The sounds echoed through the coffeehouse, the reverberating baseline matched with scintillating synth melodies. Over the top of the music, Lyra’s slightly scratchy voice shouted out free-associated nonsense, flowing from one idea to the next in a staccato rhythm that counterbalanced the beat.
Windy Wander stood at the back wall, bobbing up and down in time with the music. Next to her, Bon Bon watched the musicians with a pensive frown.
The song came to a close and Lyra took a bow, to scattered applause and cheers from the ponies watching. Windy pounded her hooves against the floor enthusiastically.
“And for our next number, we’re gonna go with something slower. Something for a special pony out there!” Lyra winked at the two ponies standing along the back wall and raised a hoof to signal her bandmates. The drummer’s sticks clicked together to count off and the music started again, this time more subdued. Lyra’s lyre floated up, a cord running from it to an amplifier, and a twisting melody rang out.
“Oh gosh,” Windy said. “She’s been working on this one for ages. I think this is the first time they’ve tried it live.”
“Do they ever do anything less… noisy?” Bon Bon asked. Lyra looked across the room at her with a smile and Bon Bon raised a hoof slightly in acknowledgment.
“Oh, it does take a bit to get used to.” Windy’s wings fluffed up and out. “But the harmonies they use are really rather sophisticated, and technically speaking, they’re all really good. I mean, listen to the unconventional syncopation of the drums. And Lyra, gosh, Lyra…”
Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “Yes, it’s hipster music, I get that. Do they normally have this many ponies show up?”
“I-I guess. They’re getting a bit of a reputation in certain circles, I think.”
Bon Bon nodded. “Not bad.” Her eyes drifted to the stallion wearing shades behind the keyboard. “Not bad at all.”
“Did I mention Lyra writes most of the music herself?” Windy asked, shifting back and forth on her hooves. “She’s in the musical program at PCGSU.”
“Only like thirty times,” Bon Bon griped.
“You know, I think you’re right, though.” Bon Bon raised a hoof to her chin. “I think they could be pretty popular, if they’d drop all this avant-garde nonsense and go mainstream.”
“What do you mean?” Windy asked.
Bon Bon didn’t say a word, but a small smile flitted across her face.
Bon Bon marched straight down the streets of Ponyville, headed for the market square. She ignored the other ponies milling around, only pausing to glare at any that stepped in her way. A pony mowing his lawn raised one hoof in a wave as she stalked by, but she didn’t spare him a glance.
She frowned as she finally arrived in the market square, looking around at the various carts and stalls set up throughout the open space. On one corner, a building that looked like a giant gingerbread house rose up, a line of ponies extending out the door and around the corner. Across the way, dresses hung in the windows of a well-decorated round boutique.
Bon Bon ignored those too, doubting anything in this town would compare with the offerings in Canterlot or Manehattan. There was only one thing she was looking for, one pony and—
Her eyes lasered in on a green pony dragging her hooves as she trudged through the square.
Bon Bon gritted her teeth, but forced her mouth into an artificial smile as she trotted forward to intercept the other pony.
“Hi,” she said, lifting her head and waiting carefully for Lyra’s reaction.
Lyra glanced up and then away, picking up her pace as she trotted away. “Not now, Bon Bon,” she said.
Bon Bon blinked. She had to canter forward to catch up with Lyra. “Hold on, you can’t just run off!”
Lyra stopped, causing Bon Bon to bump into her from behind. “Not now. Look, I know, I said some things that I regret, but we can talk about it later.”
“Well, I certainly hope that— Wait. Later when?”
“Later tonight,” Lyra said. “Just give me some time, okay? I’ll see you at home.”
Bon Bon shook her head, as Lyra walked off, vanishing into a crowd of ponies clustered around a stand.
“But…” She frowned. “Where do you live?”
Bon Bon sat curled up on the couch, her head buried under a pillow. She should have been at work by now, of course. But at this point she had already missed the early morning crowd. It wouldn’t hurt to stay closed until the afternoon.
At the moment, she didn’t feel like doing anything, other than lying there with her stomach tied in knots. She cursed Lyra for causing the problem to begin with, then veered into an overwhelming guilt for her resentment of her marefriend’s perfectly justifiable actions. That morphed into disgust at herself and anxiety about her future in the short and long-term. Surely Lyra couldn’t love someone like her. But it was Lyra’s fault to begin with…
A sharp rapping broke her mind out of the failure spiral and she sat up, staring at the door.
“Go away,” she called out.
The knocking redoubled, the pounding insistent and shaking the door.
Bon Bon unsteadily rose to her hooves and made her way to the door, swaying back and forth. She lowered one eye to the peephole to see who was on the other side and her mouth ran dry.
The mare currently knocking on the door had a familiar cream-colored coat, a familiar blue and pink swirled mane, and an unfortunately familiar scowl on her face.
“I heard you in there, now open up!” the other Bon Bon shouted.
Bon Bon took several steps back, head reeling as all of the very worst case scenarios of her deepest anxieties caught up with her.
She closed her eyes and forced one deep breath, then another, as her heart pounded with enough force to leap out of her chest.
She was screwed.
Strangely, that gave her a certain sense of calm. She had imagined this day would come, after all, and now that it was here, it felt like those nightmares she had grown unfortunately accustomed to. Sure, she wouldn’t wake up from this one, wouldn’t have Lyra comfortingly snoring away in bed next to her.
Bon Bon swallowed and steeled herself. She was almost certainly not going to get out of this. But if there was a way – any way – to keep Lyra, she would fight for it. And she had an idea.
A green light flashed in the foyer of Lyra and Bon Bon’s house.
Bon Bon ceased knocking, narrowing her eyes. If Lyra thought she would wait outside all day for her, that mare had another thing coming.
She turned and lifted one rear hoof, ready to buck the door right down if she had to.
She was just about to let loose when she heard the creak of the door swinging open. She smiled smugly to herself and turned to see… Lyra.
Bon Bon blinked. “I thought you were at the market,” she said.
Lyra rubbed the back of her head with one hoof. “Yeeesss…?”
“Well then. I don’t see why I couldn’t have followed you back.” Bon Bon sniffed. “After you ran off I had to ask three whole ponies before I found a mailmare who knew where you lived.” She paused for a moment, frowning. “Incidentally, I can’t believe they let ponies like that deliver letters.”
Lyra jaw clenched. “She’s not… I mean.” Her eyes darted back and forth. “Come in!”
Lyra reached out to pull insistently on Bon Bon’s foreleg, dragging her inside and slamming the door shut.
“Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Some homemade sweets?”
Bon Bon scrunched up her nose. “I’ll have a water. Surely, Ponyville can’t manage to screw that much up at least.”
“Nope!” Lyra said. “Water, yes! We have wonderful water.”
She trotted away to the kitchen, hastily filling up a glass and balancing it on her back. When she arrived in the living room again, Bon Bon had already taken a seat on the couch and was looking down her nose at the knickknacks on their fireplace.
Lyra stepped forward, before Bon Bon could notice the heart-framed portrait of Lyra and Bon Bon from their first Hearts and Hooves Day in Ponyville. She smiled brightly, as Bon Bon looked at her with narrowed eyes.
“Well?” Bon Bon said.
Lyra blinked, and then awkwardly turned her head to lightly grip the glass in her teeth and set it in front of Bon Bon.
“Ew,” she said. “Use your magic. Why do you always have to be so weird?”
Lyra flushed red and dragged one hoof in a circle on the ground. “Anyways. It’s so good to see you again, Bon Bon. It’s been great catching up! But I’ve got to be somewhere right...” her eyes flitted over to a clock. “Right now, so if you’ll excuse—”
“Nope, I’m not going anywhere until we talk,” Bon Bon said firmly.
Lyra nodded rapidly. “Sure, yes. Let’s talk. About—”
“About the magazine article.”
Lyra winced. “Of course. I’m sure you have questions.”
“What the buck are you thinking?” Bon Bon exclaimed. “Where did you even get that picture?”
Bon Bon rose to her hooves and poked Lyra hard in the chest. “You still have a crush on me, is that it? After all this time, you’re still pining after me?”
“Not that I blame you, of course. It’s just awfully pathetic, I hope you realize that. Being hopelessly in love with a pony who doesn’t even realize you still exist.”
Lyra’s head hung low. Bon Bon paused and Lyra looked up before quietly speaking. “Yes, I know. That’s what it is, I’m really sorry. It won’t happen again. Just… just leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. We’ll forget all about this and move on.”
Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “Did you lose your backbone too?” She smirked. “And I never said we had to leave one another alone.”
“What?” Lyra said, feeling a sinking feeling.
“Maybe I was wrong about you,” Bon Bon said airily. “Maybe you are going places. Maybe this could work after all. Things haven’t been going so well for me in Canterlot, primarily because of an insidious and completely unjust conspiracy of confectioners refusing to hire me, and—”
Lyra was shaking her head violently. “No. No no no no no no no.”
“No!” Lyra cried out. “In retrospect I don’t think it will work. Maybe I prefer stallions after all? Ha ha. My mistake. “
Bon Bon’s face darkened. “You don’t truly expect for me to believe—”
Lyra yanked her forward, shoving her towards the door. “Actually, maybe I’m already seeing somepony. You know how it is. But it’s been a pleasure. I would invite you back but I’m moving tomorrow. To Vanhoover. Maybe you should look me up there!”
“Wha—” Bon Bon cried out.
Lyra yanked the door open and made to push the other mare out when she saw a familiar figure turning the corner on the other end of the street. She slammed the door shut again, barely missing Bon Bon’s muzzle in the process.
“On second thought! You should go out the back door. I have a lovely garden!”
Bon Bon stamped her hoof. “Stop it this instant!” she yelled out.
Lyra froze, a fake smile plastered on her face.
Bon Bon trotted to the center of the room and stood with her hooves planted firmly. She glared at Lyra. “I am not leaving until you knock it off and we discuss this like reasonable mares.”
Sweat poured down Lyra’s forehead as her mouth opened and closed. She swore she could hear hoofsteps through the door behind her as a pony walked up the path to the house.
Lyra’s eyes flickered between the front door and an angry Bon Bon, back and forth. Then she heard the creak of the door starting to open and leapt forward as green flames flashed.
Lyra opened the door to her home, her head hanging down. “Look Bon Bon, I wanted to say—”
As her eyes came up, she saw two identical ponies waiting for her in the middle of the room, mirror images of one another save for their expressions. The rightmost pony’s face was contorted into an expression of open-mouthed shock, while the leftmost pony drew heaving breaths, on the verge of bursting into tears.
Both of them were Bon Bon.