Before we begin, I would like to thank Sorakun555 and Yuki Harima for giving me a big deal of help on this story.
Disclaimer: I do not own My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It belongs to The Hub, Hasbro, Studio B, and Lauren Faust. I do not own any of these characters in any way or how, nor do I claim ownership to the pony franchise. These characters are simply my toys.
"Here we go again…"
Chapter 1: Twilight Sky
"Now Mac… Ah know you're big fer yer age, but ya gotta remember that since you are a lot stronger for such a young lad, ya gotta protect the ones ya care about with that strength! And don't ya dare think of bullyin' the weak with it!"
"Who am ah supposed to protect, Pa?"
"Well… I suppose that's fer ya to decide."
What was really worth protecting?
This thought crossed the mind of Big Macintosh on a whim as he found himself looking up at the cloud covered sky. It was too dark for most ponies to be outside at this time of night, while also too light for the stubborn stallion to admit it was time to gallop home before it became pitch black. The orange rays of light echoing down on him told him he had about twenty minutes at most before the moon would be his only guide.
The red stallion blinked his emerald green eyes as the quickly fading final rays of a dying evening began to disperse. He let out a small sigh, watching it vanish as suddenly as it appeared. He was quickly reminded of the bitter cold winds he had been running back and forth from the entire day, attempting to quickly sell off the remaining apples while also keeping enough rations in the rare case of emergency. He had only managed to get fifty bits for two barrels of apples; he could already tell Applejack would scold him sooner or later for the small change hung in the pouch wrapped around his horse collar.
His mind quickly wandered back to that conversation tucked firmly in the back of his mind, its voice loud and proud. Maybe it was the fact that nothing around him could distract him that the question kept popping up in his mind as of late. Even in a street with mares and stallions racing to get home before night fell upon them where there was plenty to look at for amusement, his mind refused to shake these simple words.
"Did you ever find the one you care enough to protect?"
For some reason, this specific thought popped into the large stallion's mind. The more he thought about it, the more difficult it became to decipher whether it was a memory, or something he came up with by himself. Right now it seemed the only way to properly describe it was a thought, an idea, not yet reality.
Big Macintosh felt a shiver run down his spine as words began to grumble from his mouth. This one question had been nagging him more and more recently. At times he almost managed to convince himself that he was right in answering yes, that he had protected his family for years on end from hunger and the harsh seasons. He had done his fair share of helping them, of making sure they survived.
Big Macintosh took a moment to cease his thoughts as a loud breeze began to ruffle his mane. He let his mind wander for quite some time about this question, standing still on the path, looking out in the distance at the almost black sky, the first starts of the night beginning to appear.
Although… at other times, that question seemed nearly impossible to answer. It wasn't exactly like it had just sprung up from nowhere. It might have just been a gradual build up over many years suddenly reaching a peak. The only way for him to properly put it into words was that lately he had been viewing a rainbow for quite some time. The rainbow itself was pretty enough, and a joy to look at… but it was missing a color. The worst part was that he couldn't envision the color. It was as if the color didn't exist yet still somehow belonged in that rainbow.
Another breeze began to blow on his face, the harsh winds ripped his eyes like thorns of a rose, forcing him to squeeze them shut as the stallion allowed only his memory to guide him. He could hear the familiar sound of winds whistling through the barren trees, the same it always did this time of year. It was always the same sounds, the same atmosphere...
It was as the sound that wasn't the same as usual hit his ears. The sound itself was sharp, unexpected in this dead of the night as its waves rippled across the land, sudden enough to force the large stallion's legs to seize up for a brief moment, yet quiet enough where it took him a moment to realize what the sound itself was.
A high-pitched scream echoed in the distance.
Big Macintosh, who had screeched to a halt when the sound had first entered his range of hearing, before acting on his panicked nerves, he noticed that the scream, while frightful, was not that of fright, but shock or surprise. It took a moment for the initial panic to leave him as he realized just how unlikely it was that somepony would be attacked around here, so close to Sweet Apple Acres.
The stallion found his eyes widening as he took a three-sixty around the area, ears twitching as he attempted to determine the location of the scream. Perhaps it was on pure instinct alone that his hooves left the familiar path after only a brief moment of hesitation into the unknown darkness that awaited him before he began galloping in the direction where the piercing cry had come from.
Big Macintosh struggled to see in the darkness that had now invaded the trees he was immersing himself into. His mind asked a million questions, should he get help, should he attempt to be wary in the rare case danger was indeed ahead. Even though his mind kept flinging these questions at him, his body only focused on one.
Where in Equestria was the owner of that cry?
It was just as Big Macintosh took yet another blind step in the darkness did he feel his own body begin tumbling over as his hoof only met air. His own throat let a similar scream of panic escape as the world began tumbling around him, spinning and whirling for what seemed like an eternity.
When the snow covered ground finally did meet his face, he found himself grunting in pain. He was starting to feel stupid for waddling around in the dark like a big dumb idiot. He grumbled to himself as he shakily got to his hooves before glancing behind him. He had fallen at least five or six feet on the small cliff. It was dangerous to be walking around here in the daytime, much less night.
Big Macintosh grumbled as he planned to find his way out of the forest that very moment simply to search for somepony to help him or at the very least a light source to illuminate two feet in front of him.
That was until a low-pitched, hardly noticeable sound to anypony not paying attention rang in his ears. Big Macintosh found himself shaking his head, positive it was the grunting of a stallion close by. It didn't take him long to piece together the stallion had likely fallen down here himself, likely suffering a worse fate than being shaken up.
"Hello?" He called out, hoping for a quick reply for which he didn't receive.
"Ya ain't hurt, are ya?" The steed asked once more to the soft sound of grunting. His hooves began to move in the direction ever so slowly, not wanting to step on and crush the non-responding pony in the darkness.
A sickening smell of iron quickly filled Big Macintosh's nose before he clamped a hoof over his face. His stomach began to feel nauseated as it twisted and turned in his belly. It took him less than five seconds to race to find the bleeding body, nearly crashing into it as he turned the corner.
What caught the emerald eyes of the stallion off the bat was the giant gash on the forehead of the tan colored stallion. It was bleeding exceptionally; the sight on its own was making the stallion weak in the legs. His eyes quickly scanned a tree near the upper half of the stallion, a line of red trailing down the bottom half. Perhaps his face crashed head first into the bark, slicing his forehead open.
"H-Hey, partner?" Big Macintosh let his voice stutter as he got down on his belly to get a closer inspection at face of the steed before him, pushing his bloody brown bangs from his face.
Big Macintosh's eyes widened. His jaw dropped ever so slightly as he looked at the pale face of the pony before him. Only one name could fit him, only one voice rang in his mind, screaming the name.
Darkness filled the vision of the light blue stallion.
The dimness itself was a pretty safe place at the moment. It was a place where his mind could finally stop the deep pounding, a place where the screaming that still rang loud and clear in his ears dully died down to a simple hum. He could forget the aching pain in his wings, forget that he was ready to pass out, forget his belly kept rumbling in hunger even though he felt so sick.
Soarin slowly lowered his upper leg from his large eyes. He whimpered softly as he let his wings stretch out from under the bench his back was lying on. The noise of his squad team seemed very distant at this moment. It was almost like he was in the next room over as the echo filled chattering sounded like garble to him and nothing else.
But the stallion knew he wasn't alone, no matter how much he wanted to be. It was almost hard to allow himself to sit up, grumbling as a few stray wings brushed against the uniform covering most of his body. He felt cramped, constricted. He wanted so very badly to have a room of his own, at least five feet of room without suffocating.
The pegasus quickly ran a hoof through his mane, which was sticking out in every which direction thanks to his various ups and downs for the past few hours. He closed his eyes once more, trying to keep the nausea down as his mind tried to convince him he was indeed still falling from three hundred feet above the ground, ready to smack down face first onto the hard, unforgiving earth bellow.
"Still getting sick over a little bit of flying, aren't you?" The teasing voice hit Soarin's erect ears in such a teasing way that he didn't even bother to turn around as a body landed on his back, leaning on him with all of its weight.
"Shut up, Rapidfire…" The pegasus hissed, attempting to shake off the stallion before a leg was swung around his neck, locking the grey steed into place as Soarin grumbled out a few more curses. "Not in the mood…"
"Aww, look who's being an anal little asshole, how cute." The words left the mouth of the stallion so easily that Soarin seriously had to question if he heard those words correctly. Then again it was indeed Rapidfire talking to him, not just any random Wonderbolt.
Soarin rolled his eyes as he slowly dragged the goggles from his face down around his neck, Rapidfire finally releasing him. He could sense the gray stallion was holding his tongue by the way he was shifting every few moments, knowing that his friend was indeed in a bad mood.
"Sooo…" Rapidfire said, turning his body as he began to swing his legs off the floor like a child would. "What's biting you, dude? I know you're hungry after shows and grumpy when you're tired… But you're giving off an "I'll kill you if you bucking touch me" vibe."
Soarin shrugged as he pulled the top of his uniform from his head, letting it hand like a hoodie on his back as he rubbed his temples with a spare hoof. "Just… a lot of things…" He murmured, more to himself. "Maybe… it's that this tour thing is getting to me… moving every other day and all…" Soarin kept silent for several moments. "And I'm worried that Brae might not have been able to get into the hotel…"
"Ah…" Rapidfire said, adjusting his poufy white mane before crossing his upper legs, a smirk across his face as he stared at the vice-captain's back. The older pegasus began to speak in a tone that on the surface did indeed seem quite serious. "I see, wanting to have passionate alone time with your little country lover who you haven't seen in days!" The steed wrapped his arms around himself as his upper body began to wiggle. "After Celestia knows how many hours of teasing, your bodies will move against one another as he screams from the top of his lungs "Aaaaapleoosa" in perfe-"
Soarin at last turned his body, eyes narrowed in a glare at the steed behind him. He looked as if he might indeed hit the poorly comedic stallion if he didn't shut his trap soon, for indeed many ponies were looking at them oddly at the moment.
The gray stallion cut his sentence short with an awkward giggle before lifting a hoof to clear his throat in embarrassment. "I mean… yeah, I guess I would be worried about my coltfriend too if we were in the same situation… if I liked colts…" His cheeks blushed ever so slightly, as if he realized just how into the scenario he had gotten.
"Yeah, whatever." Soarin growled out as he struggled to move the rubber outfit to around his waist.
"I'm serious man!" Rapidfire grumbled, reaching out his hooves to help Soarin pull down the uniform. "I know that if I were either of you, I wouldn't be able to handle being apart so much."
"Not helping, featherbrain." Soarin grumbled, closing his eyes as he began to shake his head.
"Sorry…" Rapidfire mumbled, clicking his hooves together as he waited for Soarin to respond further. However the longer he waited, the more and more the vice-captain seemed to zone out of the situation, as if his thoughts were far more important than anything at hoof. His undressing became slower and slower until he finally stopped all together, a leg still entangled in the rubber suit. The gray stallion finally decided to speak up again. "Dude… shouldn't you be going home soon, Brae might have to stay up all night waiting for you…"
Soarin shrugged, seeming to come back to reality. He was silent for several moments, gnawing on his lower lip as his body swayed back and forth in place. He began to place his thoughts into words.
"I'm not really sure why… but I… I don't want to go home all that badly…"
"W…What?" Rapidfire asked, cocking up a brow. As Soarin got off of the bench to leave, the gray pegasus kept close eye on him, a questioning look still on his face as he stared at the other walk away without another word, getting lost in the remaining crowd of Wonderbolts.
"What was that about?" Rapidfire questioned the empty space where the light blue pegasus had previously been seated.
Big Macintosh looked calm on the outside. The same board poker face he had always kept on his face remained plastered as usual. The only sign of movement he made after realizing just who this hurt stallion was… was to press his hoof gently on the gash against the pony's tan forehead, just enough to stop the bleeding. To any bystander, he might just look like a pony helping a stranger.
A shiver began to travel down from the bottom of his neck to the tip of his orange tail. The red stallion may have been cold and collective on the outside, but his insides were screaming at him in excitement, fear, worry, desperation, any and every feeling under the blazing sun.
"Uh…" The sound left Big Mac's mouth as he reached out yet another hoof, gently poking the tan pony's soft and squishy cheek. "C-Caramel?" He said the name once again. It felt so bizarre to say that name once again. It was so extraterrestrial to his tongue after so long, not exactly unwelcoming… just… different.
As the stallion leaned in closer to get a closer look at the cut, he found himself wincing as a sharp pain dug into his hoof. He lifted his own hoof, watching intently as a single drop of blood began to soak up in his red coat, blending in almost perfectly. He glanced at the spot where he had leaned on, eyes finally somewhat adjusting to the thick darkness encasing the two.
The ground was wet, and reeked of a scent that only screamed in the red stallion's mind as a type of alcohol for which he couldn't pinpoint. He gently placed his hoof down once again, this time feeling for the thing that poked him.
His red hoof ran across something sharp and smooth, and also the feeling of a thin paper, most likely a paper bag. It took Big Macintosh only a moment to come to the conclusion that Caramel had been carrying a bag full of alcohol, and they had broken sometime when he fell.
The red stallion blinked several times, gnawing on the inside of his lip as his blank expression faded for a single moment, showing genuine concern for the tan pony.
"Didn't ya move away years ago?" Big Macintosh mumbled to the unconscious pony who didn't respond. "What are ya doin' here?"
Yes… that was a good question. He could remember the first few weeks without his old best friend picture clear, how lost he felt without that part of his life anymore.
The unconscious body of Caramel simply grunted in reply. Big Mac stared down at it for several moments before shaking his head. "No sense keepin' ya here." He mumbled to the stallion, deciding it would be better to sort his thoughts in some kind of light. The void of silence that he was met with was the only thing that Big Macintosh took as permission to move the body as he moved his face forward, gently pushing the body with his muzzle to move him in a better position to hoist him up.
It did indeed take a few minutes of careful observing and whimpering's of pain before the stallion was riding limp on his back. He must really have been knocked out cold if he didn't wake up through his whining.
"Here we go…" Big Macintosh mumbled.
Soarin was in the middle of a rather long and loud yawn as he slowly trotted through the door. His eyes opened in a droop as he smacked his lips against one another, stretching his aching wings for a moment as the door slammed shut behind him.
"Sure is bucking cold…" He said out loud. The pegasus felt a shiver run down his spine as he looked around the small hotel room, wrapping wings around himself in an almost depressing attempt to give his tired body an ounce of warmth. It was the same things as usual, a bed for sleeping and a balcony. Things he would see again fifty miles down the road.
Soarin's green eyes were soon drawn to the terrace, where the only light in the room derived from. The falling snow only seemed to come down harder and more violently from an observing prospective. It seemed harsh, absolutely unforgiving in every manor to even the toughest of ponies.
The sight was why his mouth twisted into a frown at the sight of a bright yellow body sitting dead in the middle of the storm. He cocked his head to the side as well as his brow in an upward direction. The pegasus flapped his wings in frustration as a groan escaped his throat, hooves beginning to trot forward.
As his hoof reached the handle of the glass door, the pegasus locked his eyes on the golden mane of the stallion sitting in the middle of the blizzard. He sighed as he slowly opened the door, letting his body fall forward, only half catching himself as he let his weight shift onto the back of the yellow pony.
"Hey… Brae…" The words left his mouth in a tired sigh, hearing the half-gasp emit from the mouth of his lover. He quickly began to wrap his hooves around the yellow body, hooking around to his chest like a belt, using the golden mane in his face as a pillow. "Celestia you're cold…" He began to mumble. "Why didn't you go in, dummy?"
The muscles in the body of the earth pony ever so slowly relaxed, in fact they seemed to lean back into the newly found warmth. As the pegasi's body moved up and down in quick fashion, he could determine the other gave him a shrug.
"I thought you hated the cold?"
"Ah…" Braeburn suddenly spoke his first words so Soarin in what some ways felt like an eternity, and in other ways it felt all too soon. "Ah don't know," He said. "Ah suppose ah lost track of time, and didn't realize it was so late…"
Soarin blinked several times before letting a small smirk onto his face that he knew Braeburn wouldn't see. "Waiting for me?" He asked, voice seductive as his wings draped over the yellow pony's body ever so slowly, making sure to caress the features he stroked over. Braeburn's body tensed and loosened at once in the middle of a whimpering grunt that was anything but upset.
"No… but really… it's cold as buck." Soarin grumbled out, gripping Braeburn's body tighter as if he thought he might absorb some amount of heat from it.
"Ah know…" Braeburn mumbled, eyes staring at the sky. His voice seemed distant, lost in his own thoughts about the falling crystals from the sky. "But… Ah like ta see all the snow. We didn't get much back in Appleloosa…"
"Yeah… I don't remember much… so how was the train?" Soarin asked, quickly changing the subject to something less ice cold.
Braeburn finally turned his head, Soarin getting a good look at the side of his green eye that matched his own. It seemed… a tad emotionless, as if the chuckled they previously shared didn't happen, and he had indeed been sitting here the entire day since he arrived.
"Long." He finally muttered. "Long and… erm… borin'"
"I um… I see." Soarin murmured, pressing his face against the back of Braeburn's neck. He let out a partial sigh, mostly to blow the bits of mane out of his face. Bits of melted snow met his face as he nuzzled Braeburn's mane. "I know we haven't seen each other much…" He confessed "And it's rough on your traveling for days without seeing me, but we'll manage… we always do. We've gone through a lot of tours before."
"Yeah…" Braeburn mumbled. "Ah know, ah know, ah really don't need a lecture."
"Then… stop looking bummed out, Brae." Soarin mumbled, half-chuckling as an attempt to mask his plea as a joke. He tightened his grip on Braeburn the tiniest bit more, as if he were afraid the other would loosen from his hold.
Braeburn didn't reply this time, just continued to stare into the whiteout. He seemed to stay quiet for an eternity before finally speaking once again. "Ah tried ta send another letter today." He said. "Ah just told them ah was fine and all… and… I just…" he trailed off, being lost in thought once more.
Soarin blinked several times before nuzzling his muzzle against the back of Braeburn's neck, breathing in an apply scent that continued to linger in his nose even after exhaling. "Really Brae," He finally whined out. "Just give it up already, they didn't even write back when we didn't move for a month or two." He sat his body up, shifting his weight onto his hind.
"Ah know… Ah know!" Braeburn snapped, body tightening against the wings still adorned over his body. "Ah just… ah wanna hear from them at least once, we didn't exactly part on good terms…"
Soarin simply began to bit his lower lip in a quick moment of brief frustration that quickly faded. Honestly, the fact that he hardly saw this pony was enough stress on him. "Well… your folks are a little… um…"
"Soar," Braeburn said, lifting a hoof to glide down his upper leg, smoothing out his ragged fur. "Ah know they aren't happy with me, but ah was raised ta think family was important… ah can't help it if ah worry 'bout them."
"Even if they don't give two pegasus feathers about you?" Soarin asked, tightening his wings back to his spine, pressing them to his back. This time Braeburn didn't reply, and just sat in the same position, lost in thought once more.
"Hey buddy?" Soarin mumbled, reaching up a hoof to gently shake Braeburn's body out of his trance.
The pegasus forced himself to stare into Braeburn's eyes as the yellow pony finally moved his sight from the wonderland of snow. "Yeah?" He asked, his large, tired eyes staring back into Soarin's own. A small smile was on his face that seemed the tiniest bit forced.
"I… I um…" Soarin quickly diminished his thoughts by waving a hoof in front of his face, laughing awkwardly through his teeth. "I-It's nothing. Look, why don't we just go inside and get warmed up for bed?"
"A-Alright…" Braeburn said, his curiosity over what Soarin wanted to say seemed to diminish rather quickly, for without hesitation or fight he started walking toward the sliding door. The pegasus waited at least ten seconds after he walked through before letting himself breathe once more.
"Do you…" Soarin began to ask, knowing full well Braeburn was out of earshot. "Do you regret dating a celebrity for so long?"
Big Macintosh found his own mind wandering back to the past. It wasn't exactly like he had anything better to think about, what with a damaged, unconscious earth pony lying on the only wooden bench around. And thinking about Caramel somehow seemed more appealing than worrying about his sister throwing a fit once he got home, or even thinking about his promise to his father.
The red stallion turned his head to the side as he stared at the large cut on Caramel's forehead. Luckily the cut itself wasn't too bad, it only seemed to bleed so much since the wound itself was so far up. The only real damage were a few bruises and his passing out, the worst he would have would be a headache when he woke up.
The gentle breathing discharging from the tan pony seemed very rhythmic at this time. It was the only sound besides Big Macintosh's own heavy breathing around, and in fact it seemed quite calming despite the unchilling, unnerving night encasing the two.
Big Macintosh quietly lifted a single hoof and placed it on the belly of the tan pony. He began to trace his hoof up and down in a calming manor, a slow and steady pattern that matched the speed of his breathing.
"Are ya really Caramel?" Big Macintosh found himself asking, a hint of disbelief in his tone. "Ya really that stupid colt ah found takin' our grub?" A small smile spread across his face, breaking the ever-lasting poker face he held plastered on the surface. Caramel seemed so much bigger than before, still tiny compared to the red steed, but still.
The red stallion shifted his rump on the snow underneath him. The bench Caramel was lying on wasn't much, but at least the light of the moon above them helped him see his friend more clearly. The memories flooding him of his best friend filled him with both joy and surprise.
Caramel's body suddenly shifted abnormally, and his slow breathing took a quick gasp. Big Macintosh let his tired eyes fly open as he leaned down his face a few inches to look the at sleeping stallion's face. "Cara?" He asked, calling the pony by nickname to show he meant no harm.
A flash of blue shown on Caramel's face as he began to open his crystal eyes. Every part of his face looked as if it were slow to catch up to his eyes, for the features remained the same as his eyes began to glance around. The eyelids of the tan pony began to blink rapidly as he grunted in pain. Wh… What…" He murmured, staring straight at the sky. He seemed to be confused as to where he was at the moment.
His eyes shot to Big Mac, whose poker face had returned as he stared blankly at the stallion before him. The eyes suddenly shot open as the rest of the universe caught up with his vision. The tan stallion squirmed as he struggled to sit up too quickly, and therefore found himself tumbling off of the bench directly face first into the snow beneath him.
"Ah… ah…" Big Macintosh stayed silent as his face contorted into an odd shape, trying to decipher Caramel's sudden panic.
"Where… where am I?" Caramel asked, obviously it was not directed at the red stallion, but more so himself. "What… W-What happened to the bag, I-I need to get home, I n-need t-t-too..." He trailed off as his head stared directly at the ground; his breathing began to panic as his hooves groped around for the bag he had lost.
"It's still in the woods…" Big Macintosh heard himself say without thinking. He quickly found himself holding his breath for a single moment as Caramel seemed to freeze, as if only now noticing that he indeed was not the only one in the area.
Caramel's ears pressed to his scalp as he glanced up, eyes watering with the stress he was putting himself through. He looked at the red stallion, scanning him quietly for several moments, his jaw slightly open as he panted quietly.
"M…Mac?" Caramel suddenly asked, his body loosening slightly from worry as his eyes widened. His mind seemed to be taking a moment to take in the entire situation. His watering eyes blinked several times as the tan pony shuddered from the cold. He didn't seem to calm down… but he didn't seem to upset himself further either. "Is…. Is that you?"
"Eeyup." Big Macintosh said, the same monotone voice as usual seemed unfitting.
"It's… been a while… Caramel."
Braeburn found himself swallowing hard as he tightened his grip on Soarin's body. His tired eyes would occasionally begin to shut, only for him to swing them open once more with a gasp of air entering his lungs. When this happened, he would begin to gently nuzzle the blue pegasi's chest, fighting off the whimpering that was his mind begging him to go to sleep.
But sleep almost seemed out of the question right now. The yellow pony could only cling to Soarin's sleeping body, listening to his quiet heartbeat. He felt like a small child holding onto a teddy bear for comfort from a nightmare, or at the very least a bit of comfort.
Nothing was the same in this place. The furniture, the building, the bed, nothing in this entire city was familiar to the country pony. It all seemed for foreign to him, as if he were trapped in another world with no way back to how things used to be. It was frightening, horrifying almost. The only thing remotely the same was the body he seemed to hold dearly, the wings encasing him like a blanket were comforting, the familiar heartbeat ringing in his ears could only be described as a childhood lullaby.
"Why don't you just go to sleep?" Soarin mumbled.
Braeburn was silent for several moments before replying. "Ah missed ya. And ah want to spend some time with ya…" He mumbled. "But… the show lasted a lot longer than I thought."
"Did you at least sleep well on the train?" Soarin asked, cracking open an eye as his hoof ran down Braeburn's spine. This time Braeburn didn't reply, and a sigh came from Soarin's lungs as he let his hoof rest on the earth pony's back.
"Ya'll leave again tomorrow… aren't ya?" He asked, voice deprived of any and all emotion. He curled up tighter near Soarin, gnawing on his lip gently, not wanting to break from the pegasi's touch.
"I… I suppose so." Soarin admitted begrudgingly. "This tour has really been a drag, y'know that buddy?"
"Ah'll say." Braeburn chuckled, his laugh dry of any humor. "Ah'm working my flank off just ta sleep in the same bed with ya once or twice a week!"
Soarin was quiet for some time, chuckling back with some amount of emotion. "Are you saying you miss cuddling a cranky stallion every night? Most stallions hate it when I cuddle them like that."
Braeburn shrugged. "Ah guess ah like it." He confessed. "Makes it a lot warmer when it snows like this."
Soarin chuckled. "And yet you still get all embarrassed about it in public." Soarin rolled his eyes before nuzzling the top of Braeburn's head, feeling a sense of bliss he hadn't in a while. He was silent as a hoof found his own, and embraced his leg. He pulled on the leg to tighten the grip, letting a smile pour onto his face.
"Can ya… can ya stay up and talk like this for a little while longer… ah don't wanna sleep just yet." Braeburn said. "Ah don't wanna wait another week before seein' ya ta talk… so can ya?"
Soarin was silent for a while. He began to feel a bit of guilt in the pit of his belly for not being there, for holding Braeburn back by forcing him to travel so much. The melancholy feelings that had been infecting both were getting worse each visit, knowing their time was in hours, not days. So just for tonight… he would try to ease the pain.
"Sure buddy… just a while longer."