Chapter 43: Shutting Up
Tempest remained at his seat, on the verge of a mental breakdown and staring at Rainbow Dash. He had rehearsed it all in his head. He would stand up and slam his hoof on the table and tell her what he really felt. He could even see the words form for him.
“What did I do to you?” would be his first question, followed by, “What did I do to deserve this silent treatment?!? You didn’t seem to have much of a problem with me BEFORE you found out that I was your son! Ever since you went and blew our secret out of the water, you’ve avoided me like the plague!!!”
With each passing second the speech ate its way through him, burning him from the inside. He wanted to just shout it out now and get it over with. Just one quick moment of weakness, of release, and his pain would finally be alleviated. Even if it would be for a short while, it would be worth it. Just seeing the look on Rainbow Dash’s shocked face would make it better. He could care less what the others thought of him. They all knew he had hotheaded tendencies, so who cared if he had one more.
But something changed. Beside him, Tempest could overhear Andromeda talking to Twilight; the same Twilight who had seemingly been her sworn enemy since they arrived in the past. She wasn’t debating with her mother or discussing scientific hypotheses like he thought. Instead, she was… apologizing.
‘How?’ he thought to himself while he listened. ‘When? What changed?’
“I’d like to start over,” Andromeda continued, “if that’s okay with you.”
“Yeah,” Twilight smiled in reply. “I’d like that too.”
It was no secret to Tempest that Andromeda had some kind of long-hurting bone to pick with her mother, but seeing her put it aside like this was… surreal. Not because Andromeda was incapable of putting grudges aside, far from it. No, it was the fact that Andi, a pony who thought she was right most of the time, was able to forgive what might have been the most wrong injustice she had ever known, whatever it was. Whether it was her own initiative or her pre-death’s unfinished business, he couldn’t tell, but it didn’t matter. Both possibilities intrigued him.
“Are you okay?” Twilight asked, concerned for her daughter.
Andromeda glanced quickly at Tempest, who was eating and no longer staring at Rainbow Dash. He pretended to be preoccupied, but he could hear every word they were saying.
“It’s Tempest,” Andi whispered. “He and Rainbow Dash aren’t speaking to each other. I don’t think they’ve even seen each other since she found out who he really was.”
Tempest could feel his heart tighten. She had just reminded him of Rainbow Dash again and hearing somepony else discuss it behind his back infuriated him. His teeth clenched once more. He could still do it. He could still stand up and shatter his mother’s shields. She deserved it! He NEEDED it!
‘I’m doing it!’ he thought to himself while he slammed his hooves on the table.
The force shook all nearby plates and spilled his and Andromeda’s glasses, but nopony at the table seemed to focus on it, as every pair of eyes pointed directly at Tempest. The pegasus stallion pushed his chair back and stood up, leaning forward on the table. His magenta eyes burned bright red.
But the words could not escape his mouth. The room stared at him. He stared at his victim, but when his gaze matched hers…
‘I can’t,’ was all that his mind could repeat.
Tempest shoved his chair back and stormed out of the room. A few seconds later, a loud slam of the front door could be heard. He had left the building.
“The hay was that about?” Applejack demanded.
“I’m not sure. Probably something somepony did to him,” Andromeda said aloud, clearly directing her words and gaze at Rainbow Dash, who sunk in her chair.
“Should we just… let him go?” Cherry asked nervously. “Maybe someone should see if he’s alright or something.”
She glanced at her brother, who stared back at her and stuffed more food in his face.
“Dun look’t me!” Berry coughed through the dinner in his mouth. “Ah’m done play’n therapist!”
“But he’s our friend!”
“Look,” Berry said irritably. “I just want to sit down and have a nice meal for once! I’d like to spend a few minutes of my time that DOESN’T involve me getting in somepony else’s business and getting beaten within an inch of my life, verbally torn apart, and/or generally hurt in every possible way, mentally and physically. Is that too much to ask for?”
“No,” Cherry squinted angrily at her brother. “It’s not.”
“Thank you. And I’m going to ignore that glare, too,” Berry said, scooping another serving of mashed potatoes onto his plate. “Celestia knows the last pony I need getting on my case is you.”
With a new awkward silence hanging over the table, a sweating Rainbow Dash glanced up at the clock and feigned shock.
“Oh gosh, would you look at the time! I totally forgot that I have to get up… really really early tomorrow.”
“But it’s barely passed sunset,” Applejack said, tilting her head, “and ya just got here.”
“And now I have to leave! Silly me!” Rainbow Dash laughed nervously. “Time flies when you’re having fun, am I right? I’m really sorry, but I gotta run! Bye!”
“Wait!” Andromeda said, standing up. “Let me walk you out.”
RD froze in her tracks, turning her head in as calm a manner as she could muster.
“Ummm, it’s okay. I’m fine.”
“Oh no no no, I insist!” Andromeda said with a sly demeanor. “I haven’t even had a moment to talk to you! At the very least give me a short moment while you leave.”
The rainbow-colored pegasus had no intention of talking to any of these future kids right now; especially the magical young unicorn who kicked her friends’ collective flanks. At the same time, Andromeda’s offer did not appear to be her choice to begin with, and with a sigh she nodded.
“Fine. Let’s go. But I can’t stay and chat. I’ve gotta go!”
“Of course. You’re a busy mare after all.”
As the two of them walked towards the front door together, Cherry began to fidget in her chair.
“First Tempest storms off and now Rainbow Dash is leaving? That’s not a coincidence.”
“It’s not our business either,” Berry reminded her.
“Well, it should be,” she scoffed at him. “In times like this, Tempest needs a friend now more than ever.”
“Tempest is a big boy, sis. He can figure his own problems by himself. I think it’s best we let him blow off steam.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“You want me to hit you?!??” Bismarck exclaimed, sitting up from the tree he was leaning against. “Have you completely lost it or am ah bein’ pranked?”
“Come on, Biz,” Tempest sighed. “You got to blow off steam with your little moonlight walk, so let me do it in my own way.”
“There is zero way you can compare those things!!!” Bismarck laughed incredulously. “That’s like comparing apples with… getting punched in the face!”
“Will you just do it already? Quit wussing out on me and just hit me!”
“No, no, just give me a second here. Ah still need to register all this. Now… you want me to hit you… in the face… because you wanna blow off steam? Did ah hear that right?”
“Yes,” Tempest groaned. “As if I didn’t already explain this.”
“And there will be no consequences on mah end,” Bismarck continued. “No punch-backs, hurt feelings, or general blood rages from you. You, red-in-the-face-Rainbow-Dash’s son.”
“No payback! Now are you going to do it or not?”
A quiet fell upon them while they stared at each other until Bismarck threw his head back in booming laughter. The echoes of his jovial voice seemed to shake the very tree leaves around them.
“Aww man,” he chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye. “Ah can’t even tell you how many times ah’ve wished you’d asked me that in the past. Luna have mercy, ah needed this.”
“So you’ll do it?”
“Heck nah,” Bismarck answered. “Ah’d never hit anypony without a good reason. Besides, ah don’t start fights.”
“Fair enough,” he replied, slugging his friend in the face with all his might.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Andromeda slammed the door behind her and Rainbow Dash. The colorful pegasus could feel a lump in her throat.
“So,” RD said. “What exactly are you planning on doing?”
“If you’ll cooperate,” Andi answered plainly, “I’d like to just talk.”
Rainbow Dash glared at her.
“And if I don’t?”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Tempest grinned and staggered to his feet. He could feel a hot liquid form inside his mouth. He recognized that metallic taste. Spitting the blood to the side, he wiped his lips with a smug look of victory. He got what he wanted.
“You pack a mean wallop, Biz, I’ll give you that much, ” he said. “Seriously, getting punched by you is like getting hit by a….”
His mind went fuzzy. The words weren’t coming to him.
“H-hold up,” he stammered. “I think you broke my brain.”
“Ya had it comin’, Tempest. You know better than to swing at me.”
The blue pegasus spit red again.
“I know. That’s why I did it.”
Bismarck paced back and forth a bit.
“Why’d you really do it?” he asked.
“Don’t make me hit you again, Bismarck. I’m done with avoiding the fact that we’re dying. I’d rather you beat me to death right here and now than just wait for it. If I’m going out, I want to go out swinging!”
Bismarck said nothing. Tempest noticed.
“You agree with me… don’t you? You’re tired of all this too. You’re finished with it all and you’ve been trying to keep it in for too long.”
“Yer wrong,” Bismarck answered. “Ah’m fine.”
Tempest laughed. Drawing closer, he opened his wings to express a gesture of invitation.
“Sure you are! Look at you! You’re as helpless as I am, if not even more so! It’s not just your life that’s on the line, but your secret bride’s too!”
Bismarck’s eyes contracted. Tempest had officially crossed a line.
“Shut up, Tempest! Ah’m sick of hearin’ your garbage!”
Tempest grinned. He had found the soft spot.
“And I guess you’ll never know if your baby is a filly or colt.”
“Shut the hay up!!!”
“Such a shame, too. I heard Radiance was already making a list of names…”
“AH SAID ENOUGH!!!”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“Enough with your passive-aggressive comments! What do you want with me?!?” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
“Leave you alone?” Andromeda laughed. “You’ve been avoiding us for days! Tempest has probably gone looking for you! Why don’t you care that he wants to be with you? Huh? Why?!?”
“I don’t know!!!” Rainbow shouted back. “Alright? I don’t know why I’ve been avoiding him! I just don’t know! Are you happy?”
Andromeda’s anger quelled and was replaced with a sense of pity.
“No,” she said softly. “I’m not happy. And neither is Tempest. Whatever you’re doing, whatever is going through your mind… is hurting him.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
With a powerful yell, Bismarck tackled his friend to the ground and began to beat him. Tempest began to laugh manically while the two grappled for a minute, shoving, hitting, and biting. Tempest covered his face as best as he could, but Bismarck was stronger. Shoving Tempest’s front hooves to the side, he used his other hoof to lift his head in close before delivering a vicious headbutt. Tempest’s neck slammed back onto the grass, motionless after the initial bounce. A furious Bismarck stood over his friend, nostrils flared and breathing heavily. Pulling himself away, Bismarck stood up straight and stared at him.
“If you ever…” he growled between breaths, “talk about Radiance… or mah kid like that again… “
He picked his hat back up and placed it on his head.
“Ah’ll put you out of your misery, once and fer all.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“He’s miserable, Rainbow Dash. My friends and I have all gotten to spend at least a little bit of time with our moms. Even Tempest did before you found out he was your son. So what changed? Why did you drop off the map as soon as our secret got blown?”
RD began to pace.
“I… I can’t tell you. It’s personal.”
“No, it’s not personal! Not anymore. You’ve got your son caught in all of this.”
“Can you stop calling him my son? I don’t like thinking about it.”
“Why?” Andromeda smirked. “What, are you ashamed that he’s your son?”
“Of course not!”
“Are you just scared of being a parent? It’s okay if you are! It happens. Heck, I don’t feel remotely ready to have a foal and I’d be a bit unsure if I was in your place.”
“I’m not ready either, but that’s not why.”
Andromeda was confused. What was Rainbow Dash’s motives for avoiding Tempest at all costs?
“So what’s your deal, then?” she inquired. “First you hang out with him and then you ignore him. Do you like him or not?”
Rainbow Dash’s face grew red while Andromeda’s eyes grew wide. The train had finally arrived at the station.
“Oh my gosh…” she trailed off, suddenly feeling dizzy.
RD could do nothing but nervously sweat.
“Oh my gooossshhhhhhhhhh! You like him! You…. LIKE him!”
“Shushhhh!” RD hissed, covering Andi’s mouth while she pulled her away from the barn. “Are you crazy??? Do you want everypony to hear you?”
Andromeda couldn’t blink. Her brain was moving too fast.
“It all makes sense! It was right in front of our noses! You two became best friends immediately! You challenged him to that race! You weren’t protecting your rep! You were FLIRTING with him!”
“I was not!” RD whispered loudly.
“Yes you were! I was there!” Andromeda laughed. “Luna above, how could I have not seen it?!?”
Rainbow Dash’s red face quickly shifted from a blush to anger. Her words began to speed up.
“It’s not like he had a sign around his neck saying ‘totally related!’ How was I supposed to know that he was my son from the future!!!”
“You weren’t!” Andromeda said, cracking up. “You had no idea! He was trying to keep his identity a secret! I’ll bet he acted all mysterious when you two hung out, didn’t he? Oh ho ho, the mares at school always liked that!”
“Shut up, Andi!” RD replied, sitting down with crossed arms. “It’s not funny.”
Andromeda giggled for a few seconds before sitting next to the blue pegasus.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That was inappropriate. I shouldn’t have laughed like that.”
“Yeah. It was.”
Andromeda felt awkward now.
“Well… if it makes you feel any better, there’s no way you could have known, so… it’s okay to admit that you thought he was pretty cool.”
“Pssshhh,” RD shrugged. “Whatever. I don’t even care. In fact, I didn’t even like him that much anyway. He didn’t even let me know he wasn’t dead! Who does that?!?”
Andromeda glanced at her as she spoke. Her expressions seemed to be genuinely upset at him, but she knew that they were just a cover.
“RD….” she said softly.
“Good riddance, I say. I mean, who cares if I found him to be one of the most interesting guys I’ve seen in, like, forever! Who cares if I finally found somepony in Ponyville who loves racing and flying as much as I do? Even if he wasn't my kid, he’s not even supposed to be born right now anyway, so hey! No big deal, right?”
Rainbow Dash’s ears dropped low as she let out a depressed sigh. Her hair fell into her eyes when she dropper her head downwards.
“It’s just… of all the guys ever that I really started to like… it just had to be him! It had to be the most unavailable guy in the whole freakin’ world! Can you believe that?”
Andromeda placed her arm around the downcast pegasus to comfort her.
“I know, Dash. I know. I’m sorry.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“There’s no need to apologize, darlin’,” Applejack told Cherry, who got up to leave. “If you want to go find yer friend, you go ahead. Apple pie will be waitin’ fer ya.”
Berry drooled at the thought of desert.
“Mmmmmmm…. Apple pie,” he mumbled happily.
“Thanks for your help, bro!” Cherry huffed.
Berry turned and grinned widely at her.
“Have fun!” he exclaimed while he cleaned off his dinner plate.
Cherry ignored her brother and made her way to the front door, but as soon as she opened it, she found a battered Bismarck standing on the other side.
“Bismarck!” she cried. “What happened to you?!?”
“What’s goin’ on!” Applejack shouted, running towards them. “What’s wrong?”
Bismarck said nothing and slowly dragged his hooves with him towards the dinner table. Berry, Radiance, Flora, and most of the rest stood up when he entered, gasping at the sight of him. Red lines crossed down his face and neck, mixed with dirt and pebbles. His chestnut hair was a filthy and tangled mess and bruises covered his face.
“Bismarck!” Radiance exclaimed, hugging him. “What happened?!? Who did this to you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Bismarck replied. “All that matters is that you’re safe.”
“Safe? Safe from what?”
Bismarck said nothing and continued to hold his wife. The whispers were growing louder than usual, but he ignored them. They weren’t a threat and Radiance was safe now. Things were going to be alright.
“Hey,” Flora said, her ears perked out. “Where’s Tempest?”