• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes



Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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Putting on a Show

Exhaustion pervaded the very fiber of Crystal's being. It had been a tiring evening and after an awkwardly silent walk home with Silent, all she wanted to do was go to bed. She had a job to do, however—one more thing that needed her undivided attention, and it wasn't fretting over the peck on the cheek from Silent rather than a proper kiss goodnight.

Inside the condo awaited either jubilation or despair, and it took a moment of mental coaching to lift her head from its tired droop before she was ready to open the door and call, "I'm home!"

The lights were off, but she could see Velvet's form resting on the couch. One ear perked upright at the sound of her voice and swiveled toward her. "How was dinner?"

"As could be expected, I suppose." Crystal walked toward the sitting pillows across from the couch with ginger, cautious hoofsteps. "How was your day?"

"I didn't even remotely make the cut for a principal dancer," Velvet said, keeping her back to Crystal.

Crystal winced. "Well, ah, that's all right, isn't it? There as so many other ranks—"

Velvet interrupted, "Or a first artist. Or even an artist."

"Ah, I see." Crystal raised a hoof, then slowly lowered it back down while her ears drooped. "Those are the corps, are they not? Would you really have been happy continuing in the background?"

"At least it would have been better than remaining stagnant." Velvet's tail lashed almost predatorily. "You're really bad at this comforting thing tonight."

Crystal bit down on her lower lip. "I'm sorry! I really am, I just, Velvet, I'm sorry. You tried and I'm so proud that you did. You've worked so hard to prepare for today and I'm proud of you even if you—" She paused. An unsettling feeling took residence in the pit of her stomach and she asked softly, "Velvet, you're not messing with me, are you?"

Velvet snorted and sat upright, twisting at the middle to shoot her a glare that was visible even in the darkness. "Are you saying I'm lying just to lull you into some kind of trap? About something as important as this?!"

"I'm sorry!" Crystal ducked her head. "I'm sorry, that was such a stupid thing to say, I—"

"Because I can tell you right now, if you'd even believe me or whatever, that I'm not lying! I didn't make principal or first artist or artist!"

"Velvet—"

Velvet's ears pinned back against her mane, which was out of its bun and free to fall to her shoulders in wildly curly tresses. "Believe it or not, all I got was an offer to be a soloist!"

Crystal shook her head. "I'm really sorry! I do believe you! I just—I just—" She paused.

Slowly, she lifted her guilty gaze to see Velvet's goofy grin.

"Velvet, you tramp!" Crystal jumped to her hooves. "This is exactly why I have these doubts when you give me bad news!" She jumped onto the coffee table to pounce on the mare, pinning her against the back of the couch. "I'll never trust you again but I'm so thrilled you made it in!"

Velvet laughed so hard that it seemed like she might stop breathing and wrapped her forelegs around Crystal's middle. "I'm sorry!" she wheezed. "I just can't help it. You're just so much fun to mess with!" She grinned up at her. "I made it. I did it. I'm in the Royal Ballet!"

Crystal squealed and hugged her as tightly as she could. "That's so wonderful!"

"And now—" In one fluid motion, Velvet slipped out of Crystal's grip and hopped over the table to land in the middle of the living room. "—I'm going out with some friends to celebrate! You had a rough day, so you and I can celebrate in the morning, okay?"

Crystal blinked, turning on the couch to face Velvet while the exhilaration drained from her like a popped balloon. "Some friends? Oh." Her brow furrowed. "Okay. Well, have fun?"

Velvet winked before trotting for the door. "Don't worry, you won't be missing much. We're going to a karaoke bar."

A feeling of jealousy and surprise gripped her, but she tried to smile nonetheless. "I suppose you're right. Karaoke isn't really my thing. Is it the Fillyharmonic?"

"Yup!" Velvet pulled the door open and waved over her shoulder. "Get some sleep! You have a super busy week ahead of you!"

And with that, the door shut, leaving Crystal alone. She scrunched up her nose when tears stung at her eyes. Velvet was right; her upcoming week was going to be even more taxing than dinner had been. The day after next she had the interview scheduled, and two days after that was Fancy Pants's fall line premier.

Her magic lit up to tug the needle down to the record that started to lazily spin around. She sniffed and dropped down onto the couch, soft music billowing over her like a warm blanket.

With a sharp breath in, she prepped herself to sing along with the record. "Slowly, slowly, just as the breeze drifts. Slowly, slowly, just as medicine works. Slowly, slowly—" A small hitch in her voice caught her off-guard and she clenched her eyes shut.

Velvet was right, yet again: singing in front of strangers was not her idea of a good time. But why did Velvet's other friends have to be strangers in the first place?

---

The condo was ready. All personal effects had been stored away in the bedrooms, the kitchen scrubbed, and the sitting pillows arranged in a comfortable semi-circle. After checking that there were no visible pink tresses in her mane and that her attire was neat and proper, she went into the kitchen and eyed her supplies.

There was about an hour left before the journalist from Mares Monthly would arrive. That gave her plenty of time to decide what tea would suit the stallion best. Sunset had said to have patience with the guy—given the lack of options available, he had turned to a more junior journalist for the interview. Crystal didn't mind in the least. A younger, less experienced pony suited her just fine. Professionals tended to give off such an aura of certainty that it put her on edge.

Just as she had portioned out a concoction of peppermint, rosehips, hibiscus, and lemongrass, there was a knock at the door. Her ears swiveled back, a light frown on her lips. If that was the journalist, then he was unfashionably early! The frown lifted into a smile as she corrected herself. Perhaps it was more 'nervously early' instead?

"Coming!" Her magic lowered the herbs onto the counter while she walked over to the door.

Standing just outside was a white-coated pegasus mare, half of her face hidden behind a cascading mane of light pink with seafoam green highlights. She ducked her head to put her eyes at Crystal's level. "Hi, uh, do I have the right place? Does C.W. Step live here?"

Crystal's eyes widened as a small surge of panic shot through her. "Who are you?"

"Oh, sorry, yeah, good question, huh?" She smiled softly. "I'm Aurora Dawn from Mares Monthly. I'm supposed to have an interview with C.W. Step."

As quickly as the nerves had started up, they settled back down into a momentary state of calm, then dropped into uncertainty. "You're Aurora Dawn?"

The mare—the stallion nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"Well." Crystal blinked to gather her wits and eased into a smile. "You're at the right place. Please, come on in and make yourself comfortable." She stepped out of the doorway to return to the kitchen. "I was going to make a fresh batch of tea, but I seem to have lost track of time. Is iced tea all right?"

Aurora looked around to eye the surroundings before moving around the sitting pillows and nestling onto the couch. "I'm all right, but thanks for the offer." He stretched out one wing and opened the flap of his satchel, retrieving a pencil and two pads of paper.

With her smile in place, Crystal returned to the living room and sat on one of the pillows across from him. "All right, then. Please let me know if you need anything."

"Thanks." Aurora fidgeted with the pencil held in one of his hooves. "Do you mind if we get started?"

Crystal shook her head. "Not at all."

"Okay, well..." He trailed, reading over the notes that were written on one of his pads. "Okay. So, I guess, to start off, why don't you talk about why I'm here? About your latest novel?"

"Her Silent Love." Crystal shifted and took a breath in. "It's somewhat of a departure from the precedent I've set for myself. The leading mare, Misty—"

Aurora dropped his pencil to the paper and interrupted, "I'm sorry, but I'd like you to expand on that, if that's okay."

Crystal blinked. Well, that was new. "Pardon?"

"You said it's a departure. Why? How?" Aurora glanced up at her with a small, almost sheepish smile. "Sorry, I'm just really, really interested. I'm actually a big fan of your work. Sunset is always bragging about you, so I had to read at least one."

"Really?" Heat flushed her cheeks and she tried to wave it off while laughing. "Oh, I'm flattered! I'll happily expand, then." She inclined her head to allow her gaze to wander the room. "My first story involved a prince. My second, a princess. I think that anypony can be a princess or prince in their own way; it's not just relegated to royalty. There are so many mares who long to find the love that's waiting for them, so I wanted to show that their prince might not be an actual prince, but the stallion living next door. Everypony deserves a happy ending, and I didn't want to only write one type."

Aurora finished taking notes, set down the pencil, and flashed her another smile. "Okay. So, back to what you were saying?"

"What I was saying?" Crystal repeated in a mumble, returning her gaze to him. "Yes, yes. As I was saying, Her Silent Love is a tale about a shy florist by the name of Misty Glen..."

--

The air was alive with polite conversation, orchestral music, and bite-sized appetizers being levitated off the platters that serving ponies carried through the small crowd. Crystal kept her mouth occupied by cucumber sandwiches and bubbly champagne so that all she had to do was make eye contact and nod.

Usually, Fancy Pants's shows were extremely punctual, but the lights had yet to dim and the catwalk was empty. Gossip, however, was in full attendance. Across the room, she spotted her mother's telltale look of disapproval as the mare eyed the barren stage and whispered something to Jet Set.

"Do you think perhaps something has gone wrong with the designs?" Swan Song mumbled, one of her brows raised. "He has been under an awful lot of stress as of late."

Silver Frames huffed. "Nonsense. I'm sure it's all well under control."

"Indeed," Golden Gavel said and took a sip of champagne.

Their eyes turned to Crystal. She swallowed the sandwich and offered a smile. "This isn't his first fashion show, after all. If anypony knows what they're doing, it's certainly Fancy Pants."

Nodding and mumbled agreements responded. Crystal spied a platter of puff pastries out of the corner of her eye and snatched up two in her magic. If nothing else, she would at least make a dinner out of the free appetizers.

While the whispered words of concern buzzed all around her, Crystal tried to determine whether she preferred the spinach pastry or the one filled with sweet potato. They both had their merits, and before she could come to a conclusion, the lights started to dim and everypony turned their eyes to the catwalk.

A spotlight shone on Fancy Pants and he regarded them all with a smile. "I do apologize for the delay, mares and gentlestallions, but I thank you all for your patience. Today, I would humbly request your attention to see the debut of this year's fall line, Couronne l'Automne." He started to walk off to the side of the stage while one foreleg swept to gesture toward a pair of golden legs.

Au stepped out fully into view, the fashion lights perfectly positioned so that she seemed to be illuminated by an ethereal glow. The dress she wore resembled a collection of gold-orange leaves cascading along her form and trailing behind her as if they traveled down a gentle stream. Each leaf was a different shade from the others around it so that no two blurred together.

Light hoofstomping followed Au as she turned at the end of the catwalk and sashayed her way back off-stage. Then nothing happened. The music continued to play and the main lights remained dim, but no other models came out.

"Is it just one piece?" Silver Frames asked, her voice squeaking with surprise.

Before the question could linger too long, Au returned to the stage, this time wearing a white gown composed of several layers of ruffled tulle. Scattered along the skirt of the dress were embroidered silver leaves that glittered and danced with every swish and sway as Au moved down the catwalk.

She was rewarded with another round of hoofstomping, though it was a little stilted with the confusion that hung in the air. Au posed and regarded them with a neutral expression, her mane framing her face in tightly wound curls. Once she was satisfied with the response, she turned and glided out of sight.

There was another long pause and Crystal glanced at the other faces around her, all mirroring the same expression—perplexed. Just as before, eventually, Au came back into the spotlight sporting a third design. The delay between her third and fourth appearance was longer than the first two, and when it was time for her to return a fifth time, nothing happened once again.

"This is most peculiar," Jet Set said from behind her and smiled when Crystal turned to face him. "I don't think this has ever happened before."

Crystal bobbed her head politely. "Good evening, Father." Her ear flicked. "Does Au not normally model the whole show by herself?"

"Certainly not!" Jet Set lifted his gaze to the stage. "Frankly, she normally doesn't model for him in these shows at all. Fancy tends to make an effort to not show favoritism to her like this."

Crystal's brow furrowed and she followed the direction of his eyes. "I see." She glanced up at him. "Speaking of—"

"No!" Au's voice shouted, tearing all attention away from gossip and to the curtains that shielded the backstage from sight but not from sound. "I can do it!"

The music quieted down as even the musicians tried to look at the commotion. Unease settled over the room until Fancy Pants walked out, smile in place.

"My apologies, everypony. It seems there was some... confusion this evening. Please bear with me a moment longer and the show will resume." He bowed his head and disappeared back around the curtains.

"That can't bode well," Jet Set muttered, sighed, and looked down at Crystal. "Now, dear, I came to ask you about your mother."

Crystal blinked and looked past him to see her mother still standing on the other side of the room. "Mom?" She looked back up at him. "What about her?"

"She hasn't quite been herself since dinner the other night. She's hardly said a word about the little altercation you and her had. Is everything all right?"

Crystal hesitated before giving a meek shrug of her shoulders. "I guess. I'm not sure. We fought, and then she left." Her expression hardened as she added, "I could ask you the same thing about Silent."

Jet Set's ears perked upright. "What ever do you mean?"

"He similarly hasn't been acting normal." She pursed her lips in a thoughtful pout. "What did you say to him?"

Jet Set cleared his throat. "Well, I—ah! The show is resuming, dear. I'm sure he'll be fine. We simply had a little chat about the future, that's all. Now, eyes forward."

Crystal sighed, but relented by returning her gaze to the stage. A new model walked out into the light and strutted her way down the catwalk and, right as she reached the end, a second started after her so that the space was never empty.

Off to the side, Crystal spotted Fancy Pants making a beeline for the table of champagne glasses. Four of them levitated up and over to him, one raising to his lips and the other three circling nearby to swap out after he drained the first. Her brow furrowed and she stepped out of the crowd to walk over to him.

"Mr. Fancy Pants?"

Fancy's ear twitched and he glanced at her. The corners of his lips twitched into a smile. "Yes?"

Crystal kept her voice to a low, private level. "Is everything all right?"

Fancy stared for a moment with the false smile plastered on his lips until it fell. "I suppose things could be worse," he admitted with a chuckle.

"Would you like to talk about it?" Her magic overtook his on the empty glasses to set them down on the table.

He sighed. He tossed back the third glass and turned to look out at the crowd. "It will be fine. Goldie will have a fit, I'm sure, but she'll get over it." There was a pause as his gaze landed on the current foremost model, whose dress glittered in the fashion lights. "Thank Celestia only one of my two experiments came up short."

Crystal tilted her head one way, then the other. "I'm sorry?"

"I hired a new lighting technician for today. My normal go-to pony was unavailable." He looked down at Crystal, smiling. "Please recommend Spotlight to your parents for their next garden party. She did a spectacular job, don't you think?"

Crystal just nodded. It was all she could think to do. Had Fancy just referred to his daughter's performance as a failed experiment? Out of context, that sounded much worse than she was sure he had meant. Finally, she replied softly, "I'll be sure to talk to them."

Was it wrong that she wanted to smile? The idea that her family wasn't the only one experiencing strife between the generations was comforting, in a strange way.

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