Fluff and Co. Part 8 (takes place directly after part 7)
You eventually make it home when the rain lights up, texting Alex an apology and a promise to cover the next night shift. At least you guys now had a good employee helping out so the man hadn’t been by himself, but you’d needed the time alone.
It’d been, good to get out of the shop, even though you hated Alex being right about it. Besides, there was Lola.
You’d never really wanted a fluffy, liked them, you really did- but you’d never wanted to have one. You saw the worst of them at your job, you saw the brats, the shitstorms, the tantrums- to sweeping of illnesses, deaths, and petty, stupid murders.
And now, there was Lola.
You’d set her up in the bathroom for now, with a ratty towel laid out on the floor for her to nest on with a shoebox laid out as a temporary litter pan. Your place wasn’t very big, but at least it was mostly wood floors. The plan was to get one of your made up pens like at the shop, they were good, easy to make and resize when needed. That, kibble, water bottle and stuff for the wet tail was the only things you really needed.
You were sitting on the edge of the bathtub, watching the mare devour the apples you’d sliced up for her. In the fluorescent light her condition looked even worse, green fur hanging shaggily on her belly and under legs, and you felt your stomach turn at the discoloring and mold that was growing within the fur. Wet tail was nasty, when the fluffy got wet and couldn’t dry itself it started to rot underneath. You had no doubt her skin was just as nasty, if not worse. That’s why ferals survived better outside than strays, having developed coarser and thinner fur, to dry easier and not got dragged down by their own coat.
“Tank yu, Wowa wub sweetie nummies!” you look back at her with a small smile, the mare coming over and hugging your leg. Her ears and hooves look worse in the light as well, hooves scarred from wandering the streets and ears cut into slivers. She’s got a few cuts on her muzzle as well, and you reach down and scratch her chubby cheeks. “Wub daddeh!”
Your smile twitches slightly. It was weird being called that, you’d worked to get your breeding fluffies calling you Mister. It was a weird feeling, but not necessarily a bad one, and you move your hand to pet her head. “I’m glad Lola, and tomorrow you’ll get to have the best kibble there is!” She nuzzles you, before pulling away, sitting up and pressing her hooves to your knee.
“Wah bouh sketti?” You frown and she continues, “Hab nu sketti sins wittwest mummah?” You shake your head.
“No, I don’t have sketti-”
“Wiww daddeh git sketti?” You frown at her interruption.
“No,” her face falls and you continue, “No, if you’re good I will give you a berry treat.”
“Buh-buh fwuffies num sketties, wan sketties!” You sigh, and shake your head.
“Lola, you are being a very bad fluffy-” she flinches and pulls away, hooves reaching up as she covers her face, bending over her butt in the air.
“huu-nuu, Wowa gud fwuffy, nuu gib huwties, huuu…” you sigh.
“Good fluffies don’t demand food, Lola,” she flinches again, drawing herself away from you, “Now I’m not going to hurt you,” you pause as she glances up at you.
“D-daddeh nu gib huwties?” You nod.
“No, I’m not going to hurt you, but you do not get to demand food from me, if you do it again you will get hurties!” You raise your voice for a moment, watching the mare flinch away, but you soften your expression after a moment. Your hands reach down, and she flinches as you move in and squish her cheeks, cupping her face. She leans into your touch, cooing gently.
“Tanks fow gud petties,” you let out a breath you didn’t even know you were holding, before getting up. “Wai! Wewe goin? Can Wowa com!” She bounces between your legs and you chuckle as you go to leave.
“No, not right now, I’m going to bed and so should you, we’ll have a big day tomorrow!” The fluffy pauses and tilts her head.
“Can-can fwuffy sweep wit daddeh?” You shake your head, opening the door halfway.
“No, maybe tomorrow?” You were pretty certain you wouldn’t, but it would at least allieviate some of her stress. You reach over and turn on the mirror light before turning off the main one, giving the bathroom a warmer glow to it. “Goodnight, Lola.”
“Nigh daddeh,” she replies, her voice quiet, and you let out a low breath before heading to bed.
“Morning,” you nod at Sarah as you step into the shop, the woman looking up nervously as she cleaned up for the day.
“Hey, hey, morning- I thought you weren’t coming in until later?” Your lips quirk as you tilt your head, walking to the made up pen boxes and you drag it over to the register.
“I’ll be in later to help out, I just-” you tilt your head, still in disbelief of yourself, “I got myself a fluffy, and need to get some stuff.” She looks up at you, pushing her glasses up her nose.
“Really? But, you didn’t come back last night, did you- get it from somewhere else?” You blanch a little as you stop at the register.
“No! Not, not quite I-” you let out a breath, “When I went for that walk I picked up a stray, a really nice- horribly colored- mare.” You huff, looking back at Sarah, giving you an odd look as you grab a water bottle.
“What does that mean?” she looks nervous, before swallowing and looking up at you, as if steeling herself.
“Just, I mean, the way you talk about the fluffies here as if they’re better than other fluffies and yet you pick up a stray, it’s just-just kinda weird,” she gets out, and looks sheepish, “Am…am I fired?”
You sigh, and shake your head, “No-no, it…” you let out a breath, “Here, have you met the breeding fluffies yet?” She shakes her head, and you motion for her to follow you. “Let me introduce you.”
You lead her quietly into the display room, most of the fluffies still asleep, and you duck into the back room. You turn on the dimmer switch, brightening the room up, “Morning everyone,” you call out, voice soft, and you lead Sarah to Pen 1. Nightshade was asleep inside on the big nest, with Raven relagated to a corner spot. You’d hoped that his gentle, demure personality would soften her up, that she’d start want to have foals again.
It hadn’t worked yet.
“So, these are your breeding fluffies?” she looks around, and you motion down at the pair as they start to wake up.
“Yes, Nightshade here,” said mare made a grumbling sound and flipped on her side, “She and Gala were the very first fluffies we ever had, they were owned by my great aunt.” You point to Raven, who yawned, sitting up and blurrily rubbing his eyes. “Raven is one of more recent holdbacks, he was born here.”
“Hewwo Mistas,” he blinks, wings fluttering and stretching out. He was a sweet soul, son of Juniper, his coat pastel pink with a raven black and crimson mane and tail. “Oh, hewwo, nuew fwend?” Raven tilts his head at Sarah, and she gives him a small wave.
“Uh, hi?” she looks back at you, “What’re you trying to show me?” You grin, and lean over and fluff up Nightshade’s fur, the mare groaning.
“Ih tuh eawwy fow dis…” she grumbles and Sarah barks a laugh.
“She’s a riot, I-I didn’t know fluffies can BE sarcastic,” you grin, and you nod, walking over to Pen 2.
“Yeah, Nightshade’s got an attitude, and here is Gala,” you motion towards the large earthie mare. She was round with foals, sleeping squat with her legs tucked under her on a large pillow. Her special friend was laying next to her, his chin resting on her back protectively. She had decent colors, a buttercup coat with a rose colored mane and tail. “We introduced her to Simon hoping they’d breed once, and he started courting her- and he never really stopped.” The stallion in question is awake, his eyes open and looking up at you.
“…mownin mistas, mownin neuw fwend,” his voice is soft, and you almost have to strain to hear him as he continues, “pwease be coo-wyatt, speciaw fwend stiww sweepies…” Sarah looks back at you.
“I thought Alex said that the fluffies didn’t have special friends, like that Monty fluffy?” you chuckle and go to respond, only to have Simon jump in.
“Sum fwuffies don, jus wub speciaw huggies,” he rolls his eyes and you see Sarah grin, “Buh Simon wub speciaw fwend- wub babbehs,” he nuzzles against Gala’s belly and the mare coos at him.
“Simon here was a stray,” Sarah snaps a look at you in disbelief as the buttercream colored stallion leans over his mare, listening to her speak in a hushed tone before running off to grab a blanket and dragging it over for her. “Yep, he was naturally a loving guy, but we helped smooth over the edges until he was the perfect gentleman- and not just with Gala.” You point at Juniper and Sarah’s jaw drops.
“Is that safe?! I thought alicorns couldn’t be kept with other fluffies! You should get her out of there!” You chuckle and Gala looks up at you two, now awake.
“Why nuew fwend tay Junipew? Gawa wub bestest fwen!”
“But why?” this was the good part, when Sarah was shooting back the responses, engaging with the mare and you grin. “Fluffies aren’t supposed to like alicorns, it’s part of their programming?!”
Gala’s face scrunched up like she’d licked a lemon, and you note that the red and black alicorn is awake, watching nervously. The mare had been a stray, the whipping girl of some urban herd, and it was a miracle she’d survived to adulthood. She was still small for her age and you’d heard her crying at night, remembering the horrors of living outside, with a family and herd that hated her.
“Gawa…Gawa nu cawe wat fwuffies su-su-pose,” she struggles with the word, shaking her head, “Su-pose do.” The mare shuffles a bit as Simon drapes the blanket over her, nuzzling her cheek.
“Junipew am gud fwuffy, wub babbehs, wub pwayin wit bwockies, an nu mattew Junipew hab hown an wingies,” she tries to stomp her hoof, only to huff, unable to get up with how pregnant she was and she instead puffs her cheeks out. “Nu tay fwend away!” You look to see Juniper is sniffling, her hoof reaching up to wipe her eyes, and you look to Sarah.
The woman looks flabbergasted, “I-I thought, was she raised with alicorns?” You shake your head.
“She used to be nervous, but she had an alicorn foal during one of her first litters, and we worked with her. See this, is what I was trying to show you.”
“Some of it is nature, but a lot of it is nuture- it’s not our fluffies that are amazing, it’s the training we do- it’s how we work with them,” she nods, biting her lip. “It’s not perfect, there will always be awful fluffies, but we do whatever we can to help them and make them better.”
“Can…can I meet the rest?” you smile and nod, before glancing up at the clock.
“I gotta get the rest of my stuff and get back,” her face falls slightly, “But hey, when I come in for the evening shift I can introduce you,” you escort her out before heading into the medical room flicking the light on.
“HEWP! PWEEEEASE!” your face immediately falls, and you walk over to the sink. No, no way- Alex just left her here? You pull the blanket aside, and immediately begin to cough as you took in the sight and smell.
“Oh, shit.” The formerly white foal was covered, from nose to tail in, well, shit, her coat packed with the stuff. The sink was mussed with it, hoofmarks leading across the metal and she ran over, hopping up and placing her hooves on the sink wall, jumping up.
“PWE-PWease nuh weab, nu weab fwuffy, pwease,” she shakes her head, tears tracking down her face and drawing lines through the mess across her, “Ih wah scawy, an wowd-an smeww bah- buh den fwuffy wah awone suh wong, pwe-pwease wet ouh ub metaw cowd sowwy bots, am su-su sowwweee…” she begins to sob and you sigh.
“What are you sorry for?” you ask. You intend to let her out regardless, this was too long a punishment, even for her behavior and she was probably starving. However, there was another problem to address. She was an earthie, with a brown mane and tail, and a history of bratty behavior- it didn’t make her white coat worth it.
She was not worth the money to feed her, the energy to keep her clean. She was worthless.
But you still had to ask, for your own sanity.
“Sowwy?” she tilts her head, “Sowwy fow-fow, fow bein bah?” She didn’t know, probably didn’t even remember. It was such a trivial thing to her, that she nearly killed another fluffy.
You leave. “WAIH NU-PWEASE FWUFFY SOWWY FOW BAH TINGS, AM SOWWY!!!” she screams as you put on your gloves before going back to the sink. She shakes her head and tries to jump up at you again. “P-ppwease weh ou, tummie huwties.” You reach down, and she leaps up trying to meet your hand, only for you to move and plug the drain of the sink. “Wha…wha Mistas d-doin?” You move to turn on the sink, setting the water to warm. Not make it worse.
She screams, “NU! NEE NUMMIES, WAWA BAH!!” she keeps trying to jump up, her hooves raising to get out as the sink began to slowly fill. At first it was just at her hooves, and the filly began to run around, desperately trying to find away out. “NU WAN WAWA, PWE-PWEASE HEWP!”
You watched her, and felt…numb. As she slipped, and fell sideways, shit beginning to come loose from her coat as she was soaked. “pwe-pwease,” she wasn’t screaming now, her voice breaking desperately, and she tried to get up, the water soaking her plush her and dragging her down like a weight, “Pwease, nu wan wawa, nu-nu-nu wan foweba sweepies…wan mummah!” You wondered what Connie would think if she saw this, the mare had been so terrified about her babies being taken away- so much so that you let the mare keep one so that she’d stop screaming and scaring her foals. This was her daughter.
“Wan mummaah!” her voice came out more choked as her chin dipped underwater, and she spluttered, trying to catch her breath. “Wan mummah! Mummah hewp!!”
You turn away and move to the supplies. You need the rest of your supplies for Lola- god, Lola. The thought of going home, and spending time with her- and getting a few extra hours of sleep sounded so good.
“M-mu-mummah?” she cries out as you grab the gel before grabbing a made up bag of kibble. The good stuff, that would help her heal from the wounds you knew you’d find under her coat.
“Pweab-bu, pwea-” the cry is cut out and you know she’s gone under water.
So you wait, you stand there and watch the clock. Watch the seconds tick by until you turn back around and deal with the mess.
And you don’t feel…anything.
End of Part 8