• Published 31st May 2013
  • 1,319 Views, 53 Comments

The Unicorn with Fire on Her Flank - Noradora



When a troubled unicorn flees her home in Canterlot, what kind of life awaits her in Ponyville?

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Chapter 2: Flanks

Author's Note:

This chapter, as well as the first, has been touched up as of July 20, 2014, to fit better with the quality of those that follow.

So walking into her own welcoming party had certainly been a surprise. Wisp had thought to herself that the possibility should have occurred to her sooner, considering that Cloudchaser had at one point mentioned Pinkie Pie living at Sugarcube Corner. Of course, that didn't mean the party would necessarily take place there, but it did seem like one of the more popular venues for Pinkie's parties.

Time became a blur once the group made it inside. Pinkie Pie was a quirky pony, but she knew how to organize a party. The party games were fun, the concessions fresh, and the ponies smiling. The host kept an eye out to make sure everypony was having a good time.

Eventually, said host dragged Wisp away from the pegasus sisters to introduce her to her own friends, and as soon as the unicorn saw Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, she remembered why the former's name had sounded familiar.

Everypony not living under a rock had heard about the Elements of Harmony. They were perhaps the greatest heroes ponykind had ever known, having returned Princess Luna to Equestria and her beloved sister and dealt Discord his second defeat. Politically, at least, Equestria had changed much in the short time since that fateful day they had come together—Celestia had taken no quarter when it came to reintroducing Luna to her subjects, despite a shaky start.

As far as Wisp was concerned, Equestria owed these six ponies more than it could ever repay, even if the government did try not to toot their collective horns. As an elder sister, herself, the mere thought of what Celestia must have gone through was unbearable. But more importantly than her personal feelings, life in Equestria felt more... complete, now. It felt to her and many others as if a great hole had been filled... Even if they had never known there was a hole to fill, with Princess of the Night having been forgotten by most for centuries.

Rainbow Dash was perhaps the most easily recognizable of the group. Most ponies had at least heard of the pegasus when she'd performed a sonic rainboom and won the Best Young Fliers' competition last year. Naturally, the young prodigy who saved the lives of several Wonderbolts had been a headliner for weeks, and as Wisp quickly found out, the pony herself didn't exactly mind getting lots of attention. She was confident, that's for sure.

As for Twilight Sparkle, Wisp had already known who she was long before Luna's return. Any unicorn attending Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns did. She was the most powerful naturally-born unicorn in recorded history, protégé of Princess Celestia and exceedingly talented spellcaster—if Rainbow Dash was an example of what a pegasus could do, Twilight was at least as strong an example for unicorns. If anypony deserved to wield the Element of Magic, it was her, without a doubt. How lucky she for her very talent to be magic...

Wisp had always been a little jealous of Twilight. She was born with the power to cast just about any spell conceivable, and the drive and skill to learn them easily. More easily than for most unicorns, at any rate. She made teleportation look like child's play, for Luna's sake, and the underlying theory for that spell was one of the most difficult to grasp. Wisp should know—she had been studying that spell for some time, but she had yet to really get a hang of it. However talented she was, she would never be able to learn as easily as Twilight could. Although, now that she was on speaking terms with the mare, maybe she could ask for some tutoring sometime. Magical spells were significantly easier to learn with another unicorn to show you just what to do.

In any case, Twilight appeared to be a very friendly and modest pony. Which was a little strange; back before Twilight had moved from Canterlot, the pony had always had a reputation for being an antisocial hermit, always studying and practicing her magic. Not unfriendly, exactly, but she had never had time for friends before. Wisp supposed that meeting these ponies must have done her a world of good, as her welcome was almost as warm as Pinkie Pie's.

As for the rest of the Elements, Fluttershy was too... shy to say much beyond her demure I tail greeting, while in contrast, Applejack seemed quite sociable. And then there was Rarity…

This unicorn was certainly a looker. Wisp wasn’t sure she had ever seen a pony who took such good care of themselves. In fact, she struggled to fight down a blush in such close proximity to such an attractive mare. The dignified, graceful manner in which she conducted herself reminded her of home, but without the pretentious snobbery. Indeed, the last thing she had expected was for Rarity to be the one complimenting her. "Very bold and gamine," she had said. "And you do have such a lovely palette. Oh, how I would love to work with your mane. Perhaps your tail could use a little attention, as well..."

Drop-dead gorgeous or not, Wisp made certain to politely steer that conversation elsewhere.

Twilight and Rainbow Dash aside, it was almost difficult believe that these were the six ponies to save Equestria from certain doom where even Princess Celestia had failed. They seemed more like your everyday ponies than great saviors. Then again, Applejack was the physical embodiment of earth pony strength and work ethic if there ever waa one, Fluttershy was a pegasus who stayed mainly on the ground tending to woodland animals, Rarity was a distinguished young business owner who seemed like she'd be more at home in Canterlot or Manehattan than humble Ponyville, and Pinkie Pie was... Pinkie Pie.

Maybe not just your everyday ponies, then. Regardless, Wisp supposed it wasn't exactly as if they were great warriors charging onto a battlefield. They were close friends entrusted with the Elements of Harmony, wielding some physical manifestation of the power of friendship to overcome those who would threaten peace in Equestria.

All things considered, Equestria could be quite an interesting place to live.

After taking leave of Pinkie and the others, she had returned to Flitter and Cloudchaser and was then introduced to some of their own friends. There was a massive bodybuilding pegasus known as Snowflake, and yet another pegasus named Thunderlane and his younger (pegasus) brother Rumble.

I sure am meeting a lot of pegasi today, aren't I?

Unfortunately, Wisp soon found herself once again reminded of things she'd prefer not to think about. She tried to just ignore it, but she was beginning to get quite fed up with all these coincidental reminders of her recent past. It wasn't his fault how he looked, but it drew her mind back to Canterlot just the same. And she did not want to think about Canterlot.

Having excused herself to cool off with some punch, the unicorn sighed to the punch bowl. She just wanted to get away and start over—was that so wrong? She was so wrapped up in her thoughts, though, that she didn't notice the pony that had appeared next to her. "Hey. What's the matter, new girl?"

Drawn out of her reverie, Wisp looked at the pegasus and thought for a moment that she was looking at Cloudchaser, but Cloudchaser's mane was assuredly not wavy or blonde, however. Her coat was a similar shade of bluish purple, but their cutie marks were nothing alike: this one bore a cloud-covered sun, not a sparkling shooting star.

"What are you talking about?"

"You didn't look very happy with Thunderlane over there. And you don't look too thrilled staring into your glass like that, either," the mare answered.

Wisp coughed. "You saw that, did you?"

"Sure did. You don't have a problem with stallions or something, do you?"

"What? No, of course not. He just... Reminds me of someone."

"Huh." The mare didn't press the issue, but turned to another. With a curious look she asked, "How do you feel about mares, then?"

Wisp blinked and took a sip of her punch. She opened her mouth, then closed it. And then opened it again. "Are you asking what I think you're asking?"

The pegasus only smirked. "I should introduce myself." Offering a hoof, she declared, "I'm Cloud Kicker."

Wisp warily reciprocated. She was getting a strange vibe from Cloud Kicker, but she knew of her family. Renowned for their military service, the Kicker Clan was the only noble family of ponies left in Equestria to still be maintaining a clanhold in Canterlot. With their no-nonsense reputation, Wisp figured she could at least give this pony the benefit of the doubt.

But then she opened her mouth.

"And yes, I am. Wanna bang?"

An all-too-familiar heat began to rise inside as Wisp narrowed her eyes. Somehow she figured it wasn't the kind Cloud Kicker was interested in. "You don't want to go there."

Unfortunately Cloud Kicker didn't get the message. She actually dared to rest a wing on her back. "Sure, I do. Everypony can do with a bit of harmless fun, Wispy. No strings attached."

To the Kicker's credit, she looked concerned when her victim jerked away, but it was too late. "Don't touch me."

Wisp was surprised to see Cloud Kicker widen her eyes and fold back her ears. For the moment, she found it a bit cathartic.

"Woah! Sorry, I didn't mean any harm. Just looking for a little fun, you know?"

"Hmph. Maybe you shouldn't throw yourself at somepony just because they might spread their legs for a mare," she growled. "Not interested."

"It works pretty well most of the time, but... Sorry, again. Heh..." Looking about as awkward as she should have felt, she continued, "I think we started off on the wrong hoof. Can I have a do-over?"

The unicorn just snorted. She made sure to take a nice, long drink of punch before actually dignifying that with a response. "Why, exactly?"

"I like to be on good terms with everypony, whether I have fun with them or not," the pegasus told her. She looked sincere enough... But it was too late. Wisp wasn't in the mood.

"Maybe later, I guess. But I'm really not in the mood right now."

"Right, right." Cloud Kicker nodded, trying not to sound too upset. "No problem. Enjoy the rest of your party."

And then Wisp was alone once more. She almost felt a little bad about snapping at her... Almost. The mare had brought it on herself—who actually just walked up to a pony and asked them to "bang"? More importantly, this unicorn had her reasons for being touchy about it. She didn't exactly feel ready for a physical relationship, with anypony.

Ugh.

She stuck around the punch table a while, trying yet again to clear her mind as she drank in the crowd. She couldn't see Cloud Kicker amongst the throng of colorful ponies, for which she was grateful. For that matter, she was grateful that ponies, and pony society, were the way they were. Every pony looked unique in their own way, but when every pony was special, nopony was special, in a manner of speaking. This made it very possible, very easy, to be just another face in the crowd—one of many, not particularly noteworthy or important. At this moment, Wispwillow found it a comforting thought. There was safety, security, in numbers, and with so many ponies in one place, one could just go on about their business and not be disturbed.

There comes a point, though, where a pony wants to be disturbed. A few minutes ago she had noticed Flitter and Cloudchaser—two ponies of similar coats were much easier to notice in a sea of color—and now that Thunderlane was finally taking his leave, she thought it was a good time to meet back up with them. Somehow, she was already feeling a little better.

Once they had all exchanged their greetings, Flitter asked her, "So... not a big fan of Cloud Kicker, are you?"

Wisp grunted. "Certainly not. She wasn't even trying. As soon as I told her I'm into mares she tried to get under my tail..."

"Yeah, she does come on pretty strong," Cloudchaser nodded sympathetically, "but she's not so bad."

"Did her touching you really bother you that much, though?" her sister asked with a note of concern.

The unicorn looked away, apprehensive. "I..."

She bit her lip as her friends waited patiently on her. So much for not being disturbed. Things had been hard enough lately trying to avoid thinking about it, but now?

She sighed, shoulders slumping as she gave in to the world. "I... had a bad breakup back in Canterlot last week."

"Oh." Cloudchaser scratched at her mane. "That might explain it."

Wisp slowly nodded. "...Yeah."

Since she had already accepted that fate wasn't content to let her forget about it, she felt like she should tell them something, explain the situation to them, but no words came. Just a quiet, insistent feeling of unease. So she just stood there for a while, saying nothing. Eventually she began to hope that they would be satisfied with what she'd already said, but of course, questions came.

"In that case, it makes sense that Cloud Kicker upset you," Flitter noted. "But what did Thunderlane do?"

Wisp sat down on the floor and rubbed a hoof into her forehead. She really wasn't proud of that. "He did nothing wrong. He just... Looks a lot like her. My boss does, too..."

"I see..."

She let them chew on that for a bit, but when it occurred to the unicorn that they may well have been thinking up even more questions, she decided to deploy a smokescreen before they could make her even more uncomfortable.

"Anyway," she said, "I'm not so much in the mood for partying anymore. How about we get back to the tour?"

The pegasi shared a look. Their newest friend was obviously trying to avoid that conversation, but at least for now they silently agreed to play a long. She must have her reasons, after all. "Yeah, sure," Cloudchaser said. "It's not like we have anything better to do right now." After a short pause later, she added, "And don't worry about Pinkie Pie. She'd understand."

"Alright, good. Let's get going, then."

Following her friends past the crowd of ponies between them and the door, Wisp was just happy for the distraction.

—————————

Hours later, the three ponies arrived on the last stop of Cloudchaser's Ponyville Grand Tour. Ponyville wasn't as large as Equestria's larger cities, of course, but it was a bigger place than many gave it credit for. Additionally the tour had been a bit more thorough than expected. It took a while for the pegasi to lead Wisp around to its various points of interest, allowing for some small breaks. Not that she could complain: it was one way to spend an afternoon.

The dark building before them gleamed under the setting sun, the words "Sun's Flank" painted in flowing calligraphy above the door. It looked almost straight out of Trottingham, and She had no problem with that. It looked elegant, comforting, almost like a shining jewel in what others might call a cultural wilderness. It seemed more to Wisp like a particularly good place to forget her troubles while settling into her new home.

"Classy," she offered as they approached the door.

"Yep," said Flitter. "Though if you want classy, a better place to go would be Clover Café. This place, though, is a great hangout for mares."

As the three ponies took their first steps inside, Wisp noted the pleasant, relaxing interior: Dark colors, dim lighting, and red, red everywhere. The cherrywood furnishings did a lot for the atmosphere. I love cherrywood...

"Just mares, huh?"

Cloudchaser smirked at her. "Yeah, it's pretty much a lesbian bar if you ever saw one. I trust you don't mind?"

Wisp rolled her eyes. "You heard me earlier. You know very well I'm into mares."

The pegasus chuckled as her sister stepped in to clarify. "It is best known for that, but it's more of an all-welcome kind of place. It's a popular hangout spot for any mare, and guys are welcome, too. You don't see very many, though." As she spoke, Flitter led the group to a relatively secluded circular booth in the corner. As the sun was just going down, things were just starting to get noisy, so they all quietly agreed it would be nice to have some relative privacy.

"Sounds like my kinda place, then," Wisp said as a waitress appeared at their table. The creamy earth pony offered them a warm smile and asked for their orders.

"Hayfries for all of us," said Cloudchaser. "I'll have a hayburger and some hard cider."

"Cider for me, too. And an alfalfa salad," Flitter chirped.

"Hm. I'll take a burger, too... And a strawberry daiquiri?"

The waitress nodded and jotted their orders down and slipped her clipboard back into its sling. "Alright, ladies, thank you for your orders. I'll be back soon with your food."

"That was quick," Wisp remarked as their server left them behind. She found herself thinking that the skirt could definitely bear to be a little longer... "This place is certainly making a good first impression. Mostly."

"Mostly?" Cloudchaser skeptically asked, sitting to her left. "What's not to like?"

The unicorn coughed into her hoof. "It's not like I mind the view, but does the uniform really have to be so... revealing?"

"Huh?" The pegasus managed to get another look before their server disappeared. "Oh, that." Shrugging and scratching her chin, she grunted, "Eh, you get used to it. And it's not like they're wearing miniskirts... Not really."

Sitting across from her sister, Flitter interjected, "Anyway, you were saying earlier that you're good with magic. Why don't you tell us more about that?"

Sure, why not?

She cleared her throat. "Well, I've always been interested in magic. As a filly, I thought it was so cool to be a unicorn and be able to do lots of cool stuff with my horn." She chuckled at a memory of the past, when she had tried to produce flowers out of a top hat and instead set it on fire. Good times...

"Thing was, until I got my cutie mark, I couldn't tell what kind of magic I was best at. I spent a lot of time trying to learn new spells, and though I didn't have the patience for many of them, I discovered that I was pretty good with lots of different kinds of magic. I ended up... experimenting a lot."

"Sounds like an eventful childhood," Cloudchaser remarked.

"Oh, it sure was." Another wistful smile graced her lips. "Like the time I tried to teleport and ended up poofing myself and some friends into the middle of the Everfree Forest. From Canterlot."

Cloudchaser counted herself lucky she hadn't been drinking a glass of water or something. Her sister, though, simply went wide-eyed instead of making a scene. "What? What happened?"

It had certainly been less than delightful at the time, but looking back, Wisp could laugh at it now. "Well, I've always thought it was so cool how some unicorns could teleport themselves from place to place. I wanted to learn that spell more than anything else. So after sneaking a high-level spellbook out of the library—of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, that is—I got a little too excited when I managed to teleport a pencil. I decided I'd show everypony the ten-year-old who had mastered a top-tier spell."

Even Cloudchaser facehoofed. "Oh, this doesn't sound good..."

"Heheh, yeah... I kind of teleported half the class. During recess, without a teacher or supervisor around."

"...Well, how did you get back?"

"I'll tell you all about it some other time, but long story short, I managed to come up with a spell that guided us out of the forest. And I may have burned down a few timberwolves on the way..."

Now there was a pregnant pause. Flitter and Cloudchaser both looked impressed... Especially Cloudchaser.

"And you said you were what, ten? Jeez."

"I try not to brag, but... Yeah." Wisp's nostalgic smile grew ever wider. "It was that day that I realized what I wanted to do with my life: Using my aptitude for magic, I would fight to protect my fellow ponies and keep them safe." A blush creeped up her face as she realized how cheesy that sounded. "Or something. Anyway, that's how I got my cutie mark."

Soon a dark look replaced that blush. There was something else she had learned that day... And sometimes seemed to forget it, all too easily. That a powerful unicorn like her had to be careful with the magic at their disposal.

Cloudchaser whistled. "And I thought my cutie mark story was dramatic."

"Oh?" Wisp tilted her head, curious. "How did you get yours, then?"

Before the pegasus could respond to that, their waitress reappeared, almost out of nowhere. With practiced ease, the mare slid the tray containing their meals off her back and into the table, and found herself surprised when the various plates and drinks began floating off it of their own accord. Once she connected the fuchsia glow around the food to Wisp's glowing horn, she gave the unicorn a strange look.

"Eheh, sorry. Just figured I'd save you the trouble."

It really must be inconvenient to be an earth pony, she had been thinking.

With a curious smile, the mare slipped the now-empty tray back onto her... back, and left the group to enjoy their dinner. "Thanks, doll."

Wisp was preparing take a sip of her drink when a certain pegasus managed to catch her attention. "...Why are you staring at me like that?

"You're such a gentlemare," Cloudchaser snickered.

"It's easy to levitate a few dishes. It wasn't a big deal," Wisp insisted, shrugging it off.

"It was enough for her," Flitter chipped in. "She was checking you out."

"Wh-what?" Once she shook that off, yhe unicorn coughed. "I didn't notice. I don't really have mares on the mind right now."

Flitter hummed thoughtfully at that, but said nothing and instead sipped at her apple cider. Cloudchaser was enjoying some hayfries when Wisp remembered what they had been discussing a minute ago.

"So, Cloudchaser. How about that cutie mark story?"

The one that looks just like hers, a dark voice grumbled.

Now that she had a moment to register the question, the pony didn't look particularly enthused about the subject. She was about to say something about it, though, before Flitter stepped in. "It's a bit of a long story. Why don't you keep going, and we can tell you about ourselves later?"

"Well, sure," Wisp shrugged, popping a hayfry into her mouth. And as soon as she did, she grabbed another. And another. "Hey, these are good!"

After she spent a few seconds shoving fry after fry into her mouth, she noticed the look she was receiving from both her new friends. The kind that warned of future teasing and embarrassment. Composing herself, she gave an awkward cough and said, "A-anyway... What do you want to know?"

"You mentioned Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Since you're here, I take it you've graduated?"

The unicorn nodded, thinking back on her time at Equestria's most prestiged institution for the education of aspiring mages and, well, gifted unicorns. In fact, she had graduated from secondary education there only recently.

"Yeah, I've been going there since I was a foal, and I went for higher education, too. I also underwent a military cross-training program, actually."

"Huh?" Cloudchaser asked between bites of burger. "That makes sense since you mentioned 'fighting' and 'protecting,' but... What's that about?"

She shrugged. "Well, I could've gone to West Hoof Academy and trained as an officer in the Royal Guard, but... I'm really not interested in such a boring lifestyle. It's either the Long Patrol, risking my life far from home, or standing around all day. Either way, there's so much decorum and procedure... No, I want to get into the Magi Corps."

When asked to explain what the Magi Corps was, although they had both heard of it at one time or another, she naturally obliged. After enjoying some of her own hayburger.

It was delicious.

"The Magi Corps is... well, a skilled group of battle-ready unicorns. It's technically still part of the guard, but it's relatively detached from the rest, at least in terms of how it operates. I could just as well have went to West Hoof and been noticed by them, but they look just as closely at Celestia's School. All I had to do was sign up for the West Hoof cross-training program and deal with that for a couple years, and then I'd be eligible for the corps."

"And what would it mean if you did get in?" Flitter inquired.

"In theory, it could mean plenty of things," the unicorn replied. "What I'm going for, though, is a pretty sedentary career. I'd have certain responsibilities, but lots of magi spend most of their time studying and practicing magic at home and living a largely civilian life. That's the life I want."

Flitter, clever as she seemed, had apparently recognized the hidden horseshoe waiting to drop... Much to Wisp's discontent. "So, since you've graduated and all, have you heard anything?"

"...Yes."

Again, Flitter seemed like a clever pony, but in this case, her curiosity was stronger than her tact. "What was it?"

She sighed, and sat her fruity drink on the table with a clink. She really didn't want to think about this, either, but whatever.

"They said I'm promising as ever and that they'd be glad to have me, but they want want to wait until they can be sure that I can handle the responsibility."

Both pegasi winced at the sound of that. It didn't hurt that the unicorn had almost hissed the last few words. Fortunately for her, though... Flitter was clever.

"You know, sis, you could learn something from her. You don't have any ambition at all."

The other pegasus pointedly scoffed and rolled her eyes at this change of subject. "Yeah, yeah..."

After that, though, the talking faded in favor of their meal. They had all been doing plenty of talking, but not all that much eating. Now unfettered by the nuances and niceties of conversation, they all took their time to enjoy their respective dishes. Flitter was digging right into her healthy salad, having already downed most of her fries, while the others took bite after bite of their juicy hayburgers.

And it was juice, Wisp noticed. Sun's Flank apparently liked to make their burgers a bit greasy, like most good hayburgers were, but they weren't saturated with it. It tasted strong, fresh, and juicy, and allowed her to forget that it wasn't the most healthy thing she could be eating
After she washed down the last of that delightful sandwich with the fruity goodness of her daiquiri, the Canterlot pony cleared her throat and looked between the siblings on either side if her. "So, I've told you girls plenty about me," she started. "Why don't you tell me about yourselves?"

"That's a good point," Flitter agreed, having also cleaned her plate. Exchanging looks with Cloudchaser, she asked, "What would you like to know?"

"I've been wondering, actually... I can tell just by looking that you're sisters, but are you twins, too? You look really similar, besides your hair."

Cloudchaser nodded with a cheeky grin. "Yep. We were born on the same day, though unfortunately for Flitter, I came out a little sooner." Taking a swig of what was left of her cider, she added, "Sexier, too."

"Yes, and unfortunately for my 'big' sister, I got all the smarts. Who knows where she'd be without me?"

"Not where I am now, that's for sure..."

Wisp couldn't help but perk up at that. "What does that mean, Cloudchaser?"

The pegasus hesitated at first. "Well... You wanted to hear about my cutie mark? You'll find that somewhere in here." With a surprisingly solemn look, she continued, "to tell you the truth... we're orphans." Wisp did her best to keep her gasp quiet.

"We lived in an orphanage for a while, until we were split up."

Flitter spoke up to continue the story. "Cloudchaser got to stay in Manehattan, but my new family lived in Trottingham."

"I see..." Wisp cleared her throat. "Then what?"

A nostalgic smile graced Cloudchaser's lips, as one had graced Wisp earlier. "Well, we tried to get along with our new families. They weren't so bad, but I just couldn't stand it for long. Life sucked without my twin sister... We weren't supposed to be a part, we're supposed to do everything together. So one day I just... Left. Knapsack and everything. Caught a train and almost ransacked half of Trottingham looking for her." Looking down at her flank, she continued, "And that's how I got my cutie mark. For chasing my dreams and making them reality... Or something."

Woah. And I thought my cutie mark story was dramatic...

"I liked my new family," Flitter said, taking her own turn, "But it just wasn't right without Cloudchaser. I was beginning to accept it, though... But then I saw her out there in the snow, looking for me."

Everypony, even Wisp, was beginning to get a bit misty-eyed. Ever the graceful one, Cloudchaser cleared her throat and continued the story. "I was surprised when nopony chased her outside. I figured they'd come out and try to keep Flitter from leaving, but I guess when they saw that I'd come so far just for her, they knew there was nothing they could do. So after that, we took the next train to Ponyville, and here we are."

Wisp struggled to find the right words. "That sounds like... a much tougher childhood than I ever had. You two must really be close."

"Maybe too close," Cloudchaser snarked.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Flitter solemnly retorted.

"Still, I have a sister of my own, but I'm years older than her," Wisp cut back in. "I have to admit, I'm kind of jealous."

Cloudchaser scoffed. "Just because you're not twins doesn't mean you're not close. You can't quantify love like that, girl."

"I'm just surprised you know what the word 'quantify' means." Another scoff, more exaggerated. She got the idea the pegasus was used to that kind of pass.

"Anyway, that's some pretty heavy stuff. Do you think it was right to share it with somepony you just met?"

They both shrugged. "Meh... It's all in the past. And you seem pretty cool, so who cares?"

She could accept that, she thought. Fair enough.

"Anyway," Flitter said, "We obviously don't have any family, but you mentioned a sister?"

The unicorn blinked. "Huh? Well, yeah. She's technically my half-sister, and then there's my mom and step-mom. Tiger Lily be turning 13 this year, though."

"Are you two close?"

Wisp smiled a smile even fonder than the one she'd worn during the vague telling of her cutie mark story. "Yes, very. She wants to be a tough unicorn like her big sis, so I teach her what I can. Considering her cutie mark, though, I don't think she's cut out for fighting like I am, seeing as it's a flower," she chuckled. "She's always so happy to learn a new spell, though..."

Her expression soured. "And then I left."

"Because of that breakup you mentioned?" Flitter intoned.

"...Yeah."

"Son't be too hard on yourself, now," Cloudchaser interjected. "You were just stressed out on relationship drama, yeah? Your sister sounds old enough to understand why you bucked town in the hear of the moment."

The pegasus gave a quiet "ow!" when somepony's hoof hit her in the shin. "What?"

Wisp looked away, still feeling ashamed. "I suppose you're right... But as her sister—"

"Hey, don't make me say something cheesy about sisterly love or how you don't need to be so hard on yourself or something. I don't think anypony wants that." Nodding at her unicorn friend's tentative smile, Cloudchaser smacked a hoof against the table. "Hey, barkeep! I'll have another round over here!"

—————————

Some time later, when rush hour had come and gone, the three mares were still sitting at their table. The pegasi had both downed their fair share of free cider refills... Or, Wisp thought, a but more than their fair share.

"HEY. Hey. Wisp. I've got a queshtion," Flitter mumbled.

"Flitter, you're drunk."

This did little to dissuade her, of course. "...Hey. What do you think of my sister's butt?"

If Wisp had been taking a drink, it would have been quickly and efficiently sprayed all over the table. "W-what?!"

Cloudchaser dropped a hoof on the table. "No no no, what do you think of MY sister's butt?"

"I asked her first!"

"Yeah, but I, uh... asked sexier!" The more brusque pegasus scratched her chin thoughtfully. "...Like my butt."

Wisp cleared her throat. The heat in her cheeks was most definitely not caused by a few daiquiris. "I... I don't think—"

"C'mon, Wispy," Flitter chided. Or whined. She couldn't tell which. "I saw the way you were looking at my flank earlier. You were TOTALLY checking us out today!"

"N-no, I really wasn't! Like I told you, I don't really have mares on the brain right now. I'm still hung up on—" She choked on her next words. After a short struggle, she said instead, "on Canterlot. You know?"

"I suppose. But maybe you should!" Flitter continued. "Butts are nice," she explained with a sagely nod.

"I-I'm not... I don't think I'm ready. I've hardly been single for a week..."

"Pffft," Cloudchaser scoffed, dramatically waving a hoof around. She almost smacked Wisp in the face. "Just relax. There's nothing wrong with checking out the scenery." She bounced her eyebrows mischievously. "So... Tell us whose you like better."

"Yeah, tell us. Or we'll, like... We'll have a contest!"

"Hey," called a crimson unicorn called behind the bar. "No more butt contests without Cloud Kicker! I couldn't bear to tell her she missed another one."

"You're not helping!" Wisp snapped at the barmare. Her snickering wasn't helping, either. Even so, she turned back to her... friends. "Well..."

"You know, Flits, she said she hasn't been paying attention. Maybe she needs to have a good look, first..."

"FINE, fine! I... From what I remember, they... They both looked... nice."

Flitter raised an eyebrow. "'Nice'?"

The unicorn shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Well, what else do you expect me to say? You're both... attractive mares, but like I said, I'm a bit distracted..."

Cloudchaser blinked. "...Yeah, but whose is better?"

They say the following facehoof was loud enough to reach the heavens.

Hoof still firmly on face, Wisp asked, "If I just tell you that you both have sexy plots, can we talk about something else?"

The daintiest sister's tipsy giggle offered little hope, but to her credit, she did manage to surprise. "Yeah, sorry. We just think you should loosen up a bit. How's ignoring pretty mares gonna help you get over anything?"

"...It troubles me that I can't come up with a counter to that logic. Maybe it's the drink."

Or maybe you want to agree.

She furtively looked into her empty glass. "...I don't know... I'm too distracted to be ogling anypony, I think."

"Oh, don't worry, Wisp," Cloudchaser laughed, "I think we can come up with better ways to distract you."

Wisp worried that if she kept planting her hoof against her face like this, it would leave a bruise. What have I gotten myself into...?

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