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Romance For Once: Once More

Aug 3rd, 2015
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  1. Original : http://pastebin.com/HMcqbiGt
  2.  
  3. >It has been a few weeks since the incident at Sour Sweet's party, though, that hasn't stopped you from thinking about it constantly
  4. >Mostly, you were thinking about how much of a betrayal of the girls' trust it was that you had gone there at all
  5. >You'd never intended to try and find anything more than a friend in Anon, but...
  6. >The whiplash from the kiss to the moments right after, those feelings keep resurfacing
  7. >And you know you shouldn't, since you're almost an adult now, but you still cry over it at night
  8. >At the very least, Anon had briefly apologized to you a few days ago when he really didn't have to
  9. >'Sorry about the thing at the party,' he'd said in passing
  10. >It made that day a little better
  11. >For now, though, you were spending another weekend working for the girls
  12. >Finishing up Sugar Coat's essay on the structure of the government, checks and balances, and so on
  13. >It was tedious work, but you did it, holed up in your small, cramped room
  14. >Working at night was tough; with no more sun pouring into the room, all you had was a bulb hanging by a wire from the ceiling
  15. >Sometimes, you liked to run your fingers across the cracks in the wall when you were too bored to read and didn't have any work to do
  16. >How lucky you were, your parents always told you, that you had ended up at Crystal Prep on a full-ride
  17. >'It almost made up for the fact that you didn't have a normal childhood', they would joke
  18. >You didn't like disappointing your parents, but 'just go outside and make friends like other kids your age!' was a pep talk that never really helped
  19. >After a few more hours, you put the finishing touches on the girls' homework and head off to bed
  20. >Maybe they'll forgive you for your transgressions soon...
  21.  
  22. >Once the morning comes, you get ready for the day
  23. >That means showering, dressing, eating
  24. >Like every day, you make sure to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror
  25. >Almost like you're a groundhog, and instead of your shadow, it's your reflection
  26. >And instead of extra weeks of winter, it's just the immediate sting of disgust
  27. >Your Crystal Prep uniform hangs oddly on your body
  28. >They had paid for the uniform, but it hadn't come out very well
  29. >A new uniform was out of the cards
  30. >Too expensive
  31. >That was okay, though
  32. >Money was tight at home, and you wouldn't think of making things harder
  33. >For the same reason you no longer asked for anything on your birthday or the holidays
  34. >Just easier that way, and you didn't even want much anyways
  35. >You were fine with life as it was; little trinkets wouldn't do anything for you
  36. >Plus, you'd already moved over to e-books, so there was no need to have your parents buy books for you, either!
  37. >Maybe it was morally dubious, but... Things can be found for free on the internet if you look hard enough, you've found
  38. >You waved goodbye to your parents, who gave you stilted smiles back
  39. >Today was off to a good start
  40. >They didn't even give you the talk about how they wanted you to try and join a club or come to their church group or anything!
  41. >You bounced off to school
  42. >It was a bit of a walk; your home wasn't near any of the bus routes, since it was on the opposite side of town from most Crystal Preppers
  43. >Still, you'd gotten used to it
  44. >All the run down houses didn't make it 'scenic', exactly, but their was a calming familiarity to your neighborhood
  45. >The change to the more posh, cleaned up part of town cam so suddenly, with the crossing of a street
  46. >Being here made you feel more anxious
  47. >You remember, the first day you'd gone to Crystal Prep, seeing all the students... You'd almost run away out of fear
  48. >Things were a lot different now
  49. >Walking around the halls and seeing all the people didn't make you too scared anymore, just a little
  50.  
  51. >Eventually, you come up to the entrance of the school
  52. >It's gated, guards at the door checking student IDs
  53. >Crystal Prep Academy was a grandiose sort of place, ivy growing across the front, shimmering pseudo-crystal lining the rooftop and the towers, juxtaposed against the decades old brick
  54. >Something about the 'joining of the new and the old' in terms of the architecture and their 'school mission'
  55. >It always looked a bit weird to you, but hey, what do you know about modern art architecture?
  56. >A lot!
  57. >But still, you're not one to think poorly of other people's stylistic choices
  58. >This building made someone happy
  59. >Personally, you liked the courtyard
  60. >Not just because none of the other kids cared to use it much, so you were typically alone, but also because you liked grass and trees
  61. >Don't really see much of that where you live, since your yard is mostly dirt and brown patchy stuff...
  62. >As usual, you're a bit earlier than most kids
  63. >You like being prepped and ready for the school day early
  64. >AND you like being the first one in the classroom
  65. >Sometimes, if you're later and you peek your head inside, people sitting in different spots can screw you up and you start thinking you have the wrong room
  66. >You've ended up missing entire classes because you're too scared to embarrass yourself, and just wait for the next class
  67. >So, being early was key!
  68. >Also, the girls would be mad if you weren't there to give them everything they needed
  69. >Hefting your sizable backpack into the school and through the halls, you make your way to your first class
  70. >You always wonder how the halls stay so pristine
  71. >The kids tend to litter and scribble on the walls and stuff like that
  72. >Janitors here have a tough job, but you appreciate the work they do
  73. >Multi-Variable Calculus
  74. >As hoped, you were the first one there; school wouldn't start for another twenty or so minutes
  75. >So, you wait for Sugar Coat and the rest, sighing with relief as you drop your backpack to the floor next to your desk
  76.  
  77. >After a few minutes, Sugar and the rest of the girls file into the room
  78. >Their faces sour the moment they spot you
  79. >More than they used to, at least
  80. >Twilight, you really messed up at that party...
  81. >At least Sugar Coat and the girls still talk to you after what you did to them
  82. >They stop to your side, some chuckling, some looking snide, Sugar with her arms crossed
  83. >"Did you finish it all, or were you busy trying to suck one of our boyfriend's dicks?" she asks, to the snickers of the rest
  84. "I-I-I f-finished it. A-All of it! I-I'm s-sorry a-about the p-party..."
  85. >Sugar taps her foot on the floor
  86. >"Well?"
  87. "S-Sorry..."
  88. >You hunch over and open your backpack, rummaging through the large folders inside
  89. >The folders for Sugar Coat, Lemon Zest, Sour Sweet, Indigo Zap, Sunny Flare...
  90. >They each take their finished work and stuff it into their backpacks
  91. >You smile at them, hoping that this will be the work that puts you back on their good side
  92. >When you first started, you'd almost gotten them in trouble by not writing everything in their handwriting
  93. >But you learned!
  94. >Now, their work always looked like they'd done it, and—as they've told you—they really would do it if they weren't so busy
  95. >Friends help friends, right?
  96. "Th-Th-That's all of i-it!"
  97. >Sugar Coat raises an eyebrow
  98. >"Are you sure? I think I'm missing something, Twilight."
  99. "W-What? N-N-No, th-that's all of it!"
  100. >"Are you talking back to her?" Indigo Zap asks with a scowl?
  101. >You shake your head
  102. >The only work left in your backpack is yours, you would never hide anything from them
  103. >Sugar Coat bends down and looks into your backpack
  104. >"Can I just check quick?"
  105. "O-O-Of c-course!"
  106. >She picks your backpack up and flips it upside down, all your books and papers spilling onto the floor
  107. >Sugar throws your emptied bag onto the ground and rubs at her chin
  108. >"Guess you were telling the truth! Sorry, Twilight."
  109. "I-I-It's o-okay..."
  110. >Sugar smiles, and the rest of the girls burst into laughter
  111.  
  112. >You hurriedly try and stuff everything back into your bag
  113. >Everything's out of order, all the paper from your folders has fallen out, some of your books have ripped pages
  114. >"Oh, sorry, let me help!"
  115. >Sugar bends down and tries to pick up your papers for you, but does a better job of stomping on them, leaving black marks
  116. >"Sorry, I'm a little clumsy!" she says cutely
  117. "I-It's..."
  118. >Don't cry in front of them, Twilight...
  119. >Even if they treat you badly sometimes, at least they're your friends
  120. "I-It's o-ok-kay..."
  121. >Sugar sighs and frowns, backing away from you
  122. >"You're so boring, Twilight."
  123. "I-I-I know..."
  124. >"Usually, when they bring in the poor kids, they're from some exotic foreign place. I was looking forward to that, but we got you and that other girl instead."
  125. >You nod
  126. >Crystal Prep Academy did pride itself on giving scholarships to the brightest of developing nations, but for your freshman class they'd decided to do an 'Outreach at Home' project
  127. >Really, you were so truly blessed to have the opportunity to come here, luck beyond luck
  128. >Though, you understand, as the girls tell you, that you basically stole your education from someone less fortunate
  129. >That always made you feel guilty
  130. "I-I'm s-s-sorry."
  131. >Sugar Frown's face tightens in a grimace
  132. >"Okay, this is boring me now. Remember to meet us after school for your assignments."
  133. >You nod
  134. >The girls leave, and Lemon Zest flips you the bird as they exit the classroom
  135. >Once they're gone, the tension in the room dissipates as well, and with it the walls keeping your tears back go as well
  136. >There's still over ten minutes until the next kid is going to come through the door
  137. >Plenty of time to get this shameful act over with
  138. >You wipe the tears as they come, and try to get all your things in order
  139. >Reorganizing everything takes longer than you'd hoped, but you're done before class begins
  140. >It's hard to pay attention to the teacher, but that's okay
  141. >You know multi-variable Calculus through and through
  142.  
  143. >Throughout class, you try to hide your reddened eyes
  144. >The teacher is going on about finding the volume of the cross-section of a rotation of parabola along with another function
  145. >"So, how would we solve this?" the teacher asks, turning around
  146. >No one is really paying attention, either on their phones or talking amongst themselves
  147. >You always wonder why no one would ever answer simple questions, or why they would focus on things other than school when they're IN school
  148. >It used to be that teachers would call on you, or you might even have the courage to raise your hand, but...
  149. >Kids would just make fun of your stutter
  150. >So, you had a bit of an unspoken bond between you and your teachers
  151. >They wouldn't mark you down on participation; they knew you really wanted to discuss things in class
  152. >Bullying wasn't something that got taken care of at Crystal Prep
  153. >Which was okay, you deserved most of it,
  154. >That's just what happens when you talk, which meant not talking really was the best option
  155. >Like Sugar Coat said to you on day one, 'you should consider not speaking in public'
  156. >The teacher sighs as a minute passes without any answer
  157. >He turns back around and begins writing more on the board, going on with the lecture
  158. >After another half hour or so, the bell rings, kids dashing out of the room in a cacophonous haze
  159. >Your teacher collapses down into his chair with a sigh as you walk up to his desk
  160. "Th-Th-Thanks f-for the l-lecture today, Mr. V-Vector..."
  161. >He half-smiles
  162. >"Thank you, Twilight."
  163. >Your teacher squints, looking at your eyes
  164. >You shirk away
  165. >"Is something wrong?"
  166. "N-N-No... I-I have to g-go t-to m-my next c-class... B-Bye..."
  167. >"Twilight, if—"
  168. >Mr. Vector sighs as you hurry out of his room
  169. >He means well, but you don't want to be a burden on anyone
  170. >You hate forcing yourself on others, which is all you do just by existing
  171. >It's why you're so glad the girls care to deal with you at all despite how bad you are
  172.  
  173. >After the next few classes, it's time for lunch!
  174. >You no longer make the same mistake you used to
  175. >Mistake being, you used to actually go to the cafeteria for lunch
  176. >Once, you even tried sitting with the girls
  177. >That ended with Sunny Flare 'tripping' and splattering you with chili
  178. >The girls, after all, have a reputation to uphold, so someone like you shouldn't even enter the cafeteria
  179. >It's always embarrassing, since you have to bring out a card to give you a free meal, and that always causes kids to laugh at you in line
  180. >Your mom is worried about your weight, but you tell her that you ARE eating at school, even if that's a lie
  181. >Breakfast and dinner is enough for you
  182. >So, while it's lunch, you're off to the library
  183. >This way, you can finish up all the work from your first half of classes
  184. >Pretty clever, huh?
  185. >Definitely a good use of time, and the library is almost always a fun place for you
  186. >Quiet, the smell of old musty books, and they have SUCH a big library here!
  187. >Sometimes, you like to just walk around until a book catches your eye
  188. >Every once in a while, the girls will come in and give you a hard time, but...
  189. >They already did this morning, so...
  190. >Chances are good it won't happen again today!
  191. >Once you're in the library, you take a nice, deep breath
  192. >The librarian waves at you, and you wave back
  193. >Hour long lunches... This place has some perks, for sure, because that means you get a whole hour HERE almost every day!
  194. >After picking out some cool looking history books on great empires of the past, you take a seat at one of the many tables
  195. >There are some kids chatting in whispers at the other tables, though, across from you is another girl by her self
  196. >Reading... Early Modern Period philosophy, by the look of it
  197. >Always a fan of the Dualists, though, not a huge proponent of their ideas
  198. >Fun, though!
  199.  
  200. >About fifteen minutes of skimming through this tome, you realize that there's an awful lot dedicated to corn over, well, much of anything else
  201. >Maybe they had to sell it as a history of men to get people into the history of corn...
  202. >It was actually pretty interesting, now that you think about it a little more
  203. >Lots of the info—
  204. >"Twilight! What a surprise."
  205. >Your eyes peek up from your books
  206. >Sugar Coat and her troupe
  207. >You notice that they have some drinks in their hands, though, that shouldn't be allowed in this part of the library...
  208. "Sh-Shouldn't y-you guys b-b-be e-eating?"
  209. >"Are you supposed to be telling me what I should and shouldn't do?"
  210. "M-Maybe y-you c-could b-be... A little m-more q-quiet?"
  211. >They cross their arms, Sugar's face a look of disdain hiding laughter
  212. >"Quiet?!"
  213. >You huddle down into your chair
  214. >The girls talk amongst themselves as Sugar shakes her head at you, being way too loud for the library
  215. >"Girls, you must be quiet in the library, please," the librarian says, coming around the corner
  216. >"I'm being perfectly quiet. Would the daughter of the man who this library's named after break the rules? Though, Twilight here was the one who started making chit-chat with us when we were just passing by!"
  217. >The librarian frowns and looks at you, clearly looking defeated
  218. >As you made note of earlier, bullying doesn't really get taken care of at Crystal Prep
  219. >You can temporarily punish a student, but usually at the permanent cost of your job
  220. >Looking over to the librarian, you smile
  221. "I-It's okay," you whisper
  222. >Don't want to get her in trouble or anything
  223. >As per usual, the librarian sulks off
  224. >No one should get fired over you
  225. >Sugar and the girls dump a load of papers onto your table
  226. >"We asked for all the extra credit we could from our classes, so you can have some extra work!"
  227. "Th-Thanks..."
  228. >The girls smile
  229. >"No problem, Twilight!"
  230. >Indigo Zap trips, splashing you with soda, deftly missing anything else
  231. >"Sorry, dude!"
  232. "I-It's f-f-f-fine..."
  233.  
  234. >You stand up, trying to clean yourself up as the girls chuckle
  235. >Most of the people at the other tables laugh lowly as well
  236. >Just smile, don't cry, be grateful that you're even able to come here...
  237. >"Can you guys fuck off?"
  238. >The girls stop laughing, turning around to face whoever had interrupted their fun just now
  239. >"Excuse me?"
  240. >"She's just trying to study. Leave her alone."
  241. >Peering through the gaps between the girls, you spot the girl who was sitting across from you
  242. >Like you, her uniform is ill-fitting, and she glasses taped in the middle from years of wear and tear, no doubt
  243. >Or people breaking them
  244. >You know how that goes...
  245. >Sugar Coat taps a finger against her lips
  246. >"Moondancer... Shouldn't you be busy doing our homework?"
  247. >"I told you, I'm done doing your stupid fucking work!" she yells in a whisper
  248. >Whoever this Moondancer is, despite her potty-mouth, she at least respects the sanctity of the library
  249. >"Are you done going to this 'stupid fucking school', then? My dad's on the board, and I'm sure if he knew one of the scholarship students was trying to sell drugs to other students—"
  250. >"What are you talking about?!"
  251. >"Just all those times you've accosted my friends and I! Though... If you do what you're supposed to, maybe I'd just be remembering it wrong."
  252. >Moondancer lowers her head, only to be splashed by another tripping girl, Lemon Zest this time
  253. >"So sorry."
  254. >"Yeah..."
  255. >Sugar Coat sighs
  256. >"Of all the kids they could have picked to bring in, they really went for the ugliest of the bunch... Eh, I'm getting hungry, let's go."
  257. >She, and the rest of girls, walks off, leaving you and Moondancer soaked with soda
  258. >Moondancer sticks up her middle fingers as the girls get out of sight, then turns to you and sighs
  259. >"So... They make you do their shit for them, too?"
  260. "Y-Y-Yeah... I-I th-thought I d-did a-all of i-it, th-though..."
  261. >Moondancer approaches your table
  262. >"Is it okay if I sit here?"
  263. >You freeze up with anxiety
  264. >"Or..."
  265. "N-N-No... I-It's okay.."
  266.  
  267. >Moondancer takes a seat at your table, right across from you
  268. >She smiles meekly from behind her thick-rimmed glasses and bushy eyebrows
  269. >"Moondancer."
  270. "Uh... I-I'm T-T-Twilight S-Sparkle..."
  271. >You look away from her, waiting for the insult or laughter aimed at your stutter
  272. >After a few moments, you turn back to her, confused
  273. "Y-You're n-n-not going to m-make f-fun of me?"
  274. >Moondancer furrows her brow
  275. >"Why would I?"
  276. "M-My s-stutter... M-My c-clothes..."
  277. >She shakes her head
  278. >"Anyone that those stuck-up bitches pick on can't be that bad. God, the alpha-bitch even had me work on this fucking ten page paper on the system of government and shit... Ruining my fucking life."
  279. "Th-The g-government p-paper? B-B-But I-I w-wrote that for S-Sugar Coat th-this w-weekend..."
  280. >Moondancer squints, then leans back in her chair before shaking her head in anger
  281. >She leans back into the table
  282. >"So they're just fucking with the both of us! FUCK, I—"
  283. >You put a finger up to your lips
  284. >Moondancer nods
  285. >Talking in here, you feel bad enough
  286. >No yelling
  287. >She begins to whisper
  288. >"They make me do homework for five people every night, and it sounds like they do that to you too!"
  289. >You nod
  290. >"We can't let them do this shit to us!"
  291. "W-Well, i-it's o-okay... I-I'm j-just lucky t-to be h-here, a-and th-they're m-my friends..."
  292. >Moondancer scoffs
  293. >"Friends?!"
  294. >The others in the library shush Moondancer down
  295. "Th-They're th-the only ones wh-who t-talk to m-me..."
  296. >"They're the only ones who talk to me too. Doesn't make them my friends. They're fucking cunts."
  297. >You recoil at Moondancer's language
  298. "They're n-not th-that b-bad... I d-don't d-deserve any b-better..."
  299. >"Who told you that? Sugar Coat?"
  300. >You nod; Moondancer shakes her head
  301. >"I used to think like that, but you know what? Not anymore. Look, we're in the same boat. We could help each other out!"
  302. >You... Do you really need 'help'?
  303. >The girls don't physically beat you, like what used to happen up until the end of middle school
  304. "M-Maybe..."
  305.  
  306. >"Awesome!" Moondancer shouts, only to be immediately shushed by the other students in the library
  307. >"Awesome," she repeats, lowly
  308. >Moondancer leans forward, smiling
  309. >"We should totally hang out after school!"
  310. >You look down at the load of papers in front of you
  311. >Sugar Coat and the rest of your friends are relying on you to get all this extra credit done for them
  312. >And...
  313. >No one's ever invited you out before
  314. >Moondancer's invitation honestly scares you, and you can feel sweat becoming to form on your forehead
  315. "U-Um... S-S-Sugar Coat w-wants m-m-me to d-do her homework f-f-f-f-for her. A-And I d-don't h-have t-time to do anything a-after school b-but w-w-work for her..."
  316. >"Oh, fuck Sugar Coat! I've been slaving away for her, and so have you, and you know what? We should stop. You should stop. All this shit here? Screw it. Screw them. They don't own us. Together, we can stand up to them!"
  317. "I-I-I-I d-don't know..."
  318. >"I'm going to take that as a yes."
  319. >That wasn't really a yes...
  320. >Moondancer smiles, looking over the books you've collected on the table
  321. >"History, huh?"
  322. "U-Um, yeah... I like r-r-reading about h-history and s-science. Th-This one w-wasn't quite w-what I expected," you say, holding the corn-centric Roman history text
  323. >She nods
  324. >"I'm big into science and philosophy. You know, how integrated they used to be a few hundred years ago. People don't have varied mastery of anything anymore. People don't even think anymore," she says, with an intense frown
  325. >Moondancer begins to rant at you about how the French ruined science, philosophy, and art in the late 1700s, and how post-modernism exists as a result
  326. >Something about how she appreciated the intentions, but idiots ran away with the critique of the time and 'any ideology founded upon the critique of another is inherently dubious'
  327. >During all this, Moondancer is very animated, whispering as loudly as she can as she spills her ideas all over you
  328. >Patiently, you sit back and listen
  329.  
  330. >Minutes pass by, and Moondancer shows now signs of slowing down
  331. >You're basically getting a primer on the evolution of philosophy—as Moondancer sees it
  332. >Apparently she's a big fan of the Nihilists, but hates everyone who's a fan of the Nihilists
  333. >She also makes sure to pepper in comments about how Sugar Coat and the rest of your friends epitomize 'everything wrong with society'
  334. >Moondancer might be a bit abrasive, but, she does seem pretty knowledgeable and passionate about the stuff she likes!
  335. >At one point, many minutes in, she stops and laughs to herself
  336. >"I'm sorry... I'm probably annoying you. I'm not good at knowing when to stop talking."
  337. >She mutters something under her breath to herself
  338. "N-N-No... I-It's okay..."
  339. >"So, what about you? What do you think?"
  340. "A-About w-w-what?"
  341. >Moondancer shrugs
  342. >"I don't know. Life?"
  343. "Th-Th-Th-That's a b-broad topic... A-And I d-d-don't l-like t-talking m-much..."
  344. >"Why?"
  345. >Plenty of reasons, you think
  346. >The stutter being a huge part of it
  347. >But mostly...
  348. "S-Sugar C-C-Coat d-doesn't l-like it when I t-t-talk..."
  349. >"Like I said, fuck Sugar Coat. She doesn't like it when I talk either... Most people don't, but, you know, that's why we should hang out! I'll try and shut up more so you can talk too."
  350. >The bell rings
  351. >You begin to gather up the girls' papers, but Moondancer puts her hand down on top of them
  352. >"Leave them."
  353. "B-B-B-B-But... Th-They'll be m-mad if I m-meet them a-after school a-and don't have th-th-their papers..."
  354. >"We're not doing their homework anymore."
  355. >You frown
  356. >Doing their homework was one of the few things that gave you purpose; they were your friends, after all
  357. >"I'll meet you after school," Moondancer says, hiking off with her oversized backpack, waving
  358. "O-Okay..."
  359. >You wave back
  360. >Moondancer...
  361. >You understand why everyone hates you, but what's wrong with her?
  362. >People must not like talking with someone who can talk about how much they hate stuff for twenty minutes straight for some reason
  363.  
  364. >The rest of the day goes by with you wracking your nerves more and more
  365. >Moondancer is going to meet you after classes...
  366. >You hope she'll at least let you get Sugar Coat's homework before you hang out
  367. >'Hang out'
  368. >Something you've never done
  369. >Oh, this is going to go so badly
  370. >For some unknown reason, Moondancer hasn't made fun of you yet
  371. >Most people make fun of you the second you open your mouth
  372. >In the class you had right after lunch, you were still so shaken from how the girls had treated you, and all the Moondancer stuff...
  373. >You accidentally raised your hand and got called on, and you couldn't get a single word out
  374. >Just the same stuttered syllable over and over, and it didn't take long for the kids to start laughing
  375. >This time, you didn't even cry that much, since it's to be expected, really
  376. >But with Moondancer, well, she talked to you for a whole lunch period (talked at you, sure) without making fun of you
  377. >Once she sees how pathetic and disgusting you are, she'll drop you
  378. >Maybe this is one of Sugar Coat's pranks again...
  379. >The bell for your final class rings, and you head out into the hallways, making your way to your locker
  380. >Lockers are assigned in alphabetical order, so you're assuming that's how Moondancer plans to meet you
  381. >Unless she forgets your name
  382. >You'd understand that
  383. >As you prepare your things, you feel a tap on your shoulder
  384. >Knowing how these things go, you turn to your opposite shoulder to find a smiling Moondancer
  385. >"Ready to hang out?"
  386. "C-Can w-we see S-S-Sugar Coat f-first?"
  387. >As you'd feared, she frowns
  388. >Sugar Coat is going to be so mad at you if you don't do her homework...
  389. >What if she and the girls stop being your friends?!
  390. >"We've been slaves to the aristocracy for too long. No, let's just hang out! I've never had a friend over before. This is going to be so cool!"
  391. "I-I've n-never hung out b-b-before either..."
  392. >"Then we can be each other's first times!"
  393. >That sounds a little weird, you think to yourself
  394.  
  395. >Moondancer drags you along out the back entrance of the school
  396. >Oh man, Sugar Coat is going to be SO mad at you
  397. "M-Maybe... M-Maybe we should visit th-th-the g-girls and g-get their homework! W-W-We can d-d-d-do their homework f-for fun w-w-while we hang out!"
  398. >"We're done with them!" Moondancer says, holding onto you tightly as you try to run off to the other end of the school
  399. >She's not letting go!
  400. >You're too weak to free yourself from her grip, and so you give up
  401. >At least... At least it seems like Moondancer actually wants to hang out with you
  402. >Maybe this will all go okay
  403. >And one day of not doing their homework...
  404. >The girls can handle that, can't they?
  405. >You'll do anything to get back in their good graces
  406. >Anything you have to
  407. >They'll be okay with that, right?!
  408. >Moondancer walks and you follow, going in the direction of the part of town you live in
  409. >The 'bad' part of town
  410. >Makes sense, seeing as you're both scholarship winners
  411. >As you walk, Moondancer talks at length about physics, something you know much more about
  412. >"—scientists in the 60s had so many weird names for things. 'Gluinos', and 'photinos', and stuff."
  413. >Without thinking, you speak up, wanting to bring up how the 'top' and 'bottom' quarks used to be 'truth' and 'beauty', and how fun you thought that was
  414. "Y-Yeah, I—"
  415. >You stop yourself
  416. "S-Sorry..."
  417. >"Sorry?"
  418. "I t-talked when y-y-you were t-t-talking..."
  419. >Moondancer gives you a concerned pout
  420. >"Twilight, you can say whatever you want, whenever you want. I'm not going to treat you like Sugar Coat and her platoon of sluts."
  421. >All her insults to your friends still makes you recoil
  422. >Someone being okay with you talking to them?
  423. >That's even more stinging, for whatever reason
  424. "I-It's okay... I c-can t-t-talk l-later... W-What are w-w-we going to d-do at your h-h-house?"
  425. >"I don't know. I've never done this before. You probably don't want to watch me go on the computer... Do you like fireworks?"
  426.  
  427. >Exploding things?
  428. >Never been one for anything like that, especially being around them or holding them
  429. >As a kid, you remember crying when your mom had you hold a sparkler at a party
  430. >Still something you think about every once in a while, since you're never going to live it down
  431. >You shake your head
  432. "F-F-Fireworks scare m-me... I-I'm s-sorry..."
  433. >"It's okay, we can just find something else to do," Moondancer says
  434. >"Something else," she whispers under her breath
  435. >This is the third or so time you've noticed her do this
  436. >It strikes you as odd, but you don't bring it up
  437. >The two of you walk down a heavily cracked and uneven sidewalk, litter everywhere...
  438. >Nothing like the part of Canterlot Crystal Prep is in
  439. >Everything there is so shiny and proper
  440. >Here, not so much
  441. >Still, you kind of like it this way
  442. >It's comfortable, and being around nice things only makes you stand out even more
  443. >Moondancer approaches a small, one-story home and you follow after her
  444. >The once-white paint is yellowed and chipped, while the lawn is an overgrown mess of weeds
  445. >Reminds you of your place, in fact, you don't live very far from here—just a few blocks
  446. >However, this all looks a lot more rundown
  447. >Moondancer cheerily beckons you into her home, holding the door open for you
  448. >Hesitantly, very hesitantly, you make your way inside
  449. >It feels wrong to be in someone else's home
  450. >The last time you went somewhere... Nothing good happened
  451. >"Moony," a wrinkled, middle aged woman says, "who's this?"
  452. >"A friend!"
  453. >She takes a sip of Bud and eyes you with confusion
  454. >"Since when do you got friends? Eh, whatever. Y'all kids have yer fun, just don't be hollerin' much."
  455. >You bow your head to the home's matriarch, rather than stutter out anything
  456. >Best to be quiet as much as possible
  457. >Moondancer mutters to herself, bringing you down a short hallway and into her room
  458. >"Sorry about my mom... She's dumb as rocks."
  459. "Th-That's m-mean..."
  460. >"It's true. I don't even know how I'm her kid! But whatever."
  461.  
  462. >Looking around, Moondancer's room is pretty cramped and messy
  463. >A lot smaller than your room, if such a thing is possible
  464. >Socks and shirts and underwear and bras strewn about
  465. >You're sort of happy you don't have to deal with bras, but they seem like a requirement with Moondancer...
  466. >Looking around more, you see her bed is a total mess, the sheets and the covers bundled up leaving a good deal of the mattress exposed
  467. >There's a small CRT TV on top of a drawer, with a Gamecube next to it, with a few discs on top
  468. >Oh, this is really making you... Cringe, internally
  469. >This place needs to be cleaned up
  470. >Discs put back in their boxes
  471. >Moondancer puts an arm around you
  472. >"So! What do you want to do?"
  473. "U-U-Um... C-Can I c-clean your r-r-room?"
  474. >"What?"
  475. "I-I-If w-we're going to be f-friends..."
  476. >That's what's happening, right?
  477. >A new friend?
  478. >The thought is crazy, but, maybe Moondancer really does want to be your friend
  479. "...th-th-th-then i-it's m-my duty to d-do th-th-things for you... Th-That's how friends w-w-work. I can c-clean your room f-f-for you."
  480. >Moondancer, you're not sure why, doesn't seem to want to take you up on your offer
  481. >"Friends aren't work horses. You don't have to clean my room for me, Twilight. We can do anything! Well, not anything. I don't have a lot of stuff, but still."
  482. "P-P-Please... I r-really w-w-want to be useful t-to you..."
  483. >Your heart sinks when she frowns
  484. >Does she not really like you after all?
  485. >There's not much you have to offer her aside from your service
  486. >You're a 'pathetic waste of space'
  487. >Something you already had a pretty firm grasp of in your mind before Crystal Prep, but was now solidified
  488. >"Hanging out isn't about you being 'useful'. I don't think."
  489. "S-S-Sugar Coat—"
  490. >"Fuck her!"
  491. >You flinch, Moondancer's voice startling you
  492. >"Sorry... But really, aren't you tired of being shit on by her all this time? Of all those assholes just... Just teasing you, and beating you, and..."
  493. >She stares at her feet, frowning intensely
  494.  
  495. >"You... You have radical freedom! You can do whatever you want! Clean my room? We've been doing shit for other people for too long."
  496. >You notice as Moondancer whispers under her breath again, 'too long'
  497. >Now you're staring down at your shoes, too, neither of you looking at the other
  498. "I-I-I d-don't l-l-like the w-way S-Sugar C-Coat and m-m-my friends t-treat me... But i-i-it's okay. I-I d-d-deserve it. I-I'm a b-bad friend, a-and I'm u-ugly, a-and I s-s-stutter. I-I-If it w-wasn't f-for them, I-I'd be c-c-completely a-alone... Y-You must h-hate m-me too, r-right? L-L-Listening t-t-to me t-talk. T-T-Takes s-so l-long f-f-f-for me to s-say a-a-a-a-a-any..."
  499. >Your chest tightens as you hang on the final word, barely pushing through it
  500. "a-anything."
  501. >Talking is so hard, a chore, really
  502. >The more you talk, the higher the chance you can't even finish what you're saying
  503. >"No, I don't hate you because you stutter. Only fuckholes would hate you because of that. Or make fun of you for something you can't control. I... I know what that's like, and it sucks. No, you know, the stuttering is just part of who you are, and I like it. You can't let people make you feel bad about yourself. Living like that, it sucks..."
  504. >"It sucks," she says again
  505. >She 'likes' your stutter?
  506. >That... Doesn't even make sense
  507. >You didn't always have it, and when it started getting worse, you remember how much pain it caused your parents, that they lost another one of the few things that made you normal
  508. >Moondancer moves over to her bed and sits down
  509. >"Do you think I should feel bad about myself?"
  510. >She mutters 'about myself' under breath
  511. "N-No! I-I-It's d-different. Y-You're okay... I-I'm n-not. Th-That's j-just how th-things a-a-a-are."
  512. >"I let people poison my mind with their shit for my whole life... Not anymore. You shouldn't either. Twilight, we're the only one's at Crystal Prep who aren't total human garbage. We can't walk all over ourselves when so many people will do it for us..."
  513.  
  514. >You didn't agree with everything Moondancer said
  515. >'Human garbage' felt like a pretty apt term for yourself
  516. >But... Some of what she said felt like it wiggled its way inside your chest
  517. >Whether or not she was right, though, her room was still a mess and it was causing the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up
  518. "I-Is it okay i-if I c-clean your r-room j-just b-because I w-want to?"
  519. >Moondancer scratches at the back of her head, eyeing her Gamecube
  520. >She turns back to you
  521. >You must look so awkward, standing, hunched over in your submissive gait by the door
  522. >"You really don't have to do that... We could play F-Zero GX. It's one of my favorites!"
  523. >She hops up and holds the small, blue-black disc in her hand, presenting it to you
  524. >You've never really been one for video games—it seemed like an expensive hobby, and reading already preoccupied what little free time you had
  525. >Still, you didn't want to offend her
  526. >But you also really had to do something about this room
  527. "U-Um... H-How about I-I w-watch you play, a-and c-clean y-your r-r-room?"
  528. >A small pout crosses Moondancer's face
  529. >"You really want to clean my room, huh?"
  530. >She whispers under her breath again, head turned slightly downwards
  531. >You're starting to notice it less, though
  532. "I-I'm k-kinda OCD a-about t-tidiness..."
  533. >"Fine," Moondancer says, plopping the game into the silver console. "I guess that can work... But you have to play after, okay?"
  534. >You nod and hurriedly begin plucking articles of clothing off the ground and folding them
  535. >Moondancer's small Samsung flares to grainy life, a fun techno beat playing over the start screen
  536. >Pressing 'start' on her Wavebird, Moondancer begins to tell you about her various personal records in the game
  537. >She swears she holds near-world record times on some courses
  538. >As you start unburying her room, it's hard to even tell what's going on, on-screen—not just because of the high speed 'snaking', but also because of the low quality of her television
  539.  
  540. >Time passes by, you stowing clothes away into drawers, and Moondancer educating you on video games
  541. >According to her, everything sucks right now since there's a bunch of 'SJWs' trying to 'destroy everything fun' or something
  542. >She has a strong opinion about a lot of things, you find
  543. >After about a half hour, this room is starting to look like a place you could actually be comfortable in
  544. >And it also apparently has a heavily-stained carpet, which you couldn't originally see under all the sweaters, and socks, and skinny jeans, and just...
  545. >How people don't get the heebie-jeebies from messy rooms, you'll never know
  546. >Even made Moondancer's bed for her!
  547. >Doing something for someone without having them force you to do it in the first place... It was a nice feeling
  548. >"Wow... It's been years since my room has been this clean. You didn't have to do that..."
  549. "N-No, I-I w-wanted to. I-It's okay."
  550. >Moondancer smiles
  551. >"But now we have to play! You promised."
  552. >She pats the spot on the bed next to her
  553. >Obligingly, you plunk down next to her, the harsh spring-mattress making you regret doing that with such aplomb
  554. >"Here," she says, handing you her control
  555. >You take it, the grey plastic is slightly warm in your hands
  556. "I-Isn't th-this y-yours?"
  557. >"It's fine. I can use this," she says, pulling a strange looking, translucent-orange Mad Catz controller off from her desk
  558. >Moondancer wiggles in her seat with seeming elation at being able to play with you, or someone at all
  559. >It takes her a while to teach you the basics, but you think you get it after not too long
  560. >She promises not to use 'snaking' or any other pro stuff on you
  561. >Regardless, she still whoops your butt every game
  562. >But you still have fun, anyways!
  563. >Losing doesn't matter to you
  564. >What matters is... She seems to be so happy, just doing this with you...
  565. >Almost like she's having more fun now than when she was playing by herself!
  566. >A warm sensation cross over you
  567. >Is this what... Having a friend is supposed to feel like?
  568.  
  569. >The two of you go through a few more games after F-Zero
  570. >Timesplitters 2, Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Bros. Melee...
  571. >You weren't really familiar with any of these, but you got the hang of them pretty quick
  572. >The controller you had felt really nice in your hands, ergonomic, while it seemed like Moondancer's couldn't always do everything
  573. >It stung a little, to have someone sacrifice something for you—even with something as little as using a hokey-looking controller
  574. >For example, the shoulder buttons sucked, so 'dodge rolling' was very hit or miss for her
  575. >Which led to you narrowly beating out her Bowser with your Peach with the hard smack of a tennis racket
  576. >That wasn't fair
  577. "I-I-I'm s-s—"
  578. >Moondancer giggles, her player character clapping for yours on the results screen
  579. >"Twilight, that was so cool! You're getting really good."
  580. "R-Really?"
  581. >"Yeah! Let's keep playing."
  582. >You nod
  583. >Sugar Coat thinks video games are 'for faggots', so she'd never play one with you, but you know that if you'd beaten her in one, it wouldn't be compliments you'd be receiving
  584. >Moondancer is so... Different from everyone else at Crystal Prep
  585. >You guess the two of you probably get along since you're both scholarship winners, both get picked on by the same people, and both have off-putting quirks
  586. >Though, you haven't really noticed hers anymore
  587. >And the times she'd go off about something were always enjoyable to you
  588. >You're not sure how many matches have gone by when a knock comes at the door
  589. >It opens, a portly, middle-aged man in a splotchy wife-beater standing in the doorway
  590. >He reeks of alcohol, but has a jolly smile on his face
  591. >Moondancer sits stoically beside you
  592. >"Well I'll be, Moony really did bring a friend over after all! What's your name?"
  593. "T-T-Twilight S-Sparkle."
  594. >"Nice to meet'cha, Twilight."
  595. >His eyes turn to the small window against the wall, and your heart jumps once you see that it's dark outside
  596.  
  597. >"I don't want'cha to feel like I'm kicking you out, but both of you have school tomorrow. You can stay a few more minutes, but it's almost Moony's bed time."
  598. "O-Okay. Th-Thanks f-for h-h-having m-me in your h-house."
  599. >He bellows, one hand against the doorway
  600. >"It's no problem, Twilight. I'm just glad Moony's got a friend is all. Do you need a ride home or anythin'?"
  601. "N-No, I-I l-live really c-c-close."
  602. >"Oh, that's nice. Feel free to come over whenever, really. Moony needs the friends. Anywho, I'll be headin' off to bed. Got to be on site early. Night to the both of you!"
  603. "G-Goodnight," you say, waving
  604. >Well, he seems nicer than Moondancer's mother
  605. >But you're sure she's a nice person, too
  606. >It's just hard to always be presentable when money is tight—you know that from your parents
  607. >You turn back to 'Moony' with a slight smile
  608. "D-Do you w-w-want to play o-one m-more?"
  609. >"Sure."
  610. >After one more round, it's Twilight: 1, Moondancer: A lot + One more
  611. >Moondancer stands up and powers down her Gamecube and TV, and turns back to you, arms extended outward
  612. >What is she doing?
  613. >"Not a hugger?"
  614. "O-Oh, i-is th-that what th-th-that w-was?"
  615. >You stand up, hesitant to bring your arms up and reciprocate
  616. >Hugging is something you only really do with your parents, and you definitely haven't gotten any hugs from Sugar Coat or your other friends
  617. >Moondancer throws her arms around you
  618. >You wince and your chest feels like it's trying to collapse on itself, and Moondancer pulls away
  619. >"Did I do something?"
  620. >She repeats this in a hushed tone
  621. "N-No, I j-j-j-just... I-I d-d-don't l-like p-people t-touching me... S-Sorry."
  622. >Moondancer nods, looking off past you
  623. >"I get that. I do."
  624. >Instead of hugging, she holds up her hand by her head
  625. >Now, she's waving to you, but you don't know that until after you high five her
  626. >You're so bad at this...
  627. "S-Sorry."
  628. >"Twilight, it's fine. I had a lot of fun today! We should hang out more often. This beats doing homework for Sugar Cunt, right?"
  629.  
  630. >Again, you're not gung-ho about her uncouth language—especially about your friends—but she was right
  631. >This was a lot better than doing homework until three or four am
  632. "D-Do y-y-you w-want to h-hang out a-again t-tomorrow?"
  633. >Moondancer hops on the spot
  634. >"Yeah! I'll meet you at your locker, like we did this time."
  635. >You say your goodbyes, and wave each other off
  636. >It doesn't take long for you to get home, and it only took two turns to get there!
  637. >Who knew that someone who'd actually spend time with you was living so nearby?
  638. >You're still not entirely confident she could actually like you, but this was definitely something brand new to you
  639. >"Twilight, where have you been?" your father asks from the plaid couch, watching some reality TV show with your mom
  640. "A f-friend's h-house..."
  641. >Your dad's eyebrows shoot up, and he leans over the arm of the couch at you
  642. >"A friend's?"
  643. "Y-Yup!"
  644. >He smiles warmly
  645. >"It's about fucking time," your mother said, her eyes still glued to the overly-tanned 'housewives' screeching at each other on the TV. "Better late than never, so, good job."
  646. "Th-Thanks, Mom!"
  647. >"Want to watch with the family?" she asks
  648. "N-No th-thanks, I sh-should sleep."
  649. >You give your parents a curtsy and hurry off to your room as your mother shrugs
  650. >Shutting your door behind you, you lay yourself down on your bed, running a finger along the cracks low on the wall
  651. >Having your mattress directly on the floor allowed you to do this—plus it was cheaper than having a box for it, and you never had to worry about rolling off!
  652. >Today went so well, and you barely received any homework
  653. >You can probably just do it all in the morning
  654. >And then hang out with Moondancer again after school
  655. >You just hope Sugar Coat wouldn't be too mad at you
  656. >Brushing her off... It was mean, but you didn't want to do her homework forever
  657. >Sugar Coat is a nice person; she'll understand
  658. >With that, it's off to sleep
  659.  
  660. >The next morning, you're breezing through your homework at the kitchen table
  661. >Your mother slams a stack of pancakes in front of you and you jump in your seat
  662. >"Are you gonna eat, or did you just want to look at the pancakes?"
  663. "Y-Yeah, a-after I f-f-finish m-my h-homework."
  664. >Mom rolls her eyes, tapping her fingers on the table
  665. >Her long, lavender painted nails clack loudly against the laminated wood
  666. >"Why do you ask me to cook for you if you're going to wait for it to get cold?"
  667. >You lower your head, staring at the grain of the table
  668. "I-I'll b-be f-fast. J-Just a f-f-few m-minutes."
  669. >"Why didn't you just do it yesterday?", she asks, her arms crossed, her finger now tapping away at her forearm
  670. "W-W-W-Well, l-l-like I s-said, I-I-I w-was a-at a f-f-friend's, a-a-and I knew I-I c-c-c-could f-finish m-my h-homework i-in the m-m-m-m-mor..."
  671. >Your mother's face falls and her finger stops its tapping as you struggle to get out your final word
  672. >It's doesn't want to come out, but you force it up anyways
  673. "M-Morning..." you say
  674. >Your mother exhales deeply, one corner of her mouth curling downwards
  675. >"Just eat the goddamn pancakes, Twilight. Please. You complain when they get cold."
  676. "O-Okay..."
  677. >Pushing aside your books and assignment sheets, you chow down on the pancakes
  678. >"How are they?"
  679. "G-G-Good! Th-Thanks."
  680. >"That's good..."
  681. >Your mom walks over to the stove, picking up the pan and putting it in the sink
  682. >Washing something right after you used it was something your mom had told you was for the best
  683. >Otherwise you might end up with a stack of dishes that could take forever to clean up
  684. >You think you got some of your OCD tendencies from her
  685. >After finishing the pancakes, you take a few more minutes to finish off your papers and notes before heading off to school
  686. >All you had to do was apologize to Sugar Coat, and everything would be fine
  687.  
  688. >Stepping outside your house, backpack much lighter than usual, you head down to Crystal Prep Academy
  689. >As usual, it's pretty much a ghost town because of how early you get here
  690. >When you enter the building, you start heading towards your math class
  691. >However, when you turn the final corner, the door is blocked by Sugar Coat and the rest of your friends
  692. >You flinch slightly as you spot Anon with them, remembering back to the party
  693. >"Hello, Twilight," Sugar Coat said, a hand on her hip
  694. "H-H-Hi... S-S-Sorry for n-not d-doing y-your h-h-homework... I m-meant it."
  695. >Sugar Coat smiled at you
  696. >Taking slow steps, she approached you and patted you on the shoulder
  697. >"I understand."
  698. "R-R-Really?"
  699. >"Really really."
  700. >Gently, you raised your head to face her, beaming
  701. "Th-Thanks! I-I f-felt so b-b-bad about i-it... I-I was w-worried you w-were g-g-going to h-hate me..."
  702. >Sugar Coat, one hand still on your shoulder, takes a quick glance at the girls behind her
  703. >"Well, you did kind of throw all your work onto us, but... We're friends, right? The girls and I just want to talk this over after class."
  704. "S-Sure! A-Anything. I-I'm s-s-so g-glad you're not a-angry."
  705. >Sugar Coat pats you on the shoulder again, offering a well-constructed grin
  706. >"Let's just talk after school."
  707. >Sugar Coat motions her head away from your classroom door, and the girls disperse
  708. >The girls come together in a group behind Sugar Coat and leave, Anon straggling behind
  709. >He stands in front of you, hands in his pockets
  710. >"Hey, Twilight?"
  711. >You turn away from him
  712. "Y-Yeah?"
  713. >"I just wanted to apologize. Again. It was just a prank, but... I guess it was kind of a shitty one."
  714. >You stared at the amply polished tile floor, averting your gaze even from his reflection
  715. "I-It's okay..."
  716. >"Awesome. See you around!"
  717. >He runs off to catch up with the girls, his footsteps echoing through the halls
  718.  
  719. >You take your seat in class, and heft your bag onto the floor
  720. >It feels odd, not having six students' worth of homework in one bag
  721. >Like you could have floated away at any time
  722. >Even the strength you used to get it off your back was too much, causing it to be a much clumsier affair than it should have been
  723. >This big, dumb, purple pack was almost like a friend to you, with how long you've had it and how much it's been with you
  724. >You stare at the various posters on the walls, particularly the one with Einstein on it, bearing a rather unmotivational quotation
  725. >'Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former'
  726. >That sounds like something Moondancer might say, you think to yourself chuckling
  727. >People start filing in, and you make sure to straighten up and start paying attention
  728. >You felt at ease right now
  729. >New friend, who actually liked you
  730. >And your old friends weren't angry at you
  731. >As class was waiting to start, you tapped your toes and silently hummed to yourself
  732. >The first half of the day went by smoothly
  733. >At lunch, you went to the library, and found Moondancer there, too, already sitting at your table
  734. >It looked like she was reading more philosophy books, this time 'The Stranger'
  735. >"Twilight!" she whispered, standing from her seat
  736. >Moondancer opened her arms to you before letting them fall back to her sides
  737. >"Sorry."
  738. "I-It's f-fine."
  739. >A small pit forms in your chest as you watch her deflate slightly—not liking physical contact very much wasn't something you wanted to make someone else sad over
  740. >You exchange smiles and small waves and sit down next to each other at the table
  741. >"Have you read this book?"
  742. >'this book', she repeats
  743. "N-No," you say
  744. >Moondancer smiles
  745. >"Okay, so, it starts out with this guy learning about his mother's death..."
  746.  
  747. >You listen intently as she tells you about the basic plot, and the main character
  748. >Judging by what you know of Nihilism, the guy sounds pretty Nihilistic
  749. >Maybe even 'edgy' would be the right term
  750. >Never relaying his emotions, being completely indifferent to everyone in an indifferent universe...
  751. >The guy even kills someone else and doesn't have much to say about it, and feels no remorse
  752. >And then he gets executed, because he didn't cry at his mother's funeral or something?
  753. >It's hard to follow the story, since Moondancer's talking so fast and with such animation
  754. >Every once in a while, she'll reference another philosopher or book and go off on small tangents
  755. >In the end, despite Moondancer looking so joyed at talking about this, you're left feeling rather glum
  756. >She cocks her head at you
  757. >"Am I boring you?"
  758. "N-Not at all! I-I j-just... I-It's all s-s-so d-dreary... N-Nihilism i-isn't really m-m-my cup of t-tea."
  759. >Moondancer snorts
  760. >"'The Stranger' is Absurdism, which is a lot less dreary than Nihilism."
  761. >Oh
  762. >It was still very dreary to you
  763. "S-So... W-Why are you r-reading it i-if y-you already, y-you know, know e-everything a-about it?"
  764. >"You don't read books over again?"
  765. >Moondancer whispers to herself
  766. "N-Not r-really... I l-like r-reading s-s-something new e-every time, I g-guess..."
  767. >She nods
  768. >"That makes sense. So... What do you believe? About, like, the world or whatever?"
  769. >Last time she asked you a question like this, you didn't have an answer
  770. >You still don't
  771. >It seems difficult to have a concrete outlook on anything
  772. >What concerns you is doing well in school, and being less of a burden on everyone
  773. >Moondancer frowns when you shrug
  774. "I have books at home that you should probably read. You'd like them! Have you read Fight Club?"
  775. "I-I a-already know th-the twist, b-but no..."
  776. >Over the rest of lunch, you and Moondancer talk about philosophy, science, history...
  777. >And you find yourself smiling up until the moment the bell rings
  778.  
  779. >You both stand up and trade goodbyes
  780. >"I'll see you after classes, right?"
  781. "U-Umm... Y-Yeah, b-but I h-have to s-see Sugar C-C-Coat f-first. I-It'll be q-quick."
  782. >Moondancer frowns
  783. >"Don't you think it would be best to stay away from that cunt?"
  784. >There's that language again, causing your next breath to be sharp
  785. "Sh-She's n-n-not a... Y-You-know-wh-what... S-Sugar C-Coat j-just w-wants to talk t-to me a-after school."
  786. >Plucking her bag off the ground, with the same overexertion that you had with your own underweight backpack, Moondancer shrugs
  787. >"Okay. I'll wait for you at my locker," she says, repeating 'at my locker'
  788. >You nod with a bright smile
  789. "S-See y-you there!"
  790. >Not wanting to be late, you jog off, waving to Moondancer
  791. >The next few classes you have go as smoothly as the first did
  792. >You were really looking forward to spending time with Moondancer again
  793. >Playing video games was fun, and being able to make someone happy just by doing something with them was a great feeling
  794. >Plus, trading notes on what books to read would be fun, too
  795. >And she hasn't made fun of your stutter once!
  796. >Though, you wouldn't mind if she did—your stutter was very bad, and even your mom sometimes makes fun of it when she's really drunk
  797. >Like with your mom, though, you got the feeling that Moondancer didn't hate you
  798. >Which made you feel a little guilty, since you were so worthy of the feeling
  799. >And then there was Sugar Coat, who you knew hated you, but that was okay
  800. >It even seemed like she was warming up to you, now, with how nice she was this morning
  801. >As the final bell rings, you giddily make your way to Sugar Coat's locker, wanting to waste no time in making your apologies to each and every one of your friends
  802. >Like Sugar Coat said, you threw all your work onto them, and that made you feel terrible
  803. >Bumping around between the harsh shoves of the sea of students, you finally made it through the winding school complex, you finally saw a smiling Sugar Coat and Co.
  804. >"Twilight!"
  805.  
  806. "H-Hey, girls!"
  807. >Sugar steps forward, smiling
  808. >"Right on time, Twilight."
  809. >Scanning the group, you see that all the girls are there, plus Anon
  810. >You notice that there's a blue girl you haven't seen before with them
  811. >She was hunched over, like you often were, looking at your shoes
  812. >Sugar Coat peeks behind her, noticing your attention isn't on her
  813. >"That's Trixie. She's going to watch."
  814. "W-Watch wh-wh-what?"
  815. >A hand reaches around your body, landing firmly on your upper back
  816. >You wince, and unlike Moondancer, Sugar's hand stays put
  817. >"Let's head to the bathroom to talk, shall we?"
  818. >You don't get to respond, pushed along by Sugar Coat, the low laughter of the other girls making you feel on edge
  819. >Girls go to the bathroom with each other all the time, you hear
  820. >It's not something you've ever done, but, you assume it's just a place to talk or something
  821. >As you approach the glossy door to the girls' bathroom, Sugar stops and turns to Anon
  822. >"Don't let anyone in."
  823. >His eyebrows crease slightly
  824. >"Okay?"
  825. >"I mean it."
  826. >Anon rolls his eyes
  827. >"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, Babe."
  828. >Sugar Coat opens the door and pushes you inside forcefully
  829. "H-Hey!"
  830. >She drags you by the front of your shirt, bending down slightly to look under the stalls
  831. >"Nobody here. That's good."
  832. >The rest of the girls filter in, shoving Trixie around
  833. >"S-Stop! Y-You're hurting Trixie..." she whimpers
  834. >Sour Sweet restrains Trixie, gripping her tightly by the arms as the rest laugh
  835. >"Who talks in the third person? Seriously, that's so lame," Indigo Zap says, chuckling
  836. "Y-You sh-shouldn't hurt h-her..."
  837. >Sugar Coat laughs, echoing through the room
  838. >"We're not going to hurt her, Twilight. We just want her to see what happens when our friends don't do what we want."
  839. >She rips your glasses from your face and throws them to the ground, and the world becomes a blur
  840. >You hear them crunch as a boot hits the floor
  841. "S-Stop!"
  842.  
  843. >Crouching down, you let your fingers scour the grimy tile, trying to retrieve the rims of your glasses at the very least
  844. >Your parents couldn't afford getting you new ones
  845. >Laughter filled your ears, and you started to shake
  846. >"Geez, how fucking blind are you?" Lemon Zest says, nearly doubling over as she watches you on your hands and knees
  847. >A very slight relief comes over you as your finger brushes against what seems to be your glasses
  848. >The next moment, you scream out in pain as a boot comes down on your fingers
  849. >And then another
  850. >Your jaw hangs open as you croak out another scream, falling to your elbows
  851. >"Did you know how long it took me to do that stupid fucking English assignment last night?!" Sugar Coat yells, stepping on your hands yet again. "Two and a half hours! Two and a half hours of my life down the drain!"
  852. "I-I'm s-s-s-s—"
  853. >Something hits you in the gut, and you nearly vomit on the spot, a great heave going through your entire body
  854. >"S-Stop! You're hurting her! T-Trixie will do what you want! Stop! Pl—"
  855. >You don't see what happens, but you hear a soft smack that shuts Trixie up
  856. >More blows come down on you, mostly boots, but someone in there—Lemon Zest, probably—is wearing high heels
  857. >Falling to your side, you try to curl up, only to have your arms and legs pulled apart as the others wail on you
  858. >You can't even scream, wracked in too much pain, every kick in the gut eliciting small sobs and coughs
  859. >Indigo Zap lets out a 'Woo!' as she gives you a nasty kick to the chest
  860. >"GOAL!"
  861. >The girls erupt into cacophonous laughter, though a small sob breaks through, and it's not yours
  862. >You can't move a single muscle in your body, not even to sob
  863. >The girls look like colorful blobs, huddled together as they finally stop hitting you
  864. >Your shallow, wheezed breaths echo through the bathroom
  865. >The blobs push a blue blob out in front of you, and you feel hands grabbing you by the head, pulling you up
  866. >"On your knees, please," Sugar Coat says
  867.  
  868. >With force, she tries to get you to your knees as she struggles with your limp body
  869. >"Twilight, stop being such a fucking hassle!"
  870. "I-I... I..."
  871. >You don't have the energy to speak, let alone keep yourself upright
  872. >Tears streak down your face, yet you can't feel them over the stinging
  873. >Every part of you aches
  874. >Sugar Coat finally gets you into an upright position, but you fall right over
  875. >"TWILIGHT!"
  876. >She stomps your calf
  877. >Pain shoots through your body, and you squirm on the floor
  878. >It smells like urine down here
  879. >The clean freak in you can't do anything about that
  880. >Once again, you're hoisted up
  881. >"Don't be fucking lazy again, or it's going to be a long day."
  882. >On your knees, you wobble, but steady yourself
  883. >Once more, the blue blob is pushed towards you
  884. >"Spit on her," you hear Sugar Coat say
  885. >"N-No! T-Trixie will do no such thing!"
  886. >Another smack rings out through the room, and you see the blue blob being tossed around by the others
  887. >"S-Stop!"
  888. >"Then do it!"
  889. >There's a whimper, and shortly after you feel something wet splat against your face
  890. >Laughter
  891. >"So, you know what you have to do now, right?"
  892. >"T-Trixie will... Trixie will do anything Sugar Coat or her friends ask..."
  893. >"Great!" Sugat Coat says with pep. "We already gave you all our stuff. Don't disappoint. Let's go, girls."
  894. >The girls file out, their shoes clacking on the floor, and one makes a quick run over to you and kicks you in the side, and you double over
  895. >Indigo Zap chuckles and rushes out, telling you she'll 'smell you later'
  896. >"Where the fuck is Anon! He was supposed to be making sure no one came in..."
  897. >On the floor of the girls bathroom, you sob in silence, spitting out onto the ground every once in a while as saliva pools in your mouth
  898. >The pain you felt was mind numbing, you could hardly do anything but try and cry out, though even that was impossible
  899. >You had just lost nearly all of your friends, and by your own doing
  900.  
  901. >Sometime later—you're not sure how much longer—you hear the bathroom door open
  902. >"Jesus Christ!"
  903. >Anon?
  904. >It takes everything you have just to crane your neck, watching as a green blur rushes over to you
  905. >"What the fuck... What the fuck! What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck!"
  906. >He just mutters that over and over
  907. >You try to talk, but only a shaky exhalation leaves your mouth
  908. >"Fuck, are... Are you okay? Sugar Coat told me what they... Fucking Christ,this is way worse than what she said she was going to do..."
  909. >Arms scoop you up, and you feel the pull of gravity on your limbs and head as you're lifted off the ground
  910. >If you could have, you would have winced at the touch
  911. >But as it was, you didn't have the energy to do that
  912. >As you were carried out the bathroom, you stared at the ceiling, evenly spaced luminescent blurs moving across your field of vision
  913. >"Fuck... Is the Nurse's Office even still open right now?"
  914. >The Nurse's Office...
  915. >The nurse might as questions
  916. >Might get Sugar Coat in trouble...
  917. >And then they'd probably come after you again and—
  918. "P-Please... D-Don't..."
  919. >A fuzzy green face turns down at you
  920. >"Don't?"
  921. >You shake your head with what little ability you have
  922. "N-No."
  923. >Your arms swayed as Anon came to a stop
  924. >"Then... Then what?"
  925. >His voice quiets out into a muffle
  926. >Can't answer...
  927. >Too tired...
  928. >Another voice, a girl's, calls out your name in terror and concern as you fall into a haze
  929. >The next thing you know, you're in a bed
  930. >Two figures are sitting over you, and you can... See them, somewhat
  931. >You notice you have glasses on your face
  932. >"T-Twilight?" Moondancer says
  933. "W-Where am I?"
  934.  
  935. >"You're at my house," a boy says
  936. >That must be Anon
  937. >Through the glasses, you can somewhat make out the room you're in
  938. >Seems to be pretty sizable, maybe more space than yours and Moondancer's rooms combined
  939. >Posters everywhere, though you can't really read anything on them
  940. >Moondancer's vision must not be as bad as yours
  941. >That's good
  942. >Moondancer pounces you with a hug, and you scream out
  943. >"Fuck, s-sorry."
  944. "I-It's o-okay..."
  945. >Your whole body aches in this constant swell, coming at you like waves breaking on the shore, in and out
  946. >"A-Are you sure you don't need to go to the hospital or anything? Anon said you didn't even want to go to the nurse..."
  947. >When Moondancer whispers to herself, Anon gives out a slight chuckle which he tries to stifle a few moments later
  948. "N-Nothing is b-b-broken. I-I would kn-know... I-It's o-o-okay, a-and I d-d-don't want to g-get Sugar C-Coat in t-trouble..."
  949. >Moondancer stands and begins to pace in Anon's room
  950. >"Don't want to get her in trouble?! Maybe you can't see yourself right now, but... What they did to you is unforgivable! Sugar Cunt—"
  951. >"Hey!" Anon interjects, turning to Moondancer. "That's my girlfriend you're talking about."
  952. >"Your girlfriend just had Twilight beaten until she fucking blacked out!"
  953. >Anon puts his arms up in front of him as Moondancer takes a swing at him
  954. >"Would you fucking stop?! I'm trying to help, geez. This is my fucking house. Sugar Coat... She..."
  955. >"Yeah? You can't defend that bitch. Fuck you."
  956. >'Fuck you,' she whispers
  957. >You try to sit up in the bed, moaning out in pain as you rest against the headboard
  958. "P-Please d-don't fight... I-I don't want a-anybody e-else to g-get hurt..."
  959. >Moondancer shrugs and crosses her arms
  960. >"Fine..."
  961. >Anon puts a hand on your calf, and you don't have the energy to pull away
  962. >His touch, especially after the party, scares you
  963. >"Are you okay?"
  964. "F-Fine..."
  965.  
  966. >Though fuzzy, you see the corner of Anon's mouth curl into a slight frown
  967. >"I'm sorry about what I did to you. Still. And I'm sorry what Sugar Coat did to you. I... I don't know why she's like this, sometimes, but I'm telling you, she's not that bad when you get on her good side."
  968. >Moondancer laughs indignantly and puts a few fingers against her forehead
  969. >"Well, being on her bad side, she's pretty fucking bad, you fuck."
  970. >"Look, I don't know what you have against me. I don't even know you."
  971. >"You're dating the girl who's been torturing Twilight and I ever since we started at Crystal Prep!"
  972. >You try to huddle into yourself as Moondancer and Anon start shouting at one another
  973. >Over Sugar Coat, over what 'really' constitutes bullying, over who is or isn't 'so bad'
  974. >The yelling digs its way into your chest, and you close your eyes
  975. >Just pretend it's not happening and don't say anything
  976. >That always helps...
  977. >"—then why don't you just go somewhere else?!"
  978. >"Somewhere else?! So I have to fucking choose between my education or getting bullied by your cunt of a girlfriend at school? Fuck, if I tried to go somewhere else, she'd probably do some shit to get at me somehow!"
  979. >When Moondancer starts talking to herself under hushed tones again, Anon laughs
  980. >"Do you have to do that since no one else talks to you? God, you—No, no, I should be... We shouldn't be fighting. We should be making sure Twilight's okay."
  981. >"Oh, yeah, just fucking get the insult in and THEN do the 'bigger man' shtick. Fucking—"
  982. "P-PLEASE!"
  983. >It was at that point you realized you were crying
  984. "P-Please d-don't... I d-don't like l-listening to people f-fight..."
  985. >Both Moondancer and Anon seem to deflate
  986. >"I'm sorry, Twilight... I just get... Worked up sometimes."
  987. >'Sometimes...'
  988. >"We'll stop," Anon says
  989. >Anon shimmies up the bed to sit himself beside you, pulling his knees up to his chest—like you're doing—looking concerned
  990. >"As long as you're in my house, I want to take care of you, okay?"
  991.  
  992. >You nod, the bed shifting slightly as Moondancer takes a seat by your feet, one leg crossed over the other
  993. >"Maybe you could've taken care of her by not letting Sugar Coat beat her half to death..."
  994. >"Look, I had no idea what Sugar Coat was planning to do. Usually, she just tries to fuck with people's heads or something. Nothing that bad."
  995. >"Nothing that bad?!" Moondancer snarls
  996. >Hands pre-emptively raised in case of any attacks, Anon says, "Okay, bad. But nothing like beating someone up! She's never done anything like that before. I knew she wanted to hurt Twilight, but I thought that it was just going to be some teasing or something. This... This isn't anything like her."
  997. "B-But..."
  998. >The girls had never beaten you before—not like that, at least
  999. >It had always been little things, like Indigo Zap punching you really hard in the shoulder as a joke, or the pillow fight at the party...
  1000. >Things that were just supposed to be fun, but you were too weird to be okay with
  1001. >But nothing like her?
  1002. "A-Anon... Th-This is a lot like h-her, i-isn't it? I-It's not e-even the w-worst thing she e-ever did t-to me."
  1003. >Moondancer shudders
  1004. >"What the fuck did she do to you that could possibly be worse?!"
  1005. >Head down, you turn to Anon, looking up into his face through disheveled, purple hair
  1006. >You don't say anything, but Anon sighs and turns away from you
  1007. >Moondancer's eyes dart between you and Anon
  1008. >"What the fuck did he do to you?"
  1009. >Anon blows some air between his lips and shrugs his shoulders
  1010. >"I maybe tricked Twilight into thinking I, you know, liked her, and kissed her, or something, as part of a prank with Sugar Coat."
  1011. >You try not to let tears well in your eyes as you think back
  1012. >"You WHAT?!"
  1013. >Moondancer's eyes fill with violent animus, and she nearly charges across the bed at Anon, but you move yourself between them
  1014. "M-Moondancer..."
  1015. >She snarls, still staring at Anon
  1016. >"Look, I'm sorry about that. I've been saying that ever since. I'm sorry. It was a dick move."
  1017.  
  1018. >"A 'dick move'? You're fucking priceless, you know that?"
  1019. >'You know that?' she whispers
  1020. >Anon rises to reply, but stops himself
  1021. >You breath a sigh of relief
  1022. >If they're not fighting...
  1023. >That's all you really want
  1024. >Every insult they've slung at each other has stung
  1025. "I-I'm not mad at A-Anon... I-I'm not m-mad at S-Sugar C-C-Coat. I-I d-don't l-like being m-mad. I-It's not g-good for y-you..."
  1026. >Moondancer shrugs
  1027. >"Twilight, you should be mad... I'll be mad for you, then."
  1028. >You frown
  1029. >There's a momentary silence before Anon turns to you, seemingly hesitant to speak
  1030. >"So... The kiss thing. THAT'S the worst? Worse than this?" he says, hold a hand out to your body. "It wasn't, even, sort of funny?"
  1031. >"Are you fucking retarded?"
  1032. >'He's retarded..." she mumbles
  1033. >Anon turns away from you, seemingly lost in thought
  1034. "I-It w-wasn't funny... B-But l-like I s-said. I-I'm not m-mad."
  1035. >He nods to himself
  1036. >"Okay."
  1037. >"Okay? Not mad?!"
  1038. >Moondancer shakes her head, looking distraught
  1039. >"What the fuck is going on?!"
  1040. >"Just simmer down."
  1041. >She growls, but steps down when your lips start quavering
  1042. >You let out a sigh
  1043. "W-What time i-is it?"
  1044. >Anon points to the wall
  1045. >"I have a clock, you know."
  1046. "I..."
  1047. >"Those aren't her fucking glasses, you fucking cock."
  1048. >Again, you feel a slight sting from Moondancer's insult, even if it was for Anon
  1049. >Why can't people just get along?
  1050. >"Whatever. It's a little past nine."
  1051. >"Oh wait, what?! Shit, I have to get home. My dad is gonna... He's not going to be happy..."
  1052. "M-Me too... I-I need t-to g-get home."
  1053. >Anon nods
  1054. >"I can drive you guys."
  1055. >Now both you and Moondancer nod
  1056. >Moondancer hops off the bed and reaches a hand out for you
  1057. >You take it, and she pulls you up
  1058. >Once on your feet, though, you collapse onto the ground
  1059. >"I can carry you," Anon says, scooping you up
  1060. >Moondancer's face turns to a snarl once more
  1061.  
  1062. >Anon carries you in his arms, and you feel somewhat embarrassed to be a literal, physical burden on someone
  1063. >He carries you through his house, Moondancer in tow
  1064. >It's a spacious, upper-middle class sort of home
  1065. >Probably has multiple bathrooms and lots of bedrooms
  1066. >There are large vases with a Grecian theme at the foot of the stairs
  1067. >Once in the garage, you spot Anon's car
  1068. >It's a red Porsche, a four door one
  1069. >You're not really a big car person, but even you know that Porsches are expensive
  1070. >How expensive, you don't know, but expensive!
  1071. >Having money must be pretty nice
  1072. >"Okay, uh... I guess we can just have you lay in the back, again."
  1073. >Moondancer opens the door to the back and slides across to the car's back-right seat
  1074. >She helps pull you in, Anon sliding you across the backseat
  1075. >Your head finally comes to a rest on Moondancer's lap
  1076. >Anon shuts the door and gets into the driver's seat, starting the car with a low rumble
  1077. >"Do you guys know which one of you lives closer to here?"
  1078. >"Twilight doesn't even know where here IS, you idiot. But, I think my house is closer."
  1079. >"Whatever."
  1080. >Moondancer guides Anon to her home
  1081. >Along the way, she places a hand on your shoulder
  1082. >You try not to flinch—you don't want to hurt her feelings again
  1083. >"D-Do you think we can hang out tomorrow, Twilight?"
  1084. "O-Of c-c-course! I r-really l-liked h-hanging out w-with y-y-you..."
  1085. >Moondancer smiles warmly
  1086. >"Awesome."
  1087. >'Awesome,' she repeats
  1088. >"There's so much we can do next time! We could—"
  1089. >The car comes to an abrupt stop, nearly shaking you onto the floor
  1090. >Anon could use some driving lessons...
  1091. >"The half painted house with the paint chipping off, right? That's what you said?"
  1092. >"Oh, yeah, that's me. I'll see you later, Twilight!"
  1093. >Moondancer opens the door and slides out from under you, gently laying your head down onto the warm, leather seat
  1094. >She waves and closes the door
  1095. >"Okay, and now for you. You live nearby?"
  1096. "Y-Yeah... I-It's v-very close..."
  1097.  
  1098. >You tell him the two turns it takes to get to your house
  1099. "I-It'll o-only be a f-few minutes t-to get th-there..."
  1100. >After taking the first turn, a bit recklessly as you slide slightly in the backseat, Anon talks
  1101. >"Twilight, I know I've said this a lot already. But I'm sorry."
  1102. "I-It's okay. I-It r-really is."
  1103. >He sighs hard between his lips, letting them flap about in the air
  1104. >"Twilight... When we were at the party, I really did enjoy talking to you."
  1105. >Your breath sharpens
  1106. "R-Really?"
  1107. >"Yeah... Everything I said was... Kind of true. I... Sugar Coat has just... I don't want to think she's changed, but she has. You know, she used to be a lot like you. In that she liked science, and liked talking about shit. I guess that's the only real similarity, but..."
  1108. >Anon grunts, rounding another corner
  1109. >"I guess what I'm trying to say, is, that that was the first time in a long time that I really enjoyed a conversation with someone."
  1110. "O-Oh... Th-Then w-why d-did y-you..."
  1111. >Your voice cracks and you whimper
  1112. >There's a crackling sound as the Porsche parks in your home's gravel driveway
  1113. >"I don't know, man. It was just a prank. I didn't think it'd actually hurt you, but, like you said, you weren't mad, right?"
  1114. "Y-Yeah."
  1115. >"Well, that's good. I'd hate it if anything Sugar did, or might do, upset you a lot.
  1116. >It's not that you weren't upset...
  1117. >Just not mad
  1118. >"Do you think you can walk now?"
  1119. "I-I can t-t-try."
  1120. >It's a struggle, but you use the car door as an aid to upright yourself
  1121. "I-I think I'll n-need y-you to h-help m-me walk..."
  1122. >"Sure."
  1123. >Anon steps out of the driver's side and walks around to you
  1124. >He opens the door, and pulls you out
  1125. >Every point of contact between the two of you hurts—almost burns
  1126. >You're going to be sore for days...
  1127. "I-I think I c-can walk if y-you h-help."
  1128. >Leaning into Anon, you limp up to your front door, before finally realizing you're missing something
  1129. "W-Where's m-my backpack!"
  1130. >"Fuck. It must still be at school. Sorry, Twilight."
  1131.  
  1132. >That was fine
  1133. "C-Could you r-ring the d-doorbell?"
  1134. >Anon nods and presses his finger against the doorbell
  1135. >That telltale 'ding-dong' goes off, loud enough for you to hear it outside
  1136. >Then, you hear your mother shouting
  1137. >'Are you gonna get the fucking door or what?!'
  1138. >'Velvet, I'm watching the fucking game.'
  1139. >'I'M WATCHING TOO YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!'
  1140. >'I provide for the fucking family. Maybe you can answer the fucking door?'
  1141. >'GET THE DOOR!'
  1142. >You let your eyes drop to the floor, and you can almost feel the tension dripping off of Anon
  1143. "I-I'm s-sorry..."
  1144. >"I-It's fine."
  1145. >The door opens into the house, revealing your father behind the screen door
  1146. >He rubs a hand down his face as he spots you
  1147. >"Jesus... What happened?"
  1148. >"She got beat up at school."
  1149. >Your dad sighs, nodding, and opens the door
  1150. >"Thanks for bringing... Thanks for bringing Twilight home."
  1151. >Anon steps through, one arm around your body, helping you up into your home
  1152. "S-Sorry, D-Dad..."
  1153. >Your father takes a seat at the table next to the door, shaking his head
  1154. >"Getting back to basics, huh? Been a while since you've gotten yourself beaten up," your mother says, still on the couch
  1155. >Anon pulls on his collar with his free hand
  1156. >"That your 'boyfriend' or something?"
  1157. >Your mom is leaning over the arm of the couch, sipping beer from a can
  1158. >"Just a friend... Or just a guy, I don't know."
  1159. >"Don't know if you're a guy or not?"
  1160. >"What? No, I'm just."
  1161. >Anon shakes his head
  1162. >You didn't think your mom would tease or bully random school kids, but...
  1163. >"I was just trying to bring your daughter home. After getting beat up?"
  1164. >"Whatever," your mother says, turning away from you and back to the television, cursing as the opposing team scores
  1165. >"Can you just bring Twilight to... The room is down there. I'm sorry about my wife."
  1166. >"S-Sure..."
  1167. >You limp against Anon, down to your room
  1168. >It's not very far
  1169. >Your home is pretty small
  1170. >Opening your door, Anon stands still as your room hits his eyes
  1171. >"God damn, Twilight..."
  1172.  
  1173. "W-What?"
  1174. >Your room is pretty organized and clean
  1175. >Mattress pressed snugly into one corner, sheets and pillow in proper order
  1176. >The card table you use as a desk is pressed into another corner, stool neatly tucked underneath
  1177. >Your e-reader is placed neatly in the center
  1178. >And the rug in the middle, with its purple and pink star design, that sort of brings the room together
  1179. >It might be kind of sparse, but it's not a dump
  1180. >Even if the wood floor is scuffed beyond heck, but, you didn't do that!
  1181. >Despite all this, Anon shakes his head, a conflicted look on his face as he flips your light on
  1182. >"Do you... Want me to lay you on the bed... Mattress, or something?"
  1183. "P-Please, i-if you c-could."
  1184. >Anon lays you down onto your bed, a hard and worn spring mattress
  1185. >He grunts as he takes a seat on the floor next to you, leaning on one arm
  1186. >"So..."
  1187. "I-I'm s-s-sorry a-about my p-parents... I-I'm s-sorry f-for being a b-burden."
  1188. >"C'mon man, don't say that."
  1189. >Anon scans your room and mutters a 'fuck' to himself
  1190. >You simply watch as you lay on your side
  1191. >He turns back to you, but doesn't say a word
  1192. "Um... Th-Thanks f-for... B-Bringing me h-home."
  1193. >"I guess," he says, gloomily
  1194. "Y-You c-can g-go home if y-you w-w-want."
  1195. >Anon turns to the door, staring at it for a while
  1196. >"Maybe I should go... I..."
  1197. >He looks to you
  1198. >"I guess I'm just thinking about what Sugar Coat would want versus what I would want..."
  1199. "W-What do y-you want?"
  1200. >"Fuck if I know."
  1201. >Well, you sort of want to tell him to do whatever it is Sugar Coat wants him to do
  1202. >After all... Crossing her isn't good
  1203. "I... Do w-what Sugar C-Coat w-would want."
  1204. >"Do you mean that?"
  1205. >Anon leans back and grunts
  1206. >"I don't know..."
  1207. "I-It's fine. I-I-I d-don't w-want Sugar C-Coat to be m-mad at you f-for t-talking to me o-or something."
  1208. >You remember when Lemon Zest tried to actually talk to you once
  1209. >Something about her parents divorcing, and the other girls not caring
  1210. >Zest learned not to talk with you
  1211. >"Fuck it. Why don't we talk?"
  1212.  
  1213. >You protest, but Anon seems to be set on this
  1214. >The two of you talk about the sorts of things you'd talked about at that party
  1215. >For example, whole story about how Schrodinger's Cat was originally thought up as a way to make fun of quantum mechanics as a theory wasn't something you'd known
  1216. >Even in the sciences, people can't always be nice to one another...
  1217. >At some point, after a few minutes of talking, you find it in yourself to sit up
  1218. >As you talk, you start to feel that same fluttery feeling as before, and it kills you inside
  1219. >Feeling this way about Sugar Coat's boyfriend...
  1220. >Smiling, laughing about how Maxwell's Equations threw a wrench into the understanding of light...
  1221. >You were a terrible person, weren't you?
  1222. >And Anon seemed to be a bit on edge as you talked, gulping at strange times, biting his lips
  1223. >You're afraid that it might be you, something that you're doing, something that's making him feel uncomfortable
  1224. >While he's talking, you're so caught up in your worries that you don't notice that he's stopped speaking
  1225. >"Twilight?"
  1226. "O-Oh, s-s-sorry... I w-was just th-thinking..."
  1227. >"Thinking what?"
  1228. >You twiddle your thumbs
  1229. "A-Am I m-making you unc-comfortable?"
  1230. >Anon places a hand on yours
  1231. >You turn away, trying to hide your blush
  1232. >"Twilight, no, it's not that... I'm thinking too, I guess. About... Fuck, you, Sugar Coat, the pranks, the kiss... Man, it's fucked up that your first kiss was part of a joke."
  1233. "I... S-Sort of, I-I guess..."
  1234. >Anon had the same kind of propensity for vulgarity as Moondancer—maybe a little less
  1235. >You're almost... Shivering, right now, and you're sure Anon can tell
  1236. >"Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm just going to try and undo a wrong quick."
  1237. "W-What's th—"
  1238. >Anon places a hand on your chin and gives you a quick peck on the lips, leaving you quivering
  1239. >After that, he stands up
  1240. >"We... Probably shouldn't talk about this. Or talk at all... I-I'm sorry."
  1241. "W-Wait, b-but—"
  1242. >Anon shows you his back and exits your room
  1243.  
  1244. >You collapse, letting your head thud against your pillow, and sob
  1245. >Anon...
  1246. >Why would he kiss you and then just leave?
  1247. >And tell you not to talk to him?
  1248. >It's probably Sugar Coat
  1249. >This is the third time you've betrayed her in such a short span of time
  1250. >And Anon... He's left you feeling confused and worthless again
  1251. >Maybe this was all Sugar Coat again
  1252. >Send Anon out to hurt you because it worked so well the last time...
  1253. >Like Anon said, she usually tries to mess with your head, right?
  1254. >Can't you just get it through your skull that no one would ever like you?
  1255. >That no one SHOULD like you?
  1256. >That you shouldn't have even been born?
  1257. >You pull your covers above your face, pressing your teary cheeks into the fabric as you shut your eyes tight
  1258. >The light is still on, but you can pretend you're in darkness right now
  1259. >Your high-pitched coughs and sobs sputter into your desolate room
  1260. >When the door opens, you hold your breath and freeze
  1261. "A-Anon?"
  1262. >"Twilight?"
  1263. >It was your mother's voice
  1264. "M-Mom... I-I'm sorry for c-crying."
  1265. >Pulling the blanket from off your head, you watched as your mother pulled your stool from under your table and sat on it
  1266. >She frowned as she looked down at you through bedraggled locks, a beer can in one hand
  1267. >Your mother takes a deep breath
  1268. >"Well, the two of you were in here for a while... Did he—"
  1269. "N-No! I-It w-wasn't th-th-that..."
  1270. >Twilight Velvet sighs, taking a swig of Bud
  1271. >"Whatever it is, don't cry about it. What good has crying ever done anyone?"
  1272. >You sniff and wipe at your eyes
  1273. >"Maybe if you just tried to be normal, then this wouldn't happen. I don't like seeing my own kid come home, beat up, when they're in fucking high school. I don't... I don't want you to get hurt, you know that, right?"
  1274. >She groans and takes another sip
  1275. >"Buck up and stop crying."
  1276. "Y-Yes, Ma'am."
  1277. >Your mother's face contorts into a small snarl as she peers over you, punctuated with a grunt
  1278. >"Night," she mutters, leaving the room with a flick of the light switch
  1279.  
  1280. >It is now pitch black in your room—though, the headlights of passing cars peer through your shades at times, the light striking against your barren walls
  1281. >You turn to the fetal position in your bed
  1282. >An agonizing ordeal, but it's hard for you to sleep on your back all night
  1283. >The tear tracks on your face burn deep, but you clench your jaw in an attempt to prevent them from deepening
  1284. >Your face went flat—none of that scrunched up, woeful visage
  1285. >'Don't cry', you repeat to yourself in your head
  1286. >All it would do is make you uglier and more of an embarrassment
  1287. >You've gotten better at stifling your tears in front of other people, but that just seemed to make them come more easily when you were alone
  1288. >And that's what you were now
  1289. >Alone
  1290. >Sugar Coat, Indigo Zap, Lemon Zest... All of them have left you
  1291. >And even after getting what was coming to you for betraying their trust, you still kissed Sugar Coat's boyfriend
  1292. >Then there was that Trixie girl...
  1293. >Sugar Coat and her friends wouldn't treat her well
  1294. >You didn't know Trixie, but you couldn't imagine that she'd deserve that sort of treatment
  1295. >There's only one person you know repulsive enough to earn that
  1296. >And Moondancer...
  1297. >If Sugar Coat came after you, there's no doubt in your mind Moondancer is in trouble, too
  1298. >Would she even want to be your friend anymore after you were such a burden to her
  1299. >That she had to take care of you, that she saw how pathetic you were...
  1300. >It had been so long since you'd been beaten like that
  1301. >Your stomach twists just thinking about it
  1302. >Why couldn't you just be like the other kids?
  1303. >Last night, after hanging out with Moondancer, was the first night in a long time that you didn't go to bed thinking about killing yourself...
  1304. >Maybe that was just a one off
  1305. >Maybe it should just be a one off
  1306. >Moondancer would want to hang out tomorrow, and you wouldn't go if not for the fact that she'd be sad
  1307. >Someone like you doesn't deserve any comfort
  1308. >After a while lost in thought, sleep takes you
  1309.  
  1310. >In the morning, your whole body is throbbing
  1311. >It's a dull but constant ache, especially in your gut which feels like it's trying to twist so hard it rips you in half
  1312. >Not to mention, your cheekbones feel like they're on fire
  1313. >Your quiet gasps enter the stale morning air of your room
  1314. >Missing school wasn't an option, though
  1315. >It was only when you broke bones that a beating would keep you away
  1316. >Didn't want to ruin your standing at Crystal Prep—if you fell behind, you could lose your scholarship, and every day built upon the next
  1317. >With great exertion and strain, you sat yourself up, letting your bare feet hit the floor
  1318. >Here goes nothing...
  1319. >Standing straight up wasn't going to work, so you got yourself on all fours and tried to use the wall as leverage to get yourself upright
  1320. >It hurt, but you could handle that
  1321. >You were still in your uniform—the only set you had—but you could at least change your underwear and socks
  1322. >Grabbing some undergarments, you headed to the bathroom to shower
  1323. >The shower was a chipped, rusted tub with no curtain
  1324. >You let out soft grunts as you undressed, all that bending and moving around wearing on your sore body
  1325. >Out of the corner of your eye, you spotted yourself
  1326. >There was a deep-purple bruise on one of your cheeks, and a few of your pimples must have broken during the encounter with Sugar Coat because there were a number of scabs on your face now
  1327. >Your body was lithe and bony, though not quite skeletal—a thin rectangle, a body you've picked over time and again
  1328. >A grimace passed over your face as you held hands up to your chest, cupping imaginary breasts
  1329. >Moondancer entered your mind
  1330. >It's not good to be jealous of other people, but she had such a feminine figure compared to you
  1331. >You shut your eyes tight as you feel the familiar prick of disgust in your breast
  1332. >Just pretend you don't exist until you get some clothes back on
  1333. >That tended to work okay
  1334.  
  1335. >The water was ice cold, but you were used to it by now
  1336. >When your parents couldn't afford the bill for heating the water, it was almost torture to shower
  1337. >But your need for cleanliness pushed you on through
  1338. >Plus, it was never the worst part of your day
  1339. >After a quick shower, you get into your uniform and put your hair in a bun
  1340. >After that, it was make-up
  1341. >Something you couldn't afford much of—mostly just foundation to try and cover up your acne
  1342. >And this time, to also try and cover up your bruises
  1343. >You were lucky that your shade of purple wasn't too hard to find
  1344. >How did you look?
  1345. >As bad as usual, but at least people wouldn't be asking you questions about 'what happened to you?' or anything
  1346. >You hoped
  1347. >The scent of pancakes found its way into the bathroom
  1348. >Didn't want to keep your mom waiting
  1349. >You headed for the kitchen and took your seat at the table just as she finished
  1350. >"Twilight?" your father asked, dressed in his hardware store's manager uniform
  1351. "Y-Yeah, D-Dad?"
  1352. >"Our church group is meeting this weekend, and... I think it would be good for you."
  1353. >You didn't look at him as your ate your breakfast
  1354. "U-Um... I-I d-don't really l-l-like g-going... Y-You know I-I d-don't b-believe, s-s-so I d-don't really f-feel welcome th-there..."
  1355. >Your father frowns and exhales
  1356. >"Well, have a... Good day at school and..."
  1357. >He turns to your mother, who is cracking open a can of beer
  1358. >"You're going to call the landlord tonight, right? I'm not going to be back until—"
  1359. >"Of fucking course I'm going to. What do you think of me?" your mother spits
  1360. >"Fuck you, too."
  1361. >Your dad exits the house groaning
  1362. >Finishing up your meal, you head outside and begin the walk to Crystal Prep
  1363. >There didn't seem to be much to look forward to, but...
  1364. >Not going would be worse than going
  1365.  
  1366. >Once at school, you follow your usual routine and head for your first class
  1367. >And for the first time since you started going here, you're left alone until the bell rings
  1368. >No homework delivery
  1369. >No teasing
  1370. >Nothing
  1371. >It's... An odd feeling
  1372. >Part of you feels liberated
  1373. >Never having to do Sugar Coat's homework again?
  1374. >Never having to be bullied, day in and day out?
  1375. >Sure, some kids might still whisper things about you, or tease or shove you in the halls, but you've gotten used to that
  1376. >But you'd also gotten used to Sugar Coat
  1377. >Part of you is feeling antsy, your fingers shaking on your desk
  1378. >Like a part of your life...
  1379. >Like the entirety of your life has been pulled away from you
  1380. >Doing things for the girls made them happy
  1381. >You were doing something that gave you purpose, and the company of the girls was something you'd grown accustomed to
  1382. >What was the point of you now?
  1383. >Just getting good grades for yourself wasn't enough
  1384. >It was hard to focus on class as you floundered internally
  1385. >Once the lunch bell rang, you headed for the library
  1386. >You decided to walk around and find a good book to read
  1387. >Not having much homework on your plate, you were freer to pursue your love for reading, so... That was one positive
  1388. >That dusty, stale aroma of old books was heavenly, putting a smile on your face as you walked between the high bookshelves of Petticoat Library
  1389. >Your heels clacked lightly on the hardwood flooring as you walk around the perimeter
  1390. >Then, you spot that small, blue girl from the bathroom, working hurriedly on a pile of papers
  1391. "T-T-Trixie?"
  1392. >She looks up and squeaks, staring at you with eyes full of remorse
  1393. >"Twilight, yes?"
  1394. >You nod
  1395. >"Trixie is so sorry..." she said, turning to face the table. "Trixie... She should have done something."
  1396. "I-It's o-okay. Y-You couldn't h-h-have d-done a-anything... I-It's n-not your f-f-fault."
  1397. >Maybe... Maybe you could be like Moondancer, and try to make friends with her
  1398. >Trixie shrunk into herself more and more as you neared
  1399.  
  1400. "U-Um, I-I w-was w-w-wondering if y-you m-might want t-to... H-Hang out? I—"
  1401. >"No!" Trixie shouts, almost flinching at your presence
  1402. "O-Oh..."
  1403. >Can't say that can't of reaction totally surprises you
  1404. >Who'd want to hang out with you?
  1405. >Aside from Moondancer for some reason
  1406. >"T-Trixie is sorry, but Sugar Coat... She doesn't want Trixie to talk to you..."
  1407. "Oh... I-It's o-okay. I-I-I unders-stand."
  1408. >"Trixie... Trixie has to do all of their work..."
  1409. "M-Maybe I c-c-can h-help?"
  1410. >Trixie doesn't react
  1411. >It's clear that she's ignoring you now
  1412. >Out of fear it seems by the shaking, as she pores over math sheets and history textbooks
  1413. >You wish you could help her somehow, but...
  1414. >Helping her probably just means letting Sugar Coat do what she wants
  1415. >If you tried to step in... Sugar Coat would probably just beat the both of you
  1416. >You left Trixie behind you as your continued around the library, feeling dismayed
  1417. >When it was you in her position... That was okay
  1418. >Seeing someone else there?
  1419. >It... Hurt
  1420. >But Sugar Coat gets what Sugar Coat wants, and doing anything couldn't be anything but bad for everyone involved
  1421. >After a few minutes of roaming, you find yourself in the Class 100 section, with the Philosophy & Psychology books
  1422. >Despite heavy dust laying on top most of the tomes, there are enough gaps between books to see that someone's been plucking books from here
  1423. >Probably Moondancer!
  1424. >Rummaging around, you pull out Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzche
  1425. >Sounds like something Moondancer would read, and she's been trying to get you into this stuff...
  1426. >Though, it doesn't really seem like you
  1427. >You head on over to your usual spot, Moondancer bobbing her head from side to side as she reads, a pile of books next to her
  1428. "H-H-Hey, M-Moondancer."
  1429. >"Twilight!" she shouts in a whisper. "Are you okay?"
  1430. >You smile as she whispers that final phrase to herself and nod
  1431. "Th-Thanks t-to you a-a-and Anon."
  1432. >When you mention his name, you deflate somewhat, but try not to focus to heavily on that
  1433.  
  1434. >"I'm glad you're okay... Sugar Cunt and her bitches, ugh..."
  1435. >Moondancer sneers
  1436. >"What they did to you... We'll get back at them. I don't know how, but..."
  1437. "I-I th-th-think it w-would b-be best if w-we just l-l-left th-them alone."
  1438. >"Maybe. Anyways, take a seat!"
  1439. >You pull out a chair and sit down, placing your copy of Nietzche out in front of you
  1440. >"Ooh! That's a good one. You should read The Gay Science after that, and then Thus Spake Zarathustra. It's kind of hard to understand that last one without a firm grasp of Nietzche."
  1441. >Moondancer beamed at you as she described what you'd be in for
  1442. >As always, she seemed to be very knowledgeable and passionate about it all
  1443. >How she could be so cheery over something that seemed so pessimistic amazed you
  1444. >Apparently it wasn't as bleak as you thought, once you 'got it'
  1445. >Supposedly it was emancipating to embrace the sorts of things Moondancer believed
  1446. >She was... Worried about the way you talked about yourself, and thought it could help
  1447. >You tried to smile in response, tugging nervously at your tie
  1448. >"Did I say something?"
  1449. "N-No... I-I j-j-just think th-there are p-plenty of g-good r-reasons for m-me to f-feel the way I d-do a-about m-m-mys-self."
  1450. >Moondancer's lips droop
  1451. >"I don't believe that. That's just the masses enforcing its boorish ideals on you. People like Sugar Coat... Th-They just want to poison your head. Make you feel alone and weak..."
  1452. >You watched as she glowered, staring past you
  1453. >Moondancer's way of thinking just wasn't for you
  1454. >The more she knew about you, the less she'd think you were worth something
  1455. >After a short lull in conversation, Moondancer brings up the prospect of hanging out
  1456. >You accept, and Moondancer does a little dance in her chair
  1457. >"I have something fun set up for the two of us when you come over!"
  1458. "Y-Yeah?"
  1459. >"But it's a surprise."
  1460. >'Surprise'
  1461. >Another whisper to herself as she giggles
  1462. >It was starting to warm up on you
  1463. >If she liked your stutter, you liked... Whatever it was she did
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