• 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’s coughing had done a fair job of clearing the first ninety percent of his airways, which meant the last ten percent tickled and plugged his breathing all the worse. Somepony put a napkin in his hoof, with which he promptly turned and began making unpronounceable noises into.

“What are you doing here, Sweetie Belle?” Diamond asked over his back.

“I was just about to ask you the same thing,” said the unicorn, eyes narrowed.

“I asked you first.”

Instead of answering, Sweetie made a grunting noise and gestured at the camera hanging around her neck.

“Ugh yourself!” Diamond snapped back. “You think you can shoot for the Foal Free Press with some ten-bit relic you dug out of your parent’s closet?”

“Not for that, no,” said Sweetie. “I was just about to try photography for its own sa—hey, will you stop trying to change the conversation?”

“Oh, mare.” Diamond snickered.

“Hey, give it back!”

Button turned around just in time to watch Diamond pluck the camera away from Sweetie and shove her away with a hind leg. The next thing he knew, Diamond had pulled him closer, bringing his muzzle a foot or two away from the lens.

A flickering aura—colored the same pale green as Sweetie’s eyes, Button later realized—tugged at the half of the camera not in Diamond’s grasp.

“Photography isn’t hard,” Diamond said, pasting her cheek against his. “Let me start you off by showing you a selfie. Cheese!”

“What?” was all Button could utter.

The world turned

“Gimme that,” Sweetie groused, snatching her camera back. “Thanks for ruining the film with your face.”

Diamond sighed. “This is the thanks I get for teaching you the ways of the art? Really, now. I was just about to make you an offer, too.”

“Hmph! You know what? Forget it. I’m outta here.”

Button’s vision cleared of spots just enough to watch Sweetie Belle turn on the spot and high-step it out of Sugarcube Corner, nose and tail hiked high in the air.

“You’re just jealous your boyfriend wants to spend more time with me than you,” Diamond called after her.

Sweetie was just about to step outside when Diamond’s remark hit her, and she threw back a glowering look in response. This only prompted another chuckle from Diamond and a sip of her milkshake.

“That was kinda mean,” Button said. “What’d she ever do to you?”

“Remember that thing I mentioned about asking questions, and how we weren’t having any more of that today?” said Diamond.

Button frowned. “Well, yeah, but still—”

“Look, you,” Diamond said, poking him in the chest. “I’m trying to do you a favor here, okay? Just roll with me.”

A mental search for “favors” under “Diamond Tiara” yielded nothing Button could answer her with.

“That blank flank did give me a good idea.” Sitting up, Diamond shaded her eyes with a hoof and swept the area, frowning. Her eyes widened when she spotted what she sought—a cream-colored, mosquito-legged pegasus colt chatting with a full-grown, musclebound stallion far too big for his chair.

“Hey, Featherweight!” Diamond hopped out of her seat and trotted over to the colt.

Featherweight’s sail-like ears flapped once at his name. Judging from how he flinched upon recognizing her, Button could only guess what their history was.

“Do you want to take pictures of me and my boyfriend for the rest of the day?”

Featherweight lifted a brow, but that looked to be as much as he dared do beneath her scrutiny.

“He’ll pay you, of course,” Diamond continued, extending a hoof back at Button. “How does a set of new teeth sound?”

Button winced. The kid did have a bit of bucktooth going on the—hang on. What was that about paying Featherweight in teeth?

The little pegasus perked up, poking his teeth once. “Oh, that’s all right. Mom says I just need to grow into ‘em.”

“I meant for your brother, genius-in-chief.”

Featherweight’s conversation partner cringed, exposing teeth the color of lightly stained wood. “Can we please not bring up my dental situation in public?” he asked, loud enough to rock the light fixtures above. “I’m kinda self-conscious about that.”

“If your little brother agrees to help me help him help you,” said Diamond, addressing the pegasus as he tried to withdraw his head into his bulging collar, “nopony will bring it up ever again.”

Featherweight did that thing—tilted head, ears flopped to one side, mouth agape and eye twitching. Boy, Diamond was getting that look a lot from ponies today.

“Look, just grab your camera,” Diamond told Featherweight. “It isn’t every day that you can do somepony one tiny, minor favor and cash in big on it, right?” Without pausing for breath, she turned around and beckoned Button over. “C’mon, we’re getting out of here.”

A shot of adrenaline slammed against Button’s stomach. Diamond hadn’t taken more than two sips of her milkshake. “Don’t you want to finish this first?” he asked, gesturing.

“I’m watching my weight,” said Diamond, turning toward the door. “And besides, it’s already beginning to melt. What competent business can’t keep their milkshakes from becoming lukewarm ooze in ten minutes, anyway?”

***

“I didn’t even know they sold water in glass bottles,” Button told Diamond.

“Huh?”

“I saw Mrs. Cake take one out from behind her counter when we left Sugarcube Corner.”

“Oh.” Diamond put a hoof to her chin. “Oh, yeah! Daddy has a whole shelf of that back home.” She made a face. “It’s disgusting.”

“Really?”

“I had to sneak into his office while he was sleeping one night because he wouldn’t let me try any. It made me get up sick the next morning and I puked.”

Button winced. “Sorry.”

Diamond shrugged. “Can’t you push any harder? I’m barely higher than the see-saw over there.”

They had come to the playground outside the schoolhouse, an alien place to Button at best. His hooves were dextrous, honed for rapid sequences of fine movements—definitely the poorest spec he could have chosen going up against a swing set. He wiped sweat from his brow, lamenting the grains of sand that scratched his coat and stuck to his forelegs.

“I’m getting tired,” he said.

“Wow. We’ve only been at this for a minute.” Diamond held her hoof out, sole downwards in the universal gesture for “that’s enough.” Button no sooner saw it that he sat down on the playground sand, panting.

A puff and a flash of light came from his right side, and Featherweight looked out from behind his camera. The two colts shrugged at each other. Aside from him, nopony was around to see Button like that. At the edge of the playground, two unicorn colts of teal and orange turned away any and all those seeking to use the jungle gym and the surrounding facilities for their own entertainment.

Strangely, when Diamond asked them to provide security, all Snips and Snails had asked for were new bugs and new rocks.

“It’s like they enjoy telling other ponies what to do,” said Button, staring at them as they chased a filly away from the whirlygig.

“No kidding,” Featherweight added.

“Excuse me, we’re not paying you to talk,” said Diamond. “Take more pictures, will you?”

Featherweight groaned. Button looked up just in time to notice the pegasus glancing at him, but Diamond shooed him into the air before anything else could happen.

“I swear, you ask a pony to do one thing in this town,” she said, returning to her swing seat, “and then it’s ‘I don’t know’ this or ‘here’s my unsolicited opinion’ that or even just flat-out ‘no’. It’s never as straightforward as ‘thank you, Diamond Tiara, our arrangement is sure to benefit you right away.’”

Button followed her hoof as she twirled it in the air, but wasn’t sure what to say in response. None of the words he had sounded like words she wanted to hear. Thank her, maybe, but…

“No thanks from you either, then?” Diamond sighed. “This is what I get when I go about trying to make ponies happy, isn’t it?”

Okay, Button thought to himself, drawing out the time between syllables. He mashed the sand with his hooves while hashing his mind over any possible definition of happiness Diamond might agree with. He wasn’t a stupidhead, after all, but it worried him a bit that he had to prove that, and he had a feeling she didn’t get the same kicks he did out of tearing the cellophane off a brand new game.

“Daddy says happiness is living in service of others,” Diamond said suddenly, looking at her hooves. “That’s why he owns Barnyard Bargains—he tells me it makes him happy because he can help ponies find what they need there.”

She paused, and Button found what he had to say the same way a drowning stallion at sea finds a life ring.

“Yeah.”

Good enough—something told him she wouldn’t care for his brother’s opinion on “mega-stores stomping out local businesses”.

Diamond smiled at him. “Daddy’s smart. He has to be. He and I don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but I agree with him on what makes ponies happy. So if living in service to others is what it all boils down to, all I do is help ponies realize they can do nice things for me.”

Button mulled that one over. He supposed that made sense. “Yeah.”

“Of course, not everypony’s going to get with the program. Take those blank flanks in my grade, for instance. I spend an inordinate amount of time on those three, considering their extensive histories of non-cooperation. I’m kind of surprised I bother to remember their names, because I don’t remember the last time they did anything for me.”

Diamond’s brow furrowed. Her smile had vanished, but the look she gave Button wasn’t anger. It was something else. “What is it with you and Sweetie Belle? Do you find her to be as much of a pain as I do?”

Button frowned. That wasn’t the look of a pony who wanted to hear “no”.

“...Yeah?”

“Good.” Diamond kicked her legs and set her swing into a gentle motion. “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings by pretending to be your girlfriend in front of her.”

Button still wasn’t sure what Diamond was getting at. She was a girl after all, even if the “friend” part was a little less clear. Nevertheless, a bad taste settled on Button’s tongue, as if eggplants became ghosts when they were tossed in the trash to haunt the tastebuds of foals once more. He had to say something else. “I mean… we don’t really hang out much. She’s just there at board games club after school because her other friends are off doing other things.”

Diamond blew a raspberry. “Trying to get her cutie mark at Slides ‘n’ Stairways, I bet.”

“No, actually.” Button winced. That’d just slipped out, he promised—

Only Diamond was still snickering at her own joke to notice. Talk about a natural 1 on that Listen check. Button wasn’t making great rolls in Sense either, even though he agreed that game was pretty dumb, because he chose to keep pressing his luck.

“I mean, we don’t always play together. When we do, though, she’s always passes on stuff like Monopony and Starving, Starving Rhinoceroses… seses.” How the hay was that pluralized again?

“How can she not like Monopony?” Sounded like Diamond was back listening. “What greater joy is there than squeezing every last cent out of your opponents over the course of three hours until they finally bust on your Beach Pier?”

“She brings in stuff they don’t sell in your dad’s stores,” Button said. “Dukes of Skyheight, Imperion, Tiny Pasture, you name it.”

“I’ve never heard of any of those games. No offense, but they sound boring.”

Something sparked in the bottom of Button’s guts. Something red, like the shell of a rousing magma elemental. “They’re pretty fun, actually. They’re more than just rolling dice or mashing buttons. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into them.”

He remembered the red of the schoolhouse walls as the afternoon sun filtered in through a window, lighting a floor of noisy foals clustered around games of Apologies! and checkers and marecala. From the front door, he noticed one unicorn filly in the corner steadily setting out piles of colored plastic train cars around a cardboard map of Equestria. Several decks of cards sat by her side, meticulously arrayed and spaced. She looked up from her prep work with a small smile, scanning the room for another pony or five to join her.

He saw her smile wilt.

“I can’t imagine ponies are into games they’ve never heard of,” Diamond suggested. “I bet she plays alone a lot.”

Ears folded, she reached over to the pile of red pieces and began straightening them out, one by one. The smile that returned to her face was even slighter, shakier. She looked up again.

“I dunno,” said Button, heat flushing in his head. “She joined the club before I did.”

Miss Cheerilee came over, asked her a question or two, swept a hoof at the other foals by way of suggestion. The filly shook her head, sending Miss Cheerilee away.

“How could she not play alone?” Diamond mused. “Outside of those two, she doesn’t have friends, right?”

He went up to her while she straightened up the green pieces, one by one, oblivious to his presence. His tail swished. He cleared his throat.

“Maybe?” said Button. “I really don’t know why she wouldn’t have others.”

“You still don’t know?” Diamond’s eyes bugged out at him. “After everything we’ve talked about?”

Her hooves flitted here and there, pointing to different lines on the board, showing how the cards he held in his hoof permitted him to lay pieces on those lines. Her voice squeaked, struggling to keep up with her explanations.

“Yeah, she’s a little weird,” said Button, glancing off to the side. “And when I’ve seen her outside of board games club she always walks around as if she isn’t a hundred percent there or something.”

He looked Diamond in the eye, and a little grin emerged on his face. “But you oughta give her more credit,” he said.

They were neck and neck, his Seaddle-San Prancesco line to her Featherfax-Dodge Junction. His plans for service to Manehattan were just one turn from fruition, and he’d run away with this thing.

“She gets the same way I get about video games when she plays. It’s almost unreal at times.”

One impossible six-piece link later, the citizens of Manehattan found themselves connected expressly to the ivory towers of Canterlot—and he wouldn’t see a single dime from it.

“You’re saying she’s good at these games?” Diamond’s eyes grew wider by the second. “At anything, actually?”

“Not just good,” Button chuckled. What he’d give for a pair of shades right now.

The Sableshore Coast was hers. She took root in the Mild West. Starsweep Peak fell into her empire before he could cobble together the single green link he needed.

“She’s a pain. In all the times we’ve played together, I’ve never won once.”

All he could do was sit back and wonder what just happened, his tiny little network paling against the spread of her dominion. She bounced around the board with little springing noises, giggling, and when she looked at him, her eyes were bright and her smile wide.

Diamond could only gape.

“Is that what happens between you two?” Button couldn’t be the only victim to her surprising wiles. “Do you always lose to her, too?”

And just like that, Diamond’s face contorted into something draconic. Puffs of steam escaped from her ears, complete with puffing noises. No, hang on—those noises were coming from above. Button followed her gaze upwards, where a pegasus with the colors of the rainbow arrayed in her mane bucked clouds into wisps of vapor.

Something told Button he may have gone too far.

“Yoo hoo!” Diamond called up. “Miss?”

Rainbow Dash, Button added for her. To his surprise, the pegasus stopped what she was doing and looked down.

“Yeah?” she asked. “What’s up?”

“I was just wondering if you could move that cloud over to give us some shade? This sun is quite piercing today.”

“Ooooh,” said Rainbow, descending to the playground. “That might be tough. Us weatherponies don’t do the whole ‘valet’ thing, know what I’m saying?”

“I wasn’t asking you to do it for free,” said Diamond, shooting a glare at Button. “Surely there’s something we can offer you in exchange.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened. “Really? Try me, kid.”

“A one-on-one VIP dinner with Spitfire, Captain of the Wonderbolts.”

“Hmm. She already knows how awesome I am, but that’s pretty good.”

“Now wait a second—” Button tried to cut in, only for Diamond to cut him back out.

“A copse of pillow trees set aside in town for your own personal nap use and nopony else’s.”

“Seriously?” Rainbow hid a chuckle behind her hoof. “Try again.”

“You drive a hard bargain.” Diamond sighed, coming back up with the winningest smile Button had ever seen on her. “Very well, then. How about a lifetime ten percent discount with Barnyard Bargains and all affiliated chains, franchises, enterprises, and competitors?”

Rainbow Dash answered by doubling over in laughter.

“You know how bargaining works, right?” she asked between gasps. “You start with your worst offer and work your way up, not the other way around.”

“Well, let’s hear what you want!” Diamond screeched, several octaves higher than pony ears should ever have been allowed to hear.

“Okay, wow,” said Rainbow when her eyes stopped rolling in her head. “For real, was one of your grandparents a harpy or something?”

Diamond stood her ground. Tendrils of black hate seeped from the corners of her eyes. At least, that’s what Button expected to see, finding this tendril-less reality less satisfying to watch.

“If you want me acting as your personal umbrella all day,” Rainbow continued, “you’re gonna have to build me a water park.”

Button balked. “A water park?” Was the penny beneath his beanie really worth that much?

“Yeah, you heard me,” Rainbow snorted. “It’s gotta have everything: tube rides, log flumes, a wave pool, lazy rivers, a sick wicked deadmare’s dive, and a snack bar gift shop combo. It’s got to be free for me and my friends to come and go any time, too.”

“Anything else?” asked Diamond.

Rainbow Dash recoiled. “Uh, maybe a fireworks stand I can set off every night.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Diamond tapped her hoof on the ground and rolled her eyes. “Anything else?”

Button wasn’t overly familiar with the pegasus before him, but if Scootaloo’s constant gushing over her was anything to go by, Rainbow wasn’t a pony who enjoyed being led on. Her eyes narrowed.

“Yeah,” she said, matching Diamond’s tone. “You’re gonna build it in the sky, right next to my house.”

Button flailed his hooves in Diamond’s direction, but she wasn’t looking at him.

“Sure thing,” she said. “Anything else?”

“Look, kid, just quit while you’re ahead. I’ll move your stupid cloud, all right?” Rainbow vaulted into the sky, a fading stripe of all the colors in her namesake trailing after her.

“Thank you!” Diamond trilled, waving her hoof. She gasped as Button half-swatted it down.

“We’re building her a water park?” he demanded, heart ramming against his throat.

“What are you so worried about?” Diamond asked in return. “Don’t believe your penny’s worth that much? I told you it’s worth millions. You don’t think I’d be making all these bargains on your behalf if you weren’t going to have the money to back it up, do you?”

Button couldn’t find the words to explain why a water park the size of Slydesdale hit him harder than some number Diamond kept throwing at him. He really, really didn’t want to doubt her expertise in these kinds of things.

But what if she was up to something? Everytime he tried routing his thoughts to make sense of his day, the question entered some new crevice in his brain like a marauding colossus. “I don’t know,” he moaned.

“You don’t know?” Diamond repeated, smirking. “There’s a reason my family’s rich, you know, and that’s because I do know.” She looked up.

“Snips? Snails?”

Button followed Diamond’s gaze toward the two forgotten colts at the edge of the playground, fending off a growing group of ponies both foal and full-grown. Pegasi flapped in the air like a skein of alien drones where earth ponies and unicorns clogged the ground.

All of them were looking in Button’s direction. If he didn’t know any better, he’d have said they were looking at him.

“What do they want?” asked Diamond.

Snip’s nasal speech keened through the air. “They’re saying you and him are giving away money,” he explained.

“Yeah,” Snails added, his voice more encumbered. “And all they have to do for it is do you some kinda favor.”

“I told ‘em that!” Featherweight’s brother popped up in the back of the group, beaming. “I’m getting new teeth, everypony!”

The group cheered, pressing against Snips and Snails.

Diamond tapped Button on the shoulder. And Button looked into the face of evil, and it was smiling.

“Let them come,” she called out, rubbing her hooves together. “I’m sure we can make them happy.”

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Comments ( 16 )

And the great one hears the call of the sick and delivers. :raritystarry:

I'm going to pretend you have psychic powers and caught that I'm stuck in bed with a flu and this is just some amazing "Get well soon" chapter. :heart:

and he had a feeling she didn’t get the same kicks he did out of tearing the cellophane off a brand new game.

I haven't even opened my Collector's Edition of Witch and the Hundred Knights, my CE Bravely Default cards and case were removed and I even managed to pack the case and deck of cards back as if they were never opened. My Tears to Tiara 2 disc is in my PS3 and the case is in it's original packaging with the artbook (which is gorgeous).

Yup. Button, I don't think any girl can ever understand that new game smell and the delicate touch it requires to preserve that cellophane wrap so it doesn't tear... I never did grow out of doing that since my SEGA Saturn Days. :twilightblush:


Yeesh, Button. The front not so sure? Way to imply how familiar you are with her backside. xD

Diamond loses in video games, too, to Sweetie Belle? I wonder what sort of rivalries they've had in the past then. Sweetie must be a pain in the butt in Civ and fighting games to beat.

I guess that answers the question I had about that penny from last chapter. I'm so curious now as to how far she can possibly take this penny and favors thing.

Brain hurts. But loved this chapter. Button reminds me of all those multiple choice games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age and old school Shadow Run; always careful to pick out the right words to keep the story going, There are no continues in 'real life'. XD

Good nighht.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Don't think I didn't catch the presence of Button mashing and Button hashing in there. :V

I will say, I kinda got lost around the Featherweight scene. I'm not entirely certain I know whose teeth are whose.

This is so many kinds of awesome, words cannot begin to express it.

“Dukes of Skyheight, Imperion, Tiny Planet, you name it.”

let's see... Lords of Waterdeep, Dominion, Small World? :twistnerd:

I'm not sure where the story's going, but I'm curious to find out. It is pretty fun so far.

5258156 I really, really like you.

Awww, board game Belle is adorable. I'm impressed that DT knows enough about Rainbow's desires to try bribing her like that. I hope Rainbow realizes that she never actually finalized that agreement, so I doubt she's getting her water park in the future. I can't wait to see the Penny get valued.

This actually explains a lot about Silver Spoon. She was probably some average pony walking along, and Diamond Tiara walked up, informed her that they were now friends, and then swept off with SS dragged in her wake.

What a neat take on Sweetie Belle.

“Okay, wow,” said Rainbow when her eyes stopped rolling in her head. “For real, was one of your grandparents a harpy or something?”

Hah!

“Not just good,” Button chuckled. What he’d give for a pair of shades right now.

“Very well, then. How about a lifetime ten percent discount with Barnyard Bargains and all affiliated chains, franchises, enterprises, and competitors?”

>and competitors
That's dirty. That's so dirty.

“Let them come,” she called out, rubbing her hooves together.

Oh my god best pony is the best!! So glad I found this story :rainbowkiss:

Haha I love this story! Mainly for the fact I still don't know if the penny is worthless or a gold mine.

I approve of any and all interpretations of Sweetie Belle that involve her being a badass gamer.

I approve of them so hard.

Love that Diamond Tiara. Glad I found this story in the deep space of fimfiction.
:pinkiehappy:

Seriously, why isn't there a Ticket To Ride: Equestria out there? This seems like a gap in the fandom.

The world turned
“Gimme that,” Sweetie groused, snatching her camera back. “Thanks for ruining the film with your face.”

The world turned what?

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