Coming Out Of My Cage (2024)

Katrina heard her brother calling for her just as she was closing the trapdoor, appearing behind her the moment after her closet was firmly locked.

“I did it!” he proclaimed as she greeted him, grinning at his apparent excitement. “They told me I got the job! They want me to come in on Monday to start training!”

“That’s great,” she told him with a smile. “I didn’t think you’d find something so fast. I’m happy for you.”

“It only took me twenty-two years, but I actually got a job,” he joked. “That’s the power of positivity. I always knew it would kick in someday.”

“Or, you know, maybe you actually tried for once,” she quipped cheekily. “But I actually am happy for you. It’s a good thing, and it’s great to see you doing something. I’m proud of you.” With that, she reached out to him to share a hug in congratulations.

“You act like such a girl, Mark,” Jase told her after she released him a few seconds later, wearing a sheepish grin. “You’re acting like Mom would. I mean, granted, it is a pretty amazing accomplishment, but still. You didn’t have to hug me.”

“Wow, a brother can’t congratulate his sibling and give him a hug anymore without being called a girl? What has the world come to?”

“God damnit, I’m so f*cking stupid! What is wrong with me?” she asked herself. “Why am I slipping up so badly?” Even as she thought it, she knew the feminine pronouns she wanted to use on herself were on the tip of her tongue. She had to concentrate on not calling herself a girl when she spoke.

“Well since I did such a good job,” he said as he took off his shirt and sat down on the couch in the living room, “you should get me a present. You know, since I got a job so quickly. I did it in under twenty-four hours. That has to be some kind of record.”

“I’m sure it is,” she responded, “and your present is going to be you being able to stay here with me. I’ll even get Arby’s to throw in a paycheck for you every two weeks.”

“I’ll take it,” he decided, pausing for a moment before declaring, “I’m gonna go take a shower… are you wearing a ponytail?”

“Yeah?” she answered, doing all she could to not scream at herself in frustration. “It makes my hair easier to manage when I head out,” she explained, only partly a lie. “Is there a problem?”

“No. It’s just that I’ve never seen you wear your hair like that before. And what were you doing in that closet? You weren’t putting on that dress, were you?” he asked. “Ooo, I bet you were, weren’t you? I knew it!”

“Did you not see the three million hoodies I have in there?” she asked, desperately wanting him to get the idea out of his head. “I told you before I was gonna go out shopping. I can’t just not wear a hoodie when I go out.”

“Oh yeah, because you like to give yourself heatstroke for some reason. I do remember that about you. Anyway, I’m going to the shower now.”

“I’ll be here,” she told him as he left, taking his seat on the couch. She sighed and closed her eyes to rest for a moment, cursing at herself for the mistakes she was making. It had only been a couple of days and she already felt like she had completely given herself away. The thought of it made her want to cry, and she had her eyes shut tight in frustration. She was acting like a complete idiot.

She thought about what Twilight told her. The mare didn’t care if someone else came with her to Equestria. She said she wouldn’t even be bothered by several people. That was something to consider. It would make it easier to admit certain things about herself if the time came, when the time came if the last few days were anything to go by. She knew how unbelievable it was to say who she was, and could only imagine how amazing it would be to be able to be herself on Earth, too, in front of her family. Maybe…

Maybe it was just as well that didn’t happen. She wasn’t sure how most of the people in her life would react to it, other than her father, who she knew wouldn’t take it well at all. She was better off where she was at right now. Jase would get a job, she could keep going to Equestria in the afternoons, and live her life how she was, even if she was getting extremely frustrated with having to face stepping back into the cloud of dysphoria she lived in.

“What are you thinking about?” Jase suddenly asked as she opened her eyes again, sneaking up on her, apparently already done with his shower.

“Nothing,” she automatically replied. “What days do you work? Monday through Friday?”

“They said I’m gonna train Monday to Friday next week, and then after that my days will be Thursday to Sunday and Tuesday.”

She filed that in the back of her mind, making a mental note to relay that information to Twilight so she would be able to have a consistent schedule. In the few months she’d known her, she knew she liked staying organized like that.

“Which means we can go out to the bar every Sunday and Tuesday,” he added with a smile. “I’ll even buy since I’ll have the money to.”

“No thank you,” she said quickly. “One: drinking is gross and you shouldn’t do it either. Two: I don’t really like going out.”

“Wow, Mark, you’re just as boring as you used to be when we still lived together with Dad,” Jase told her. “You didn’t like going out then, too. You haven’t changed at all in, what, nine years?”

“Guess I haven’t,” she said simply, silently thinking to herself that she wished she had. “That’s just how it is being an adult.”

He smiled cheekily at that statement, telling her, “I’m gonna get you to come out of your cage, just you wait.”

“I doubt it, but you can certainly try,” she told him. “Can you go get me my laptop?”

With that, the conversation ended, Katrina chatting around online until the time came for her to go to work again. She did largely the same things the rest of the week, avoiding her urge to go into the closet until Monday despite Twilight saying it was fine to bring her brother.

“Wow, it’s been a little while,” the alicorn said as she greeted her, giving her a quick hug as Katrina sighed in relief from the dysphoria. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, it’s just my brother, Jase,” she explained. “I know you said you don’t really care, but I am still worried about him. I really don’t want him finding out about this place,” she told her, silently adding, “And me.”

“It’s okay, I understand. Actually, I was wondering if I could make a trip to your home sometime in the future. After all, you’ve been spending all your time here learning about Equestria. It’s high time I make a trip to Earth again. I’m sure you’ll guide me and keep me from hurting myself, right?”

“Huh? Uh, yeah, sure.” She was caught a bit off guard by the question, but didn’t mind the idea. In fact, she sort of enjoyed the thought of being able to show her around places like Twilight did for her. It seemed like fun.

“We can actually go right now if you want to,” she continued. “My brother just started a job, and he’s gonna be there until six. That’s a good five hours.”

“Can we? It would be amazing if we could.” Twilight blushed and said, “I might have already packed a few things to bring with me a couple of days ago. I thought about going before you came back, but with what happened last time, I wasn’t willing to risk it alone.”

“It’s a good thing you didn’t because I have both sides of the door to the portal locked,” she said. “But yeah, we can go right now. You said you had stuff? Are you wanting to leave immediately?”

“Sure! Just let me send a quick letter to Princess Celestia and my friends, and we can be off.”

It wasn’t very long before they were walking into the closet. However, before they went through the worldgate, Katrina stopped to tell the mare something.

“Before we go through,” she said, “I know you know how I look on that side, but I just want to remind you that it’s- it’s bad. Please don’t… just look at me differently after this, okay?”

“I won’t look at you any differently,” she assured her. “I didn’t before and I won’t now. I promise. And honestly, you didn’t even look that bad from what I remember.”

With that assurance, Katrina took a breath as the two stepped through, changing into humans. She could feel Twilight’s eyes immediately make their way to her, the princess wanting to comment but refraining from doing so. She looked down at her feet in shameful embarrassment, but rather than saying anything about herself, she pointed to the ladder.

“Just be careful,” she instructed, flinching at how masculine her voice sounded, completely embarrassed by the fact that this was the first time Twilight was hearing what it sounded like on Earth. “Move one limb at a time. I’ll get behind you to catch you if you slip.”

“I know how to do it,” Twilight responded. “It’s just been a while since I’ve been a human. I’m not coordinated enough for this.”

“I understand. Luckily after this you won’t need to climb up anything else. All of what matters in my house is on the main floor.”

With that, Twilight began to climb, moving slowly but surely until the two of them were climbing out of the trapdoor into her closet.

“Wow, this is much different than I would have expected,” Twilight commented as she looked around the small space. “I expected there to be more books, and the space to be larger. I see the dress Rarity made for you though, and… There are a lot of jackets in here. Why so many of them?”

“That doesn’t matter,” Katrina told her quickly as they stepped out into the hallway. “Let me show you my house.”

The two walked around, Katrina showing off her home and describing the little things that Twilight didn’t understand. She thought it was funny that the princess didn’t know what a microwave or television was, and cringed a little bit when she flinched and grimaced at the contents of her fridge. There were a few small hiccups, but all in all, it was a decent enough time.

“So, what do you think?” Katrina finally asked as the two of them sat on the couch.

“It’s a bit different from what I expected after being in the mirror world,” Twilight said, Katrina not really knowing what she was referring to but not asking anyway. “I already knew there was no magic here, but you can really feel the difference. It’s like the air is thinner here.”

“I don’t feel any difference between Earth and Equestria, but I’ll trust you on that. Well, not anything about the world itself that is.”

“Anyway, I can see why you would like living here. It’s very lovely. I have to say, I’m a little bit envious of you, even if the colors seem a bit more muted here than they do in Equestria. It feels a little small, but it’s rather large compared to all the other homes in Ponyville. It’s somehow large and cozy at the same time, and has a sort of personalized feel to it. It helps me think about what I should do to decorate my castle.”

“It is nice,” Katrina agreed. “The best house on the block. It’s why I bought it. And yeah, I do agree that the colors over there are brighter.”

“It’s quite nice, and I want to thank you for having me. I mean, it’s only fair though, what with how many times you’ve been to my castle. Oh! Do you think you can show me that program you use to make friends with creatures that live far away?” she asked, getting out paper and pens from her bag. “I’d love to know more about that.”

Katrina obliged her, showing her the basics of how the program worked and quickly describing as best she could the concept of the internet. “It’s like a kind of library,” she said. “Like how you can check out or donate books to the library, you can download or upload information to the internet.”

She didn’t dwell on that though, instead helping Twilight set up an account on Discord (which the princess thought was an amusing name as she explained the draconequus who went by it). Then she logged in on her phone so she could help introduce her to her friends, smiling widely as she did so.

“There are so many ponies- err, people- in here,” Twilight commented. “Do you know all of them?”

“Not all of them, but most,” Katrina said. “I’ve talked to all of them at least once though. I’d consider about twenty-five or thirty of them my close friends.”

“And you said this is a community you built?” Twilight asked. “All of these creatures are here because of you specifically?”

She smiled bashfully at that comment. “I guess you could say that. Most of them are anyway.”

“That’s quite the accomplishment! And with this device, you can just pick it up and take it with you wherever you go so you’re never alone. It’s remarkable.”

“Eh, not really, but thank you, I appreciate it. Anyway, I have all the channels organized. Music, art, games, general- it all has a place, which I know you’ll appreciate.”

“Organized activities are something I do always appreciate,” Twilight agreed with a smile. “I love how nice and neat it all is. You even have a section dedicated to talking about your stories.”

“Yes I do. It’s a nice place I tried to make and I love everyone in here. It makes me very happy to be able to just be myself.” She couldn’t help but smile gladly at that thought. The fact that all of her friends saw her as she was gave her a nice, happy feeling.

“I’m sure it does,” Twilight said. “I’d love to implement something like this in Equestria. It’d be remarkable if we could do so. Do you think there’s a way I could take this machine with me to Equestria? I’d really love to study this more closely and see what other kinds of communities there are.”

“Um, unless Equestria has internet, it’s not going to work. I’m not sure if my wifi will be able to-”

Suddenly, she was being interrupted by the front door lock turning and Jase entering, much to the surprise of both Katrina and Twilight. He wasn’t supposed to be here until much later.

“You know what’s the best?” her brother said automatically, not waiting for someone to ask. “When you go to work at a new job and halfway through the first day, the manager says, ‘actually you’re supposed to start next week.’ I can’t think of anything better than that.” He finished it with a scowl on his face, indicating his sarcasm. “Also,” he continued, turning to Twilight, “who the heck are you?”

“Dang it, dang it, dang it,” Katrina thought as she forced herself to keep her jaw unclenched. “Why does this have to happen? Why is the universe so against me?”

“Oh, I’m-” Twilight started before she was cut off.

“This is the friend I was telling you about before, Katrina,” Katrina told her brother calmly, glancing at Twilight for a second and noticing her immediate disapproval at the lie.

Next Chapter: (18) ShatteredEstimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 3 Minutes Return to Story Description

Coming Out Of My Cage (2024)
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