Losing Confidence: Together
I'm kinda sad I didn't get to spend more time with Void, he seemed really nice. The princesses had other plans though and after much yelling, thinking, awkward pauses and persuasion we had only a day of rest before going to Tartarus together. Fun place, if you don't think too much about it.
We got to the Crystal Empire few days before the attack and thanks to early warning the princesses had time to pull a massive army there. It didn't help anyway but in the end we won, yaaay. And by 'we' I mean the pony who killed one of my best friends...
Void lectured me about who is now supposed to be Blazing Light and I decided to take things carefully but when I saw him, lying on the ground, alone but happy with how things worked out I couldn't just let him get seized by the princesses considering his status as maybe friend, maybe enemy. I think the sisters will have him watched anyway so it's gonna be better if he stays with me than in the dungeon, if the Crystal Castle even has one.
We didn't have time to talk at all. After the dimensional rift disappeared, princess Celestia went to tend to the wounded and princess Luna showed us to one of the Crystal Castle guest rooms where Blaze immediately fell asleep.
I suppose I'll have a bath and ask around for something to eat.
My eyes slide over the bronze figure lying on the big bed, snoring lightly and drooling and I can't suppress a small smile when the mechanical arm twitches from time to time with the claws clicking. It's supposed to be scary, I guess, but the fear factor fades when faced with the owner who is just slightly bigger than an average mare.
Hiding my diary, I take few steps around the bed and examine the scarred and dented chitin where Blaze's horn used to be. He looks different, not physically despite the small changes but mainly there's an aura of peace around him. Confidence, maybe? To be frank, I remember him mostly as a nervous drunk... in a good way I mean.
I lean closer to his face. Without the smell of alcohol all around him he feels nicer than ever before.
"Kiss him, kiss him!" is a sudden whisper from nowhere.
Jumping back and looking around I don't see anything but the silent laughter at my actions rings through the room.
"Come on, you have no idea how unlikely this scenario is," the voice continues.
My head is working overtime trying to find out where the voice is coming from.
"Betty?" I take a wild guess.
Blaze's choker disappears from around his neck and turns into a flying sword.
"Don't you start with that," it says quietly.
"Sorry, it's just easier to say than the Element of Betrayal. How did Blaze even become your bearer? If there's somepony who would stand by his friends in good and bad then it's him."
"Heh," the Element snickers, "I suppose that's how it would seem to you. You're wrong though. I won't bother explaining because it's gonna be way too much fun to see you work it out but you might wanna take a peek into his diary."
"Where is it? I didn't see it in his bag."
"You've looked already?"
"Eeerm, no?" I scratch my head and look at the ceiling.
The Element snorts.
"He keeps it stashed under his belly plate, the red one shaped like a corset."
"I thought it was just additional armor."
"It is. Changeling belly is pretty soft even when hardened but he's been using it as storage and floatation device. Too bad his horn is gone, he'd show you few cool tricks."
"Not telling. I wasn't there anyway so you'll just have to ask him yourself."
"Fiiine. Let's get the diary! Can you change into something that can help in fishing it out?"
The Element changes into some wire contraption which I promptly take in my mouth.
"Oooh, suck harder!" it whispers.
"Fwut upf, Bftty!"
"Work that tongue, filly!"
I just roll my eyes and creep towards the sleeping figure. The supposed belly armor storage space doesn't seem to have an access point though. A movement next to my ear makes me freeze and I slowly look up.
Into strange, greyish-blue eyes looking curiously at me. I almost gulp down the wires in my mouth.
"Good fillies swallow," comments the Element, slightly muffled, from inside my mouth and then disperses its physical form .
"Did Betty put you up to this?" Blaze asks, half yawning. The changeling fangs suddenly seem too sharp and too close.
Everything is a blur for next second as I keep nodding as quickly as I can. He sighs, turns around and buries his head under the pillow. Deciding to give him the rest he wants, I carefully get off the bed and frown at the sword flying around again.
"Thanks... great start," I mumble.
"Yep. Would it have been so difficult to admit it was you who wanted to see his diary?" he/it asks smugly.
"Well... he's always been sorta touchy about his private things."
"Just, I just... I really don't know what he sees in you," the Element sighs and turns back into the choker around Blaze's neck.
I don't think I like this divine being.
Getting some rest is a good idea though. I mean I'm not too tired but I'm still shaky from the trip to Tartarus and the subsequent dangerous, although short, invasion. Hoping not to wake Blaze up again, I dig out the blanket from under him and throw it over us. The changeling chitin is cold to the touch so I snuggle closer and hug the hero of the day.
Whatever doubts I may have about him disappear when I remember the first day I saw him talking to Sharpie while shaking in terror. He did too much for me not to take the risk.
We're sitting in our private coupé and I'm watching the bronze changeling scribble into his diary using his mouth, It's an unusual sight but he's good with his mouth considering his unicorn past. It was hard to wake him up in the morning and I'm not a morning pony myself so we had to hurry to catch the train for which the princesses bought tickets for us.
As soon as we stopped coughing up our lungs Blaze pulled out his diary and began writing. I caught him looking at me few times but he didn't say a word so now I'm staring at him intently and trying to find a way to make him talk.
He glances up again and I grin.
He bites his pencil in half.
As much as I enjoy him coughing and spitting out bits of wood I grab his hoof.
"Why are ya so nervous?"
"I-I just don't know what to do. I've never thought I'd get this far, not to mention surviving the invasion this time."
"This time?" I raise my eyebrow.
"Long story. I seem to have a habit of not dying when I'm supposed to."
"Yea, about that. Can I have a look in your diary?"
"You're gonna hate me."
"Nonsense," I shake my head but the look in his eyes shows that this isn't some panic attack to which I'm used to from being friends with him. Every single time he needed just a little push but now he seems really terrified.
Something just tells me that pushing on would not be a good idea right now.
"My bad," I continue and lean back to the soft padding of the chair.
Blaze sighs and pushes the little book towards me, looking at the table between us.
"No. It's like with bandages, better to get it over with quickly."
Should I? The curiosity is overwhelming.
What would it change?
He's been my friend for a long time. If what Void said was true then this really is Blaze who has been through a lot and all of that was because of me. Do I really owe him anything?
Wrong question. I'm overthinking stuff, that's not me. Damn, if only I could talk to Void again.
Do I know Blaze then? No, not this one.
Do I want to try? Yes, that's my final answer.
"You know what? I don't need to read anything. I'll just get to know you my way," I smile at him, "Do you want to go out when we get back to Canterlot? You know, to test the waters."
He looks at me as if I've just done a sommersault. I've had my share of shy coltfriends though. Truth be told, most of the time they turned out bad but some of them were on the brink of being complete gold.
I might be satisfied with bronze this time though. The first reaction is usually the important one to see if they have the strength to try.
The shocked ex-pony looks around, then at the ceiling, twitches his ears and then slowly, as if considering everything involved, says:
"What was the looking around?" I want to pick on him a little.
"Well, usually around this time I wake up or something horrible happens. I was sort of worried I'd wake up back in the arena."
The complete silence of the coupé aside from muffled *thud* *thud* of train doesn't allow the thought of everything not going to be okay.
"Looking for anything in particular?" I grin.
"Meteor strike comes to mind," he says in total seriousness.
"Come on. Could it be that all the bad stuff's over already?" I poke him with my hoof.
His look this time relays that he thinks I might be insane.
"I'm not really sure."
This is gonna be hard.
"Hey, the hottest piece of flank in Canterlot is with you. What can possibly go wrong?"
The train shakes as a blow comes from above.
"Here's your meteor," I stick out my tongue at Blaze...
...who is standing next to the coupé door with Betty ready to strike on the other side. He moved insanely fast.
"Nightmares?" comes from the Element.
"Yea, they've been following me somehow," agrees Blaze.
I really should know when to shut up.