Heartwarming Winter
IC date: Autumn 64, 1007
OOC date: November 22, 2012
PCs: Winter-Solstice, Sodium-Fizz
NPCs: Iron Stock
GM: None

Wherever this place is, it's warm. It is also reasonable to assume it's a bedroom. The bed is a good indication. It's a big bed, certainly broad enough for two ponies, or perhaps one pony who can use the legroom. with a mattress that is soft but uneven. There's no sign of a head or a footboard, and it creaks without much movement. A few patchwork quilts serve as covering.

The room beyond is fairly broad, with rough wooden walls shorn up by recent construction. On one side, a window's thin curtains are backlit by bright afternoon light, keeping the room in a pleasantly dim glow.

That light reveals a state of an orderly mess. What furniture there is is old and battered, or kludged together from other materials- cinderblock shelves, a hand-me-down dresser missing a drawer and with mismatched knobs on the others. Several shelves are lined with books in various well-worn condition, or missing their covers entirely. Still others are lined with all manner of junk. Nothing appears to be valuable, though everything is somehow interesting. There's an old porcelain doll with its head broken off; shards of a mirror glued back together in mosaic patterns; shells and rocks and sticks in fanciful shapes.

Draped atop the dresser is a familiar-looking muppet-hide snowsuit done in hodgepodge brown and green colors, one sleeve brown with dried blood, other spots marred with the same.

Outside the window, the rhythmic rush and fade of the ocean laps against nearby docks, while in the distance the sound of sailors going about their business drifts in in muffled waves. The rush of the ocean is joined by another sound, however, from beyond the opposite wall: a steady huff and puff, mechanical and even, like that of a great beast's measured breathing.

There is nobody else in the room. The only door exits towards the huffing and puffing, and it is closed. You do not fear you may be eaten by a grue because this is far too cozy an environment for grues.

It is not, however, cozy enough to ward off fear of monsters of a different breed. To the sole occupant of the room, lying curled up and still on the bed - producing narry a hint of creakiness - it is full of painfull reminders; scattered book eaten wholesale by bloated pastel coloured monstroseties, a colt slowly being sucked under in the mud amongst the debries of a wagon, a terrified filly clutching a doll, shards of glass stuck in flesh, a mare in a large mare in a snowsuit standing against a general and her army. Next to each stands a pegasi, small of stature and grey as the darkest slate and with pale yellow eyes. And a manic leer on her face.

To the slate grey mare on the bed, the monster she's always seen and have come to fear is herself. Fear she's been running from for years and years and never looked back at, running from one big mess to the next. She'd almost managed this time too, but there'd been to many stumbles; losing her temper at Ruby-Blossom, hurling herself at Nightmare's Eyes, taking Nightmare's Will's head, the panic in the hive, Harmony Charmer's magical suggestions, being forced to face her fears and confess her attraction to… Winter-Solstice?

Sodium-Fizz blinked. It was the first time in a long while and her eyes stung from the dryness, the irritation in her eyes would most likely have brought tears but they'd long since been spent. The grey mare turned her head slightly, eliciting a creak from the bed, her eyes focusing on the blood-stained thermal suit. Last she remember - her mind ticked over slowly - they had just seen the undead foal and… She drew a blank on what had happened, but she knew she had to find something out, something very important. Something… "Winter…?" croaked Sodium-Fizz, her voice so broken and rhaspy from her crying and wailing it barely carried over the sound of the sea outside, let allone the machinery.

"Winter?" she tried again, forcing herself to speak louder despite it hurting.

There is no reply, not yet. Nobody seems to hear. Is there anybody else even in the building?

Well, yes. About thirty seconds later, the sound of a door elsewhere can be heard, along with voices. The words are muffled but the tones carry through clearly enough; one is familiar, deep but feminine, cheerfully loud; the other thinner, flatter. They wander near the door as they converse about something forgettable, something about metallurgy, but linger nearby afterwards.

"Winter…?" asked Soda once more as she reached out with a shakey leg, draging herself forward across the bed. Then leg forward, meet with the 'clop' of a hoof on wood. Kick, kick, the other leg down on the floor. Her breath almost caught in her throat as Sodium-Fizz scrabbled to get a solid footing underneath as she turned towards the door.

She was pretty certain she'd cried enough for a lifetime in the last few days, but… even so she found her eyes misting over as she staggered towards the voices. Then she noticed something in the corrner of her eye and turned. A mirror? She'd… seen it, but not noticed it before… She squeaked and almost stumbled over her hooves as scrambled backwards, away from the pale yellow eyes.

A small bench beside the bed, having been just out of view, is nearly knocked over as Sodium scrambles backward. A half-full glass of water tips precariously close to spilling and a plate with some wilted, uneaten greens rattles. At the sound, the voices outside the door stop. "Oh!" says the familiar voice.

The door swings open and, with the clatter of broad hooves on a wooden floor, Winter bustles in. Surprise! It is her bedroom. The big mare smiles cheerfully as she scampers over to help shore up the stumbling Soda and encourage her to ease back over towards the bed. "Careful, careful! Golly, you're actually up and about, that's a first!" She seems happy enough, but she looks tired, with circles under her eyes and a little more muss to her hair than normal. Of course, that's sort of how she looked before leaving the nightmare world, so maybe this is the new normal.

Sodium-Fizz seems rather suprised at Winter barging into the room - her brain still not quite sure into which holes the pieces fit just yet - and elated, a big relieved and joyous smile breaking across her muzzle at the sight of the white mare. It turns out to be a bit tricky to get her back into bed though as she wraps her hooves around Winter, hugging her with what would have been bone-crushing strenght had she not been so utterly spent and… well, had Winter not been Winter, a new bout of tears leaving fresh streaks through the fur on her face.

"I… I rememberd… that I'd f-forgoten something very, very important," she croaked, a dry tounge running across parched lips. "Winter… Are y-you okey? You're not… h-hurt are you?" By the look on her face, the question seemed almost painful to ask. "You're okey… right? Please…"

Winter-Solstice doesn't respond, at first, stubbornly trying to wrassle Soda back onto the bed. Eventually she has to content herself with sitting on the edge, and making use of that lesser-bone-crushing hug to hold Soda in a sort of awkward postion one third leaning up against the big mare, one third slumping up against her side, and one third sitting on the bed beside her. Of course, ponies aren't really BUILT to sit that way, so there might be a bit of reciprocal leaning for support.

After a few moments she perks up. "Oh! You're talking to me!" Winter's smile returns, bigger than ever! "Soda! Are you feeling better? This is the first time you've actually, like… like you've been TALKING but you weren't talking to ME like you didn't really know I was here, but now you- oh. Oh, I'm fine! I'm okay!" She leans in and mantles her head over Sodium's own, tucking the pegasus's face against her neck. "I'm not hurt. I got a few nips and scratches there in the end but that's all." She lifts her head and reaches over with a forehoof. "What about you?" She starts poking around, trying to see how the bite marks on Sodium are doing. The wing that got a chomp taken out of it has a few bandages wrapped around it, possibly binding its movement beyond more than a slight stretch.

Hearing her marefriend's voice seems to calm down the pegasus further and Sodium-Fizz finaly let the air go out of her, slumping against Winter and burrying her face against her white coat. "I… I think, maybe… Or maybe not. I feel sick… and horrible." Judging from her disjoined rambling's one might have to ask just what kind of horrible she feel, though one thing is for certain - she looks horrible; like Winter she have bags under her eyes and her mane sticks every which way. Tears, both old and new stain her cheek and there hangs an unplesant stench of pony sweat about her. And then there's scars - both from sharpened, scratching hooves and teeth. Whatever's up with the potions she guzzled after the zombie fight they seem to have done a good job closing up the wounds, even the one at the base of her wing, up to a point - they're there but hard to spot amongst the dark fur.

"I… I'm not… that important," stamered Soda, actualy seeming flustered over Winter's fuzzing over her. Though the selfdepriciating statment makes her flinch, too. "I… I'm sorry if…"

Winter-Solstice left the bandages on anyway because magic is suspicious.

But the big mare forgets that soon enough, wrapping that foreleg around Soda once more. She seems content to simply cradle the smaller pegasus against herself, quiet while she listens, though that last trailing comment spurs her to action! Winter pulls back only far enough to lean down, bump her broad nose against Soda's, and catch her lips in a quick kiss. "You're fine, you're fine," she says, voice husky. "Ohh, Soda, you've been making me worry but you're fine. Also you haven't been eating and it's really kind of hard to make you drink even a little water and I wish I knew what to do to make you stop crying out at night- I mean I tried stuffing a pillow in your mouth at one point but that didn't work at ALL- but you're fine. And you're beautiful and you're wonderful and you don't know how good it is to hear you actually talking like this again."

Winter then turns her head and yells towards the open door. "SHE'S DOING A BIT BETTER!!!" She is loud. From the other room, that thin voice from earlier chimes in. "That's nice."

Sodium-Fizz flinches and gasps, both startled and delighted, at the quick kiss before letting her head settle back against Winter. "I'm… so sorry… I made you worry. I just… I just had to relive a few bad times," as blatant a lie as ever, "and I'll be f-fine before you know it," and again. The grey mare seemed to realise as much herself, biting down on her lower lip. 'Swallow the lie, please, just swallow the lie'. The thought ran back and forth and her yaws clamped down, drawing blood from her parched lips, her limbs trembling.

Winter-Solstice is not as dumb as people suspect, and while she has a MIGHTY APPETITE and can swallow quite a bit, even that lie is a bit much. Still, she doesn't see the need to draw attention to the fact, instead just resting her head atop Soda's own once more. "It was just a trick, you know. What Evil Snowfield was saying. You're not the worst pony! She's… she's bewitching and tricky. And gone, Nightmare Moon zapped her away for good. But you shouldn't believe anything she said!" Winter shifts her hold so that her forelegs are hooked up and around Soda's shoulders. After a few moments, she sighs. "But I guess it's more complicated than that, huh?"

If Sodium-Fizz were to slump any further she'd most likely be making her way through the floor. "Yes," Soda squeaked in response. "Yes… 'cause I really am a horrible pony… I… I'm so sorry, Winter… I'm not a beautiful and wonderful pony, I try but… I keep failing! All the time, I keep failing… I always try to he-help and be nice but… it always ends with somepony getting hurt and suffering b-becaus of me… I want to be beautiful and wounderful, for you but… I'm not…"

The pegaus burried her face against Winter's chest. "Th-that's why I don't like… being me, becaus I always mess it up and make things worse…"

Winter-Solstice is quiet for several long moments, just cradling the smaller mare against herself. Eventually she does lift one hoof to smooth out some of Soda's purple frizz, tucking it back away from her face, but fussing more than making a noticable difference. As the pegasus trails off, Winter fusses for a few moments before settling her leg once more about Sodium's shoulders.

"But you try, right? You want to be better and not… and not do all those other things that you say you do that I don't really, uh, necessarily agree with you that you do. And it's not really what you, do but what you want to try and do. And even if you're horrible, and again I'm not agreeing with that because I don't think you are, by the way, if you're trying to make yourself a better person then that's all anybody can ever ask of you or anybody. That you want to be better for me, or for yourself, or for anyway."

She quiets for a few moments. "And anyway, you still make me happy. So you've at least got that going, right? You can't be that horrible pony because a horrible pony wouldn't make me happier. Probably unhappier. Like Nightmare Moon or Evil Snowfield did."

Soda sighed softly and relaxed, her ears perking at the sudden, affectionate attention given. "I guess th-…" The grey mare bit herself off and leaned back, peering up in Winter's face with a questioning look that wouldn't have been out of place in a interrogation or treason trial. The thought that she'd actualy be able to make Winter happy doesn't seem to genuinely have struck Sodium-Fizz, at all.

She keeps staring for several long moments. "I-is that true…? Do I make you ha-happier?" Soda's voice quivered as she asked the question, her expression flashing back and forth between hope and dread at the answer. "Is it… enough to try and be… better?"

Winter-Solstice draws back as well, such that she can peer down at the pegasus, eyes wide and inquisitive. And a bit red, it would seem, and a bit moist. Seems the big mare was close to tears to find her fillyfriend responsive once more. "Of course," says Winter, in the sort of bewildered tone one uses when pointing out the sky is blue or the ocean is wet. How could they ever be anything but? "I was… I wasn't really sure what to expect, at first? When we first started this. But more and more I start going 'oh hey! Soda liiiikes me!' and I just get this big ol' warm tingle all over because it makes me feel so lucky. Because you're smart and clever and, and pretty and, I don't know." Winter trails off and glances around as she runs out of her ability to express herself.

Then she starts pulling back, shifting her position to pull further back on the bed, and settle in a more sustainable prone position, legs folded up beneath her. But she's still close enough to lean over and bump Sodium's cheek wither nose. "And yeah it is enough to try. Everybody has to try and improve themselves! Nobody gets to be a hero without effort. That goes for big save the world type heroes, but also small heroes that just want to make their friends happier, too."

"Thank you…" The words were almost inaudiable, almost dissapearing following sniffle. Running one of her fetlocks across her nose, Sodium-Fizz lowered herself onto the bed next to Winter and craned her neck foward, placing a soft kiss on Winter-Solstic's cheek. "Thank you, y-you have no idea how… relieved that makes me, hearing it from… you. Beacus you, Winter, are really and truly beautiful and wounderful in a way… I don't think anypony else could ever hope to be…" A weak smile spread across Soda's muzzle, but a real one. "I have no… idea why you do, but you like me… and that makes me happier than I've been for a long, long while… You're not the lucky one… I am."

Winter-Solstice leans in up against Sodium's side, and it's a good thing her position keeps her relatively stable as it prevents Winter from simply bowling the slighter pegasus right over. "You don't know why I like you? I just told you, silly!" She nuzzles about Soda's cheek with a grin. "You gotta eat, though. You haven't eaten anything and I don't like that. You can start trying to be a better pony by being a pony that eats food. And we're back home so you don't have an excuse now. There is real food and everything. Oh! Oh, we're back home, by the way, in the harbor. That's real sunlight out there! And it's warm everywhere. Even if it's getting late into fall. It's so warm!"

Still grinning, and in a rapidly brightening mood, Winter lowers her head and bump bumps it against Soda's neck. "And tell you what, we can both be lucky. How's that?"

Sodium-Fizz giggled softly and nodded. "I guess I'll… concede to that. We're both lucky, very, very lucky…" Still smiling she raised her head ever so slightly, pressing her neck back up against Winter and giving a very content little sigh. "I… I'll do that, yes… I'd happily just eat hay for years after blue leaves… I've had dreams about waffles. Very… nau-… Well, dreams." Soda blushed and chuckled softly, at least that's most likely what it would have been, had she not decended into a coughing fit. "A-and water… Water sounds nice."

Winter-Solstice tumbles off the bed and onto her feet. "Okay!" She says. "Waffles! Well, maybe I don't have waffles now but hay and water, that's a start! That I can do! I'll be right back!" She whirls about and stomps off towards the doorway and outside.

There, there's the sound of a thump and a muffled 'hey!' and of hooves scraping across the floor, until a unicorn is pushed into the room by a headstrong Winter Solstice. The unicorn is an adult, but a little short and slight of body; her coat is a dull, dark blue, and her mane, cut such that it seems inclined to hang in her face, is of a dark, ashen grey. The only real color in her appearance is her cutie mark, which depicts a length of iron heated to red hot at one end.

"Soda!" crows Winter, popping up behind the unicorn. "This is my boss, Iron Stock. She's the best. Iron Stock, this is Sodium Fizz! She's the best!"

Iron Stock's expression is flat. She turns to eye Winter back over her shoulder, then looks bak to Sodium and nods. Her manner is cordial, if a bit standoffish. "Hello. Winter has told me quite a bit about you and the adventure you two have been on. I'd stay and chat about it, but someone pulled me away from a-"

There's a flash of orange and the WHOOSH of a fire from outside the room. Winter lifts her head and looks towards it with an 'ooooohh.' Iron Stock sighs and pushes back into the main room. "And there it goes. Excuse me."

Winter watches her go, then grins back at Sodium, then whirls away and back out to get that food, leaving Soda alone for a few minutes in the cluttered room. It sounds like the fire is put out in short order, but warmth continues to pour from the open door. As the afternoon wears on, in fact, the dusty little bedroom is getting a bit stuffy.

You say "Um, hello. A pleasure to meet you." Sodium-Fizz smiled awkwardly at Iron Stock, several pieces starting to click in place. She was at Winter's place, the dark blue mare was her boss and apperently she was working with something… flamable. Did Winter live where she worked? It seemed like it, and then she must have been around too, seeing Fizzy being a burden… By the time she shook her head to clear the gathering gloom both of the mares Were gone.

Soda rolled onto her back and sighed, running a hoof through the tangle of wild hair that seems part mane, part space-octopi. Things were… fine, she realised. Or at least they would be fine, more fine than she'd let herself belive they could ever be. It was genuinely a startling suprise but… not a bad one. It might actualy be a suprise she'd really enjoy!

With that in mind Sodium-Fizz picked herself of the bed a second time, much more steady on her hooves despite having no strenghtening food or water - supported by fortitude brought on by something quite different, and looked around the room for a solution to a problem. A problem neatly arranged on her internal list of needs right under food, trailing water by quite a bit and so far outpaced by Winter-Solstice it's not even funny. She needed a bathroom, and a shower in particular. Food and water would make her body less of a wreck, a good hour under running water would make her -look- like she was less of a wreck. And that sounded nice.

As she walked through the room she looked through it once more, forcing back a shiver at the phantom images playing in her mind. She'd seen it all before during the last few days but they've never registered, and now she found herself curious. These were bits and pieces of Winters life. Some no doubt important, some not so much… but all rather telling in it's own way. The only thing she didn't let herself study was the mirror, a shiver she couldn't fight running through her at the thought of looking herself in the eyes."

Further analysis of the room's contents reveals… more of the same. Little clutter in between the bits of big clutter. That broken doll's head is nestled down between its forelegs (because the doll is of a pony, of course. What else would it be?). A few delicate figures of guards and monsters stage a frozen battle amidst a forest of curious blue rocks. Occasionally there is the glimpse of something valuable- a few shiny gold coins and, most noticably, a golden comb whose handle is set with teeny, gleaming gemstones. That alone must be worth more than everything else on the shelves combined, at least monetarily. The books are all beaten up, clearly second-hoof goods, and tend towards stories of fantasy, adventure, mystery, romance, and other big subjects.

Beyond the door can be seen the floor of a large workshop, which the bedroom apparently adjoins. Most of the furnishings, and the door, look to be recent additions. It's likely the bedroom is a converted storeroom. The shop floor is broad and open, and an intense orange glow plays across rows of equipment and the hanging chains of pulleys and tackles. That steady huff-huff sound appears to be coming from a bellows on the far end. Iron Stock can be seen milling about nearby, silhouetted against the orange glow of the forge.

Winter would be better at sneaking if her clumsy hooves didn't announce her presence a good fifteen seconds before she rounds the corner. Balanced on her back is a tray with a fresh plate of greens and a fresher cup of water than the one on the bench beside the bed. "Oh!" says Winter, nearly bumbling into Soda. She grins. "You're up again! Here, goodies." She pauses. "Bathroom is just outside here and down on the left." She pauses again. "I helped you down there a few times over the past few days 'cause I figured, you know. You still needed it. The mirror seemed to scare you though so it's covered up with a cool poster instead."

Sodium-Fizz found the collections of stuff, all in all, genuinely intruiging. She'd never attained any more posessions, during the last ten years, than could fit snuggly in her saddlebags as she'd travel. And even then most of the space had been given over to hard to aquire alchemical ingredients and odd potions and old scriptures on alchemy that would be useful. She was pretty certain she'd seen a few of the books before, especialy the romance ones; some she'd read during her younger years trying to figure things out, some had served as a decent hidey place for more… graphic forms of literature aimed at adult mares of her particular persuasion. Of course, such literature would be rather superflous if-… No, she didn't finish that thought. Couldn't, the outcomes of her relationship with Winter would either be amazeing or heart-wrenching.

Despite Winter-Solstic's somewhat hamhoofed take on moving silently, the large mare actualy managed so sneak up on Soda, to caught up in her own thoughts - and blushing rather a bit in the process. "Oh, thank you Winter, I… what?" She blinked, her head cocking to one side. She'd… oh dear. The strength of the blush jumped up several notches and straight of the scale.

Winter-Solstice stares at Sodium with that same bright smile. Gradually it falters at the edge, though, and she turns her head slightly. "You're turning kind of pink," she says, curiously. "Is this some kind of alchemy thi- oh! Oh, I bet it's hot. Yeah, it tends to get kind of hot here in the workshop. We can step out if you want, or go over to the kitchen, it's cooler in…" She quiets. "OHHHHHHHhhhhh you're- yeah, the bathroom. Don't worry! I didn't, like, hang around and stare at you in the bathroom or anything like that." Winter rolls her eyes with a grin. As IF! "Although when I did leave you alone in there I generally had to come back in afterwards and pick you up off the floor 'cause you were, uh… sobbing…" She quiets rapidly as she realizes that is probably not a story she needs to relate. The big mare stares at Soda with a flat expression for a moment before perking back up. "I was thinking of tossing you in the shower and hosing you down a bit, you had some zombie on you, but I figured that'd be more fun when you were, you know. Back awake."

Across the shop, Iron Stock jumps and drops a pair of tongs she had been levitating, something sparking across the concrete floor.

Sodium-Fizz's brightened, that was good. It would have been rath-… It fell just as quickly and she shivered. She could imagine why… but… She shook her head in a attempt to clean it; grabing her train of though, trussing it up tossing it in a locker in the darkest corner of the back of her mind. And putting up steel walls around it. Still, it's not quite enough to wipe the striken expression from her face, just almost. Still, that could be fixed. "I… don't worry about it, I'll… be fine," said Soda, and this time it wasn't that much of a lie.

"I'll head down and… clean up. Alone." Soda blushed softly again. Thanks Winter for having to make me feel like I needed to add -that-. "Then… then I'll come right back up and eat with you… and…" And… Oh, another thought that seent her reeling. They were back in the Harbour, just as Winny had said. They could… do anything! Well, within resons and acceptable standards of society. But pretty darn much still. "I… have no idea… I think I've been deprived of choices of what we could do for so long…"

Winter-Solstice's back end dances around. "Anything we want! We can go on adventures! Well, we just got back from one. But we can go on others! Or we can go for walks on the beach! Or go window shopping! Or find evil and smite it! Or-"

Iron Stock calls up from across the shop. Her tone is drier than the sandiest of deserts. "Or you can be quiet and let the poor girl go take a bath, Winter."

Winter stops and bobs her head. "Or that!" She twirls about. "The kitchen is up front, come look for me up there when you're done!" And she scampers off.

Then she comes back and points in the direction she said the bathroom was in. "The bathroom is that way! Like I said!" THEN she leaves, again.

"I'll see you there in a while, Winter," said Soda and smiled softly before sending her off with a wave. She managed a few steps before glancing at Iron Stock, a small smile. "Thanks, she can be a bit… herself, at times. Not that I'd want it any other way…" With that said… It was time to get sqeaky clean!

Which she promptly did, and thuroughly to the point of exesively. Her enterance into the kitchen was preceded the smell of shampoo - though whose it was she had no idea - and in her wake she left wet hoofprints. And two wet stripes, the tip of her wings brushing across the ground besides her - the shower having mellowed out the last of the tension left for the moment.

Soda's noce turned upwards for a moment as she sniffed the air and smiled. Even the very basics smelled nice after a month-long diet of blue leaves. Walking across the floor she placed another soft kiss on Winter's cheek. "Thanks for putting up with me…"

Most of the accomodations are pretty straightforward, and clean. Iron Stock does not seem to be much for decoration, but she is big on keeping a clean house. And shop, seeing as the two seem to be the same. Winter was right about covering the mirror in the bathroom with a poster, though. It's advertising some sort of boat show, and it is also upside-down. Stick figures of pirates have been drawn on all of the boats.

Winter is fussing around in the kitchen, which features big, broad tables spread with large sheafs of paper on which plans for various large-scale projects are laid out… ship repairs, large castings of statues or fittings for buildings. She looks up with a smile as Soda enters, and that smile becomes a grin at the kiss. "It's okay. Besides, I didn't know where else to bring you. I don't actually know, uh, where you live, here in town." She pushes back from the tables and starts rattling around. The earlier plate of green si retrieved from the fridge and set out along with the water. "I tried making waffles but they exploded." Indeed, there are dead waffles all over the counter. "Also we're out of the stuff to make waffles so that is probably why." Indeed, the dead waffles are made of mashed strawberries and hay.

"Don't worry about it… The room I rented got blown up in the explosion that… I guess ripped ponies from here to… there," said Sodium-Fizz as she shot Winter a soft smile, droping herself into a seat and, almost instantly, dropping her head onto the plate and more or less breathing it down, each bite, few and far between, sending bits of letuce and grass flying. In further dissregard to tablemaners Soda seems to speak with her mouth full, it's hard to tell what but it sounds something to the effect of 'sweet Lady Luna's sordid secrets, this is delicious'.

Sitting back up she at least had the decency to seem embarased, a wing extending and the tip of a feather flicking letuce of her nose back on the plate. "Actualy… I have to wounder where my things went…" she said with a worried expression. Most of it was work related, but there were a few things that were geninely important to her. Her journal for one, the thing had been with her for ten long years and was brimming with writing, writing important to her. And her jacket, a old, battered mailmare's flight jacket. She'd gotten that from her parents… She grasped the glass between her hooves, throwing back the water in a fel swoop.

"I guess I'll have to find out… and find a place to stay… But, first…" Soda shot the counter a thoughtful look before glancing back at Winters, a small smile playing on her lips. "Think any of those strawberries are salvageable?"

Winter-Solstice nabs the glass and goes to start filling it back up. Yowza! This girl got herself a mighty thirst. She glances back over her shoulder. "The strawberries?" She looks over at them. They congeal, indifferent to Winter's concern. She soon retrieves a spatula and starts scraping the exploded strawberries onto a plate. "Yeah, except they are, uh, more like jam." she mumbles around the handle of the spatula. "Does that still count?" Scrape scrape scrape. "Do you wanna go lookin' for your stuff later? It's been a while… I sorta wonder if they wouldn't have cleaned the building up by now, especially if you were just renting it."

"I guess it'd be worth asking the owner if they remember what happened to my things, yes… And…" Sodium-Fizz eyed the strawberry-more-like-jam criticaly for a few moments before taking a great big bite out of it. And shuddering in delight. A moment later she'd scarfed down half of that plate as well and washed it down with the glass of water once more, a big and goofy smile on her lips. "Strawberries… Sweet Luna, that was tastier than I thought it'd be…"

Giggling softly Soda leaned over, wraping Winter in a hug, wings and all. "Thank you Winter, that was delicious." The grey mare pulled back for a moment, nuzzling the earth pony.

Winter-Solstice settles beside the table, tall enough that even seated on the floor she is in huggable range of someone on a proper chair. "Not a bad idea. I'd hope they would have kept anything important! And not just sold it. Or tossed it out." She leans into the hug and turns to return the nuzzle. "We have more strawberries. They're whole. And some other fruits. Here!" Extricating herself from the encircling limbs and wings, Winter starts rooting about in the cupboards. Look! Some apples. And look there, an orange. She bangs about in the fridge. Carrot salad! More food is piled up before Soda before Winter settles beside her once more, reaches out, and pulls the pegasus's wings back around herself. "Also, Iron Stock doesn't mind you staying here. She's nicer than she lets on. She's been in Horseshoe Harbor for years, now, so she sort of knows how it is with people needing a hand every now and then when everything gets wrecked. She does want to know if you know anything about metallurgy, though."

Sodium-Fizz nods and say "It's worth a short at least. And it's fi-…" She blinked, leaning backwards as the food just piled up on the table before her. It looks so good! Before she have a chance to stop drooling over it she finds herself pulled back into the hug. Or is it pulled back into hugging? Either way it's just fine by her.

"I guess one would get… used to that, here, yes. I kinda like it for that reson… I feel much more… avrage." Soda chuckled softly. "Still, I hope I won't get to much in her mane staying… with… you. Oh." Her head cocked to the side. Wasn't there… like… suposed to be a lot of steps between where the were and living together?

Wait, what? Oh, salvation from having to face some really thought thinking! "Nope!"

"Um… I mean, not particular. Metallurgy isn't really my thing…" Soda's eye shifted to one of the castings on the table, half-burried under a pile of letuce heads. "I do know a few tempering agents for clay though, if that'd be any help…? Some of them are rather interesting."

Winter-Solstice shrugs in an exagerated fashion. "Maybe! Maybe I'll have to tell her to talk to you about it. I don't really know much about the, er, science of it all." She reaches up and pushes back one of those wings as though it were a curtain, and drags an apple over to start munching on it. Rather than finish her bite before speaking, she just sort of tucks it one side of rher mouth and speaks around it. "Also I guess we never really chatted about how LONG you were gonna stay. I dunno if you want to, like, stay here a long time or anything. It's probably like…" She swallows. "I mean I know that's like a big step? We don't really have a -lab,- anyway, that's sort of a thing I guess you would want."

Chomp, chomp. She takes a few more bites of her apple and mulls it over.

Sodium-Fizz winced, that's what she'd tried to avoid to think about. Soda nodded slowly. "Yeah… I'd need a bit of equipment to work myself… A-and, yes, it'd be a big step… I g-guess that for now we'll just… have to deal with it like we've delt with… well, Ruby," she said, smiling awkwardly. "I… I mean, I really like you Winter. B-but I don't really trust myself not to screw it up if… if it goes to fast."

The pegasus fell silent, almost seeming ashamed. Then, she cocked her head to the side, tucking the feeling away somewhere. "I… I don't think I want a laboratory… I want a brewery. I… I'll make soda. Th-that way I can't… just make everythin go ploin-shaped. It's safe, I can't make something that blows up in my face. No potions… Well, maybe exept a few healing ones, they usualy don't cause problems." Silence. "And mayb-… No, no. Just healing ones. And soda."

Winter-Solstice listens quietly, munching on her apple, staring at the table and subtly leaning towards Soda. She likely doesn't even realize she's doing it. Warm fuzzy pegasus, leeaaannnn. She blinks a few times. "A soda fountain! Oh! OH! That's a GREAT idea, Fizzykins!" she blurts, brightening up! "Oh man and you can have the tile floor and wear the little hat and everything! Oh! Oh! Can I hang out there if you make it? I will be a Regular. And I'll walk in and be like 'Yo, Fizz! Gimme the regular.' And you'll know what that is." She wiggles about in her seat, then slows… "… what's a ploin?"

Sodium-Fizz smiled, Winny could get exited over just about everything and she rather loved that. Leaning forward ever so slightly she bumped muzzles with the larger mare, ears perked as she listened and giggeling as she did. "Sure you can Winter, I'd be really silly if I didn't let you now, would I? And…" Soda blinked, her brow scrunched up in thought, "…I have no idea. It's an expression I picked up in Fillydelphia, from this wild-maned scientist type who put stop to my… um… wild, crazed mutant parasprites."

Winter-Solstice bumps back, stifling a little grin as she does, and interferes with further discussion with a slight nuzzle. She slows a bit, though, at the mention of parasprites, and looks distracted, gazing past Soda and towards the opposite end of the kitchen. Here the windows are not covered up, revealing the view of the Harbor's waterfront outside. The foundry is down near the docks, down towards one end, though still within sight of all the major landmarks… and eyesores, in the case of the Rusty Bucket, and Queen Pegasus's perpetually docked ship, the Vanity.

Winter leans back a bit. "You, uh, you talked a lot about all your adventures when you were off having nightmares. Well, 'talked' may be… may be sort of… sort of generous…" She shuffles a hoof, glancing down. "But, um… that's what it was all about, right? Being reminded of that stuff?" She shakes her head briskly. "I don't want you to go ahead and tell me everything that's happened if you don't want, i don't want to make you relive anything. But I also, I'm not… I'm not sure how to help you fight all those bad memories? So… so if you can think of anything, just tell me, okay? Because I want to help if you have more, uh, more nightmares. But I'm not really very good at helping to fight things that can't be kicked in the nose. So I may need help helping YOU."

Sodium-Fizz flinched at the idea of dredging up everything, again. Though Soda did nod slowly, pressing her head against Winter's neck. "Yes, I'll do that when I feel I can… Right now it's just… the stupid zombie ripped all the old wounds open…" She sighed before smiling, a bit sadly. "Heh… Actualy made me realise, I've been banged up pretty badly in the past… Never gotten a single scar though, not that anypony else can see. I've just hidden them all away behind alchemical solutions and creations… Guess… Guess this is a way to be better, too." Fizzy leaned back, looking down at her forelegs. "It'll be much… much harder to lie to myself, tell myself everything's just fine, won't it? I… guess that's good, right?"

The alchemist fell silent for a few moments before sighing. "As for Fillydelphia… it… was bad, yet could have been worse. I think… six, seven years ago? There were this big swarm of… parasprites, just all over the place one morning. And they just ate everything. And there was screeming and hollering and anger and fear… The usual. And as usual I had to… well, get my hooves involved…" she sighed, her ears flattening against her head.

"So I whiped out my kit and got to work, a potion to stop them from eating everything. Just… one problem. They'd already eaten some of the stuff I needed… so… I i-improvised. It didn't turn out well… They got bigger, and meaner… And I t-tried again. And again…" Soda bit her lip, whimpering softly. "In the end… there were parts of the swarm that… well, they ate at the city itself, a-and some were even eyeing ponies kinda… hugrily. There was this proffesor, him and this mailmare and a royal guard… they came up, finding me in my laboratory… There was a fight, I c-couldn't let them stop me from fixing it… you know? In the end they clobberd me over the head and… when I came to, it'd all blown past."

Winter-Solstice's ears slick back a bit at the mention of old wounds and scars. She knew it was probably a mistake to bring this up again, but she was worried more about it coming up again when she wasn't prepared. So she listens, and patiently, leaning over to bump and nose about the top of Soda's head while she speaks. "That's kind of a cool adventure? Well, not… well, things went bad, but… but you were trying to help." She smiles and turns her head to rest her cheek on top of Soda's head, and *puffs* an interering lock of curly purple mane out of the way. "That's good."

After a few moments she shrugs and lifts her head. "Anyway you don't need to dredge that stuff up. Just wanted you to know that I am totally on your side here, even if I'm not sure how to help you fight all your inner demons. Unless you know how to mix up a shrinky-dink potion, and make me small enough I can climb up your nose and get inside your head, in which case I will TOTALLY fight your inner demons!"

Sodium-Fizz smiled weakly. "I… guess, at least for somepony else… I was the villain. Only the fact that I actualy suffer from science-related memetic disorder prevented me from being thrown into jail… Got to spend more time with a therapist, though. And… thanks for offering, but I'm not sure my brain would handle having my awsome fillyfriend digging around in it. No offense." Soda giggled softly, running a fetlock across her eyes.

"And… mind-altering alchemy is just one thing I'll never touch… Never ever. That's just… wrong."

Winter-Solstice wiggles against the floor, a goofy grin crossing her muzzle. "Awesome fillyfriend," she says, faking a bad Trottingham accent. "I get to be Soda's awesome fillyfriend." Turning her head, she bumps her nose against Sodium's cheek. "I guess I just gotta find some other way to get into your head, then. Like… like the good way, that is. Like the make-you-think-about-me way." She considers, then her expression drops. "Actually I'm not sure how I'd do that. Oh! I know. I'll get you one of those little lockets with a picture inside and put my picture in there and then tell you to take a look at it every now and then."

Sodium-Fizz giggles softly and leans against Winter. Which most likely is a good thing as the larger mare keeps talking and Soda goes redder and redder. For being so… seemingly out of touch with romance, why did Winter have to be so darned good at it? "I think I'd like that, Winter… I'd like that a lot. I'll get you one too, and I can come in and make you happy. Right?"

Winter-Solstice grins her typical goofy grin. "I dunno. You're already sort of in there already." She shifts, and holds up her left forehoof. Obscured by the shaggy feathering about her fetlock is a band of braided copper wire. "Magpie gave this to me. Maybe if you give me something I can put this on there. I'll get something from Ruby and Kludge and Jellybean, too, and put all of them on there, and then I can be like, FRIENDSHIP PUNCH-" She lashes out with her forehoof and sends the carrot salad sailing across the kitchen to smash against the counter over yonder. Winter pauses, sitting up a bit, peering over the plan-covered table, then frowns and shrugs. "Well, you get the idea."

Turning her head, she bellows out the door. "BOSS, I BROKE ANOTHER PLATE!" Iron Stock's dry voice echoes back from some distant corner of the shop. "That's nice."

Sodium-Fizz smiled softly at Winter. At least till she yelled, then she took the most sensible procotion of ducking underneatht the table to avoid any risk of flying vegetables.

A moment later her head popped up on the other side, looking at the ex-carrot salad before looking back at Winter. "I get the idea, yes… And, does this happen often?"

"Of course," says Winter, blinking. "Well, at least when Boss doesn't bust out the steel plates instead. I guess she got all -complacent- 'cause I was gone for like six weeks." She turns and yells back at the door. "BOSS, YOUR DINNERWARE IS WEAK."

Iron Stock's voice echoes back from the shop. "Oh, well." She has the idle tone of someone who is sort of used to dismissing Winter's chatter.

Winter smiles back at Soda. "Anyway if we ever actually shack up in a place of our own the furnishings will have to be sturdy, just gotta warn you. Metal is best. Some sturdy hardwood is nice." She considers. "Probably gotta look into some serious chairs." She taps a chin against her hoof and gazes ceilingward, frowns thoughtfully, then nods. "Definitely need a sturdy bed."

For being seemingly unavare of embarasing word choices, Winter is extremely good at hitting them. Maybe becaus Sodium-Fizz's are all big, button-shaped and red. Just like Soda's face, again, as one Winter once more talks about it going further than Soda would let herself imagine. And one sentance in particular. "C-cloudbed!" she sqeaks. "I… I think it would be nice to have a cloudbed, for a bit… Works wounders for… um… the back, yes! B-but… Yes, good furnature is important, very important. As is having a place to put them in… I… I wounder if I could ask Kludge for help. He's already building something for Ruby, isn't he…?"

Soda let out a sigh of relief, one more wrangling the conversation out of a place she's not quite ready to go yet. Or at least thinking she have.

Winter-Solstice smiles cheerfully, looking down from the ceiling at Soda. Is that a sinister, knowing glint in her eyes? Has Sodium unwittingly found herself in the company of a diabolical mastermind who knows exactly what buttons she's pushing and when to push them? No, probably not. Winter just never reached that part of growing up where you start getting all self-conscious about things like social niceties. "Kludge is prolly gonna be busy. He's gonna be making that little apartment for Magpie. I think he's gonna have lots to build. Maybe he knows a guy, though? We should tell him to assemble a crew. There's certainly a lot of market for people to help rebuild things in this town, that's for sure." She sits up and starts collecting a few of the dishes on the table and returning them to the counter near the sink. "Boss is convinced metal housing is gonna be the wave of the future. She's trying to develop iron with the heat resistance of wood, so it doesn't turn into a terrible oven in the sun, but it's not really going anywhere. Says it's the only way this town is ever gonna maintain a consistent skyline for more than six months. I think eventually she wants to have them all die-cast."

"I guess," said Soda and nodded in agreement. "Magie and Ruby will work him to the bone no doubt. As for metal houses that sounds like a really s-… um…" Sodium-Fizz fell silent, rubbing her muzzle for a few moments. "You know what, around this place that's most likely not -that- bad a idea. Personaly I was going to suggest using specialy tempered ceramics in the walls of my place… and maybe a cloud laboratory. All reinforced… Huh, maybe I could help out, even if it's not directly with the metalurgy part, adding alchemical components to paint and the likes could help aleviate heat issues. Oh! I bet if we layered it with impact-absorbant ceramics we could build a really thin wall that'll have no problem withstanding a dragon! That could be f-… Oh, wait…"

Soda groaned and facehooved. "Ugh… No, no alchemy, just healing potions… Trying to build a indestructable house is a surefire way to make something… me… happen." Pushing herself to her hooves she spread her wings, at least the one that's not tied down, and nosed a few plates onto her wing and her back, ferrying them over to the sink.

Winter-Solstice transfers the worst ones into the sink and hoses them down a bit. But the nice thing about food that consists mostly of leafy greens? It isn't hard to wash the dishes. It's GREAT. Winter smiles cheerfully at Soda as she turns and retrieves a broom to start sweeping up the smashed plate with, and mumbles around her grip on the handle. "A cloud lab iff prolly gnot a bagd idgea. That way I cang't go there myfelf and meth up all your thtuff, which to be perfegdly honetht I am prolly gonnga do." Sweep sweep. She lets go of the broom for a moment and gives Soda a level sort of look. "Also, alchemy is kinda who you are, Fizz. You can't just -not- do it forever. That's not how it works at all! I bet it will drive you crazier than anything."

Sodium-Fizz smiled half-heartedly at Winter, though nodded. "I know, Winny… but… right now, I don't trust myself to tinker with it. Being upset over… Ruby's stupid trickery… is enough to make me irational enough to drag you along into a military base -and- steal a general's head, after all…" The pegasus folded her wing once more and shifted uncomfortably. "I'm just… not to happy feeling like myself right now… Maybe I should talk with Ruby, too… take her up on her offer on doing… something, with this." Fizzy raised a hoof, buffing one of the curly bangs of dusky purple hair.

Winter-Solstice sweeps a bit more, assembling carrot salad and glass shards in a soggy little sharp pile before she leans the broom up against the counter. She approaches Fizz and smiles, reaching up to paw at that dusky mane with a hoof. "Whatcha thinking about doing with it? Gonna get it all dyed up and everything? Or just change the style? I think it would look pretty in a braid. I think it'd sort of look pretty no matter what you did, though. You could do a rad mohawk like a zebra? Oh! Oh, pigtails!" She dances about in place, broad hooves going clunkaclunk against the worn bricks of the kitchen floor.

Sodium-Fizz chuckled nervously. "I… no, I don't think I'll dye it. I rather like purple… But a new style, yes… But no mohawk. And no pigtails. A braid maybe… or… We'll I'm not good at that, that's why I'll be asking Ruby I guess." The smile on her muzzle, though, grew wider as she eyed the bouncing Winter.

Winter-Solstice settles back. "Well, good! I rather like purple. You should keep it that way. Which you are. So that's good." She eyes the curls critically for a moment. "Orange is nice, too, though. So is green. Yellow wouldn't be bad. Or maybe grey. Or maybe pink?" She frowns. "I think the only color that wouldn't look good on you is…" Her mouth opens and shuts a few times, then she frowns. "Actually every color would look fine on you." She stares for a few moments longer, then shrugs and resumes sweeping with a whistle.

Mashing. Every. Button! Sodium-Fizz stands silent for several long moments merely shuffling embarasedly from one hoof to another, not-quite bemoaning herself over the how easily the pretty white mare's intense sinserity could send her blushing. A small smile creept on her muzzle, it's not just the pretty white mare. It was her pretty white mare!

Still smiling widely she took a step foward, kissing Winter's cheek one more. "Never stop being your uninhibited normal you, my Winter Solstice." Taking a step back she turned and… White flank. Huh, hadn't Winter done something to her? When they were talking to the general. Oh… right. Soda bit her lower lip for a moment, she couldn't do that it… Actualy, just buck it. A hoof came up and she swats Winter's rump.

*Thump.* That rump is surprisingly solid, all but repelling the swat and bouncing Fizz's hoof back. Winter looks up from her sweeping, mouth around the broom, and turns to stare at Fizz, her eyebrows arched. "Didg you juft thlap me on the flangk?" she mumbles, somewhat astonished.

Sodium-Fizz blinks, seeming a bit astonished herself. "I… I've ne-never done that before an-and… I w-wanted to try…" stamered Soda. "I… couldn't help it. It's… a really nice flank!"

Winter-Solstice stares a moment longer, then drops the broom, angles her back end at Sodium, and hikes her rump, kneeling down with her forelegs. "Do it again!" she says, suppressing a giggle as she peeks back over her shoulder.

Sodium-Fizz blinks, again! Well, she asked for it. A hoof came up swated Winter's rump once more, throwing a tad bit more force behind it this time around and blushing darkly. She could guess why Winter had swated her backside a few days ago, leaving her all embarased and flustered - though obviously emarasment is something only one of them suffers from.

*Thump!* Again, Winter's MUSCULAR FLANK all but rebuffs the effort. It's tough. That shield cutie mark of hers is well-earned. Her short-cropped tail switches back and forth a few times, and, still grinning, she lets her gaze wander as she considers the sensation very carefully. At length she pushes back upright with a shrug. "Ehh, I dunno. I don't think that's working for me." She turns and, renewing her grin, prances on all four hooves as she watches Fizzy. "But I think it's totally neat that you did it, though!"

Sodium-Fizz noded weakly, the flush on her cheeks growing brighter still and leaving the pegasus looking all faint. "I think," she stammered, "I need a lie down…"

"Okay!" chirps Winter, and she bustles forward, nosing underneath Soda and scooping the pegasus up onto her back. "I'll go with!" She is getting pretty good at this by now, although now that Sodium is actually hale and upright and lucid, she could actually probably resist if she wanted. Otherwise, though, Winter is soon bustling out of the kitchen and along the edge of the workshop floor, around which the more domestic parts of the building are arranged… and, thankfully for Sodium's sense of dignity, Winter takes a route opposite the end at which Iron Stock is working. Soon it's back into the converted storeroom that Winter claims as a bedroom, and the earth pony kicks the door shut behind her as she enters.