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Gally Day Care (Closed: SteelEagle, Foxxy)


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It was a beautiful day. The birds outside were chirping new songs, the trees in view were shaking their hellos to the refreshing breeze of the first days of Autumn, and the waterfalls of the streams were making their signature ambiance. It was the perfect day for Fluttershy to be indoors. Not exactly against her will, though. Today she was in class teaching her students the next lesson in the Kindness track, a curriculum designed to teach ponies and creatures from all places the meaning of kindness, how to use it, and why it was so important to establish harmony and friendship. And it was thorough. Day one was always about cordial greetings and object lessons about how to treat one another, but in a more advanced class, students would have to prepare several essays and projects showing what they've learned in the department of kindness. Since no one has ever actually graduated from the School of Friendship yet, it was unclear how much about kindness Fluttershy was supposed to teach to her students. But for the sake of striving to bring up students to be the kindest Equestria has ever seen, she would go over everything she knew about the subject and relay it to her students in engaging assignments and lectures.

 

"And so class, that is why we always want to be aware of how others are feeling about..." Fluttershy paused. Along the window side of the classroom, she spotted a unique cerulean griffon who appeared to not be engaged. Now why she could not be absolutely sure, the student's eyes being closed and mouth hung wide open was an indication that they might not be paying close attention to her lesson. She walked over to the student and gave him a soft jostle with her hooves. "Ok, Gallus. What would you do in a situation like the one I described?"

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Gallus enjoyed his time at the School of Friendship well enough but that didn't mean every single day was going to be a showcase of his immense, prodigious talents. Some days you were simply tired, weary from the previous day's activities. He was just so active, ya know? Okay that was all a lie. And he was learning to be more honest lately. Indeed, it was that increasing need to be honest that ensured he was so tired today. He had tried to put his honest feelings into words on paper for what felt like ten hours, the wicker candle burning long into the night as he tore up page after page. He wasn't good at it and he wasn't really prepared to write it, let alone say it. That much was obvious because he kept on failing and failing. Frustrated, he eventually took out the wastebucket of failed letters and tried to go to bed.
 

He tossed and turned for what felt like another ten hours, which made for about twenty hours of emotionally exhausting frustration. Or maybe it had only been most of the night. The effect was the same. He was a tired griffon and tired griffons would generally sleep all day. Blame the cat half for that quirk. Alas, he had school. The school he liked well enough, but not as much as trying to get his rest in. And of all the classes to sleep in, Professor Fluttershy's Kindness class was the best one to sleep in. Not only was she the most forgiving but if something interesting did happen, he would be woken up for it. He liked her a lot. She was the best Professor the school had- and his grade was almost perfect in it! So, yeah, a great one to take a small...little...nap...in...


"Ok, Gallus. What would you do in a situation like the one I described?"
 

Gallus woke up in a flash.
"Wha-whu-who-" he said as he looked around in a panic, then resettled. She had asked him a question- and he had to answer- what was the scenario? Darnit.
The one time he was caught taking a nap this week took a nap, he was caught. How unfair!
"Uhhhh-" he tried to think about one that would work. His answer needed to be kind and generic and appeal while not detailing the depth of his nap. He had to be smooth.
His arms went wide in a welcoming fashion and he smiled wide. "Well, I would listen to their problems and tell them that I'll be there for them, and then embrace them! You know, in the spirit of kindness," he said, his tone slightly saccharine. "And do what I need to do to help 'em," he said with a snap of his talons and a wink. Because he was smooth, so smooth, so smooth it hurt.

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The class erupted in giggles and whinnies. Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. "So you would listen to somepony who intended to do harm to others and embrace them, and then do whatever they needed help with?" Fluttershy asked perplexed. But, then her face evened out and she smiled gleefully. "Exactly! See class, Gallus has properly shown that even when dealing with others who may not have your best interests at heart, it's always best to approach them with kindness so that you can help lead them in the direction where they will change their mischievous ways. Good job, Gallus." Fluttershy softly stomped her front hooves back and forth, prompting the rest of the ponies in the class to do the same on their desks. Angel was in the corner of the room with an unsatisfied frown on his face. He rolled his eyes and shook his head before staring at the griffon with resentment. Fluttershy began speaking again to continue the lesson. "Now, when faced with decisions on two friends that have differing opinions..."

 

The school bell rang indicating a change of class.

 

"Oh!" Fluttershy flew to her desk and picked up a stack of papers. As ponies started to file out of the classroom, Fluttershy hovered by the door to pass out papers to each of her students. "Tonight, I want you to write a small essay about what you would do if you had to confront someone who was trying to steal something from you. And next week, we'll start a new chapter on when to be assertively kind. Have a great weekend everypony!" She noticed Gallus was in line and decided to interrupt his routine to the next class. "Gallus, could you stay here for a moment? I need to speak with you."

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There was a brief moment when Gallus was deeply, horrifyingly worried that he had failed some test of Professor Flutterhy's. Likely the all important staying awake so you could have context for the question being asked test. That one seemed unfair because only the creatures that were liely to fail that test had to take it and that seemed discriminatory and discrimination was wrong. Or so he was told. By his Professors, especially this one. He started charging up this philisophical retort as pointless as it would be in the face of all those facts as she once agin flipped the switch, revealing that he was basically the greatest student who had ever lived. Especially if it was the study of his Professors and what would be most likely to work as a snap answer in their classes. Without missing a beat he piled onto the answer. "Exactly! You can always help somecreature turn over a new leaf, right?" He added, pleased to have answered this clearly difficult question. When the Professor moved on he turned around and shot his friends a triumphant look, overlooking the rabbit who was staring daggers into his soul.'

 

The rest of the class continued well enough by him, though he managed to stay awake for the rest of it. Once awoken, a griffon was hard to put back asleep. And to be fair the class lasted maybe another ten seconds so it wasn't a hard task for him to undertake. Everycreature started piling out and Fluttershy started handing out punishments to her students, proof that there was few good things in this world. Oh did he say punishments? Gallus meant essays on the weekend. Or really any homework any day, doubly so on the weekend. How kind was that, ruining a weekend like that? Maybe he was just being dramatic. They'd likely get some more homework. At least Professor Rainbow Dash didn't give out a lot of homework. She likely hated grading anything anyway. As he was preparing to file out, he heard his name- what did the Professor want?
"Wassup, Professor Fluttershy?" He asked, talons on desk to stabilize his somewhat tired self, though not without some excitement. She was the nicest Professor. Maybe she was gonna give him candy. If anyprofessor would, it would be her.

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Once all of the other students left the classroom, Fluttershy closed the door. She turned around to meet Gallus at her desk. Fluttershy was wearing a wide smile, wider than her relaxed smile she showed as default. She was happy about what she would ask of Gallus. "You are one of my best students. So great, that I have an opportunity that I think you should take. And if you accept, I will allow you to forgo the weekend essay assignment. My friends are in need of a foalsitter. Professor Applejack and Professor Rainbow Dash have a cute little colt, as I'm sure you know. But they made plans to have some time together and need someone to watch him at Rainbow's place. The problem is, none of the other Professors are available. I have several appointments with new animals visiting the sanctuary, Twilight is busy running the country, and Pinkie Pie and Rarity cannot fly to the cloudominium. So I offered a solution. Why not have my best, most trustworthy student with wings watch the little guy while his parents spend the day free from having to worry about who was watching him. And assuming all goes well, and I know that it would, I will also mark you down with some extra credit. Well, what do you say? Want to put all those kindness and care-taking skills to the test?"

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Gallus didn't know much about foals. His knowledge of them could best be summed up as they stunk, they screamed, they were sometimes cute, and often times a headache. In that way they were the same as Griffon chicks. He couldn't say he thought he was the best take care of a foal as he certainly didn't have fond memories of taking care of chicks back in Griffonstone. In his half-homeless, quarter-communal, quarter-foster upbringing he knew he had more than once taken food certainly from the mouth of a chick to ensure he had his share. And nogriff thought less of him for that. Heck, he thought they all likely did it, and that griff would grow up to do the same. It was a big-eat-little world when you got down to it. He was happy to have escaped such actions in permanence and regretted at least some of those actions. He didn't know if regret and a better life trajectory naturally meant he was suited to take care of a foal, though. 

 

But he didn't think he could say no, though. Fluttershy was the best professor in the school and she thought he was best for it. And it was for another duo of professors to top it off. Saying no would likely make him look like such a softtalon loser and he was many things, but a softtalon? Not one of them. And if he needed more incentive- which he did, kind of- it was quickly provided by the professor. He would get off having to write the essay which was good because he was struggling to come up with a good answer beyond, "eat them, or threaten to eat them". Oh, and extra credit. This deal was looking better all the time, and he better grasp it before it changed. "Well, I dunno. I'll have to look at my day planner..." he said as he opened up his saddle-back-pack-bag whatever and took out a single piece of paper. "Let me see, I have a nap planned for eleven...no, no, I can squeeze it in," he said with a laugh as he leaned on the desk. "I'll do it. How long do they need me for? Two, three hours?"

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Fluttershy noticed the hesitation on the griffon's face. It obvious to her that he had probably never had this kind of responsibility before. But it was also obvious to her that he earned a chance to prove he would succeed. She chuckled at his awful nervous joke and when he accepted the opportunity she responded brightly. Underneath the two, Angel was thumping at Fluttershy's hooves trying to get her attention. "Great!" She put a hoof on Gallus' shoulder and started walking him out of the classroom. "I'll go tell Rainbow Dash the good news, she is going to be so thrilled!" When the two got to the door, Gallus asked about how many hours he would be watching the kid. Fluttershy answered quickly but continued to walk his exit due to Angel's desire for attention. "Oh, don't be silly Gallus, it'll be for the whole day." Angel started tugging on her tail. Fluttershy lightly suggested Gallus to move out of the room with her hoof, and continued to explain to him details through the remaining crack of the closing classroom door. "Tomorrow morning after breakfast, just go to Professor Rainbow's house which usually hovers just over Stirrup Street, north of Ponyville. She will fill you in on everything else you need to know and you'll finally meet their son! Okay? I have to go now, Angel is getting cranky because he hasn't had his lunch yet. Good luck!" Fluttershy closed the door, and then proceeded to discipline Angel for his impatience.

 

Spoiler

 

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"GALLUS!" Silverstream squawked down the hallway. "What took you so long, we're going to be late for 6th period Honesty. Professor Applejack is having the class in the Ponyville marketplace, so we gotta go now."

 

 

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"Well I'm thrilled to..." Gallus began to respond before the time was revealed. All day? All day!? How long did two ponies who were already that close need to be close?! Uggh. He wouldn't show any of that though. If there was one thing he was good at it was saving face. "...Spend all day foalsitting. Never met the foal before, not really. Should be cool though. Foals can be fun. Right?" He asked with an excited incantation, trying to will himself to be excited about spending his whole day with a foal. It wasn't like he had a lot of plans but he was looking for a good nap and this looked like it would put a crank in such desires. Oh well. Extra credit required extra effort and as long as he was doing the extra effort outside of view of others than it would work out well. It took a lot of secret work to be this effortlessly cool, after all. "All right, I can do all that. Meet with Professor Dash, take care of their foal, earn extra credit. Will do, Professor. See ya next week!" Gallus responded with a smile and a wave as he started making speed away from the class.

 

As he flew away from class his heart was briefly assaulted by Silverstream, a few leaps and dips and freezes and then a lot of warmth, and an immediate smile. What could he say? Nothing. So he didn't. He just listened and- well, he took flight out of the nearest window, talking to Silverstream as he did so. "Oh, Professor Fluttershy gave me an extra credit assignment. Foalsitting Professor AppleDash's kid, to be exact," He responded with a smug expression. It was plastered on, this self-confidence of his, but it did the job. He didn't know why they had to go to the marketplace though. It seemed a little odd, even for Applejack. Probably a good descriptor of his weakness when it came to understanding that mare as well as he thought he should. "Huh. The Marketplace? What in the world does Professor Applejack wanna do out there?"

 

The flight across Ponyville was beautiful. He had to give it to Equestria and the ponies that inhabited it, they did a bang up job making their towns look very inviting. It was a casual and cozy clash of colors that the ponies of this town used to warmly welcome wayward guests and newcomers alike. The sound of laughter and welcomes rose like heat from the town and bathed those who flew above in an idyllic coalition of sweetness and earnestness that described Equestria as a whole rather perfectly. It was often times too saccharine for a beak born in the harshness of Griffonstone, but he knew it was a special place to be. And the marketplace was at the center of it all, and with it came the assorted students of today's class. Gallus landed, ready and willing kinda learn some vaguely important life lessons.

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The two took flight out the window and as they fluttered towards Ponyville's busier roads, Silverstream reacted goofy to Gallus' phrasing. "Professor AppleDash? I've never had a class with them as the teacher!" She shouted unnecessarily. "Oh, are they related to Applejack, or Rainbow Dash. Or maybe they aren't related at all." Silverstream pondered a moment as they glided down. "Or maybe they aren't even a pony professor, maybe it's a beast priest, or a cockroach coach, or a creature teacher." Silverstream still found room to express her confusion of what Gallus implied, not giving him much room to answer what she would have been able to figure out if she hadn't been subconsciously organizing a creative, yet incorrect assessment. But she allowed a new thought to rearrange her priorities. As the two landed at the marketplace, she asked more curiously, "Wait, you're going to babysit!?" Silverstream was shocked and happy at the unknown order of events that ended in Gallus having to be an impromptu father figure for a day, ironically the only father Zap Apple may have ever had outside of Big Macintosh. "That's so adorable!" Silverstream picked herself off the ground again and hovered over Gallus, her claws squeezing her jaw at the pleased astonishment.

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Gallus allowed Silverstream's stream of consciousness to flow uninterrupted. It was better to allow it free reign over the space than stop it, lest you get pulled down in the deluge. It was often pretty funny and he found himself a little let down that AppleDash wasn't the name of some hip new professor, a mutant from the sticks and swamps of Equestria. Applejack was kind of a hick, but a more urbanized and excited sort, but still. He was a little let down that her wild imagination wasn't going to bear fruit in some wild new creature. Yet. It would again someday. "No, no I meant-" He began before she started growing very excited by the prospect of him foalsitting. Even more excited than Zap Crabble would be he was sure since he was neither family nor a mare. Maybe it would go pretty good though. How hard could taking care of a foal be? And then he could chalk up another thing he was great at in the great hall of Gallus. It had to be easier than taking care of a chick, right?
"Ha! Yeah, it'll be adorable all right. A lot of diapers and crying and baby bottles and whatever else foals do with their time. I have to go to Professor Dash's house in the morning after breakfast to take care of Zap Jackal. Her and Professor Applejack are having some mare time with one another, so they've turned to the best there is,"
he said, tactfully leaving out the fact that he was far down the priority list after all other flight capable Professors.

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"Some mare time, hm?" Silverstream giggled, indicating she knew what that meant without understanding the specifics. She started walking forward through the shopping area where residential ponies were setting up shops for the afternoon. Some ponies were tearing down their displays for the day, as well. And there were browsing ponies looking at all the wares others had to show, some of them sparking up detailed conversations with the sellers that they probably knew very well. Applejack was near the opposite end of the marketplace waiting for all of her students to show up for the outdoor lesson. "Over there!" Silverstream, still hovering, flew towards the academic audience to get in range of the professor's voice and landed. The class consisted of about fifteen students.

 

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"Alright, ya'll. Today we're out here to learn a little sum'm about value." Applejack slaps the counter next to her, which was currently empty. "This here is my vendor stall in the Ponyville marketplace. Every day we trek out here with our best apples and baked goods to sell to ponies the greatest our farm has to offer. Ponies from nearby come here and to other sellers in this area to buy the things they need and want with the hard earned money they probably worked hard for. So. What value does any product have? Does the seller bring any value to the product they bring? Why would anypony part with their bits to get something that I or anyone else selling things here values for less or the same as the coins they would trade for? And what makes them come back a second time to buy more?" Applejack pulls out a spare apple she had in her possession. "Let's say you have a recipe that calls for six apples and you need to make the recipe in four days, but you can only buy apples today. You come to my stall and ask how long the apples stay fresh for. Now, I want to make a sale. I want to earn your money. So I should say that the apples last forever, right?" She paused with a smirk. "No! Wrong! If I lie to you and you wait too long and the apples spoil before you can used them, you will be disappointed. I may have earned your bits with a sale of six apples, but I will never earn your sale ever again because I lied. But. What if you asked if the apples would last for four days. And let's say, they don't, they last maybe three days at most. I would tell you that they would only last three days. You don't buy apples because you probably changed your mind on your recipe, but because I was honest the next time you do need apples, perhaps the next several times, you will trust me with every concern you have about buying apples. By doing so, I have increased the value of my business and increase the value of you as a customer."

 

Silverstream let her mind wander during the lecture and after a few daydreams, could not help but consider a new question lingering on her brain. The thought of Gallus being trusted to watch a foal by himself seemed pretty substantial as she knew what it was like to watch her infant cousins when she was growing up in Seaquestria. Considering how nonchalant Gallus was acting about it, she wasn't confident he was processing and relaying the information correctly. She leaned to Gallus and whispered. "Gallus, how long do you have to watch the baby for?" Silverstream had never met or seen Zap Apple. The way Gallus implied it, the foal seemed to be the age of a newborn. She couldn't imagine Gallus changing anyone's diaper, let alone a newborn pegasus foal he had never met before. Was Rainbow Dash crazy to trust Gallus? "Seems like a lot of responsibility."

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Gallus listened to Applejack's little speech, at least for a little bit. He didn't now how much he bought her whole angle to start with. Maybe honesty was the best policy in Equestria or if you truly had the best product in the field, but he'd been around the block long enough to know a few things himself. Sometimes you had to embellish the truth or even tell a bold-faced lie in order to make the sale. And if you got a bad rep, just change the wares. Wasn't that how those two charletons did it? The Flack and Flip brothers or something? He guessed both methods had their benefits. If you were the best you proclaimed the truth and relied on your reputation. If you weren't, you did what you had to so you could put some trout on the table. Or would that be haycakes? What was the food that Equestrians considered foundational? He didn't know. Rice? Did ponies eat rice?

 

His mind wandered as she droned on and he completely lost the plot. All he could really think about now was that he was about to spend all day with a foal he didn't know. And how did you even change a pony diaper with claws? Eh. He'd learn. It couldn't be too hard, right? He'd defeated evil creatures and helped solve all sorts of friendship problems from the moment he stepped paw in this land. He was basically awesome at everything he did. Foals slept like what, sixteen hours out of the day? And the foal was a member of the Apple family so it was likely the sort who'd listen to authority, and he was very much the authority. Even Rainbow's rebellious streak, come on. She took orders all day as a Wonderbolt. Not intimidating in the slightest.


He was confident...until Silverstream spoke up again. Her voice was colored with a little less excitement than before. He knew he would be fine. He knew it. She had to know it too. "It'll be all day. I'll be fine. I can handle *anything*, Silverstream. Least of all some pegasus foal," he said with a confident wink and smirk, looking back at the Professor but only a quarter paying attention to the words that she spoke. He had more important matters rolling around in his mind than business ethics. 

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Silverstream looked back at Gallus with concern. It wasn't that she didn't trust he could handle the sort of task he had been given, she just wasn't sure he knew entirely what he was in for. However, Silverstream accepted she was just over-reacting to the aspect of responsibility and yielded to Gallus' charisma on the subject. "Yeah, I guess you're right." She couldn't help but maintain a fluid thought process on the idea of Gallus watching a kid. Part of her wondered why she wasn't asked. Was it because she wasn't responsible enough? She was sure that she demonstrated her value as a caring individual enough to be considered a candidate, but maybe she was too hyperactive for foalsitting. No, that can't be it. It must be because the care-taking course has not rotated to her, yet. What Gallus may have learned in Kindness already, Silverstream could counter with an uncomfortable amount of knowledge related to advanced techniques of piping schematics for residential buildings in large cities. It was an elective she chose. In addition to her thoughts of being unqualified, she also visualized in her head Gallus' rearing a young pegasus over the course of a sunny day. He was showing him tricks and skills while being positive and supportive. The thought made Silverstream's eyes begin to well.

 

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"Alright, now it's time for some role play. I'm gonna be a customer and one of you can be a business owner. Who wants to be the seller?" Several hooves shot up at the possibility of pretending to stand behind the world famous Apple family vending stall.

 

Silverstream raised her claw, too. "OOooo ME! Pick me! Me me me me me me me!" Silverstream used her other claw to anxiously hold up her arm.

 

Applejack wanted to pick someone other than Silverstream because she was always the first to volunteer, even when she wasn't sure what she was signing up for. But since she seemed so excited and it had been a few days since Silverstream was used in one of her object lessons, she decided to let her play. "Ok, Silverstream, yer up." Silverstream giggled with excitement, trotted in place for a few seconds, and then flew over the counter and stood behind it. "So, what are you selling today? It can be anything. What is it?"

 

Silverstream thought for a moment, her foretalon meeting the end of her beak. "Um. I don't know. Oh! I know. Babies!"

 

Applejack's teaching expression fell for a second. "Babies?" Silverstream emphatically nodded. "Okay, babies," Applejack said regrettingly. "I would like a baby. I would like to buy one baby, please. But wait, do I need to do anything to the baby?" Applejack looked at the class, but then eventually back to Silverstream who just seemed to be content on smiling. "I'm asking you, Silverstream, do I need to clean the baby or anything? Can I just have it in my living room without having to care for it?" It was concerning to Applejack that Silverstream was so quick to suggest something intrinsically valuable without having any common sense to react to her questions related to caring for the product of importance Silverstream wanted to pretend to sell. She could have waited a little longer and she would probably have gotten it, but she wanted to save time so she decided to ask the audience. "Anyone else?" Applejack looked around and saw Gallus was the least engaged of the other students. His body language showed he was listening and he was close enough to be apart of the class, but he still didn't seem entirely adhered to the lesson. So Applejack prodded him to encourage him to stay focused. "What do you think, Gallus. Would it be right for me to assume I would have to care for a baby if I bought one from Silverstream here?" Silverstream smiled and waved behind Applejack.

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Gallus was brought back to focus, at least momentarily, when the Professor scanned the gathered class for any volunteers for today's little two-creature play. Gallus didn't even both putting his talons up. He didn't really volunteer for many of these anyway and even if he wanted to he had a sneaking suspicion that another member of the class was going to very excitedly stick hers up and he'd hate to let her down because, of course, he'd be the one who'd get picked. And he didn't want Silverstream to lose out again. Or for the first time. One or the other, Professor dependent he supposed. As expected she was picked and made her way upfront with all the joy of a contestant on a game show. Did she know she couldn't win a lifetime supply of apples by picking the right thing to pretend to sell? Maybe she would. Sometimes the Professors gave little prizes or treats. Now Gallus regretted not at least tossing his talon up because he had a little bit of a lofe for the sweet, fresh sugar of an apple. Damn him and his nonchalance if it cost him a chance at a prize.


And then she said she was gonna sell babies and all the tension that had deceptively taken hold of him as he imagined losing out on a little prize. A wave of gentle giggles spread out across the students and Gallus had to join too, though it ended up lasting a little shorter than the rest, dying in his throat after a bit. Was she going through that thing chicks went through where they were egg crazy? He was told all about that when he was younger and it was absolutely disgusting. But she wasn't dropping feathers everywhere and pulling birds into closets and there was a lack of headless hippogriffs...he was starting to think Grandpa Gruff was just pulling his tertial feather. He'd have to discreetly learn more about that subject before he was caught with egg on his face and had to assume a new identity to survive the embarrassment. Galico? Gakil? Gollas? He needed to come up with one. As he got older he had a greater sense of self-worth and didn't want it destroyed. More than that, he started to suspect she was just saying babies because they had been talking about babies.


It obviously took the Professor off of her game, which made the entire back and forth comical. Applejack was having a hard time pulling good answers out of Silverstream who, in turn, wasn't giving Applejack anything at all to work with. She was content to be in center stage though...she wasn't normally like this. She was normally a hippogriff who behind her bubbly and excitable personality was smart and aware enough to not make herself appear to be a ditz. And right now, she was appearing to be a ditz. And Applejack was having none of it, quickly looking to the crowd. Gallus was looking away, half-glass eyed as he tried to figure out what was happening while maintaining his approved distance from the proceedings. It was in this moment that Applejack called upon him to take part in this charade, turning this two-creature stage play to a three-creature one.


Improvisational mastermind? Impromptu scene-stealer? Yeah, add that to his list of skills.

"Well," he started as he sat down, waving back at Silverstream and then counting off with his claws, "you gotta feed it, make sure it doesn't get eaten by bears or get hurt, clean it up so it doesn't stink as bad, and then stop it from crying by giving it toys and stuff. So yeah, you gotta take care of it. And a good baby seller would probably sell babies and baby accessories, right? What's a type of baby accessory?"

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Gallus got the picture, and so did everypony else in the class. But his additional questions created new life in this lesson. "Oh yes. We have a large stock of baby food, and baby toys, and baby bear repellent. It's all right here." Silverstream giggled. The inside knowledge of Gallus' near future made this especially funny to her.

 

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"Alright, alright. We got it. That's good!" Applejack nodded with acceptance that the class had understood the principle she was setting, but denied the continued existence of such an absurd lesson. Fluttershy probably has enough nurturing classes. Applejack didn't need to overlap a lecture on good faith with an extra chapter of gentleness. "Okay, now that you guys got a good whiff of what it means to have good integrity when buying and selling things, I'm going to allow class to end early, provided you spend a little time in the market talking with some of the ponies and their wares. Ask them about what they sell. Do they make it themselves? How long have they been selling things in Ponyville? Alright?"

 

Applejack signaled to the class to adjourn, and as student ponies dispersed many of them starting walking up to merchants asking them random questions. Many of the seller ponies were excited to see such a small flood of customers, but became quickly confused and annoyed that they were so inquisitive without any bits to spend. Silverstream hovered towards Gallus to walk with him through the market before Applejack stopped her. "Hey Silverstream, I was wondering if you could help me tomorrow with somethin'. I need a pie delivered. Goldie Delicious is writing a new edition of Apple family genealogy and she needs an apricot-infused pink lady apple pie for inspiration." Applejack rolled her eyes up. "Don't ask. Anyway, I usually deliver this type of stuff myself, but I'm not going to be able to make deliveries tomorrow, the rest of the family is busy and I don't trust the mail ponies for something this important. But, I can trust you, and I know you students don't usually have much to do on your days off!" She winked. Her assumption of the student's free time was not incorrect, but may have been taken as an insult to some. "I'll pay you with a bushel of apples for your troubles."

 

Silverstream smiled at the opportunity. "Oh, I'd love to, I can do that! It's not that far of a flight is it?"

 

"I don't think so. I think it's only a few hours round trip if you're not dilly-daddling." She was also aware of how close Silverstream and Gallus had gotten over the past few months. The desks where the two sat in her classroom were more magnetic with each other every day. "Gallus can go with you, too, in case you're afraid of getting lost." Gallus was close enough to be in the conversation, and Applejack decided to include him. "Gallus, you interested in flying with Silverstream to my aunt and back tomorrow?"

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Gallus was pretty pleased with himself, able as he was to get Silverstream back on track before the lesson derailed entirely and crashed into the ever-present wall that separated childish indifference and active giggling sabotage. He could corral her pretty well! Get her to listen, straighten up, fly right, be a good mom-type. Ya know, like a responsible griffon. Which he was all the way. A good friend to Silverstream. Her family knew that, right? The Professors? He knew Grandpa Gruff and the rest of Griffonstone wouldn't have a positive opinion on the subject. The only positive opinion that place generated was that of its unwarranted self-importance, inflated like a fat cat on spoiled scraps. He knew better than to ask what they thought of his friends. Sandbar was too stupid and weak, Yona was stupid and loud, Smolder was stupid and dangerous, Ocellus was stupid and couldn't be trusted, and Silverstream was-

 

-His tail had been starting to whip out as a defensive purr loitered in the back of his throat, the claws on his back paws starting to come out. He snapped back, not knowing why any of it had happened as his wings refolded themselves after starting to slowly unfurl. All of it was too small to notice, especially as everycreature started to heed their next job. he took a few breaths and it all went down, the unintended purr vanishing last. Thinking about Griffonstone and the griffons there and how they viewed others made him sick sometimes because he knew he was no better than they were, no matter what others said. He liked to think he was more than one bad day away from retreating back to the safety of his old demeanor but he didn't fool himself about the likelihood of that.

 

He looked around. Okay, so he was gonna talk to a market pony, right? Something that he could do. Yeah. No, he wasn't like a Griffonstone Griff. He was Gallus. And the reason he could refocus Silverstream was because he understood that she was smart and active and just needed to be set up once in a while. She could accomplish anything, right? He knew he coukd. He had proved it, to himself and to Silverstream and to Applejack and to everycreature else. His confidence was not a lie. It was the truth. Right?

 

He shook his head. Only then did he note the connection that his thoughts had only started to wander and his heart had only started beating fast when he imagined her with babies. Why was that? Another mystery to be solved by him later that night when he had some time alone to think. For now, he had a marketpony to harass for no reason attached to Friendship that he could ascertain. He was growing more and more certain that this was a just a way for Applejack to steadily increase the amount of creatures she could ask to help her sell apples. 

 

His eyes roamed and they settled on Bon Bon, who was busy making bonbons. He flew over and landed as he started to speak.

 

"Hey there, Miss...?"

 

"Bon Bon- of Bon Bon's Bonbons!"

 

Talk about destiny.
"That's a lot of alliteration..."

 

"I don't liter!"

 

"Waaa...?"

 

"I'm very clean."

 

Okay mare, you're weird.
"I'm...I'm sure you are? Uhh, so you sell bonbons. What are those, again?"

 

"The best treat ever! Basically, a small bun covered in chocolate but there is a lot you can do with it."

 

A plan!
"You said...chocolate?"

 

"Yeah! Want some!"

 

"How dare you!"

 

"Waaa...?"

 

"Griffons are deadly allergic to chocolate. I could get really sick or worse!"

 

"I...I didn't know. I'm so sorry-"

 

Turn on the sad kitten face.
"The reminder that I can't have what everyone else gets...so...so harsh..."

 

"No, its okay! I make different kinds of bonbons, some of which don't have chocolate."

 

A bit snooty. Yeah, that'll take.
"Oh. Are they marked Griffon safe?"

 

"They are now!"

 

"Do you make them yourself?"

 

"Sure do!"

 

"I see. How long have you been making them and selling them in Ponyville?"

 

"A few years now, ever since I came here from outta town. Wanna see the bonbons?"

 

I got all the info Professor Jackie wants. I'm the winner!
"Hmm...they look good, but I'm not sure-"

 

"Here, have a bag on the house. As an apology!"

 

That's really...nice.
"Oh...really? Thanks!"

 

He took the bag feeling a little guilty, but only a little when he took a nice whiff of the treats. Okay, these smelled really good. Like, really, really good. She was pretty awesome at what she did. It was then that he heard Professor JackJack call upon him. He turned his ears and then the head and gave it some thought. "I'd love to- I mean, well, I could but I'm watching your foal tomorrow, aren't I?"

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Shortly after speaking with Silverstream, the hippogriff fluttered to some of the marketplace tables to make conversation for classroom purposes. Meanwhile, Applejack had found Gallus return from his quick completion of his assignment, and asked him about helping Silverstream make a delivery tomorrow. The catbird's explanation of his agenda made Applejack pause. "What?" A short second of thought and she understood how this would come to pass. She slapped her hoof on her forehead, causing her hat to tilt back slightly before moving it back to its intended stylish position. "Oh! Pfft. So you're the one Fluttershy ended up asking." Applejack had no idea a non-pony would end up being asked to watch her little bundle of joy.

 

It wasn't completely out of the question, but it was in her own context that a reliable pegasus student would end up accepting the responsibility of practicing motherhood or fatherhood. Applejack had experience dealing with griffon types through sales distributed to lands with higher griffon population, but her first real exposure to a griffon came when Rainbow Dash's old friend Gilda visited Ponyville. Gilda was trouble, and it made Applejack cease trusting any creature with talons for many months after the griffon stormed out of Ponyville at the expense of Rainbow Dash's feelings. As time went on, Applejack would learn to trust many creatures that inhabit Equestria and the adjacent nations in all their cultural differences. But she wouldn't be honest if she said she trusted them completely.

 

"You know, don't take this the wrong way, Fledge, but I was kind expectin' one of Fluttershy's pony students." She cracked a friendly smile with the observation. "I guess she didn't have many pegasus ponies she could trust for the task, heh. But hey," she slapped Gallus on his back. "If Fluttershy trusted you enough to ask you, then that's good enough for me." Applejack had a small amount of apprehension related to Gallus being a foalsitter for Zap. But she was almost just as concerned for Gallus as she was for her son. Zap Apple had been getting to a more rambunctious age where his energy bar never seemed to deplete and his attitude was growing as fast as the breadth of his wings which were now allowing him to fly with relative ease. "You must have some experience watchin' little chicks, huh?"

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It was a little concerning that Applejack, the mother, had no idea who was being asked to watch her child. That seemed like the first creature in the world who should have a handle on the matter. Didn't Fluttershy at least talk about who she was going to ask to watch the kid with Applejack? The two Professors did more than just work together, after all. Whatever, he'd just take it as a point of pride that he was apparently such an obvious choice that Professor Fluttershy didn't think Professor Applejack needed to be told about it beforehoof. He was just that good. You could count on him to handle any job no matter how harsh or sensitive, no matter how complex or daunting. His self-confidence did not just inform him that he was capable of doing this and emboldened him to do what needed to be done, it gave him a sense that it wasn't at all just bluster. That he really was the best for the job.

Or at least that's what he thought. Professor Applejack didn't seem to hold that same opinion, based on her reaction. He could spot a plastered smile and he knew what she was implying. She didn't think he could do it. She didn't know if he was mature enough, smart enough, attentive enough, trustworthy enough. She didn't know if he was good enough because how could he be? She was a loving mother and he was just some kitten with a snarky attitude. He felt stupid for thinking Professor Applejack wouldn't have concerns, and he felt worse because her words had fertilized the soil of his own self-doubt, hidden as it was behind bluster.

“I can do it,” he said as he started to take flight, hovering as he did in front of the Professor. It was a sign of his nervousness. “I've read up on it, right? I didn't watch a lot of chicks- except for the ones that I grew up with, helped them with some stuff. Kittens taking care of chicks and chicks kittens, ya know? I know what foals need. And I know what I'm capable of. Your foal won't be in any danger as long as I'm around, Professor,” he spoke quickly and with a hint of friendly aggression that masked as much as it could his sense of growing anxiety. “I'll do it. I'll even fly over to your aunt's place with Silverstream while I'm doing it!”
 

Overpromising never hurt a griffon before, right?

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Applejack saw a lot of confidence in Gallus, obviously responding to the hints of hesitation in her own voice when she found out he would be the one to watch Zap all day tomorrow. But she knew when someone went too far promising things outside of their own range of ability. "Whoa, hold on there, Speedy. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but I would really rather you just watch Zap. He's more than enough for most to handle, and if you're as good as you think you are, then this should be pretty easy. Maybe bring some homework to work on while you're watching him. I don't want any adventures at the cloudominium. The more boring it is, the better." Applejack chuckled.

 

A yellow earth pony student walked up with two of her friends behind her. "Professor, we all finished our conversations to the marketplace ponies. Can we leave now?"

 

This was Applejack's last class of the day and thus, the last class of the week. "Sure. Ya'll have a good weekend." She stated the same thing she always said at the very end of every single one of her lessons. "Be true to your friends and know when to help. But most importantly, be honest with yourself." A few ponies recited the saying with her before departing the marketplace, some of them running to the rest of their day's plans.

 

 

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Silverstream hovered up and landed next to Gallus and Applejack. "Oh, we can go? Gallus, lets go to the library, we can wait their for the rest of the gang. I need to do some extra research on the mechanics of sewing machines and how they work."

 

Overhearing Silverstream's assignment, she was slightly perplexed, as sewing machine mechanics didn't seem like something Rarity would actually teach, even though she used the thing almost every day. "Rarity lectured on the inner workings of sewing machines?"

 

"Oh, no. I already finished her assignment, an essay describing how not to act when entering a boutique for the first time. I just wanna find out how sewing machines work. They are so incredible!" Silverstream squawked her irrational excitement for the stitching gadget.

 

"Um. Ok. Well. Tomorrow you can pick up the pie whenever you're available. Granny Smith will make the pie tonight so it'll be ready and she will also have instructions and a map on how to get to Goldie Delicious' place. Don't forget. And you, Gallus." Applejack leaned into the griffon's ear so he could catch the seriousness of her voice. "While me and Rainbow Dash are away, if you let anything happen to my sweet, adorable, treasured little colt Zap Apple, I cannot be held responsible for how I will react." She smirked as she said it, knowing full well it would strike a motivating fear in the griffon's mind.

 

Silverstream responded with a happy nod. "Come on Gallus, lets go!" Silverstream started flying towards the school.

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Gallus felt himself deescalate along with his Professor. Yeah, truth be told he had started to feel a little heated. Not at her, not even at the implication he took from her, but from himself. Something needled him from within where his defenses were weakest and no front could be provided and it told him that she was right. It was only a small voice because his swagger was not all for show but it was there. It was there and he didn't need much doubt for it to grow into a problem. Luckily, Professor Applejack didn't feed him any of that claptrap that passed for fuel to the kitten inside. Allowing him to just focus on Zap Apple or Zap Crackle or Dap Fapple or whatever his name is would help ensure tat he didn't have any bad news to return to the doting mom. Was she doting? She seemed the type. More so than Professor Dash.

Was there any truth to the legend that pegasi would leave weak foals on the ground and to the elements?
He wouldn't ask and would just assume the answer was yes.

Class wrapped up swiftly afterwards. Most Professors had a signoff they'd use from time to time but Applejack was the most trident about it. Nocreature could accuse her of saying it for the sake of saying it though. Everything she did only ever reinforced her image of the most trustworthy and honest Professor a griffon could ask for.
"Be true to your friends and know when to help. But most importantly, be honest with yourself," Gallus recited along with a few others even without meaning to, the habit and tradition of it rubbing off on him in some small ways even if he didn't always live up to the words themselves. His attention was soon stolen by Silverstream- as it often was- as she suggested they meet up in the library with the others.

He was about to answer when Professor Applejack came back around and got to the pair. She gave Silverstream the information she needed to successfully complete the most time critical pie delivery this side of the market and then she leaned in and promptly gave Gallus the...motivation...he would need to accomplish his task. His first inclination was to snark back. After all, threats in Griffonstone were a dime a dozen. Then he remembered that ponies rarely threatened, and she was very much an honest sort. All Gallus could do was nod in response as Silverstream tugged at his mind, driving him from the pit of fear that had just now been dug.

“Yeah. Yeah, lets go. I...need to do some reading,” Gallus said as he took flight with her, waving nervously back at his teacher as he started to create a list of foal-rearing books he needed to study on tonight.

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As Applejack saw the two student creatures fly away, she waved a happy goodbye. But when she turned to walk back to her stall to setup for the day's sales, she couldn't help but daydream about Gallus foalsitting Zap Apple. It just didn't feel right. But of course, if anyone who wasn't blood related was to watch the pegasus colt, it would feel strange. An entire life on the farm never required a foalsitter, so it was strange to Applejack that finding a sitter would even be required. But on the other hoof, Rainbow Dash was a different kind of pony who was brought up in a much more independent way. Applejack smirked at the idea of a young Rainbow Dash being supervised by a friend of the family.

 

All of this was to suggest that on top of Applejack and Rainbow Dash needing a day together that didn't involve making sure Zap wasn't getting into trouble, it was probably best if she didn't worry so much about the livelihood of Zap with a sitter. Gallus was a young griffon who had a lot to learn. But all the same, he could be trusted to carry on a task that would honor his professors. His dedication in the classroom and with his friends proved that he could be trusted. Everything tomorrow would be fine, she thought, and Rainbow Dash will make sure Gallus has everything he needs to watch him for the day. Although, she hoped that Zap wasn't being fed something with sugar for breakfast.

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"So!" Rainbow zipped around her not so clean kitchen, trying her best to make it presentable. "How'd you like that breakfast Zappers?"

 

She flew in and dabbed some apple sauce from the little guy's chin before taking a seat next to him. He was just barely big enough to sit at her adult sized table but she didn't have a large sized high chair that fit Zap like they had at the farm. Truth be told almost everything needed to properly care for the foal was at Sweet Apple Acres. Sure, she had this and that but not a complete set of anything. She'd been able to make due on the rare occasions that Zappers stayed with her at the cloudominium, but that was based on sheer luck and lots of ingenuity. I mean really? Why can't you use a can with some beans in it for a rattle, or a nice clean towel from the bath for a nap time blanket?

 

Mama Rainbow leaned in and gave Zap Apple a little peck on the forehead. "We've got someone fun to watch you today fella!" She smiled. "And he's super cool! I know you'll like him!"

 

Rainbow gulped slightly as she turned to glance over the rest of the place. It was well... it wasn't exactly clean but it was clean enough she guessed? Yeah! It would be fine. AJ wouldn't have just hired any random creature to watch over their pride and joy. He would be able to figure out the basics of watching Zap at her house. Right? Right!

 

"I put your favorite toys and coloring crayons in the living room," She spoke to Zap but was actually just running through the list verbally. "There's your lunch in the fridge, and some special treats if you're a really good boy for Gallus,"

 

Zap was done eating so she tossed bowl and utensil into the sink. She was sure there was at least one more foal bowl and utensil somewhere in the kitchen. "Maybe I'll just find it..." As she searched she fretted just a tiiiiny bit. She had met Gallus but hadn't really spent any time with him. At least to recently. She knew all about him, that he was a Friendship student and basically all around a good guy. Plus, she kept reminding herself Applejack had asked him to watch Zap. AJ wouldn't trust hardly anypony to watch Zap, even if they were family.  It did make her nervous though, nopony who wasn't family had ever watched their precious little foal. But this was the way they'd get a whole day together. RD really wanted a whole day with just her mare. It had been so long! Yeah, things would be fine!

 

"You guys will be just fine," She patted his head and ushered him over to the living room. "So, what do you want to do first-" Her words were cut short as she heard someone approaching the front door..

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Gallus had not slept very well the previous night.

 

He was often quick to fall asleep. He had a clear conscious as imperfect as it was. He did what he did throughout the day and went to meet his dreams and nightmares with a personal belief that he had done everything that had been asked of him and more by his environment. He slept, he snored, he was often out like a light within a few minutes of heading to bed. But last night had not went as well as he would have liked. The library had been as stressful as any test preparation he had ever taken. Smolder had made fun of him a little bit but he didn;t quite care. SOmething about the way Applejack spoke had him on edge. He couldn't quite put his talon on it but it drove him to hit the books on foalcare and pegasus foal rearing. Oh wait, now he remembered that very subtle thing that Professor Applejack had said to motivate him. She had threatened him with terrible things, in not so many words.
 

The motivation had worked wonders when it came to Gallus putting the work in to back up his stated confidence, and had certainly been very effective at keeping him up a lot longer than he would have liked. So when he did wake up the first thing he did was fly into the cafeteria and down the biggest cup of coffee he had ever seen to provide him at least some momentary energy. He packed a small saddlebag full of notes discretely hidden in the margins of his homework and took off for Rainbow Dash's cloud castle. Cloud mansion. Cloud extended townhouse? Gallus wasn't sure what it was one could call where Rainbow loved but he knew where it was and how wings to the sky stupid big it was.
 

It took some time but he saw the house long before he got anywhere close to it. How the flying feather did Rainbow get such a home? He knew she had it before she became rich and famous. Probably had a lot to do with the fact she could manipulate clouds. Why didn't every Pegasus live in some cool sky house?
Certainly a lot more freeing than being tied to the ground as a creature that had every bit the ability to live among the clouds but lacked the magic to create homes out of them, he had to admit he was a little jealous.
This little Dap Apple was one lucky colt. One momma who would skin him alive if he messed up and was otherwise one of Equestria's most accomplished businessmares and another who was a world famous athlete and could likely blind him with light if he so much as crossed her. The little dude had no reason to be anything else other than the happiest foal ever. 

 

Gallus was getting jealous of the foal and his amazing circumstances as he got to the door and rapped it, excited to get this going and done with.  

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Zap loved spending time in his airborne mother's house. It was a change of pace. Farm living was what shaped his bring-up the most, but his pegasus nature could not be overlooked and a place that was basically a floating cloud appealed to the young winged pony's internal instincts. As a plus, there was no high chair! Zap was starting to grow, much to the surprise of all the older ponies around him. They always commented on how much he had done so. He was ready to move on though. Move on from the high chairs, and the strollers, and the leash. A makeshift leash made from traditional rope Applejack made in order to keep her flighty son from getting away on what she deemed mandatory walks. Emphasis on the walk.

 

"Hm-hmm!" Zap agreed, as he finished the last of his applesauce and stepped off his cloud chair to walk around the kitchen. Zap knew his mothers had big plans for today, but he had always assumed that he would join them. He always did. Why would they have someone watch him? And who was this him? "Who is watching me?" As Rainbow Dash continued to quickly throw some of Zap's things in the living room for activities, she mentioned his name was Gallus. "Gallus?" Zap tilted his head and spoke with a little adolescent sass. "Is that one of the Wonderbolt reserves?" In truth he was thinking about Soarin, who had been a professional Wonderbolt for many years, but always appeared to Zap as much less competent than his mother. He had met him once during a Wonderbolt social event.

 

As Dash flew around the rooms to gather material for him, he quickly got the feeling that he would be left out, and he did not like the idea of having somepony he didn't know watch him for an entire day, while his parents had fun without him. "But, Dashie." Zap knew Applejack as mom. And Rainbow Dash had gotten regulated to the cute shorter version of her name. But sometimes a Momdash would slip. "I don't want to stay here and be foalsat. I wanna go with you and Mommy." Suddenly he heard with his mother the descending flapping of wings followed by a confident knock on the front door. It didn't have the same familiar pound that usually would come from the hard surface of a horseshoe.

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Dash smiled at the little guy when she heard the knock on the door.

 

"Oh, I don't know if you'll be saying the same thing once you meet Gallus Zappers!" She leaned in close. "You know how your Dashie is always 20% cooler right?" She ruffled his mane between his ears lightly. "Well, I've heard this Gallus is almost just as cool!" She stretched out her wings in imitation for a majestic creature. "Plus," She grinned. "He's a griffon!" She didn't know if Zap had made the connection as to what sort of creature griffons were. They had introduced him to a couple while around town as griffons were known to frequent Ponyville now and Cloudsdale too! 

 

She walked over to the door and swung it open. "Hey there Gallus! Come on in!" She spoke energetically to the foal sitter. "Glad you could make it. Zap here is all excited to meet you, huh Zap?" She wasn't actually sure how her young one would react. She found it best however, to keep up the positive attitude. Would Zap be shy, scared, excited? Time to find out...

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