• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 1,585 Views, 38 Comments

Button Cash - CouchCrusader



Button Mash and Diamond Tiara bond over a single cent.

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Button Mash had no idea how the day had gone so horribly wrong.

That wasn’t to say he was a stupid pony, no matter how many angry red letters Miss Cheerilee stamped on his homework. He could trace the events that led him out here, stomping by the city park, with his beanie buzzing in the stiff breeze whistling from his ears. If an eight-year-old decided he needed to paint his room after the bizarre and bituminous Planet Brain-O-Blaster from Ultra Attack Galaxy Attack Squad IV, then darn it, that eight-year-old had every right to make that dream come true.

So maybe he got a little paint on the carpet while dragging those buckets through the living room, and just a little bit more on the sofa, and perhaps all over some random coffee table photo albums his mother spent her weekends assembling with the greatest of care, but what right did she have taking away his video game money for something like that?

“Bitless! Broke! It’s so unfair!” Button kicked the dusty road and roared. What was he going to do with the rest of his Saturday if he couldn’t spend one red cent of it at the arcade?

Huh. Why did they call them red cents, anyway? Button had never seen a single cherry-colored penny in his life. Whoever they were, they were dumb. Pennies had always been the same copper of his short, fuzzy coat, much like the one glinting at him two yards away.

Unbeknownst to the Royal Society of Seismologists in Canterlot, the minute increase in the planet’s rate of rotation sprang from the wheeling rage of a disenfranchised colt slamming to a halt.

Button tip-hoofed toward the coin, ears perked. By all accounts, it was an ordinary penny somepony had dropped on the path. This solitary piece of currency, one-hundredth the value of a bit, could no more save the world from alien mutants than it could buy him a single round of skee-ball.

But it was a cent. And, in his hoof, it was one cent more than he’d previously had when he’d stormed out his front door, streaks of chartreu— char— that one color nopony could ever agree on what it was along his back and face. It wasn’t in bad shape, either—the coin, not his face. The embossed sun on the front of the coin gleamed, and its edge was round and unnicked.

Maybe, just maybe… he could do some more scrounging around and find twenty-four more pennies, just like this one. Ponies dropped coins all the time, spoils for the crafty and watchful, and Button Mash was the craftiest and most watchfulest of ‘em all. If he got really lucky, somepony may have even lost a nickel.

His head swam with possibilities. He imagined himself trotting up to the counter at the arcade, spilling a little pile of coins onto the glass as the wide-eyed attendant on the other side passed him his tokens—

“Bitless! Broke! It’s so unfair!”

Button’s head whipped around, and the rotation of the planet returned to normal. In order, the impulses that sparked across his brain were these: the voice belonged to the snarling pink earth filly tromping up the path behind him in her sparkly tiara thingy, he knew who that filly was, and for some reason he wanted to disappear instead of telling her “hello” like he did with all the other ponies.

That was right. Weird, but right, for that was Diamond Tiara, schoolyard queen and rich girl closing in fast. The only reason she didn’t notice him then and there was that she was focused on developing laser eyes, and thankfully—why was he thankful for this?—they were trained on the ground instead not him.

Button knew every trap in the thirty-two levels of Daring Do’s Dungeon Run and could bring Gallopaga to its pixelated spaceship knees in a single life. His perfection in the gaming sphere, however, did nothing to prevent him from this slip-up:

“Hey, Diamond?”

Somewhere in Canterlot, a senior seismologist shook his head at a junior researcher abdicating his console, its reading fluctuating for the third time in as many minutes. All he did was pour himself another coffee, muttering “Kids…” under his breath all the while.

Back in Ponyville, Button’s ears folded. The part of him that once wanted to hide re-dedicated itself to rooting out the idiot that drew Diamond Tiara’s attention in the first place. Her head perked at the address, then her eyes widened in recognition.

“You,” she said.

“You’re.... you’re broke, too?” asked the part of Button on the lam from the rest of himself. “I overheard you saying some—”

“You can’t prove I said that,” Diamond snapped at him. “If you try telling other ponies that, I’ll sue you.”

Button wilted under her glare. “Sue me? But... but I like my name the way it is.”

Diamond tilted her head in turn, throwing in a dropped jaw and an arched eyebrow for good measure. “No, dum-dum,” she said. “That’s when I send a bunch of daddy’s lawyers after a pony to demand money for being a stupidhead.”

“Ohhhh.” Button straightened up a little. He wasn’t a stupidhead, so he was therefore safe. Or, so he thought. The dum-dum comment did worry him a little.

“That is, if I could even get daddy’s lawyers to lift a single overpaid hoof for me right now.” Diamond wheeled and took a couple of paces in the other direction. “Who does he think he is, taking away my allowance like that? All because I ripped up a couple of ‘precious’ photo albums when he told me to clean my room?” She threw her hooves up in the air. “I told him I could buy him some more, but noooo, he said memories don’t work like that. Which was totally missing the point, because I thought he was talking about albums, which, hello? He sells in his stores.”

Button began flashing back to his living room from ten minutes ago, but stopped himself before he got to his mother entering from the kitchen. He needed a distraction. Oh, that was it! He held up his penny again, and all his troubles were forgotten once more.

“What’s that?”

“Ahh!” When did Diamond Tiara get so close to him? “It’s… it’s a cent,” he offered, trying not to inhale the LD50 of her perfume. His cent, to be more precise, because he noticed the way she leaned in as he turned away from her.

“That’s it?” Diamond asked in a tone that would mean something very different to the both of them in ten years’ time.

“Yeah.”

Diamond placed a hoof under her chin and squinted at his penny. “Hmmmm.”

It took Button a second or two to figure out a response to that. “What is it?”

“You think that’s only worth one cent?” Her angel blue eyes peered into his, which only pushed him to scoot a little further away. Button wasn’t a fan of trick questions, if this was one. Trick questions were all about coming across as not tricks, after all.

But what was the trick here? “Yeah?” he said again.

Diamond Tiara sighed, though she did so with a smile and a patronizing pat on his crest. “Oh, you. I can tell you’re kinda new at this, so I’ll let you off easy. What you’ve got there is an unflipped penny.”

Button’s ears flopped to one side. “An unflipped penny...?” he repeated.

“As in never flipped once in its entire circulation history, duh,” said Diamond, rolling her eyes. “Can’t you tell? The other side of it’s never seen sunlight.”

“Really?” Button made to turn it over.

"Stop!” Diamond seized his hooves before he could complete the maneuver. “Are you crazy? Keep this thing sunny-side up, always.”

Button began to wonder if he was a stupidhead after all. He didn’t want a bunch of scary ponies in suits taking away all his money, and he definitely didn’t want to end up with a girl’s name, either. “W-why?” was all he could eke out.

Diamond snorted in his face. “Because they’re worth a lot of money. When you have a bunch of coins on you, you flip ‘em, turn ‘em over, make ‘em worthless compared to how they start out. Geez, it’s like you’ve never been on a playground before.”

A protest formed in Button’s throat to inform her that just the other day he had explored the farthest depths of the Tannhorser Gate, but something in him held it back. Being taller than Button wasn’t all that hard for ninety percent of Ponyville’s foal population, and Diamond herself seemed mounted upon a pedestal of thunder. He suddenly realized he just wanted to go home for a glass of chocolate milk.

“At any rate, you’ve got something valuable there,” said Diamond, backing off. “It could be worth thousands, or even millions! Imagine what you could do with all that money if you sold it to the right pony.”

Like an ooze, Diamond’s words began pooling together in the center of Button’s brain. Strange as she was, she seemed to know what she was talking about. That glass of chocolate milk was still sounding pretty good, but he began to see the other path unfolding in his mind, radiating from the small copper circle and its sun resting in his hoof.

“Millions?” he asked.

“Why do ponies have such a hard time believing anything I say?” Diamond whined, sticking her lip out. After a moment, she sighed and slipped her foreleg behind his neck. “Here. Why don’t you stick with me, and I’ll get you a nice bundle of bits for your penny there?”

“Really?” Pennies and nickels nothing—the sound of golden bits raining into his hooves filled his head.

“On the condition that you pay me my appraisal fee, of course,” she said, drawing his flank against hers.

Button’s brow furrowed. “What’s an appraisal fee?”

“Another condition: that you stop asking me all of these tiresome questions,” Diamond continued. “It’s money you pay me to tell you how much something you have is worth. I charge ten bi— ten hund— ten thousand bits for that.”

The bottom dropped out of Button’s stomach so fast that he didn’t even have time to wail. “Ten thousand bits?” His gaze fell to the ground. “I—I don’t have that much money.”

Diamond snorted. “Worthless. How about ten bits, then?”

“No,” Button moaned.

“Two?”

Water welled up in Button’s eyes as he looked at her.

“All right, all right!” Diamond huffed. “You’ll just help me with a couple of favors around town until we get that penny sold. Deal?”

Button sniffled, drawing the back of his hoof across his muzzle. “O-okay,” he said, holding his hoof out.

“Gross!” Diamond swatted the be-boogered limb away from her. “C’mon,” she said, wheeling down the path. “We’re going to Sugarcube Corner,” she called over her shoulder. “Whatever you do, don’t let that penny turn over or else you lose everything! Because I’ll sue you.”

An uneasy feeling stirred in the hollow formerly occupied by Button’s stomach. Something told him he wasn't going to bed that night with the same name he woke up with, but what choice did he have but to see where this went?

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