Chapter 15: Quality Bonding
Carl's House- Evening
It was almost dinner time by the time Carl got home with Twilight and Rarity. He knew that his mother was now home, so he asked Twilight to cast the human illusion spell on her and Rarity so that when they went inside Lauren would see Tara and Raquel rather than Twilight and Rarity.
But he wasn't just thinking about that, he was still beating himself about how he treated Twilight in the mall parking lot, and how he hated himself for being so mean. After all, she had been such a great friend to him ever since she arrived on Earth. This realization made Carl felt even worse, as he felt that he took Twilight's kindness for granted.
As they walked up to the door, they heard Lauren in the kitchen making some vegetable soup and biscuits for dinner. Carl turned to face the girls.
"Okay Twilight, Rarity, listen to me. Do not, I repeat, do not do anything that could blow your cover in the next hour. My mom doesn't know much about the show, so as long as neither of you use pony puns or refer to each other as Twilight or Rarity, you should be okay. But still be cautious, okay?"
"Oh Carl, relax. I'm sure everything will be fine. Besides, I've really been looking forward to meeting her." Twilight said happily, in the way a girlfriend would speak to show her excitement about meeting her boyfriend's parents.
This only made Carl feel more awkward and guilty.
Twilight then closed her eyes and the aura surrounded her and Rarity before disappearing.
She looked up at Carl, "You're mom has the spell on her now."
"Only my mom, right? Not Lisa or Anna?"
Twilight nodded and Carl knocked on the front door. Lauren opened it to show her in an apron with a wooden spoon in one hand and an oven mitt on the other.
"Aaanndddd the Oscar for Best Portrayal of a Stereotypical Mother goes to
" Carl thought in annoyance.
"Hi Carl," said Lauren. She then saw the two "teenage girls" standing behind Carl. Immediately, like any Mom would, her smile grew as the thought of Carl having two very lovely lady friends fluttered into her mind and made her think of the possibilities romantically he could have with one of them.
Lauren went to extend her hand when she realized her oven mitt was still on. Blushing, she retracted and pulled the red glove off of her hand and put it under her arm so she could shake the girls' "hands" properly.
"Sorry, my hands were a bit full." Lauren shook hands with Twilight first, who gave her the most sincere smile possible.
"Not a problem." Rarity said as she shook Lauren's hand for her own shake.
"I'm Mrs. Lewis, Carl's mom."
"It's very nice to meet you, I'm Tara, and this is my good friend Raquel." Twilight said, gesturing to her and then Rarity, who gave Lauren a modest courtesy.
"It's an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Lewis!"
"The pleasure's all mine." Lauren responded before she motioned her hand to entice the girls inside, "You two can come in if you'd like."
Rarity walked into the house first and looked around, "I just love what you've done with the place, simply exquisite."
"Why thank you Raquel. Yes this house was built in 1993 by David James Harrison, one of the best architects in Upstate New York." Lauren said with a smile, "Sorry if my knowledge on this house seems odd, I work for a real estate firm. When you work around the facts of a home you tend to stop seeing houses as art rather than the combination of details, like who built them and when they did so."
"Well, either way, this house is divine." Twilight said as she turned to Carl and smiled. Carl smiled back before turning to Lauren.
"Hey Mom, can the girls stay for dinner?" Carl asked.
"Of course they can Carl." Lauren said with a smile.
Carl let out a sigh of relief. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he spotted Spike walking down the hallway upstairs with Lisa by his side. Spike then saw Twilight and went to the balcony of the stairs, his claws gripping the bars of the railing, and called down.
"Hey Twi what
Right in the nick of time, Lisa ran over to the baby dragon and threw her hand over his mouth, rendering his speech to nothing but muffled sounds. She then dragged the frazzled Spike off into her room, an annoyed look on Spike's face as they disappeared from view. Lauren looked upstairs towards the direction of the voice, but saw nothing and shrugged before turning her attention back to the girls and Carl.
"Well, I hope you girls like vegetable soup and biscuits." Lauren said as she slipped the oven mitt back onto her hand.
"Oh yes, that's fantastic. Thank you very much Mrs. Lewis." Rarity said.
"Yeah, thanks! We really appreciate your hospitality, and you're very generous to allow us two to have dinner with you." Twilight added with an appreciative smile.
Lauren couldn't help but blush at the compliments before laughing nervously, "Gosh, I've never met people as polite as you, not even my kids are that polite."
Carl couldn't help but roll his eyes at this, though mentally he agreed with his mother. He and his little sisters never really took time to think about how lucky they were to have such a great mother, let alone actually tell her. Regardless, Carl shrugged off these pondering thoughts and changed the subject.
"Hey mom, is there any meat in the soup? Because Raquel and Tara are vegans." Carl asked.
"Nope, it's just carrots, tomatoes, onions and orzo."
After talking a bit more, they all sat down at the table to eat. Soon Lisa and Anna joined them, as Spike remained upstairs. Carl could picture him sitting on his bed, bored out of his mind and envious that he was the only one not sitting down for dinner. He also knew that Spike would be starving and tried to think of something to do so he could bring food upstairs to him. Be when Carl saw Lisa shovel some biscuits into her pocket, he knew that she'd make sure that he was fed.
After a little bit, they all went upstairs, Carl telling his mom that they were going to have a sleepover, which she amazingly approved, even when it was two girls and her son.
There were so many possible roads that could be taken on that "sleep-over", many of which were inappropriate for pony-related discussions.
They all went up to Carl's room, except for Lisa, who ran into her room to give Spike the biscuits that she snuck into her pockets.
Once back in the safety of his room with the two girls, Carl pressed his back against his door and let out a sigh. He also managed to throw in a clichéd "wiping the sweat off the brow" motion to show his relief that everything went well.
"Glad that worked out." He muttered without an ounce of sarcasm. He was genuinely happy that, for once, everything went according to plan.
"Your mother is really nice, Carl." Twilight said with her kind smile.
"Yeah, she is isn't she? Plus we got lucky that it was a vegan meal tonight." Carl muttered when he heard a knocking at his door. He opened it to see Lisa standing in front of him, which Spike at her feet. His eyes were closed as he ate one of the biscuits in a state of pure bliss.
this is really good! Tell your mom that I approve of her cooking." Spike said before popping the last bit of biscuit into his mouth and brushing his hands against each other to clean them of crumbs.
"I would if I could man, but she doesn't know you're here, remember?"
"Well," Spike said, licking his fingers, "Tell her that Twilight approves and remember I did as well."
"Deal man" Carl said with a small chuckle.
Spike raised his hand, "Wait! I almost forgot; the Princess sent a letter to Twilight today."
"She did?" Twilight asked and Spike nodded.
"Yeah, it's in Lisa's room. Wait here, I'll go grab it." He was about to leave when he stopped and turned to Lisa with a small smirk, "do you want anything from your room?" he said in a British accent.
"Cornetto." Lisa said with her own British accent before the both laughed. Spike headed off.
Carl, recognizing the source of the reference Spike made, glared at Lisa. "Um, Lisa how does he know that joke?"
"They apparently they like Edgar Wright in Ponyville." She said with a shrug.
"You showed him "Shaun of the Dead" didn't you?"
""Hot Fuzz" actually, but you're probably too dumb to know the difference."
"God-damn it Lisa you weren't even supposed to see it, and you showed it to a baby dragon? It's rated "R" for Christ's sake." Carl hissed.
"Yeah, and that's why it's awesome." Lisa said with a cocky grin.
"Does Spike even know what Cornetto is?"
Lisa looked up at Carl and raised an eyebrow, "Do you?"
Carl was about to answer when he stopped and shut his mouth. Of course he didn't know what Cornetto was exactly, since it was a British thing. Lisa smirked, "It's a type of British ice-cream you idiot, maybe you should pay attention to the movie more, they show the characters eating it."
Carl was about to shoot back with a snarky remark of his own when he felt Spike tugging at his pants leg. He looked down to see the dragon holding up the rolled up parchment. He took it and read if over before letting his arm drop to his side with a sigh. He turned to everyone and everypony else.
"Well, Carl, what did it say?" Twilight asked.
"Who's Louis Clarkson?" Lisa asked.
"I have no idea." Carl muttered, "I-I've never met a Louis Clarkson in my life."
"You had to have met him Carl, the Princess said that all six of you know each other from some point." Twilight said. Carl sighed and walked over to his bookshelf and pulled off his yearbook from that year and sat at his desk.
"Just my luck I'd have to do research over the summer." He muttered as he began to go through the entire High School yearbook to look for Louis.
"Research?" Twilight asked with an enthusiastic smile.
"Yeah, Twilight can you come over here and help me go through the
" he didn't need to tell her anything else as she zoomed over to his side with Rainbow Dash-like speed that he didn't expect to see from her.
She got onto her hind legs and put her forelegs onto Carl's shoulder so she could look at the yearbook over Carl's shoulder. Twilight's proximity made Carl blush. Her warm body felt comforting as it brushed against Carl's. She glanced over at him, her violet eyes meeting his and she gave him a smile. Stuck in this situation, Carl could feel his face burning up from a mix of embarrassment and, for lack of a better word, affection.
"Well Carl? What are you waiting for, let's get started." She said with a chuckle before giving him a playful nudge.
Carl snaps out of it and points to the book, "O-okay, um Twi, this book has a picture of every kid in my High School from this year."
"Oh! Does that mean you're in it?"
"Oh! Let me see!" Twilight said as she began to flip through the pages, looking for Carl. He stopped her and she turned to give him a disappointed look. "Awwww come on, I want to see your picture!"
"Err. I don't think that would be a good idea." Carl said nervously.
Twilight looked at Carl with a devious smile, "Come on Carl, why wouldn't you want me to see your beautiful face?"
Carl was shaking and thinking over everything that was going on when Twilight used his momentary state of mental paralysis to snatch the yearbook away from Carl. She moved it closer to the right side of the desk, which was more in her reach, and stuck her tongue out at Carl.
Rarity also came over to look, "Twilight, Carl, what are you two looking at?"
Twilight started to flip through the pages of the yearbook with her magic, "Carl's school picture, he seems so keen on hiding it I have to see what it looks like."
She finally stopped on the page with the students in eleventh grade whose last names began with the letter "L" and quickly searched until she found Carl's picture. Her eyes went wide and she fell to the floor, laughing like crazy. She was laughing so hard that tears began to roll down her face and leave small puddles on the carpet. Her legs kicked the air a little as she continued her giggle-fit.
Carl closed his eyes in embarrassment as his school picture was now being studied by Rarity the fashion queen. To this day he wasn't really sure which single thing was the main factor in causing his picture to come out as bad as it did. He wasn't sure if it was the issue of the stereotypically terrible photographer. He couldn't tell if it was his bedhead he forgot to tame before going to school.
But he always suspected that it was because he and James had gotten black-out drunk the night before and Carl's eyes and face still had the look of someone who had a massive hangover. That was the only time Carl got hammered in his life, and, and, as was typical with his luck, it was the night before school pictures.
Oh yeah, and the picture showed that he was wearing a mud-stained, old, tattered ACDC t-shirt that he slept in.
So everything that could have gone wrong went to hell, and it wasn't one single thing that created this horror, it was a slew of different, unfortunate events that led up to it.
Rarity broke out into laughter, "Pfft
.HAHAHA, oh Carl who picked out that ghastly outfit? And your hair! Bwhahaha! You look like you were mauled by a Manticore!"
Carl rubbed his head from the embarrassment as Lisa, Anna and Spike also came over to see the picture and burst out into laughter.
"Carl, why do you look so bad?" Anna asked with a laugh.
"Anna, look at me right now, okay?" Carl pointed to himself, "This is your brother," he then pointed at the pictures, "and this is your brother on alcohol."
"So that's why you only drink two beers now?"
Carl let out a small sigh before answering his sister with a nod. He looked over to see Twilight and Rarity starting to finally calm down.
"Hey um, don't we need to find Louis so we can beat Discord or something, I thought that was supposed to be our main priority."
Twilight wiped a tear of laughter off of her cheek. "Oh my, sorry Carl that was just too funny."
"Yeah Carl, you just looked too amusing. Usually I'd be insulted by such a look, but I just couldn't help it." Rarity said with a smile.
Carl sighed and went over to his desk to look through the yearbook to see if he could find any person named Louis Clarkson. But with Twilight back to leaning against him and giving him at the feeling of happiness and warmth that he felt before she looked for his "amazing" portrait, he was having a hard time concentrating.
Alex decided not to go home quite yet; rather he decided to take Applejack up to the local park to have some more alone time with her. He had loved her for the longest time. In fact, he loved her ever since he started watching the show. So it was only natural that he'd want to hang out with her some more, alone.
On the way to the park, they talked more and more and, for some reason, Alex reverted back to talking with a little bit of a southern accent. Not a lot, but enough to please Applejack and make her feel at home when her home was so far away, as was her family. In fact, Applejack told him how cute she thought it sounded on him, so he saw no reason to stop using it. After all, he'd do whatever made Applejack happy.
When they got to the park, Alex parked his truck in the back portion of the lot. Fortunately, there was one soccer game going on, between two U-12 teams by the looks of it, so the lot was mostly empty, save for the area of the lot closest to the field. The player's families parked there so they wouldn't have to walk far to get to the field before the game started. The lights that surrounded the stadium were on and the sun slowly began its descent as the little kids kicked the ball around, a sight that brought back many memories to Alex as he watched from afar.
"We'll stop here, should be far enough away from everyone else." Alex muttered as he looked around to make sure no one was nearby to see the country pony sitting in the car seat next to him. Twilight's spell was off, so if someone did happen to walk by, they'd see Applejack in all her animated glory.
"Okay, but why are we at a park?" Applejack asked.
"I just feel like talking to you a bit more." Alex said, turning his head to Applejack so their green eyes met.
"That's awful sweet Alex, but why can't we do that at yer house?" she asked.
"Because we can't okay?"
"It's cause of yer father, ain't it?"
"Step-father, and ya it is, unfortunately."
Alex had told Applejack more about his step-father. How he'd ignore him and his mother all day only to come home in a drunken rage at night to beat the shit out of Alex's mom. Only when the blonde teen stepped in would she be spared of his wrath. Unfortunately, this meant Alex got beaten a lot. If his stories weren't proof enough, the small, but present, scars on his face all but confirmed his sad family life.
Applejack turned in the car seat so she her whole body was facing him, "Do ya want to talk about it?"
Alex shook his head, looking away from Applejack to hide his sorrow. He always tried to be strong, and part of that was keeping those who cared about him from seeing his vulnerabilities, especially Applejack.
Applejack leaned over and nuzzled her head against Alex's shoulder, "Am sorry that ya go through so much with yer family Alex, I really am."
"It is what it is." Alex muttered, his voice revealing his hidden sorrow. Being in the car with Applejack was the first time that he felt like anyone had loved him since he was young, since before his biological father and mother divorced. Back in the wonderful days of Alex's youth when his father was still alive, sill there to toss the pig-skin around, still around to talk to when he had questions.
Both of his parents cared about him. His father, the strong, supportive southern farmer whose family owned the apple orchard Alex lived on until he was ten. His mother, before she only cared about herself, was as kind, loving, and unselfish as a mother could possibly be. She was also happier and more radiant, if Alex's memory served him correctly.
But that was the past, things were different now. Things were worse, and thinking about it only made Alex wish that he could leave Wilmont and be with Applejack forever. Never would he have to return to his sadistic step-father and his oblivious and selfish mother.
He closed his eyes and shook his head, "But I still wish it wasn't."
"It don't have ta be." Applejack said as her eyes closed, "ya can come live with me."
Alex looked down at Applejack, "Live with you?"
"Yeah, ya can come live on Sweet Apple Acres, so ya wouldn't have ta get beat up by yer step-father anymore or ignored by yer mother. Mah family would never treat you like that, not Big Mac, not Apple Bloom, not Granny Smith."
"Ah think ya go through way too much Alex, and it's a shame 'cause yer a sweet boy."
Alex smiled a bit, "You'd really like me to live with ya?"
"Only if ya'd like to." Applejack said with a smile. She lifted her head off of Alex's shoulders and smiled at him.
"I'd love to." Alex said before he leaned in to kiss Applejack, who returned it. They kissed with even more passion than what they did at the mall. When they broke it off, they looked at each other in the eyes and had a similar moment to Ryan and Rainbow Dash.
"I love ya AJ."
"I love ya too sugarcube."
Alex blushed at her using her famous nickname on him. They began to kiss each other once more. At the same time, the parents watching the soccer game erupted into applause and cheering as the red team scored a goal on the blue.
Ryan lay on his bed next to Rainbow Dash, relaxing after a day of
well, relaxing. But it was not as boring as it sounded. Even through both Ryan and Rainbow Dash wanted to get out and do some stuff, they both enjoyed spending the day together. They watched some television and ate junk food. But no matter what, Ryan and Rainbow Dash both agreed that they'd have to try to convince Carl to let them out of the house tomorrow so they don't get cabin fever. As they lay in bed, Ryan was letting her listen to some songs off of his iPod. He wanted to see what kind of music she liked most.
The consensus: 1970's-1990's rock. In other words, whenever Ryan played a Rush song, a Metallica song, a Van Halen song, an ACDC song, a Kiss song, or an Aerosmith song, they would both rock out on the bed, limbs flailing around and having a good time.
It was a good thing his parents were fast asleep, otherwise they probably would have heard the commotion of a bed rocking as he and Rainbow Dash played the air-guitar and pretended to play the drums.
And if they heard a bed rocking, chances are they wouldn't think it was caused by playing the "air-guitar", especially if they heard Rainbow Dash's voice.
But this was not the only type of music that she liked. In fact, she also had a taste for some of the more mellow songs Ryan played, which was surprising.
"I like this one here." She said as she let out a content sigh.
"What is it?"
"This Land" by Hans Zimmer. It's from "The Lion King" soundtrack."
Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and let out a long, drawn-out sigh like she had just slipped into a hot tub after a long, tiring work-out.
"I like it a lot."
"Yeah, Hans Zimmer is a God of music." Just then Ryan had another song pop into his head, "Hold on; I've got a really cool song for you."
Ryan scrolled through his playlist and found what he was looking for. The sounds of bagpipes and the French horn came on as Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and smiled big, listening to the beautifully orchestrated Celtic score.
"This is amazing."
"Glad you like it. This is the master John Powell's piece "Test Drive". It's from the movie "How to Train Your Dragon", which is my favorite animated film of all time. Ironically it replaced "The Lion King" as my favorite back when it came out. Single greatest movie experience I had in the theater and it wasn't even in 3-D"
"3-D? What's that?"
"A gimmick studios use to make more money."
As the song began to pick up speed, Rainbow Dash looked at Ryan with a huge grin that was clearly being brought on by a high amount of adrenaline.
it just makes me want to go outside right now and fly!" She said, turning towards Ryan with an excited grin, her wings giving a small flap as if to emphasize her desire to fly with the epic Scottish music in the background, making her adrenaline surge.
"Easy cow-pony can't have you flying around in the open. Someone might see you."
"I still think the song is awesome."
"Wait until you see the movie." Ryan sighed before looking over at Dashie. They both looked at each other and chuckled. Just then Ryan thought of something, "You know what? I've got the perfect mellow song for you."
He scrolled down the list of songs on his iPod until he found what he wanted and pressed play.
As "Somewhere over the Rainbow" began to play with only the ukulele part, Rainbow Dash looked at Ryan.
"Just give it a second, when you hear the lyrics you'll know why I chose this song for you."
They then began to listen to the song, the lyrics flowing through the earphones as Rainbow Dash seemed to become enchanted by the song, so much so that Ryan could make out her lips moving along to the lyrics while her eyes remained closed.
When the song finally ended, Ryan turned the iPod off and turned to see Rainbow Dash softly crying.
"Dashie what's wrong?"
She looked at Ryan and smiled.
"Sorry I just
that song was so beautiful. Can we listen to it again?"
Ryan smiled and gave her a nod. "Of course."
"And can you keep singing along? I like hearing your voice, you're good at singing."
Ryan pressed play so the song began again.
As the lyrics began, Ryan started to sing when he heard another voice chiming in. No, it wasn't the typical voice of Israel Kamakawiwo Ole', but to Ryan it was something just as beautiful.
Ryan looked down and saw Rainbow Dash was quietly singing along, her tough-sounding voice became softer as the followed the song word for word. Ryan was shocked at her singing talent. Sure her voice actress was a singer, but to hear the little pony sing in real life wasn't just the cutest thing Ryan could imagine, it was the most majestic thing. All of his troubles seemed to vanish when he listened to her little raspy voice flow into one of his ears and, regretfully, out the other.
"Wow, Dashie, you one-up me in everything." Ryan said with a chuckle and Rainbow Dash also laughed a bit as well. "You have such a beautiful voice."
She looked up at Ryan with a tired smile before pressing her face against his chest, her voice still following with the song. Ryan planted a kiss on the top of her head before he continued to sing along with his marefriend and Israel Kamakawiwo Ole'.
After his parents went to sleep, Pete was brushing his teeth to get ready for bed. His head was still reeling from the events that took place that day. He sighed and walked back to the room to see Pinkie sitting on his bed with a big smile on her face.
"Hey Petey, are you still weirded out by me? I hope not!" Pinkie was still cheery even as she said this.
Pete sighed and shook his head, "Not as much. I'm
I'm starting to
to calm down a little bit. I think
"Great! Hey, have you ever seen my party cannon?" Pinkie said, revealing a cannon from behind Pete's bed. "I'd use it now, but it is REALLY loud and you made it clear that you wanted me to be quiet so your parents wouldn't wake up."
Pete nodded slowly and made his way over to his bed and lay down in it before pressing his hands to his face and slowly moving them down, trying to cleanse himself of the stresses that the day brought, from accepting an invitation to meet people he barely knew, to realizing that the girl he hadn't stopped thinking about since meeting her at the mall the day before was actually Pinkie Pie. It was a lot to take in, and it overwhelmed the shy teen.
"What a weird day." He muttered as he lifted his hands from his face and stared blankly at the ceiling.
"Hey Petey, I was wondering, why are you so shy?" Pinkie asked. "I mean, you're almost as quiet as Fluttershy and she's reaaalllyyyy shy. In fact, you're the quietest guy I've ever met. Mares can be quiet, but I've never met a colt as silent as you. Why is that?"
"Because I am."
"Come on! That's not a good enough reason!"
Pete sighed and turned over onto his side so he could turn his light off and go to sleep, but he felt a hoof stop his hand, followed by Pinkie dropped down in front of his face.
Yes, she was not hanging onto anything and yet she managed to suspend herself in the air, upside down, with her face directly in front of Pete's like she was doing her best Neo impression.
Again, God bless cartoon physics
or lack of physics in general.
"Please tell me!"
Pete shook his head, "Maybe next time, I just
I don't want to talk about something like that now. It's too depressing."
"Awwww," Pinkie said with disappointment. But her disappointment didn't last and a second longer as she immediately went back to expressing her excited smile. "Okey-dokey, but don't think this is the end of it. I still want to know what makes you so timid."
"I'll tell you later."
Pete sighed and nodded, sticking his pinky out.
Pinkie looked at it with confusion, "What is that?"
"My pinky." Pete said in confusion as he looked down at his little finger. He then remembered what she meant and chuckled, "Whoops, sorry I forgot you have your own Pinkie promise."
Pinkie chuckled and they looked at each other and went through her promise routine:
"Cross my heart, hope to fly,
Stick a cupcake in my eye."
They both said before they laughed together. Pete was starting to feel a little more comfortable around her now. He got under the covers and closed his eyes.
"Good night, Pinkie."
"Good night Petey-weetie!...Hey Pete?"
"You don't have to worry about what other people think about your humor or what you say, all that matters is what you think." with that insightful statement, Pinkie fell asleep in a most comical fashion, with loud snores escaping her mouth.
Pete was stunned that she was able to figure out the main reason for his insecurity. But if she knew that, why would she be so adamant about knowing his back-story? Pete decided to think more about it in the morning, but he was happy that he now had someone, or somepony, that he could talk to about his problems, and why he was as shy as he had been for years. After thinking about all of this, Pete closed his eyes and went to sleep. For the first time, Pete fell asleep with a smile on his face.