• Published 2nd Jul 2012
  • 12,635 Views, 369 Comments

Pipsqueak's Day Off - Neon Czolgosz



It's Friday and the teenagers of Ponyville have a day off school. Shenanigans and shippings ensue!

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The Morning

A wonderful dream. Flitter and Cloudchaser are snuggled next to me. Cloudchaser has a bottle of wine. She's pouring it onto my neck and lapping it off, nipping and sucking as she goes. Flitter is massaging my hoof with her tongue.

Sweetie Belle is splayed out in front of me. She's moaning lewdly as Ruby Pinch nuzzles and licks her songbird cutie-mark. Apple Bloom's big brother is behind me, his strong forelegs wrapped around my shoulders. He nips at my ear and I melt into him, whimpering-

I wake to the click of a camera and the sound of two ponies snickering. I open my eyes and see a slim, baby-faced cream pegasus with a deliberately geeky bowl-cut mane pointing a camera at me. That's Featherweight, my best mate. Next to him is a grey mountain of a pony. Tall, heavily built, more than a little chubby, and sporting a crossed knife and fork cutie mark is Chowder, my other best mate. They're in my bedroom at some stupidly early hour.

“You should really sleep under the sheets Pip,” says Feathers, “Now I'm gonna have to sell a picture of your morning glory to Lickety-Split. And tell him that you don't lock your doors at night.” It's been seven years since he gained notoriety for taking compromising photos of everypony around him, and the novelty still hasn't worn off.

I look down at the offending part, throw the sheets over it and glare at my friends. “You'd get a better price off your mum, Feathers. Celestia knows she wants it.”

“Oh, a mom joke, that's funny and clever and original. Your parents must be proud of raising such a funny and clever and original foal with such a funny and clever and original sense of humour.”

“I work with what you give me,” I say, “How did you get in here anyway? I thought we had a lock to keep riff-raff like you out.”

Feathers shoves a pile of dirty laundry off my chair and sits himself down. “Told you dude, front door was unlocked. You getting up or what?”

“What? I locked the door last night, I got up to- Oh. Pina. Of course.”

Pina Colada is our lodger, because apparently the asylums were full. She's lost four housekeys over five months; and now leaves the door on latch at all times because getting another would eat into her valuable binge-drinking time.

“That sounds like her,” says Chowder, “Now get up, we're hungry!”

“Yeah, get up quickly, or the whole school is going to see Pipsqueak's Pipsqueak.”

I groan. “Fine, just shoo while I get ready.”

“Sweet. We'll be in the kitchen.”

They leave the room. I stretch, yawn and tumble out of bed. Then I open the curtains. It's a blindingly sunny Friday morning. Teacher training day too, so I'd planned on having a lie in; though that obviously wasn't going to happen with a bored Featherweight and a hungry Chowder living in the same town as me.

I head to the bathroom, wash my face, clean my teeth and mess with my hair so it looks tousled and coltish and all that lark. It's a trick to get right, but I take my sexy self seriously.

Up and awake, I go into the kitchen. Chowder has already started cooking, and Featherweight is playing sous-chef. Chowder and Featherweight come over in the mornings and eat my parents' food. In return I get big breakfasts cooked for me by the best cook in Ponyville. It's a good arrangement for everyone involved, I love big breakfasts but don't like cooking in the mornings, Featherweight is a high-energy pegasus who needs his carbs, and if Chowder doesn't eat a proper breakfast he tends to snack on sugary things. Before we started this little deal he ate so many pastries he was legally pudding.

I sit down at the kitchen table and crack open the Ponyville Gazette while they cook. It's a slow news day. There's a story about a potato with an uncanny resemblance to Sapphire Shores. On the front page.

Soon enough the food is cooked, plated up and set down in front of me. Hash browns, scrambled eggs, baked beans, hay cakes and sloppy porridge with apple jam. We all tuck in right away. As I've said, Chowder is a fantastic cook and a pony can't go wrong with hash browns slathered in brown sauce and butter-drenched scrambled eggs on toast. After scarfing down the last spoonful of porridge, I ask Featherweight if he's busy with the photography club today. He shakes his head.

“We've set our Friday meeting back to Sunday, it's easier on everypony's schedule. The old pony's home is on a weekend coach trip to Baltimare so I'm not volunteering there, no weather team training today, nothing going on with the Ponyville Artists Society until next week, the town hall renovations aren't happening until the carpenters get their work done and Twilight doesn't need me at the library today. I've got a clear schedule bros, it's your job to stop me from being bored out of my-”

*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*

The noise is coming from inside the house, furious knocking on one of the doors.

“PIP! PIPSQUEAK! HEEELLLP MEEE!”

That's Pina Colada. Last time she sounded this panicked was when she'd tried to warm up an adult massager in the oven and melted it. Explaining to mum why the oven was sealed shut with burnt latex wasn't easy or fun. I'd best go check what she's yelling about.

We go into the hallway and hear *BANG*BANG*BANG* coming from the bathroom door.

“What's the matter, Pina?”

*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*

“PIP! I'VE LOCKED MYSELF IN THE BATHROOM! Help! PIP! PIIIP!!”

One day, long ago, I'd have laughed at this. I'd have been giggling like a little schoolfilly, or at the very least I'd have been grinning like a twat. Now I just sigh. Of all the things Pina Colada has done, from infecting the entire town with cowpox, to using my Grignr the Barbarian paperbacks for roach paper, to screaming rows over the relative hours of housework we've done, to knocking on my bedroom door every thirty seconds when I'm lucky enough to have a filly around; this is the worst: She has killed my ability to feel schadenfreude.

Featherweight does not have this problem; he's doubled over with great snorting laughter and sounds like a bull trying to eat custard through his nostrils. By the time Pina starts hammering on the door again, he's got his tape recorder out and running.

“Hey Pina! Why are you yelling?” he asks gleefully.

“I'M LOCKED IN THE BATHROOM I CAN'T GET OUT!”

“Did you lock yourself in the bathroom?”

“YES!”

“That's a bit stupid, isn't it Pina?”

“YES!”

“Are you a dumbass, Pina?”

“YES! HELP MEEE!”

*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*

I head off to the kitchen to find a knife to unlock the door from the outside. The lock on that door can get a bit stiff and can need a bit of jiggling to open. I don't feel like explaining exactly how to do that to a screaming Pina Colada for the next half an hour. I find what I'm looking for, go back and open the door and out pops Pina Colada, calm as cupcakes. It took me a while to get used to how her mood swings. I know part of it is her being mental and part of it is her playing silly buggers, but it'll always be a mystery which one it is at any given moment.

She bursts out and hugs me, and I stiffen up. She hasn't showered yet and smells like all slovenly preppy fillies do: Expensive perfume with a hint of raw liver.

“Thanks Pippie, I thought I'd be stuck in there forever-”

Featherweight's head whips around to look at the laundry basket in the corner of the hallway.

“What's up?” I ask him.

“Huh? Oh, I got that feeling something was going to happen. Nevermind.”

Pina releases the hug and starts towards her bedroom, but then stops and turns to me. “Oh yes, I've got friends coming round later for pre-drinks before we go to Diamond Tiara's, the three of you are welcome to join us.” She has an odd sort of accent, the sort that comes from growing up in a rural area but going to a prep school for a few years. She sounds like a Canterlot or Trottingham toff when she's usually speaking, but the veneer peels off and you can hear the yokel underneath when she's drunk or panicking.

“Thanks for the offer, but we're good. We'll see you at Diamond Tiara's,” I say.

She smiles and heads off into her room. If we stay in the house, we have maybe twenty minutes before something else comes up. Pina Colada is a pink-on-pink pony, eldest foal of a local brewing family, about three years my senior. She enjoys binge drinking, dubtrot, competitive passive aggression, screaming rows and infidelity. Her parents are family friends and they couldn't handle her at home any longer, so they pay for her to lodge here where there are less antiques and better spaces for entertaining. She's very extroverted, mentally negligible, and claims to have never read a book. She has broken the lock on my bedroom door twice because apparently privacy isn't a thing, and vacuums the walls so she can say she does more housework than me during rows. The first time I brought my (extremely, obviously, cripplingly gay) friend Lickety-Split round, she dry humped him because he looked nervous and she thought it would be funny.

I lost my virginity to her a week after she moved in. I regret nothing.

We go back into my room. I flop down on the bed, Featherweight and Chowder take the chairs, and we start planning out the day.

“Right-ho, there's Diamond Tiara's bash tonight, Dinky won't be up 'til noon and we can't stay here. We've got a few hours to kill, any ideas?”

Featherweight sits up and stretches his wings out. “It's a hot day and we've got clear schedules, I say we go to the lake!”

“Cracking. Chowder, lake sound good?”

“Yeah, lake sounds good, but can we stop off at the market first? Snips and Snails said to meet them there, they've got something they want to show me. They said it's gonna be huge.”

Featherweight nods. “Sure bro, sounds like a plan.”

“Snails is a faecal abortion.”

Chowder frowns. “Dude, what have you got against Snips and Snails? They're not that bad.”

“Chowder, you don't understand. Snips can be an all-right sort, even if he's a little dim. Snails is not an all-right sort.”

Chowder is giving me a quizzical sort of look. He doesn't understand.

“I'll explain. The other week, Feathers, Spike and myself were having a game of cards round mine; we got hungry so we go to pick up some noodles from the Qi-rin place near Sugarcube Corner. Snips and Snails are there, so we say what-ho and have a chat. We end up inviting them round to join our game, since Snips is a decent chap and I want to take Snails' money.

“Now, we're chatting and waiting for our order and who walks in but Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Twist. We start talking and it's all going splendidly, we're telling jokes, Sweetie Belle is a riot, everyone but Snails is flirting, even Snips is awkwardly flirting with Twist and having a good time.

“I'm about to invite them round to play some cards and have some drinks followed by snuggling with Sweetie Belle under a comforter and burying my muzzle under her tail; then Feathers makes some crap joke about how the Manican place that used to be there shut down because everything tasted like food poisoning-”

“Hey, that was a good joke!” interrupts Featherweight, “They were all over the place laughing.”

Exactly, they were laughing at your crap jokes, which is what fillies do when they want you to eat their vadge like a three-course meal and give them stallion custard for dessert. But I digress. Feathers makes his bad joke about food poisoning; and that's when Snails decides that he hasn't said enough and that this, this, is his opportunity to shine.

“Snails starts talking about salmonella. Snails knows something about salmonella, Snails knows a lot about salmonella, and he's not going to stop talking about salmonella until he's satisfied that he's added his valuable input on salmonella. He starts talking about the symptoms. The headaches. Cramps. Diarrhoea. Bloody diarrhoea, which means you need to be hospitalised. How it gets into food. The impossibly foul conditions in kitchens where customers get food poisoning. How you'd never know whether a restaurant's food is infected until you're hunched over the loo chucking up your lungs.

“So Sweetie and Twist are turning green, Scoots is trying to hold back giggles, Snips' face is a mask of disappointment as he sees his chance of getting a hoof-job from Twist disappear, Applebloom is looking at Snails with pity, and Spike and Feathers are staring at him with naked, undisguised contempt.

“Snails realises something's wrong but he can't figure out what it is, so he soldiers onwards. He keeps on talking about food poisoning to stone silence, until the fillies get their orders and awkwardly leave. Even Snips is giving him a death glare, but he's totally oblivious. He's like a dog who ate a bunch of crayons, crapped a rainbow onto the carpet and can't understand why master locked him outside all of a sudden.”

Chowder looks nonplussed. He's rather good at that particular look. “...so, you don't want to go to the market?”

“No, the market sounds fine. It won't kill me to see Snips and we can pick up some food for the lake. Besides, the sooner we're out of the house the better.”

“Why rush?” asks Chowder. “Give breakfast time to settle, dude.”

*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*BANG*

The knocking is on the outside of my bedroom door. Pina Colada's voice in three, two, one-

“Pip! YOU CHANGED THE RADIO PRESETS! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT PIP WHY DO YOU HATE ME?! PIP!

I sigh. “It's too late, we can only survive now if we eat each other's ears.”

“What? Hay no, I've got a good feeling about this one, I'm gonna record it,” says Feathers, taking out his recorder again.

“PIPSQUEAK GET OUT HERE! GIVE ME YOUR SPLEEN!

“Oh, that's an instant classic right there. I gotta make a soundboard one day or something.” Featherweight is enjoying this far too much.

We're spared from further yelling and threats of organ theft by a knock at the door, which Pina canters off to answer. It's one of her friends, and her mood goes all fuzzy pink once more. We take this chance to pack up what we need and head on out.

It's a sweltering day outside, and stepping out of the door feels like walking in front of a space heater. The sky is clear, there's no breeze and we're sweating after ten minutes walking from my house. The lake is looking like an increasingly wonderful idea. My parents' house is on the outskirts of Ponyville, about a quarter-mile past the train station. It's convenient since mum and dad are always on the road, but it's a right trek into town. Featherweight is chattering about the last Foal Free Press meeting, which in his words involved “idiots talking for ages about the minutiae of stuff that doesn't fucking matter.” That's a good thing about Feathers, even if it's too damn hot and early to form a coherent thought, he'll keep a conversation going. We're discussing the relative merits of starting a mid-meeting food fight over arguing just to make them angry when we get to Sugarcube Corner.

Sugarcube Corner is a lovely sight on a day like this. There's tables set up outside, ponies sitting round drinking milkshakes and chilled smoothies, and the splendidly curvy Pinkie Pie bringing out food and drinks for customers. The scent of vanilla, melted chocolate and baked goods is wafting out of the door. It makes me want to bite into a soft, warm doughnut, let the jam spill into my mouth and lick sweet sugar from my lips. That's when I remember I've some business with Mrs Cake.

“Wait up chaps, we need to drop into Sugarcube Corner,” I say. Feathers and Chowder just shrug and follow me inside. The delicious smells are even stronger inside the bakery. It's like huffing diabetes. There's only a short queue, and soon we're at the counter being blasted across the face by one of the several refreshingly cool fans perched around the store. I see an elaborate, curly, pale crimson mane poking up behind the counter.

“Good morning, Mrs Cake,” I say.

She pops right up with a tray of bear claws in her mouth, places them on the counter and beams at me. Her face is full of warmth and light, and the crows feet that crinkle with her smile do nothing to detract from her beauty. They speak only of tenderness, maturity and experience. Years of wonderful experience. She glances over at her husband who is busying himself with the smoothie machine, then winks at me. My services are required.

“Pipsqueak dearie, my cutest customer,” she says, loud enough for her husband to hear, “What can I get you today?”

“Oh you flatter me, Cup, you know I pale in comparison to your loveliness.” Mister Cake turns and looks at me, eyes narrowed, before going back to the smoothies. Just as planned. “I'm not sure, everything looks so good. What do you recommend?”

“How about,” she says, bending to reach something below the counter and giving me a view of her soft, bouncy rump, “one of my special muffins?” Her rose eyes lock with mine as she places a tray of banana and chocolate chip muffins onto the counter. I've already had a big breakfast, but those muffins are too good to turn down.

“How much?”

She smiles even wider, that wonderful smile that lifts my heart and stirs my loins. “They're a new recipe. Tell me what you think, and the first one's free.”

She pushes a muffin towards me. I pick it up and take a bite, my eyes never leaving Mrs Cake's. When I taste it, my eyes shut and I moan from pure reflex. This muffin is the pinnacle of food. It's the avatar of joyful decadence. This muffin is what Discord feels when he's getting head from a pair of succubi. I scarf the rest of it down, and it's over far too quickly.

“Oh Celestia, that was – they're so warm, and soft, and moist. How do you do it?”

“Would you like to know what the secret ingredient is?” she asks, batting her eyelids at me. Mister Cake shoots me another irritated glare. We're nearly done here.

I nod and she leans over the counter, her muzzle only a foot from mine.

Love.

I put on my biggest pair of puppy dog eyes and say “Mrs Cake, I would do horrible, terrible things to end up with a mare half as talented and attractive as you. Unforgivable things.”

“Oh Pipsqueak, when did you grow up into such a charming young stallion?” she asks, giggling and blushing. “And so handsome too.”

That's it, Mister Cake is now severely peeved and walking towards us. I give Mrs Cake a tiny nod.

“You'll have to find a mare like me I'm afraid, Pip. I only have eyes for one stallion,” she says, turning towards her husband and stopping him in his tracks with a gentle peck on the cheek. “My gentle,” she kisses him on the other cheek, “strong,” *kiss* “lovely,” *kiss* “hubby,” *kiss* “wubby,” *kiss* “bunnykins.”

They gaze, half-lidded, into each others eyes and sink into a kiss. It's a simple kiss, not a long kiss or a sloppy snog, but there's decades of love and passion packed into it. It makes me a little jealous, and more than a little horny.

When they break the kiss, Mister Cake looks at me. He's grinning but there's a dangerous look in his eyes. “Were you just hitting on my wife, kid?” he asks, the tiniest of edges behind his jokey tone. I play my part well, hemming and hawing and blushing like an embarrassed little schoolcolt caught with a dirty magazine. You can never ham it up too much trying to soothe a bruised ego. Well, perhaps you can, but I'm a smooth criminal.

It does the job, and his face visibly relaxes. “Heh. Can't blame you for trying, son,” he says, smirking and draping his foreleg over his wife's back. She nuzzles him appreciatively.

“We've been doing very well today honey-boo. Can I take my gorgeous,” *kiss* “lovely,” *kiss* “talented” *kiss* “and oh so very sexy,” *kiss* “wife out to Chez Hay tomorrow night?”

Mrs Cake looks up at her husband and bites her bottom lip. “Could we get Pinkie Pie to look after the foals, have the whole evening to ourselves?”

“Did somepony say foalsitting?” Pinkie Pie just appeared behind the counter. I've lived in Ponyville for half my life and it's still dead rummy when she does that.

“That sounds lovely, bunnykins,” says Mrs Cake, “Do you want to go sort it out with Pinkie while I serve the customers?”

Mister Cake gives his wife a peck on the lips before heading into the kitchen to deal with more orders and hash out the foalsitting details with Pinkie. He's got a bit of swagger in his step as he goes. Mrs Cake turns to me and rolls her eyes.

“Thanks for that, dearie. Honestly, the things I have to do for Carrot to sit up and take notice sometimes...”

“It's my pleasure, Mrs Cake,” I say, “Those muffins were absolutely topping by the way, I wasn't embellishing one bit. How much for three?”

She smiles warmly and pushes three muffins towards us. “For you, Pip, on the house.”

I collect the muffins, say my farewells and trot out of the shop with Featherweight and Chowder, passing them a muffin each as we go. Chowder devours his in a second and moans with pleasure as he does. Featherweight is giving me an odd look, like he can't quite figure out what went on but he won't approve when he does.

“Pip, what was that about? Just watching you made me feel unclean, and I don't know if I should eat something you've touched.”

“It's this thing I do for Mrs Cake,” I say, lowering my mouth to her muffin. I give it a tiny lick before nibbling at it. The last one went far too quickly, I must savour this one. “I flirt with her in front of her husband, he comes over and showers her with affection and kisses, I get all tongue tied and run off with my tail between my legs. Mister Cake gets an ego boost for slapping down the young challenger, his wife gets a good rutting and I get the odd free pastry thrown my way.”

Featherweight looks deeply bemused by this. “They've been married for years, can't she just say to him 'Dearie, please dip your spoon in my honeypot?'”

“It's a bit odd, I'll admit. I think she grew up with a bunch of Cosmarepolitans and dating guides that say sex and relationships only work if you never discuss the sex or the relationship with your special somepony.”

“What? Was Cosmare written for mute ponies back then?”

I shrug. “Dunno, but I never look a gift muffin in the teeth and I'm not going to stand around while someone as lovely as Mrs Cake isn't getting any love. Not when I can help her with flirting.”

“That was flirting? Shit, I thought that was group therapy for your Oedipus complex.”

“Hey – Oh, fuck you Feathers. Don't pretend like you know things because you read a book on Pegasopolian mythology. I just have an appreciation for the female form, even when it's twice my age,” I say. Featherweight shakes his head and takes a bite of muffin, and we all set off to the market, chattering about many different things of little consequence. Chowder's new recipe for clover brownies gets a good airing.

We're just about at the market when we see a green and purple drake on two legs, standing just a bit taller than me. That's Spike, Ponyville's resident dragon. I like the guy. He's cultured and well educated, he's an out-of-towner city kid like me, and I love the whole 'turning into a three-hundred foot greed monster' thing he's got going on. He spots us before we can call out to him, and canters over to us. He's giggling madly.

“Come over here, you guys have gotta see this!” I haven't seen Spike this excited since sapphire cupcakes became a regular thing at Sugarcube Corner.

“What's going on?”

“It's Snips and Snails, they- ah, no time, I'll explain when we're there. Come on!” He turns and beckons us to follow. When we get to the market Snips and Snails wave to us and come over. Spike tries and fails to suppress his laughter. I'm having a hard time not bursting out in giggles myself..

Snips and Snails are standing in front of us, bright as sunshine, in the most ridiculous getup I've seen outside Nightmare Night. Snails has a lime-green feather boa around his neck, a pair of welding goggles perched on his forehead, and glitter in his mane and tail. Snips is wearing a bright puce velvet top hat, black leather saddlebags, and is propped up on black platform hoof-boots. Also I think he's-

“Snips, are you wearing mascara?” Featherweight looks equal parts bemused, curious and apprehensive; like he just stumbled across his father's porn collection.

“Yup! Me and Snails are PUAs!”

“Peayuase?” I ask. Snips and Snails' newest insanity has me curious, everything else can wait.

“I think Whooves said that's what's in our stomachs that breaks down proteins,” says Chowder.

“Nah, that's protease.” Always trust Spike when it comes to anything academic. He picks up a lot, living with a librarian. “Snips, Snails, I think you should *snrk* -tell these guys what you're doing.”

Snails flashes that smug idiot grin that makes me want to slap him across the muzzle. “We're PUAs- pick-up artists.”

“Yeah! It's guaranteed to get us hot fillies to bang.”

For a moment my brain stops as I process that statement. When it starts working again, I look at Feathers, Chowder and Spike. Feathers and Chowder look dubious. Spike is biting his lip to stop laughing, nearly hard enough to break the scales.

“Snips my good colt,” I say, “You're going to have to, erm, elaborate a tad.”

“Well, me and Snails were tired of being AFCs – that's average frustrated colts for those in the know – so we asked Shady Daze for help. He gave us this awesome book, 'Speedy Seduction' by this total mare's stallion called Enigma.” He lifts a book out of his saddlebags and floats it over to Featherweight, who takes it.

“We're trying out some of the more basic stuff and feeling pretty good about it,” says Snails in his sludgy voice.

“We're peacocking, keeping an eye out for IOIs, putting out DHVs, being cocky-funny; just running standard game. Have you guys seen the market today? There's a lotta hot fillies about today, I've seen like, five HF eights or nines since we got here,” says Snips. He looks like a foal before Hearth Warming's Eve.

Featherweight has a sly look on his face. “I see. Hey, can we borrow this book for a minute? It looks really interesting and I'd like to learn more.”

“Sure dude that's cool, just give it back at the party tonight. You're going right?”

“Totally. We'll see you there.”

“Awesome. I don't want to be a dick or nothing, but me and Snails gotta split. There's a lot of tail to chase around here, so we're going to go throw some negs and try some more advanced game. Gotta practice the approach y'know? Anyway, smell ya later dudes!” Snips trots off uneasily on his platform boots with Snails in tow. As soon as they're out of earshot, Spike falls to the floor laughing.

“Well, that was... interesting,” I say.

“You guys haven't seen anything yet,” says Spike, still snickering on the floor, “I've seen them in action and I've looked at that book. It's priceless, look at the contents page.”

Feathers cracks the book open and we take a peek. It's a chunky thing with a detailed contents page, with subheadings under chapter titles like 'How to Stop Being a Beta,' 'Mares and their Four Uses,' and 'Basics of Breaking the Bitch-Shield.' When something horrifying or especially bizarre catches our eye, we turn to that page and have a skim. It's a freakish mixture of horror and surreal comedy, apparently written by somepony whose only knowledge of mares came from watching gratuitously bad romantic comedies and interviews with convicted sex offenders.

I take a step away from the unholy tome. “Bloody hay, that's not a dating guide, that's how you turn desperation into restraining orders.”

Featherweight and Chowder are sat down happily leafing through the book, reading particularly egregious parts aloud.

“'Sociological studies show that twenty percent of stallions are alpha males and the other eighty percent are beta males,'” says Featherweight “'All mares want alpha males and will reject or friend-zone any beta males (also known as 'Nice Guys') who try to attract them. Beta males are lucky to have sex in their lifetime and many will never see a vagina.'”

Spike turns the page and picks out another bit. “'Mares love to friend-zone males, especially Nice Guys. Friend-zoning is the process of extracting cuddling, emotional intimacy and other services from males, and then refusing to put out on the basis that they are 'too good friends.' Friend-zoning is the cruellest thing a mare can do to a stallion without a dull knife and rubber band.' Are there really ponies that think like this?”

“I was talking to Sweetie Belle a while back,” says Featherweight, not looking up from the book, “She was mentioning some of the things a dragon named Spike said and did around a pony named Rarity, so...”

Spike's cheeks turn pink and he slaps Featherweight on the foreleg. “Aw horsefeathers, the only thing that means is that I was into mares before you guys knew what your genitals were for. Anyway, what – oh, guys, check it out!”

Spike taps me on the withers and points across the market to the food and drink stands. There's lots of fillies, in pairs and in groups, sitting around in the sun, chatting, eating fruit and drinking smoothies. Flitter and Cloudchaser, the two proper fit weather team fillies are there; I recognize some of Pina Colada's older mates, and there's a couple of fillies from school. Snips and Snails are moving towards them, stalking towards their prey like spastic ferrets hunting a pack of antelope. Spike gets that excited look again.

“You ponies can't miss this, we have to get over there. Follow me!”

We stealthily slink to the food stalls and sit down at the side of the Sweet Apple Acres stall, near a bemused Applejack. I buy three gala apples. She asks no questions. We're close enough to see and hear the newly-minted pick-up artists, but tucked away where they won't notice us.

They approach a pair of Pina Colada's friends, a pink-on-blue unicorn with a paintbrush cutie-mark and a cornskilk-maned peach unicorn with a still on her flank. Peach Schnapps, I think her name was. Snips tries to put on a confident and seductive face. He looks like a Charades player whose word is 'rapist.' There's some pushing and arguing, before Snips trots up to Peach Schnapps first.

“Uh, hey, is that a strawberry you're eating? They're great, don't you just love sucking a juicy strawberry in your mouth-”

Schnapps cuts him off. “Kid, we both know what's going on here so I'm going to skip to the part where I blow real hard on this rape whistle.”

With that healthy dose of fear, they scamper away to find a different target. They approach somepony different, a chocolate unicorn with a spanner for a cutie mark, at least a few years older than them. It's Snails' turn.

“Nice horn, bitch.”

Now, this Speedy Seduction book keeps banging on about something called 'negging,' which is a remark that's vaguely insulting and confusing and is supposedly meant to lower a mare's self-esteem so that she'll want to prove herself to you. It looks a bit like flirting, but it's not fun and there's no sex afterwards. It's meant to be a sort of backhooved compliment that isn't obviously an insult but will hurt their feelings nonetheless.

I don't quite think Snails has it nailed down.

“Ouch.” I almost feel bad for him.

Feathers looks confused. “Why is she carrying all those wrenches? Who needs that many wrenches? Is she- ohh, she's summoning them. That's pretty cool.”

Spike is wincing. “That one must have hurt. And that one. And those two. And that – oh Celestia, he's gonna feel that one in the morning.”

The unicorn stops her beating and chews Snails out, before turning to Snips.

“I'mnotwithhimhe'scrazypleasedon'thurtmeyou'renotabitchpleaseletmelive!”

She gives him a long, hard stare, huffs and trots away. Snips lets out a sigh of relief and helps his dazed friend up.

“Spike, dude,” says Featherweight, nudging the drake, “We're heading to the lake and going round Dinky's later. She's got some more clover and we're gonna get higher than Rainbow Dash. You in, bro?”

“Ehh, I've got some things to do with Twilight first, when are you heading to Dinky's?”

“She won't be up for a few hours yet,” I say, “We'll probably head to hers at two.”

“Cool, I'll see you guys there. I should go find Twilight, save me a teenth if I'm late.”

“Yo, she's right there,” says Chowder, pointing towards the food stalls. Twilight Sparkle is trotting past Blendy's smoothie stand, saddlebags bulging. Snips and Snails see her, and-

No they're not.

-they walk right up to her-

Oh no they're not.

“Oh yes they are,” says Featherweight.

“How did you-”

“You're easy to read.”

Spike starts towards Twilight and the colts looking majorly peeved. Chowder sticks a foreleg out to stop him.

“No, Spike. Have faith in her,” he says.

The four of us are shock still, crouched by the Sweet Apple Acres stall. It's a Manican standoff for a few tense seconds, Twilight facing down the two colts, waiting for them to make a move. Snails is still dazed from the beating. Snips opens his mouth once, twice and then speaks:

“You have the most interestingly pretentious hooves I've ever seen.”

What

Twilight looks genuinely perplexed. “Pardon me, Snips?”

“Um... you have the most interestingly pretentious hooves I've ever seen?”

“Sorry, I really don't know what you're trying to say. What do you mean by interestingly pretentious hooves?”

The panic is obvious in Snips' face. He hasn't thought this far ahead. “They're hooves that are, uh, interestingly pretentious. Yeah, that.”

Twilight is still confused, but there's a hint of concern in her voice. “Yes, those are words but they don't work when you use them like that. How can hooves be pretentious, and why would they be interesting?”

I feel bad for Snips, bless his little cotton socks. Thinking on his hooves was never really his thing.

“Because... they're hooves that pretend to be something... else? And they're interesting because they – they're supposed to be hooves! Haha!”

“What could my hooves pretend to be?!” The last time I'd seen anyone look as confused as Twilight was when Pinkie Pie was everywhere at once.

“...fetlocks?”

“That's the bit between the pastern and the cannon,” she says slowly, “Snips, you look really peaky, are you okay? Why are you wearing rave clothes at ten in the morning? And what's wrong with Snails?”

Snails is rocking from side to side, still punch drunk. “...there's been too many hits and my brain feels squidgy...”

Twilight doesn't look confused any more, she's looking at the pair with something like motherly concern. “Too many hits? You poor colts, you're having a 'bad trip!' Oh, we need to get you right to a hospital-”

“NO, uh, no Miss Sparkle we're fine we're just-”

“-I know you might not want to tell your parents but it would be a really good idea to talk to someone about this, Miss Cheerilee can get you the support you need-”

“-no please it's totally fine me and Snails are just going right Snails come on we've got to go-”

“-it's natural to experiment at your age but you really need to get some help before it becomes a problem-”

“-no really we're going now it's fine thanks anyway! Bye Miss Twilight!” Snips steals away, dragging Snails along with him. Twilight almost moves to follow after them, but Spike calls to her.

“Oh! Hey Spike!,” she says, trotting towards us, “Who's that you're- Oh, hello Featherweight!”

I should probably explain the deal with Featherweight and Twilight Sparkle. See, Featherweight doesn't have the same... drive, lets say, when it comes to matters of intimacy that I do. He thinks me something of a hedonistic pervert, an unfairly accurate characterization. Instead of appreciating all the beauty of the female form (and rather a lot of the male form too) like I do, he swings between total disinterest in all things romantic; and sudden, wild infatuations that never go anywhere before quietly dissipating. Featherweight is now six weeks into a crush on Twilight, the utterly adorable former child prodigy, local librarian and national hero.

I'm not going to say he's punching above his weight, because I'm a colt who wants nothing more than a foursome with the former Cutie Mark Crusaders, so that would be hypocritical of me. In fact, he's doing better than he usually does. He's not pining at her from a distance; he's started volunteering at the library and organising their new multimedia collection. He's built up a decent rapport with her, for all the stick I give him he's a rather cultured fellow and can hold a conversation on a wide range of intellectual topics from literature to hard sciences. Still, I'm expecting this crush to go roughly the same way as the last four.

“Good morning Twilight, how are you? What's the matter with Snips and Snails?” asks Featherweight, with fake concern.

Twilight looks conflicted. “Oh. I'm not sure it's really my place to say...”

“They've been acting awfully strange lately, Miss Sparkle,” I say, “We're really worried about them, they're nice chaps and we'd feel ever so bad if something rotten were happening and we couldn't do anything to help them.”

“Aww, you colts have grown up into some of the sweetest young stallions I've ever met,” she says, beaming at us. “If you think you can convince them to get help, I'll tell you, but you mustn't go telling everypony, okay?”

“We wouldn't dream of it, Twilight,” says Feathers.

“Pinkie Promise?”

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye,” we say, doing the motions. Twilight beckons us to a table near the Sweet Apple Acres stalls where there are fewer ponies around to overhear us. She leans over the table, and whispers:

“I think they're on...” She pauses and looks from side to side, “The drugs.”

“The drugs, Twilight?” says Featherweight, eyes wide with shock.

“I think so, guys,” she says sadly, “I don't see anything wrong with clover or even a little bit of salt at parties, but I think they're into something worse. It could be super-strains of clover, concentrated salts, locoweed, slab, cake, magical designer substances, or drugs that don't even have names! If you could convince them to talk to Nurse Redheart...”

“As soon as we get a chance, Twilight.” Featherweight pats her on the shoulder with a wing.

“You don't have a problem with clover or salt?” I ask. I never thought she'd be the type to try either. The Greater Ponyville Area is a smokeless and unsalted county, the closest place you can buy or sell them legally is Fillydelphia.

She grins at us sheepishly. “You don't spend nearly a decade partying with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie without trying a few new things. I've had some pretty wild times since I moved to Ponyville, even without monsters trying to end the world.”

“I'd love to hear about Twilight's wild times,” says Featherweight, “We should swap stories sometime.”

“I think I'd like that, Featherweight.”

“Did you stop at the used book stall?” asks Spike, pointing to Twilight's bulging saddlebags.

She blushes, and I see why Featherweight is smitten with her. Those blushes are so cute that each one cancels out five migraines.

“Maybe?”

Spike gives her a flat look.

“Oh but Spiiike, they had books! Books! My one weakness!” Spike just rolls his eyes and shakes his head.

“What did you get?” asks Feathers.

“A few things, I got Daydream Glare's book on griffon society, a copy of Do Golems Dream of Thaumatic Sheep, and two Con Mane stories. They're not high literature, but they're well-told stories that grab you by the mane and don't let go.”

“That's a coincidence, I just finished From Tarandroland with Love a few days ago,” says Feathers. The two of them are glowing with the kind of excitement and wonder that only fans of a series who have just found another fan can experience.

“Oh yeah? What did you think?”

“Utter filth,” he says, grinning, “So, the plot is that Con Mane has to go to Sarvikk, because there's a reindeer defector who's seen his file, has fallen for him, and wants him to pick her up, take her back to Equestria and screw her in exchange for a magic codebreaking device. He gets sent because he's the only EIS agent good enough in bed to tell if a mare is faking an orgasm, but oh no! She's a double agent who's been trained by the reindeer in the ancient art of being good in bed!”

“I know, right?” says Twilight, shaking her head, “If somepony made a pornographic parody of From Tarandroland with Love it would read exactly like From Tarandroland with Love and it would be called From Tarandroland with Love.” That gets a small laugh from everypony.

“Anyway, Spike and I should probably head off, the girls are coming over for movies tonight and he's being a wonderful, amazing assistant and helping me prepare the library for that. It's been nice seeing you colts, are you still coming to help with the new collection tomorrow Featherweight?”

“Wouldn't miss it for the world, Twilight.”

I suddenly think of something. “Oh, Miss Sparkle, one of our friends is having a little get-together tonight, can Spike come?”

“Hm? Sure, if he wants to I don't see why not. Spike?”

“Uh yeah, sure. Tell me at Dinky's, I'll see you guys later!”

The pair trot off towards the library, Featherweight gazing longingly after Twilight. I think Chowder's doing the same, but it turns out he's just listless. It's too damn hot.

“It's too damn hot, chaps. Let's head to the lake.”