• Published 10th Mar 2021
  • 1,495 Views, 108 Comments

Paint the Sky - Flynt Coal



Having been adopted by human Celestia and her boyfriend Sable, the former Queen Chrysalis starts her new life in the human world. But she still has her old demons to contend with.

  • ...
4
 108
 1,495

Chapter 2 - The Bad Seed

It was the Friday of Chrysalis’s first week of school, and this time it was Sable who was dropping her off at Canterlot High. As it turned out, it was much more convenient for him to do it than it was for Celestia, as the latter seemed to be going into work earlier and earlier. Also, Canterlot High was slightly less out of the way for Sable heading to the school where he worked than it was for Celestia going to her downtown office. Chrysalis appreciated the ride, as it took less time than taking the bus, but even so...it was awkward.

It wasn’t always completely silent, though. Today, for instance, Chrysalis was in a good enough mood to talk about her plans for the weekend.

“My friends invited me to come with them to Olde Towne San Palomino tomorrow,” Chrysalis said. “I’ve never been to a ‘shopping center’ before, but apparently it’s like a great market square!”

Sable chuckled. “I’m sure you’ll have a great time.”

Then just like that, the awkward silence resumed as they continued to drive along. It wasn’t that Chrysalis disliked Sable, and her taste buds didn’t pick up any feelings of hostility on his end either. Nevertheless, it was hard to look at him without remembering the other Sable Loam. He had been more beast than pony, and was one of many who served under King Sombra only to satisfy their own dark, twisted desires. And that was exactly what the infamous werewolf lieutenant had done the few times she had “crossed paths” with him.

But Chrysalis knew that this Sable Loam was nothing like that monster. Everything about him, from the timbre of his voice to the way he carried himself, was completely unlike the rabid animal who had been King Sombra's lieutenant. Mostly, things between Chrysalis and the Sable who was her guardian were only awkward because neither one really knew what to say to the other.

Part of Chrysalis wondered whether Sable did resent her, if only a little. After all, it had been Celestia who had wanted to take her in and raise her. From what Chrysalis understood, Sable and Celestia hadn’t been dating very long—a year at most. There’s no way he would have expected that he would be raising a troubled teenager when they started, and Chrysalis couldn’t help but wonder whether her intrusion was putting a strain on their relationship.

Nobody ever wanted you before, the little voice in her head told her. What makes him any different?

“Hello? Chrys?”

Chrysalis realized that she’d been so lost in thought that she hadn’t noticed Sable had said something to her.

“Sorry, did you say something, Sable?” she asked.

Sable nodded past her out the passenger side window. “We’re here.”

“Oh, right. Sorry,” Chrysalis said, looking out the window to see that they had pulled up alongside the curb in front of the school. Opening the passenger side door, Chrysalis thanked Sable for the ride and got out.

A sizable throng of students were making their way to the front doors, and Chrysalis spotted familiar heads of pink and gray hair. As she made her way toward them, Chrysalis had this sudden nagging feeling that she was forgetting something.

“’Sup Di. Spoony,” Chrysalis greeted casually, and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon turned to greet her with the same nonchalance.

“Ugh, T-G-I-F,” Diamond Tiara groaned. Silver Spoon gave a slight nod, her eyes barely open under her glasses.

“Yes, tigiff,” Chrysalis replied, not really understanding what her friend was saying but going along with it anyway. It earned a chuckle from Diamond and Silver, so Chrysalis assumed she said something right.

“Hey, the girls and I like to get milkshakes at the Sugarcube Corner Café on Fridays,” Diamond said. “You wanna come?”

“Milkshakes sound good, yeah,” Chrysalis said. She’d never had one, but they sounded good!

“Cool.”

Chrysalis spotted the light blue rolls of Cozy Glow’s hair through the crowd. Intriguingly enough, she wasn’t alone. She was walking next to a boy with brown hair wearing a colorful propeller ballcap. No, she wasn’t merely walking next to him: she was outright leaning into him.

“Golly gee, Button. There’s playing hard to get, and then there’s outright dense,” Cozy said with an eerily cheerful giggle. “It’s a good thing you’re cute!”

The boy in the weird hat with the word PROPELLERHEADS on it—Button, if Chrysalis heard right—tried desperately to buy himself some breathing room from the clingy girl. “Cozy, I’m not playing hard to get. I-I’m telling you—”

Cozy placed a finger over the boy’s mouth and let it linger there. “Ah ah ah! Not another word from you. Saturday. Three o’clock. Olde Towne. Okay?”

“B-but Sweetie and I were going to….”

“See you there!” Cozy called out as she finally broke off from the rather flustered boy to go join up with Chrysalis and the others.

“Got yourself a date?” Diamond Tiara asked, glancing in the boy’s direction.

“Yes indeedy, sweetie!” Cozy exclaimed with what was probably the most genuine smile Chrysalis had seen on her face since meeting her.

“I don’t know what you see in that weird nerd, but whatev,” Silver Spoon said dismissively. “You do you, girl.”

“Love isn’t just about status, Spoony,” Cozy said, happily (Chrys could taste it) patting Silver’s head. “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

“We’re the same age!”

Of all the kids that Chrysalis had met in her first week at school, Cozy was the one that perplexed her the most. She was pleasant enough, Chrysalis supposed, and there was enough sugary sweetness oozing from her every word to feed an entire hive. That was just the thing, though: Chrysalis tasted nothing from her. While Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon sometimes radiated feelings of affection with a sour aftertaste, Cozy Glow didn’t give off anything. It was as if something inside the girl was broken, and it set Chrysalis on edge. In Equestria, she’d discovered that ponies without emotions were more than just poor meals: they were dangerous.

Chrysalis had thought that Cozy was just like those ponies, but now things were different. She could actually taste a good amount of affection from Cozy Glow now. Perhaps Cozy was just having an off week?

It was then that Chrysalis realized the source of the nagging feeling earlier: she felt much lighter going into school than she usually did.

Chrys! Hey Chrys!” Sable Loam’s voice called out.

Chrysalis turned and saw the big man jogging up the path from the sidewalk to the main entrance, his car still idling by the curb. In his hand was a familiar backpack, its absence from her back being the source of her nagging feeling.

“You’ll be needing this, right?” he asked when he caught up with her.

Diamond, Silver and Cozy giggled girlishly and Chrysalis could feel herself turning an undignified shade of red. She didn’t know why, but Sable being on campus with her just felt wrong, and she wanted him gone as soon as possible before too many people saw.

“Right, thanks,” Chrysalis said, hastily taking the backpack and slinging it over one shoulder.

“Ooh, is this your dad?” Silver Spoon asked, suddenly wide awake and looking Sable up and down.

“Um, I guess?” Chrysalis said.

“You guess?” Diamond asked.

Sable nodded. “I’m her legal guardian, Sable Loam. And I take it you three are the friends she told me so much about?”

“Yeppers!” Cozy Glow chirped.

“Yep. All good things, I trust? I’m Diamond Tiara,” the girl in question said.

Cozy Glow introduced herself next with an all-too-sweet smile, and Silver Spoon actually took his hand in not one but both of hers, and actually pulled herself a little closer to him. “Silver Spoon. The pleasure’s all mine, Mr. Loam.”

“Uh, likewise.”

“Hey, what’s your sign?”

“My what?”

“Y’know, your star sign? When were you born?”

Sable tried to pull his hand away from Silver Spoon, but the girl held fast. “Uh, April. Why--?”

“Ooh, you’re an Aries. I’m a Gemini.” Silver Spoon bit her lip and batted her eyes. “They’re very compatible!”

Finally wrenching his hand free of Silver Spoon’s grip, Sable said, “I’m sure they are. Now, I’m going to be late for work, but it was nice meeting you girls. Have a good day, Chrys!”

With that, Sable made his retreat, Chrysalis waving him goodbye as Silver Spoon all too enthusiastically watched him leave. Chrysalis didn’t need to taste her emotions to know what she was feeling, and actively decided not to feed on them. Something about it just seemed wrong in this context.

“Jeez Spoony, I don’t think you were overt enough,” Diamond drolled.

“What? He was hot!” Silver exclaimed in her defense. “Not my fault Chrys has an absolute DILF.”

Chrysalis didn’t know what that meant, other than it was probably something lewd.

“Why can’t you just like guys our own age like a normal person?” Diamond asked.

“Yeah, you’re no longer allowed to criticize my tastes if that’s the kinda guy you go for!” Cozy added.

“Don’t hate me for my refined tastes!” Silver said, sticking her tongue out before turning her attention to Chrysalis. “So, how are things between him and your mom? Any chance I could cut in?”

“Shut up, Spoony,” Chrysalis said, lightly whapping the girl in the arm.

“C’mon, wouldn’t it be fun to have me as your new mom? That way, both of us get to call him Daddy!”

Chrysalis just whapped her again, slightly harder this time.

“Remind me to hose you down later,” Diamond Tiara said.

As her friends continued to bicker, Chrysalis couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that they were all able to refer to Sable and Celestia (despite not knowing that she was her other guardian) as her mom and dad. They made it look so easy.

When lunchtime rolled around, Sable Loam wasted no time hopping into his car and driving to the restaurant where he and his master chief petty officer would be having their little lunch meeting. Troubleshoes was good for his offer to talk over personal matters as friends, but it was Sable’s schedule that kept them from being able to meet all week until today. His lunch hour this week was always spent grading the assignments that he didn’t have time for after classes, owing to his need to manage SIREN affairs. The crunch was nothing he couldn’t handle, but it was definitely starting to take its toll. He was beginning to feel like he did a couple of months ago, before he’d hired Troubleshoes to shoulder some of the weight of SIREN.

In no time at all, Sable arrived at his destination, and he was greeted by the familiar sight of the large faux windmill looming over the parking lot of Windmills Diner and Bakery. It was funny that he had just been thinking about the time he’d hired Troubleshoes, as this very place was where the idea first came into his head.

Upon entering the establishment, Sable saw that Troubleshoes hadn’t arrived yet, so he grabbed a table, ordered a coffee and waited. Several minutes later, Troubleshoes came in the door and spotted him.

“Sorry if I’m late. Been having equipment trouble down at Hard Luck,” Troubleshoes said as he sat down. He then took a look at the restaurant around him. “Been a while since we came here.”

“Yeah. I know it’s only been a couple of months, but it feels longer,” Sable said.

“Considering how much has changed for both of us since then, it feels like a different lifetime.”

Sable gave an affirmative grunt. The past six months alone were such a whirlwind of change he could barely believe he had ever lived his life unentwined with Celestia, or even Sunset Shimmer. It was no wonder he was struggling to adapt to the change that brought him here.

The waitress came by and took both of their orders, and then they got down to…well, not business exactly. But the reason they were here sure felt that way.

“So, how are you finding being a father?” asked Troubleshoes with the hint of a grin.

Sable just sighed. “Feels like I haven’t slept since I got back.”

Troubleshoes laughed. “Yeah, that’s about how it goes. Just be thankful you missed the Terrible Twos. Or the crying into all hours of the night.”

Sable decided not to mention there’d been a bit of that. Chrysalis didn’t have nightmares every night, but there were plenty of times that he and Celestia would be awoken in the early morning hours to the sounds of anguish from the other room. Celestia would usually be the one to go comfort her, but after a while it was clear his girlfriend just needed to sleep, so Sable volunteered to check on their ward.

It was a painfully awkward affair whenever he did. Chrysalis would often be trembling and crying; receding into a place within herself so deep and dark she was barely cognisant of his presence. The first time, Sable had tried to comfort her with a hand on her shoulder, but that only drove her into hysterical panic and she’d instinctively spat slimy green bile in his direction—she’d sheepishly apologized after coming to her senses and fortunately changeling ichor didn’t require hazardous waste disposal. Still, every time since, Sable had simply sat next to her on the side of her bed and waited until she calmed down enough to ask her if she needed anything. Sometimes she asked for a glass of water, but most times she just asked him to leave. While Chrysalis had managed to open up a fair amount to Celestia, it was clear that she just wasn’t entirely comfortable around him yet.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think I’m ready for this,” Sable said.

“Like I said, that’s about how it goes,” Troubleshoes replied. “You think any parent is ever really ready?”

“That’s just the thing. I don’t…feel like I’m a parent to her. Right now, she’s just…she’s just this stranger who started living with us.”

Troubleshoes frowned. “You don’t feel any connection to her at all?”

“No, I do,” Sable said quickly enough. “Don’t get me wrong, I care about her. She saved Celestia’s life when some maniac took her hostage. And then when we found out everything she’d been through, I wanted to help her just as much as Celestia did.” Sable paused to figure out how to put his thoughts into words. “I guess…I’m starting to have doubts about whether I’m the right person to help her.”

“If you ask me, you’ve got it backwards: You’re the best person I can think of to help that girl.”

“How so?”

Troubleshoes looked at him evenly. “The triplets.”

Sable exhaled. “That’s different.”

“How so? Those three girls had been through hell too, and you didn’t hesitate to take them under your wing. From what they told me, the admiral of SIREN is a father figure to the girls under his command, and they certainly look up to you as one.”

“Chrysalis was never in the military, Troubleshoes. I can’t treat her like I treat the triplets. I want her to have a normal life for a girl her age, not just the next best thing.”

Troubleshoes smiled. “Yeah. That right there proves you are without a doubt the right person to help her. You just need to be patient. You remember how long it took Tirespin to open up to me?” Sable nodded. “All you need to do is keep showing her that you care about her, and she’ll come around just like Tires eventually did.”

It was at that moment that the waitress came by and dropped off their food, and the two men began to dig in.

“To tell you the truth, it’s not just getting her to open up that I’ve been worried about,” Sable said after they’d been eating in silence for a few minutes. Troubleshoes had his mouth full of the burger he was eating but gestured for Sable to elaborate.

So Sable did. “Chrysalis…she’s more than just a traumatized child. You know how they say that abuse is cyclical? She’s living proof.”

“Right, I think you mentioned she was a real dangerous enemy before you and Celestia took her in.”

“She was the dangerous enemy. The ponies over there mentioned her in the same tone we’d talk about Der Fuhrer or Il Duce.” Sable let out a sigh. “It just…hits me sometimes that this quiet, reserved young girl is a murderer and war criminal the likes of which we’ve never seen on this planet.”

Troubleshoes let out a breath and shook his head. “Now that, I can honestly say I have no advice for. Tirespin’s rebellious phase got pretty bad, but never ‘committing war crimes’ bad.”

“Make no mistake, I don’t think she’s about to start murdering people by the dozen or anything like that. But this is a person who’s spent so many years of her long life doing so much evil….”

“You think she might begin starting trouble?” Troubleshoes, and when Sable gave a very emphatic nod, Troubleshoes said, “Well, if that’s the case, my original advice still stands.”

“Show her that I care?” Sable asked.

“That’s right,” said Troubleshoes. “And sometimes showing your child that you care means straightening them out as needed.”

The school day passed without incident, and when the final bell rang, Chrysalis and her friends headed to the Sugarcube Corner Café. After about a week of hanging out with the three girls, Chrysalis was feeling comfortable enough to talk more openly about her interests. So, when the topic of good movies they’d seen recently came up, Chrysalis all too eagerly spoke up.

“Have any of you watched High School Musical?”

Diamond shrugged. “Once, when I was a kid.”

Chrysalis’s eyes lit up. “I just watched them for the first time this last week. Aren’t they great? The first one really got me excited to come to this school for the first time!”

She was about to go on about her favorite songs when she realized Diamond and the others were all laughing.

“Oh my God! Tell me you’re not serious!” Silver Spoon laughed.

“Those are kids’ movies, Chrysalis,” Diamond cackled.

“Golly, how could someone as scary-looking as you be such a child?” giggled Cozy Glow.

The four of them often ragged on each other good-heartedly. Chrysalis had learned early on that it was just the way these three interacted. But something about their laughter now tasted just a little too real to Chrysalis, and she found herself looking away.

“Uh, I was joking. Obviously,” Chrysalis said, in her heart apologizing to Zucchini Effluence. “I like those movies…ironically.”

“Oh good,” Silver Spoon said, still catching her breath from the laughter. “For a second there I thought we were gonna have to stage an intervention!”

They continued their way to the Corner, joking and gossiping. All except Chrysalis, who remained quiet. Why was she so upset about this anyway? They were just dumb movies. Dumb movies that brought her joy during a difficult and uncertain time in her life, but still.

Chrysalis forgot all about it once they entered the Corner. Her attention was immediately drawn to Diamond Tiara’s hateful scowl across the establishment, and the bitter feelings that came with it.

“Those bitches….”

Following her gaze, Chrysalis spotted the source of Diamond Tiara’s ire: a trio of familiar girls were all seated in a booth in the far corner of…well, the Corner. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo seemed to be simply drinking milkshakes and minding their own business, but Diamond Tiara looked at them like they’d just done something obscene.

“C’mon girls. Looks like a certain group of losers needs to be reminded of the pecking order,” Diamond Tiara said before closing in on the trio around the table.

Silver and Cozy fell in line quickly, and not knowing what else to do, Chrysalis followed them. Looming over their table, Diamond Tiara cleared her throat. The other three girls, who looked to be having a good time moments prior, turned to look at their group with evaporating smiles.

“What do you want, Diamond Tiara?” Apple Bloom asked.

“You’re in our spot.”

Your spot?” Apple Bloom asked incredulously. “What do you mean your spot? This is a public restaurant.”

Yeah!” Scootaloo added around a mouthful of donut.

“Not sure if you’ve noticed, but we sit here every Friday,” Silver Spoon said.

“So? There’s plenty of other tables for you to sit at,” Sweetie Belle said, trying to be reasonable.

“But this one’s got the best wifi in this dump—the router’s probably right on the other side of the wall—which I can’t help but notice you three aren’t making use of,” Diamond Tiara said. “Now, are you gonna be reasonable and move?”

“There’s plenty of other tables for you to sit at,” Cozy Glow mimicked Sweetie’s voice, mocking her with a sweet smile.

“Or what? You sluts gonna make us?” Scootaloo asked, taking a confident sip of her milkshake.

Diamond Tiara exchanged a look and a grin with Silver Spoon and Cozy Glow. The three of them then each grabbed one of the milkshakes in front of the other three girls and started walking away. Chrysalis could only watch as the situation spiraled out of control after that.

Hey!” shouted Apple Bloom, climbing out of the booth.

“Give those back!” Sweetie Belle cried as she and Scootaloo did the same.

“Those’re ours! We paid for ‘em!”

Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon and Cozy Glow set the milkshakes down at a nearby empty table and stepped aside (but not before Diamond sampled a bit of Apple Bloom’s shake). Cozy Glow even pulled out a chair with a courteous flourish. Without thinking, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo raced over to collect their absconded shakes…allowing Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon and Cozy Glow to take the unguarded booth.

Chrysalis didn’t even bat an eye at the cold cruelty of her friends, though with the benefit of hindsight she’d come to realize she should have said something. Presently though, Chrysalis simply went along with it. While Sunset Shimmer was the unquestioned queen of the school, Chrysalis had observed that Diamond Tiara was the queen of the junior years. As a former queen herself, Chrysalis understood that sometimes you had to kick a few asses to keep your kingdom running.

“Ugh, really Diamond?!” Apple Bloom exclaimed.

Diamond Tiara didn’t even look at her, having already pulled out her pink phone. “I’ve got important emails to write, can’t talk. Ooh, and look at how fast the wifi is!”

With a growl, Scootaloo grabbed Diamond Tiara by the arm and tried to yank her out of the booth.

“Hey! Fuck off!” Diamond exclaimed, responding to Scootaloo with a harsh shove that actually made the girl stumble back into Sweetie Belle.

“Alright, that’s it!” Scootaloo said, rolling up her sweater’s sleeves. Chrysalis saw her throw a wild punch towards Diamond and decided right then that she was going to put a stop to this ridiculous feud.

With lightning-fast reflexes, Chrysalis caught Scootaloo’s wrist just before her punch connected, and pulled her arm back. Chrysalis was tall for her age. It was, she suspected, one of the reasons why most of her peers were so intimidated by her. Now, Chrysalis used that for all it was worth as she held Scootaloo by the wrist and glared down at her.

“That’s enough,” she said calmly, before releasing Scootaloo with a shove.

“That’s right, just sit down at the kiddie table,” Silver said behind her.

“Yeah, don’t let your ‘fiery Latina temper’ get the better of you,” Diamond Tiara said. “You have your bright future as somebody’s maid to consider!”

With that, Scootaloo launched into an all-out assault, actually managing to surprise Chrysalis with a sucker punch to the jaw. It was nothing more than a slight detour on her way to her main destination, and Chrysalis had to recover quickly so she could hold the feral girl back from doing the same thing to Diamond.

SHOVE A SHAWARMA UP YOUR ASS YOU PLATE-SMASHING BITCH!!!” Scootaloo shouted at Diamond as Chrysalis desperately fought to hold her back.

The fuck is going on here?!

Everyone turned to see what appeared to be one of the restaurant’s servers: a young woman wearing glasses with short reddish-orange hair.

Immediately, Scootaloo stopped struggling and pointed at Chrysalis and her friends. “They took our—!”

But the server didn’t give her a chance to finish. “Oh, I saw what happened!” she then stepped closer and took a critical look at Chrysalis’s face. “Sit down, I’ll get you some ice for that.”

She then turned her attention to Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. “You three should leave.”

“But Rose, they started it!” Apple Bloom exclaimed.

I don’t care who started it, okay?!” the server—Rose, apparently—said, raising her voice and pointing at Scootaloo. “She’s the one who threw a punch! Or did one of them hit first?”

“Well…no, but—”

“Then there’s nothing more to discuss. You’re lucky the Cakes aren’t here, or they’d be calling the cops right now!”

Rose glared at the three girls, the implication in her words clear. Now that everything was starting to cool down, Chrysalis noticed an awful lot of heads were turned in their direction. She wasn’t the only one who noticed, either.

“C’mon, Scoots. Let’s go,” Sweetie Belle said softly, taking her friend by the arm as she looked around with big, worried eyes. “They’re not worth it.”

There was a still beat where Chrysalis wondered whether Scootaloo would fly at her again. Instead, she turned around and walked out with her friends, abandoning their milkshakes on the table.

Satisfied that the situation was resolved, the server Rose went to the back room—likely to get ice for Chrysalis’s face, which was beginning to throb—and Chrysalis sat down in the hard-won booth with her friends. The three of them were giggling about something or other when she did.

“Nice work, Chrys,” Silver Spoon said with a nod of approval, her eyes drifting to the spot on her face where Chrysalis suspected a bruise was forming. “Hope that doesn’t hurt too bad.”

“Let’s just say I’ve been in worse fights.”

“Right. Sorry about that. I didn’t think things would get so far out of hand,” Diamond said with a rueful shake of her head. “Those girls are completely unreasonable.”

“I guess,” Chrysalis said noncommittally. She then glanced at Diamond’s pink phone, sitting forgotten on the tabletop. “Did you really need the wifi that badly?”

“Hmm?” Diamond then looked down at her phone, seemingly for the first time since things escalated to violence. “Oh, no. This wasn’t about the wifi. This was about teaching them a lesson.”

That bitterness Chrysalis had been tasting throughout the entire encounter grew stronger in her mouth. “You really hate them, don’t you?”

Diamond sighed and leaned back. “They just get under my skin. Those three have no respect for anything, least of all us.”

Diamond was quiet for a moment, and the server came to their table with a pack of ice for Chrysalis, and the four of them paused their conversation to place their orders.

“To tell you the truth…Apple Bloom and I used to be friends when we were kids,” Diamond said when the server was gone.

“Really?” Chrysalis asked. “What happened?”

With a resigned shrug, Diamond said, “Eh. Kids grow up. At least, I did. I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I’m going into politics when I graduate. That’s why I want to fill Sunset Shimmer’s shoes at CHS when she’s gone. Gotta make as many connections as I can as early as I can, you know?”

The others all nodded in agreement.

“I don’t think Apple Bloom ever forgave me for moving on, though. Probably why she and her friends are always trying to get under my skin at every turn. Because the fact is, they’ve fallen behind us. They only care about collecting their stupid scout badges.”

“You want to know what I think?” Silver Spoon said. “They’re jealous of us. We’ve figured out what our calling in life is, and they haven’t. That’s probably why they’re so obsessed with ‘crusading’ for those merit badges. Those morons probably think getting the right badge will help them figure out who they are!”

“Yeah, which is totally dumb,” Cozy Glow added.

It made sense; Chrysalis supposed. And it reaffirmed that Chrysalis had made the right choice in friends. In all her teachings of the human world, Celestia had never taught Chrysalis about what kind of friends she should be making. But she did warn her that some kids were clear slackers who despite their teachers’ best efforts were going nowhere in life. Celestia seemed to trust Chrysalis to make her own choices, but the implication was clear: be careful not to befriend anyone who was going to drag you down. Chrysalis didn’t get the sense that things were like that with Diamond Tiara and her friends. Clearly they were going places.

Even so, the whole encounter left a bad taste in her mouth, and it wasn’t just the bitterness of Diamond’s hatred.

After enjoying her first milkshake with her friends, Chrysalis decided to head home early. She simply didn’t feel up to socializing anymore that day. Thankfully, Diamond and the others were understanding enough, and promised to see her at the mall the next day. So, Chrysalis made her way to the nearest bus stop, where someone was already waiting.

Apple Bloom stood alone under the bus shelter, rubbing her arms to stave off the autumn chill. She didn’t seem to have noticed Chrysalis yet (or if she did, she was trying very hard to ignore her), and Chrysalis had half a mind to take a walk around the block and wait to catch the next bus. Something about that didn’t sit right with her, and the longer she hung back, the more she realized what she was supposed to do. So taking a deep, nervous breath, Chrysalis approached Apple Bloom.

The freckle-faced girl remained oblivious to her even as Chrysalis was standing next to her, and Chrysalis noticed she was wearing earbuds. So, Chrysalis loudly cleared her throat, and Apple Bloom turned to look at her. The sudden look of surprise and terror on her face indicated to Chrysalis that Apple Bloom had not, in fact, merely been ignoring her. The redhead took a nervous step back and removed one of her earbuds.

“W-what do you want?” she asked, doing an admirable job of keeping her voice steady.

Chrysalis took another deep breath to calm her nerves. Here goes…. “I’m sorry.”

Apple Bloom’s brow furrowed, instantly transforming the scared look on her face to one of confusion.

“What happened at the Corner…that wasn’t cool, and I’m sorry for the role I played in that,” Chrysalis continued, feeling very small despite her generous height.

Apple Bloom blinked as she tried to gather her thoughts. “That’s…okay, I guess.”

Okay, I did the right thing. Now to quietly wait for the bus. But Chrysalis quickly found the silence uncomfortable as another minute passed without any sign of public transportation. That, and she realized this was the perfect time to sate some of her curiosity.

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?” Chrysalis asked. Apple Bloom shrugged, so Chrysalis took that as an OK to proceed. “Why does she hate you so much?”

With a bitter laugh, Apple Bloom said, “We used to be friends when we were kids. Like, really young. Did she mention that to you?”

Chrysalis nodded, and Apple Bloom asked, “I’m curious, what did she tell you about that?”

“Not much, to be honest. Just that you grew apart as you got older, but I know there’s more to it than that,” Chrysalis said. “She carries a lot of resentment towards you.”

“Yeah well, the feeling’s mutual,” Apple Bloom said with a bitter edge to her voice. In spite of that though, Chrysalis could not taste nearly as much bitter hatred in Apple Bloom as she could in Diamond Tiara. “We did start growing apart as we got older. That much she was honest about.”

Apple Bloom paused to think, pulling her flannel jacket tighter around herself. “It was mostly on her end, though. I think when we started middle school, she started being embarrassed to be seen with me. Started hanging out with girls like Silver Spoon who were more ‘her class’, y’know?

“It made me angry. I wanted to lash out at her, so…I did something stupid.”

Apple Bloom didn’t say anything else, but Chrysalis was curious. “What did you do?”

For a moment, Apple Bloom seemed to mull over whether to tell her. Whatever her decision would have been, the sound of a bus’s engine as it turned the corner and pulled to a stop in front of them cut it short. Apple Bloom wordlessly got on, paid her fare, and Chrysalis did the same. Thinking their conversation over, Chrysalis took a seat near the front.

“Mind if I ask you something now?”

Chrysalis turned to see Apple Bloom standing next to her seat, holding onto one of the bars as the bus started to move.

“Why do you hang out with her, anyway?” Apple Bloom asked. She then said something that surprised her. “You seem like a pretty decent kid. So why Diamond Tiara?”

Chrysalis licked her lips. “I know she’s a little rough around the edges, but she’s not bad.”

“Not bad?! Did you forget everything you saw back there?” Apple Bloom hissed, careful not to raise her voice with a decently sized crowd of evening commuters present. “That little stunt with the milkshakes is far from the worst thing she’s done to me and my friends over the years!”

Spotting an empty seat further down the bus, Apple Bloom started towards it. “Just wait until you get to know her better. You’ll see what I mean.”

The sun was going down when Chrysalis arrived home. Sable and Celestia were both already home, and Chrysalis called out with a “hello” before going straight to her room, where she spent the rest of the evening on the internet until dinner. Celestia’s eyes widened when Chrysalis sat down at the table, and she immediately realized something was wrong.

“Oh my God. Chrysalis, is that a bruise?!” Celestia exclaimed, immediately coming closer to get a better look at her face.

After the milkshakes with her friends and her talk with Apple Bloom on her way home, Chrysalis had forgotten all about the bruise Scootaloo had left when she hit her. She probably could have hidden it with her shapeshifting magic if she hadn’t forgotten. So stupid!

“Jesus, how did this happen?” Celestia asked as she brushed aside Chrysalis’s long bangs to get a better view.

Chrysalis couldn’t quite bring herself to look Celestia in the eyes at that moment, and stared at her feet as she desperately tried to think of how she was going to explain what happened to her.

“Chrysalis…” Celestia said in that tone. The one she only used when she suspected Chrysalis had done something wrong.

“Someonepunchedme.”

“What was that?”

“I said ‘Someone punched me’,” Chrysalis said, still not quite able to look Celestia in the eye, but that didn’t stop her from trying.

Celestia sighed and said, “Okay, that’s what I thought. Thankfully it doesn’t look too swollen, but I’ll get you some ice for it anyway.”

“Thanks,” Chrysalis said meekly as Celestia went to the kitchen.

That left Chrysalis alone with Sable, which under normal circumstances was awkward enough. Now though, the big man was studying her with suspicious eyes, and it made Chrysalis want to shrink away. She couldn’t help but remember when she’d seen that same look in the eyes of his counterpart in Equestria so long ago. Even when she was under the effects of Sombra’s mind control drug, Loam never trusted her. That might have been why he’d been so rough with her when he….

“Chrysalis, you didn’t get that in a fight, did you?” Sable asked, his deep voice stern and cold. The memories that came with it made her tense up and shiver.

“No.”

“Chrysalis, don’t lie to me. How did you get that?”

Chrysalis did her best to hide behind her bangs. “There…there was this girl at the Sugarcube Corner. She tried to attack my friends, and when I tried to stop her….”

Sable just folded his arms and shook his head. “You think I can’t tell when someone’s bullshitting me, Chrysalis?”

“But—”

“I hear half-truths like that all the time at work, so be honest. Did you get in a fight?

Finally, Chrysalis got annoyed enough that Sable’s cold stare and the memories it brought no longer scared her – they made her furious, instead. “Oh, why the fuck do you care anyway?! YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!

The words caused a crack to form in the armor that was Sable’s glare, so Chrysalis pressed her attack without stopping to think about it.

“I know you only tolerate me because of Celestia, so fucking stop PRETENDING TO CARE!”

Another devastating hit to Sable’s authoritative glare. Chrysalis expected it to feel satisfying, but somehow, it wasn’t.

CRISALIDE DELLA LUCCA! Celestia stood in the doorway, a Ziploc bag full of ice from the freezer hanging from her hand, forgotten beneath her own icy glare. “Do not raise your voice at us, young lady!”

All of the wind went out of her sails under Celestia’s gaze. In her two weeks of living with her, Chrysalis had never seen Celestia look so angry before. The one woman in Chrysalis’s more than one thousand years of living to have opened her home and heart to her, and Chrysalis had wronged her enough to make her look at her the way the other Celestia looked at her.

“I’m sorry,” Chrysalis croaked around her tightening throat.

“Finish your dinner and go to your room,” Celestia ordered. “Then Sable and I are going to have a talk about whether you’re grounded for the weekend.”

“Yes Celestia.” Chrysalis decided right then that she didn’t want to have an awkward quiet meal with two righteously pissed off legal guardians, so she took her plate of food and retreated to her room, ruminating about how badly she’d screwed things up after only her second week on Earth.

Of course, someone as broken and fucked up as I am can’t help but break and fuck up every good thing that could happen to me!



In the kitchen, Sable pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a long, tired sigh.

“Well, that went well,” Celestia sighed as she sat down at the table.

“Maybe I was too hard on her,” Sable said.

“I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but you definitely came in guns blazing a bit.”

“Once a Ranger, always a Ranger,” Sable said with a dry chuckle. Then he was quiet, staring forlornly at the food on his plate.

“Hey, she didn’t mean what she said to you, okay?” Celestia said, reaching across the table to put her hand on his. “I know you wouldn’t be so hard on her if you didn’t care, and I think she knows it too.”

“Thanks, Tia, but I’m just at my wits’ end on what to do with her,” Sable said. “The truth is, she just doesn’t trust me the way she trusts you.”

“Unfortunately, I think you’re right,” Celestia said. “Tell you what: if we’re grounding her for the weekend, I’ll be the one to break it to her. Hearing it from you probably won’t endear you to her any.”

The two started eating their dinner (which had already started to get cold), silently brainstorming what they were going to do about the Chrysalis situation. Sable remembered how excited Chrysalis had been to go to the mall tomorrow, as well as his conversation with Troubleshoes at lunch earlier in the day.

“Actually, I think she should go. It'll be the first time in her life she'll actually get to experience spending a day out with friends. I'm not taking that away from her.”

Celestia tilted her head. “Well, we can’t just let her off the hook. She needs to understand that kind of behavior has consequences.”

“Don’t worry. I just got an idea.” Sable smiled, and Celestia knew then that he had everything worked out.