Moss woke slowly, he had no idea how long he’d been asleep for, all he could remember was being picked up by an old human man and then everything went to black. As his senses returned to him, Moss noticed one thing immediately that made him instantly wake up and worry about his new surroundings.
He was warm.
He looked around, for a brief moment he thought he was in a sorry-box with the amount of wood surrounding him, but it was a very large sorry –box, with a wide open top and a soft piece of a human’s removable Fluff - Clothing he seemed to remember it being called – on the bottom. And Moss’ special friend Flint sleeping peacefully beside him.
At least Moss hoped he was sleeping.
“Speciaw-fwiend… Fwint pwease wakies.”
The timid Alicorn gently shook Flint with his hoof, each second that passed made him fear that he’d lost the only piece of love he had left, that he truly didn’t deserve to be happy, that he should just lay down and…
Flint stirred, yawning deeply at the interruption of the first good sleep he’d had in a long time. Flint was mildly annoyed until his blurred vision cleared up and he saw Moss in front of him.
“MOSS! Speciaw-fwiend, yu am wakies!”
Flint jumped up and hugged Moss with all the love he could give. “Fwint fink speciaw-fwiend neba wakies, hab wongesh sweepies eba.”
“Am sowwy speciaw-fwiend, nu mean gib Fwint heawt-huwties. Moss nu knyo wai hab wongesh sweepies.”
“Nice mistah say dat Moss hab ‘twua-mah’, dat yuw finkie-pwace need wong time tu wecoh-va fwom meanie fings. OH, Fwint forgit, NICE MISTAH, NICE MISTAH, MOSS AM WAKIES!”
Having already woken up a while ago, Herman was already washed and dressed and just packing away the last of his overnight bag when he heard Flint calling. He jogged over to the drawer and smiled at the two Fluffies inside, Flint returned the smile but Moss was clearly ambivalent about seeing him.
There was a faint ‘pffth’ sound as Moss farted in fear, his stomach too empty to even shit himself.
“Hey there, you must be Moss. I’m Herman, I’m the one who brought you and your mate in with me. Now don’t worry, I’m not gonna hurt you, I just took you in to make sure you’re alright.”
“Nu… nu huwt Fwuffies?” Moss asked, peeking out from behind Flint.”
“No, I won’t hurt you or let anyone else hurt you so long as you’re under my care.”
“Nice mistah be nyu daddeh?” Moss still didn’t have a smile on his face, but Herman could see his eyes brightening just a tad.
“Well that depends on you and Flint. I have Fluffies of my own, a family back home, and I know they would be delighted to have new friends. However I know that you’ve had a hard life, the worst hurties and a lot of heart-hurties you need to heal from. If you want I can take you home, I’ll look after you, feed you, keep you both clean, but if you’re not ready to have a new home then I’ll give you some food and take you somewhere safe. It’s up to the two of you.”
Moss looked over at Flint, seeing the excited look in his partner’s face, seeing that excitement dropped when Flint saw the apprehension in Moss’ face. Flint had been lucky, his only interaction with humans had been kind, first with Daniel and Lewis at The Farm, now with Herman. Moss had never interacted with humans before, but he had heard all the terrible stories about what meanie Mister Josef had done to his family.
Plus Moss didn’t want to admit it, but he was waiting for everything to fall out from under him, his family was either missing or dead, the only brother he had left had almost killed him, the only family he had for almost a year had abused and debased him. Moss was waiting for something to take Flint away from him too.
But seeing that hopeful look in the beautiful stallion’s eyes, and Moss repressed his fears as much as he could to force a smile.
“Fwuffies gu wiv nice mistah.”
The journey back to Herman’s farm was a fairly long trip, but it was made shorter thanks to having Moss and Flint around, well mostly Flint who had never been outside of the city before, his wonder and amazement of the outside world and the endless blue skies and green fields reminded Herman of the fun he had with Hickory and Cinnamon.
Moss however… Moss was withdrawn. He smiled and laughed whenever Flint smiled and laughed, but Herman could see the mask slipping, Moss was worried, scared, likely depressed. More than once Herman had heard the Alicorn softly crying in his sleep, pleading for ‘Nu gib poopie-pwace huwties’.
Herman wasn’t about to give up on the pair, but as the hours turned into days, the more time he spent with Moss, the more he feared the young stallion had already given up on himself.
Finally though, after almost three days of driving, Herman arrived home. He would miss his nephew and mourn his death but right now his old bones were ready to fall into bed and have a decent rest.
Or maybe not.
Herman looked over as he saw Cole, Angie and Cinnamon bounding over towards him, Cinnamon a little wobbly but much stronger on her legs than before Herman had left. Behind them, Johnny and Gheorghe stepped out and slowly walked towards him
The old man chuckled and knelt down to envelop his little cow family in a hug.
“Daddeh gun fow su wong, Cowe miss yu.”
“I’m sorry Cole, I meant to be back earlier but I got distracted. Have you all been good for Johnny and Gheorghe?”
“Uh-huh.” Angue nodded with enough enthusiasm to shake her whole body. “Be bestesh Fwuffies fow daddeh fwiends, make gud poopies, awways wisten, an hewp wook afta babbeh. OH OH! Daddeh wook, Cin-a-min du dancies nyo.”
On cue, the little cow-filly dropped onto her butt and waved her two front hoofs in rhythmic fashion. At least rhythmic to a Fluffy.
“Am dancie Fwuffy daddeh, am dancie Fwuffy.” She giggled out.
“Indeed you are Cinnamon.” Johnny chuckled as he caught up to the Fluffies. “Indeed you are. She’s been showing off that trick since yesterday, she loves it.”
“As she should.” Herman said, scratching Cinnamon on the chin. “I’m impressed.”
Herman stood up to talk to his housesitters. “Any issues?”
Johnny shook his head. “All quiet on the western front. How’s yourself?”
“Been better, been worse. Still not sure it’s hit me quiet yet.”
“It will, just give it time.”
Gheorghe looked over at Herman’s car. “Fluffies in there?”
“They are, hey everyone, I picked up some new friends for the farm.”
Cole, Angie and Cinnamon all stopped and looked over at the car.
“Daddeh hab udda Fwuffies?”
“Wan pway wiv nyu fwiends.”
Herman picked up the box that he had placed Moss and Flint in and lifted it out of the car. “Now before I introduce you all, these new Fluffies have… well they’ve been through a lot of pain and have a lot of heart-hurties. They might not want to play right now, but just give them some space and everything should be ok.”
The cow family were all heart-broken. Angie sniffed back tears. “Oh nu, nu wan nyu fwiends hab heawt-huwties. An-gee gib huggies.”
“Actually Angie, I think huggies should be put to the side, at least for the moment. I’ll explain it to you later.”
Confused, Angie sat back down beside her mate and daughter as Herman reached into the box and pulled out Moss and Flint. Almost immediately both groups gasped at each other.
“Wook speciaw-fwiend, am wingie-pointy Fwuffy.” Cole said, pointing at Moss.
“Wook speciaw-fwiend, am miwkie-Fwuffies.” Flint said pointing at Angie and Cinnamon.
Herman placed the two young stallions on the ground in front of him, but still maintaining a comfortable distance from Cole and Angie.
“Everyone, this is Moss and Flint, guys, this is Cole, Angie and Cinnamon. Now Flint, I’m guessing you’ve seen Cow-Fluffies before.”
Flint nodded. “See dem at Fawm, onwy twu miwkie-Fwuffies bu dey hab wots of miwkies, hewp wook afta babbehs wen finkie-pwace sickies awound.”
“Well that’s good, you at least know they’re normal Fluffies, just a little different, like how Moss is still a normal Fluffy despite having wings and a horn.”
Cole smiled brightly at the two newcomers and stepped forward. “Hewwo, am Cowe, dis am…”
Almost instantly Moss hid away behind Flint, cowering at the sight of the larger stallion. Flint softly soothed Moss before turning to Cole.
“Sowwy, speciaw-fwiend nu mean be meanie, he jus hab wots of heawt-huwties.”
Herman saw the confused and hurt look in Cole’s eyes and he reached over to stroke the poor guy.
“Hey Cole, just give Moss some time, he got the worst hurties from another stallion so he might be a little scared. He doesn’t mean anything by it though, ok?”
“Ok.” Cole whimpered out, his deflated voice doing nothing to hide his disappointment as he turned back to Angie and Cinnamon.
Herman sighed, not the best start to the meetings. He picked up Moss and Flint and turned to Johnny as Gheorghe led Cole and the others inside, trying to explain to Cinnamon why she couldn’t play with her new friends.
“You sure about this H.A.M.?” Johnny asked, seeing the tiredness in the old man’s eyes.
“Yeah, yeah this is just a minor set-back. Everything should be ok once Moss and Flint are settled in.”
“Well if you need any help, you be sure to call us and let us know, ok?”
“Ok, thanks again Johnny, you and Gheorghe have been lifesavers.”
Herman gave a quick goodbye to Johnny and Gheorghe before taking his new Fluffies inside. Gheorghe turned to his partner.
“You think Herm be alright?”
Johnny shook his head. “Nah, I think he’s going to be in way over his head. I’ll give Eren a call.”
The next few days were mixed for Herman.
Cole and Angie quickly understood that Moss had a lot more heart-hurties than they first realised, they never got the full story but they could piece together enough from what Flint and Herman told them. The two of them maintained a soft, friendly expression whilst maintaining a good distance, which for naturally caring Fluffies was a hard thing to do, especially for Cole who, even by Fluffy standards, was a hugger.
Cinnamon was a little more difficult, being just a week old she was still too young to fully comprehend just how fucking awful Moss’ life had been, all her little mind saw was a new friend who didn’t want to play with her. Flint she liked, Flint would occasionally play with her, but Moss very rarely left his bed unless Flint did with the small exceptions for eating and pooping.
Flint was fracturing, and it hurt Herman to see. Out of the pair he had adapted to his new surroundings the quickest, happy to play with Cinnamon, happy to chat with Cole and Angie, happy to even just sit and watch the funny cartoons on Herman’s TV after dinner. For a former feral, he adopted the domesticated life surprisingly quickly. But his first priority was Moss, and Moss was lost in his own head, on some days Flint would be content to just sit beside his mate and spend the day doing nothing together and that would be enough for both of them, other days Flint would force himself away from his new friends to comfort Moss, only for Moss to remain sullen and depressed, making both of them feel worse.
Eventually Herman pulled Flint aside under the guise of washing him to check on the emotionally exhausted stallion.
“Hey, you ok? You seem to be overwhelmed looking after Moss.”
“Moss hab wowstesh heawt-huwties, Fwint pwomise awways be dewe fow him, nu matta wha.”
“I get that, but… Flint you can’t just focus on Moss and his healing, you gotta put yourself first. It’s not mean to look after yourself, if you keep focussing on Moss then you’ll end up hurting yourself AND him.”
“Bu… Moss need Fwint, if Moss nu hab Fwint, den Moss hab nuffin. Fwint need be dewe fow Moss.”
Herman felt a little uneasy, emotional blackmail was a tough subject to breach, especially since Herman knew Moss wasn’t doing it on purpose. But he had to do something, for the sake of both stallions.
“I’ll talk to Moss, you just relax for a little while, play with Cinnamon for a while.”
“That’s an order Flint, while I talk to Moss you stay with Cinnamon. Don’t worry about him, just for a few moment.”
Herman could see Flint was apprehensive, after so long looking after Moss it was likely all he knew. But with Herman forcing him to look away, Flint turned to a very excited Cinnamon and engaged her in a game of blockies under the supervision of her parents.
Herman sat down beside Moss, seeing the little Alicorn tear up at the sight of his special-friend playing without him.
“Huu, Moss knyo dis bwite-time come. Eben speciaw-fwiend nu wan be wiv Moss.”
“You’re wrong Moss, Flint does want to be here, I told him to play with Cinnamon so I could talk to you.”
Herman’s voice wasn’t strict but it was noticeably firmer than it had been before when talking to Moss, something Moss picked up on as he looked up at Herman.
“Wha daddeh wan tawkies bout?”
“I want to talk about you Moss. I know that you’re still hurting, I know your heart-hurties make it difficult to even get up in the morning and I know that you’re not fully ready to play with new friends. But the healing process starts in one place and that’s with you, you do want to heal don’t you Moss?”
“Moss wan nu wan heawt-huwties nu mowe.”
“Then you need to work at it, it’s gonna be shit, I won’t lie to you. But you can’t rely on Flint to do everything for you, it’s gonna hurt him eventually and he might do something that hurts you. He won’t want to, he won’t mean to, but he’ll do it because he’ll have reach his breaking point.”
Herman took a deep sigh, wondering how best to approach a Fluffy about this.
“Moss? Have you ever heard of the human word ‘Cancer’?”
Moss shook his head.
“It is a HORRIBLE sickness, one of the worst ever, my wife got cancer, she got very sick and I loved her so I did everything I could for her. I did too much for her. I forgot about myself and my own health because my wife was hurting each and every day and I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing but… I reached my breaking point, and I said things I never wanted to say in front of my wife. Hateful things, angry things, resentful things, things that even once I’d said them and she’d forgiven me, I couldn’t take back. My wife died knowing that I had a very small piece of hate in my heart and that fucking kills me every day, it doesn’t matter that she forgave me, it doesn’t matter than she told me she didn’t care, I still put myself into a position where I said the worst things I could to the woman I loved while she was fighting the worst sickness imaginable and I couldn’t unsay them. Do you understand what I’m getting at?”
“Moss am daddeh speciaw-fwiend and Fwint am daddeh. Fwint du tuu mush fow Moss, gib him heawt-angwies eben if he ny wan dem?”
“That’s right, but you and Flint have something my wife and I didn’t. You have the chance to heal, you can beat these heart-hurties and like I said it’s not going to be easy, but you can do it. But you have to do it together.”
“Bu wha if… wha if Moss nu can du it?”
“You’ll never know unless you try. Start small, just go over to the others, you don’t even have to play with them but just being there and being part of the group is a big step. It’ll help you and Flint in the long run.”
Moss pondered for a moment, there was still a big part of him that just wanted to roll over and wait for forever sleepies, and an even bigger part that was telling him he was worthless, that he didn’t deserve love or friendship, that he was a dummeh enfie brother and that’s all he ever would be.
But as much as that fear crippled him, it also drove him forward, afraid of being alone, of being discarded. With a boost of confidence from Herman’s soft strokes, Moss took a first shaky foot forward out of the bed, then a second, his front hoofs were out of the bed and Moss was suddenly now realising how wobbily his unused limbs were.
Slowly but surely, Moss hobbled his way over to the other Fluffies, Flint caught sight of him and rushed over, his fears for Moss’ safety taking priority over everything, even Cinnamon who watched with a broken heart as her new friend suddenly left her.
“Speciaw-fwiend, am yu ok?” Flint asked with more than a little fear in his voice.
“Am ok, Moss… Moss jus wan be hewe, wiv fwiends, an watch Fwint pway.”
“Am… am dat aww?”
Moss nodded. “Daddeh say Moss be meanie, nu wet speciaw-fwiend hab pway time wiv nyu fwiends. Moss nu wan be meanie, wan Fwint had fun, eben if nu awways wiv Moss.”
Flint wiped a tear from his eye, then wiped them from Moss’ eyes as well.
“Wub yu speciaw-fwiend.”
“Wub yu tuu.”
The two stallions nuzzled before Flint returned to Cinnamon, the beaming smile on the filly’s face was worth everything to Herman. It was a small step, but a significant one, maybe they would be ok afterall.
Herman had no idea how he could’ve been so naive.
Things looked on the mend, Moss still had nightmares and was still iffy on his surroundings, but he was smiling more, he was spending longer away from Flint and even started playing short games with him and Cinnamon.
It was play-time that ruined everything. Herman made the mistake of getting complacent, of thinking that just because there hadn’t been any major incidents that Moss was healed. So when the Fluffies were playing Ball together in the living room, Herman thought nothing of living them for five minutes to grab a drink from the kitchen.
Moss was the first to notice Herman had gone, he stopped running and looked towards the door.
“Whewe daddeh g…?”
A soft rubber ball smacked Moss in the side of the head, there was no physical damage but the impact shook him up pretty good. Cinnamon was horrified.
“AM SOWWY MOSS, CIN-A-MIN NU KNYO YU NY WOOK!”
“Huu, hab finkie-pwace huwties.” Moss whined as he wobbled and stumbled from the daze the ball put him in.
Flint rushed over to comfort his mate, but Cole got their first, his natural caring instinct pushing him forward to the crying stallion.
“Nu hab sad wawas fwiend, Cowe gib huggies, huggies make ebeweyfing betta.”
As soon as Cole’s arms wrapped around him, Moss SCREAMED.
“NNNNNUUUUUUUUUU!!! NU AM MAWE, NU AM MAWE, NU GIB POOPIE PWACE HUWTIES, NU WAN, NU WAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!”
Moss kicked himself free of the confused Cole, inadvertently smacking the back of his head into Cole’s face, giving the stallion a black eye. Herman heard the howl and had come running through, arriving just in time to see Moss bawling his eyes out into Flint’s chest, his little body shaking so hard he was almost a blur, and Angie and Cinnamon comforting Cole as he held a hoof to his bruised eye.
“What… what happened?” Herman asked, trying to piece together how things got so bad in less than a minute.
“Am sowwy daddeh.” Cole whimpered out. “Onwy wan gib nyu fwiend huggies, make huwties gu way.”
Muffled by Flint’s chest, Herman could make out the muttering of a traumatised stallion. “Nu wan, nu wan, nu wan, nu wan.”
Even with a tearful Flint stroking his mate’s back and softly licking the top of his head, Herman knew Moss was regressing, that Cole’s hug, as well-meaning as it was, had only reminded him of Chilli and emotionally sent him back to those sickening days under his brother’s rule.
“It’s ok Cole, you’re not to blame here, no-one is. I shouldn’t have left you all, I thought things were better, I was wrong. Let me get Moss and Flint settled down then I’ll have a look at you.”
“Ok daddeh.” Cole said with absolutely no conviction, the poor guy blaming himself for the day being ruined.
Herman made a mental note to console Cole later, but right now his focus was on getting Moss and Flint away, giving them space to try to heal again.
He needed help, and he needed it fast.
“I tired Johnny, I really did. I thought I was helping him.”
Herman sat at the table in Johnny and Gheorghe’s kitchen, in his hands a whiskey he had been nursing for close to an hour, on the floor beside him, Moss and Flint lay asleep in a cage. Herman took a sip before continuing.
“Everything I do feels like it’s the wrong choice for him, or it’s something that will backfire and hurt Cole or Angie or even Cinnamon. I don’t want to abandon him, I can’t do that to them, but I don’t know what else I can do to help them.”
Herman looked up at his friends, seeing a glance shared between the two of them.
“What’s that look for?”
Gheorghe hemmed and hawed for a second, wondering how best to explain this. “We… um… we think this happen?”
Johnny jumped in. “What Gheorghe means is, we suspected you might have been over your head, we didn’t want to say anything because we didn’t want to sound like we were discouraging you. But no offence Herman, you’re what, 84, 85?”
“I’m 78 you cheeky fuck.”
“My point is, you’re an old man with a big heart, too big for your own good. Now you’ve got a farm to look after, a little Fluffy family, a COW-Fluffy family at that, and an emotionally broken stallion? That’s too much, even for you. So me and Gheorghe called our friend Eren, the guy we told you about that looks after Fluffies with more significant issues, we told him the situation and he’s ready to take in Moss and Flint whenever they’re ready.”
Herman was shocked and partially outraged. “What? You think I should just toss them away, like they’re broken?”
“No H.A.M., I think you should let them be looked after by a professional, someone who can give Moss the attention and help he needs to properly heal.”
Herman looked down at the cage, seeing Flint wrapped up around a still shivering Moss through the bars.
“Christ Johnny, I can’t… I’d feel like a failure, like I let them down.”
“You let them down more if you no get help at all.” Gheorghe pointed out.
“He’s right H.A.M., you’ve done everything you could and more for these two, and it fucking sucks that that wasn’t enough, but you’ve given them a chance, hell without you they wouldn’t even be on Eren’s radar. Do what’s right for them, even if it’s bad for you.”
Herman let out a long, tortured breath. “You’re right, I hate it, but you’re right. I take it you two know where they’ll be going.”
Gheorghe nodded. “Been Eren’s place many time, know how get there fast.”
Herman pondered for a moment, wondering if it would be easier to leave Moss and Flint here, let Johnny and Gheorghe look after them until it was time to take them to Eren’s place. Or maybe even just leaving, not even saying goodbye and dragging this out for longer than he had to.
But no, Herman was a stupid old man with a stupidly big heart, he’d promised to help these two outcasts and he was going to help them find sanctuary no matter what.
“Ok, when do we leave?”
I probably could’ve split this chapter in two but I was getting wary of how long between chapters it had been and I didn’t want to wait another six months to get the drive to finish this story off. There are other stories I’ll be taking a look at soon and hopefully doing more middles and ends and less beginnings, but Flint and Moss have already been through too much and I wanted to give their story a push in the right direction before looking at anything else.