The town started to quiet down in the days that followed the ponies return. Attention had started diverting away from the girls of Equestria and more towards the counterparts that had come back with them. Not helping the interest in the new arrivals was their lack of a real place to stay. The girls' hooves were full dealing with problems that had arisen in their absence, leaving the team to find shelter on their own.
They trekked the town, looking down every road for buildings that were unoccupied or renting. But the search proved fruitless until they turned down the street and spotted a sign in front of a large building.
"For sale by owner? Guys, I think I found something!" Ms. Pauling shouted, leading them to the building's dilapidated doors. The place had not seen much maintenance, with windows nearly falling out of their panels and boards gracing holes in the walls.
"It's a dump," Scout said plainly
"It'd make nice firewood," Pyro got an unnerving gleam in her eyes.
"Look, I know it isn't much, but have any of you seen anything better for sale?" No one answered. Heavy slowly raised his hoof. "No, Heavy, we can't live in that outhouse. Now, come on," Ms. Pauling trotted into the building.
The inside resembled a hotel, with a front desk and what used to be a lobby. Cobwebs lined the corners, turning the peeling grey paint into white. Pictures lay broken on the floor, showing in sepia the glorious days the hotel once had. On the desk was a note.
"To whoever finds this note,
I have spent years trying to sell this dump. The Lucky 4 hotel died years ago, but no one has shown even a cursory interest in the building. I'm giving up. Under this note is the deed to this building. Sign your name and it's yours. Good luck."
Ms. Pauling blinked. She couldn't believe their luck. "Guys, this building is free."
"Funny, I don't really want it," Scout leaned on a wall. The wall cracked as the wood broke, and Scout fell through the gap. "This place outta be condemned."
"Maybe we should look around a bit. This seems a bit too good to be true," Spy said. The others agreed, spreading around the building. About half an hour later most of them wandered back down to the main floor
"There are twelve rooms upstairs. Not that surprising, given its former status," Spy said
"The kitchen's freakin' gourmet," Scout interjected.
"Hey, where are Heavy and Pyro?"
The group looked around. Scout snickered at the implication, although a well placed elbow to the ribs from Sniper shut him up. A loud crash and a scream came from overhead. A blur of metal smashed through the floor, revealing the basement. They looked down to see Heavy under a water heater. They looked up to see a sheepish Pyro. "I found the attic!"
"Heavy found basement... and water heater."
"Astounding," Nurse Redheart looked at the X-ray again. "You had a full size water heater land on you, and the only thing damaged was a cracked rib and a sprained ankle. I don't know how, but in about a month you'll be fine. We'd like to keep you overnight for observation, but you'll be out by the end of the week," She trotted away from the hospital bed as the Russian sighed. The team, along with the girls, all stood around the hospital cot. Scout folded his arms.
"You guys are here for two days and you get yourselves hurt," Twilight groaned
"I was right, dat place is a deathtrap," Scout shook his head.
"Don't worry, we'll find someplace, Heavy," Sniper reassured the Russian.
"We already have," Heavy's look hardened into determination.
"You can't be serious, big guy. That place is a stern breeze away from collapsing entirely," Pyro stuck a hoof straight up, then imitated a building falling.
"But it is perfect. Heavy could live boyhood dream."
"I thought you wanted to be a killer?"
"No. Parents wanted me to be killer for motherland. Sent me to child mercenary camp, where I learned basics of war. No, I wanted to be..." He suddenly seemed sheepish, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Well?" Pinkie coaxed with a poke to the stomach. A wince of pain and a stern look told her of her mistake.
"Promise not to laugh?"
"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," Pinkie ran through the Pinkie Pie Swear, motions and all.
"Well, you do make really good sandwiches," Pinkie smacked her lips
"Sand-VICH," Heavy corrected her as he always had
"So why do you want that building?"
"Building has perfect kitchen, and front room could be turned into restaurant," Heavy's mind constructed the decorations. The three ponies around him shared a glance
"You really mean this, don't ya?"
"Excuse me," Nurse Redheart popped her head in. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but visiting hours are over," The ponies in the room nodded.
"Don't worry, man," Scout smirked
Twilight sighed. "We'll think of something. You just rest. Don't want your getting worse"
Everyone said their goodbyes and left him alone in the room. He rolled over on his side and closed his eyes, drifting off to sleep.
A few days later, Heavy walked back to the building, led by Pyro. "So you feel better, big guy?"
"Yus, only aches now."
The two stepped in the building, and Heavy looked around. The hole in the floor was fixed, but the rest of the building was still as dilapidated as before. Ms Pauling turned to look at them.
"Ah, I see you're doing better."
"Da. Where are others?"
"Most of them are out looking for jobs. Scout's delivering the mail, and I'm not sure where Demo went."
"Speaking of which," Pyro flared her wings. "I'm off to find something myself," She took off into the skies.
"So what should I do?" Heavy looked at his ribs. "Doktor said I should not do more than I must."
"Well, if you're really gonna turn this place into a restaurant, we should probably clean. We'll start with dusting," Ms. Pauling pulled out a pair of brushes.
"You are all really going to help me?"
"Pinkie's setting up a grand opening in a week or two. And she, along with the rest of us, have agreed to help any way we can."
The light blue unicorn smiled. Maybe he really could do this.
They each grabbed a brush in their teeth, and Heavy levitated a broom. They set to work cleaning the dirt and grime from whatever they could. After a few hours of cleaning, Twilight walked into the room. "Ah, Miss Sparkle!" Ms Pauling glided down to Twilight. "Are you looking for someone?"
"Kind of. Where's everyone else?"
"Job search. Why?"
"Well, I had an idea last night. Scout told me this story about his old home life. He sounded so homesick" She pulled out some paper from her saddlebag, "I was thinking that maybe writing a farewell letter could help..."
Heavy tangentially listened to her idea. 'Letter writing?' He thought to himself.
His letter didn't take very long to write. He told his sisters of his adventures with the ponies, something he knew they would be envious of. He handed the letter to Ms. Pauling, who would collect from the others after their letters were done. It saddened him to think the letter wouldn't actually be sent to his siblings, but the act of writing helped put his mind at ease.
In a clearing on the outskirts of the Everfree Forest, Heavy, Pyro, Demo, and Pinkie stood gathered around a small tube
"...And just a touch of copper for blue," Demo talked out the chemicals as he put them into the small container. "Alright, it's done," He placed the container in the tube and the group retreated to the fallen tree that they had adapted into a barrier. Demo's horn lit and the fuse on the tube caught fire. A few seconds later, and an explosion shot the projectile out of the tube. It exploded with a brilliant silver light with blue sparks accenting.
Pyro hooped and hollered. "Homebrew fireworks, baby! Ain't nothin like 'em!"
"Perfect!" Pinkie clapped. "So can you two make enough of those for a show?"
"I can make enough for a military invasion. A party is nothin'," Pyro gave a determined grin.
"Jus gotta do a few more tests and we'll be ready to start makin' 'em," Demo said.
"Great! We'll leave you to it!" Pinkie and Heavy trotted off. The two fireworks makers returned to their work. The started arguing about colors to use, but soon the Unicorn and Earth pony were out of their earshot.
"Tiny pink?" Heavy looked up at the moon.
"Why are you helping?"
"Whadda ya mean?"
"I have not done anything for you, yet you are helping build restaurant. Why?"
"Silly, of course I'd help my friends!"
Heavy regressed into thought. He'd never really had friends. He'd thought of his team as just that: his team. And the only real friend he'd made was a sparrow at the mercenary camp, who he had lost to a throwing knife... He turned to Pinkie. "Thank you," His voice was uncharacteristically soft. Pinkie simply smiled.
He worked tirelessly, and one by one he received help from his friends. A fresh coat of paint, kitchen equipment, lights, everything came together beautifully. After almost a month of work, the inside looked almost new, with new counters, tables, and paint. Only one thing left to do.
"Is time for decoration," Heavy levitated the large crate he had brought with him. While everyone else had gotten all their stuff in one crate, Heavy had said he wanted his own. As he pried off the lid, the others saw why.
"You filled an entire crate with hats!?" Scout shouted
"No!" His horn glowed. The hats rose, then fell out, and the minigun that had always accompanied him lifted out of the box. "I also brought Sasha."
Scout gawked at the unicorn.
Sniper looked at the hats that fell out. "Wait a sec... Heavy, most of these aren't even yours!" The gold pony said.
"This is every hat Mann Co ever sent out!" Ms. Pauling rifled through the box.
"Da, I found many hats that I could not wear, so I kept them," Most of the room looked at him with quiet contempt. They had looked long and hard to gain their hats, but most of them ended up in the Russian's hooves.
"What?" He asked innocently.
Heavy admired the work he had put in. Hats lined the walls, and Sasha sat proudly over the counter. "Only a few more days, then Heavy's Sandvich Emporium and Bar will open!"
"Bar?" A plum colored mare appeared next to him.
Heavy looked around confused, looking at the still locked door. "How did you get in here?"
"I heard bar," She cast glances around the room. "Berry Punch is the name, alcohol is my game," she said as she handed Heavy a business card. Now his attention shifted from trying to figure out where she came from to where she obtained the card, seeing as she had no saddlebag. "Not much of a bar, though. The only drink you've got back there is-"
"World-Famous DeGroot Scrumpy!" Demo interrupted, popping up behind the counter, more than a little drunk off the bottle in his hoof. Heavy looked at the Scotsman as he had looked at Berry. He could have sworn no one was behind that counter...
"'DeGroot Scrumpy?' Never heard of it, and I've heard of every alcoholic beverage worth having," She gave a smug smirk.
"Lass, tha' sounds like a challenge!" He slammed a bottle on the counter. She took a whiff of the drink.
"Geez, I'd like booze, not paint thinner," She recoiled
"Aw, I'm sorry, lassy. D'ya need a drink a bit fruitier? Maybe a Virgin Appletini? Or perhaps a Dark 'n' Stormy without the Dark or the Stormy?"
"Are you insinuating I can't hold my liquor?"
"Yer words, not mine."
Berry took the bottle by the neck and poured it down her throat. She put it back on the table. "While it's not the worst drink I've ever had," she started, "The texture's too rough, and it's especially dry, even for scrumpy. Also-" Her sentence was cut off as the alcohol hit her brain. She slumped over the counter. She raised her head, visibly fighting gravity to avoid slumping over once more. "Then again... I's pretty goo'. How'd ya make it?" She slurred
"Ol' family secret."
"Mom?" A filly walked up behind Berry, calmly talking to the slap-happy drunk at the counter.
"Now who are you?" Heavy sputtered. Once again he didn't hear her come in
"Berry Pinch, but my friends call me Pinchy. My card," She handed Heavy a business card, and the Russian accepted it with a bewildered look. "Mom, you're drunk."
"Pinchy! How're ya doin?"
"Mom, it's time to go home."
"But mommy's hangin' out with 'er friends!" Berry clutched the bottle of Scrumpy protectively.
Pinchy held out her arms. "Can I at least get a hug?" Berry moved to hug her daughter. Pinchy moved slightly to the left, and Berry lost her balance, landing face first on the ground. A light snore emanated soon after.
"Man, whatever's in that, it's powerful," Pinchy tried to pry the bottle from her mother, but the larger mare clung tightly in her sleep. Pinchy sighed. "How much for the bottle?"
"Uh... ten bits?"
A flick of her wrist and ten bits rolled onto the counter. "By the way, your door's locked. If you want to get some customers, you should probably unlock it". The two left, although Heavy was too busy conversing with Demo to notice them leave.
"Congratulations on yer first customer" Demo patted Heavy's shoulder, missing once and falling to the floor with a thud.
"I now declare..." The Mayor cast a glance to Heavy, who stood beside her. "What was it called again?" she said in hushed tones.
"Heavy's Sandvich Emporium and Bar"
"Ah, yes" She turned back to the large crowd. Pinkie had worked her magic and turned the opening of the restaurant into a gigantic party. "I now declare Heavy's Sandwich Emporium and Bar open!" She cut the rope with the large pair of ceremonial scissors. The fireworks Pyro and Demo had set up lit the dark night sky.
"No no no, is sand-VICH" He tried to say, but he was drowned out by the explosions overhead and the "Oohs" and "Aahs" on the ground. Soon his customers poured in.
Vinyl Scratch sat in the corner, spinning records to help drive the party. Right away he had his work cut out for him. Customers ordered quickly. His magic grabbed all his ingredients, making dishes as fast as ponies could order. The big draw, however, was his sandwiches.
Pinkie walked over to Heavy. "So how's business, big guy?"
"Tiny Pink, I cannot thank you enough for this"
Pinkie tossed a sandwich in her mouth. "My pleasure"
Hours later and the party had slowly come to a close as everyone left. Soon only the team, the girls, and a passed out Berry Punch were left.
"Thanks for the gig, Pinkie. Haven't had this much fun since your last party" Vinyl levitated the crates holder her equipment out. "Catch y'all later! Maybe next time I'll be eating instead of playing!"
The girls said their goodbyes, and Pinkie loaded Berry onto her back. They set out, and the door swung shut behind them. Heavy flipped the open sign to closed.
"Heavy, you did good," Demo took another swig from his bottle.
"Heavy has surprise for you all. Come to rooms"
They all exchanged glances, but no one seemed to know what was going on. He led them to their rooms, lighting up all of their doors. With a twist of his head, he opened them. Inside every room their walls contained the hats that Heavy had not given them.
"What? But those were all downstairs" Spy looked at the Fedora and Beret that donned his walls
"Asked Rarity if she would make replicas for downstairs"
"Why'd ya do this?" Scout put on the tossle cap he'd wanted.
"I am sorry about not telling about hats. And I want to thank friends for help"
"Thank you, mein kamerad" Medic trotted into his room. "It is a late night. I believe we're all due for some sleep?"
They shut the lights down, all going to their rooms. Heavy curled up in his bed, finally having what he had wanted for so long: a warm home, his dream job, and the friends to share them with.