by I Am The Night

Chapter IX: Aqua Lilly

Chapter IX: Aqua Lilly

Upon arriving back in the hotel room, none of the others questioned, nor had any suspicion, as to why the two of you were down there for so long. In the case that they asked at some point, the story you two stuck with was simple; you and AJ wanted to swim and have some more fun, nothing more, nothing less.

Of course, Pinkie had some sort of decency to make some innuendos about what really went on. You couldn't help but blush and laugh in embarrassment, but beyond that, it wasn't enough to make anypony question it.

The two of you didn't add to the conversation; hopefully, it would be forgotten by tomorrow.

The rest of the day went normal, though nopony ever left the hotel. When dusk settled and dinner was ready, you all decided to eat downstairs in the hotel's cafeteria. You will admit, hotel food can be good sometimes.

Sometimes. The last time you ate hotel food, you couldn't leave the toilet for a second, or else it'd be coming out both ways.

Dinner was rather delicious: Hayloaf, or a big slab of hay served cooked with choices of sauce. You'd rather prefer ketchup, but the others, excluding Pinkie and Applejack, preferred it without sauce. Applejack rather preferred it with Ranch, and Pinkie prefered it

You don't know how well the two go together, but for some odd reason, you don't want to find out. You let Pinkie do whatever the hell she pleased.

Night came rolling by, and everyone picked a bed, two to each, and were out like lights within minutes. Twilight and Spike, Pinkie and Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow, and you with Applejack. A part of you maybe wanted to sleep next to Rainbow, but nothing would have happened but an awkward, sleepless night.

However, even after the lights had gone out and the lamps went dark, you weren't able to fall asleep right away. It was always this curse with you, but only after what happened at the party; even after your spirit was improved, you still had trouble properly going to bed, to the point where it would be hours before you could shut your eyes, and even then, the sun would rise in a couple more.

It made you fear that your schedule would be completely out of place, or---with the little sleep you had---you would get sleep deprivation. You tried, you really tried, to sleep, but no matter how hard you tried, you were always forced to stay awake until your mind gave you permission, like it was rather a delayed reaction to bed.

Eventually, nearly two hours after the lights went out, at around twelve-thirty, there was an urge in your bladder, beckoning you to the bathroom, and it wasn't willing to take 'no' for an answer.

Carefully lifting the covers, you slide out from the bed and gently hover your way to the bathroom. Once you make it inside, you flick the light-switch, and the three lights on the ceiling come to life, taking you by surprise and nearly blinding you.

When your sight was righted and your vision was no longer blurred, you took a look at the bathroom before you. You never thought hotel bathrooms could look so...well...fancy.

To the right of the bathroom from the door, there was a rather large bathtub, larger than the one in your home---or any other bathtub, for that matter. It looked like it could hold a couple of ponies, maybe more than five, and even then, it looked like there would still be elbow room. The tub had a few assortments of shampoos and soaps. Some looked elegantly rare, others were common bath-washes that even you had.

Looking to the center of the bathroom, at the other end, was a single toilet. It wasn't all that fancy, it looked like any other toilet. The only difference is, it was much cleaner than the ones at any Las Pegasus hotel you've ever been to, and that was honestly sad for a city like that.

The left of the bathroom consisted of a marble-structured bathroom counter---clean and smooth-feeling---a few drawers, all of them locked---possibly for staff only for those occasional checks on pipe work---and a mirror that extended from the toilet all the way to the door, giving you a good reflecting view of the bathroom, which looked good even the other way.

However, as much as you really liked seeing this, and you really did... really needed to pee.

Hovering your way towards the toilet, you flip open the lid, but not to hard as to make such a noise, you make sure you're properly aimed, and with assurance, you let loose the storm.

Relief racked your brain; with caution, you closed your eyes and savored this relaxing moment. You haven't had a moment this good since yesterday, when you let loose a different kind of storm.

Within half a minute, the stream began to diminish, before finally coming to a full stop. You shook a few times to let those last few drops fall before flushing.

You did sometimes wish you were a unicorn so you could just use a soundproof spell every time you went to the bathroom, but unfortunately, everything has a price.

Including your privacy.

Once the toilet was cleanly flushed, you gently closed the lid and made your way to the sink. Turning on the water, you pour some soap and lather your hooves in the substance. Once they were properly bubbled and foamed up, you rinse them beneath the water and make sure not a single spot of soap is left behind.

No survivors.

It doesn't take long for you to fully wash them. Once you were sure they were properly clean, you began to shake them out of somewhat instinct, but it wasn't until a few seconds later that you found a towel, hanging just beside the toilet, and you shook your head for not noticing before.

Grabbing the towel, you begin to wipe your still-wet hooves dry. Once dry, you hang the towel back on its railing and decide to head back to bed before anyone were to notice you were gone.

Then you tripped.

Karma being a bitch---as usual---you slip on the floor, having been wet because of you, and slam your face onto the counter, but only the right portion of it. Falling to the ground, you land on your head and reel back in pain.

You didn't know how long you laid there for. A minute? An hour? It didn't matter. It hurt beyond anything you've felt before. Sure, you're sprained a wing before once or twice, but that was virtually nothing, in your opinion, compared to this.

It took all your vocal strength not to scream in agony. You thought you had broken your nose, knocked out a tooth. But as you gently, but stupidly, felt around those areas, you noticed---to great relief---that no teeth had fallen out, and your nose was neither broken nor out of place.

But sweet goddess, your right eye was killing you.

The area around your right eye felt badly bruised and rather painful, the moment you touched it, you flung your hoof away and cringed in great pain. You actually began to take in sharp breaths, it was that bad.

"Son of a bitch," you remember whispering. Even now, you didn't want them hearing you and making a fool of yourself.

And you'd rather not deal with Rainbow right now.


That made you think for a second, what you just said. A week ago, you were head over hooves for Rainbow Dash. She was the mare you'd want to love, the mare you'd want to marry, have children with, and spend the rest of your life with.

She was the one, you thought.

But it was only recently, just the past couple of days, that you actually considered that whole thing, looked into it at face value, and you finally realized something.

She really hates you.

It didn't come off as a surprise in the slightest. Of course she hated you! She's been hating you all week!

But then you thought back to that day, her birthday. You saw her and Applejack talking in the alleyway. You heard the whole thing start off with, "He's a cool guy and all."

However, that only raised further questions. Did she even mean that at all? Did she really think you were 'a cool guy', or did she think you were some disaster, even before the party?

Was that 'friendly attitude' of hers towards you for the past two years nothing but a gimmick so she could talk about you behind your back? So she could laugh at your mistakes and your sorrows and not even care?

Would she really care if you were gone?

Mid-thought, you heard a silent knock on the door behind you. Of course, laying on the floor, it was technically above you.

At first, you had assumptions it was Applejack, perhaps checking on you to see if you were okay.

"Is everything okay in there?" you heard Twilight's familiar voice whisper instead on the other side.

It took you a moment to reply. "Yeah, I'm fine." Only your voice shook with every syllable.

She didn't believe it, but honestly, neither did you.

"You don't sound fine. I'm coming in, okay?"

Managing to unlock the door from the other side---pesky unicorns---she slowly opens it, making sure the door made as little noise as possible. Luckily, you were not that close to the door, so you didn't have to worry about it smacking you.

Immediately upon entering, she spotted you laying on the floor.

"What are you-" Her question was quickly cut off when she noticed your face. Of course, you didn't think it was too bad.

But her face said otherwise.

"Oh Celestia, what happened?!" she asked, trying to keep her voice down.

As painful as it was, you were able to cough up a little chuckle.

"I guess I kinda slipped. Of course, it had to be me right? Heh... ow."

You attempt to hold your face again. This time, the pain is only a little less extreme, but it's still there, but you're cautious this time.

As quick as she entered, Twilight left momentarily, and upon coming back, she was levitating what appeared to be a bag of ice. You wondered where she could have gotten that from. Surely, she couldn't have gotten it from the ice machine; you never heard her teleport.

But then you remembered the mini-fridge near the door, inside containing a bag of ice. You couldn't remember really, the pain was just killing you.

"Here, sit up," Twilight kindly demanded.

To your best effort, you carefully grabbed the marble counter and tried hoisting yourself up. It was successful, but you felt yourself beginning to slip once more from the still-wet floor. Luckily, Twilight was there to grab you via magic.

With no effort whatsoever, she was able to properly levitate you over to the edge of the bathtub, promptly sitting you up.

"Careful," you point out, "the floor's wet."

Twilight, with proper focus, was able to locate the small puddle of water, and to your surprise, she managed to levitate every drop of it and pour it down the sink.

You didn't think she was able to even do that. Sure, she can do practically anything, but you weren't expecting that, so it was rather impressive to you.

Once the water was washed down the sink, Twilight returned to your focus towards you, and that look of concern was there.

Goddess, to be honest, you missed that from Twilight, that look of worry for you.

Walking over to you, Twilight levitated the bag of ice, now slowly beginning to drip, towards your face.

"It might hurt a little."

You nodded, understanding and letting Twilight know.

Prepared---somewhat---you waited as the bag got closer, ever closer, to your face.

When it touched, all that preparation had retreated.

You did your best not to scream, and all you could virtually do was cringe, cringe harder than you ever had before, all while Twilight was profusely apologizing to you again and again.

And this had to be done while keeping quiet, which was harder than it sounds.

Luckily, however, the pain slowly began to subside, possibly from the cold, and at some point, you were able to hold the bag yourself without pain rupturing through your mind.

You won't deny that it was still a bit stinging, but it wasn't going to kill you.

For a couple of minutes, you sit there on the edge of the bathtub, holding the slowly melting bag in your hoof, while your face began to comfortably numb. Not long after, Twilight sat right next to you on the tub, seeming to look forward, but at the same time, look down. It seemed as if she was attempting to say something, maybe ask, but couldn't find the right words to say so.

Welcome to my world, you mentally say.

When she doesn't say anything after a minute or two, you decide to speak up, but quietly.

"Rainbow's gonna have a field day in the morning when she sees this, huh?"

You give a hearty, but dim chuckle. Of course, it wasn't much of a truthful laugh, just something to spark a conversation. Looking towards Twilight, you had assumed she would probably be chuckling, just a little bit, maybe even a smidgen of a smile.

But when you stared at her, there was no smile, no giggle.

Nothing but sadness and a questioning concerned look.

Then finally, she turned to and asked a question you'd never expect from her a week later.

"How can you stand her?"


You cock your head slightly, trying to act a bit surprised, like you didn't understand what she was truly talking about.


"Don't play dumb with me, please."

Her voice carried seriousness in it, and that was when the playfulness stopped, and your question also became serious.

"What do you mean?"

She looked down towards the floor for a few moments, trying to get the correct words out. When she looked back towards you, she gave you quite the emotional and stern speech.

"You know exactly what I mean! Ever since that day at the party, she's done nothing but belittle you, insult you, and scream at you for no reason! You've done nothing wrong, you know it was an accident, and yet, all she keeps doing is treating you like dirt! Why do you keep trying to win her? Why do you keep chasing her?! Why do you keep trying to get her to care?!"

She managed to keep herself mostly quiet throughout her frustration, but her voice was loud enough to wake anypony just outside the door. Luckily, the beds weren't too close, so there was no worry.

Twilight, by the end of her rant, was panting somewhat, trying to catch her breath. When you looked towards her, that concerned look was still there, but it was overshadowed by frustration and anger, not for you.

For a couple of seconds, you look towards Twilight, and when you look back to the marble counter, you let out a little chuckle again, and at the corner of your eye, Twilight projected a look that said, 'What are you laughing about?'

"You know, I was just asking myself that same question a couple minutes ago."

When you look back at the corner of your eye, or through the mirror, Twilight's confused look faded slightly, showing sadness and sorrow.

But she didn't say anything back, so you add on to your words with your own little 'rant'.

"I've known her for two years now. Two years, and from what I'm guessing, she's been talking bad about me behind my back since the day we met. How I'm a 'walking disaster' waiting to happen. To be honest, she's been in more accidents and caused more accidents in just these past few years than I have in my entire life. If anything, she's the walking disaster, not me. I may not be the most careful pony in Equestria, but at least I don't talk bad about her whenever she screws up."

Sighing, you close your eyes for a couple of moments, the pain now entirely faded, likely because your face had become numb.

When you opened your eyes again, you turned back to Twilight, who had this odd look on her face. You couldn't quite describe it, but it seemed that she saw some "change" in you, but she couldn't put her hoof on it. But you didn't want her to ponder on it too long.

"You should head back to bed. I'll be fine, I promise."

Twilight, now out of her little trance of emotions, blinked a couple of times, but she still looked you up and down.

Then suddenly, she pulled you into a hug. You weren't entirely sure why she decided to hug you, but honestly, it was rather enticing to hug her again.

With your free hoof, you pulled her in closer. Gently rubbing part of your face into her shoulder, you took in her softness. She was like a pillow. A living pillow.

Which was comfortably creepy.

Soon enough, the hug ended and she pulled away. There was a faint tear in her left eye, but she wiped it away quickly.

"Goodnight," she pleaded in a gentle tone, smiling a bit, before she got up from the edge of the tub and walked out, leaving you alone once again.

You sat there for another minute with the bag on your face. At this point, water was dripping down your swollen cheek and down your neck.

When a minute came and went, you decided to get up from the tub and walk over to the counter. Slowly, your steps made noise, but not loud enough to draw attention. Sure, Twilight may have heard it out there, but she likely paid no mind to it, maybe.

When you finally stopped just in front of the counter, you began to take a good long look in the mirror. The bag covered half your face, water was visible on your fur, making it wet and glisten.

Then gently, ever so gently, you removed the bag and took a good hard look at your face. One side was normal and unscathed. But the other side, primarily around the eye, was bruised, battered, and black, like it had been beaten in.

For a moment, you tried comparing both sides of your face with that of good and evil. But you never knew why you did it.

"You could never tell the difference," a sinister voice whispered in your head.

All you could do was laugh like an idiot. "Okay, that's enough Power Ponies for a while."

Is this what being up late was like? You didn't like it.

You were able to fall asleep, though it hurt more than before to do so. Morning rolled by fast, and as you had joked about---but expected---Rainbow was there to make fun of your bruise.

The first thing you woke up to was her laughing. For a minute, you wanted to smile. It honestly felt good at that moment to hear her laugh.

But then you realized what she was really laughing about, and whatever happiness you had inside you was replaced with annoyance and slight negativity.

Opening your eyes, you saw her looking at you, a smirk on her face. In any other situation, it would have been nice to see it. But as it stands, it's nothing but a snarky smirk.

"Pfft, I didn't know you had a thing for mascara," she joked. You couldn't lie... it was clever, had it not been for the situation.

Groaning from both her joke and the lingering pain, you head over to the fridge and grab the bag of ice again.

"Hahaha. Funny. You're a real jokester, Dash," you responded almost monotonously as the ice touched your face.

You were sure Dash looked at you funny, but you were too focused on everything else around you. The others were starting to wake up after you. Rarity couldn't help but notice you and Rainbow standing near each other, and for a moment, she seemed to smile. You took it as a kind gesture and smiled back.

But her smile faded when she noticed you holding an ice bag up to your face. It was only for a moment that you took it off because of the cold sting, and you heard her gasp from across the room the moment she saw your black eye.

"Darling, what happened?!" she demanded in a state of shock. Getting out of bed, she came to you, as if to see if she was just only seeing things. Sure enough, she was staring at a black eye.

In an instant, that shock turned to what may have been anger, but towards Rainbow Dash.

"What did you do to him?!"

Surprised by Rarity's sudden outburst, Rainbow recoiled. "Me?! I didn't do anything!"

"Oh please! We all know how you've been acting towards him for the past week! I should've seen this coming from a mile away!"

"Rarity..." you spoke, but she doesn't seem to hear.

"All you've been doing for this past week is going at him behind his back, and you don't even care about how he's felt about it!"


"Did you even care at all when he cried?!"

"Rarity!" At least, she faced you. Her face was a mix of anger and worry. "It's not Rainbow's fault, alright? I just slipped on the bathroom floor last night."

"Oh, 'slipped'? Is that really what happened, you 'slipped', or are you trying to save her flank again so she can hurt you again later?"

Rarity was angry, no doubt about it. You've honestly never seen her this mad at somepony before. Rainbow was still looking towards the posh mare like she saw a ghost.

"I'm pretty sure I remember slipping. I just fell and hit my face on the counter. Nothing more to it."

"And how do we know you're telling the truth?"

"Because Twilight's the reason it's not as bad as it could've been." The mention of her name alone had you looking around the room, but you didn't see her. "Speaking of which, where is she?"

"She went down to a pharmacy a couple blocks away. Somethin' about a 'facial cream'," Applejack replies.

You knew what it was likely for. "Probably for this," scrolling your eyes towards your bruise before putting the ice bag back on.

You noticed Rarity continuing to hold a scowl over Rainbow, but you assured her that it wasn't her fault.

"Rarity, it's okay. I'm fine. Dash had nothing to do with. Honest."

Eventually, Rarity did finally calm down, but she never removed the glare from her face as she sat down on the bed. You still couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief, and your friends didn't end up killing each other.

Once the bag began to drip, you put it back into the fridge. Thirsty, you decided to grab a cup and pour some water. As the water slid down your throat smoothly, you leaned against the small marble counter above the fridge.

You always wondered what the deal was with hotels and marble things. Sure, they were pretty, but you wanted something different, like granite. You loved granite; almost a good competition with marble, but much more prettier. To you, at least.

Ten minutes of silence followed. Pinkie and Fluttershy took a bit longer to wake up, Pinkie with much more enthusiasm upon doing so. But as expected, they both showed shock upon seeing your bruise. Pinkie, to your surprise, even asked 'Dashie' why she would do that, to which Rainbow denied it.

You did have to clear it up a couple of times, but the more you did, the easier it got.

When Spike woke up, you cut him off almost immediately after he began asking about the eye. The last thing you wanted was to see him go off.

When ten minutes came and went, Twilight returned with about four bags. One of the bags had some pharmaceutical products, but the other three contained a rather delicious smelling batch of breakfast food from Burger Queen. You wondered at first why she decided to grab some hayburgers at nearly ten in the morning, but then you remembered that BQ sells breakfast.

As Twilight put the bags down on the counter, all of the girls and Spike headed over to see what to eat. You tried joining on them, but Twilight at the last moment pulled you back.

"Not yet," she said firmly as she point to your eye. "Not until we deal with that."

Twilight dragged you to the bathroom and shut the door behind her. Before she could tell you so, you sat down on the edge of the bathtub. A moment later, she joined you and started to hover the bag from before, setting it down on the floor just in front of her.

Digging through it for a moment, she cried, "Aha! There you are!" With her focus now on an object inside the bag, she pulls out what seems to be some kind of medium-sized jar. The title was in Prench, but you try your best to make out the words.

"Crème Sensuelle?"

"Prench for 'Sensual Cream'. It's kind of a silly name, but from what I've heard, it works wonders."

Why is every name so cheesy nowadays?

Opening the jar, Twilight scoops up what appears to be some type of tan-ish looking gel. It reminded you of sunscreen, only... well, sunscreen was white.

Lathering it up in her hooves, Twilight instructed you to face her directly, to which you do so.

"Try not to move so much, okay? I don't know how much it's gonna hurt, but the last thing I want is to get this in your eye, alright?"

You nod, and prepare yourself to sit completely still. Once you give her the 'okay', she gently begins to lift her hooves and bring them towards your bruise, that sad look in her eyes again.

So much concern, you swear.

Finally, after a tense couple of seconds, her hooves make contact with your right eye, and almost immediately, a stinging sensation wracks your brain. It hurts and you tense up a bit, but you do your best to keep still. Well, as still as you can.

You let out a deep breath, trying to keep yourself calm as Twilight continues to gently lather it onto your bruise. Not wanting to make just groans and moans the whole time---it sounds awkward behind closed doors---you decide to begin a conversation, hoping it would make time go faster.

"So, what exactly is this gel supposed to do?"

Not drawing attention away from her work, she answered, "From what the sellers told me, it's supposed to help bring down any future swelling. It's also supposed to help cover it. I saw a couple of examples, and it looks like it worked really well."


"They take some before and after pictures of ponies with any kind of black and blue marks from whatever they got themselves into: Fights, brawls, or... well, in your case, slipping and hitting your face on a bathroom counter."

The way she said it made you laugh a bit, but you kept still.

"How far apart were the pictures?"

"Apparently, only a couple of days."

Mentally shaking your head, you admit, "I don't really believe in anything pharmacies 'proclaim' in anything."

Looking towards your visible eye, she asked, "Why?"

And so you begin a short tale.

"Well, back in school, I had, and I hate to admit this, but... really bad acne. Seriously, the other kids would compare me to pizza. By the time I got my cutie mark, everyone... and I mean everyone... called me a 'walking braille machine.'

"Anyway, on the radio one day, I heard this advertisement about some sort of cream, forgot what it was called, that dealt with acne, made it disappear in just a couple of weeks. And judging from all the comments, reviews, and celebrity claims about it, it seemed like it was a legitimate... product.

"So with the bits I got for my birthday, I went out and purchased some of the cream. Every day... Every day, I used it.

"For three months. It didn't do anything. Hell, it looked like it got worse with each time I used it. I couldn't believe I wasted twenty bits on a fake product that didn't even help one bit. And speaking of bits, I was able to get a refund for it, luckily."

A bit of silence came between the two of you, despite the squelching sound of Twilight rubbing the cream on your face.

With a clearing of your throat, you finished your little story.

"The point is, I don't believe everything that the radio tells me or what celebrities say. If it is 100% confirmed to have worked with everypony who's tried it, then I'll give it a chance."

An eyebrow raised to you, Twilight asked, "So you don't think this works?"

"I... have my doubts. But I'm willing to try anything to get this to go away. Because honestly, it hurts so much right now."

Twilight gave a faint smile, but didn't take her focus away. She gave another minute for the gel to seep in and take effect. When she was sure the gel was properly rubbed in, she said that you were good to go.

"So how does it look?" you ask as Twilight gets up.

"It's still there," she replies, "Give it a couple more hours. If it really is a good product, you should see---and feel---the effects."

"I hope. I really don't want you to have wasted any money on a sham."

"Don't worry about it. If it doesn't, I can always take it back."

"If they're willing to refund you, that is."

Twilight let out a little giggle as she put the jar back into the bag, then placed the bag onto the bathroom counter for now. She begins walking towards the door and asks, "Let's get some breakfast, shall we?"

"That sounds good right now."

Walking out of the bathroom---but princesses first, of course---you notice that the others are already engaged in their meals, somewhat too busy to notice you. For that short moment, you begin to take a look at the way they were eating. You didn't exactly notice it yesterday, but now you could.

Looking at Rarity and Fluttershy, their eating style were---somewhat normal. Rarity's eating was prim and proper, being careful not to make a mess, whereas Fluttershy was little bites and close to the breakfast tray.

Applejack, Pinkie, and Dash had seemingly messy ways of eating. While food didn't get all over the place, they did end up having a bit of sauce around their mouths that needed to be wiped off. Pinkie somehow did manage to get food on her cheeks and in her mane, but---being her, it was not much of a problem to get out.

You didn't consider yourself a proper eater, but you didn't consider yourself a messy one, either. You were right in the middle, the kind that would try not to make any messes, but there would always be one little splotch of whatever was around.

You hated that.

Grabbing your tray of food, and Twilight grabbing hers, the two of you sat down around the others and dug in.

Pancakes and hay sausages.


You would call yourself a liar if you said nothing happened for the rest of the day, but you would also call yourself a liar if you said anything important happened. Today was a rather calm, but mostly---and awkwardly---silent day, primarily due to Rarity's wrongful outburst. She did apologize once the truth was proven, but even then, it was still quite awkward.

And you did have assumptions that she still didn't believe even Twilight.

You and the others didn't really do anything that important or big today. It was mostly just walking around, eating lunch/dinner, or sightseeing. You could say that sightseeing was important, but it was mostly just relaxing. Plus, you absolutely loved seeing the skyline of Manehattan from the Equestrian Empire Tower. Sure, you could have seen it if you flew into the air, but where would the fun be in the experience?

Then again, when is climbing over a hundred flights of stairs an experience?

The day flew by without a hitch, and before you knew it, it was time to head off for bed. The next couple of days were just like this: Get up, eat breakfast, explore, eat lunch, come back to the hotel, eat dinner, go to bed, and repeat.

You never really understood why the past few days had suddenly flown by, whereas the first day in the city felt like days in itself.

But of course, the past couple of days after that morning with Rarity's outcry wasn't as awkward as that day had been. Eventually, the awkwardness faded away and conversation became common again. A simple mistake wasn't going to ruin anything.

Well, that mistake, of course.

However, while you did notice that it had been silent between the group for that short time before things resolved themselves, the one thing you did seem to notice---though not right away---was that Rainbow...well, she wasn't really...

She wasn't really all that rude to you.

Sure, she did say a couple of insults from time to time, but she stopped yelling at you. She stopped getting angry suddenly by looking at you. While she was still pretty angry, however, she wasn't as angry.

You wondered if all the recent behavior she was getting was causing her to think.

But you were never entirely sure, so you didn't ponder on it. That time would come on its own.

In facial news, it turned out that the cream was really working its magic, to your surprise. In just three days after Twilight had applied it, the mark began to show signs of improvement, even beginning to fade. You actually smiled at the progress that it was going at. At this rate, your face would be back to its handsome self in no time!

...Well, not that you think of yourself as handsome, of course.

At this point, it had been a total of four days since your arrival in Manehattan. The trip was already halfway done, and though nothing has changed majorly, it was good to know there was at least some progress between you and Dash, even if it wasn't much.

The fourth day started off as normally as the other recent two. You got up, breakfast came along---this time, it was delivered by one of the workers themselves---you showered, brushed your teeth, and made sure everything was neat and clean.

Taking a look in the mirror again, you smile when you saw that the mark was almost completely faded. Feeling around, it no longer hurt, and your eye didn't swell anymore.

It looks like Twilight and those pharmacists were right. It did work wonders.

At least not all products were jars of lies.

Once breakfast was done and everyone was cleaned up and ready, the eight of you left the hotel and decided to go sightseeing some more. Of course, tonight was going to be different from the rest. Rarity had already planned for all of you to go to the Dark Water Symphony tonight. She had spent a few good weeks prior to now gathering all of the tickets for the rest of you, and she, from just looking at her face, was greatly excited for it.

Along the way, as you and the others walked through the streets, Rarity began to talk about the symphony.

"I can tell you here and now that you will just love them! Dark Horse is simply a divine group. They really know what true music is. I've attended every single show they've done ever since I was a little filly! Trust me, you are going to love them!"

"Ah bet," Applejack smartly replied, giving you a slight chuckle that went unheard by Rarity, thankfully.

"Oh, you'll see, Applejack. I bet you right now that you will be dying to go their next one after tonight."

"Thirty bits says Ah don't."

"Deal," Rarity smirked, bumping her hoof with Applejack's mid-walk.

You knew Rarity wasn't one to back down from a bet every once in a while, so it was bound to be interesting to see who wins. Eventually, after a few moments, you even decided to place your own bet.

"Thirty bits says you do," you add, smiling a bit.

Applejack gives a bit of a chuckle towards you.

"You willin' to risk that?"

"Maybe I am."

"Heh, alright then. Yer on, honey."

"Oh, so I'm a honey now?" you questioned, marking her choice of words.

Applejack couldn't help but blush and laugh. "Oh, shush, you know what I mean."

Dash caught up beside Applejack at walking pace. "Yeah, you should probably just keep calling him 'sugarcube.' He's far from a 'honey' by a long-shot."

While Dash did laugh at her little end joke there, the others didn't find it so amusing. Applejack, however, just took her beginning advice so the topic could be changed.

"Okay then."

That part of the conversation ended, but the bets were still placed. You were interested for tonight already.

But suddenly, mid-walk down the sidewalk, you accidentally bumped into a pony walking in the other direction. It wasn't a painful bump, just an accidental, occasional bump.

The others noticed this and Rarity had asked if you were okay, even calling out 'the scoundrel' like they were one of the many stubborn ponies in the city.

You said you were fine and turned towards the pony to apologize, but when you looked at them, you noticed that they looked familiar.

Then it hit you.

"Aqua Lilly?"

It took her a moment for her to recognize you, but when she did, her face beamed in a fit of delight.

"Oh, it's you!" It took her a moment to remember your name, and she even asked if it was right, to which you nodded for assurance.

The others noticed your conversation and wanted to join in.

"You two know each other?" Twilight asks.

"Yeah, we met a few days ago," you reply, turning to Twilight.

"Saved my bag from some idiot. He was the only pony out of everyone there who decided to help me. Thank you again, by the way."

A faint flush reaches your cheeks. "It was nothing, really."

But she disagreed.

"It was! This bag has all of my money in it. If I lost it, I'd be walking to Ponyville."

That raised your curiosity.

"You live in Ponyville?"

"Well---not yet. I'm actually getting ready to move there. In fact, I'm heading back to my apartment now to pack the rest of my stuff up. But----if it's not too much, and since I happened to bump into you, do you think you and your friends could---maybe, help me?"

"Darling, we'd love to!" Rarity replied with an interested expression to her voice.

"Sure. Where do you live?" you ask.

"Just a couple blocks down from here. Follow me."

And so, turning 180 degrees around, you and the others begin to follow Aqua, or just Lilly---as she rather prefers---back to her apartment. It wasn't all that much of a long trip. It was nothing but a couple of blocks, as she said, away---just alongside the Grand Park, one of the noisiest parts of the city. At some point, you asked how she could sleep with all the noise going on.

"I couldn't all that much," she answers, "That's why I decided to pack."

"Well, you're gonna love Ponyville, then. Pretty quiet there," you add.

"So I've heard," she says, letting out a cute chuckle.

It didn't take long for all of you to reach her apartment, just a couple of flights up, thank Celestia.

Once you all had reached her door, she scrambled through a few keys, but when she found the right one, she unlocked the door.

"Sorry if it's a mess. Still getting everything."

Opening the door and letting you all in, you were greeted with a rather---blue home.

The ceiling was blue, the floor was blue, the walls were blue. Even the refrigerator was blue.

Giving a bit of a chuckle, you say, "I can see why they call you Aqua Lilly."

She giggles at your little comment, and replies, "Well, I really like the color blue."

"Ah can see that," Applejack adds.

Trying to ignore the blue for a while, you take a look at the design of the house. As most houses start, you were standing in the living room. In front of you, about ten hooves away, was the kitchen area. A small hallway stood to your left, with three doors for a closet, the bathroom, and the bedroom.

There wasn't much to show, as most of the things that would have been standing about were currently in boxes.

It was mostly boxes that were standing all about, in the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom. A couple were in the bathroom, but they weren't very big.

It takes a few moments for all of you to get acquainted into the home, but you weren't here to get comfortable, you were here to help Lilly pack.

And so, ready to help out, you ask Lilly what you should start with, to which she answers, "Anything you want first, really."

Walking over to whatever was closest to you, you find an empty box that's big enough, and you begin to put whatever you can into them. Everyone else pitches in and begins to find empty boxes and put anything into them, big or small. Once those boxes were filled, they were closed, taped shut, and a new box was grabbed and filled.

It kind of reminded you of the day you packed up to leave Baltimare, only there wasn't as much stuff as...well, here.

You really didn't like packing.

But still, it was nice to help a new friend out.

Within an hour's time, everything---and you meant everything---was all packed up and ready to go.

Nearly a hundred total boxes, fitting what must have been hundreds of price-ful pieces of merchandise. It made you ask how she was going to get this all to Ponyville.

"Well, obviously, I'm taking the train," she asks with a smirk.

"And how are you gonna get all of this to the train?" you add.

"I've got a couple of old friends I know. They're gonna bring a storage wagon and fly everything there. The next train to Ponyville doesn't leave until at least five o'clock or so, and...they don't get here for another hour and a half, so---if you guys want, we could talk, get to know each other a bit."

"Sounds good," Applejack says with a smile, but then adds on by looking towards you and asking, "How'd exactly you two end up meeting?"

With a cup in your hoof, you take a sip of some water and begin telling the story like it happened a few days ago...because---it did.

"Well, I was checking out a couple of stores, mostly just music stores, and I heard some arguing. At first, I thought it was a couple, but when I actually listened, there was this stallion, somewhat the same size as me, trying to steal her purse.

"The dude pushes her down and runs off. None of the ponies in the place decide to help her in any way, which kind of wasn't a surprise, so literally being the only other sane person there-"

Dash lets out a chuckle while taking a sip of her own drink, to which Twilight knocks her in the back of the head, whispering for her to knock it off 'for once'.

Ignoring Dash's snickers, you continue the story.

"---I chase after the guy. And then suddenly, he gains these---well, pretty cool looking parkour moves and jumps up to the second floor. I fly up and manage to find him. I tackle him down and keep him pinned there until the guards come along."

Dash, seeming to ignore Twilight's plea, gives off a snarky reply.

"Of course, you'd be the one to pin down stallions."

For a good couple of moments, Rainbow begins to laugh at her own joke, while a couple of the girls, even Lilly, blushed awkwardly, while Spike had a look on his face that said, 'I don't get it.'

But she wasn't going to have the last laugh.

"Well, at least I get more action than you."

That brought out the laughs. Almost immediately, the blushing girls broke out into fits of laughter, twisting and contorting on the floor as they laugh their hearts out and their plots off. Their laughter was loud enough to echo through the whole apartment. To them, it was that funny.

And yet, Spike still didn't get it, but didn't question it.

Eventually, the laughter dies down, with Rainbow sulking in her seat in defeat, while continuing to take sips from her cup. Rarity asks politely to continue the story.

"Oh, right, sorry. So anyway, the guards came along and almost immediately recognized the guy. Swift Shadow was his name. Apparently, he's broken out of prison several times. They never knew how, but within a day or two, he was out on the streets again, but then someone would catch him and he'd be back in prison. At first, the guy didn't seem so bad. Just an average crook that was an amateur when it came to stealing. But... then he said something to me just before he took off."

Lilly asked what he said. At first, you weren't sure if you wanted to tell them and get them worried, but it was better than them asking you over and over.

Looking at all of them, with a face of...uncertainty but also worry, you told him what Swift said to you.

"He said, 'you better hope I don't get outta here.'"

And as you expected, they all began to show signs of worry, Fluttershy mostly with fear. Even Rainbow looked worried for you.

"He said that to you?"

"Yeah," you answer before taking a sip, But I wouldn't worry about it."

"Darling, how could we not worry about that?" Rarity asked with concern.

"It sounds like he wants to kill ya," Applejack added, "Why wouldn't y'all want to be worried 'bout that?"

Taking a look at them, you hold a hoof to silence them before you continue on.

"When he was sent away, one of the guards walked up to me and told me that he's threatened tons of ponies, but he's never done anything to them. Most of the time, he never sees them again. Apparently, the only thing he's really done is just rob and try to rob. He's never killed anyone before."

"Maybe it's just because he doesn't tell them that," Rainbow adds, a hint of concern to her voice, somewhat surprising you, but you don't show it.

"Nope," you proclaim, "I did some snooping around. Turns out all of them are still alive. Trust me, if they were dead, we'd know."

You take another sip and look at Rainbow. That look of concern never left her face as she pondered over your words.

"Right," she quietly adds before taking a sip of her own drink.

You were more surprised you actually talked to her without her getting angry or insulting you. Good for her.

"So... why don't you guys introduce yourselves to Lilly, huh? I remembered you guys haven't really met until today."

"That's right! Goodness me, so sorry, Lilly!" Rarity says towards her, to which Lilly adds that it was fine.

And so, one by one, each of them greeted themselves to her.

"Ah'm Applejack," AJ was the first to greet, holding out a hoof, "Nice to meet ya."

Shaking Applejack's hoof, Pinkie greeted herself with a cheerful hop and what you would call a heart attack-inducing smile.


"I'm sorry, what?" Lilly asked as Fluttershy spoke her name in her occasionally quiet voice.



Holding out a hoof towards Fluttershy, she added, "It's nice to meet you, Fluttershy."

The mare smiled behind her mane and shook Lilly's hoof. The hoofshake was cut abruptly by Pinkie's energetic hopping and shouting. While you usually heard her speak in her fast paces, it was really hard to understand her out of the whole group. Even Lilly seemed confused, but she didn't say anything of it.

Eventually, Pinkie ended her excited 'speech' with a hug, one that Lilly seemed to take quite well, despite how bone-crushing they usually were. It actually made you laugh a little.

"I am Rarity. And if I might add, rather, do consider adding a bit to your new home, if you would."

Lilly seemed to smile, but also look confused too, though she never questioned it, but rather responded with, "Okay," and shook the mare's hoof.

And Rainbow, her boastfulness seeming to return to her momentarily, spoke proudly:

"And I'm Rainbow Dash! But you probably already knew that." Rainbow smirked with her forelegs behind her head.

"Actually, I don't."

That took that smirk off her face, followed by a look of slight embarrassment and a sheepish smile.

"Oh. Okay then. Heh-heh."

"And I'm Spike!" exclaimed the dragon as he stood in front of the mare with a grin.

Lilly seemed to do a double-take. You were surprised she only just now noticed him. "A baby dragon?"

"Yep! But don't worry, I'm not gonna eat you or anything. Don't really plan to, either!"

"How comforting," the mare laughed. "Well, it's good to meet you, Spike."

"Cool!" Spike lifted a hoof up, and you already knew what he was hinting at. "Fist-bump?"

Lifting a smirk, Lilly bumped her hoof against Spike's fist. You chuckled at it, like they were already bros.

Twilight came over and greeted herself to Lilly. To your interest, it wasn't any of the others' names that caught her attention. It was Twilight's that made the gears in her head turn.

"Wait... Twilight Sparkle? As in Princess Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight nodded with a smile, and it left Lilly absolutely wide-eyed and speechless. Probably because she was talking to one of the most important ponies in the entire nation. Meanwhile, you were wondering how she didn't notice the fact that Twilight sported both a horn and wings.

"I... I, uh..." Suddenly, she knelt to the ground almost in a rush. "It is an honor to be here with you, Princess Twilight."

You couldn't help but laugh a little, but you don't think Lilly really heard. Nothing kept a couple of the others from letting out a little chuckle of their own, either.

Twilight held one of Lilly's hoof and gently stood her up. "Lilly, you don't need to call me 'Princess.' I'm just a friend; just call me Twilight, okay?"

After a couple seconds of silence, Lilly giggled a tiny bit, seemingly at her own embarrassment.

"Right... sorry, Pri-... Twilight. It really is an honor to meet you, though."

Smiling, Twilight let out a hoof, to which Lilly gladly shook back.

For the next hour, you and the rest of the group did whatever friends normally were to do: Talk, joke about, play games, make games, tell stories, anything to make time fly by in the best way possible.

The one thing you really noticed throughout the remainder of the time, however, was how...normal Rainbow was being. She wasn't being insulting, nor was she being negative towards you.

You had a feeling that she was slowly, but surely, beginning to lighten up.

Then again, it may have just been because Lilly was here, and when she left, the insults would return.

But you would know when you guys got back to the hotel, but for now, you decided to enjoy this moment while it lasted.

Eventually, however, to your sadness, Lilly's old storage buddies arrived, and one by one, they carried box after box onto a medium-sized storage wagon. It looked pretty small to you, but it was nonetheless able to carry and store all of the boxes with still enough space for at least three ponies to fit in.

Lilly told her friends that she would meet them at the train stop. Nodding to her, they left for the station with all of Lilly's belongings; Lilly decided it was better if all of you continued to talk along the way there.

It was a reasonable and thankfully long distance from the station, giving you and the others plenty of time to keep the conversation with Lilly going as long until you got to the station.

For the whole walk, you talked about the same stuff as in the apartment: Jokes and stories.

"I've got one," you say, "What is a duck's favorite drug?"

Pondering on the question for the answer, none of the girls could think of it.

Here came the punchline.


The majority of them seemed to get the joke and laugh along to it, but it was only Spike and Rainbow that didn't seem to get it. While you pointed out that it wasn't exactly mature for you, Applejack whispered into Rainbow's ear what the punchline had been. Rainbow, while she got it, didn't think it was funny like the others thought.

"That's kinda stupid."

"Of course, everything is stupid if it comes out of his mouth, isn't it?" Rarity responds to Rainbow with a somewhat annoyed attitude.

"Just my opinion."

"Like it has been for over a week now?"

"Seriously? You're bringing that up now?"

"Well, I am quite curious to know why every time he opens his mouth, you go and bark off at him because of something that happened a week ago!"

"Well, it was his fault!"

Leaning over towards you, Lilly whispers, "What are they talking about?"

Turning away from the group, you look ahead and answer Lilly's question.

"Long story. I'll tell you about it when I get back to town in a few days."

Looking towards you in a bit of surprise, she asks, "Wait, you live in Ponyville?"

"Yeah, I never told you?"


Lilly turns her head to the front and continues to walk, all while Rarity and Rainbow continued to have a verbal fight in the back.

"Huh, what are the chances, right?"


"ENOUGH!" Twilight suddenly yells, silencing the two mares going at it. "Seriously, is this how you want Lilly to know you?"

Only Lilly couldn't help but shrug at the situation. "I didn't hear a thing they said, so it's all good to me."

"And right now, I honestly don't care," you add in about whatever Rainbow's comments talked about, "so can we just get to the train station without killing each other? Please?"

The remainder of the trip was somewhat silent, despite a couple of words exchanged between you and Lilly. Eventually, you and the group made it to the train station, with just a couple of minutes to spare before the train would be due to arrive.

You were a bit disappointed that Lilly had to leave, but on the bright side, at least you only had to wait a couple of days.

Lilly noticed her friends with her boxes and waved to them, to which they waved back, before she turned back to you guys.

"Well, this is it... for now, at least," she said to you guys.

"Let's look on the bright side; we only have to wait a few more days," you comfort her with a smile.

"And then we'll be able to throw you a 'Welcome to Ponyville' party! Of course, it would actually be a late-late 'Welcome to Ponyville' party, but it's still a 'Welcome to Ponyville' party!" Pinkie said rather fast, giving a proud smirk at the end.

The next couple of minutes came by, and before you knew it, the train arrived onto the platform. One by one, Lilly's friends carried her things into the train's storage car, and this gave you and the others a short period of time to say your goodbyes for now.

One by one, each mare said goodbye to Lilly, some with hoofshakes, one with hoof-bumps, and a couple with hugs.

But when your time came, you gave her a hug, but in return, and to your surprise, she gave you a small, but considerate, kiss on the cheek. This actually rose a 'Ooooh' from Rarity, but she quieted herself down.

"Thank you again---for saving my bag."

"Like I said, it was nothing."

"I have to disagree on that."

"Well, I have to disagree with your...disagreeing."

"Well, I have to disagree with your disagreeing with me disa-"

"All aboooard!"

Cut off from what would be an endless stream of disagreements, the two of you laughed it out a bit before giving one last hug. When the two of you pulled away, Lilly started making her way towards the train, turning back to wave to you one last time before departing.

All of you waved back and said your goodbyes.

After a few seconds passed, the doors to the train slowly slid shut, and through the window, Lilly continued to wave you goodbye, even as the train began to take off.

The group continued to wave and yell goodbye, up until the point when the train left your sights, at which you all stopped waving and began to make your way back to the hotel. In the distance, the sun began to sink, near to the horizon.

And at this point, the one thing coming back to your mind was the concert.

And the bet.

You could hardly wait to see who would win already.

Once you and the others made it back to the hotel, you laid down on your bed and felt almost ready to fall asleep; however, you weren't willing to sleep just yet. You decided that would wait until the concert came and went.

You were just hoping you wouldn't fall asleep during it.

"I think we'll just order some take-out," Twilight suggested as she reached for the phone on the wall.

"Sounds good to me," Rainbow agreed as she laid down on her own bed, legs crossed, "But let's not get Burger Queen this time. Having it for breakfast is enough for me, but let's just settle for some pizza, alright?"

"Oooh, pizza!" Pinkie yelled in a burst of delight.

"Pizza it is, then," Twilight confirmed as she began to dial the number to one of the few pizza places in the city. The one she decided to go for was the Pizza Bear Palace. The first time she called, it went straight to the company voicemail. The second and third times came with the same result. It was only at the fourth time that the response was different.

"Hello, you've reached the Pizza Bear Palace voicemail. Unfortunately, we are unable to place a phone order at this time, so in order to make a purchase, please go to one of our many stores around the place. Thank you for understanding."

"No, I don't understand," Twilight said to the machine in frustration as she placed the phone back on its hook.

Rubbing her temple, she looked towards the group and said to them, "Looks like we're taking a little trip to Pizza Bear's. Who wants to come?"

"Not me," Applejack says a bit tiredly, "Ah may be willin' to walk a thousand miles, but there's a time when Ah'm willing to say 'eenope'."

"O---kay then?" Twilight then looked towards you and asked if you wanted to come.

"I'm good, thanks," you reply, a little smirk on your face.

"Typical slob," Rainbow says in an out-of-character fashion. But then again, when has anything she said all week been in character of her?

Thinking quick enough, you give a quick, "Look who's talking," just before the rest of the girls leave the room.

And so, that left just you and Applejack, just the two of you---all alone.

What a coincidence, really.

For a couple of minutes, it was relatively silent in the room, except when it came to breathing---and the air conditioner running. For a few good moments, you were contemplating whether or not you wanted to listen to some music to make the time fly by quicker or go to sleep to catch up on rest.

However, as you eventually would have predicted---Applejack had other plans.

And it wasn't very long before you listened in on her plans.

And it also wasn't very long before those plans came into action.

Sleep could wait, couldn't it?

Skip a good twenty minutes in time, and the both of you are hung over each other, breathing heavily and trying to recuperate, having come down from your highs. It was always good in the middle, but it was always so disappointing when it came to a close.

Panting wildly, the two of you laid there, up against the bathroom counter, for what must have been a full minute before your breath fully returned. Though still physically exhausted, Applejack was able to lift her head from your shoulder and look into your eyes.

"You alright... hah... sugarcube?" she struggled.

You nodded. "Yeah. It's hard to catch my breath."

"Take your time."

You sit beside Applejack, trying to fill your lungs with well needed oxygen. The mare rubbed your chest up and down, as if trying to sooth them. It wasn't long before you were breathing right again and doing the same process to her. There was just something about chest fur that seemed so... yes.

"What're you thinking about?" she asked you after a small bout of silence. She had noticed the look of curiosity on your face.

"Just... this," you said hesitantly. "N-Not saying that it's a bad thing. I like it, I do. I guess I'm just thinking about what's gonna happen after we go back home."

"I'm sorry I can't answer right away, hon."

You held a hoof against her cheek. "Don't be. Take your time. But whatever you want... or don't want, I'll support it. I know you want us to both be happy. I'll be fine no matter what you want."

Applejack lent you a warm smile. The two of you looked into each other's eyes for a moment, and soon enough, the farmer couldn't help but kiss you again, and you savored that faint taste of apples on her tongue.

A part of you wanted to just lose it and go right back to town on her. But though you had the mental endurance to go on again, your body refused, only having enough strength to hold your lips against hers.

But that was okay. This was a good substitute.

For what felt like a long time, the two of you relish in the romance of the kiss, holding and brushing against each other every now and again. Whatever happened in the next few days, you didn't care too much. For right now, all you wanted to do was just enjoy this moment, just this one moment with her.

And so you did. And you loved it.