I hope I didn’t go overboard on getting ponies knocked out in this story, but for a G-rated pony story I couldn’t have them pulling out guns or knives or whatnot. So, I had to make do with heavy blunt objects and temporary unconsciousness. (You REALLY want to read the story now, right??) Actually, it just became a running gag by the end of the story, and I took the opportunity to make a mockery of pony fight scenes and my inability to write them. Enjoy!
“Dinner tonight? Oh, for Valentine’s Day! I get it. Okay, sure! See ya, Granite!” Kyrene quickly hung up the phone and got back to work on writing her latest story which needed to get to the presses as soon as possible. Most ponies would find her reporting job stressful, but Kyrene enjoyed all the rushing she had to do on a daily basis for the Dream Valley Gazette.
The aqua unicorn had just typed the last word and was about to send the story over to the proofreader when the door to the bustling office opened, revealing the newspaper’s editor, Derrick Darius (though everyone at the office just called him Deadline), followed by a mare Kyrene hadn’t seen before.
“Everyone, if I could have your attention...” The editor glanced authoritatively around the room until all the ponies working there were silent. “I’d like to introduce you all to my new fiancee, Niobe.” The mare, a pretty pale magenta with aqua hair, stepped forward, blushing and smiling amidst the congratulations and cheers offered by the office workers. Deadline looked at her indulgently. “I went back to my hometown last night and she most generously accepted my offer of marriage.”
Oh. A Valentine’s Day engagement, Kyrene thought woodenly. How sweet. She glanced furtively over at Deadline, who was taking the congratulations in stride but was still all business in his attitude, not near as affected as his bride-to-be.
“I’m pleased to meet all of you,” Niobe announced graciously, “and I’m looking forward to getting to know my way around Derrick’s enterprise here.”
Derrick? Kyrene thought blankly. Who’s th- oh, right, Deadline. Duh.
Soon after, Deadline excused himself to his office subsequent to admonishing Niobe not to make too much of a bother of herself while she hung around the office. Kyrene sighed and got back to work. Well, the engagement didn’t matter anything to her- but then why was she feeling so let-down? She looked up again at Niobe who was conversing with another reporter. Niobe chose that instant to glance in Kyrene’s direction and realized that she was the object of that mare’s scrutiny.
“Hello,” Niobe smiled, strolling over in Kyrene’s direction. “You’re another of the reporters?”
“Um, yes,” Kyrene said, trying to keep a professionally unaffected facade. “Kyrene Cicero. Are you in the newspaper business yourself?”
“Oh, no,” Niobe giggled. “I don’t have much of a profession except for my gardening... but if I’m to be marrying Derrick, I thought I should pick up the basics at least of what he’s doing.”
“How long have you known him?” Kyrene asked curiously. She had wanted to remain cool towards this mare who had- well, Kyrene wasn’t sure exactly what Niobe had done but she wasn’t happy with it- but found herself warming-up to the soft-spoken and sincere pony.
“Derrick? Oh, since we were foals. I moved into his neighborhood when I was eight,” Niobe explained. “I was able to con him into helping me plant my garden that first year, and we’ve hung out with each other ever since.”
Kyrene couldn’t help but grin at the thought of this gentle mare conning anyone into doing anything. “Where is your home? Not far from here, I imagine?”
“Just over in Neighberry,” Niobe explained. “Easy walking distance. It was such a pleasant surprise to have Derrick visit yesterday. And, well,” she giggled, “such a nice Valentine’s present, too!” She gestured to the ring on her foreleg.
“Yes,” Kyrene said, just a bit wistfully. “Very nice, indeed.”
“Oh, but I’d better not hold you up from your work any longer,” Niobe said kindly, “or I’ll be in trouble with Derrick. He’s always so businesslike, and never has any time for fun.” She winked. “Well, I’m fond of him even for that. Maybe I’ll see you later, Kyrene?”
“Sure,” Kyrene said, “later.” But as she watched Niobe stride off, she couldn’t help fuming over the mare’s last comment- she was “fond” of Deadline? Didn’t she have any actual love for him. You’d think she’d feel more than “fond” at least after accepting a proposal from him! Deadline deserved better than that, Kyrene bristled. Did he know what he was getting himself into? It just didn’t make any sense that Niobe couldn’t be in love with such an admirable, considerate, dedicated stallion as Deadline!
Realizing the dangerous path her thoughts were taking, Kyrene threw herself into her work and tried to concentrate on her date with Granite tonight. Let Deadline make his mistakes if he wanted to; it wasn’t anything to her.
* * *
“You work with a lot of nice ponies,” Niobe said complacently at the end of the day as Deadline walked her to her friend’s house with whom she was staying during this visit to Dream Valley.
“They all do their jobs well,” Deadline acknowledged. “What do you think of the operation as a whole?”
“Oh, it’s very interesting! I never knew there was so much work involved in putting out a newspaper,” Niobe enthused. “It’s just the kind of place for you, though. You’re a good editor, with such a forceful personality. That’s one thing that always struck me about you since we were foals, how you could get any pony to obey your orders without complaint. Even me, when you said I should plant the violets on the west side of the garden and I was so adamant against it.” She laughed trillingly, hooking her foreleg through his. “We had lots of good times together, didn’t we? I was so glad to have found such a good friend.”
Deadline lapsed into pensive silence after that. Yes, Niobe was a good friend. They’d always been together since that summer she had moved into his neighborhood, and he got the impression everyone in the family just assumed they’d make a match of it eventually. Lately his mother had been dropping more hints in that direction, so Deadline had finally given in to her encouragements. No romantic nonsense entered his head. Obviously Niobe was a nice enough mare to spend the rest of his life with; and if it was expected of him to settle down, why not with Niobe? It was infinitely practical.
“Derrick? Earth to Derrick!” Niobe giggled, waving a hoof in front of his face. “You’re not listening to me. What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, nothing, I’m sorry. What were you saying?” He snapped abruptly out of his reverie.
“I was just confirming the time you’d pick me up for dinner... six o’ clock, was it?”
“Yes, six o’ clock,” Deadline said automatically. By this time they had reached Posey’s house, and he dropped a dutiful kiss on his fiancee’s cheek before taking his leave of her. Yes, he and Niobe would get along just fine.
* * *
“So there’s been that rash of robberies on the south side of town this past week, and we think we’re narrowing down the area of the thief’s hideout to somewhere around the Royal Paradise,” Granite was explaining cheerfully to his date that evening over dinner.
“Indeed!” Kyrene said with interest, leaning farther forward across the table. If truth be told, the main draw for her of seeing Granite was the interesting leads he gave her for stories. “Isn’t there an old guest cabin out behind the main complex that the princesses don’t use anymore? That would make a perfect hideout!”
Granite didn’t think it was likely. “It’s too close to other ponies. They wouldn’t take the chance. Besides, the grounds have already been covered and searched for clues. Nothing turned up.”
“Oh.” Kyrene sat back in her chair. The problem with Granite was that he had no imagination. Why couldn’t a thief have a hideout in a high-traffic area? That’s just where the police wouldn’t look... at least, police like Granite.
“So, um, what’s up with you?” Granite spoke up, remembering she hadn’t said much about herself so far.
“Oh, my boss just got engaged,” Kyrene said without thinking. A gloomy expression unconsciously settled on her face.
“Oh, um, well.” Granite shifted uncomfortably in his chair, mistaking her expression to mean that she was disappointed not to have had such an offer herself. When it came to girls, Granite reverted to becoming shy and stuttery. “Um, well, I do have something for you.” Maybe the simple necklace he had picked up for her the other day in preparation for Valentine’s Day would appease her. Surely she wasn’t expecting that much of a commitment yet...?
“Oh?” Kyrene said warily. He couldn’t be thinking along those lines himself... could he? Still, she wondered if such an announcement would affect Deadline at all... Get a grip on yourself, girl! she mentally berated herself. What are you talking about?
“So, um, here.” Granite pushed a box across the table towards her.
With a sinking feeling, Kyrene opened the box and was preparing a gentle but firm rejection in her head when she realized it was a completely innocent offering. “Why, thank you, Granite!” she said sincerely, lifting the heart-shaped pendant off its velvet bed. “That’s very thoughtful of you.”
“No problem,” Granite mumbled shyly as his face flushed a bright red.
Kyrene carefully secured the clasp around her neck. “There! How does it look?”
“Beautiful,” he said worshipfully.
“Um... yeah,” Kyrene said. She wished he wouldn’t look at her like that. He was just like a puppy-dog sometimes. Now Deadline, on the other hoof... Kyrene shook her head. Aargh! Why did her thoughts always come back to him? “So tell me more about this thief,” she said eagerly, hoping to steer the topic onto more impersonal grounds again.
Granite went on to explain that over the past week many houses in town had been robbed of valuables; the thief seemed to be a professional from the lack of clues left. Some suspicious activity had been noticed in the area of the Royal Paradise, though, so the police force would be concentrating their searches in that neighborhood.
I’d love to uncover the hideout, Kyrene thought idly. Deadline would really take notice of me if I uncovered another big story... Ack! There he was again in her thoughts! This was getting annoying! Still... it would be fun to do some snooping. And the night was still young! Glancing at Granite, she ventured, “It’s been a very nice evening, but I think it’s about time I went back to my apartment.”
“But we haven’t had dessert yet!” Granite protested in disappointment.
“Oh, I’ll be fine on my own; you don’t have to come with me,” Kyrene said soothingly, pushing back her chair.
“Well... if you’re sure...” Granite said skeptically. It was always difficult to figure out what mares really wanted- should he insist on accompanying her or stay for dessert?
“There’s a phone call I have to be there for,” Kyrene improvised rapidly, “but I’d hate for you to miss your apple pie. I’ll call you tomorrow, ‘kay?”
“Sure!” Kyrene said, blowing him a kiss to further disconcert him before leaving.
* * *
Throughout the dinner of another couple, Niobe kept up a steady stream of questions about the newspaper, their future plans, and what entertainment Dream Valley had to offer. Deadline was dutiful in answering all her queries, but then Niobe broke in with a different sort of question:
“Do you know that stallion over there? He’s all alone; I wonder if something happened between him and his date?”
“I’m sure he doesn’t need anyone prying into his affairs if that is the case,” Deadline gently reprimanded her but nevertheless turned around to see who Niobe had noticed. “Wait... isn’t that Granite?”
“Oh, so you do know him?” Niobe asked curiously.
“Not really... he’s on the police force and one of my reporters... Kyrene... has been seeing him... or so I’ve heard,” he added quickly.
“I met Kyrene this morning; she seems like a nice girl,” Niobe commented.
“Maybe so, but she’s always running off on some hare-brained escapade just to get a good story,” Deadline said, the traces of a scowl beginning to appear on his face. “She’s reckless when it comes to her reporting and she always ends up needing someone to bail her out of trouble.”
“Why, that’s the most emotion I’ve seen out of you yet,” Niobe said lightheartedly. “Still, I do wonder why Granite is here all alone...”
“Don’t even think about it,” Deadline warned, but even he had to admit to some curiosity on his part over what had happened between him and Kyrene. Henceforth, on their way out, he took a detour past Granite’s table. “Kyrene isn’t with you tonight?” he asked pointedly.
Granite looked up from his empty plate. “Oh, hi. You’re Deadline, right? Well, she was, but she had to leave a little while ago.” He furrowed his brow. “I’m afraid I might have said something wrong, but I’ve been going over our conversation in my head, and I can’t come up with anything-“
Well, Deadline knew better how Kyrene’s mind worked. “Just what were you talking about?” he insisted.
“Oh, I was just telling her about some recent developments at the station,” Granite said helpfully. “She likes to hear about stuff like that.”
“I’ll bet,” Deadline said through gritted teeth. “You’ve really got to learn to stop encouraging that girl. What was it this time? I can guess what was so important she had to get ‘home’ to!”
“Just the thief that’s been active this past week, and that he’s probably hiding out somewhere in the area of the Royal Paradise,” Granite said, not catching on. “Why?”
“Not that! She doesn’t know what she’s dealing with!” Deadline said in exasperation. “I’d better go and find her before she does anything stupid... of course it must be too late for that.”
“You don’t think she really went after the thief, do you?” Granite asked anxiously. “Why would she-“
”Of course not; Kyrene would never dream of putting her life in danger for a matter best left for the police,” Deadline said sarcastically. “No, that’s definitely where she is! And unfortunately her hunches are always uncannily and usually dangerously correct. What other details did you give her?”
“Not much,” Granite said slowly. “Just that we thought his hideout was somewhere around the Royal Paradise. Kyrene seemed to think that old guest cottage out back would be a likely spot, but I told her no way and-“
”Well, are you coming or not?” Deadline asked impatiently, cutting Granite off. “Niobe, I’m sorry about this; I’ll take you home first, of course...”
“Oh, no, that’s not necessary! I’d be glad to come along!” Niobe chirped. “It sounds like a grand adventure. Count me in!”
Not bothering to dissuade her, Deadline was off towards the door, closely followed by Niobe and Granite.
* * *
Furtively, Kyrene sneaked onto the grounds of the Royal Paradise towards the back of the property, where the old garden was. It was within the garden that the old guest cottage stood, now fallen into disrepair; it was more of a quaint accessory to the flowers now than serving any practical use. If Kyrene were a thief, the spot would appeal to her. She eased open the rickety door and cautiously stepped inside while using her unicorn magic to turn herself invisible.
The moon was bright tonight and seeping through the windows; this allowed Kyrene a certain amount of light of which she was glad because she didn’t have a flashlight on her. The cottage was a simple affair; the main room opened onto a kitchen on one side and a bedroom on the other. It had been built before the princesses had become quite so extravagant.
The kitchen and entry room only displayed some broken-down bits of furniture and no signs of activity. The bedroom didn’t look any more promising until Kyrene noticed the small bookcase in the corner was tilted at a strange perpendicular angle from the wall. Intrigued, she stepped closer to examine it. Well, the case itself didn’t harbor any secrets, but the floor in the corner did. Could the bookcase have been shoved aside to make the opening of a trapdoor possible? Kyrene crouched down and started inspecting the floor panel for a handle. She couldn’t see any, but wasn’t about to give up on her hunch. If there was something to pry it with...
Running back into the kitchen, Kyrene uncovered an old tarnished knife stuck in the corner of one of the drawers. She inserted the blade into the crack between two floor panels, pushed down on the blade, and held her breath. Yes, the panel was giving way! Slowly Kyrene lifted it upwards with the knife until she could grab it with her hoof and bring it up the rest of the way. She peered down into the hole she had uncovered. It was very dark... a flashlight would be nice, but she wasn’t giving up now!
Lowering herself down into the pit of darkness, Kyrene was relieved to find that her hooves touched a stone pavement. She waited for her eyes to adjust to the new darkness, and when she could make out some shapes she groped her way along. Her pulse quickened; she was definitely on to something here! Now, where did this tunnel lead? If not to the thief’s hideout, she would be sorely disappointed!
The tunnel, except for a few slight curves, was straight, but it seemed to go on forever. Kyrene was mildly worried because she had been down here for quite some time and her unicorn magic might start to wear off. But surely she could last awhile longer, long enough to get to the bottom of this case!
Ah-hah! Up ahead there finally appeared a light. Kyrene quickened her pace but was careful not to make a sound. She could see that the hallway widened into a room of sorts- and she began to hear a stallion’s voice. Was there more than one? Reaching her destination, Kyrene leaned against the wall and peered around the corner to see what this room had, besides a criminal. Yes, there were crates piled all over the place! They had to be filled with stolen loot. At one end of the room a dark-colored stallion sat, talking on his cell phone with someone while sorting through a pile of coins at his hooves.
“Thorne here... yeah, we’re setting up for a heist at the Sweet Celebrations’ tonight... don’t worry, we can still empty a few houses before the police catch onto us... yeah, you’ll get your money... I’ll be in touch.” Terminating the call, the stallion stood up and started pacing around the room. “Now, where is that cursed assistant of mine...”
Kyrene’s eyes widened. There was another theft planned for tonight; she would have to stop this criminal from carrying it out! But, what could she do? If there was something big and heavy to hit him over the head with... was that a lamp sitting against the opposite wall? It might be old and valuable, but it was the best weapon Kyrene could see. Surely she would be able to surprise him and knock him out. She stepped out into the room, confident in her stealth...
...until the stallion abruptly stopped pacing and stared Kyrene right in the eye. “Well,” he sneered, “we seem to have a trespasser.”
“But- but you can’t see me!” Kyrene blurted out. This wasn’t possible- she was invisible! But looking down at herself she saw that this wasn’t true. How stupid of her! Her power had run out and she hadn’t even realized it. Now what was she going to do? Well, if she could still reach the lamp... the stallion lunged at her but Kyrene anticipated this and hit the floor, rolling towards the lamp. She was just about to grab hold of it when the stallion managed to grab her forelegs and twist them behind her back. Crying out, Kyrene tried to kick at him with her back legs but the movement caused her head to smash into the glass lampshade. This stunned her long enough for the criminal to gain the upper hoof in the struggle. Kyrene was pulled unceremoniously across the room, where the villain had some rope with which to bind her.
Her limbs sufficiently tied up and her mouth gagged, Kyrene was tossed aside into the dusty corner. She could feel the cuts from the glass oozing blood down her face. Well, so much for her grand heroics! What was she going to do now... and what was the stallion planning to do with her?
* * *
Meanwhile, the trio of rescuers had arrived at the Royal Paradise grounds. “There’s the cottage over there,” Granite pointed. “As you can see, it’s not much. Are you sure she came here?”
“Of course she did,” Deadline snapped. What had Kyrene ever seen in this guy, anyway? He was already striding in the direction of the cottage when Granite called him to a halt.
“You can check over the cottage quick if you’d like; I’ll cover the rest of the grounds and see if there’s any sign of her,” he offered. His tone indicated that he still thought that Deadline was overreacting.
“Fine, I’ll catch up with you soon,” Deadline snapped, becoming impatient with the delays. With Kyrene’s uncanny luck, he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d uncovered a secret passage or something in that cottage. Well, what do you know! he mused upon investigating the rooms. She did find one. The trapdoor in the corner was still propped open with the knife she had used. Well, at least Deadline knew he was on the right track now. Kyrene was around here somewhere. And somehow he had the sinking sensation that she was in serious trouble.
* * *
“A garden in the moonlight is so romantic, don’t you think?” Niobe sighed dreamily as she and Granite strolled down the overgrown paths (keeping an eye open for Kyrene, of course!).
“Oh, um, yes. Very romantic,” Granite readily agreed, thinking how beautiful the moonlight glinting on the mare’s aqua hair was...
“This was such a neat idea of the princesses, to cast a spell over their garden so it would always be blooming, even in the dead of winter,” Niobe prattled on cheerfully.
“Yeah, it’s pretty unusual to see so many flowers at this time of year,” Granite agreed.
“But,” Niobe recalled herself to the matter at hoof, “I really hope nothing’s happened to Kyrene. Derrick seemed very concerned about her.”
“Derrick?” Granite said in puzzlement. “Oh- you mean Deadline.”
“I have sometimes wondered,” Niobe mused aloud, “whether two ponies in love really can sense when another is suffering, even if they’re far apart.”
Granite looked up at her in surprise. “But- aren’t you-“
”Oh, things can change, you know,” Niobe shrugged.
“Really?” Granite burst out exuberantly. “I mean-“ He toned it down. “That’s nice.”
Luckily Niobe’s attention had been caught by something else so she wasn’t paying attention to this anticlimactic reply to her comment. “Why, look at this lovely wisteria!” she cried out, touching one of the clumps of purple flowers. “Such a beautiful color, and the way it cascades down the hill like this... beautiful! I didn’t know it grew so well in this climate!” Enraptured by the sight, Niobe stood still and in silence. Caught in the moment, Granite came up beside her and picked off a clump of the blossoms to place in her hair.
“Beautiful,” he murmured. “I don’t think the princesses will mind... besides, I’m here on official business.”
“Why, thank you,” Niobe giggled, turning back to him. “That’s so sw-“
”Hey, what’re you two doing here?” a burly stallion growled, interrupting the romantic scene as he stepped out of the shadows.
“And just who are you?” Granite challenged, instinctively pushing Niobe behind him.
“None o’ your business. I’d scram if I were you.”
“I’d think twice about starting any trouble here,” Granite said threateningly. “I’ll... I’ll take you in for trespassing!”
The stallion sneered, stepping closer. “Yeah, look who’s talking about trespassing.”
“I’m with the police force,” Granite said indignantly. “I’m here on an- uh- investigation.”
“Really! He’s telling the truth!” Niobe chimed in supportively.
“Yeah, right! And I’m the king of Ponyland. Just get outta here, and maybe I’ll let you off easy.”
“You’re the one who should be getting out of here,” Granite said, standing his ground firmly.
“Why, you little- the boss is getting impatient. I don’t have time for this.” Angry, the stallion lunged forward and tackled Granite to the ground.
Niobe screamed. “Stop it, you monster!” The two stallions continued their scuffle, however, rolling nearer and nearer to the wisteria vines. Niobe looked around frantically for something to be used as a weapon. Ah-hah! A garden gnome. She picked up the little ceramic man in her hooves and stood, waiting for an opportunity to bring it down on the villain’s head. Unfortunately, the two were rolling around so much, she couldn’t guarantee not hitting Granite instead.
Niobe was still pondering over this difficulty when the two reached the wisteria. She expected them to hit abruptly against the hillside, but instead- they just disappeared. She gasped and rubbed her eyes. But of course they hadn’t vanished- there must have been a hole in the hill that the wisteria vines had been hiding! Niobe dashed over and pushed the vines apart. They were hiding more than a hole- an entire hallway! And what luck- as the two had rolled into the passageway, the thug seemed to have hit his head on the stone doorstep, momentarily stunning him. Granite was already busy digging out his hoofcuffs so he could properly arrest the villain.
“Oh, thank goodness!” Niobe burst out, rushing forward. “I was so afraid you’d get hurt- but that was so noble- so brave- so dashing of you!”
“Really?” Granite squeaked, fumbling with the hoofcuffs. “I mean- really?”
“Yes, you’re a hero,” Niobe beamed happily. “So it appears that Kyrene’s hunch was correct after all. Is this one of the guys you were looking for?”
“Let’s see... midnight blue body... dark green hair. It’s one of them,” Granite concurred.
“Then I wonder... where’s the second? And Kyrene?” Suddenly anxious again, Niobe stared down the hallway, still unconsciously gripping the garden gnome. “Listen- voices! It must be Kyrene and-“ She gulped. “We’d better hurry up and get down there.”
“Right!” Granite agreed, running as fast as he could after her, but he was seriously impeded with having to tug the burly criminal along with him the whole way.
* * *
“Well well, what shall we do with you now?” The dark green stallion stood over the struggling form at his hooves. “Would you be worth a ransom... or perhaps it would be easier for me to send you to the next dimension right away?”
Kyrene tried frantically to protest, but unfortunately nothing intelligible came past the gag.
“Oh, so you agree with me... that’s good.” He leaned closer to her, grinning evilly, wielding yet another of the Blunt Objects that were so plentiful in this area tonight.
“Kyrene!” Deadline shouted, barreling into the room. “Leave her alone, you-“ Thorne whipped around to see who this latest intruder was, stupidly dropping the Blunt Object, which was his only hope, in surprise and turning his back on the prisoner. Deadline proceeded to pick Thorne up by the lapels of his- well, I guess the skin around his neck- ouch!- and stare him angrily in the eye.
Thorne’s own eyes retained their steely glint. “Unhand me! You don’t know who you’re dealing with! Any minute now my assistant will be upon you and-“
”I don’t think so.” And without any further ado, Deadline employed the use of another Blunt Object (namely, his hoof) to give the villain a piercing blow. And, so that he was out of the way for the big romantic scene coming up, he obligingly crumpled to the ground in an unconscious heap.
“Kyrene!” Deadline repeated himself, kneeling down and working on releasing her bonds. “Are you all right? What did you think you were doing, anyway?!”
“I’m... okay,” Kyrene said slowly, still a bit dazed. “Thanks for... finding me.” She struggled to an upright position, and Deadline got a clear view of the gash on her face from the lamp shade.
“He did that to you? The beast!” Deadline growled, dabbing at the wound with the cloth that had composed her gag.. “If he wasn’t already out I’d-“ He looked ready to thrash Thorne some more anyway but quickly composed himself. “You need to get to the hospital,” he finished briefly.
“Oh, it’s not really that bad,” Kyrene said, suddenly feeling unaccountably shy.
“You’re sure?” Deadline looked her in the face carefully. “You got off easy, you know. That guy is dangerous. You could have ended up a lot worse. You idiot, Kyrene!” he burst out, suddenly turning his fury on her. “Do you have any idea what you were getting yourself into? You were only entering the den of one of the most dangerous criminals around, all alone, with no preparation! Don’t you ever think before putting your life in jeopardy? You could just as easily have gotten yourself sent to the next dimension. All without a thought to you or anyone else!”
“I’m sorry,” Kyrene said meekly.
“Sorry? That’s all you can say?!” Deadline grabbed her by the shoulders, and Kyrene was half-afraid he was going to shake her- he certainly wanted to! “Do you think that could ever cover the anguish of others if something happened to you? What would they do then?... what would I do?”
“Deadline,” Kyrene said a little breathlessly, confused by the look in his eyes, “I think-“
”How could I ever stand losing you, Kyrene!” And before Kyrene knew what was happening she was being kissed. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, Kyrene. You drive me crazy but I couldn’t get on without you. Because I- I love you.”
Kyrene sucked in her breath. Was this really Deadline- the cool, businesslike, always-in- control Deadline- stumbling over his words and saying that he loved her? And kissing her? Impossible! “But what about Niobe?” she said, still stunned.
“Niobe’s a friend, a good friend, but nothing like you, Kyrene,” Deadline assured her. “You’re the only one that adds some adventure to what would otherwise be my very dull life!”
“But you’re eng-“
”Never mind.” He placed a hoof over her mouth to silence any more protests. “I’m sure she’ll understand. I made a mistake thinking love had something to do with convenience... you’ve shown me that it’s perfectly inconvenient!”
“Deadline...” Kyrene said hesitantly.
“No, not Deadline! Derrick! I’d prefer hearing my given name... from you, at least.”
“Very well... Derrick,” Kyrene conceded, having a difficult time referring to him as that after years of knowing him as Deadline. “I’d just like to say that...” Kyrene paused. Just what did she want to say? What did she think about this new development? “That I... I like you very much myself,” she said with dignity.
“L...like?” Deadline- or Derrick- or whatever the reader wishes to call him!- echoed. “You mean... you don’t... you couldn’t...” He trailed off, realizing he had probably just made a fool of himself.
“I... I don’t know,” Kyrene confessed. “Not yet. But... if you could give me more time, find out more about each other...”
“I’m sorry, I rather lost myself there,” the newspaper editor of multiple names laughed nervously. “I hope I didn’t scare you off... but I meant all of it, don’t get me wrong. You’re not offended, are you?” He looked suddenly stricken and repentant at the same time.
“No,” Kyrene shook her head. “Actually... I didn’t mind at all. And...” She looked at him shyly. “I wouldn’t mind another kiss.” Deadline didn’t need to be asked twice.
* * *
It was at this moment when Niobe came bursting in on the scene. Seeing the stallion bending over Kyrene, she instantly assumed the worse. “Get away from her, you monster!” she screamed (for the second time that day!) and ran over with the gnome held high. Deadline moved his head towards her only a fraction of a second before the gnome came crashing down over his head before crumpling to the ground.
“Niobe!” Kyrene gasped.
“Whoops,” said Niobe, gazing down at yet another unconscious form. “I hadn’t meant for that to happen...”
“What’s going on here?” Granite demanded, breathless from the laborious run. He shoved his load onto the ground, figuring he wouldn’t attempt an escape with all these other ponies watching. “The thief?” He stared hard at the stallion on the floor. “But that’s Deadline! Wow, this is bigger than I thought!” The officer pulled out another set of hoofcuffs and made to put them on Deadline.
“Granite, you idiot!” Kyrene snapped. “The bad guy’s over there.” She pointed her hoof to Thorne, who by now had started to moan in pain.
“Wow, we knocked out a lot of guys tonight,” Granite said cheerfully. “That’s what I call a good day’s job, you know? So we finally got Thorne. And check out all the loot down here!” He whistled. “There’s gonna be a lot of happy ponies when they get this stuff back.”
Then Deadline started to come to. “Oww... Niobe...” He sat up and rubbed his head. “What did you go and do that for?” Then he remembered... oh... she wasn’t really that jealous, was she?
“Sorry. I thought you were... someone else,” Niobe said sheepishly.
“What? You mean you were going to do it to Kyrene?” Deadline practically shouted, sitting bolt upright.
“No, silly, not Kyrene. Why would I do that?” Niobe scolded him. “The other thief, of course!” She gestured towards Thorne.
“Oh. Sorry.” He grinned sheepishly. “I thought you were...”
“Jealous?” she winked. “Oh, no, I could tell there was something between you and Kyrene. Why didn’t you tell her sooner? For as practical as you are you certainly don’t know anything about romance.”
“Whoever said it was practical?” Deadline said apologetically before going over to pull Kyrene off Granite, who was being plagued with more questions about the thieves than he really had time to answer at the moment.
Niobe surveyed the scene. Granite finally got the chance to put a call in to the station while Deadline and Kyrene were holding a heated conversation in the corner- their first argument as a couple, probably. Yes, they were made for each other. Niobe flashed a smile at Granite as he looked up. “Well, I think this evening turned out to be okay,” the mare commented to the partial head of the garden gnome she still held in her hoof.
Funny. I hadn’t meant for it to become so comical. Oh well, I’m still rather happy with how it turned out.