Oneshot Series

Mar 1st, 2020
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  1. A series of one-off stories that may or may not be loosely connected, written for the Lesbo thread on the /mlp/ board. Each has a unique premise. Stories are set apart by a ~*~*~*~ pattern.
  3. Index;
  4. Story #1: Sunset Shimmer and ???
  5. Story #2: Rarity and Sci-Twilight Sparkle
  6. Story #3: Coco and Coloratura
  7. Story #4: Applejack, Coloratura, and Rarity
  8. Story #5: Maud Pie and Starlight Glimmer
  9. Story #6: Rarity and Sunset Shimmer
  10. Story #7: Sunset Shimmer and Chrysalis
  11. Story #8: Applejack
  12. Story #9: Rarity and Adagio
  13. Story #10: Octavia and Vinyl
  14. Story #11: Rarity and Princess Twilight
  15. Story #12: Applejack, Rarity, and Coloratura
  16. Story #13: Sunset Shimmer and Indigo Zapp Part I
  17. Story #14: Rarity and Rainbow Dash
  18. Story #15: Twilight and Aria
  19. Story #16: Sweetie Belle and Diamond Tiara
  20. Story #17: Gilda and Spitfire
  21. Story #18: Agent Sweetie Drops and Lyra Heartstrings
  22. Story #19: Rolling Thunder and Suri Polomare
  23. Story #20: Sunset Shimmer and Indigo Zap Part II
  24. Story #21: Cozy Glow and Twist
  25. Story #22: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon Part I
  26. Story #23: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon Part II
  27. Story #24: Rarity and Applejack
  28. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  30. >Lights of a hundred different colors flashed in front of your eyes in a strobe-like fashion.
  31. >The scent of a half a thousand bodies tightly twisting and turning and cavorting on a small dance floor.
  32. >It was strong with sweat and hormones and the air was heavy and humid as you, among a myriad of others, ground together under the hard beat that shook your bones and pounded in your ears.
  33. >Your tight dress that ran up your thighs and barely covered your breasts was pulled at by strong hands and made ever more slick with the sweat that ran down your body as you cavorted around the dance floor.
  34. >A dozen hands, some soft, some firm, groped at your body and slapped your rear and pulled you into long, searing kisses.
  35. >Maybe a tenth of those, you realized, were male, as the undeniable taste of lipgloss lingered over your lips and scorched a path into your brain.
  36. >As you stepped out of the crowd with a whirl and gathered what little whits you had left- that punch you drank earlier had certainly been spiked with how much your head was buzzing- and stumbled towards the refreshment’s table.
  37. >Your nine-inch heels and to-short-to-be-anything-but-sexy black dress drew scandalous eyes from your chaperons and lustful eyes from half the room.
  38. >You downed a large cup of water and began to stumble towards the bathroom, certain your makeup needed touching up.
  39. >Humid and heavy was the air in the bathroom as you stood with hands gripping the counter you leaned against with a white-knuckled grip.
  40. >Your makeup was near streaming down your face and the glitter around your face glimmered brightly in the dim light.
  41. >Your handbag snapped open and you quickly pulled out the makeup you had put on earlier, and a makeup removal pad.
  42. >You began to remove and reapply your makeup with an unconscious method.
  43. >The door opened behind you, and you stared past your reflection as you applied a new layer of makeup and to the door behind you.
  44. >Oh great.
  45. >She was standing behind you, freckles littering her face, braces stretching her mouth, hair barely trimmed acceptably, and a general unkemptness lingered about her.
  46. >A nerd to the 10th degree that made your face twist in disgust.
  47. >Regardless of a new dress or hair cut, she barely took care of herself.
  48. >She was certainly cute, but, you wondered, how long that would last.
  49. >You could remember her darting about the halls with a downtrodden look and an unpleasant smell about her.
  50. >You were certain that she simply didn’t keep proper hygiene in mind, and that worried you.
  51. >The bathroom you were in was thick with sweat but you could only imagine the sweaty cheese smell that lingered around her oft unwashed figure with unkempt, greasy hair.
  52. >More than once you heard about her relationships.
  53. >She would start sweet, and end bitter, at best, and that shook your core.
  54. >She hid herself under her bangs as she responded.
  55. >”I-I…”
  56. >Her voice came out a squeak and her cheeks darkened in a blush.
  57. >Your face contorted in disgust as you imagined what she would say.
  58. >Yet you held your tongue as you reapplied your make-up.
  59. >”I really like you!” She managed to get out, but the redness in her cheeks and the darting of her eyes told you all you needed to know.
  60. >”Do you wanna… Go out, sometime? Like a date?”
  61. >You felt your chest clench as she asked you, certain that any date involving a poorly washed nerd with no real chemistry would be bad news, at the very least.
  62. >That wasn’t even mentioning how you had heard she treated the few partners she had, with thinly veiled contempt at best and outright distrust and malice at worst.
  63. >Your desire to enter into an unhealthy relationship was at an all time low.
  64. “Sorry. I’m not really looking for someone right now.”
  65. >That was a lie, both to save yourself and her from hurt feelings.
  66. >There was a hot little number still on the dance floor you had your eye on, but this nerd could never know it.
  67. >Who knows what would happen if she did, and you really had no desire to find out.
  68. >You finished the reapplication of your makeup and slid past the stunned nerd, slipping out into the dance floor and beginning to dance among the heavy, humid crowd.
  70. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  72. "Uhh... Hey."
  73. >"Hey." She sounded startled, "What ever are you doing here?"
  74. "I... Wanna buy some cigarettes?"
  75. >"You?" She laughed.
  76. "Well... Yeah! Why not me?"
  77. >"You're one of my best friends, darling, I know you, and you do not smoke."
  78. "Shut it, I've got your usual fee, just. Come on, Rarity? Please?"
  79. >Rarity bit her lip as she glanced around, as if she was the subject of an undercover sting.
  80. >"Oh fine, I suppose there isn't too much harm it could do, I trust at least you can handle it."
  81. >Twilight's face lit up with a beaming smile as she reached into her jacket and pulled out a crumpled five dollar note.
  82. >Rarity accepted it, swapping it for a slime, rectangular box in one smooth motion.
  83. >Twilight fumbled with the packaging for a moment before she pulled the tab on the plastic and opened the box.
  84. >Her nose crinkled when she took a small sniff of the box's contents, quickly holding it away from herself as Rarity's twinkling laugh filled the chilly night air.
  85. "D-don't laugh!" Twilight's face was red as she pointed an accusing finger at Rarity's face.
  86. >"My apologies. It had just never crossed my mind that you, of all the riff raff I cater to, would be purchasing contraband from me."
  87. >Twilight fumbled for a minute more before she finally managed to pry a cigarette free.
  88. >Her face grew red when she realized she had forgotten a lighter.
  89. >"Need some help, then? Not to worry dear."
  90. >Rarity snatched a cigarette from the box in Twilight's hand and lit it, then used the one she was now taking a deep drag from to light the one in Twilight's hand.
  91. "Hey!"
  92. >The little wink Rarity gave her made her already red face flush a dark maroon, "Just business", she said with a soft giggle.
  93. >Twilight turned away and hunched her shoulders, shaking like a leaf as a cool breeze blew her hair around her face.
  94. >Teeth chattering, she put the butt of the fag to her lips and drew deeply...
  95. >...And immediately began to hack up a lung.
  96. >She doubled up as the smoke traveled down her throat and scorched it from teeth to stomach.
  97. >"There there darling", Rarity muttered, rubbing a calming hand down her back, "I dare say it's never pleasant the first time."
  98. "Y-you can s-say that again", Twilight muttered as she swallowed deeply again, trying to remove that god-awful burn.
  99. >She stared forlornly down at her cigarette, now unlit and laying in a puddle.
  100. >Tears slowly began to form at her eyes.
  101. >She was so stupid- this whole idea was idiotic, of all the hare-brained things...
  102. >"Stop that", Rarity chastised gently as she poked Twilight's forehead.
  103. "What?"
  104. >"That. Over thinking. Even the best of us have dropped a cigarette my dear."
  105. "It's not really that", Twilight mumbled, slipping the box into her coat pocket as she scuffed at the ground she was staring at.
  106. >"What is it then?"
  107. "I... Wanted to see if... This could help me relax a little."
  108. >"Smoking?"
  109. >Twilight nodded sullenly.
  110. >"Hardly a fair shake, Twilight."
  111. >Twilight looked up at her, realizing how starkly different their heights were.
  112. >"I would barely classify what you did as "smoking" dear."
  113. >She flushed red.
  114. >"So, here. Let me help."
  115. >Before Twilight could process what she said, Rarity's perfectly manicured hand was in front of her face and there was a cigarette butt placed against her lips.
  116. >Rarity moved behind her and wrapped an arm around her stomach.
  117. >"Now breath in...Gently."
  118. >Twilight did so, her eyes watering as the burn slowly began to scorch another path down her throat.
  119. >"Stop breathing. Hold it... And release."
  120. >The gust of smoke was almost tranquil as it curled lovingly into the night sky.
  121. >Twilight closed her eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the girl behind her, and the lingering taste of her lip gloss that clung to the cigarette's filter.
  122. >"Better?"
  123. >Her voice tickled Twilight's ear, and she nodded eagerly.
  124. "Much."
  125. >"Now, I think you owe me a few answers."
  126. "Uhh..."
  127. >Twilight's attempts to get away were stopped by the iron-clad grip of the arm around her stomach.
  128. >She huffed, but nodded all the same.
  129. >"Why did you want to buy these off of me, Twilight? Surely my exploits as a purveyor of contraband is not exactly a secret, I do have a certain clientele I cater to, and, frankly speaking, bookworms are hardly my largest market."
  130. >A gentle buzz settled into the back of her mind, and Twilight wasn't sure if it was the cigarette, the chill, or Rarity's expensive perfume that utterly destroyed any clinging tobacco smell.
  131. "Stress, I suppose."
  132. >"Darling", Rarity sounded exasperated, "Exams are scheduled four months from now. Surely you have enough time to prepare?"
  133. "It's not that", Twilight said softly.
  134. >Rarity gripped her a little tighter and brought the cigarette to her lips again.
  135. >It really helped to settle her, and more and more Twilight felt like this was a good idea.
  136. "It's the Winter Formal."
  137. >"Ah. A boy then?"
  138. >Twilight felt a blush creep up her neck and she could swear she felt Rarity's cloy grin as the taller girl buried her face into the top of her head.
  139. "Of a sort", she answered vaguely.
  140. >"Who is it? Certainly not Flash?"
  141. "No, he and I are just friends. I'm not really the Twilight he knows, am I?"
  142. >"A fair point. That cute eco-nerd in the environmental club?"
  143. "Err... No."
  144. >Rarity spun Twilight around so she was facing her.
  145. >She sucked down a deep drag of the cigarette clutched in between two perfectly manicured fingers as she looked at Twilight with a worried expression.
  146. >"It's not... Snips or Snails, is it?"
  147. "The freshmen? Ew! Gross! No, no, just... Ugh!"
  148. >Twilight broke from her grasp and kicked the low wall next to her.
  149. >She sqwacked as her foot began to sting.
  150. >"Then who might have captured our dear Bookworm's heart? You can tell me, I swear I shan't tell a single soul."
  151. "Err..."
  152. >Twilight could imagine that "a single soul" meant half the school, but she kept that quiet.
  153. >"Oh, please? I'm just dying to know-"
  154. >Rarity dropped the cigarette as it dropped to the ground, going out without preamble.
  155. >The kiss was swift, filled with the undeniable sting of tobacco and lig gloss and something else she couldn't place.
  156. >Her eyes were still closed, hands outstretched dumbly as her brain short-circuited.
  157. >Oh, perhaps she should return to the land of the living, because it looked like Twilight was about to explode as she profusely apologized.
  158. >Rarity's hands that were idly sticking out in surprise, now clamped down with a firmness onto Twilight's lapel, and she pulled her into a searing kiss.
  159. >This time it was Twilight's turn to be star struck as she dumbly leaned against Rarity, until finally the taller of the two broke the kiss.
  160. >"If you are insistent on kissing me, at least make it a proper one", Rarity said with a Cheshire grin.
  161. >The next kiss that followed was certainly anything but "proper", but neither minded all that much...
  163. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  165. >"Sit still dear."
  166. "Right. Sorry."
  167. >...
  168. >"Stop moving your arm so much, please..."
  169. "Er. My bad."
  170. >...
  171. >"Coloratura, please!"
  172. "Sorry!"
  173. >"Have you ever even been to a fitting before?"
  174. >Coloratura winced, which shifted the fabric decorating her slim figure standing on a raised dais.
  175. >Rarity's eyebrow lifted up in disbelief as more of her hard work slid to the floor in a heap of fabric.
  176. "It's been a while", Coloratura muttered.
  177. >"Clearly", Rarity's tone was clipped, "That color just won't do, so I suppose you mussing it all up won't matter too much in the long run, but, please, stay still until I come back?"
  178. "Come back?" Coloratura gulped.
  179. >"Yes, dear, most of the fabric I had prepared for your arrival is just missing that... Pizzazz? No, "Oomph" quality to it that most of my other clients have inspired in my work. You're tricky, I'll give you that, but we'll find something to suit you."
  180. "You sure that's a good idea? I can't even sit still while you're here..."
  181. >"Nonsense! My darling assistant will be here to watch over you, and I can assure you I have taught her well."
  182. >Rarity pointed to a girl a head shorter than either of them, with pastel and baby blue-streaked hair that fell just below her ears.
  183. >"Coco dear, you'll keep miss Coloratura company, won't you?"
  184. >"Of course Miss Rarity!"
  185. >Her voice, while shy and soft-spoken, had a great deal of eagerness, especially when combined with the small smile on her face.
  186. >"Fantastic! Tootle-loo, I shall be back within an hour."
  187. "A-an hour?"
  188. >Perhaps two, maybe three. It simply depends on how long it takes inspiration to strike!"
  189. >Rarity struck a pose then disappeared out the door leading into the circular work room.
  190. >Coco's eyes were locked onto the door, silently mouthing... Something.
  191. >Numbers, like she was counting.
  192. >But why...?
  193. >Coco stopped counting and her eyes began to bore into Coloratura's.
  194. >The once meek little assistant that, while eager, barely spoke in Rarity's presence was now an intimidating presence.
  195. >She slowly approached the dais Coloratura was practically naked on, splayed apart for any watching eye to leer after, and leer the little assistant did.
  196. >Leer perhaps was the wrong word, what she did could only be described, in Coloratura's mind, as evaluating a piece of meat.
  197. >Her hands went to cover her barely-clad breasts and unprotected sex before Coco's harsh tone cut through her mind.
  198. >"Don't move!" She snapped.
  199. >Coloratura stiffened, blushing furiously as Coco was now mere inches away from her face.
  200. >Her nose was already being tickled by the cotton-candy like scent that wafted from her innocent-looking frame.
  201. "Coco-"
  202. >"Miss Coco", she insisted, her hand finding a place on Coloratura's slim, well-toned stomach, slipping under the fabric with ease and yet not disturbing any of Rarity's work.
  203. "Miss Coco", Coloratura whimpered as the shorter girl brushed her thumb over her abs and slid her other hand under more fabric, this time tickling her ribs.
  204. >She so badly wanted to move, but Coco's burning gaze kept her still.
  205. >"Miss Rarity is gone, and she won't be back for at least an hour..."
  206. >Coco's lips were only an inch from her ear, and Coloratura wondered how she was doing that when she was so short.
  207. >"Until then..."
  208. >Her hand crawled down her front until she poked at the slit at the junction of her legs.
  209. >"You're mine..."
  210. >Coloratura whimpered.
  211. "What- what would R-Rarity say?"
  212. >"Rarity's not here is she?"
  213. "But-"
  214. >Coco's lips were pressing into Coloratura's, filled with a lingering heat that warmed her from head to toe.
  215. >Coco's soft hand was keeping Coloratura's head down to her level, and, as much as it ached, she nearly shuddered at the thought of what trying to pull away would bring.
  216. >"Darlings~"
  217. >Coco pulled away from Coloratura and fixed several pieces of fabric with a practiced ease that left Coloratura's mind reeling with implications as Rarity busted through the door.
  218. >She was burdened with a dozen-perhaps two-bolts of cloth, obscuring her vision.
  219. >Coloratura breathed a sigh of relief.
  220. >That said, she couldn't help the fire that was lit in her belly, and right about now she really- really, really, really- wanted to find Applejack so they could have fun.
  221. >Like the good old times.
  222. >Coco was back to being a demur, quiet assistant as Rarity lavished the pop-star with attention, trying this and that, doing things that way instead of this way, reforming her outfit a hundred times and scolding her when she moved.
  223. >Coloratura kept still.
  224. >The way Coco's eyes- now hungry, like a predator that had lost out on a meal- bored into hers whenever Rarity wasn't looking kept her from even twitching.
  225. >Yeah.
  226. >She really needed to find Applejack after this was over.
  227. >Maybe Coco would come along too...
  229. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  231. >”Applejack?”
  232. “Uh… Yeah Twi’?”
  233. >”You’ve been staring at that letter with a smile on your face for almost ten minutes… Are you okay?”
  234. “Er… Yeah, Twi’.”
  235. >Applejack finally let her eyes slide off the piece of high-quality card stock and richly flowing, flowery script, up to her best friend’s worried faces.
  236. >None more so than Rarity as she gently reached out- whether to grab the letter, or to offer reassurance, Applejack wasn’t certain.
  237. >She folded the letter and stuck it into her shirt pocket and crossed her arms over her chest with a ‘harumph’.
  238. “Jus’ a friend rollin’ into town again. Wanted to let me know is all.”
  239. >”Oh, a new friend?” Pinkie began.
  240. “Ain’t none of any of y’alls business, so jus’ drop it”, Applejack retorted hotly, causing Pinkie to deflate.
  241. >She sprung back up, a million words on her lips, until Applejack shut her down again.
  242. “I said drop it!”
  243. >”Sorry.” Pinkie muttered, an almost tangible dark cloud forming over her head.
  244. >”Are you sure it’s nothing, AJ?”
  245. “Sure as the day is long, Sunny.”
  246. >”Right.” Sunset gave her a look from the corner of her eye, analyzing her closely with a narrowed look.
  247. >”Doesn’t sound like nothin’ to me!” Dash shouted, springing from her seat and reaching for the letter sticking tantalizingly out of the girl’s front shirt pocket.
  248. >Applejack reacted quick as a whip, bending almost out of her seat to dodge the girl’s frantic flailing as she lost her balance.
  249. >Much to the groups mutual laughter Dash ended up ass-over-tea kettle when the chair she had been using as leverage tipped over.
  250. >Dash broke the ice as she began to laugh, sprawled out in the library, sucking in great gasps of air between great guffaws.
  251. >Applejack was content, sure in the knowledge that the topic was well and truly dropped.
  252. >Well, almost.
  253. >The topic was mostly forgotten under the weight of a day’s laughter, but the way the letter kept peaking out of her pocket, or the way she’d run a finger over the expensive card stock, kept it fresh in the group’s mind.
  254. >Certainly, as Twilight would have put it, it was just plain none of their business.
  255. >And, Sunset would have said, friends respect friend’s privacy.
  256. >That didn’t really matter when Pinkie all but demanded she be allowed to celebrate Applejack’s new- old?- friend coming into town.
  257. >This was the first time any of them had seen their country friend react this way to any kind of paper, let alone expensive card stock.
  258. >Both Twilight and Sunset were unconvinced, but Fluttershy wanted to make Sure Applejack was okay, and Rainbow Dash was just too nosey for her own good.
  259. >Better off not mentioning how Rarity kept quietly stewing whenever she caught Applejack daydreaming in the middle of class, idly fondling the by-now-rumpled piece of paper.
  260. >All they knew was that ‘something’ was up with ‘someone’ connected to Applejack, but whom or what that thing or person was, was all but a mystery, because Big Mac absolutely refused to help the nosier members of their group, and Applebloom liked seeing them squirm.
  261. >That, and Sunset and Twilight were outvoted.
  262. >That ultimately led them to following Applejack around- sometimes as a group, simply ferrying their daydreaming companion along from class to class, or tagging along after school to make sure she didn’t dive headfirst into something she couldn’t handle.
  263. >That Saturday, though, the ‘Find Out What Applejack Was Up To Squad’ received a text from Applejack’s current watcher, Pinkie- surprisingly the truest sleuth of them all- who told them that Applejack was going ‘somewhere.’
  264. >Another thirty minutes passed with bated breath as Rainbow drove around town, gathering all of her friends in her mom’s minivan, waiting for the text.
  265. >Something something cotton candy popcorn something came over the line and they just managed to decipher it as ‘Applejack’s at the fair with ~someone~.’
  266. >Twilight and Sunset’s protests were ultimately shot down by the others, Fluttershy with her insistence that they make sure their friend was okay, Rainbow Dash with her natural nosiness, and Rarity’s quiet- but fierce!- stewing.
  267. >The fair was bustling with activity as the festivities had only really just started, dusk peaking over the far-off horizon and the moon just beginning to rise over the mountains opposite.
  268. >Pinkie found them all with a great bounce in her step, great quantities of cotton candy piled high and a sugar-filled grin as she pointed them towards Applejack.
  269. >Well, all of them except Sunset.
  270. >With only a shrug and a half-hearted complaint Pinkie dragged her into the fair to have fun.
  271. >The group that remained began to scour the fair, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash disappearing into the crowd- and Twilight could swear their fingers were laced together- while she walked alongside Rarity, thunder cloud almost visible hanging over her head.
  272. >”Hey, hey Twi!”
  273. >Twilight turned to look at the group of girls that were waving at her.
  274. >Their familiar short-skirts and plaid outfit caught her eye immediately.
  275. >Sugarcoat was front and center with a couple other Canterlot Prep students knitted together into a tight group.
  276. >”Just go”, Rarity grouched at her, and Twilight shot her a pitying glance before disappearing into the throng.
  277. >Rarity kept chugging along, grimacing as she spotted several couples walking through the crowd.
  278. >Some were simply holding hands, or hugging, but more than a few were disappearing into dark corners and she could only imagine what was happening there, in this more or less seedy looking carnival.
  279. >It was set on a pier that stretched out into a wide, expansive ocean with a newly risen, brightly lit full moon hanging over the water like a child’s balloon.
  280. >As she traveled further along the pier children’s games fell to the way side as the drearier side of the fair clawed to light.
  281. >There were a few men and women strewn around, some preparing for the following day, others clutching a bottle, or bent over the side of the pier and clutching their stomachs instead.
  282. >Rarity hunched in on herself, her usual bright outfits instead replaced with something mostly black- such a dreary color, but she really couldn’t say she felt anything but.
  283. >Applejack…
  284. >A mixed bag of emotions, sometimes a sweet, charming oaf and other times an infuriating country bumpkin, but all the time a good friend.
  285. >And an unrequited something-or-other.
  286. >Rarity simply didn’t -do- unrequited, but Applejack was different.
  287. >Of course she was, as irritating as that may be.
  288. >Rarity kept walking along the pier, her eyes cast down to the water-logged boards.
  289. >She stopped just a few more feet along, her ears pricking as she heard voices.
  290. >A familiar country twang and a few sprinkled-in sayings made Rarity drop to her knees and sidle up to a half-set-up tent.
  291. >She could just make out what they were saying.
  292. >It was Applejack certainly, but she couldn’t make out who the other voice belonged to.
  294. >”…Today’s been that happiest day I’ve had in a long time. Thanks, ‘J.”
  295. “No problem. Y’all know I’ll always be ‘round this little town.”
  296. >They went silent for a moment, and Rarity’s cheeks burned in anger, and a little shame, when she heard the distinct sound of ruffling fabric.
  297. >Hugging? Something.
  298. >It burned at her regardless of what they were doing.
  299. >”I know”, the other girl’s voice was softer and Rarity had to strain to really hear her, “I… Wanted to tell you something, I canceled my next concert in Las Pegasus just to come visit.”
  300. “That’s sweet Rara”, Applejack said softly, “What’d you wanna…?”
  301. >Rarity felt her stomach twist painfully.
  302. >Wasn’t SHE Applejack’s ‘Rara’?”
  303. >She stood up, a snarl on her lips until all the wind was snuffed from her sails.
  304. >A lady, turned away from where Rarity was standing, was locking lips with Applejack.
  305. >Applejack’s green eyes were wide with surprise for a moment, and for a second Rarity thought they locked with hers, but then she closed them and leaned into the kiss.
  306. >Rarity’s shout was stifled and her shoulders slumped.
  307. >A deep, icy pit began to sink into her chest.
  308. >What did she think she was doing? Applejack wasn’t hers.
  309. >Not her girlfriend, not her responsibility, not anything but her friend.
  310. >Sure they were a little… Closer… Than most friends were, but they hadn’t done more than hold hands.
  311. >Whom could she blame but herself?
  312. >And that hurt worse that anything else.
  313. >The woman now held in her Applejack’s arms was not her, and it was her own fault.
  314. >She slunk away into the darkness and hoped it swallowed her up.
  315. >The unmistakable feeling of tears, hardly like the crocodile tears she usually sported, burned clear paths down her face.
  316. >Maybe she would get her chance one day, but until that day came she could only really put herself at fault…
  318. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  320. >They whispered behind her back, eyes boring into her and words sharp and stinging.
  321. >Skittering around you from every direction.
  322. >Some laughed, others were simply sorrowful, gazing at her with pity instead of malicious glee or calculating apathy.
  323. >That was okay, though, she had long since learned to deal with such treatment.
  324. >Such was the life of a pony that was not vibrant, nor emotional, nor anything that resembled anything more outgoing than a rock on a dusty, forgotten back alley.
  325. >It was as if by being so ordinarily boring, so easily lost in a crowd, that more attention was heaped onto her.
  326. >Ironic, really.
  327. >Every so often her gaze would flick away from the deadpan stare into nothingness that she was so often mocked for, over to a crowd of whispering ponies that stole glances at her.
  328. >They would blush furiously and skitter away, or they would give her cruel, knowing smirks.
  329. >She wasn't quite sure what was worse; malice or interest for the sake of her odd personality.
  330. >And, she could admit, she was odd, even by the standard that multi-colored, tiny horses called 'normal'.
  331. "Hello."
  332. >"Er... Hey."
  333. >She stopped her internal monologue to stare through the pony that approached her.
  334. >They were caught in a silent, awkward stalemate as the pony idly flicked her tail and scuffed at the ground.
  335. >It seemed she was waiting for the deadpanned pony to say something, but nothing came from her stiff countenance.
  336. >"I'm Starlight Glimmer."
  337. "Maud."
  338. >That heavy silence seemed to radiate awkwardness as the now-named Starlight Glimmer looked anywhere but at her unrelenting, emotionless gaze.
  339. >A few more minutes passed in awkward silence before Starlight Glimmer said something.
  340. >"Do you wanna go somewhere?"
  341. >She blushed a deep vermilion when Maud raised her eyebrow just a fraction of an inch in askance.
  342. >"I mean- Sorry." Starlight Glimmer stammered, "I just mean, do you want to go somewhere, like, a friend asking another friend to hang out."
  343. "We're friends?"
  344. >Starlight seemed to perk up at the question, but the blush was still there.
  345. >"Well no, not as of yet. But I was hoping we could be?"
  346. "Why?"
  347. >"Well, my... Mentor, of a sort, told me to get out of the castle for the day. Meet someone new. You're just... Kind interesting I guess?"
  348. "I see."
  349. >Starlight Glimmer's eagerness wilted under the awkward silence and deadpanned stare she was receiving.
  350. >"I guess... Nevermind, then, sorry to bother you."
  351. >Before Maud could say anything else Starlight Glimmer was gone, faded into the crowd that seemed reluctant to get to close to her.
  352. >Maud continued on her way.
  353. >A deep, longing sadness settled over her mind but she paid it no heed.
  354. >This wasn't the first time she had been unable to do more than offer short, clipped replies, or look at someone rather than through someone, or simply scare another pony off with her wilting, apathetic look.
  355. >She just wished it didn't happen so often...
  356. >All the same, it didn't matter.
  357. >Maud was used to being alone.
  358. >It was really just the way things should be.
  360. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  362. >"It's awfully cold out here, you know."
  363. >Her lightly accented high-society voice carried well over the dull roar of wind that whipped about on the balcony.
  364. "Oh, hey Rarity. I could say the same thing to you."
  365. >"Yes, well, I suppose you could."
  366. >Sunset leaned against the chilly stone railing and cross her arms over her chest.
  367. >Rarity looked around the balcony that was empty except for the pair of them, inspecting every inch of it that didn't involve Sunset.
  368. >She snuck a wary glance her way and blushed when Sunset's gaze bore into her.
  369. >"I'm sorry, I should go."
  370. "Wait!"
  371. >Rarity stopped with her hand on the door, biting her lip nervously as she looked over her shoulder at Sunset.
  372. "You don't have to, if you don't want to."
  373. >Rarity's tense shoulders eased a bit.
  374. >Sunset's gut clenched at the thought of her causing that reaction.
  375. >She spun back around so she was leaned halfway over the stone railing.
  376. >Rarity joined her a moment later.
  377. "Cold?"
  378. >"A bit."
  379. >Sunset stripped the blazer from her shoulders and swung it over Rarity, dwarfing the smaller woman easily in the heavy coat's embrace.
  380. >Rarity gave her a small smile, "Thank you, Sunset."
  381. "Yeah."
  382. >"A shame", Rarity said, "It looked positively dapper on you."
  383. "You were the one that made it", Sunset laughed.
  384. >"Obviously, why else would it look so good?"
  385. "I can't really argue there."
  386. >Rarity laughed and placed her hand on Sunset's forearm.
  387. >Sunset shook her off and turned back so she was leaning with her back to the railing, idly eyeing the woman next to her.
  388. "So who sent you up here?"
  389. >Rarity looked away.
  390. >Sunset let her head fall back so she was staring into the vast cosmos overhead, red and yellow hair cascading down her back.
  391. >She let out a breath, visible in the winter chill.
  392. "Probably wasn't Twi", Sunset muttered bitterly.
  393. >"Don't talk like that Sunset, you two just had a lover's quarrel is all."
  394. >Sunset shook her head as her hand came up to touch the spot on her cheek that still tingled, the spot where Twilight had slapped her.
  395. "I dunno Rarity. We've had fights before, but I don't think this was one of those."
  396. >"Nonsense, I'm sure if you two talked it out..."
  397. >Sunset ran a hand through her hair and laughed bitterly.
  398. "All we've done is talk about it, and we're done talking. I'm done talking. It's all we talk about now."
  399. >"Sunset..."
  400. >Rarity rested her hand on her shoulder and Sunset closed her eyes to block out that worried gaze she knew was drilling into the side of her head.
  401. "Don't, Rarity. How can I ask the woman I love to uproot her life and move dimensions? To learn everything over again? How can she ask me to stay in a world that I don't feel I belong in? It's not fair, to either of us."
  402. >"You're right", Rarity said softly, wrapping her arms around Sunset's middle and resting her head on her shoulder, "But isn't it worth a try?"
  403. "We have tried. I'm sorry, I just don't think it's in the cards."
  404. >Rarity hugged her tighter as her eyes began to sting.
  405. "You don't know how many years we talked about it, Rarity. It's not about facts it's about emotion, and Twi can't handle that."
  406. >Sunset sunk into Rarity's arms as hot tear tracks traveled down her face.
  407. "I was there when she graduated college, when she earned her first doctorate. She's so amazing, she's changing this entire world. What have I done? I don't even technically exist in this world, my name means nothing here."
  408. >"But it means something to us, love."
  409. "I know that", Sunset whispered, "But I can't keep acting like I can live in a world where I can't progress. I'm still the same Sunset all those years ago."
  410. >"Sunny... You know you have us, isn't that enough?"
  411. >She shrugged, "I haven't seen most of you in over a year. You're always off in some distant country opening a new store, and Rainbow's traveling the globe competing, and the others..."
  412. >Rarity kept silent as she let Sunset vent, holding the woman close.
  413. "It's selfish of me, I know. I'm so happy all of you are so successful, and I guess I'm just jealous, but is it so wrong to want to do more than just live in a great big empty house while the woman you love does all these amazing things?"
  414. >Sunset sucked in a shuddering breath as she threatened to squeeze the breath out of Rarity.
  415. "I was a goddess' apprentice, I was nearly a princess in my own right, and now what am I? A trophy? A well cared for, loved, thing, sitting on a shelf in Twilight's trophy room?"
  416. >"You're one of my best friends, and I'm sorry I haven't been around as often, but I do promise you I love you, Sunset Shimmer, we all do."
  417. >Sunset started sobbing into her shoulder.
  418. "I feel so selfish."
  419. >"You're not darling", Rarity muttered softly, yet firmly, "You just want to be better, and this world simply isn't built to allow you to succeed."
  420. >Sunset drew in another deep, shuddering breath.
  421. "I think I ruined this blazer..."
  422. >"Nonsense, darling, I make everything to be easily washable and very durable."
  423. "Of course you do", Sunset said with a barking laugh and a watery smile.
  424. >"Now come on, this won't be solved with a trip to the ladies' room but it surely wouldn't hurt to touch up your makeup, you look a mess."
  425. >Sunset smiled widely and wiped the tears off her cheeks.
  426. >The back of her hands were smeared with mascara.
  427. >"Come on, I'll help you clean up. Then we can all talk, like we used to."
  428. "That... Sounds nice. Thanks, Rarity."
  429. >"No need to thank me love."
  430. >Sunset let Rarity pull her back into the warm house, more hopeful than she had been in a long, long time.
  432. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  434. >Sky blue and sun shining brightly, suspended on a pillow of puffy, white clouds, it seemed like the perfect day.
  435. >Yet every time Sunset thought just a bit too hard her stomach filled with butterflies and the sky seemed a little more grey.
  436. >Even the ever-bustling, cheery Cupcake Corner couldn't lift her mood.
  437. >Not that Pinkie didn't try, of course.
  438. >She was annoyingly persistent, and always had that damn small, knowing smile on her face.
  439. >So what if she were nervous?
  440. >It was just a meeting, between friends!
  441. >That's all.
  442. >Sunset moaned and held her head in her hands.
  443. >She was doomed, it was almost a certainty at this point.
  444. >She should just grab her coffee and ditch the place.
  445. >Twilight would understand, right?
  446. >Sunset flushed when the girl dominating her thoughts seemed to appear from thin air just as she wrapped her hands around her coffee and made to bolt.
  447. >Sunset could feel Pinkie's smug smirk burrowing into the back of her head.
  448. "T-Twilight!"
  449. >"Sunset!"
  450. "How- oomph-"
  451. >Twilight had all but dragged her from the booth into a hug.
  452. >Sunset's brain short circuited as she took in how much taller Twilight seemed, and, with a wince, how much stronger.
  453. >"It's so good to see you again, I missed you a ton!"
  454. >Twilight let her go with a sheepish grin.
  455. >"Sorry. Just excited."
  456. "Twi... It's really good to... Since when exactly have you been taller than me?"
  457. >"Oh, ha, noticed that did you? It's a long story."
  458. >They stood staring at each other for a moment more before Sunset's brain began to work again.
  459. "Oh, let's sit down. I ordered you something, I hope you don't mind."
  460. >"No of course not", Twilight took a long draw from the straw nestled deeply into the cup.
  461. >With a contented sigh she closed her eyes and hummed.
  462. >"One thing I miss from this world is how much better your coffee tastes. Not quite so..."
  463. "...Sickeningly sweet?"
  464. >"Exactly!"
  465. >Twilight gave her a beaming grin that left Sunset's stomach to fill with butterflies again.
  466. >"So what did you need?"
  467. >"Sorry, I'd love to catch up, you just sounded like you really needed help in your journal, and I just couldn't stop thinking about what it could be."
  468. "Nothing magical!" Sunset hurried to assure her, "Nothing like that. Well, I don't think it's anything like that. I'm... Not really sure what it is."
  469. >"...Huh?"
  470. "Sorry." Sunset blushed and looked down at her folded hands, "I guess I'm just bad at explaining it. It's personal I guess."
  471. >"Oh, I see."
  472. "I'm really sorry to make you come through all this hassle for me, I just really needed someone that... Understood... If you get what I mean?"
  473. >Twilight reached over the table and took Sunset's hand.
  474. >"Sunset, I will always be there for a friend, and, honestly, I really missed you."
  475. >Sunset smiled and shut her eyes tight, gripping Twilight's hand.
  476. "I... Really missed you too, Twi."
  477. >Sunset looked into Twilight's caring, soft, purple eyes and hoped hers were half as gentle.
  478. >She looked just passed Twilight.
  479. >Sunset had to stifle a groan by biting her knuckles, as Pinkie held up a sign that was more glitter than paper that read in big, bold, sparkly letters "KISS HER!"
  480. >"What is it?"
  481. >Twilight began to turn around, but Sunset grabbed her hand a little tighter and brought her attention back.
  482. "Nothing, nothing. Just nervous I guess."
  483. >"Nothing to be nervous about Sunset, we're friends, right?"
  484. "Yeah we are. Wanna go for a walk?"
  485. >"Oh, now? Sure, why not? Where too?"
  486. "I dunno. Around?"
  487. >Twilight tilted her head and smiled softly.
  488. >"Sounds lovely."
  489. >"...Can we get more coffee?"
  490. "...I suppose..."
  491. >Twilight squealed and hugged Sunset tight around the middle as Pinkie materialized next to the booth.
  492. >"Going so soon, love- mhmmph!"
  493. >Sunset jammed a cupcake from the tray Pinkie was holding into her mouth, momentarily stifling her incessant giggles.
  494. >"Er... Is she gonna be okay?"
  495. "Yeah, this Pinkie is just as resilient as yours if the stories are true."
  496. >"Let's get going then?"
  497. "Yeah."
  498. >Now with another large coffee, the pair of them left the small corner diner and began walking along the main thoroughfare of the town.
  499. >Twilight shuddered as she sucked on the straw poked into the top of a hole of a large cup of iced coffee, a content expression on her face.
  500. "That good?"
  501. >"Mhmm!"
  502. >Sunset laughed and poked her cheek.
  503. "Careful, you're going to get brain freeze. And that's a lot of brain to freeze."
  504. >Twilight laughed and leaned into Sunset, pushing her playfully.
  505. "When did you get so tall?"
  506. >"Perks of being an Alicorn?"
  507. "Rub it in, why don't you?"
  508. >Sunset's stomach fluttered again when Twilight laughed and patted her playfully on the head.
  509. >"You'll get there someday, Sunset", Twilight simpered."
  510. "Hey- stop that!"
  511. >Sunset swatted her hand away.
  512. "I'm not a pet!"
  513. >"Aww, but you're so cute."
  514. >Sunset's face drained of blood and, as she looked over, Twilight went ashen as well.
  515. >They continued walking, now an awkward silence hanging over the both of them.
  516. >Twilight busied herself by sucking down more of the cold drink.
  517. >Sunset spotted her screwing up her face and pressing a hand to her temple.
  518. "Told you, brain freeze."
  519. >Twilight shot her a look that had Sunset cackling.
  520. >"It's just freezing out here", Twilight shot back.
  521. "Uh-huh. What, do you want my jacket or something?"
  522. >"What if I do?"
  523. >Sunset stifled her smile with her hand.
  524. "How cliche."
  525. >"Oh you were just waiting to spring that one on me!" Twilight accused, pointing a finger in Sunset's face as she blushed.
  526. "Maybe a little?"
  527. >"I think I'm owed a jacket now."
  528. "Uh? No way!"
  529. >"Oh come on, it's freezing out here!"
  530. >Sunset laughed as Twilight exaggeratedly shivered.
  531. "Fine, fine. What are friends for?"
  532. >She stripped the thick leather jacket off her shoulders and handed it over.
  533. >Twilight pulled it on, only to realize it was two sizes too small.
  534. "Perks of being an alicorn, huh?"
  535. >"Shut it."
  536. >Twilight didn't relent, wearing the jacket even though it looked almost comical on her.
  537. >They continued to walk through the little town in mostly comfortable silence, troubles all but forgotten as they enjoyed each other's company.
  538. >The bright, sunny day descended into dusk after only a couple hours.
  540. ***
  542. >"Where are we going?"
  543. "Sorry to keep you so late. It's almost sunset and there's this spot I found when I first showed up here..."
  544. >Twilight grabbed her hand and smiled, "Sounds like fun."
  545. >Sunset squeezed her hand back and lead her into the sparse forested area that bordered the town.
  546. >They had walked for a while, it seemed, but they only had a little while to go.
  547. >They traipsed through the woods down what seemed like hours, but, as the waning sun told them, was mere minutes.
  548. >It was so silent this far away from town.
  549. >Neither car nor bustling city could be heard.
  550. >It was really just the two of them.
  551. >Sunset felt the butterflies come back as they finally cleared the last small copse of trees into a wide clearing situated on a great hill.
  552. >There was a great divide in the foliage, and the sun's gradual dip below the horizon was clearly evident.
  553. >"Sunset?"
  554. >Sunset turned towards Twilight.
  555. >They had both taken a seat on a log propped up between two boulders, one that Sunset had slept under her first night here.
  556. >The sun was bathing them in the last of it's glorious rays that scattered great streaks of pink, violet, and orange into the sky high above.
  557. >"This is a date, isn't it?"
  558. >Sunset felt her insides run cold and she desperately wished the ground would swallow her up, protect her from Twilight's searching eyes.
  559. "I..."
  560. >Twilight's hand rested over hers and Sunset's head snapped to her, shock clear in her eyes.
  561. >"You just had to say so."
  562. >Sunset's eyes widened and her stomach twisted itself into a knot when Twilight closed her eyes and began to lean forward...
  563. "Twilight..."
  564. >"Shh..."
  565. >Sunset's shoulders relaxed, and her stomach went from knotting itself up to filled with a warmth she had never felt before as she leaned forward.
  566. >Sunset stopped herself, hands clenching into fists.
  567. >"Sunset?"
  568. "You're... Not real."
  569. >"W-what? Of course I'm real. Are you feeling okay?"
  570. "You're not... You son of a mule."
  571. >Twilight's face fell, then, like spider-webbing, cracks began to start on her left cheek.
  572. >"Oh Sunset..."
  573. >An eerie green eye pierced through the low light as a thin facade began to fall from Twilight's face.
  574. >"...Why can't you just accept the love I'm giving you?"
  576. ***
  578. >Sunset's eyes snapped open and she began to thrash around in the gelatinous cocoon that served as her prison.
  579. >She twisted and squirmed and tried to reach for the barrier but it always seemed just out of reach.
  580. >"Is she still resisting?"
  581. >She froze and her insides ran cold when she heard the bone-chilling voice of her nightmares.
  582. >"Yes my queen."
  583. >A tall woman, skin jet black and chitinous, with long, matted blue-green hair peered into the cocoon at her.
  584. >Her hair fell like ripped curtains down her angled face that supported two, eerie, bug-like green eyes and a great, unnaturally shaped horn sprouting from her head.
  585. >Her grim smile showed off two gruesome canines and a long, forked tongue that slid slowly around her lips.
  586. >"Continue to play the simulation. I want her love. It will feel so sweet to finally break her."
  587. >"Yes, My Queen."
  588. >Sunset saw just past the nightmarish visage and into a great chamber filled with cocoons just like hers.
  589. >...
  591. ***
  593. >Sky blue and sun shining brightly, suspended on a pillow of puffy, white clouds, it seemed like the perfect day...
  595. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  597. >People whispered as she road past.
  598. >Doors shut with loud bangs and windows shuttered shut, boarded with planks of wood.
  599. >She paid them no mind as her nag lazily meandered through the town.
  600. >Her hand came up to light a cigarette and shove her head down low over her brow.
  601. >The only building not full of holes and looking about ready to fall apart was one with a faded old sign that said 'Saloon' over the top.
  602. >Old men eyed her warily as they chewed the fat, paying her no mind as she unsaddled her horse and strung it to the post situated just outside.
  603. >The gleam of a bandoleer around her waist and a sparkling badge seemed to draw the old men's attention as they quieted down.
  604. >She kept her gaze forward as she strode into the saloon.
  605. >There was a gentle din as the smell of sweat and smoke and liquor stung at her nose.
  606. >The unmistakable cloying stench of old blood was there, hidden under the others like a rattler under a tumbleweed.
  607. >She leaned up against the bar and flagged down the barmaid.
  608. >Her flattering bust was outlined by a thin, white shirt that drew eyes from every end of the bar, and with a pair of shining dark-blue eyes she seemed the belle of the ball in this backwater watering hole.
  609. >"What can I get for ya, sugar?"
  610. "Whiskey."
  611. >She giggled and grabbed a dusty old bottle from under the counter and pushed a small shot glass across it.
  612. >"Oh no, this one's on the house, hot stuff."
  613. >Her eyes were dark with lust as she batted her lashes and gave her a sultry wink.
  614. >She scooted off to tend to the other patrons.
  615. >The whiskey went down strong, like getting kicked in the chest by a mule.
  616. >She sighed and clenched her jaw as she let it settle in the pit of her stomach.
  617. >"Whatchu want?"
  618. >A gruff voice barked from behind her as she set her glass back to the counter.
  619. >The bar fell silent.
  620. >She turned around so she was leaning against the bar, bright green eyes glowing under the brim of her hat.
  621. "Pardon?"
  622. >"I reckon you heard me."
  623. "Suppose I might've."
  624. >"Then why don't you get to answerin' before I string you up?"
  625. >She chewed on the pick in her mouth for a long moment, index finger lazily playing with the butt of her revolver.
  626. "What business is it of yours?"
  627. >The man swayed where he stood, his stench was nose-curling and the look in his eyes was vacant.
  628. >But the pistol on his hip was no less loaded.
  629. >"I reckon we get strangers comin' round these parts, wearin' badges and all sortsa' things and it starts to sound like my business."
  630. >He put his hand on his revolver, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
  631. "Lookin' for someone I reckon."
  632. >The man swayed a bit more, his hand leaving his side as he steadied himself.
  633. >"Who're you lookin' for in this town?"
  634. "Gilda The Hawk."
  635. >The bar, deathly silent as they watched before, now began to clear out.
  636. >The man's face went ashen as he took a step back.
  637. "I reckon y'all know of someone by that name."
  638. >The man was shaking, a far-off look in his eye.
  639. >"Ain't not business of mine, but that ain't no person you're after. She's a demon in human form. Shouldn't go lookin' for trouble there."
  640. >She fingered the badge on her chest, a bright, gleaming "Sheriff's Deputy", carved into it.
  641. "I ain't so kind neither mister. It's my job to bring her in, dead or alive."
  642. >The man shook his head and staggered out of the bar.
  643. >She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to look into the barmaid's eyes.
  644. >They were stricken with grief, her lower lip was being chewed on by her teeth and she was shaking from head to toe.
  645. >"I'd run for the hills, sugar, she ain't worth it. A couple bucks ain't worth bein' skinned alive."
  646. >She squared her jaw and slid a dollar over the table, pulling her hat over her brow.
  647. "Gimme another."
  648. >The barmaid nodded and silently poured her a second drink.
  650. ***
  652. >Just as she suspected, merely an hour later a gruff, booming voice echoed through the tiny town.
  654. >She spied the street through a thin split in a board, eyeing it up and down until she saw the woman she was sent to get.
  655. >Her rippling muscles were hidden under a long shotgun coat, a revolver twice as big as the one on her own hip was hovered over by a hand that could crush a tree trunk with little effort.
  656. >She adjusted her hat and lit a cigarette, taking a few, deep puffs as she walked over to the door.
  657. >Her target was standing about twenty yards away, jaw gnashing and eyes wild, unnaturally, deathly white hair sticking to the heavens.
  658. >Tanned skin gleamed with sweat and her broad chest was covered with a pair of bandoleers.
  659. >A pair of revolving doors shot open as her booted heel connected with them.
  660. >Gilda's hand was still lingering over her pistol as she strode out.
  661. >She took a spot opposite of Gilda.
  662. >It was nearly noon and the sun began to beat down on them as they locked eyes.
  663. >"Tell me your name! I heard you were the one who were gonna kill me! I wanna know the name of the ranger I slaughtered in front of all these people!"
  664. >Gilda spread her arm wide, gesturing to the buildings shut tight.
  665. "My name ain't none of your business, only your righteous return to the gates of Hell is."
  666. >Gilda let out a loud, booming laugh, but her eyes never wavered.
  667. >The stranger knew now why people called her The Hawk.
  668. >"Then let's test all o' that meddle, ain't no reason to stand about gawkin' otherwise!"
  669. >The stranger sucked puffed the cigarette sticking out of the corner of her mouth once more.
  670. >Her eyes narrowed into slits as Gilda reached for her revolver.
  671. >Time slowed to a stop as she grasped the hilt of her own.
  673. ***
  674. >PKOW
  676. ***
  678. >Gilda's gnarly, raucous laughter reached the peak of the heavens as she stood up tall and proud for the world to see her.
  679. >Yet, as her vision began to grow distant, she spied the stranger across from her.
  680. >Why wasn't she falling over, a hole blown into her stomach?
  681. >Gilda clutched at her chest as something hot and wet and sticky spread over her thin, white shirt.
  682. >She tried to mutter something but her throat gurgled.
  683. >With one last, unceremonious moan, she slumped to the hot, packed soil.
  684. >The stranger slid her smoking revolver into her hostler and walked over to the now-dead woman.
  685. >She picked up the gun that had claimed so many lives, marked distinctly by engraving and all she needed to prove her kill.
  686. >"...Thank you."
  687. >The stranger looked up into the mournful eyes of the barmaid.
  688. "Ain't nothin'."
  689. >She rested her hand on the stranger's shoulder and gave her a wide smile.
  690. >"You don't know how much this is, stranger. Just come back sometime, will ya? This town owes you a debt."
  691. >The stranger nodded and stood up, leaving the cooling corpse on the ground.
  692. >The stranger unhooked her nag from the post and slid her leg over the saddle.
  693. >She began to ride away, the entire town eyeing her back.
  695. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  697. >If there was one thing Rarity could count on, it was Aloe and Lotus Blossom.
  698. >Their spa was simply the best in the city, and with a bit of finagling and a bit of work to their wardrobe done on the side, she had nearly V.I.P. priority.
  699. >It was enough to get a girl's motor running, being pulled to the front of the line of one of the best spas in town with every other envious eye burning a hole into her back.
  700. >And their hands, they were simply ~divine~ whether they were massaging her back or neck, or something a bit more... Intimate.
  701. >Perhaps her favorite part of the day, though, was the manicure and pedicure segment.
  702. >Though Aloe and Lotus weren't usually the ones to do this- they were more, and rightfully so, involved in the massage portion- they always had someone of near-equality to do the deed.
  703. >Rarity felt like a balloon was being inflated in her chest.
  704. >There was something so sinfully delightful with having a hot towel covering her face as the gentle ministrations of a lovely girl worked on each individual finger.
  705. >So far the woman working on her was silent, so unlike many of the others that usually did her nails, and it was certainly a nice change, but it was rather boring.
  706. "Err..."
  707. >Rarity carefully pulled the rag from her face, exposing one eye.
  708. >She looked down at the woman at her feet as she ran a file rhythmically across her nail.
  709. "I'm sorry if I am being distracting, but I was wondering if anything were the matter...? You!"
  710. >Rarity yanked her feet away and whipped her head around.
  711. >She grabbed a nail file and pointed it menacingly at the woman sitting on a small stool down at the end of the salon bed.
  712. >Her unimpressed, deadpan look and slumped shoulders made Rarity feel rather silly, but she didn't let her shaking hand fall as she tried to back up as much as the chair allowed her to.
  713. >The rooms were private- at least the ones she was given- so if this devil were to try anything, the only person around to defend her would be herself.
  714. >"Are you done? I want to finish this so I can move on to my next client."
  715. "Adagio Dazzle! Don't think I don't know what you are up to!"
  716. >"...Giving you a pedicure?"
  717. >Rarity's face flushed.
  718. >The more she thought about it, the less likely it seemed that Adagio would actually hurt her.
  719. "W-well... I apologize, I suppose it is rather rude of me to make the assumption you're up to no good, as it were."
  720. >"Yeah. Can I finish now?"
  721. >Rarity nervously nodded and stretched her leg back out.
  722. >Adagio's face was still blank as she retook Rarity's foot and began her work again.
  723. >Rarity couldn't help but feel rather awkward.
  724. >She eyed the woman working on her foot, noting the tired, dark rings under her eyes, and the thin line her mouth was set in.
  725. >The last time she had seen Adagio she looked on top of the world, bright and cheerful if a bit sadistic.
  726. >Yet now wrinkles lined her eyes and mouth and hair was missing that signature bounce that it had before.
  727. >It left a sour taste in her mouth.
  728. >That simply couldn't go on! Her day at the spa shan't be ruined with awkwardness if it were the last thing she ever did!
  729. >And she really hoped Adagio didn't make it the last thing she ever did.
  730. "...Er."
  731. >Not quite the invigorating way to start a conversation that she had in her head.
  732. >Adagio looked up from her work.
  733. >Her icy look stopped her for a moment, but Rarity stubbornly pressed on.
  734. "I'm sorry, I just don't want there to be any elephants in the room, so to speak."
  735. >"You mean when you and your friends ruined my life and made me mortal?"
  736. >Rarity winced.
  737. "Well, yes..."
  738. >"Or do you mean when you did the same thing to the only thing I could call family?"
  739. "There's simply no need to be rude, as I recall you and your 'family' attempted to brainwash and enslave our entire school."
  740. >Adagio clenched her jaw and shut her eyes tight, muttering something under her breath.
  741. >"Yes, I suppose we did do that."
  742. >Rarity could hear the venom that Adagio attempted to hide.
  743. >Bickering over who was right or wrong wasn't really what she had in mind for her day of relaxation.
  744. >Rarity stifled the biting comment she could make.
  745. "I'm sorry."
  746. >"...What?"
  747. >Rarity pulled her foot away and turned so she was sitting up on the chair, her hand clasping Adagio's.
  748. >She winced when Adagio's hand crushed hers, and was glad that the woman had started on her feet first.
  749. "I said I am sorry. I can not even imagine what you are going through and I deeply apologize."
  750. >A steel spring that had been winding up in her chest since Adagio had been revealed finally released.
  751. >"...Thank you."
  752. >Adagio gave her an odd look that Rarity couldn't quite place that left butterflies in her stomach and goosebumps on her skin.
  753. >"Can I return to work?"
  754. >Rarity blushed.
  755. "Yes, of course."
  756. >She sat back and Adagio got back to work, though the tense silence had dissipated.
  757. >Rarity finally relaxed, and the balloon that had been growing in her chest filled up again.
  758. "You're very good", Rarity breathed.
  759. >Adagio's hands were skilled and quick and nimble, and enough to get her blood pumping.
  760. >"Thousands of years of practice in this body, unfortunately."
  761. "You did the same for... Aria and Sonata, wasn't it?"
  762. >"Yes. Not as often as they did for me, but one can only be pampered so much."
  763. "Surely not?"
  764. >Adagio was up to her left hand now.
  765. >She laughed, a little.
  766. >"Yes, yes. Everything gets boring eventually, and constantly being catered to isn't all that it's cracked up to be."
  767. >Adagio's smile fell a little as she rounded out Rarity's index finger.
  768. >"Although lately being catered to is hardly the way life is going."
  769. >Rarity felt the balloon in her chest gradually deflate.
  770. "What time are you off?"
  771. >"Sorry?"
  772. "What time do you get off of work?"
  773. >"Why?" Adagio asked warily.
  774. "There happens to be a rather nice coffee shop I sometimes frequent, but it is in a rather dangerous neighbor hood. I was wondering if you would escort me?"
  775. >"Are you calling me scary?"
  776. "...Intimidating, darling, I would never be so uncouth as to call a woman of your standing 'scary'."
  777. >Adagio's wariness evaporated into mirth.
  778. >"You're buying."
  779. "If I must."
  780. >Adagio laughed as she rounded out Rarity's left hand.
  781. >"Seven."
  782. "I shall meet you here then, at seven."
  783. >"Sounds like a date. Now stop talking, your accent is too rich for my impoverished ears."
  784. >Rarity smiled and leaned back in the comfortable chair.
  785. >The word date was rattling in her mind, and she decided she liked how it sounded.
  787. ***
  789. >The brisk winter chill seeped into her bones even under several layers of coats.
  790. >Her face was mostly covered by a scarf and her coiffure was hidden under one of the few winter hats she had.
  791. >"Cute."
  792. >Adagio's deadpan expression emerged out of the spa, followed by a body hidden under a thick winter coat.
  793. >Even so her hands were jammed deep into her pockets and she was shivering from head to toe.
  794. "It is an excellent outfit, isn't it? One of my best of the season I think!"
  795. >Rarity gave Adagio a whirl on the tip of her leather boot.
  796. >"Sure sure, now let's get going. It's freezing out here."
  797. >Rarity gave her a pitying look.
  798. >Sure she was wearing a thick winter coat, but she lacked anything more than ripped blue jeans and sneakers, and neither a scarf nor gloves.
  799. >No wonder she was shivering.
  800. "Come along, I shall lead the way!"
  801. >Rarity looped her arm into Adagio's and pulled her forward.
  802. >Adagio scrunched her shoulders up to protect her from the chill but didn't dislodge Rarity's arm.
  803. >The particular street they were walking down was long and straight, and with every step freezing winter air blew past them.
  804. >Rarity couldn't help but notice that Adagio was practically hidden in her coat.
  805. "I'm sorry, but I simply can not continue to walk with you while you're tittering about. Come with me."
  806. >"What do you mean-"
  807. >Rarity sharply pulled Adagio into a store.
  808. >Adagio relaxed as the heat seeped into her bones.
  809. >"Where are we?"
  810. "It is a store, darling, one that sells clothing."
  811. >"I can see that", Adagio muttered, eyeing the long racks of clothing stretching from door to rear.
  812. "And while it is certainly not haute-couture, but, given the circumstances, I can certainly make you look less like a rag-a-muffin ill-equipped for the weather."
  813. >"Thanks for your critique of my fashion sense", Adagio stated dryly.
  814. "No worries, it is simply what I excel in."
  815. >Adagio seemed like she wanted to say something, but she stopped herself short.
  816. >"...What store are we even in? I've never been in here before."
  817. "I'm not entirely sure, but that's hardly the point. Now come on, I refuse to be escorted by a walking icicle."
  818. >Adagio let Rarity take her hand and pull her into the depths of the store.
  819. >Like a whirlwind she was stripped of her jacket and handed coats and scarves and all manner of other things.
  820. >"How many more of these clothes do I have to try on?"
  821. >About the fiftieth outfit change and Adagio's headache was slowly growing in size.
  822. "Just one more, darling, I think I am on to something truly spectacular."
  823. >Rarity pulled her hair back into a frizzy pony tail and wrapped a thick black leather jacket around her.
  824. >A red scarf was wrapped around her neck, followed by rich purple gloves.
  825. >For the first time in a long time, Adagio smiled when she looked in the mirror.
  826. >"I like it."
  827. "It is rather stunning, given what little I have to work with. Sometimes simplicity is simply the only way to function."
  828. >Adagio raised her arm, testing out the length of the jacket.
  829. >Her eyes traced down her body, to the new but fashionably faded jeans, down to a thick pair of boots.
  830. >Rarity was standing just behind her, a beaming smile on her face.
  831. >"Thank you."
  832. >Rarity wrapped her arms around Adagio's and leaned against her, so that they were both in the mirror's view.
  833. "Of course, darling."
  834. >Rarity tugged at her arm and lead her to the register, where a pimply-faced clerk was waiting for them.
  835. "Come on, let's pay then get on to that coffee shop."
  836. >"Sure."
  837. >Despite the new, thicker clothing, the unrelenting winter chill still set them both to shivering as they exited the shop.
  838. "Burrr." Rarity purred, burying herself in Adagio's side.
  839. >Adagio let Rarity loop her arms around her elbow as they walked.
  840. >The winter's air was only getting colder the longer they stayed out, as the sun had long since set over the horizon.
  841. >Pale moon beams reflected off of a thin dusting of snowfall, peaking like an eye through clouds high overhead.
  842. >"Did you know everyone has a counterpart in this world compared to the old one?"
  843. >Rarity peaked up past her scarf into Adagio's face, tilted up to the moon suspended a million miles away but no less radiant.
  844. "Really? Even myself?"
  845. >"No, you're one in a million."
  846. >Adagio's lips curled into a grin as she stared into the heavens.
  847. "Very flattering darling", Rarity giggled, "Your point?"
  848. >"Well, Luna's a moon god on the other side."
  849. >Rarity stumbled forward and Adagio had to grip her arm to keep her from tumbling head first into the pavement.
  850. "Vice Principal Luna?!"
  851. >Adagio gave her a haughty laugh as she picked herself up to her full, regal height, and straightened her many layers, a glowing blush not related to the cold dusting her pale cheeks.
  852. >"The very same."
  853. "How is that possible?"
  854. >"Couldn't tell you. The man who'd know is dead."
  855. >Rarity sidled up to her side and they began walking again.
  856. "The man who would know? What ever do you mean?"
  857. >"The guy that made this place, or learned how to open up a portal. The same magician that threw my sister's and I here."
  858. "Ooh. Twilight and Sunset have always been rather lax on the details as it were. How did you end up here?"
  859. >Adagio seemed distinctly uncomfortable when she mentioned her sisters, but the change in topic helped a little.
  860. >"It's a long story. It started with an incompetent fool named Starswirl the Bearded..."
  862. ***
  864. "Surely you're not spinning a maid's tale?"
  865. >"Nope. All real."
  866. "Not even embellished the tiniest bit?"
  867. >Adagio leaned back in her booth, smirk on her face and eyes half lidded as she stared down her nose at Rarity.
  868. >That look left Rarity feeling weak-kneed even though they were seated, ensconced safely and warmly in the cafe.
  869. >"Do I look like a liar to you? Don't answer."
  870. >Rarity hid her smile behind her gloved hand.
  871. >"And stop smirking!"
  872. "Only when it stops being amusing, darling~"
  873. >Adagio's face flushed as she leaned forward with narrowed eyes.
  874. >Rarity batted her lashes playfully, giggling again when Adagio snorted and sunk into the booth's upholstery.
  875. >"Why this place, out of all the coffee places in the city? It's... Kind of a dump."
  876. >Adagio eyed the man passed out against the bar a few feet away with distaste.
  877. "Unfortunately it hasn't always been like this. I grew up in this town, you know, I remember coming here when I was a little girl... And the coffee is simply the best in the city!"
  878. >"This hole-in-the-wall?" Adagio's eyebrow raised.
  879. "Absolutely. Their pie is simply heaven on earth, too."
  880. >Rarity folded her hands in front of her face and sighed.
  881. "This town has changed a lot and not always for the better."
  882. >"Well... Yeah I suppose so."
  883. "Oh I didn't mean you!"
  884. >"It's fine", Adagio said stiffly.
  885. >Rarity grabbed her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
  886. "You are wonderful company, regardless of your past... Transgressions."
  887. >Adagio threaded her fingers through Rarity's.
  888. >"Thanks."
  889. >Rarity smiled.
  890. >She stood up from the booth and slid in next to Adagio so they were sitting with their hips nearly glued together.
  891. >"Do you want to sit on my lap next?"
  892. "Perhaps later." Rarity waved flippantly.
  893. >Adagio's retort was cut off by a heavy set, beauty-marked woman with graying, greasy hair and a permanent sneer on her face cutting through.
  894. >"What can I get you?"
  895. >Rarity answered immediately.
  896. "Two coffees and a slice of banana cream pie, please."
  897. >The woman said nothing else as she stalked away.
  898. >"Two coffees? I'm not quite used to human food yet, but aren't they usually more specific about their coffee orders?"
  899. "You would think, but this... Lovely establishment only has one kind, and it's quite delicious."
  900. >"I'll take your word for it."
  901. >Rarity relaxed against her side as they settled into a comfortable silence.
  902. >Adagio felt her warm breath against her neck and spied her dozing gently against her shoulder in the reflection of the mirror-like window she was staring out of.
  903. >Adagio wound her arm around Rarity's waist and tried to hide her smile when the girl did the same with both of hers, head resting against her chest now.
  904. >"Here."
  905. >The woman from earlier slapped down two mugs of steaming, dark liquid along with a small tray holding a boat of creamer and a bowl full of sugar cubes.
  906. >A plate of pie was placed next to it with a fork, a light, pale yellow affair covered in decorate dobs of cream and a banana slice right in the middle.
  907. >Rarity pulled away and stretched high to the ceiling, mewling cutely as she smacked her lips and wrapped her hands around the mug of coffee.
  908. "Mmm..." Rarity moaned, taking a loud sip, "Just as smooth as I remember~"
  909. >Adagio gave her skeptical look and took a sip of her own.
  910. >Acrid, burnt coffee stung at her taste buds as her face screwed up.
  911. >"...Good."
  912. >Rarity laughed and poked her cheek.
  913. "If you leave your face like that it will freeze, darling. Let me help."
  914. >Rarity pried the coffee from her hand and poured a small measure of cream and dropped in a cube of sugar.
  915. >A quick stir with a stirring stick and it was pressed into her hands again.
  916. "Better?"
  917. >"Much, thank you."
  918. "...You said earlier that you had yet to develop a routine for eating food, is that because...?"
  919. >"Yeah."
  920. "I see. May I?"
  921. >Adagio looked past her mug to the pale, manicured hand holding a piece of pie on the end of a fork.
  922. >Adagio opened her mouth and Rarity carefully angled the fork into it.
  923. >Flavor burst on her tongue and Adagio moaned as she licked it clean, delight dancing in her eyes when she peered at Rarity.
  924. >"I ~really~ like that."
  925. "I thought you might."
  926. >"It tastes like..."
  927. >She blushed and looked away.
  928. "Like...?"
  929. >Adagio kept her mouth shut as she starred blankly out the window.
  930. >Rarity pouted, puffing her cheeks up and poking Adagio in the side.
  931. "Don't leave a lady waiting, it's rude."
  932. >"...Like you?"
  933. "...Excusez-moi?"
  934. >"I mean, not like that! It's... Hard to explain?"
  935. >Rarity was eyeing her horrible blushing warily.
  936. >"Your magic. Magic tastes different depending on who it's from. It's easy to tell it apart, whether it tastes good, or sour."
  937. "And I just so happen to taste like pie?"
  938. >"Yes."
  939. >Rarity turned away, and for a moment Adagio thought she was angry, but then she noticed her shoulders gently shaking back and forth.
  940. >"You're laughing."
  941. "F-forgive me! I'm sorry!" Rarity said between poorly-stifled giggles, "I am! It's just rather silly to think about, isn't it?"
  942. >Adagio's eyebrow arched.
  943. "I just simply mean that it is a silly thought to think that while you and I and all the others were doing battle, you still thought I was sweet."
  944. >"...Full of yourself, aren't you?"
  945. "I call it confidence darling~"
  946. >Adagio muttered something in a language Rarity wasn't familiar with under her breath and picked up the fork.
  947. >Rarity kept laughing, her face turning red alongside Adagio's.
  948. >"It's not that funny!"
  949. "No, but you are."
  950. >"Just be quiet and drink your coffee", Adagio muttered.
  951. >Rarity finally gained her composure and noticed Adagio's sinking mood.
  952. "Have I struck a nerve? I hadn't meant to..."
  953. >"No, no. It's still a bit raw."
  954. "What is?"
  955. >Rarity gripped Adagio's arm gently as she palmed her forehead, fork and pie long forgotten.
  956. >"All of this, you know? I'm mortal and effectively human now. I have to remember to eat or I'll die. I have to remember to sleep or I'll die. I have to remember that I don't even have a singing voice let alone one that can get me what I need to survive. I have to remember... I'm alone now..."
  957. >Adagio muttered the last part very quietly, but Rarity caught it and pulled her into a side-armed hug.
  958. >She quietly rubbed her back and hoped it was at least a little bit soothing.
  959. >"And the worst part of it all? I'm sitting with one of the girls that made it happen, and I'm kind of falling for her."
  960. "...What?"
  961. >"Yeah, is that what you wanted? I think you're funny and nice to be around, after everything that happened. And I kind of hate myself for it."
  962. >Rarity pulled Adagio into her chest as the siren-turned-mortal sagged against her gratefully.
  963. >"Why is it so hard? Everything? It used to be so simple..."
  964. "...Being human is hard, Adagio. That is simply all there is to it."
  965. >Rarity rubbed soft circled against Adagio's back and the woman seemed to like it as she purred softly in her embrace.
  966. "Would you like to leave? It's a bit public, I think."
  967. >Adagio pulled away and hunched in on herself.
  968. >"I don't have anywhere to go. I've been saving up to rent an apartment, but..."
  969. >Rarity stood up and grabbed Adagio's hand, pulling her up alongside.
  970. >After dropping a few bills on the table she pulled the Siren out of the cafe and into the darkened, chilly city streets.
  971. >"Where are we going?" Adagio sounded tired, far too tired in Rarity's opinion.
  972. "I have more than enough space at my loft."
  973. >"You don't have to..."
  974. "Nonsense. Don't push cliches onto me, darling."
  975. >Adagio, for the first time in a while, laughed.
  976. "It's just a few blocks ahead, and I shall be glad for the company."
  977. >Adagio let Rarity lead her along the streets illuminated only by the moonbeams and street lamps, a warm balloon filling in her chest.
  979. ***
  981. >Rarity's apartment was cozy and warm when she pulled Adagio into it.
  982. >It was a small thing, the bedroom and bathroom only separate from the rest of it by a few thin walls.
  983. "Take a seat anywhere, I'll warm something for you to eat."
  984. >"That's not necessary."
  985. >Rarity gave her a look.
  986. "Don't think I'm blind darling, I could feel your bones poking me through your jacket. You must be starving."
  987. >Rarity stripped her outer-most coat and hat off, hanging them on a hook by the entryway and slipping her dainty feet out of her thick boots.
  988. >She padded silently up a few steps and into the kitchen.
  989. >Adagio was standing awkwardly in the entryway, taking in the sight of Rarity's apartment.
  990. >Tasteful, she could guess, vases adorned with flowers and a few paintings hung up on the walls.
  991. >A lumpy couch and a love seat dominated most of the room, sat in front of a radiator next to a television.
  992. "You can move from that spot Adagio, I trust you not to set the place ablaze."
  993. >Adagio finally moved away from the door, copying Rarity and hanging her coat on the rack and pulling her boots off.
  994. >She padded over to the love seat and collapsed into it.
  995. >The comfort of it settled over her like a blanket, making her sag into it.
  996. "Here you are."
  997. >Adagio's eyes opened, following Rarity's smiling face down to a piping bowl of... Something.
  998. "Soup, darling. It's good for you and won't upset your stomach."
  999. >"Thank you."
  1000. >Rarity took a seat next to her with her own bowl and clicked the television on.
  1001. >It lit up the dark room, casting deep shadows over the room.
  1002. >Adagio sighed as she took her first bite, eyes closed and enjoying the warmth after so long out in the cold.
  1003. >By the time they were done eating Adagio felt fit to burst, and her mind was happily buzzing with warmth and comfort.
  1004. >The smell of Rarity's flowery perfume and the feeling of her soft body pressed up against hers didn't help lull her to dozing in the love seat.
  1005. "Come on Adagio..."
  1006. >Rarity was lifting her up, arm around her shoulders as she supported her into the bedroom.
  1007. >Adagio sleepily let her clothes drop to the floor, eyes half-lidded and body screaming for her to get into bed.
  1008. >She did, with Rarity's help, stripping off the last of her clothing and slipping into a short night gown and sliding in between a set of wondrously soft sheets.
  1009. >Rarity's flowery perfume and warm body sidled up behind her, her long, graceful arms wrapping around her stomach and holding her close.
  1010. >Adagio smiled and turned over so her head and frizzy hair were tucked under Rarity's chin.
  1011. >For the first time in a long while, she felt nothing but hope.
  1013. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1015. "Did you have a good day, love?"
  1016. >The pony across from her looked up from the salad in front of her, a smile playing on her muzzle.
  1017. >She nodded once then levitated a fork up to her mouth with a bit of lettuce on the end, downing it with gusto and an exaggerated lip-licking.
  1018. >The pony across from her giggled into her hoof as she raised her own fork.
  1019. "I appreciate that, but I hardly doubt this plain old salad is the Ritz."
  1020. >The unicorn tilted her head down a bit, eyebrows raised and eyes shining brightly behind her glasses.
  1021. "Yes yes, I know", Octavia laughed, "It's the most delicious in Equestria, because I made it for you. Your lies never cease to flatter, darling."
  1022. >Vinyl winked and pushed her glasses back up her snout and levitated another fork-full up to her mouth.
  1023. >Octavia set her fork down and leaned her head against her hoof, idly eyeing Vinyl with a soft smile on her muzzle.
  1024. >Vinyl stopped eating and peered at her, tilting her head in just that sort of way that never failed to melt Octavia's heart.
  1025. >Surely she was the luckiest mare in Equestria, whether or not her peers considered her choice of Belle to be a scruffy-headed ruffian.
  1026. "It... Has been a while since we were last... Intimate?"
  1027. >Octavia closed her eyes and felt a blush rise up to her muzzle.
  1028. >Vinyl knew her well, though, and before she had to continue Vinyl reached across the table and set her hoof on top of hers.
  1029. >Octavia smiled weakly as Vinyl nodded her head.
  1030. "Thank you love. You know how I feel about talking about... That sort of thing."
  1031. >Vinyl nodded again.
  1032. "I'm not feeling so hungry anymore, are you?"
  1033. >That was the simple truth, Octavia's stomach filled with butterflies.
  1034. >How long had they been dating?
  1035. >It didn't really matter, it seemed like Vinyl could always pull that reaction out of her.
  1036. >Vinyl slid her chair out and did the same for Octavia, one of the few moments of refinery that Octavia had managed to teach her.
  1037. "Thank you darling."
  1038. >Vinyl lead her into their conjoined bedroom, the ghost of her cello looming in the darkness as her grand piano and Vinyl's speakers stretched ominously to the ceiling.
  1039. >Octavia shuddered and pressed her body to Vinyl's side, relishing in the soft fur and warmth of her partner.
  1040. >Vinyl was surely grinning in the dim light but Octavia was more concerned with reaching the comfort of their bed and into her partner's embrace to be too mad.
  1041. >A quick nibble at her ear let Vinyl know of her displeasure well enough, anyway.
  1042. >Vinyl's maroon magic enveloped the door knob and swung the door open.
  1043. >"It has been such a long day", Octavia said, pulling her collar and bow tie from her neck with her hoof.
  1044. >She let it drop to the floor where it was joined by Vinyl's glasses a moment later.
  1045. >Vinyl nodded her agreement as her flank butted against Octavia's, a sly grin on her white-furred muzzle.
  1046. >"Oh don't be in such a hurry..." Octavia purred, hopping up on the bed and laying on her back.
  1047. >Vinyl scrambled after her, stealing a quick kiss as they settled in.
  1048. >Octavia loved when Vinyl treated her gently.
  1049. >Soft kisses and cuddling before they really 'got into' it, as it were...
  1050. >Octavia gasped when Vinyl's teeth nipped at her ear- that mare knew just how to get to her!- and wrapped her tail around Octavia's.
  1051. >"What's brought this on, love? You're usually so... Rough..."
  1052. >Octavia was panting now as Vinyl gently worked her up.
  1053. >One of her pearly white hind legs was trailing up in between Octavia's slate grey hind legs, leaving a teasing, tickling feeling in it's wake.
  1054. >Vinyl's eyes were exposed and she stared deeply into Octavia's, just the way she liked.
  1055. >Vinyl was surely spoiling her...
  1056. >That translucent green reflection, and the subtle shifting of her iris into slits was so, so hot...
  1057. >Octavia sighed in pure bliss...
  1059. ***
  1061. >Their shared bed was chilly, far colder than it had any right to be with two ponies nestled inside it.
  1062. >Yet, as Octavia tossed and turned under the comforter and just couldn't find the right position to go to sleep in, she realized that she was alone.
  1063. >The bed was empty except for her.
  1064. >Vinyl's warm embrace was gone, and the door in front of the bed was left ajar.
  1065. >A thin sliver of moonlight illuminated the floor in the crack the door made, and it was the only light in the small room that Octavia could see.
  1066. >The room looked vacant except for her as she sat up in their bed, rubbing at her eyes with her hoof.
  1067. >"Vinyl? Darling?"
  1068. >Octavia cursed the warble that left her as she spoke into inky blackness, half expecting and half hoping Vinyl would turn up as she called her name uncertainly.
  1069. >Octavia slid quietly from the bed and tried to stifle the clip-clop of her hooves on the floor boards as she crept out of their bedroom and into the living room.
  1070. >Their home was small, made even smaller by the endless amount of instruments and speakers and all manner of other things strewn about, but in that moment Octavia felt like she was an inch tall and a thousand miles away from the nearest pony.
  1071. >Deep shadows that gouged their way across the floor made her stick to the wall as she observed the small room.
  1072. >Only a thin shaft of moonlight entered through the one open window.
  1073. >Octavia took a hesitant step forward, her heart hammering in her chest.
  1074. >She bumped into a case for one of their many instruments and had to slap a hoof over her muzzle to keep from shouting out loud.
  1075. >The terrifying, all-encompassing darkness seemed to mock her as she was rooted to the floor.
  1076. >She closed her eyes and sucked in another deep, shuddering breath, and took another step forward.
  1077. >Something felt wrong about all of this.
  1078. "V-Vinyl?"
  1079. >Octavia spoke into the darkness again, hoping beyond hope that Vinyl would pop up.
  1080. >She couldn't remember the last time Vinyl had left her in the dark, knowing her crippling, heart-wrenching fear.
  1081. >Octavia looked around the room and hunched her shoulders as the feeling of someone watching her crept up the back of her neck.
  1082. >As she peered around the room she caught sight of something she had missed earlier.
  1083. >A soft, gentle green glow was emanating from the floor boards a few feet away, right where a shaft of moonlight was striking.
  1084. >Octavia nearly galloped to the spot and relished the feeling of being in the light again, dim as it was.
  1085. >She peered down at the floor and examined it for a long moment, before finding a small latch.
  1086. >With only a bit of resistance it wiggled free and Octavia could pull it up so it was resting on it's side.
  1087. >The bit of floorboard were all connected and attached to a hing, hiding a staircase leading into the earth.
  1088. >Octavia gulped but the green light was coming from down there.
  1089. >She steeled her nerves.
  1090. >She had no choice, Vinyl could be in trouble down there!
  1091. >Yet with great hesitance she clip-clopped down the stone stair case, grimacing when her hooves touched something slimy and oddly green.
  1092. >For Vinyl, she told herself.
  1093. "Vinyl?" Octavia called softly down into the chamber that now revealed itself.
  1094. >It was long and narrow, covered in a thick layer of the same green goop that stuck to the bottom of her hooves.
  1095. >The small cavern was lined with glowing acid green crystals stuck in more of the green goop that hung from the ceiling and connected to the floor, giving it an oddly cave-like feeling.
  1096. >Octavia stopped at the base of the stair case, every nerve telling her to run and her heart slamming in her chest as she observed the mare across from her.
  1097. >Vinyl was gazing deeply into a green pod-like something, a reflection of herself present.
  1098. "Vinyl...?"
  1099. >Vinyl spun on her back hooves, glasses glowing ominously in the dim, green light.
  1100. >The crystals bathed the room in an eerie green light that cast deep, ragged shadows across the floor where Vinyl stood.
  1101. "What is all this...? Vinyl, what's going on?"
  1102. >Octavia shuddered as Vinyl's horn lit up, cringing away from her unicorn partner and backing her flank up into the stair case behind her.
  1103. >Vinyl's face was furious as she shot off a blast of raw magic.
  1104. >Octavia squeaked and leaped out of the way as it blasted apart the stone behind her.
  1105. >Octavia knew Vinyl, and knew she didn't have the strength to do that more than a few times.
  1106. >Vinyl was already panting, her glasses slipping down her muzzle as she let loose another blast of maroon magic.
  1107. "Vinyl! Stop! Please!"
  1108. >Her shot missed but did singe a dark mark into the green goop where Octavia had jumped out of the way again.
  1109. >Vinyl was panting now, much harder than before, her legs shaking as she leveled her horn again.
  1110. >Octavia saw her charge up another shot, much weaker than before, and let it loose.
  1111. >Before it could leave her horn it was engulfed in much of the same goo that lined the cave-like chamber.
  1112. >Vinyl collapsed onto her side, glasses falling from her face and sticking into slime a few feet away.
  1113. "Vinyl, oh Vinyl! Save me, I'm so scared!" Octavia mocked, acid green eyes and dark, fanged grin fading into view as the illusion distorted.
  1114. "Save me Vinyl, my love!" Octavia snickered, standing over the panting unicorn, "Such a weak little pony you are, Vinyl. Not strong enough or observant enough to save the one you love, not even strong enough to save yourself."
  1115. >The illusion burned away in a flash of green fire, revealing a tall, obsidian-black mare-like creature.
  1116. >Her carapace was shiny and inky black and her bug-like wings matched her tattered mane.
  1117. "I will give credit where credit is due. You found this before I had expected you too", Chrysalis muttered, face an inch from Vinyl's.
  1118. "A shame I could not extract more raw love from you, but I suppose this just speeds things along."
  1119. >Chrysalis paced back and forth as she looked from Vinyl into the cocoon holding her partner- the real one.
  1120. >Chrysalis chuckled darkly as Vinyl sucked in a deep breath and shot up to her hooves, either intending to run or attempt to impale her on her horn, Chrysalis wasn't sure.
  1121. >Nor did she care as she mercilessly smacked the unicorn back to the floor.
  1122. "Oh dear, still resisting little pony? Admirable, if not pathetic."
  1123. >Chrysalis patted Vinyl's cheek where she had smacked her with her hoof affectionately, rubbing at the red mark that slowly blossomed over her victim's jaw.
  1124. "Did you really think that would work? Do you not know who I am? I am Chrysalis, Queen of Changelings. I am equivalent to those pathetic rulers you worship. You are nothing, barely worth siphoning the love from. And."
  1125. >Chrysalis leaned down so she was speaking into Vinyl's ear, a sadistic lilt to her voice.
  1126. "The person that captured your love from under your muzzle. It took you this long to notice something was wrong...? Tsk, tsk."
  1127. >Vinyl made to get up, face red with rage, but Chrysalis' hoof held her down with ease.
  1128. "You will make a fine slave, but anything beyond that would be far too good for a pathetic pony like yourself."
  1129. >Vinyl's eyes widened as Chrysalis touched the tip of their horns together, great glowing green magic swelling in between them.
  1130. >She sagged into the floor as Chrysalis flooded her mind with magic, eyes now blank and shimmering green.
  1131. "Come, Vinyl", Chrysalis muttered, flashing into Octavia's form once again and adopting her accented voice, "I wish to have a good night's sleep."
  1132. >Vinyl jerkily moved forward, like a puppet on strings, as Chrysalis led her up the stairs.
  1133. >Away from Octavia and further and further into the lion's den.
  1135. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1137. >Her tall figure entered the room.
  1138. >A wide, billowing presence followed as her hair fluttered in the breeze.
  1139. >Her soft eyes scanned the room, landing on a soft pink furred mare with a mane tied back in a tight bun.
  1140. >The mare gasped, her eyes wide as she scurried behind the desk she was seated in front of.
  1141. >"M-my princess!"
  1142. >The pony stood in front of her bowed low, her muzzle nearly dusting the ground and her sterile white hat flopping off her head.
  1143. >The tall, purple mare dipped her head in greeting before straightening up.
  1144. "No need to bow to me, my little pony."
  1145. >Her soft voice penetrated the smaller pony's body, uplifting her and erasing all her worries.
  1146. >The pony stood up but kept her gaze away from the taller mare's.
  1147. >She shuffled aside to allow the princess to enter the hall.
  1148. >Each door was marked with numbers, and it was no feat to find the one she needed with a quick pulse of her magic.
  1149. >Yet, as the door labeled "145" opened at her magic's beck and call, she found herself stalled.
  1150. >The room was sterile and smelled of disinfectant, the air heavy and laborious to breathe.
  1151. >The princess halted before she took one hoof-step into the doorway, her eyes closing and her jaw working up and down in her mouth.
  1152. "What is your name, little one?"
  1153. >Her grand voice intoned itself softly into the hall, drawing out a rallying feeling from all who heard it.
  1154. >"My name, princess? W-why would you want to know my name?"
  1155. >The princess turned to her and smiled, dipping her head low as a low, dry chuckle left her lips.
  1156. "I am most disconnected from the ponys I serve. Please, what is your name?"
  1157. >The pony blushed and dug at the floor with her hoof as she bit her lip.
  1158. >The princess smiled.
  1159. >"Q-quill scribble, your highness..."
  1160. >The pony blushed and bowed low, as if she had offended her.
  1161. "Stand, please."
  1162. >Quill shot up at her order, no trace of hesitation in her movements.
  1163. "Quill Scribble? What a lovely name."
  1164. >Quill smiled shyly, "Thank you, Princess."
  1165. "Twilight."
  1166. >"I'm so sorry Princess, I think I missed what you said...?"
  1167. "My name. Twilight is my name. Please, call me Twilight."
  1168. >Quill Scribble blushed from head to hoof.
  1169. >"Y-yes prin- T-Twilight."
  1170. >She seemed waiting for the reprimand, as if expecting Twilight to catch her flat-hoofed.
  1171. >Twilight smiled and nodded her head.
  1172. >"How has your day been, Quill?"
  1173. >Twilight took a seat on one of the chairs outside of the room.
  1174. >She couldn't quite bear entering yet.
  1175. >"Fine, Twilight." Quill muttered, a small smile on her face as she snuck glances at the royal figure.
  1176. "And you are finding everything well? My days and nights, long and short as they should be?"
  1177. >"Y-yes of course!"
  1178. >Twilight laughed.
  1179. "No need to reassure me, little one. I have thicker skin than most."
  1180. >Quill nodded her head.
  1181. >Twilight's eyes shut contemplatively and her mood sobered.
  1182. >She really couldn't put it off, as much as she wished to.
  1183. "I must please ask that you return to your post. I would like to be alone."
  1184. >Quill shot up at attention, a furious blush on her face.
  1185. >"Yes princess! At once!"
  1186. >She was gone in a flash, leaving Twilight alone in the long, empty hall.
  1187. >Twilight could feel the anguish of her ponies, the naturally sympathetic magic she had attuned over the decades pulling at her heart strings.
  1188. >The people here were not long for life, either sick or simply too elderly to continue, neither curable by magic or medicine.
  1189. >A true place of sorrow.
  1190. >Twilight layered an illusion on herself as a grieving widow, mane graying and skin wrinkling, left a room just a few over from the one she couldn't enter.
  1191. >The mare's heart was shattered into pieces and Twilight wondered if she could handle that sort of heart break, losing one's life long partner as she had.
  1192. >Twilight dipped her head low as the mare passed, her face stern and strong despite the heavy burden resting on her shoulders.
  1193. >Her hooves clip-clopped down the hall and Twilight only opened her eyes and looked up when the noise was gone.
  1194. >Twilight breathed in deeply and finally stood from her chair, opening the door once again.
  1195. >She took her first, shaky hoof-step into the sterile room, then another, and another.
  1196. >She couldn't stop herself until she took a seat in a chair next to the hospital bed.
  1197. "Hello", Twilight muttered softly.
  1198. >The gentle, rhythmic staccato of machinery beeped around the room but Twilight was blank to it all.
  1199. >Her eyes were locked on the thin, matted, graying mane and wrinkled skin covered in white fur.
  1200. >On her first and last love, never returned and never known of.
  1201. "I..."
  1202. >For the first time in a long time, perhaps nearly a millennia, Twilight was speechless as she stared at the mare before her.
  1203. >The mare laying on the bed didn't react to her voice and it served as a fist that clenched around her heart painfully.
  1204. "I'm sorry." Twilight spoke softly, her head dipping low as tears began to well up in her eyes.
  1205. >She wrapped her hoof around the mare's.
  1206. "I hope... You can forgive me, in the next life."
  1207. >Twilight bit her lip, simply holding the hoof of the mare she had thought of as her one love, stifling the nearly overwhelming tears that threatened to drip down her face.
  1208. >Twilight hoped beyond anything that she would forgive her, that no matter what they would be friends despite what had happened nearly half a century ago.
  1209. >She hoped.
  1210. >Yet as the gentle beeping slowed to a stop, and tears cascaded down her face, her hope felt crushed.
  1211. "I love you", Twilight whispered in her ear as a dozen nurses and doctors rushed in, ushering her out.
  1212. >As the door shut behind her, for the first time, Twilight felt truly alone.
  1214. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1216. "You know I am still quite surprised you came to me about this sort of thing. I completely understand why you would, just that you did."
  1217. >"Heh. You're just about the best person to come to."
  1218. "Of course I am darling", she purred delightedly, "Perhaps I may be wrong, but I had always had the assertion that this wasn't exactly your cup of tea, as it were."
  1219. >Applejack blushed.
  1220. >"Well it ain't. Jus' the fall shindig 'n' all in a couple days has got me thinkin' I should dress up a bit..."
  1221. >Rarity peered over her red, wing-like glasses thoughtfully.
  1222. "Pardon my saying, but you didn't go through this sort of effort last year."
  1223. >Applejack tried to raise her hand to fix her non-existent hat but Rarity kept it still with a raised eyebrow.
  1224. >"Sorry", Applejack muttered.
  1225. "Applejack you know you can tell me anything right? There need be no secrets between us."
  1226. >Rarity rested her hand on the measuring tape wrapped around Applejack's firm stomach.
  1227. >Her soft, warm hands pressed lightly to Applejack's smooth skin.
  1228. >"Ain't no secret. Jus' a bit flustered."
  1229. "Applejack..." Rarity began slowly, a smirk developing on her face, "You... Have a date!~"
  1230. >Rarity jabbed her in her stomach as Applejack's face grew red.
  1231. >"Nuh-uh! She ain't my date!"
  1232. "Sheee?~ Oh Applejack, you saucy girl! Whoever is it? Do I know her?"
  1233. >"Nobody! Jus' forget it and get back to it!"
  1234. >Rarity giggled behind her hand.
  1235. "Not until you tell me just a ~little, teensy, weensy~ thing about your secret Belle of the Ball. Pleeaase?"
  1236. >"If you'll stop mentionin' it", Applejack retorted drily.
  1237. "I swear on my grace as a lady."
  1238. >"For what that's worth..." She muttered.
  1239. "What was that?!"
  1240. >"Nothin!"
  1241. "Just as I thought. Now. Tell me."
  1242. >Applejack smartly kept her mouth shut of any more snide comments, especially when Rarity jabbed her painfully in the ribs with her slender finger.
  1243. >"Weeeell..." Applejack drawled as Rarity practically leaned forward, hanging on to her every word with a glimmer in her eyes.
  1244. >"She's a highfalutin type."
  1245. >Rarity gasped.
  1246. "You? Falling for a woman of nobility? How... Romantic..."
  1247. >Rarity swooned and she pressed the back of her hand to her forehead.
  1248. >"Er. Well, sorta. She can get dirty when she's got to."
  1249. "A femme fatale, then?"
  1250. >"No! She ain't no sorta scarlet woman or anythin'! She's a real loyal sorta gal. Generous too... And... I kinda like her hair."
  1251. "Her... Hair?"
  1252. >"Well yeah. She keeps it done up all nice 'n' everythin'."
  1253. >Rarity felt her cheeks heat up as she mouthed 'generous' and 'good hair' together.
  1254. >A pleasant, if odd, feeling swelled up in her stomach.
  1255. "I never knew that you were into that sort of thing... I'm flattered."
  1256. >"I suppose", Applejack said, staring off into the distance with red cheeks.
  1257. "You're done darling. I'll have your dress ready for you by tomorrow..."
  1258. >Applejack sighed and stretched to the ceiling as Rarity looped her measuring tape around her shoulders and finished up the last of her notes.
  1259. >Rarity admired Applejack's toned form barely covered by her baggy underwear and tight sports bra.
  1260. >She had no idea Applejack felt this way, but she could hardly say she minded.
  1261. >Especially when Applejack bent down to grab her jeans.
  1262. >Rarity shivered...
  1263. >She could hardly wait for the dance...
  1265. ***
  1267. >Rarity felt hot in her dress.
  1268. >It made her blush a little when she thought that, but she really did.
  1269. >Even in the dim lights and the heavy crowds she could feel eyes locked on her curves and assets on generous display.
  1270. >Her little black dress was as short as could be before she revealed anything and was practically molded to her body.
  1271. >Yet even the attention of handsome men with sharp jaws and sharper suits, and the occasional leggy, well-endowed woman couldn't draw her away from her real goal.
  1272. >Give Applejack something to look forward to.
  1273. >Her initial goal of coming to the dance was simply to have a fun time, maybe get a bit tipsy on some spiked punch, then perhaps leave with a gorgeous woman.
  1274. >Now her eyes were locked onto Applejack's trim form in the short dress she had hand-crafted.
  1275. >It looked stunning, as Rarity knew it would.
  1276. >"This ain't a real bad time", Applejack shouted over the loud, bone-shaking music as she smeared her lipstick on her fourth cider of the night.
  1277. >Some of the others had smuggled in a bit of a harder beverage than spiked punch or the non-alcoholic cider, and it was already starting to affect Applejack.
  1278. >Rarity purred and batted her lashes as she pressed up against Applejack's side.
  1279. >They had been dancing together for a bit, but Applejack had begged off to get a few refreshments.
  1280. >Rarity could say that her own drink had slowly loosened her tongue and usually sharp mind.
  1281. "It certainly isn't, not with the present company, especially..." Rarity giggled, looping her arm through Applejack's and resting her cheek on Applejack's shoulder, so strong, and warm, and inviting...
  1282. >Rarity snapped back to reality and blushed as she felt the effects of being in such close proximity to such a specimen as her stomach began to tingle and feel warm.
  1283. "Why aren't you seeking out your Belle?" Rarity asked coyly, her lips lifting in a smile.
  1284. >"Shoot. Jus' a bit nervous I reckon."
  1285. "Nervous? I'm sure she would be simply delighted to... Share your affections", Rarity whispered sensually in her ear.
  1286. >Applejack flushed as she giggled into her drink.
  1287. >Hearing her giggle made a warm glow rise in Rarity's chest - such a soft, cute thing.
  1288. "Darling, your lipstick?"
  1289. >"Uh...? Is it a mess?"
  1290. "That's an understatement, darling. Come on, I'll fix it for you."
  1291. >"Oh uh, you don't have to, Rares."
  1292. "Nonsense! I've went through this much trouble, what would a little more be?"
  1293. >Rarity pulled her into a relatively dark corner of the gym and pulled a stick of lipstick from the small handbag hanging from her shoulder.
  1294. >Applejack was a bit unsteady on her feet but she held still long enough for Rarity to smoothly glide the lipstick over her soft, kissable...
  1295. >Rarity focused and fought down her blush.
  1296. "You look rather stunning tonight, Jackie..."
  1297. >Her voice was soft and sensual as she rested her hand on Applejack's blazing hot skin.
  1298. >"Heh, thanks."
  1299. >Applejack reached up to rub the back of her head but Rarity grabbed her hand.
  1300. "Dont forget your hair", Rarity admonished gently.
  1301. >"Right. Ain't real used to it."
  1302. "Obviously. It's... Cute."
  1303. >"Thanks, Rares."
  1304. >Rarity really liked it when Applejack called her that.
  1305. "You know I was rather stunned when you admitted what you did..."
  1306. "It took a bit of work to admit to myself, come to think of it."
  1307. >Rarity gently circled Applejack's waist with one arm and pressed up tightly against her.
  1308. "I'm sure..." Rarity muttered, getting closer, closer... So close, now...
  1309. "That this little crush of yours..."
  1310. >Applejack's face was reddening as Rarity wound their fingers together.
  1311. "Would simply love your affections..."
  1312. >Applejack pulled away and looked off to the side, into the crowd, her cheeks beet red.
  1313. >"Yer right", she mumbled.
  1314. >"I'll be right back..."
  1315. >Applejack pulled away from her completely, and Rarity couldn't help but be annoyed her hard-to-get coyness.
  1316. "Bring me back another drink?"
  1317. >"Sure."
  1318. ***
  1320. >Rarity huffed and flicked a lock of hair from her face.
  1321. >Applejack had been gone nearly ten minutes! And she was sober now!
  1322. >Or, as sober as she was going to be tonight.
  1323. "When I find her..." Rarity muttered angrily.
  1324. >Ditched was bad enough, and just when she though to give that country bumpkin a chance!
  1325. >Rarity had stalked the gym and Applejack was nowhere to be a seen, a few needling questions saw her entering the women's restroom.
  1326. >Her nose crinkled as the foul smell of a public bathroom assaulted her.
  1327. >Her eyes found Applejack immediately.
  1328. >One of her tanned, calloused hands was gripping the porcelain sink, the other roughly fisted through her hair.
  1329. >Just as she opened her mouth to give Applejack a piece of her mind Rarity stalled.
  1330. >Applejack's shoulders were shuddering and tears were dripping from her face, drip-dripping on the sink's pearly surface.
  1331. "...Applejack?"
  1332. >Applejack looked over her shoulder.
  1333. >The mascara Rarity had applied early was now running in two tracks down her face, her hair looked more rats nest than carefully-managed curls, and her eyes were red and puffy.
  1334. >"H-hey, Rares..."
  1335. "Jackie..."
  1336. >Rarity turned Applejack around and embraced her, letting her smaller but more toned frame tuck into her tall, willowy body.
  1337. >Applejack didn't put up much resistance as she hugged Rarity back and buried her face into her silky smooth neck.
  1338. >Rarity cringed when she felt the feeling of smeared makeup on her skin, but ignored it in favor of rubbing smooth circles on Applejack's back.
  1339. "What happened?"
  1340. >Applejack shook her head.
  1341. "Jackie..."
  1342. >"It ain't turn out like I wanted it to."
  1343. >Rarity stayed quiet and let her continue on her own time, after a few agonizing minutes.
  1344. >"I couldn't really tell her how I felt 'n' everythin' 'n' I sorta mussed it all up 'n' now I feel like crap."
  1345. "...Whatever do you mean?"
  1346. >Rarity felt an icy-cold pit form in her stomach as she let Applejack's words wash over her.
  1347. >"Coloratura flat out rejected me."
  1348. >Rarity's stomach flipped, both in horrific glee and bitter sadness.
  1349. >So she had assumed wrong, again, and now she was feeling happy that Applejack had failed.
  1350. >She was despicable, wasn't she?
  1351. "I-I'm sorry."
  1352. >Her lip quivered but she stifled her own tears with a furrowing of her brow.
  1353. >"Thanks, Rares. Suppose it was jus' a pipe dream. What would a girl like her want me for?"
  1354. "A girl like you?"
  1355. >"A country gal with no tact 'n' no grace 'n' barely any brains..." Applejack muttered bitterly.
  1356. "Don't say that, Jackie! You are a wonderful girl, and frankly Coloratura is the one with 'barely any brains' for rejecting someone as lovely as you."
  1357. >"Y'all are just sayin' that."
  1358. "I am not."
  1359. >"C'mon Rares, I ain't all that."
  1360. "Of course you are, darling..."
  1361. >Rarity bit her lip and kept her mouth shut.
  1362. >Applejack didn't need to be hit on like a common streetwalker so soon after getting her heart broken.
  1363. >Even if that meant Rarity let her own heart clench painfully.
  1364. >Applejack snorted and pushed her away and Rarity missed the contact immediately.
  1365. >"Don't bother tryna make me feel better, I ain't nobody's sorta gal."
  1366. "And what if you are?"
  1367. >"Oh yeah?" Applejack's face was red, and her face was set into a glower as she stared up at her.
  1368. >"Whose?"
  1369. >Rarity sucked in a shuddering breath...
  1370. >Was she a fool? Perhaps.
  1371. "Mine."
  1372. >"Er... What?"
  1373. "Mine, you idiotic, dirt-brained, country bumpkin!"
  1374. >"Huh?"
  1375. "Shut up!"
  1376. >Rarity slammed her lips into Applejack's.
  1377. >The kiss was brief but intense, mostly one-sided as Applejack's brain shut off.
  1378. >Rarity pulled away and spun on her heel.
  1379. >She began to storm away but Applejack's hand on hers stopped her.
  1380. >Rarity turned and prepared to give her a lecture that Applejack wouldn't soon forget, but this time she was rendered speechless.
  1381. >Applejack's lips were on hers.
  1382. >Rarity kissed her back as the kiss grew ever hotter and more intense.
  1383. >It was mostly chaste, and after a few brief moments they separated.
  1384. >"Wow." Applejack muttered.
  1385. >Rarity wiped the corner of her mouth with her thumb and smiled.
  1386. "Wow indeed."
  1387. >The bathroom was silent for a long moment as they both mulled over what happened.
  1388. >"What are we now?"
  1389. "Where."
  1390. >"Pardon?"
  1391. "Your question should be, 'where are we now?', and the answer is, 'at a dance, where we should be making out on the dance floor, not crying in a smelly bathroom'."
  1392. >"...That... Sounds good to me, I reckon."
  1393. "Come, I am far, far too sober."
  1394. >"Yeah, yeah that's a good idea."
  1395. >Applejack smiled shyly at her and let Rarity fold in against her side as they returned to the dance...
  1397. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1399. >"Hi, I'm Pinkie Pie! What's your name?"
  1400. >Her bored, flat gaze snapped over to the brightly-adorned girl nearly vibrating in place just a few feet away.
  1401. "Sugarcoat."
  1402. >"Wowie! That's a really, really pretty name! I'm Pinkie Pie, and I'm so-so-so excited to meet all of you now that you're here from Crystal Prep. Or is it Pep? Crystal Pep? Are you guys Peppy-?"
  1403. "You talk a lot. You shouldn't."
  1404. >Pinkie laughed and her hair bounced along.
  1405. >"You're so supery-doopery honest! I really like that a lot! Hey, you know who's honest? My friend Applejack-"
  1406. "Again, you talk a lot."
  1407. >"Weeellll duh! Why wouldn't I?"
  1408. >She was wearing a grin from ear to ear as she bounced in place.
  1409. "Because you have nothing important to say?"
  1410. >She laughed again, as if Sugarcoat had said the funniest joke in the world.
  1411. "Am I saying something funny?"
  1412. >Sugarcoat's brow lifted as she fully turned towards this interesting creature.
  1413. >"Well...", Pinkie rubbed at her chin as she mulled it over, "Not really. But if I laugh then maybe you will too and you won't be such a grumpy-grump anymore."
  1414. "Maybe if I scowl some more you'll stop acting like you're high on meth. Either way leave me alone, trying to make friends or whatever won't stop us from stomping you CHS losers into the dust."
  1415. >Sugarcoat gave her one last glower and stomped away, leaving Pinkie behind.
  1416. >Pinkie's excitement dimmed a bit as her eyes gained a fiery determination behind them.
  1417. >"Err... Who was that, Pinkie?"
  1418. >"One of my new Friends, Applejack, she just doesn't know it yet!"
  1419. >Pinkie slammed her fist into her palm as her eyes blazed with determination.
  1420. >"...Right. Y'ain't gonna try'n get in her pants like last time, are ya?"
  1421. >She raised her arm into the air, thrusting a finger aloft as she cried, "Whatever it takes! In the name of Friendship!"
  1422. >Pinkie could hear Applejack's awkwardness as she slid away, but it didn't matter.
  1423. >Besides, AJ just didn't have the flair for drama that she did...
  1425. ***
  1427. >Sugarcoat peered around the corner, her jaw working in her mouth and a firm scowl settled on her face.
  1428. >That damn pink-haired, crack-addicted, sugar-loving bimbo!
  1429. >She hadn't left her alone for a week!
  1430. >It seemed her shadow itself ratted her out, because no matter how hard she tried, Pinkie found her eventually.
  1431. >Sugarcoat didn't see the girl, and she let out a small sigh.
  1432. >A moment's reprieve...
  1433. >She slid down the wall until she was seated on the floor.
  1434. >"High Sugar!"
  1435. "Fuck!"
  1436. >Sugarcoat flipped over herself as Pinkie seemed to materialize in the second's span of time that it took her to close her eyes.
  1437. >"Only if you ask nicely~" Pinkie giggled.
  1438. "You're annoying."
  1439. >"Awww...." Pinkie's hair deflated, and her eyes grew impossibly large and glassy.
  1440. >"Y-you don't r-really mean t-that... Do you?"
  1441. >Fat, wet tears rolled down her face as she tried to furiously wipe them away.
  1442. "And a bad actor."
  1443. >Pinkie giggled and straightened up.
  1444. >"So, whatcha doin?"
  1445. "Hiding from you."
  1446. >"You sure? Cause I'm, like, right next to you."
  1447. "...How silly of me."
  1448. >Pinkie's eyes twinkled with sadistic mirth at Sugarcoat's dry, withering tone.
  1449. >That... She was enjoying this!
  1450. "Go away. You're annoying."
  1451. >"Aww I just love the way you..."
  1452. "Dont. You. Dare."
  1453. >"...Phrase things?"
  1454. >Sugarcoat slumped against the locks and breathed out a sigh of relief.
  1455. >"I mean it's just not like you to sugarcoat things!"
  1456. "...I hate you."
  1457. >"If that were true you wouldn't be spending so much time with me."
  1458. "You seek me out. I suspect you are some sort of stalker."
  1459. >"Stalker, shmalker!" Pinkie replied flippantly.
  1460. "What do you want?"
  1461. >"Want...?"
  1462. >Pinkie's gaze lingered on her, a fire burning behind her pupils and a thin smirk curling up her lips.
  1463. >Looking very much like the cat that was about to eat the canary.
  1464. >Sugarcoat couldn't help but just get it over with, any more and she might end up crazier than that Sparkle girl and her theories on slut-based magic.
  1465. >"Who says I want anything...?"
  1466. >Sugarcoat shivered as her tone lost the pleasant, if energetic tone, replaced with something...
  1467. >Hungry.
  1468. >She spied Pinkie staring a hole into the side of her head with a thin smirk curling on her face.
  1469. "You followed me for a week. You want something."
  1470. >Pinkie leaned forward on her tip toes, that damnable smirk growing across her face.
  1471. >"I know you don't sugarcoat things..."
  1472. >Sugarcoat shot her a glare.
  1473. >"...But I didn't know you were the assuming type..."
  1474. >Sugarcoat felt a chill run deep in her bones and goosebumps stand up on her skin.
  1475. >Fire burned through her veins, though, Pinkie's tone being sensual and huskier.
  1476. >Sugarcoat was thankful for how long her skirt was, as the unmistakable feeling of wetness grew between her legs.
  1477. >Her blue eyes turned dark, and her hair seemed more tamed and less wild with every word that slipped past her full lips.
  1478. >"Now that you mention it, though, I do think I want something..."
  1479. "What's that?"
  1480. >Sugarcoat kept her face carefully neutral and her eyes flat as she matched Pinkie's predatory gaze.
  1481. >Pinkie was leaning so close now, her sweet-smelling, warm breath brushed against Sugarcoat's neck as she whispered in her ear.
  1482. >"...A friend silly!"
  1483. >Sugarcoat gave her a chilly, withering look as she pressed her legs tightly together.
  1484. >Despite the clear excitement on her face, hidden just under the surface was that... Other, that made her skin get goosebumps and her heart pound in her ears.
  1485. "Fine. Only because you've annoyed me enough."
  1486. >Pinkie's smirk told her she knew the real reason, and Sugarcoat could hardly deny it herself.
  1487. >Her flushed face and the wetness between her legs was more than enough proof.
  1488. >Sugarcoat finally leaned back and relaxed fully on the lockers behind her.
  1489. >"Ooonnnee eensy, teensy, bitty little thing..."
  1490. "What do you- mphm!"
  1491. >Sugarcoat's eyes snapped open and her glasses felt smushed onto her face as Pinkie's blazing lips planted a kiss right onto hers.
  1492. >Just as Sugarcoat began to lean into the kiss and enjoy Pinkie's lipgloss- cotton candy, of course- Pinkie pulled away and wiped at her mouth.
  1493. >That Other was back, a thin smirk on her darkened features.
  1494. >"See you around, Sugar..."
  1495. >Pinkie stood up, her tiny skirt flashing a pair of pink panties at Sugarcoat's lustful gaze.
  1496. >She was down the hall before Sugarcoat could react.
  1497. >Before she could stand up and chase her, though, the halls flooded with students.
  1498. >Sugarcoat sighed and tucked her limbs in, pressing her fingers lightly to her lips as she savored the lingering sweetness.
  1499. >"Your lips were too sour by the way!" Pinkie shouted from across the hall, "You should sugarcoat them!~"
  1500. >Sugarcoat blushed deeply as all eyes turned to her, and that awful pun registered.
  1501. >Damn, stupid, busty, sexy...
  1502. >Damn!
  1503. >Sugarcoat gathered her books and rushed through the crowd.
  1505. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1507. >"Yo you're that weird pink-haired girl's friend right?"
  1508. >Sunset peered up from her book, straight into a pair of amused amber eyes.
  1509. "Weird pink haired... You mean Pinkie Pie?"
  1510. >"Sounds right."
  1511. "What about her?"
  1512. >The girl in front of her slid smoothly into a chair, so they were sitting across from each other.
  1513. >She crossed her fingers under her chin and her lips were curled in an amused smirk.
  1514. >"What's her deal?"
  1515. "Her deal?"
  1516. >The girl laughed.
  1517. >"Yeah. She's been followin' Sugarcoat around all week. Chick looks like she's about to pull her hair out, too."
  1518. >Sunset sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.
  1519. "She's just a little odd. Pinkie means well, though."
  1520. >The girl leaned back in her chair and stretched her arms up high before letting them flutter down to the back of her wild mane of hair.
  1521. >Sunset eyed the bit of exposed flesh that popped out when the girl rose her arms.
  1522. >Taught skin and a tight, trimmed tummy peeked out from her casual take on Crystal Prep's uniform.
  1523. >Sunset looked up into those smoldering amber eyes and noticed the girl's smirk.
  1524. >"So what's your name?"
  1525. "Sunset."
  1526. >The girl reached a hand out to her.
  1527. >"That's pretty hot." She said, "I'm Indigo."
  1528. >Sunset accepted her calloused, firm grip.
  1529. "That name sounds... Familiar."
  1530. >"Heh, probably should. You follow soccer at all?"
  1531. "A bit. My friend really likes it."
  1532. >Indigo's smirk turned into a smug grin as she crossed her arms under her chest.
  1533. >"You're looking at the number one rookie MVP in the state. Half the colleges around want me to sign on with a full scholarship."
  1534. "That's impressive", Sunset said.
  1535. >Odd Rainbow hadn't mentioned her, but then again when she worked into a full head of steam about whatever sport she was playing at the time Sunset didn't really listen, either.
  1536. >Indigo leaned forward so her hands were clasped in front of her and her elbows were resting on the table.
  1537. >She eyeballed Sunset's book.
  1538. >"Damn right. What're you reading?"
  1539. "Err... Well, I'm trying to study for the Games, I'm working on Calculus right now... It's not going great."
  1540. >Sunset blushed.
  1541. >"Oh yeah? Integral, multivariable, or differential?"
  1542. "Differential... Do you know Calculus?"
  1543. >"You think I'm just a pretty face? I didn't get those scholarships just 'cause I can kick a ball. That helped, though."
  1544. "Well, no I don't, I just... You remind me a lot my friend, and she..."
  1545. >Sunset winced when she thought of her many, many tutoring sessions with Rainbow Dash.
  1546. >"That bad?"
  1547. >Sunset nodded.
  1548. >They were quiet for a bit as Sunset mulled over another example in the book she was attempting to read.
  1549. >It only lasted a second before Indigo, with much amusement lacing her voice, broke the silence.
  1550. >"So you don't think I have a pretty face?"
  1551. >Sunset looked up at her with a gobsmacked expression as she replayed what she said in her mind.
  1552. "Huh? Oh! No, I mean, yes! You do have a pretty face. I- you're laughing at me."
  1553. >"You're a riot, Sunset", Indigo snorted, "I was just kidding."
  1554. "Sorry", Sunset said with a blush.
  1555. >"Nah, nah, you don't gotta say sorry, just a joke.", Indigo laughed as she waved her off.
  1556. >Sunset cracked a smile.
  1557. >Indigo leaned forward again as she streaked a hand through her wild mane of hair.
  1558. >Sunset felt her cheeks heat up again as Indigo skewed her goggles.
  1559. >So cute...
  1560. >"I'm pretty bored. You wanna get some coffee?"
  1561. "Right now? Shouldn't you be studying for the Games?"
  1562. >Indigo smirked, "Nah, we'll cream you guys like we did last year. And the year before. And the year before that, and-"
  1563. "I get it", Sunset said flatly.
  1564. >Indigo's grin grew, "So how about it?"
  1565. >Sunset looked down at the complex formulas that were starting to give her a headache, then up at the girl giving her a winning smile.
  1566. >Sunset snapped her book closed, "Screw it, I've been at this all day."
  1567. >"Aces. Know any good places?"
  1568. "Yeah. My friend Pinkie works over at this great place called Sugarcube Corner."
  1569. >"Sweet. Lead the way?"
  1570. >Sunset nodded her head, a pleased smile on her face as a butterfly flitted about in her stomach.
  1572. ***
  1574. >"Sunnny!"
  1575. >Pinkie's voice called out over the counter, dressed in her baby blue uniform.
  1576. >She roller-bladed out behind the counter and distributed drinks and food alike with cat-like grace as she twirled over to the pair of girls just in the entrance.
  1577. >Indigo raised her eyebrow as she mouthed 'A little odd?' at Sunset
  1578. >Sunset weakly shrugged.
  1579. >"Oooh!" Pinkie stopped just shy of both of them, her eyes lingering on Indigo, "Who's your new friend Sunny?"
  1580. "Indigo, we met at the library at school. Pinkie have you been stalking people again?"
  1581. >Sunset ignored Indigo as she mouthed 'again?' at her.
  1582. >"It's not technically stalking", Pinkie replied smugly, "You can sit over there, there's a free booth by the window that I know you like. I'll be over in a bit."
  1583. >Sunset sighed, knowing a lost cause when she saw it, and lead Indigo over to the booth.
  1584. >They both slid in so they were facing each other.
  1585. >"She never gave us-"
  1586. >Indigo stopped short as a pair of menus were slid onto the table by Pinkie as she zipped by, carrying at least half a dozen trays all stacked up on each other.
  1587. >Sunset eyed them warily as she moved far faster than she had any right to.
  1588. "Just a little off", Sunset stubbornly said to forestall Indigo.
  1589. >"...Right. Is everyone on this side of town this..."
  1590. >Indigo's eyes followed Pinkie as she kept zipping around the small cafe.
  1591. >"Weird?"
  1592. "Kind of", Sunset muttered.
  1593. >"Are you this weird?" Indigo joked.
  1594. "You have no idea", Sunset said with a smile.
  1595. >"Well you don't seem weird."
  1596. "What do I seem like then?"
  1597. >Indigo fiddled with the goggles on top of her head as she mulled it over.
  1598. >"Not, like, normal. I guess. Interesting?"
  1599. "Interesting?" Sunset laughed.
  1600. >"Yeah. You know not every girl's good enough to get my attention."
  1601. "And what about me is so interesting, miss high-and-mighty?"
  1602. >Indigo laughed, "Alright, I deserved that."
  1603. "A little", Sunset giggled.
  1604. >Sunset rested her head in her hand and leaned forward, meeting Indigo's piercing amber gaze.
  1605. "So?"
  1606. >Indigo shrugged, "It's your hair."
  1607. "My... Hair?"
  1608. >"Yeah, I remember seeing you a few times when I had to come to CHS for a soccer game. You stick out. I like that."
  1609. >Sunset twirled a lock of her fiery hair between her fingers.
  1610. "Yours is nice, too."
  1611. >"Obviously", Indigo bragged, brushed a hand through her slicked back mane of streaked blue hair with a grin on her face.
  1612. "You are so like my friend. A little more of a braggart though."
  1613. >"W-well, when you're me you've got a lot to brag about!" Indigo defended.
  1614. >Sunset laughed, and Indigo's cheeks heated a bit.
  1615. >The more she heard it the more she enjoyed it.
  1616. "I never said you didn't deserve to brag."
  1617. >Sunset's hand boldly reached forward so their fingertips were touching over the small table, a smile playing on her lips as she looked up into her unique honey-colored eyes.
  1618. >Indigo smirked, "Is this your way of flirting? Cause it's kinda working."
  1619. "Obviously."
  1620. >Indigo opened her mouth to retort, but Pinkie finally stopping her table stopped her short.
  1621. >"What can I get for you two?"
  1622. "Do you like peppermint?"
  1623. >Indigo raised her brow, but nodded all the same.
  1624. "Two of the usual then Pinkie-"
  1625. >Sunset hardly finished her sentence before a large, green drink piled high with whipped cream was set in between them.
  1626. >Pinkie's pink blur the only thing they saw as she continued to zip around the store.
  1627. >"Didn't you ask for two?"
  1628. "Pinkie has a thing for cliches", Sunset blushed as she held up two straws, "And for setting people up."
  1629. >"Just a little off, huh?" Indigo snickered.
  1630. "Quiet you, she's still my friend."
  1631. >"Whatever you say", Indigo said loftily as she accepted a straw from Sunset and dropped it into the thick green milkshake.
  1632. >"I guess if we're sharing a pretty face to look at while you do it always helps."
  1633. >Sunset blushed, "T-thanks..."
  1634. >"Oh yeah, I guess yours looks pretty good too..."
  1635. "Thanks", Sunset said flatly.
  1636. >Indigo laughed, "I'm just joking. You've got a pretty awesome face."
  1637. "Drink your milkshake."
  1638. >"No need to tell me twice."
  1639. >Sunset couldn't help but smile behind the large glass that separated them.
  1640. >Her eyes flicked over to Indigo's, amusement dancing between them as they slowly drained the large glass.
  1641. >Sunset could see Pinkie's large grin out of the corner of her eye, just out of Indigo's view.
  1642. >Meddlesome wench.
  1643. >Sunset couldn't help but smile though, the tips of her fingers were still loosely interlocked with Indigo's.
  1644. >Maybe meddling wasn't all bad.
  1646. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1648. "Hey."
  1649. >"Yo. You up for tonight?"
  1650. "I dunno, Dust. I need the money, but..."
  1651. >"Don't flake on me again. You said you need the money, so what's the hang-up?"
  1652. >Dash flinched as her leg bounced nervously.
  1653. "Just stuff coming up man, I swear I'm not a flake."
  1654. >"You sure? Listen, if you don't show up tonight I'm gonna have to cut you."
  1655. "Dust- wait! I'll be there. Tonight. Same place over on Grand River?"
  1656. >The line was quiet for a moment, as if Lightning was chewing something over on the other end.
  1657. >Dash bit her lip and ran a hand through her short hair.
  1658. >"Yeah. Be there."
  1659. "No problem, you can count..."
  1660. >Dash stopped short as the line was finally cut.
  1661. "...On me..."
  1662. >Her leg shook violently as she leaned back in her beat up old chair, staring up into her cracked ceiling.
  1663. >She needed the money, bad.
  1664. >Even so she flicked through her contacts, her hands hovering above her name.
  1665. >She didn't need to know.
  1666. >Dash stood up from her chair and crossed her apartment in two stride, grabbing her thick leather coat and keys and walking out the door.
  1668. ***
  1670. >The sky was just getting to get dark when she pulled up to Grand River.
  1671. >There were already a dozen others cars waiting, engines rumbling like caged beasts waiting to be unleashed.
  1672. >She put hers in park and stepped out of it, a heavy stone settling into the pit of her stomach.
  1673. >The glaring light from a dozen headlights made seeing any of the human-like shadows particularly difficult, even so she could pick out Lightning Dust's signature mane of golden hair.
  1674. >"So you actually showed up?"
  1675. "Yeah. Said I would, didn't I?"
  1676. >Dash felt her body tense, ready to move at a moment's notice as Lightning swaggered her way towards her.
  1677. >"Chill out Dash", Lightning said with an greasy grin.
  1678. >"Besides", Dust said, slinging her arm around Rainbow's shoulder, "It'll be easy pickings tonight, bunch of upstart wannabe's that think they know how to race."
  1679. >Dash's fingers found and gripped a switchblade hidden in the pocket of her jacket as Dust leaned in close.
  1680. >"Ain't really a competition when I got the fastest chick this side of Canterlot City racing for me, right?"
  1681. "...Right."
  1682. >Dust laughed and slapped her back.
  1683. >"That's what I like to hear. Come on, you're up first."
  1684. >Dash nodded and took two long strides, slipping into the leather seat of her car.
  1685. >She pulled up to the starting line marked off by a sallow-faced hooker holding a dirtied white bandanna.
  1686. >Dash breathed in slow, then exhaled, her eyes fixed straight ahead and her vision blurring as she waited for the white flag to drop.
  1687. >Her foot revved the gas, her baby humming under her like a cat purring for it's master.
  1688. >The flag dropped, pooling onto the ground as the world slid into slow motion.
  1689. >Her foot was already pressed to the floorboard, the world sliding by at a snail's pace.
  1690. >The car next to her had no chance as she jetted forward, jumping ahead by a car's length as they roared like great beasts down the long stretch of pavement.
  1691. >The only thing she could see, could feel, was reaching the finish line before the other guy.
  1692. >Every fiber in her being, every bone in her body, blood vessel flowing through her veins, pushed her on.
  1693. >Her eyes drifted for a fraction of a second into the rear-view as red and blue lights filled her vision.
  1694. >The exhilarating feeling of what she was doing, that addictive, all-encompassing rush flooding her vision with black spots, only two minuscule dots remained as she roared down a never-ending tunnel.
  1695. >The red and blue lights dimmed for a moment as she pushed her car ever-faster, noting the guy that she had been racing wasn't there anymore.
  1696. >The two pinpricks of her vision was slammed wide open as a red-and-blue flashing light filled its entirety, a white cop car barreling directly into her path.
  1697. >Dash slammed on her breaks.
  1698. >The massive shift in speed sent her reeling.
  1699. >Her bones jarred painfully in her body and her organs felt like jelly as she slid to a harsh stop.
  1700. >Dash sucked in a shuddering breath, and it seemed like only a moment before she was pulled from her car, dazed and confused, and slammed onto the pavement.
  1701. >Darkness consumed her vision as the cops wrestled her to the floor.
  1702. >...
  1704. ***
  1706. >"Pardon. I was informed that someone I know is here. A miss Rainbow Dash?"
  1707. >The man she was talking to took a long moment to respond, hidden behind a newspaper with his feet propped up on the desk.
  1708. >He slid the newspaper low enough to take a look at her, his eyes wandering up and down her form in a fashion that was unfortunately familiar.
  1709. >She sniffed in distaste.
  1710. >The man slowly slid up from his chair and beckoned her to follow.
  1711. >She did so, her nose in the air.
  1712. >The men and women they passed called to her, like monkeys in a cage.
  1713. >Yet the monkey she was looking for was at the very back...
  1715. ***
  1717. "...Hey Rares."
  1718. >Dash winced.
  1719. >"Rainbow Dash."
  1720. >She did not look happy.
  1721. "Sorry."
  1722. >Rarity's lovely face was so far set into a stoic mask, blank, unwavering, yet as Dash spoke, her jaw worked up and down.
  1723. >"For?"
  1724. "Err... What?"
  1725. >"I asked you what you are sorry for, Rainbow Dash."
  1726. "I..."
  1727. >"Exactly."
  1728. >Rarity pinched the bridge of her nose and muttered under her breath.
  1729. "I'm sorry I got caught...?" Dash offered.
  1730. >Rarity's well-manicured hand clenched into a fist as her entire body tensed.
  1731. >"I am sorry, Rainbow Dash."
  1732. >Dash sat back on her haunches, her face puzzled.
  1733. >"I'm sorry I wasted even a second on a foolish woman who cannot change for the ones they love", Rarity snapped.
  1734. >"I'm sorry that you are so utterly idiotic that I am standing before you now, expecting anything else but utter betrayal."
  1735. "Rarity I-!"
  1736. >"You. What?"
  1737. >Dash quieted.
  1738. >"You what, Rainbow Dash? You said you were done with that life. With Lightning Dust. With all of that. And yet here we are."
  1739. "I needed money-!"
  1740. >"And instead of asking me you turned to a criminal that could have killed you?"
  1741. >Rarity's voice was soft, but cold, and it chilled Rainbow to the bone.
  1742. >"I have money, Rainbow Dash. What I don't have is endless patience for a woman that is so prideful that..."
  1743. >Rarity rubbed at her forehead.
  1744. >"I'm done. I can't keep doing this anymore. I can't keep bailing you out when you do something idiotic."
  1745. "Rares..."
  1746. >"That is Rarity to you, Rainbow Dash."
  1747. "...Rarity..."
  1748. >The name felt bitter on her tongue.
  1749. "I'm sorry. I really am. I promise, I'm done with Lightning, with all of them, please..."
  1750. >Rainbow rested her forehead against the cool metal bars separating them.
  1751. "...Please..."
  1752. >"I'm sorry."
  1753. >Rainbow looked up into Rarity's face.
  1754. >Her eyes were shining with tears as she dabbed at them with a silken handkerchief.
  1755. >"I have to go. I can't bail you out this time, Dash. Not anymore."
  1756. "Rarity!"
  1757. >Rarity kept her head forward as Dash tried to reach towards her, fingers grasping at nothing.
  1758. >Tears slid down her face as she took a step away from her.
  1759. >She had to, not for Dash's sake, but for herself.
  1760. >Dash just wouldn't change, and neither would she.
  1761. >Rarity stopped at the door that separated the cages from the free world, her hand gripping the frame.
  1762. >She took a step into the free world, a great weight lifting from her shoulders...
  1764. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  1766. >"What are you doing here?"
  1767. >Twilight whipped around, eyes wide and heart pounding in her chest.
  1768. >She hadn't even heard the girl now a mere foot away sneaking up on her...
  1769. >The girl was staring up at her with a scowl, like Twilight was something she found on the bottom of her boot.
  1770. >Twilight's head tilted and she furrowed her brow, trying to remember where she had seen the girl before.
  1771. "Do I know you?"
  1772. >"Tch. Are we really that insignificant?"
  1773. >She crossed her arms over her flat chest.
  1774. "Uh... I don't know who you are."
  1775. >She felt her face redden as the girl looked a little closer, her eyes narrowing in contemplation.
  1776. >"You don't wear glasses."
  1777. "Have since I was six", Twilight nervously laughed, "W-who are you, exactly?"
  1778. >Her eyes seemed to widen for a moment in some kind of understanding that Twilight couldn't even begin to comprehend.
  1779. >"You're from around here, aren't you?"
  1780. >Twilight noticed that she didn't stop scowling, but she did turn her head away as her cheeks dusted pink.
  1781. "What do you mean? I grew up in the city..." Twilight's mind finally clicked, "...You know the other me, don't you?"
  1782. >"Unfortunately", she replied testily.
  1783. "Who are you? You never told me your name."
  1784. >"Aria."
  1785. >Twilight bit her lip.
  1786. >She recognized that name, and with the way she seemed to fold up on herself, Aria knew that she knew.
  1787. >"Sorry to bother you."
  1788. >She made to turn around and walk away but Twilight stopped her.
  1789. "H-hey!"
  1790. >"Yeah?"
  1791. "Is this a good album?"
  1792. >"What?"
  1793. >Aria turned around, her face puzzled.
  1794. "This album... Is it any good? You work here, don't you?"
  1795. >Aria shrugged, "It's pretty shit."
  1796. >Aria visibly relaxed as she approached her, and for that Twilight was grateful.
  1797. "Oh..."
  1798. >"Try this one. What're you doing here anyway? Doesn't really seem like your scene, for either of you."
  1799. >Twilight bit her lip and fiddled with the hem of her sweater vest as she blushed.
  1800. "Sorta hard to explain."
  1801. >Aria snorted, "It's for a guy isn't it?"
  1802. "W-what? No!"
  1803. >"A girl, then?"
  1804. >Twilight blushed.
  1805. "How did you know?"
  1806. >Aria shrugged, "People like you only come in here looking for stuff for someone else."
  1807. "That's profiling!"
  1808. >"So?"
  1809. >Twilight harrumphed and crossed her arms over her chest.
  1810. >Aria leaned against the large case Twilight had been combing through earlier.
  1811. >"I'm just screwin' with you man, chill out."
  1812. "Sorry. Just kinda nervous."
  1813. >"You two ain't together yet?"
  1814. "Well... No, not really."
  1815. >Aria began to flick through a line of CD's and Twilight joined her a moment later, though she wasn't sure what she was looking at.
  1816. "I just want to get familiar with what she likes, you know?"
  1817. >"Yeah. I get that. Try this one."
  1818. >Aria pushed a CD into Twilight's hands.
  1819. "Are you sure?"
  1820. >Aria gestured grandly, "If she's into this kinda place, she'll be into that."
  1821. >Twilight looked around.
  1822. >The entire shop was dark and made her feel claustrophobic.
  1823. >Chains and crosses and a hundred other props lined the walls and hung from the ceiling, and Aria, dressed as she was, fit right in.
  1824. >Twilight felt horribly out of place.
  1825. "Thanks."
  1826. >Aria nodded her head.
  1827. >"Come back and tell me how it all ends up, this place is boring as fuck..."
  1828. "Sure."
  1829. >Twilight made to leave, but Aria's voice stopped her.
  1830. >"You're gonna pay for that, right?"
  1831. "O-oh! I'm so sorry, I forgot!"
  1832. >"Whatever."
  1833. >Twilight couldn't help but notice Aria's lips twitching upward.
  1835. ***
  1837. >"You're back."
  1838. >Aria's voice traveled through the shop easily with how cramped it was.
  1839. "I did say I'd come back, didn't I?"
  1840. >"Yeah. Like the album?"
  1841. >Twilight strode up to the counter where Aria was standing.
  1842. >She was idly typing something, but her eyes strayed over to Twilight.
  1843. "I did. It was nice."
  1844. >"Nice?"
  1845. "Yeah. You know. Groovy?"
  1846. >Aria snorted, "Groovy? Seriously? What sorta 70's shit is that?"
  1847. >Twilight blushed hotly as she played with the hem of her jacket.
  1848. "It was good."
  1849. >"Good. Right. How's your chick?"
  1850. "Good."
  1851. >Aria turned away from the computer and lifted her brow.
  1852. >"That bad huh?"
  1853. "W-what do you mean?"
  1854. >"Cut the shit, I've been around for a long time. Humans only say 'good' when they mean 'really fucking bad and I don't want to admit it'."
  1855. "How long exactly?"
  1856. >Aria gave her a withering look.
  1857. >"Long enough to know you're trying to change the subject."
  1858. >Twilight looked down.
  1859. "Things were going good, like, really good, but I dunno. We hung out last night and I put on the album, and..."
  1860. >Twilight bit her lip.
  1861. "It just didn't feel the same. It's like I didn't really know her when we started talking about stuff that wasn't school related."
  1862. >Aria shrugged, "Shit happens. Sometimes people surprise you."
  1863. "I guess."
  1864. >"So why'd you come back? Thought you just showed up for her."
  1865. "...I actually really kinda liked the music, if I'm being honest."
  1866. >"Right."
  1867. "So I was wondering if you could help me a little more?"
  1868. >"You know I have better things to do than to help you find some non-shit music?"
  1869. "Oh! S-sorry."
  1870. >"I'm just fuckin' with you dude, come on."
  1871. >Aria lead her back over to the case.
  1872. >They both started flipping through album after album in quiet contentment.
  1873. >Twilight still had no idea what to look for, and any she showed to Aria just earned another unimpressed look.
  1874. >"Here."
  1875. >Twilight turned to Aria as she pulled an album free from the case and shoved it into her chest.
  1876. "Thanks. I really appreciate it."
  1877. >"No problem."
  1878. >Aria led her back to the counter and checked her out in a flash.
  1879. >As she was handing Twilight her receipt, she hesitated.
  1880. >"There's a club. If you like this kinda music you might be into it."
  1881. "O-oh." Twilight felt her cheeks heat up, "I don't really go to clubs alone."
  1882. >"I meant with me, dumb ass."
  1883. "Oh! Um..."
  1884. >Aria shoved her receipt at her and looked away with a scowl on her face.
  1885. >"Never mind, forget it."
  1886. "S-sorry! I mean, don't you sorta hate me, cause of the other me?"
  1887. >Aria sighed and her shoulders sagged.
  1888. >Her fingers ghosted over her collar bone morosely for a moment.
  1889. >"Sorta. I hate that you look like her."
  1890. >Aria's arms slowly fell and she wrapped them around her waist.
  1891. >"It's hard to explain. You're just kinda cute, ya know?"
  1892. "Cute?"
  1893. >"Y-yeah, but it's not like I l-like you like that, or anything! I just have good taste!" Aria defended hotly, her face sporting a blush.
  1894. "...Sure."
  1895. >"Sure?"
  1896. "Yeah. I'll go with you."
  1897. >"Cool", Aria muttered.
  1898. >She pulled a pen from a pencil holder near her and grabbed Twilight's arm.
  1899. "What are you doing?"
  1900. >"Giving you my number", Aria said as she pushed Twilight's arm back.
  1901. >Twilight shivered as the cold tip of her pen pressed against her skin.
  1902. >It lasted a few moments until Aria released her arm.
  1903. >"Get out. I have work to do."
  1904. "Y-yeah."
  1905. >Twilight scurried out of the store with her CD clutched firmly in her grip.
  1907. ***
  1909. >Twilight's shoe tapped noisily against the wooden floor of her bedroom and her fingers drummed against her thigh.
  1910. >The familiar sound of her phone attempting to call someone made her anxious, and she desperately hoped that Aria hadn't played a prank on her.
  1911. >"What?"
  1912. >Relief flooded her being as Aria's harsh voice sounded over the line.
  1913. "Aria?"
  1914. >"Oh. Twilight. What's up?"
  1915. "We never really set a date for going to that club. Just wanted to see if you still wanted to?"
  1916. >"Ah. Yeah. You busy tonight?"
  1917. "T-tonight? It's a bit sudden..."
  1918. >"Oh."
  1919. >Twilight winced at Aria's disappointed tone.
  1920. "Yeah I can do tonight. Do you want to meet there?"
  1921. >"Nah, you can come over to my place. I have to help you get ready, anyway."
  1922. "Get ready? What do you mean?"
  1923. >Twilight was certain that the silence on the line was Aria's disapproving look.
  1924. >"You wear loafers and pastel, I'm gonna help you get dressed so you don't look like a retard."
  1925. "O-oh. So when should I come over?"
  1926. >"Whenever's fine. I live over on Cedar. Apartment 12."
  1927. "Sure. Be over in a bit."
  1928. >"Right."
  1929. >Twilight heard the line go dead and she flopped back onto her mattress.
  1930. >She slipped her phone into her pocket and grabbed her jacket and was out the door in a flash.
  1931. >No time to waste, right?
  1933. ***
  1935. >"You got here fast."
  1936. >Aria opened the door, her hair down, and dressed in only an overly-large tank top and boxers.
  1937. >Twilight blushed.
  1938. "Sorry. Didn't really have anything going on. Not too sudden, right?"
  1939. >Aria snorted, "Chill out, you're fine. Come on, we should probably avoid my sisters."
  1940. "Why's that?"
  1941. >Twilight slipped out of her shoes and padded along behind Aria as she led her into the apartment.
  1942. >It was cozy, to say the least.
  1943. >"Adagio would probably have a conniption if she saw you and Sonata would probably try to fuck you."
  1944. "O-oh."
  1945. >Aria kept quiet as she walked down a hall and into her bedroom.
  1946. >It wasn't quite what Twilight had expected.
  1947. >Aria's room was spartan at best, empty at worst, but neat and tidy all the same.
  1948. >A tiny bed was pushed into the corner with sheets folded neatly over top, and her dressed with a vanity was spotless.
  1949. >There was only a tiny closet against the other wall, otherwise the room was bare.
  1950. "It's nice."
  1951. >"Don't bullshit me", Aria spat, "Now strip."
  1952. "What!?"
  1953. >"How else are you gonna try on clothes?"
  1954. "Sorry, you caught me a little off guard. Er, can't I change in the bathroom?"
  1955. >"Sonata or Adagio would probably see you coming in and out. This way's safer."
  1956. >Aria wasn't looking at her, she was rummaging around in her closet with her back turned.
  1957. "O-okay."
  1958. >Twilight wasn't certain that this was a good idea, but so far Aria hadn't actually done anything to make her distrust her.
  1959. >She slid her jacket down her back and let it fall to the floor.
  1960. >Her shoes followed, then her knee-length socks.
  1961. >Her hands stalled at the first button of her shirt.
  1962. >Twilight fiddled with the button for a moment and bit her lip nervously.
  1963. >"I won't look if it's that big of a deal. I'll just hand you stuff."
  1964. >Twilight sighed in relief.
  1965. >The first button came off quickly, and the rest followed quicker than that.
  1966. >She finally hooked her thumbs into her skirt's band and slid it down her legs.
  1967. >"You ready?"
  1968. "Yeah."
  1969. >Aria kept her word, and silently handed over articles of clothing.
  1970. >Twilight blushed hotly when she saw what Aria was giving her to wear, which wasn't much more concealing than just her underwear.
  1971. >She slid the small crop top over her head and moved the fishnet upper-half into it's proper place.
  1972. >The pants that Aria gave her were tight and formed to her body, and the black studded belt that Aria gave her seemed superfluous.
  1973. >Twilight chose to trust her and slid it around her waist anyway, and did the same for a pair of boots that settled over most of her calf.
  1974. >"You done yet?"
  1975. "Er... Isn't this a little revealing?"
  1976. >Aria shrugged, "Nah, I've worn less to the club."
  1977. >Twilight blushed at the mental image.
  1978. >Aria turned around and eyed her up and down.
  1979. >She turned back into her closet and grabbed one last thing.
  1980. >"Here."
  1981. >Twilight's eyes widened as Aria thrust a studded, spiked choker into her hands.
  1982. "You sure?"
  1983. >"Yeah."
  1984. >Twilight gulped but slipped it around her neck and buckled it.
  1985. >It was tight enough to make her aware it was there, but not tight enough to choke her.
  1986. >"You look hot."
  1987. >Twilight looked down at her boots to hide her blush.
  1988. "Thanks."
  1989. >"Come on, I gotta do your hair and makeup."
  1990. "M-make-up?"
  1991. >"Don't bitch out on me now, Sparkle."
  1992. >Twilight begrudgingly let Aria pulled her in front of the vanity...
  1994. ***
  1996. "Let me see!"
  1997. >"I'm almost done, calm down."
  1998. "It's been hours..."
  1999. >"Quit whining, it's been forty minutes."
  2000. "Well it feels like hours."
  2001. >"Does the other you whine this much?"
  2002. "H-hey!"
  2003. >"Done."
  2004. >Twilight sighed in relief as Aria's probing hands and torturous tools finally left her face.
  2005. >She couldn't see anything with Aria blocking the vanity, and even then Aria had stripped her of her glasses.
  2006. >Everything was a great, blurred mess.
  2007. "How do I look?"
  2008. >Aria roughly jammed her glasses onto her face.
  2009. >Twilight blinked as everything came back into view, and she gasped.
  2010. >"Pretty good, I think."
  2011. >"You look good Sparkle."
  2012. >Twilight smiled as she turned her head this way and that, admiring the make-up painted on her face.
  2013. >She couldn't remember the last time she was this done up, if she ever was.
  2014. >"I gotta get dressed, then we'll head out. It's starting to get dark."
  2015. "Sure."
  2016. >Twilight kept admiring Aria's work in the vanity mirror, until her eyes slid over to Aria.
  2017. "A-aria!"
  2018. >"What?"
  2019. >Twilight slapped her hands over her eyes.
  2020. "You're naked!"
  2021. >"So?"
  2022. >Twilight felt her face heat up, the image of Aria's lithe form burned into her brain.
  2023. >"You think I'm ugly or somethin'?"
  2024. "N-no!"
  2025. >"So you think I'm hot?"
  2026. "Well..."
  2027. >"What's the problem then Sparkle?"
  2028. >Twilight kept her mouth pressed in a thin line, and stayed quiet.
  2029. >Aria chuckled dryly as she began to slide on clothing even tighter and more revealing than Twilight's.
  2030. >At least that was what Twilight saw as she peaked between her fingers.
  2032. ***
  2034. >Twilight couldn't help but stare at Aria's tight leather pants as she applied makeup in the vanity.
  2035. >Her hair was pulled back into one large ponytail and already her eyes were a dusky black, and her lips a blood red.
  2036. >"Alright, I'm done Sparkle."
  2037. >Aria twisted the cap on her mascara and dropped it into the top drawer of her vanity.
  2038. >She nudged it closed with her hip and took two strides to her closet.
  2039. >Twilight clumsily caught the tight leather jacket Aria tossed her.
  2040. >It didn't go down much farther than her crop top, but it would help with the cold a little bit.
  2041. >"You ready?"
  2042. "Yeah."
  2043. >"Come on, we can take my ride."
  2044. "I didn't see a car out front?"
  2045. >Aria chuckled, "It's not a car."
  2046. "Huh...?"
  2048. ***
  2050. "No! No way!"
  2051. >"Come on Sparkle, don't be a little bitch."
  2052. "There is no way I'm getting on that thing!"
  2053. >Aria snorted, "Then you're walking."
  2054. >Twilight crossed her arms over her chest and stamped her foot on the ground.
  2055. "No. Way."
  2056. >Aria looked at, then snapped her head forward.
  2057. >Her shoulders hunched forward.
  2058. >"Tch. Just as I thought."
  2059. "W-what?"
  2060. >"Nothin'. This was a stupid idea anyway, as if you guys could ever trust someone like me..."
  2061. >Twilight flushed at Aria's tone and she hesitantly reached forward to place a comforting hand on her shoulder.
  2062. "It's not like that Aria, promise."
  2063. >Aria shrugged her off and rubbed at her eye.
  2064. >"Whatever."
  2065. >Twilight felt her heart break as Aria sniffled.
  2066. >She closed her eyes and tensed her jaw as she weighed the pros and cons.
  2067. "...Fine."
  2068. >What was life without a little bit of danger, right?
  2069. >Aria's grin was smug and self-satisfied as she revved the engine of her bike.
  2070. >"Get on."
  2071. >Twilight sighed and saddled the bike.
  2072. >She gripped Aria's waist in a vice grip, and as soon as her foot left the pavement the bike jumped forward.
  2073. >Twilight yelped and buried her head into Aria's shoulder and squeezed her eyes shut.
  2074. >The cold, rushing wind snapped over her, chilling her right to the bone.
  2075. >Even so she kept her eyes shut tight and her grip on Aria firm as the other girl seemed to want to keep going faster, and faster.
  2076. >The eternity from Aria's apartment to the club took only a few minutes, yet when Twilight stumbled off the bike her legs were jelly and her stomach queasy.
  2077. "You set me up", Twilight muttered as she tried to rub warmth back into her arms.
  2078. >Aria laughed and elbowed her.
  2079. >"Come on dork, it's cold out here. You're startin' to show through your shirt."
  2080. "W-what?!"
  2081. >Twilight blushed and crossed her arms over her chest.
  2082. >Aria snickered and dragged her forward towards the club.
  2083. >Already Twilight was feeling a little anxious about it all.
  2084. >The lights flickered just behind a black, scratched door, and heavy music rattled her teeth in her skull and made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
  2085. >It was like lightning striking just a few feet away as they grew closer and closer.
  2086. >People dressed like they were- black, and chains, and boots- crowded the outside, the only color their wild hairstyles.
  2087. >Twilight couldn't help but feel captivated as Aria marched her towards the door, a nervous excitement swelling up in her chest and making her tingle from head to toe.
  2088. >"Chill out, it's no big deal", Aria shouted over the crowd as they got sucked into the door.
  2089. >The club was sweltering and smelled strongly of sweat and something earthy Twilight couldn't place.
  2090. >Everywhere around her people were pressed tightly together, some drinking oddly-colored drinks, others sitting around and smoking from great, puffing contraptions.
  2091. >A band was pressed up against the back wall, blasting the crowd with music as more people gathered around them, some dancing, others cheering.
  2092. >Twilight was captivated as she stared with wide, fascinated eyes taking everything in.
  2093. >"Let's go get something to drink!" Aria shouted.
  2094. >Twilight nodded and followed Aria as she slipped through the crowd and up to a jam-packed bar.
  2095. >She shouted something Twilight couldn't make out to the bartender- a pale, sallow-faced man with a mohawk- and the man nodded.
  2096. >In a flash he was pushing a pair of tall, orange drinks into Aria's grip.
  2097. >She passed one to Twilight and wrapped her arm around her waist, leading her through the thronging crowd.
  2098. >Twilight let herself be led by Aria closer and closer to the band, and took a small sip of the drink in her hand.
  2099. >Twilight made a face when the distinct taste of orange juice was undercut with the acrid, bitter taste of Vodka.
  2100. >She clenched her jaw and drained half her drink in one go, and almost immediately the room seemed to spin as the liquor slammed into her head.
  2101. >Aria was giving her a look, eyes half-lidded, and a thin smirk on her face.
  2102. >Her drink was half finished too, held up in the air as she shook her hips from side to side.
  2103. >Twilight was captivated by Aria's pink tongue tracing her glossy lips seductively.
  2104. >Twilight knew what being a siren meant now, as Aria traced her face with just her finger and sent her heart hammering in her chest and her breath to catch in her throat.
  2105. >She was frozen to the spot but Aria seemed more than willing to make up for it as her body moved almost unnaturally, but hypnotically so.
  2106. >The lights began to flicker on and off, strobing the room with streaks of bright, multi-colored lights.
  2107. >Twilight's gaze was locked on Aria as she formed a new pose with every on-off rotation of light, her hips wiggling and her boyish chest thrust forward.
  2108. >Twilight was frozen in place as Aria inched forward, like a tiger slowly creeping up on it's prey.
  2109. >Aria's arms wound around her waist and her hand snuck up and pressed Twilight's drink to her lips.
  2110. >Her eyes fluttered as Twilight tilted the glass back, draining the drink and shivering as a bolt of lightning shot up her spine and buzzed against her tongue.
  2111. >She felt loose and spineless, her head numb as the beat of the music pounded in her chest and rumbled her from the inside out.
  2112. >"Let's go outside for a bit, it's getting a little hot in here..." Aria breathed.
  2113. >Twilight couldn't focus on anything but Aria, her voice filled her head and stole her breath away.
  2114. >She nodded and let Aria grab her hand, mindlessly following her as they weaved through the crowd and towards the door just past the crowd.
  2115. >As they left the tightly packed jumble of people Twilight felt the chill of the night seep into her bones, yet the numbness in her head clouded her thoughts.
  2116. >Aria's voice, her scent, and the tingling feeling she left on her skin with every feather-light touch urged her forward as she stumbled behind the siren.
  2117. "A-aria..."
  2118. >Twilight stumbled after her as Aria tugged her forward, further and further away from the club.
  2119. >"Shh..."
  2120. >Twilight's head felt even more fuzzy the further she got away from the club...
  2121. >Were Aria's eyes red...?
  2122. >Aria led her down an alley just next to the club.
  2123. >Twilight couldn't help but feel the body-shaking vibrations from the music as Aria pressed her up against the wall.
  2124. "Aria... W-what's... Going on...?"
  2125. >Her voice felt distant and far away as her vision grew hazy.
  2126. >Aria was smirking and her eyes glittered like rubies as her soft voice pierced into her head.
  2127. >"Nothing, Sparkle, nothing... Nothing but the sound of my voice..."
  2128. >Twilight's head lolled back and forth as she felt something drain out of her, like her very life was being pulled from her.
  2129. >Aria's lips were on hers and the draining grew stronger as Twilight stared blankly into her glowing red eyes.
  2130. >"That's it..." Aria whispered, "That's it... You taste so good..."
  2131. >Aria's voice tickled her ear as the heady, breathy moan pulled at her again.
  2132. >Twilight tried to mumble something but Aria stopped her with a finger.
  2133. >"Don't act like you didn't expect this..." Aria triumphantly whispered, "...I am a siren after all..."
  2134. >Aria bit gently at her neck, and Twilight nearly passed out as that draining feeling intensified even further.
  2135. >She could see some kind of green energy flowing off of her, but her mind couldn't quite connect the dots.
  2136. >"You really thought I'd forgive you, Sparkle? Either of you...?"
  2137. >Aria bit down harder and Twilight was certain she was drawing blood.
  2138. >Twilight slowly slid down to the floor as Aria followed her down.
  2139. >"Come on, princess, I'll take good care of you..."
  2140. >Aria grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her up with ease.
  2141. >Another meal well-caught.
  2142. >She licked her lips.
  2143. >And one so delicious...
  2145. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2147. "...Hey Rarity?"
  2148. >Rarity took a moment to turn the page of her newspaper and take a long, slow sip from her mug of coffee.
  2149. >She peered over the paper at Sweetie belle, her winged red glasses glinting in the low morning light.
  2150. >"Yes, Sweetie? Is something the matter? You've been ever so dour since I picked you up last night."
  2151. >Sweetie's cheek was resting in her hand as she morosely picked at her oatmeal.
  2152. "If I told you something would you promise not to tell anyone else?"
  2153. >Rarity was a bit taken aback.
  2154. >She neatly folded her newspaper and set it on the kitchen table.
  2155. >Her mug of warm coffee followed, landing squarely on Mayor Mare's face.
  2156. >"Of course, I would never betray my dearest sister's trust," Rarity promised.
  2157. "What about that time when you gave away my favorite book to that guy to get his number?"
  2158. >"Mere happenstance," Rarity said flippantly, though her starkly white cheeks flushed red.
  2159. "Er. Right. Anyway. Anything?"
  2160. >"Absolutely anything."
  2161. >Sweetie bit her lip and she seemed to stare at everything in the kitchen that wasn't Rarity.
  2162. >"Dear whatever is it that has you in such a state?"
  2163. "I..."
  2164. >"Yes...?"
  2165. "I'msortadatingsomeone," Sweetie muttered.
  2166. >"Oh, darling! I'm so happy for you!" Rarity squealed, a great grin on her face, "What's his name then?"
  2167. "That's kinda the problem."
  2168. >Sweetie pushed her oatmeal away in disgust as she flopped back into her chair.
  2169. >"Sorry, I'm not quite following."
  2170. "It's not a guy."
  2171. >Rarity was stunned into silence for a moment, but she quickly gathered her composure.
  2172. >"I-I see. I had not anticipated that."
  2173. "You mean you're not weirded out?"
  2174. >Rarity scoffed, "Darling if I reject someone simply because they were a woman, how could the world truly appreciate how fabulous I am?"
  2175. "...That makes sense, in a you-ish kind of way."
  2176. >"I shall take that as a compliment. So. What's her name? Oooh~ do I know her? It's one of your little friends, right? Oh it must be Applebloom~ You two would be so cute together~" Rarity crowed.
  2177. "N-not quite."
  2178. >"Scootaloo, then? I've heard from Rainbow she's quite the athlete, despite her... Issues."
  2179. "AB and Scoots are just friends. I didn't tell them before you cause I didn't want things to be weird," Sweetie admitted.
  2180. >"I see. I'll try not to be too offended by that."
  2181. "Sorry."
  2182. >"No no," Rarity said dryly, "I shall simply have to live with knowing my sister trusts her friends over her very own flesh and blood. See if you get a Hearth's Warming this year."
  2183. >Sweetie winced.
  2184. "It's not really who you'd expect. I'm still kinda weirded out by it."
  2185. >"Who is it then?" Rarity lifted her mug of coffee to her lips and took a long, smooth draw.
  2186. >It was starting to get cold and the odd taste made her face twist.
  2187. "It's..."
  2188. >"Out with it then!"
  2189. "I'm dating Diamond Tiara!"
  2190. >Rarity spit the coffee in her mouth over Mayor Mare's face as she began to cough.
  2191. >It took her several moments to compose herself as she pounded herself on her chest to clear her airways.
  2192. >After a minute of painful-sounded hacking, Rarity was right again.
  2193. >"Excuse me?"
  2194. "Diamond Tiara. We started dating before I left to go to Mom and Dad's."
  2195. >"How is that possible?"
  2196. >Rarity's cheek was in her hand, her face a mask of shock.
  2197. "I mean it's not that unexpected," Sweetie replied, "She was kinda my only other really good friend besides AB and Scoots. And she's hot."
  2198. >"I mean, Sweetie Bell, how is possible that you are dating Diamond Tiara, when I am dating her?"
  2199. >Sweetie Belle's jaw hung loose in her mouth.
  2200. "B-but you're so old!"
  2201. >"Ex-cuh-use me?!"
  2202. "I mean, so much older! You're much older than her!"
  2203. >Rarity coughed into her hand as she tried to hide her blush.
  2204. >"Darling I'm only three years older than you."
  2205. "Nuh uh! You're like twenty-seven!"
  2206. >"A lady does not speak of her age, but I can assure you I am no old crone..." Rarity's face gained a lewd smile, "And neither is Diamond Tiara, I can assure you..."
  2207. "Ugh! You ruin everything!"
  2208. >"Oh don't be so dramatic! We can share!" Rarity shouted after her as Sweetie stomped up the stairs to her room.
  2209. "UGH!"
  2211. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2213. "Hey! Watch it, asshole!"
  2214. >"What the fuck did you say?"
  2215. >Spitfire flushed, and she raised her hands up to placate the woman towering over her.
  2216. >When the woman- if the towering behemoth could be considered a woman- had almost thrown her over the railing of the stadium by bumping into her, she had hardly been expecting...
  2217. >Well, an amazon.
  2218. "W-woah, it's all cool bro..."
  2219. >The woman flipped her white, purple-striped hair back and sneered.
  2220. >"That's what I fuckin' thought," she spat, "Watch your ass, shorty."
  2221. >Spitfire saw red and her face screwed up into a snarl.
  2222. "Watch my ass?" Spitfire shouted as the crowd around them roared.
  2223. "What about your fat ass? You almost knocked me over the railing!"
  2224. >"And I'll fuckin' throw you over the railing if you keep being annoying, pipsqueak!"
  2225. "PIPSQUEAK?!"
  2226. >Spitfire's teeth began to gnash in her mouth and her fists balled up at her side.
  2227. >She jabbed a finger at the amazon, "I'd like to see you try you- you-"
  2228. >The woman grabbed her finger and twisted it sharply.
  2229. >Spitfire's eyes teared up, but she gritted her teeth and swung as hard as she could with her right hand.
  2230. >The woman's head snapped to the side, her face a mask of shock, and Spitfire felt vindicated.
  2231. >The woman took a second to orient herself, but as soon as she did Spitfire felt the blood drain from her face.
  2232. >"You should've kept hitting me, fuck-face," The woman spat as she gripped Spitfire by the collar and hoisted her up.
  2233. >Spitfire took her advice as they ended up in a brawl, throwing fists and slamming a path through the crowd.
  2234. >...
  2236. ***
  2238. >"If I catch you two morons back here I'll call the cops!"
  2239. >The manager of the arena spat just a foot from where Spitfire's dizzy body was laid out.
  2240. >The security, after breaking up their fight, had been non too gentle in throwing them out.
  2241. >Literally.
  2242. >Spitfire's entire body felt like one big bruise, and she was certain at least three of her fingers were broken.
  2243. >Yet, as the woman next to her held her face and groaned, she knew she gave as good as she got.
  2244. >The woman had the size and stamina to keep going and Spitfire felt herself being lifted from the concrete.
  2245. >Her glasses slipped from her face and the remaining lens shattered on the harsh concrete.
  2246. "Ready for r-round two?"
  2247. >Spitfire was gripping the woman's wrists as she spat a glob of coppery blood onto the woman's cheek.
  2248. >The woman looked surprised.
  2249. >"Usually the dweebs I kick the crap out of don't get back up."
  2250. >She dropped Spitfire to the ground, and almost immediately she crumpled to the floor.
  2251. >It took her a moment to orient herself and stagger to her feet, but she raised her fists and prepared when her legs finally stopped shaking under her.
  2252. "Come on you fat fuck!"
  2253. >The woman snorted.
  2254. >"There's being brave and there's being stupid, and I need a drink."
  2255. >Spitfire relaxed and wiped some of the blood from her mouth, and spat out the rest.
  2256. >"What's your name?"
  2257. "Spitfire."
  2258. >"Gilda."
  2259. >Gilda's arm came around Spitfire's shoulder and crushed her to the amazon's side.
  2260. >"Come on, I kicked your ass fair and square, you owe me a drink."
  2261. >Spitfire felt like she was in a bizarro world, and that Gilda was at the very center of it all.
  2262. >Getting a drink didn't sound like a bad idea, though...
  2263. "Fine. But if you call me short again I'll stab you."
  2264. >Gilda roared with laughter.
  2265. "So who are you exactly?"
  2266. >"Gilda."
  2267. "No shit. I mean why were you at a local soccer league match? Doesn't seem your style."
  2268. >Spitfire drained her drink and relished the warm buzz that settled in her mind.
  2269. >It really helped with the soreness.
  2270. >"Nah, it's not usually," Gilda said as she polished off another bottle of beer.
  2271. >She slid it over to the others, and Spitfire eyed it nervously.
  2272. >Gilda didn't even seem tipsy, and if she was serious about paying for her...
  2273. >Spitfire shuddered at the implication to her wallet.
  2274. >"Just went to watch a friend. Sort of a friend."
  2275. "Who?"
  2276. >"Probably don't know her. Rainbow Dash, she's the one with the weird rainbow hair."
  2277. "Don't know her? Shit I hope I do, I'm her NCO."
  2278. >"Really?"
  2279. >Gilda took a long swig of the new bottle the bartender placed in front of her, her oddly golden eyes lingering on Spitfire.
  2280. >"Is she. Er, has she been okay?"
  2281. >Gilda looked away as a blush crept up her cheeks.
  2282. >Spitfire crowed, "So the big bad tough chick that kicked my ass has a crush on Crash? Cute."
  2283. >"Shut up before I throw you through that window."
  2284. >The usual heat that Spitfire had come to know from Gilda was gone, replaced with bashful embarrassment.
  2285. >Oh, this was going to be so fun.
  2286. >Spitfire took a long pull from her own drink, and the steady buzz she had been working on returned, and the throbbing soreness that lingered in her muscles dulled.
  2287. >Just in case Gilda decided to make good on her threat.
  2288. >Spitfire chuckled.
  2289. "Yeah, she's doing alright. She's mentioned you a couple of times."
  2290. >"Really?! I- I mean. Really? What a lame-o."
  2291. >Spitfire smirked smugly at Gilda's glowing blush.
  2292. "Oh yeah. Heard her going to town on herself in the racks for days, *Gilda, oh Gilda~*."
  2293. >"W-what? N-no way!"
  2294. "Of course not dumb ass."
  2295. >Gilda scowled at her smirk.
  2296. "So you two were together?"
  2297. >"Yeah." Gilda took a drink and her face twisted into a grimace, "Once upon a time."
  2298. "Crash fuck it up?"
  2299. >"I wish. If she did I wouldn't be going to her games whenever she's in town."
  2300. >Spitfire elbowed her.
  2301. "Don't be a bitch, just man up and talk to her."
  2302. >"It's not that easy."
  2303. >Spitfire shuddered as another long swallow of her drink made her brain go fuzzy for a moment.
  2304. "It is, promise. Here I'll show you-"
  2305. >Spitfire took out her phone.
  2306. >"What are you doing?" Gilda asked wearily.
  2307. "Calling Dash, game ended thirty minutes ago."
  2308. >"Wait!"
  2309. >Gilda tried to reach for her phone but Spitfire leaned way back in her chair, until she was almost touching the floor.
  2310. >By the time she got up to do something Spitfire's smug smirk devolved into her speaking.
  2311. >And Rainbow Dash's familiar voice to echo from the phone.
  2312. >Gilda stopped short and sat down heavily on the chair, a long sigh escaping her.
  2313. "Hey Crash, get your ass over to that bar on Silver street. Got someone here I think you know."
  2314. >Gilda waved for another round, her shoulders hunching and her jaw setting firmly.
  2315. >A few dozen more drinks should put her in the right mind state for this.
  2316. "Yeah. Chick named Gilda. Oh you know her? Sweet. Come on over."
  2317. >Spitfire slid the phone into her pocket and leaned up against the bar, her smirk, self-satisfied smirk never leaving her face.
  2318. >"So?"
  2319. "She's coming by. Said she missed you."
  2320. >Gilda grimaced, "Are you fuckin' with me again?"
  2321. "Nah, not this time."
  2322. >"Why would she miss me?"
  2323. "Cause even though you probably broke my fingers on that hard head she's still kind of into you?"
  2324. >"That doesn't make any sense."
  2325. >Spitfire chuckled and patted Gilda on the back.
  2326. "Tell her that."
  2327. >"...Hey, Gil."
  2328. >Gilda spun on her bar stool, her empty bottle slipping from her grip and bouncing on the floor.
  2329. >"D-Dash. I didn't really... I..."
  2330. >Dash shrugged, "It's in the past Gil. You up for another round, or are you pussyin' out on me already? Gilda I know has at least a six pack left in her!"
  2331. >Gilda's jaw set, "You still think you can out-drink me?"
  2332. >"Not anymore, that beer-belly's got me beat!"
  2333. >"You are so on, dork! Gimme another round!" Gilda roared.
  2334. >"I want some of what she's having!" Rainbow shouted.
  2336. ***
  2338. "I'll take care of their tab," Spitfire mumbled drunkenly, "Jus' put it on my card."
  2339. >"You sure? They're going pretty hard."
  2340. >Spitfire blanched when she saw the small mountain of liquor they were consuming, but she waved it off.
  2341. "Yeah, yeah. Young love 'n all. Say, you gotta name?"
  2342. >"Berry Punch."
  2343. "That's real pretty."
  2344. >Berry laughed as she began to wipe out a mug.
  2345. "Speakin' of young love, what's a young lady like yerself doin' all alone?"
  2346. >"...I own the bar."
  2347. >Spitfire laughed and leaned on the counter.
  2348. >She surreptitiously glanced down into Berry's plunging shirt, and back up into her smirking face with amused, purple eyes.
  2349. >"Usually the people that hit on me are men, I'm a little flattered."
  2350. "Flattered enough to give me your number before I pass out?"
  2351. >Berry eyed her up and down, and her smirk grew a little more.
  2352. >"Maybe."
  2353. "Maybe? What's maybe mean? Berry-!"
  2354. >Spitfire stumbled after the laughing barmaid as she pranced away.
  2356. ***
  2358. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2360. “It’s not too salty is it?”
  2361. >”No.”
  2362. “Too cold?”
  2363. >”No.”
  2364. “Too-”
  2365. >”No.”
  2366. >Then why aren’t you eating it?
  2367. >Lyra bit her tongue and clenched her jaw to keep the words from escaping her lips.
  2368. >Her hand felt cramped with how hard she was holding her spoon, the small pool of broth ladled into it dripped back into the bowl.
  2369. “Not hungry?”
  2370. >”No.”
  2371. >You’re lying.
  2372. >Lyra kept herself in check as her leg bounced anxiously under the table, her amber eyes locked onto Bonbon.
  2373. >Lyra wanted to scream, to flip the table and shove food down Bonbon’s throat, but that wouldn’t do anyone any good.
  2374. >She closed her eyes for a moment and sucked in a slow, deep breath, and her mind eased.
  2375. >No, no, pushing Bonbon too much was one of the many failures she had in life.
  2376. “Well maybe if you tried a little more of it you’d like it? I spent all day making it.”
  2377. >Lyra watched Bonbon stare into her bowl of thin broth, her amber eyes catching Bonbon’s grimace.
  2378. >”I’m sorry, I just can’t… I’m sorry.”
  2379. “No, no, no!” Lyra shouted, “No, don’t be sorry. Just try a little. See? It’s good.”
  2380. >Lyra grinned widely as she spooned the broth into her mouth, humming contentedly and patting her stomach.
  2381. “Really, really good. I know you like sweets, but this is so much better for you-”
  2382. >”Don’t treat me like a child!” Bonbon snapped, slamming her spoon down onto the table and rising with a snarl.
  2383. >Bonbon deflated immediately and slumped back into her chair, hugging herself around the waist.
  2384. >Her darkly-rimmed eyes shut for a moment and she seemed to doze lightly, before she snapped back into wakefulness.
  2385. >Lyra rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand.
  2386. “I’m sorry. Just two spoonfuls and I’ll stop pressing you.”
  2387. >Bonbon took a long moment to respond, rocking back and forth in her chair with her eyes shut, as if she was either about to fall asleep or simply fall of her chair.
  2388. >Lyra wasn’t sure which was more likely.
  2389. >She groggily opened her eyes, though, and reached for the spoon.
  2390. >With a grimace Bonbon managed two full spoons and nearly threw the spoon away from herself.
  2391. >”I’m sorry, I’m just not hungry.”
  2392. >Lyra sighed and stood up, she wasn’t feeling very hungry herself.
  2393. >She gathered the two bowls and dumped them down the drain.
  2394. >She left them in the sink and walked back to Bonbon, resting a hand on her shoulder.
  2395. >Bonbon flinched at the contact, and Lyra pulled her hand away.
  2396. >Sometimes she still forgot.
  2397. “How about we just go to bed then? Maybe sleep for a couple hours. You’ll be a little hungrier in the morning, and then I can warm something up for you.”
  2398. >”You don’t have to baby me,” Bonbon spat, but her usual fire wasn’t behind it.
  2399. >She gratefully accepted Lyra’s help standing up and leaned heavily on her as Lyra walked her to their bedroom.
  2400. >It was lit up just enough to help Bonbon, to keep the dark at bay, and the bed was facing away from the window and door.
  2401. >Lyra settled Bonbon onto the bed and helped her pull her slippers off, then she lifted her legs onto the bed.
  2402. >Bonbon shifted so she was against the wall and hugged her knees to her chest, her weary, blood-shot eyes staring blankly into nothing as her skeletal figure shuddered.
  2403. >Lyra stripped off her shirt and shorts and crawled into bed after her.
  2404. >Bonbon sagged gratefully into her arms when Lyra hugged her tight, her own bony limbs coming around to circle her waist and her head tucking into her neck.
  2405. >Bonbon shuddered again as she shut her eyes and wound herself tight around Lyra, as if she would disappear at any moment.
  2406. “Goodnight, Bon,” Lyra whispered softly, her hand streaking through Bonbon’s close-cropped hair.
  2407. >Bonbon nodded her head and hugged Lyra tighter.
  2408. >Lyra could feel Bonbon’s body shudder and a grimace twist her face as she fell into a fitful sleep.
  2409. >Lyra couldn’t do anything but try and comfort her as her mind forced her to relive the life she tried to leave behind.
  2410. >Special Agent Sweetie Drops.
  2411. >Bonbon whimpered, as if she heard Lyra’s thoughts.
  2412. >Lyra settled in for another restless night as she pressed a kiss to Bonbon’s head.
  2414. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2416. "Oi, Barkeep! Gimme another coldie ya roight todja!"
  2417. >"Are you speakin' english lady?"
  2418. "Am I-? 'course I'm speakin' english ya dozey mongrel. Gimme a beer ya roight bludger."
  2419. >The bartender looked like he wasn't certain whether to be offended or not, but, after muttering under his breath, he slid a beer down the length of the table to her.
  2420. >She caught it with deft hands, as if the feeling of the world shaking under her and the rush of blood to her head didn't even exist.
  2421. "Thanks, mate!"
  2422. >The bartender shuffled away to the opposite end of the bar as Rolling cracked the bottle open and quickly downed half the contents.
  2423. >"Could you drink any more loudly?"
  2424. >Rolling looked blearily over to the woman next to her.
  2425. >It took her a long moment a lot of eye-squinting before she swam into focus.
  2426. "Blimey, yer a real look'a ain'tcha?"
  2427. >"Excuse me?"
  2428. >She turned so her well made-up face and long, dusky eyelashes were in almost-clear view of Rolling.
  2429. "I said yer a real fine lookin' sheila. A roight wallaby. All roight in the rain, catch my lingo?"
  2430. >"...No."
  2431. >Rolling laughed and slung an arm around the woman's shoulder, much to her vocal displeasure.
  2432. "S'alright mate. Jus' takin' the piss."
  2433. >"You're doing- what?!"
  2434. >The woman nearly spun out of her bar stool, but Rolling roared with laughter and grabbed her tighter instead.
  2435. "Takin' the piss, ya know? Havin' a go? A roight laff? Yer a riot, ya know?"
  2436. >"And you're an idiot!"
  2437. >The woman finally shoved Rolling off her and let her head sink into her hands against the stained wood of the bar.
  2438. >Rolling blinked her eyes rapidly and shook her head for a second, before fixing her gaze on the woman.
  2439. "Oi, oi, you alright lovey?"
  2440. >"What's it to you?"
  2441. "What's it ta-? Alright, alright, sorry. Jus' havin' a good time at the ol' waterin' hole after how much've a devo today's been."
  2442. >The woman sighed as she slid her hands down her face and picked up her still mostly-full glass of liquor.
  2443. >It was gone in a flash and with a grimace she slammed the now-empty glass to the bar.
  2444. >"Today's just been pretty shit."
  2445. "Gathered that."
  2446. >Rolling sighed as she slumped in her chair and took another long swallow of her beer.
  2447. >"Lost my partner, lost to this trumped up- two-faced- horse's-assed- Ugh!"
  2448. >The woman was gnashing her teeth as her cheeks grew red.
  2449. "Some cunt gotcher craw in a twist? Didja punch her loights out?"
  2450. >"Somehow the more drunk I get the more I understand you..."
  2451. "That sound's about roight."
  2452. >The woman waved the bartender over and he quickly refilled her glass.
  2453. >"The worst part is, is that Coco ratted me out. Bitch."
  2454. "Yer mate?"
  2455. >"I... Sure?"
  2456. "Yeah, I getcha. Cunt that was supposed to be my leader 'n' all went and skipped off-the-pond. Left the whole team hangin' like a bunch'a drongos."
  2457. >"Shit day, huh?"
  2458. >Rolling nodded and waved the bartender down for another beer.
  2459. "A real dunny of a day."
  2460. >They both commiserated in silence for a few moments longer, sipping their drinks and wallowing.
  2461. >It felt good, though, to the both of them, to be wallowing next to someone.
  2462. "What's ya name, beauty?"
  2463. >"Suri Polomare. Heard of me?"
  2464. "Only if'n ya've heard of Rolling Thunder, greatest Aussie stunt-man this side of the roight-side-up part'a the planet."
  2465. >"Can't say I have."
  2466. "I'll drink to that."
  2467. >Suri laughed behind her hand.
  2468. >Rolling nearly spit out her drink at the sound, but she kept her cool even as she felt a blush rise up her cheeks.
  2469. "Sheesh, it's gettin' to be a roight blazer in here. Care for a ciggy?"
  2470. >"I'll pretend to know what the question you just asked me meant."
  2471. "Oi! I'm 'n' Aussie, not a britbong, I still speak english!"
  2472. >Suri laughed again, and Rolling felt her cheeks heat up further.
  2473. >She really liked that laugh.
  2474. "So? How's about a fag?"
  2475. >Suri looked at her from under her purple fringe, a thin smirk on her face as Rolling pulled out a pack of cigarettes.
  2476. >"I suppose."
  2477. "Beauty!" Rolling said before turning towards the other end of the bar, "OI BARKEEP! WE'LL BE OUT THE PORTHOLE FOR A TOUCH, BUT WE'LL BE ROIGHT BACK!"
  2478. >The bartender shot a dirty look that hit her square in the back of the head as she led Suri out into the chilly evening air.
  2479. "Needa light?"
  2480. >Suri nodded and she took a few starting puffs.
  2481. >The lines on her tensed face relaxed as she breathed in the smoke and blew it out to curl lovingly into the night air.
  2482. "It's a nice country ya yanks got here. Not as nice as 'straya, 'course, but nice."
  2483. >"I'll assume that was your way of saying something nice, even if you sound like you're the missing link in evolution that separates us from Baboons."
  2484. "What's that?"
  2485. >"Nothing, nothing."
  2486. >Suri had that fierce, fiery smirk on her face again that sent another wave of warmth through Rolling Thunder.
  2487. >Rolling raised the cigarette to her lips, but Suri plucked it away with quick fingers as she flicked her own now used butt away.
  2488. "Oi! Getcher own!"
  2489. >Suri took another long drag from Rolling's cigarette and blew it out with a mischievous grin on her face.
  2490. >Her eyes were poking out from under her purple fringe as she wound a hand around Rolling's collar.
  2491. "Watch yer hands ya blimey..."
  2492. >She stopped short as Suri's lips ghosted against her own.
  2493. >"Fuck the tab, today's been the absolute worst and I wanna work out some frustration. Help me out?"
  2494. >Rolling blinked dumbly for a moment.
  2495. "Bloody hell."
  2496. >Suri tugged on Rolling's collar as she began to walk away.
  2497. >"I'll take that as a yes."
  2499. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2501. >Sunset hid her smile behind her hand as Indigo's confident, flirtatious grin made her chest fill with fluttering butterflies and her heart race.
  2502. >Her eyes slid from Indigo to the door for a moment as a rainbow-haired girl strode in followed by the jingle of a bell, all smiles and empty-headed charisma.
  2503. >She exuded exuberance and strutted into the small diner, a boisterous hello dying on her lips as her maroon eyes strayed from Sunset to Indigo, and then to their hands that were still laced together.
  2504. >"Sunset?"
  2505. >Sunset's smile brightened as she waved Rainbow over, but the confident and radiant excitement seemed to dull into a tensed jaw and stiff posture.
  2506. >Rainbow seemed to jerk forward rather than strut, like every step was painful as she came closer and closer to the table.
  2507. "Hey Dash! Didn't expect to see you here."
  2508. >"Er, yeah. Pinkie texted me and let me know you were here. I had a day off from practice so I thought I'd stop by..."
  2509. >Indigo's smile seemed to tense as she turned to look at Rainbow, before a broad grin split her face.
  2510. >"Rainbow Dash? Damn, haven't seen you in forever. Not since me and the girls creamed you guys in the quarter-finals last season."
  2511. >A muscle tightly wound in her jaw twitched.
  2512. >"Maybe if you weren't taking a day off that wouldn't really be a problem, huh?"
  2513. >Rainbow's face began to grow red, and something clicked in Sunset's head.
  2514. >Indigo's name really seemed familiar now, and she couldn't count the number of times Rainbow had raged after losing a game to Crystal Prep, and Indigo's name seemed especially venom-filled.
  2515. >She dropped her head in her hand and sighed.
  2516. >"I guess I'll see you around, Sunset."
  2517. "Rainbow, wait-"
  2518. >Rainbow had spun on her heel already and was halfway to marching out the door, her body bristling like a cat's.
  2519. >Indigo's smug voice stopped her dead in her tracks.
  2520. >"So that's the one you were talkin' about when you said one of your friends was an idiot. Makes sense."
  2521. >Rainbow spun on her heel, her face bright red and her hands balled into fists at her side.
  2522. >A vein throbbed in her forehead as she regarded Indigo for a long moment, before turning to Sunset.
  2523. >Sunset winced when the visible feeling of pain on Rainbow's face was clear.
  2524. >Her eyes were tearing up and she seemed at a loss for words.
  2525. >Rainbow's jaw worked up and down and her mouth opened and closed as she sucked in a sharp, deep breath.
  2526. >Her voice was thick and heavy as she stared at Sunset.
  2527. >Sunset shrunk in her seat as every eye seemed to be turned towards the two of them.
  2528. >The entire diner seemed to hold their collective breaths as a bubble seemed to form over the crowd.
  2529. >Rainbow finally spoke and Sunset's heart clenched.
  2530. >"I thought you changed."
  2531. >She stormed from the diner as soon as the bubble burst, and a host of whispers trailed after her.
  2532. "Rainbow! Wait!"
  2533. >Sunset scrambled to grab her bag and chase after the rainbow haired girl.
  2534. >She shot an acidic look at Indigo.
  2535. "Nice going, asshole."
  2536. >In a flash of red and yellow hair she was gone.
  2537. >Indigo blew out a breath and leaned back in the booth.
  2539. ***
  2541. "Quite a commotion you stirred up."
  2542. >"Who the hell are you?"
  2543. >Indigo eyed her warily.
  2544. >Her mischievous grin wasn't offset in the slightest by her greasy, slicked-back electric yellow hair.
  2545. "Lightning Dust."
  2546. >She leaned over the booth she had slid into and offered her hand to Indigo, who took it uneasily.
  2547. "You're Indigo Zap, right? Hottest MVP of last season? Scholarships out the ass?"
  2548. >Indigo smirked, "So you're a fan?"
  2549. "Isn't everyone?"
  2550. >"They should be."
  2551. >Lightning gave her an oily smile and a slick laugh.
  2552. "What do you say we get out of here? I've got a new bottle of gin at my place..."
  2553. >Indigo looked around the diner, and at the pink-haired girl that was sending her daggers as she poorly hid behind the display counter.
  2554. >"A drink sounds pretty good after all that."
  2555. >Lightning's smile stretched a little wider as she stood up from the booth and adjusted her thick leather coat.
  2556. "Come on then."
  2557. >She grabbed Indigo's hand and pulled her forward.
  2558. >"What about the tab-?"
  2559. "Already took care of it," Lightning said dismissively as they disappeared out the door.
  2560. >Indigo was nearly marched to Lightning's bike as the woman jammed her keys into the ignition and slid the goggles on her head over her eyes.
  2561. "Hang on."
  2562. >"Hey, wait- Woah!"
  2563. >Indigo gripped Lightning's waist tight as the crotch rocket under them jumped forward.
  2564. >Indigo was certain that at any moment the bike that rattled like an angry snake under them would simply jump forward too fast, and leave the pair of them behind.
  2566. ***
  2568. >Thankfully it never did and in a moment Lightning had stopped just outside of an apartment complex.
  2569. >Indigo looked around as the complex swam into view.
  2570. >Lightning had already grabbed her by the hand and was leading her onward, deeper into the cracked pavement and pealing walls and dingy, grimy hallways that formed a labyrinth.
  2571. >Lightning jiggled her keys in her doorway and forced the door open, into a small, cramped apartment.
  2572. >Indigo took a step inside, her nose crinkling as the tale-tell scent of alcohol and sweat stung at her nose.
  2573. "Make yourself at home, take your shoes off, whatever."
  2574. >Lightning strode into her apartment and slid her jacket off her shoulders and let it drop into an old couch, which apart from a big box T.V. on a stand was the only furniture in the room.
  2575. >Indigo kept her shoes on as she took a hesitant step into the apartment and let the door shut behind her.
  2576. >"Isn't this a little fast, dude?"
  2577. >Lightning's back was to her as she rummaged around the kitchen, pulling out several bottles that looked like the cleanest thing in her apartment.
  2578. "You want a drink or not?"
  2579. >Lightning had finally gotten the bottle she was looking for and poured two large glasses full of clear liquid.
  2580. >Indigo accepted it hesitantly as Lightning collapsed on the couch.
  2581. >She stood awkwardly and looked around for another place to sit, anywhere not occupied by Lightning or her jacket.
  2582. "You just gonna stand there?"
  2583. >Lightning took a long swallow of her own glass and grimaced at the taste, but otherwise said nothing as she began to click through channels on her T.V.
  2584. >"Sorry."
  2585. >Indigo finally settled on relaxing onto the jacket that covered most of the seat, and she was a little thankful for the barrier between her and the fabric of the cushions.
  2586. "Chill dude, it's just a drink. You'll have to pay if you want more."
  2587. >Lightning gave Indigo a wink and a sly, easy-going grin that made Indigo relax.
  2588. >She was right, it was just a drink.
  2589. >Indigo's face twisted as the foul liquor torched her throat.
  2590. >She nearly spit it out, and almost did so all over Lightning as the woman laughed at her reaction.
  2591. >"T-that's... Gin...?"
  2592. >Lightning shrugged, "Nah, it's something a little stronger. Just had a hell of a day and thought we could both use it."
  2593. >"You're not wrong, just a little too forward."
  2594. "Says the one that called the girl she was on a date with's friend a moron in front a crowd."
  2595. >"Rainbow Dash is a moron," Indigo snapped, "And she's said some pretty awful things to me before."
  2596. >Lightning raised her hands in mock surrender as she took another deep swallow.
  2597. "Nah nah, you misunderstand. I wasn't saying that what you said wasn't true, 'cause it is, just not really the right time for it. It was pretty funny to see her face, though."
  2598. >Indigo laughed, "Yeah it was. God I thought she was gonna punch me."
  2599. "That would've been a sight to see. Shame if she would've hurt that pretty face of yours."
  2600. >Indigo snickered as her head grew fuzzy.
  2601. >Only a single swallow of that impossibly strong liquor was already putting her at a healthy buzz.
  2602. >She rose the glass to her lips and hesitated as she tried to coax herself into taking another drink.
  2603. >The glass held firm an inch from her lips as the acrid, burning smell of liquor stung at her nose and made her cringe away from it.
  2604. >"H-hey!"
  2605. >In a flash Lightning snatched her glass away and had taken another long swallow, a smug grin on her face.
  2606. "Snooze ya lose, loser."
  2607. >"You finished yours? God I'm already buzzed and I barely sipped mine!"
  2608. >Lightning sighed as she took another deep swallow.
  2609. "Just used to it I guess."
  2610. >Indigo could tell she was getting buzzed, the way she slurred her words and her dull eyes became hidden halfway by her eyelids.
  2611. >Indigo snatched the glass from her limp grip and took a large swallow, and regretted it almost immediately.
  2612. >The liquor felt like pouring acid down her throat and nearly made her throw it back up, but she kept it down with a tensed jaw.
  2613. >It felt like a stone in her stomach but she ignored it as her head grew fuzzier and fuzzier.
  2614. >"So I can, like, stay the night right?" Indigo muttered as she set her glass down on the floor, "We aren't good to drive 'n all."
  2615. "Sure," Lightning slurred as she stared to the still ceiling fan above her with half-lidded eyes.
  2616. >"Cool."
  2617. >Indigo slumped back into her seat as the liquor blanked her mind.
  2618. >The front of her forehead felt hot and her thoughts grew slurred together as the undeniable feeling of drunkenness settled over her like a dead weight.
  2619. "Today sucked."
  2620. >"Yeah."
  2621. "You and the redhead done for?"
  2622. >"Never really started. Calling Dash an idiot was worth it, though."
  2623. >Lightning snorted.
  2624. "I can respect that. She is an idiot."
  2625. >"Yeah. What about you?"
  2626. "Tch. Girl I've been seeing cheated on me and the bitch couldn't even tell me in person."
  2627. >"Damn."
  2628. "Yeah. Her bitch brother Zepo, or Zepee. Zephy? Z-something like that. Fucking twink."
  2629. >"That's rough."
  2630. >Lightning shrugged.
  2631. "Life happens. Got my pound of flesh from that bitch's brother, though."
  2632. >"Yeah?"
  2633. "Yeah. Left him with the bill. Both of ours."
  2634. >Indigo snorted, clapping her hands over her face as she tried to stifle her laughter.
  2635. >"That's pretty funny."
  2636. >Lightning eyed Indigo out of the corner of her eye as her lips spread into a grin.
  2637. "Yeah, serves that asshole right."
  2638. >She grabbed her remote and stared blearily at the buttons that seemed too restless to stay still enough for her to read them.
  2639. >Lightning blinked hard and narrowed her eyes.
  2640. >She finally found the right button and began to mindlessly flick through channels once more.
  2641. >"I kinda liked Sunset though."
  2642. "Redhead?"
  2643. >"Yeah. She was sweet. Like, nice, and stuff. And hot."
  2644. >Lightning nodded and ran a hand through her hair.
  2645. >She hesitated when she began to speak.
  2646. "I miss my girl. I haven't seen her in a couple weeks."
  2647. >"What happened?"
  2648. "Dunno. One minute we were good, then the next I'm learning she's all over some other chick and her brother is telling me she's done with me."
  2649. >"That sucks."
  2650. >Lightning shrugged, "I guess."
  2651. >"Nah, it does, you know? It hurts. Sometimes you gotta let yourself be hurt to make yourself feel happy again, or something."
  2652. >Lightning snorted.
  2653. "You're drunk."
  2654. >Indigo yawned widely and curled up next to Lightning.
  2655. >"Whose fault is that?"
  2656. >The couch they were on was small, and in a moment Indigo's head was resting in Lightning's lap.
  2657. >Lightning absently ran a hand through her soft, blue hair as they both stared absently at the T.V., both contemplative.
  2659. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2661. >The pounding of a drum filled her ears, drumming alongside the slamming of her heart in her chest and the rush of the blood in her veins.
  2662. >A pale shaft of moonlight flickered through the small, dusty window, a thick curtain of incense flickering the soft, white light.
  2663. >Columns of pale smoke drifted to the roof of the dank, damp cellar, the illumination of candles surrounding a hand-drawn, white pentagram.
  2664. >The only sounds in the small room were her rhythmic chanting in a foreign, primal language.
  2665. >The voices that echoed around her felt far-off and distant, like they weren't even in the room as she felt a great, swelling feeling of power filling her chest and coursing through her veins.
  2666. >She stopped as she raised a bowl of viscous black liquid to the ceiling and drained it in one fell swoop.
  2667. >It burned on the way down and settled inside her like a solid brick, but the undeniable feeling of power intensified as the candles flickered and roared to life.
  2668. >Her chanting grew louder as the voices from beyond echoed her every word, a pair of dark shapes forming.
  2669. >A great black mass with twisting, devilish horns and piercing yellow eyes was to her left.
  2670. >To her right a womanly figure draped in pitch blackness, white fangs flickering in an unseen light and a great horn sprouting from her head gleamed with a vile green light.
  2671. >Their words were growing clearer, clearer, clearer.
  2672. >Evoking a primal sense of urgency that made her want to run and hide from such vile beings.
  2673. >Yet the growing sense of pride and utter desire to attain such dark power drew her forwards.
  2674. >It was right on the tips of her fingers...
  2675. >So utterly closer as their voices, one gruff and one haughty and high-mannered, became almost clear and heavy enough to touch...
  2676. >"Uh, Cozy?"
  2677. >The ritual fell apart and the magic buzzing at her finger tips and rattling her teeth dissipated in an instance as light flooded from the ceiling's single bulb.
  2678. "Twist! I told you not to interrupt us!"
  2679. >Twist blushed and rubbed the back of her curly red hair.
  2680. >"Sorry, I was just wondering if you and your friends want some snacks?"
  2681. "No, Twist!"
  2682. >"Now, now..."
  2683. >The haughty voice from earlier spoke with a thinly veiled eagerness as she leaned across the table, licking her acid-green lips as she pulled her hood down.
  2684. >"Don't be so hasty, Glowie..."
  2685. >"I agree," the man stated in a loud, gruff voice as he slammed his hands on the table.
  2686. >Cozy shot him an venomous look as she carefully rearranged the pieces that he had rattled off the table.
  2687. >"These games of yours are tiring, and I'm getting hungry."
  2688. >The man loomed over her with a gleam in his eye.
  2689. >"And you would not want me to feast on you, do you, little mortal?"
  2690. "Cut the shit Tirek, we're taking a break."
  2691. >"Snacks, then?" The haughty voice seemed to take a teasing lilt to it as Cozy turned to the other woman in the room.
  2692. "Sure, Chrys. Thanks Twistie."
  2693. >Twist beamed as she practically hopped down the stairs and laid a great platter on the middle of their table.
  2694. >In a flash Tirek had scarfed down half the plate as Chrysalis snuck more than a few peppermint cookies with a quick swipe of her hand.
  2695. "H-hey! My girlfriend made them, I get first dibs!"
  2696. >"On the contrary, you have access to these delectable morsels any time, us however..."
  2697. >"I agree with the bug!"
  2698. >Tirek was happily munching on the cookies with a contended smile on his face.
  2699. >"Twice in one night? What a rare treat, Tirek."
  2700. >"Don't get used to it."
  2701. >Cozy slapped a hand to her face before turning to Twist.
  2702. >She gave the blushing confectioner a kiss on the cheek and a quick hug around the waist.
  2703. "Thanks babe. We're almost done for the night, see you in bed?"
  2704. >Twist kissed her on the cheek and gave her a goofy smile as she turned to the other two sitting at the table.
  2705. >They were still happily munching on her cookies as she addressed them.
  2706. >"Enjoy, if you want more we've got some up stairs. Cozy knows where they are."
  2707. >"Thank you, darling~"
  2708. >"Thanks!"
  2709. >Twist turned back to Cozy and bumped her with a hip, "Try not to stay up too late?"
  2710. "Promise."
  2711. >Twist seemed entirely unconvinced as Cozy blushed.
  2712. >"Have fun."
  2713. "Thanks."
  2714. >Twist left as Cozy turned to the table, a fierce look on her face as she jabbed her finger at the other two.
  2715. "Did you even leave me one you mooches?"
  2716. >Twist chuckled as she closed the door, Chrysalis' voice floating up from down the stairs.
  2717. >"Snooze you lose, darling~"
  2719. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2721. "You're plotting again."
  2722. >Her words were met with a chilly silence but an unmistakably fiery glare.
  2723. >She didn't even need to be turned around to see it.
  2724. >Silver kept reading her book, waiting for Diamond to break the silence.
  2725. >"I'm not plotting. Plotting is for plebeians, Silver."
  2726. >Predictable.
  2727. "Then what do you call what you're doing right now?"
  2728. >Diamond crossed her arms over her chest as she began to a burn a hole through the ceiling of the bottom bunk resting above her.
  2729. >"...Scheming."
  2730. >Silver sighed and left a bookmark in her book as she snapped it closed and spun around in her chair.
  2731. >Diamond was lazily kicking her foot in the air, an indignant expression on her otherwise placid face.
  2732. "What's a synonym for a pleb?"
  2733. >Diamond tilted her head to look at Silver, her brow furrowing in confusion.
  2734. >"Commoner?" She ventured.
  2735. >Silver's lips curled in a smirk.
  2736. >Predictable.
  2737. "You're acting like a commoner, then, since plotting is apparently for plebs."
  2738. >"I am not!"
  2739. "Diamond you've been laying in that bed all day 'scheming' about some randos on campus and you say you're not acting like a plebeian?"
  2740. >"Those three idiots are hardly 'randos' even if they are poor, unfortunately," Diamond muttered.
  2741. "So it's about AB, Scoots, and Sweetie? We just started at college and you're already trying to screw with those three? Why? Haven't we all grown up?"
  2742. >Diamond had rolled over onto her side, now outright glaring at her.
  2743. >"You should be helping me! I thought we were friends!"
  2744. >Silver sighed and adjusted her glasses.
  2745. "Di, you're missing my point..."
  2746. >"What's your point, then?" Diamond spat.
  2747. "I just don't want to be wrapped up in kids stuff anymore. We're better than that, aren't we?"
  2748. >"Kids stuff?"
  2749. >Diamond sounded hurt by that, her voice weak and fragile in a way that only Silver ever heard.
  2750. >Silver knew that, painfully so.
  2751. >She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as she tried to look anywhere but at Diamond.
  2752. "Well, yeah. We should be focused on bigger stuff than them, you know?"
  2753. >Diamond was quiet for a moment and Silver expected an outburst.
  2754. >What she didn't expect was for Diamond to bolt off the bed and grab the door knob to their room.
  2755. >"Thanks for showing me my best friend doesn't even have my back, Silv, I appreciate it."
  2756. >The venom Silver expected was there in droves, but she could hear Diamond's voice warble underneath it all.
  2757. "Wait!"
  2758. >Silver shot up from her seat and grabbed Diamond's wrist to stop her.
  2759. "What's gotten into you? Why are you freaking out so much about this?"
  2760. >Diamond refused to look at her, and Silver could take a guess as to why.
  2761. >Her hand tightened on the doorknob, before releasing and falling limply to her side.
  2762. >Silver kept her grip gentle but firm on her other hand, and Diamond shifted her hand so their fingers were interlocked.
  2763. >Diamond's voice was thick as she started to haltingly speak.
  2764. >"...I saw my SAT score..."
  2765. "Yeah, so? What does that have to do with anything?"
  2766. >"I shouldn't be here Silver."
  2767. >Silver nearly dropped Diamond's hand as she took a step back.
  2768. "What are you talking about? Yours was way higher than mine, wasn't it?"
  2769. >Diamond's shoulders started to shake, her body going rigid.
  2770. >"I got an 850. I was barely in the 10th percentile."
  2771. "A-an 850? But the school almost requires..."
  2772. >"I know what the fucking school requires!" Diamond snapped, ripping her hand away from Silver's grasp.
  2773. >She had turned so she was looking at Tiara, her eyes welling with tears.
  2774. >Diamond dropped her gaze to her feet.
  2775. >"A-and I saw *those three* on our first day."
  2776. >Tiara was surprised with the pure vitriol coming from Diamond's mouth as she glared a hole into the floor.
  2777. "...I- Di..."
  2778. >Silver reached a hand out to her shoulder but Diamond shrugged her off.
  2779. >"I'm only here because of my name, not because I could make it."
  2780. >Diamond sucked in a shuddering breath as she sidled over to her bed and flopped into it.
  2781. >She curled into a tight ball and buried her face into her pillow.
  2782. >"I'm worthless, Silver. Even Scootaloo could make it on her own, and I couldn't, not without all the money my dad gave to this place," her muffled, choked voice said from in the confines of the pillow.
  2783. >Silver was still standing in shock before she snapped out of it.
  2784. "That's- Diamond! How can you say that? You're the smartest, prettiest, girl I know!"
  2785. >Diamond shook her head.
  2786. >"I'm a worthless failure!" She shouted into her pillow, "I couldn't even out-think a country bumpkin!"
  2787. >Silver crossed her arms over her chest and huffed, blowing a loose strand of hair that had come free from her braid out of the way of her face.
  2788. >She mulled over her options as Diamond reduced herself to shivering pathetically on the bed.
  2789. "Diamond Tiara!"
  2790. >Diamond's eye peaked out from the pillow she had wrapped herself around at her surprisingly firm voice.
  2791. "You get up and stop being such a- a- common piece of trash!"
  2792. >Diamond's tear-streaked face lifted from the bed, a mask of rage settling over her.
  2793. >"What. Did. You. Say. Silver. Spoon?"
  2794. >Silver shuddered as Diamond's voice washed over.
  2795. >She kept her spine straight even as it whined for her to buckle.
  2796. >Diamond was worth a bit of anxiety.
  2797. "I said you're acting like one of the Plebeians you go on about! Look at you, crying like a baby!"
  2798. >Diamond's voice was a harsh whip, but barely above a whisper, "I am nothing but a name. How could you possibly even fathom that?"
  2799. >Silver gulped but kept on.
  2800. "Nothing but a name? Who manipulated AB and Sweetie into handing you the Senior President position by pitting them against each other?"
  2801. >"Don't even compare something so childish-"
  2802. "A-and!" Silver ground out, "~Who~ was it that figured out her butler had been stealing from your family's ledgers for years?"
  2803. >"Merely a lucky happenstance," Diamond scoffed.
  2804. >Silver almost cracked a smile as Diamond's anger abated, her face slipping from a sorrowful mess into her trademark haughty demeanor.
  2805. "And just ~who~ was it that managed to be both head of the debate club, future world leader's club, and the valedictorian at our graduation?"
  2806. >"Ah- that was me, I suppose..."
  2807. "Who cares what some silly test says? Besides, I know you Diamond, you're my best friend..."
  2808. >Silver smirked and pushed her glasses up her nose.
  2809. "You probably got so nervous the night before you studied up until an hour before the test started, got there, then fell asleep halfway through."
  2810. >Diamond blushed hotly.
  2811. >"I was too embarrassed to say anything", Diamond muttered, "I couldn't focus on the test at all, and Mother would've..."
  2812. >Diamond trailed off uneasily, and Silver understood immediately.
  2813. >"Father must have guessed, or didn't want to hear Mother complain. That must have been why he donated so much to the school."
  2814. >For the first time in a while, Diamond smiled softly.
  2815. >Diamond finally sat up from where she had been laying down on the bed, her head angled down to hide her smile.
  2816. "Don't get all sad again Diamond, I don't think I have it in me to cheer you up twice in one day," Silver said tiredly.
  2817. >Diamond looked up from where she had been staring into her lap to meet Silver's eye with a menacing look.
  2818. >"I'm not sad, Silvy."
  2819. >Silver wasn't expecting Diamond to dive from the bed in a flash to tackle her to the floor, an angry snarl on her face.
  2820. >"I'm angry."
  2821. >Diamond's face was an inch from hers, her clear blue eyes dancing with amusement as she pinned her arms to the floor.
  2822. "W-was it for calling you commoner trash?"
  2823. >"What do you think, Silver Spoon?"
  2824. >Silver cringed at the gleam in Diamond's eye and the predatory grin that spread over her face.
  2825. "I-I guess I'll take that as a y-ye-Ha-ha! Dia- Haha!"
  2826. >Silver stopped talking mid-sentence as Diamond's fingers dug into her side, sending her into fitful peels of laughter as she thrashed under her torturous grip.
  2827. "I-I'm s-sorry! Hahaha! I'll nev-never say it again- haha!"
  2828. >"A plebeian like you needs to learn her place, Silver Spoon~"
  2829. >Silver shook her head, descending into near-madness as Diamond's fingers raked down her most sensitive spots...
  2831. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  2833. >The underside of the bed above her quivered with the gentle breathing of the person sleeping on it.
  2834. >She focused on the light movements with the same intensity and razor-sharp focus she gave everything.
  2835. >Even as exhaustion seemed to creep up in her vision, stinging her eyes and clouding her mind.
  2836. >Try as she might Diamond just couldn't go to sleep.
  2837. >So..
  2838. >Her arms folded under her head and eyes locked to where she knew Silver Spoon was sleeping.
  2839. >It was there first night staying in the dorms, and for the life of her sleep would not come.
  2840. >Diamond almost wished it was nerves her tired mind lingered on, and not the girl sleeping soundly above her.
  2841. >She thought about that day and the bundle of anxiety and depression she had been, and how Silver had pulled her free.
  2842. >Just as she knew, even deep down, Silver would.
  2843. >Her mind began to float along the sea of her memory and the remaining dregs of their very first meeting began to force its way through the forefront of her fuzzy mind's eye.
  2844. >It began to replay over and over, and the more she thought about it the more she delved into that time, so far away, when they had met.
  2846. ***
  2848. "This place is ~so~ boring."
  2849. >"Hush, Tiara."
  2850. >Diamond looked up at her mother with a scowl.
  2851. >Spoiled's gaze seemed fixed on someone across the room, and she followed her line of sight to see her father talking to a woman with dull silver and purple hair.
  2852. >Diamond noticed that it didn't look like her mom was staring at her father.
  2853. >Diamond folded her arms across her chest and harrumphed, her bottom lip sticking out as she tried to draw her mother's attention.
  2854. >No dice, Spoiled seemed content to ignore her as she stared at the woman across the busy hall.
  2855. >Diamond let her gaze wander across the bustling hall, sliding over the porcelain people easily.
  2856. >All adults, so stuffy and utterly dull...
  2857. >Sliding from one to the next in a practiced, bored fashion.
  2858. >Her gaze stopped as a gap in the crowd was followed down to a girl her age.
  2859. >She was dressed in a glittering, silvery gown and her purple eyes were magnified by a pair of winged blue glasses.
  2860. >Diamond cocked her head to the side and poked her mother on the arm.
  2861. >"Not now, Tiara."
  2862. >Diamond kept pressing though, as the girl was slowly swallowed up by the crowd.
  2863. >She watched her potentially one source of entertainment slowly drift farther and farther away.
  2864. >Her chest swelled uncomfortably.
  2865. "Mother-"
  2866. >"Diamond Tiara!"
  2867. >Diamond stopped short as her breath caught in her throat.
  2868. >She knew that tone, and knew those talon-like fingers that now dug into her arm and dragged her from the edge of the hall and into a side room.
  2869. >Her chest that had begun to swell with anxiety at the thought of being stuck in utter boredom was replaced with a frozen solid ball of fear as Spoiled's face was only an inch from hers.
  2870. >"You are a Rich, Diamond Tiara, and you will act like it or I will teach you what it means. Now stop acting like a brat or I'll drag you upstairs myself. Do. You. Understand?"
  2871. >Diamond shuddered as the stench of wine curled against her nose.
  2872. >"Answer me before I make you regret it!" Spoiled snapped, her hand raised as her fingers dug further into Diamond's arm.
  2873. "I-I understand, mother!"
  2874. >"Make sure you do."
  2875. >Spoiled let her arm go and stormed back into the dance hall, leaving a red-faced and teary eyed Diamond in her wake.
  2876. >Diamond rubbed at her arm and stared dolefully at her heels.
  2877. >She wasn't sure how long she had been standing there, leaned against the wall and attempting to keep the tears from falling down her cheeks, but her quiet contemplation was interrupted by a voice.
  2878. >"Hello?"
  2879. >Diamond spun away from the soft feminine voice, clamping her hand down over her arm and swiping furiously at her eyes.
  2880. "What do you want? Shouldn't you be at the party?"
  2881. >"If by party you mean snooze fest..."
  2882. >Diamond glanced over her shoulder.
  2883. >The girl she had spotted across the hall was there, her head poking from the door and her long braid nearly dusting the floor.
  2884. >"It was so boring in there. Thought I'd go exploring."
  2885. >She stepped into the long hallway and closed the door, the pitter-patting of porcelain people on the other side nearly coming to a halt under the heavy oak door.
  2886. >Now it was just faraway whispers, and Diamond imagined that's where they were.
  2887. >Far from the party, and far from its rotten guests.
  2888. >"Hey, are you okay?"
  2889. "I'm fine! Just go away!"
  2890. >The girl seemed stunned into silence as Diamond did her best to keep her voice steady and gaze locked to one of the busts sitting across the hall.
  2891. >"Sheesh, you don't have to be a jerk about it."
  2892. "What did you call me?"
  2893. >Diamond whipped around and jabbed a finger at her.
  2894. "Don't even pretend to know me, commoner!"
  2895. >"The only commoner I see here is you."
  2896. >Diamond flushed angrily.
  2897. "I could always kick you out. This is my house, after all, and I'm sure your boot-licking father would hate to lose all the business ~my~ father is probably giving him."
  2898. >The girl's composure cracked as her cheeks grew red.
  2899. >"Don't talk about my daddy like that! He's twice the businessman that your father is!"
  2900. "As if. I bet you don't even have more than one house."
  2901. >"We have three, and they're all nicer than this dump!"
  2902. "Hah! Well I have ~four~ and this is the worst one out of all of them!"
  2903. >"You're annoying, you know that?"
  2904. "Hmph."
  2905. >Diamond crossed her arms over her chest and stuck her nose in the air, just as her mother taught her.
  2906. >"Hey, what's that?"
  2907. "What's what- Ouch, hey!"
  2908. >The girl was touching her, grabbing her arm where her mother had.
  2909. >Her thumb brushed over the deep indentations that were already starting to bruise a sickly yellow.
  2910. >Her touch was feather-light, but it stung none the less.
  2911. "Don't touch me!"
  2912. >Diamond slapped her hand away as her face went red.
  2913. >Her hand clamped down over the spot where her mother had gripped her, covering the marks as her cheeks flushed red in shame.
  2914. "It's nothing."
  2915. >Her voice lost its fire and she flinched as the girl reached out to touch her again.
  2916. >The girl hesitated before finally resting her hand on Diamond's shoulder.
  2917. >"Are you okay?"
  2918. "Y-yeah, I'm great. Better than great. Better than you, whoever you are!"
  2919. >She tried to turn away from the girl but her heart wasn't in to it, the hand on her shoulder kept her rooted in place.
  2920. >The girl was biting her lip as she gripped her shoulder a little tighter, as if Diamond would simply fade away.
  2921. >"Silver Spoon."
  2922. "Are you calling me-"
  2923. >"My name." Silver cut her off, "My name is Silver Spoon. What's yours?"
  2924. >Diamond hesitated, before answering softly.
  2925. "...Diamond Tiara."
  2926. >"That's really pretty. What were you doing out here?"
  2927. "N-none of your business!" Diamond snapped.
  2928. >"Sheesh, you don't have to bite my head off."
  2929. >Silver finally let her hand drop from her shoulder.
  2930. >"So this is your house, huh?"
  2931. "Yeah, pretty great right?" Diamond said, puffing her chest out proudly, "You like it, right?"
  2932. >"I don't know, guess we'll have to explore."
  2933. "We?"
  2934. >"Yeah, why not? This is your place right? You should know where all the cool stuff is."
  2935. "Rich's don't explore, that's for plebeians."
  2936. >"Don't be a stick in the mud. I bet there isn't even a cool spot in this entire place."
  2937. >Silver's lips formed into a smirk as Diamond began to fume again.
  2938. "This place is a hundred times cooler than any place you've ever been in! I'll show you!"
  2939. >"Sweet."
  2940. "Er- agh! You're infuriating."
  2941. >"No take-backsies."
  2942. "You're such a kid!"
  2943. >"You're my host, and I'm the guest, show me a good time already before I get bored again."
  2944. >Diamond grumbled but she shrugged.
  2945. "I'm sorta bored too, I guess. This place is actually kind of lame, but there is one cool spot..."
  2946. >"Come on then, what are we waiting for?"
  2948. ***
  2950. >Diamond had led her up what seemed to be a hundred flights of stairs, and it left Silver huffing and puffing, until she finally stopped.
  2951. >"Are we here?"
  2952. >Silver looked disgustedly around at the grimy turret they were in.
  2953. "No dummy, I said I was taking you somewhere cool. Just- give me a second."
  2954. >Diamond looked inquisitively at the top of the turret that was merely a foot above their heads, rubbing her chin before finally snapping her fingers.
  2955. >She grabbed a rope from seemingly thin air and Silver watched with wide-eyed fascination as Diamond pulled a stairwell from nowhere.
  2956. "I told it was cool."
  2957. >The grimy, dark ceiling that had risen to a point was now collapsed in front of them, and the view that awaited them at the top took Silver's breath away.
  2958. >A thousand words couldn't describe the view.
  2959. >The stars hung like needle-pricks through a piece of fabric, blanketed carefully over the valley far, far below them and the forest seemingly a million miles away.
  2960. >Silver's gaze tracked a rushing river into a distant fog-covered lake that sat serenely under a massive mountain that scraped against the sky.
  2961. >"Woah..."
  2962. >Diamond laughed as she leaned against the railing, keeping them from plummeting to the ground a thousand feet below.
  2963. >Silver joined her.
  2964. >The fit was tight and they squeezed against each other, which helped stave off a little of the chill of the autumn night, as did the blush that grew on their faces from such close contact.
  2965. >It was a long, awe-filled moment that carried the comfortable silence between them before Silver finally spoke.
  2966. >"Hey, Diamond?"
  2967. "Hmm...?"
  2968. >She sounded more serene than Silver had heard all night.
  2969. >She looked more relaxed as she stared lovingly out into the night's sky.
  2970. >"Wanna be friends?"
  2971. >Diamond peered at her from the corner of her eye.
  2972. "Rich's don't have..."
  2973. >She stopped and touched the marks on her arm.
  2974. "Err. Yeah, do you?"
  2975. >"I'm still debating."
  2976. "Then why did you ask me, you commoner trash?!"
  2977. >Silver laughed at Diamond's outraged face.
  2978. >Diamond's mask finally cracked as she began to laugh, too.
  2979. >"Fine, I've made up my mind."
  2980. "Well maybe I'm on the fence now."
  2981. >"I don't wanna be friends."
  2982. "W-what?"
  2983. >"I wanna be best friends!"
  2984. >Silver laughed at Diamond's face again, as it fell, and as it flushed with anger.
  2985. >Diamond couldn't help the laugh that escaped her own lips.
  2986. "Fine then, best friends."
  2988. ***
  2990. "Hey, Silvy."
  2991. >"D-Dia?"
  2992. "Budge over, come on, there's room..."
  2993. >Silver looked up blearily and craned her neck around to peer at her through the darkness.
  2994. >"What are you doing?"
  2995. >Diamond's face was red even in the darkness, and she refused to look Silver in the eye.
  2996. "Err... Nothing."
  2997. >Diamond went to crawl back into her own bed, but before she could Silver had rolled over so she was facing her.
  2998. >In a moment she had lifted her blanket, inviting Diamond in.
  2999. >Diamond said nothing as she crawled into Silver's warm, gentle embrace.
  3000. >"I thought you said we couldn't sleep together anymore, something about that's kid stuff."
  3001. >Silver's sleepy voice made Diamond blush as she tucked herself into Silver's front and wrapped her arms around her waist.
  3002. "Just for tonight, please?"
  3003. >"Nightmares again?"
  3004. "Err..."
  3005. >Silver wrapped her own arms around Diamond and hugged her back.
  3006. >Diamond tucked her head against Silver's chin and closed her eyes.
  3007. "...Hey, Silv?"
  3008. >"Hmm?"
  3009. "We're still best friends, right?"
  3010. >"The best."
  3011. >Diamond smiled and finally her mind fell at ease as she slipped further into Silver's embrace, and allowed sleep to claim her.
  3013. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
  3015. >”This sucks.”
  3016. >”Yeah, no kidding.”
  3017. >She sucked in a long drag of her cigarette and let it drift into the sky in a long column of smoke indistinguishable from the sky’s moody gray tone.
  3018. >”I’m about ready to tell Trix to go fuck herself, this town’s a wash.”
  3019. >”Sheesh, it’s not like you’d ever get through that thick of hers.”
  3020. >They laughed together.
  3021. “Shoot, best y’all don’t let hear you sayin’ that, you know she gets.”
  3022. >”God if I have to hear her talk about herself in third person one more time I’m gonna flip my lid.”
  3023. >The woman pressed her palm to her forehead as she tried to stifle a headache.
  3024. >”Hey!”
  3025. >She snarled at the other woman across from her as she stole a drag from the cigarette she had snatched from her loose grip.
  3026. >”Snooze you lose, Zap.”
  3027. >”I’ll show you losing!”
  3028. >Indigo made to pounce on her but the third member gripped her shoulder.
  3029. “Y’all really gonna let the likes of Suri, ‘head bitch’, Polomare get to ya?”
  3030. >”You’re right Jackie. She’s just jealous ‘cause her last client stiffed her.”
  3031. >”Bitch,” Suri spat.
  3032. >”Look who’s talkin’!”
  3033. “Settle down you two, will ya? It’s already cold and miserable out here, don’t need a headache on top of it.”
  3034. >They glared at each other but otherwise did as Applejack asked.
  3035. >The three of them didn’t separate from where they were huddled in close, though, not when it was as cold as it was.
  3036. >”Do you want another hit, Jackie? It might help us warm up a little…”
  3037. >Applejack sighed and blew a warm breath into her hand, but nodded all the same.
  3038. >Indigo pulled a pipe and filled it straightaway as Suri scoffed.
  3039. >”Don’t start with the puritan shit,” Indigo snapped at her as she handed over the bowl.
  3040. >Applejack took a long, shuddering draw and relaxed almost immediately as the familiar high hit her brain.
  3041. >”I don’t touch that stuff, no way Trix doesn’t cut it with something.”
  3042. >”Maybe she’d cut yours, you cunt, but she actually likes me.”
  3043. “Will y’all quit your bitchin?”
  3044. >”Whatever,” Indigo muttered as she took a hit from the pipe clutched in her grip.
  3045. >She closed her eyes and groaned.
  3046. >Applejack knew what she was feeling as the high settled further over her mind and staved off the cold.
  3047. >”God at least do that somewhere else, Magic Dust smells like shit after it’s burnt.”
  3048. >”Will you be quiet?” Indigo muttered under her breath as she swayed rhythmically in place.
  3049. “Hey, hey, look. I think we got someone comin’.”
  3050. >Applejack peered blearily out of the alleyway they were taking refuge in as a sleek black limousine pulled to a stop just in front.
  3051. >”I want this one!” Suri snapped.
  3052. “I saw him first,” Applejack slurred as she staggered out of the alley.
  3053. >Suri muttered something under her breath as Applejack tapped on the darkened window with the back of her knuckle.
  3054. >Applejack blinked her eyes as the familiar glittering took up the edge of her vision.
  3055. >She peered into the darkened interior as the window was rolled down.
  3056. >Not much was visible except for someone bundled tightly in six separate layers.
  3057. >If her mind wasn’t so fuzzy she’d almost be jealous, dressed in a dress three sizes too tight and six inches too short.
  3058. >A voice called out from inside the limousine, a voice that was vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t quite put it.
  3059. “Thirty for a mouth, fifty for somethin’ more,” Applejack slurred to the man, just as Trixie had taught her.
  3060. >”…Applejack?”
  3061. “Er, do I know you?”
  3062. >A pair of violet eyes were peering out at her from under a thick cap, so intensely familiar that they managed to pierce through her brain.
  3063. “Oh, er, sorry, I think I gotta pass on this one, ma’am…”
  3064. >”Applejack!”
  3065. >Applejack staggered back towards the alley as the woman- and it was a woman, a very irritating one at that- threw open the door and raced after her.
  3066. >The woman grabbed her by the wrist before she could get any farther.
  3067. “H-hey, lemme go!”
  3068. >”Only when you- when you, oh, Applejack…”
  3069. >The woman’s mournful voice punched through Applejack’s fuzzy brain.
  3070. “I’m fine, Rarity, jus’ get outta here.”
  3071. >”Is there a problem here, bitch?”
  3072. >”Ex-cuh-use me?”
  3073. >Suri had broken Rarity’s grip on Applejack’s wrist with her body as she stood in front of the other woman.
  3074. >”I said,” Suri snarled, “Is there a problem here? My friend ain’t gonna go with you so take your money across town.”
  3075. >Rarity raised herself up like a great peacock, “How dare you? Applejack is *my* friend, not some poorly dressed, trumped up, past-her-prime-”
  3076. “Suri, I can handle it,” Applejack muttered, just as it looked like Suri was about to rip Rarity apart.
  3077. >Suri snarled and stopped away.
  3078. >Applejack turned to Rarity.
  3079. “Jus’ get outta here, Rarity, it ain’t safe for someone like you.”
  3080. >”And what about you? Darling… You look freezing, and that eye shadow is not your color.”
  3081. “Rares…”
  3082. >”Let me take you somewhere, please, just to.. Get something to eat? You look famished…”
  3083. >Applejack was sure she did, Magic Dust killed appetite.
  3084. “Fine, if you’ll leave me alone afterwards.”
  3085. >Rarity didn’t say anything as she led Applejack to the limousine and offered the door to her.
  3086. >Applejack slid in with practiced grace and Rarity followed.
  3087. >”Driver?”
  3088. >Rarity’s soft voice broke through the tense silence and the man driving them began again.
  3089. >Applejack sighed as she rubbed a hand through her long hair, piled messily on top of her head.
  3090. >She was certain she looked a mess after spending so long out in the weather.
  3091. >She glanced out of the corner of her eye every so often as the effects of the Magic began to slowly ebb out of her system.
  3092. >Rarity seemed to be stuck with looking at her with an awed sort of fascination, like she were made of spun glass, and a sort of mournful anger.
  3093. “I know what y’all are gonna say so keep it to yourself. I’m a grown woman and I can make my own decisions, Rarity.”
  3094. >Rarity’s fingers dug into her arm and her eyes flashed in furious indignation, “How dare you sit there and lecture me! I’m not the one- Applejack!”
  3095. >Rarity didn’t quite know what to say, not after all this time.
  3096. >Her voice dropped to a whisper, “I’m not the one on the side of the road.”
  3097. “Jus’ leave it be, Rarity, I knew what I was gettin’ in to.”
  3098. >”Do you… Do you have any idea? Any idea at all?” Rarity whispered sorrowfully, “What we all went through to find you? We thought the absolute worst…”
  3099. “Then how’d you find me?”
  3100. >”You found me,” Rarity corrected, “My driver had taken a wrong turn, and had stopped to recheck his map, and then…”
  3101. >Applejack pressed against the door of the limousine, doing her best not to look at Rarity, not when her eyes seemed to flicker with a thousand different emotions.
  3102. >”Applejack, please, just tell me what happened. I have to know.”
  3103. “Fine,” Applejack muttered, “The big city ain’t so friendly, not to a country bumpkin with a guitar and a pocketful of hope. I told y’all I wouldn’t come back until I made it, and I couldn’t go back on my word.”
  3104. >Applejack wrapped her arms around herself and rested her throbbing forehead on the cool glass of the window.
  3105. >Her eyes followed the steady trail of water drops down the tinted window.
  3106. >”Your pride? All this time, and not one word, and all because of your pride? Darling, we didn’t care about that, we don’t care about that, we just wanted you back,” Rarity said, her voice choked and thick.
  3107. >”We want you back. I…”
  3108. “I can’t come back, Rares, not now. I ain’t really… Like that girl you knew anymore.”
  3109. >Rarity looked at her out of the corner of her eye.
  3110. >Applejack was doing her best to wipe at the smudges of her makeup, and noticed it wasn’t because of the rain anymore.
  3111. >”Fifty for something more, right?”
  3112. “R-rarity if you really think-”
  3113. >”How much?”
  3114. “How much for what? I ain’t gonna do that with you.”
  3115. >”No, how much to take you home, for good? I’ll pay it. Three hundred? Three thousand?”
  3116. “Rarity!”
  3118. >Rarity had grabbed her by her painfully thin shoulders.
  3119. >Her mascara was running down her face in two thick, black trails on her porcelain skin.
  3120. “I told you I can’t go back, not after everythin’…”
  3121. >Rarity’s teeth barred into a snarl as her hands dug painfully into Applejack’s shoulders.
  3123. >Rarity’s voice grew scratchy and came out a whisper and her eyes squinted through tears.
  3124. >”Please just tell me how I can have the girl I love back.”
  3125. >Applejack was shaking in her grip like a leaf in the wind as her eyes welled with tears.
  3126. “Y’all promise you aren’t mad? You don’t hate me?”
  3127. >Rarity felt like the air had been sucked from her lungs with how utterly broken and soft-spoken Applejack sounded, so unlike the confident, self-assured girl she had known what seemed so long ago now.
  3128. >”Never, darling, I promise.”
  3129. >Rarity dragged her into a hug that Applejack was quick to return.
  3130. “P-promise…?”
  3131. >Rarity buried her face into Applejack’s shoulder, her brow furrowed as she tried to stifle her tears.
  3132. >”Promise.”
  3134. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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