• Published 8th Sep 2015
  • 3,396 Views, 1,265 Comments

The Velveteen Mask - Crystal Wishes

Everypony knows her as a cute, bubbly mare with a penchant for playful mischief, but is that just a mask she wears? Who really is Velvet Step?

  • ...

Two-Faced Mare

One of Velvet's eyes opened, followed shortly after by the other. Her groggy morning vision turned her room into a bunch of blurry blobs that slowly came into focus before she yawned wide. She slipped out from underneath the covers to place her hindlegs on the floor, then reached to touch her forehooves to her hindhooves. Her back gave a relieving pop-pop and she groaned, yawned, and straightened back up.

She shook out her mane, which was a tangled mess of mauve curls that she needed to brush into submission. Some time right around when she hit puberty, her mane decided that it was going to do its own thing and it had been a constant battle ever since. Cosmetic self-maintenance was loathsome to her, but not nearly as much as the birds' nest she called a mane when she didn't do the bare minimum: a shower, a mare care product that battled curls for a full day, a long brushing session, and a tight bun to ensure her hard work stayed in place.

While she went through her routine, she contemplated what she had in store for the day. Life had certainly gotten a little more complicated since she dropped out of Canterlot Academy two years ago, but joining a ballet company had given her a sense of purpose and structure, so she had no regrets. A whole day of practice awaited her and she didn't have time to dawdle.

She wiped the shower-spawned steam off the mirror so that she could examine her reflection. A pink mare with the sweetest expression looked back at her. She scrunched up her nose at her disheveled appearance, let out a high-pitched but raspy little giggle, and began taming her mane. Her tail, thank Celestia, had stayed compliant by remaining naturally straight and only needed a light brushing.

"Finally," she grumbled as she snapped the bun into place, smiled at herself, and walked over to the door that brought her out into the main living space. "Morning, Crystal!"

Crystal Wishes, her roommate and fillyhood friend, looked up from the teacup she was nursing and flashed a smile. "Good morning." She shifted slightly on her sitting pillow. "The kettle's still hot, if you'd like some."

Crystal was a true Canterlot lady who despised everything about the culture into which she had been raised. Her parents, Upper Crust and Jet Set, were notable socialites and had gone to great lengths to give her a proper upbringing. Ironically, it was those very lengths that made her hate Canterlot society.

Ever since she had gone steady with a royal guard officer named Silent Knight, she spent an awful lot of her time either going on dates with him, thinking about him, or writing a thinly veiled fantasy about him. Velvet didn't understand the desire one bit, but it was Crystal's life to waste as she pleased.

Velvet pranced into the kitchen, one ear swiveled toward her friend. "What are your plans today? Let me guess. Date with Silent Knight?" She snorted, then covered the sound up with a giggle. "That's the only reason why you get up early on a weekend."

Crystal huffed. "I'll have you know, I have plans to meet with Raven this afternoon." She trailed to draw out the last word until she finally added in a quiet voice, "And then I have a date with Silent Knight. It's a double date, actually, with Runic and Miley." She paused. "I'm not sure how late we'll be out. Would you like me to make you something for dinner and leave it in the fridge?"

Velvet kept her back to Crystal, spreading jam across a piece of bread while she grinned. "Nah. I've got plans to eat out tonight, so don't worry about me."

"All right." Crystal sipped her tea, then set the cup on the coffee table and stood. As usual, she set about making space for the rest of Velvet's morning routine, her magic rearranging the pillows and furniture to clear a space in the center of the room.

"Thanks," Velvet said as she walked over. She finished off the last bite of her breakfast and settled on the floor. With her legs folded crossed over one another, she closed her eyes and focused first on breathing exercises. Warm-up was next with some light stretching, followed by more intense stretching, and then finally practicing the moves for the upcoming ballet, Swan Lake.


"... Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three," Velvet muttered under her breath, counting along with the rest of the ballerinas as they watched Perennial on the stage.

Though the unicorn diva was hard to work with, there was no denying her technical skill. She spun around on one hindleg, the other extending and whipping around to the side with utmost precision to carry the rest of her body around while the leg folded at the knee before repeating the motion. It took time, practice, and talent to execute a perfect fouetté, much less how many Perennial was spinning through with ease.

"... thirty," Velvet continued, "thirty-one, thirty-two..."

Perennial snapped her leg down to stop her movement all at once, then stood with her forelegs spread high in the air in her classic applause-demanding pose. The other mares complied, some earnestly as it was an impressive feat. Velvet sat in almost bitter awe.

"That, girls, is how it's done," Perennial said with a huff as she dropped down onto all fours and sauntered off the stage. "And why I am Odette."

Velvet grinned and whispered to the mare beside her, "And Odile. Actually, mostly Odile."

Nightingale giggled behind a hoof. "Oh, you!"

Perennial's head jerked to the side to glare at them. "Is there something the matter, Velvet Step?"

"Why would you think that, Perennial?" Velvet smiled. "Should something be the matter?"

Perennial snorted. "Just get on stage with the rest of the swan-maidens and go through your choreography already." She tossed her mane and sat down on a plush pillow, levitating a glass of cucumber water to her lips.

Velvet rolled her eyes once her back was to the diva. "I swear," she said to Nightingale when they were out of earshot, "if I could, I would challenge her for the role just to see the look on her face."

"Well, she is prima for a reason." Nightingale sighed. "You should count yourself lucky that you got to be Kitri last tour."

A smile splayed across Velvet's face and her mind drifted off while her body went through the motions. Her legs knew just what to do from her constant practicing and didn't need any guidance, so she was free to daydream about how wonderful it had been to headline a ballet despite her initial fear of failure. Slowly, the thoughts drifted to her plans for that afternoon and how she hoped to spend it.

After practice, she trotted with the rest of the girls to the showers. Her sexual preferences were unknown to nearly every mare around her at that moment, and she felt no shame in that. It wasn't as though she fantasized about them, even after seeing their wet, dripping bodies in the showers. She kept her gaze always well above the shoulders to resist the temptation to ogle. Work was work and her fellow ballerinas were off limits.

Granted, she did sometimes think about pinning Perennial down and kissing her just to fluster the over-the-top diva, but that was totally different. That was an urge in the back of her mind that she would never, ever act on. She had too much self-control for that sort of behavior.

Velvet took extra care to thoroughly clean her mane with just water. Runic Phial, the local mare care expert, had warned her that regular shampoo would neutralize the effects of the anti-curl serum, and the bottle she kept in her locker was empty. Thankfully, she hadn't built up too much of a sweat during practice, so she didn't feel too gross about it.

"Good job today, girls!" She waved as she walked out after drying off. "See you all tomorrow!"


The Mare Contraire was a nice bar that catered to the fairer sex. Stallions weren't barred from entry, but given that the mares who frequented the place weren't looking for their company, they tended to go elsewhere. That made it the perfect haven for a pony like Velvet on a night when she sought the soft embrace of a mare.

Velvet trotted across the bar and over to take a seat on a stool. "Hey, Dolly!" She waved at the pink bartender to flag her down. "The usual, please!"

Dolly nodded to acknowledge her, then turned away to set about making the drink while Velvet eyed the crowd.

Although she had gotten the nerve to confess to Crystal that her tastes swung both ways, she still had a secret to keep from her best friend. Crystal was the biggest, most hopeless romantic Velvet had ever met. How could she even begin to understand the idea of making love sans love?

Yet, there Velvet was, searching for the right mare to have nigh-anonymous sex with, and that pony was most certainly not her 'special somepony'. There was just no way she could explain it to Crystal, so she just had to make sure the mare never, ever found out.

Velvet recognized a few of the faces and her gaze immediately flickered away, removing them from her mental list of possibilities. One-night stands were called such for a reason, and she wasn't going to be the one to rock the boat on the definition. Her eyes met those of a mare all too familiar to her and she paused.

Nightingale stood on the far end of the dance floor, looking back at her. They nodded to acknowledge their agreement that neither would bring up their awkward first meeting at the Mare Contraire ever again, and broke eye contact.

What was she going to do when she ran out of partners that fit her criteria? She drummed her hooves lightly on the counter as she mulled the potential issue over. At her current rate of one secret excursion every few weeks, she might have to re-evaluate her standards one day. For the time being, however, a cute mare caught her eye and the wink she offered was a distinct distraction from the somewhat distressing conundrum.

Velvet grinned. That was an invitation, one she gladly accepted. She picked up the appletini Dolly had set in front of her and walked over to the mare. "Hi."

The mare giggled and her wings fluttered with excitement. "Hiya!"

Velvet took a sip of her drink. "What's your name, cutie?"

"Diddle Daddle," she replied and finished with a coy smile, "but my friends call me Diddy."

"Well, what would a pony call you if they wanted to be more than friends for a night?" Velvet raised her brow, returning the coy smile with a sly smirk. There was no sense in hiding her motivations or beating around the bush; nopony came to the Mare Contraire looking for a commitment.

Diddy's ears shot straight up and a blush lit up her light purple face. "Oh!" She blinked a few times, then burst into a fit of giggles. "I guess that pony could call me whatever they liked!"

Velvet sipped her drink again before she set it down on the nearest table and started to stalk a circle around Diddy, eyeing her up and down while the mare shifted nervously. "Do you want to dance some before we go to your place, or"—she stopped just beside her, leaning in and whispering in her ear—"skip out of here and try a different kind of dance in your bed, babydoll?"

A small sound of surprise caught in Diddy's throat. Her face grew a deeper shade of red and she tried to hide her surprise by giggling. "Do, um, do I get to know your name first?"

Velvet inclined her head and nibbled on the ear she had whispered into. "Velvet."

"Ohh." A shiver coursed through the mare and she bit her lower lip. "That's a n-nice name. Um... I don't live far from here..."

Velvet grinned, pulled back, and retrieved her drink. "Sounds like a plan, then. I'm going to go pay, you start leaving, and I'll be right behind you." She downed the rest of the bright green liquid in one go.

Diddy blinked a few times. "Huh? Oh, okay." She hesitated before she started to walk to the door, glancing over her shoulder.

After tossing a few bits on the counter beside her empty glass, Velvet meandered her way out of the bar. She took the long path so that she wove through the crowd of mares and once she spotted Diddy walk out of the bar, she went to the doors herself.

She had to act casual and keep her cool despite the urge to run after the mare, pin her down, and take her right there in the streets. Canterlot was a gossip-fueled place and she couldn't risk the grapevine ruining her perfectly partitioned life. Diddy had seemed to catch on to the ruse because she didn't glance back again to see if she was following, instead prancing on ahead toward the residential district nearby.

Velvet hummed her favorite tune to herself. Humming brought her a sense of both calm and focus whenever she felt nervous, and the moments before she was safely inside another mare's place made her heart pound. Crystal wasn't known for taking late night strolls, but she was on a date. What if the group decided to take a stroll? This part of Canterlot was the more hip, rowdy area where the bars and clubs were located. Crystal tended to visit the more upscale side of town. Thus far, their paths had never crossed, but if they did—

Diddy disappeared into an apartment and seemingly shut the door, though it was actually left just slightly ajar. Velvet waited another moment, looking around the dimly lit surroundings, then slipped inside.

It was a nice place, as they usually were in Canterlot. It was also private once Velvet shut the door behind her, and that was really all that mattered.

"So, I guess you're not out yet, huh?" Diddy teased from the couch and burst into another fit of giggles.

Velvet stalked over to the couch with a playful grin on her face. "Something like that." She drew a gentle hoof down the mare's back, then patted her flank. "Why don't you roll over, sweet cheeks?"

Diddy shivered and rolled over onto her back, gazing up at Velvet with big blue eyes that begged for more of her touch.

Velvet was more than happy to comply.

Author's Note:

Companion Wishes Chapter: Pieces of the Puzzle

Little did most of you know at the time, but Velvet gave you a piece to her puzzle in that chapter. :trollestia:

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