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“Guys, I think that this is going to be the best summer vacation ever.” Snails looked up to the clear blue sky, a grin dominating his face. Lying by the river with friends was always peaceful. June was now creeping to its midway point, which meant that soon school would be out and finally the hot days would be theirs. Snails laughed to himself. The summer would be filled with friends, playing in the river, snacks and his lovely fillyfriend. He craned his neck to see Apple Bloom playing in the river with the others. Snails smiled as he watched her have fun with their other friends before turning to Show Tail sitting beside him.
“Maybe.” Show Tail said. “Aunt Pica is sending me off to camp for the summer. I have no clue why...” Snails bolted upright at the rather monotone voice of Show Tail.
“Tails, you’re gonna be... leaving?” Show Tail nodded as he slipped himself into the water, wading out into the clear river. Getting away from his best friend’s questions was what he needed right now. He could hear Snails yelling at him to come back, but he shut his ears and thought of the matter at hoof. Pica was sending him off to camp, saying that it was a rite of passage for all pegasi, or at least it was in their family. He didn’t want to go at all. Summer was time for friends and just being silly, at least to him. He had actually made friends after being stuck in the house for an entire year, and he did not want to just leave them behind. He swam towards the other foals, trying his best to get away from Snails, as cowardly as it was. He could make out Snips talking to Twist and sunk into the water. Perhaps a bit of teasing would cheer him up.
Show Tail didn’t expect Snails to grab him out of the water with magic and leave him furiously flapping his wings in an attempt to get away. The unicorn colt trotted over and pulled Show Tail onto the bank of the river, trying not to get slapped by flailing wings.
“Tails, what’s all this bout going away, eh?” Snails forced the colt to look him in the eyes, even though he knew very well Show Tail’s temper was nothing to be messed with. Snails reminded himself that he had created a pissed off pegasus, but there were more important things to deal with. “So, what are you gonna do?”
Show Tail was struggling to get away, wings flapping frantically. Unicorn magic was starting to annoy him. Snails was trying his best to keep him still. Show Tail tugged and pulled until Snips waded over and added his own magical touch.
“Oh Tails, we know how much you like to avoid things, so we decided that if it was ever really important that we would just hold you down!” Snips waved his hoof around gaily, as if it were an everyday occurrence. At this point Show Tail considered getting more idiotic friends. He shrugged and decided that it was better to have friends that cared than anything else.
“I’m going away to a flight summer camp. At least Scoots is going to the same one, so I won’t be alone... But I’ve been arguing with Auntie to let me stay... And what was that about avoiding things?”
“You avoid any talk of Sweetie Belle since she’s joined the chorus. And she’s right over there you know.” Snips tossed his head in the general direction of the filly playing in the stream with a few other foals. And a few colts. One of them was getting too close to her for Show Tail’s liking.
Show Tail’s wings froze in place as he starting shooting daggers at the colt. He was talking to her as if he was so great, with that sly smile that seemed to just make him angry.
“What the hell is he saying that’s so funny?”
“Tails, calm down.” Snails pat him on the back and signaled at Snips to release the magical hold.
“I mean, you’re going to make yourself look silly. It’s just a colt you know... Sweetie looks like she’s enjoying herself, and so is he.” Snips nudged the taller colt, wiggling an eyebrow. He wasn’t surprised when Show Tail shoved him over into the water.
“Oh, well I hope he enjoys my hoof up his... Never mind. I sound like an idiot. I’m letting my temper get the best of me again. But heavens be damned if I don’t just want to...” Show Tail scooted back into the river, laying on the bottom and blowing bubbles. His nose was barely covered by the water and he waved off passing remarks that he was now a hippo. His eyes were trained upon Sweetie Belle as he dragged himself around the bottom before finally deciding to just swim his troubles away. If he didn’t look, he wouldn’t be so bothered.
“Seems he’s having a hard time, Snails... We should do something to help him, right?" Snips glanced up at Snails, who shrugged, unsure of what to suggest.
Show Tail flicked his wet yet tidy tail out of the water as he sulked around the river. Sweetie Belle lay right in his sights at almost all times. He felt the need to run over and shove the colt out of the way, maybe even fight him. The unicorn colt was starting to scoot closer to her. Show Tail stuck his tail in the air like a sail as he waded aimlessly trying to ignore her. He could not. Every laugh made him snap his head around to look at what she found so funny. He couldn't possibly be that funny. He didn't have a cutie mark in humor, it was for the trombone. Who the hell can be so funny with a trombone on their flank?
Show Tail finally made up his mind and waded over to the two, keeping a harsh glare on the unicorn colt.
“Oh hey Tails! I’m just talking to Shining Note here...” Sweetie Belle waved a hoof in his general direction. “He’s in the band and the chorus. You should join the band. I mean, you do like to play the drums, so I don’t see how it could be bad in any way.” Sweetie Belle continued on, her bell necklace making chimes to make it sound even more beautiful. Show Tail’s face melted into a soft smile and he shrugged to agree. What could possibly go wrong?
“Why did I drag myself here... “
Show Tail groaned in exasperation as he sat in the very back of the band room. He was uncomfortable without a doubt, and made a mental note not to let his decision be swayed by a filly no matter how pretty she was. He couldn't help it. In the middle of contemplating his theoretical escape, Sweetie Belle made her way over, taking a seat next to him and smirking. He straightened himself up and tried his best to smile. There was no way she was going to know of his general discomfort.
“How are you Tails?” Sweetie Belle said. “I haven’t seen you really talk to anypony since you got here. You should try, they’re all quite nice you know. They don’t bite.” Sweetie Belle nudged him again, hoping to entice a smile to form on his face. It was obvious to her that he was quite uncomfortable, and she had to do something about that. It was after all her idea to make him come here.
Show Tail could see that she was doing her very best to cheer him up, and that alone made him warm up. He turned his head to face her, maybe even be daring and give her a nuzzle, but she was no longer paying him any mind. She was talking across the room to the colt from before, the light grey one from the river. Show Tail could feel his skin prickle. They were talking about songs, or something like that, and he kept on being so funny to her. She was always laughing and smiling with him it seemed, and the thought alone made him angry. She wasn’t supposed to be this happy with another colt, at least not like this. He could read Shining Note from a mile away. He liked her, and Show Tail was not going to let that pass. Even if she was happy and laughing.
To Show Tail, Sweetie Belle’s every laugh seemed to have lost its luster, as if something was missing, as if it had lost its chime. Chime... He paused his hectic thoughts for a bit and took some careful observation of her. It didn’t take him long to realize that her necklace was gone. The tiny glass bell necklace that he had spent the last of his bits on was gone. Show Tail realized that not even one thousand could calm him down now.
He could feel his pitch black wings start to rise as the frustration began to build. Show Tail tried his best to keep his composure. Composure, however, was not one of his strong points. As his wings reacted to his questionably steaming rage, his logic stepped up for a last ditch attempt to prevent self destruction.
Show Tail forced his wings to behave and turned to Sweetie Belle. She was still talking to Shining Note. That’s when he started to hear the blood pounding in his ears, clearer and crisper than ever before, as if his cutie mark were rallying him onward.
A smirk crept onto Show Tail’s face as he seethed next to her, listening to her chatter and giggle with the colt across the room. He suddenly shot to his hooves and walked out of the room, but not before shooting Sweetie Belle a glare. He had to get out of there, lest he embarrass himself with transforming into some unholy creature. The last thing he saw was her beautiful and confused face, and the very last thing he felt like seeing.
He walked out of the school and began to aimlessly wander the streets. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do. He bit his lip. He could never understand himself. He could question many things that he saw as pointless behavior, like his adverse reaction to Sweetie Belle without the trinket, or the fact that he was angry at Shining Note and yet ignored other colts with Scootaloo. Show Tail took flight, landing before Sugarcube Corner with some newly acquired skill.
Show Tail walked in, keeping an eye out for Pinkie Pie. He desperately needed somepony to talk to. Making his way to the counter, he did not see the pink mare, but instead a yellow stallion with a sleeping pegasus on his back. He was swaying his hips side to side slowly to keep the foal sleep and gave Show Tail a slight grimace.
“Foals, what can you do... Anyway, what can I get you?”
Show Tail hesitated a bit, raising an eyebrow at Mr. Cake. He knew very well who Mr. Cake was, and he was probably much better at these kinds of things than Pinkie Pie. After all, he was married. Show Tail shook his mane, flinching at the random leaf that fell out before looking up at Mr. Cake.
“Hi Mr. Cake, I’m Show Tail. I was looking for Pinkie Pie to talk to, but... You’ll probably be more helpful since you’re married...” He shuffled in place and stared at the floor. Show Tail bit his lip, hoping that the stallion would not laugh at him, or worse, not help. Instead, Mr. Cake smirked and looked at Pound Cake on his back.
“I’d be glad to help ya. Just let me put him to bed and I’ll be right back.”
Show Tail’s shifted in place a bit more, unsure of what to say. With Pinkie, she could always just read his mind, or something like that. He never tried to put much thought into Pinkie powers. Carrot Cake was a full grown stallion with a family, and the very first Ponyville adult he ever had a conversation with that wasn’t about school or lessons. His mind ran though various scenarios, all ending with the destruction of Ponyville, or maybe the re-release of Discord.
He was snapped out of his rambling by Mr. Cake tapping him on the shoulder.
“Hey, you alright? What did you want to talk about...?” Mr. Cake smiled a bit as he looked down at the colt and leaned on the counter.
“Well...” Show Tail began, the tall stallion making him feel more nervous. “I gave... a filly a necklace, and well she never takes it off. I thought so anyway. Today I saw her without it and for some reason I got really upset...” Show Tail stared at his hooves, unsure of what he could possibly reply with.
“Oh well, I understand how you feel. You see those earrings that Mrs. Cake wears all the time? She’s my high school sweetheart, and that was the first real present I ever got her. I worked my hooves to the bone for it.” Mr. Cake gave a dreamy sigh, waving a hoof around as he spoke. “She treasured them, and I’ve only ever seen her without them once in my life, a few weeks after I bought them. I had no idea why, but I was upset. I felt as if my hard work was just thrown aside... I got a bit upset at her too. Turns out that she took them out because her mother advised her that it wasn't wise to wear them for so long... A fine reason... After she saw me so upset at that, she never took them off again.”
Mr. Cake looked down at the stallion with a stern look. “She did it because she loves me. She’s never really taken them off since. It’s how I know she cares.” Mr. Cake straightened himself up and nodded at Show Tail. “I hope that helped you.” He smiled a bit more, hoping that Show Tail would say something.
“So... I’m mad because I got her something special and she’s not wearing it...?”
“Yes, you must really like her then. How cute, young love...”
Glaring at Mr. Cake, Show Tail flared his wings.
“I don’t like her! I’m supposed to like Scootaloo.” Show Tail hissed, totally forgetting his manners. Mr. Cake reeled back a bit and then suddenly burst into a fit of laughter. Show Tail stared at the laughing stallion, confused at his sudden laughing. He straightened himself up, ruffling his riled wings and doing his best to smile politely at Mr. Cake. Maybe the stallion would over look his rudeness...
“Oh you sound just like me when ponies started pairing Cup Cake and I together! I was very against it, you know, but after a while she grew on me. It was baking together that did it. When you enjoy something with somepony special, it becomes even more so. And that’s how Sugarcube Corner was made.”
Show Tail stared at Mr. Cake for a few moments before snapping back to reality once again. He had been spacing out far too much for his liking lately. The older stallion looked down at him with a half a smile.
“Just be careful about her, alright? You might learn your lesson a bit too late.” Mr. Cake nodded solemnly and perked up his ears at some customers entering. “Sorry, can we talk later? I mean...” Show Tail cut him off, holding up a hoof in protest.
“It’s alright... I think I’ll just go...”
Show Tail slipped out of the the store, glancing back at Mr. Cake for a moment before taking flight. He had two choices in his mind: Find Sweetie Belle or go back home. Going home was always the last choice. He hated being there with Pica. Even though she had lightened up with the lessons, she still persisted in the ‘second cutie mark’. Show Tail huffed, giving his silver drum a glance. For the first time in a long time he felt the need to scorn it. The shining drum against his black flank had caused him far too much trouble. He took flight, doing his best to do a fly over Ponyville without crashing into anything, which proved harder than he thought.
After bumping into a few clouds, he finally spotted the filly sitting in front of the school with some other foals. She was giggling with them and singing, leading him to guess that they were the chorus. Landing with ease, he walked up to them and waved at Sweetie Belle. She hopped to her hooves and rushed towards him.
Sweetie Belle hugged him tight, and he could feel the press of the glass bell between them. His heart skipped a beat.
“Oh Tails, where did you go? I was so surprised when you left...” She tilted her head, confusion painting her face. “Did something happen? Shining Note was also surprised when you left... Why did you leave?”
Show Tail swallowed hard as his logic began to reel once again. He could ask her, or he could simply lie... Lying was looking more and more attractive by the second. Not to mention his temper was already welling up at the memory. He took a deep breath, smiling at the pretty filly before him. He didn’t want to tarnish his record with her anymore.
“Shining Note told me that I should take it off. The jingles might be heard as we sing.”
“You did what now?” Show Tail mentally slapped himself as his wings flared in response. Sweetie Belle stumbled back a bit, a flash of fear in her eyes. He gave a nervous chuckle, staring at the ground between them. “Sorry... I didn’t mean to... Um...” She smiled, walking over to gently nudge his flank with her own. He felt his face flush at the contact. He lowered his head and began to chuckle nervously. He had to pull himself together. The filly was right there before him. His mind quickly brought up a very important fact. He had yet to tell Sweetie Belle about his swiftly approaching departure. He ushered the filly away from the other ponies, his heart once again drumming in his ears.
He tried his best to keep himself from reacting to the cat calls behind them, concentrating every fiber of his body to the filly that he was walking with. She seemed excited and joyful, and the thought of telling her she wouldn’t be able to see her in the summer was heart wrenching. Or maybe it was the fact he would not be able to see her beautiful face, hear her silly jokes or listen to her angelic voice singing.
Show Tail chewed on his lip as she began to sing a random tune. Perhaps he was taking this harder than she would. He shook his head, trying to remove it of the terrifying thought. She could possibly not care about him enough, or maybe she would just laugh at him. What if she didn’t care...? He shook his head with more force, as if it would make it any better. It took him a moment to realize that Sweetie Belle had stopped walking and was staring at him. He trotted back to her, hanging his head to hide his face.
“Tails, what’s wrong with you? You’ve been like this since we left. Muttering to yourself and shaking your head... Is something bothering you? I mean, I normally don’t notice these kinds of things but...” Sweetie Belle nudged the colt’s face up a sympathetic smile on her face. “You can tell me, right?” She nuzzled his nose for effect, causing him to stumble back and flush. He kneaded at the ground, feeling nervous. Show Tail mentally slapped himself. He was never nervous, and she had no reason to make him nervous. She was just some filly, and she was just standing there confused.
Sweetie Belle moved closer to him, the bell on her necklace making a soft ring as she did. She pulled him to sit on the side of the road, staring up at the trees across from them as she took a place right next to him. She nudged him with her nose gently, a soft smile on her face.
Show Tail groaned, a grimace flashing on his face for a moment before he snapped upright. After reminding himself that he shouldn’t be nervous over a few times, he sighed at Sweetie Belle.
“I’ll be going away to flight camp this summer. At least Scootaloo is going as well, so I won’t be totally alone... But I wanted to let you know that.” He looked up and down the street then at the sunset hazed sky. It was distracting him long enough to wait for her reply.
“You won’t be here this summer?” Sweetie sighed, her ears falling in defeat. He nudged her a bit, chuckling.
“Tell me something good then Belle. You must've had a nice day.” He decided to be brave and nuzzle her neck gently, making her blush. She coyly smiled, looking at the colt with affection. Perhaps she did like him after all.
“I’m going to sing a song with Shining Note, since we’ve been spending most of chorus and band together... He says he loves the way I sing and that we should sing together.” Sweetie Belle smiled up at Show Tail, hoping that he would congratulate her.
“But... I don’t want you to.” Show Tail said under his breath, pushing his face into her neck, desperate to hide his blushing face.
“Because then when I sing and play music with you, it’s awesome and just us. You already joined the choir...” He waved his forehooves around, still keeping his face close to her. Sweetie Belle blushed at his fidgeting and held back her urge to laugh. Show Tail flustered. This was not something that happened often, and she would be sure to enjoy it. She giggled at the soft tickle of him shorting heavily into her neck, squirming in place as her face heated up in response. “You can, if you want, but you have to promise me that we’ll practice together every day till I leave for camp. I really like hanging out with you.”
“Sure... why not? I mean I like spending time with you too.” Sweetie Belle sighed softly, calming down her thumping heart. She reminded herself that there was no reason to get too excited over his proximity, even if her body was going though an unforeseen lock up. She stretched out a foreleg in a vain only to see it shake and resist her orders. She sighed in exasperation, her ears flopping as the slight frustration that her current state was getting to her. There was no use complaining, so Sweetie Belle let a smile spread on her face. This was what she had wanted all along, was it not? To have him to herself, to have him pay attention to her, want to be with her for her. This was the moment that she had set her heart on. Nothing could ruin it.
“You’re really nice when you are, Tails...” Sweetie Belle paused, her breath stuck in her throat as she started to panic. She felt his wing curl around her. She had been oblivious to its slow creep from his back, inching with caution to the other side of her body. Sweetie Belle lay her head on his, surprised that his messy mane was quite soft. His wing was a warm and welcome comfort, allowing her a moment to just enjoy his presence. She nuzzled the top of his head, smiling gently at his slight flick of the tail. Sweetie Belle felt herself slip into a dreamy haze, humming to herself. Perfection incarnate.
It was too perfect. A sudden bolt of panic jolted her out of her daydream. Sweetie Belle found herself scooting back, chewing on her lip as her face flushed even harder. She could feel him looking at her, eyes filled with something she could only describe as... disappointment? Sweetie Belle kept her eyes trained on the ground after that, grinding her hoof into the ground. He didn’t like her like that... He had said so...
“You’ll make Scootaloo really happy...” Sweetie Belle mentally slapped herself, making note that she would never allow herself to speak again.
“Have you... told her?” Sweetie Belle felt as if each word were coming from another part of her, a part she was learning to disdain. She could not shut herself up.
“Well, no... Do you think I should?” Show Tail kept his head low, glancing up at the filly on occasion. He had forgotten she still believed that he liked Scootaloo... He snapped up, ears perked as he shook his head in confusion. No, he was supposed to... Show Tail slumped back down, shuffling closer to Sweetie Belle and laying his head on her shoulder. She was speaking, saying something that he wasn't paying much attention to, something about what Rarity had said to her. He knew he should have been listening to her, but he was too distracted by is own thoughts and the fact he was so close to her. It was time to give it up completely. There was no more denying it at this point in his young life. He opened his eyes slightly and looked up at her. Sweetie Belle, the filly he liked. Show Tail felt a smile grow on his face, the idea of having Sweetie Belle all to his own now much more appealing.
“You should tell her. Tomorrow, maybe? How does that sound? At least then I can help you out then.”
“Sure...” Show Tail agreed mindlessly, spreading his wing to wrap around her again. He was far too lost in his pleasant day dreams, ignoring her personal discomfort. He was thinking of other things, like staying close to her, playing music with her, or perhaps he could be daring and reach to kiss her. As Show Tail debated the kiss with a hot blush, he felt the filly stand up abruptly and was completely confused by her swift yelp of farewell before dashing off. He shrugged, deciding not to question the fleeing filly and go home himself.
Sweetie Belle trotted off with her head held high. This was no time to lose composure. She would simply have to run this by Rarity in order to figure out what to do. Her older sister always had the right answers. Sweetie Belle trotted into the house, looking around for her older sister. She wasn't surprised to see the mare sitting at the kitchen table and drinking a cup of tea. Sweetie Belle sat next to Rarity, looking up at her as if the wisdom would come pouring out if she stared long enough.
“Yes, Sweetie Belle? If you have something to say, which I know you do, staring at me won't do you any good...” Rarity took a long sip of tea before continuing, inhaling the scent before kissing the filly next to her on the head. “Do tell me what's happening...”
“Tomorrow I told Show Tail that I was going to help him confess to Scootaloo... I have no idea what to do now...” Sweetie Belle looked up at Rarity with wonder. She knew that her sister would have some amazing wisdom to give her, some wonderful genius...
“You help him confess and then wish him good luck with her.”
“But... I like him... Still...” Sweetie Belle allowed the scent of tea filling her nose the sweet smell of peppermint distracting her wandering mind. Rarity was speaking to her, something about feelings and controlling them, but she payed her no mind. How could she possibly not know how to solve this? She was Rarity, she was the one with all the relationship experience, the one Sweetie Belle had come to depend on... How could she possibly not know what to do, how to make him not like her.
“You can't make him like you, darling... You can't. There's no magic in the world that will make him truly like you as you wish... And even if you did use some kind of potion or magic, it wouldn't be real. It wouldn't be them... It would be a weird and twisted heart that was forced to love you, and that's just not the same thing. It has to be natural, true, and devoted. There is nothing you can do...” Rarity took another sip of tea before petting the filly on the head with a slight smile. Sweetie Belle's lower lip was trembling and her eyes began to tear up. Rarity sighed, her heart aching. She had such good news while her sister was dealing with her own personal troubles. There was only one thing to do. She pointed her horn at the fridge and smiled.
“You know what makes everything feel better Sweetie Belle? Ice cream. Ice cream makes everything feel better, even if only for a spoonful.”