• Published 1st Jun 2013
  • 2,697 Views, 29 Comments

Sweetie Belle Makes A New Friend - ABagOVicodin



The Cutie Mark Crusaders knock a baseball into a stallion's yard. After he refuses to give it back, Sweetie Belle decides to do the only thing that she can think of in order to get the ball back: become friends with the one who has it.

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Her New Friend

“We’ll get our cutie marks for sure this time!”

The three fillies yelled out in agreement and jabbed a forehoof to the sky, as if condemning the heavens for keeping their special talent away from them for so long. Sweetie Belle giggled as she dropped the ball she was holding to the ground and propped herself on her hindlegs. After a small shift in her stance, she reached down and smacked the baseball into her glove. Sweetie Belle laughed evilly as she glared at her foe, the baseball being lifted and smacked into her glove constantly, as if she had a plan. “You will never hit a home run, you weak chicken!” Sweetie Belle yelled as she focused on the ‘chicken’.

Scootaloo growled, but merely smirked as she moved to her own hind legs, raised a wooden bat over her shoulder, and shifted into a comfortable stance. Her glare met Sweetie Belle’s and a simple wink from the other filly opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. It was time for Scootaloo to trash talk as well. “Don’t get so cocky, Sweetie Belle, you might blink and miss the ball!”

“Of course you would use a chicken reference! Shall I imitate your war cry? BA-CAWK!”

“Should I do yours?” Scootaloo dropped the bat and placed her forehooves on her hips. “Why are you being like this? You’re so mean!” she cried, making sure to squeak out some words for emphasis.

“Oh yeah? Well, you can’t fly!” Sweetie Belle started to blush upon realizing that she ran out of trash talk.

Scootaloo smirked. “Does that imitation ring a bell?”

“Guys!”

Applebloom growled as she waved at the two fillies, both of which were a couple yards away. She stamped on the square of fabric beneath her, the cloth held to the sandy ground with a couple of nails on each corner. “Are we goin' to play, or act like movie villains?”

Scootaloo snickered before she picked up the bat and raised it over her shoulder once more. She winked at Sweetie Belle and the other filly nodded her head before she raised her hoof back and threw the ball towards Scootaloo. She waited, and right when the ball was about to move past her, she swung the bat and knocked the ball to the left towards the third base, the opposite side of where Applebloom was.

Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened and she threw off her pitching glove as she ran towards the ball. The ball rolled past the third base and was about to hit the nearby wooden fence when Sweetie Belle stopped it with a foreleg. She looked over at Scootaloo, who passed first base and was running towards the second, while Applebloom exchanged glances with Sweetie Belle as if saying “what are you waiting for?!”

Sweetie Belle looked down at the ball and closed her eyes, grunting and contorting her face as she tried to ignite her horn. A few green sparks emitted from her horn, but she jumped as Applebloom yelled out.

“Sweetie Belle, what’s taking so long!?” Applebloom cried. “Just pick it up with your mouth!”

Sweetie Belle winced as she looked back to the ball. A thin layer of light dust covered the ball, dust that would no doubt get in her mouth if she were to do what Applebloom said.

“A lady does not pick up things with her mouth if she can use her magic. Lesson number thirty-seven, Sweetie Belle.”

A scratchy yell of victory broke Sweetie Belle from her memory and she turned to the game field behind her. Scootaloo had hit home plate and was pumping her forehooves in the air, while Applebloom smiled and walked over to Scootaloo to give her a hoof bump. Sweetie Belle sighed and kicked the baseball, wincing slightly at how hard it was. After a few kicks, she was back at the pitcher’s mount, where Applebloom had taken the pitching glove and placed it on her hoof.

Applebloom closed the distance between herself and Sweetie Belle. “You doin’ okay?” she asked. “You looked like you spaced out. All I saw was your back and you were standin’ there forever.”

Sweetie Belle smiled and nodded her head, making sure to straighten her ears to complete the facade. “Yeah, I just got a little distracted is all. I’ll be fine.”

Applebloom chuckled. “Well, you can’t be distracted this time. You’re up at the bat. Wouldn’t want you to get hurt, alright?”

Sweetie Belle nodded again and walked over to the home base. She picked up the bat and let out a small sigh before winking to alert Applebloom.

“I’m probably gonna miss.”

Applebloom shifted her stance, raised her forehoof, and threw the ball. Sweetie Belle swung the bat, but missed the ball and toppled over onto her back with a yelp. She growled and pulled herself back to her hooves before she picked up the ball and tossed it to Applebloom.

“Strike one,” Scootaloo said as she stiffened her posture, looking like a tiger that was about to strike.

Sweetie Belle sighed and picked up the bat, before raising it above her shoulder again. Her shoulders started to slouch and her knees bent a little too much as she waited for the ball to come her way. Applebloom waited for the wink, and when it was given, she threw the ball, slightly slower than before. Sweetie Belle wasn’t ready for the change in the ball’s speed and ended up swinging too early. The ball rushed past her as the bat pointed to the sky.

“Strike two.”

Sweetie Belle threw the bat to the ground and turned to the ball as it rolled and tapped against the wooden fence behind her. She walked over to the ball, picked it up, and tossed it back at Applebloom, who caught the ball in one hoof and placed it in her pitching hand. She smiled sheepishly while Sweetie Belle merely pulled the bat over her shoulder again, her posture slouching once more. She winked, but as she shifted slightly in order to correct her stance, the ball whizzed past her, bounced off of the fence post, and hit her right hind leg.

Sweetie Belle’s leg bent forward and she fell to her knees, seething as the pain throbbed through her. She placed her forehooves over the leg while Applebloom and Scootaloo ran over to her.

“Sweetie Belle, are you alright?” Applebloom asked as she moved to one knee and placed a hoof over Sweetie Belle’s leg. Sweetie Belle took a step back and moved back to her fours.

“I’m fine,” she lied as she looked to the first base, where Scootaloo was.

Applebloom frowned. “I shouldn’t have thrown the ball that hard. I’m sorry, Sweetie Belle. I just thought that if I threw it faster, you wouldn’t have swung so soon.”

Sweetie Belle waved away Applebloom’s apology. “I struck out, it’s fine. I guess I’ll go on the base this time. You’re up, AB.”

Scootaloo smirked. “I’m the pitcher. You’re going down, Applebloom,” she said before she walked over to the pitcher’s hill. Applebloom stood on the home base, raised herself to her hind legs, and tapped the bat against her shoulder with a wink. Scootaloo’s eyes narrowed before she threw the ball as hard as she could towards Applebloom, expecting the ball to whizz past her head. Instead, the ball collided with the bat and soared over Scootaloo’s head, the park fence, and eventually over the fence of a nearby house.

Applebloom stared at the house and dropped the bat. “Aww horseapples, I didn’t mean to hit the bat that far. I’m just messin' up a lot today.”

Scootaloo trotted over to Applebloom and held out her hoof for another bump. “Nice one, AB! I didn’t think you would hit a homerun!”

The two fillies bumped hooves while Sweetie Belle backpedaled over to them, her eyes still on the house whose backyard now held their baseball. “Hey, girls, have you ever seen that house before?” she asked, unable to hold back the slight quiver in her tone.

Applebloom followed Sweetie Belle’s gaze to the house and nodded her head. “Ooh, I remember that house!” Applebloom took a few steps towards the house and turned towards the two. “Applejack brought some apples to that stallion’s house before! I remember her sayin’ something about a personal order.”

Scootaloo smiled, but shook her head. “I haven’t seen that place before. But then again, I don’t really come around here that much.”

Applebloom passed a glance at the house, then turned back to Sweetie Belle. “Do you want me to go get the ball?”

Before Sweetie Belle could answer, Scootaloo interjected. “Wait a minute. Girls, what time is it?”

Applebloom looked up at the sun, then turned back to Scootaloo. “Around noon. Why do you ask?”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened. She removed her pitching glove and tossed it at Applebloom, who caught it despite her confusion. Scootaloo looked towards the house in question and the road that pointed towards Ponyville’s market. “I have to go meet up with Rainbow Dash. She said that we were going to plan an exercise regimen, and I’m going to help her with it!” Scootaloo’s wings beat furiously, keeping her in the air for a few moments before she landed back on her hooves. “Sorry, girls, but I gotta go!”

Sweetie Belle smiled. “It’s okay. Applebloom and I will go get the ball. Right, Applebloom?”

“Right.”

Scootaloo smiled. “Thanks girls. I’ll see you at school tomorrow!”

Applebloom nodded. “See you later!”

With that, the filly was off. Sweetie Belle walked over to home plate and picked it up while Applebloom picked up the bat and the pitcher’s glove. She balanced them on her back and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. “We should have brought a bag or something.” Applebloom slowly turned to Sweetie Belle, who balanced all four bases on her back and nodded with a sheepish smile.

“I didn’t think that Scootaloo was going to leave us behind,” Sweetie Belle muttered, her smile turning into a small frown.

Applebloom nudged Sweetie Belle. “Come on, Sweetie Belle, cheer up. Let’s go put this stuff back at the clubhouse, and we can go talk to whoever’s in that house to get our ball back. Okay?”

Sweetie Belle’s frown melted under the soft smile of her friend. She smiled as well and started towards Sweet Apple Acres. Applebloom followed, shifting left and right every now and then to make sure the bat and glove didn’t fall off her back.

~~~

Sweetie Belle gulped and turned towards Applebloom, who smiled nervously and raised a hoof. She lowered it and turned towards Sweetie Belle. “Are you going to knock?” she asked.

Sweetie Belle shook her head. “I’m not going to knock, you knock!” she whispered as she turned to stare upon the house’s front lawn.

Any earth pony would weep in despair. The lawn echoed the fall season, its mixture of yellow and brown reminding the two fillies of why they didn’t knock upon the door yet. Dead leaves had disseminated themselves amongst the lawn, leaving the tree in the middle of the lawn stripped bare. The only color that remained in the lawn were the whites and greens of dandelions and weeds that would take over the lawn with time.

Sweetie Belle turned towards the picket fence that separated her from the ball. There was no paint upon the fence. Whether it was due to neglect or choice, Sweetie Belle didn’t know. She shivered and turned back to Applebloom, who was a hoof away from knocking on the door. Sweetie Belle advanced to the door and knocked a few times. “The sooner we get our ball, the sooner we can get out of here,” she muttered to Applebloom, who nodded in agreement.

Ten seconds passed and there was no answer. Sweetie Belle shifted her weight from side to side and passed a glance towards the picket fence once more. Applebloom smiled nervously and stared at the door, waiting for some sort of cue that the owner of the house heard the knock. After another ten seconds had passed, Applebloom followed Sweetie Belle’s gaze to the fence. “Should we... jump the fence and get our ball?” Applebloom asked. “The house doesn’t look that big. We could probably find it in a snap!”

Sweetie Belle shook her head as she turned back to the door. “No, it’s fine. We just have to wait, that’s all.”

Another ten seconds passed. Sweetie Belle’s teeth gritted together and she moved to knock on the door again. As her hoof met the wood, the door opened and slowly glided to the right until it tapped against the wall, reaching the end of its hinge. Sweetie Belle and Applebloom both jumped as the owner stepped forward.

A stallion stared down at the two fillies, his gaze sending shivers down their spines. His smokey coat barely brightened under the small amount of sun that reached his untrimmed fetlocks. The stallion winced as he took a step forward and he placed a forehoof against the door to keep it still while he addressed the fillies. “Yeah? What do you want?”

Applebloom frowned and was about to speak when Sweetie Belle cut her off. “I um... excuse me, Mister. We were playing in the field over there,” Sweetie Belle pointed behind her, “And we accidentally hit our ball into your backyard. Um... do you mind if we go get it, please?”

“Yes.”

Sweetie Belle smiled and stepped onto the threshold of the door, but stopped as the stallion lifted his foreleg from the door and blocked Sweetie Belle from entering. The stallion huffed, his stare turning into a glare. “I do mind. You aren’t going into my house.”

Sweetie Belle frowned and took a step back. “Are you going to get the ball then?”

The stallion shook his head. “I don’t have to get anything. You knocked the ball into my yard. It’s my property now. Go get a new one.”

Applebloom stepped forward and placed her forehoof across Sweetie Belle’s chest, whose eyes started to water. “What’s the big idea, Mister? We just want to get our ball back. We didn’t mean to knock it into your yard.”

“You should have played a little softer. Then, your ball wouldn’t be in my backyard.” The stallion placed a forehoof onto his door and began to close it. He stopped halfway, leaving his head poked out. “Do you have anything else that you want to whine about? I was taking a nap before you decided to wake me.”

Applebloom growled and stepped forward, tapping her forehoof on the threshold. “If you don’t give us our ball back, I’ll get it back!”

The stallion’s eyes narrowed. “Move your hoof, or I’ll slam it in the door.”

“Make me!”

Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened as the stallion opened the door further, preparing to slam it shut. She pulled Applebloom away from the threshold as the door slammed shut, missing her hoof by seconds. Applebloom growled again and knocked on the door. “What kind of hayhead almost slams the door on a filly’s hoof!” she yelled at the door. “Give us our ball back!”

Sweetie Belle sighed as Applebloom pounded on the door. “Just let it go, Applebloom. We can go get another ball.”

Sweetie Belle sniffed while Applebloom turned towards her friend and shook her head. “No! Buck that! That ball is ours! It doesn’t become his just because it lands in his yard!”

“Yelling at the door isn’t going to get him to give it back, and please don’t use that kind of language.” Sweetie Belle stepped down onto the sidewalk and looked down the street towards Ponyville’s marketplace. “We should talk to Rarity about this. She could probably help.”

Applebloom rolled her eyes, but remained silent and followed Sweetie Belle as the two walked back into the city.

~~~

“What do you think his problem was?” Applebloom asked as the two passed Sugarcube Corner, where Pinkie Pie was juggling cupcakes inside of a cupcake costume. A large crowd gathered around her, smiling as Pinkie managed to juggle the cupcakes into the hooves of every member of the crowd who gave her a bit.

Sweetie Belle passed Pinkie a glance before she shrugged and stared ahead. She started to space out as she spoke. “I don’t know. Maybe he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed?”

Applebloom looked down at the ground. “It’s not fair. That’s your ball. Why couldn’t he at least give the ball back to us?”

“I don’t know, Applebloom,” Sweetie Belle replied as she blinked and sidestepped a pony that almost ran into her. “Pinkie told me about this friend that she made named Cranky Doodle Donkey. Maybe he’s like that, just a mean old pony with no friends.”

Applebloom nodded her head. “I don’t see why anyone would want to be his friend...”

The two fillies finally reached Carousel Boutique, and their entrance to the establishment prompted a quick, “Just a minute!” in a sing-song voice from Rarity. The fashionista walked out into the living room and her ears drooped slightly upon seeing Sweetie Belle, but immediately pointed back up as the filly moved over to her sister to give her a hug.

Rarity chuckled as Sweetie Belle nuzzled in her chest. “Did you have fun playing baseball, Sweetie Belle?” Rarity asked.

Sweetie Belle nodded for a moment, but her ears drooped immediately afterwards. “Well... we didn’t get to play that much.”

Rarity’s eyes widened as Sweetie Belle pulled back from her, not wanting to hold the hug for too long. “Whatever do you mean, Sweetie Belle?” Rarity gave a glance over to Applebloom and immediately connected the dots. “Did Scootaloo have things to do?”

Sweetie Belle grimaced. “Well... not exactly. I mean... she did have somewhere to be, but that was after we...”

Rarity stared imploringly down at her sister. “Yes?”

“We...”

“Yes?”

“Our ball sort of... got knocked into some neighbor’s yard.”

Rarity sighed in relief and smiled. “Well, why didn’t you say so? You make it sound like it was way worse!” She chuckled. “Why don’t you just go get the ball back?”

“We did-” Applebloom started, but Sweetie Belle cut her off again. She looked to Applebloom and shifted her eyes in Rarity’s direction, knowing that her sister couldn’t see the movement. Applebloom closed her mouth while Sweetie Belle continued.

“We did... want to. But... we wanted to ask you first. I mean... you told us never to talk to strangers.”

Rarity’s smile widened. “Ooh, Sweetie Belle, I’m so glad that you took my advice to heart.” She grabbed her sister in a tight hug and let her go after a few seconds. “Very well then, I’ll help you get your ball back. It’s the least a big sister can do!”

Rarity’s horn glowed a deep blue and the sign behind Applebloom slowly turned around until the words “Sorry, we’re closed” stuck to the window near the door. Rarity levitated her saddlebag onto her back and started towards the door. Applebloom pulled Sweetie Belle out of earshot as Rarity opened the door and closed it behind her.

“Are you sure this is going to work?” Applebloom asked.

Sweetie Belle smiled sheepishly in response. “It’s worth a shot, right?”

~~~

Rarity winced as she stared down the sidewalk that lead to the decrepit house. From the bare fence to the dead tree and grass to the weed’s takeover of the lawn, the sight of the house caused Rarity to bite her lip in disgust. “Well I... am glad that you decided to come to me first. Unless this house is abandoned, there really is no reason to let your lawn die like this, fall season or not. Roseluck would have a panic attack if she saw this!”

The two fillies remained quiet as Rarity ascended the steps to the house and reached the door. She knocked on it a few times and waited. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle hesitantly followed Rarity and remained behind her as the seconds started to pass.

Rarity huffed and knocked on the door again, before turning to Sweetie Belle. “Are you sure that they are home?” she asked.

Sweetie Belle shrugged and feigned a blank expression. “I don’t know. I just know that this is the house that we knocked the ball into.”

Rarity looked back to the door. “Well, I hope they have a good explanation for keeping us waiting,” she said with another huff.

The door slightly opened and the stallion’s eyes poked out from the open gap. They narrowed upon seeing Sweetie Belle, but turned to Rarity. “Can I help you?” the gruff voice asked.

Rarity smiled. “Hello there, good sir. My name is Rarity. I do not wish to be a bother, but my sister here told me that her and her friends accidentally hit their baseball into your backyard. May I go and get it for them?”

“No.”

Rarity frowned. “Excuse me, but I believe that they are allowed to have their ball if they want it.”

“The ball is in my backyard. So... it’s mine now. Now go away.”

Rarity’s eyes narrowed and she stomped her hoof. “I’m not going to go away. My sister’s ball is in your backyard and I want it!”

“Ponies in Tartarus want ice water!” The stallion boomed as he slammed the door in Rarity’s face.

Rarity growled in frustration and turned her back to the door. “Well then, if he is going to be a rude stallion, I guess I’ll just leave!”

Rarity stepped down the stairs to the sidewalk but stopped as she heard Sweetie Belle whine. “But, Rarity, you said you were going to get me my ball back!” she said. “I can’t get it back by myself! I already tried!”

Sweetie Belle realized what she just said and slapped her forehooves over her mouth, emitting a light, “Oop!” as Rarity raised an eyebrow and turned to her.

“How do you know that?” Rarity asked.

Sweetie Belle felt her heart skip a beat. “Um... I... uh...”

“You lied to me?” Rarity placed a hoof to her chest. “You said that you didn’t talk to that stallion! Why would you lie to me, Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie Belle shifted her forehooves back and forth, unable to meet her sister’s gaze as she stared at the ground instead. “I... I didn’t want you to think that I was being irresponsible. I didn’t want to get you involved, but he wouldn’t give me my ball back.” Sweetie Belle sniffled and Applebloom walked up behind her to give her a hug.

Rarity sighed. “I understand, and I forgive you, but I still don’t like that you lied to me. I’m sorry, Sweetie Belle, but I can’t get your ball back.”

Sweetie Belle’s jaw dropped. “What?! Why don’t you just... reach over the fence and levitate the ball out of his yard.”

Rarity sighed. “That’s trespassing, Sweetie Belle. If I do that, and that stallion complains, he could press charges on me. I’m not going to hurt my reputation just for a ball.”

“But... but...”

“I’m sorry, Sweetie Belle. I’ve made my decision. I’ll buy you another ball, it’s no big deal.”

“It’s not just the ball!” Sweetie Belle stamped her hoof. “It’s not fair! Why does he get to keep the ball just because it lands in his backyard! It’s my ball, it’s always been my ball!”

Rarity groaned. “Sweetie Belle, it’s just a ball.”

“It’s my ball!” Sweetie Belle turned towards the house, but finally sighed and let her head droop, ears flattening. “Fine... let’s just go.”

Applebloom placed a hoof on her shoulder to try and console her, but Sweetie Belle shrugged it off. Applebloom sighed and followed Rarity as the two of them started back towards Ponyville.

Sweetie Belle turned towards the door. “You don’t have to be so mean,” she muttered.

“Please... just go away.”

Sweetie Belle jumped as she looked at the gap underneath the door. She stepped closer to the door and dropped to her haunches, placing her ear near the gap. She heard soft noises... almost... like a whimper. The whimpering continued and slowly started to trail off before Sweetie Belle heard the faint closing of a door followed by silence.

“Sweetie Belle, are you coming?” Rarity asked impatiently, obviously affected by the rude stallion’s behavior.

“Yeah, we don’t have all day to waste on a rude stallion like him!” Applebloom added.

Sweetie Belle nodded her head as she stood back up. “Coming!” she called back as she gave one last look at the door. “Something is wrong,” she muttered, “and I’m going to find out what it is.”

~~~

Sweetie Belle took a step back to admire her work, a small smile adorning her features as she opened the card before her. Inside of the card on the right side was a picture of the smoky-gray stallion, a smile on his face as he held out a ball. Sweetie Belle was on the other side of the card, her hoof outstretched to accept the ball. Two tiger’s eye gems occupied the stallion’s eyes while Sweetie Belle had two opals. She asked Rarity if she had any spare gems that she could use, and after promising that she would only use four, Rarity let her pick from her gemstone chest. As opposed to her previous letters, this one did not ooze goo or shine deadly sunlight into one’s eyes.

Rarity walked past Sweetie Belle’s room and backpedaled upon seeing that she was inside. Rarity sighed and stepped into her room. “Sweetie Belle, I’m sorry that I couldn’t get your ball back,” she said. “Sometimes, ponies won’t listen to you even if you are trying to be nice.”

Sweetie Belle smiled and turned from her vanity to face Rarity. “It’s okay, Rarity!” she squeaked, her smile growing wider as she turned the card towards her sister. “I made this for him! Pinkie Pie told me a while ago that being nice to ponies is how you become their friend, and I figured, if I become his friend, then he will give me my ball back!”

Rarity sighed. “Sweetie Belle, you have to let it go. I’ll buy you a new ball.”

Sweetie Belle shook her head, the smile still on her face. “Nope. I’m not going to give up! That ball was signed by the most famous baseball pony who ever lived!”

Rarity pursed her lips before sighing. “I’m not going to convince you otherwise, am I?”

Sweetie Belle shook her head again.

Rarity advanced towards Sweetie Belle and yanked the card out of her hooves. Sweetie Belle cried out and bounced up and down, trying to reach it as Rarity held it with her magic out of Sweetie Belle’s reach.

“Give it!” Sweetie Belle whined.

“No.”

“Give me my card! I made it for him!”

“No. I’m not letting you go back there, Sweetie Belle. That stallion was one of the rudest ponies I have ever met. He slammed a door in my face. He’s aggressive, and is probably not going to enjoy seeing you again after you apparently talked to him and brought your sister to confront him as well.”

Rarity walked out of Sweetie Belle’s room, but the filly was not going to give up. She grabbed her saddlebag, followed Rarity, and tackled her, but only managed to bounce off of Rarity’s rump and land on the ground.

Sweetie Belle smirked. “Yeesh, you would think a fashionista would know when to go on a diet.”

Rarity gasped, her cheeks reddening as she released the magical grip on the card. She closed her eyes as she placed a hoof to her chest. “Well, I’ll have you know that I’ve been working out to get rid of this belly fat! To think that my own sister would imply such a thing, only to hurt my feelings! I want you to apolo...”

Rarity blinked as she saw the door to Carousel Boutique close behind her.

“Sweetie Belle!”

Sweetie Belle giggled as she sprinted away from Carousel Boutique. She packed the card into her saddlebag and once she reached Sugarcube Corner, she blended into the marketplace crowd. She finally slowed down to a trot and followed the sidewalk that lead out of Ponyville.

Sweetie Belle stopped in front of her objective, the familiar sight of dead grass and weeds leaving her uncomfortable, but not enough to turn around and leave. She probably angered Rarity enough to be grounded for not listening, but if this stallion took her card and didn’t slam the door in her face, then as far as she was concerned, it was mission accomplished. She gulped and ascended the steps, her hind legs shaking as she closed the gap between herself and the door. She pressed her ear against the door, tapped her hoof against it, and waited.

A door slowly creaked open, but it wasn’t the one that Sweetie Belle was leaning against. The sound was faint, but she was sure of what it was. Soft hoofsteps scuffed along the floor, growing louder and louder until they were merely inches away from theclosed door. Sweetie Belle pulled back from the door and unclasped her saddlebag as it opened. The door swung a few inches open and Sweetie Belle immediately stamped her hoof on the threshold, preventing him from closing the door unless he wanted to slam it on top of her hoof.

The stallion’s amber eyes narrowed and one twitched as the darkness inside of the house gave way to show his gray muzzle. “What the buck are you doing here? Get your hoof off of my doorstep!”

“No,” Sweetie Belle said, defiance lining the word.

“If you don’t move your hoof, it’s going to break. I’ve been in the Royal Guard, I can throw you off my porch if I want to!”

“But you won’t. You wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Sweetie Belle stared into the stallion’s eyes and remained locked in place, her right forehoof combining with her stare to create the beacon of defiance that held the door ajar.

The stallion growled and opened the door a little more. “Suit yourself. Enjoy the broken hoof,” he said as he swung the door to the wall, and then threw it forward. Right as the door was about to hit and break Sweetie Belle’s foreleg, the stallion’s eyes widened and he stopped the door, holding it with both forelegs as it tapped against Sweetie Belle’s stationary hoof. The stallion winced and his eyes grew misty as he leaned against the doorframe. “Please... just... go away,” he begged as a tear slid down his cheek.

Sweetie Belle stepped off of the threshold and bit her lip.

“Is he okay? Why is he crying all of a sudden?

Sweetie Belle couldn’t help but feel her own eyes water as the stallion softly pushed the door open and pressed his head against the doorframe. “I’m sorry!” Sweetie Belle cried as she sobbed. “Whatever I did, I’m sorry!”

The stallion barely shook his head in response as he lowered his muzzle to the ground. “It’s... it’s fine,” he muttered as another tear slid down his cheek. “Just please... go away. I don’t want to talk to anypony.”

Sweetie Belle blinked back tears before she wiped her eyes and moved to fish around in her saddlebag. After pushing aside an apple and a juice box, she pulled out the card that she made and held it out. “I made this for you.”

The stallion's eyes widened as he looked at the blank outside of the card. He grabbed the card, opened it, and smiled. The gemstones adorning the inside glittered in the sunlight and Sweetie Belle was willing to bet that the stallion’s eyes now shone brighter than the tiger’s eye on the card. The stallion laughed lightly and placed the card to the right of him, on top of an end table that was out of Sweetie Belle’s sight. He looked down at the filly and held out his hoof. “Thank you. What did you say your name was?”

“Sweetie Belle, Mister,” she said as she grasped the stallion’s hoof.

He winced. “Please, shake softly.”

Sweetie Belle nodded and barely moved the hoof before she let go and took a step back. The stallion turned around to look behind him, before he turned back to Sweetie Belle. “Would you like to come in? You can come get your baseball. It’s the least I can do for putting you through so much trouble today and hurting you and your sister’s feelings.”

Sweetie Belle smiled and stepped forward, but quickly paused with a frown. “Sorry, Mister. I’d like to, but my parents and sister always told me to not go into stranger’s houses.”

The stallion nodded. “They taught you well. Tell you what, in order to prove that I’m trustworthy, come back with your sister. Here,” the stallion reached away from Sweetie Belle’s vision and there was a small amount of clinking sounds before he outstretched his hoof to her. Five bits fell onto the floor after he missed Sweetie Belle’s outstretched hooves. He grimaced. “Sorry.”

Sweetie Belle waved away his apology and picked up the bits. “It’s okay. What do you want me to do with these?”

“Go get some sweets from Sugarcube Corner. I’d make some, but your parents probably told you not to accept sweets from strangers either.”

Sweetie Belle nodded.

“Anyway... come back with your sister and those sweets, please. I really want to apologize to her.”

Sweetie Belle nodded once more and placed the bits into her saddlebag. “Thanks, Mister!”

“Please, call me Safeguard.”

~~~

“This better not be some kind of trick, Sweetie Belle.”

Rarity looked at the decrepit house as Sweetie Belle walked up the sidewalk and knocked on the door. A small, pink box of cupcakes hovered in the air alongside Rarity as the mare quickly trotted over to the door. She turned to her sister. “That stallion was so rude, I’m not surprised if he slams the door in our faces again.”

Sweetie Belle shook her head. “He won’t. He’s a nice stallion. He’s the one who gave me the bits for those cupcakes.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow and sighed. “If you say so. I’m not in the mood to argue with you. We will visit for a few minutes and then we’re going home.”

Sweetie Belle was going to whine, but the door cut her off as it slowly drifted to the end of its hinges. Safeguard was there, that same grimace on his face from when he stopped the door from slamming on Sweetie Belle’s hoof. His grimace turned into a smile as Rarity levitated the box to the floor and stared at him, as if she was waiting for something.

Safeguard nodded and outstretched a hoof. “So, we meet again.” He chuckled. “I was wondering whether the two of you were related. You both look very much alike. My name is Safeguard.”

Rarity grabbed Safeguard’s hoof, but jumped as he added, “Please, shake my hoof softly. It hurts if somepony shakes it too hard.”

Rarity nodded and softly shook Safeguard’s hoof before she levitated the box of cupcakes onto her back. Sweetie Belle frowned. “Mister, are you hurt?” she asked. “Did you hurt your hoof?”

Safeguard chuckled, winced, and then slowly nodded his head. “Something like that. Go ahead and come inside, we can sit in the living room.”

He walked down the hallway and took a left into the living room while Rarity and Sweetie Belle hesitantly followed. Rarity placed a hoof over her mouth and stopped for a moment as the odd smell of the house met her nose. She coughed as Sweetie Belle turned to Rarity and gritted her teeth. “What are you doing, Rarity? He invited us in, we should follow him!” she whispered.

Rarity nodded her head and coughed. “It smells like... this place hasn’t been cleaned in years. I can’t help it if I cough.”

The hallways were stripped bare of any kind of decoration, so there was nothing for dust to collect on, but a numerous amount of cobwebs provided the image of a dirty house. When the two walked into the living room, they saw Safeguard laying down on a bed with his head between his forelegs, much like a dog when they are scolded for doing something wrong. Rarity removed her hoof from her nose and looked towards the windows behind the stallion, which were closed and blocked by shades. Safeguard’s bedsheets were the only thing in the living room that didn’t collect dust.

The rest of the furniture in the living room was coated in dust and cobwebs while the small amount of light that bypassed the window shades revealed the veil of dust in the air. Rarity could smell the dust with every inhale, and it got to a point where she coughed and illuminated her horn. “I’m sorry, Safeguard, but I have to open these windows. I can’t breathe in here...”

“It’s fine,” Safeguard said. “Go ahead.”

The shades immediately retreated to the ceiling and the windows opened, filtering the air in the room with the outside breeze. Rarity smiled and looked over to a nearby dust-covered couch and winced as Sweetie Belle sat down on it. Rarity remained standing. “So... Safeguard. Sweetie Belle told me that you wanted to talk to me?”

Safeguard smiled and softly nodded. “I’m sorry about the house. I... never invite ponies into my home, so I didn’t think about cleaning it.”

Rarity smiled. “It’s fine, Safeguard.” She turned to the box of cupcakes on her back and contemplated opening it, but instead placed it on a dusty end table, deciding to wait until the air was more fresh to open the treats.

Safeguard continued. “I wanted to apologize for my behavior towards you and your sister. All of my anger was completely uncalled for.”

Rarity nodded and opened her mouth to reply, but closed it once she realized what she was going to say. She instead decided on a simple response. “Thank you for saying so.”

“It’s okay, Mister! We didn’t mean to knock our ball into your yard. My friend Applebloom is just really strong.” Sweetie Belle added.

Safeguard turned to Sweetie Belle and chuckled. “It’s fine. Do you want to go get your ball? Just go back into the hallway and the door at the end leads outside.”

Sweetie Belle nodded her head and hopped off of the couch. “Can you come with me to get it? I want to show you what it looks like.”

Safeguard frowned and softly shook his head. “No, thank you. You can have your sister go with you if you wish.”

Rarity shook her head and smiled. “I’m sure you will be fine outside, Sweetie Belle. I want to talk to Safeguard for a moment, alone.”

Sweetie Belle groaned and walked out of the room, leaving the two adults alone. Rarity turned to Safeguard and walked over to the dusty couch, sitting down since her hooves simply didn’t want to stand any longer. “So, you must have a reason for why you were acting so rude. Ponies usually aren’t rude for no reason.”

Safeguard sighed. “I... would rather not talk about it. You two came to get her ball, right?”

“Yes, and she is getting it right now. You don't have to lie to me, Safeguard, I usually know when a pony is distressed or not.”

Rarity stood up and walked over to Safeguard’s bed, and was about to sit down when Safeguard yelled out, “Stop!”

Rarity froze as Safeguard whimpered. “Please don’t sit down. My back... it hurts whenever someone puts pressure on it or moves it.”

Rarity stepped back and looked down at the stallion. His whole body was lined up in one direction, as if he was straightening his spine to make sure that he didn’t have to move. Even his head remained unmoving and still, which is why he spoke slightly louder since his voice was directed towards the floor. Safeguard sighed again. “Just please, take your ball and go.”

Rarity shook her head. “Oh no, I’m not leaving a pony like you in pain. We need to get you to a hospital, as quickly as possible!”

“That isn’t going to help.”

“Of course it will! Nurse Redheart is one of the best doctors in Ponyville! She can fix up your back post-haste! You do not need to worry about a thing.”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital.” Safeguard slightly raised his head to look into Rarity’s eyes. “It’s not going to help. Nothing helps.”

Rarity paused. “Well... perhaps you should stretch.” Rarity reached her forehooves forward and pointed her rump in the air, letting out a sigh of relief as her back and bones popped back into place. Safeguard winced and covered his face at the sight before he shook his head.

“Please, no. I don’t want to stretch. It isn’t going to help.”

Rarity huffed. “Now really, I’m trying to help you as much as I can, and you aren’t even giving me a chance. Just please, Safeguard, let me help you.”

“THERE’S NOTHING TO HELP!”

The room fell silent. Even the numerous crickets that started to chirp in the setting sun were quiet. Rarity’s heart jumped in her chest and she sank back into the couch, placing her hoof over her chest to make sure she didn’t get a heart attack. Safeguard whimpered and rolled onto his back, lying spread-eagled on the bed as he closed his eyes. Tears started to leak onto the floor as he covered his face with his forehooves. “Please, Rarity, I appreciate the sympathy, but I really don’t want you to waste your time on an old and broken stallion like myself.”

“You aren’t broken.” Sweetie Belle said.

Rarity turned towards the living room door. Sweetie Belle stood on the threshold, the baseball in her forehooves as she stared at Safeguard, her lower lip quivering. Even she had a feeling that her interjection wasn’t exactly true. “Safeguard, are you going to be okay?”

Safeguard chuckled and sighed. “I’m going to be fine. I’ve been like this for a while now... I’ve just never let other ponies see me.”

“How did you hurt your back?” Rarity asked.

Safeguard paused. “You two aren’t going to leave until I tell you, huh?”

Both Rarity and Sweetie Belle nodded their heads. Safeguard sighed again before he shifted around onto his stomach, placing his head on his forehooves. “Do you remember the Griffin-Pony alliance?”

Sweetie Belle raised a forehoof. “I do. Ms. Cheerilee said something about it. It happened around... 15 years ago?”

“Yeah.” Safeguard smiled at the filly’s recognition. “I used to be a Canterlot Royal Guard. During the Tense War between the ponies and the Griffins, the two countries were constantly trying to appease the other, since both were unable to handle a full-out war. Equestria was without Luna and the government was crippled, while the Griffin Kingdoms were not in the best of positions.” Safeguard looked down at the ground as he continued. “I was one of the guards sent to protect Celestia when she traveled north to settle the war with a peace offering. During the meeting, a rebel griffin group charged at us. They were ruthless. I did what I could to protect my Princess, but I can’t remember much of what happened.”

Rarity and Sweetie Belle gasped as they stared intently at the stallion, who sniffed and wiped his nose with a forehoof. “When I woke up, I was in the Canterlot hospital. The Princess was okay, and the peace agreement was settled, since both kingdoms agreed that the rebels were not on either side. That was the beginning of my back pain. I was in a full-body cast. My back was killing me. Even the slightest movement made me cry out in pain. The doctors told me that I suffered nerve damage, and I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life. I quit the Royal Guard and lived in Canterlot until my house was too expensive, then I moved here.”

Sweetie Belle’s eyes watered and she sobbed as she looked at her sister, who sniffed and wiped her eyes with a hoof. Safeguard paused and looked away from the two. “This is why I don’t like having ponies over. I don’t want to burden anypony with my problems.”

Rarity stood up. “Is there any way that magic can heal your back?”

Safeguard softly shook his head. “Nerve damage is permanent, and I can’t afford the potions that would dull the pain. I’m...” Safeguard realized what he was saying and sighed. “I’ve said enough. I did what I could for my country. Now, I’m just going to live in this house for the rest of my days.”

“No!” Sweetie Belle jumped off of the couch and ran over to the bed. She softly placed her forehooves on the sheets and gave Safeguard a kiss on his cheek. “You can’t be in pain! Good stallions aren’t allowed to be in pain like this! It’s not fair!” She turned to Rarity. “Rarity, we have to do something!”

Rarity nodded her head and stood up from the couch. “I’m sorry, Safeguard, but we are not going to leave after knowing what you have done for us.”

Safeguard shook his head. “No... please don’t. I’m fine the way I am... just leave me be.”

Rarity looked behind her at the small kitchen that took up the back of the living room. The entire kitchen counter was coated in dust. She walked around the couch and towards the kitchen, where she opened the refrigerator and observed what was inside. She shuddered. “You don’t usually make your own food, do you?” Rarity asked as she looked over at Safeguard.

The stallion shook his head. “Sometimes I’m just not hungry, and I go the whole day without eating. When I am hungry, I just eat a couple apples. Apples are cheap, so I’ve lived off of them for a year now.”

Rarity shook her head. “Oh... no no no no. That will simply not do. I am going to clean up your kitchen and make you a nice, home-cooked meal. How does that sound?”

Safeguard covered his face with his forehooves once more. “You really don’t have to...”

“Oh I insist! It’s the least I can do.” Rarity opened the numerous cupboards that surrounded the kitchen, but found no cleaning utensils of any sort. She turned to Sweetie Belle, who was packing her baseball into her saddlebag. “Sweetie Belle, can you please go get Fluttershy and my cleaning supplies? I need you to get Twilight as well. We need to send some letters.”

~~~

“Hmm...” Nurse Redheart stepped away from Safeguard and scribbled some notes across her clipboard while he placed his head back on the covers.

Pinkie Pie giggled as she walked along the ceiling, scooping up cobwebs and dust with one of her dusters while Fluttershy and a few animals cleaned the living room walls. Sweetie Belle sat on the couch across from Safeguard’s bed, her gaze fixed on Nurse Redheart.

“Is he going to be okay?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Nurse Redheart softly smiled. “Nerve damage is still nerve damage, but we can give him some herbs and remedies that will help with the pain.”

“That’s fantastic!” Rarity said as she walked over to Safeguard and placed a plate of hay bacon, fruits, vegetables, and assorted oats onto his bed. Safeguard’s eyes watered and he lifted his head to chomp down on a carrot.

“Thank you,” Safeguard muttered.

“It’s no problem at all!” Rarity turned towards Twilight Sparkle, who was writing a letter to Princess Celestia in the corner of the room. Twilight bit her lip as she rolled up the scroll and handed it to Spike, who broke his gaze on Rarity and blew it into the air. Twilight quickly started on another scroll. Rarity smiled, walked over to Twilight, and placed a hoof on her back. “Thank you, Twilight, for helping Safeguard out.”

“It’s no problem at all,” Twilight replied, unaware that she just repeated Rarity due to her focus on her letters. She passed a glance towards Safeguard, who was openly digging into the oats, making sure not to arch or move his neck or back. “I’m just glad that we got to help someone who was in need. If I knew, we could have helped him sooner, but I guess we can’t change time.”

Pinkie giggled as she walked down the wall and brushed her duster against the nearby trash can, cleaning it. “Not anymore!” she said as she walked into the hallway to continue her duty.

Twilight laughed lightly and continued to write while Rarity walked over to Sweetie Belle and sat down on the couch next to her. She smiled and hugged her. “You were right, Sweetie Belle.”

Sweetie Belle giggled and snuggled close to Rarity before she nodded her head in agreement. “Yeah, I was. Am I still in trouble?”

“Not at all.” Rarity turned to Safeguard, who wiped his muzzle and smiled.

“I can’t thank all of you enough for what you have done,” he said. “I... just didn’t want to be a burden on anypony.”

Twilight shook her head and added from the corner of the room. “A member of the Canterlot Royal Guard does not deserve to be living in a cobweb-stricken house with life-plaguing pain. I’ve sent a letter to Princess Celestia to see if she could help with your house, rent or otherwise.”

Nurse Redheart walked back into the room. “I will talk with Zecora about blending together some potions to help with your pain. I’ll also set you up with a weekly chiropractor meeting to help stretch out your back muscles and massage away any knots.”

“Thank you, Nurse Redheart,” Twilight said as she walked away from the wall and reached into her saddlebag for some bits.

Redheart shook her head as she picked up her clipboard and placed it on her back. “No charge. It’s the least I can do for him.”

Twilight nodded as Redheart left the room and in turn, the house. Rarity looked to Twilight and smiled. “Twilight, do you have any more scrolls? I would like to send a letter to Princess Celestia.”

Sweetie Belle hopped off of the couch and bounced up and down. “Me too! I wanna tell Princess Celestia about my new friend!”

Safeguard smiled and chuckled. “I haven't talked to Celestia since I quit the Guard... I don't even know what I would say.”

Sweetie Belle smacked her foreleg into her other hoof. “I know! We can write the letter together! I've done it before. Just tell me what you want to say and I’ll write it down!”

Safeguard chuckled again and nodded as Sweetie Belle approached his bed. She placed a forehoof on the edge of the mattress and Safeguard slowly shuffled to the side, allowing her to climb next to him.

“Whenever you're ready, Safeguard,” Sweetie Belle said.

Twilight placed a scroll next to Safeguard and pulled a quill out of her saddlebag before giving it to Sweetie Belle. As everypony in the room gathered around Safeguard, Sweetie Belle pressed the quill to the paper and began to write.

Author's Note:

First edit: 7/6/2013

This is the main edit that I plan to have for when I submit the story to Equestria Daily. I added a chapter with the letters inside of it, since I finally had the muse to write them out. Thank you, all that read my story. I'll post the letters chapter tomorrow.