Armoured Hearts

by Milo_Chalks

First published

Silver Heart, a royal guard gets reassigned to the Equestria Games in the Crystal Empire, he never expected to find love there.

Silver Heart, a guard in the Royal Canterlot armed forces, has just been re-assigned to the Crystal Empire Royal Guard! He is there on a temporary security boost for the Equestria Games. He was planning a fun time with his colleagues at the Crystal Empire, explore the kingdom, watching the games, meeting the Crystal Guards, making some new friends. Romance? Expectations were low for finding that on his holiday. But as clockwork as Celestia raising the sun, fate has a funny relationship with expectations.
Contains M/M shipping,

Original artist of cover art used with permission from the amazing:
Thanks a huge bunch to my amazing friends who made this possible! Thanks to all my editors, Geechan, Eye-CFox, Javarod,OkemosBrony and AlternateUniverse.

Featured on 17/10/18!!!! thank you all my amazing readers!

1: Security Boost

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Chapter 1: Security Boost

Tick...Tick….Tick….Tick. The minute hand creeped forward, slowly etching its way towards the top of the clock hanging outside the main entrance hall of Canterlot Castle, high and proud as a centrepiece above the entrance. Though it was indeed an accurate timepiece, it was there to display the wealth and glory of the school to all: students, staff and visitors. However, if the time was three forty-five PM and the day was a Wednesday, the clock’s every movement would be watched carefully and attentively: Silver Heart hated the entrance hall shift with every fiber in his body. As a guard, he was constantly subjected to ponies sticking their faces in his own, and the entrance hall was crawling with ponies who had the silly little idea that they could break a guard. The end of his shift at four could not come soon enough in the eyes of the young guard. Soon, the evening shift would come along and Silver would be free from the equal parts drudgery and aggravation that the afternoon shift brought.

After another fifteen minutes of staring mercifully at the clock, it was finally time to make the dignified march back to the barracks. Silver Heart started to make the trek back with Night Shield, his voiceless companion. They walked through the door of the barracks, both immediately losing their signature guard demeanour and sighing with relief as they joined their comrades who had already returned from their day shifts to remove armour and get slightly more comfortable.

“Heart, Hooves, Shield, Hoof! Present! Now!”

Groans could be heard from the tired, reluctant ponies just finishing their shifts. Unfortunately for the fatigued guards, a superior was a superior no matter how long the day had been. All of the summoned guards trudged into line and formed up with less-than-military precision. Once the ponies were in line and any mistakes corrected, the sergeant cleared his throat and began to talk in the typical gruff ‘sergeant’ voice that he had picked up from years of service.

“As you may already be aware, the Equestria Games are being held in the Crystal Empire in less than a fortnight, and the guards up there are spread thin. So, the decision has been made to move the Canterlot Guard’s positions to one-fifth security. Four guards from the morning, afternoon, and night shifts that have proven to be valuable assets to the royal name have been selected to be transferred temporarily to the Crystal Empire to help maintain security through the duration of the Equestria Games. We have selected you four from the afternoon shift to fulfill this task. I am obliged to tell you that we, so if you would like to be removed from this assignment, please speak now… Thunderhoof! Do you accept?”

Wow, the opportunity to visit the Crystal Empire!’ thought Silver Heart as his heart started to beat faster and faster to the point of threatening to burst out of his chest.

“Yes Sir,” Thunderhoof replied in a monotone chant.

“Sun Shield!”

I get to watch the Equestria Games! I might meet a bunch of new friends as well…

“Yes Sir!” Sunshield replied.

“Iron Hooves!”

I will get to meet the legendary Shining Armour! Maybe even get a raise!

“Yes Sir.”

“Silver Heart, do you accept”

The ponies in the locker room were now watching the display as the sergeant looked at Silver Heart. His face was emotionless as always, but not a moment of hesitation came through Silver Heart’s mind. He knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“Yes Sir!” Silver Heart replied, a faint smile creeping along his face.

“Excellent, I expect all of you to be at the barracks at 0530 hours on Sunday morning, packed, briefed, and ready for travel at 0600. You will be at the Crystal Empire for three weeks, maybe longer, so pack accordingly. Dismissed!” With that, the sergeant turned and marched from the common room, leaving the four to talk about their assignment. A smile widened upon Silver Heart’s face as it sunk in… I’m going to the Equestria Games!!

“...and this is the guest dormitory, you will find the rooms you were given have been made. If you have not been told already, we only ask of you that the room stays in the same condition in which you received it., you will receive a new voucher every night when the maid cleans your rooms. They each entitle you to three courses from the castle’s kitchen. Enjoy your stay, Gentlecolts.”

Silver Heart followed the pack of guard ponies into the wide hallway. The eastern side of the Castle, while still being a captivating sight being made entirely of crystal, was slightly roomier than the rest of the Castle. The hallway they walked down had wooden doors somehow hinged to the crystal walls looking, very out of place against the look of the walls and ceiling. Twenty doors lined the length of the hallway, which ended at what looked like the way to a common room.

With that, he left the twelve Canterlot Guards to get settled in. Each guard left to go to the room they were assigned, quick to say their goodbyes before opening their doors and stepping into their rooms. Suddenly the hallway was filled with the terrified yelps (and some squeals) of twelve stallions, followed by all of them falling out of their rooms saturated in freezing water.

The hallway was filled with shaking stallions, one with a bucket on his head as a pony further down the hall read a note found on the bed of every room. “Welcome to the Crystal Empire, we hope you enjoy the complimentary water bucket left in your room. Yours truly… The Crystal Guards.” The hallway erupted into groans and shivering as they realised what had happened.

Silver Heart was exhausted, although also an odd combination of angry and amused. These Crystal ponies know how to have a laugh, he thought. Maybe they were really nice. All positive thoughts diminished as he wrapped the room towel around him, he felt.. Sticky.. Silver heart looked down and rubbed a hoof along the towel… flour. This realisation was followed with several loud groans from the rooms next to him, it seems water on the poor guards fur had turned the flour into a dough, covering his torso in slimy flour making it’s way down his lower legs. He could only hope the shower had been left untouched.

After a warm and slightly paranoid shower, Silver Heart slumped onto the bed and finally got a chance to appreciate the room they were provided with. While it didn’t have as much glamour as the rest of the Crystal Castle, the dormitory bedrooms were quite nice for the purpose they served. A crimson quilt on the double bed made the centrepiece of the room. On each side of the bed were bulky, black bedside drawers with a lamp on both. What surprised the pony the most was the built-in wardrobe on the opposite side of the bedroom. The bathroom was linked with the room next his. Equipped with a toilet, shower, medicine cabinet and sink it was bare, but practical. Silver Heart was unfortunate enough to have to share the bathroom with Sunshield, notorious for taking showers longer than royalty. After a brief look around the rest of the room, Silver Heart clambered into the pre-made bed. One final thought lingered as his mind was slowly grasped by sleep.

Yes, this truly was going to be an interesting three weeks

Silver Heart’s eyes fluttered open. Slowly blinking sleep from his eyes he clinged to the last strands of peace before he sat up in his bed. Realising where he was again he got up, shivering as the cold morning clung to his fur after the warmth of the bed. He walked out of his room and made his way to the end of the hallway. Slowly hearing more and more voices as he approached the common room.

With the the age old marching routine setting his hooves on autopilot, Silver Heart made his way to his assigned post. While his face showed no emotion as he made his way there, his mind was bitter and screaming at him to get angry. Here he was at the Equestria Games, hundreds of kilometers away from home, defending a records room. He and a random Crystal Pony were assigned the afternoon shift over quadrant 2 section 3… Record Keeping. This was going to be a long shift. At least he wasn’t alone, the Crystal pony was being briefed in the Crystal Guard’s own briefing, they were keeping the Canterlot ponies separate for briefing, at least until they settled in.

After much mental grumbling he finally made his way to the assigned post to see the crystal pony waiting for him, the traditional guard stance and emotionless features standing in front of the record room door, the guard’s eyes found Silver Heart’s and pony took a half step to stand on one side of the door, Silver Heart took the notion and placed himself on the other side of the door.

This is gonna be a boring shift, that is for certain… ’ Silver Heart thought to himself, ‘Nopony, will come around, I wonder how strict the Crystal Guards are?

Silverheart scanned the surrounding branch of the hallway, no one was going to come by today, it was the opening of the Equestria Games, everypony would be outside. With hesitation, Silver decided that with such a boring shift, it was time he talked to this other gua-

“Uhh, H-Hi.”

Silver’s eyes widened as he realised that the Crystal pony was thinking the same thing. He didn’t know what to say, he let the moment be filled with silence before he could figure out what to say.

“Sorry, I-I wasn’t quite sure how you Canterlot… nevermind.”

“My name is Silver Heart, don’t worry, we’re probably as professional as you are when nopony is looking.”

Awkward silence ensued, it must have been five minutes at the most, but the emptiness made it feel like an hour.

He is going to tell his superiors, oh sweet Celestia, he is going to get me sent back to Canterlot, then probation and all the mocking and all the heckling.

“Hi, Silverheart, I uhh, I’m Starry Scroll, my parents thought I would be a poet.”

Relief flooded Silver Hearts body as he realised that Starry Scroll isn’t going to be telling his the superiors about the talking. He continued to stare straight ahead a smile and a brief chuckle reaching his eyes.

“I betch’ya get sick of saying the last part, nice to meet you, Starry Scroll.”

A smile managed to creep across Silverheart’s face in his mind, the emotionless face being expertly crafted and unchanged, it wasn’t going to be that long of a shift anymore. Little to his knowledge, the Crystal guard standing on the other side of the doorway was thinking the exact same thing.

2: Gelato Time

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“Man, this city is huge! They don’t give it justice in Canterlot. It’s just kinda another city to them.” Silverheart commented as the two guards finished their shifts together. Starry Scroll and Silver Heart had spent a majority of the post quietly talking when nopony was around. Casual small talk occupied their morning as the two got to know each other a little more after their shift when talking was a little less completely forbidden. The two were just leaving the barracks and heading out onto the streets of the Crystal Empire to relax after a long shift. Silver Heart couldn’t imagine a royal guard so shy and timid, noticeable as soon as they got talking properly.

“Yeah, a lot of ponies come here think it is a… a village,” Starry replied to Silver’s comment albeit quieter than a mouse. The castle gates left their view and the nearby markets gathered their attention for some late afternoon lunch as the sights and smells started occupying their minds.

“Well, in any case, you have quite a place, the city, it is beautiful. So where do you reckon we should get lunch?” Silver Heart asked.

Starry Scroll thought for a moment. “Well, uh, there is one place I… kinda… like, it’s called Restaurant Bella. We can go there! Uhh, if… if you want.” The last part he barely whispered. Silver had to strain to hear it.

“Sounds like a plan! Lead the way.” Silver replied, slowing down for a moment he allowed the other guard to be next to each other. “So what do you Crystal guards do for fun anyway?” He asked.

“W-well, usually the other guards like to do sports, a lot of them have marefriends and families. I… don’t usually hang out with them…” Starry Scroll trailed off.

“Oh…” a silence of awkward proportions filled the street as the walked along. Starry Scroll’s head dipped as they walked along, a strange sinking feeling hitting him as they went along the road. After another minute or so of silence, the two ponies were outside the Istallion restaurant.

“This is the place?” Silver asked, smiling as they stood outside.

“Y-yeah, they do all sorts of foods.” Starry smiled back.

Both walked into the restaurant they found seats and had a good look at the menu.

“I had a huge breakfast, I don’t want anything-” Silver Heart loudly gasped as he looked at the bottom of the list, “they have gelato? Oh. My. Gosh!” Silver exclaimed.

“Yeah, I’ve never actually tr-” Starry Scroll could barely finish his sentence, letting out a squeak the slightly larger grabbed him by the hoof and dashed over to the counter top. Silver looked down at the variety of flavours available, his eyes sparkling and turning to dinner plates as he looked at the tens of choices lining the countertop freezer.

The server came over to the two stallions deciding on their gelato. The white guard squished his muzzle against the glass, trying to get his eyes as close as possible to the range of flavours. “How can I help you gentlecolts?” She asked giving them a sweet smile.

Starry Scroll gave the mare a little wave, but she hardly noticed as Silver Heart burst out his order as quickly as possible. “Can I have one scoop of Blueberry, Chocolate Truffle, Raspberry, Lemon-lime, OHMYGOSH and mixed berry, please! Oh and a big scoop of coconut cream on the side! Thank you so much!” He exclaimed barely hiding his excitement.

The server, wide-eyed managed to get somehow the onslaught of flavours all written down. Rushing back to the seating, the Canterlot Guard looked like a colt in his excitement for the gelato flavours about to visit his tastebuds.

“You have to try it Starry! Gelato is like ice-cream but a million times better.” Silver Heart explained.

“Alright, I’ll try a bit.” He smiled. “So, do you unno...have a family? Back in Canterlot?” Starry asked.

“No, I don’t actually.” Silver Heart tapped his hooves on the table and sighed. “No, just me, and if it is any consolation, I don’t hang around with the other guards as much either. I mean, we are friends, but nothing close. They are a bit… boisterous unno?” He explained.

“Yeah, I know that feeling. They are so loud and rough, not really into anything aside from who can hit the hardest of fly the fastest.” Starry replied, once again in his timid fashion.

“Finally, somepony I can relate to. Those games are so stupid, unno this may sound crazy coming from a Royal Canterlot Guard, but I have always been more a lover than a fighter.”

“Same…” The two shared smiles, as brief as it began a bowl filled with an onslaught of gelato flavours swamped their vision. Silver's eyes lighting up at the sight. The mare gave them a smile and trotted off. A look only found in a hungry predator came over Silver Heart as he eyed the bowl with thirst. He looked up at his friend who had his head resting on his hooves as he looked out the window.

“Hey!” Silver called out to him getting him to turn back. Starry Scroll went cross-eyed as he saw the spoon in a green aura filled with mixed berry ice-cream. “You showed me the place. You get the first spoonful.”

Starry tried to say ‘oh’, but as soon as he opened his mouth the spoon went in, flavours of juicy berry exploding the moment it touched his lips. The flavour not in any way being synthetic but delicious and fragrant. His eyes widened as he tried it, looking back at the other stallion with a smug expression on his face.

“Good huh.” He replied, sticking another spoon into another flavour. Holding it in his mouth Silver melted in his seat as the taste flooded his mouth. Not a whole lot was said between the two as they finished their frozen treat.

Taking closer to seconds rather than minutes the entire bowl and both stallions were chatting away together.

“So, if you don’t play ‘wrestle to do the death’”. Silver Heart started, being overly sarcastic in his mockery of his fellow guards. “Then what do you do for fun?”

Twirling the spoon in his aura, Starry just stared off into space for a second before returning to earth. Chuckling nervously at his absent stare, he stopped turning the spoon and looked down trying to think about what to say; he had no idea. “Well… uhh, well I… stuff.”

Silver tilted his head in confusion, instead of clarifying Starry just looked between the table and his new friend. “Well then, in that case, I like to do ‘stuff’ aswell.” Silver smiled. “Buuuuuuut I also like to cook, I am a total foodie, I also love to read. Uhhh, and astronomy. I love to watch the stars and the galaxies that Celestia and Luna can’t control. You see, in Canterlot, it’s probably really similar here, the lights of the city block out everything. The night sky is clear all the time. Well, one time when I was a colt, my parents took me on a little camping trip, my dad took me away from the campfire, he took me to a small clearing. We laid down on the grass and just… watched. We watched the stars, the beautiful, amazing stars, and the galaxies, the light. It was blinding, it was incredible. I’ve never forgotten it. Sometimes when I feel confused or lonely, I go to the canterlot mountain, far above the city, and I just look at the stars.”

“Wow, that sounds… amazing. I-i’ve never, seen… the stars. Well, unno.” Starry chuckled again nervously. Silver looked at him for a moment, silently assessing the pony across from him.

“You’re nervous aren’t you? We aren’t on a date.” Silver grinned and giggled at his joke, making Starry blush a bit. “But seriously, relax, I am starting to like you, Starry. I don’t get on with most of those rough and tough guards. It's nice to meet, and work with somepony with character, someone above beating other ponies heads in.” Silver smiled, earning a smile back from his friend.

“I write.” Starry blurted out louder than he had said anything so far. Silver looked at him in mild astonishment, smiling he knew he was finally making him comfortable.

“Yeah? That’s awesome! What stuff do you write” Silver asked.

“Well, it’s… a-a little odd, I mean, it isn’t something a lot of stallions do, but uhh, I mean I like it and… I write… romance.” He looked down instantly looking like he regretted the confession. He is weirded out, he totally isn’t going to be my friend now... Starry thought to himself as he refused to look up.

Had he looked up he would have seen a large smile on Silver’s face. “I love to read it, don’t be so ashamed! I’d totally have to read yours someday.” He grinned.

“Really!” Starry exclaimed, putting a hoof over his mouth at the outburst.

“Totally! Have you read any of Jodi Picolt?” Silver Heart asked.

“I… yeah!”

“Nicoltus Sparks?”

“I have read Message in a Bottle twice!”

“What about Whinnying Heights?”

“By Emily Brony? I love that book.”

Both looked at each other for a couple of seconds in shock. Suddenly, like the pop of a bubble all the pressure released, both stallions bursting into laughter.

“I honestly can’t believe you like romance! I seriously could have titled myself the only Stallion that read romance.” Silver Heart chuckled smiling at Starry.

“Me too.” He smiled to himself, returning to his normal volume.

Stepping out the booth Silver turned back to Starry. “I totally wanna see more sights around here, would you like to come? I have nopony else to hang out with. You are a tonne better than those boneheads at the barracks.”

“Uhh yeah sure, I...I have some good places we could unno go to if you wanted to. They are… nice.” Starry stammered.

“Sure! I’d love to visit the places that are ‘nice’.” Silver giggled grabbing Starry’s hoof. “Come on! Let's go!” He smiled hurrying out the place. Being tugged along Starry quickly delved into his pocket and barely managed to throw the cost of the ice cream onto the table as he was yanked out the door.

The two stallions dashed from this place and that, trying things, tasting things, watching things, smelling things. They daylight dwindled at the horizon, slowly fading into the brilliant red of the evening. The two ponies were walking down a street on their way back to the castle, Silver carrying shopping bags, Starry laughing at a shirt saying ‘I Love the Crystal Empire’.

Arriving back at the barracks both stood outside the Crystal dorms laughing at their day. “Seeya tomorrow for morning shift Starry!” Silver Heart exclaimed as he began to walk away from the dorm to his residence in the castle. He thought back to the gelato they had eaten. Did I pay them? We ate it, talked a bit, then I ran out! I didn’t pay… wait, I think I saw Starry throw something on the table, it must have been bits. Damn… I’ll have to pay him back.

Turning around, Silver went back to the dorm door, as he was going to knock, he overheard laughing. Rather than knocking, he decided to press his ear against it.

“...wearing?” He overheard a much gruffer voice bark.

His eyes widened as he heard Starry on the other side. “It was just a joke. It was stupid.”

“You’re a joke Scroll, seriously? As a… ‘joke’ you decided to go prancing around the Crystal Empire with that stupid thing on? How do you even work here still?” Another voice came through the door.

“Why don’t you just date that Canterlot guard, you’re halfway there. You probably couldn’t bang those Canterlot kinds, though, they all have sticks shoved up their ass.”

“Sorry…” He heard Starry, barely audibly. Silver had just about had enough. Throwing the door open he strutted in and walked over to a terrified Starry Scroll making his very meagre stand in the corner of the room.

“Starry! There you are, forgive me for intruding gentlecolts, I was just about to head up to my dorm to unlodge the stick in my ass.” Silver hissed through teeth. “I just wanted to give you a couple of bits for helping me kick the flank off those stupid thugs threatening us today.” Throwing a couple of bits into Starry’s hoof, he gave him a small wink.

“Whatever, don’t forget to leave a sock over the door handle you two.” A guard laughed to the others before walking off, taking the others with him. “I don’t know how he is still on the guard.” The guard could be heard faintly as they walked away.

Helping his fallen friend off the ground Silver glared the direction of the other guards. “Jeez, those guards are friendly.”

“Thanks, Silver, th… It happens when I give them bait. I should have taken off the shirt.”

Silver looked at his friend in shock. Glaring at him he started to speak, “Starry, listen to me, no matter how harsh they treat you. Don’t ever give up who you are, or what you like just to please some brainless muscles on legs. You be you. Now, I gotta go now get some sleep, but I hope you get where I am coming from, keep those bits, they’re for the gelato. I’ll see you tomorrow Starry.” With a wink, Silver left the dorm, and unbeknownst to him, a blushing stallion.

"Seeya... Silver Heart." He whispered back.

3: Revenge

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“So what is up with those big assholes giving you a hard time last night? That was so random.” Silver Heart whispered. Not saying any more until the sergeant had turned the corner and gone off to inspect another part of the castle.

“W-well, nothing, they just... they think I am a colt-cuddler. I’m not one, but they are part of some group that goes around demonstrating against the ‘scourge of ponykind’ which is basically anypony they think are different. It’s stupid… I mean, how could they even think stuff like that… I-I don’t get it. It makes me so mad and frustrated and stuff.. Cause… I’m not a colt-cuddler...” Starry looked down to the ground and sighed. “I wish that they would not be so… mean I guess.”

Silver looked over at his friend shuffling his feet nervously, “So why do they think you are a colt-cuddler?” Silver asked. Starry did not expect this question at all, looking up in shock.


Starry Scroll tripped on his own hooves and landed face first on the hard marble floor.
his armour clattering as it hit the floor second. Near sending a shockwave from the impact. He quickly picked himself up off the floor, getting back into his position. Terrified his commander had heard the commotion. After a couple of stunned moments of silence, both stallions let out a large breath they didn’t realise they were both holding in.

Silver leaned across in a smirk, “Jumpy aren’t you?”

“Sorry.” Starry tried to make himself as small as possible.

“So?” Silver asked.

“What?” Starry asked back.


Starry shrunk yet again, attempting hide deep in his armour.

“Why do they think you are a colt cuddler? Gay?” Silver asked again.

“Oh, umm, well I kinda.. They kinda, saw me doing… something stupid.” Starry looked down at his hooves, not wanting to say anymore.

“What did they see you do?” Silver Heart pushed.

A long pause as Starry thought about his answer, eventually working up the courage to speak, “they saw me write all that romance stuff…”

A dead silence, one that made the meek guard want to crawl away and hide in the smallest space possible.

“Yeah?” Silver looked confused.

“Yeah?” Starry looked over at him confused, not attempting to hide in his armour anymore.

“Well? Have anything else to add? I don’t get how romance makes you a colt-cuddler?” Silver asked, sincerity evident in his tone.

“Well, it’s… girly and stuff, I’m a guard, and I shouldn’t need to write romance to get my feelings out.” Starry looked down, worried he had said too much to his new friend.

“Pfft, seriously? Okay, look. Those stallions in the guardroom clearly have only gone as far as their front door. That is so not how Equestria works, they are going to fall behind on the times and not a soul in Equestria will care,” Silver smiled at his nervous friend. “I wouldn’t worry about them too much.Keep your head low and you’ll be fine,” He finished.

Starry Scroll smiled at this thought, “Thanks, Silver. I wish had some friends here like you.”

“Well, you have me, and even when I leave we can write and stuff…” Silver’s ears twitched slightly as he caught a faint noise from beyond the castle’s walls “Wait… Do you hear that?” Both stallions went quiet as they strained to hear what Silver had heard.

They eventually managed to make out the faint sound of cheering and Shining Armour making his speech in the opening ceremony.

“The games must have just started, I can’t believe we got put duty during the opening ceremony, it’s one of my favourite parts.” Silver commented as the audience quieted down so all they could hear Shining Armour’s muffled speech from the stadium.

“Unno, as a colt, we would get up really early in the morning to see the opening ceremony in front row seats, it was so exciting, getting to wake up extra early and get the best view.” Starry Scroll added as Shining Armour’s speech began to conclude.

“How sweet,” His colleague smiled. “My parents were late sleepers, we would usually join after the opening ceremony had started, I do want to get to an opening ceremony one year.”

They stood there for a while in silence as the commentator went through the first half of the list of competing regions.

“Hey Starry?”


“After our shift, do you wanna go down to the stadium and watch some of the games? We can steal the night shift’s seats in the Crystal Empire section and watch some of the main events,” Silver smiled getting excited and loud.

“Oh… oh yeah. That sounds really fun actually. Can we share some popcorn?” Starry beamed.

“Sounds like a plan, Starry.” Silver smiled at his friend and returned to his guard stance. “Oh but hey! Just before we do it, do you mind quickly stopping off at the Crystal Dormitory?” He added, looking back at Crystal Heart.

“Uh, sure I need to get my coin purse anyway, but, why?” Asked Starry Scroll.

“I don’t take kindly to cowards attacking my friends while they are alone. I think we show them a bit of love in return…”

Both stallions shuffled along into the booth for off-duty guards, filled with enough snacks to feed the battalion sat in front of them as they found their seats.

“I can’t wait for those stallions to get what is coming to them. I just hope it works,” Starry smiled as they settled in and began watching the events they hadn’t missed.

“Oh, it will, have no fear of that. But for now, I am just keen to see the events with my new friend! I am so glad I found a Crystal guard to talk to. I was scared I was gonna get some rule stickler who has no sense of fun. it’s amazing how many of those types end up in the guard,” Silver rolled his eyes and jammed a hoof-full of popcorn into his mouth.
“So, Starry, tell me: You don’t exactly look like much of a guardspony, so why did you take the job?” He asked after swallowing another large hoof full of popcorn to resume talking.

“Well, I never really wanted to be. I just kind of need the bits until my writing takes off. what about you?” Starry replied as he got significantly less popcorn and began eating.

“Yeah well, I don’t exactly a huge ambition in the guards either. I am actually a bit of a jewellery maker, I wasn’t too bad at it either.”

“What happened?” Starry asked a little louder, trying to speak over the crowd cheering for a record javelin throw.

“Well, competition got tough in Canterlot.A lot of fine art there and a lot of ponies ready to make it. I am contemplating moving to Manehattan -- ponies are in need of a proper jeweller there. Wouldn’t mind the scene change either.”

“Yeah, me too I guess.” Starry finished.

“That was so cool! I had no idea you could even do the things some of those unicorns could do with their horns, let alone well practice. And wow, those pegasi! I wish I could fly sometimes. They make it look so easy!” Silver chuckled as Starry continued to get more and more excited.

Finally, he stopped chatting and let Silver talk. “I am glad you enjoyed the games. I am making a mental note to definitely not let you have energy drink. Have you ever even had that stuff before?” He tilted his head in interest as they walked down the dark stretch of road at night. They had meandered around the same block three times chatting about the games.

“Weeeeeell, no, as a colt I never really got into that stuff. I just kind of drank tea and water, I didn’t even drink juice. I was a lot more chatty with my parents over other colts. Hey, do you think they have a toilet at that corner grocery store? I reallyreallyreally need to pee… in fact never mind! I will just check, obviously you don’t know,” He quickly spouted off as he dashed towards the corner store.

Silver raised an eyebrow and trotted along towards the corner store at a much slower pace. He sat on the steps leading up to the entrance whilst he waited for Starry to find a toilet.

I can’t believe he has never really done those things as a colt. I mean, he is a little bit odd, but in a cute way…

Silver nervously looked around as if someone nearby could read his thoughts. He raised an eyebrow at nothing in particular and shook his head.

Cute? I meant nice… a bit of a slip there. Oops… why am I still thinking about this? For Celestia’s sake, how long does it take to pee? This is a really weird conversation I am having in my head. Can I think of something else now?

I wonder if he is a colt cuddler? I mean… He said he wasn’t, maybe he was lying. Not that it wouldn’t change anything. He sorta does give that vibe though, that’s bad to think about… He is a great friend. And I guess if he was gay that would explain some of those cute little things he doe- GAH!

“Hey Starry! We should probably head back to the castle now, I think I need a break from my own head…” Silver muttered.

“Huh?” Starry asked furrowing his brow in confusion having returned from the toilet.

“Just got a bit lost in thought is all.” Silver shrugged off.

Silver Heart and Starry Scroll sat down at the end of the small jetty, their hooves just reaching the cool water. The harbour of Manehattan was lit up with brilliant orange and red rays of the setting sun, sinking below the calm waves of the Equestrian ocean. The city behind them slowing down in preparation for the night. Leaving the two stallions in the quiet cool air together.

Silver shuffled closer so the two stallions were near touching, turning to his friend their eyes locked, Silver’s glistening it’s brilliant green hue.

“Look Silver, there is.. Something I need to tell you.” Starry started nervously.

A long pause followed, nothing but the gentle splash of the waves against the pier daring to break the moment.

“Go on Starry.” Silver smiled.

“I… I’m scared,” He choked as Silver quickly hugged him with a smile.

“You can tell me anything Starry Scroll. Please, what’s bothering you?”

“Well… I uhh, I like stallions and I don’t know how to feel and-” Starry was quickly cut off as something warm and soft pressed against his lips and Silver’s grip got tighter. Silver’s eyes widened as he saw Silver’s lips pressed against his own.

“It’s okay Starry. I… I do too, and well, I’ve been scared to ask but, I have been so in love with you.” Starry teared up as the two locked lips again and clutched each other tightly under the setting Manehattan sun.

Silver suddenly broke the kiss, looking up. Starry looked in confusion as the world around him was suddenly shrouded in a giant shadow. There was nothing around him casting it, it was an open area. Not before long, the entire ocean was covered in shadow-like darkness, the world turned dark.

Looking across Silver was still in a trance looking upwards, following his sight Starry Scroll looked directly above him. His skin turned white at what he saw. Above them, the face of his fellow guards, the ones that bullied him filled the sky, blocking the sun. Floating past their faces skewed in a sly grin looking directly at the timid stallion. His heart stopped as his coworkers looked down on the scene below.

Starry Scroll traced their heads down to their bodies further down in the sky. He screamed in sheer terror as he saw his poetry in their grasp. The guards in the sky opened the book and began reading the contents. Starry was in tears as the guards snickered and laughed and read on.

As quickly as the giant co-workers appeared they were replaced with a giant alarm clock floating along peacefully. Starry looked on in pure confusion.


Starry jolted awake in bed, panting hard. He felt around frantically in the pitch black to find his desk. Opening the drawer he felt his poetry book, still unopened and intact. He sighed relief and looked around.

Manehattan was gone, as was Silver. He sat back in bed and contemplated the last fifteen minutes of his life. Sinking into his bed he clutched his pillow tight.

“Damn...” He whispered under his breath.

4: Plot

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“Hey, Starry.” Silver Heart stood at the doorway to Starry’s living quarters, already prepared and ready for their upcoming morning shift.

“GAH!” Starry fell off the chair he was sitting on at his desk, the dim light from the lamp being tossed about the room as it too collapsed onto the floor.

“Sorry! Are you alright? ” Silver rushed over to give him a hoof up. Quickly helping Starry up, Silver noticed a book lying on the desk filled with beautiful hoof writing he couldn’t quite read. “Hey, is that your poetry book? Can I have a read?” Silver asked, peering over the book as Starry regained his balance.

Noticing Silver looking into his book he dived in front of the book and clutched it tight to his chest. “NO! Uhh, it’s not finished.” Starry blushed, trying to hide his book.

“Aww come on, just one of your finished ones?” Silver asked, taking a step forward, sending his friend a step backwards.

“But we… we have our shift!”

“In half an hour, Starry! I won’t judge, promise,” Silver added.

“They’re really boring!” Starry desperately replied, sitting on his bed, clutching the poetry book like it was sustaining his life.

“Starry, I promise I won’t judge.” Starry sat on the bed, looking at the floor, not budging. After a while, Silver let out a sigh and put the chair back in place. “Alright, alright. I won’t look at your poetry, just please. Give me a smile, you’re scaring me over there, Mr. Grimm,” Silver smiled as he sat on the chair.

The Crystal Guard slid the book delicately under the bed and gave Silver a weak smile as they both sat there.

“I’m sorry, it’s just-”

“Hey, I get it, don’t worry about it,” Silver smiled, sitting on Starry’s bed and tapping his hooves together as his friend removed his head from under the bed. “Probably won’t have enough time before shift anyway, how about we check the Equestria Games scores before we go on shift?”

“O-okay, uh, I’ll just be a minute, I have to finish getting ready.” Starry began making his way across the small room to the bathroom.

“No problem,” Silver waved him off as Starry closed the door. The second he could hear the lock click, Silver dashed under the bed and felt around for the poetry book. Upon feeling the leather cover, he used his aura to carefully move it over to the desk littered in paper and writing equipment. Tip toeing himself over to the table, Silver silently sat down and began reading the first page.

WHY should I wish to hold in this low sphere
'A frail and feverish being?' wherefore try
Poorly from day to day to linger here,
Against the powerful hand of Destiny?
By those who know the force of hopeless care
On the worn heart--I sure shall be forgiven,
If to elude dark guilt, and dire despair,
I go uncall'd--to mercy and to heaven!
O thou! to save whose peace I now depart,
Will thy soft mind thy poor lost friend deplore,
When worms shall feed on this devoted heart,
Where even thy image shall be found no more?
Yet may thy pity mingle not with pain,
For then thy hapless lover--dies in vain!

“That’s Charlight Pony… He loves the classics, I bet.” Silver whispered to himself flipping the page carefully.

Jeez, he must have had this book since he started… He thought. Just as Silver went to turn the next page, he heard the door starting to be opened. Quickly, he flipped the book shut and stood up he shuffled the book under some papers on the desk.

“Ready to go?” he asked, trying not to look guilty as Starry finished adjusting his uniform.

“Yep!” he smiled. “Let’s go.”

Starry opened the door and held it for Silver to go through. Taking one last concerned glance at the exposed book on the table, he smiled and walked through the door, Starry shutting it behind him.

“So, any news how our little plan went down?” Silver Heart asked, grinning wickedly to his friend on the other side of the doorway.

Starry chuckled, offering his hoof out for a hoof bump. “They’ll be scratching their backsides for weeks.,” Silver quickly returned. “Itching powder in their bidets, that was genius!”

“Growing up with an older brother had its advantages,” Silver snickered back.

Upon calming down again, Starry spoke up, a new tone taking over the conversation. “You’re leaving in four days, aren’t you…”

Silver looked across the room. “Well... yeah,” he looked down, “but we will still write and stuff! And I am definitely going to visit every now and again.”

“Yeah, that sounds g-good,” Starry looked away sadly, staring into blank space.

An awkward silence filled the empty hallway as both thought about the inevitable. A strange feeling welled up in Silver’s chest, an emotion he couldn’t quite describe, yet it burnt away at him strongly.

“But let’s not think about... that.” Silver felt a pang as he said the words. “Four days is still plenty of time to have a blast!”

It didn’t do much to make Starry feel better, yet a small smile appeared over his face as he stood a little straighter. Unexpectedly, Starry eyes widened as he looked across at his friend, laughing to himself. He furrowed his brow at his friend’s strange behaviour.

“We are terrible guards,” Silver laughed as he leant on his spear for support. Starry looked onwards, chuckling a bit himself.

“I guess. We aren’t exactly cut out for this role, are we?” The shy stallion began laughing a bit harder as the realisation sunk in.

After another minute of laughing, Silver settled down enough to go on. “How did we ever make it out of basic training?” He coughed and stood straight again, taking the weight off his spear. “But seriously though, I really hope you decide to maybe start publishing, or at least move on to bigger and better things. You are a lot better than…” Silver looked around, moving his spear to where he was looking in the wide corridor, “this.”

Starry smiled. “Thanks, but you should practice what you preach,” he replied, nudging his friend off balance.

“Hey! I’m keeping the dream alive, just need the bits to do it.” He smiled recentering himself in front of the doorway. “But if I don’t get to read a book written by some author called Starry Scroll, I won’t be happy. I will stalk you to the ends of Equestria to kick your butt.” Silver ruffled his mane and smiled playfully. Yet, when it finished, Silver was closer than usual. He looked into Starry’s eyes, the shy smile coming through at the attention he was receiving. The larger stallion looked down, entranced in his guard friend’s gaze.

As soon as it had happened, Silver shook himself awake, quickly retreating back and chuckling nervously. “Sorry, you… have something in your mane.”

Starry’s confusion turned to shock as he quickly pulled at his mane in an attempt to remove the phantom object Silver had pointed at.

“Here, let me get it.” Silver came close, pretending to brush something out of Starry’s mane and quickly returning to his post.

Silver looked away awkwardly as Starry’s cheeks reddened, causing him to start biting his lower lip. The silence grew between them for a while until Starry finally managed to cover for his typically extroverted friend.

“So you have… haven’t told me much about Canterlot… D-do you have family there?”

Silver quickly snapped his attention back to the conversation. “Yeah. Dad and my older brother lives there, but they’re thinking about moving to Manehattan. I probably wouldn’t be able to move without them.”

“Your mum?” Starry leaned in. Silver thought for a second and looked forward.

“Nah, she died years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear it…” Starry looked away too, not knowing how to continue.

An uncomfortable silence filled the room, both stallions choosing to look away. Starry could have heard a pin drop from the next hallway over, his hooves getting restless over the large bout of silence. After a while, Silver began to scoot a little closer in his post. “It’s alright, it was a while ago now. I got some good times before she left, anyway,” he finally replied, giving Starry a warm smile.

Starry took a quick breath; he could feel his heart beating and his breath getting heavy as he thought of his next question, “And.. what about a marefriend?” He shuffled his hooves and looked down.

“Don’t have one of those” Silver chuckled. “Haven’t found the right mare yet that’s for sure. I always have this… dream? I guess? This dream of walking into a house after a long day work and wrapping my hooves around somepony. This may sound weird. Like absolutely crazy, but I just see a blob. Like… something in place of who that pony should be. A pony-shaped blob that would lay on the couch with me and cuddle up to me, but I can’t put a face to it, I can’t put anything to it. I guess I don’t know what I’m looking for if that answers your question.”

“Yeah…” Starry blushed slightly.

“What about you?” Silver quickly asked, turning to face the blushing stallion.

“Oh… no, not really, mares aren’t really into me.” Starry could do nothing but shuffle his feet and blush harder.

“Oh, come on! Don’t bring yourself down like that, you are adorable.” Silver quickly stopped himself, his chest tightening. “From… a mare’s perspective, I can see that…” he added.

Starry looked down, kicking an invisible rock with his hoof. “No I’m not,” he looked up sadly.

“Don’t be ridiculous! You know what? I’m gonna set you up. In fact, better yet, we are gonna go on a double blind date! Yeah!” Silver perked up, nudging his solemn friend.

“Silver, I don’t think—” Starry was cut off by Silver putting a hoof to his lips.

“Come on, Starry! What do you have to lose, it will be so much fun!” Silver interrupted, jumping in front of his friend.

“Silver, please. This is so stupid! I am in no way built for this stuff.” He huffed.

“Don’t be ridiculous, if anything it will help get you out your shell more. What is the worse that could happen?”

“Why don’t we do something else?” Starry moaned.

“I don’t wanna hear it! We are going to go on a blind date together tonight! You and me! It will be great! Just you wait and see, Starry.”

Starry and Silver walked down the moderately busy main strip of the Crystal Empire in their formal guard attire. It was Saturday night and the various bars and restaurants lit up the street. Various types of music spilled through the doors giving the place a warm, vibrant atmosphere as groups strolled around the warm night.

“I’m not gonna lie Silver, n-nervous is an understatement,” Starry shivered despite the warm weather, instantly tensing as his friend pulled him close with a gentle hoof.

“You have nothing to be scared of. These two mares seemed very lovely, one of them very willing to meet you, too,” Silver gave him a cheeky smirk, removing his hoof from Starry’s back.

“How did you find these two mar… mares that so happened to be free and interested in two guards anyway?” Starry looked over to his friend skeptically.

“Charisma, wit,” Silver quickly used his magic to pull up Starry’s shirt collar, giving him the look of a disgruntled vampire, “and pretty sexy looking uniforms,” he winked.

Starry huffed. Half frustrated, half flustered, he used his own magic to tuck the collar back in. “I hope you know what you’re doing, cause I d-don’t.”

Silver stopped suddenly, forcing Starry to turn around, a confused look spread across his face as his friend smiled at him. “Starry. You’re totally overthinking this whole thing, just relax. Whether it goes good or bad, I’ll be right here next to you.” Silver’s smile slowly turned into a cheeky smirk. “Not that a dashing stallion such as yourself needs much encouragement.”

Starry blushed, turning around and resuming his somewhat exasperated trot to conceal it. “Stop it, Silver! I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Okay, handsome.” Silver winked as he caught up.

They walked along for a little bit longer until the restaurant where they decided on came into sight. Two mares stood out the front, talking to the maître d’. After the brief exchange, neither colts could make out the waiter leading the two mares inside. As they began to enter, Silver quickly pointed them out to Starry before they disappeared behind the elegant glass doors.

“That’s them! Just going in now,” Silver smiled, picking up the pace.

“Yeah? They look… alright…” Starry tried his hardest to look away from the confused look Silver was giving him.

“Alright… Really? You judging my decision making?” Silver raised a cheeky eyebrow towards Starry as the other pony threw his hooves up in defence.

“No no! I- I didn’t mean it like… like th-tha… tha-”

“Starry, Starry! I’m just joking!” Silver let out a nervous chuckle, putting his hoof on Starry’s back to calm him down. “It’s fine! Don’t worry…”

Starry returned a nervous chuckle just as they made their way up to the maître d’, the overly dressed stallion giving them an award-winning smile as they stood in front of the doors.

“Reservation for Starry?” Silver piped up, taking his hoof off of his friend’s back.

The other guard looked sideways at Silver as the maître d’ signed them in. “They thought your name was really cute, so I put the reservation under it.” Silver winked as the waiter gestured for them to come through.

“Right this way,” the waiter smiled as he opened the door for them. “The rest of your party is waiting over here.” He gave them another smile, indicating to the table where the mares were seated, talking amongst each other. “Enjoy your night, gentlecolts.”

The room was light bright, with deep velvety red black accents and deeper shades of rich, dark colours splashing through the room. The tables all came in four and two: clearly, it was a popular date spot. The tables themselves were deep ebony, the table placements being all similar colours. Starry looked all the more nervous as the formality of the place truly set in.

Silver took the lead, quickly approaching their dates. Both mares noticed the two guards coming their way and both sat straighter, smiling to them as they approached. Silver came right up to the table as Starry stuck close behind, throwing an awkward, over-the-top smile their way.

“Hi again, girls! This is my friend, Starry Scroll,” he smiled, sliding to the side to reveal a nearly-sweating guard behind him, awkwardly waving his hoof.

“H-hi,” he stammered as he came forward. Both mares smiled brightly at him.

Quickly, the mare with a beautiful purple coat with a sapphire blue dress stood up, hosting a bright smile filled with warmth. “Hi Starry! My name is Violet Ember, it’s lovely to meet you.” She quickly moved to the side to reveal the other mare sitting down on the other side of the table, a red-coated mare in a rich black dress who gave a small wave as Violet gestured towards her. “And this is my friend, Silver’s date, Ribbon Twirl.”

Starry resumed his awkward smile, moving to the side of the table that Silver was not sitting at himself. “Nice to meet you both,” he quickly added as he sat down quickly. Violet giggled as she took her seat opposite and leaned towards Starry.

“So!” she started excitedly once Starry was seated, looking quite uncomfortable. “Tell me about yourself Starry, what do you?”

Starry silently gulped, thinking long and hard. ‘What do I do? How do I not know this!’ “Uhhh…” Suddenly he looked down and noticed the guard uniform he was wearing. “Oh! I’m a uniform... — a guard!” He quickly corrected himself, his heartbeat rising as he looked on to see if his date had noticed.

She smiled, either not noticing or caring about the nervous guard’s slip up. “Oh, totally, of course, matching dress gear, I could have guessed.” Violet pretended to slap her hoof to her head. “Well, that’s great! Guard work, wow… is it really hard?”

Starry rubbed the back of his head as he slowly got more comfortable with the conversation. “I mean, n-not really. Once you g… get the marching and the standing still, there isn’t much else to it. Just a bunch of formal work.”

“Huh, and that’s like a long-term thing?” she asked, pouring some water from the jug on the table. “Water?” She held up the jug in her hoof.

Starry quickly waved his hoof. “No thanks… and to answer your question… well, no. I am working on being an… an author,” he finished as she began drinking from the glass, yet as soon as he finished, her eyes lit up. Immediately after getting through her mouthful, she put her glass down.

“Really? That’s amazing!” she added.

Quickly he managed to take back the conversation before Violet dug more into his work. “And what do you do?” he asked, rubbing his hooves together under the table.

“Oh, of course! I’m a gem cutter, I cut gems to fit into jewellery.” She took another sip of water as the waiter glided over to their table, smiling a smile far too large for where he was, a notepad in his aura.

“Good evening, everypony! How are we doing? Would you like me to take your order?” he shot off in quick succession.

“Oh!” Starry quickly lifted up his menu and panicked as he realised he hadn’t even paid attention to his order yet.

“Five minutes? Sorry, we haven’t even looked,” Silver piped up, making Starry sigh with relief. Hiding behind the large menu, he looked across to Silver, who gave him a small wink.

“Of course, I’ll be back soon,” the stallion replied, leaving the double date to decide.

The two pairs sat in brief silence while their eyes scanned the menu clearly designed for someone on a date.

“Caprese salad, garden salad, caesar salad, quinoa salad, pumpkin salad… What is with all the salads?” Silver slapped his menu down. “Well I for one am going to get a club because I actually want to walk away full.”

Both Violet and Starry placed their menus on the table, looking at them with growing intensity.

“Hmmm,” both said at the same time as they looked at the menu options. Starry and Violet looked up at each other, Starry quick to add a nervous chuckle.

“Look at that, first date and we are already in sync,” she giggled back, looking into Starry’s eyes. Both sat there, locked in each other’s eyes. Starry’s mind went blank as he tried to look away. Violet finally gave him a warm smile and turned back to her own menu, leaving a slightly in shock guard across the table staring into empty space.

Finally snapping out of his trance and quickly looked back down, “I-I might get the Caprese salad,” he stuttered out, clumsily folding his menu.

“I kinda like that idea.” Violet looked back up to the salad section, closing her menu with much more confidence. “I think I might do the same,”

It didn’t take long for the waiter to come over and take their order. One round of drinks and a table bread later, and the date was in full swing. All throughout the bread, Starry and Violet exchanged conversation, Starry getting more uncomfortable by the minute. Glancing over Silver’s direction every minute or so, it seemed as if him and Ribbon were hitting it off. Starry felt a slight pang in his chest every time she smiled in Silver’s direction. Yet, after a few minutes of half paying attention to his friend’s date, Starry noticed his friend’s smile faltering every now and again. It was subtle, but evident.

The main course came around, and Starry was slowly feeling confidence return as he began to start dinner. Violet seemed to be enjoying herself, and Silver was having a good time. He should have been feeling good, like he was having a fun time, but he didn’t feel invested. He started to feel anger well in his chest. Anger he didn’t know how to direct. He could feel the room warming up. Suddenly, everything was uncomfortable and he was getting a headache, the heat in the room rising more, making him feel as if his clothes were clinging to him. He wanted to tear them off, to scream, to run, to just do anything except be in that room. Violet had said something to him, but it went completely through him. Breathing was getting more difficult, as if a boulder was pressed onto his chest, his anger rising. :ifting the fork to his mouth, he noticed he had bent it slightly.

“Starry?” Silver nudged him in a distant world, but he didn’t reply. He could hear it, but he couldn’t at the same time. Standing up abruptly, he managed to briefly return to reality. “Excuse me for a moment.”

Starry started walking towards the exit. Not thinking, he knocked into a waiter, knocking her off balance as she was taking a table’s order. He barely felt her as he pushed past, slamming his body into the glass door and galloping into an alley next to the restaurant. Tears streamed from Starry’s eyes as he ripped off his uniform and threw it to the ground angrily. He wanted to scream, to run, to do anything except be where he was right now. He punched the wall of the restaurant in anger, turning around and sliding down it with his back. Sitting down, he wiped his eyes angrily, taking deep breaths as he sat in the alley.

Slowly he managed to come to his senses, and eventually he just sat there, barely noticing the world move around him. What seemed like minutes passed and he eventually, managed to see past his nose, reality coming back to him. Yet, the anger still lingered. Shortly after coming to, he noticed a thud next to him. As he looked to the ground, he tilted his head in confusion.

“Th… what?” He picked it up, brushing the alley’s dirt off of it. Looking at it he only got more confused. On the front, in his hoof writing, sat the title. Wiping his eyes to look at the words, his pupils shrank.

“Poetry Book…” he whispered. His poetry book, being slapped next to him in the alleyway. Looking up he finally noticed something come out of the shadows.

Suddenly there were more somethings, surrounding him in the alley’s shadows. Movement flashed before his eyes as the somethings came rushing towards him. Starry quickly threw his hooves up to block whatever was approaching. However, his face remained unscathed. He felt something pulling on his mane as he was yanked to his hooves and held up against the wall. Pulling his hooves away from his face, Starry could make out the face of a stallion shoving him against the wall. With him stood three others, something he could see even with his vision getting blurry as the back of his head was shoved against the wall. Pain shot through his head and neck as he tried desperately to wiggle free. Once his vision began returning, he could make out one of the figures firmly holding his poetry book.

Starry could only hear dull ringing for the first few seconds, not being able to pick up what the four were saying to each other. Yet,the ringleader put his mouth close to Starry’s ear, sending a chill down his neck, what he said next making the guard’s blood run cold.

“How’s the date going, Colt Cuddler.”

5: Hate

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Every hair on Starry’s body stood on end, his hooves quivering in fear as they were pinned by an unseen force above his body. His mind went into overdrive in order to try to piece together what was going on and how they had figured out his feelings. Pinned against the wall, he tried harder and harder to wiggle free, the grip around him only tightening, painfully constricting his body. Thrown to the ground, he began to taste the sickly metallic sensation of blood in his mouth, tongue aching from when his head hit the ground and his teeth bit down hard.

“N-no…” was all he could choke out as his captor only glared harder, a sinister grin stretching over his face.

The leader spoke up again, his deep, throaty voice sending a fresh wave of chills. “I don’t think you understand.” Starry felt a hoof force itself into his stomach. Not a punch, but gut-shattering pressure being applied slowly and painfully, forcing air out of the guard’s lungs. His ragged breaths only became more panicked.

“We discovered your perverted little thoughts in this little book you so happened to leave out in the open. We don’t value your kind destroying the sanctity of such an honourable profession.” The leader used his rear hoof to step on the downed stallion’s stomach, his spit flying into Starry’s face with every venomous word towards his victim on the ground. Pushing his hoof harder into the stallion’s stomach, Starry gasped for air, becoming more and more winded the harder his attacker pushed. Suddenly he let off Starry, the magic grip on his hooves fading at the same time, sending Starry sprawling into a fetal position at the foot of the wall. Winded body desperate for a way out, his lungs struggled to take in every gasp of air.

He began a futile crawl towards the light of the street that seemed to get more and more distant as his vision clouded over. Another sudden jolt, and he found himself propped against the wall, the ring leader shoving his large face into Starry’s own. At this point, his hazy vision and aching stomach all but obscured the stallion. Yet no matter the volume of pain and visual impairment, the words the ringleader spoke sent a deathening chill through his body: “Consider this a retirement.”

Starry’s eye sockets went wide in fear, his head shaking as the larger guard stood straight and turned around, two other guards standing over him to prevent escape. The ringleader exchanged nods to the rest of the gang, leaving the circle to surround a petrified Starry, who was trying to make himself as small as possible. “I’m going to cover our tracks, cant have this being pinned on us”, The leader turned back and looked dead into the little guard’s eyes before turning around and addressing the rest of his gang.

“Make it permanent,” his cold voice trailed away, the gap he made in the circle quickly filled with the guards closing in on Starry.

Silver anxiously looked up at the clock again for the fifth time since Starry had gone out nearly half an hour ago. Violet had long since gotten bored and started plucking at the salad in her bowl, leaving Silver to save the day and keep her entertained whilst Starry was still missing from his quick departure. A nervous smile spread along Silver’s face as he got up from his seat.

Both mares looked up, frustrated looks on their faces. “Not you too,” Violet muttered, stabbing a tomato rather vigorously.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back, I just gotta find him. I swear, he isn’t usually like this,” he reassured, leaving the girls at the table. Quickly striding to the door, he burst into the street, looking around the entrance for his friend. It didn’t take long for him, however, to notice the commotion further down the street where an alley was being completely encompassed with onlookers. Furrowing his brow, Silver made his way over the small crowd around the alley entrance.

Finding someone on the outside of the small crowd, he lightly tapped the stallion on the shoulder. “What happened here?” he asked, frowning in curiosity.

“Somepony was attacked, that’s what I’ve been hearing. Quite bad too,” the stallion replied. Turning back to the scene, Silver peered through the crowd and caught the sight of police tape. His gut churned at the situation, yet he quickly shook his head and turned back to the restaurant.

He probably went home, he isn’t exactly the most confident pony. This was all probably too much for him. I’ll talk to him tonight if he isn’t already asleep.

Opening the doors, both mares looked over to him, questioning looks on their faces. He gave them a shrug, cringing as Violet slapped her hooves on the table and got up from her seat, storming past Silver and out of the restaurant. Ribbon Twirl got up as well, but stopped at Silver, a concerned look on her face. “I’d better go after her…”

Silver sighed and returned a weak smile. “Yeah, but it was fun.”

“We should do this again,” she smiled back, giving him a small slip of paper and following her frustrated friend out the restaurant.

Silver felt strange. He had a great night with Ribbon, everything was going smoothly. Why did he not feel excited at the thought of seeing her again? Shaking his head, he began to head to the door, thinking about finding Starry back at his room. He’ll ask him what’s wrong and hopefully get to bed after such a wild turn in the night. Yet just as he started towards the door, he heard a rather urgent call behind him.

“Sir! Sir! Wait!” He turned around to see a flustered waiter holding out a leather booklet “You forgot the bill, if you’ll just follow me we’ll head up to the front.”

Silver gulped as he slowly opened the booklet and silently cursed Starry’s quick getaway, whatever the reason it may be.

“Starry? Starry! You home? What’s the matter, what happened back there? Starry! Come on dude, where are you!?” Silver banged on Starry’s dorm door, not receiving an answer.

He called again; nothing but silence replied back to him. Confused, he began to turn around and head to his own dorm, deciding to try again tomorrow. Something got his attention as he walked, however, causing him to turn around and hear muffled talking approaching his bend in the hallway.

Waiting for the ponies around the corner, he started walking closer to the bend, thinking it might be Starry. Closer and closer the talking ponies got, to the point where he could clearly tell it wasn’t his friend about to turn the corner. Beginning to turn, around he stopped dead and looked on, for whilst the ponies turning the corner were indeed not his friend, two of them sent an uneasy, gut-churning queasiness to the pit of Silver’s stomach.

“Don’t worry Mr. Sentry, my colleague and I are just here to ask some questions regardi-”

The two police ponies and guard they were with looked over to Silver Heart, choosing to stop themselves. The police officer that was talking stepped forward, turning his attention from the guard to Silver. “Sorry sir, but unless you know anything about the incident tonight outside of the The Gilded Lily, then I will kindly ask you to move along.”

Silver felt raw fear, the crystal-encrusted room getting paler and paler by the second as the pit in his stomach got larger. Taking a shaky step forward, he took a deep breath and tried his best to keep his voice even. “I was dining there tonight with my friend. He ran off unexpectedly, so I came here looking for him.”

The two police officers exchanged glances. “Alright,” the one in front spoke again, “sorry to trouble you but I will just ask if you could just follow my colleague here for some quick questions regarding your time tonight.”

Gulping, Silver nodded, coming forward and passing the guard and police officer, the two of them walking off in the other direction. Silver looked at the other police officer who stayed back and walked ahead of him. “My dorm is just down this way.”

The police officer gave him a smile and indicated for him to go forward. “Thank you for your cooperation sir, lead the way.”

The police pony sat at the desk in the dorm room, his notepad prepped and ready to go whilst Silver brought in two cups of coffee. Setting one on the desk, the officer nodded his thanks, blowing the steam away and taking a quick sip as Silver sat on the edge of the bed.

“So to make sure I have this right,” he began, tapping his notepad with his quill in his magic, “I’m talking with Silver Heart of the Canterlot guard, address fifty-six Snapdragon Place, Canterlot North. We are discussing the incident that occured at Nine-twenty-five P.M. on Saturday, the third of November, at the restaurant The Gilded Lily.”

Silver nodded slowly, trying hard to not let panic overwhelm him. He didn’t want to get worked up and risk the police officer not telling him what happened to Starry. He took calming breaths as he nodded slowly and methodically, putting the coffee down on the floor next to the bed. “Correct, everything there is fine.”

The police officer nodded, scratching something into his notebook. “Thank you Silver, is it okay if I call you that?”

Silver nodded, taking a slow sip of his coffee.

“Alright, so let’s take a step back here: what brings you to the Crystal Empire in the first place?”

Silver set down his coffee again, sitting back a bit. “I came here as part of increased palace security for the Equestria Games.”

The officer nodded slowly, taking more notes as he carried on. “Okay, and would I be correct in saying you had or have a personal relationship with the member of the Crystal Guard, Starry Scroll?”

Silver felt bile in his throat trying to make its way up from his stomach. The scene outside the restaurant, Starry’s getaway, his sudden absence, and the police asking about him. Controlling his breathing and closing his eyes, Silver knew what it was like when emotion got involved in things like this, he needed a level head and cooperation with this officer. Taking a moment to keep his voice steady, he began to cooperate, holding the fear and anger inwards.

“I do,” he answered, surprising even himself with his calm composure.

More of that irritating scritching from the quill on paper as the officer prepared his next question. Silver shuffled his hooves, his nerves trying anything to try to escape his body as the wait continued to fill his stomach with butterflies. “Would you say that this mutual relationship with Starry had formed before your time on this assignment of yours?”

“No, I didn’t know Starry until I was assigned as his guard partner.”

“As part of your assignment, yes?” The guard looked up, his quill still at the ready to proceed with the mind aching, agonisingly slow scritching noises.


“Now, tonight, before our meeting, you mentioned unofficially of your going out to dinner with a friend. Would I be correct in assuming this was in fact Mr. Scroll that went with you to the Gilded Lily before the time of nine-twenty five P.M. tonight?”

Silver didn’t reply for a long time, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“It’s okay, you can take your ti-”

“What has happened to Starry? Please, I need to know, where is he? Is he okay?”

Shifting in his seat uncomfortably, the officer looked at Silver in concern. “Are you saying that this is the first you have heard of this incident? I’ll need more details and it may be possible we pull you in for further questioning, but as for now, seeing as you claim to be of a personal relationship with Mr. Scroll…” The officer shut his notebook and shifted his chair to face Silver. The anxiety reached a peak as the sad eyes of the officer carried over to him.

“As far as our understanding goes, your friend Starry Scroll has been a victim of an assault.”

Horror spread over Silver’s face, shaking his head in disbelief. “No… no no, not Starry, there is no way…” Silver’s voice went icy cold, choking up as he began shaking. “Who would want to hurt him…”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you, but he remains in a serious condition at the hospital.”

Silver instantly stood up, knocking over his coffee with lack of care. “Take me to him. Right. Now.”

“I’m sorry Silver, but this is a very delicate situation, and would really be best if you stay here. You won’t be able to be any help at the hospital. I’ll forget the interview for now and we can contact you in a later date but-”

“Officer, with all due respect,” Silver interrupted angrily, trying very hard not to get any louder, rising in his seat. “But according to you, my friend is beaten up and lying in a hospital bed I don’t know how you expect me to sleep or do anything less than see him.”

The police officer got up from his chair and put the notebook back into his pocket before grinding their chair back into place. “Listen, I can waive the interview for now, but this is a serious investigation. Now, stallion to stallion, I know right away you don’t have anything to do with this. I’m absolutely sure you know how this stuff goes, a couple of witness statements and we will rule you out quickly but until then it wouldn’t be good for you to be sneaking around the place and barging into hospitals whilst the people that hurt him are still around.

Silver huffed angrily, clearly not satisfied.

The police officer made his way over to Silver, a hoof on his shoulder. “Forget the uniform for a moment, Silver. I’ve been in your position, you won’t be able to do anything for him. Just try to get as much rest as possible, I’m sure you will want to be ruled out as soon as daylight hits so you can be there when he wakes up.” The officer handed over a card from the same pocket as the handbook. “Head to this address in the morning, and we can get you through as quick as possible, just a quick statement and interview so we can get as much info as we can.”

“Thanks officer, if these are my choices, then I guess I will take what I can get.” He sighed softly. “I’ll… try to get some sleep.” choking on his own words, Silver opened the door with his magic to let the officer be on his way.

“I’ll see you in the morning, Mr. Heart. Please, try to rest easy and know that your friend is in good hooves.” The officer smiled, put his hat on his head and with nothing left to be said, made his departure, closing the door behind him.

“Yeah… friend.” Silver spent a moment to play with that word on his tongue.

The night didn’t become any easier for Silver. Fear of his… friend’s wellbeing. Anger over whoever had done such a heinous act to his friend. It swirled on top of regret for not being there when Starry needed him, or stopping him from running out of the restaurant. To top it all off, a large dollop of confusion for why Starry had run off lingered. Tho could possibly have so much spite? Why they would have so much spite? The cocktail of grizzly emotions stirred and rocked within him, making his belly ache and his head hurt. His eyes remained unclosed and far from allowing him the capacity for sleep. Minute after minute ticked by, each feeling like an hour longer than the last. Every sleep position he tried, he was too hot, then too cold, then his mind wandered back to the emotions.

Starry’s face, his innocent face engulfed his mind. It filled him with guilt, with anxiety, with… something. He couldn’t understand why he felt so connected to Starry, yet the image couldn’t leave his mind. Eyes open, the darkened room still held Starry’s nervous, sweet face. Eyes shut, it was all he could see.

Squeezing his eyes closed as tight as he could in an attempt to rid the onslaught of images and emotions taking mutiny over his mind, he finally sat up in an aggressive fit, rubbing his face angrily and throwing the blanket to the floor, marching to the door without a second glance backward.

“That is bucking it, Starry… I’m coming,” he told himself, slamming the door behind himself and marching down the dimly lit dorm hallway as fast as he could.

6: Repercussions

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It started with pain, immense pain. Pain Starry could barely believe existed. It engulfed him, made his body feel like fire. Like that was all there was in the world. The pain was the only thing that existed, the world, who he was, everything that came to be was playing second fiddle to the impossible, inescapable pain. Then, black.

But the black didn’t last for long, soon the world came back, he didn’t know what anything was. Shapes became a foreign concept, what was left was an abstract mismatch of colours, he tried crying, tried screaming but nothing came out, he couldn’t even feel it over the persisting pain slowly becoming almost natural, or it was dulling, Starry couldn’t tell. Then another bout of black. He couldn’t think though, this wasn’t the type of contemplative black either. The type of peaceful black where you could mull over your deepest thoughts in bed alone. This was a different black, one where there is no thoughts, no contemplation, just images, just flashes. Then it would return. Fading deep like the feeling of falling. But it suddenly stopped, and what Starry could only imagine was his stomach heaved, leaving a nauseating amount of motion sickness. There was a stretcher, there was lights, more flashes, shouting even, but it didn’t last long. If it was his body giving up and passing out or a full system shut down, Starry couldn’t say, for back came the haunting, thoughtless black.

Then there were no lights, no flashes, no falling, no lurching, no pain, no nothing.

Deeper, emptier darkness that he had experienced within this whole ordeal.

It lasted for a while. He couldn’t think, all he do was feel fear, his body long since vanished. But, soon feelings returned, emotions started to be tied to them. The fear still dominated. Fear of nothing and everything, he didn’t know what, for there was still black, but now there were feelings of dread, confusion. He wanted nothing to do with the black. He tried to open his eyes, or he thought he was, he couldn’t tell at all. But there was no physical connection, like he was paralysed, unable to avoid the void of emptiness.

Another lurch. Another falling feeling and light slowly began to creep back into his existence, like a long lost friend, he felt that strong piercing pain all throughout his body. There was no particular place he could peg it, but he now knew he was strapped down into something, his hooves pegged but his eyes refusing to open. He couldn’t hear, there were still no shapes. It lasted too shortly, and once again his senses faded, the noises ebbed, the pain subsided, he was once again thrown amongst the darkness.

But this time it didn’t quite stay black, images appeared and spread, a near foreign feeling from the deep dread. Silver appeared, a distant image in the background. He tried desperately to call out to him, but no words came out. Just a sick feeling from his stomach where his words should have come from like something was holding back his voice. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye Silver dashed up to him in an unnatural, almost horror-stricken pace. His face inches from Starry’s own. Yet it wasn’t Starry’s face, it was one of the guards. But the guard's face was contorted, different, not quite the same and off-putting, like a room with something slightly off. They were in the alleyway and Starry was on the ground yet again, dread he never thought possible filled his throat as the figure shoved his face into Starry’s own.

“WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME STARRY!” The figure shrieked a blood-curdling cry. “WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME!”

Starry could only scream and cry as the figured lumbered over him, a corner appeared behind him from nowhere and Starry had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Cowering closer to the corner of the wall he could only try to look away but the figured arched it’s back in unnatural ways and pushed his head closer to Starry’s their foreheads almost touching.

“WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME! WHY STARRY! WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME!” It yelled louder, the disgusting form screamed. It was barely pony anymore, melting and dropping and hollow, the eyes having no pupils and the teeth no longer holding shape as it gaped it’s mouth wider.

Starry lifted his hooves to his ears, desperately trying to block out the noise. Every part of his body shook uncontrollably as the figure only drew in closer. But no matter how tightly he held, the screams and yells coming from the beast only served to get louder. His hooves and chin felt hot, unbearably hot. His head was forced up and his hooves into the side of the wall. He could do nothing except let the tears stream from his face as Silver’s body only began to twist, contort and build in size.

Starry could take it no longer, he screamed a blood-curdling scream, right in the direction of the now flaming, decomposing, contorted corpse of Silver Heart and the guard.


Tears streamed from Starry’s eyes, his chest felt tight, his throat felt raw and every atom of his body shook as the figure drew backwards, losing his ground. Huffing and panting Starry began to cry again.

“You saved me,” he sobbed heavily, “you saved me from where I was and I love you for it. I shouldn’t, I know I shouldn’t I’ve known you for a week but you have made my life...”

The figure was silent, almost contemplative, staring deep into Starry’s eyes. The body backed away, losing its arching shape along the way. The face faded and reappeared, but not as an angry guard, but Silver Scroll’s own. The figure came forward and held onto him. The alley melted away, the colours softened, the light became blinding, his breathing felt ragged and inconsistent. The falling feeling returned and his body began to lurch into pain. Yet he could feel something. Somepony stroking his forehead. He tried to move, yet his body wouldn’t allow it. He tried to talk yet his throat was already filled with noise, more weeping. His cheeks felt wet and a large shape sat beside him.

“Shhh, shhh. It’s okay Starry, shhh…” Yet the faint words slowly faded away, his own crying, the pain, the noises slowly faded away, back into the black.

Falling once again, yet this time things came into view, it was vivid. Reality and fantasy were no longer two different realms, he could see everything so clearly, the wind whistled past him, the sky was red, the land was orange. He landed, not with a thump but a slow, soft approach. The field was beautiful, dandelions swaying gently in the breeze a stallion and a mare sat beside Starry, smiling as they looked upwards. He couldn’t recognise their faces or their features, but something about both of them seemed familiar. Like parts of them belonged on somepony else. Following their line of sight, Starry set his head back and looked up, he looked at the beautiful red sky slowly fade into darkness, but not quite darkness, for the sky soon gained a lonely bright star, glimmering through the darkening maroon red.

“Starry.” The mare softly cooed through the wisps of wind trailing through their manes. “That’s you, that beautiful bright star up there. Just like your name.”

Starry looked on attentively, not daring to break the moment of peace or painlessness with a breath or a shudder. Warmth flooded over him, something about these two seemed to comfort him, he couldn’t put a hoof on it like calm had washed over him and the fear had been replaced by comfort and safety. Another star started to fade into view, slowly but surely appearing close to the first star. Starry’s star. The sky darkened but no other stars came into view, it was just the two in the sky shining brightly beside each other.

“That’s him, Starry. You know who it is because half of him is here.” The stallion touched his chest and beamed at Starry radiating comfort and warmth.

The mare spoke up again, putting a soft hoof on his shoulder. “Some things in this world are too loud, too bright, too fast and too mislead to let you and him shine together,” she looked over to the slowly fading sun in the background, its rays still bright but losing it quickly. Turning back she got closer to Starry, filling him with emotion. “Sometimes it takes something or somepony that is dark, or hidden, or quiet to let you shine. Even when you can’t be seen, even when the world is too loud to understand your beauty, don’t let it stop you shining together when nopony else is around.” She smiled.

“And even though it may look like he is saving you right now, just know that you are saving him just as much.” The stallion replied, Starry finally realising who these ponies in his mind where.

They both hugged him at the same time, it all felt so real Starry couldn’t help the tears beginning to stream down his face. “Even though I may not be here,” The mare whispered.

“And even though I may be far away,” The Stallion added just as softly.

“We will love you with all our heart just like we do him,” this time their voices spoke together, a perfect harmony, their bodies beginning to fade slowly, another set of stars beginning to slowly set into the now velvety sky. “Thank you for saving him, thank you Starry Scroll. Thank you… Don’t remain voiceless, shine brightly.”

Both the voices faded, the feeling of their soft, warm hooves began to slowly dissipate. The stars either side of the original two got brighter until they shone just as brightly. The wind slowly began to pick up, blowing flower petals through the brilliant silky silver fields and rolling hills, the expansive night sky began slowly filling with brilliant stars of every brightness and size. The wind carried the voices of the couple through the fields, the soft wisps of wind giving the look of dancers deeply enthralled in the depths of a deep, slow waltz. Bouts of wind supporting and leading the other, the careful dance filling the fields and running itself through Starry’s mane.

Tears slowly dripped down Starry’s muzzle as he sat there looking at the beautiful brilliant night sky. Yet, like magic, he felt a warmth next to him. The first two stars in the shine shone brighter than ever, brighter than all the others that illuminated and surrounded the moon. It was Silver Heart.

He sat there, right beside Starry Scroll, rubbing his shoulder slowly and gently with his hoof, comforting him as the tears started to hit his lap and stain his coat.

He sat there, right beside Starry Scroll, rubbing his shoulder slowly and gently with his hoof, comforting him, Starry smiled, through the all the aches of emotion as he felt Silver slowly move his hoof to his face and gently wipe the flow of tears streaming gently. It felt more real than any dream he had ever experienced. The depth of Silver’s expression, the unspoken bond held between the two shone brighter than ever. Nothing needed to be said, nothing needed to be faced, in Starry’s mind the two were together and right then, that was all that mattered.

It felt like an eternity the two sat there, not in each other’s arms but just comfortable, touching shoulder to shoulder, the warmth emanating from the connection they held. The wind blew, the dandelions danced just as they had before. But the warmth never left the air, the night never grew colder and Starry Scroll couldn’t feel happier.

“This isn’t real…” Starry finally whispered, barely audible. He knew it. It didn’t matter how real it felt, how real this all is, he could see past its guise.

“Starry?” Silver whispered back, “Starry if you can hear me… Squeeze my hoof… Please be safe, I’m right here with you.”

With all the effort he could muster, Starry opened his mouth and let the soft words flow. “I love you. You mean so much to me… We’ve not known each other for long, but you’ve changed my life.”

The soft whispers paused, Starry felt something well up in his chest, in his heart, it ached.

“Hang in there Starry.” The whispers ended and Starry felt peace. The field slowly left his gaze, the night sky slowly faded, the stars lost their glow but Starry was ready.

“Hang in there Starry…” the wind repeated until finally, he couldn’t feel it rushing through his soft fur. Tilting his head back Starry slowly closed his eyes. He felt tired, sleepy. The world faded and became blurry, slowly turning black, yet this time Starry wasn’t scared. Not as scared as before anyway. The dreams were only going to get worse, more horrific, more painful, more… real. But he had help, he had somepony there, with him, he couldn’t see him, but he knew he was there.

Silver had sat there for hours now. Using his tired eyes to look up at the clock.

It read 6 am...

He arrived at the hospital midnight, all night he had spent wide-eyed within the hospital, not a second of it spent thinking of anything else other than his friend. Initially, doctors had been working on him, so in the waiting room, he sat. He started by reading, reading whatever he could find, posters, magazines, but the words just rolled through him, not pausing to be processed. So after half an hour of staring at the same magazine in a vain attempt at trying to get lost in it, he put the magazine down, close his eyes, and began to think. He began to think of Starry and the time he has spent with him, something about the stallion filled him with happiness. He wasn’t a colt, he knew the feeling, but he didn’t want to believe them until now, there was something about Starry that he really knew he could address.

“Mr. Heart?”

His eyes jolted open and he sat up straight, looking over to where the voice had come from. An earth pony doctor with a brown coat and heavy set glasses on his snout stood in the hallway, looking around for the name he had called out.

“Mr. Heart would you come with me?”

Looking around in case he was mistaken and there was another Mr. Heart that he was referring to, Silver got out of his seat and quickly made his way up to the doctor who beckoned him to follow quickly. Silver quickly caught pace with him and made a moderate trot down the bustling hospital hallway.

“Can I see him?” He asked, not even really meaning to ask the question. It just allowed itself to fly out of his mouth with not a second of hesitation. The doctor quickly looked back without stopping or faltering as they moved along the wide, clinical hallways of the hospital.

“I’ll just take you to my office and we can sort out everything.”

Onwards they pushed, twisting and turning, up a large set of stairs, down a smaller set, all the way to the back of the hospital, the emergency ward. The walk felt slow, heavy, quiet. All too quiet, no noise, not like a peaceful quiet but an anxious quiet. Like all that you want is to be free of it. Like you need to make a noise just to make sure that your ears still work because background noise was no longer being processed. Silver wondered if Starry was feeling the same cold, lengthy quiet he couldn’t escape despite being surrounded by subtle but still present sound.
Silver never like the smell of hospitals either, it smelt too clean, like it was trying desperately to hide other smells. To cover up what it meant to be in the hospital. It was clinical, lingering, invading.

Finally, the doctor stopped at a brown door that looked all the same to the countless brown doors they had passed along their route save for the doctor’s name in neat, printed lettering on the slider. In he went, away from the horrible winding hallways to the scant stock standard hospital office with the odd but rare touch of personalisation. A painting, a picture of a family, a poster of the pony anatomy. Even the personalisation looked boring and standard, the clinical smells and sounds being inescapable at this point.

“Alright, Mr. Heart. Please, take a seat,” the doctor said with a sigh as he hit his own office chair. His table was against the wall, not between him and the various guests in his office. Silver sat down without a sigh, feeling a very obvious bout of discomfort on his face and the rigid way in which he sat. The doctor quickly turned his attention from his guest to his ledger, quickly scribbling in a few notes and looking up every now and again whilst he quickly scribbled down whatever it was that needed to be scribbled. “Pardon the wait, I’m sure you can understand that we have been working very hard to get your friend in a stable condition, which, you’d be happy to know has been achieved. But his condition is very serious and there is still a lot of unknown over the… circumstances of his attack, and even we are still working on what implications this is going to have on him in the long run.”

Silver sat there, nodding along and looking blankly at the wall. “He isn’t in a good way is he,” Silver replied, his voice so quiet the statement barely reached the doctor’s ears.

“I’m gonna be frank here Mr. Heart, whilst he will survive, there is going to be a long recovery and it is quite likely he will never be the same way again, the injuries are very serious.”

“What do you mean?” Silver turned his head to face the doctor yet at this question the doctor’s
face fell.

“I’m very sorry, Mr. Heart. This isn’t anything against you or whatever relationship you share with Mr. Scroll but with the… nature of how he sustained these injuries… there are still ponies out to harm him. Our patient is under heavy guard as it is and legally nopony can visit him.” The doctor pushed his glasses back up his snout and against the bridge of his nose, turning back to his paper and scribbling out something on a note. “Of course when the police receive statements and you are deemed safe to visit him then you can see him, that process takes anywhere from a few days to a week, but without it, we cannot allow any visitations. But I’ll refer you to a mare I know who can try to get you the proper docu-”

The doctor was interrupted by loud knocks at the door, a confused look between Silver and the door, another more hurried knock and the doctor was quickly on his hooves making way for the door. “Sorry about this, I’ll be one moment.”

Opening the door there, stood two burly looking police officers. “Doctor Heart Wave?”

“That’s me,” the doctor replied tentatively, stepping out of his office and shutting the door.

Seconds ticked by, and without the talking and the shuffling, all Silver could hear was the now loud, obnoxious ticking of a square clock on the wall. The same repetitive motion causing time to slow drastically. Two seconds felt like a minute, two minutes felt like an hour. But, eventually, Doctor Wave was opening the door again. The officers gone, a slip of paper in his hoof and a very confused expression plastered over his face.

Sitting back down the doctor placed the paper on his desk, gave it a once-over and looked over at Silver Heart.

“Well…. Uhhh… an interesting development has just occurred… It. It seems as if. Mr. Heart, you can visit him. Mr. Scroll. Uhh, this is very rare and new to me but I’m not one to argue with how the police handle their policies. If they say you can have full disclosure and visitation, then I am here to help.”

Silver’s eyes lit up, his posture changed from awkward and rigid to elated. “Wait… really? I, I can see him?”

The doctor continued to look at the paper, seemingly almost entranced by it, miffed by it by no slight amount. “Well… yes, would you like to see him now or?”

“Now. I… uh, would like to see him now. Please,” Silver looked on at the doctor expectantly.

Within minutes the two are walking down the hospital hallways, the doctor almost needing to keep up with Silver despite leading the way. “The police gave me what is basically an enacting family membership exemption, which puts you within the rights and personal access as a family member of Mr. Scroll. But days before the time necessary to do full checks and safety precautions. But things must have changed, so you receive full disclosure on his state and current treatment. I’ll go through all of this privately when we reach his ward.

After another minute or so of walking, the two stallions found themselves in a small room just outside the ward.

“Alright, now we are alone I will give you a quick briefing on the state of your friend. As of right now, we have Mr. Scroll in a medically induced coma.”

Silver’s stomach did knots at the word coma, he knew what it meant and the doctor could sense it too.

“Don’t worry, this is just to allow his body to spend fewer resources on functions like his senses, processing things, and other currently not practical functions and more resources on healing and getting better. We’re still deciding on when to bring him out, putting him in the recovery and rehabilitation stage.”

This didn’t make Silver feel any easier. “Rehabilitation?”

The doctor was a bit quieter about this part, looking more solemn. “Well, his injuries are very severe, some of them are not going to heal in a matter of weeks. His upper right leg has been broken in the hock, the fetlock and two other places along the knee. His back, his upper right leg, and his breastplate are going to take some rehabilitation in order to repair properly. It’s not guaranteed if he will be able to fully recover from these injuries, it seems as if several nerves have been pinched in the attack, causing a possible paralysis. We won’t really know until he is awake and in control of his body,” The doctor finished, once again straightening his glasses. A whole new wave of fear plundered Silver’s body.

“It may sound grim right now, but really, he is alive and he will pull through this. I have seen far worse and I can assure you Mr. Scroll is in very safe hooves,” the doctor smiled, trying to give whatever reassurance he could.

“Has any of his family tried to see him yet?” Silver asked, shuffling in his seat.

“Well… No, from what I can gather you are the first pony to see him, but I can assure you that they will be notified first thing in the morning.”

Silver hadn’t heard a whole lot about Starry’s parents, he seemed tentative to talk about them during their time together.

“Alright, well thanks, doctor. Can I… can I see him yet?”

“Well, it’s no secret that you really care about this stallion.” The doctor smiled grimly. “He’s lucky to have a friend like you, come on. Let’s go.”

7: Silver

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Silver sat there, frowning. He had been looking at the frail form in the bed slowly rise and sink with the aid of a mask and an amalgamation of machines surrounding the bedside. Now he sat there, staring off into space and paying the hospital room surrounding minimal attention. Thoughts running through his head and leaving just as quickly.

He had been sitting amongst his surroundings for hours now, the room presenting a lack of stimulus for the eye. Medical-grade whiteness filled the room head to toe, the only splashings of colour amongst the room coming from the black laced monitors reading Starry’s vital signs in an array of technicolour lines and dashes. Aside from that, the synthetic blue curtains for the wall-length window and the almost ill-inducing pale green on the seat padding on the two seats, one of which occupied by Starry.

‘The guards are gonna wonder where the hell I am any minute now. I wonder if they’ll find me,’ he thought as the monitor near his head made another beep.

“Starry?” he said softly, not really knowing what in Equestria to expect. He shook his head and cringed slightly at how sleep deprived and crazy he must have sounded. Calling out a coma patient’s name. What was he even thinking, he thought to himself.

“You’re not crazy unno.”

Silver jumped in his seat, spinning around quickly to see Dr. Wavelength standing in the doorway.

“Sorry to startle you Mr. Heart, I just came into to do a checkup and some tests,” the doctor swiftly trotted into the room and began recording machine readings into a checklist he had in his magical aura. “But, just for some reassurance, you really aren’t crazy. Often coma patients respond to external stimuli. They’re in a state reduced primary functions but sometimes that still leaves an inkling of the subconscious mind using senses like hearing. So… in a way, he may be able to hear you.”

Silver looked between the doctor and back Starry, still lying in the same position he had been in since he had arrived. “You can call me Silver, Dr. Wavelength. I don’t really do that Mr. Heart stuff.”

“Alright then, Silver.”

Things went quiet again. The doctor went about finishing his checklist, but rather than leave once the final box had numbers scratched upon it, Dr. Wavelength pulled up a chair facing Silver’s own. He used his magic to shut the door and lock it, looking directly into Silver’s eyes.
“Silver, there is… something I need to bring up with you. I… don’t know how you’re going to feel about it so just try to relax okay?” Dr. Wavelength looked on at Silver worriedly.

“Well… okay, what is it?” Silver asked, leaning back into his pale green chair padding.

Dr. Wavelength sighed and looked over at Starry Scroll in the bed. “Your friend… well, I’m not too sure what he is to you. I know this may not seem like my business but during the report made by our ambulance attendants, Starry Scroll fell in and out of consciousness several times according to them. It started off as screaming, but as they got a hold of him and the numbing agents settled in things got a little… personal.”

Silver raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

The doctor used his magic to quickly flash a look through the window in case somepony was standing nearby in the hallway. Satisfied, he turned back. “I really don’t mean to give out such personal information, because this is, very personal information regarding your… friend Starry Scroll, things aren’t adding up and I think something is going on here.”

Silver was tired, he was emotional and getting tired of the doctor’s explanation. “Okay, now can you tell me what this is all about?” He sighed in frustration.

“Okay well… when he was in the Ambulance, he unconsciously said some very personal things. Including an admittance of love… to a stallion… to you.”

Silver’s eyes shot open, looking down and processing what the doctor had said, it was near unfathomable.

“Look, in normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have ever brought this up, but things are not as they seem here. Personally, I don’t care who you are or aren’t. But things are happening and I want you to be aware.” He said.
The doctor sat back into one of the chairs in the corner of the room and indicated for Silver to sit. And with a large sigh, he began to tell Silver all he knew.

“The police outside my door, when I was talking to you, gave me direct orders to fully disclose medical information to you and give you full access to Starry Scroll. I was miffed, but as a doctor, my job is not to make the rules. I did some research on Silver. Now, I’m no lawyer, but I did some reading up and if a pony is given access to a victim or witness whilst in a hospital. It immediately makes any statement you make as a witness invalid. It’s considered cohesion.

Now, the same police also came in later with a warrant to seize my ambulance statements and my statement on giving you access. I know this all sounds really strange and unrelated but you have to listen to me, I think something is going on here. I don’t know what, but it seems as if the police don’t want you, or any statements of Starry’s state or communication lying around.”

Putting the first part aside, for now, Starry pushed further. “So what? That doesn’t mean anything. They could just be gathering statements. What part do I play in this again?”

“No, there is more, Silver. The Ambulance attendants report Starry crying out for the guards to get away. This was key evidence they were taking, incriminating evidence. These were not detectives though. These were Police officers who had warrants for information they shouldn't even have known existed, hours after the incident.”

The doctor sighed and leaned forward, staring Silver straight in the eyes. “Silver, whoever Starry is or what he has done, I’m sensing somepony didn’t like it. And they seriously don’t like you either, because since you’ve been allowed access to Starry it’s considered cohesion, making any statement you make severely lose full validity in court. You didn’t hear any of this from me, and it’s a very bold thing to say, but, in my opinion, this is beginning to look like a coverup…”

“No, no, no! You can’t, you can’t just up and nick off. This is the busiest time of the entire Celestia-damned year and you're currently sitting on the roster for the most high-maintenance event in all of Equestria. You think you can just up and leave? Heart, what has gotten into you?” Sergeant Market Garden got up from his side of the office desk, leaning on the side and peering down towards the now far less optimistic guard gracing him with their presence.

“Sir, with all due respect, I can’t afford to be occupied with work, and if you can’t grant me with family matters, then I’m going to have to take out my unpaid leave. This is important to me.” Silver urged, leaning forward in his chair and throwing his biggest puppy dog eyes.

The Sergeant leaned forward, glaring menacingly down towards him, “I’m not short staffing the roster for some stupid romantic idea of friendship you have going with one of the Crystal Guards! I’m sure the crybaby will get out of his coma and he doesn’t need your SORRY ASS TO HOLD HIS HOOF WHEN HE DOES!” Sergeant Market Garden spat. He moved back to his chair and, putting his square frame glasses on, directed his attention over to his paperwork sprawled over his side of the desk. “Do I make myself clear? Private Heart?”

Silver looked into his lap, glaring and doing everything in his power to remain calm.

“I said… DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR,” The Sergeant looked up from his paperwork angrily.

“Crystal, Sir,” Silver spat out, trying hard not to give the words too much edge.

“Yeah, as Crystal as the balcony you’ll be reassigned to tomorrow seeing as your partner took a nap. Dismissed,” The Sergeant looked back down into his paperwork, choosing to ignore the very aggressive salute made by Silver Scroll.

“I’m…” A swelling pain lurched through his chest and threatened to spill a tidal wave of emotions forth. He felt sick, his throat dry and unable to finish the sentence.

Just say it you peanut, how hard can it be? Silver thought to himself. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, mentally preparing himself. “I may be… I think… I…”

I’ve never been before. What makes me think I am now? How old am I? And I’m seriously questioning… that? Shouldn’t I have this together now? I’m nearly twenty-one! What does it even mean? Silver Scroll thumped his head into the library copy ‘Oh Dear, I’m Queer! - Exploring Sexuality’.

“This shouldn’t be this hard,” He groaned, realising he was talking to himself out loud. He looked dead ahead, a determined frown plastered on his face. “I’m…. b-bi? For Starry? Mmm-aybe…”

He IS cute, He smiled as he thought about it. But would I go that far?

8: Mystery

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“Starry… who did this to you.” Silver sat there on the chair again, looking down at the comatose, bandaged pony, now looking significantly healthier than he had two nights ago following his arrival. Now, the final day loomed over his head. He had hoped upon hope that Starry would wake before being whisked back to Canterlot, but it was increasingly certain that he would leave, not to know of his friend’s state or anything. Starry would wake up here, alone, with no-one around.

He sighed, sinking into his chair, attempting to block out the sound of the heart rate monitor, annoyingly close to his ear, sending a loud beep rattling through his head every off second. He shifted and stirred in his seat attempting to get as comfy as possible in the hard, oversized plastic chair. Closing his eyes and tried to at least try to get some rest before his next guard shift, Silver sat there for what seemed ages, the heart rate monitor and the clock ticking idly beginning to fade. Eventually, Starry began to drift, his tiredness winning over discomfort.

Nights had been spent trying to work out what is going on and worrying about Starry. But also, he had been questioning his own feelings, days being spent at work, then dashing to the hospital to visit at night. Little time was spent on sleep, and next to Starry’s bed was one of the few places he even felt he could. However, this sleep was very short lived, as Silver was jolted from his chair nap by the rustling and tossing of Starry next to him. The many tubes around his face kept him firmly rooted as always, but less could be said for the hoof which had jolted free of Starry’s blanket which was one of the few things on his body that lay intact after the assault.

Silver looked around carefully, checking the door and leaning over to the window. He used his horn to quickly draw the curtains to the outer passageway. With nopony around, Silver, as quiet as a mouse scootched his chair right up to the bed. He reached out his hoof and gingerly placed it on Starry’s own. Gently holding his hoof and feeling the warmth of his fur, Silver’s own heart raced faster, the fear and excitement coursing through him. He felt exhilarated as his heart pounded. But it also filled him with a mix of sadness, as he was reminded of just how far away Starry truly was.

Silver’s ears twitched. He could hear the sharp click of a door unlatching behind him. He quickly threw the blanket back over Starry’s hoof and pretended to be fast asleep.

“You know those doors have a window in them right?” Doctor Wavelength’s voice sounded unnaturally loud having spent the last ten minutes in silence. Had it really been ten minutes? Silver asked himself.

Silver went to get up out of his chair, but the doctor quickly spoke up. “Oh, I’m not kicking you out Mr. Heart, just doing some quick tests on him,” He added, choosing to distinctly ignore the fact that he was grasping the hoof of one of his coma patients. “He could probably do with the company anyway,” The doctor sighed. “It’s not like his family has been to see him, and yes. I can disclose that information, you’re still under family exemption, as odd as that may sound.”

Doctor Wavelength went up to the monitor and began pushing buttons, testing the equipment around him, feeding tubes and redistributing drip lines.

“Any news on his status?” Silver sat up in his seat, looking hopeful at the doctor who was currently redistributing sticky sensor pads on Starry’s shaved chest area.

The doctor bit his lip and stopped fiddling with the equipment for a moment. “Well… that’s not looking too bright. We want him to have a relatively-”

The doctor paused, grabbed a chair and sat on it backwards, now looking directly at Silver. “-Stable experience waking up, and in order for that to happen we need to make sure some of the more severe injuries are under control, he may panic if his left hoof and leg are still paralysed.” Silver leaned forward, his mind racing trying to guess how long that could take.

“So… tomorrow? Two days?” Silver asked, beginning to get impatient.

The doctor slowly shook his head, looking like he was straining to think. “Six? A week? We’re going to do that assessment tomorrow so if you wai-.”

“Six Days!?” Silver slammed his chair with his hoof, sending a loud noise bouncing off the walls. “B-But, you said-”

“I said, it was a safe, stable coma; Not a short one, his injuries need time. Look, I’m sorry for your friend, but you raising your voice in here isn’t going to help him. If you care for him, as obvious as you make it,” Starry noticed the doctor look down at his hoof buried under the sheets; his teeth clenched and his heart felt like it was about to race out of his chest. “Then you would understand that he needs time to heal.”

Silver looked down and realised he was throttling the chair, he didn’t even realise he had been standing up. When had that happened? He wondered. It was like somepony had replaced him with an angry double. He never got angry, especially irrationally so. The room was bright… so bright, why hadn’t he noticed before? It was hurting his eyes, it was going to wake Starry, why did this matter? Why did everything annoy him? It was loud and angry bright white, it was hot, it was irritating. He tightened his muscles, he squinted but the more he did so the angrier he got. No, Stop stop stop!

Deep breath… In… Out…. Starry sighed as opened his eyes, the room was fine, it was okay. This was okay.

“I uh… sorry doctor.” He began stumbling out the room, half present, half not. Just wanting to leave. The anger was replaced with nothing but a desperate desire to leave, he forgot about everything, his only goal was to ‘get out of here’.

“I need to…” Silver cut himself off, not quite sure what he was doing or why.

Silver ripped the door open and made to a brisk pace away from the hospital room, not using a single second on turning back.

“Sir,” Silver began, leaning forward in his seat and politely resting his guard helmet on his lap. The words ‘how are you’ were caught in his mouth as the Sergeant thrust his hoof into the air, forcing Silver to looked jolt his head up, his eyes widening at the sudden move.

“Save!” He paused for a moment, putting his hoof down and taking off the small thin glasses that barely sat on his thick, bulbous head. “The pleasantries Heart. Now, please, entertain me with why you have made an unannounced appearance in my office for the second time in two days, and I’d find it beneficial to both of us if you did it in a timely manner.”

“Uhhh, right. Okay,” Silver, recuperating himself, took a deep breath, filling his eyes with determination and leaned on the table to matched the Sergeant's own hard stare. “Sir, my time in the Crystal Empire has made me reassess my current situation, and with due consideration.” What am I doing? Why am I acting like this? Am I seriously about to do this?

Deep breath.

“I would like you to consider me for a transfer to the Crystal guard.”

The Sergeant sat there for a second, continuing to stare down at Silver, who sat there looking back, holding his ground. But slowly the bulky stallion leaned forward in his seat, crossing his hooves and planting them firmly on the desk. He was doing his best to look as intimidating as possible to Silver, who remained in the chair and maintained eye contact every second, regardless of how his much superior towered above him from across the desk.

Finally, Sergeant Market Garden spoke, in such a cold, deep tone, that Silver tried hard to not shiver as he sat there, “The Crystal Guard are not taking applications,” It was low, and calm, but terrifying nonetheless.

Silver pushed on, determined not to allow the Sergeant to defeat him that easily. “But sir, if you would just-”

The Crystal Guard... are NOT taking applications! Now, prepare your things for an early dispatch back to Canterlot, as you were told by your leader, Heart!” the Sergeant interrupted, much angrier this time.

Silver sat quietly in his chair. He hadn’t anticipated such a stoic, harsh response. What am I going to do? He thought to himself, looking around the desk for any sort of way out of this mess; That’s when he caught it. Half trapped underneath the Sergeant's monstrous hoof, he saw a piece of paper which, at a glance, he caught the word ‘Ambulance’. Looking at it properly he made out Starry Scroll’s name sprinkled throughout the document.

Ambulance…. Like… Ambulance records? Why would the Sergeant have documents that the police had taken? Why had the documents ended up in here if that would destroy…



Everything was starting to click in Silver’s head, as fear, rage, disappointment, and anger began to boil within him. He looked back up again at the Sergeant, who looked as if he was going to shout him out of his office again. But before another word could be spoken by the giant stallion, Silver sprung out of his seat and threw his helmet against the wall. An ear splintering crash and clang rang throughout the room as the helmet left a large mark on the wall.

“I’ve been meaning to do this ever since I met you, Seargent Market Garden, I quit!” Silver shouted, storming out of the office and slamming the door shut as loud as he could.

9: Intimidation

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Periwinkle sat at her desk, forcing her eyes open as they constantly strained and stressed to close shut. She continued to copy, scribe, and print her way through to the end of her shift. She had been in the business of administration for years now and had a routine she administered to the minute, making the day something worth waking up for. But this week had been anything but routine. Between discrete file shredding, late nights, and phone calls from anonymous ponies to her boss, it was a right nuisance. The Sergeant had started coming in with less than minimum sleep. She’d have to knock back her 8:43 pot plant watering a whole three minutes to make an extra two coffees, both were for him.

She didn’t care what work-related nightmare the Sergeant was under, as long it didn’t affect her schedule, it could have been total warfare with rampant, weaponised geese. But this was affecting her schedule, and she had a damn big problem with that. Far more than any armoured goose could.

The door opened, just the same as it had done in the past week, tense, and angrily. She had almost gotten used to the slight change in door movement, had it not constantly made her have to readjust her wig and send file copying back an average of two minutes and forty-five seconds per day. “Periwinkle? Shred this one for me will ya? This is the last one, remember to make sure nopony reads it.”

She rolled her eyes and cleared her out-file without turning back to the Sergeant hanging halfway out his office. “Whack it right here.” She could almost feel the nod as the stack of papers thicker than her hoof landed with a thud into the open tray.

“Thanks,” he huffed, returning to his office.

“Searge! Wait a sec,” Periwinkle reached under her desk and spun herself around to face the Sergeant in her swivel seat. “One of the guards told me to give this to you, and that you should read it.” She waved a large, rolled up newspaper out in front for her boss to see.

“I don’t read the news, load of rubbish, tell whoever sent it to not waste my time,” He almost slammed the door had Periwinkle not shouted to wait.

She tossed it to him, and he reluctantly caught it and rolled it tight, hovering it over the bin. “He said… you’ll really want to read it... It’s important, what he says.”

Sergeant Market Garden rolled his eyes and unravelled the newspaper, “I can promise you that whatever this trashy piece of crap has to sa-”

The Sergeant’s voice caught in his throat as he read the front page, he went over the desk and laid in front of both Periwinkle and himself, now scanning what was said under the title.


Periwinkle began to read the article out loud, the Seargant stood up in shock. “A former royal guard, who wishes to remain anonymous has made claims to the Crystal Times of incredibly violent attacks on LGBT members of the Crystal Guard by fellow members. Yadda yadda yadda… Upon further investigations made by the paper.... Yadda yadda... suspicious activities in the Guard head office have been witnessed, leading to the possibility of a cover-up led by Sergeant Market-”

“Stop… reading…” Seargent Market Garden for all he's worth would much rather be fighting rampant geese, at least there was no PR shambles or ethical nonsense.

“I’ve heard enough,” the Sergeant’s voice was harsh and shaky as he stepped away from the desk.

“It says they’re waiting to hear a statement from you, sir,” Periwinkle rolled the paper up idly, throwing it back to Market Garden.

Without batting an eye, he caught it, tightening the roll Perriwinkle had begun and threw immediately into the bin at the office door. “Don’t worry, I’ll be making a statement alright!” He huffed, sticking his hoof her direction. “I want a full report of the allegations against the guard by the morning, and possible leads to this… anonymous ex-guard. Although, I have a feeling I know who we’re up against here.”

Periwinkle stood up from her desk, knocking her neat row of pens slightly off their usual angle. “Sir, it’s ten minutes before my end of shift and I am no private eye.”

“Good, you’ll be getting as much as sleep as I am tonight,” And with that, Sergent Market Garden slammed his door shut once again, leaving the windows rattling, the wind in the office briefly lifted neatly folded papers from their perch, scattering them amongst the now far less neat desk.

Periwinkle turned back, witnessing the pencils, now skew and uneven sitting there, the papers lying scattered and the documents ready to be shredded. Then to her coat, lying on the coat rack, the white back of her letter still protruding from one of the pockets. She walked over the coat and pulled out the letter, turning it over in her hooves. She sighed, bowed her head, put the letter back and went to her desk to realign her pencils. It was going to be a long night.

Dear Silver,

What in Equestria do you mean you’ve quit the guards? You’re joking, that was your support! Your finance! You stupid colt, what for? Why? How? You’ve provided me with a very minimal letter on this whole thing. Of course, you can borrow my flat, you know where it is, the combination to the key is 16916. But please, Celestia explain to me why the heck you’ve been acting so covert. I haven’t heard from you since you went to the Crystal Empire on this job! Please just make sure the pilot light in the fireplace stays on once you light it and I’ll see you in a couple of hours, then you can properly explain what’s going on. You’re lucky I was thinking of coming up anyway.

-Your incredibly generous brother (and don’t forget it), Sky Soul.

Silver stood at the front door, using the combination on the paper to unlock the door, his single duffle bag of possessions flying onto the couch of the well-decorated apartment the moment he arrived. He switched on the sleek, built-in ceiling lights and took in that clean apartment smell, it was almost calming. The smell of springtime blossom permeated throughout the room from the outside, giving the place a warm glow. In any other time, Silver would have happily invited friends out onto the porch and enjoyed the weather with drinks and company. But this was not the time for celebration or warm gatherings with cheese plates.

Knock Knock Knock

Silver raised an eyebrow and looked over to the door. Someone, at the door of an apartment that’s almost always empty, his brother not due to arrive in at least six hours.

He wasted no time sneaking over to the fireplace, quietly picking up the metal poker resting against the sleek brick fireplace. Starting towards the door slowly, he quietly placed the poker just next to the frame, where it can’t be seen but just in reach, as he unlocked the door, he kept the latch over. He opened the door, peering out onto the porch where an older mare stood in a cardigan, yielding a comically oversized designer bag.

“Hello? Can I help you?” Silver asked, unlatching the door and opening it a bit wider.

“Evenin’ Silver Heart, mind if I come in for a cuppa?”

Silver tensed his jaw and narrowed his eyes, holding the door tighter and closing it by just a couple of centimetres. “Who are you? How do you know who I am?” He asked, looking over at the poker.

Her raspy, croaky laugh filled the patio as she dug into her cardigan pulling out a pack of Green Apples. She slid out a long, white cigarette and tapped it against the paper box, “Well love, to be perfectly honest, I’m no-one really, not a very important character.” She pulled out a match and scrapped it against the door to light it up, using it to ignite the end of the cigarette now in her mouth. She took a few drags, closing her eyes briefly and letting the smoke emit from her mouth and nose. “To you and your little escapades anyway. Wanna puff love?”

He frowned even harder and shook his head. “Look,” he said, gently pushing the hoof offering her cigarette away, “I don’t know who you are still, but can you please just make your business clear? Or you can clear off.”

She smiled, and raised a hoof, smirking and throwing the cigarette back into her mouth. She took a few more inhales before talking again, “Alrighty love, I can see when I’m not wanted. I might just go chat to Starry instead, maybe he could relay my little conflict of interest a little more politely.”

Silver swung the door open and raced in front of the mare, blocking her exit off the front porch. “Who in Equestria are you!” he glared angrily at her, his brow furrowed and his stance hostile.

She smirked again, leaning against the railings and taking another drag. “My my my, you changed your tune quick. You really must be a bit of a pecker sniffer, because it’s clear you haven’t had much experience with mares. If we meet again, I sure hope you’ve trained yourself on talking to the finer female form,” She cackled again, her voice went colder, but still just as raspy and wrinkly as before.

Silver was losing patience, confusion and anger we’re slowly building like a pit of ice in his stomach, but mostly, fear. Who was this hag? And how in Equestria did she know… everything. She puffed away at her cigarette, the smoke filling his nostrils, smelling toxic and chemical, just like the mare who smoked it. Everything from her caked artificial lipstick, to the hairspray sheen of her mane, to the botox face she wore.

“It’s okay love I guess I can humour your questions seeing as you suddenly care a lot more if I do leave.” She leaned against the wooden railings of the porch, taking another big drag and closing her eyes in bliss. “So, please, seeing as you seem to have the pants in this conversation, ask away.”

“Who are you? Who are you working for?” He blurted out without really thinking.

With total indifference, she put her bag on the floor and looked right at him, “wrong questions. I’m here for a reason aren’t I, come on mister stallion, lead the conversation, I don’t wanna be your mum now do I?”

Silver just looked over to her, his head tilted as he loosened some of the tension in his body. He stepped away from the exit of the porch, and over to the opposite side of the porch from her. “Okay? Well, what have you come here…” She nodded along in an over-exaggerated way, a condescending gleam on her face as she waited for him to finish. “To tell me.”

“If you wanna call it telling, love that’s fine by me, but I think it’s a bit friendlier than that. So before you get all huffy and puffy about what I’m gonna tell you, just know that I’m saying out purely out of the kindness in my heart. I personally prefer to call it warning, more so than telling.”

Silver sighed, and leaned against the railing, “What have you come to warn me about then.”

One side of her mouth twitched upwards, and her lip curled menacingly, and got off the railing and waltzed towards Silver like a predator hunts prey. “You’ve got balls, tipping off the press, you just raised the steaks a whole lot more than some pesky little internal affair. But balls and brains are two different things, Silver. Don’t pursue this, drop this now and you can run off and live your happy little life with your new boyfriend. But stay…” She looked at her cigarette, nearly at the butt already, she leaned close to Silver, to the point where he could smell her disgusting smoke-infused breath. She smiled one last time before smushing the butt of the cigarette on the supporting pole right next to his head before flicking it away into the scrub below the deck.

“We will put. You. Out.

“So all of this wild wacky shit that’s gone down has all lead to a cover-up from the guards and a threat from some random mare literally a couple of hours before I got here?”

Nodd nodd…

Sky Soar let out an exasperated sigh, sinking in his chair, shaking his head, “I don’t know what princess you pissed off, but this is some serious cripe you’ve got yourself in.”

“Yeah I know, but I think I might have a solution… sorta,” Silver Heart bit back another long swig from his Coltrona longneck, craning his neck to look over at the sunset over the rolling hills outside of the Crystal Empire, just in front of the snowy nolls.

“What I wanna know is, why you continue to keep yourself tangled in this mess. Based on what you’ve said, you could leave any minute. Sure, Silver, this Starry Heart dude may seem like he needs help, but he has a family! He probably has other friends and a support network. Why do you want to sacrifice all of your progress in the guards, your job, your security, your lifestyle for some random sensitive sally you met like a fortnight ago?”Sky took a swing from his own Coltrona.

“Well that’s the thing Sky, I don’t know, but I see something in him… He’s special, he is different. I can’t peg it but I can’t leave him like that. He’s in a coma for Celestia’s sake. And I’m not too sure he even has a family, they haven’t visited once. I don’t even think the hospital’s even heard from them.”

“Dude. You sound like you’re crushing on him,” Sky laughed heartily, getting up from the porch to grab another beer from the refrigerator inside. Silver chuckled along half-heartedly, but awkwardly, and for a far different reason than his brother. He looked down and grimaced.

“Well, you see that’s the thing, Sky…” he started, waiting for his brother to get back from the fridge, “actually, can you get me one?!” he called out.

The sounds of rummaging and clanging glass bottles could be heard from inside the house. Silver rubbed the last remaining centimetres of liquid along his chest in an attempt to cool down. The coolness was calming, lessening the feeling his chest was gonna burst and his cheeks were going to catch fire. Eventually, Sky came back, tossing a fresh coltrona into Silver’s hungry hooves, he felt he was going to need one more swig to get what he wanted to say out.

The hiss of the liquid inside and the two stallions were quickly tossing another quick swig down their throats. “What’s the thing Silver?”

“Well… I think. I kinda, I really am crushing on him? I don’t know.”

“What? Uh…”

“What do you mean? Did I hear that right?” Sky raised his eyebrows and leaned forward in his seat towards Silver.

“I said I’m crushing on him, but I don’t know! He’s just… argh! I don’t know. He’s just so different, I’ve never met someone like him, but I like that. It’s weird, okay?” Silver sighed, taking another swig, he only just realised now how much his chest aching had amplified.

The two sat in silence, letting the warm breeze flutter around the porch. Not in a tense way, but in a way where Silver could think, and Sky could take it in. Both were struggling just as much with how to continue.

“So… does this make you-” Sky broke off, letting the rest of the sentence hang between them.

“Oh I don’t know Sky, I don’t know what I am. It’s definitely not… that. But I don’t think it’s straight either,” Silence again, except this one screamed tense. Silver could feel it, pushing against his chest and drying this throat. No matter how much cool refreshing liquid he swigged to try and force down the hoarse lump, causing him to finally break the silence with a loud cough.

“Well… okay, if that’s how you feel… that’s cool. But like, I still think you’re stupid for doing all this. But not, in a homophobic way. Like, a practical way and I think your stupid for doing these things but not in a romantic way just in a way that's...

Not… homophobic?”

“Man you suck at this,” Silver broke into a nervous laughter, Sky following suit. They both slowly progressed from nervous to genuine chuckles, the tension before slipping away like a cold drink on a humid night.

“So what next then? Seeing as you’re bent on taking on a government agency on not only hate crimes but the cover-up of said hate crimes… How do you plan to tackle this?” Sky asked, leaning forward in his chair, putting his near-empty coltrona on the deck.

“Well… I got ideas, bubbles floating around in my head.” Silver smiled sheepishly.

“Oh brother…You got bubbles in your head, but not the ones that are gonna help you.”

10: Awake

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Starry Scroll found himself whimpering. He couldn’t even say why:

He had completely forgot.

All that he felt was a sense of immense dread, pain, and fear; he was still unsure even where he was. The first thing that came to him was the smell. It smelt, it smelt real. It wasn’t just the thought of scents, however foreign and alien they seemed at this point. His eyes were closed tightly, tension biting through his body as the adrenaline and fear began to slowly fade. He strained his mind to remember what had plagued his thoughts so mercilessly. He vaguely remembered where he had been before that. For what seemed like a lifetime he had been diving in and out of dreams; only, they weren’t dreams, they were so much worse, so much more vivid, clear, and horrifying. At times it near felt like cold reality, however abstract, Starry truly felt there.

But now he was here and no longer there. Reality was slowly creeping back in. He was trying desperately to cradle himself, to rock and cry, and slowly let the fear ebb; but something worse was stopping his mind from easing and calming. Even worse still, it began to quicken and only make him more panicked. He tried to reach around, he tried to wiggle, but he couldn’t move, he was trapped. Stuck in his position by some unknown force, pain was still permeating throughout his body so even opening his eyes was the last thing on Starry’s mind. Yet, he could begin to hear his whimpering, his sobbing, he could begin to hear the pain wracking through his body as he cried out.

Yet what scared him the most, was the fact that there was a black spot in his mind when he tried to force motion to his left rear leg, his mind desperately tried to send signals to the leg but it felt… spacious, like the leg was only of his imagination. He desperately tried to move down to feel where the empty black spot was, but he was still trapped and restrained. The feeling of being tied only emphasized the same panic, the same fear he felt moments ago, his breathing becoming ragged and raspy as it struggled through his uncontrollable sobbing.


His name vaguely bounced around his aching head, unsure he even heard it, like his mind called out to him. But lost in a dreary haze he drifted through the weird space between conscious and comatose.

“Starry! Oh dear Celestia Starry. Starry! Shhhh it’s okay,”

He couldn’t feel anything, and the voice still floated around his head without any direction or coherence; like words drifting by, he barely knew what they meant as if stray pieces of a puzzle he couldn’t put together. In his moment of panic, one word permeated throughout his mind, gently slowing his sobbing despite his almost complete lack of awareness to it.


Sounds still idly drifted by, like ‘coming’, ‘on’, maybe even ‘hold’, but they made no sense to him, his eyes still closed tight with the sound of his own voice and the surrounding white noise like trumpets blasting away the world around him.

He felt a hoof against his side. “Starry,” He heard, just once, drifting through his head like the rest, amongst the million other signals came distorting it. Now there were other voices starting to creep through the thick haze, yet far too incomprehensible. Only feeling his chest fall then seize up as the hoof slowly moved away and vanish along with the voice. Panic and fear began to befall him again, but he felt movement around him amongst the pain, he felt another hoof touching him, but this one is far more… artificial, more delicate, smaller. But after minutes of his breathing getting heavier and heavier he finally tried to call out, to know what was going on, yet still too scared to open his eyes; just as he made the attempt his breath left was taken from lungs and a heaviness begun to overpower the pain again falling into a deep, dark sleep.

this time it was far different, not a thought to be had, not a fear to face. Just him in the most tired state that had ever befell him, the heaviness plunging through his body, and yet it was the most satisfying heaviness he had ever felt, serenity finally flowing through him.

It passed all too quickly as he was suddenly jolted awake, his eyes shooting wide open. The room was dark, the dim LED lights keeping the room a strange combination of light where everything was perfectly visible, yet, creating a darkness that made it easy to open up a pair of extremely sore and sensitive eyes. He looked around the room as a weird feeling came over him as he realised this is where he had been since the incident. He could hear a ticking, it was light, but as he took note of it considerably louder. Looking around slowly he was scared to lift his head from the pillow too fast. He finally felt the bandages and gauze wrapped around him; his head, once lost in the clouds, finally came back to reality. Starry found the source of the ticking, spotting a clock on the far wall. et as he tried to read it his head began to throb and the arrows began to blur.

But the clock didn’t hold his attention for long as his eyes slowly drifted down to the figure slumped in a chair below it.


He was sleeping in Starry’s hospital room… But why? Starry couldn’t understand what he was doing there, barely remembering the date that seemed like a century ago in his mind; e felt queasy at the memory.

But right now all he wanted was for Silver to wake up, to tell him where he is, what was going on, why he was here, where his attackers were, and if he was going to be okay. All he wanted to hear from Silver was everything was going to be okay. He was desperate to know that it was all going to be okay.

He needed everything to be okay. But as he was lost in thought he thought of the attack. What if Silver knew what he was? Would he hate him? But why was he here, maybe he didn’t know. He couldn’t handle anypony else knowing about him or who he was inside. Tears pooled and welled down his face as he thought of everything that had happened. There was so much fear trapped inside him now. He would flinch at shadows moving across the doorway, the underlying thought being that the guards were back to finish their work. It flashed across his mind as each new set of silhouettes made their way around.

But Silver wouldn’t let that happen… would he?

But when the door eventually opened and someone came in, it wasn’t a horde of angry guards, but a doctor, and a nurse, both looking very compassionate. They came right up to the bedside, making Starry flinch as they began talking, reassuring that everything was alright and that he was in a safe space. They explained the coma and his condition, but he was only half listening, as only one pressing matter came to his mind.

“The guards? Where are they?” panic began rising as the doctor’s demeanour faltered, and he looked visibly less happy.

“It doesn’t matter right now, all you need to know is you are perfectly safe and secure in this hospital room, no-one is going to come close to you without us knowing about it.” The doctor smiled again, but clearly more forced, “When your friend wakes up, he will be able to fill you in on everything, but as for now, both of you seem to need your rest. You will tire very easily for the next forty-eight hours as your mind comes back from the coma. I’ll let the nurse here take your vitals and give you something for the pain, and then we will be gone.” The doctor smiled again at him, and left the room once more.

Starry let the nurse do what she had to, using this time to assess his body. Everything felt tired and dull, all his muscles felt stiff and ache-ridden. Yet he still refused to look down at his lower leg, the one he still couldn’t feel, or move. He dreaded to know the fate of it. Thankfully the morphine’s effects quickly came in and took that fear away from him, he felt his body and eyes heavying rapidly, his mind becoming way too sluggish to hold onto consciousness with…

Starry awoke with a jolt, his mind had been empty and clear throughout his next bout of sleep. But this time, instead of opening his eyes to a vacant and depressing looking ceiling, two pony eyes attached to a very familiar pony face came into view. Despite the sleeping being slowly ridden from his mind he could still clearly make out the tears welling out the corner of Silver’s eyes.


“Silver?” He croaked, surprised at the dismal state of his windpipe. It took emptying his lungs to even just say that.

“Oh Starry, oh my Celestia, it’s all my fault, all of this is my fault! I should have seen the signs! I should have not pryed in your life, I should have followed you out of the restaurant, I just can’t believe-”

“Silver…” Starry croaked putting his least bandaged hoof out gently, touching Silver’s shoulder, as the larger stallion leaned over his bed. “Please… don’t blame yourself for this. That isn’t fair on you. You’ve been here when you could have been working, or going to the Equestria Games. But first, thank you, thank you so much. You saved me from them... And from myself,” Starry looked away, looking down and frowning, “from being the same, shy, boring pony I always was. You really did save me.”

“Oh Starry… there is a lot for you to catch up on. But I should be the one thanking you.” Silver looked around as he said that.

Starry furrowed his brow and looked back up at Silver. Silver leaned over the bed, and pushed his lips onto Starry’s own, using his hoof to scoop his head gently and embrace him around his delicate bandaging. Starry’s eyes widened to dinner plates, all the throbbing and heat in his limbs suddenly shooting to his chest, which felt bursting at the seams. Tears trickled down his face as the kiss went on for several more seconds. Gently breaking the kiss, Silver smiled and sniffled himself. Starry laid back down, agape in every sense of the word.

“W-Why?” He stammered.

Silver just smiled, and put a hoof on Starry’s own, “for saving me.”

11: Plan in Motion

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“... And then he fainted.”

“Wait… really? After a kiss?” Sky Soul, Silver’s older brother and now temporary landlord was filling out paperwork so complex that Silver could hardly pronounce the title, let alone the contents within. Sky looked up from the gobbledygook he had been focussing on, lifting the glasses from his head and putting them down on the neatly placed pieces of paper.

“Yeah well, information overload I guess? He’s just been through hell and back.” Silver replied, absently circling a job in the classifieds with his highlighter as the novel in his hooves slowly drooped to his lap as the newspaper caught his attention more.

“From what you told me, the poor guy sounds stage six traumatised, but then again who wouldn’t be in his situation? Lord, he picked a terrible career path as a closet homosexual.” Silver looked across at Silver sitting on the couch, glazing over what appeared to be one of his old books. “I don’t know why you’re even attempting at reading that cripe. I hated those cheesy crime novels Dad left behind. They all ended the same too, murderer is incriminated through cheeky word play and the detective wins.”

“Dammit Sky! Thanks for spoiling it,” Silver shut the book and threw it aside, flicking the newspaper beside him onto his lap.

Sky smirked, and Silver sighed, spending seconds more on the paper before putting down the highlighter and getting up from the couch. With newspaper in hoof, he went to the burner, pushing down on the igniter and waiting for the click click click of the burner to burst into life. “You were right by the way,” Starry sighed, grabbing the kettle and filling it up at the sink. “How could someone rip a pony to shreds for something as stupid as that, those damn cowards deserve banishment,” he grumbled, plonking the kettle onto the flame underneath.

Turning back to his paperwork, Sky began ticking boxes this way and that. “You’ll expose them Silver. You got passion in you.” Sky didn’t spend much time perusing through his paperwork, instead sighing and putting his quill back into it’s ink, rubbing his eyes and picking up the classifieds Silver had been perusing through. “Don’t you want a real career path Silver? You’re so ambitious when you want to be! Look at these jobs, cleaner, retail assistant… box packer?

“Come on dude, does it look like I have time for that stuff right now? It’ll happen, but I’m kinda focussed on not letting a bunch of guards kill somepony I sort of have a thing for?” He trotted back over and snatched the paper from his brothers hooves, smoothening it out and putting back on the table.

“How much money you got?” Sky asked.

Silver raised an eyebrow, sitting back down. “Enough…” He replied simply, not looking up.

Sky once again snatched the paper before Silver could react, ripping it in half. “Hey!” Silver shouted, jumping out his seat. Sky raced over to the stove and lit a corner on fire, letting it slowly crimple and burn on one side whilst he held the other.

“Wait until this whole thing blows over, then you are making a jewelry shop. No more job hopping! I let you take one of these and you’re never gonna do it.”

“Sky…” Silver deadpanned.

“Wait, Silver! Hear me out. You need to get out this rut! You wanna make this happen you gotta stop skirting the edge and taking jobs that kill you on the inside, Mum and I wanna see you be the stallion we know you can be!”

Silver dashed forward and slapped Sky’s hoof hard, knocking the now brightly lit paper out his hand. “SKY! You’re fur was about to join my job searching!” Silver gasped, stomping hard on the flames leaping up from the paper on the tiled floor.

“Well... my point still stands.” Sky grumbled, looking down at his intact, but now significantly warmer hoof. “Get out of this whole mess with this Starry guy, then make yourself happy.

“Alright, well I actually have a plan now. And it may more or less involve you. If you would be willing to partake,” Starry asked, scooping the now cindered paper and placing it in the sink.

“And what would that plan entail?” Asked Sky, shooting his brother a very skeptical look.

“Well, it’s going to require a bit of magic, a shit ton of luck, and a letter. I’m not too good with writing so I would hope that you would be able to write it.”

Sky sat down at the table and idly began fiddling with a small brass letter opener. “Yeah? And who on earth could you possibly be sending a letter to as part of this grand plan of yours?”

Periwinkle sighed heavily in her office chair. It had been a difficult week with becoming Sergeant Market Garden’s pseudo-henchmare. Shredding bags of hate-mail, answering investigator questions, filling out fake paperwork (set by the sergeant himself), and writing statements declining allegations. The case had gained traction equestria-wide, everyone wanting to get their fill of the intolerant guards. But a paycheck was a paycheck, regardless of its moral implications. She had herself covered, with plenty of records of what Market Garden had asked of her. If his coverup was exposed she had no intention of being dragged into the mess. All she wanted was a cigarette and another do-over with the stallion she had to cancel on three times because of all her bosses bizzare tasks.

Once again the mare was shuffling idly along letter upon letter addressed to ‘The Dishonourable stain of the Crystal Empire’. That one made her pause, the news had reached as far as Ponyville based on the address of the envelope. Public statement after public statement, it was no use, the momentum had set, the guards were already known for being backwards. It was only a matter of time Market Garden was kicked from his role for this.

“Oh?” Perriwinkle’s eyebrows raised slightly. It was from the boy she had visited, the one Market Garden had told her to threaten. Plain as day, he hadn’t even tried to hide his identity. One thing was to be said from the fearless nemesis of her least favourite employer, he had more stupid than guts. As far as she was concerned anyway. Using the cold, brass letter opener (it’s not like she had to open any of the letters) she gently cut the envelope and pulled the paper out to read.

Dear Sergeant Market Garden,

I am under no pretenses over what our relationship is. I only want to reach a peaceful conclusion to this dispute, and I am quite aware that you would like to end this with as little public damage as possible.

I am agreeing to meet with you, just you and me. We will meet and discuss the viability of a deal somewhat representing what I seek to disclose with you right now. I am prepared to wholeheartedly drop all claims I have made against you and the Crystal Guards. I am also willing to go so far as to accept a public apology and drop any further complaints/law cases/ police reports and damage control. However, I am only prepared to do this if you are willing to make a public admittance and kindly step down from your role as sergeant of the Crystal Guards. I also kindly ask for the funds in order to help remunerate Starry’s obvious redundancy and help cover the hospital bill your thugs created. This is an unfortunate situation, but I find your behaviour at the centre of what has created such a severe situation. I will remind you the implications of this case going further and the potential fallout that this could leave on your future reputation, not just as a sergeant, but as a respectable pony.

This is clearly not my final compromise as I seek to consult with you on these terms, but as you can understand this distressing situation will best be resolved promptly. This coverup has left a clear message in everyone’s head and I would like to disperse this message provided that terms along these lines are met. A formal investigation would be lengthy, difficult, and expensive, but an inevitable and clear victory for the ponies whose lives you so willingly destroyed.

Perrywinkle's lip curled, she already knew the answer to this statement their little friend had provided them.

“Searge! I got something you may wanna see,” she shouted at the door sitting behind her little desk. She heard the ever familiar clomp clomp clomp of the searge once again attempting to reflect the look of a sane and well rested pony. However, at this point, the ruffled, dirty fur, the bags underneath his eyes, and the messy, scraggly mane proved otherwise.

He came into the small office space and looked down at his secretary, glaring at her like sin. “I have a sickly feeling that I’m not gonna wanna see this.” Her hoof shot up, paper in tow in the direction of the burly stallion behind her. He snatched the paper and looked at it curiously. He read it right in front of Periwinkle, she could see his brows furrowing, the gears turning in his head. But suddenly, he gripped the paper tight, almost as if he was desperate to rip it in half. He shook like a leaf, what seemed like a loud bout of anger ready to explode at any second.

Then… He stood there, a breath, a sigh of fiery red came billowing from his nostrils. Peri could almost see the anger be forced from his lungs. He gently placed the note back on her table and looked into her eyes. For the first time in nearly a week, Peri had the searge’s undivided attention on her, it made her feel ill.

“Send a letter of correspondence,” his speech was staggered as he clenched his jaw, despite his attempts to contain himself. Yet, it still came off as eerily calm, as if the world was about to obliterate at any given moment. “I agree to meet with this pony. I’ll send you a list of options on where I want to meet with him, you are to provide him with these options. We’re doing this on my terms…”

Periwinkle didn’t say anything, she simply nodded and placed the crumpled piece of paper between her and her letter kit. She was really going to have to think about this one. Mistakes were not in her job description as of lately, and it would take the lightest of gusts to tip the searge over the edge tonight.

Silver blushed, the kind of blush that hurt. He was holding Starry. It felt so alien to him. It almost felt forbidden, like fruit from the tree of some angry neighbour who hated ponies picking it. Like something dangerously good that no-one should see.

No-one needed to see. This was just for him and Starry. But that didn’t stop it feeling strange. He continued to blush all the same, waiting at any moment to spring from the position he sat in, at the mere sound of distant hoofbeats.

However, none came, and the silence filled the room as his leg rubbed up and down Starry’s unbandaged shoulder. The visits got increasingly more affectionate these days. They still spoke, but sometimes all they wanted was the feeling of the other’s presence.

“I sent that letter that I got Sky to write.” Silver clenched tighter, drawing his body closer and putting his snout on Starry’s Fur. Ponies always say that their special somepony, the pony they love, has a scent. A sweet smell that reminds them they’re safe, an odor that just feels like safety and love and care. Starry didn’t have a scent. It was sterile, like everything in this room. It engulfed him an filled Silver’s nostrils with disinfectant and soap. It didn’t smell safe or happy at all.

“Have you gotten a response?” Starry asked, turning his head back and putting his hoof on Silver’s own. Silver hadn’t seen but Starry had been smiling so hard his cheeks began to feel sore.

“I only sent it yesterday…” The two were still, just taking in the warmth from each other. The strange tension coming from Silver, the rigidity, and the tenderness of the moment slicing through the fear.

“Silver… when this is all over, what will we be? What do you want from this? This is all so new, and I don’t really understand what we are right now.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call this situation a common one. Starry Scroll-” Silver got up and came around to the other side of the bed, the way Starry faced, so he could look into those emerald green eyes. “When this is all said and done, and you can…” He looked down at the back legs under the tightly tucked bed sheets, “Get up, I would love to take you out on a date. I know we’re a bit passed that now, but I still want to have time to get to know yo-”

Silver looked down, There was a weak, but tender, hoof wrapped around his stomach, as Starry did his best at giving a meagre hug in the hospital bed. He gently took Starry’s hoof in his own caressing the frail limb as he bent down and let Starry give him a kiss on the cheek.

“I would love to, Silver,” Starry smiled, and despite how broken and frail he still was, it was the largest smile Silver had ever seen plastered on his face.

Starry looked down, the smile fading. “I’m going to be a cripple for life now,” It was amazing how quickly he could look so miserable.

Silver returned the favour and gave him a kiss back, continuing to caress the weak little leg still wrapped around his barrel. “Poets don’t need legs to be great, and stallions don’t need to be strong to be… beautiful? Handsome? That’s… really hard to say,” Silver blushed.

Starry gave a weak smile once again, turning away from his legs and facing Silver, “Both will do,” he said, before laying his head back, closing his eyes, and letting out a sigh.

“It sounds like you need some more sleep,” Silver said, letting Starry’s hoof fall from his side and on to the bed.

“It sounds like you need not be such a worry wart.” He replied.

Silver grinned and got off the bed, and picked up his bag he had left at the entrance. “I’ll come back tomorrow. I promise.”