A Wallflower Grows

May 15th, 2018
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  1. >It was a freak accident when a manticore got into Twilight's palace.
  2. >It was surprising that it made it all the way into the basement lab.
  3. >It was downright amazing that it fit through the portal.
  4. >And it was both unfortunate and confusing when the mirror magic decided not to turn it into a harmless kitty cat.
  5. >Really, it turned a dragon into a dog, so why should a manticore be turned into a lion?
  6. >Spike's going to be filing a complaint when he finds out.
  7. >Regardless, the students of Canterlot High are in a panic as a giant cat rampages through the halls.
  8. >Of all the ways Wallflower expected to go, like nosediving off a bridge or at the bite of a razor blade, getting her head swiped off by a lion was not one of them.
  9. >As she stood paralyzed with her back pressed hard against the lockers, she can't help but wish she had done more with her life.
  10. >She'd never even kissed a boy before.
  11. >As the lion reared up and swung, Wallflower closed her eyes and awaited the inevitable, only to be tackled to the side instead.
  12. "Move, idiot!" a masculine voice yelled from above her.
  13. >Despite not wanting to face death, her curiosity gets the better of her and she opens her eyes.
  14. >Much to her shock, it's to see Anonymous kneeling over her, posture protective and taut, ready to move at a moments notice.
  15. >It really looked like the school Ice King was protecting a loser girl like her.
  16. >How did the day get so strange?
  17. >The lion growling pulls her attention away from the boy, and the cat does not seem pleased.
  18. "Okay, big guy, how 'bout you just back off, and nobody has to get hurt, eh?" Anon says, reaching into his pocket slowly. "You don't want this one, anyway. She's nothing but bone."
  19. >Despite the situation, Wallflower can't help but feel slightly offended at that, but can't say anything before the lion pounces.
  20. >In the same moment, Anon whips up a can of mace and fills the beast's hungry maw with the potent spray.
  21. >Simultaneously, he digs his fingers into her shoulder with an iron grip and leaps sideways, dragging her a few vital feet out of harms way as the big cat hits the linoleum and slides.
  22. >Wallflower stares, stunned as the lion flails and growls, claws digging at its muzzle to leave bloody furrows.
  23. "I'm never going to argue with my mom about carrying this stuff again," Anon comments as thundering footsteps round the corner
  24. >"There it is!" Sunset Shimmer yells, ponyfied much like the five girls behind her. "Quick, Applejack, tie it up!"
  25. >While the heroes go to work, Anon stands and looks down at Wallflower, who's staring up, slack-jawed.
  26. "If they ask, you didn't see what happened," he says. "I was hiding in the closet or something."
  27. >"W-what?" Wallflower stammers.
  28. "I've got a reputation to protect," he answers, turning away. "Ice king's don't save little girls."
  29. >Wallflower watches as he disappears around a corner, and is only able to break her eyes away from where he had vanished when a voice asks, "Wallflower? Why aren't you evacuated? And wasn't there someone else with you?"
  30. >"Sunset?"
  31. >"Yeah, are you hurt?"
  32. >"No."
  33. >"Good, but what about-?"
  34. >"Excuse me, but are you the one who maced the lion?"
  35. >"Fluttershy? What are you-?"
  36. >"The lion has what has to be an entire can of chemical mace sprayed down its throat... It may not live if we don't get it to a vet soon."
  37. >"It wasn't me."
  38. >"Then who?"
  39. >"A boy, he-"
  40. >"A boy!? Oh my gosh, is he okay?"
  41. >"Yeah, he saved me-"
  42. >"Who?"
  43. >"... I don't know. I never saw him before."
  44. >While AJ goes to get her brother's truck to transport the hogtied lion to the vet, Wallflower continues to awkwardly deflect questions.
  45. >She doesn't know why she's lying, but for some reason, the thought of not doing as her savior asked leaves a sour taste in her mouth.
  47. >It's a week later before Wallflower gathers the courage to approach Anon.
  48. >She wishes it didn't have to be while he was surrounded by boys, but it was impossible to catch him alone.
  49. >"U-um, Anonymous?" she starts, clearing her throat.
  50. >The boys halt in their giggling to turn as one, glaring at the girl and making her feel small.
  51. >Anon levels a cool look down at her.
  52. "Yes, can I help you?"
  53. >"Eugh, who is she?" one of the boys asks with a sneer.
  54. >"Probably just another nerd crushing on Anon," another comments with a roll of his eyes. "I swear, you attract the most pathetic girls, Anon."
  55. >Only a few seconds in, and Wallflower can feel tears beading at the corner of her eyes.
  56. >Anon holds up a hand and waves behind him.
  57. "Don't know who she is, but how about you guys go on ahead. I'll catch up."
  58. >"But Anon, you're driving us home!" one cries. "Do you really expect us to wait outside during the summer?"
  59. Without looking back, he tosses his keys over his shoulder and says, "Sit in the car with the AC on, I'll be there in a minute."
  60. >Catching them with a yelp, the boy levels a glare at Anon's back and comments, "You really have to stop giving these losers the time of day, Anon. You're going to end up tied up in one of their basements."
  61. >With that, the bevy of boys leave Anon and Wallflower alone.
  62. >The girl goes to open her mouth, but Anon cuts her off.
  63. "Not here," he says, grabbing her wrist and dragging her behind him. "Come on."
  64. He leads her to a side hall devoid of students and asks, "What's up?"
  65. >Wallflower swallows thickly.
  66. >"Um, do you... remember me?"
  67. "The girl who was almost lion shit? Yeah, I remember."
  68. >"Oh, well, um, I... never said thank you," she begins dumbly. "For saving me, that is."
  69. "Don't mention it," he responds.
  70. >"I haven't!" Wallflower blurts before sinking back into herself. "I mean, I haven't told anyone... like you asked."
  71. >Anon quirks a brow.
  72. "Good. Now, if that's all-"
  73. >"Why'd you do it?"
  74. "What?"
  75. >"Why'd you save me?"
  76. "Would you rather I didn't?" he questions, getting Wallflower to shake her head vigorously.
  77. >"No! I mean, why would you have put yourself in so much danger for a complete stranger like me? You could have been killed, and it would have been trying to save a loser."
  78. >Anon sighs.
  79. "Listen, I don't know what to tell you. I did it because I was there and I saw you needed help. Fuck, I didn't even think much when I ran in, there wasn't time. There's no deeper meaning beyond that."
  80. >"So... what?" Wallflower begins, looking disbelieving. "You're saying you would have done that for anyone?"
  81. "Sure, I guess," he answers. "It's not that amazing; those girls- Sunset and her friends- they'd have probably done it if they'd gotten there soon enough."
  82. >"But they have freaky horse magic and super powers!" Wallflower nearly yells. "You're just a boy!"
  83. "That has nothing to do with it," Anon practically growls. "Flash Sentry would have done it too, the bleeding heart. Seriously, what do you want from me?"
  84. >"I want a real answer!"
  85. "Fine, I'm a fucking superhero! Is that what you wanted to hear?" Anon finally yells, getting the girl to jerk back. "Sorry your shit life is so bleak that it's incomprehensible to you that someone would risk themselves to save it without there being some ulterior motive."
  86. >"I-I, but-"
  87. "No, you know what, we're done," Anon snaps, turning away. "Great thanks, by the way. Really nailed it."
  88. >Wallflower can only stare as the boy stomps away, feeling every bit the failure she is.
  89. >Way to go, girl, you just made your savior mad at you.
  90. >He probably regrets stopping that lion from eating you now.
  92. >Anon gets into the driver's seat with a huff and slams the door.
  93. >"Wow, something's got you angry," one of the boys in the back comments. "What did that girl say?"
  94. "Nothing," Anon answers, throwing the car into reverse and pulling out of the parking spot a little faster than necessary. "It doesn't matter."
  95. >"Anon, if she did something... inappropriate-" another starts, but Anon cuts him off.
  96. "Seriously, Caramel, we've been over this. Not every girl is a sexual predator, and even if she did try something, you know I would have decked her."
  97. >"Yeah, C, you know our big, tough, leader can take care of himself," Pokey jokes, leaning up to put his face in between the front seats. "Still, I wouldn't be surprised if she asked him out. So what stupid pickup line was it this time that's got your speedo in a twist? Are you a candle, 'cause I want to blow you. Maybe, you're the opposite of homework; I want to do you all night."
  98. >"Ugh, please, enough, Pokey," Blueblood moans. "You're going to make me puke. That girl was so gross, I could literally smell her."
  99. >"Well, she was sweating pretty bad when she walked up to us," Caramel muses.
  100. >"Probably doesn't even know what deodorant is," Blue continues.
  101. "Enough guys," Anon snaps. "We're done talking about it."
  102. >"Geez, fine," Pokey says with a pout. "You've just made such an art of turning girls down that I can't help but admire it."
  103. "Whatever," Anon grumbles. "I'm hitting the gym. Any of you want to join me, or am I dropping you all off?"
  104. >While Blueblood agrees to join, wanting to work on his glutes, Anon has to detour to drop off his other friends.
  105. >An annoyance considering he just wanted to work off some steam before he ended up socking the next person to piss him off.
  106. >Pokey is lucky he got out of the car when he did, seeing as how he was gearing up to be that unfortunate someone.
  107. >People have always thought him cold throughout his second childhood, but when he has the mind of an adult, it's hard not to be.
  108. >Especially when he hit puberty and suddenly found himself surrounded by horny girls wanting the D.
  109. >A dream come true for his previous self, but he had died when he was in his mid-twenties, and is now effectively two decades older than all of his classmates.
  110. >The Ice King persona helped him then, reducing the number of girls trying to pick him up and making him feel less like a perv.
  111. >Frankly, even being a total bitch, he still gets too many girls approaching him hoping to score.
  112. >It really made him reflect on his previous world and realize how much girls back home could get away with while still being desired.
  113. >And now there's this girl who thinks he's a hero or some shit.
  114. >If she opens her mouth and this gets around school, he'll have thrice as many girls trying to get in his pants, and triple the temptation against saying no.
  115. >He's seriously considering trying to get with Principle Celestia just so he can finally get all this pent up desire out of his system without feeling like a pedophile.
  117. >"So, you want to know about Anonymous?" Sunset asks, leaning against the bathroom counter. "Any reason why?"
  118. >When the other girl had told Wallflower that they were friends and that she could come to her for help when she needed it, she hadn't expected this would be the first thing she ended up seeking help with.
  119. >"No reason, I just... just," Wallflower flounders for words, but is luckily saved when Sunset sighs.
  120. >"Listen, if you have a crush on him, don't be ashamed, you aren't the only girl in school who does."
  121. >Wallflower blushes.
  122. >"C-crush? No, that's not it at all!"
  123. >Sunset looks skeptical.
  124. >"If that's the case, then it's for the best."
  125. >"Why do you say that?"
  126. >"Because Anon is an Ice King," she says simply. "He's turned down every girl who's ever asked him out, and none too gently for some."
  127. >"Oh..."
  128. >Sunset tilts her head.
  129. >"You didn't know? I mean, every girl in school knows that. Still doesn't stop some from trying though..."
  130. >Wallflower rubs her arm self-consciously.
  131. >"No, I knew that, I just forgot..."
  132. >And she really did, too.
  133. >She never much kept up with school gossip as it didn't involve her, and after the boy had saved her life, it was easy to forget he had such a cold-hearted reputation.
  134. >"Well, try to remember it if you do want to ask him out," Sunset reiterates. "It'll save you some heartache."
  135. >"I'm not going to ask him out," the green-haired girl states with a blush. "I just want to get to know him better. Maybe be friends."
  136. >"...Okay then," Sunset starts, pushing away from the sink. "Personal opinion aside, I'm not really in the position to speak out against any sort of friendship making, no matter how sure I am that it's going to fail, so what do you need to know?"
  137. >"Well, what kind of stuff does he like? Is he in any clubs?"
  138. >"Fitness," Sunset answers. "He's in the fitness club run by his friend, Blueblood, but a lot of people think of him as the president."
  139. >"Why's that?"
  140. >"Have you seen his pecs?"
  141. >"W-well-"
  142. >"Or abs?"
  143. >"Yes, but-"
  144. >"Or ass?"
  145. >"Sunset!"
  146. >"The guy's chiseled and spends most of his time at the gym," Sunset continues, ignoring Wallflower's massive blush. "I know some girls go just to watch him workout."
  147. >"Is that all? Do girls really just see him as... that?"
  148. >"Eye candy? Pretty much, though I've heard he's also an "A" student."
  149. >Wallflower perks up, feeling like she's just got the first confirmation that there's more to Anon than meets the eye.
  150. >"Really?"
  151. >"That's what I've heard," Sunset repeats. "I don't have any classes with him personally, but Dash does. Though she says he cheats because he sleeps through most of them or stares out the window the whole time."
  152. >"He could just be really smart..." Wallflower mumbles, getting Sunset to nod.
  153. >"He could, or he really could be a cheater. I don't know him well enough to say. Outside of his boy band, he tends to keep to himself. Anyway, lunch is almost over, so..."
  154. >"Yeah, you can go," Wallflower answers the unasked question. "Thanks, Sunset."
  155. >The red-head smiles.
  156. >"Any time. I hope it helps with whatever you're planning."
  157. >"Me to," Wallflower agrees.
  158. >If anything, she at least knows a new place to find him in the gym.
  159. >Maybe if she's lucky, she'll be able to catch him without all his friends around.
  160. >... Okay, that sounded a little rapey, but it's hard enough to talk to one cute guy, let alone four.
  162. >Anon is doing squats when he feels eyes on him.
  163. >This isn't unusual as he is used to being eye-fucked while working out, and has long since learned to ignore it.
  164. >But the thing is, he doesn't know where the feeling is coming from, and he's usually pretty good at pinpointing his observers.
  165. >Admittedly, girls don't try hard to hide it, but that only makes the current predicament more strange.
  166. >Racking the bar, Anon uses the end of the towel around his shoulders to pat the sweat from his face as he scans the room.
  167. >There's only a few other people working out, and none are looking at him, so he's about to call it paranoia before he finally spots a girl over by the water fountain.
  168. >Damn, she's really good at fading into the background.
  169. >Also, damn it's Wallflower.
  170. >He had hoped that after the less than friendly exchange yesterday that the meek girl would want to stay away, but no such luck, apparently.
  171. >Anon casually makes his way through the room, making sure to pass in front of as many pieces of equipment as possible to have her lose track of him as he goes.
  172. >As he suspected, he sees her searching the room frantically when she no longer knows where he is.
  173. >A potential stalker then.
  174. >Great.
  175. >Approaching her from her blind spot, Anon clears his throat, getting the girl to jump and whip around.
  176. >"Anon!" she yelps.
  177. "Wallflower," he responds far less explosively.
  178. >"Y-you know my name?"
  179. "I asked around," he answers, leaning a shoulder against the wall and crossing his arms. "Still hard though. Pinkie was the one who eventually told me... You don't have a lot of friends, do you?"
  180. >At the broken eye contact and lip catching between her teeth, Anon clicks his tongue.
  181. "Thought so. Listen, I don't know why you're following me, but if it's for a date, I'm not interested."
  182. >"Why does everyone think that," she grumbles. "No, I'm not asking you on a d-date. I just... wanted to know more about you."
  183. "That so? Well, I guess spying is one way of getting to know someone."
  184. >"Spying?"
  185. "Yeah, you know, that thing you were doing over here; trying not to be seen while you watched me work out."
  186. >"I was just trying to think of a good way to approach you," she defends. "And you seemed busy, anyway, so I was going to wait."
  187. >Anon wants to call her out on that if only to see her more flustered, but surprisingly, he believes her.
  188. >This girl does not come off as a competent liar, and he sighs.
  189. "Fine, what do you want to know?" he asks, standing up straight. "And it better not be why I saved you again. I already answered that."
  190. >"You're... going to talk with me?" she questions disbelievingly.
  191. "Why not?" he answers with a shrug. "I'm about done with my workout, and frankly, I have a feeling you'll end up stalking me more if you don't find out what you want to, so shoot."
  192. "I'm not a stalker," she mumbles before shaking her head and looking up to meet his eyes. "Um, okay, you... want to sit down over there?"
  193. >A moment later, Anon and Wallflower are on a bench, the former drinking from a sports bottle while he observes the other gym goers.
  194. >"So... you spend a lot of time here?" Wallflower asks.
  195. "I try to come everyday," he answers. "Usually a little later though so I don't have to deal with other people."
  196. >"Why? Are you, like, shy or something?"
  197. "Nah, I just prefer the quiet after spending all day in a building full of kids. Plus, fewer girls eyeing me up."
  198. >"You're the same age as the rest of us," Wallflower points out, raising an eyebrow. "... Right?"
  199. "Wondering if I got held back?" he inquires.
  200. >"No, it's just, you're talking like you're older."
  201. "Guess it's just a maturity thing," he grumbles. "And yeah, I'm the same age as you all. I turn eighteen in a couple months."
  202. >"Really?" Wallflower begins before giggling lightly.
  203. "Something funny?"
  204. >"It's just... I'm kinda surprised I'm older than you," she answers. "My birthday's next week."
  205. "It is?" Anon starts, finally looking at her. "Well, happy birthday then, if I don't see you that day."
  206. >"It's on a Saturday, so you probably won't," she explains with a small smile. "... Thanks. Usually I just hear it from my Mom and Dad."
  207. >Despite his Ice King persona, he feels a pang of sympathy for the girl as she stares down at the hands folded in her lap.
  208. >It's obvious she's far from a popular kid, so birthdays must be lonely for her.
  209. "Hey... maybe I can come by and tell you proper, next Saturday," he finds himself offering. "What's your address?"
  210. >"Y-you want to come over?" she stammers, wide-eyed.
  211. "Not if you make it weird," he says. "Really, it's no big deal, just write it down or something."
  212. >"I can text it to you!" she blurts, fumbling for her phone. "Just give me your... number."
  213. >Anon resists rolling his eyes.
  214. >No doubt she's freaking out internally upon realizing she just asked for a boy's number.
  215. >Was he ever this awkward around girls when he was her age?
  216. >It's been so long, it's hard to recall.
  217. "Listen up, I don't like to repeat myself," he says, getting the girl to jolt from her stupor. "My phone number is..."
  218. >She nearly drops her phone as she scrambles to type the number in.
  219. >He makes sure to go slow while she does, and after a few rapid clicks, she nods.
  220. >"And... there. I sent it," she declares looking up. "Did you get it?"
  221. >Anon gestures at his attire, a pair of shorts and a muscle shirt.
  222. "Phone's in my locker. I'm sure I got it, though. Have a week to try again if I didn't."
  223. >"Right..."
  224. "Any more questions?"
  225. >"Oh, uh, do you like to read?"
  226. "Not really."
  227. >"Do you have any hobbies besides... this?"
  228. >Anon leans back and thinks about it.
  229. "Driving, I guess, or even just walking. I like to just think sometimes."
  230. >Wallflower hums and starts patting her hands on her thighs nervously.
  231. "How about you? Any hobbies?"
  232. >"Me?" Wallflower says. "Oh no, nothing interesting."
  233. "Working out and aimless wondering aren't interesting hobbies either," Anon points out. "Come on, what is it?"
  234. >"Well... gardening."
  235. "Yeah?" Anon says. "You ever think of joining the Gardening Club?"
  236. >Immediately, the girl's shoulders hunch and she lets her bangs cover her eyes.
  237. >"It's... not for me..."
  238. "Why not?"
  239. >Anon can tell something's wrong, and the broken chuckle only confirms it.
  240. >"You know, the funny thing is, I was actually the president of the club for a while... back when I was the only member, but then we got more, and I just couldn't cut it, so Roseluck took over as president and I was vice president... and then Derpy was vice president..."
  241. Anon actually finds himself lost for words for a bit before muttering, "Shit... that's, ah, that's rough."
  242. >"It's fine," she mumbles. "I'm not cut out for leadership. It was mostly just paperwork anyway; I'm much better off doing my own thing."
  243. "If you say so, I guess..." Anon says uncertainly. " I know what you mean, about the paperwork, that is. Some of the kids think I should be the president of the Fitness Club, but crap like scheduling and membership records; none of that stuff matters to me, so why not let Blueblood handle it? Guy has a knack for paperwork, anyway, and he's not a bad president besides."
  244. >Humming in acknowledgment, Wallflower falls silent, and Anon clears his throat.
  245. "So... I've got to get going. I still need to hit the shower before I go home. Mom hates when I come back smelling like onions."
  246. >"Oh, of course. Sorry for wasting your time," Wallflower says, standing as Anon does. "Um this has been a nice talk."
  247. "Sure," Anon agrees. "I'll be seeing you then."
  248. >"I'll be seeing you, too!"
  249. "Hopefully not spying next time."
  250. >"I wasn't spying!"
  251. >Anon chuckles and turns away, waving over his shoulder.
  252. >That girl isn't as bad as he thought, he decides.
  253. >Just a little weird.
  254. >And really, who is he, the grown-man living through a second life, to judge?
  255. >After a quick wash, Anon opens his bag for a change of clothes, and sees his notification light flashing on his phone.
  256. >Checking reveals that it's a message from an unknown number.
  257. >The text is simply an address, which Anon makes sure to scratch onto a corner of notebook paper, and after, looks back at his screen.
  258. >He didn't plan on doing more than swinging by to say happy birthday, so there's no real reason to keep the number.
  259. >And yet he saves it after a few seconds, naming it "Blush" in his contacts.
  261. >It's later that night, and Wallflower still can't believe she talked to Anonymous.
  262. >Like, had a really real conversation with him.
  263. >Not just a few words, or a dismissal, but an actual exchange of personal details and stuff.
  264. >The whole thing is so novel that Wallflower finds herself in bed, just staring at her phone, and the new number saved within.
  265. >Anon, the forth name on her very short list of contacts, along with Mom, Dad, and Sunset.
  266. >She's been looking at it for so long that when her phone beeps in her hand, she jolts and drops in right on her face.
  267. >"What the-!" she starts, pulling the phone from her stinging nose. "Who's texting- Anon!?"
  268. >Sure enough, there's a short message from the boy, and she sits up, clutching the phone in both hands.
  269. >She hurriedly opens the message, and reads it in a whisper.
  270. >"Just wanted to let you know I got your text. Sorry if I woke you. Goodnight."
  271. >It's simple, just a confirmation, but reading it still makes Wallflower's heart quicken.
  272. >It's ridiculous, but she can't help it when one of the hottest boys in school just sent her a text.
  273. >He even ended it with goodnight!
  274. >"No, stop being stupid," she scolds herself. "It's nothing; he's just being nice... to you, a complete loser."
  275. >She falls back onto her bed with a sigh, throwing an arm over her eyes.
  276. >"It's probably just pity, anyway. No way you're anything to him."
  277. >Even telling herself that however, Wallflower can't keep her mind from wondering back to the tall boy.
  278. >His deep voice and rippling muscles.
  279. >The hard face with the soft green eyes like sunlight shining through a forest canopy.
  280. >How he didn't make fun of her when she told him about the gardening club.
  281. >It even seemed like he was trying to comfort her after, like he cared about her feelings.
  282. >She starts smiling as she remembers him telling her happy birthday, and then saying he'd do so again on the actual day.
  283. >How can someone so kind and genuine ever be considered an Ice King?
  284. >He's the nicest boy she's ever-
  285. >Her eyes shoot open as she comes to a realization.
  286. >"Oh no... I think I'm falling for him."
  288. >When Monday comes, Wallflower has mostly fallen into the back of Anon's mind, schoolwork taking priority.
  289. >It isn't necessarily that he needs to focus because the material is difficult, but his calculus teacher has decided the first day of the week is an excellent time for a test.
  290. >Luckily for Anon, he just needs to study for an hour to refresh his memory, and then he's good to go.
  291. >It's one of the benefits of his second life that he's already learned everything school needs to teach him.
  292. >College would be near as easy too, seeing as he'll just go for the same thing as last time and get a similar job.
  293. >Probably be able to score some much better scholarships this time around to boot, so no debt to take bites out of every paycheck.
  294. >"So, is it true?"
  295. "Is what true?" Anon responds, not looking up from his math book while he waits for class to start.
  296. >A palm comes down to lean on his desk as Pokey continues.
  297. >"I heard through the grapevine that you were talking to that green-haired girl at the gym the other day."
  298. "One, you can tell Grapevine to mind his own business," Anon begins, shutting the book to finally look at his friend. "And two, her name's Wallflower."
  299. >Pokey frowns.
  300. >"Neither of those explain why you were talking to her. And why the gym?"
  301. "Why not?" Anon asks. "It's a public place; she can be there if she wants."
  302. >"You know what I mean, Anon," Pokey returns dryly. "I have an eye for detail, and under that sweater of hers, she's a stick. Not the sort to visit the gym regularly. Which I suspect means she went specifically to see you."
  303. >Anon sighs.
  304. "Well done, detective Pierce, you cracked the case. Now shouldn't you sit down? Class starts in a minute."
  305. >"Still don't know what she wanted," Pierce pushes. "You know I'm not one to put much stock in Caramel's paranoia of the opposite sex, but I can't deny I'm a little bit worried. You wouldn't happen to have another stalker, would you?"
  306. "No, Pokey, Wallflower is not stalking me," Anon says with a roll of his eyes. "She literally made a point of saying it twice when we talked."
  307. >"That must have been an interesting conversation."
  308. "Yeah," Anon agrees. "And a private one, so butt out."
  309. >Pokey looks ready to speak, but the bell rings just as the teacher walks in.
  310. >Instantly, Pokey is told to take his seat, and a few minutes later the teacher is handing out her test.
  311. >Anon flips through the pages and nods.
  312. >Yeah, this'll be quick, then he can spend the rest of class sleeping in the silence.
  313. >When he does just that, he can't help but think of Wallflower, no doubt because of Pierce bringing her up.
  314. >Man, why can't his guy friends be less preppy like her?
  315. >It was nice having a conversation that wasn't about clothes, the shopping of, or girl bands.
  317. >Wallflower is beating her head off her locker at the end of the day.
  318. >Her thoughts had been so focused on Anon over the weekend that she forgot to study for her calculus test.
  319. >She also forgot to do her biology homework and had to scribble something at least gradable before class.
  320. >If she doesn't keep up on her schoolwork, she'll end up having to repeat her senior year, and if school is difficult now, it'll be even worse with the stigma of being a year older than her classmates.
  321. >And even still, she can't get him out of her head.
  322. >It's why she finds herself detouring on her way out of the building just to pass through the hall she knows his locker is in.
  323. >It's why she stops and stares when she sees him shutting his locker door and swinging his backpack over his shoulder.
  324. >Even as his friends surround him, she can't help but want to go up and say hello.
  325. >While these thoughts are running through her head, Anon halts.
  326. >"What's up, Anon?" Caramel asks.
  327. "Nothing, I just forgot something," he answers. "You guys go on ahead, I'll see you later."
  328. >"We can wait-"
  329. >"Come on, C, I can literally hear the ice cream calling my name," Pokey says. "Blueblood's buying, you know?"
  330. >"I certainly am not!"
  331. >As the boys continue arguing, Anon turns around, and Wallflower ducks behind a corner.
  332. >Phew, that was close, Anon nearly caught her-
  333. "Spying again?" the boy accuses, poking his head around the corner. "You know, this doesn't help your not-stalking case."
  334. >Wallflower yelps and stumbles backwards, a heel clumsily catching the other foot and sending her careening towards the linoleum.
  335. "Wow! Be careful!" Anon yells, stepping forward to grab one of her windmilling arms.
  336. >Her sneakers squeak against the floor as she slides and Anon quickly braces another hand against the small of her back.
  337. >It's a testament to his strength that he didn't simply get pulled down with her, instead managing to keep her suspended in a dancer's dip.
  338. "First a near lion mauling and now almost braining yourself on the linoleum," Anon comments with a huff. "I'm starting to think these halls have it out for you."
  339. >Wallflower doesn't respond.
  340. >She doesn't even blink as she stares up at her twice-now savior.
  341. >Maybe a little fall isn't as big a deal as a lion attack, but the warm hand in her own and the other held at her waist make it feel just as remarkable.
  342. "You good to stand?" Anon asks suddenly. "Because your legs are noodling on me."
  343. >"Sorry!" she blurts.
  344. The next several seconds are torture for the girl as she clumsily works her feet back under her and stands, Anon keeping an arm out just in case as she stumbles a bit.
  345. "You good?"
  346. >"Yes, of course, why wouldn't I be?" she tries to brush off. "I'm great. How are you?"
  347. "I think I might have pulled a muscle catching you."
  348. >"Oh my Goodness! I am so sorry!"
  349. "Joking," Anon says with a chuckle. "You don't weigh half enough for that."
  350. >"Right, a joke," she breathes in relief.
  351. >The silence seems to stretch on forever before Anon finally breaks.
  352. "So... You need something, or were you just getting some more spying in?"
  353. >"It wasn't spying," she tries to defend. "... Exactly."
  354. "Not exactly spying?" Anon starts. "So you going to clarify, or should I be thinking about a restraining order?"
  355. >"It wasn't like that! I was just... maybe thinking it would be nice to talk some more."
  356. "And you couldn't think of a way to approach again?" Anon offers, and Wallflower latches onto the excuse.
  357. >"Yes! That's exactly it!"
  358. "Hmm, you want to hear a little advice for next time you don't know how to start a conversation with someone?"
  359. >"Um, sure?"
  360. "Walk up to them, and say hi."
  361. >Wallflower lives up to her name and blushes fiercely.
  362. >"Well, it's kind of hard when there's a bunch of other people standing around them."
  363. >"True, I guess," Anon concedes. "Still better than staring at them from a distance. Especially with me; I have a sixth sense for that kind of thing and just know when someone is watching me."
  364. >"Is that like a legit magic thing, or...?"
  365. "What? No, what are you talking about?"
  366. >"I just mean that, you know, magic is a thing at this school, so..."
  367. "No, it's not magic... I think," Anon actually appears in thought for a second before shaking his head. "Yeah, no, it's definitely not magic. I'm pretty sure I've heard somewhere that humans are just hardwired to know when we're being looked at."
  368. >"Oh, yeah, that makes sense," Wallflower agrees, feeling stupid.
  369. >She bites the inside of her cheek and tries not to look up into his judgemental stare.
  370. >In the moment, it seemed like a reasonable assumption, especially considering she herself wielded the power to erase memories not too long ago.
  371. There's a sigh, and Anon asks, "You want to hang out?"
  372. >She looks up, surprised.
  373. >"You want to hang out with me? Why?"
  374. "Being brutally honest, it's because you looked like a kicked puppy just a second ago and now, for some inexplicable reason I feel like I have to make it up to you."
  375. >Wallflower blinks a few times before his reasoning fully sinks in, and she shakes her head.
  376. >"No, you don't owe me anything like that. I was the one who made myself look like an idiot. Besides, your friends are probably waiting for you."
  377. >Before the last word leaves her mouth, Anon has his phone out and is tapping away at the screen with a thumb.
  378. "Not anymore," he says, slipping the phone back into his pocket. "I just texted Blueblood that I was heading home early. His car's out of the shop, so I wasn't dropping anyone off, anyway."
  379. >Wallflower is stunned.
  380. >"Y-you just cancelled your plans... for me?"
  381. "Yep," he answers easily. "Really, hanging out with you sounds a bit more appealing, anyway. If I'd gone with them, I'd have had to listen to Blueblood give an overly specific order, Pokey wax poetic about how good ice cream is, and Caramel groaning after he's done eating a banana split about how it's going to go straight to his ass like he always does."
  382. >Even shocked as she is, Wallflower snorts at the comedic image Anon paints.
  383. >"Sounds fun. And you really want to miss out on that?"
  384. "Definitely," answers Anon, not missing a beat.
  385. >He turns and starts walking away.
  386. "Come on, I'll drive."
  387. >She nearly trips again as she follows after him, her legs on autopilot as her mind tries to comprehend what has just happened.
  388. >And what is happening to her life.
  389. >She catches up, a step behind from being shoulder to shoulder with the boy, and smiles.
  391. >Anon isn't sure why he made the offer to hang out with the girl.
  392. >It's true that she did look quite pathetic when he shot down her magic theory, but he'd left girls in similar states before and never felt remorse.
  393. >Maybe because she is one of the few girls who isn't just after his dick, or that he finds her near-constant flustered state endearing, but regardless, the sight of her dejected made a pit form in his stomach.
  394. >And so he's currently driving to no where in particular with a ram-rod straight Wallflower in his passenger's seat.
  395. >"So... where we going?"
  396. "No where yet," he answers. "I like driving around, remember? You're free to make suggestions, though."
  397. >"Oh, um, driving is fine."
  398. >Anon watches from the corner of his eyes as she fidgets with her hands, fingers picking at the skin around her nails.
  399. >He returns his eyes to the road and thinks back to there talk at the gym, searching for ideas.
  400. >One thing sticks out to him in particular, and he takes a sharp turn at the next intersection.
  401. >After a few minutes, Wallflower pipes up, "Hey, I think I know this part of town. We're close to the public gardens."
  402. "That's where we're going," Anon says, taking another turn.
  403. >"We are?"
  404. "I figured it's a good way for both of us to enjoy ourselves," he says. "I like walking as much as driving, and you like flowers. Might as well go somewhere we can do both at the same time."
  405. >"You don't have to go out of your way-"
  406. "I'm not," Anon interrupts. "It'll be fun."
  407. >By now, they're at the entrance to the Canterlot Public Garden, and Anon pulls into a parking spot.
  408. "Come on," he says as he opens his door. "If you've been here before, you can show me around."
  409. >She seems a bit out of it again, a trend he's noticed with her, but Wallflower nonetheless steps out of the car and joins him as he walks into the garden.
  410. >The scent of flora is immediately noticeable and Anon is reminded of his father's garden.
  411. >The man would no doubt love coming here, and Anon can imagine him walking around, a notebook in hand as he jotted down ideas and inspirations to utilize in his own little slice of the yard.
  412. >If he knew his son was here now, he'd be ecstatic, having tried on many occasions to share his passion of greenery with his boy.
  413. >He'd be out of his mind with jealousy too, seeing Anon not only here, but listening to Wallflower as she excitedly tells him the species of various plants and gardening techniques.
  414. >"This is what we call a succulent arrangement," she's saying, kneeling down to get closer to the plants lining this part of the path. "See how the leaves of these ones are fleshy? It's because these plants store extra water in them to be more drought resistant. I'm sure the sprinkler system around here are set to go off less frequently than in other places."
  415. "Desert plants," Anon observes, bending his knees and reaching out to brush a finger along a plump leaf. "Kind of like a cactus."
  416. >"Exactly," she beams. "I mean, cacti aren't usually part of the succulent group, but you get the idea."
  417. >Then, pointing, she exclaims, "Oh, look, aloe! This is a really useful one, but you probably know that."
  418. >Anon merely nods along as she tells him fun facts about the medical plant, and soon they're on their way again, crossing vines and flowers as they go.
  419. >After some time, Anon looks up at the sun, noting its slow approach to the horizon.
  420. "Huh, it's starting to get late," he says, looking back to Wallflower. "You don't have a curfew, or anything, right?"
  421. >The girl freezes, a look of horror overtaking her features.
  422. >Anon stops and watches as she yanks her phone out of her pocket and holds down a button.
  423. >The jingle that follows is similar to the one his own phone plays when he's turning it back on.
  424. >Huh, Anon doesn't know many teens with enough willpower to actually turn there phones off during school, not even him.
  425. >"Oh no," she moans. "I completely forgot to tell Mom and Dad I wasn't coming straight home. I have fifteen messages."
  426. >Just then, the phone in her hand goes off, and she nearly drops it before placing it to her ear.
  427. >"Hello- Yes, it's me, Dad- No, I'm fine- You called the police!- Well don't say it like that!- I'm sorry but- Yeah, but- No, I understand- I'm at the Canterlot Public Garden- I know I should have called, I just forgot- Mom didn't have to go out looking for me- Of course I care!- Okay, yes- Yes! I'll be home soon- No, Mom doesn't have to pick me up, the bus station is just around the corner. Okay- Ye- yeah- Um..."
  428. >She shoots a glance at Anon before turning around and bringing her other hand around her mouth and the receiver.
  429. >That doesn't stop him from hearing the whispered, "I love you too, Dad. Sorry for worrying you. See you soon."
  430. >Anon smirks just a little, but wipes it away as Wallflower turns around and gives him a sheepish look.
  431. "Everything okay?" he asks.
  432. >"Yeah, but I need to get home... Now."
  433. "I'll give you a ride."
  434. >"You don't have to-"
  435. "Wallflower," he interrupts. "Do you really think I'm not going to drive you home after I'm the one that brought you here?"
  436. >"I guess... if it's not too much trouble," she concedes.
  437. "It's not, now come on."
  439. >Wallflower sits awkwardly in the passenger's seat, still feeling embarrassed after Anon watched her get chewed out by her dad over the phone.
  440. >She still can't believe she forgot to turn her phone back on after school.
  441. >She turns it off during class because the worn-out battery has trouble keeping a charge, but usually it's powered up as soon as school's finished.
  442. >When they pull up to her home, she gets out, speaking as she does.
  443. >"Um, it was really fun, Anon... What are you doing?"
  444. >Anon is standing outside of the car, as well.
  445. "Walking you to your door," he answers.
  446. >Wallflower is about to ask why, but then the door to her house opens, and a frazzled man comes rushing out.
  447. >"Wallflower Petunia Blush, what were you thinking?!" he demands. "You had me sick with worry!"
  448. >"Hey, Da- Dad!"
  449. >Wallflower stays true to her last name as her father wraps her in a tight hug.
  450. >"I was so afraid that something awful had happened, like you'd been kidnapped, or hurt, or-or jammed into a locker and left all alone like that time in sixth grade."
  451. >"Dad, I'm fine!" assures Wallflower, fruitlessly wriggling in her father's embrace.
  452. >In a whisper, she adds, "You're embarrassing me in front of my friend!"
  453. >As if finally being made aware that they are not alone, the man looks up and sees Anon.
  454. >"Friend? Who is this?"
  455. >Anon, steps around the car and offers a hand which the confused parent accepts.
  456. "Hello, sir, I'm Anonymous," he begins, giving a charming smile. "Don't be too hard on you're daughter here. I'm the one who took her to the Gardens."
  457. Smile becoming slightly mischievous, he adds, "The not calling thing is completely on her, though."
  458. >"Wait, you were with my daughter at the Gardens?" the man asks slowly.
  459. >When Anon nods, the father slowly turns to his daughter and grins.
  460. >"Why didn't you tell me you were on a date? I'd have told you to stay out later!"
  461. >"What?!"
  462. >"And with such a handsome young man, too! I just knew you could do it, Sweetie!"
  463. >"Stop talking, Dad!" Wallflower shrieks, finally breaking away when she hears Anon stifle an amused snort behind a hand.
  464. >"Oh, of course, where are my manners?" he says in response. "Would you like to come inside, Anonymous? We have cookies!"
  465. >While Wallflower moans in defeat, Anon simply chuckles.
  466. "Thanks for the offer, sir, but I should probably be getting home myself. My parent's don't like me staying out after dark, and the sun will be setting soon."
  467. >The man nods.
  468. >"Of course, I completely understand. Why, I was fretting for my little flower here when she was only out for a few ours. I can't imagine what it's like to have a son to worry about."
  469. >Then, looking to his daughter, he adds, "I'll leave you two alone to say your goodbyes."
  470. >Wallflower mumbles something unintelligible from behind her hands as her dad goes back inside.
  471. >"I am so sorry about that, Anon. My dad can be a little... excitable sometimes."
  472. "It's fine," Anon says with a shrug and smile. "No harm done."
  473. >"Still," she says. "That stuff about this being a d-date. I'm sorry if that embarrassed you."
  474. "Seriously, Blush, you worry too much," the boy assures. "Besides, a boy and a girl going on a walk through the gardens together? It's a pretty normal conclusion your dad jumped to."
  475. >"W-what?"
  476. "Anyway," Anon continues, stepping around to the driver's side of his car. "I'll let you get inside. You've got cookies waiting, after all."
  477. >Wallflower's jaw works for a few seconds before she suddenly snaps her head up at the sound of an engine.
  478. >There's a familiar, blue car coming around the corner, and her eyes widen.
  479. >"Mom..." she whispers, practically dying from embarrassment just at the mere thought of Anon interacting with her other parent.
  480. "That so?" Anon begins, door open. "I guess I can stay another minute to introduce myself."
  481. >"No!" Wallflower yelps. "I mean, your parents, remember? D-don't want to worry them, right?"
  482. >Anon looks from the approaching car to the green-haired girl and raises an eyebrow.
  483. "Okay then..." he says, lowering himself into the seat. "If you say so. See you at school. Preferably minus the stalking this time."
  484. >"Yes, yes, no more stalking, now get going, quick!"
  485. >Wallflower heaves a sigh as Anon revs up the engine and starts driving just as the blue car pulls into the driveway.
  486. >"Wallflower?" the woman says as she steps from her car. "Who was that?"
  487. >"Just a friend," she calls, stepping tiredly towards the house.
  488. >She nearly trips as her father, standing in the open doorway, yells, "That was her boyfriend, Anonymous! They just got back from their first date!"
  489. >"What!?" the woman shrieks before rushing her daughter.
  490. >The teenager can only groan as she's bombarded with questions.
  491. >Really, can't her mom at least wait until they're inside?
  492. >The whole neighborhood doesn't need to be misinformed about her love life.
  493. >That thought has another warm rush of blood flooding her already flushed cheeks.
  494. >Her and Anon's love life.
  495. >It's nonexistent, of course, but she can't deny that it's becoming a pleasant fantasy.
  496. >... Sunset must never know, or else Wallflower will hear the dreaded, "I told you so."
  498. >Anon knew something was up when he first met with the guys the next day, and it was at lunch that they finally asked.
  499. >"So, is it true, Anon?"
  500. "I'm getting some serious déjà vu here."
  501. > Pokey ignores him.
  502. >"You went to the public gardens with Wallflower," he presses.
  503. "Yes," Anon confirms, taking a bite of the Salisbury steak provided by the school's cafeteria.
  504. >Mmm, deliciously chewy.
  505. >"So you really did ditch us," Caramel pipes up, sounding genuinely hurt.
  506. >"And for that loser no less," Blueblood adds haughtily.
  507. >Anon breathes through his nose and stomps out the anger that comment sparks.
  508. >Blue's just a preppy teenager embroiled in the brutal world of high school politics, he'll grow out of it someday.
  509. "Wallflower's not a loser," Anon finally says, looking into the blonde boy's blue eyes. "She's just a girl who needs a friend."
  510. >"And you're going to be that friend?" Pierce asks skeptically.
  511. "Why not?" Anon shoots back. "I'm friends with all of you, aren't I?"
  512. >"We're far better company than some no-name girl nobody even knows," Blueblood drawls.
  513. >"And you aren't exactly a great friend besides," Caramel chimes in, sniffing derisively as he folds his arms and pouts. "You ditched us... For a girl!"
  514. "Seriously, Caramel, if it matters that much to you, I'll go get ice cream with you all," Anon says with a roll of his eyes. "I'll even buy you a cone."
  515. >While that gets a small, hopeful smile from the brown-haired boy, Pierce isn't as easily distracted.
  516. >"Still doesn't answer my biggest question," he says.
  517. "Which is?" asks Anon, sounding bored.
  518. >"Why?"
  519. >Anon raises a brow.
  520. "Why did I take Wallflower to the gardens?"
  521. >"That's one," Pokey confirms, holding up a finger before adding two more. "Also why do you apparently care about this girl, and what's your endgame."
  522. "I don't have an endgame, and I care about Wallflower because she's a decent human being and deserves to be treated like it," Anon explains patiently. "Besides, she hasn't harassed me for a date, hasn't made a move to grope me or anything like that, and is genuinely pleasant to hang out with."
  523. >"Really?" Blueblood asks, raising his own meticulously tweezed brow. "She's more pleasant company than us?"
  524. "Quieter," Anon mumbles, before speaking up. "She's chill, in a spazzy mess sort of way."
  525. >A small smile pulls at his lips as he remembers her embarrassment at her father's behavior.
  526. >"Oh no," Pierce suddenly says, thrusting his finger in Anon's face. "I know that smile."
  527. >"What smile?" Caramel asks, leaning in, but missing it as it's already been replaced with a frown.
  528. >"You were just fondly reminiscing about Wallflower," Pokey accuses.
  529. "Okay..." Anon bites. "And that's a bad thing, why?"
  530. >"Because you're obviously starting to develop romantic feelings for this girl," the silver-haired boy states as though it's obvious.
  531. >"What?!" Caramel yelps while even Blueblood leaned back in his seat in shock. "Anon! You can't! It's too dangerous!"
  532. "I think I can defend myself against a girl half my size," Anon retorts. "And she's not dangerous, anyway."
  533. >"Of course she's dangerous!" Caramel continues, gripping the edge of the table so hard that his knuckles turn white. "She's a girl! They get inside your head, make you think that you can't live without them, and then they use their speed and dexterity to dominate you in the worst ways!"
  534. "You really have to lay off the masculism propaganda, C," Anon sighs. "It's messing with your head."
  535. >"Or perhaps he's right, and Wallflower's messing with yours," Blueblood suddenly says. "If I recall correctly, Pierce had told us this Wallflower is friends with Sunset Shimmer."
  536. >Pokey nods, but seems as lost as Anon.
  537. >"That's true. I did some digging before lunch, and it seems Sunset is her only friend."
  538. "So what?" Anon asks. "Isn't Sunset some sort of hero nowadays? Seems like a good friend to have."
  539. >"She's a hero now, yes," Blueblood confirms. "And she seemingly uses those unnatural powers of hers for good. But that wasn't always the case, and I happen to recall a certain Fall Formal where she displayed a very wicked power... A mind-controlling one."
  540. >At that, both Pokey and Caramel looked at Anon with wide, worried eyes even as Anon responds with a roll of his own.
  541. "So what? You think Sunset has somehow given Wallflower mind-altering super powers? Guys, I know things have gotten weird lately, but come on."
  542. >"Yes, things certainly have been weird," agrees Pierce. "Like you suddenly growing close to a girl that you, and everyone else hardly knows, as opposed to giving her the cold shoulder like you have to even the most popular girls in school."
  543. >"And how you've abandoned all common sense, leaving the safety of our group to go somewhere alone and secluded with a girl that you know has been stalking you," Caramel adds, looking sick.
  544. >Anon pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath before pointing at Caramel.
  545. "First, the Canterlot Public Gardens are not secluded, there were plenty of other people there. Also, if you're implying that I was sexually assaulted, I'm taken back the ice cream offer."
  546. >He moves the finger to Pierce.
  547. "Backing up a bit, I do not have romantic feelings for Wallflower. Stop looking for things that aren't there."
  548. >Then it's Blueblood's turn, and Anon's finger hovers for several seconds.
  549. "... I don't even know where to start. Seriously, I thought crazy conspiracies were C's thing."
  550. >"Hey!" Caramel yells.
  551. >"I'd hardly call it a conspiracy," Blueblood sniffs. "That would imply there isn't reasonable evidence to support the claim."
  552. >"He's got you there, Anon," agrees Pokey while Caramel nods vigorously.
  553. >Anon clenches his jaw, and holds back a scream of frustration.
  554. "No, you know what? I'm over it," he states, grabbing his tray and standing up. "I'm not going to waste the entire lunch period trying to get you all to see how stupid you're being."
  555. >"Where are you going?" Pokey asks.
  556. "Away from all of you," Anon answers simply as he grabs his bag. "At least until you've all come to your senses."
  557. >"Going to sit with Wallflower?" Blueblood jabs.
  558. "Nope," he answers, still as cool as can be. "I think I'd rather sit by myself."
  559. >Anon walks away then, ignoring the calls for him to come back.
  560. >As much as he's trying not to show it, his stormy expression still has kids scrambling out of his way, and soon, he comes across a table cleared of students as they flee from him.
  561. >Sitting down, Anon jabs his plastic fork so hard into his steak that it bends and nearly breaks.
  562. >Eating his now cold food in silence, all Anon can think about is getting to the end of the school day.
  563. >That, and his so-called friend's ridiculous theories.
  564. >Like Wallflower could ever have powers over others minds.
  565. >It's laughable.
  567. >Wallflower Blush stares down at her phone and bites her lip.
  568. >Would it be weird to call him?
  569. >They had just hung out yesterday, so maybe he'll want some space.
  570. >Then again, would it hurt to just text a simple message.
  571. >But what would she text?
  572. >"Just saying hi," or, "How was school?"
  573. >Those sounded silly even to her, and she has practically zero people skills.
  574. >The phone in her hand buzzes, and she jumps.
  575. >Starring down at the screen, she can hardly believe it's a message from Anon.
  576. >Quickly opening it, she moves her lips as she reads it.
  577. >"Hey, I didn't see you spying on my locker today. You good?"
  578. >She frowns, cheeks reddening as she taps out a response.
  579. >"I don't spy," she types. "And I'm fine."
  580. >"If you say so," he responds in one text, followed quickly by another. "Can't blame me for worrying, though. You've nearly died twice in these halls already."
  581. >Her thumbs hover over the digital keyboard as she processes that.
  582. >"You worry about me?" she finally types.
  583. >"In this school? I even worry about myself. Surprised the place hasn't been closed down by the government, yet. Magic is a safety hazard."
  584. >She giggles at that.
  585. >"Yeah. With everything that's happened after the Fall Formal, I'm surprised we don't have ladies in black suits swarming this place."
  586. >"You know what that means, right?"
  587. >"That the government isn't very good at noticing these things?"
  588. >"That there must be even crazier magic stuff happening somewhere that's got their attention. This world is screwed. Only a matter of time before some dark lord wages war on us muggles."
  589. >Wallflower isn't sure what a muggle is, or why she's laughing, but she has to say something to that.
  590. >"XD We're doomed!"
  591. >"Sunset and her Power Pals will handle it."
  592. >"Her and her friends are pretty tough," she agrees, thumb hovering over send.
  593. >She's overtaken by a sudden swell of bravery, and after sending the text, she quickly types out another.
  594. >"Hey. You doing anything today?"
  595. >A few seconds later, and his response comes in
  596. >"Just working out. Why?"
  597. >She steels her nerves.
  598. >"I was wondering if you wanted to hang out again. I understand If you're busy, though."
  599. >She leans her shoulder against the wall, bringing the phone up to her face with both hands to stare at the screen in suspense.
  600. >At fifteen seconds, she's worrying her lip and the screen is starting to dim from inactivity as her eyes sting from not blinking.
  601. >Then the message comes through.
  602. >"If you want to come down to the gym, I can't stop you."
  603. >She lets the breath she had been holding out in a whoosh, and mulls over his words.
  604. >"If you don't want me to, I won't."
  605. >"It's fine. Don't expect much if you do, though. I'll be focused on my workout."
  606. >She doesn't want to inconvenience him, but she can't deny the offer is tempting.
  607. >Eventually, she caves to her desires and texts, "I don't mind. Maybe I can get some exercise in while I'm there."
  608. >"You could definitely use it," he sends back instantly. "You look like a toothpick."
  609. >Embarrassed and indignant, she shoots back, "I'm stronger than I look, you know. I do a lot of heavy gardening, remember?"
  610. >It's true, too.
  611. >She's planted plenty of saplings and has even spent quite a few summers on her aunt's farm, hoeing the fields the old fashion way.
  612. >"Guess you'll just have to prove me wrong," he responds, getting the girl to frown.
  613. >"Oh, it's on, mister," she says out loud while texting, "I'll stop at my house and get some gym clothes."
  614. >It'll also be good for her parents to see her before she heads out, too, after how much they freaked yesterday.
  615. >Once the euphoria of seeing their daughter come home with a boy wore off, they gave her a long lecture about keeping them informed and being responsible.
  616. >She could have handled that just fine, had her mom not also tagged on another responsibility themed talk at the end.
  617. >One that concluded with a condom slipped into her limp hand.
  618. >The mental wounds are still fresh on the poor girl's psyche, and will certainly scar.
  619. >Her phone goes off again, bringing her back to the present.
  620. >"See you then," the text says, and Wallflower huffs.
  621. >"See you then," she mimics in a deep voice as she slips her phone into her pocket and starts walking. "Yeah, see me bust out some mad reps...! That's a thing to say right?"
  623. >Anon is well into his workout when Wallflower shows up in a tank top and gym shorts, and he racks the bench bar to greet her.
  624. >Looking her up and down, he thinks he might have to recant his earlier statement about her figure.
  625. >While her arms and calves were lacking in muscle, she was definitely not a toothpick.
  626. >The sweater and baggy jeans hid some decent curves, and Anon finds himself wondering why she doesn't show them off more often.
  627. >Her bust is easily on the larger side when compared to most of the other girls at school and her hips noticeably flare out a little.
  628. >"I, ah, know they aren't fashionable or whatever, but my clothes aren't that bad, are they?" Wallflower asks, arms folding across her middle, unintentionally pushing the breasts he had been staring at up.
  629. >Anon shakes his head and chuckles.
  630. "Nah, they're fine. I was just checking out your body... and wondering if we can even start out that low with the weights. What do you bench? Thirty pounds?"
  631. >She puffs out her cheeks, face reddening.
  632. "What?" Anon continues. "Your arms are thinner than the weight bars."
  633. >"If I knew you were just going to make fun of me, I wouldn't have come," she eventually says, a flash of hurt in her eyes.
  634. >Anon's smile dims.
  635. "Sorry," he tells her. "That was mean, especially when we all have to start somewhere."
  636. >He rubs the back of his neck and sighs.
  637. "Being vice president of the fitness club, I should have known better. It's kind of our thing; helping others improve themselves."
  638. >Her expression slowly calms as she looks at him quizzically, as if trying to determine how genuine he's being.
  639. >Anon gestures towards an unused bench.
  640. "Want to get started? Let's figure out where you're actually at and work from there."
  641. >As it turns out, Anon's initial assessment was wrong.
  642. >Wallflower can bench more that thirty pounds, that being the the weight of the bar alone.
  643. >In fact, she can bench a whopping double that at sixty pounds as she huffs and puffs.
  644. "Don't hold it in," Anon tells the girl as he spots her, hands at the ready to catch the weight if her shaking arms give out. "Breath in as you bring it down, and breath out as you push it up. That's it, you've got this."
  645. >Wallflower clenches her jaw as her arms extend fully.
  646. >Anon sees the question in her eyes and shakes his head.
  647. "Not yet, Blush. You've done nine, you just need one more to finish your set. You can do it."
  648. >She gives a minute shake of her head, looking ready to rack the bar.
  649. "Yes you can, I believe in you. This is nothing."
  650. >She squeezes her eyes for a second, then finally unlatches her jaw to mutter, "Just one more."
  651. >Anon smiles down at her.
  652. "That's right. This is nothing compared to all those hours in the garden, right? If you can shovel a hundred piles of dirt, you can bench a few pounds ten times."
  653. >Her eyes open and are filled with determination as she once again lowers the weight, breathing in deeply through her nostrils.
  654. >The bar comes down slowly, sinking an inch into her breasts before she exhales hard, exploding with what strength she has left in one last press.
  655. >Said explosion is more like a sparkler, unremarkable, but steady as she slowly inches the bar upwards.
  656. >Anon's fingertips just barely brush the metal, ready to give aid the moment she needs it, but she pushes on even once her lungs are empty of air, managing the last few centimeters before desperately trying to rack the bar.
  657. >Anon helps her, and as soon as her arms are free from holding the weight, they fall limply to hang down over the sides of the bench.
  658. >"That. Really. Sucked," she pants.
  659. "But you still did it," Anon says with a smile as he steps around the bench and offers a hand. "I'm proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself."
  660. >She smiles, face flush from exertion as she swings a hand up to slap into his.
  661. >"Thanks," she manages as Anon tugs her upright.
  662. >She chuckles, looking almost giddy. "I can't believe I did. After the first set, I thought I was done, but I did two..."
  663. "You sure did," Anon agrees, clapping a hand on her shoulder. "You think you'll be able to manage a third?"
  664. >Her expression sobers instantly as the red in her cheeks turns pale.
  665. >"That's not funny," she says. "You want my arms to fall off?"
  666. >Anon chuckles.
  667. "Okay, okay, two sets is fine," he tells her as he grabs his water bottle off the floor and offers it to her. "Thirsty? You're sweating bullets, and I don't want to see you get dehydrated."
  668. >She looks down at the bottle, then back up to him before pointing. "Um, that's yours."
  669. >Anon raises a brow.
  670. "It is. Do you not want some?"
  671. >"It's just, you'd let me drink from it? Like, put my mouth on it?"
  672. "What? You afraid of my germs?" he asks. "I'm hurt, Blush. I don't have cooties. Doctor gave me a clean bill of health during my last checkup."
  673. >"That's not it!" She tries. "It's just, you know, if we both put our lips on it..."
  674. >She trails off, gulping as the color quickly returns to her face.
  675. "If we both put our lips on it... What?" Anon presses curiously.
  676. >Her back goes rigid as she quickly snags the proffered bottle.
  677. >"Nothing! Never mind!" she squeaks, bringing the bottle up.
  678. >It hovers a moment, then she opens her mouth and squirts the water inside.
  679. >As she swallows, Anon can't help but huff.
  680. "Really?" he asks as she wipes the dribble from her chin. "Was the thought of getting a bit of my spit n your mouth that bad? It wouldn't have been like a kiss, you know."
  681. >"How did you-" she starts, then shrinks in on herself. "Er, I mean, that wasn't it. That's just... how I drink water."
  682. >Anon smirks.
  683. "Right," he says, making a motion with his hand. "Mind moving over a bit so I can sit down?"
  684. >"Sure," she answers, quickly scooting closer to the bar.
  685. >Anon plops down with a sigh and takes the bottle back when Wallflower silently offers it.
  686. >He takes a big swig and lets it dangle between his knees.
  687. "If this is going to become a regular thing, we should probably come up with a proper strength-training schedule for you," he says after a while.
  688. >"Um, what?" Wallflower questions, getting Anon to gesture around them.
  689. "I mean you hitting the gym with me like this, unless you plan on it being a one time thing. If not, though, and you actually want to get in shape, we need a plan."
  690. >"You'd... do this with me regularly?" she asks disbelievingly.
  691. >Anon shrugs.
  692. "Sure. Like I said before, being part of the fittness club, it's kind of of my job to help people better themselves."
  693. >He looks at her appraisingly
  694. "That is, if they're serious."
  695. >"I am!" she quickly tells him. "It's just, you've already hung out with me a lot, and I wouldn't want to keep you from your other friends..."
  696. >He sniffs.
  697. "It's fine. I already workout without them most of the time, and to be honest, they've been getting on my nerves lately, anyway."
  698. >She tilts her head.
  699. >"Really? What's wrong? I mean, I'm no expert, but I know friends shouldn't fight."
  700. "Just being idiots," he answers simply. "Mostly because they found out I've been hanging out with you."
  701. >Wallflower blinks at that.
  702. >"Me? What did I do?"
  703. "Well, for one, they found out about me ditching them yesterday to go to the gardens with you," he answers.
  704. >"Oh..." she manages, rubbing an arm self-consciously . "I guess I can see why they'd be upset about that. But that's what why I said I didn't want to keep you from them."
  705. "That's not the only thing though," Anon continues. "They're worried about you doing something to me."
  706. >He rolls his eyes.
  707. "Like I couldn't defend myself against a girl half my size even if you did turn out to be dangerous."
  708. >"I'm not dangerous," she defends with a frown. "Why would they even think that?"
  709. >Anon shrugs.
  710. "Who knows. Caramel has always been paranoid about girls, and I guess it's finally rubbing off on the others."
  711. Chuckling, he explains, "You know they actually think you might be a witch or something? Like, me spending time with you must be the result of some mind magic crap. I swear, a few girls get mystical powers, and suddenly that means every teenager in town is a secret sorceress."
  712. >Anon expects a laugh, or maybe indignant denial, but instead, the girl besides him is silent, and when he looks over, he sees her back straight, eyes looking away, and lips thin.
  713. "Blush..." he starts slowly, sitting up straight. "That is funny, right? Them thinking you have magic."
  714. >"O-oh, yeah, of course," she agrees shakily, forcing a chuckle. "I definitely don't have magical mind powers now, and I never have."
  715. >Anon subtly scoots away, fingers clenching around his bottle as he silently regrets not getting one made of glass or metal.
  716. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you aren't exactly sounding too convincing right now," Anon says carefully. "Are you sure there's nothing I need to know before I make a run for Sunset and her friends?"
  717. >"No! Really! I don't have magical powers now!" she assures while waving her hands in front of her.
  718. "Then why do you sound so nervous?" he accuses. "I like you, Wallflower, but if you've been messing with my brain..."
  719. >Well, he'd probably rattle hers with a hard punch before booking it to his car, but luckily, Wallflower explains herself.
  720. >"I Haven't, I swear!" she blurts. "Listen, okay, maybe I'm acting nervous, because... I might of had some magic at one time..."
  721. >She cringes as she says this, and Anon makes a motion with his hand for her to continue.
  722. "Come on, out with it," he pressures. "What do you mean?"
  723. >She heaves a huge sigh as she drops her head into her hands.
  724. >"It's kind of complicated," she begins. "But... I used to have a magic stone that let me, well, erase people's memories."
  725. "... Seriously?"
  726. >"Yeah."
  727. "And do you still have it?"
  728. >"No," she says. "Sunset and her friends blasted it to pieces when I went sort of crazy."
  729. "How crazy we talking?" Anon asks, easing up some. "World domination crazy?"
  730. >Wallflower is an awful liar, and if the look of shame on her face is any indication, she's telling the truth.
  731. >His words earn a snort of laughter as she looks at him skeptically.
  732. >"World domination? How would I even do that with memory erasing?"
  733. "You could wipe everyone's minds so much that they're all idiots and you're the smartest person left in the world. That'd be a good first step probably," Anon suggests, getting the girl to blink.
  734. >"Did you just come up with that now?"
  735. "Yeah," he answers. "What? You think I stay up all night coming up with plans to take over the world? I'm not Brain, Pinky."
  736. >"Huh?"
  737. "Forget it," Anon tells her with a shake of his head. "We got off topic. You were saying you went crazy."
  738. >"Right," she responds, that look of shame returning. "Okay, I went really crazy with it, and tried to erase everyone's good memories of Sunset."
  739. >Anon whistles.
  740. "Harsh. What'd she do that got you so angry?"
  741. >"It's stupid," she answers, looking away. "I was being petty and she didn't deserve what I did to her. It's just, She was so popular and had all these friends, and I was just... me, the girl nobody even noticed."
  742. >Anon leans back on his palms.
  743. "You're right, that was pretty stupid," he decides.
  744. >Wallflower jerks her gaze to him, surprised, but drops her head a moment later.
  745. >"I know," she answers meekly. "I'll understand if you don't want to be my friend anymore."
  746. "Who said anything about that?" he asks. "It was stupid, sure, but it sounds like you've learned your lesson. And besides, it's not like you have that stone anymore, so I don't have to worry about you messing with my head like the guys were worried about."
  747. >"But what I did was horrible!" she blurts, tears coming to her eyes. "And I did use the stone on you before when I erased everyone's memories of Sunset."
  748. >This gives Anon pause.
  749. >It certainly doesn't sit well with him, the idea of someone tinkering around in his head, but it's not like she specifically targeted him.
  750. >He would have just been a casualty in her ridiculous vendetta.
  751. >Still, he's drawing a blank on when this could have happened.
  752. "When did all this go down?" he asks. "I mean, maybe it's the point, but I can't remember ever forgetting about Sunset."
  753. >"Um, a few weeks before school ended last year," she tells him. "You don't remember? Like, not even you thinking Sunset was a bully for a day, then wondering why you did?"
  754. "Nope," he answers. "A few weeks? You mean fourish?"
  755. >"I think so..."
  756. >Anon suddenly laughs, confusing the girl.
  757. "I was gone for a week then," he says, grinning. "I was out of town for my aunt's wedding. I must have missed it all."
  758. >"Are you for real?" she asks. "A-and I never used the stone on you before that either. I used it on some kids whenever I embarrassed myself in front of them, but I never did it to you."
  759. >It's an odd thing to take solace in, but Anon doesn't comment as Blush slowly smiles.
  760. >"I never erased any of your memories. You're literally the one person in all of Canterlot High I didn't do it to."
  761. "Guess I should thank my aunt next time I see her for having the wedding when she did. Kind of sucked at the time because I had to reschedule some end of the year tests, but if I avoided a mind wipe..."
  762. >"I should thank her too," Wallflower says, looking as if a weight had just lifted off of her shoulders. "I'm glad that if only one person was spared my craziness, it was you."
  763. >Anon returns the gentle smile and the two sit in silence for a minute.
  764. >Finally, Anon smacks a hand on his calf and stands.
  765. "Okay, enough chit-chat, we came here to workout, right?"
  766. >Her smile vanishes.
  767. >"But my arms are still tired!" she pleads. "I can't bench anymore!"
  768. "I know," Anon says with a nod as he moves over to the rack of dumbbells. "But there are other muscles you can work in the meantime."
  770. >Wallflower stares at her locker in resignation, arms twitching at her sides.
  771. >She's tried for the last minute to open it with the power of her mind, but it's to no avail, and she seriously contemplates going to her next class without the textbook for it.
  772. >Alas, she knows that's not going to help her keep her less than stellar grades up, and she bites the bullet.
  773. >With a grunt, she slowly forces her arms up to fiddle with the combination, her tired muscles protesting the entire time.
  774. >Anon said she'd feel more sore in the morning than immediately after her workout, but she didn't think it'd be this bad.
  775. >She couldn't even fully bend her elbows when she woke up this morning.
  776. >Once she's done grabbing her supplies, she's relieved to shut the locker door and let her arms fall back to her side.
  777. >When she does, she yelps at the sight of the stern-faced girl standing behind the door.
  778. >"Sunset!" she yelps. "Why'd you sneak up on me like that?!"
  779. >"Because I have questions," she answers glibly. "And maybe to get an apology for you lying to me while we're at it."
  780. >Wallflower blinks in confusion.
  781. >"Er, what?"
  782. >Sunset rolls her eyes and nods towards a side hall away from the hurrying crowd of students.
  783. >Wallflower is confused, but follows along until they're standing behind the vending machines and Susnet turns around.
  784. >"So what's going on between you and Anonymous?" she asks. "I seem to recall a certain someone saying they weren't planning on asking him out, and that they definitely didn't have a crush on him."
  785. >Wallflower sputters.
  786. >"W-what makes you think we've been on a date, o-or that I have a crush on him?"
  787. >"I heard through the grapevine about your little visit to the Gardens on Monday, and the two of you going to the gym together yesterday."
  788. >Wallflower frowns.
  789. >"You know you shouldn't listen to everything Grapevine says. He's a gossip."
  790. >"Actually I heard it from Rarity," Sunset says. "... Who heard it from Grapevine. Still, those things did happen, right?"
  791. >Wallflower nods slowly.
  792. >"Yeah, they did, b-but that still doesn't mean I lied. I didn't ask Anon to go the Gardens with me."
  793. >Sunset quirks a brow.
  794. >"You didn't?"
  795. >"Mhm, he's actually the one who asked me," Wallflower says, then, when she sees the skeptical look cross the other girl's face, adds, "I'm serious."
  796. >"Okay," Sunset says slowly, brow furrowed. "That just raises more questions, and makes me worried."
  797. >"Why would you be worried?" Wallflower asks. "Anon and I are just friends, really. That's why we worked out together yesterday; he's helping me get in shape."
  798. >"I'm worried because, even if those things seem innocent, that still doesn't answer why Anon is doing those things with you," Sunset explains. "No offense, but Anon's never showed interest in hanging out with girls before, so why you? And why so suddenly?"
  799. >Wallflower feels something bubble up in her chest as she frowns.
  800. >"Just what you you implying, Sunset?"
  801. >The other girl clenches her jaw a moment, but answers.
  802. >"I'm just worried that Anon might have... ulterior motives for spending time with you."
  803. >"Like what?" Wallflower growls, anger building. "He wants me to plant some flowers in his yard?"
  804. >"I don't know," Sunset response defensively. "Are you doing his homework or-"
  805. >Wallflower rolls her eyes.
  806. >"Oh yeah, Anon wants the D student doing his homework," she says before glaring. "Admit it, you just don't think Anon would ever hangout with a loser like me unless he had something to gain."
  807. >"I didn't say that!"
  808. >"But you're thinking it!"
  809. >"Okay fine, yes! I think it's weird that Anon is suddenly all close to you when he's turned down every girl in the school from the most popular to the prettiest."
  810. >Wallflower's expression grows cold.
  811. >"Maybe the reason Anon never spent time with those girls is because he knows they were only ever trying to get in his pants."
  812. >Wallflower steps closer and jabs a finger into Sunset's chest.
  813. >"Maybe he doesn't want to be around those girls because you all think he's a shallow, brainless, unfeeling asshole."
  814. >"Are you saying he isn't?" Sunset asks quietly, not breaking eye-contact. "Or do you just want to believe that?"
  815. >Lips thin, Wallflower grits out, "I know that. If not, then why else would he want to be my friend? Huh? Tell me, Sunset, if you know everything. What do I have that he'd want?"
  816. >Sunset's eyes flick away.
  817. >"Does he know about the stone?" she whispers. "Does he know you don't have it anymore? If he found out about you having magic somehow, he could be trying to get it for himself."
  818. >Teeth grinding for second, Wallflower begins to speak very calmly, "You think he's going to another big bad villain, huh? Think he'll be like those Dazzlings, or me."
  819. >She meets the other girl's gaze with one filled with fire.
  820. >"Or like you and Twilight, right? You both nearly destroyed this school, remember?"
  821. >"Wallflower, you know that doesn't have anything to do with what we're talking about now."
  822. >"Oh, I know," Wallflower agrees. "Because Anon isn't like that. I know because I already told him about the stone, and how it was destroyed, and you know what? He didn't care. As a matter of fact, even after knowing, he still hung out with me the rest of the day, and asked if I'd be meeting him at the gym again tonight."
  823. >Sunset looks surprised, mouth hanging slightly open.
  824. >"Really?"
  825. >"Yes, and it's because he's a real friend," Wallflower continues, stepping away. "Like I thought you were."
  826. >"Wallflower, you know I'm your friend!"
  827. >The shorter girl looks away, eyes downcast.
  828. >"Yeah, sure..."
  829. >The warning bell goes off, signalling class is about to start, and she begins walking out of the hallway.
  830. >"I'm going to be late for class," she mumbles, expecting that to be the end of it.
  831. >A hand suddenly clamping down on her wrist stops her.
  832. >"Wallflower, please!" Sunset says, bringing her other hand up to the trapped arm. "I mean it!"
  833. >Wallflower was about to tell the other girl to leave her alone, but when she turns and sees the tears in Sunset's eyes, she freezes.
  834. >She remembers back when she had tried to destroy this girl's life.
  835. >She remembers how, even after she was defeated and no longer posed a threat, Sunset didn't just leave her to wallow in self-pity.
  836. >No, she offered her hand in friendship despite everything she did, and pulled her to her feet.
  837. >Wallflower remembers that this girl is her friend, and she sighs.
  838. >"I... I know you're my friend, Sunset, and that you're just worried about me," she says, turning to pry the girl's grip from her wrist. "But right now, I think I need some time to myself to cool off, okay? can we talk later?"
  839. >Sunset holds her hands to her chest, looking like she wants to argue, but she sighs and nods.
  840. >"I get it, and I understand why you're so mad. I know I would be too if someone badmouthed a person I thought of as a friend right to my face."
  841. >Wallflower gives a tired smile, then frowns when the second bell goes off, causing her to groan.
  842. >"Great, and now we're late," she grumbles, causing her friend to look sheepish.
  843. >"Ah, yeah, sorry about that too."
  844. >"It's fine, let's just hurry up."
  845. >Nodding, Sunset joins Wallflower as they leave the little side hall, then split up to go to their respective classes.
  846. >Wallflower speed walks, but she honestly doubts she'll do well regardless of when she gets there.
  847. >Her head just isn't in the right place for math right now.
  848. >While her enthusiasm for working out had dwindled upon waking up to the sensation of hot tar in her arms, she can honestly say she's again looking forward to her visit to the gym.
  849. >If anything, it'll give her a way to work off some frustration.
  851. >The day after marks the third that Anon will be helping Wallflower work out, and he's confident she'll show up.
  852. >He was surprised yesterday, sure she'd give up after waking up to her first morning of post-workout soreness.
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