The Support Group For HiEs

by kildeez

Chapter 1: Everypony has secrets, some are just bigger than others

Her name was Petalgrown, a teal Earth pony with bright green eyes, curly brown mane, and a cutie mark in the form of a potted plant, exclaiming her meager horticultural skills to the world. She liked coffee in the morning (two sugars), tea at night, and a daisy-with-lettuce sandwich on rye every day around three. The vast majority of her time was devoted to developing the tiny patch of dirt in front of the cottage she and her stallionfriend shared into something she could pass off as a garden. Already, she had started growing a fine little tomato crop: not much compared to what some of the other ponies out in the country could do, but still a benchmark she had been striving towards for weeks. She was quite proud of the accomplishment, especially since she’d had no idea what she was doing.

In reality, Petalgrown was a façade she put on every morning, like most ponies applied makeup. Her real name was Shapedance, and she was a changeling. Now, by changeling standards she was quite pretty, with her adorable little fin that poked out the top of her head at just the right height to be noticeable in a crowd, but not too much where she looked like a punk rocker. Her eyes were the deepest solid amber, and the holes in her legs were hardly noticeable thanks to her innate talent of extracting the most love she possibly could from a target. She supposed if changelings did get cutie marks, hers would be a black, hole-filled heart thriving on a steady stream of love being poured into it. Of course, by pony standards, she was a hideous monster, and so she lived the lie that every changeling in pony society was forced to endure, wearing a face that wasn’t their own just to gain the love they so desperately needed to survive.

She was used to this by now: hop into some pony’s bed, suck as much love as she could from him (or her, she wasn’t picky) as quickly as possible, and move on before they noticed the odd little glint in her eye or the fatigue which accompanied every feeding. Hop in, suck (sometimes in more ways than one) and repeat. Truth be told, it had started to get rather exhausting over the last few years, and she had started to wonder if she’d reached the age where it would be time to retire and find a quiet place in the woods where she could teach foals or feed animals, living off the trickle of primitive love she would receive from them. And then Chrysalis had made the announcement that she had a plan to ensure the hive would never go hungry again, and everything had changed.

She wasn’t quite sure where the invasion of Canterlot had gone so totally wrong. She had been on one of the castle’s outer parapets, chasing down a delightful little family of five that had been just brimming with love, and then there was a flash, a clap like thunder, and her whole world was sent spinning by a wave of…she wasn’t sure what. It felt like love, but this stuff had tasted awful, as if it were born with hatred of changelings in mind. She wasn’t sure how that made sense, love being born of hate, but she did know that it sent her flying out of Canterlot, past the Everfree, right towards the Badlands. That would have been fine: landing right back in home sweet home would have allowed her to find a recuperation chrysalis and nurse her battered body back to health, but fate, being a cruel and heartless bitch, had other plans. At the last moment, a gust of wind tossed her somewhere deep in the Everfree forest, where she lost consciousness on impact.

She had awoken to the sound of approaching hoofsteps and, thinking quickly, had adopted the disguise she wore now. To the young pegasus stallion that found her, she was and always had been Petalgrown, the mare he had rescued following a manticore attack. That was just about the most generic story she could have come up with, but she’d had to make it up on the spot. The attack had left her battered and bruised just a few klicks away from his cozy little cabin in the woods. From there, it was almost too easy to land herself on his couch and nurse on the sympathetic love he offered only too willingly. Yes, from the invasion’s failure, everything had gone almost too perfectly for her, except…

…except his love never tasted right, she frowned as she eased the small sunflower in her hooves into its hole, carefully burying its roots to help it stand tall. That day when she’d first feasted on the stallion’s love had been almost four months ago, and she still wasn’t quite used to the strange, fiery love that poured from his heart. Oh, it was perfectly fine love, thank you very much. It filled her and sustained her just as well as love from any other pony, and there was always enough left over after every feeding where the most he’d ever feel was a slight wooziness. Yet there was something that set his love apart from the others, an intense fire behind it that burnt into her chest as a flaming aftertaste. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it had taken some getting used to before she could keep herself from cringing every time he walked into the room. Thing was, now that she was used to it, she wasn’t sure she could go back to the cool, unchanging love of another pony, and the love wasn’t the only thing. There was fire in everything he did, a passion unlike any she had ever encountered before. At times, he would rant and rave with flames scorching his words that sent shivers up her spine, only for him to apologize immediately afterwards. There was a lot she would give just to find out where that fire came from.

She gazed over at him as he pressed his glasses higher up on the bridge of his nose, his hind legs crossed oddly in front of his body and his wings folded against his back, his eyes remaining transfixed on his notepad. His name was Skywrite, and he was a writer, as evidenced by the pencil and paper cutie mark on his light-blue flank. He had intense hazel eyes and a spikey blonde mane that cropped up in places for reasons neither of them could ever quite figure out. As she watched, a hoof traced around his chin and lolled off to the side as he stared at the empty pad before him. Eventually, as often happened, his eyes wandered to the hoof and he frowned, as if he were disappointed at what he saw.

She smiled and turned her attention back to her work, happily patting the dirt over the sunflower’s roots into place, just like the book she’d scanned the last night had told her to. Thank Chrysalis he’s a bookworm, she thought as she continued. Without his impressive personal library, she never would have been able to pass herself off as the gardener her cutie mark suggested she was. She was certain she had him completely convinced of her disguise, so now the only thing left to settle was figuring out what it was that set him so far apart from every other pony she had met, and then she could…she could…

She paused in her work, a thoughtful look scrunching up her eyebrows. Then I can what? Leave? Well, that was what she wanted, right? That was the usual plan with most changeling infiltrators. Yet deep down, she knew that plan had flown out the window weeks before. If she’d ever wanted to leave, it would have been all too easy during the many times he journeyed into town. Especially during his weekly grocery shopping, which he insisted on doing alone. Fine by her: she was a-okay with kicking up her hooves and allowing her natural form to fizzle back to the surface for some much-needed rest, even if it was just for a couple hours a week. Thing was, every time he trotted out the door, announcing that he was going grocery shopping, she could detect the lie in his voice. A changeling was a natural liar, born of a race of liars and raised to live a lie for as long as needed. Basically put, she could smell a lie from a thousand yards away, and everything he told her about what he was doing during those weekly trips stank of lies so badly, you’d think his special talent was politics. Maybe that was why she stayed. Maybe the fact that a pony could have secrets of his own irked her. Maybe she thought if she could find out his secret, she’d be able to trust him with…

“You’re doin’ it again, babe,” he said. She nearly hopped out of her horseshoes with a frightened squeak as his hooves caressed her back, his forelegs wrapping around her waist and hugging her from behind.

“Sky,” she laughed, wiping a few flecks of dirt from her coat. “How many times do I have to tell you to stop surprising me like that?”

“Oh, but you look so cute when you’re surprised, sweets,” he cooed, nibbling at her ear. A shiver raced up her spine. She really wished he hadn’t figured out her right ear was so sensitive (probably thanks to a birth defect that left her actual ear slightly more turned in than the other). “I mean, that squeak you make? Absolutely adorable. Drives me crazy.”

“Shouldn’t you be writing the next great Equestrian novel?” She asked, brushing his snout aside with a mud-covered hoof.

“Writer’s block,” he shrugged, wiping the mud from his face. “I know where I want the story to go, but I don’t know how to get there from where I am. So now, all I have left is bothering you.” As he spoke, his hoof gently traced up her spine, just barely touching it enough for her to feel it, eliciting yet another shiver.

“Celestia, you stallions only ever want one thing,” she teased, turning back to her work and patting the last few clumps of dirt into place.

“Nay madam, for you see, stallions want three things: to pull off a heist, a monkey, and that which you speak of.” She turned to him, eyebrows raised in confusion. A smile played at his lips. “In that order.”

“Where do you come up with these things!?” She laughed. That had been so rare before she’d met him, actually laughing with somepony. Genuinely laughing, she meant, not just the occasional chortle at some lame joke like most changelings had to put up with. What was it with this stallion!?

The tiniest amount of pain filtered into his smile. It wasn’t much, like being reminded of a loved one somepony had lost years before, but there was no keeping it from the changeling. She felt it along the edges of his usual, laid-back mood, like a really good daisy sandwich on rye with a drop of mud somewhere in the middle. “Maybe someday, I’ll tell ya,” he said, and by the time he spoke the pain was all but forgotten.

Huffing, she turned back to her garden. “You can’t keep saying that, you know. I’m gonna find out eventually.”

“Is that so?”

“Oh yes, I’ve made it my life’s mission to contact everypony from your past and figure out just what it is that makes you tick,” she replied with a mischievous smile.

“And if that doesn’t work?” He said with that damned, knowing smile: the one she hated with a passion, but still managed to make her marehood quiver slightly every time.

She frowned, her hind legs narrowing subconciously. “Well, then I’ll just need to institute ‘look, but don’t touch’ rules until you give in and just tell me already.”

“Look, but don’t touch?” He asked, the smile still playing on his face.

“Mmh-hmm, my body will be just like everything at the Manehattan Museum of Art: look, but don’t touch.”

The smile suddenly contorted as he suppressed a snicker. Her frown deepened. “Manehattan,” he chortled.

“What, you don’t think I’d do it? I’m being serious over here!” She barked, surprised at how angry she was actually getting.

“I know, I know, it’s just…” he waved a hoof at her, still trying and failing to keep his laughter suppressed. “’Manehattan’.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “Yes. Manehattan. What’s so funny about the largest port city in North Amareica?”

“’Amareica’,” he snorted again, waving a hoof at her. “I’m sorry, really, it’s nothing. Nothing at all.”

If her frown got any deeper, you would need a mer-pony to touch the bottom. He was doing one of those weird, idiosyncratic things again, and he still refused to tell her why! Just like he wouldn’t tell her why he called her “babe,” why his heart seemed to fall every sunset when he saw Princess Celestia’s magic shimmering on the star’s surface, and why he stayed up at nights when he thought she was asleep and spent hours staring at his own hooves with a look of longing. Nothing was just “nothing,” and the mere fact that he claimed it was only roused her suspicions even more. That’s it, I’m getting to the bottom of this, one way or the other, she thought. She needed time to think and plan alone.

“Well, if that’s the way you’re gonna be,” she huffed, tossing her trowel at his hooves and stomping back to the cottage.

“Wha-hey! Petals!” He called after her, galloping to catch up. “No, seriously! It’s nothing! Where are you going!?”

“Bed,” she replied. “No touching rules will be enforced tonight, just so you know. It’s the couch for you, buster!”

“Petals! C’mon!” He yelled, but she had already disappeared back into the cottage and slammed the oaken door behind her. Once she was inside, she had only to head to their room and organize her thoughts, smiling at her own cleverness. Sky would almost certainly head straight to the couch without any arguments, leaving her the room all to herself until at least morning! Plenty of time to find a way into his secret life, especially for a mistress of deception like her.

She had all the details and kinks ironed out a few hours later when she heard the front door open and slam shut, followed by somepony sighing and grabbing the spare blankets from the closet to make use of the couch. So, with nothing better to do (and NOT because she hated sleeping alone now, absolutely not because of that) she quietly eased her way out of the room and tip-hoofed to the couch. Smiling despite herself, she eased her way under the blankets and wrapped her hooves around his middle, praying she was quiet enough to keep him asleep.

“So, miss having a warm, muscular body next to you at night?” He asked somewhat groggily.

Darn. “Sh-shut up,” she stammered, blushing in the darkness.


“Babe, I gotta say,” he said around a mouthful of his dinner. “This is prolly the best meal you’ve made yet!”

She smiled and winked cutely. “I figured I owed you something after I overreacted the other day.”

“What’re you…oh,” he smiled and waved a hoof at her dismissively, cramming the mouthful of food in one cheek to talk. “You’re worried about that? It’s seriously no big deal! You were outside, working in the sun all day, and I didn’t help things by coming up and teasing you like that.”

“Still, I thought it would be nice.”

“Oh believe me, it is,” he added before shoveling another hoofful of the stuff into his mouth. She kept that little smile up as she watched him eat. “You sure you don’t want any of this?”

“Oh no, I already ate,” she replied, patting her belly. “You just keep going sweet-ums.”

“Yeah, I just…” he looked up as she leaned forward, her mane tossed in just the right way to catch his eye, setting it on the cuckoo clock nailed to the wall behind her. His eyes widened in terror. “Holy crap!”

“What’s wrong?” She asked, blinking in surprise.

“I’m late!” He screamed, pushing away from the table and nearly stumbling as he careened towards the hallway.

“Late?” She asked, cocking an eyebrow as she took a look at the clock. “For what? Oh wait, do you mean picking up the groceries? Is it really that important to go at the same time every week?”

He paused in his panicked attempts to pull on his saddle bags. “Y-yeah, they close real early, so…”

It was so obviously a lie it almost pained her to let it go. “You better hurry up then!”

“I know! I know!” He pulled on the last strap with his teeth, tightening the bag around his body and ducking back into the kitchen, giving her a quick peck on the cheek before galloping out the door.

“And grab some milk and eggs while you’re at it!” She hollered as he vanished into the darkening forests. The moment she knew she was alone, she couldn’t help but smile to herself. She picked a fried potato off his plate and bit into it with a satisfying crunch. It really was a delicious little staple. Delicious, hard to make, and absolutely unlike any other food in Equestria, but that was just one more mystery about her stallionfrie-TARGET that she was going to solve.

“Just as planned, and now, to wait,” she mused around the mouthful of potato. The plan may have been simple, but then it was the simpler plans that were harder to derail. And all it took was a neat distraction, like his favorite food on the dinner table, to keep his attention while she flipped the clock a few minutes ahead. Not much, but enough to send him into a panic at being late. So now, when she took to the skies and tailed him in a few minutes, he would be in too much of a hurry to even think about looking over his shoulder as he sailed through the skies, paranoid at the possibility of being followed. He would never suspect that his beloved would be just on his hooves, and he would never realize she was following him until it was far too late.

“Well, you naughty little colt, let’s see what you’ve been keeping from your marefriend,” she smiled, allowing her fangs to make their appearance in the dim, pre-dusk light bathing the cottage in shadow.


Not for the first time since she noticed the weekly pattern in his “grocery shopping” schedule, she wondered if maybe it was something as simple as an affair. She bit her lip at that thought. How could he, sharing his love with some other pony like that…

No, no, no! Bad Shapedance! She chastised herself, shaking her head. She was a changeling! She was absolutely ready for this! It shouldn’t matter if the big, dumb, idiotic, loving galoot wanted to wander off with some whore in the night! She could just as easily pull up stakes and…and leave…just as well as…as…

She swallowed the lump in her throat, flapping her recently-formed pegasus wings to stay aloft. Maybe it would be better if she just didn’t think about that at all. She had to focus on the task at hand, anyway. Her (stallionfriend) MARK was getting ahead of her again, sailing through the clouds at speeds that would make Rainbow Dash’s head spin. She sighed as she kept following him, remaining just behind and to the left, keeping in cloud cover when she could. He still hadn’t noticed her, so at least that part of the plan was going fine. He was still rocketing through the air, as he had for going on twenty minutes now. Thing was, the nearest town wasn’t even a ten minute flight from their cottage. So she was right, surprise surprise: no way he was going for groceries. Now it was time to see what on Celestia’s green Equius was really going on.

Suddenly, Skywrite nosed down and pounded through the cloud directly beneath him, leaving a pony-sized hole as he bolted towards a warm glow somewhere at ground level. She followed not long after; never losing sight of him as he rushed towards a squat building nestled on the road leading into town. She frowned as she approached the structure. She knew a seedy little inn when she saw one, and this place fit the bill perfectly. Between the loud sounds of ponies carousing from inside and the telltale clink of mugs being tapped together, her “cheating” theory was looking more and more likely by the moment. Her frown morphed into a scowl as she alit on the ground just outside the inn, assuming the form of a unicorn with a light-pink coat and dull yellow mane. “If he’s cheating on me,” she hissed, double-checking to ensure her disguise was as perfectly generic as possible. “I’ll suck him dry and leave him for the timberwolves.”

Trotting inside, she was at once blasted with the sounds of dozens of ponies trading this drinking song or that, swapping stories, and generally doing those things that all ponies do when they’re three sheets to the wind. She clenched her teeth as she trotted up to the bar, keeping an eye out for Skywrite. One stallion stumbled away from a table and smiled at her, a line of spittle stretching away from his mouth, and a mug of ale in his hands. “Hey hon, whatchoo doin’ here all alone?” He slurred.

“Practicing my jiu-jitsu on creeps like you, now buzz off,” she hissed, not even pausing in her trot. Usually, she might have preferred to be more diplomatic in getting rid of the stallion, but tonight she was just too pissed to mess with anypony.

Thankfully, he just shrugged. “Yer loss,” he muttered as he returned to his table. She approached the bar with a sense of trepidation, sliding easily into one of the stools and clapping her hooves for the barkeep’s attention. He promptly turned to her, a grizzled, old, pale yellow stallion with an ugly scar down one side of his face.

“Whaddya want?” He grumbled in a voice like sidewalk gravel.

Taking a few deep breaths to calm herself, she turned on her biggest, puppy-doggiest, most pleading eyes she could, adding a little shimmer for effect. “Puh-please mister, I-I’m looking for my stallionfriend. I think h-he might be cheating on me, and oh goodness, I just HAVE to find him!”

“Maybe I know ‘im, maybe I don’t,” he said. He looked her up and down, evaluating her for any sort of threat or trick. “What’s he look like?”

“Wuh-well, he’s got a short, spiky mane, he’s light blue, wears glasses, puh-pegasus…”

The bar stallion snorted. “Y’know what? I think I know somepony like that.”

“Ruh-really?” She asked, sniffling and wiping at her eyes.

“Yeah,” the stallion gave her a lopsided smile. “Thing is, the…uh…’group’ he’s with pays me a lotta bits t’make sure nopony bothers them while they’re meetin’, and I mean a LOT of bits. Whaddya got that can compete?”

Deadpanning, Shapedance promptly reached into the bowl of cherries on his bar and plopped one into her mouth. After a few minutes of manipulations, she spat the stem back out, tied into three separate knots. The barkeep’s good eye grew as wide as a dinner plate.

“Good answer,” he replied, his smile widening in anticipation.

“Where do you want to do it?” She asked, voice oozing with lust, eyes half-lidded.

“I got a back room,” he said, practically tripping over his own hooves to open the little swinging door allowing her behind the bar. Taking her hoof, he escorted her to a supply cabinet set just off to the side, quickly dusting off a small corner as he shut the door behind her. He turned to her, a hoof wrapping around her neck and pulling her into a tight embrace.

“Wait,” she held him at foreleg’s length to stop him. “Let me lead.”

He scowled and shook his head. “Honey, one thing you should know is that I ain’t much of a follower. I’m more an initiative takin’ kinda guy.”

“Oh, I know, but trust me,” she smiled seductively, letting a hoof trail down his stomach towards his stallionhood as it quickly rose to attention for her. “Let me have this, and I will rock your world.”

That big, stupid grin returned. “Alright, sweetheart, but this’d better be good or I’m bringing every stallion up front back here to have their way witcha.”

She suppressed the urge to just grab him by the throat and shake him until the choking noises stopped, maintaining that saucy little smile. “Deal. So first, close your eyes.”

He obeyed eventually, the grin remaining glued to his face.

“Now, just sit back, relax…” quick as lightning, she picked up a cleaning rag and jammed it into his mouth. He let out a muffled scream, but she held him down, her changeling strength keeping his forelegs pinned to his sides. He gawped at her (or would have if it wasn’t for the gag) as a circle of green fire engulfed her horn, revealing a twisted, gnarled black shape. “…and let me rock your world,” she hissed in her natural, multi-layered voice as she descended upon him.

A few minutes of drained love and a memory-altering spell later, the little pink unicorn happily skipped out of the room, knocking a metal pot off the back shelf and slamming it against the back of the barkeep’s head before she went. “Oh darn, somepony had a nasty accident,” she smiled as she closed the door and headed for one of the other doors hidden behind the bar. She still wasn’t sure where Skywrite was, but he had to be back here somewhere. There was nowhere else for him to go.

She found herself in an empty hallway behind the bar. Perking her ears up, she allowed them to resume their natural, tattered black form. Her changeling hearing was a dozen times what any pony could muster, and so it was no trouble at all to spot which door the voices were coming from.

“…she suspects anything?” One asked. Male, but not Sky’s.

“Of course she suspects something, I’m disappearing every week at the same time!” Another voice. Skywrite’s voice! And it was growing louder…

Thinking fast, she picked a door and ducked behind it just as a pair of stallions trotted into the hallway. Out of sheer luck, she found herself in another supply closet, safe from prying eyes as she peeked through the keyhole. Skywrite trotted in, flanked by a young unicorn stallion with dark blue hair and a scarlet coat. “I keep telling everyone that we should mix up the schedule more, make it look less suspicious!” The light blue pegasus said sternly, his eyes scanning around the tiny hallway for something (hopefully not her).

“We’ve been over this, an irregular schedule would mean people would eventually hafta scat right in the middle of something,” the unicorn replied, rolling his eyes. “You don’t think that would look even more suspicious?”

“I’m just saying; it probably looks like I’m cheating on her with somepony!” Skywrite replied, his eyes still darting around the hallway.

“SomePONY!?” The unicorn snickered. “Ash, my man, you’ve been here too long.”

“We all have, but what choice is there? It’s not like we can snap our fingers and wish things back to the way they were.”

Shapedance ran a hoof through her mane. The way things were!? Fingers!? What the hell was her stallionfriend talking about!? And why did that unicorn keep calling him “Ash”?

“Look, Ash, I’ve known you since elementary school,” the unicorn sighed, a hoof resting on Sky’s shoulder. “I just want you to answer me honestly: do you think this changeling of yours knows?”

Her heart skipped a beat. He knows!? She gasped. How was that possible!? Where did she screw up!? If he knew what she was, why didn’t he tell her? Was he…was he holding her just until he could summon the guard? No, he could’ve done that months ago, but what if…

Shaking the thoughts from her head, teeth clenching in anger, she quickly returned her attention to the little hole while the pegasus snickered. “Of course she doesn’t know! How could she possibly even suspect?”

“Well, there’s that unicorn in Ponyville,” the unicorn replied, eyes scrunching up in thought. “She seemed to know an uncomfortable amount about us. Like, scary amounts, way too scary.”

“Oh please, like anyone’s gonna listen to that crazy dyke?” Sky shook his head. “Besides, all she had were some half-baked theories and an unhealthy obsession with hairless monkeys. It’s not like she could point one of us out in the street!”

“Maybe, but some of those ‘half-baked’ theories hit a little close to home, you hafta admit.”

“Dave, we scanned her house, tore the place apart!” Sky snorted in frustration. “There was nothing linking her to us! Not. One. Damn. Thing. And I will admit, those theories might have been on the money, but it could just be coincidence! I mean, it has to be! How else could she have known?”

“Maybe,” the unicorn rubbed his chin with a hoof as he watched Sky’s eyes dart around. “The hell’re you looking for, anyway?”

“That barkeep was supposed to send somepony back with the snacks,” Sky sighed. “I like those finger sandwiches he makes.”

“Dude, if he hasn’t shown up yet, he’s probably not showing up tonight,” the unicorn shrugged, turning back towards the door. “Let’s just get back to the rest of the group. We’ll survive without food for one night.”

“Yeah, but still,” the pegasus couldn’t hide his disappointment as he trotted behind the unicorn, ears folded back. Shapedance smiled at that. The quickest way to get any sort of emotion from him had always been through his stomach. At least that part wasn’t some sort of lie, she thought as the pair closed the door behind them.

Alone in the hallway again, Shapedance pressed herself against the wall and ran a hoof through her disguised mane, her mind reeling. What had she just heard!? Why did that unicorn keep calling her stallionfriend (TARGET! TARGET! THAT WAS ALL!) “Ash”? And Dave? What kind of pony name was that!? And she was still missing the biggest reveal: he knew she was a changeling! He knew! How long, though!? Why hadn’t he gone to the royal guard if he knew!? Ugh, no, why was she even concerned with this? She had to get out of here!

Every changeling instinct screamed for her to rush out the door and run straight back to the hive. Maybe someling was still there who could help her, and if not she could still just head straight back to the pony world, find another pretty little thing to imponynate, and then…and then…

“And then go right back to the same, boring life, just barely existing,” she muttered, sitting on her haunches in the hallway, looking up at the door her…oh, for Chrysalis’ sake, she might as well just say it…STALLIONFRIEND (gasp) had just disappeared through. Again, every instinct screamed for her to turn around and run as far and as fast as she could, but then she’d never know why Sky did the things he did, why that sad look played over his face at such random times, or why he hadn’t just turned her little black butt in to the Royal Guard once he’d figured her out. Determination crossing her face, Shapedance stood and eased the door open. She had to know, even if it meant risking everything.

Creeping through the door, she found herself in yet another hallway, with small rooms leading off it, the doors made of some cheap chipboard with cracked, fading numbers emblazoned on their surfaces. This must be where guests stay, she figured, not that it was very hard to figure out. Only one room at the very end of the hall had any light pouring out from the cracks in the frame, so it was safe to assume that was where Skywrite and the unicorn must have disappeared. Summoning up what little remained of her courage; she crept towards the light and pressed herself against the door. This was it. She’d come too far to back down now. Whatever Sky was keeping from her would be revealed right here. With a final few breaths, the changeling pressed an eye up to the keyhole, and saw the impossible.

The small room was packed full of creatures. Ponies for the most part, but she could also make out griffons and diamond dogs, and even a changeling in his natural form, completely undisguised! They were all gathered in a tight circle along the room’s walls, the center of which had been cleared away for something. She couldn’t make out what that something was: her view was blocked by a dog’s massive shoulder. They were all cheering at it, and she could hear something thumping around in there. It took nearly ten minutes of waiting, but eventually, the dog blocking her view shifted his stance and she got a clear view. She took one look, and her jaw nearly hit the floor, stopping just short of thumping against the wood and giving her away.

A strange, misshapen creature danced in the middle of the room. It was bipedal and had hands, just like a dog, except it was taller. It was obvious this thing’s hands were never meant to touch the ground, even with its long, thinly-built arms. It had no fur, just scant traces of hair on its exposed arms that still left its odd, mocha-colored skin exposed to the elements, except perhaps on the head, where a thick patch of it sat just above a pair of beady little eyes. These were not the eyes of a dog, though; these eyes still had the warmth, color and intelligence of a pony’s, along with an odd nose that jutted right out from the rest of its face, but was far too small to be called a snout. As she watched, the creature spun a few times on the ball of one foot before leaping into the air, landing gracefully with a couple of little tip-taps. Shapedance stood in awe of the display: she didn’t need to be a ballerina to recognize the grace and moves of someone with years of experience under their belt.

As the creature’s performance ended, it took a long, sweeping bow to an uproar of applause from every other being in the room. With a last bow, the creature disappeared in a familiar burst of green flames, and a changeling stood in the center of the room, kneeling on one leg as the circle broke apart into a crowd that began chatting loudly amongst themselves. Her heart leapt into her throat as she spotted Sky among the crowd, laughing, clapping his hooves, and talking amicably with the undisguised changeling next to him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Is this what he was so determined to hide from me? She thought, her mind reeling, her heart leaping into her throat with the memory of the alien dancing in the middle of the room. What is this, even!? Why was he so intent on keeping this hidden!? What in the hay is even going…

“SPY!” Someone inside suddenly yelled. Her heart careened right back down from her throat and slammed into her stomach with a nauseous splash. The door burst open in front of her and a griffon’s claw reached out and seized her by a hoof, dragging her inside and throwing her in the middle of the floor with an unceremonious thud.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! She chastised herself. She’d forgotten to conceal her emotions from the changelings in the room! Of course she’d been caught; she might as well have shot up a signal flare for them to see! STUPID! As she regained her marbles, Petalgrown looked around at the diverse gathering of faces peering down at her. Some looked concerned, others frightened, but a few just looked angry. To her dismay, Sky was among the latter.

“How did you find us!?” The changeling that had been dancing barked, jabbing a hoof into her chest. “Was it Heartsrings? Hmm? Did Heartstrings tell you to follow us!?”

“I-I…” she stammered, at a loss for words for the first time in her life.

“He asked you a question, li’l lady,” Skywrite said accusingly, stepping ahead of the rest of the crowd. “For your own good, you better answer.”

She sniffled, actual tears misting in her eyes despite her best efforts to suppress them. “Sky, don’t you recognize me?”

The pegasus arched an eyebrow suspiciously. Bowing her head, the changeling assumed her familiar Earth pony form, the unicorn melting away in a burst of green fire. Sky jumped back in surprise. A choir of frightened murmurs raced around the room, from changelings and non-changelings alike:

“A changeling! God help us, a changeling’s found us!”

“This could be bad…this could be very bad…”

“Oh shit…if Chrysalis knows about us…fuck…”

The pegasus corrected himself, taking a few curious steps forward. “Petals?” He asked.

She nodded sadly. “Surprise.”

“Not really,” the unicorn she’d seen earlier (what was his name? Daav? Something weird like that) snorted. “We had you scanned a long time ago. We’ve known what you are for months.”

With the mood calming down somewhat, Petalgrown/Shapedance could get a decent look around the room. It was bare except for the far wall, which housed a punch table stacked high with the bundles of napkins and cheap paper cups that were practically standard for punch tables, along with a few stacks of chairs, and a banner reading “HiEs United” in big, block letters. As she puzzled over what that could possibly mean, a hoof clamped around her butt and squeezed with all its might, eliciting a high-pitched squeak from her.

“Adorable,” Skywrite said, his hoof still clamped firmly on her rear end. He nodded to the others in the room. “Yeah, it’s definitely her.”

“Cripes, Ash,” ‘Daav’ said, shaking his head with a little smile. “Getcher own room if you’re gonna do that.”

The dancing changeling sighed and stepped out in the middle of the crowd as concerned whispers continued to race around the room. “Alright, everybody, settle down,” he said, his voice reeking with authority. “We’ve been discovered, but so what? We have planned for this. We all know what to do now.”

“Now?” Petalgrown/Shapedance turned to her STALLIONFRIEND (dear sweet Chrysalis, why was she doing this to herself now?) “What happens now?”

Skywrite sighed, rubbing at the back of his head with a hoof. “Now, we show you how deep the rabbit hole goes,” he shrugged, turning with the rest of the crowd as they all started grabbing chairs from the stacks against the wall, leaving her sitting on her haunches in the middle of the room.

“Jesus Ash, really?” The unicorn snickered as he took his seat. “I thought you were supposed to be a decent writer.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up Dave, my mare-GIRLfriend is about to learn what I am. It’s kind of a stressful night for me.”

Before long, every single being in the room was seated in a chair, completely encircling her. She noted two of the biggest beings - an exceptionally burly diamond dog and a large griffon with cold, grey eyes and talons that looked like they’d seen their fair share of blood- taking their seats right in front of the door, completely blocking it. Even if she wanted to run, there would almost certainly be no escape now. She sat like that, head bowed, waiting for something to happen, sweat dripping off her brow. What was this? An execution? An…

“I’ll start,” the dancing changeling sighed, rolling his solid-blue eyes as he climbed out of his chair. “Hello everybody, my name’s Shifter.”

“Hey Shifter,” the rest of the room replied.

“I’m a changeling from the northern hive, living in disguise in Manehattan, except…except that’s not right,” with a concerned look cast Shapedance’s way, his form ignited with changeling shifting magic, and in his place stood the mocha-colored being from before, wearing rough-looking blue denim pants and a light T-shirt. He surveyed the room with those tiny, strangely intelligent eyes, eventually looking Shapedance right in the eyes. “My real name is Will Thompson.”

“Hi, Will.” The room repeated.

“I am NOT a changeling. I am a twenty-four year old African American male from Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.”

“You gotta say something special about yourself!” One of the dogs hollered.

“Right…uh…I’m…studying for a history degree at the University of Illinois,” he said quickly before taking his seat.

The pegasus next to him snickered, running a hoof through her tan coat. “Right, like you could ever find a job with that degree,” she muttered.

“And we have a volunteer to go next,” the biped replied as he resumed his changeling form, cocking a non-existent eyebrow at the unicorn. Rolling her eyes, the pegasus got to her hooves and smiled brightly.

“Hi everyone! My name is Wildfire!”

“Hi Wildfire,” the room droned again.

“I’m a pegasus from Ponyville, like you needed me to tell you that, and by my cutie mark, you can tell I repair wagon wheels!” She enthused, motioning to the flaming tire on her flank. She giggled cutely, and then quickly trailed off with a roll of her eyes. “Except none of that’s right.”

She sighed, looking out over the crowd, especially at Shapedancer. “My name is Heather Williams.”

“Hello, Heather.”

“I’m an Asian-American female from Los Angeles, California. My dad was Korean, and he met my mother while vacationing in California. They split after a few years, and he left her with me. It was kind of an easy life, though: my mom made a lot from her job as an advertising exec for the big shots in Hollywood, so it’s not like I ever went hungry or anything. And that’s my story.” She shrugged, taking her seat.

After that, the beings all over the room didn’t have any problems sharing. The diamond dog by the door went next: “Hi all, I’m Sharpfang of the Northern Dog tribes.”

“Hey, Sharpfang.”

“Except we all know it’s not right,” he replied, his voice taking on a strange, unknowable accent as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “I am Rahul Singh, twenty-two years old, Delhi, India.”

“Hey, Rahul,” the bored tone was getting more apparent in the voices around them.

“I was studying at the University of Delhi to be a mathematician. I’ve always loved numbers, but then, I became...this,” he sighed sadly as he looked down at his claws. “Not much use for numbers in the crystal mines, I’m afraid, but I still dabble here and there.”

“That reminds me, we ‘ave some more t’go over with your theoretical portal calculations,” the griffon replied in an accent she might have placed near Trottingham, perhaps from one of the elder ponies living there. “I think we’re missin’ something key.”

“I do as well,” the dog smiled in anticipation as the griffon stood, hands behind his back.

“Evenin’, ladies and gents. I am NOT Cyrus the griffon, but rather, I am Professor Blakeslee with the University of Cambridge,” he said with pride practically oozing from every pore on his body, as if those words were supposed to mean something to her.

“Hey professor,” the room intoned, the boredom becoming even more apparent in both their emotions and their voices.

Without another word, he bowed and resumed his seat. The rest of the evening went much the same way:

“Zidong Li, Beijing, China,” went the next changeling that stood.

“Alex Mercer, Ottawa, Canada,” went the pegasus next to him.

“Juan Sifuentes, Lima, Peru.”

“William Cambry, Sydney, Australia.”

“David Karnak, Detroit, Michigan,” the scarlet unicorn said, eyeing Petalgrown’s stallionfriend (Hey! She felt perfectly comfortable thinking it that time!) “Twenty-two year old African-American male, studying Criminal Law at the University of Michigan.”

“Dearborn,” Sky added, smiling knowingly. “Not the real U of M, the commuter one.”

If looks could kill, “David” would have sent Sky to an early grave. “Your turn, prick,” he hissed.

Sighing, Sky slowly rose from his seat and trotted up to her, taking a seat right in front of her. He tapped a hoof awkwardly, as if trying to stall, but eventually he stuck it out to her, smiling hopefully. “Hi there, I’m Ashley Robertson, twenty-three year old man from Romulus, Michigan, studying for an Electrical Engineering degree at Schoolcraft. I’m friends with that asshole…” he pointed to the scarlet unicorn, who just crossed his forelegs and leaned back in his chair while snickering. “…for reasons that are beyond me at this point. I still like writing, that much hasn’t changed since I was forced into this body, and my ‘cutie mark’ supports that, apparently. Not much use for electricians in Equestria, so what was my hobby is now my thing.”

He shrugged. “And that’s about it.”

She stared back, eyes growing wide.

“I’m not a pony, Petals, I’m a human.” He said, as if that explained anything.

“Ah,” she glanced worriedly around the room. “And that is?”

“A bipedal, omnivorous primate of the Family Hominidae,” the griffon replied. “Average height approximately six-feet tall, mostly furless except for what little is left on the very top of the scalp, arms and legs that terminate in five protrusions each, known as ‘fingers’ and ‘toes’, respectively.”

He thought a moment, scratching his chin with a talon. “In that, I suppose my fellow griffons and dogs are somewhat lucky. We never had to make as drastic an adjustment as yon ponies or changelings did.”

She blinked at the griffon, eyes growing wider. She did a quick scan to ensure there weren’t any sharp objects in the room.

“I’m not from Equestria, Petals, none of us are,” Ash continued explaining. “We just woke up here one day. We’re actually from a planet called Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy. We’ve been trying to track it down, but so far any attempts to scan the skies have met with…Petals, stop backing away, please.”

“I…I…” her hooves met with the back wall, and she swallowed fearfully, her heart pounding in her throat. This was too much. This was just…insanity! Professional courtesy be damned, she felt like the room was caught up in a twister! “I-no, Ash, why did you have to go with something like this!? Why couldn’t it be something normal, like you cheating on me? I could’ve handled that, but this is…this is…”

“We’re not crazy, we just…” the pegasus sighed and trailed a hoof along the floor. “Okay, you’ve tasted something different with my love, right?”

She paused at that, her entire body freezing. “Yes, how did you…”

“It’s the only difference we’ve been able to detect between us and others of the species who’s forms we’ve been dropped into,” ’Will Thompson’ replied. “Apparently, human emotions are stronger than pony or griffon emotions, which I guess might explain why this world hasn’t seen as many wars as Earth has.”

“Or it could be that life here is far more peaceful than it is on Earth,” ‘Rahul’ the diamond dog added. “Even the poorest of ponies has something to occupy their time besides bumming around, and as a result, crime is relegated to the occasional burglary. As far as I can tell, violent crimes are non-existent, and as a result the pony life is far easier and filled with less worry than even the richest of human lives.”

“But is the lower crime rate and general peacefulness a result of the ponies’ less inflammatory emotional state, or vice-versa?” The griffon still standing next to him pointed out.

“Well, in that case, we’re just getting into a ‘chicken or egg’ debate…”

“Look, that’s getting off-track,” Ash shouted over the two debating creatures. Rubbing a hoof over his temples, the pegasus turned back to the mare sitting on the floor. “The point is that you’ve noticed something different about me, right? Something about my emotions? Some sort of…inner fire you can’t quite place? And you followed me here to figure out why, right?”

He spread his hoof out, gesturing to the beings around him. “Ta-da,” he said sheepishly.

She shook her head, eyes widening again as she backed up against one of the walls. “No, no it’s just…it’s too…”

“Petals, please,” he extended a hoof out to her, which she swatted away as if it had suddenly grown two eyes and a set of fangs. Sighing, he set it back on the ground again and took a seat in front of her, even as she continued pressing against the wall, like she believed she could phase right through it if she just tried hard enough. “Please, I need you to believe me.”

“Why!?” She spat. “Why is it so important!? Why do I need to believe you, huh!?”

“Because I don’t want to lose you,” he whispered hoarsely, voice shaking, teeth gritting.

She was too keyed up to notice the shift in his emotions, the frustration and desperation radiating from his body as plain as the nose on her false face. “Oh? And what’s so important about me? Why do you want to keep some little changeling around, huh? To keep up your cover!? To…”

“IT’S BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, YOU IDIOT!” He screamed, voice blasting through the room.

The whole room fell silent. Petalgrown/Shapedance fell flat on her haunches, sitting with her back against the wall, though no longer pressing frantically against it. Someone somewhere in the room coughed. You could hear a fly buzzing about somewhere in the awkward silence. “Wha-what?”

“Okay, guys?” Sky turned to the assortment of creatures gathered behind him. “Could we…”

“Of course,” Shifter/Will Thompson said, ushering everyone out. The pony and the changeling watched as everyone left, filing out with the usual assortment of chatter and shuffling of bodies that accompanies a large group trying to squeeze through a small exit. The only one to hang back was that red stallion, “Daav” she thought his name was. He looked the pair over sadly, nodding to Sky/Ash, who nodded back, and then he turned to her.

“I know he can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but he’s a good guy, and he’d never hurt anyone,” the red stallion said, scratching at the back of his head awkwardly and visibly trying to avoid eye contact. Chrysalis above, she was practically drowning in the awkwardness radiating from this room! “Look, I’m just saying he’s a decent guy and you two seem good together and…uh…I guess love is real hard for anyone to find, especially a bunch of aliens in a totally different world, and neither of you should throw it away so…easily, y’know?”

She nodded to him understandingly. “Thanks, Dave,” Ash/Sky said with a little smile.

“Oh! Also,” a mischievous smile spread across “Dave’s” face as he turned to the changeling. “For future reference, if ya ever hit another rough patch with him, just stick a ball gag in your mouth and cuff yourself to a bedpost. He’s into that.”

“What?” She asked as Sky’s face flushed the deepest, darkest red she’d ever seen on anypony’s face.

“That’s not true!” Sky screamed indignantly, galloping across the room.

“Oh? Then I suppose those leather cuffs under your bed back home were just for…”

“OUT!” Sky bellowed, shoving the stallion out the door and frantically beating him with his hooves. “OUT! OUT! OUTOUTOUTOUTOUT OUT!”

“Hey Ash, you want me to fight back a little?” Dave laughed. “Maybe throw in a little squirm or something?”

“OUT!” Ash/Sky let out a final scream before slamming the door in Dave’s face, throwing the deadbolt for good measure. He let out his breath in a long, drawn-out sigh before turning back to her, a touch of red still hinting on his cheeks. “Yeah, that’s Dave.”

“He’s your friend?” She asked, an eyebrow raised.

“It’s…complicated,” he snickered, the blush creeping back up again. She smiled at that. It looked terribly adorable on him, like something from one of those strange comic books from Nippony or Hong Keratin he was always buying.

“So,” he said, sitting on his haunches in front of her.

“So,” she sighed, not moving from her spot. “An alien from another world, huh?”


“Wow.” She said, shaking her head, her eyebrows raised. “And to think, I thought you were just having an affair.”

“We’re a few steps past that, I think,” he snorted.

“And you don’t know how you got here?”

“Not a clue.”

“Okay,” time to move on to the tough questions. “How long have you known I was a changeling?”

“Well, I had my suspicions pretty much from day one,” he shrugged nonchalantly. “I mean, a strange pony popping up in the middle of a forest the day after Canterlot gets attacked? Pretty obvious. I got one of the changelings in the group to confirm it. Anyway, he asked me to look after you, make sure you recovered alright, and I agreed.”


“A creature in a strange and foreign land, cast far from home, where everything they knew and loved was nothing but a distant, far-off point somewhere, impossible to reach?” He asked with a knowing smile. “What can I say? I could relate.”

“I never asked for your pity.”

“And you never had it. You’re a smart, independent, strong creature that has adapted to an environment not her own, and…” realizing what he was saying, he looked away, blushing. She smiled again.

“That’s what you think of me?” She asked gently.

“Y-yeah,” he muttered, clearing his throat. “So…uh, is there anything else?”

She bit her lip, a part of her not wanting to ask her next question, but the vast majority of her dying to know the answer: “When did you realize you…”

“…were in love with you?” He asked, mercifully sparing her from finishing the question.


He let his breath out in one, drawn-out sigh, eyebrows scrunching up with thought. He was actually putting some healthy consideration into this one; even if she wasn’t a changeling, it’d be obvious. “I…can’t say there was an actual, definite point where I said ‘yes, I love her now’. It just sort of…happened, y’know?”

She shook her head and rubbed a hoof against her temple. “Yeah, probably better than you think.”

“You just tried so hard to get my love, and I got…attached, even when I was trying so damn hard not to. I didn’t WANT to; I kept telling myself to stay unattached, but the harder I tried, the harder it got, until finally…”

“You realized your feelings for me were the real deal, no matter how stupid or incomprehensible they were.”

He nodded and smiled sheepishly. “You too, eh?”

“I figured it out about two months ago.” She said, running a hoof along her foreleg bashfully.

“Three for me,” he snorted. “I guess women are better at managing emotions no matter where you go.”

“Or maybe you stallions can’t keep your little heads separate from your big ones,” she mused, snickering.


Still smiling widely, she pointed to her noggin, “Big head,” she explained before pointing to a spot between his hind legs, “Little one.”

“HA!” He barked, slamming his hoof against the floor. “I gotta write that one down!”

“You can have it!” She laughed, and the pair launched into a giggling fit, their shoulders heaving with each burst of laughter. “Oh, sweet Chrysalis, y’know, I never did that before I met you.”

“What’s that?” He asked, still chortling as he pulled off his glasses and wiped them off with a hoof.

“Laughed just for the sake of it,” she replied. He gaped up at her over the glasses, quickly pressing them back onto his snout. Her smile had quieted down, no longer holding that wide, joking quality to it. Now, it was just calm and loving. “I always had to force laughing whenever I was with someone else, but not with you. It’s always genuine with you.”

He blinked a few times. Still holding the smile, she wrapped a foreleg around one of his hooves, leaning into him. “Petals…” he whispered as she gently laid him on the floor.

“Don’t talk,” she said, her hooves rubbing along his sides. His hooves rose to run along her back, and she fought the urge to shiver at his touch. “Just…just…” she lowered herself over his body.

“Wait,” he pressed a hoof against her chest to stop her.

Her heart skipped a beat. Was he having second thoughts? “Wh-what is it?”

“I want you,” he replied, his smile laying all her fears of his intentions to rest. “The real you.”

Her breath caught in her throat. “Y-you may not like it. I-I mean, to ponies, I’m a monster.”

“Good thing there aren’t any ponies in here then, eh?” He asked, that reassuring smile whittling away at her defenses. “Now c’mon; a year ago, I didn’t think it’d be possible to find a little multicolored horse attractive. Changelings aren’t that different.”

“Now I know you’re crazy,” she laughed nervously, letting her breath out in a shaky little sigh.

“Maybe,” he shrugged, pulling her in for a little kiss on her soft, fleshy, pony cheek. “But I’m in love with you.”

She shivered and bit her lip. She knew it was true. She could feel the love radiating off him, all aimed right at her. But to hope, to dream that a creature could ever accept her true form…

“Pr-promise me if you don’t like what you see, you’ll still love me,” she whimpered. “Promise me that you’ll still love my pony form. Let me stay as Petalgrown the pony, if it means being with you.”

“Petals…” he said, a touch of sadness polluting the love flooding the air as he stroked her cheek.

“Promise me!” She said desperately. “Promise me it’ll change nothing, and I will.”

He bit his lip. “If that did happen, I wouldn’t deserve you,” he whispered.

“But you might still deserve Petalgrown,” she replied. Tears rose in her eyes despite the herculean effort she devoted to keeping them down. “Petalgrown would still get to be with you. Just promise, please.”

His forelegs folding over, ears folding back into his mane, he sighed. “Alright, Petals. I promise.”

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she closed her eyes and changed. It was a bit like going to the doctor’s office for a flu shot when you’re a kid: your mind builds it up into this big, terrible thing, so that you’re already a shaking mess by the time you actually slide onto the doctor’s table and he whips out that needle. Petalgrown never really understood the big deal with that: a needle was a needle to her, and always had been, but she could understand that fear, that wretched feeling of anxiety that washed over you whenever something nasty had to be done. Now, she understood it better than ever, because she was shaking so hard she could barely stand by the time the change was complete.

She was prepared for anything: revulsion, disgust, him to storm out of the room, calling her a monster. Instead, there was this…curiosity? As if she were something to be studied? Bottled up with formaldehyde and analyzed? She shivered at the thought of being strapped to a piece of cardboard, her wings pinned behind her like on those butterflies she’d seen on display during the (thankfully) few times she’d been to a naturalist museum.

“Petals…” he gasped.

“It’s Shapedance,” she sobbed in her hissing, natural voice, her wretched, black, hole-filled legs giving out beneath her. “My real name is Shapedance, and I know. It’s terrible, and I’m sorry, but…”

“No!” He interrupted. “I mean, you look…really cool!”

One of her cold, pupil-less eyes cracked open. “Um…I know I don’t have fur in this form, but it’s not like it’s that cold in here.”

“No, no,” he laughed, shaking his head and pulling her in for a hug. He gazed right into her eyes and traced his hooves along her back again, this time feeling the shape and texture of her wings. “You look so different. So awesome. I mean, you were cute before, but now you’re…exotic.”

“Exotic,” she fought back a smile, fearful of baring her fangs at him. “Yeah, that’s one word for it. Most ponies just come right out and say ‘ugly.’”

“That’s not what I said,” he replied quietly, tightening the hug as she tried to pull away. She didn’t want him to touch her, not yet, not with her wretched chitin all out on display. “I mean it. You look like something so incredibly new and diverse and…uh…eh, fuck it.”

His lips locked over hers, and she went limp immediately. The rush of emotions was almost too much to bear: love, lust, excitement, curiosity, hope, enough to scramble her brain and leave her a mass of putty in his hooves. Still, she maintained enough coherency to return the embrace, tentatively at first, then growing more confident, and finally, almost desperate to taste him, to feel him. A few minutes in, his tongue darted between her blackened lips and felt around her mouth, exploring the new contours and structures inside. Especially the fangs. Oh, the way his tongue traced slowly along the sharpened edge of her fangs, so delicately but still managing to draw the faintest amount of blood and ignite her carnivorous instincts, throwing those in with the emotional cocktail that was this moment, this kiss. They both hovered in mid-air, wings fluttering unconsciously as the kiss deepened.

It was over all too soon. His lips left hers, and they laid their a moment, gazing into one another’s eyes. Her mind still reeling, she tried vaguely to search for something to say, something that would sum up everything she felt for him, how much love and hope she had for their future.

“Wow,” she settled on.

“Yeah,” he snickered, apparently having as much luck as her in finding the right words.

“I…wow. You guys are…different. Very different from ponies.”

“So are you,” he laughed, kissing her on the forehead, just beneath the curved shape of her horn.

“Hmm…” she said thoughtfully, her voice giving a little chitter-chirp. “I suppose this means I’ll need to invest in some leather straps…and perhaps a rope…maybe a saddle for you…”

“Good God, woman!” He gasped, cheeks flushing. “That’s not…you don’t have to…I mean, if you don’t WANT to, it’s not like it makes any difference to me, y’know?”

“Hmm,” her hoof traced down his stomach towards his stallion/manhood, feeling a rapidly hardening little surprise growing against her form. “I don’t need to be an emotion-sensing monster to tell you’re lying.”

If his face got any redder, she would have been able to stick a handle on him and call him a fire alarm. “So, Shapedance, eh?” He asked in obvious desperation.

“Yeah,” she replied, cheeks flushing a fluorescent green.

“That’s a really pretty name,” he said, planting another tiny kiss on her lips, his own embarrassment fading. “For a very pretty girl.”

“Jeez,” she laughed. “Now I see why you have so much trouble writing! Do you just have cheesy one-liners bouncing around in your head 24/7?”

“Pretty much,” he shrugged bashfully. “Although I think I just worked through my writer’s block.”

“Really?” She laid herself out over the floor, one hoof supporting her head, the other remaining on his shoulder. “Care to enlighten me?”

“Well,” he said. “I had these two characters, and they were really in love, but they both had these huge secrets they were keeping covered up, and they were so afraid of what the other might think if they were ever revealed that they went through all this bullshit keeping everything hidden from each other.”

“Gee whiz, I wonder where you got the inspiration for that,” she laughed.

“Yeah,” he blushed. “Except in my story, one’s a secret government assassin, and the other is a spy from a foreign country.”

“Oh,” the chitin on her forehead scrunched up in thought. “So a little bit different from us.”

“Eh, a little bit,” he shrugged. “Anyway, the time had come for the big reveal, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it.”

“Oh?” She asked, gazing up at him with those beady, amber eyes. “And you are now?”

“Yep,” he replied cheerfully, nuzzling her.

“Care to tell me how it all ends?”

“Oh, it’s corny.”

“Try me.”

Still nuzzling her affectionately, he craned his neck, placing his lips next to one of her tattered, black ears and whispering: “And they all lived happily ever after.”

She immediately nuzzled deep into his chest, the fin on her head brushing into his fur as she gave a satisfied little sigh. “I love it.”

Author's Notes:

I might do more with these two in the future if feedback is positive enough, I dunno...

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