A loud crack rang through the air. The world as Panzer knew it shook for the umpteenth time as he bounced off the boulder, the impact still ringing across his shell.
"Please, I have done you no wrong," pleaded the tortoise, completely withdrawn in fear. "Why must you torment me so?"
"It's not you, it's your kind," replied Boeing, huffing as he tried to lift the tortoise once more. He been been going at it for just over two hours, and there was little strength left in his wings. All that was keeping him going was the burning humiliation and rage in his heart. He had been beaten by a tortoise, of all animals. They were but clumsy, pathetic prey that were no more interesting than paperweights! Fluttershy had forbidden the hunting of their "friends", but, well, she wasn't here, was she? Nopony was. Boeing had made sure of that with a quick scan of the area before engaging the unlucky thing. The last thing he needed was to be kicked out of his home.
"I'm not good for eating. I'm tough, and not very nutritious, and..."
"Look, I'm going to kill you, or at least cause you grievous bodily harm. And for the record, I've conveniently forgotten how to speak tortoise, so you can forget trying to convince me to stop." They had flown about five meters above the ground. Hope it works this time. Three, two-
Spare me this unpleasantry, boomed a voice in his head. The falcon dropped the tortoise mid-dive, stunned at the intrusion.
"Who are you?" cried Boeing, flapping backwards frantically. "Where are you?"
I am the rock you have been assaulting for the past two hours, replied the voice. Boeing felt his eyes throb from the loudness. As an afterthought, it added: You stupid bird.
"Buh?" Boeing scanned the plains once more. Grass, rolling hills, tortoise, the small stream where he had found said tortoise, boulder. No other living creature in sight. "It must be sunstroke. Yes, Boeing old boy, you're tiring yourself out with this. There's definitely no weird voice claiming to be a rock around, it's just a figment of your imagination," he muttered to himself.
Denying me will not change the fact of my existence. I am the rock you clearly see, and I am talking to you. Your actions are of a dubious nature, but otherwise you are perfectly right in the head. Do not blame yourself - or the sun - so.
"Alright, fine! What do you want with me, then? I, er, I'm sorry for assaulting you and whatever?" Boeing said cautiously. "And could you tone it down a little? Your voice is making my head hurt."
Let the tortoise run free first, said the voice, much softer now. While it had sounded as if it was right up close before, now it sounded as if it were miles away. It was no less gravelly nor inexplicable, though the drop in volume helped tremendously.
The shock of the encounter had not left Boeing, replacing his anger with a mixture of disbelief and migraine. He nodded dumbly and landed next to the boulder, poking the shell with a talon.
"You're free to go. Shoo, off with you." As fast as his stubby legs would take him, the tortoise fled. Boeing watched disdainfully. Facing the rock, he said, "So do we wait for him to, like, leave, or is this alright? Because if it's the first I think we're in for a long-"
We shall wait.
"Right. Okay. You're the magical talking rock, not me." Seconds turned into minutes. Boeing found himself silently cheering as the tortoise edged over the hill and fell out of sight at last. Think, Boeing, think. Time to use the good ol' silver tongue. Butter him up, then run. "You know, Rocky, I respect the whole live-and-let-live thing you have going on, but don't you think waiting all that while was, well, a waste of time?"
It was not a waste. It was an exercise of patience. I do not appreciate being called Rocky.
"You have a name? Then what do I call you, er, mister?"
Is this boulder actually being shy? Boeing blinked and shook his head. Time to lay off the toadstools, buddy. One hundred percent Fluttershy-approved diet and an early night when you get back home. "I'm Boeing, Boeing the falcon." Before he could stop, he found himself adding sulkily: "Runner-up of the Rainbow Dash's New Pet competition, winning the most aspects except willingess to lift a rock. Stupid avalanche."
Ahem. Anyhow, I wasn't aware that the competition had a name.
"Who cares?" Boeing gave the ground a sulky scratch. "Wait, how do you know about the competition?"
You may call me Tom. I wish to, if you would let me, counsel you about this competition.
"No offence, but you're a rock, or a figment of my imagination - I'm not giving up on that idea just yet. How could you possibly counsel me on anything?" he asked, deciding to let the previous question drop.
You've listened up until now. Just spare me one story, and you are free to go. I promise it will be worth your time. By the end, if you still find this to be a waste, if you find that it does not help you, I will give you a gift as recompensation, something utterly beyond anything you can imagine, said Tom.
"That's fair." The truth was that Boeing had nothing else to do. Fluttershy's menagerie was not the most entertaining of places, after all, with her safety rules and regulations putting bars on anything remotely adrenaline-inducing. He shifted and sat down in Tom's shade. "Alright, but just one story, okay?"
Thank you. Now a long time ago, there was a rock farm, and on that farm was a pebble...
In the same way apple farms grow apples, rock farms grow rocks. Our farm grew many types, from the largest of boulders to a range of brilliant gems. Canterlot was where most of the produce went; it was where most of the bits were at, after all, and with nobles trying to outdo each other with every new purchase, demand was never low.
Back then, I was a seed, a tiny thing that had to be rolled about daily to achieve a size of any use. By soaking and rolling about in the moist, magic-rich stony soil, I would slowly grow, and the extent of this depended on the contract to fulfill at hand. My destiny was probably to become a part of some wall - not very glorious, but acceptable all the same.
One day, the youngest foal of the family that owned the farm came up to me. She picked me out from all the other seeds. I did not know it back then, but I was to be her first friend.
Before I move on, let me explain something about myself. I am not sure about other rocks, but I can perceive - everything in this world has an essence and at least a smidgen of magic, and this is what I pick up. Through the subtle differences in these, I could tell that this filly was pink. When she rolled me about, I could tell that her mane was different from the other farmponies - it was poofy and unruly. Ah, yes - she was a queer one all right.
Anyhow, from interactions with other objects-
You're a rock. How the hay do you do that?
Thaumatical extrapolation of the basic essence. In other words, magic. I shall get to that later on.
-I found out what had happened. This filly had thrown a party, the first ever in the history of the farm. There had been merriment, joy, and laughter, an uplifting of the spirits and essence in the air. Then it died out. Things went back to the way they used to be. Yet the filly could no longer go back to her old life; she had tasted "party", and she yearned for more. If her family members were no longer willing participants, she would have to find others.
It was exhilarating at first. As a pebble, I had admired the giants and the jewels. I was envious, for I would never have their futures - I was just a plain seed. Now, this filly had made me something no other rock would ever be - she made me a party rock, her companion, her friend. I donned a hat. She offered me cakes and drinks, and threw about plenty of streamers with their flimsy essences. She invited more guests - hay bales, a family of earthworms, even an alligator to play with her. The more the merrier, as they say, yes?
Time passed by. Her parties in the barn became part of the daily schedule. The earthworms disappeared. She tried to find them, to no avail, so she replaced them with a flowerpot instead. No matter; I was still content with my lifestyle. Then came her.
"Look what I brought in, Balboa!" said the filly one day, dragging in somepony with surprising strength, judging by the way the dirt floor smeared. "It's another filly!" She drew her up next to me, and I could get a better perspective of her. She had a yellow coat and pink mane. Her bright colours were not as-
Wait, did you say Balboa? As in Roc-
Yes, I did. She named me Balboa. As for your question, the answer to your next question will be revealed soon. Now, as I was saying,
-her bright colours were not as startling as the rest of her. To say she was quiet is an understatement - she radiated fearfulness, and would have been trembling so hard that it would have caused an earthquake if not for the fact that she was famished and semi-conscious. Later on, we would learn that she came from a distant place called Cloudsdale, a city in the skies. After a miraculous save by butterflies, she mingled with the animals until the issue of food and water arose. Unsure of what she could and could not eat, and without a source of water nearby, she grew weak and was about to give up when Pinkie found her.
The filly fed her cake and water. "What's your name? I'm Pinkamena Diane Pie, and when I saw you in the forest I was like, 'Woah!' because I had never seen another filly apart from my sisters before, and Inky's not really much of a filly anymore 'cos she's growing up really fast, and I-hello?"
Pinkie Pie? But that's Rainbow Dash's friend!
I realize this completely, Boeing. Anyhow, it took a day and a half for her to recover. Pinkie's parents found the yellow mare and took her away, presumably to better beddings and sustenance. When she finally came to, it took another three days to get her to speak. She was, of course, invited to the parties. Pinkie and I learned that her name was Fluttershy - yes, Boeing, I know of her too - and the story behind her fall into the Everfree forest.
"You need to get back to Cloudsdale?" babbled Pinkie excitedly. "I think I've seen it before, it's that giant cloud that looks like a slab from the bottom but a whole city from the side, right? And you say you were in flight camp? That sounds like super awesome fun!"
"Well, why didn't you say so earlier? I bet your family must miss you a lot, I mean, I just can't imagine what it'd be like if I didn't see one of my family members for a long time, I mean, isn't it really weird, not having ponies tell you to do chores, and help you do chores, and treat you to cake if they're feeling good and-"
"I don't have a family," whispered Fluttershy.
"You don't? But how's that possible? Everypony has a family, silly! Who feeds you and tells you stories and makes sure you wake up to help out with chores and things if you don't-"
"I don't know!" She had shrunk back so much that she was standing in the doorway. "I don't know my parents. I've never seen them before. My last guardian was Blue Jacket, and the last time I saw him was at the start of flight camp when he dropped me off. I just need to get back, okay?" She stretched out her wings and gave a feeble, yet threatening flap. "I'm really thankful to you for saving me, and I wish I could stay, but-"
"Then why don't you?" Pinkie Pie was almost pleading now. It was the first time I had ever seen her like this. "You don't have a family, but that doesn't mean you can't have one. Don't you like it here? Don't you like my parties? You could stay here, with us, and you could be part of our family..."
"I...I can't," whimpered Fluttershy, backing out slowly. "I have to get back. They'll be mad at me for leaving, and then they'll make another report and I'll be grounded for another three weeks. I-eek!" She had bumped into somepony. She turned around and withered under the stern gaze of Pinkie Pie's father, too frightened to even cower.
"Sounds like you're not too well treated up there," said Clyde Pie.
"How do you plan on getting back, anyhow? You seem too young to fly back on your own. In fact I doubt that you can make it past the treetops."
"It'd be a shame to have revived you, just to have you end back in the forest. Granny Pie would beat me black and blue if I let that happen, wouldn't she, Pinkamena?" Clyde sighed deeply. "Now I'm not gonna force you, but I'd strongly suggest that you just stay down here with us until we think of some way to get you back home. We're not a colourful bunch, us Pies - well, most of us - and we don't have much to offer, but we'll be the last to turn down somepony in need, a mere filly like yourself no less. You don't seem very hard to feed, and Pinkamena would enjoy the company - Celestia knows, she's been playing withrocksfor goodness' sakes." He gave her a gentle poke, and his features softened slightly. "I'm not good with words. What I'm trying to say is that it's no trouble, and we'd be happy to have you with us."
"Aww, you don't have to say anything!" cut in Pinkie, pouncing on her in a tight embrace. "You're crying because you're happy, and that makes me happy too, and you know what that calls for? That calls for a party!"
"I...thank you so much," whimpered Fluttershy, burying her face even deeper in her long mane. "But why are you doing this for me?"
"It's just basic kindness is all," huffed Clyde. "Now, Pinkamena - that's right, that's why I came here - come on and help me finish off rolling the last row of cornerstones, and then we can get to that party of yours."
What was a high moment for them was the start of the long fall for us. We were forgotten instantly now that Pinkie had a real pony for a friend. I was no longer special. Pinkie's parties meant missing out on rolling sessions, and because of that, I was severely misshapen - in the moment that I was replaced, I became garbage. Clyde himself threw me out, down into the gorge on the edge of the farm where he took all the failed crops early.
What happened? By a stroke of fate, I landed on my rim and rolled down the slope for a long while. First it was the bald patches, where the grass seeds could not even sprout because of the stones squashing them. Next was the gravelly strip where the smaller stones halted at last, either losing the momentum to fall further or being pressed hard into the ground by a larger rock (such as myself). Despite the bumps and shakes, I somehow continued on. I passed hardy weeds, defiant grasses, lichen and fungi that moved even less than the grass. I passed ugly, misshapen things covered in ivy and moss, and I wondered whether I would join their ranks. What was it like to be stationary forever? It was...unsettling, to say the least. You must understand that I had been moved around all my life. Movement was life. To join the ranks of the unwanted, and to be placed in this position by my "friend"...I cannot and will not deny my resentment. But enough of that.
I missed all these, and continued down. I had a couple of near misses, but I was not to stop until I reached the bottom of the gorge where the largest rocks lay.
Clyde was prone to bouts of venting seasoned with unmentionables around the dinner table about "Canterlot's bumbling construction mages" and how they "butchered" his best crops with poorly-executed spells, sending them back after because they "failed to meet their requirements". He told of how one could observe the boulders "chortling out of the sky, flaming with confangled magic". Turns out that boulders were not the only things they threw into the gorge. When I finally stopped, it was in a patch of bright yellow mud. The trough was actually Canterlot's magical waste dumping site - failed potions, thaumically-unstable compounds and experiments, unwanted books brimming with power - the place was as seeped in magic as butter biscuits in chocolate. What the scene was like, I could not tell; apart from shapes and natures, everything else was blurred in the radiation.
Hello, young one, said a voice in my head. This was a shock to me, and this I know you can relate to - the only thoughts I could hear up until then were my own! My mind blanked out only to be filled with more voices:
Hey, look, it's another one.
He seems awfully small for a new rock. Maybe he was the disturbance in the forces just now.
His shape is unharmed, too. Is it possible that he isn't a construction stone?
Be quiet and let the lad speak up for himself, boomed the first voice. Now then. Can you think? Think to yourself in your head.
Yes, I tentatively thought.
Very well. It seems, then, that you are indeed one of us - ones blessed with the touch of raw magic. The details are complicated. Suffice to say, your essence has evolved because of magical exposure - that is why you think, and you are. Until you learn to visit the consciousness of others, we will hold all conversations in your mindspace. Is that acceptable?
How many of you will be in here? I asked.
In this gorge, there are many, many of us. Thousands, tens of thousands-
Over nine thou-!
Shut up! roared the first voice. I'm sorry. If you can think - and I know you can - you must have been able to tell that the magic here is turbulent and uncontrolled, and often our conscious is mingled and carried into one another by the pulses. So to answer your question, I cannot say how many there will be. But as of who speaks, we can and will try to keep it down so that only I am heard. Isn't that right?
There was a chorus of Yeah, yeah. Sure, whatever, Moddie, and I felt my own senses ease up.
Thank you, I thought.
Don't mention it. You may call me Mod. What is your name?
I...I had one. But I don't want it anymore.
Very well. While we have all the time in the world, that is no excuse to waste it. I shall teach you all you need to know, and when you are ready, join us.
Under Mod's guidance, my senses grew sharper. I learned how to speak, as I am doing with you; I learned how to expand my range of perception, and more importantly, I learned how to remember. Everything that had happened to me until this point, I realized, I was not aware of. It is a hard feeling to explain. Imagine...flying down a straight path through the Everfree blindfolded, then taking off the blindfold at the end of the journey and looking back. You know that you have flown down a straight path with trees all around you, but only at the end do you see clearly what those look like. And because I could remember, I could learn to move on, to accept the situation. I grew.
New things came. Old things deteriorated. It was several years later that I was whisked into the presence of another creature, a creature of power no less.
He was a mystery, his shape indiscernible and his thaumic presence smudged at best. His essence was faint and tiny, as if he were a newborn. The only strong thing in his body was malice, and this he had in cartfuls. We tried to prod into his conscious, and to our surprise it was very well-guarded.
"Go away," he said. "Let me feed for a bit, will you?"
That was when, for the second time in my life, I felt fear. The being drew up and, somehow, began sucking the raw magic into himself, dragging our ensnared consciousness with it. We struggled to pull free from the energies we were so deeply embedded in. Few succeeded. It was horrible. Our collective thoughts were filled with, for the first time, not words but feelings - raw feelings of confusion and uncertainty that spread like wildfire across our group. This being, meanwhile, was growing stronger and stronger, feasting on the mess of magic as if it were mere tea and cakes.
Who are you? Why are you doing this to us? we yelled, or at least thought.
"Really? None of you know who I am? Spirit of disharmony, hello?" He cackled and a pulse of strange magic erupted from his body. We felt the clouds build up in the skies, filled with the oddest rain we had ever perceived. "I am Discord, ruler of Equestria, and you are simply collateral damage. Oh, time has not been kind to my essence. I crawl and slither as fast as I could before Celestia finds me. I intend to slowly regenerate my powers in the distant countryside...and instead I find this! A treasure trove of chaotic magic! It's like Hearth's Warming come early, not that you'd know what that is, of course. Trust me, gentleme- things, you are going to help me spread this beautiful chaos across the world. And, if what I know of the Elements of Harmony is right, you are going to help me in more ways than one."
I managed to pluck free. I hadn't the time to get used to being alone when I felt Discord come up to me, both mentally and physically. In terms of body, he was towering and certainly a sight to perceive, but mentally he was ten times worse. His mind wasn't something that belonged in Equestria. It was powerful and domineering, so complex that I felt shoved into a corner - in my own mind, mind you.
"Oh my, hmm, yes, I see your past. I have a plan, and I see a partnership offer in it for you. This could be very interesting indeed, Balboa."
I-that's not my name, and I refuse to work with you! I managed, before my mind froze up.
"I know. That's why I'm going to put a spell on you that will shut you up until it's too late. But think about it, Balboa, I'm giving you something you want! Why, the way I see it, it's a win-win situation. Think about it, at least...when you can."
Before I could reply, I felt something blanket over my mind, and with that I could feel no more.
When I next woke up, I felt myself moving. I gathered my thoughts quickly. Discord, near essence-death experience, losing consciousness. I calmed myself down and focused. I was still in one piece. There was more of me now, which was disconcerting, and the feel of arcane energy clung to me, thick like treacle. I tried to stretch my senses beyond me. There was shrubbery to my sides, and a few mares in front of me. I reached out again, and realized that there was one more under me. She was carrying me on her back for some reason, and I wanted to find out why as soon as possible. I prodded into her conscious.
Who are yo-
I withdrew hastily. Her mind seemed to have been turned inside out. The paths of thought, as I will describe them, were crooked, spiraling in every direction and deeply-shaded gray with negativity. I did not want to risk chasing down her thoughts in the maze, so I settled for observation. I nestled my conscious in a small nook and waited for the next thought to pass. What I saw did not help things out.
The thoughts came in a continuous stream, and it went like this:
Who was this Tom? Whatever the case, he must be important, and his identity might be a clue as to what was going on. I stretched a tendril out and dug for an image, and to my amazement it was a giant diamond. I had never seen anything like it before. Its shine was almost blinding, and it was roughly my size - very large indeed.
So you're awake, Tom, said Discord's voice. I pulled out of the mare's mind to face him as best as I could.
Tom? I'm not Tom. What did you do?
I placed a spell on you, Tom. The mare carrying you goes by the name of Rarity, the former bearer of the Element of Generosity, and she absolutely adores you, in case you haven't figured it out.
I'm a rock, Discord. If you're going to lie, at least try, would you? Anyhow, I'm going to put a stop to this. I prepared myself to speak to this Rarity when I felt a strong tug pull my perspective away. My sight swung. We were now in a clearing of some sort, the skies dark and - believe this - pink, filled with cotton candy clouds. The stench of milk filled the air. A purple unicorn stood before my perception, saying words I could not hear, and further away, four other mares were having an argument of some sort.
Look at you, Tom! Rarity loves you! She's even fighting for your sake, defending you from those other mares trying to lay their hooves on you. That's more than anypony's done for you, isn't it? Focus, Tom. Say it isn't so.
Discord dragged my unwilling, unblinking perception up close to them. It was true. The pale gray unicorn, an exquisite, tender thing, was carrying a boulder about, having a shouting match with other grayed ponies, two of which uncomfortably resembled Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy.
She's defending you from them. The ponies that discarded you like trash. She values you beyond all worth.
What's this got to do with me? I sniffed, playing indifference. She hasn't done anything for me except carry me around. I don't mind being touched. I can't feel. Put me back down, and I am going to tell this Rarity to stop it this moment.
Is your heart made of stone? mocked Discord. I'm not thinking about you, I'm thinking about her. There was a flash of lightning, and I was shoved back into my granite exterior. You of all things should know what it's like to be ditched by somepony whom you value. Break her heart, and you'll be doing the same thing Pinkie did to you back then. Can you still do it?
What is that supposed to mean? I retorted, but he was gone. It was just me again.
I didn't know what Discord was playing at, and what I had to do with anything. All I knew was that there was some sort of spell involved, and that I was now the object of adoration by Rarity. Discord wanted this to happen, but why?
Rarity loves you, drifted Discord's voice.
Somepony loved me.
Even if I didn't love her back, that wasn't a reason to plunge her into distress. I remembered the burning humiliation of my descent all those years ago, and wondered why on Equestria would I ever want to put somepony through that, and of all ponies, somepony that thought I was a real gem. Somepony cared enough to lug me around on their back everywhere they went. Not even the rock community could top that.
I mulled over my thoughts as we entered town. I busted through a wall, was moved around with magic, was pushed off a height. Yet I couldn't pay any attention to these things, because something more pressing was occupying my thoughts.
I began to wonder whether I loved Rarity in return.
I can't be blamed for my ignorance regarding love - I'm a rock, after all, and we do not have the opportunity to exercise this emotion very often. All I knew was that she loved me, was trying her best efforts to make me wholly hers, and I cannot deny that I was extremely flattered by this. She was giving me something I would never again receive in my possibly eternal lifetime. The least I could do was thank her, and maybe give her a little something back.
Just when I decided that I would give it a shot, she left me. "Let us never speak of this again" were her parting words as I was left behind in the town square. I was stunned. I had no idea what to make of this.
Judging by the way the pulses of environmental magic eased back into normality, I guessed that Discord had been thwarted. I was rolled away into the plains, where we are here today. And since then I have laid here, wondering just what would it be like if I had boldened up earlier, if I had grasped at the opportunity before it was too late. Whichever way it goes, what happened has happened; I will never know, and I am at peace with this.
Boeing stirred. He stretched out his left leg, then his right, feeling a little numb.
"Wow," he said at last. "Just...wow."
I have kept the name Tom in memory of her. While she did throw me away, she gave me something of worth - an experience, and for that I owe her more than I can say.
"I had no idea. But, eh, if you don't mind me asking..."
Boeing's voice was tentative. "What was the point of the story?"
Oh, yes. How could I forget? Listen, Boeing. Tom paused for a moment, as if relishing the moment. The point of the story is that things could be worse.
Silence settled on the plains. A breeze kicked up the blades of grass around Boeing's talons. A flock of sparrows made their final feeding rounds for the day, whizzing up high overhead, catching the late fly or bee in swift swoops. In the distance, the sun was setting, and it would be time to return to Fluttershy's cottage.
"That's it? That's the point of all that?"
Yes. Tom seemed to mull over it for a while before continuing, Are you still upset?
"You know, actually I'm not. Not anymore. Just kinda belated."
Well then, there you go.
Boeing shifted again and flapped up to perch on Tom. It was true - all the resentment had worn off with Tom's tale, and while he was not keen on suffering Fluttershy's berating on being late, he felt a tiny, new confidence in his heart that tomorrow would be better.
"Thanks. Really, for everything. I gotta say though, and no disrespect to you, but I felt you could've taken a shorter while to tell me all that."
Do you wish to obtain the gift I promised you conditionally?
"Do I?" Boeing closed his eyes and mulled over it. "The condition was that I didn't find the story helpful, right?"
Boeing drew himself up and looked at the cloudless sky. "I gotta say, I'm going to regret this, but I can't bring myself to lie to you. I don't want the gift. Listening to you really did help me. I'm not angry any more, and you're right, I'll be danged if I let a wimpy thing like Tank get in the way of me living my life."
Eh, close enough. It's the thought that counts.
"Well, Tom, thank you for all that. I mean it. Thanks a lot, buddy."
Boeing stretched his wings and kicked off, flying at last into the brilliant red-and-orange, the sun casting the last shadows of the day across the plains. He felt a breeze kick up, and the wind pushed against his wings, propelling him higher. He let his mind wander, simply feeling the flow of the air around him the way only a bird could. He was free. He always had been, but now, even more so. Before he made the dash back home, he turned to look one last time at Tom's lone figure, unmoving and silent. What was he thinking of now? What was he waiting for, if at all?
Just stay put, Tom. I'll come back for a visit one of these days. I'm pretty loyal if I do say so myself, heck, and the Great Bird help me if I forget a friend.
A/N: First off, thanks for making it this far! This is one of the reasons why "Life and Times" is going slow. I had an idea for a TomxFalcon, I tried to write it, it ended up as friendshipping instead...anyhow, I'm pretty proud of this, but what say you? Hit the review button and tell me what you think! =)
Special thanks to Jmozziel at Ponychan's /fic/ for giving this a run-through. Flutters-Pinkie childhood fanon inspired by (dot)com (it's sooo kuyt and completely SFW). The next thing coming up will be Chapter 15 of "Life and Times", hurrah!