• Published 10th Aug 2016
  • 669 Views, 31 Comments

Light Pollution - Quillamore



When her mother drops her off on the Manehattan streets to fend for herself, Diamond Tiara takes the opportunity to mend ties with Babs Seed...and to regain just a bit of the light she had always kept herself from.

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Sixth Day: Pressurized Diamonds

By the time Diamond got back from the forest on the other side of town, she’d already forgotten that Coco’s play was premiering soon. But the minute she woke up to a new morning, she already knew. Partially because she’d started to take an interest in these ponies’ lives, sure. But it was mostly because nopony in the entire condo let her forget about it.

They’d all woken bright and early, even Babs and Bambi, and filled entire conversations with talk about the premiere. From what Diamond could see of the newspaper at breakfast, it hadn’t made the front page, but Bambi was quick to fill in the missing details. It was supposed to be a play about a huge group of unicorns competing in a traditional magic duel, and even though Bambi hadn’t been too sure about the plot in the beginning, she’d warmed up to the production. She’d come to the practices whenever she could, helped Coco brainstorm the costumes, and practically blended into the crew itself.

“But then again,” Bambi told the two fillies as they ate, “it’s what I always used to do, so I barely have to think about it. Back in the day, I had a backstage pass to all the musicals here.”

Yet again, Diamond was finding it difficult not to blow the whole secret apart then and there. Deep down in her brain, as much as she knew Coco deserved the recognition, she wished today didn’t have to be a day to simultaneously praise Mosely Orange. Though, judging from the look on Bambi’s face, Diamond had a feeling she wasn’t the only one thinking such things.

It was just a tiny glance, but somehow, she could tell that it was every bit as hard on Bambi as it was on her. She’d never bothered to ask Bambi just how long she’d known her father was a terrible pony--for months, years, or even a decade--and yet she could tell that not a day went by without the mare thinking about it. How long had Bambi been tempted to tell Babs about what she’d been through, and how did she end up stopping herself?

Somehow or another, Diamond could barely imagine doing that for anypony, and yet here Bambi was, going through every day like nothing had ever happened. She’d already started to admire Bambi near the beginning of the vacation, but at this point, she was sure the Orange mare had some sort of unearthly strength in her heart.

Realizing that she was staring at her hosts, Diamond soon turned her face towards her cup of milk, trying her best not to blush as she did so. Thankfully, from what she could tell, neither Babs nor Bambi noticed that she was zoning out. Either that, or they still weren’t quite awake themselves.

“Oh yeah,” Babs finally whispered. “What was it like, anyway? I was always too young to go with you and Momo back in the day, but you two always seemed to enjoy it.”

Just from looking at her, Diamond already knew that Bambi was about to deflect the question and deny the good times she had with her father to her final breath. Sure enough, she did just that, but the revelation she brought with her was one not even Diamond knew about.

“I hope you’re able to,” Bambi finally whispered. “Because it’s going to be the last night this play runs.”

To Diamond’s utter shock, Babs didn’t seem to react to this statement, almost as if this sort of activity was typical in Manehattan. The pink filly, however, knew better. Even Ponyville community musicals played more than just one night, and surely Bridleway ones lasted even longer. There was only one explanation--and even that was one Diamond found almost impossible.

“Has it already been cancelled?” she asked with a quick tilt of her head.

As soon as she said it, Bambi had already placed a hoof to her chin in thought, trying to imagine how best to break it to her. Once she did, she cleared her throat and suddenly donned a seriousness that Diamond had never seen from her before.

“No, but Coco’s confirmed that she’s quitting tonight,” she explained. “You see, the Spellshock director and producer have been at each others’ throats for months, and one of them’s finally decided he’s had enough. So, since Coco’s been good friends with this director for a while now, they’re both going to leave and hopefully make some sort of statement.”

With a quick sigh, she continued, “After the things both of them have gone through become public, everypony will want to hire them. We’ve had this planned for weeks now, and we think it’s finally ready. We give everypony one last chance to see the work they’ve slaved over for months and then watch as the lights go out. It’s the least we can do to see Coco happy again.”

All it took was a single look of concern in Diamond’s eyes, and Bambi immediately whispered into her ear. Told her that Babs would have nothing to do with any of this, and that only Coco’s secrets would be revealed. That Babs would never have to know why Mosely targeted her mother.

And just like that, the conversation verged onto another track--the preparations for this one-night-only play. Rather than the excursions she’d grown used to, Diamond would have to pitch in with odd jobs around the stage, something she would have shied away from months before. But for once, she didn’t feel like she was doing it out of the manufactured kindness she adopted around the Crusaders. For once, it felt completely natural, and the reasoning flowed straight out of her brain.

It wouldn’t just be any good deed.

It would be the least we can do to see Coco happy again.

No, she said to herself, it’s the least I can do to see my family happy again.

As much as she loved her father, as much as she held onto some shred of attraction for her mother, for once, she didn’t bother to correct herself. Because even if they weren’t in blood, this was basically what this family had become in her heart.

Yet another perfect thing that she considered “hers,” even if she had to leave it behind.

****

The theatre, as always, was full of the hustle and bustle and drama that Diamond remembered so vividly. Today, however, it had never seemed smaller to the foal, especially considering how many ponies had already crowded around the entryway. If she’d been one of those lesser ponies who weren’t used to crowds, it would’ve intimidated her like nopony’s business, but she trotted on with her head held high. This was her element, and as much as she’d enjoyed the freedom this week had brought her, she’d missed this feeling, too.

So much so that she didn’t even realize until she walked past a particular part that this had been where it had all started. Where Coco had saved her and where she’d first met Mosely Orange. One event she’d treasure forever, and one of many she’d wished had never come to pass.

However, she could be forgiven for not coming to this realization immediately. The atrium could not have looked more different from when Trixie had taken the stage a few days ago--fancy drinks were carefully placed along the double doors, and the velvet floor had been freshly vacuumed. If it weren’t for the ponies rushing in and out of the auditorium, Diamond would’ve almost considered it the most orderly place in Manehattan.

As she turned to look at Bambi and Babs, she could tell that both of them were equally enthralled, even though they barely seemed to show it. This moment of decorum lasted all of a minute before Babs started jumping up and down in front of Diamond.

“It’s okay,” she whispered to her friend. “I know you’re excited. You don’t have to hide it in front of us.”

“Thank Celestia!” Babs replied. “Y’know, it’s just too perfect that my first play’s gonna be one my mom helped put on. You can’t get much better than that!”

Diamond was about to ask why Babs had only just now started calling Coco her mom, especially since the filly had insisted on calling her by name the whole time Diamond had been there, but she let the thought slide. With all the bigger mysteries she’d unraveled, something like this was tiny enough to dismiss in an instant.

“You didn’t do plays for school or anything?” she asked instead.

“Nah. Apple Bloom says Ponyville does one for every grade, but the kids skip a year here. Only the even grades do plays. And the less we go into where I was a couple years ago, the better it’d be on the both of us.”

All Diamond wanted to do was facehoof and move towards the nearest table, but she just nodded instead. With the way the past week had been, mistakes like that were already par for the course for them.

And so, the two continued chatting for awhile as Bambi talked with Coco backstage, presumably about issues she wanted to keep from Babs. Just like before, the two fillies managed well enough on their own until a surprisingly familiar stallion crossed their path.

Babs had thanked Celestia before, but it was all Diamond could do not to think the same thing as the earth pony visitor trotted by. For once in this terrifying town, Mosely Orange had not sneaked up on her. While the brown stallion before her was equally rich and well-dressed, he probably had to be the one pony in the world she’d never shy away from.

His presence was always welcomed, and it would be welcomed now. Because as much as Diamond loved her new family, it was always good to get back to the one pony who’d loved her through everything.

At first, Filthy Rich’s face was nothing but confusion, but as he processed the situation, all he could do was smile. For a few moments, Diamond thought it was just because he was happy to see his daughter, but as he scanned the scene, she realized it was something even greater.

“So that’s where you’ve been,” he finally said with a chuckle. “Your mother goes to Manehattan, and all you can think about is meeting up with your old friend. You’ve already changed so much.”

Hidden in his words was a phrase she knew she’d never hear her mother say. I’m proud of you.

With a smile, she remembered that her father had never been as hard on Babs as Spoiled had been. Where her mother saw a Manehattan miscreant, Filthy had seen an Apple, a valuable ally. When Diamond had told him that she’d finally made friends with an Apple, she swore he’d almost broken into song.

But as great as those memories were, they still didn’t answer her real questions. Namely--what exactly was her father doing in Manehattan, anyway, and how much did he know?

Diamond figured she couldn’t ask him up front if he knew, just in case Spoiled kept the same secrets from him as she did from everypony else. She’d have to ease her way into it, and thankfully, Babs managed to ask the same question she’d had on her mind.

“Well, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Barnyard Bargains is entering a business deal with one of this play’s top ponies. He’s been generous enough to give us tickets on opening night to seal the deal. But I feel like I should be asking you the same thing.”

As he pointed to Babs, Diamond could tell there was nothing but curiosity in his voice. He’d been through this whole deal enough times to know what was really going on, to know that his tickets hadn’t really been some act of kindness. But somehow, the naivete in her father’s voice was enough to make her lips curl in disgust.

Not because he was surprised to see Babs in one of Bridleway’s fancy theatres, but because he was foolish enough to think Mosely was even capable of generosity to begin with.

If Filthy noticed her weird face, he clearly didn’t show it, instead staring at Babs like he thought he’d never see her again. Judging from the way Diamond had been before, she almost felt like he’d probably believed that at some point.

“My mom’s the costume designer here,” Babs said. “She adopted me after I came to Ponyville that one time, so you probably wouldn’t recognize her.”

From her father’s face, Diamond wasn’t quite sure what shocked him more: the fact that Babs didn’t have a biological family or that her mother was at least somewhat famous. Still, he looked on with interest and chatted with the filly for a few moments before asking a dangerous question.

The only thing Diamond was thankful for was that it wasn’t the one she’d expected to hear. Not the one about her mother, about her and Babs making up, about anything that implicated or involved her in any way.

She’d tuned out during most of Filthy and Babs’ short conversation, trying to see if anypony needed any help, but the second she heard it, her heart still dropped anyway.

“Isn’t she the costume designer involved with Mosely Orange?”

Babs just nodded nervously, something she could just as easily have covered up by saying she was shy around such an influential pony. She, at least, was able to sweep the thought aside and continue her conversation. But, as glad as Diamond was that the two of them were getting along, she couldn’t help but snag on one particular detail.

The gossip had already reached Ponyville. Not only that, but it’d managed to get to her father, the one rich pony who avoided that sort of thing like the plague. Sure, he probably only knew because he had to do research on the Oranges for his business. Sure, he probably only meant for it to be a talking point for his next meeting.
How’s life going with that marefriend everypony’s talking about? What does she think about this whole deal? I really would love to meet her when you’re free again.

Completely innocent, but it still hurt. For a pony to be known, and only known, by their associations. It shouldn’t have, really, since it was something Diamond had lived all her life. But she had chosen to be a member of the Rich family, to make friends with Silver Spoon, not to run away when she got the chance.

Coco hadn’t, and she was already starting to be known as somepony she wasn’t.

However Diamond had managed to keep up the masquerade then wasn’t working now, and everypony around her knew it. It’d only taken a few words for her to drift off into some invisible space, something that every filly except Diamond did from time to time. And just seeing her father’s reaction was enough to force everything out.

Everything she’d spent the last week hiding.

Before he even thought to ask her what was wrong, she knew what he needed to hear. She knew that she couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“Mother wasn’t out on a business meeting,” Diamond slowly explained. “She probably told you that, but she was trying to seal the alliance another way. So she spent the whole time with Mosely and dumped me out in front of this theatre. I thought it was a punishment at first, for the way I treated her a few weeks ago. But from the minute I saw her out with him...I felt like she thinks this relationship’s more important than us.”

She paused for a few seconds, seeing the look of utter horror on her father’s face. He’d known how terrible Spoiled could be even before Diamond had. By the time she’d decided to be a better pony, her mother and father had already gotten divorced. But, in that moment, she realized that Filthy had always had some amount of faith for her mother, even if it wasn’t based in love. Faith that whatever had torn the two of them apart wouldn’t happen again, that Spoiled would be a better pony in the end.

Diamond could practically feel that faith shatter all around her as she confessed. Her father was always one to get the facts from both sides, but at this point, he didn’t even need to. From everything that’d happened over the past month, he just knew.

She should have known, too.

“Babs and her mom Coco were able to find me before any other ponies did. I was able to make up with all of them, and do some of the things I could never do as my old self. But the more I found out about everything, the more I started to wonder--”

Silence permeated the area, too filled with horror to reply with anything else. Filthy was still struggling just to collect himself, let alone gather his ideas. Diamond herself was speaking at little more than a whisper, forcing herself to ask the one thing she didn’t want to know.

“Was the Orange deal even your idea? Or was it just something Mother suggested to you?”

Thankfully, as Filthy confirmed, it had been brought up long before the divorce, before Spoiled could dare touch another stallion. It’d seemed natural to him, he told Diamond. Make friends with the Apples, make friends with the Oranges, how could you lose?

The minute he said this, though, she knew just what to do. She wasn’t sure if she thought of it because she wanted to kill any chances her mother had, or because she genuinely wanted to protect Babs. This would be one case, though, where intentions didn’t matter. That was what she told herself as she opened her mouth yet again and did the most terrifying thing a Rich mare could do.

She waited until the inevitable moment when Bambi came over and called for Babs. When the two turned the first corner, Diamond didn’t follow them. She already knew that Bambi, and all of them, would thank her later for what she was about to do. Even if it meant this would be the last time she could see them.

She’d spent this whole trip wondering how she could ever make it up to them, and she was about to do just that.

“While I was with Babs’ family, I was able to get some information on the Oranges,” Diamond finally spoke, summoning her inner businesspony with everything she had. “Facts that might make Barnyard Bargains think twice before allying with them.”

If Mosely wouldn’t fall tonight, Diamond would make him fall.

Author's Note:

Sorry this part took so long! Since this day/night pair takes place at the same time as my favorite IYGALL arc, "Madmare in the Attic," it was a struggle to write this without retelling the whole story. So this is just going to be "Madmare" from a different perspective. I hope it doesn't come off as too much of a recap for IYGALL readers.

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