You are Sam. No last name, just Sam. You live in a nice house, in a nice suburban neighborhood, in a nice city. Life is good. Except for one thing. You’re lonely.
Luckily for you, there’s an easy solution to your problem. Your cousin works at the local fluffy shelter, and she’s repeatedly told you that she’ll give you a discount if you ever decide to adopt. You’re not sure how she’d get away with that, every time you ask she just smiles and says she “has her ways”. Best not to think about it too hard.
Anyway, you think it’s time you took her up on the offer, so you check the directions one last time, pull out of the driveway and head off. As you pass through town, you spot the occasional feral fluffy sheltering in an alley or just meandering on the sidewalk. Ferals aren’t nearly as much of a problem in your area as they are in some other places, but they do still happen. You silently wish them the best and continue on your way.
As you pull up in front of the shelter, you’re mildly surprised by how clean and well-maintained it looks. The people here must really care about their work environment. Hopefully the fluffies are in just as good shape. Stepping in the door, you are bombarded by several dozen high-pitched voices all speaking at once. You swallow down the sudden pang of uncertainty, square your shoulders, and stride towards the first employee you see.
“Excuse me,” you say brightly as they turn to you, “I heard about this place from my cousin, she works here. Her name is—“
“Sam! Over here!” Turning, you spot your relative grinning and waving from beside a row of pens. You return the smile and head over, grunting slightly as she pulls you into a brief but tight hug.
“I’m so glad you finally made it, cuz! There are so many wonderful little friends here, I’m sure we’ll find just the right one for you! Want me to introduce you to a few?” You nod.
“Sounds good, lead on.” She makes a noise like a dog toy and giddily pulls you over to the first pen.
“This is Bumble,” she informs you, gesturing to the yellow-and-black pegasus inside. Bumble appears to be fast asleep, his little wings buzzing in time to his quiet snores.
“He’s usually pretty active, but he tired himself out playing this morning,” she explains, “He loves running around pretending to be an airplane, and if you give him something to climb on he’ll scamper right up and perch like a bird.” You rub your chin thoughtfully.
“Interesting. I’ll keep him in mind. Who’s next?” She waves you over to the next pen and makes a “shhh” gesture with her finger to her lips.
“This one is Marshmallow,” she whispers as she eases the pen door open, “she’s a little shy and doesn’t really like too much noise. Marshy, this is Sam, he’s a friend of mine.” You guess “friend” is an easier concept for the fuzzball’s little brain to handle than “cousin”. The small white unicorn mare, little more than a filly, peers at you uncertainly.
“H-hewwo, mista Sam,” she nervously squeaks, clearly struggling against the urge to curl herself into a ball and hide. You smile in what you hope is a friendly manner.
“Hello, Marshmallow. How are you today?” She shivers slightly and takes a step back.
“M-mawshmawwow otay, f-fank ‘ou. Got nice bwankie, an’ huggy-toy, an’…an’…”. Ultimately, she gives up on maintaining any pretense of bravery and dives under her blanket, quivering and mumbling to herself. Your cousin looks at you apologetically.
“Sorry about that, she’s usually better with people”.
“No worries. So—“ You cut yourself off as something catches your eye. Stepping over to a pen towards the far end, you point to the occupant. “Who’s this?”
Your cousin chews her lip briefly, then sighs and opens the pen, gesturing for the fluffy to come forward. The mare, an orange earthie with a green mane and tail, slowly plods over, turning to you with a curious look as she tilts her head in interest.
“This girl is Pumpkin, one of our most recent arrivals. Poor thing was born and raised in a mill her whole life, right up until the police finally shut it down last week. She was apparently supposed to become a breeder once she was old enough, but according to our vet, she’s barren. Those creeps probably would have put her down if they hadn’t been raided just in time.” She shakes her head sadly, giving Pumpkin a gentle stroke down her back. “Somehow, she came out of it pretty okay. She’s not as sociable as most fluffies, but she’s friendly enough if approached.” You lean in to take a closer look at the small animal, peering into her eyes as she returns your gaze with equal focus and intensity. Something unspoken passes between the two of you, something you can’t describe, and you nod.
“I’ll take her.”