"Well, should we sit here and finish? Or should we go outside? I'm almost done, see?" Silver was pretty pleased with herself until she looked at your work "Anon… umm, you're doing pretty good too." Silver Spoon said, with a sheepish smile as she looked at your terrible work.
"What do you want to do Anon?" Diamond Tiara asked "We all have to agree on something. If you're tired, we can rest behind a tree or something until the bell rings."
"Um… uhh.." You didn't know what to say. Maybe it would be good to just sit and practice finishing up. But before you can say anything else. Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo came up to you.
"Anon, you want to spend recess trying to get your Cutie Mark? We have a few ideas that might work" Applebloom said, a smile on her face and an unparalleled eagerness in her step.
Sweetie Belle raised her hoof in a matter of factly like way "A lot of them are my ideas. I noticed how you wanted to fix your mistake you made with the dress. You went and got those gems for my sister, even more than you needed. And I thought of something. Anon, you might be able to get your cutie mark in..."
Oh shit. Did she figure out that you wanted to try solving other ponies problems? Well, that’s what it downgraded to since friendship problems seemed a little out of your league for now. Or you just needed to start smaller.
"...in gem hunting!" Sweetie Belle said with an accomplished grin
Ohhhh… Just missed it. But fine, whatever. If you were around those three, you didn't have to deal with Diamond Tiara's advances and how they made you feel… things. Maybe Applebloom's reactions earlier were just her being Applebloom.
"Yeah, maybe, let's g-"
"Gem hunting? Ohhh, that sounds like something Anon could do. Finding rare gems and handling danger like he handled those thugs. Can I help?" Diamond Tiara gave a huge grin, excited to help in anyway.
Applebloom, the moment she heard that, her face went a little… dark. But before she could say anything. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle let out a "Sure!"
"With all six of us working together, Anon will have his Cutie Mark in no time!" Scootaloo cheered.
"You want to join in too right Silver Spoon?" Sweetie Belle asked
"Oh… umm yeah! Whatever Diamond Tiara wants to do, I'll join in too. I was even thinking, since we all have Cutie Marks. It should be pretty easy to get Anon one." Silver Spoon seemed to be doing it to want to belong rather than doing it of her own free will. But she was happy if Diamond Tiara was happy.
"Woah… I didn't think of that one." Scootaloo was caught off guard by that logic. It was like she forgot she got a Cutie Mark.
Applebloom didn't put in a word to the conversation. She didn't look too happy Diamond Tiara had put herself into the mix. That confirms it… well… it's either she still have something against her… or she was jealous.
"Hey Applebloom, you ok?" Scootaloo nudged her gently "Aren't you excited? We might be able to get Anon's cutie mark before recess is over! "
Applebloom put on a smile for show when Scootaloo caught her attention "Yeah I am, just was thinking of backup plans just in case, ya know, for after school."
"Alright! Let's go gem hunting!" Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo called out.
"Remember to let Anon find them, or he won't get his Cutie Mark! Actually… did you girls even figure out how Anon would find them without us ruining it by finding them for him?" Diamond Tiara asked "It wouldn't be a special talent if we were finding them for him you know"
She was right about that. And this might not even be a bad setup. Applebloom, if she did really like you, and Diamond Tiara, who did like you. Wouldn't make a move with all ponies present. All you had to do was make sure everything proceeds calmly until recess was over.
"Well, I guess you can help me dig if I happen to uhhh… sense any. Gem hunting is more about the finding than the actual work… I… think." That's how it worked, right?
Applebloom, hearing those words and ringing true in her mind. Thought that perhaps if they only had to dig for them, then it wouldn't count. "That's right! We can help Anon dig! Oh, wait, Silver Spoon, Diamond Tiara… ya don't want to get yer hooves dirty right? We understand if ya don't" And now she was trying to get them to be less active in the plot.
"Wait we actually have to dig to-" Silver Spoon didn't want to do anything like that. But Diamond Tiara cut her off.
"We don't mind. A cutie mark is very important. You three worked so hard to get yours, and to help me understand mine. To see Anon without his… well… I feel like it'll help me repay my debt for all the cruel things I did to you three. If you're all eager to help. Then I'm eager to help… Silver Spoon. If you really don't want to, you don't have to. But I'm going to."
"That's… uhm… that's really sweet of you Diamond." It was indeed. But it was driving you up the wall too.
No… dammit. WHY!? Ugh, she just wanted to help. She wanted to show that she was able to change. Not only for your approval, but for theirs. Ugh… now you felt guilty. But, dammit. You weren't in love with her. Or at least, you didn't feel you were. You were taken completely off guard. And you could see on her face a face of innocent glee, feeling mirthful that you approved of her.
"I-I want to help too, It's just...umm..can I do something other than digging?" Silver Spoon asked
"You can stick with me Silver Spoon. My sister wouldn't like it if I showed up with really dirty hooves. We can just chart where Anon doesn't think there's diamonds so he doesn't forget" Sweetie Belle offered.
"Oh! I can do that!" Silver Spoon nodded.
"Cool, that means me, Applebloom, Diamond, and Anon can do the digging. I bet if we find a super rare gem, that it will be Cutie Mark City for Anon." Scootaloo said with enthusiasm
Diamond Tiara hopped up to slam her hooves together "That shouldn't be too hard, I have diamond in my name! That should bring Anon a lot of luck."
Applebloom however. Seemed to be having mixed feelings in her expression whenever Diamond spoke.
Shit, what was going on with her?. She was jealous. that had to be it. But of what? What's wrong with Diamond joining in? Not like you were going to be alone with her anyway. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle would always be there.
"Yeah, come on. Before the bell rings!" Scootaloo hollered "Let's get Anon his Cutie Mark!"
The six of you stepped outside. Sweetie Belle was being cautious however, always taking a moment to look upon Applebloom's demeanor. She just wasn't thrilled. She was starting to notice something was off. Meanwhile Diamond Tiara was happy as could be.
If you had to guess. Diamond was utterly ignorant that Applebloom had a crush on you. She didn't see her as a threat. But on the flipside, Applebloom saw her as competition… she knew… she figured it out. If only you could figure out what was going on inside her head. Because at this point, you knew it had to be a crush. There was no other explanation for it.
You thought about the horn… that could work… That could forcibly end both of them crushing on you...but… no, you couldn't… you could end up blowing their heads up instead… and, oh boy… that… that would be bad.
"Anon, you noticed too right? How Applebloom is acting?" Sweetie Belle whispered to you as she approached you.
Oh shit. "Uhh yeah, well, It's kind of weird. Maybe she's just tired."
"I don't think so. Applebloom, no matter what, Is always excited when it comes to cutie marks. She could be sleeping and she'd still be excited about it. I think something's wrong. And I don't think she's sick either."
Oh god dammit. You know the truth. You weren't stupid. You just wanted to tell somebody. You had those moments where you feel bad about keeping up the lie. You've had those moments where you felt bad acting like a cute innocent kid when you weren't. Besides Discord, the only one who had a semblance of a clue was a fucking rabbit. Sweetie Belle was level headed enough… maybe, maybe, you could let her in… on something. "Sweetie Belle… can I… tell you a secret?"
"A secret? Is it about Applebloom?" She asked. Curious.
"Sorta… yeah, you see… umm, I think I know what's wrong."
"You do? What is it? should we tell the others?"
You cringe… noooooo "N-no, it's between me and you… do you promise to keep this a secret?"
Sweetie Belle frowned "Anon, I don't know. I mean, why do we have to keep it a secret? If it's to help Applebloom, we should tell everypony"
Oh… maybe it was… yeah… this was a bad idea. Good job Anon, you stupid fuck. Now she's curious and untrustworthy. Time to reshift gears. "Well, I-I dunno if it's anything we can do to help. The thing is I think Applebloom is… overworked." You lied
"Y-yeah, think about it. She’s got her cutie mark and she works on a farm. She may have been right about the farm stuff… probably has a lot more responsibility to think about now..."
"Ooooohhhh… I never thought of that. But, then there's nothing we can really do. That's all Apple Family stuff"
"Yeah, it's a real shame really. I guess the best we can do is just let her get used to it."
Sweetie Belle nods in agreeance. "Yeah. Do you think maybe we should tell her to relax?"
"I'm sure it's fine, she knows what she's doing" Good dodge, good dodge.
The six of you went by a tree a little aways from the Schoolhouse, that would be the starting point apparently. Sweetie Belle went in front of the group and began to address everyone, speaking in a stern commanding voice "Alright everypony, given my sister sometimes goes out to hunt for gems. I feel that makes me qualified to lead this hunt… Because, I sort of know how it works… ahrm… anyway, we all agreed that Anon will have to use whatever senses he has to locate gems. Our job is simple. Me and Silver Spoon will memorize and chart where we dig and where Anon doesn't sense any gems. Diamond, Applebloom, Scootaloo. You're the diggers, and will help Anon dig anywhere he senses a gem." Then, she went a little meek "That's ok with everypony right?"
Scootaloo nodded "Fine with me! digging is tough work, and the tougher I get, the sooner I'll get to fly. It'll be like a form of training! Something Rainbow Dash would do!"
"I'm ok with it. I'll dig fast and hard, and find every gem Anon senses. We'll dig up so many that he'll definitely have to have his Cutie Mark. I'll stake my allowance on it!" What would have been just an expression, Diamond Tiara was actually serious. She pulled out a small bag, hidden in her mane and plopped it down as it made a "ching" noise. "There we go, that's my secret spending bag. I will give it to you Anon, if you don't get your Cutie Mark."
Oohhhhh… Come onnn.. "I-I don't need it really. I have a lot of bits in my saddle bag. It'll be fine."
Applebloom finally says something. Seeing the bag as some sort of sign of affection. She intervenes. "Now hold on a minute Diamond, since were actually the crusaders here, ah gotta be the one to actually put a stake on something. And ah put..." Applebloom takes off her bow, and puts it to the ground "Muh trusty bow"
"Trusty? Applebloom, you have a whole closet of those things at your house" Scootaloo said, not seeing this as much worth as a bag of bits.
"Y-yeah… ah-ah know. But this is mah trusty bow. The very first one ah ever got! And I want Anon to have it if we mess up"
"Applebloom, it's a bow you wear on your mane… Anon isn't going to want that. My scooter, definitely… because it's cool. Not something I'd give up, I'm just saying. But, I don't think you should give up your bow if it means that much to you. And I don't think Anon would ever wear it… because… he's a guy. Just saying" Scootaloo said, a little weirded out that she'd offer up her bow after Diamond offered up her bits.
Applebloom glared at Scootaloo "It's mah bow Scootaloo, ah can give it to Anon if ah want to"
This was getting awkwarrrrdddd...
"U-uhh, Applebloom, Scootaloo is right. It's a really nice thought. But, ya know. I'm a dude. Would never wear it. But thanks for the offer."
"Can't do that Anon, even if yah never wear it. It is an honorable thing to do. If anypony is going to stake anything, it's gotta be a crusader, and that means it's gotta be me"
"We're crusaders too Applebloom, remember?" Scootaloo reminded her, getting a little annoyed with her.
Sweetie Belle, also taking notice. jumps in, she could tell Applebloom was agitated. And she wanted to offer up something so she didn't have to, if only to calm her overworked friend. "Well, I could offer to make Anon his own crusader cape. He kind of needs one anyway."
Applebloom shook her head "eyyynope"
Goddammit Applebloom… What the fuck, why now?! IT WASN'T LIKE SHE WAS THE ONE YOU SAVED!
"Hold on, I think I see what Applebloom is saying. And I know the solution. And I think.." Diamond Tiara looks to Applebloom "We can both offer something, I don't see why we can't. I'm sure Anon will understand and be glad to accept." Diamond Tiara looked to you with soft eyes. "Right Anon?”
Anon will understand… That's what she said. Considering Applebloom was saying she'd offer it up as a crusader… that would mean Diamond would be offering hers up because… she liked you. She didn't seem to understand that was also EXACTLY Applebloom's reasoning as well. Because she liked you too, using "as a crusader" as a front.
Applebloom slides the bag away "...ah'm really appreciative Diamond...but yer ain't a crusader, therefore it's mah responsibility."
"What responsibility? We've never made offers for screwing up before. That kind of sounds like the opposite of what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to help ponies get their cutie mark, not give em stuff for not getting their cutie mark… then they'll just want more stuff and not even care about getting cutie marks anymore." Scootaloo stated… and yeah, she was fucking right about that.
"Oh no! I… I don't want that to happen!" Diamond Tiara immediately took back her bag of bits. "I-I know Anon would never do that, but, I don't want him to ever think it either. I don't want him not to get his cutie mark. There might… there might be ponies who would make fun of him for it… Like I did..."
And Diamond was genuinely upset now. No doubt not wanting anything to do with you not getting a Cutie Mark. She thought about the horror of you getting older without one, the ridicule you'd suffer.
Applebloom however, didn't back down. "Well, ahm still givin up muh bow. I already gave mah word, and an Apple never goes back on their word."
What was she even hoping to gain by offering her bow? You didn't want it. It didn't make you have the hots for her. The time of it being a kind gesture was over. Now it was just annoying.
"Ok fine whatever! Can we get to the digging now? The bell is gonna ring soon and we haven't even gotten started yet… Geez." Scootaloo was eager to get started, she just wanted to dig. Help you get your cutie mark, and get whatever training she thought this would be in.
"Yup, I'm with Scootaloo on this one." You say, right after her. You just wanted to get away from the situation. "And I'm getting vibes over here, I think, gonna walk over here… so uh… if you want to help, and dig, follow me… over here… right over here.."
You just wanted them to follow you, stop, and just get to digging. If Applebloom dug, then she wouldn't be worried about giving you her damn bow.
And so it finally began. Using this as more of a way to distract Applebloom than to actually find gems. You just walk over to random areas as they dug. Applebloom… was really into it. Digging so hard and fast that Scootaloo and Diamond Tiara couldn't keep up. She didn't even care she was getting dirt on both of them.
Scootaloo at one point even stopped digging and had to walk off in frustration. Sweetie Belle taking the time to explain to her what you have told to her. It helped a little, But Scootaloo didn't understand why it was making her so dickish.
Diamond however wouldn't let up, she didn't even care. She was determined to find one gem.It actually surprised you that you didn't randomly run into one yet. They seemed to be everywhere, if "Bats!" was any indication. Maybe this place was already dug up? It didn't matter anyway, after some digging and spotting. The bell finally rang.
"Awwww… we didn't find a single one..." Sweetie Belle frowned
"I guess that means gem hunting isn't Anon's special talent..." Scootaloo looks down at their latest hole, Applebloom… was still in it, digging.
"Come on...there's gotta be a gem in here somewhere!" Applebloom growled
Scootaloo looked to Sweetie Belle "Are you sure she's overworked? Because she's still in there. She's not even sweating."
Sweetie Belle didn't know what to say. And you didn't want to get in trouble.
"Applebloom, the bell rang. We gotta get back to class." You call to her.
"Hold on a second, ahm tryin' to find that gem ya sensed!" She continued her dig.
"Applebloom, I was wrong. If it wasn't in the other holes. It won't be in that one… come on out. before we get in trouble."
Applebloom slowly stopped… and then climbed out, and began to remove her bow. "W-well… then that means… ya get my bow Anon… That's what ah said I'd do if we didn't get ya cutie mark.."
You shake your head, and hold up your hoof for her to stop. "Relax Applebloom, I'm not gonna take your bow. Just keep it, and let's just get back to class ok? I don't want anypony to get in trouble."
"Anon, ah said-" But you interrupt her.
Nope, you were done playing games at this point. You had to remember that this was a juggling act for you. You had to avoid Diamond Tiara's advances, you had to stop Applebloom's nonsense, and you couldn't get in trouble on your first day of school for any reason. You had enough.
"Applebloom, this is stupid. Forget about giving me the bow. Forget about finding any gems. It's over. We can do something else another time."
You give her a stern look, and given the way she feels about you. It's more than enough to get her to back down.
"C-can we please just go back? I don't want Miss Cheerilee to get mad at us" Silver Spoon was already starting to buckle under the pressure of getting in trouble.
Diamond Tiara moved over to your side, looking into your eyes. Then Applebloom's… she didn't want anyone to be angry. She was starting to feel that she caused this. Even after becoming nice, she was still causing trouble. "Anon, Applebloom… let's just forget this happened. Offering something was clearly a bad idea. I don't want to ruin you two's friendship because of something I did... ok?"
Applebloom cringed. She fucked up. She fucked up in more ways than one. She somehow lost her cool over something simple. What's more. Diamond Tiara never lost hers, and was trying to defuse a situation she started. She felt ashamed of herself, and she felt even worse that you got mad at her. She looked down and frowned. holding back tears.. "A-ah'm sorry Anon, ah, just got worked up is all..."
She wasn't about to say what exactly got her worked up. She already felt bad enough. She was starting to think that maybe her crush was stupid and that she couldn't compete with Diamond Tiara.
"It's fine, i'm not angry, I accept your apology, can we PLEASE get back before Cheerilee gets angry?"
Applebloom nods, and climbs out of the hole, her heart was crying. But she was too proud to say anything about it. Scootaloo found the whole thing weird. Sweetie Belle was trying to make sense of the situation. Silver Spoon just wanted to go back. And Diamond Tiara didn't even want to think she had caused any trouble like her old self would have done.
You all head back to the schoolhouse, being the last to arrive...