Valentines Special: Dorkalis x Celestia

Mar 1st, 2020
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  1. >For once, you’re grateful for the hidden corner that your locker occupies, wedged into an offshoot of Canterlot High’s main hall
  2. >It’s the perfect hiding place, and you flatten yourself up against the metal, resting your flushed cheek against its cold surface
  3. >She’s just a few feet from you now
  4. >The moment you’ve psyched yourself up for is just seconds away
  5. >In your head, it seemed so easy…
  6. >Your right hand clenched a heart-shaped cutout of pink paper, which is rapidly turning wrinkled and gray from the nervous death-grip you have it in
  7. >Your stomach is twisting in fear, and slick sweat pours down your face
  8. >She’s just a few feet from you…
  9. >But you look like a freak, you know you do
  10. >Sweaty, green eyes hidden behind coke-bottle glasses, hair a ratty, tangled mess, mangled fang-like teeth wrapped in industrial-strength braces
  11. >She’ll laugh at you, or worse
  12. >But you have to tell her, you have to
  13. >You shut your eyes, take a step out into the main hall, get a single glimpse of Cadence leaning up against the wall, gorgeous in a designer blouse and a borderline-illegal short skirt…
  14. >And then you lose what little nerve you had
  15. >Throwing your handmade valentine—“I don’t mean to BUG you, but would you mind going to the dance with me?”—into the trash, you sprint down the hall, heading for the stairs that lead to the basement
  16. >But before you can get there, an arm is around your shoulders
  17. >”Hey! Where you goin’, nerdlord?”
  18. “G-gah!”
  19. >You try to shrink away, but the towering girl pulls you closer, until you can smell the faint mix of flowery perfume and PE sweat on her
  20. >Your shoulders sink as you admit defeat
  21. “Hey, Celly…”
  22. >”Sup, Chryssi? What’s got you all freaked out, brah?”
  23. >Celestia towers nearly a foot and a half over you, a girl who could bench-press most of the school’s football players
  24. >She’s a volleyball star, a women’s basketball star, a field-hockey star, and just a star in general
  25. >Her jealousy-inducing chest is only barely contained by a Canterlot High Athletics Department (CHAD) tanktop
  26. >She somehow manages to casually flex the bicep of her right arm while her left stays firmly slung around your shoulders
  27. “It’s n-nothing.”
  28. >”Hell yeah it is. You stressin’ about exams again?”
  29. “N-no,” you say, your voice thick through the near-permanent congestion that afflicts you. “It’s… nevermind.”
  30. >“Nah, tell me! Wait…”
  31. >A terribly smug grin stretches across her face
  32. >”You’re tryin’ to ask some cute guy to the dance, aren’t you?”
  33. “N-no!”
  34. >It’s the truth, at the very least
  35. “That’s n-not it at all!”
  36. >“Hah, you’re blushing! C’mon, who’s the lucky fella?”
  37. “Nobody.”
  38. >A surprisingly dark look crosses Celestia’s face
  39. >”He didn’t say no, did he? Because I could change his mind…”
  40. “T-that won’t be necessary! I just, um, don’t think I’m going to ask anyone. I’m not really… anybody’s t-type.”
  41. >Celestia smacks the back of your head
  42. “Ow! Hey!”
  43. >”Nobody talks shit about my Chryssi. Even you.”
  44. “W-whatever,” you say, averting your eyes. “Doesn’t matter. I’d r-rather stay in anyway. The Errata for Sixteenth Edition of Xenos Xtremus drops that night anyway. I want to make s-sure my sludgenoids aren’t getting nerfed by—“
  45. >Celestia tightens her grip on you
  46. >”Nope! Too late. You’re going, ya giant nerd. And we’re gonna get you lookin’ fucking HOT.”
  47. “I’d r-really rather not. Besides, I don’t even have a d-date.”
  48. >Celestia slaps your back
  49. >”You do now.”
  50. “No, I t-told you, I didn’t even talk to Cad—wait, you mean *you?*”
  51. >”Hell yeah. And if this thing sucks, we’ll just go play video games and smash some White Claws at my place. Sound good?”
  52. “Mmmm… we could just skip and g-go directly to the video games…”
  54. >Despite your protests, Celestia buys you a ticket to the Hearts and Hands Day dance herself, even signing herself up as your official school-approved date
  55. >So now everybody knows about it
  56. >You go through the next week surrounded by the usual weird glances and snickering, but now a buzz of rumors follows you like locusts
  57. >When Friday comes, you meet Celestia outside your house, sagging and miserable
  58. “This is so stupid! Everyone is gonna l-laugh at me! Or worse…”
  59. >”If you show up lookin’ like that, maybe.”
  60. >You glance down at your shirt, which is just a huge portrait of Watto’s face from The Phantom Menace
  61. “Y-you might have a point…”
  62. >With a sigh, you follow your only friend out to her car
  63. “So, were are we going?”
  64. >”Everywhere, nerdo. First, we’re gettin’ your hair fixed.”
  65. “Yeah…”
  66. >”Then we’re hittin’ the mall.”
  67. “M-makes sense. I don’t have money, t-though—“
  68. >”My treat.”
  69. “R-really?”
  70. >”Oh yeah. But you have to wear *anything* get you. Got it?”
  71. “I guess. Anything else?”
  72. >”Once we got you lookin’ good, we’re hitting the Hayburger. I need to carb-load, ‘cause I’m gonna act a FOOL tonight.”
  73. “Oh. Y-yeah. That doesn’t sound too bad.”
  74. >Celestia nearly paralyzes you with a smack to your lower back, verging dangerously close to your butt
  75. >”There you go. Now let’s do this!”
  77. >The haircut isn’t too bad, you guess
  78. >The chilly German stylist barely says a word to you, which you absolutely approve of
  79. >She shears your tangled green locks down to a manageable shoulder length, then straightens them in a soft verdant curtain
  80. >Clothes-shopping, however, is hell
  81. >First, you change into a tight-fitting black dress that hardly covers any of you, and you’re blushing so furiously you can hardly bare to show yourself to Celestia
  82. >Mercifully, she lets you put that dress back
  83. >From there, it’s a parade of gowns of vary lengths, colors, and compositions
  84. >You don’t understand any of it; they’re dresses, they’re just vaguely pretty
  85. >Now, if it was the different patterns of power armor you were talking about, you’d have a few more opinions
  86. >But dresses?
  87. >Eventually, Celestia hands you a soft sea-green one that she claims will “totally work with your new hair, breh”
  88. >Whatever that means
  89. >You slip it on and step out to meet her, already beginning to check out
  90. >Your feet hurt, and you just want to go home, curl in a blanket, and watch YouTube until you can’t keep your eyes open
  91. >When Celestia sees you, her face goes blank
  92. >”Bruh.”
  93. “What?”
  94. >”This is it. This is fuckin’ IT.”
  95. “What do you mean? Is it t-that bad?”
  96. >”It’s perfect! Look at yourself, you big nerd.”
  97. >She turns you towards the mirror
  98. >For a moment, you’re tempted to check your glasses
  99. >The girl in front of you is you, ostensibly, but she looks…
  100. >Well, kinda good
  101. >Definitely not *great*, you’re no Mi Amore Cadenza
  102. >But still, this is…
  103. >This is nice
  104. >The dress is a knee-length swath of sea-colored fabric, slightly pearlescent under the store’s favorable lighting
  105. >Your hair falls neatly to your shoulders, drawing some attention to your pale chest and your narrow face
  106. >You reach up and remove your glasses from your face…
  107. >The world immediately goes blurry and messy, so you put them right back on
  108. >When you do, you see Celestia standing behind you, tears glimmering in her eyes
  109. >”Bruh…”
  110. “Yeah?”
  111. >She shakes her head
  112. >”Man, I’m so good at this…”
  113. >You’re still half in a daze when she takes you by the arm, steering you back out of the mall to the car
  114. >You two might have just stolen that dress; you’re not entirely sure what’s happening
  115. >Outside, the sun is already falling, wrapping the parking lot in a layer of ruddy dusk and winter chill
  116. >But despite everything, a tiny smile begins to form on your face
  117. >You actually like the way you look!
  118. >And maybe, if Cadence sees you, she will too!
  119. >Celestia stops at the car, and she gives you a weird look
  120. “I-is something wrong? Do I have something stuck in my braces?”
  121. >”Nah. You look real good, Chryssi.”
  122. “Y-yeah. Thanks…”
  123. >You can’t even meet her eye, you’re blushing so hard
  124. >”Whoever you’re tryna impress, you’re gonna knock ‘em dead.”
  125. “I hope…”
  126. >Celestia stays silent for a second
  127. >She opens her mouth as if to say more, then shakes her head
  128. >”C’mon,” she says. “Let’s go crash this fuckin’ thing.”
  130. “Aaaaah…”
  131. >”What?”
  132. “Is it s-supposed to be so *loud*?”
  133. >You and Celestia are still a few dozen paces from the CHS gym, but you can already feel the bass throbbing beneath your feet
  134. >”Hell yeah. They gotta crank the bass up so that you don’t realize how awful the music is.”
  135. “Wait, why are you d-dancing to music you hate?”
  136. >Celestia just shrugs
  137. >She’s changed into her own dress, now; it’s a short-cut, white, sporty thing that almost makes her look like some kind of Greek goddess
  138. >You’re following along behind her, your long, skinny legs hardly able to keep up with her powerful Canterlot High Athletic Department stride
  139. >The clothes you were wearing earlier—faded jeans and prized Watto shirt—are stuffed into your backpack, which you’re carrying in one hand because you’re too lame to own a purse
  140. >”It’s not about the music. It’s about the *vibes*, bruh.”
  141. “I think it’s vibing a little too hard…”
  142. >”Nah, that’s what come later.”
  143. “It’s g-going to get *worse*?”
  144. >”I think you mean better. By the end of the night, it’ll feel like you’re getting kicked in the chest by a mule.”
  145. “That doesn’t sound like fun…”
  146. >”Hey, you’ve got someone you’re tryin’ to impress, right?”
  147. “Y-yeah…”
  148. >Cadence’s face flashes in your mind again, bringing a swelling wave of heat to your chest
  149. >Celestia clearly notices the pink flush creeping into your cheeks
  150. >”You got it real bad, huh?” she asks, her voice going suddenly quiet
  151. >You can hardly even hear her over the music
  152. “Y-yeah. Kinda. I guess.”
  153. >”Well, that’s what the music’s for. You don’t gotta embarrass yourself by talking to her,” Celestia says, perking back up
  154. >She slaps your back and nearly bowls you over
  155. >”Just go up to her, show her your moves, and let the magic happen.”
  156. “I don’t think it’s as easy as you’re trying to m-make it sound…”
  158. >You feel nervous to the point of throwing up, and that’s just from stepping inside
  159. >The music is blaring, the kind of concussive presence that feels like someone is repeatedly punching the side of your head
  160. >And as if that wasn’t enough stimulation, the entire gym floor is *packed* with bodies
  161. >Girls in shimmering dresses and boys in disheveled suits surge through the floor, a mass of sweaty, faceless humanity beneath pink-and-white streamers to celebrate the holiday
  162. >You get vague Silent Hill vibes from the whole thing, but you don’t totally know why
  163. “Nope. Nope, nope, I c-can’t, let’s just… g-get some burgers or… anything else, I c-can’t…”
  164. >You try to slip away, but Celestia’s massive arm is suddenly around your shoulders
  165. >”Chryssi…”
  166. >She pulls you close against her muscular form and steers you towards the entrance
  167. >”I can’t get in without my date.”
  168. “A-ah…”
  169. >She takes you to the check-in desk, set up right outside the gym’s entrance, where two sharp-looking twins eye you up, both of them clearly not impressed with the skinny, nervous girl before them, even if she’s currently sporting a makeover
  170. >”*This* is your date?” the pink-haired twin asks
  171. >”You realize that having a date isn’t a requirement, right?” the blue-haired twin chimes in. “You could have gotten in by yourself.”
  172. >You hang your head, trying to pretend that you can’t hear them over the pulsing music
  173. “She j-just…”
  174. >”Yeah, I’m aware,” Celestia retorts, the arm slung around your shoulders protectively tightening around you. “Did you forget who you’re talking to? This whole dance was my idea anyway.”
  175. >The twins pale
  176. >”And I brought her because I wanted to bring her. So me and my *date* would like some wristbands. Sound good?”
  177. >”Y-yes, right away!” the pink-haired twin chirps
  178. >She hurries to get bands fitted around your wrists, and Celestia leads you onwards
  179. >”Sorry about them,” she says as the two of you step into the gym
  180. >Celestia is practically shouting, but the words barely reach your ears over the roar of music
  181. >You simultaneously want to headbutt a whole through the wall, and curl up in a ball and die
  182. “It’s f-fine. I’m… I’m s-sorry. I’m making you look weird, aren’t I?”
  183. >”Huh? What do you mean?”
  184. >You point towards the dance floor, where plenty of girls are already starting to stare
  185. >Though you can’t hear it, you can imagine the shout-snickering going on between them
  186. >Celestia, however, just laughs
  187. >”What, you think I care? Let ‘em piss their panties over it. Let’s go get some punch. I’ve brought some secret sauce to make it interesting~”
  188. >Celestia procures a bottle of gin from… somewhere, you really have no idea how she hid that on her person
  189. >You try to keep up as she leads you towards the snack table, but you almost immediately fall behind
  190. >And then your path is blocked
  191. >You nearly plow into a girl slightly shorter than Celestia, but still quite a bit taller than you
  192. >Her midnight-blue hair falls in waves across her shoulders and half of her face, leaving only one heavily-shaded eye leering out at you
  193. >Her lips are slathered in black lipstick, a studded choker pinches her throat, and in place of a dress she’s wearing a leather jacket
  194. “A-ah! Um, s-sorry. I didn’t… you’re w-wearing all black, so I didn’t… it was h-hard to see…”
  195. >”Hey,” the punk girl says, cutting you off. “Did my sister bring you here?”
  196. “Huh? Oh, Celly? Y-yeah, technically, I guess. Wait, sister? So you’re Luna?”
  197. >”Ugh, no! I keep telling her, I’m Nightmare now!”
  198. “O-oh.”
  199. >”See, you get it. You seem cool.”
  200. “I do?”
  201. >”Yeah. You aren’t like the rest of these… posers.”
  202. >She spits out the final word like it’s the dirtiest one she knows
  203. “I guess not. But Celly seems cool. I d-don’t think she’s like them.”
  204. >”She’s exactly like them! Beloved, beautiful, popular. Shallow. She’s just bringing you to look better to her friends.”
  205. “W-what do you mean? Everyone thinks it’s r-really weird that she’s bringing me.”
  206. >”Tch. Maybe. But think about it: popular girl brings the weird, ugly nerd to the Valentine’s dance. Really makes her look like a philanthropist, eh?”
  207. “Oh…”
  208. >”Just saying. She doesn’t actually care about *you*. This is her trying to look like she has the biggest heart in the room.”
  209. >A wicked smile spreads across Luna’s—across Nightmare’s face
  210. >”But don’t worry. Before the end of the night, I’m gonna put her in her place.”
  211. “Y-you are?”
  212. >”Oh, yeah. C’mon. You’re cool, I wanna show you what I’ve got planned.”
  213. >Luna tries to take your arm, but you pull away
  214. “I t-think I’d rather stay with Celly.”
  215. >Luna’s face twists
  216. >”Fine. But when she throws you away, you aren’t gonna cry on my shoulder.”
  217. >And with that, she disappears into the surging darkness of the dance
  219. >Celestia appears at your side, looking only vaguely bemused
  220. >”Was that Lulu?”
  221. “She said she prefers being called Nightmare, now.”
  222. >”Man, she really won’t let this Nightmare phase go, huh? Is that cringy, or what?”
  223. “I guess. She said some s-stuff that kinda worried me, though…”
  224. >”Nah, don’t worry about it. She’s just going through that time, you know. Dyeing her hair, changing her name, threatening to eradicate the sun. Highschool’s hell, bro.”
  225. “I mean, I agree…”
  226. >Before you can say more, Celly has pressed a cup into your hands
  227. >”Here. Drink up.”
  228. >You raise it to your nose, but immediately get a whiff of the stinging, cloying scent of alcohol
  229. “Blech.”
  230. >”What? Not a fan?”
  231. “I don’t really d-drink.”
  232. >For a moment, you brace yourself in preparation for Celestia to berate you, or laugh at your cowardice
  233. >But instead, she just nudges your shoulder and yanks the cup from your hands
  234. >”Eyy, that means there’s more for me!”
  235. >She slams your cup back, lets out an incredibly un-ladylike belch that’s audible even over the music, then perfectly Kobes the cup into the trash
  236. >”So? You wanna dance?”
  237. >She grabs you by the hand and is just about to lead you towards the floor, when your eyes fall upon your prize
  238. >Cadence is standing off to the side of the central seething mass of dancers
  239. >Violet silk flows along her body, interspersed with silvery mesh that’s nearly see-through, tantalizing enough to drive you mad
  240. >Celestia gives you a weird look, then follows your gaze to Cadence
  241. >”Oh! You… her?”
  242. “W-what? No! She just looks really good! And I would totally let her do anything she wants to me, and—“
  243. >You swallow what feels like a spider’s next in your throat
  244. “Yeah. Her. Kinda.”
  245. >Celestia’s expression is unreadable for a moment
  246. >”I never thought… you and a girl… I mean, a girl like her… you got some good fuckin’ taste, you fuckin’ nerdlord.”
  247. “You t-think so?”
  248. >”Aww yeah. Go talk to her! Look like she isn’t attached, even at a dance like this. She must be crazy lonely. I bet she’d be really happy to hang with you.”
  249. “You t-think?” you ask Celestia, radiant hope suddenly blossoming in your chest
  250. >She gives you an uncharacteristically sad smile
  251. >”Oh, yeah. I know.”
  252. >Before you have time to dwell on her reaction, though, Celestia is pushing you towards Cadence
  253. >”Go knock her dead. You big dork.”
  255. >There are no words to express the terror you feel as you approach Cadence
  256. >It’s like heading into the heart of a nuclear reactor, and you can feel her beauty radiating off of her, threatening to incinerate you if you get too close
  257. >The music is too loud, and she doesn’t even notice you when you’re standing a foot from her shoulder
  258. >Up close, you realize that you’re actually as tall as she is, maybe an inch or two taller
  259. >You’re so used to seeing her from afar, you always just assumed she was a Celestia-tier giant
  260. >Cadence is talking to two girls you don’t recognize, both of them bedecked in dresses that lack straps, a back, or much below the knee
  261. >One of them nods towards you, a weird expression on her face
  262. >Cadence turns, and her eyebrows arch in surprise when she sees you
  263. >”Oh! Hey?”
  264. >Hearing her voice directed at you is… surreal, to say the least
  265. >Having that smiling face pointing in your direction is almost too much
  266. “H-hey.”
  267. >”Sorry, do I know you?”
  268. “Um, n-no. Chrysalis.”
  269. >Cadence looks confused
  270. “My name. Chrysalis. Or Chryssi. Not a bug thing, just a… weird coincidence, I guess. I do like bugs, though. So, heh, yeah…”
  271. >Even though the room is pulsing with music, the silence between the two of you still manages to feel painfully awkward
  272. >A slow, slightly strained smile stretches across Cadence’s face
  273. >”Cool! Nice to meet you. I’m Cad—“
  274. “I know.”
  275. >”Ah. I see.”
  276. “S-sorry. I just… I wanted to ask if you… f-feel like…”
  277. >Your tongue feels like it just doubled in size, and your mouth simultaneously feels full of spit and way too dry
  278. “Do you want to dance? With me?”
  279. >Cadence gives you a weird look, almost as if she’s trying to figure out whether or not you’re joking
  280. >”A dance?”
  281. “Y-yeah, sorry. I just, um, k-kinda… you look r-really nice tonight.”
  282. >Months of daydreaming about getting the chance to talk to her, rehearsing all the speeches you would make, and this is the best you can do
  283. >You almost wish she’d just snap your neck right now and end your misery
  284. >”Oh, sorry,” Cadence says
  285. >To your surprise, a kind smile stretches across her face
  286. >”I’m actually here with my boyfriend. You’re really sweet though.”
  287. “Ah, r-right. I’m s-sorry.”
  288. >”No, it’s okay! I’m just, you know, kinda taken.”
  289. “Y-yeah…”
  290. >”But thanks for the offer! You look really cute.”
  291. >She throws the compliment out in an offhand way, mostly just to east the sting of rejection
  292. >But still, you walk back to Celestia in a daze
  293. >Cadence called you cute!
  294. >You also got totally dumped, but to be fair, you kinda expected that to happen
  295. >Somewhere deep down, you knew there was no choice of a goddess like her slumming it with a gross closet lesbo like you
  296. >Still, it was a nice fantasy…
  297. >And you get to cling to a piece of it; that little compliment she gave you radiates warmth inside your chest
  298. >Celestia pats you on the back as soon as you get close enough
  299. >”No good, eh brah?”
  300. “N-no…”
  301. >”Hey, it’s cool. She jumps from guy to guy every other week. You don’t want any part of that.”
  302. “I guess…”
  303. >”Aww, hey. Cheer up, ‘aight? We still got the whole night ahead of us.”
  304. >Before you know it, her arm is around your shoulders
  305. >”Seriously though, why’d you never tell me you were into chicks?”
  306. “I t-thought you’d make fun of me.”
  307. >”What? Nah bruh.”
  308. >Celestia shakes her head
  309. >”Look. Can I be real with you? I’m actually—“
  310. >Celestia falls silent, though, when the music filling the room suddenly cuts out
  311. >In unison, everyone towards the far end of the gym, where a wooden stage is set into the wall
  312. >A single spotlight shines onto the stage, illuminating the figure of a middle-aged woman dressed in a tight-fitting purple suit
  313. >Ms. Harshwhinny clears her throat, and the asshole of every single student in the room clenches
  314. >”Ladies and gentleman,” she drawls. “The time has come. You’ve cast your votes. And now, the student council is pleased to announce this year’s Valentine Queen.”
  315. >Next to you, Celestia groans
  316. >”Fuuuuck, I forgot about this. I’ll be right back, ‘aight? Just… wait right here. I promise it won’t take long.”
  317. “Y-yeah, okay.”
  318. >You feel immediately stranded and awkward when you don’t have her by your side, like the disapproving eyes of the student body are going to eat you alive
  319. >Celestia jogs up to the stage and stands beside Harshwhinny, towering over her
  320. >The spotlight catches in her hair, and she looks absolutely radiant as pearlescent colors sparkle along its length
  321. >She puts on a big, warm smile, and your heart trembles a little
  322. >You’ve gotten so used to her dragging you around that you feel like you never really noticed how gorgeous she is
  323. >Celestia’s eyes sweep the crowd, and for a moment they land on you
  324. >”And tonight’s winner is…”
  325. >A short pause, for dramatic effect
  326. >”…Mi Amore Cadenza! Congratulations!”
  327. >A roar goes up from the crowd
  328. >Cadence steps forward, the picture of grace, and ascends to the stage
  329. >However, as soon as her shoes hit the boards, a weird feeling of unease begins to creep into your chest
  330. >You remember what Nightmare said to you, right before Celestia pulled you away from her
  331. >’I’m gonna put her in her place…’
  332. >Your eyes sweep over the stage, but nothing seems out of place
  333. >Cadence walks elegantly towards Harshwhinny and Celestia, her face a calm, sweet smile
  334. >Your heart aches at the sight, but it doesn’t quell the raging paranoia inside of you
  335. >Something is wrong, here
  336. >But what…
  337. >You don’t see anything unusual, until you look up
  338. >There, teetering in the rafters, is a plastic tub attached to a string
  339. >It doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s not full of confetti, and Celestia is standing directly underneath it, with Cadence now only a few feet away
  340. >As the roar of the student body’s cheering fills your ears, you sprint forward, a wordless cry spilling from your lips
  341. >Everyone in the gym turns to stare at you like you’re an idiot
  342. >You leap up onto the stage, showing more athletic ability than you ever have in your entire life
  343. >Cadence turns towards you, a mixture of bemusement and fear on her face
  344. >Up above your heads, the tub teeters, then falls
  345. >You barrel into Cadence and shove her aside, then use your momentum to crash into Celestia, knocking the much bigger girl back only a few feet
  346. >Celestia yelps in surprise, and Cadence cries out as a wet mass cascades down onto the top of your head
  347. >For a moment, your vision is dark; a heavy, warm, and strangely ticklish mass is attached to your face
  348. >You raise your hand to your face and push aside a fistful of squirming, writhing bodies
  349. >Centipedes, spiders, grubs, and worms dribble between your fingers
  350. >For a moment, you can only stare in shock at your palm
  351. >It’s covered in glistening soil and writhing bugs
  352. >So are your arms, shoulders, face…
  353. >The filth dribbles and crawls down your body, but you don’t feel much of anything
  354. >Bugs have never really bothered you
  355. >You feel strangely calm, and you turn to your right to make sure Cadence is okay
  356. >A part of you hopes that she’ll be looking at you like you’re some kind of hero, admiration shining in her eyes
  357. >But she’s not
  358. >She does look grateful, but you see something else in her eyes too: pity, mixed with a bit of disgust at your filthy state
  359. >Something inside of you cracks
  360. >You turn out to the rest of the gym, only to find that same pitying, grossed-out look in everyone else’s face
  361. >The entire crowd is shocked; it seems like nobody wants to touch you, let alone help you
  362. >Well, everyone except for one
  363. >”Chryssi! You okay, bro?”
  364. “Huh?”
  365. >Celestia is at your side before anyone has even had a chance to react
  366. >She throws an arm around your shoulders, not seeming to mind that the vermin crawling onto her as well
  367. >”Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
  368. >You don’t resist as she leads you away from the light, sheltering you from view with her body
  370. >The two of you make your way into the women’s locker room, leaving a trail of dying bugs in your wake
  371. >Celestia leads you to the showers, then she turns her back as you strip out of your dress
  372. >It’s ruined, now
  373. >You drop it on the floor and kick it aside, suddenly overcome by a wave of bitterness
  374. >For just a moment, you were beautiful
  375. >You actually liked seeing yourself in the mirror, just that one time…
  376. >And now you’re back to being the same filthy, disgusting girl you always were
  377. >Thankfully, the water hides the tears that roll down your face
  379. >When you finally shut the shower off, Celestia hands you a towel with her eyes closed
  380. “I’m s-sorry,” are the first words you say to her
  381. >”For what?”
  382. “The dress you got me. It’s wrecked.
  383. >”So? Forget about the dress. Are you alright?”
  384. “I’m fine. I kinda w-wrecked your whole time at the dance, though…”
  385. >”Wrecked? Are you kidding? That was badass. I know basketball players who can’t make it across the gym as fast as you did.”
  386. “Oh. Um… I just didn’t want you to get hurt.”
  387. >Celestia opens her eyes just enough to give you a reassuring smile
  388. >She claps her hand against your back
  389. >”You were awesome. Not often someone can knock me off balance, too,” she says with a wink
  390. “Well, you didn’t s-see it coming…”
  391. >”Damn right I didn’t. And speaking of, I think I’m gonna have to whoop a certain little sister’s ass. This is exactly the kinda crap she would—“
  392. “T-that can wait.”
  393. >”It can?”
  394. >Celestia looks genuinely taken aback
  395. “We, um… agh. We should dance.”
  396. >”Like, right now?”
  397. “No, up on the… you know, with everyone else. I w-want us to. To say thanks. For giving me this night. For always sticking up for me, I guess.”
  398. >Celestia touches her hand to her mouth, and you’re surprised to see your friend blushing
  399. >”For real?”
  400. “I mean, if that’s a s-stupid idea, we can just g-go home and—“
  401. >”No! No, I’d love that! I was gonna ask you, but… I mean, I knew you were into Cadence. Here, wait one sec, I’ve got your clothes somewhere.”
  403. >You pull on your same old jeans and your favorite Watto t-shirt once again
  404. >In the mirror, you see the same girl you’ve always been: pallid, nervous, a mouth full of braces and eyes hidden behind thick glasses
  405. >Celestia appears behind you, her reflection barely even fitting into the mirror beside yours
  406. >She pats your shoulder
  407. >”You look really good tonight.”
  408. “You d-don’t have to say that.”
  409. >”Of course I don’t. But you do.”
  410. “Celly?”
  411. >”Yeah?”
  412. “Why’d you b-bring me to this thing? Everyone in the school would k-kill themselves to get a chance to go with you. You could be having a lot more fun.”
  413. >”Not really. I like you, you fuckin’ nerd. A lot. You’re like my… I dunno, best friend, or whatever.”
  414. “But why?”
  415. >”What do you mean, why? Because being around you is great. I’m not about to write you an essay, you dork,” Celestia says, playfully thumping you on the forehead. “I just like you. Now, you better be ready to give me that dance you promised.”
  417. >The two of you reemerge back into the gymnasium
  418. >A lot of the students have already left: it seems like seeing you get dunked in worms kinda killed the mood
  419. >As you step back out onto the dance floor, you see Nightmare lurking in a corner
  420. >She turns her cold stare towards you, and you see a flicker of guilt in her eyes
  421. >That’s when you realize that she’s not so different from you, just another weirdo
  422. >You give her a small, nervous smile
  423. >She shrugs and turns away, but you catch her stealing glances as Celestia leads you into the center of the dance floor
  424. >The music is still playing, but now at a lower volume
  425. >You and her take positions across from her, and that’s when you confess that you have no idea how to actually dance with someone
  426. >Celestia throws her head back, laughing
  427. >”Don’t worry. I suck at it too.”
  428. “Yeah, but… hmph. At least you look good.”
  429. >”*We* look good. Jjust put your hand here… other hand here… yeah. That works.”
  430. >Your hands end up on Celestia’s muscled hips, while her hands go to your shoulders
  431. >You feel very small, but also very… safe, in her embrace
  432. “Huh. This isn’t t-that hard.”
  433. >”See? Now just do what feels right.”
  434. “Right…”
  435. >Quiet, sappy pop music is playing somewhere in the background, and the gym is mostly empty now, save for a few couples making out and Ms. Harshwhinny, who has that steely “please kill me” look of a highschool chaperone
  436. >The two of you just move together for a few songs
  437. >There isn’t much artistry to it, you just let Celestia’s body lead you, feeling like your skinny frame could easily fold into her full, powerful bulk
  438. >She really is beautiful
  439. >Without intending to, your head comes to rest against her chest
  440. >You’ve only ever thought of her as your big, weird friend, the one who constantly dragged you out of your house to play video games, suffer through a school footballs game, or wander aimlessly through the local park
  441. >Without her, your life would be pretty lonely
  442. “Hey…”
  443. >”Hmm?”
  444. >You were so engrossed in thought that you didn’t realize that Celestia was patting your hair
  445. >Over the course of your clumsy dance, the two of you ended up wound in each others’ arms
  446. >When you raise your head, you have no idea what you’re going to say, and upon meeting Celestia’s eyes, your mind just goes totally blank
  447. >You tilt your head up a little bit, not really sure what you expect to happen, it just feels right
  448. >Celestia laughs
  449. >”You wanna kiss me?”
  450. “W-what? No… maybe…”
  451. >”Do it.”
  452. “Now you’re making it weird.”
  453. >”Hah, fine. Then pucker up, nerd.”
  454. >Celestia bends her massive self over you, and you share your first kiss with your best friend
  455. >It’s a single, tender, awkward moment of bliss, and it’s cut short by Scruffy the janitor sidling by, giving you a “get a move on, ladies” grunt as he sweeps up the detritus leftover from the dance
  456. >Up ahead, the lights come back on, and the few stragglers begin filing out
  457. >For a moment, you and Celestia look anywhere but at each other; your cheeks are flaming hot, and you can feel her heart hammering in her chest
  458. >When you do make eye-contact, though, Celestia just laughs
  459. >”Man. Not how I thought tonight would go…”
  460. “I’m sorry.”
  461. >”What? No, no! This is something I’ve wanted for a long time.”
  462. >She keeps her arm around you, sheltering you from the February chill as the two of you step outside
  463. “R-really?”
  464. >”Yeah. Kinda embarrassing, huh?”
  465. “M-maybe a little. I’d be embarrassed if I was into me.”
  466. >Celestia laughs
  467. >”Well, I’m glad it’s out there now.”
  468. >The few students still hanging around outside shoot you shocked, disgusted, or confused looks
  469. >You can already hear the buzzing of rumors stirring to life behind you, but Celestia doesn’t break her stride and she keeps her arm firmly around you
  470. “S-so, um… what now?” you ask, once the two of you are out of earshot
  471. >”I’m gonna be real with you, fam. I have no clue.”
  472. “Are we g-gonna… you know, be like this after tonight?”
  473. >”Oh, hell yeah. I meant, I have no clue where to go now. It’s only 9:00!”
  474. “You *did* mention something about getting burgers… playing some v-video games.”
  475. >Celestia slaps your back, hard enough to almost bowl you over
  476. >”NOW you’re talkin’!”
  477. >She half-leads, half-carries you to the car, giddy and laughing
  478. >Her excitement is infectious, and when you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the car’s dark windows, it’s as snaggletoothed and gangly as ever, but now you can see that you’re smiling too, looking genuinely happy, maybe a little cute, and most of all, loved
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