When you are the one boy accompanying four girls on a trip to the mall, there is only one fate destined to befall you: pack mule duty.
Second Person struggled as he carried his load of innumerable shopping bags. Panting and about to give out, he was lagging way behind his girlfriend, Sour Sweet and their friends, Sunny Flare, Lemon Zest, and Sugarcoat. Usually, another girl by the name of Indigo Zap would be present as well, however she was on the tomboyish side. Shopping sprees weren't exactly her thing.
This wasn't just any old spree, though. It was an opportunity for the girls to exercise their minds as well as their legs. Just before Crystal Prep Academy had let out that evening, a student meeting was called to decide who will be in charge of raising funds for the upcoming Spring Ball. If enough money was collected, then CPA would be partying down on a big, fancy yacht. The meeting ended with it being decided that Sour and her friends would be responsible.
It was all Lemon's fault, of course. Immediately after the call for volunteers was voiced, the sick beat within the green-haired one's headphones resulted in a furious fist pump striking the air high above the heads of the other students. As it could be imagined, the pump was mistaken for an enthusiastic agreement.
So there they all were, trying to brainstorm ideas.
"Bake sale?" Sunny suggested.
"Too cliché," Sugarcoat said. "Carwash?"
"Too perv-attracting ," Sour dismissed. "Lottery?"
"Too improbable," Sunny sighed.
"Ugh, we've been over every possible idea!" Sour growled.
"Except for selling our bodies, that is," Sugarcoat uttered sarcastically.
Sour glanced back at her boyfriend and teased, "Hey, honey, you wouldn't mind if I walked the streets tonight, would you?"
"Depends, can I be your every customer?" Second chuckled.
"Come on, dudes," Lemon groaned. "There's got to be something!"
"We wouldn't need to come up with anything if it wasn't for certain fist pump volunteers," Sunny said pointedly.
Lemon huffed. She then bit her bottom lip. Her face began contorting in an unusual and uncomfortable-looking fashion. Her entire body soon began to shake. The others took notice and took a step back.
"What on earth is she doing?" Sunny asked in horror.
"I believe Lemon Zest is..." Sugarcoat said before hesitating. "... thinking."
"She can DO that?!" Sour uttered in shock.
"Lemon, know your limits, girl!" Second shouted.
Lemon continued with her unprecedented thought process until her face started to become even redder. Just as the other Shadowbolts began to contemplate where exactly they'll duck in cover when she blew, relief from above finally came.
"Do you love music?"
Lemon instantly broke out of her trance. "More than anything, disembodied voice dude!"
"Do you and your friends love dancing?"
With that, the five Crystal Preppers looked straight up to the source of the questioning. A TV screen flashed images promoting a contest called, "A Chance to Shine!" Contestants had to submit a music video with an original song and choreography for a chance to win a large cash prize.
Sour gasped with realization. "Guys, the prize is TWICE the money we need for the yacht!"
"What are we waiting for, let's get to the juice shop to sign up!" Lemon cheered.
The girls immediately began sprinting. Second took only two steps before he knew he was at his limit. He wobbled over to a bench and unloaded the stuffed bags. He let out a loud sigh of relief as his burden lifted and he fell back on his behind.
Well ahead, Sour turned and called back, "Second, you coming?"
Second weakly waved. "You girls go on and sign up. I'll wait here."
Sour shrugged and took off.
Second was grateful to have a break. Not that he totally minded being a pack mule. He was on the masochistic side after all. You had to be to some extent to be the boyfriend of Sour Sweet, her schizophrenic episodes being overwhelming at times. However, she had been doing fairly well lately. Not too much abrupt mood swinging or paranoid freaking out over nothing. Taking her medication more regularly than she used to most likely had something to do with it.
Not to mention the fact that things at Crystal Prep Academy had improved quite significantly in the last few months. With Cinch gone and Cadance in, classes had become less strict, stress levels had declined, and true friendships were forming where previously there were only advantageous alliances.
Second loved the new Crystal Prep. Absolutely loved it.
Even fun events such as a yacht Spring Ball were actually now possible. That is, if they could get the funds.
Second got back on his feet as he spotted the girls returning. He was about to pick up all the bags before he noticed something odd. Sour Sweet, Sunny Flare, Lemon Zest, and Sugarcoat all had smirks on their face. Those kind of devious smirks that he hadn't seen since... the Friendship Games.
"What's going on, guys?" Second asked.
"Dude, we're totally going to steal Rar – " Lemon began before being elbowed in the side by Sunny.
"Huh? Steal what?"
"Oh, uh, what Lemon was going to say was that we're totally going to steal this competition with our completely original music video!" Sour quickly said.
"Okay," Second muttered, still confused.
"Now, come on, honey!" Sour cheered as she took him by the arm. "We still have three more shoe stores left!"
Second sighed as he wondered when the irony of conducting extreme mall splurging while at the same time desperately needing school funds would settle in with anyone else but him.
The next day, they were once again at the mall. Not for shopping, but to film scenes for the music video. Did they have permission to use the mall as a dance studio? No. Were they prepared to run like heck if security got called over? Indeed.
They set the camera up by the water fountain. Acting as cameraman, Second adjusted until he captured the girls within a good shot. He rather admired the creativity of dressing up in a combination of disco and ballet outfits. Of course, it would've been better if they weren't one Shadowbolt short.
Indigo Zap was asked to join in, but had declined. Something about being, "Not into girly things like that". Second thought it was a shame. With Indigo absent, the whole project would seem a bit, well, empty. Not to mention a great loss to the overall... talent, as it were.
"Wow, never knew Sugarcoat could lift her leg up so high..."
"Enjoying the view, are we?"
Second jumped at the sound of his girlfriend's unpleased tone.
Sour Sweet crossed her arms and smirked. "Instead of ogling, why don't you make yourself useful and get everyone a round of juice, hm?"
Second saluted. "I'm your gopher."
He jogged off toward the juice shop. As he got in line, Second glanced over at the "A Chance to Shine!" signup booth. He hoped that the girls could win. He thought it would be absolutely wonderful to twirl Sour Sweet around on the deck of a yacht, the sea sparkling all around them by the light of a full moon...
"Hey, move it!"
Second snapped out of his fantasy and looked back at some twelve-year-old boy.
"Line's moving," he spat.
Second glanced ahead to see that he was indeed about three spaces behind in the line.
He looked back as he moved up. "Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about how romantic it would be to dance with my girlfriend in the moonlight."
The kid stared blankly. "That's gay."
Second gave him a look. "My brother's gay, you know."
To his credit, the kid quickly displayed a small bit of shame. "Oh, uh, sorry. More power to him."
Second smiled, suddenly having a renewed faith in the future.
Soon with a full foam tray of juice cups in one hand and his own to sip from in the other, Second began his way back to the girls. All of a sudden, someone caught his eye. A Wondercolt of all things. Rarity ran by, her face looking distressed with mascara running down her cheeks.
Wonder what's wrong? Second thought.
Second reached the filming location, thankful that they haven't been ran off yet.
"Hey, guys, I saw Rarity running by crying," Second said as he handed out the drinks. "Did you see what happened?"
Sour, Sunny, Lemon, and Sugarcoat froze and traded glances.
"Oh, uh, probably just dazzled by our amazingly original video concept," Sour offered nervously. "She's in the contest, too."
"Poor thing probably doesn't have a good idea herself," Sunny added, smugly.
"Rarity of all people not having a concept yet?" Second asked, confused. "That doesn't sound – "
"Sugarcoat, quick, lift up your leg high again!" Lemon shouted desperately.
"You're kidding, right?" Sugarcoat glared at the rocker.
Second glanced at each of his friends. Something was wrong here. He couldn't place his finger on it, but something definitely seemed to be up with them.
The next day, Second Person walked down the halls of Crystal Prep Academy on his way to the school ballroom. It was free period and no doubt Sour, Sunny, Lemon, and Sugarcoat were already well at work on their choreography. It did concern him, though, that they had been practicing so much with the dance moves, yet hadn't seemed to have any original music worked up yet. He tried to push those worries away. His girls were awesome. They would surely come up with some great new song.
Second reached and was about to go into the ballroom, when a voice stopped him in tracks.
"Don't change the subject, Sour Sweet!"
Second blinked. Rarity? He peeked in to witness both Rarity and Twilight Sparkle confronting his girls. He heard everything. How they stole Rarity's music video idea and even more nefarious, how they were going to submit the choreography early. If the Rainbooms went ahead with their concept, it would appear to the judges that they were the copycats.
Second's heart sank.
Rarity and Twilight left despondent, leaving the cackling Shadowbolts behind.
"Did you see the look on Rarity's face?" Sour laughed.
"I sure did."
Sour cringed and spun around to see her boyfriend. "Oh, Second! How long – "
"How could you? How could all of you?!"
"Hey, we're just doing what we have to do to get our yacht!" Sour growled. "Do you WANT to have the Spring Ball in some boring ass venue?!"
"At least a boring ass venue would be honest!"
Sugarcoat lifted an eyebrow. "Who are you? Applejack?"
"Dude, what's the big deal?" Lemon asked with an eye roll.
"Lemon's right, dearie," Sunny said. "You seem to be taking a simple music video competition a tad out of proportion."
Second's fists clenched. "It's not about the dumb competition, it's about the old Crystal Prep and the new Crystal Prep!"
Sour and the others couldn't help but to pause with surprise at that declaration.
"Stealing someone's ideas is what the old Crystal Prep would do! Setting someone up for failure is what the old Crystal Prep would do! Do you guys remember what the old Crystal Prep did to Twilight? Do you remember how we pushed her into becoming a raging she-demon? Her cry for help as she was swallowed up by that ball of magic? Is that what we want to continue to be?"
Sour took a step toward him. "Second, I – "
"I expected better from you guys." Second stared straight into his girlfriend's eyes. "I expected better from you, Sour Sweet." He turned and walked out of the ballroom. "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the new Crystal Prep doesn't exist after all."
The four Shadowbolts stood there in silence. Neither was affected by Second's words more than Sour Sweet, however.
Sunny stepped over to her. "You okay?"
Sour turned her head away so no one could see her wipe a tear. "I could go for a milkshake right about now..."
Second Person sighed in misery as he sat in his room with only his Shih Tzu, Bailey to keep him company. It had been several days since he yelled at his friends. Since he yelled at his girlfriend. His eyes kept glancing over to his cellphone. Every urge in his body kept telling him to pick it up and call Sour Sweet. To apologize. However, embarrassment kept barring him from it.
"What do you think, Bailey?" The light brown puppy in his lap looked up. "Was I taking the whole thing too seriously? Was I just up on my high horse?"
Bailey's green eyes stared up at his master with a gleam of understanding. Not of the specific situation, of course, but of Second's feelings. The Shih Tzu hopped up to lick his cheek. Second chuckled and began to lovingly stroke Bailey's back.
A knock came at his door.
The door instantly swung open and in danced Sour Sweet, wearing her yellow and silver disco outfit with the hoop earrings. Second's eyes widened as his girlfriend gave him a short, but saucy dance all the while shooting an unmistakable, "You know you want this" look. She always knew how to make his blood rush. Sour finally twirled over, swept up Bailey and replaced him in Second's lap, relocating the puppy in hers.
Sour smiled and booped Second's nose. "Hey, you."
"Hey, Sour," Second said hesitantly. "You seem happy."
"Well, of course. We did win the music video contest, after all."
"I see." Second frowned and glanced off. "How are Rarity and the Rainbooms taking it?"
Sour smiled bigger. "They won, too."
Sour leaned over to his desk. She quickly brought up the contest's website on his computer and clicked 'play' on the video prominently featured on the homepage. Before Second's eyes played an epic video featuring performers from both Canterlot High and Crystal Prep Academy. It was an incredible sight to behold in so many ways to Second.
"We combined our talents," Sour began to explain. "The Shadowbolts pitched in our choreography and the Rainbooms supplied their song, "Dance Magic". We split the prize fifty-fifty. They got money to renovate Camp Neverform, or whatever it's called, and we're going to get our yacht!" She then added smugly, "Our video is even breaking the internet as we speak."
Second shook his head in amazement. "Wow, I can hardly believe this!"
Sour began to blush a little. "And Second... you were right. Working with Rarity was way better than trying to ruin her. The two of us actually became, well, good friends." She hesitated before uttering, "Forgive me?"
Second reached up and stroked her cheek. "Of course, Sour Sweetheart."
Sour smiled before abruptly cheering, "Are we gonna snog?!"
Second blinked. "Uh, what?"
"Wrong answer! Try again! Are. We. Gonna. Snog?!" Taking note of her boyfriend's confusion, Sour shrugged. "Just trying to make up for the fact that Indigo hasn't been around lately."
Second laughed. "Well, in that case..."
He pulled Sour into his lips. Relief swept over Second. Honesty was upheld plus they could still have their romantic moonlit dance. His ideal for the new Crystal Prep had stood strong after all.
Of course, the couple's intimate moment just had to be intruded upon. Bailey jumped up and licked right on their lip-lock.
"Bailey!" Sour laughed as she wiped off her lips. "This isn't a threesome, boy!"
The canine responded with a complacent, "Arf!" before receiving a dual hug from Second and Sour.