Title: Recriminations, 1/2
Author: Stormy1x2 (traveling_storm)
Pairing: Ace/Teddy (past Ace/Starlight, Teddy/Sweetheart)
Word Count: 1479
Notes: A two-parter, takes place directly after chapter 4.
Teddy knew what fear was.
He was practically an expert on the emotion. It was a part of him down to his very bones, no matter how he tried to deny it. His very attitude on and towards life was all about hiding it so no one could tell. With the exception of Ace and Sweetheart, he'd succeeded in fooling the world that he was as tough as he acted.
Lies, lies, nothing but lies. Teddy felt panic start to bubble up inside him and he swallowed hard, as though the act could push the fear down, back down deep inside where it belonged. Repression was also something he knew well. Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes, not so easy. It seemed today, probably due to everything else going on, his subconscious took pity on him. Swallowing seemed to work this time, and he let out a silent sigh of relief.
It was quiet, inside the house he shared with Ace. Well, technically it was Ace's house, and he was just living in it with him, but Ace insisted on having both their names on the lease even though it was all Ace's money. That little stunt had pretty much outed them to the world, causing his perfectly manicured mother to pass out and his father still wasn't speaking to them. Teddy wondered idly what Ace's grandmother would have said had she known her grandson would use his inheritance to put an enormous down payment on a house with his partner – who was, noticeably, not of the female persuasion. She might not have cared though – Teddy had had the chance to meet the elderly pony a few times before her death two years prior. Ace had been a wreck at the loss of his favorite family member, and Teddy, remembering kind words and twinkling eyes, had felt his pain almost as keenly.
The clock on the wall chimed, and Teddy jerked his head upright. Right now, Ace was likely talking to Starlight. He hoped the the girl would talk – he wanted...no, he needed to know how Sweetheart was doing. It was his fault she was so upset. He was the one who had hurt her so badly. The first person to show him compassion and friendship as a child, and later on, the first person to truly make him feel loved, and he repaid her love and caring with a slap in the face with his....abnormality.
No.... no. He'd told Ace he wasn't going to call it that anymore. Being gay wasn't a sickness, a disease that could be cured. It wasn't wrong. He repeated that in his head a few times, watching the sunlight stream in through the living room window. Dust motes danced in a breeze he couldn't feel, drifting hazily away into the shade provided by the walls and disappeared without a trace. But just because you couldn't see them didn't mean they weren't there. Kinda like thoughts.
He snorted. Forget maudlin, he was going straight into profound. Pushing himself up off the sofa, he made his way into the kitchen and ultimately the fridge. Being the professional athlete he was, Ace had it well stocked with bottles of water lining the bottom drawers. Teddy grabbed one. After a seconds thought, he also grabbed a can of Pepsi. Water for the thirst, cola for the caffeine. Whatever gets you through the day, he thought, and closed the door, heading back to the sofa where he could mope in relative comfort.
What were they talking about? Maybe Starlight yelled at him and threw one of the cafe chairs at his head. He considered that for a second, and then shook his head. Not Starlight's style. If she was going to do something physical, it'd be more like dumping Ace's drink over his head. He twisted the lid off the water bottle and guzzled half of it in one go, wiping his mouth with the back of his hoof, slightly surprised. He must have been more thirsty than he'd thought.
More likely Starlight had just gone straight for the 'talking it out' thing she was kinda known for. It drove Teddy up the wall – it had even before Ace had dated her. Starlight was one of those ponies that everyone liked – and didn't like at the same time. She was a good friend, but she was also morally rigid and uptight at times. When they had been in junior high, Teddy would periodically steal her daytime planner, just for the fun of watching her hyperventilate herself into hysterics. Of course, Ace always came by a few hours later to get it from him to return it to his girlfriend with a casual mention of how someone had brought it to the lost and found department. Teddy chuckled at the memory. Ace, while adoring Starlight, had also thought a few hours of unplanned time was good for her, which was why he always waited, and why he never turned Teddy in.
Nah, if Teddy had to put money on it, he'd bet that Starlight told him to leave and that she'd talk to him when she was ready. Then she'd get an immediate case of the guilts and chase after him to have a heart-to-heart. It was one of the many things she and Sweetheart had in common. No matter what someone had done to them or their loved ones, they were incapable of deliberately hurting someone else. It made his actions toward her even worse.
He did love Sweetheart. That wasn't a lie or a fabrication on his part. It never had been. He loved her – her innocent look on life, her gentle, caring nature, her protectiveness, her loyalty to her friends, even when it cost her. Teddy would never forget the way she'd taken his side back when they'd been kids and he'd been accused of stealing Melody's tape player. It had temporarily cost her her closest friends, but she hadn't wavered. Teddy had always had a soft spot for her, even before that show of loyalty, but he'd felt something stirring in his heart then that had only gotten stronger over time. Love. Unfortunately, he'd confused romantic love with sibling love and had never gotten around to sorting it out with her.
Teddy drained the bottle, and then cracked the tab on the pop can. He was getting a headache from all the swirling thoughts in his head, and though it was getting on to almost four-thirty, he hadn't had any caffeine at all that day. Caffeine withdrawal headaches were a bitch.
He wanted Ace. Wanted him to come home and wrap his arms around him and hold him together so he couldn't come apart at the seams. He'd never tell Ace that, of course, but luckily the other pony was good at reading between the lines, reading him, and he never actually had to say it out loud. He wanted Ace to tell him everything was going to be all right – tell him that Starlight had forgiven Ace, that Sweetheart was okay, and that Sweetheart would forgive him too. He couldn't imagine his life without her. She'd saved him, so many times, just by being there for him and offering him her love. Without her and Ace, he probably would have opted out of the pony race years ago.
What if she doesn't forgive me? Teddy shivered at the thought, suddenly cold, and he reached to the side of the couch, grabbing the blanket they usually kept draped over the back, or crumpled up as an extra cushion. Wrapping it around his shoulders, he picked up his soda again, and finished it off. What if he'd hurt her so much she never wanted anything to do with him ever again? He couldn't even contemplate it.
He sipped his soda. It was ice cold and burned going down his throat, just the way he liked it. He contemplated taking it – and himself by default – for a walk around the block, the backyard, hell, even the living room. Anything but sit there and think about all the ways he'd screwed up. It was making him jittery. He set the can down and jumped to his feet, striding to the door with determination.
Opening it, his jaw dropped in shock. He could feel his eyes widening to almost impossible sizes, and he backed up automatically, hooves scrabbling a little against the slickness of the polished wood floor. "Sweetheart...."
Sweetheart stood there, one hoof still poised to knock on the door. Dark smudges circled her red eyes, and she was biting her lip. "Teddy...." She looked down, trembling slightly, and then looked back up with a hint of the same determination she'd shown him time and time again when he'd needed help or defending. "We need to talk."
End part 1....