• Published 14th Jul 2015
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7DSJ: Shake It Off - Shinzakura

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book I sidestory. In the wake of the Vibe incident in Canterlot, Vinyl Scratch and Cloud Kicker start a new life in Detroit. Is the Motor City ready?

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January 27: Sunshine After the Rain

“I wanna see the sunshine after the rain
I wanna see bluebirds flying
Over the mountains again”
- Berri

Vinyl Scratch looked at herself in the mirror, and the first thing that came to her mind was that she looked like a demented version of the clone girl from that giant robot anime from a decade ago. She couldn’t remember the name; it was a favorite of one of the boys she briefly dated at her mother’s behest. But the image of the fictional girl with the ice-blue hair and red eyes, wearing a cream sweater vest over a white shirt and blue skirt very much stuck in the mind of the very real girl with blue hair and wine-colored eyes, currently wearing her new school uniform in its summer configuration: a cream sweater vest over a white shirt and blue skirt.

I’m never going to get used to this, she sighed as she took it off, changing into the winter configuration: basically the same thing, save for the addition of a tie and a full-length sweater, with a blazer as well. Well, time to go downstairs and face the music.

A few minutes later, she was sitting downstairs at the kitchen table, looking across at a lanky boy with maroon-and-red hair and ice-blue eyes pour cereal into a bowl. “So, ready for your first day?” She shook her head and the boy laughed. “Vinyl, you’ll be fine, really.”

“Thanks, LP,” she said, unwinding a little more and looking at her older brother, Long Play. It was still weird seeing him on a regular basis, but that was the end result of Vinyl’s world-shattering mistake back in California. While she’d completed her deposition for the prosecutors this past weekend, it had still been rough-going: she’d pinned all the blame back on Blueblood, and while the prosecution agreed that she’d done what she did under duress, the bale stare of that one attorney – Cadenza, if Vinyl remembered the name right – made her feel as though she was going to melt from pure beams of hate.

However, it didn’t save her from the most immediate repercussion: When Vinyl’s mother had found out about her daughter’s true sexual preferences, she made it absolutely clear that the teenager was no longer welcome in her home. That was fine by Vinyl; she hated her mother anyway, and luckily for her, she’d been able to move in with a friend until something more permanent could be arranged for her.

And now here she was, in the last week of January, starting her life over thousands of miles away from Canterlot. Of course, she had to admit, if she was going to have to start over, at least there were some upsides to the situation. In truth, she’d landed more than a bit of luck – ending up with her father and brother, the family that she knew loved her unconditionally. Plus, they lived in the East Ferry District, one of the toniest parts of town. The biggest speedbump so far was when her father told her that she wouldn’t be attending public high school, but rather the prestigious D’Aguanno School, rated as one of the best private schools in the country.

Now if I can just get used to the uniforms, Vinyl sighed. She hated skirts, blouses and ties. She hated anything that looked formal, even when she went on dates. Hell, the somewhat stylish attire that she’d worn on her ill-starred misadventure with Octavia Melody had been something that her mother had insisted on her wearing when she found out Vinyl had a date that night. Vinyl was always casual, and that always set her against her mother’s very fashionable ways.

At the head of the table, a man with a ponytail of dark rose and blue laughed. This was Vinyl’s father, Deep Bass, “The Voice of Detroit”, the most popular DJ at the Top 40s station in town. “Vi, honey, I didn’t like uniforms either when I attended the D, but you’ll get used to them.”

“You went to the D?” Long asked, surprised. “Always wondered why you said it was traditional that I had to go there.”

“Yeah. Went there, as did your grandfather and grandmother,” Bass noted. “We’re a legacy family.” Turning back to Vinyl, he added, “Look, think of it this way: This is your chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew – and keep in mind, you’re not doing it alone.”

As if on cue, a blonde with dark skin came down the stairs, moving over quickly to kiss both Long and Bass on the cheek before sitting down next to Vinyl and planting a long, loving kiss on the other girl’s lips.

“You two keep that up, you’re going to be late,” Bass chuckled before returning to his eggs.

“Hell, you two keep it up, I’m going to go get a camera and film this thing for Brazzers,” Long snarked.

“So~rry,” Cloud Kicker apologized. “Couldn’t find the conditioner. Vi, one of these days, we’re gonna have to organize the bathroom.”

“Maybe you should just get it cut short, like me,” Vinyl replied, shaking her shaggy mop of a hairdo.

“Personally, I prefer to look good and not like a day-glo mop,” Cloud mock-retorted.

“You look good enough to me in bed,” Vinyl purred, and was rewarded by that by another long kiss.

Long grunted. “Great – my little sis gets more action with girls than I do.”

Vinyl answered that by sticking her tongue out at her brother, but in truth, she was absolutely proud of her family. Not only had her father and brother accepted her lesbianism, but they’d gone so far as to let her girlfriend move in with them, as Cloud’s parents had decided to move to a hippie commune in Ukiah and knew their daughter’s ways weren’t theirs. It had been Bass that had set up both of them at D’Aguanno, and was paying the tuition. Though they’d both been at the home for only a week, both girls felt more like they were a married couple living with Vinyl’s father than anything else.

“Don’t shit me, LP,” Cloud replied haughtily. “I know you get play. What was her name again? Strawberry Swirl or something?”

“Sparkleberry Swirl,” the boy replied. “And yes, I did her. Oh my God, she’s got the greatest tits!”

Cloud nodded. “Oh, hell yes. Plus that ass? I’m supremely jealous, dude.”

As the table descended into a discussion to the suitability of her older brother’s latest one-night stand, Vinyl quietly buttered a piece of toast and took a bite, enjoying the interplay of her family. A father who was the morning DJ at the most popular station in town, an older brother studying fine art and music at the College for Creative Studies, and her live-in girlfriend. She smiled.

Paradise, at last.

Long pulled his car up to the parking lot of D’Aguanno. The school, an aged brick and mortar complex, looked more like a small university than a mere private school. “Here we are, girls. The D. One of the best schools, great for K to 12, yadda, yadda, yadda. The only important part that I ever gave a shit about is that they have an outstanding arts program. Anyway, time for you two to get out. You got everything you need?”

Sitting in the back seat, both teens nodded, but double-checked just in case. “Yeah, we’re good. You or Dad picking us up later?”

“Depends. If Sparky’s still in town, I’ll be, uh, a little busy.”

“You mean your little swimmers’ll be busy,” Cloud teased. “Trust me, I’ve done both – I know how it works.”

Long shrugged. “Whatevs. Anyway, if she hasn’t left for work, I’ll pick you up. If not, either Dad will or his girlfriend.”

“When do I get to meet her?” Vinyl asked.

“Soon. She’s been busy the past week, but trust me – you’ll get to meet her soon. Catch you girls later. Oh, and no sex in the locker room, okay? D’Aguanno’s a classy place.” Giggling, both girls got out of the car, and onto the snow-covered grounds of the campus, headed for the front door and the admin office.

As they walked down the cobblestone pathway, Vinyl clearly was impressed at the school’s environs. “You know, I always thought CHS was ridiculously ornate, given that was designed after one of these old-style schools, but now I can see why Principal Celestia blew her fuse when that accident happened last October during Homecoming.”

Cloud shrugged. “Dunno; County High was the typical modernist building, high on cheap and low on style.” A thought then came to her. “What did happen with that incident? I remember you mentioning it, but never heard the full story.”

“Apparently some maintenance to the front windows went wrong and it exposed some bad construction on the school’s front façade or something like that; I remember Ms. Luna mentioning it a week or so after on the intercom. Funny thing is, there were a couple of people who tried to blame Sunset Shimmer or that one exchange student we had in town that week. But even Sunset couldn’t pull that kind of shit and no way is some exchange student rocking the boat like that. Not important anyway. Well, looks like we’re here.”

The two walked through the front door and into the adjacent admin office. After introducing themselves, they were told that the school headmistress wanted to briefly speak with both of them. As they were escorted to the Headmistress’ Office, both girls looked at each other.

“I see my rep caught up with me,” Vinyl replied nervously.

“Hey, you have me – and I’m with you all the way,” Cloud replied, showing her promise ring. She’d never removed it since the day they became a couple again, a vow of her insistence to remain with Vinyl forever. Someday, both girls figured it’d be replaced with an engagement ring, and finally a wedding band – but that time was still years off.

Shortly they entered an ornately-styled office that looked like something out of a Hollywood movie about private schools: there was a classic globe, a well-stocked shelf of books, and an ornate wooden desk. Seated behind it was a woman in her late forties, with deep-pink and Irish-green hair, dressed in a blouse and blazer. As the girls approached the desk, she stood up and raised her hands. “Good morning, Ms. Scratch and Ms. Kicker. I’m Ms. Clover, the Headmistress of D’Aguanno School.”

“Hello, Ms. Clover,” Vinyl said, shaking her hand and sitting.

“Good morning, Ms. Clover,” Cloud said as she did the same.

“So, getting settled into Detroit well?” Both girls nodded. “Didn’t break the bed Bass bought you yet, did you?” When both girls’ eyes went wide, Clover laughed. “I may as well let you both know now: Vinyl, your father and I are engaged. He and I met when your brother was a student here, so we’ve known each other for quite a while. He asked me for help getting you in despite your, ahem, ‘current issues’.”

“I…see,” Vinyl replied, sinking into her seat.

“So let’s set a few ground rules here. Obviously, you’ll have to call me ‘Ms. Clover’ or ‘Headmistress Clover’ while here. Also, no public displays of affection. I know you two are dating, but the school board wanted a zero-tolerance policy on it, so please, while I know you two are pledged to one another – which I have to admit, is very sweet – while on school grounds, you’re just two students who happen to have the same address, understood?” When both girls reluctantly nodded, Clover added, “For the record, I don’t like it either. But the board cares more about the school’s rep than adjusting to the times, so that’s that. For the record, they nearly fired Mr. Lancer, our biology teacher, who is also gay, until I had to remind them about the state’s discrimination policy.

“Which, to be honest, brings me to the next part: D’Aguanno is a storied school, one of the best in the country and known for its contribution to the arts. Famous musicians and artists have come from this school: Bass, the 60s girl group The Dazzlings, half the members of the heavy metal group Deep Cherry, and the guitarist for Twangy Tunes, just to name a few. As of current, Tequila Sunrise attends school here when she’s not on tour.”

Cloud perked up at that. “Tequila Sunrise is a student here?” Hearing her girlfriend’s sudden burst of fangirling, Vinyl groaned. In her opinion, Tequila Sunrise was just another typical pop starlet no better than Sapphire Shores or Midnight Moondust, and platinum-selling album or not – Rise Up was selling by the bucketload, even if Vinyl considered it to be boring pop pabulum – Vinyl always thought she could do better if given the chance.

“Yes, though I would appreciate it if you treated her as just another student while she’s here,” Clover told Cloud before turning back to Vinyl. “Anyway, despite your family’s legacy of students here at the school, your father’s recent donation to the endowment, his influence as a radio personality, and your brother’s status as a well-known composer for his age, I still had to fight tooth and nail to get you accepted as a student, both because of your grades and the incident in California. I finally managed to convince them based on your musical ability, which I’m told is very prodigious – one of the independent board members is a record producer and believes you may even be a bigger talent than Tequila Sunrise. But let me make this clear, Vinyl: that’s not enough.

“Frankly, you need to improve your grades immediately – and if you need tutoring, I’ll be glad to do so at home – but the bigger worry is that legal cloud hanging over you. While you were cleared by California’s courts, you’re going to be facing a more damning judge: the Court of Public Opinion, and once they find out – and sooner or later, they will – you will be walking a razor-thin tightrope. Actually, both of us will; I suspect that because I went to bat for you, my job is probably on the line as well. So please: don’t screw this up.”

If Vinyl could crawl any further into the upholstery of the chair, she would. Meanwhile, Cloud needed something answered for her own sake: “Ms. Clover, what about my status?”

“You’re fine, Cloud. Your grades are above average, and you’re in no legal trouble, so your status was never in question. But I suspect that you’d want to quit the school if Vinyl were kicked out, wouldn’t you?” The teen nodded and Clover sighed. “Don’t. Think about your future, especially if you two have one together. I’ll do what I can for you, Vinyl, but I’ll need your help to do so, too.” Clover’s eyes glanced at the clock and she said, “Well, let me see if I can find a student here who can take you to your first period class, girls, and we’ll see what we can do.”

As they stepped out of Clover’s office, the woman noticed a young girl apparently picking up some papers for a teacher. She was humming to herself, and there was something about her that said that she was a little “different”. But the moment Vinyl looked at the girl, she instantly saw what must have been Pinkie Pie’s spiritual cousin: while the girl looked a little more like that shy girl Pinkie hung around with, that was where the similarities ended. The girl had chiffon-colored hair shot through with butter yellow and magenta, but the sparkle in her soft pink eyes made her look very not normal.

Plus, she was practically dancing in place, without a care in the world. And no music, either. Vinyl instantly remembered the old saying “Dance like nobody’s watching,” but there was no way anyone would have missed the barely-contained fünkengrüven girl poplocking in place in front of the photocopier.

“Ms. Bon-Bon?” Clover asked. “You have Geometry with Mrs. Mystique, right? Would you be willing to escort them there?”

The girl named Bon-Bon gave a wide smile that confirmed Vinyl’s thoughts: Yeah, local Pinkie Pie.

“New students? Really? Really? Reallyreallyreallyreallyreally?” She immediately shot over to Vinyl and Cloud, shaking both of their hands like the fate of the world depended on it. “Hi! My name is Bon-Bon but you can call me Bons or Bonnie or BB or….” With a move that had to be practiced, she pulled her phone out of her left pocket, tossed in the air, spun, caught it with her right and held it out them, “You can call me on my phone!”

Vinyl waved. “Hi,” she said simply. Cloud looked around, not trying to say a thing.

“Oh, we’re going to be the bestest friends ever! C’mon, we’ve got to get to class!” Not really waiting for them, Bon-Bon danced out of the room – literally danced out of the room.

Cloud looked at Clover. “Does she do this often?”

“She’s part of the dance and baking clubs,” Clover said with a straight face. “So, yes, this is normal for her. And you might want to catch up, she moves pretty fast.”

Neither girl needed further prodding. As they watched the far-too-cheerful-for-her-own-good girl, Cloud grunted, “I swear she reminds me of that one waitress at the Sugarcube Corner Café – Pinkie Pie.” She watched as Bon-Bon hopped around like a spinning gyro. “Way too much like that waitress,” she sighed.

Vinyl grinned. “Know what you mean; I went to high school with Pinkie. I thought she was a meth addict, but she’s just a sugar and caffeine junkie instead.”

As they caught up to Bon-Bon, Vinyl mused, And here I thought that coming here was going to be dull.

After a couple of class periods, lunchtime finally came, and the first thing Vinyl did was to throw her books in her locker. Geometry had been surprisingly easy for her; she chalked it up, strangely enough, to her DJ skills, because she couldn’t think of any other reason that would make sense. Fortunately after that was classical music, and she’d had the opportunity to tell them about herself. Many of them rolled their collective eyes when she explained that she was a DJ by trade, but when the teacher asked if she had any “real music skills”, she walked over to the nearest acoustic guitar and laid down some Latin jazz that had completely stunned the teacher and students until the bell rang. After that, nobody was questioning her competency. Too bad they couldn’t say the same about her following class, History.

Hustling over to the cafeteria, she found Cloud waiting outside the room for her. “Hey, swe…I mean, Kicky,” Vinyl said softly. “How was class?”

Cloud shook her head. “It is so weird seeing a teacher that reminds you of yourself, you know.”

“How so?”

“The English teacher, Ms. Bright Eyes? Should probably call herself ‘Bedroom Eyes’, instead. I swear, woman looked like she wanted to sleep with everybody in the class, me included.”

“Hey, you’d better have your spots reserved for me,” Vinyl pouted, as they both made their way in and got in line.

Cloud grinned. “Only for my girl. You know that,” she whispered. Changing to a normal tone, she added, “Besides, it gets old keeping up with everyone after a while.” Checking her funds, Cloud opened her wallet and sighed. “Looks like I’m going to have to get a job.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll cover,” Vinyl insisted. “Didn’t your parents give you money when you moved?”

“Yeah, but it’s in a trust fund and I can’t touch the majority of it until I’m twenty-five,” she sighed. “I get a monthly stipend out of it, but that’s gotta last me until the next time, and I’m not sure it’s enough. Besides, I spent all my previous free time in Canterlot either hanging with Blossomforth or…well, you know. Now I gotta keep busy without gettin’ busy…certain persons excepted, of course.”

“I understand,” Vinyl said as she grabbed a Turkey and Swiss, apple and Coke. “But we’re in this together. Besides, I’d like to find some gigs as well. Maybe we can come up with something together?”

Cloud grabbed a cheeseburger, orange and a Mountain Dew. “That’d be nice.” Vinyl paid for both, and as they looked for a seat, they immediately saw Bon-Bon jumping up and down trying to get their attention.

“Can’t escape, can we?” Cloud muttered.

“I’m sure we’ll get used to it,” Vinyl sighed. “I put up with Pinkie for years, after all.”

As both sat down, Bon-Bon went over and hugged them. “You made it! You made it!” With no cue whatsoever, she began bouncing around the table, fist pumping and strewing confetti all over the place. Both Cloud and Vinyl briefly wondered where she was getting all the confetti from, but then decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

“I see you survived the first half of your first day of school.” That came from another girl sitting at the table, the curling waves of her ice-blue hair shining like diamonds. She carried herself like Rarity in every way, complete with the odd accent. “Plus, I see our dear Bon-Bon has taken a liking to you both.”

“Thought a private school would be tougher,” Vinyl replied, while Cloud merely nodded. “School’s going to be a lot easier than I thought it’d be.”

“Man, you guys must be ace students,” another one of the girls there said, a grin on her face. She had her hair in twin ponytails, colored of brown and red. She was looking through a book at the moment, but it was more of the “last second catching up on homework due next period” kind than actual scholarly pursuits.

“Eh, trust me. This place is mostly for rich idiots to send their idiot kids to grow up as a new generation of idiots. Fortunately, some of us have brains. And if BB found you, well, I’m gonna guess you aren’t space cases like her.” The fourth in the group carried herself like a tough girl, reminiscent of Gilda Griffin or Lightning Dust, two girls Vinyl was familiar with, though thankfully she hadn’t tussled with either. Still, there seemed to be a gentle touch to this tough girl, enough so that her dismissive comment of Bon-Bon was likely more a gentle tease than actual insult. Her shaggy, pine green hair was similar to that of Vinyl’s, but was held in place by a quaver-shaped hairpin.

"Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnyway,” Bon-Bon sang, “These are my friends! This is Satin Splash, that’s Countryside, and the grumpy one there is Bossa Nova – but don’t let her meanie pants way fool you, she’s reallyreallyreallyreally cool! Girls, this is Vinyl Scratch and Cloud Kicker, recently moved here from sunny California!”

Cloud spoke up. “Wait, how’d you know that we moved from Cali?”

“Really?” Satin piped up. “God, I’d love t—”

“Hello, losers.” Vinyl heard a feminine but harsh voice behind her, as well as the breath of someone on her exposed neck. She turned to find a girl with long whisky-orange and agave-blue hair, clear skin and pink eyes, focused on the group. She then looked at Vinyl and Cloud. “Do yourselves a favor, you two, don’t join the Fucked Four. Last thing we need around here is a Shitty Six.”

Vinyl turned around and stared at the girl. “You know, it’s traditional to introduce yourself before throwing insults. And then after that you can carry yourself away.”

Cloud, on the other hand, gasped. “Vi, don’t you know who that is? That’s Tequila Sunrise!” She squeed as she realized her favorite pop star was right here in the flesh, a fellow student at D’Aguanno. Said joy was tempered a split-second later as she realized said celebrity had just insulted her.

Meanwhile, Tequila laughed, clearly a practiced one. “Someone actually doesn’t know who I am? That’s so cute. Well, I guess you’re the kind of girl that likes to learn the hard way. Here.” She handed Vinyl and Cloud business cards, then pointed at a table with a bunch of other students sitting there. “Swing by in five minutes when you realize what kind of retards these morons are.”

“And on the horse you rode in on, slut!” Nova snarled. “Ignore her; celebrity or not, here at this school of morons, she’s the queen retard!”

“Did I miss something?” Cloud asked, wistfully looking at the card given to her by Tequila before Vinyl took it out of her hands and crumpled it.

“Welcome to the pecking order of the D,” Countryside groaned. “Despite the fact that she’s only here half the time, Tequila seems to think she’s the queen bee because of her celebrity. She’s already got half the school wrapped around her finger, and her best friends act like her personal enforcers. She and her buddies Stagecraft and Windsong have it out for us, they always have.” The teen angrily looked in the direction of the table Tequila was returning to. “You know why they say that Detroit has no gangs? Because they’re all here in the school – the Top Brigade, that’s them.”

Satin sighed. “And unless you wish to be at the bottom of the barrel along with us, you’d best leave now.” For her part, Bon-Bon said nothing but looked as though she was about to cry.

Cloud and Vinyl shared a look with each other, knowing that they would be together. And with that, both pulled out chairs, and sat down. “Eh,” Cloud said with a shrug, “we don’t have brains anyway. Stupid loves company.”

Nova looked at them as though they each grew a third eye. “Are you two idiots? Are you too stupid to realize that you’re risking your social standing?” She then looked in particular at Cloud. “Plus, I saw how you were looking at her. No way in hell are you getting any of those free concert tickets she doles out on occasion if you’re on her bad side.”

“Eh, concerts are overrated as a spectator sport; I like mine interactive,” Vinyl said with a lopsided grin. “As to how stupid we are? We’re from California. Your point is?”

Countryside seemed curious, so she asked. “Where in Cali? I was originally born in Bakersfield, but moved here when I was four.”

“Canterlot. I had reasons to move out here,” Vinyl said, “and my girlfriend Cloud here talked her parents into joining me. We live with my Dad.”

Satin sighed. “A couple? That’s sooooo romantic!”

“Yeah, but we were told it’s a hush-hush thing while on school grounds,” Cloud replied, trying to change the subject. Fortunately for her, Bon-Bon, either in a rare moment of clarity or out of sheer boredom, started talking about a plethora of things at an increasingly dizzying pace, so much so that Vinyl and Cloud were completely lost less than a minute later. Satin explained this was normal.

The group continued to talk and get to know each other until the lunch hour was over. Finally, the warning bell sounded, and when it did, they went off to their respective classes, with Vinyl and Satin both attending French class while Cloud and Countryside headed off to Consumer Sciences. But by the end of the day, Vinyl was sure that she and Cloud had made a new group of friends.

Vinyl closed her locker, happy as a clam. She survived the first day of school and now she could hang around with some of her new friends. Satin had offered to give her and Cloud a ride home after school since she lived within walking distance and her car was at home. They all agreed to meet at the coffee shop that Bon-Bon’s family ran, and after a quick call to her family, Vinyl went off to the meeting place, the statue in front of the school.

But no sooner than she’d reached the main hallway, the sounds of an argument sounded, and soon a crowd had gathered. When Vinyl got there, she noted she’d arrived in the middle of a fight…if you could call it that. Nova, rage in her eyes, had pinned a guy against the wall. It was surprising enough given that the guy, easily twice Nova’s size, looked like he was on the school’s football team. But what was truly striking was the fact that he looked as though he was terrified of her.

The fear disappeared a second later as the guy took a swing at her, only to see it come to nothing as she grabbed his hand, and with practically no effort whatsoever, turned and slammed him to the ground, face first, pulling his arm into a very painful looking lock as she roared to his face, “APOLOGIZE! Or the next thing you’ll lose is your teeth.

And then she heard the crying. On the ground, bawling her eyes out, was Bon-Bon, cradling the ripped-up remains of a bunny plushie as though it was a beloved – and now deceased – pet. From what the DJ could tell, there was a wild, terrified look on her face and it almost seemed as though Bon-Bon had just regressed.

Meanwhile, the struggling football player glared at Nova as she pulled him to his feet. “No way I’m going t—”

“Hey, I don’t know what you did, but you better damn well apologize.” The words were out of Vinyl’s mouth before she realized she said them. “That’s my friend there. So you owe her.”

“And what are you going to do to me if y—AAARRRRGH!” The boy collapsed to the ground in incredible pain, hands naturally going to the very sensitive place Vinyl just kicked.

“I’m not going to ask again, brickhead. Apologize, or the next time’s a punch.”

“Okay, okay! I’m sorry!” the boy yelped, more out of pain than regret.

“Fine, I’ll take a half-assed one,” Vinyl replied, removing her glasses and looking at him with her wine-colored eyes. “Now get the fuck out of here.” The boy didn’t need any further prodding, and limped off. While the others around milled about still, Vinyl replied, “Okay, show’s over. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”

Meanwhile, Cloud, who had just arrived in the nick of time, saw what was going on and moved quickly to get Bon-Bon out of the fight circle. “BB, c’mon. Let me help you up, okay?”

Looking at Cloud helplessly, she held the torn plushie in her hands. “But what about Feather?” The way she held it so tenderly, and that the normally happy-go-lucky teen sounded so broken in her tone that Cloud knew this was a moment to tread very carefully. Fortunately, she also knew someone who had been just as fragile in the beginning…but that was before an unworthy boyfriend had stolen her innocence, leaving her with child.

Wish you were here, Blossom, Cloud thought. Could really use your advice on this one. But Blossomforth wasn’t there, and that meant that Cloud would have to sort this out for herself – but fortunately, there was something she could do.

“Would you like it sewn back together?” Cloud asked softly. Bon-Bon wordlessly nodded, carefully handing Feather to Cloud as though it was the greatest treasure ever. Taking it in a solemn grasp, the taller girl murmured to her friend, “I promise I’ll put Feather back together as good as new, okay?” For that, Cloud was immediately enveloped in a teary embrace.

As the crowd began to break up, Countryside arrived. “C’mon, girls,” she said in a soft voice. “Let’s get to Satin’s house and then to the True Brew. You two probably want an explanation.”

As Cloud stepped into the True Brew, she noticed that despite having vastly different décor, it had the exact same layout as the Sugarcube Corner Café. I wonder if really good coffee shops just have this zen mastery of layout that normal coffee places can’t understand. She made a mental note to contact Sunset Shimmer or Pinkie Pie and ask, just out of curiosity.

But that’s not important now, she thought as she saw a woman not old enough to be Bon-Bon’s mother talk to Satin and Countryside before gently taking the distraught teen by the hand and escorting her to the upstairs part of the building, where the family lived.

A few minutes later, the woman returned, carrying a tray of drinks, setting them in front of the girls. “Okay, I’ve got her lying down in her room,” the woman told them all. “She’ll probably be out for the rest of the day. I can’t thank you enough for looking after her, girls.”

Satin smiled awkwardly. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for what happened. You’ll really have to thank Country, Nova, Vi and Kicky.” A quick sip of her raspberry tea, and Satin’s eyes opened in slight recall. “Oh, I forgot, you haven’t met them. Prae, this is Vinyl Scratch and Cloud Kicker; they just started attending our school today. Girls, this is Praline – she’s BB’s older sister and legal guardian.”

Praline nodded. “Well, half-sister technically, but BB and I are the only family we have left. Well, there’s also my husband, but you get the idea.”

Vinyl caught that immediately. “I guess there’s a story there.”

“Especially given the way she acted about her plushie,” Cloud added. “She was traumatized – that can’t be good.”

Praline pulled a chair up. “I’d rather not talk about it right now, but the long story short is that she got the plushie from my stepmother – her mother – the day before she and our father died. Needless to say, she carries it everywhere, so you’re right that it’s become a coping mechanism of sorts for her. The counselors she’s been seeing have been trying to get her to let it go, but she won’t. They’ve informed me that it’s likely part of the reason she’s so happy-go-lucky otherwise. I’ve actually tried taking it away from her for a while myself and she gets sullen and bitter very quickly.”

“Fucking bastards tore it apart,” Nova seethed. “And I know who sent them, that Goddamn cunt.”

“Now’s not the time,” Countryside reproached. “Our friend’s hurting, and that’s more important.”

“I used to have one of my waitresses sew it up whenever it ripped – she was good at that – but I’m no good with needle and thread and said waitress moved on,” Praline explained. “Hell, as it is, we’re already short-staffed since Frenchie – that’s French Roast, my husband – runs our other store down on Grand Circus, leaving me here alon—”

“I can sew it,” Cloud replied. “Besides, I already promised. And if there’s a job opening, I’m looking for one.”

“If you can put Feather back together, there’s a reason right there for me to hire you on the spot!” Praline said, relieved.

“If you’re hiring, I’m in.”

“Great! Let me go get the paperwork – technicalities, you know – and I’ll be right back. When can you start?”

“I’m good for tomorrow, right?” Cloud looked at Vinyl. Vinyl nodded in response as Praline rose from the seat and went to the back.

“So, why did they tear up BB’s plushie?” Vinyl asked, getting back to the main focus.

Satin took another swig of her tea. “It was Tequila. She’s got the whole school practically working for her or in utter fear of her – including half the faculty.”

Vinyl groaned. “Great, Sunset Shimmer 2.0.”

Cloud clucked her tongue in disapproval. “Sunny’s not like that, Vi.”

“You weren’t there when she was a bitch, sweetie. Sunny might be cool now, but you didn’t know her back then. But that’s beside the point. Sorry for interrupting, Satin. Go ahead.”

“We all used to be friends once,” Satin told her. “We all cared about her a lot. But now…now she’s become this…thing…that’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen. And now she’s stooped so far as to hurt BB, when she once promised to protect her from her nightmares.”

Countryside angrily banged her fist on the table as she vowed, “I’m going to punch her fucking teeth in if I see her, I swear to God I will.”

“That’s my job,” Nova said in a half-joking tone. “I’m the one who takes kung-fu classes, not you.”

Satin then turned to Vinyl and Cloud, adding, “Last chance to bail out. We’ll understand if you do. You guys are new – you still have a chance to avoid this shit.”

“Oh hell no, girl!” Vinyl replied, crossing her arms. “I was a coward once, and someone I liked paid the price because of that – and then I paid a bigger price. I could’ve lost a lot….” She then turned and looked at Cloud, then reached over and squeezed her hand. “I could’ve lost you, without even knowing it.” She turned back to the girls and said, “I really don’t want to give details right now – no offense – but I live here with my dad because I was kicked out of my mother’s house. There’s more to it, and part of it has to do with my relationship with Kicky, but the main brunt of it was that I seriously fucked up, and became almost literally ‘Ms. Least Popular in Town.’

“So that’s why I’m here: This is probably my only chance to start over. And that means I can’t afford to fuck up again.”

“So you’re leaving us?” Countryside asked, stunned.

“No. That’d be the mistake. I fucked up because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do: the right thing. This time, it’s staring me in the face, and if I don’t do it? I may as well be like Tequila, because I’d have no morals or ethics. And I probably wouldn’t have Kicky, either.”

Kicky smiled. “Vi, I’m so proud of you, you know that? When we get home, I’m going to….” She then proceeded to whisper in Vinyl’s ear, and as she did, the small smile on the azure-haired girl’s face grew wider and wider, until Cloud pulled away.

“With the chocolate body paint?” Cloud nodded yes. “And the edible undies?” Cloud nodded yes again. A smile wide enough on her face to make Pinkie Pie or Bon-Bon jealous, Vinyl said, “Do I have the greatest girlfriend in the world, or what?”

“We’re home.” Vinyl and Cloud walked into the house, taking off their shoes, coats and other stuff. “What’s for dinner?”

The answer was what neither girl expected.

“Heya, girls,” Clover said from over by the stove. “Spaghetti okay? I’m not much of a cook. And as for the others, Long’s over at his girlfriend’s place, since he said it’s the last night of ‘getting some’ before she heads out of town for the week, and Bass had to attend some late-afternoon meeting at the radio station.” In contrast to the prim and proper headmistress they saw earlier, Clover’s hair was let down, she was wearing a Lions T-shirt with clearly no bra on and jean shorts that were clearly made with porn starlets in mind.

“Ms. Clover? What’re you doing here?”

“We’re home, so drop the Ms., if you would. And I wanted you to get to know me off the clock, as it were, girls. The truth is, Vi – it is, Vi, right? – your father and I got engaged last month, and we’re probably going to get married next year or so. I live here, but technically still maintain a separate place, which is much more important now that you’re living here and attending school at D’Aguanno.”

“Oh, Mom’s going to have a field day about this,” Vinyl muttered.

“Actually, she tried suing your father for brainwashing you into becoming a lesbian.” Clover reached into her pocket, pulled out a pack of cigarettes, then lit and took a drag, blowing smoke into the air. “Fortunately, he’s got a good lawyer. Even better that I have a good one too, because I called your mom and told her that if she ever got into your personal business again, I would beat her within an inch of her life…and then get angry.”


Clover nodded. “Vi, you’re my student and you’re going to be my stepdaughter someday. I’m very big into protecting family – and besides, you’re not the only one with a past. Not going to discuss mine, save to say that they sealed it when I turned eighteen.”

Cloud blinked. “Wow, I’m a reformed slut and I think I’m the most normal person in this house.”

The woman laughed. “You’re selling yourself short, Kicky. Kicky or Kicks? Either way, if this family was normal, we’d all be bored to death.” She turned her eyes towards the stove. “Dinner’s not going to be for another hour, so if you two are going to have sex, please don’t take that long. Personally, I’d rather you waited until after you did your homework, but I know how young love – and lust – is.” When the two stared at her, she grinned. “I used to be a teenager too, you know. I’m not stupid.”

“Never thought you were, Clover,” Vinyl replied, as Cloud took her hand and led her upstairs.

“Kicky?” Vinyl couldn’t sleep that night.

“Vi, go to sleep,” Cloud mumbled. “I’m tired, we’ve done it three times and I have a test tomorrow.”

“No, it’s not that.”

“No, you can’t use my breasts as a pillow. It gives you too many ideas.”

Vinyl rolled her eyes. “No, not that, either. Just…am I doing the right thing? I fucked up hard last time because I was following my heart. Now I’m doing it again, and if I get kicked out of the school, that’s going to follow me and along with my previous record, I am seriously done for.”

Reluctantly, Cloud sat up. “Vi, the world is filled with people who followed their hearts at both the right and wrong times. Look at me. I followed you here out of love and because my parents are morons who let their girl do anything she wants. But maybe following my heart is wrong. Who says that when college comes, I’ll fall in love with a guy instead of you and marry him, and then decades later deny I was ever bi?”

“You wouldn’t do that, would you?”

“Of course not. If anything, I have plans to sleep with your brother after we get married so that you and I can have children.”

“You’re weird, Kicky.”

“I know, right?” She grinned. “But seriously, part of growing up is knowing when to follow your heart…and sometimes not even adults figure that out. Don’t you think your parents are a good example of that? I mean, your Dad’s cool as shit. I’ve never met your mom, but from what you tell me, she needs to get laid for fun like no tomorrow.”

“Never happening. She climbs the corporate ladder sideways,” Vinyl replied. “So you were saying?”

“The point I was trying to make is that you’re following your heart, and you’re afraid this isn’t the right move. But I also follow my heart, and I know that it is. I followed my heart to stop you from making a mistake. I followed my heart to come here with you. And I’ll follow my heart wherever it takes me, so long as you want me with you, Vi. I love you.” She leaned over and kissed her.

“Love you too, Kicky.” Vinyl grinned. She was just sixteen and yet she already had things people a decade older than her didn’t have. And she had a happiness that her mother never attained. And I wouldn’t have it without you, Kicky. She reached over and kissed her love gently and the two embraced, holding each other together.

As Cloud broke from the embrace, she smiled tiredly. “So, we’re in this for good, right? Backing up our friends?” she asked.

Vinyl nodded. “Hey, you just got hired. Wouldn’t want you to lose your job so quickly. Besides, if for no other reason, BB needs us. I’ve seen girls like her before crumble without help, and I guess every Fluttershy needs a Rainbow Dash.”

“Who?” Cloud asked.

“Two girls at Canterlot High, close friends of Sunny’s. Don’t think you ever met them.”

“I see. Anything else, Vi?” Cloud yawned.

“So, sex now?” Vinyl asked. The response to that was a pillow straight to the head.

Author's Note:

Well, here it is: Feather. As you can see, I'm not using the working title anymore.
Bet you weren't expecting this, were you?

Why did I release it now? Well, I told you all about my issues with Protection (which I will likely rewrite.) But why release Shake It Off now?

Easy: Inspiration. Way too much dance music. And my memories of going to a private school.

This should be fun. :pinkiehappy: