Your little orphan foal, Midnight, is getting bigger. So big that your fluffy mare, Sunshine, has difficulty carrying him around now; she’s undersized from malnutrition thanks to her previous owner being an abusive asshole, and your little pegasus colt is going to end up bigger than her by quite a bit. Still, she insists on carrying him about by the scruff of his neck, usually to take him to the litter box; he’s heavy and squirms a lot now whenever she does it. He’s also perfectly capable of walking to the litter box on his own. Sunshine just insists on carrying him there whenever he gets the “poopies wook” on his face so she doesn’t get in trouble for his bad poopies.
Other times, like now, she just insists on toting him around the house, showing him everything for the umpteenth time.
“Dis couch! Dis chaiw! Dis kitchen!”
You keep the fluffies locked up in their safe room whenever you’re gone, but every now and then you let them out to explore the house. Sunshine spends nearly all her time in the safe room, feeling less scared in there, but she’s been coming out into the rest of the house more and more to introduce Midnight to all the new things there. Maybe the little foal is doing some good for her after all.
He squirms and wiggles, trying to get loose from her.
“Peep! Mummah! Hungwy! Miwkies! Chirp!”
Most foals would have stopped chirping by his age, but he still does it whenever he’s hungry or distressed. You’re not sure why. Sunshine dutifully carries him back to the safe room and, not being his actual mother and unable to provide him with milk, she trots back into the living room and shyly informs that the “babbeh hungwy”. It took a week to convince her it was ok to ask you to feed the baby; she thought you’d get angry with her for asking and you had to keep telling her over and over that she should tell you when he was hungry. Now she has the idea though, and while she still acts like you’re going to yell at her for bothering you, she does what a good ‘mummah’ should and gets miwkies for ‘her’ baby. You tell her she’s a good fluffy for letting you know, pat her on the head (ignoring her ingrained flinch when you reach for her), and prepare some formula.
Being as he wasn’t getting his mother’s milk, you have to use the formula with extra nutrients to ensure he doesn’t suffer from malnutrition, not the regular stuff that’s used to feed little foals now and then when their mother can’t or won’t always feed them. As a result of his rich and nutritious diet, he’s growing up into quite the large and energetic colt; far more energetic than Sunshine, who spends most of her time either curled up on her pillow bed or slowly rolling a ball around. She doesn’t like to play with blocks for some reason, but Midnight has pushing them around; he’s not quite strong enough to stack more than two on top of each other, but he has a blast knocking down any tall stacks of blocks you build.
Finished mixing and heating the formula and filling the syringe, you carry it into the safe room and sit down on the floor.
“C’mere, Midnight! Nummies time!”
He bounces toward you enthusiastically, trips clumsily once and gets right back on his feet. You pick him up and lay him on his back in your lap, insert the plastic syringe into his mouth, and let him suckle it rather than injecting it into his mouth. His useless little wings flap happily and he closes his eyes to suckle as you softly stroke his belly fluff. Sunshine curls up next to you and leans against you, watching ‘her’ baby eat. She can’t feed him, but she insists on being there when he eats nonetheless, just to make sure he gets all the food he needs; she can’t help remembering how hungry she was before you took her in.
Midnight finishes off the syringe, then gets up from your lap and wanders over to the food bowl, sniffing it. Sunshine watches curiously. The little colt has been experimenting with solid food, and the bowl that stays filled all day (you found it’s better to just leave a bowl constantly full so Sunshine doesn’t have nearly as much anxiety about not being fed, and then give her ‘better’ nummies for her actual meals. She often investigates the bowl, just to make sure the food wasn’t taken away when she wasn’t looking, though thankfully she doesn’t get up in the middle of the night to do that anymore.) is now full of soft, chewy food with smaller pieces instead of the harder kibble you normally feed Sunshine. Sunshine seems to prefer this food to the other kind (though she remains in love with the kibble you get that makes its own gravy when you mix it with warm water), as it’s softer on her poor, abused mouth. It’s also recommended for foals who are weaning, which is the main reason you got it.
Midnight sniffs the food, then gingerly picks up a piece in his mouth and starts chewing on it.
“Nuuuu! Huwt moufiesh! Nuuu! NUUUU!”
“Sunshine, it’s ok. It’s not going to hurt his mouth. Here, see?” You reach over and get a piece, holding it to her nose. “It’s soft, not owie. See?”
She carefully sniffs it, then settles back down unhappily, watching the little colt gnaw on the food. Midnight eventually eats the entire piece of solid food and skips around in circles, flapping his little wings.
“Midnight am big fwuffy naow!”
“That’s right, you’re getting to be a big fluffy!”
Unfortunately, this is the first time you’ve raised a foal from its first (and nearly last) day of life, and the little bouncy ball of dark bluish-purple fuzz is growing faster than you expected.
Midnight is nearly full-grown now, bigger than Sunshine, and though he still ocassionally asks you for “miwkies” (he started asking you directly once his fluffy brain figured out you were providing the food, but you insisted he go through channels and ask Sunshine to ask you. Now that he’s eating solid food, however, he asks you for food all the time. Sunshine never requests anything unless you directly ask her what she wants to eat.), you’re not giving him any. He’s a big fluffy now, he needs to eat big fluffy food. He’s also stopped chirping now that he wants to be all big and grown up.
Unfortunately, he’s a handful for Sunshine. She’s older and your first fluffy, so you put her in charge. Your laid-back, traumatized fluffy, who likes to live her life as quietly and peacefully as possible, is finding it difficult to handle an exuberant colt who sprints (well, waddles really quickly) all around the safe room, shouting loudly, kicking the ball around the room, knocking over blocks, and generally being a little hell-raiser. He’s obedient and well-behaved, only occasionally making bad poopies (which Sunshine immediately freaks out over; you had to punish the little guy somewhat- never where Sunshine could see, or she freaked out even worse- “Nu huwt babbeh!”- to get him litter box trained, but most of his incentive was because he could see how badly it bothered his “mummah” when he made bad poopies.), but he’s just far more energetic and active than your other fluffy, and she’s having difficulty coping. And you’re often gone for much of the day with work, so you can’t keep wear the younger fluffy out by playing with him or try to rein him in for her.
As a result, Sunshine has been shedding yellow fluff everywhere and has made bad peepees more than once from all the stress; the little puddles she made didn’t do anything to help the situation, and she cried hysterically and apologized over and over every time it happened.
Man, you don’t know what to do. You don’t want to get rid of the little guy, and he’s not doing anything wrong, but he’s definitely making life harder for your poor little Sunshine.
Just after you give the fluffies each a small bowl of nummies for lunch (shelled sunflower seeds, granola, raisins, blueberries, fresh grapes, apple slices, and tangerine slices- you make sure you get the seedless variety-, all on a bed of baby spinach and dandelion greens and topped with a sprig of their favorite herbs from your little garden in the backyard; Sunshine prefers sweet basil, Midnight likes your spearmint.), Sunshine quietly thanks you for the nummies and scarfs them all down like she was starving. Midnight sees her eating, races over with his little wings buzzing, and stops just before he dives into the food. He sits on his little haunches and looks at the food, head cocked to one side curiously.
“Is something wrong, Midnight?”
“Nu, Biww…” Like Sunshine, he calls you by name, not ‘daddy’ like most fluffies. Before he got the idea that he was supposed to call you by name, he kept calling you daddy- a natural thing for fluffies to do- and poor Sunshine shat herself in terror and tried to hide under her bed every time. No matter how many times you explained that her previous owner- who she called ‘daddy’- wasn’t there and was never coming back, and that the younger fluffy was calling you daddy, she always reacted that way, terrified that her abusive former owner had come back for her. Somehow, you got the little foal to call you Bill like she did, despite being young and a fluffy (his species having never been swift on the uptake to begin with) and that problem went away.
“What’s up then, little guy?”
He sniffs the nummies again.
“Nu am nummies.”
He looks over at the toys.
“Nu am baww. Nu am bwocks.”
He looks at the litter box.
“Nu am poopies.”
He looks at the water bottle.
“Nu am wa-was.”
Then he looks at Sunshine.
“Nu am mummah.”
Finally, he sits and stares at his little hooves, deep in thought. You’re a little mystified by this behavior.
“What’s wrong, Midnight?”
He looks up at you and gives a little pony shrug, fluttering his wings in the process.
“Midnigh du nuw. Biww efer wan sumting, bu nu nuw wha is?”
He wants something, but he doesn’t know what it is? Hmm…
“Sometimes. What do you think it is, someone to play with?” You know he can’t get Sunshine to play with him more actively than gently batting the ball back and forth to each other, and she reacts to his more exuberant tackling and kicking of the ball as if the ball were out to hurt her.
“Midnigh du nuw.”
He ponders his fluffy existential crisis for a moment longer, then dives into his nummies, wings fluttering and tail whisking back and forth joyfully at the tasty treats within. Sunshine, having already finished, is watching warily in case you take Midnight’s food away from him. You wait for him to finish, then remove both bowls (showing Sunshine that they’re both empty when it looks like she’ll protest their removal) and shut them in the safe room.
You and your girlfriend relax on the couch, cuddling and watching your fluffies. Midnight is exploring the living room again and Sunshine is watching from the perceived safety of the safe room.
“So, yeah. That’s the third time he’s done that, says he wants something but doesn’t know what it is. I’m not sure what’s up; he’s the first fluffy I’ve raised from such a young age, and Sunshine was sort of a special case to begin with, definitely not typical.”
Your girlfriend shrugs within your embrace and replies, “Maybe you’re right, maybe he just needs someone to play with, someone more his age. I know plenty of fluffies grow up without seeing any other fluffies but their mother, they get taken away and raised alone as soon as they can eat solid food, but maybe he really does just need a friend his age to play with. I mean, Sunshine isn’t exactly the most active playmate, after all.”
You’re watching Midnight as he climbs up the padded foot stool to sit in your window sill; he likes to watch the cars and people that walk by in front of your house and is fascinated by the outdoors; you’ve only let him outside a couple times, always supervised and in your closed-in backyard, and always with Sunshine, who would have much preferred to be back inside her safe room but enjoyed the fresh air nonetheless. The little colt jumps to his feet when he sees a group of ferals wander through the yard, looking for food. A mare turns her back to him as she grazes on your lawn and he starts humping the air while staring at her.
“I think I figured out what he’s missing.”
Sunshine whimpers pathetically, standing in warm, soapy water up to her belly. You hold her still with one hand and use the other to pour a glass of soapy water over her back, gently telling her what a good fluffy she is. You bathe her about once a month so she doesn’t get the musty, slightly sour smell fluffies to have when they haven’t been cleaned. She’s used to it now, but she still has a fluffy’s ingrained fear and dislike of water; the first few times you bathed her, she literally lost her shit and was convinced you intended to drown her.
“There, all done Sunshine!”
You lift the shivering fluffy out of the tub and dry her off with a big towel; a smaller towel can’t handle the sheer amount of water a fluffy’s fur can absorb, and a blow drier would just traumatize the poor creature. You finish drying her off as well as you can, then spend another minute or so combing her fluff and telling what a good fluffy she is. Once you’re sure she’s calmed down, you give her a fluffy treat (basically the same as her soft, chewy kibble, but larger and spaghetti flavored) and set her aside. Then you pick up Midnight and move to set him in the tub.
“Nuuuu! Wa-wa bad fow babbeh! Nu wa-wa! Nuuuu!”
“Nu am babbeh, am big fwuffy!”
“It’s ok Sunshine, it’s not going to hurt him. He’s just getting a bath.”
You set Midnight in the tub and he winces at the wetness, but quickly relaxes. He’s not as water-shy as most fluffies, at least not as long as you keep an eye on him; the one time you left him in the tub unsupervised so you could answer the phone, he had a panic attack and twisted an ankle trying (unsuccessfully) to jump out of the tub, splashing water everywhere while Sunshine, convinced ‘her’ baby was drowning, made a mess all over your bathroom floor and had to be bathed again. He even plays with the water a little, splashing it with one front hoof, while you pour warm, soapy water over him and scrub his fluff.
“There’s a good fluffy; gotta make sure you guys are clean and smell pretty so you make a good first impression.”
Neither fluffy is aware enough to ask what you’re talking about.
The pet shop is filled with a quiet murmur. You hear the cheeps and squawks of birds on one side of the store, low conversations between staff and customers, and a muffled yapping from a dog in the grooming center in the back of the shop. The fluffy section, by far, is the loudest part of the shop.
Most of the noise is coming from a large pen full of just-weaned foals, all of them tumbling, giggling, shouting, and chasing a ball or each other. One is curled up in a little ball in the corner, napping. They’re going for $5 each, not counting the expense of getting all their shots (required by law) or having them fixed (not required, but recommended in order to keep the feral population lower than it already is.). Adult fluffies, contained in a separate pen, are going for $10 each for drab colors that aren’t very popular, $20 each for more colorful fluffies, and $50 each for the two white mares (one with blue mane and tail, one with green mane and tail; both littermates.) and the black-and-red alicorn stallion. The white fluffies would normally cost more, but despite their rare coloration both are obviously not show fluffies or prize breeders. Fluffies in a reputable pet store cost more (often by an order of magnitude) than buying one from someone whose mare had a litter or some amateur who breeds fluffies in his garage, but you’re getting a better deal; these ones will be up to date on their shots, they come from reputable breeding lines (no ‘trash’ fluffies, smarties, or inbreeding), and best of all, they come with litter box and obedience training, so you don’t have to start from scratch with teaching them not to shit all over everything. Fluffies have a reputation for being stubborn, slow learners, dimwitted, and difficult to train due to often behaving like spoiled toddlers (a reputation which is not entirely undeserved), but with appropriate training at an early age and a mother who had identical training at an early age, they’re much better behaved than most would have you believe.
And that’s why you’re here; to find a good fluffy.
You wander into the fluffy section, which takes up half the entire store, and notice that all the pregnant dams are kept in their own individual cages behind a glass partition separating them from the customers. Several are alone, but most are accompanied by an attendant mare or their special friend, tending to their needs. Most are singing to themselves about what good mummah’s they’re going to be and how they can’t wait for their “tummeh babbehs” to come out. One black dam with hot pink mane and tail, in a cage by herself, is cheerfully singing the lyrics to Master of Puppets and headbanging. Ok then. As you watch, a store employee on the other side of the partition reaches in to carefully scoot her further away from the glass so she doesn’t hit her head.
Behind another glass wall are another set of individual pens, all but one occupied by a new mummah and her chirping babies. The one pen without a mother and babies is occupied by two nearly-weaned foals and, for some reason, a guinea pig. A large sticker is attached the glass near each pen. You lean in closer to see what they say.
“SHHHH! Our new mommies and their babies need peace and quiet so they can rest! Please don’t disturb them by making loud noises or tapping on the glass. Thank you!”
A ten or eleven year old boy, obese and covered in the sticky remnants of some sugary snack, is tapping on the glass, glaring at one litter of foals and their mother, and loudly repeating, “WAKE UP FLUFFIES, WAKE UP!”
A cute redheaded girl in a store uniform wanders over, bends down to the kid’s level, and sweetly asks him not to tap on the glass. He responds by looking directly at her and pounding his fist on the glass as hard as he can.
He gets a sorry stick upside the ass hard enough to make an audible CRACK upon impact and runs across the store wailing for his mom. The girl grins as she straightens up and sets the sorry stick back on a shelf. If you didn’t already have a girlfriend, you’d be tempted to ask her out just for that alone.
“Can I help you with anything, sir?”
“Actually, yes. I have a problem. I’ve got two fluffies at home. One is an orphaned colt I picked up, the other is an older mare who’s basically his surrogate mom. She’s a rescue fluffy, badly abused by her previous owner, and she’s not very active; she’s pretty quiet and and mellow most of the time. Problem is, the colt is a little too rambunctious for her to keep up with now, and it’s stressing her out pretty bad. He’s also at the point where he’s, y’know, starting to notice mares.”
“Ah, and you don’t want to get him fixed?”
“No, he’s too old, I don’t want to traumatize him by taking away his ‘special lumps’, especially since they usually don’t use anesthesia on fluffies.”
“Yeah, most anesthetics are too strong for them; we have to use tailor-made anesthetics on them. So you’re looking to get him a playmate and maybe a special friend?”
You nod. “Yeah, but I also don’t want a bunch of baby fluffies in the house either. My poor mare wouldn’t be able to handle it, she had a hard enough time with one foal, and I can’t afford to have a bunch of fluffies running around my house. And I don’t want to sell or give them away because, like I said, my mare is a rescue fluffy and I have no idea who these people taking my fluffies are or what they’ll do with them.”
“I understand. So you’ll be wanting a young mare or filly who’s been fixed then.”
“Right. But, uh, like I said, he’s getting… urges. Will a stallion give… special hugs to a mare who’s been fixed?” You feel like a dork using fluffy terms to speak another adult human, but she doesn’t seem to notice; she works with fluffies all the time, after all.
“It varies by individual; the way most mares are fixed means they never go into estrus, so there’s no olfactory cue for the stallion to see that she’s receptive, and most mares won’t tolerate being mounted unless they’re in estrus. If you get one with her tubes tied though, all her plumbing will work normally, she just can’t get pregnant. Your little guy will have a willing and eager girlfriend to give special hugs to, and no inconvenient babies for you to deal with. It’s a pretty expensive procedure though; we HAVE to use anesthesia since it’s so invasive, whereas with colts it’s just a quick snip and something to stop the bleeding. You sure you want to go to that much effort?”
You pull out your phone and show her a video of Midnight watching Fluff TV; he’s vigorously humping the air while staring at a mare onscreen, and Sunshine is watching him curiously.
“Ok, yeah, he might need something to release all that… tension.”
“I’m willing to pay for it, but I also need just the right fluffy too. Quiet and calm enough not to bother my poor, traumatized mare, but someone who’d be a good playmate and… special friend, for my colt.”
She smiles at you and says, “Wait here. I’ve got just the one in mind.”
The employee disappears in the back and emerges a minute later with a small, green earth pony. She’s a nice shade of green, not eye-searingly bright, and not dull either. Her mane is the same color, but her tail is just a shade or two darker. She’s hanging limply in the girl’s hands, not protesting or resisting, and looking around curiously. She beckons you to squat down on the floor with her as she sets the little filly down. The filly trembles a little nervously, but looks up at you and says, “Hewwo! Nyu fwend?”
“Hmm. She’s a little on the small side.”
“She’s a runt. Her momma kept her anyway, and she’s perfectly healthy. She gets picked on by the other foals her age, so we keep her separated most of the time, but she’s managed to make friends with some of the others. I like her; she’s really mellow, but she loves to play.”
“Does she have a name?”
“Not yet; we prefer to let the customers name their own fluffies. The only ones who already have names are the ones who get them accidentally, or the special cases, like Metallica over there. Most of those fluffies aren’t for sale and live here more or less permanently though.”
“That’s nice, sweetie. But yeah, this little mare would be perfect I think. And if you don’t mind waiting an hour, we can have her fixed like we discussed and you’ll be able to take her home. Best of all, since the vet makes such a small incision, she can be playing or… doing other things, by the time she gets home. The stitches are dissolvable and small enough she or another fluffy pony can’t pick them out with their teeth, so you don’t need to worry about that either.”
“Wait until I tell you how much the surgery and anesthesia cost.”
The little foal slept off the effects of the anesthesia for almost the entire ride back to your house, which was nice. The handful of times you had to drive Sunshine anywhere and the one time you took Midnight to get his shots, you had to deal with screaming, pooping fluffies. You walk in the door and your girlfriend immediately hops off the couch excitedly.
“Lemme see! Lemme see!”
You open the box and the little green filly opens her eyes sleepily.
“Oooooh, she’s just adorable!” your girlfriend squeals. The fluffy glances from her to you and back, then turns her focus on you.
“Yes. But call me Bill.”
“Nya daddeh nam Biww? Dat siwwy nam. Fwuffy wike. Fwuffy wub Biww. Wub fwuffy?”
“Yes, I love you too. Do you want to meet your new friends?”
“Yes, they’re other fluffies.”
You open the door to the safe room. Sunshine spazzes out and flops off her pillow bed in a panic before recognizing you, and Midnight looks up from where he has just successfully stacked three blocks on top of each other.
“Hey Sunshine, hey Midnight! I’ve got a surprise for you!”
You gently set the box down and both fluffies come over to see what is, one a little more hesitantly than the other.
“Wha dat, Biww, wha dat?!” Midnight asks enthusiastically. Sunshine looks at you curiously, then rears up on her hind legs to try to peek inside. The little filly, hearing another fluffy’s voice, moves excitedly and Sunshine spots the movement, tumbling over backward and scrambling to get away. You snag her gently and set her in your lap, stroking her fluff reassuringly. Your girlfriend gently tips the box over and the little filly, still sleepy, tumbles out and rights herself, looking around her new home in fascination. Midnight freezes, awestruck, then looks at you and says disbelievingly, “pwetty mawe!”
“Meet your new friend! She’s going to be staying here from now on.”
Sunshine is taking this all in stride, but Midnight is bouncing up and down shouting, “Weawwy?! Weawwy?! Pwetty mawe stay hewe?! YAAAAAAY!”
Then he stops bouncing in circles and prances up to the smaller green fluffy excitedly, dancing in place and fluttering his wings.
“Am Midnigh! Dat fwuffy am Sunshine! Wha yoo nam?”
“Fwuffy dun haf nam yet.”
“Yoo nam MINT!” he says, bouncing all over the room excitedly.
“Wait, Mint? Why Mint?” you ask.
“Cuz she all gween and pwetty and smeww nice!”
You shrug. Why the hell not? Mint it is.
“Fwuffy nam am Mint? Fwuffy wike nyu nam! Mint am gud nam!” The green filly skips in a circle herself, pleased. Midnight hops in front of her and asks, “Wan pway?”
“Whu pway? Bwocks? Baww? Chase?”
Your girlfriend picks up the ball with the jingle bell inside of it and gently rolls it across the room.
Both young fluffies tear off after it and start excitedly rolling it back and forth to each other. You look down at Sunshine in your lap, still stroking her.
“What do you think, Sunshine?”
She watches the other fluffies playing for a while, then snuggles up against you, relaxing completely for the first time in a while.
“Shunshine wike nyu fwuffy. Keep Midnight bishy.”
You smile and continue stroking your special fluffy, laughing as you want the antics of the younger, more rambunctious fluffies.
The scent of fresh popcorn filling the house, you walk past your girlfriend and Sunshine on the couch and head to the safe room to see if the other fluffies want to watch The Princess Bride with you.
“Hey guys, you-”
“ENF ENF ENF ENF ENF!”
“Guess not. Have fun.”