“What do you have to say for yourself?! Getting into fights over fillies. You're a silly little foal. I should punish you, but your sprained wing should do the trick for me.”
Show Tail screamed in misery as his aunt pulled on his damaged wing. Agony was an understatement at the moment. His aunt, Pica, was mercilessly pulling his wing in an attempt to set it in a splint. He knew that the pegasus was pulling harder than she should have out of sheer disdain. The moment she had found out his talent had nothing to do with math, science or the arts, she had changed.
Pica had been kind at one point. She was a pure white pegasus mare with a shining pile of bits as a cutie mark and a seemingly good heart. She had allowed him to live with her in Ponyville after his desperate attempts to get a cutie mark had finally angered his mother to the point of no return. She could only take seeing her son injured so many times in a row. Nova Cure sent her rather reluctant pegasus to the country side to live with his father’s sister. He forced himself to fly in order to escape the wretchedly placid place. He missed his mother, father, friends and the general Manehattan feel. He wasn't part of the upper crust, but the lower class ponies that knew how to have fun. That was where he felt he belonged, at least until Snips and Snails smacked him out of the sky.
He winced more, biting his lip to contain his screams. Pica really did not show him any mercy, or hide her feelings. He tried to think of better things. Snips and Snails becoming his first real friends and making him want to stay. The fun they had together. Flying with Scootaloo. Just being with Scootaloo. Nuzzling Sweetie Belle.
Nuzzling Sweetie Belle?
He could vaguely remember rubbing his nose with her, trying to make her smile. She had nudged his face up to look at hers, and he had felt her breath on his face. Sweetie Belle’s face was full of concern and worry, and he nuzzled her soft nose to make her feel better. It had made him feel better too. Sweetie Belle, though he only met her a bit more than a week ago, was already somepony he felt he could depend on. Show Tail remembered spilling everything to her. How the pegasus colt and his idiot followers had told him to stay away from Scootaloo, claiming her as his. Sweetie Belle had looked disappointed, probably at his cuss-filled response to the colts. He hated hurting other ponies’ feelings so he nuzzled her nose till she smiled. A smile that made him feel so much better and brought to mind Scootaloo, the filly of his dreams.
Not to say that Sweetie Belle wasn't pretty in her own right. She was a breath of fresh air from his angel. She was goofy, and didn't have her mind mostly occupied by flying. He shut his eyes and thought of her as the splint was set. Show Tail let out one last grunt of pain. He looked back to see the wing bandaged up in its typical resting position, and not slightly hanging as it had before. He could have expressed gratitude to Pica. Before he could speak, she was spraying a burning antiseptic on his wounds. He hissed in agony, forcing his eyes shut to think of other things
“I got into a fight because I like Scootaloo. It’s becoming more obvious apparently. “Sweetie Belle’s face fell. She had been smiling, but now... she looked so unhappy. She really hated the idea of me fighting. I had to do something. I didn't know her that well. I wanted to hang out with her, but Scootaloo was far too tempting to pass up and I felt bad. She was almost as wonderful as my angel, and she deserved my attention. Friends are friends. My mother used to rub my nose when I was sad to cheer me up. Sweetie Belle wasn't family, so I figured I had to do it differently. So I nuzzled her nose slowly, like in the movies. I understood why. Her nose was soft and warm, and made me tingle. And made her smile. Even after that, I just wanted to stay there with her for as long as possible.
I never knew that a nose-rub could make somepony feel so wonderful. It was so strange, to hear my heart beating in my ears. I’ve never had that, at least to something like this. It reminded me of how I felt with Scootaloo, but... different. It made me feel warm. She started to nuzzle back at some point, eyes closed and still smiling. She was telling me that she was OK now, and I felt my wings flutter a bit, though I don't know why. Sweetie Belle’s breath smelled pleasantly of apples, while I was pretty sure mine smelled of grass and dirt from my crash landing. Either way, that sweet smell made me bite my lip, and my wings fluttered more. The sprained one hurt slightly, but at this point, I didn't really care. I just wanted to feel her rub against my nose more.
I caught myself. I was enjoying this too much. I didn't really deserve this filly’s kindness. I stepped back and said my goodbyes. I remembered galloping off at breakneck speed, my sprained wing painfully fighting to go up with the other.
By the time the colt had gotten home, he was late for his lessons. Pica’s iron determination to earn him a ‘second cutie mark’ had made his lessons twice as hard. She had turned as cold and spiteful as Nightmare Moon, with Show Tail desperately wishing for her to return to Luna. Pica smacked him with her wing to bring him back to earth.
“Show Tail. It’s time for your lessons. It matters not that you are injured. Eventually, your true talent will emerge. Maybe at math, like you aunt Pica. Or science... Oh I can’t wait. I will get you your dinner.” Pica kissed her nephew on the head, and trotted off to the kitchen. Show Tail sat by the table, trying his best to do whatever work Pica had laid out. He hated the bulk of his lessons with a passion, especially math. The only one he liked at all was biology, and that was because of his flights over the Everfree forest. He would rather be there than put before these lessons. He wanted to be anywhere else.
Show Tail wanted to be with the silver snare drum he had gotten from his father. It celebrated his cutie mark, his brand, his symbol, the one that he had grown to hate. Yet as much as he hated the treatment his talent earned him, he loved it. He loved music, creating it, listening to it. It was his passion, turned into a guilty pleasure. It was a horrible, dirty, guilty pleasure that his aunt would prefer replacing with something more useful and secure. He wanted his talent to be accepted, but that seemed to be too much to ask for.
The next morning could not come fast enough. He walked to school with his friends for the first time in ages, watching the pegasi fly above him. He was admittedly jealous, his one working wing anxious to follow them into the sky. He just wanted to heal up as quickly as possible. Snips and Snails had escaped from the fight with far less damage than Show Tail, only bearing a few scratches and bandages. But they had won the fight, and walked with victory.
“Tails, what happened you your wing?”
Scootaloo. She was flying right above him, curiously staring at his damaged wing. He cringed. He hated the fact that his princess was seeing him in such a state. “So we won’t be flying anytime soon? I hope you feel better.” She then jetted off to school without another word.
“It’s OK Tails. I’m sure that you’ll get better soon. Then you can go and flirt with Scootaloo again.” Show Tail tripped Snips without hesitation for saying that.
“Is it really that obvious I like Scootaloo, Snails?” Show Tail looked his slow friend in the eyes, waiting patiently for him to say something. Anything. Snails inhaled deeply.
“It’s quite obvious, eh.” Show Tail was dumbfounded by Snails’ response. That was the closest Snails came to eloquent in the many months he had known him. Snails shrugged, continuing onward. Snips got to his hooves, quickly whispered that he was trying his best to teach Snails to speak with more class and it was apparently rubbing off. That answer, however, made Show Tail nervous. Ponies already knew of his crush on Scootaloo. Would that earn him another bashed wing? What made it worse was that he was grounded. He couldn't spend time with her like he used to.
“I guess this is as good a time as any to spend some time with Sweetie Belle. I’m sure she wouldn't mind. I wonder what she’s up to after school today.”
“So it’s just me an’ Scootaloo?” Apple Bloom pouted. The Cutie Mark Crusaders met in their club house after school as they always did, even if only for a few minutes. They would discuss their plans and ideas for obtaining cutie marks. Since they had grown up, they would spend at most an hour together before Scootaloo went off to fly with the younger pegasi, Show Tail, or Rainbow Dash. Sometimes Apple Bloom would help out repairing things at home or just go to the hardware store, leaving Sweetie Belle to help around at Rarity’s. Apple Bloom sighed, puffing up her cheeks. She hadn't been spending time with her friends like they used to. Even though they were in their clubhouse, it didn't feel the same. The Cutie Mark Crusaders were slowly getting older, to the point that their crusading had become less and less deadly.
“Yeah, Show Tail invited me to spend some time with him in the meadow. Besides Apple Bloom, you have the hardware store colts to hang out with. You’ve been spending lots of time there.” Sweetie Belle raised an eyebrow at her, suggesting there was much more to it. Apple Bloom squirmed. Her very best friends were glaring her down in such a manner that would get a mute to speak. “We know you like building, but... we’re not that stupid.”
Apple Bloom screamed in frustration, spinning around in circles mindlessly till she fell down. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo took the opportunity to nudge her incessantly.
“One a’ the colts there... He’s a bit... sweet on me. Though most a’ the colts are, him especially. I... kinda like it.” Apple Bloom squirmed in embarrassment. “I don't feel comfortable talking about this...”
“Do you think it’s time we start talking about colts...?” Scootaloo grumbled. The other two fillies imminently stared at her like she was an alien. Scootaloo, the boyish one, the one they had all been sure would never have to do with anything romantic, was suggesting colt talk?
“Who are you and what have you done with Scootaloo. Where is she?!” Apple Bloom screamed before tackling her with all the force she could muster. Scootaloo screamed, unable to escape from Apple Bloom’s grip.
“I’m still Scootaloo! I’m just saying! We’re... kinda getting older. And well... I like colts.” She said rather reluctantly. Sweetie Belle was giggling at this turn of events. A few years ago, Scootaloo was the tomcoltish filly she knew. Now, she wanted to talk about colts. This was a development not even she could foresee. She laughed for just a bit longer, and then her blood ran cold.
Scootaloo liked colts.
Oh horsefeathers, she could get a crush on Show Tail.
“What’s the matta Sweetie Belle? You look like you ate a rotten apple. Did ya eat a rotten apple? Cause I got a cure for that at home. Tastes worse than the rotten apple, but Granny Smith swears by it!” Apple Bloom went on for a bit longer, leaving Sweetie Belle to her own devices.
“Oh horsefeathers! I was supposed to meet Show Tail! Bye!”
“That Sweetie Belle is SO random. Hey, you wanna go zip lining?”
“Scootaloo, I’m still traumatized from the last time. And that was years ago! Let’s just stay here and plot another crusade and talk about those ‘colts’ you were so eager ta suggest.” Scootaloo stepped back warily. She somewhat regretted mentioning she liked them. No colt had really caught her eye in the least, but she still liked just looking. Apple Bloom “Well, you see, the colt that’s all sweet on me has a really nice cutie mark. He loves apples too...” Scootaloo sat back, smiling at her best friend lighting up the room with her story. Her only regret was that Sweetie Belle was missing this.
Sweetie Belle galloped into the town meadow, panicking about being late. She really didn't mean to get caught up with the Crusaders for so long. It felt as if it had been forever since she had spent time with them. She slowed down once her eyes caught sight of a black and gold smudge in the tall grass.
“So Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo tells me that you can sing.” Show Tail turned his head to her as she got closer. He was laying in the meadow and felt her hooves approaching. He rolled over and stood. Sweetie Belle was blushing. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he shook himself off. “You don't like to sing?”
Show Tail tried his best to read her body language. Her head was hanging low, and she was trying to hide her face. Was she really that embarrassed about it? He thought that they were friends. Maybe she really didn't trust him. Show Tail gulped, trying to figure out what to do. Looking her over, he noticed her nose stuck out. That warm and comforting nose of hers. He could feel his own tingle at the memory of feeling again. The tingle that had flooded his body, from head to wing to ho
Show Tail stepped towards her, nervously closing his eyes and pushing his nose against hers. He couldn't help himself. Her breath hitched when she felt his nose press against hers again. Sweetie Belle sat down out of pure shock, crushing the plants beneath her. He continued to nuzzle against her nose, biting his lip. Feeling awkward and comfortable at the same time, he continued, gently and with slight pressure. His splinted wing was somewhat fighting to flare up, like the other one, and was causing him a bit more pain than last time.
He didn't care. He didn't want to care. All he wanted was to feel her warm nose against his, like yesterday night. His mind began to question what other parts of her were warm. He was chewing fervently on his lip, wondering what side to follow. Show Tail took a moment to submit to his morbid curiosity and nuzzle into her neck. This time all he got was slight snort. He opened his eyes, yanked out of his trance. She was giggling. Which turned into full on laughing.
He flushed, once again catching himself in the act. He blinked furiously, trying to understand what he had just been doing. Straightening his wings, he coughed to regain some semblance of composure. Sweetie Belle looked at him confused. Her entire body still tingled as she watched him start to pace about the meadow.
“So I hear you can sing. Got anything for me to hear Sweetie Belle?”
For some reason, she didn't feel as shy. The tingle was influencing her. She quietly began to sing the Cutie Mark Crusader theme song, which she had loyally committed to memory. Sweetie Belle was surprised to hear the sharp sounds of a snare drum trying to accompany her.
“Please ig... nore me, kinda. My dad got me this, and I can't keep it in the house much, or my aunt will throw it out... Also, you're a much better singer than Scootaloo. So much better.”
Sweetie Belle felt her pride swell up as she continued to sing.
Show Tail walked her home, just like in the movies, with them talking about anything that came to mind. For Sweetie Belle, that was humming bits of possible songs. For Show Tail, it was how good Scootaloo was at flying and dancing. And his general affections for her. Sweetie Belle managed to drive the conversation elsewhere long enough to get home. Was he really that stupid? Did he not realize what he was doing? Apparently not. Ponies could really be so stupid. She was tempted to say colts, but the dramatic of Rarity and friends came to mind for a moment.
“We should do this more often, Sweetie Belle. Music and music, right?” Show Tail smiled nervously. They stood on the doorstep, Sweetie Belle rambling on about making a song with him and how good he was. He rolled his eyes playfully, elated at having somepony to talk about music with. He decided to silence her by nudging her cheek with his nose. She quickly stopped, digging her hoof into the ground nervously.
“Yes, Show Tail?”
“Thanks for hanging out with... me. You know, you have a really nice voice Belle. You should be proud of it.” She giggled in a way akin to Snails before saying her goodbyes and slipping inside. Sweetie Belle wasn't surprised to have Rarity in her face.
“Such a ratty-maned colt. But his tail, it is wonderful! It’s one of the gods! And he’s a musician? They do say that musicians make the best lov...ly music! Yes yes, and they're very good friends, and coltfriends... Yes, then again, so are the athletic types. Mmm, Fall Leaf. Oh my, I’m getting off track. But he seems to like you, and oh my, my little sister is growing up...” Rarity was off on her ramble again.
“He doesn't like me! He likes Scootaloo. He’s just... stupid...” Sweetie Belle heaved a sigh in exasperation before trotting off to her room in anger. Just a moment ago, she had felt wonderful, like a princess. Now, she felt like the peasant left at the gate while the big ball went on. She could just imagine it, Show Tail with his darling Scootaloo, while she was left to watch, painfully staring and wishing to be her.
Burrowing herself underneath her sheets, Sweetie Belle curled up in a ball. She could say that he liked her. He was so sweet to her, nuzzling her nose, tickling her like that. She was shown such great affection, like in the romance movies she and Rarity had indulged in a week ago, but he wasn't interested. Was he really that stupid? Did he not realize what he was doing? Apparently not. He had spent some of their walk home telling her he wished he could have this much fun with Scootaloo.
Scootaloo this, Scootaloo that.
“She’s your friend, and you can't help that Sweetie. You can only deal with it and hope your time will come.”
Sweetie Belle stuck her head out from the sheets, coming face to face with Rarity.
“She doesn't even... like him Rare.” Sweetie Belle sputtered out. She was frustrated, aggravated, and all sorts of things that she couldn't even understand. Rarity’s face was full of sympathy. She knew her little sister knew nothing of the romance world, and this was a crash course that nopony deserved. But it was her sister’s course, and she would help guide her through the best she could.
“He doesn't seem to understand that what he’s doing... are romantic acts. It’s a shame I showed you those movies... Oh my. Maybe you can charm him. But you simply must remember. You are only a foal and this is only a foal’s crush. You may get lucky and have something like what Fall Leaf and I had... But. You are only a foal. With any luck, this will pass. Do you understand?” Rarity did not make eye contact at any point of her speech, yet Sweetie Belle seemed to understand. This was not something she should invest her entire heart into. “Sweetie Belle, my dear little sister. The hurt will pass in due time. You must simply wait. This isn't a movie. Then, you will be able to be fabulous like your older sister.”
“But you're lonely, and you refuse to contact the stallion you love. That’s not what the movies say to do! You're supposed to go after them! ”
“Silence Sweetie Belle!” Rarity snapped. “You know nothing of love, and therefore have no right to say anything at all! Go to bed!” Rarity wasted no time making a dramatic exit, leaving her sister alone. Rarity sank against the door she had just slammed, sobbing slightly. She knew in the pit of her stomach that her little sister was right. She had spent years ignoring his letters out of her own irrational fears. Now her innocent little sister was going through the woes of maturity. If she could, she would go back in time and keep her a child.
An innocent foal that simply didn't understand or want to understand the world of love. She rubbed her eyes dry, hiccupping. She had to pull herself together. This was no time to be breaking down at old memories. She had to be there to support her little sister, her darling Sweetie Belle that knew not what to do. Rarity bounced to her feet, marching to her room. Glancing over at the wall, she quickly noticed that her birthday was coming up.
A letter would be due soon, and this time, she would reply.