Show Tail yawned, struggling out of bed on a bright Saturday morning. He lazily flew straight down the hall to the bathroom, casually bumping into walls along the way. He nudged the door open, and made his way to the sink. He leaned on the edge of the porcelain sink, examining his looks, as teenagers do. His unkempt mane was actually looking better than normal, but still resiliently sticking up in random places. His golden eyes wanted to shine behind the film of general drowsiness. Show Tail flicked his signature tail behind him, and his eyes went to his flank. His cutie mark glared at him, the silver drum maliciously sticking out. Smiling wryly, a dry chuckle escaped his lips. He wanted it gone, or at least changed to something else. That shining drum was making his life with Pica a living hell.
Show Tail closed his eyes, exhaling a shaky breath. He could feel his stomach lurch, adrenaline rush, and his muscles tense like he was about to fight.
Keep calm, keep calm.
He opened his eyes, curiously eyeing his broken countenance. The cracked glass wasn't there before. He stared at the cabinet blankly for a few more seconds, confused on how it happened. He stamped a hoof on the side of the sink.
He had punched the mirror. So much for keeping calm. Show Tail bit his lip nervously, embarrassed that he had lost his temper so mindlessly. He figured that it was one of those moments where stress from the past compiles with current stress. He nodded to himself in agreement, taking note to borrow a book at the library about stress later when he was coming home. Sheepishly, he swept the mess up hoping that Pica would not be too mad with him. He tried to keep his mind off the mare. She was slightly off her rocker, and it wasn't a secret to anypony. The vehement mental mess was out at work, functioning like any other pony. Once she got home, she was a benevolent tyrant, berating him for hours before gathering him up in her arms and begging for forgiveness. She would surely yell at him for this.
Show Tail threw the glass shards out, trying to stay positive, and proceeded to get ready for the day. He trotted into the kitchen, taking in his surroundings. Pica had left out a box of cereal, which he guessed was for him. He snorted and rolled his eyes. He didn't know why Pica left him such paltry foods when he could cook his own meals. Flying up to the top shelf with gusto, Show Tail brought down some fruit, flour, and other things.
“Today’s meal will be Fruit Pancakes with lightly toasted daffodils and roses.” He said to himself in a matter of fact tone. He loved the rare moments when Pica wasn't there. He could do what he wanted to, without math and other things being shoved down his throat. Without the heavy slaps of her wings whenever he did anything wrong. Without the crushing hugs and the insane mumblings of ‘my poor child, my poor son.’ He shivered, putting the seasoned daffodils and daisies in the oven.
Show Tail shook his head. Today was meant to be a great day. The November weather was perfect to go out. Then again, every day was a perfect day to hang out with Scootaloo. He swooned after a pancake flip, nearly missing the pan. He couldn't understand why he was so attracted to her, and yet he was. It was best not to question teenage hormones. She was just so imposing, strong, and a bunch of other words he knew but could not seem to find. That stupid smile he got on his face around her was plastered on now. Show Tail couldn't wait.
When he arrived at the meadow, he was surprised to see another pony with Scootaloo. Frustration was the only thing that could describe how he felt. He trotted up to them with pride regardless. Scootaloo waved him over, and immediately began to speak.
“How long have I known you Tails?”
He tapped his hoof on the ground for a moment. “We met in the beginning of the school year... September. And it’s November now, so two months?” She squealed, turning towards the light blue mare behind her.
“And I haven't introduced you to my idol? The world fastest flier? It’s... Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo squealed. Show Tail stepped back out of shock. Scootaloo was acting very strange. Her eyes looked like dinner plates and she was giddy. A bit too giddy. Scootaloo was rocking back and forth on her hooves as Rainbow Dash got closer. Show Tail raised an eyebrow skeptically. Was this his Scootaloo? The one that he had come to consider a demigod, the one who he had been getting into fights over? If that was his Scootaloo, then frankly, the thought left a sour taste in his mouth. He preened himself on liking her attitude as it was, carefree and not overly prissy, like Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara.
Show Tail snapped back to reality once he realized that Rainbow Dash was talking to him.
“Yes yes, it’s me, Rainbow Dash! One of the greatest fliers in all Equestria, member of the Wonderbolts. Thank you very much. Now, let’s see how fast you can fly!” Rainbow Dash took flight without another word. She looked Show Tail up down anxiously waiting for him to take flight. He shrugged and followed her into the sky besides Scootaloo. “Ready? Set...”
Show Tail was now sitting in the meadow an hour or two later, wishing he had said no. Rainbow Dash was talking to him about something. He really wasn't paying attention or caring much about that something. He was more concerned with the filly that was flying away. The look on her face had made him miserable. Her brows had been furrowed, yet tears were forming in the corners. Scootaloo’s wings were flared high in anger, as if she were about to tackle something, but her body seemed to wobble in the breeze. She opened her mouth as if she was screaming, but nothing came out. Suddenly, she took flight, yelling her goodbyes to them both. Rainbow Dash had just shrugged, assuming that she just had something to do. Show Tail cringed. He could read ponies like a book sometimes.
His heart sank.
“She doesn't love me anymore!” Scootaloo screamed as she crashed into the Cutie Mark Crusader tree house. Apple Bloom screamed in horror, diving out of the way of the speeding pegasus. Scootaloo landed in the pile of library books the other two crusaders had taken out. Stumbling to her feet, Scootaloo rushed into Apple Bloom. She sobbed a bit, sniffling and rubbing her eyes. “Remain cool Scootaloo. Cool. You’re cool.”
“Scootaloo... She doesn't... love you? Who? Rainbow...”
“She ignored me ok?! Just because Show Tail is a faster flier and can't maneuver as well as I can!” She walked over to Apple Bloom before collapsing in a heap dramatically. Apple Bloom sighed, rolling her eyes. She wished that Sweetie Belle was there. Living with Rarity had probably trained her well with dramatic situations.
“Now Scootaloo... She probably just wanted to help him become a better flier! You know that flying means a lot to a pegasus!” Apple Bloom patted her friend on the back desperately trying to find what to say next. ‘’You sound like you're a... what’s the word Pinkie Pie said? Big Jealousy McJealous Jealous Pants? Yeah! That’s tha word! I think...” She tapped her hoof to her chin. Scootaloo sat back, sniffling.
“I... guess you're right... I’m jealous. But he’s faster than me! I can't stand it! I hate him!” Scootaloo pouted, putting her back to Apple Bloom to emphasize her point. Apple Bloom Sighed dramatically, not sure what to do with the devastated Scootaloo. Dash was her idol, her ‘sister’, her mentor. It must have hurt seeing her pay attention to another pegasus foal and not her. Apple Bloom stomped her hoof on the ground before tugging on Scootaloo’s mane.
“Come on, I know just tha thing to cheer ya up.” She tugged Scootaloo to the house, sitting her down for pie and milk. “Alright Scootaloo. You have to remember, Rainbow Dash has other friends too ya know...” Apple Bloom began, trying her best to look scholarly. Knowing Scooatloo’s stubbornness, she might be there a while. She really hoped that at least Show Tail was having fun.
“Oh. Here it is...”
“Aren't you a little young to be taking out books on anger management?”
“Maybe...? I don't know. Hello Ms. Sparkle...” Show Tail shrunk back a bit, trying to assess the look on the mare’s face. She was showing mostly confusion and curiosity, but not the good kind. He felt as if she was examining him. He had to come up with an excuse, and fast. “It’s for my aunt. You know her, Pica?” When Twilight’s eyes sprung open in shock, he knew he had come up with the wrong one. He had to say something else. Anything else to make her not think that Pica was any crazier than she already was.
“Show Tail, are you...”
“She’s having problems at work! She... needs to learn how to deal with a pony with issues.”
“Oh... alright... Anyway, the kids section is over there, and Snips, Snails, and other foals are over there. Go ahead and enjoy yourself.” Twilight nodded awkwardly before going off to her own section of the library. Show Tail breathed a sigh of relief, realizing how close he had gotten to possibly messing up his aunt’s life. Show Tail trotted over to a more decorated section of the tree. Stained glass decorated the edge of the panes, and slightly worn yet soft pillows were scattered on the floor. Snips and Snails had picked the brightest nook, each seated next to a window in the corner. He dragged one of the small pillows not in use over to them, taking a peak at what the two were reading.
Snips was reading a cook book, and Snails was reading something about algebra. He didn't think much of it, before whipping Snails on the flank to get his attention.
“Oh, hey Tails! I’m just reading some math...” Snails returned to his book without another word. Suddenly, he snapped his head back up, staring intently at Show Tail’s face. “What happened?”
“I pissed Scootaloo off by being a faster flier. Dash was interested in training me, since I have very little coordination in flight. So she’s mad at me now. Or something... I feel kinda stupid now.” Show Tail bit his lip, trying to think of what to do to curry her favor. Perhaps make her something to eat? Go flying with her, like they always used to do? No... She’s mad at me for my horrid flying. If only I had focused on skill more than speed. He slammed his forehead into the stress and anger management book he had picked up, taking a moment to marvel in the slight irony of doing so.
“Maybe you're taking this too seriously Tails. I mean, we’re only fourteen. Who needs fillies anyway?” Snips stuck out his tongue, pouting to emphasize his disgust. Snails rolled his eyes at his best friend.
“Is that why you're looking up recipes for apples?” Snips cringed, glaring at Snails as if he was going to smack him with his hoof. “Mmmm... apples.” Snails groaned out, returning to his book. Snips sputtered something in frustration, creating a multitude of excuses to which Snails shook his head laughing dumbly. Snips poked him with his horn, and Snails responded with a rather dull and uninterested ‘Ouch’.
“Well, I just wanted to learn. I hear she has interest in another colt... I have no chance. Besides, I just think she’s pretty. Which she is...” Snips shoved the book to the side, picking up a magazine another foal had left behind. “Yeah Tails, you might be taking this Scootaloo thing too hard. I’m pretty sure there are other pretty fillies that would like you all the same. You aimed too high.”
“What are you talking about, too high?! And how do you even know all this stuff?!” Show Tail snapped. He was getting irritated again. He started chewing on his lip, hoping that he wouldn't lose his temper again. Show Tail flipped open the book, trying to find something that would be helpful. Counting down from ten to one was the first thing that popped out. Show Tail closed his eyes, hoping that would help.
“You know, she’s not like Diamond Tiara or Silver Spoon, openly worshiped by the colts in our school. But she still has lots of admirers.”
“We’ve been getting into lots a fights...”
“We keep getting into fights because Scootaloo likes spending time with Tails, and we're his friends. We gotta help.”
Seven. My... fault.
“Does she like him?”
Six. No, she doesn't Snails. She probably never will too.
Snips only shrugged.
Five. Maybe I am taking this too seriously...
“If we don't know, why worry, eh?”
Four. Worry. I shouldn't worry... But I can't help it. This is new.
“Oh Snails, you don't know anything about fillies! We’re old enough to like them you know!”
Three. Oh heavens this isn't working... Fillies are so much trouble. I... think I’m gonna snap.
“He likes Scootaloo. Why not like somepony else?”
Two. If only it were that easy... Heavens, this really isn't working. It still...
“What about Sweetie Belle, Tails? You two hang out a lot anyway.”
Show Tail stopped his count down, if only out of shock. He opened his eyes only to glare at Snips, who shrunk back in slight fear. Snails were laughing in his typical slow minded fashion. Show Tail rolled his eyes before addressing Snips straight on.
“Sweetie Belle is my friend, and only that! She could never compare to Scootaloo like that. She’s pretty, yeah, but she’s just too... too... I don't know I just like Scootaloo more! Let’s drop this topic.” He stomped a hoof on the floor to solidify his point. Snips and Snails rolled their eyes in unison. Show Tail decided not take the topic any further, in fear of treading on some dangerous ground. Snails traded his algebra book for the cook book, and little else was said afterwards.
“Show Tail, please inform me as to why you have this... book? You have anger issues? What could possibly be stressing a young colt?” Pica swatted him with her wing. He tottered in his seat at the dining table, trying his best to finish his lessons quickly. His patience was wearing thin, with Pica and the lessons. He wanted to mope in his room, like any other teenager. Especially after today. Scootaloo was probably angry at him for stealing attention away from her idol. He was ashamed of himself, and that was distracting him more than it should have. “Idiot foal! That’s not how mother taught you to add!”
Another swat of the wing, with more force than the last. That one actually hurt a bit. He could lash out. He could attack her. His common sense warned him against that. It didn't take long for Show Tail to remember the mare was sick. She was berating him about the book now, along with his apparent lack of finesse for the art of math. He finally finished the work, trudging to his room, stress book in mouth. He knew his anger was rising, and that he would lose his temper. Pica’s incessant mumbling to herself down the hall grated on her ears. That mumbling meant she was planning another lesson, and another forced torture. If he didn't care about her so much, he would have begged to go back home.
He couldn't leave her, at least not yet. She needed him, and it was blatantly obvious her life would crumble without him to be her false foal. Show Tail burrowed under his sheets, reveling in the darkness that dusk brought. His room Pulling out the book and a flashlight, he read about identifying and leaving causes of stress. Pica was one. A major one. He knew he could only leave Pica when he was older, when she was sure she had fulfilled her motherly duties. For now though, he would have to stay under her mad hoof.
At least she hadn't mentioned the mirror.
“Hey, Show Tail. I have something to ask you!!”
Scootaloo? He jumped out of his bed, flying to one of the huge bay windows as fast as possible. Indeed there was a rather sullen faced filly right under his window frame. He couldn't tell if he was dreaming or dreaming. He opened his window anyway, letting the filly of his dreams rest on his windowsill.
“You have to tell me how you got to fly so fast!” Scootaloo hissed. She had a look in her eyes that he thought he would never get from her. They looked like they were tearing. There was sheer and unadulterated desperation, heavily mixed with what could be called pure rage. Was impressing Rainbow Dash all that mattered to her? Or did out-speeding her in front of her idol do that much damage? Either way, she looked like she was going to stomp on him.
Show Tail stepped back, not sure of what to say. He didn't want to tell her the truth. He had to keep as much tarnish as possible off his standing with her. He swallowed hard, and came up with the best plausible excuse.
“It’s because I’ve been flying longer than you! You know what I mean?! It’s only been a few months difference, but still!” His mouth went dry under her glare. She narrowed her eyes at him, searching for some fault, anything all to give her more information. A few seconds passed by awkwardly before she finally smiled, seeming to have accepted his vague excuse.
“Sure! I’ll see you tomorrow.” She zipped out his window without another word. He dived back under his sheets, breathing hard. He would be able to tell her everything without feeling embarrassed one day...
As Scootaloo flew back home as fast as she could; only one thing was on her mind.
“I hate him.”