted his head once the colt resumed his chewing, albeit taking his marefriend's advice this time.

"You're so naive sometimes," she muttered, resting her head on his back. If only she were to understand whatever his bizarre past was like and help him out from there. Maybe there might be some sort of explanation for his twisted paintings back in the nursery; the one that probably Fidus and Doctor Martingale might not want her to see. The morbid key she had hidden in the folds of her wings might prove to be an answer for that, and would probably shed light on what they were trying to hide so badly from her.

At least, she hoped it would.

The sound of him crunching into a stick of celery perked her attention back, her eyes widening when she saw Taciturn digging through the paper bag once more, the celery sticking out from his mouth like a cigarette.

"Hey!" she called, pulling him back frantically. Taciturn just gave her a wry smirk, eagerly chomping on the vegetable; her dinner, down voraciously. Rainbow sighed, her hoof meeting her forehead at the sight of his dainty, innocent expression again, shaking her head when he purred gleefully.

"I take it back," she replied, shaking her head.

"You're not naive as you seem to be."

Taciturn, however, still reached into the bag, picking out another stick of celery. He prodded it against Rainbow's hoof, the mare looking in surprise at his actions.

"What?" she asked, to which he suddenly pointed it at his mouth.

"You... want me to... oh no. No, no, no, no-!"

"Dashie~!" he whined suddenly, pouting.

"No, you're not gonna feed me. I can feed myself, thank you very much."

The colt just mewled, his lips pursed and his head slumping down onto the bed at the sight of Rainbow turning away in a huff, her hooves crossed indignantly. However, she suddenly sighed in defeat, perking her coltfriend's attention back to her as she stammered, her cheeks turning slightly pink:

"Al-alright. But j-just this once, Tassee!"

With a squeak of delight, Taciturn quickly sat up on the bed, his hoof guiding the stick of celery like an airborne train down the tracks to the impatient mare's waiting mouth. She cursed herself for blushing, which grew even more frantic as she munched on the stick, her face by then already redder than the raspberry muffins she had bought for him.

"There!" the cyan mare declared gruffly whilst munching on the celery, her hooves still crossed like a stubborn filly.


With a giggle, Taciturn quickly gave a few rapid nods. The sight of his smile soon piqued Rainbow's lips to curl up as well, before she herself started to laugh at her own predicament, shaking her head with a sigh as she ruffled the blanched colt's mane, to which he cringed meekly at it.

"Tassee, Tassee, you silly little colt," she said breathlessly, gazing into his cheery, black eyes before bringing him in another tight, choking hug with her hoof around his neck, correcting her words with a smug grin:

"My silly little colt..."