Note: some grimdark, ymmv, don’t let it put you off
Here is the link to Part 2
Hooves flashed and teeth gnashed, tails whipped and the air was full of the solid meaty sounds of ponies fighting. Ponies never fight, not normally, but these were “extenuating circumstances” as the slow-talking but hardly slow of thinking Big Daddy Mac would say.
It was over relatively quickly, the battered and bruised grey earth pony lay wheezing on the floor, bleeding from the nostrils. He spat on the ground, “fuck you.”
“Son, I warned you ‘bout my girls. Snowbell had mighty purty teeth, you went an’ broke’m. You shouldn’t’ve done that.”
One of the unicorns in the small, hooded and anonymous group of hired thugs beat him with a cudgel. It knocked the breath out of him, probably cracked a rib.
“Fuck you,” he managed to squeeze out when the stars had gone from his vision, “she was a fucking whore. A dirty, filly-fooling, foal-fiddling whore and I’ll gut her and you all like fish next...next time.” His head fell back, exhausted, but he felt triumphant. The dirty nag had laughed at him when he couldn’t...he squeezed his eyes shut, she’d asked if he’d really wanted...he struggled to get up, now they’d done their bit they’d leave him be to lick his wounds and...
“You shouldn’t have said that,” said a voice of steel, “hold him down, boys.”
Sudden weight, something covering his head...his eyes, if they’d been visible, would have been white and rolling with fear.
“Now I gotta make an’xample of you.”
They wouldn’t...he was...they...
There was a sudden feeling of cold iron against skin, most private skin, and his world exploded. His screams were muffled and he could hardly breathe, he jerked, taught and hard from the pain, but before he could even recover there was a second sickening crunch and his stomach heaved.
The weights left his body and he curled up into a fetal position, whimpering.
“Ok, wipe his memory and ‘port his sorry ass out of here. Take just enough of his memory, I don’t want him a drooling idiot, I want him to remember what he did, what we did to him, and I want him to live with it for a long time, but I don’t want him here ever again.”
The voice turned to him, “You’ll not remember us, Sonny, neither will you remember her name, but you’ll never touch another filly like that again, we made sure.”
The last thing he felt and heard, before fireworks went off in his brain and the ponies who had given him a beating and emasculated him faded into nothing but shadows in his mind, before the world whirled and spat him out in some street in some city somewhere else in Equestria, was their laughter,
“Hey, hey...it’s Rocky’s mountain oysters for lunch.”
He hurt. He was alone. He was lost. He whimpered, curled up, sobbing, half-dead from pain and fear, bruised and battered body throbbing with agony. He remembered a filly, a filly-foolin’ filly at that, and his shame when he couldn’t...and the flash of his hooves, the meaty sound of hoof and jaw, her cry, the sound of tooth chips hitting the wall. He looked down at the offending hoof, still bloodied. She’d deserved it, the whore, she’d deserved everything...
But maybe, said a little voice in his head, so did you. He wanted to die.
“Hey, hey buddy! You okay?”
It took him a while to realise the voice was talking to him. He opened his eyes to see a lithe yellow pegasus filly looking down at him in concern.
“what happened to you?” she asked, “looks bad - I’ll get you to a nurse.”
“No,” he croaked, struggling to get up, “no nurse, no doctor, no hospital...”
“Woah there, mister, you’ll hurt yourself more...”
“I’ll...I’ll live,” he said, getting to his hooves unsteadily. Standing hurt. Breathing hurt. Walking was worse, but walk he did, at least until he reached a building and he leaned gratefully against the wall.
“What the fuck happened to you, bud?” she said as she saw the extent of his injuries.
“Some...guys,” he struggled to remember, and like a sudden flash of migraine he remembered the kick that had split the whore’s mouth, broke her teeth, her frightened sobs, his anger...and then them. Like poking the hole of a just-lost tooth though, he could remember no details. Where had it been? Who...he couldn’t even remember the face of that nag, laughing at him. He couldn’t remember the faces of those who...oh Celestia what did they do to me? he thought to himself, and fainted.
“Looks like they did a number on you...well one of these day’s I’ll learn.”
He woke with a start, still hurting, but...the pain was numbed. Somepony had bandaged his ribs, tended his cuts and bruises. He looked around, a standard pony apartment; the walls were cheery pastel hues, green, blue, pink. He’d never been a pastel pony. The window was open, letting in the sounds of a bustling city as well as copious amounts of sunshine.
“Ah, you’re awake. How are you this morning?”
“Where am I?” Rocky asked the filly, who was busy preparing a dandelion and burdock salad, which she presented to him where he lay on a mattress on the floor.
“My house!” came the simple answer as she turned back to clean the workbench.
“Our apartment.” said another voice, a unicorn stomped through the wide doorways, he was a deep burning orange all over, with blue highlights in his mane and tail that seemed to twinkle in the light.
The pegasus stuck her tongue out at the unicorn, but he stomped right up to her and nipped her on the butt. She playfully slapped him with a wing, “you remember what happened last night? I mean, this is Califoalia, it’s...that sort of thing doesn’t usually happen. I’m Cloud Weaver, and this is my partner, Auburn Light. Can you tell us what happened, who did this to you?”
Partner - the word reverberated around his skull, and he blinked. The filly...wasn’t a filly. She was a colt.
“Colt Clopper...” he whispered, “Foal Fiddler!”
“Oh no, they didn’t? They beat you up for that? I thought we were past that.”
Rocky kept his mouth shut, he was...they hadn’t recognized him yet. Maybe they wouldn’t - Califoalia, that was halfway across Equestria!
“He must’ve picked up the wrong stallion - you’ve gotta be new in town, there’s always a few making trouble, like those ridiculous “Foal’s First” crowd. They go cruising for unsuspecting stallions and fillies, get ‘em to follow them to somewhere secluded and then go to town on them. Vicious bastards. I’d like to kick their teeth in, every last one.”
“Now now,” said Weaver, “you know what Celestia has to say about that.”
“Yeah yeah, tolerance and love. I’d just like...” Auburn gritted his teeth, grinding them, “I’d like to show them some love and tolerance. I never thought they’d go that far as to geld one of us against his wishes though.”
Rocky’s ears flicked back, he looked down at the floor, one of us...if only he knew.
“I’m not much of a doctor, I’m a cook, it’s Weaver here who can brandish the needle when needed.”
That goddamn foal-fiddling filly-fake! Touching me, I bet he...
“There wasn’t much to do,” said Weaver, “you didn’t want to go to a doctor, I don’t blame you, although you should. Whoever...whoever did the job knew what they were doing at least. You’ll be sore, very sore, for a few days but eat some birch bark extract and you’ll be fine. I was, after all.”
“Why...” squeaked Rocky, trying to get his voice under control, “why did you?”
Weaver laughed, a bright pealing laugh, “like I’m ever going to have kids with Auburn here. It’s what I wanted. I hated being so moody and anti-social.”
Auburn gave his partner a withering look, which Weaver ignored, “so, one day, after I knew Auburn was for me, I just...decided. He says I smell better now, something about hormone changes, but I think it’s just I take better care of myself.”
“It’s not something we encourage, in addition to putting up with the lies like being called foal fiddler and blank flank spanker,” said Auburn, “there’s no going back, and once you’ve had the crunch it’s like a badge, like your cutie-mark. You can’t really hide it. It needs to be a decision taken very seriously, which is why it boils my blood that this happened to you, just because you’re gay.”
“I...” if he’d been any stronger he’d have snapped, given the game away, as it was he could barely move without pain for his lost appendages.
“Well you rest up, we’ll be downstairs in the shop,” said Weaver brightly, “I’ll be packing fudge.”
He hated them, he hated their house. He hated their lives. He hated their...it took Rocky a few days to realise, but he hated their happiness. They weren’t anything like he imagined. They slept together in their disgusting way, but not once did they make a move on him. There was no public, gross indecency, no lewd artwork, no twenty-four-hour porn. Weaver kept the apartment clean and neat, Auburn did most of the cooking, and they played ridiculous card games and watched movies.
He planned his escape, such as it were. The front-door was right there. He could leave whenever he wanted. Into the wide world, where everypony could see his public shame.
So he stayed, and he learnt to play ‘crazy eights’ and ‘canasta’, watched documentaries with them on the plight of starving manticores subject to a parasprite plague. Eventually he felt stronger, and helped around the house. He even tried his hand at cooking, but Auburn was so tetchy about getting things just right that he didn’t do much more than make an occasional salad under Weaver’s tutelage. He swept the shop with broom in mouth and occasionally handled the till.
The shop was a small one, specializing in sweets, cakes and pastries. The clientelle were as diverse as could be expected in such a bustling metropolis as Califoalia. When he noticed that many ponies were coming in clutching a coffee in their mouth and struggling to hold their pastry order, he begged the old coffee machine from upstairs and started selling coffee with the pastries every morning. Pretty soon Auburn noticed, snorted and stormed out. He returned later with a moving truck, in which was several tables and sets of chairs. And a new coffee machine.
Rocky felt proud, for the first time in his life. He stood outside in the park, in the now-autumn sunlight, drinking a small cup of coffee. It took him a few minutes to realise he’d not been outside in weeks, and he marvelled at how easy it was.
Several bright flashes brought him out of his reverie, lightning? He wondered, and looked about but saw nothing. What he did notice was a steady stream of ponies heading past the shop wearing outlandish hats, harnesses and other paraphrenalia. Some of it involved feathers.
“What’s going on?” he called, and a filly...no, another gelding, he’d learnt to spot the signs by now, clopped up, laughing, “don’t tell me you didn’t know about the carnival?”
“The Pride Rally - it started years ago for ponies like you...and me...” the gelding giggled, “now it’s just one big party, fun for everyone. You must be new here, come on!”
Rocky gulped down the last of the coffee, and breathed deeply. It couldn’t hurt, could it? He ran across the park and popped his head inside the shop door, “I’m off to the carnival! Want to come?”
Weaver and Auburn shook their heads, “Not yet, we’ve got the afternoon rush that will be along soon. You go, we’ll come after. The festivities last all night, after all.”
“Okay, seeya.” Rocky’s...friend had waited, and he dragged him enthusiastically into the crowds. Rocky had never seen anything like it. His emotions warred - there was music and dancing, skimpy clothing, extravagant glam, many of the things that had disgusted him - had, he realised, not did any more - were on display.
“Why,” he shouted to his friend, revealed as Summer Sparkles, “do you do...this? I mean...all that...that...on display?”
“Because,” his friend shouted back over the din, “because we’re not like that, but we needed to show that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere. That’s my call, anyway - shock therapy! Isn’t it fun!”
And it was fun, Rocky realised, despite the ‘lewd debauchery’ as his old self would have called it. It was all for show, a carnival. Ponies brought their foals, who ran around giggling and screaming, eating candyfloss and playing games. The streets were closed, or closing, and everywhere was streamers and banners and confetti. He was given a bead necklace, and he even wore it. The music was loud, the talking and laughing was louder, and above all it was amazing.
He was still dancing lightly on his hooves as he headed back to the shop, but stopped short when he saw Auburn, and Weaver behind him. Weaver was troubled, Auburn was a stormcloud.
“So, Rock Breaker, just when were you planning to tell us about you and your damned foals first buddies, huh? Before or after you burned down our shop?” Auburn bristled, he threw a newspaper to the ground in front of the shocked gelding. Beneath the headline “FOALS FIRST FLAKE NOW FOAL FIDDLER” was the article, “...Today our intrepid reporter has finally located the missing head of the New Fillydelphia ‘Foals First’ chapter, and we can see why he went into hiding. Now a post-op love-muffin for cash, the hard-up...”
Rocky couldn’t read much more, he skimmed it, all lies, innuendo and accusations.
Weaver stuck his head out, wings half-open, “you...you lied to us.”
“You’re a fucking bigot. You’re a lying, conniving, vicious little thug. You’re fucking Rock Breaker, head of the fucking New Fillydelphia chapter for Celestia’s sake, and you damn well sit on your fat bigot behind in MY HOUSE and expect sympathy!”
“I...” Rocky tried to explain, he backed up, tail between his legs, “I...”
“Get. Out.” Auburn stamped his hoof and bared his teeth, pawing the ground.
“I’m...I’m sorry,” Rocky pulled the necklace off with a hoof and threw it to the floor, where it burst, spreading multi-coloured beads all over the pavement, before he turned and fled, hot tears from his eyes.
Auburn stomped back inside, Weaver watched him go.
Rocky ran, he didn’t know where to and he didn’t care. For the second time in only a few months, he found himself curled up and sobbing in a back-alley, as far from the carnival, from light and life as he could get.
Where had he gone wrong? He wondered, if only they’d never...no, he was finally honest with himself, if only he’d never...
He slumped, now he really, truly had nothing.
“How much, mare?” asked a husky voice from the shadows.
Rocky realised the voice meant him, “I’m...” he sniffed, “I’m not a mare.”
“You think I don’t know that. I’m paying, you’re mare enough.”
“I’m also not for sale.”
“If you’re going to be like that, I won’t be paying.” the stallion moved closer, eagerness and malice showing in every fibre.
“Please no,” said Rocky, backing up
“Always the same, you faggots, always pleading. But you like it rough, really, fucking faggot-ass foal-fiddlers...come here, before I kick your teeth in...”
“No, don’t...” Rocky’s tailed snapped down, his ears went back, his eyes were wide, but the stranger just laughed.
Rocky looked about in the failing light, looking for a way to escape, then his eyes went wide.
The strange stallion snorted, “like that’s going to work...just ease that faggot tail up and it’ll all be over soo-”
The breath was knocked from his body as he was sent flying by a flashing blur of yellow hooves and wings. He crashed against a tree, eyes rolled back, tongue lolling.
“aanndddd yer outta there.” snorted Weaver, skidding to a stop before turning and looking at Rocky, “you wanna come home?”
Auburn was angry. His tail lashed and his eyes flashed, “I don’t want him here.”
“If you kick him out,” said the normally passive Cloud Weaver, “you kick me out too.” he stamped his hooves and fluttered his wings angrily, “I don’t care who he was, whatever happened to him, he’s somepony else now.”
“What did happen to you? The more I know the less I like it. Spill the beans, you shit.”
Rocky spoke, looking around the living room above the shop as if for comfort, “I...I wasn’t a very nice person.”
“Still not if you ask me.” snorted Auburn, Weaver kicked him.
“I...whoever I pissed off, they did a real number on me. I...I beat up a filly. Broke her jaw.”
Auburn growled, “ain’t nothing weaker than a stallion ready to beat up a girl.”
“Or a gelding.” said Weaver, meaningfully.
“No, you’re right. I was a coward. She...I...I couldn’t perform. She...she asked me if...if I wanted a colt instead, said it was quite normal. I flipped my shit, I lost it, I...bucked her. She was working at...in...I don’t remember, but these guys...they...made an example of me. Took my...malehood, beat me up, sent me here, wiped my memory. I can’t even apologize! I don’t even remember where I was or what she looked like or who they were or...”
Rocky started crying, Auburn’s gaze softened, slightly, “they made you what you hated most, eh? One of us.”
“I’m just a...a mare now. Not even half a stallion. You should have left me in that alley, Weaver, I deserved it.”
“Nopony deserves that,” said Weaver, “I should know.”
“As if there’s any damned fool reason to believe stallion and stallion, or mare and mare, shouldn’t be together. And I count geldings in that.”
“I...was brought up to believe...the Ecumenical Council said...”
“That old bullpucky? By Celestia’s beard, didn’t you get the memo?” Auburn snorted, again - he did a lot of that - and levitated an old hard-cover bound book off their bookcase. Rocky looked at it beneath his hooves, “The Sayings of Celestia, 400th anniversary edition” was printed on the cover in gold leaf. Auburn, using his magic, flipped it open to page five hundred and twenty two.
“Celestia went on holiday once, incognito, travelling around Equestria.” said Auburn softly, “She was gone for a long time, but she never once failed in her duty to raise the sun and moon. The Ecumenical Council sprung up in her absence, a bunch of stodgy old fogies with more money than sense. They wrote that poisonous treatise on ‘the correct ways of pony living’.”
“Yes, ‘Celestia’s Path’,” said Rocky.
“Aye, the key being in her absence. A few of the things made sense, but a lot of it...just grief. One of those that you and your damned fool foals first buddies latched on to was procreation and the right way of living. Stallion and Mare, Mare and Stallion. Forever and Always. Amen.”
“But...” said Rocky
“But nothing. Celestia returned, read that atrocious piece of trash and ordered every last copy burnt. Read it.”
Rocky read, not believing his eyes. He’d never heard this before! Celestia had disbanded the Ecumenical Council almost immediately when she discovered their transgressions. They’d put words in her mouth, she said, and though it was the hardest thing she’d had to do in about six hundred years she proclaimed the book anathema and set about destroying it. When later asked about some of the teachings, she had simply stated, “what two or more ponies do in the privacy of their own homes just doesn’t need to be discussed publicly, it’s none of your business and it’s certainly none of mine.”
Rocky looked up, tears in his eyes, “Is this true?”
Auburn flipped to the beginning of the book, there on a blank page was a short scribbled note in the most elegant handwriting he had ever seen, it said, “hold fast to the lessons in this book, the true words of my sister - Luna”
Rocky slumped back, lost in a whirl of emotion and memories.
“So, can he stay?” asked Cloud Weaver.
“Well...if what you say...”
“No,” replied Rocky, “no I can’t. I’m not prepared to risk your shop if my...ex-friends...were to show up.”
“Don’t say...please no, it’s like...letting them win.”
“I’ve made my mind up,” said Rocky, and he had. It felt like a huge weight off his shoulders, “I’m going to leave. I need to find myself and I can’t do it here. I thank you, both of you, so much. I was an asshole when I arrived and...I probably deserved what they did to me.”
“Nopony deserves what happened to you.”
“I think he did.” said Auburn under his breath, Weaver shot him a dirty look and clipped him with a wing.
“He might be right,” said Rocky, “but I need to leave. I hope I can come back some time?”
“Anytime!” said Weaver, hopping up and down
“Just give us a little warning.”
“I know they say ‘you can’t go home again’ but I have to try, and then...I have to find where I belong.”
Rocky left the next morning with a few supplies in pannier bags, his spirits high. He travelled the open road - not difficult for a pony able to graze where possible and sleep when needed. He eventually found his home town, but his father, ever the stern straight arrow, turned his back on his erstwhile son. He avoided the Foals First crowd when possible and quickly came to the conclusion that whatever life he’d had there was indeed over.
So he turned South East, ambling and wandering, until he found a little town nestled next to a wild, overgrown forest.
“Ponyville,” he said to himself, “I guess I can make a try here.”
He found work in town mending fences, painting houses, wrapping up winter when it came, and eventually settled down. He made few friends, though one red stallion in particular seemed eager to talk to him at first he soon lost interest. He was left pretty much to himself. Eventually he opened a coffee shop in a hollowed-out tree, it wasn’t big, it was nothing special, but it was his. He swept the floor like he’d been taught, and made pretty good coffee. He purchased the pastries from a shop around the corner from his own, however, but at least he could make a good salad.
So he was surprised when he found himself at a bar one night, breathing heavily into a scotch on the rocks.
“Hope you’re going to pay for that.” said the bartender gently
Rocky smiled, “you know I’m good for it, Taps, but okay, I’ll settle up the tab...” He dug about inside his bags for bits, and surprisingly came up with a single, multi-coloured bead. He placed it on the counter, thoughtfully.
He was still sitting looking thoughtfully at it when a voice piped up from next to him, “I’ll have the same, and another one for the...for the mare.”
Rocky flicked an ear, and looked across at a young stallion, trying his best to appear nonchalant, but bristling with youthful nervousness, “you silly colt, I am not a mare.”
“I...er...I know. I was...the bead you see...”
Rocky looked at the bead, and then at his appearance in the mirror behind the bar. Gone were his stocky shoulders and stallion hard edges, they’d been replaced by softer curves and graceful bone structure. His heart fluttered, oh the silly young thing, “you saw that bead, huh?”
“Oh, you noticed? How long have you been watching?”
At this, the stallion clammed up, almost too nervous to breath.
“Oh lord, tell me at least he’s old enough for a drink.” said Rocky, rolling his eyes.
The bartender dropped a scotch in front of the blushing stallion in answer, and tried to contain his mirth. Rocky snorted and gave him a withering look.
“So, what? You think you can sit down there, order me a drink and follow me home like a long lost foal?”
The stallion wilted, “I...but...oh this just isn’t working...I’m sorry...I’ll go...”
Rocky watched him bolt for the door in tears before turning back to his drink.
“If I were you, Rocks, I’d not wait too long. I’ll keep the bead as down-payment, the rest will depend on your good behaviour.” said Taps the bartender, gently, and nodded towards the door.
“I was a bit harsh, wasn’t I?”
“Not your fault, first time and all, eh?”
“You can tell that?” said Rocky, blushing.
“I’m a bartender. Now, go!”
Rocky grabbed his things and headed out into the night. He found the stallion sniffling under a tree not far from the door, “come on kid, let’s talk.”
So they talked, Rocky explained as they went about his life - he left a few things out, but not about his bad behaviour, although he didn’t explain his...predicament. They reached Rocky’s front door, “and so kid, you just have to know who you are, what you want. Make sure that whatever you choose, it makes you happy, deep down where head and heart don’t always agree. Goodnight, kid.”
And he stepped through the door and closed it before the surprised stallion could respond.
There was a quiet little clop-clop on the front door and Rocky turned around, he eased it open. Oh Luna, he’s still there, with that daftly cute expression on his face...
“Rocks, I...I think I know who I am and what I want. Can...can I come in now?”