• Published 26th Aug 2013
  • 1,898 Views, 59 Comments

Cheer for Me, Cheerilee - Written Out

Five years after quitting teaching, Cheerilee finds herself pulled back to Ponyville to teach once again.

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Teaching Sweetie Belle

Sweetie Belle woke to the sound of twittering songbirds right outside her window, their chirps and peeps floating into her room with the morning sunlight. Blearily scooting out from under her bed covers, her tangled bed-mane falling limply over her face, she strode over to and shut the windows, blocking out the sound of the birdsong.

Can’t believe I forgot to shut the windows last night, she grumbled. Since there was no school today, she had been hoping to sleep in. Well, so much for that. Tossing her mane out of her face with a toss of her head, she walked over to the door of her room. The door swung open silently when she pushed on it, opening the way for her into the clean hallway.

The hallway was as clean as pristine as always, though Sweetie Belle would have chosen the word ‘sterile’. Whether it was the jewel-encrusted picture frames on the wall or the glittering vases filled with beautiful flowers, everything was careful placed to bring out the most beauty.

The whole thing disgusted Sweetie Belle.

Walking through her sister’s house and into the washroom, Sweetie Belle felt her heart fill with anger and despair. The house felt the same as it had always felt; empty. Rarity had probably already locked herself in her ‘workroom’, and wouldn’t be coming out until lunch. And even then, she would only be out long enough to grab some food before disappearing again. What a sister.

Stepping into the shower, Sweetie Belle turned the nozzle to full blast. Water poured out of the showerhead, and Sweetie Belle tilted her head back and enjoyed the feeling of the warm water beating against her body. It felt like her anger was being washed away, leaving her with only a bitter emptiness. The feeling was a comforting one, welcomed for its familiarity. Steam quickly filled the small room, fogging the mirrors and the windows.

Sweetie Belle stood like that, simply letting the warm water run over her body before disappearing down the drain. After several minutes had passed, she knew she would have to face the day and regretfully turned off the water before reaching for a towel. After quickly drying herself off, she finished her morning ablutions and headed for the kitchen.

Grabbing a quick breakfast of toast and butter, she made her way outside into the streets of Ponyville, the piece of toast clenched in her teeth. She didn’t want to spend any more time in the Boutique than she had to, and intended to put as much distance between herself and it as soon as possible. Now then, what should I do today…? she thought, looking up at the early morning sun. Twist and Pipsqueak wouldn’t be awake yet, and she didn’t really want to go wake them up. Guess I’ll just kill some time.

“Sweeeeetie Beeeeelllllllle.” The call came from down the street, and Sweetie Belle saw Miss Cheerilee running towards her.

Gah, Sweetie Belle thought. Not her. All she wanted was to spend the peaceful day somewhere quiet. And here came her nosey teacher to ruin that. She probably wants to talk about my shoplifting or something stupid again. I’ll just pretend I don’t see her.

“Ah, wait, don’t go!” Cheerilee shouted as Sweetie Belle sprinted in the opposite direction. The speed of her hoofbeats increased as she pursued after her rebellious student.

Hah! Sweetie Belle laughed internally, seeing Cheerilee chasing after her. You really think you can catch me? I haven’t been chased by every storekeeper in Ponyville just for show. I know the streets of Ponyville like the back of my hoof. Every street corner, every doorway, every trashcan is like a close friend. Not even Rainbow Dash can catch me!

There, I think that’s far enough. Sweetie Belle jogged to a halt behind Twilight’s house, a cocky grin plastered on her face. No way she could have followed me this far. She shook her mane out of her eyes, looking up at the position of the sun. Twist’ll be waking up soon. Guess I’ll head-

“Sweetie Belle, you shouldn’t run from me.”

Cheerilee poked her head out of one of Twilight’s windows, frowning down at the unicorn below her. Sweetie Belle stared at her for only a split second before turning and running once again.

Okay, that was weird. But it must have been a coincidence. No way she could follow me here. Leaping into a bush beside Featherweight’s house, she cautiously peered out into the surrounding streets. Seeing no sign of the purple schoolmare, she breathed a sigh of relief.

Hmph, that’s what you get, she thought, falling back into the bush. It had been months since anypony had almost caught her and she wasn’t about to let that record be broken now. Her stomach rumbled faintly and she realized she had dropped her toast at some point during her run. I’ll just grab something at Twist’s. Pushing the branches aside, she easily climbed out of the bushes… and nearly walked straight into Miss Cheerilee standing in the middle of the road.

“Ah, there you are,” Cheerilee said with a smile. “I thought I’d lost you.”

Sweetie Belle gaped up at the mare in disbelief before she dashed past her and sprinted down the streets as fast as she could.

Her sides heaving as she panted for breath, Sweetie Belle slid to a stop behind Silver Spoon’s house. The place was practically a mansion, and was easily the second largest house in town after the one belonging to Diamond Tiara’s family. The house was in a mild state of disrepair, the paint on the walls starting to peel and the hedges beginning to encroach on the walkways.

No way will she find me here. Not that I even want to be here in the first place, she mentally added. She and the rest of the Cutie Mark Crusaders had never really broken out of their rivalry with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. Even once their friendship broke apart, the bonds of ‘enemy of my enemy’ still held true.

Agh, what am I thinking about? she chided herself. This is no time to think about the past. I need to grab something to eat before- “Oh, come on!”

“Sweetie Belle, there was something I wanted- Hey, don’t run away from me!” Cheerilee yelled after the rapidly retreating unicorn.

Sweat matting her coat, Sweetie Belle stumbled towards her goal. Her tongue lolled out her open mouth as she gasped for breath. The rays of the sun high above her pressed against her like a heavy weight, increasing her fatigue and tiring her out even further. It was already noon and she had been running almost non-stop since dawn with no food or water. It felt like heavy chains were tied around her legs, dragging against the ground with every step she took. “But… heh… there’s no way….” she panted, the sides of her mouth curving slightly upwards. “No way… she’ll be able to find me here.”

Before her was the old clubhouse she had used back when she was a little filly. It had already been three years since she had last laid eyes on it. Three years since that fight with Scootaloo and Apple Bloom. Never thought I’d be coming back here. The place had seen better days and was starting to show the effects of time. The shutters hung loosely and forlornly, some of the shingles had been blown away by storms, and there were cracks and fractures spiderwebbing through some of the windows. The place truly looked like it had been abandoned.

Her hooves tiredly scraped against the walkway leading to the entrance of the clubhouse as she climbed towards her goal, just like they had so often done, years ago. I’m thinking of something useless again. It felt like she had been thinking of the past more often of late. Was it because of the new teacher? Because of Miss Cheerilee’s sudden reappearance? Sweetie Belle wasn’t sure. All she knew is that she didn’t like it. She would have preferred if those thoughts had remained buried in the past.

Pushing the door open, Sweetie Belle stopped and stood frozen in the doorway. Like an apparition from a nightmare, Cheerilee sat on a rocking chair in the center of the room, disinterestedly crunching an apple with a newspaper held open before her. She seemed to pay no attention to Sweetie Belle’s arrival, focusing only on the newspaper in front of her while her chair creaked back and forth.

“Hmm,” she mumbled to herself, taking a bite out of her apple, “looks like that new Iron Mare movie’s been getting some pretty good reviews. I was thinking about going to see that. Pity there’s still no theaters in Ponyville, though.” Without looking away from her newspaper, she picked up a water bottle beside her chair and tossed it over to Sweetie Belle. “Drink. You look thirsty.”

Sweetie Belle caught the bottle reflexively, but she only held it limply while continuing to stare open-mouthed at Cheerilee. “How-” she finally managed to force out, “how do you keep finding me?”

“Teacher sense,” Cheerilee said simply, folding up her newspaper and dropping it beside her chair along with the remnants of her apple. With a wave of her hoof, she gestured at the bottle Sweetie Belle was holding. “Go ahead and drink. We can’t talk with you looking like you’re about to pass out on me.”

Giving up, Sweetie Belle cracked open the bottle and downed a mouthful of the water inside. She didn’t know how Cheerilee had managed to follow her for so long, and she felt that, Miss Cheerilee would just track her down again if she ran. Might as well get this over with. “What do you want?” she asked bluntly.

A small amused smile spread on Cheerilee’s lips. “Straight and to the point. As you wish. I wanted to talk to you about your shoplifting.”

“I already told you,” Sweetie Belle said rudely, step fully into the clubhouse and shutting the door behind her, “I don’t have anything else to say about that. I do it because it’s fun. That’s all.”

Cheerilee let out a chuckle. “Yes, that is what you said. But you know,” her gaze hardened, “you really shouldn’t lie to me.”

“Wha-” Sweetie Belle protested, recoiling instinctively and taking an unintentional step back. “I’m not lying! You’re just trying to find something when there’s nothing to find! You’re just making stuff up! Well, why don’t you all just get off my back and leave me alone!?”

“’Nothing to find’?” Cheerilee repeated, cocking an eyebrow. “You’re certainly getting defensive if there’s nothing for me to find. I thought I was just making stuff up, so there should be nothing for you to worry about.”

Sweetie Belle groaned and looked down at the floor, unable to come up with a comeback.

“Going to keep quiet?” Cheerilee asked. “That’s fine. You don’t have to say a word. I’ve already figured everything out. All you have to do is stay there and listen. Maybe you started shoplifting because you were bored. After all, your first theft was shortly after your big fight with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. But that was when you realized something, wasn’t it? You-”

“SHUT UP!” Sweetie Belle screamed. “Just… shut up! What do you want from me!?” she asked frantically. “Do you want me to apologize? To say I’m sorry? To beg for forgiveness? Well, I’m not!” She stamped a hoof firmly. “And I won’t!”

Cheerilee went silent, watching Sweetie Belle’s reaction. “Is that what you think?” she asked eventually. “That throwing a tantrum is going to make everything better? That you can just act as you like without any repercussions coming back to you? That all the pain you’ve caused will just be swept under the rug if you ignore it?” Slamming a hoof against the arm of her chair, her voice suddenly rose to a shout. “You need to grow up! You can’t be a brat forever!”

“What do you know?” Sweetie Belle shrieked furiously. “You think you know me, but you know nothing about me! You don’t care about me, you never did! You never cared about any of us! Why did you even come back!?”

Cheerilee sighed, leaning against the back of her chair. The anger went out of her eyes as she stared at the furious young mare before her. “…You’re right,” she admitted at length. “I never really cared about any of you. I only thought I did. Maybe if I had, I never would have let myself get transferred out. Maybe none of this would have happened if I had.”

What is she saying? Sweetie Belle wondered. Her anger slowly faded like a roaring fire, unable to sustain itself without being continuously fed. “So what now?” she asked warily.

“We can do nothing to change the past,” Cheerilee pulled out a sheet of paper from where it had been hidden in her mane, “so we can only focus on the future. Namely, your future.”

Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes. Oh boy, here it comes, she thought sardonically. Been down this road before. Now she’s going to yak about how I need to ‘shape up’, but she’s not actually going to do anything about it.

“Which is why,” Cheerilee continued, waving the piece of paper. “I had a little talk with Rarity last night. From what she told me, neither she nor her parents have been paying you a great deal of attention, is that right?” She gave Sweetie Belle a look.

Sweetie Belle shrugged carelessly. “Yeah, I guess so.”

Cheerilee returned her gaze to the paper. “I thought so. It seems to me that what you need is more adult interaction. Somepony that can give you the attention you need.”

“Uh-huh.” Sweetie Belle grunted, barely listening to what Cheerilee was saying.

“And that’s why,” Cheerilee wrapped up with gusto, clearly savoring the bombshell she was about to drop, “I persuaded your parents and your sister to grant me full legal authority over you.” She smirked predatorily. “You’ll be moving in with me from today on.”

“That’s ni- WHAT!?”

“Oh, it wasn’t easy,” Cheerilee said, dismissive of Sweetie Belle’s panicked reaction. “First, I had to convince Rarity that this was necessary, and then I had to convince Twilight to teleport me to your parents so I could convince them as well. Really,” she muttered to herself, “unicorns get all the fun, and alicorns are even worse. Teleportation, telekinesis, invisibility, flight… I tell you, Sweetie Belle, life just isn’t fair.”

Sweetie Belle’s mind had tangled itself into a cluttered mess, unable to sort her thoughts into any reasonable order. I- But- I can’t- No way- This- They wouldn’t just- “You’re lying!” she screeched, clinging on to that last thought, her voice rising to a fever pitch. “They wouldn’t abandon me like this!”

“’Abandon’?” Cheerilee repeated, one eyebrow slowly rising. “When did I say that? This is only temporary, just until I can fix your behavior trouble. Well, you won’t be able to see them until we’re done, since you might fall back into bad habits, but that’s alright. It shouldn’t take more than a few months to fix you.”

“I-I don’t need to be fixed!” The world felt like it was closing in on Sweetie Belle. She felt the cool wood of the door bump into her rump as the edges of her vision started to fade. This can’t be happening! It can’t- This has to be a dream! Wake up! Wake up! Despite her earnest wishes, the room remained distressingly solid around her.

“What’s wrong?” Cheerilee asked, leaning forward in her chair. “You seem distraught. I thought you didn’t care about your family, especially your sister? Surely it shouldn’t matter to you if you don’t have to see them? If you cared about them, why did you deliberately do something that would hurt them so much?”

“I… I just…” Tears pooled in the depths of Sweetie Belle’s green eyes. Her knees shook beneath her, threatening to give out on her. This- I never meant for this to happen! I… I… “I…”

“Yes…?” Cheerilee pressed, her eyes shimmering with interest. “You just…? Just what? Go on,” she added, her tone slightly more gentle than before. “Say it.”

“I JUST WANTED MY SISTER TO NOTICE ME!” Sweetie Belle screamed. She glared at Cheerilee, tears falling unheeded from her eyes. Her knees had stopped shaking, and she stood firm as she shouted at her teacher. “She’s always locked away, working on her dresses! She’s never willing to so much as give me the time of day! Even now that I live with her, I’m lucky to see her even once a day. It’s like she doesn’t even know I exist! At least she talks to me now!” After years of bottling it up inside her, her emotions poured out of her in an uncontrolled torrent. “So what if she’s angry with me? At least she acknowledges my existence!” Sweetie Belle was reduced to breathless panting after her emotional outburst, feeling emotionally drained and empty.

Cheerilee remained unfazed throughout Sweetie Belle’s screaming, her expression only revealing a mild interest. The seconds slowly ticked past before she released the paper she was holding, letting it flutter to the ground in front of Sweetie Belle. “There it is,” she said calmly. “That’s the reaction I was looking for.”

Sweetie Belle looked down at the paper, her eyes narrowing in confusion. It clearly stated that Cheerilee would be responsible for taking care of Sweetie Belle from today’s date on. What was strange about it was that the entire page had been written in crayon.

Before she could ask what Cheerilee meant, Sweetie Belle felt somepony grab her from behind and pull her into a tight hug. Looking up at whoever had suddenly grabbed her, she gasped in surprise at the sight of the familiar white unicorn holding her. “Ra…rity?” she asked, her voice shaking unsteadily from the emotional purge she had just gone through.

“I’m sorry,” Rarity whispered, holding Sweetie Belle as tightly as she could. “I am so, so sorry. I had no idea I was hurting you so much. Could you ever forgive me?”

“When did you get here?” Sweetie Belle asked, still too shocked by Rarity’s sudden appearance to realize what it meant. “When did you even get here?”

“Oh Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said, pulling her head back so she could look Sweetie Belle in the eyes. Her blue eyes glistened with unshed tears that she was obviously fighting to hold back. “I’ve been here from the beginning. I got here even before you did.”

“I- But- Huh? What?” Sweetie Belle asked, now thoroughly confused. She had been sure when she entered the building that there had been no one inside besides her and Cheerilee.

“I said it earlier,” Cheerilee said, climbing down from her chair and making her way towards the sisters. A genuine smile spread on her face as she looked down at the confused young unicorn held the elder mare’s grip. “Unicorns are dirty cheaters, and alicorns are even worse. Flight, telekinesis, invisibility...” Stressing the last word, she walked past the pair, opening the doorway and exiting into the afternoon sunlight.

Closing the door behind her, Cheerilee let out a sigh of relief. She hadn’t been sure that would work, nor how hard she could have pushed without breaking poor Sweetie Belle. She had nearly cheered when she heard Sweetie Belle’s anguished declaration, since it meant that she wouldn’t need to act like the bad pony anymore. Her job was done. Whatever happened now, it would be up to those two to make it happen.

“Thanks for your help,” she said to no one in particular. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

The air beside Cheerilee shimmered and blurred, the light stretching and warping as something slowly appeared in its place. A flash of violet appeared, quickly spreading until Twilight’s form was suddenly standing on the wooden walkway. The alicorn looked back at the closed door behind them, her expression reflecting her unease. “Do you think they’ll be able to handle it?”

“They’ll have to,” Cheerilee replied, stepping off the walkway and onto the dirt beyond. “If we try to force change on them, we won’t be able to do anything to change their hearts. They’ll have to do that on their own.” She smiled. “At least now they’ll have each other.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.” Twilight stretched her wings, her feathers ruffling in the slight breeze. “It just seems like there’s more that we should do.”

“Trust your friend a little, Twilight,” Cheerilee chided. After she had heard the story from Rarity, it had been easy for her to figure out the cause. It was a common story, one she had heard in many a student before. The only problem had been getting Sweetie Belle to admit it in front of Rarity. Having Twilight cast an invisibility spell over herself and Rarity had solved that problem easily. “Now that she knows what the problem is, I don’t think there’ll be any need to worry. After all,” she let out a little laugh, “that was why you asked me here.”

“Huh?” Twilight asked, suddenly flustered. “What do you- what do you mean?”

“Oh, come off it, Twilight,” Cheerilee said, giving the Princess a small half-frown. “Don’t even try. I know you brought me here to fix your friends’ problems with their sisters. If all you wanted was for me to teach a class, you wouldn’t have gone through all the effort of lying to your friends about who I was that first day or asking the principal to let me teach. It was obvious that you had some sort of personal stake in having me here. Once I figured that much out, the rest was easy.”

Twilight hung her head in shame. “I’m sorry,” she said in a small voice.

Cheerilee brushed off Twilight’s apology. “I forgive you. You were just being a good friend.”

“Okay, well, um…” Twilight scratched at the dirt awkwardly. “About Applejack…”

“Ha!” Cheerilee let out a bark of laughter. “You really do have high expectations of me. Don’t worry, I’ll visit Applejack’s tomorrow, see what I can do for Apple Bloom. Can’t have one of my students playing truant, after all.”

“Thanks.” Her worries put to rest, Twilight shot Cheerilee a sardonic little look. “By the way, what was that crack about unicorns earlier?

“’Fraid I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Cheerilee said with a chuckle. Her body suddenly felt a lot lighter and she could no longer feel the scratching of the dirt against her hooves. Looking down, she saw that Twilight had grabbed her with her magic and floated her into the air. She crossed her forelegs and glared playfully at Twilight. “Oh, you mean the ‘dirty, cheater unicorn’ comment? I stand by it.”

Twilight laughed before gently placing Cheerilee back down on the ground. “Aw,” she said teasingly, you’re going to make me cry.”

“Uh huh.” Rolling her eyes, Cheerilee suddenly turned to look at Twilight. “Oh, do you mind if I borrow Spike for the afternoon?” she asked. “There’s something I want his help with.”

Twilight tilted her head, surprised at the sudden request. “Well, alright, I guess. You’ll have to ask him, but it’s okay with me. What do you want him for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Cheerilee gave Twilight a furtive grin. Brushing her mane back out of her eyes, her hoof lingered for a moment over her right eye. Pushing her feelings aside, she quickly shook them off. “I’ve got a promise to keep,” she said secretively.

“Aww,” Twilight groaned in mock disappointment, “spoilsport.” The pair continued teasing each other all the way back to Twilight’s library, neither of them truly realizing that at some point along their walk, they quickly became close friends. Cheerilee wouldn’t realize it until later, but this would be a turning point in the chaotic upcoming months of her life.

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