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Thank you all who wished me a happy birthday yesterday! I is now a twenty-seven-year-old lady! *waves cane around*
  • Mood: Joy
Chapter Fourteen: The Lapras Man


The next day, Jackson had brought the egg to work with him so he could check on it as often as possible.  Since he needed to keep his attention on customers when he wasn’t on break, he left it in the employee’s lounge with is Pokemon and instructed them to inform him if it showed any signs of hatching.

He hadn’t bothered to read the newspaper or watch the morning news, his mind filled with thoughts of Valerie.  His mind had been so occupied, that he almost left the lounge with the body suit of the Spinda costume backwards.

The first customers of the day was a small family--a woman in her late twenties with long, curled violet hair and pale skin and deep blue eyes.  She was carrying a young boy in her arms with short cropped black hair and an older daughter with similar colored hair, but long and braided, at her side.  The mother didn’t care to be here, but her two children were thrilled.  As she made her way deeper into the building, it was revealed that she was carrying a third child--a baby boy in a specifically designed back pack.  The baby appeared to be sleeping.

Wavering on his feet to mimic Spinda’s mannerisms, Jackson staggered over to the family.  Another family entered the establishment, a single father donning a simple shirt and jeans and his similarly dressed son, who was bouncing up and down in excitement.  As Jackson turned to his attention to them, he froze as his eyes focused on the newspaper in the father’s hand.  His eyes widened even more as they scanned the large print on the front page: Gym Leader Valerie Finds Love With Lapras Man.

Unbeknownst to him, a few people had uploaded their recorded videos of himself and Valerie interacting with the Lapras.  One video that primarily focused on him and the Pokemon went viral, earning him the title as the Lapras Man.  He bit his lower lip as his stomach knotted up, wondering if Valerie had seen the newspaper yet…

***

Valerie was clutching the edges of the newspaper tightly, her eyes darting back and forth as she skimmed the article on the front page.  Her Gym was closed for the day and was not accepting any challengers as she didn’t want to have to deal with any inquirers or what they had read in the newspaper or tabloids.  She knew what would happen and had preemptively took measures.

A blonde furisode girl, burning with curiosity, had collected a copy of one of the tabloids.  As she finished reading the article that garnered her interest, she turned a smirk to Valerie.

“Is any of this even true?”

Valerie sighed heavily and set the newspaper aside on the table she was sitting at.  Even though she didn’t have to deal with any outside trainers, her Gym trainers were another matter entirely.

“… Yes, and no. Yes, in that I spent the day with him. No, in that I don’t feel THAT way about him.”

“So… you two are just friends,” the girl ventured.

The Gym Leader nodded in confirmation.

“I’ve only been on two dates with him.”

“Hm.” The girl’s eyes traveled to the secondary article with partial interest and decided to change the subject. “Looking forward to FairyCon?”

Valerie smiled, grateful for the change.

“I have been looking forward to it for some time,” she answered. “I wonder if Jackson might be interested in going.”

“He didn’t really strike me as the type who goes to cons, but you know him better than I do.” The girl arched her brow as she flipped the page to an article about a woman who had given birth to some sort of angel Pokemon. “You could ask him.”

A light blush tinged Valerie’s cheeks.

“I had been considering telling him about DragonCon. It’s supposed to be a month further out from FairyCon.”

“Well, like I said, you can ask him.” She shook her head with a skeptical expression as she absorbed the story.  Even now, she still found it hard to believe there were people gullible enough to believe the ridiculous stories printed in tabloids. “What does he do, anyway?”

“He works over at that one family restaurant. The one with the Spinda as the mascot,” the older woman replied.

“Let me guess, he’s the mascot?” the furisode girl jokingly inquired with a playful half-smirk.

Valerie nodded.

“The one in the costume, yes.”

The furisode girl immediately tore her attention from the page and stared at Valerie incredulously.  She was silent for a couple of moments as her brain processed the fact that she had inadvertently guessed the man’s occupation.

“… Isn’t that… embarrassing for a guy like him?”

“It is. Which is why I don’t tease him about it.”

“Why don’t he just get another job then?” she queried, folding up the tabloid.

Valerie’s smile faltered slightly.

“Because he likes what he does. The children absolutely love him, and even the Pokemon like it.”

“Seems kind of silly for someone to embarrass themselves for the amusement of others.” The furisode girl lounged back in her chair. “He must love seeing kids and Pokemon happy.”

“He does. He has this… way with Pokemon. I don’t know how he does it, but he understands Pokemon on a deep, fundamental level most of us don’t.”

“Like a… Pokemon whisperer?” the furisode girl ventured.

Valerie gave an affirmative nod.

“You could say that, yes.” Her smile widened slightly as she reminisced on yesterday’s events. “He was able to communicate with the Lapras yesterday.”

The girl’s playful smirk returned.

“You better be careful. With those videos going viral, the ladies might start flocking a guy like him.”

Valerie stared at her, looking almost scandalous at first, having misheard what she said, but realized she said something entirely different.

“He’ll have a hard time with that. He’s… shy. Adorably so.”

“This’ll be interesting to see, if he does get more attention.” She let out a chuckle. “Imagine him running from a swarm of girls.”

The black- haired woman frowned at the mental image.

“I don’t think that would be particularly amusing.”

Pulling out her phone, she looked over the photo that made up the background.  Juliana had used it to snap a picture of her and Jackson, and had liked it enough to save it as a background image.

“Oh, I see. You would get jealous,” the girl assumed. “I understand.”

“No!” Valerie responded a little too forcefully, before calming her intonation. “I just… don’t see the humor in anything of the sort.”

The furisode girl crossed her arms with a knowing smirk.

“Come on, Valerie. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be jealous if other girls were flirting with a man you’re dating.”

The Fairy-type Gym Leader released a resigned sigh.

“I suppose I would be more than a little envious…”

“Hm… I’m feeling a little hungry…” The girl’s eyes lit up as an idea was brought forth to her. “Why don’t we go to that Dizzy’s place?”

Valerie perked up at this suggestion, her eyes practically brightening up her visage.

“Why not?”

***

Jackson was currently located in the ball pit with a small group of four children.  Picking up two of the plastic spheres in his costumed hands, he held them up over his eyes, causing them to giggle in amusement.  As Valerie and the furisode girl walked in, the former smiled into the direction of “Dizzy”, releasing s short chuckle as she watched him play with the children.  Dropping the balls the instant he saw Valerie, he just stared at her in awe.  A couple of the children were perplexed, one even poking him and inquiring him what was wrong, but his full attention was on the Gym Leader.

Valerie and her friend took their seats at the table closest to the ball pit with a sweet smile and a quick wink directed at him.  The man blushed underneath his costume.  As a waiter tended to the women, his attention went back to the children, occasionally stealing glances at Valerie.

“That’s him, huh?” the furisode girl asked, observing.

Valerie’s eyes never left him, giggling softly as two of the children threw themselves on him to hug him, causing him to fall back and sink into the depths of the ball pit.

“Yes. That’s him, all right.”

The furisode girl barked out a laugh at the sight of Jackson floundering about in the ball pit in an attempt to position himself upright.

“Charming, I guess.”

Valerie nodded, the corners of her lips drawing back into a wider, amused smirk.

“Hmm. He’s very good with children.” She sighed fondly. “He would make a good father someday.”

“Thinking about having kids with him already, huh?” the furisode girl teased, averting her gaze as the waiter returned with two glasses of water and an extra pitcher of the liquid.

“Well, no. I was just saying.”

“He seems like a nice guy.”

Nodding in agreement, Valerie quickly thanked the waiter and brought the ice-cold beverage to her parched lips, her eyes still glued to the young man in costume.  Once again, he turned to her, and in response, she threw him yet another smile.
Chapter Seventy-Four: An Unforeseen Attack


Half a night of traveling came to an end and the wagon ceased in the middle of the road.  The equine brothers stole a cursory glance at their surroundings, searching for any signs of life.

They were all alone…

Unhitching themselves from the harness, they approached the sides of the cart near the front and reared up on their hind legs to dig into the pile of firewood while the mares watched in confusion.  That confusion soon shifted into bewilderment as they drew out daggers and clenched them between their teeth.

“All right! Dump all of your valuables!” the chestnut demanded, his, and his brother’s, visages tightening into serious and intimidating scowls as they brandished their weapons, the sharp blades glinting in the glow of the moonbeams.

The six mares jumped, having not expected to be suddenly turned on by two ponies who had seemed friendly.  Fluttershy gasped, pulling herself behind the protection of Rainbow Dash.  Rarity and Pinkie Pie wore shock upon their faces while Applejack and the prism-maned pegasus adopted outrage.

Twilight Sparkle, however, merely held a look of annoyance and exasperation.

“You’re kidding,” she deadpanned as she raised a hoof to her chest and arched an eyebrow.  Didn’t they realize who they were? “You’re kidding, right?”

“Yeah, you don’t wanna mess with us, buddy!” Rainbow Dash snorted angrily.

While the palomino stallion dropped his expression to chuckle calmly, his eyes followed his brother, who transferred his dagger to his hoof.  A long and shrill whistled leaped from his lips, and in less than thirty seconds, an entire band of ponies emerged from the trees adjacent to the road to swarm and surround the carriage.

Twilight Sparkle sighed as the wagon was surrounded.  A quick count revealed that there were at least a dozen ponies, easily outnumbering them two to one.  She wasn’t worried though.  They had faced and overcame overwhelming odds before.

“You’re serious,” she said. “Very well, if you want to do this the hard way, we’ll do this the hard way!”

“Oh, and to think I just had a hooficure done, too…” Rarity groaned.

“Enough about your hooficure, Rarity! It’s time to kick some flank!”

Without missing a beat, Rainbow Dash was the first to tackle a dagger-wielding pony, disarming him.  Applejack was also one of the first to launch herself at a nearby stallion, swerving on the spot to buck him right in the chest and send him flying clear across the field.  Rarity, grumbling something about how she’ll need another afternoon at the spa, practically flew at one of their foes with an amazing kung fu kick.  Pinkie Pie whipped out her party cannon seemingly out of nowhere and blasted another with it while Twilight Sparkle fired up her horn.

Fluttershy remained in the carriage, squealing with fear.

“Ya ladies put up a good fight!” said the chestnut stallion, clamping his dagger back between his teeth and lunged at Twilight Sparkle.

The mare narrowed her eyes.  While she normally preferred to negotiate matters through diplomatic methods, the fact that weapons had been drawn and Rainbow Dash and Applejack’s attack meant there would be no way they could resolve this peacefully now.  To this end, she resolved to let her magic do the talking, and she proceeded to counter the stallion’s dagger with the business end of her horn, firing a spell at him point blank.

A bulky stallion climbed into the carriage, eyes pinned to Fluttershy.  Before he could even do anything, he found himself yanked out of the cart by his tail and was elbow dropped in the back by the rainbow-haired mare.  Huddling into a ball, Fluttershy folded her forelegs over her head.  She did not like fighting--didn’t like violence.

Horn blazing with magic, Twilight Sparkle blasted another pony nearby and turned around to kick another within striking distance of her hooves.  Wings unfurling, they pushed her saddlebacks out of the way and slid off her back as she joined Rainbow Dash in the air--looping up to dive bomb another.  The cyan pegasus belted out a battle cry as she swooped at another equine.  Before too long, the entire group of bandits were sprawled out on the ground, collectively groaning in defeat.

“All right…” the chestnut stallion breathed, slowly rising to his hooves. “You win…”

Huffing and heaving, Twilight Sparkle turned to examine her friends--sans Fluttershy, who was still cowering in the wagon.  Aside from scuffs and scrapes, they were mainly unhurt.  Still, she thought it was wise to verify this.

“You girls all right?” she questioned.  When she received the verification everyone was fine, she turned to Applejack. “Applejack, how much rope do you have?”

“Not nearly enough to tie up all these varmints,” she snorted.

“Not a problem,” the alicorn proclaimed.  Pointing her horn at a group of rocks on the side of the road, she focused her magic and transfigured them into coils of rope.  Getting to work, each of them fashioned lassos and looped them around the stallions’ necks, then tied the ends together to form a chain of ponies.

“Right. Let’s get them loaded up into the carriage.”

“What?” Applejack spoke up. “Why can’t we jus’ leave ‘em here?”

“To starve? In the middle of nowhere? No. We take them to Las Pegasus and let the local authorities deal with them.”

“Um… not to be arguin’ with ya, Princess,” the farmer began. “But yer a princess. Yew ARE the local authority!”

“Yeah! You got every right to decide their punishment as much as any officer does!” said Rainbow Dash as she tightened the last lasso around the final stallion’s neck… unintentionally a little too tightly.  With her attention on her friend, she was oblivious to the fact that the poor male’s face was slowly turning blue from the lack of oxygen.  The issue was soon rectified when he lifted a hoof to tug on the rope secured around his neck.

Twilight Sparkle took a moment to contemplate.  This situation reminded her of when she faced Snips and Snails when they had unwittingly unleashed the Ursa Minor on Ponyville.  It had endangered many ponies and caused quite a bit of property damage, but in the end, they were only young colts who hadn’t quite known any better… even though they should have.

These stallions, on the other hand, were fully grown and their malicious intent to harm was very much deliberate.

“Well now,” she finally said, narrowing her eyes. “Hmph. I’d suppose some time in jail would do them some good--but seeing as how we’re out in the middle of nowhere, that’s not exactly feasible. Let’s load them into the carriage and take them with us until we get to Las Pegasus or some other town. We can take turns in pairs pulling it.”

“Excuse me, darling,” Rarity piped up. “But I think I might have a better plan. It would serve as punishment and a method of transport all at once.”

“Keep talkin’,” said Rainbow Dash as she leaned in to listen intently to what the unicorn may have in mind.

“Why, we hitch them all up and force them to pull--or, better yet, carry the carriage with all of us.”

Twilight Sparkle sighed.

“Rarity, wasn’t that what Trixie forced Snips and Snails to do?”

“Trixie,” countered the alabaster unicorn. “Was under the influence of the Alicorn Amulet and not in her right mind. Also, her carriage never had wheels. ALSO, those poor colts were innocent bystanders.”

The stallion looked among each other nervously.  Clearly, they didn’t like idea one bit.

“Oh, come on!” a red stallion complained. “We only did this so we could feed our families!”

“Yeh, well, maybe y’all should’ve thought of potential consequences when y’all tried to rob us! Rob a princess of Equestria!” Applejack growled, as Twilight Sparkle stepped forward to flare her wings out--the full moon casting a sparkling, illuminating light upon them and her horn.

The alicorn stepped forward, her brow furrowed with an imposing expression.

“Normally, I would think to have you all imprisoned for this. Attacking a royal is considered a felony…” She paused and allowed a smile to form on her face. “… But I’m feeling… lenient today.” She turned to the red stallion. “You… said you were doing this to feed your families? … How many of you are out here?”

It was then the stallions finally analyzed the mare and acknowledged that she was a princess.  Before, her saddlebags had been obscuring her wings and they had been so absorbed with the battle that they failed to notice before.

“Forty-two of us!” another stallion replied. “And some of our wives are pregnant!”

Twilight Sparkle lowered her head a small degree and tapped her chin.

“I see… And how long have you all been in the Everfree Forest?”

“We have been here for years,” said the chestnut stallion. “For the entirety of that time, more and more have joined us when we were small. Now, we’re sort of a family.”

“Years, huh?” A smile tipped her lips. “I think… I might have an idea.”

The others were confused as she approached the chestnut.

“Haven’t you ever considered growing your own food? Or searching for wild sustenance? Isn’t there a river nearby?”

“We don’t know where to get enough seeds. Besides, we wouldn’t be able to grow enough to keep us fed. The produce would run out.”

“I could help you with that. Proper irrigation, supplying seeds…” Twilight Sparkle offered.

“Excuse me, Twi,” Applejack cut in. “Ah’m sure you probably got somethin’ in mind here, but, where exactly are you goin’ with this?”

“Wait, I know,” Fluttershy gasped, sliding out of the carriage. “A small population that’s just right for a small village in the middle of a dangerous forest that’s teeming with wild animals and peppered with precarious perils… and we have a line that’s otherwise a direct shot between Ponyville and Las Pegasus that could be potentially traveled by hoof instead of having to fly over the woods or take the long way around. If we could get food and supplies here. A road and provide protection to passengers… we could possibly build a settlement here.”

She turned to Twilight Sparkle.

“Unless… I’m mistaken.”

The alicorn looked surprised.

“Got it in one ‘Shy.”

“I suppose…” said the chestnut. “But still--where are we going to get enough seeds to feed everypony?”

“Back at home in Ponyville,” Twilight Sparkle responded, her attention shifting to Applejack. “You, Carrot Top, all the farmers--I’m sure you’ve got seeds to spare. If we can also maybe get some horsepower out here to help with the irrigation--”

“We might even get some more ponies to help build a population. We might just be able to tame the Everfree Forest after all!” Applejack finished.

“Well,” the princess chuckled. “I wouldn’t go that far just yet.”

“The Everfree is pretty dangerous…” The stallion stole a glance back towards the dense trees. “But it’s the best place to hide.”

“True… but with your help, we can make it a safer place. What do you say? You take us to Las Pegasus, keep us safe, and we’ll help you in return.”

“It’s a deal.” The stallion smiled before turning back to his comrades. “Two of us will pull and the rest of you will surround the cart in case anything comes after us.”

Not a single stallion disagreed with him.  Not wanting to waste time, they all fell into position after they were relieved of their lassos.

Smiling and nodding in a satisfied manner, the mares climbed back aboard the carriage.

“Are y’all sure this is really wise?” Applejack whispered.

“They don’t really have much of a choice, do they?” Fluttershy whispered back. “Besides, they’re not… bad ponies. Just a bit misguided. I think we’re doing the right thing.”

“By the way, my name is Sharpshooter,” said the chestnut as he and the palomino hitched themselves back up into the harness.  He then nodded to his twin next to him. “This here, is Starshooter.”

“Sharpshooter, eh?” Applejack let out a chuckle as she shifted on her haunches. “What were ya doin’ with a dagger, then?”

“Eh… I left my crossbow,” Sharpshooter responded with belying currents of embarrassment.

Twilight Sparkle shook her head with a soft smile.

“It’s… erm… nice to meet you. I’m Twilight Sparkle.”

Princess Twilight Sparkle!” Pinkie Pie interjected.

“Yes. Princess Twilight Sparkle,” the alicorn amended. “I’m… still sort of getting used to being royalty. Never thought I’d actually become a princess.”

“It’s an honor to meet you, Princess Twilight Sparkle!” Starshooter stated with a bow of his head.

“It could’ve been under better circumstances.” Rarity gave a roll of her eyes. “I mean, really.”

“We can let bygones be bygones,” the young alicorn said.

“Okay. Let’s get a move-on!” said Rainbow Dash, turning her attention to the road ahead.

The twins nodded and they were off.

“So, what does this Smokey fella look like?” Starshooter inquired.

“Oh!” Twilight Sparkle shared an awkward glance with her friends.  She hadn’t quite expected this question to arise now.  How were they going to explain this? “He’s… um… big.”

“He’s red,” Applejack quickly added.

“With the most impressive wings!” Rarity followed.

“And he’s kind of a dragon,” Pinkie Pie stated.

Twilight Sparkle slapped a hoof to her face.

“Piiinkiiie…” she groaned.

A darker shade of pink than her fur bled upon the party mare’s cheeks.

“… Whoopsie?”

The carriage jerked to a halt, the stallions maintaining it and surrounding it adopting expressions of fear and concern.

“A DRAGON?!” both twins exclaimed in unison.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable being around a dragon,” said Sharpshooter, similar murmurs emanating from the rest of the band.

Twilight Sparkle exhaled a sigh.

“We’re not asking you to get near a dragon. All we’re asking you is to take us to the edges of Las Pegasus. We’ll handle the rest once we’re there.”

The stallions appeared immensely relieved and the carriage started up again.

“Good.” Starshooter sighed. “I suppose we’ll meet you near the edges of Ponyville after this is all done.”

“Of course.”

Smile returning to Twilight Sparkle’s face, she nodded in affirmation.  Fluttershy’s attention was fixated on the horizon with a smile playing at her lips as they traveled, feeling a degree of anticipation.  At this rate, they would reach the city in no time at all!

‘Hang on, Smokey,’ she thought to herself. ‘I’m coming…’
The Lion and the Lamb, Chapter 74
After following a baby griffon into a dangerous situation, Fluttershy finds herself rescued by a kind-hearted dragon and ends up befriending him. Ultimately, they both decide to raise the child together in a platonic relationship. As Fluttershy and her friends spend time with the lonely dragon, the more he learns about friendship and the more he reveals about his tragic past.

Co-authored by: :iconekardshadowreaver:

Chapter One: fav.me/d3j6xzq

FIMfiction.net: www.fimfiction.net/story/84383…
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Chapter Thirteen: A Majestic Experience


Surfacing and taking in a gulp of air, Jackson proceeded to swim ahead to meet the wild Pokemon.  His attention was on the leader in front; there was no way he was going to touch the other members of his pod without his approval.  As the two met, the man tread the water, directing a wide smile up at the Lapras to show he meant no harm and waited for the marine mammal to make the first move.

A time period of a few minutes elapsed when Lapras lowered his head to curiously sniff the human.  Detecting no danger from him, he smiled and permitted Jackson to run his hand over his nose.

Valerie’s smile broke out into a broader grin, looking VERY impressed.  Crossing one hand over the other, as she watched with a wistful expression.  He really did have a way with Pokemon, she surmised.

The man continued to coast his hand up and down the slick, rubbery skin of Lapras’ head before the large Pokemon rose his head to signal to the others that he was safe.  At this gesture, more Lapras glided closer and were subsequently given attention by the human.  Even a baby was allowed near him, and even more surprising, he was allowed to touch the young one.

By now, there was a crowed amassed along the shore, snapping photos and recording videos with their phones.  Valerie, raising her hand, brought it to her mouth as she turned to Juliana.

“Goodness! This is amazing! He’s… he’s incredible.”

Juliana observed her son with a tranquil, yet proud smile.

“He is, isn’t he? He has always been like this, even as a young boy. His first Pokemon wasn’t even given to him, nor was he loaned a Pokemon to help him catch it. He befriended his Dratini and it wanted to be his.”

The Fairy-type trainer adopted a look of bewilderment.

“Really! He has never told me about that at all!”

The older woman turned a smirk to Valerie.

“Well, he probably would have eventually.”

Jackson climbed upon the Lapras leader’s back and rested himself there on his knees, placing a hand on the back of the creature’s neck to help support himself.  With a wide berth, he turned his attention to Valerie and his mother.  Raising an arm, Juliana waved.  With a chuckle, he waved back, then shifted back to Lapras and whispered to him.

“Lapras? See that woman up there in the pink, with the long black hair? I… well… Mind swimming up to her and the woman next to her?” He paused as he noticed the Pokemon looked apprehensive. “You see… I really like her.” He paused again with a soft blush, the Lapras smiling in amusement. “And… you know how it is when you like a female.”

Indeed, Lapras knew how it was.  He knew all too well.  Turning his gaze over his shoulder, he emitted a loving croon to the largest female, who returned it zealously.  Caving in, he began to lead the group towards the two women.

Valerie’s eyes went round as the horde made their way over.  Glancing briefly over at Juliana, she returned her line of sight to Jackson and the Lapras he was riding on, heart tripping in her chest.  Lapras did more than just approach--he extended his head to the railing.  Sliding out of her seat, Juliana reached over to touch the Pokemon’s head, looking positively thrilled.  The Gym Leader, too, moved closer to pet his head--caressing his cheek and chin with a warm smile.  Heart beating a little faster, she sighed softly and gazed into his gentle and intelligent eyes.

“Such a beautiful creature,” said Valerie.

“Yeah… he really is,” Jackson agreed.

The Lapras closed his eyes partially and held still, feeling the man climb up his neck and hold onto his spiral ears.  Holding himself there, Jackson stared up at Valerie, his cheeks flushing lightly.  The woman herself, tore her attention from the Lapras and shifted her attention to the man, the corners of her mouth extending into a larger smile.

“You are amazing, you know that?”

Jackson smiled sheepishly, his blush deepening.

“She’s right, you know,” Juliana chuckled as she sat back down.

“Um… uh. I… uh…”

He trailed off, unable to even say anything more as he locked eyes with Valerie, his heart picking up speed.  The woman went quiet for a few seconds.  Looking down at her clothes, a simple pair of jean shorts, a pink blouse, and flip-flops, she then lifted her eyes back to Lapras.

“Would… would it be possible to fit another person on your back, Lapras?”

Stomach jumping, Jackson released Lapras’ ears and landed back on the Pokemon’s back to sit back down.

“How about it, Lapras?”

Sensing the man really wanted the woman to join them, he nodded.  Beaming, Valerie leaned forward to plant a kiss on the creature’s cheek, before hopping the railing to join Jackson on Lapras’ back.  Sitting in a sidesaddle position, she slid both of her arms around him.  Jackson locked up and relaxed.  As Lapras turned around and swam further out, he rotated halfway so his side was facing her and slipped an arm around her waist with a shy smile.  The young woman tilted her head back to meet his gaze, her cheeks dusting over with a light pink.

“This is amazing. Thank you, Jackson.”

Chest swelling with a glowing warmth, he turned himself fully to her and positioned himself onto his knees.  She was so beautiful, he thought to himself--the setting sun bathing everything, including her, in its warm colors.

“… L… Lapras… is… the one who… sh-should… be thanked.”

Valerie reached over to stroke the beast’s neck.

“Thank you, Lapras.”

Lapras glanced back at the humans to smile at them in acknowledgement, then directed his attention back to his pod.

Jackson kept his eyes on her.  Judging by the sudden warmth and intensity in his chest that exceeded mere infatuation, he was starting to suspect if NOW he was beginning to fall in love with her.

Valerie sighed, leaning her head against Jackson’s shoulder.  Closing her eyes halfway, she inhaled the salty air encompassing them, sinking into his embrace with a peaceful expression upon her face.  Heart hammering against his ribcage, he tightened his hold a little bit and rested his chin on top of her cranium with a serene smile.  Shutting his eyes with a blissful sigh, he was now certain that he was in love.

Valerie couldn’t help but doze off while in Jackson’s arms.  Her breath soft, her fingers curled over his skin.  The man let out another ecstatic sigh as the two of them sat there on the Lapras.  As the calf drifted closer, he snapped to attention.

“Valerie?”

Her eyes slowly opened with a sleepy smile.

“Hmm? Yes, Jackson?”

“Look,” he replied, gesturing to the baby Lapras with a nod of his head.

Following his line of vision, she released a gasp and clapped her hands together with a squeal.

“Oh! How sweet! A baby Lapras!”

The man couldn’t help but feel a wave of euphoria at her excitement.

“Wanna touch it?” he offered. “I was allowed to pet it.”

She nodded and extended her hand out to it--gently, almost gingerly, not wishing to intimidate it.  The little one didn’t flinch, not the least bit frightened.  In fact, it squealed and flapped its front flippers playfully.

“It’s all right,” Jackson reassured her. “It’s not afraid.”

Valerie’s grin extended even further, leaning farther--but let out a cry the instant she slipped off the adult’s back and landed into the water.  She surfaced, wiping the salty liquid from her eyes.  Nonplussed, she lurched forward to the baby Lapras to throw her arms around its neck in a hug.

Jackson had been about to ask if she was all right with an expression of concern, but seeing that she was fine, a smile broke out on his visage.

“Hehe.” Sliding off of and plunging into the water, he swam over to rub a hand against the baby’s slippery neck. “Cuddly, huh?”

The woman nodded in agreement.  Unfurling her arms from the creature’s neck, she gave it a few rubs on the chest and climbed onto its back.

“Very cuddly.”

The baby squealed and whistled, reaching back to playfully nudge the woman in the cheek then nip Jackson on the shoulder.

“Hey!” he chuckled.  The nip left a red mark, but it didn’t draw any blood or cause any damage to his skin.  Sweeping a hand back, he swung it back around to send a splash at the Pokemon.

Whistling in delight, Lapras swung its head to splash him back.  Laughing, Valerie nuzzled it in the neck as she observed it and Jackson play together.  Bringing her fingers to her lips, she couldn’t help but admire him all over again.  Recovering from the splash, Jackson sent another at the calf.  As he turned his back to the Pokemon to shield his face from another incoming splash, he noticed that the crowd had grown significantly.

“I guess people don’t see things like this every day.”

Her eyes rolling towards the crowd, she shook her head.

“No. Lapras are really, really rare. To see an entire pod out here like this…”

Turning back around to face her, he drifted closer and curled his arm around the Lapras’ neck.

“… This turned out to be an amazing day…”

“Indeed, this has proven to be quite memorable!” She briefly giggled. “Thank you, Jackson.”

“Heh… Mom did suggest the trip… But… you’re welcome, Valerie.”

Valerie glanced off for a moment.

“Well, I mean, if it wasn’t for you calling the Lapras over… This is so amazing! I never would have dreamed of anything like this.”

Jackson furled his other arm around the baby Lapras to issue him a slightly tighter hug.

“If you continue… hanging around with me, things like this will… happen again.”

“Really?” The woman placed a hand on her cheek. “Hmm. I look forward to everything.”

Jackson’s cheeks were tinged with pink yet again.

“This isn’t the first time I played with wild Pokemon.”

“Juliana mentioned something like that to me. And I should have guessed when you helped that Buizel out last week. You really DO have a way with Pokemon.”

“She… mentioned Dratini, didn’t she?”

Valerie nodded.

“Yes, she did.” Her smile faltered only a little. “I’m sorry, Jackson.”

Jackson was met with confusion at Valerie’s apology.

“Sorry for what?”

“I didn’t think that you would be really appreciative of your mother telling me something YOU didn’t.”

The man smiled gently.

“I’m sure I would’ve brought it up sometime.”

“I probably should have asked. Still, though…”

She paused to reach out and brush her fingers over his cheek.  Blush darkening, Jackson stared up at her in surprise at the touch, his heart pumping faster.  Removing his arms from Lapras’ neck, he slid his fingers over the hand on his cheek.  She looked from her hand, to his face and into his eyes.  The light glinting off her obsidian hair made it shimmer in the dusk and her eyes sparkle with a diamond-like gleam, a rainbow hue surrounding her from the droplets on her body.

Jackson was awestruck by her.  His breath hitching in his throat, he was left breathless for a second before he found the ability to breathe again.  His heart fluttering, an adoring smile tipped his lips, his fingers curling around her hand.  Valerie couldn’t help but gaze into his bright blue eyes, becoming somewhat lost in them.  Her heart stopped for just half a second, and turned her attention back towards the shore--and blushed as she noticed how many people were there.

Turning towards the direction Valerie was focused on, he blushed as well.

“That’s… a lot of people.”

She tensed up a little as she realized the implications this would lead to with her celebrity status.

“We… we should get back to shore.”

“I suppose…” He turned back to the Lapras leader. “Mind giving us a lift back, Lapras?”

Smiling, Lapras nodded.  Letting go of Valerie’s hand, Jackson swam back to the large Pokemon to climb aboard his back.  Kissing the baby on the side of the head, she followed suit.
Chapter Seventy-Three: The Path to Las Pegasus


Time passed into the somber twilight, and saw the filly fidgeting and squirming on the pile of hay.  Whimpering, she cried audibly as she kicked out.  After a moment, all four of her legs flailed out, pumping as if she were on the run from something.  The sounds emanating from the child soon awoke the dragon beside her.  Yawning, he rubbed his eyes, chains clinking from the movement.  Once he was more adjusted to the dim lighting, he could make out the frantic figure of Terra Cotta.  That, combined with the whimpering she created caused realization to spring upon him.

Bringing a hand to her shoulder, Smokey gently shook her.

“Terra Cotta… Wake up. You’re having a bad dream.”

“Noooo!” Terra Cotta cried as he touched her.  Jumping, she huddled into a ball.  Her forelegs covering her head, she sobbed pitifully. “Pleas don’ hit me again, St’rmy Skies! Pleas don’! ‘M s’rry! ‘M s’rry!

Stormy Skies…  So that is what her sister’s name was…

“Terra Cotta, it’s me, Smokey!” In an effort to comfort her, he scooped up the child and held her against his torso. “It’s all right. It’s all right. You do not have to worry about her now.”

Quaking and sobbing, the small filly trembled and held herself against the draconian’s chest.  Looking up at his face, she shook her head and closed her eyes again, heaving as she tried to shake off the last vestiges of the nightmare she had been through.

Embracing her in one arm, Smokey stroked her mane with the other hand in order to soothe her.

“It’s all right,” he repeated softly. “She’s not here…”

The little one choked and sniffled a bit, burying her head against his chest and the cold chains keeping him bound.

“Sh’ skurs me,” she whimpered. “Sh’ hates me…”

“Now, how can anypony hate a cute little darling like you?” Smokey questioned, more than a little curious over the filly’s older sibling.

“Dunno.” She sniffled again. “Sez… sh’ hates me. Sh’ sez b’d tings. V’ry b’d tings.”

She screwed up her face in rage.

“I hate yu!” she spat in a high-pitched, younger, speech impeded, but otherwise rather scarily accurate impression. “I wish you wer nev’r born! Stupid! Usel’ss! Trash!”

Just hearing these words brought forth a pang of sympathy for the filly.  Lowering his head, he nuzzled her forehead gently as to not jostle any pain from the gash.

“That’s… horrible…” Still stroking her mane, he drew her closer. “Just know, nothing your sister says is true. Everypony is good for something. Everypony has a reason for being alive… I… thought… my existence was taking care of this mare and baby griffon, but… I suppose here is where I belong…”

Terra Cotta glanced up to stare at him for a good moment, remaining silent until she decided to speak up.

“Yur good,” she said. “… Yur… nice.”

Trying to force back his sadness, he pushed a smile onto his face.

“I try to be…”

“You are.” Terra Cotta’s frown deepened. “… Wish St’rmy was nice… I hate her, too!”

Her brow sank further, her face contorting into a scowl, and then--as if in emphasis--spat on the floor off to the side.

Smokey couldn’t blame her for her feelings towards her sister, but it still disturbed him to see an equine so young feel so much hatred.

“Terra… it’s not good for somepony to hate. It only leads to more and more hate. I know it is going to be hard for you, but you need to learn to forgive.”

Terra Cotta stared at him in puzzlement, her brain having not yet registered the meaning of the word “forgive”.  Smokey immediately recognized the look of bafflement upon her face.

“Forgiving is pardoning something somepony had done to you, and you try to put it behind you.”

“… Par… do… ning?” she repeated, very slowly and with great difficulty.  She didn’t understand the meaning, though the expression in her eyes suggested she had a sort of vague comprehension of the term.

Smokey wracked his brain for a better description that a child her age would be able to understand.

“It’s… it’s… uh… to excuse somepony and not be angry at them anymore.”

This explanation seemed to come across to a point where she understood--and she didn’t seem to particularly like it one bit.

“She hits me!” she retorted. “All time, she hits me! It… it hurt. I no-no why… Why she alway hit me? Why she hate me? Why? I don’ unastan.”

“I know it can be hard… I wasn’t treated very well my entire life by ponies, and… I’ve learned that forgiving is better than letting hatred grow inside of you.”

“… You wer hit, too?” The corners of her lips drooped. “… Ponies hate you?”

“Oh, yes. Not too long ago, I was hit with a rake and a lot of ponies threw cake and pie at me. Even though ponies may hate me, I don’t hate them.”

The filly was rather surprised at this revelation, and gave a questioning tilt of her head.

“… Why?”

The dragon struggled for a moment to think of a reason.  He didn’t quite understand himself.  With how he had been brought up, he should abhor the equine race, but… he didn’t.  Like he said before, it was better to forgive than let hatred stew within him and build.

“I guess… it’s just not in me to hate somepony… Not for long, anyway.”

The child still seemed befuddled about this, but she tore her eyes away from Smokey, as if in contemplation.  Snuggling up against his warm scales, she yawned and began to feel sleepy again--though, struggled to remain awake.

The winged beast smiled down at her, threading his fingers through her mane.

“It’s okay to go back to sleep, Terra.” He had been about to add ‘You’re safe as long as you’re with me’, but the mental imagery of Pendulum’s bloodied foreleg prevented him from doing so, and instead said, “… Your sister cannot get to you if you are with me.”

This seemed to appease the girl, and she issued a weak, yet notable smile.  It did not take much longer for her to fall back asleep.  Nightmares that usually plagued her slumber would leave her alone tonight.

***

“Okay…” Twilight Sparkle said, observing that the tracks left by Smokey had come to a halt.  There were a few tracks from the train-carriage, but they were lost in the underbrush and thick grasses of the Everfree Forest. “NOW what?”

Fluttershy whimpered, biting her lower lip.  The Everfree Forest had always scared her as she was never certain of the dangers that lurked within its confines--however, she usually had her friends with her when they went into it, and, as she steeled herself, she remembered she was doing it for Smokey.

“Ah have an idea,” Applejack proclaimed. “Why don’t we ask Zecora? She might’ve seen somethin’!”

“Good idea, Applejack! Let’s go!” As the princess turned off, she spotted a simple wooden carriage that was being drawn by two burly stallions nearby, who were heading towards the road that ran abreast of the forest.  They weren’t moving fast, cruising along at a leisure pace. “On second thought, why don’t we just ask them?”

As the mares trotted into their direction, the lavender alicorn called out to them.

“Sirs! Excuse me, sirs!” Stopping next to them as they came to a cessation, she greeted them with a smile. “Pardon us, but we’re looking for another carriage--a very LARGE carriage, several cars in length, looks kind of like a train? Did you see anything like that pass by here?”

Exchanging glances with each other before smiling, the stallions turned their gaze back to the mares and nodded.  A chestnut pinto opened his mouth to reply.

“Yeah, we seen it. It went along the path a few days ago.”

“Need a lift?” asked the other stallion, a palomino pinto.

Twilight Sparkle had been about to answer when Applejack cut her off.

“You’d do that for us? That’s might kind of ya!”

“Such gentle colts!” Rarity complimented.

Fluttershy was hesitant.  She had a bad feeling about this--something seemed off to her.

“I’m… not sure about this girls…” she said in a low voice.

“Not sure? We got plenty o’ room,” said the palomino, jerking his head into the direction of the cart, which was only partially full of freshly chopped wood. “There’s firewood in there, but it’s still spacious.”

Twilight Sparkle gratefully bowed her head.

“That’s really gracious of you, sirs. Thank you!”

She moved to the back of the wagon, as did Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity--who expressed delight at not having to walk.  Fluttershy, though, hadn’t moved.  She glanced over and was partially relieved to see that Applejack hadn’t, either, suspicion labeled upon her countenance.

“Applejack, Fluttershy, come on!” Rainbow Dash urged the remaining two of their party. “This’ll get us to Smokey faster!”

The two mares looked to each other warily, before they nodded and climbed aboard.  The farmer sat next to the pink-haired pegasus to place a comforting foreleg on her back for a second after they were seated.  Once the stallions were sure everyone was safely seated, they were on their way.

“So, you want to go where this carriage-train went, right?” queried the chestnut pinto.

“Um, yes.” Fluttershy answered with a nod. “We’re looking for somepony very important to m--to us.”

“Who is this somepony, if I may ask?” inquired the other stallion. “Maybe we can help.”

There was a pause among the six, all glancing between one another as if asking if they should relay the full story.

“His name is Smokey,” Fluttershy finally said. “He’s my boyfriend. Or rather, I was going to ask him… if… he… would… well…” She shook her head, furrowing her brow. “I love him, that’s all that matters! I love him and I never got to tell him!”

“What happened to him, miss? What made him leave?” came the question from the other stallion.

“An accident. A horrible, horrible accident. He thought he… severely injured somepony and left before he felt he could hurt anypony else. But it wasn’t his fault! That’s why I’m heading out to… to find him. To tell him everything’s all right. To tell him I love him…” Fluttershy cast her eyes downward. “… And to ask him to come home with me.”

“He thought he hurt somepony? That’s… unusual. Are you sure you want him back and not convict him to a mental ward?”

“It was an accident,” the yellow-furred pegasus stressed. “And it turns out the pony who we thought was injured wasn’t injured at all!”

“I don’t understand. Why would somepony do that to your boyfriend?”

“We… we really don’t know,” Fluttershy lied, turning her gaze away.  It would’ve been one thing to admit he was kidnapped.  It would’ve been another thing to entirely admit so he could be shown off.

“Fair ‘nough. So you think he ran away to the circus, huh?” the chestnut chuckled.

Fluttershy delivered a glare for making light of the situation, clearly put out by his cavalier attitude.

“As a matter of fact,” she began softly, but sternly, “Yes, I do.”

“Sounds like a fun trip, doesn’t it, brother?”

The palomino nodded.

“We just might have to take you the whole trip. I heard they’re on their way to Las Pegasus.”

“Las Pegasus,” Fluttershy mirrored.

“Oooh! I’ve always wanted to see Las Pegasus!” Pinkie Pie chimed. “Bright lights, fun games, exotic shows!”

“Pinkie, we’re not there for a vacation, we’re going to rescue Smokey!” Twilight Sparkle admonished.

“Come on. Can’t we have some fun after we spring Smokey?” Rainbow Dash requested, casting a glance over at the alicorn.

The young princess paused.

“Well, I suppose we could relax for a bit. Fluttershy?”

“I just want to be in his arms again, and have him in mine…” Fluttershy sighed.

“You’ll get plenty of time to do that after we get him back,” Rainbow Dash reminded her fellow pegasus with a reassuring smile.

Twilight Sparkle smiled weakly, as Applejack lightly rubbed the yellow feathered equine’s back.

“You truly do miss him, don’t you?”

“It feels like part of myself is missing…” Fluttershy sank into Applejack’s embrace, before she sighed and forced a smile. “But I’ll be all right. Don’t worry about me, girls--I know we’ll get him back.”
The Lion and the Lamb, Chapter 73
After following a baby griffon into a dangerous situation, Fluttershy finds herself rescued by a kind-hearted dragon and ends up befriending him. Ultimately, they both decide to raise the child together in a platonic relationship. As Fluttershy and her friends spend time with the lonely dragon, the more he learns about friendship and the more he reveals about his tragic past.

Co-authored by: :iconekardshadowreaver:

Chapter One: fav.me/d3j6xzq

FIMfiction.net: www.fimfiction.net/story/84383…
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Thank you all who wished me a happy birthday yesterday! I is now a twenty-seven-year-old lady! *waves cane around*
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CrazyRabidPony
Jessica
United States
Current Residence: Rocking back and forth in a corner...
Favourite genre of music: Country/Western
Favourite photographer: Bob Langrish
Favourite style of art: Hmmmm... that's a tough one
Operating System: What does this button do?
MP3 player of choice: Mine is called Pearl
Shell of choice: Tortoise Shell!
Wallpaper of choice: Bunnies!
Skin of choice: My own skin! O_O;
Favourite cartoon character: I have many
Personal Quote: "Someday... us short people shall rule the world!"
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Oggynka Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Digital Artist
I wasn't on deviantArt yesterday so happy late birthday!
Happy Birthday Godliek :D Hide Birthday Emote 
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Mysticalblackangel Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy happy birthday dear! :huggle: :cake: :party:
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Happy Birthday! :hug:
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Hyperion1997 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Student
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Love the webcam XD
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Happy birthday, darling!
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Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Happy Birthday! <3
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Happy Birthday! :D :party:
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Happy Birthday! :party:
Have a nice one! :D
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
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