• Published 11th Feb 2020
  • 1,373 Views, 37 Comments

Trixie's Beau - Scyphi

Trixie has been dating a stallion, but Starlight isn't convinced he is all that he seems to be...

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“And now, for the Great and Powerful Trixie’s last trick—the greatness and powerfulness shall be doubled!

There was a flash of magical light, and suddenly the image of the azure unicorn had split in two, to the awe and applause of the onlooking audience.

“Looking good there, Trixie!” the Trixie on the left praised to the one on the right.

“You too, Trixie!” the other returned. “You look very great and powerful tonight!”

“But we aren’t stopping there!” the first Trixie then told the audience. “Because why stop at just two Trixies, when you can—”

“—double them again!” the two Trixies declared together, and with another flash of magic, there were then four Trixies on stage. This was immediately followed by yet another flash, and then there were six Trixies. By this time, the audience was applauding and cheering loudly in awe at the feat.

The Trixies then each spent a moment introducing themselves and greeting each other, before the centermost Trixie declared “But as wonderful as Trixie is, Trixie concedes that there can only be one Trixie, so without further ado!” she stomped her forehooves twice on the stage floor, and immediately the other Trixies all combined back together into one, as seamlessly as if they had never been there in the first place.

And they probably weren’t. Starlight Glimmer knew for a fact that her friend Trixie lacked the magical power to be able to conduct any sort of cloning spell. Nonetheless, whatever illusion Trixie had used to pull off the trick, it was still very impressive, so Starlight didn’t hesitate in joining the rest of the audience in applauding the magician for the show.

“Thank you!” Trixie declared, bowing in acknowledgement of the ovation. “You’ve all been a wonderful audience, and Trixie hopes you all have a good night!” With a flash of light and smoke, she then vanished from the stage.

The show over, the crowds began to disperse, chatting excitedly about the feats they had seen. Starlight, however, lingered longer, trotting around backstage to where Trixie had already begun putting away a few of her props.

“Well?” Trixie asked as Starlight came into view. “How was that one?”

“That was great, Trixie!” Starlight praised with a grin. “You really are getting better at a lot of these tricks. Even I was seriously impressed by a few of them!”

“What, you mean Trixie’s great and powerful acts weren’t already impressive to you?” Trixie asked with a raised brow.

Starlight merely rolled her eyes, unfazed. “You know what I mean,” she said. “But seriously, some of what you performed tonight was pretty impressive. Especially that last one—what was that, some form of the similo duplexis spell?”

“A good magician never reveals her secrets!” Trixie replied with a smug grin. “Besides, I gotta leave you with something to keep you guessing on.” She then nudged Starlight on the shoulder. “Anyway, thanks for letting me have this chance to take part in Ponyville’s stage performance festival this year. Trixie doesn’t get much chance to do shows like this now that she’s also a great and powerful student counselor, and I know you’re already short-staffed with Sunburst currently away.”

But Starlight rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, good thing the new headmare happens to be such a good friend, huh?” she gave Trixie a wink before chuckling. “Actually, things have been rather quiet, so miraculously I’ve been keeping atop of it enough that I can spare you for this. Whatever the case, congrats on another successful performance, you’re really knocking it out of the park. Wanna celebrate by go getting a hayburger or something? My treat!”

“Tempting!” Trixie said, but then turned apologetic. “But unfortunately, Trixie already has plans for tonight.”

Starlight blinked, surprised. “Really?”

“Yes, you see…”

“Trixie! There you are!” The two mares turned to see a brown unicorn stallion approaching, dressed in a shirt and vest with a top hat adorning his head. Starlight wasn’t sure she recognized him. “Another wonderful performance as usual!”

“Well, what did you expect?” Trixie replied with a smug expression as the stallion came to her side. “This is the Great and Powerful Trixie we’re talking about!” But then softening a bit, she unexpectedly pulled the stallion into a warm hug. “But I’m glad you liked it, all the same.”

By this time, Starlight felt out of the loop and regarded the two ponies with a confused expression. “Uh…”

“Oh, right!” Trixie said, suddenly remembering her. “Starlight, this is Theodore Startup. Theo, this is my best friend, Starlight Glimmer.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Starlight,” the stallion, Theodore, greeted politely, extending his hoof to her. Seeing she still looked confused, he added, “I’ve, uh, been helping sponsor some of Trixie’s shows.”

“Oh!” Starlight remarked, shaking his hoof.

“We’re also dating,” Trixie then brightly added.

Caught completely off guard, Starlight sputtered for a moment. “Say what?” she declared, while Theodore visibly tensed. “Since when?

“Since a couple of weeks now,” Trixie confirmed, still with a pleased grin.

“Uh, Trixie?” Theodore interjected here, leaning closer to her. “Are we sure we want to be publicizing this? We did agree to keep it quiet for now and…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, you didn’t want to make a big hullaballoo about it,” Trixie replied back. “But word’s gonna get out eventually anyway, and I figure we can start telling a few friends now…can’t we?” She gave him a pleading look.

Theodore hesitated and didn’t immediately reply, clearing not wanting to dismiss her request just out of hoof.

Starlight, meanwhile, was still processing the reveal. “So…wait…you two are actually dating?” she repeated for confirmation. When they both nodded, she continued. “How did this happen?”

“Well, we got to talking after one of Trixie’s shows, and…one thing led to another…” Theodore sheepishly explained. He looked uncomfortable and put on the spot.

Trixie, however, had few qualms about it. “Trixie doesn’t have to tell you about everything the moment it happens,” she reminded Starlight before giving her friend a look. “And what’s with the tone? I was hoping you’d be happier for me than this!”

“I am!” Starlight assured, quickly backtracking. “It’s just…so sudden!”

“Is not!” Trixie argued back. “We’ve been taking this slow! Promise!”

“Right, right, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, I’m just…caught off guard,” Starlight said with a nervous laugh and started over. “Look, maybe we began on the wrong hoof there, sorry.”

“That’s entirely okay,” Theodore assured, relieved. “I just hope that with a little time to familiarize everybody with this, everything will work out okay.”

“In fact,” Trixie interjected, getting an idea and playfully bopped Starlight on the shoulder, “Theo and I are going out to dinner, but since you suggested dinner too, Starlight, how about you come with us—use it to get to know Theo a bit better?”

“Ah…” Theodore again started to interject.

“That is unless you have any objections,” Trixie added, looking to her date.

Theodore looked from Trixie to Starlight for a moment, undecided. He definitely looked uncertain about it, but he nonetheless relented. “All right,” he said, managing a small grin. “Trixie’s probably right about it being time to make this known anyway. We’d be, uh, happy for you to join us, Miss Starlight.”

Starlight debated for a second, still coming to terms with this news, but then forced a shrug. “All right then,” she said, wanting to be supportive despite her initial misgivings. “Let’s go to dinner!”

They went to one of Ponyville’s local restaurants, got a relatively inexpensive meal, and chatted amongst themselves. Starlight spent most of it observing this new stallion in Trixie’s life, still taken aback by how suddenly he’d seemingly appeared. That and something else about him bothered her, but to her frustration, she couldn’t point to a clear reason why. Near as she could figure out, this brown unicorn was a decent fellow and relatively normal. A bit quiet, but he seemed to be a good listener and very polite. Still, there had to be a reason, and the fact she knew so little about him didn’t help. She ended up dedicating a lot of mental power trying to fill in these blanks as they ate.

Which suited Trixie and Theodore just fine, and at least there was little doubt that they liked each other’s company. While Starlight spent most of the evening quietly processing them, the couple spent most of their time conversing, at times becoming so lost in it that it was like Starlight wasn’t even there.

“So you were right, the slaunan spell works much better for the laser beam and mirror act than the filmei spell,” Trixie was telling Theodore at one point.

“What did I tell you?” Theodore replied back with a kind grin. “The slaunan spell has much better power management for that act.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Trixie agreed. “I don’t know why I never thought of it before! I mean, sure, I had to rework the whole act a bit to fit in the slaunan spell instead, but because it frees up some of the thaumic power I can then use elsewhere, it really helps to refine it and make the illusion look as convincing as possible. So, seriously, thanks for suggesting it. Your input on all of my shows has really helped improve them overall.”

“Oh, it was nothing,” Theodore humbly assured, “Just me helping out a fellow illusionist.”

“You’re familiar with illusionary magic too, Theodore?” Starlight asked, perking up at this potential piece to the puzzle in her head.

“Oh, he’s more than just familiar,” Trixie assured with a smug grin, while Theodore sheepishly averted his gaze. “I kid you not, Starlight, the first time he came and saw my show, he was able to figure out how I performed most of my tricks, nearly to the letter, just from the one viewing! Not even you can claim that!”

“Oh, Trixie’s exaggerating,” Theodore said a little quietly. “I’m no expert in magic.”

Trixie snorted in good humor. “He keeps saying that because he’s too humble,” she said. “But seriously, he’s some kind of secret expert in illusionary magic.” She leaned her head on her hooves, looking at the stallion happily. “It’s kind of nice, though, having somebody I can just sit down and talk shop with for a change.”

“I’m sure it is,” Starlight said, then turned her attention back on Theodore. “So what brought you to Trixie’s show in the first place?” she asked him. “Did Trixie invite you?”

“No, I just heard the show was performing and swung by to see for myself, since it interested me,” Theodore explained a little nervously, looking put on the spot. “Then, when Trixie showed interest in hearing my input about it, we starting exchanging notes about how we could improve it, and…well…like I said, one thing led to another…”

“And you started sponsoring her show too,” Starlight added, who admittedly did find that a little too convenient, but told herself it was probably just him being…overeager…to impress Trixie.

“It’s mostly just to help Trixie meet a few ends while she tries out some of these suggestions,” Theodore quickly assured her. “But I’ll happily keep doing so even after that. It…wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Theo’s company, Startup Financing, sponsors all sorts of projects across Equestria,” Trixie said, picking up the explanation. “He’s told me he’s helped sponsor things like the spring equinox celebration in Canterlot last year, and even a few town renovation projects here in Ponyville!”

“Oh, well, no need to get into all of that, Trixie,” Theodore sheepishly interjected before quickly changing the subject.

And now that Starlight thought about it, Theodore was fairly hasty to change the subject whenever the conversation veered too close to his personal life, business, and most importantly, his past, which he didn’t seem eager to talk about. The only real time he gave any real details about his history, in fact, was when the subject of family came up. And not only was he scant on details about that, Starlight felt he was inconsistent—at one point she was certain he had indicated that he didn’t have any siblings, only to later make mention of an older brother. When Starlight attempted to comment on that, Theodore responded, again, by changing the subject. It struck her as odd.

But Starlight was trying to think positively for Trixie’s benefit, so at the end of the meal, when they all parted ways, Starlight was encouraging with her goodbyes. “You seem a…nice enough stallion, Theodore,” she said aloud as she shook his hoof as they left. “I…hope things work out with you and Trixie.”

“I hope so too,” Theodore replied. He seemed relieved to have Starlight’s approval.

After he left, Trixie then stepped in and eagerly asked, “So? You liked him, then?”

“Well…” Starlight hesitated then conceded, “I liked him well enough, I guess?” Seeing Trixie’s frown, she quickly added, “But I’m sure I’ll warm up to him even more once I’ve had more time to get to know him better.”

But by the next day, Starlight found herself still trying to come to terms with it. On one side, she was angry at her inability to show more support in Trixie’s new relationship, but on the other, something about Theodore just…perplexed her…nagged at her. At face value though, he really did seem like a nice enough guy. It wasn’t hard to see why Trixie had taken a shine to him. But he also didn’t seem that…open.

“I don’t know…” she muttered to herself as she wandered the halls of the School of Friendship while between classes. “…maybe I’m being too quick to judge? So he wasn’t too open—so are a lot of other ponies, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, right?” She bit her lip. “But what if it does, and he proves to be…I don’t know…bad news?”

“I dunno, can’t really say without knowing more of the details. Should I stick around to hear more of your mumblings, maybe?”

Starlight, startled by the new voice, looked up suddenly. “Huh?” she involuntarily blurted out, not realizing she was being overheard. Her vision was immediately graced with a blinding camera flash, causing her to squint her eyes, trying to blink away the momentary blindness so to see the camera’s operator. “What the—Silverstream?”

“Hi, Headmare Starlight!” the hippogriff student greeted happily as the photo slid out of the instant camera with a whirl. She pulled it out with her talons and proceeded to watch it develop. “Like my camera? I got it at a yard sale over the weekend. I’ve been using it to catalog everything about my time here at the school! See?”

She pulled out a makeshift photo album she’d made out of an old school binder and opened it for Starlight to see inside. Starlight took it in her magic and examined a few of the photos. They were all fairly amateurish and it was clear Silverstream was still figuring out how the camera worked. One was even a picture of the hippogriff’s thumb, which she was pretty sure was taken by accident, but had been stuck into the album all the same. A number were of things that made sense to take photos of, like pictures of Silverstream’s friends, professors, and common places on the school’s campus. Then there were photos that didn’t seem as sensible, like pictures of what looked like Silverstream’s breakfast, a storm drain, the inside of classroom desk, and a whole section on staircases.

The most baffling one was a random picture of nothing but an empty corner somewhere in the school. “…Why did you take a picture of this?” Starlight asked uncertainly, tapping the photo with her hoof.

“Oh, because I really, really, like that corner!” Silverstream answered without missing a beat. “It’s such a good and cornery little corner!”


“I’ve been taking pictures of all my favorite things here at the school, so I can take them home and share them with other hippogriffs and so I can always have them with me so to remember them!” Silverstream took back the album so to slide her newest photo—featuring the rather unflattering, blank-faced, face of Starlight herself—in with the others. “I wanna do the same back home at Mount Aris, especially Seaquestria, so I can bring photos of there back here!” She frowned as she regarded her camera uncertainly. “I don’t know how well this would work underwater though.”

“Yeah, the water would probably damage the magic that makes the photos develop,” Starlight reasoned with a wince, agreeing that was probably a bad idea.

Silverstream shrugged and tucked both under one wing. “Anyway,” she continued, turning back to Starlight. “You were mumbling something about someone being bad news?”

“Oh that,” Starlight blushed, feeling caught. “That’s…that’s not really anything you need to worry about. It’s personal, and Trixie would probably object if I talked about this with anyone.”

“Okay,” Silverstream said as they both resumed walking down the hallway. “I understand.”

But Starlight had already gotten the ball rolling and found she couldn’t keep quiet. “It’s just…” she sighed. “Look, Trixie—have…have you really gotten to know her yet?”

“Well, we did have a little counselor meeting not long ago…she kept talking about herself like she wasn’t even there, though…”

“Yeah, that’s Trixie all right…anyway, I found out last night that she’s been…dating someone.”

“Oooooh!” Silverstream perked up immediately at this and snapped another picture of Starlight. “An important moment for the records if I ever heard one! That time when Headmare Starlight found out her bestie is dating a special someone!”

“Yeah, well, I’m not so sure about that,” Starlight said as she rubbed at her eyes, trying again to clear her flash-blindness. “I mean, I met the guy, and…and he seems okay? Maybe?”

“Is he cute?”

Starlight shrugged. “I guess? I wasn’t really thinking about that, honestly. I was more focused on…I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just…something about him keeps nagging at me…like it all doesn’t add up, I guess. But I’ve been racking my brain all morning for a why, and…I don’t know.” She stopped the hippogriff walking beside her. “You tell me, Silverstream. Am I just being paranoid or something?”

“Ooh! Ooh! The headmare is seeking the advice of the student!” She wrapped one leg around Starlight and snapped another photo of them both, presumably to add to her ‘record.’ Starlight thought that at this rate, she was going to rack up several volumes worth of photos before the week was over. “I guess it depends. What do you know about him?”

“Well, that’s sort of the problem,” Starlight relented. “I know he’s good with illusionary magic and owns a business, but he didn’t seem eager to talk about himself beyond that, so…I guess I don’t really know.” She bit her lip again. “Do you think that’s maybe cause for concern? The fact there’s only so much known about him?”

“Well, either that or you’re feeling a bit jealous Counselor Trixie’s found a nice stallion and you haven’t.”

“No, no, that can’t be it,” Starlight’s dismissal was immediate.

“I dunno…are you dating anyone currently? Not to pry or anything.”

“Well, no, but…look, I’m just not feeling comfortable about it either way, and I think it’s something about this Theodore Startup guy.”

“Theodore Startup? Is that his name? Never heard of him.”

“Neither had I before last night.” But then Starlight sighed. “But…I guess you have a point and that’s not necessarily evidence of…well, anything.” She rubbed at her eyes again. “I don’t know…what do you think I should do?”

Silverstream made a show of rubbing her beak, contemplating it. “I think you need to learn more about this guy before you can really say one way or another. I mean, how can you come to any real conclusions about him if, like you said, you don’t really know anything about him?” She shouldered her camera. “Go see what you can find out about him. Maybe ask Counselor Trixie for anything she might know about him. I mean, she is dating him, so she’s gotta know a few things, right?”

Starlight let out her breath, giving Silverstream a thankful grin. “Thanks, Silverstream, that’s good advice, actually.”

“You’re welcome!” Silverstream beamed. “Now excuse me, I better hurry to my next class.” She hurried off, giving Starlight a hurried wave as she went. “Good luck figuring it out, Headmare Starlight!”

“Thank you!” Starlight called back. “And let’s just keep this between ourselves for now, okay?”


Starlight decided that the best place to start was finding more about what this Theodore Startup did for a career. She knew the name of his company, Startup Financing, so that seemed like a good reference point to begin at. She was ultimately glad she did start there, because it wasn’t long before her research found the first very big problem: there didn’t seem to be a Startup Financing in actual existence.

At first she thought it might be because the company was a small-time business and just wasn’t that well known publically, so she kept digging to give it the benefit of a doubt. But there was no denying it—Startup Financing, or anything named similarly to it, didn’t seem to exist. So this only raised more questions than it answered, though Starlight was begrudgingly forced to concede that it still didn’t prove anything—maybe she had misheard the name or was remembering it wrong.

So she kept digging, deciding that if she couldn’t confirm the company’s existence directly, she could try doing it indirectly, through checking some of the acts she recalled Trixie mentioning Theodore had been involved in financing. As it would be the most public, she began with last year’s spring equinox celebration in Canterlot, figuring it’d be easy enough to find a public record of such a financial contribution. Or so her theory went.

In practice, though, this only led to another dead end, not finding anything she could definitely pin down that pertained to Theodore. As pushing the matter would mean visiting Canterlot itself and interrogating relevant officials, Starlight then turned to the more local financing Trixie claimed Theodore had done for some renovations in Ponyville. For this, she went straight to Mayor Mare and asked her directly.

…only to find that Mayor Mare didn’t know what she was talking about. None of any of the town renovation projects had any financing from outside sources for the past several years except from directly the crown itself. The town didn’t need to—there was a fund that set aside excess money from the town budget for explicitly this purpose, and that usually was enough for such projects. She also knew nothing of Theodore Startup or any company pertaining to him, though as a favor, she did pursue the official records to be certain. It didn’t change anything, though—there was no record of Theodore being involved in such affairs, ever.

By now, Starlight was becoming increasingly worried, because not only were her fears proving to be correct, it was going even further than she suspected. If everything Theodore claimed to have done was false, was he really with Trixie for her own benefit, or his own? Starlight even toyed with the uncomfortable idea that he was trying to play some financial fraud scheme on Trixie until she remembered Trixie was getting sponsored by this stallion, directly to boot. And Trixie’s recent performances during Ponyville’s stage performance festival had definitely shown a financial boost, so that money had to have come from somewhere.

So Starlight turned to the Ponyville Bank, where she knew Trixie cashed in her checks, to try and squeeze out more information. Since it was technically in violation of the bank’s privacy rules, Starlight normally wouldn’t have done this, but because she felt there was genuine cause for concern, she made an exception…and told the bank official that it pertained to an ongoing friendship mission, something else she technically shouldn’t be doing without permission from Twilight, which of course she hadn’t gotten. But Twilight would understand, right?

Whatever the case, the bank official would only tell Starlight so much, but he confirmed that Trixie had deposited checks from a third-party and that Theodore’s name was on them. He wouldn’t specifically say where the money was coming from, but Starlight did manage to learn that it wasn’t from a company called Startup Financing, and, potentially even more worrying, that the source of the money was apparently foreign.

It wasn’t proof of wrongdoing, but it was proof that Theodore wasn’t everything he said he was, so during the school lunchbreak, Starlight decided it was time to try and gently break the news to Trixie.

Unfortunately, Trixie’s reaction wasn’t at all what she expected. “I think you’re just jealous,” she said as the magician ran through her checklist for her next performance later that afternoon.

Jealous?!” Starlight repeated, offended. “Here I am, trying to look out for you, and you accuse me of being jealous?

“Oh c’mon, you went waaaay out of your way just to try and dig up dirt on Trixie’s boyfriend,” Trixie retorted, giving her a displeased look. “Just because you’re feeling left out for not having a boyfriend of your own doesn’t excuse you from trying to…interfere.”

“Trixie, I might be willing to agree, if there wasn’t clear evidence that Theodore isn’t being totally upfront with you,” Starlight pressed, concerned.

Trixie fehed that point aside, though. “Whoever is when starting a relationship?” she asked rhetorically, before turning to Starlight. “But leave that to me to sort out. Look, Starlight, you don’t know Theo like I do. He’s a good pony. I know he has my best interests at heart. Isn’t that enough?”

Starlight hesitated, knowing how it sounded. “I’m just worried about your safety, Trixie.”

Trixie sighed. “I supposed I can’t complain to that,” she conceded, giving Starlight a one-hoofed hug, but again she brushed the matter aside. “Don’t worry about it, though. Things are going good. You’ll see. Besides, Theodore’s a fairly private pony who doesn’t like making a big hullabaloo over what he does. How do you know that he doesn’t just keep what he does on the down-low?”

Starlight didn’t, and even though she thought the evidence she’d uncovered suggested otherwise, she knew Trixie wasn’t going to bend without more proof. And Starlight supposed all she currently had was just a series of details that happened to fit a convenient theory. It didn’t necessarily prove her fears. Still, unable to let the matter go any more now than before, she retreated back to her office at the school to think. She knew she’d have to get more evidence one way or another, and to that end, her talk with Trixie hadn’t been totally fruitless, having learned that Theodore was staying in a carriage near the stage performance festivities. The proof she needed was probably in there. It was just a matter of getting in without raising suspicions, and for that, Starlight knew she’d need help. But who?

With Twilight being the new ruler of Equestria now, she knew she couldn’t turn to her. Besides, Starlight doubted she’d side with her either, preferring talking it out over subterfuge. Twilight’s other friends weren’t likely to be helpful either. She knew some would refuse on principle, others she couldn’t be certain would actually be helpful—Rainbow Dash, for example, probably would want to help, but Starlight feared her brash attitude and overall lack of tact would only make things worse. Unfortunately, after Trixie (who was obviously out, bias to Theodore’s side as she was), Starlight’s own group of friends weren’t available—Maud and Sunburst were both out of town currently, Maud for a geology convention, and Sunburst in Vanhoover working at arranging a deal for some new school supplies. As both were important, Starlight was reluctant to interrupt them for any reason, so she opted to try and not have to if she could.

But there wasn’t anyone else Starlight thought she could count on that well who’d even be savvy on the matter…until she remembered there was one other creature she had told parts of this situation to this morning…

As classes had finished for the day, she found Silverstream in the student study lounge with, unsurprisingly, her new camera. She wasn’t alone either—Gallus and Smolder were also in the room, the dragon and griffon seated at a small table and playing a board game. Only interested in Silverstream though, Starlight tried to get her attention by standing a few paces back and waving the hippogriff over.

When Silverstream finally noticed her, though, she merely waved back. “Hi, Headmare Starlight!” she greeted happily.

Gallus and Smolder both looked up from their game. “Hey, Teach,” Gallus greeted as well, “What brings you in here?”

Sighing, Starlight strolled closer. “I was hoping to borrow Silverstream for something,” she explained and turned to the hippogriff as the others returned to their game. “Can we talk in private?”

“Can it wait until after this game?” Silverstream asked as she fondled her camera. “I’m helping Gallus and Smolder out.”

She motioned to a series of pictures she had set out in front of her. Starlight looked them over and saw they were all of the game board. “Why are you taking pictures of just the game board?” she asked as she picked one up to study.

“So to keep track of the positions of the pieces, silly!” Silverstream replied, like it was obvious.

Starlight wrinkled her brow as she lowered the photo and studied the game board Smolder and Gallus were pondering over. “Are you two playing chess?” she asked, abruptly realizing what the game was.

“Why, that surprises you?” Gallus asked as he moved a pawn.

“Well…I didn’t think either of you knew how to play,” Starlight admitted sheepishly.

“Sandbar insisted on teaching us sometime first semester,” Smolder explained as she moved her own piece. “We thought it super dull though, so what we’re playing here is only kind-of chess.”

“…how do you mean?” Surveying the game, nothing about it seemed out of the ordinary to Starlight.

“We made a few changes to the rules so to spice things up, namely when you try to take the other player’s pieces,” Gallus explained. “In fact, since I was considering it anyway…” he moved his knight to take Smolder’s bishop, putting both pieces in the same square. “Smolder, I’m taking on your bishop.”

Smolder chortled smugly. “All right, if you really think you can win,” she said tauntingly, then turned to Silverstream. “Sil, if you will?”

“Right.” Silverstream hefted her camera and snapped a new photo of the game board. She grabbed the resulting photo with her talons the second the instant camera spat it out. “Okay, ready!”

No sooner had she said so did Gallus lunge with yell, tackling Smolder and knocking them both to the floor, where they proceeded to roughly wrestle each other. Uncertain whether to intervene, Starlight uneasily watched while lighting her horn, ready to break them apart if it wasn’t for the fact she wasn’t quite certain what was going on and why.

Silverstream, however, looked on with a happy grin as she flapped the still-developing photo with her talons. “Aren’t they such good friends?” she asked sunnily.

“…if you say so,” Starlight muttered, wincing at some of the unforgiving moves the two were using on each other.

“Ack, all right, all right, I give!” Smolder finally forfeited as Gallus got the upper talon and pinned her.

“Yes!” Gallus cheered, planting a footpaw on Smolder’s belly while striking a victorious pose. “Another victory for the Griffon Kingdom!”

“How can you be a kingdom if you don’t even have an actual king currently?” Smolder chided from the floor.

“Beside the point, now shush,” Gallus retorted, refusing to let the moment be spoiled.

“Then take your victory and get your fat butt off of me, you lunkhead,” Smolder said, giving him a shove.

They returned to their seats at the game board. The pieces had been knocked out of place during the scuffle, but using Silverstream’s photo as a reference (proving why such photos were taken in the first place), they quickly had them all back in place, except for Smolder’s bishop which Gallus confiscated, and they resumed playing as before.

“Huh,” Starlight grunted, bemused by it all, then shook her head and got back to why she was here in the first place. “Silverstream, I know you’re in the middle of something, but I can I please pull you away from it for a bit?”

“What’s this about that’s so important?” the hippogriff asked, curious.

Starlight hesitated, glancing at Gallus and Smolder, not wanting them to overhear. “Well…remember what we had talked about this morning? It’s about that.”

“Oh!” Silverstream exclaimed, catching on before blurting out, “Are you saying you’ve found something questionable about your friend’s boyfriend after all?”

“Wait, what now?” Gallus asked, both he and Smolder perking up, intrigued.

Starlight facehoofed. “Silverstream, that was supposed to be a secret, remember?” she hissed.

“Well, too late now, so you might as well tell us,” Smolder said, smugly turning in her seat so to join the conversation.

“Counselor Trixie has a boyfriend she’s dating,” Silverstream explained without consulting Starlight first. “He seems like he’d be nice, but Headmare Starlight thinks he’s not trustworthy.”

“He isn’t,” Starlight persisted, begrudgingly acknowledging that Gallus and Smolder were in on the secret now and pressed on. “I’ve uncovered evidence that shows what he’s told me and Trixie is made up. I’m convinced that he’s got to be hiding something.”

“So?” Smolder asked, unimpressed. “Lots of couples do that.”

“That’s what Trixie said!” Starlight declared. “But that doesn’t mean it’s right!

“She does have a point,” Silverstream was inclined to agree.

“Yeah, but why do you care?” Smolder asked Starlight. “He’s not your boyfriend.”

“This does sort of sound like it has less to do with the actual boyfriend and more like you’re just jealous it’s Trixie who has the boyfriend and not you, Teach,” Gallus agreed. He then smirked. “Or is this about how this means Trixie’s no longer, you know, available?”

“No!” Starlight declared, catching on to what he was implying. “That’s not--!”

“Ohmigosh, Headmare Starlight!” Silverstream suddenly squealed, also catching on. “Are you lesbian?

“Wha—no!” Starlight started to get flustered. “This isn’t…I’m not…!”

“Because we’re not judging if you are,” Smolder added. “At least…not totally. Honestly, I don’t really get how the whole gal-on-gal thing’s supposed to work anyway.” She turned to Gallus. “Wouldn’t you kinda be missing a, you know, key part to it?”

Gallus, thinking it over, shrugged. “I guess you could make up the difference by using a strap-on,” he suggested.

Smolder’s eyes bulged, intrigued. “Duuuude, that’s actually a thing?

Gallus waggled his eyebrows knowingly. “Oh yeah.”

“What’s a strap-on?” Silverstream asked innocently.

“It’s basically a—”

Gallus’s reply was cut short when Starlight used her magic to clamp all of their mouths shut. “Okay, that’s enough of that!” she intervened quickly. She waited until she was sure none of them were going to continue the subject before releasing them and continuing. “And for the record, I am not lesbian, and this is ONLY about me making sure Trixie isn’t getting used by a malicious stallion, as her friend.”

“Oh really?” Gallus asked, raising a doubting eyebrow. He paused for a split second, then suddenly blurted out in a rush, “Quick then, if you could choose anyone in the whole world, who would you most want to bang?”

“Sunburst—I MEAN—!” Starlight clamped a hoof over her mouth, blushing profusely, but the damage from her slip-up was already done.

“Oooooh!” the three students chorused together, exchanging knowing looks.

“LOOK!” Starlight declared, trying again to get back on topic. “The point of all of this is that I need to dig up some more evidence to determine whatever the hay is up with this Theodore guy, but to do that, I’m going to need help!” She motioned a hoof at Silverstream. “That’s what I wanted Silverstream for!”

“Why don’t you ask your vice headpony, seeing you’ve got the hots for him and all?” Smolder asked, smugly leaning her head on her elbow and keeping up the teasing.

Because,” Starlight stressed, “He’s busy working on a school supply deal in Vanhoover.”

“Ooh, where in Vanhoover?” Silverstream curiously asked.

Starlight rolled her eyes heavenward. “Oh, I don’t know for certain…probably that bookshop he mentioned had the texts we’re looking for…Fly Leaf’s Books and Stationery or something like that…” She waved the subject aside. “Look. According to Trixie, Theodore has a wagon he’s staying in on the Ponyville fairgrounds, where the stage performance festival’s been taking place. Whatever the truth is, I could probably find the answers in there.”

“So what you’re saying is that you need help sneaking in there without anyone noticing,” Gallus surmised, catching on. When Starlight nodded, he turned slightly incredulous. “And you turned to Silverstream for help on that? Really? Sil’s probably the worst choice for this!” He glanced at the hippogriff. “No offense.”

“None taken!” Silverstream assured with a cheery grin.

“Well…she already knew what was going on!” Starlight attempted to justify. “And she’s got a camera, for photographic evidence, so…”

“No, what you really need, headmare,” Smolder then interjected, taking over, “is someone who’s experienced at not only sneaking in and out of places they’re not supposed to be without getting caught, but also someone who can think quick and still escape even if they get caught. And you’re not going to find two better creatures for that in this school than me and Gallus here.” She exchanged a smug fistbump with the griffon at this.

Silverstream was quick to back them up, too. “It’s true!” she agreed. “They’re really good at getting into things they shouldn’t!”

“Oh, I’m quite aware of that,” Starlight assured, having held a staff meeting just a few weeks earlier reminding everyone of the two’s troublemaking, “Which is why I wasn’t eager on getting them involved in the first place.”

“Well, if you’re still not convinced, we could always just go send a letter to Princess Twilight about what you’re planning,” Gallus casually remarked, but the implied threat was clear on his all-too confident face. “Because I’m sure she’d just love to hear how the pony she chose to replace her as headmare is recruiting students in her school to engage in shady, under-the-table, spying stuff.”

Starlight glared at the griffon, annoyed, but he had her there. Letting out a weary groan and worrying this wouldn’t end well, she allowed her resistance to cave. “…Fine. But you had better not make me regret it.”

Author's Note:

So this was originally meant to be a one-shot, but in typical Scyphi fashion, it ended up too long for that, so we're breaking it up into chapters instead. :rainbowlaugh:

The story's all written and finished already, so expect frequent and quick updates! :twilightsmile: