James carefully approached the cage that contained Lullaby and her litter. He was sure that the pills did their trick, though he didn’t want to leave anything up to chance. Gently, he scooped up all the babies into the very same basket they were born into and carried them to his work bench.
The bench itself contained a variety of tools, most of which were borrowed from his clinic upstairs. Traditionally, when performing surgeries, one would ensure that the patient is sufficiently tranquilized, though from his experience, fluffies were very susceptible to common sleeping pills, and even a small amount would make for a good anesthetic. Given that these were foals, the amount that they must’ve suckled up through the milk should’ve been more than enough.
The first pair were Alpha and Beta. He placed both of the foals gently in front of him and reached to grab his scalpel. James had performed many a surgery before, given his profession it was only natural. Skillfully, he began making an incision at the base of Beta’s horn. He’s done this many times before, a process which his clinic calls “dehorning”. Some owners have concerns about the horns of their unicorn or alicorns and, while seemingly silly, given that their horns would be hard pressed making so much as a dent on just about any regular household object, they were just long and pointy enough that a well-aimed thrust could cause significant damage to another fluffy. It was for that reason, that he began offering the service, as many owners had either heard stories or had fluffies that lived to tell the tale.
After he’d removed the horn with a pair of tweezers, he rubbed some insta-heal gel on the wound, which began to seal up almost immediately. He’d long wondered about the exact science behind the gel, given that it was affordable, readily available in just about any FluffMart and healed wounds at miraculous speeds. However, there were laws in place to forbid human experimentation. The product was only ever officially tested on fluffies, and according to Hasbio, “contained substances that would be dangerous to humans”. It’s arguable whether or not that’s merely an excuse to back the Pharma-Industries or if it’s actually true.
This is where the difficult part started. Whilst James had plenty of experience in removing horns, he’d never tried transplanting any. He made a small incision on Alpha’s forehead and carefully picked up Beta’s horn. He gently placed the horn at the point of incision and, once more, slathered some insta-heal gel on all sides. His hope was that he didn’t need to stitch the horn to the forehead, and that the skin would naturally mend together. And indeed, that’s precisely what occurred.
The dark green horn looked a bit out of place on Alpha’s forehead, so he used some fluffy-friendly paint in a spray can to tint it to the desired shade of pink. After the deed was done, he placed both the newly-horned unicorn and his now-dehorned earthie brother back into the basket, and immediately proceeded to place the next pair, Gamma and Delta, onto the table.
The process would be similar. Cut the wings off Delta, attach them to the back of Gamma. James had a bit of difficulty to properly align the wings in the correct position, but after he was done, he’d obtained a dark red alicorn with white wings. Wings that, naturally, he began spraying dark red afterwards. He wasn’t sure if the wings were actually able to flutter, though that would matter little. If only, it’d reduce the chances for Gamma to consider herself a smarty.
Satisfied with his work, he placed both of the foals back into the basket. He then picked up Epsilon. James carefully observed the small fluffy, its little chest expanding with every small breath it took. It reminded him of Coffee so much that it almost hurt. He was so innocent back then, much like this little guy. But this guy’s at least not a unicorn, James thought. So maybe he’s going to turn out differently.
He gently placed Epsilon into his right hand and picked up the basket with his left. He walked past Lullaby’s cage, slowly placed the foals back into the cage one by one, and then proceeded to walk to the opposite side of his office to enter the room where he kept Coffee. He flicked on the light switch and was greeted by the usual noises.
“… am bwite time? see-pwace huwties…”
“No, it’s not morning, it’s still night. Listen, Coffee, you’ve been behaving… amicably these past weeks and I’ve decided to give you a chance.”
“This is Epsilon. He’s your baby.” James calmly placed the little fluffball into the cage.
“coffee am daddeh?! weawwy?! mah babbeh… such a pwetty babbeh…”
Coffee was ecstatic, tears immediately began forming on his eyes. Ever since being reduced to a pillowfluff, he’d barely had any happiness in his life. When James had asked him if he wanted to be a daddy many bright times ago, he was so happy. But ever since then, his days were boring and sad, he was always on the verge of entering the “wan die” loop, a name for the behavior displayed by suicidal fluffies. Coffee had almost forgotten the special huggies he had with Lullaby, he thought it was a sleepy picture, a dream. But now it turns it out was all real!
“You’re going to take care of your baby from now on.”, Jamed said firmly.
“buh… coffee nu hab’ weggies, nu can hewp babbeh…”
“That’s easy. You can carry him around by gently biting his scruff. Try it.” James held the little, sleeping foal in front of the stallion, urging him to try. Coffee, carefully, bit the foals scruff and lifted him up and down a bit, before gently placing it down again, smiling in accomplishment.
“coffee undastan’! coffee wiww be bestes’ daddeh fow babbeh!”
James continued to explain, “I’m going to place a litterbox to your left side and a milk bottle to your right. Every morning I’m going to be cleaning the litterbox and refill the milk bottle.” The new parent listened closely to the information that was being presented to him.
“There’s two rules you have to follow. Rule number one, good poopies go in the litterbox. You know this rule already. Make sure that your baby makes good poopies in the litterbox, or I’m going to punish you.” Coffee instinctually shivered upon hearing the looming threat of punishment.
“c-coffee wiww hewp babbeh make gud poopies…”
“Rule number 2, when your baby is hungry, you have to help him feed. You lift him next to the milk bottle and encourage him to suckle from it.” He felt that it was obvious to feed the foal, but wasn’t sure if Coffee understood the implication of the milk bottle in the feeding process.
“otay daddeh, coffee make sure babbeh get wots of miwkies!”
“Good. I’m going to go to bed now. Just as a reminder, his name is Epsilon, he’s still asleep right now and he doesn’t talk yet. Make sure to care for him.” The fluffy eagerly nodded in agreement, positively delighted at his new role in life. He’s never had children before, and he still remembered the days of his own childhood, abandoned by his parents for his colors, he was passionate to ensure that his own child would grow up with the love and care he craved back then.
Coffee thought back to more moments of his childhood. If James hadn’t taken him in, he surely had starved to death. He thought back to all of his outbursts, his demands, all of which were entirely unfounded. It never dawned on him how ungrateful he was, and it wasn’t until his daddy took his leggies away that he realized all of it. He knew that he could never repay the kindness that James had shown him, and that he had betrayed his trust, potentially irreversibly so. It was one of the few reasons why he didn’t enter the “wan die” loop, he felt like he had deserved the punishment that had been given to him.
He thought back to Rosemary, the fluffy that James had rescued after him. He thought back to how mean he always was to her for being a pointy-wingy fluffy. He thought back to that one terrible incident, the biggest regret of his entire life, the thing he could never undo. The thing that made him lose his leggies. But he stopped himself from thinking too much about it, and focused his attention back to his son.
“coffee’s widdow babbeh… such a pwetty babbeh… coffee wiww make sure to gib babbeh wots of huggies and wuv… pwomise…”
He gently nuzzled the almost caramel-colored earthie with his head, excitedly wiggling his little leg nubs, wagging his tail left and right. He then closed his eyes and gently drifted to sleep.