• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive



The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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108. The Worry

Radish Root stood sentry over the palace’s eastern parapet. It was a cloudy day. He scanned the palace commons and the world outside for trouble. He didn’t see any.

Rainbow Dash hovered over to him. She technically wasn’t allowed to fly over the parapets, but Radish was beyond trying to stop her anymore.

“Hey, uh, Radish?”

“Hello, Rainbow Dash.”

“Could you meet Twilight out back? She needs, uh… could you just meet her out back?”

“Sure.”

Radish went to the palace’s rear commons. Twilight sat huddled on one of the benches off to the side. Her wings were pulled around her body, and her head was drooped over her knees. She looked exhausted.

“Twilight?”

“Oh. Hi.”

“Are you okay?”

She shook her head. He sat down next to her.

“I went back to the human world,” she said, staring at the ground.

“Oh?”

“There were these villains- sirens- spreading dark magic and stirring up hatred. We beat them with music in a Battle of the Bands.”

“That sounds fun.”

“I even figured out how to stabilize the mirror, so anyone could go back or forth at any time.”

“That’s huge!”

“And Flash was there. Once he was free from the dark magic, we got a chance to talk. We talked for hours, actually.”

“Oh?”

“We… he… you see, the two of us, we…”

“Uh…”

“We kissed. It was my first kiss, Radish.”

“Wow, that’s great!”

“I mean, my first real kiss. I know I’ve kissed you, on the cheek-”

“I get it.”

“Not that that wasn’t real!”

“No, I know what you mean.”

“But that was like a fun, princessly thing between friends.”

“Uh huh.”

“With Flash, it was different. It was on the lips. It kept going. It was amazing. Electric. My whole body felt warm.”

“I’m happy for you.”

“Then we opened our mouths slightly, and-”

“I don’t need the details.”

“Well, we ended up making a date.”

“Congrats.”

“But I had to break it. Fluttershy needed my help returning a baby squonk to its mother.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“But we made a new date. There was another school dance coming up.”

Radish waited for her to continue.

“I had to break that, too. Ponyville was in trouble. Worm wizards.”

“I see...”

“It’s not going to work out, is it? I’m too busy. Our lives are too different.”

“Hey, a lot of couples lead really different lives. They make it work. I only see Light on my days off.”

“I don’t even get days off. I don’t want him to just be sitting around, waiting for me. It’s not fair to him.”

“Twi, what are you saying?”

“I think I need to let him go… or really, I need to set him free.”

“But he likes you, right?”

“Yes. And I like him. That’s why I have to end it before I hurt him too much.”

“Twilight, don’t. It’s just logistics. You’re good at figuring out schedules and stuff.”

“I am. And every way I’ve looked at it, every way I’ve mapped out our futures… we don’t have one together. And I know there are a lot of great girls on his side that he’d be happy with.”

“Twilight… you’re worth waiting around for.”

She smiled.

“Radish… thanks for trying. Thanks for encouraging. You’re a good friend. And now I have to be a good friend. I have to tell him to move on. It’s my decision to make, and it’s for the best.”

“I’m sorry.”

He tentatively held out his hooves to hug her. She nodded, and he put them around her. She leaned into him.

“I don’t even know why I’m so upset. I mean, what was I going to do? Stay in the human world with him? Go to human school? Have a human wedding? Have a bunch of human children out of my human… body?”

“You want children?”

“Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. That’s the kind of thing you only have to think about when you have a boyfriend.”

Radish’s first instinct was to tell her she’d make a great mother, but that didn’t seem helpful now. He just held her tighter and rubbed the back of her head. She put her head on his chest, and he put his chin on her head.

“I failed with two versions of the same guy. That has to be a record.”

“Come on, neither was your fault.”

“I suppose not.”

“Hey, look,” Radish said, lifting her chin to look her in the eyes. “There’s a guy out there for you. And right now, he doesn’t even realize how happy he’ll be when he finds you.”

“Maybe.”

“Definitely. You’re still the smartest pony I know,” Radish said, touching his hoof to her muzzle. “You’re still cute as a button, tough as nails, and sharp as a tack. You’re a world-saving hero princess who punches villains through mountains. You’re an amazing mare. The guy you end up with will be the luckiest guy in the world.”

Twilight’s wings fluttered a bit. She fidgeted her hooves.

“Hey, Radish…”

“Yeah?”

She looked down.

“If you hadn’t… I mean, could you have… do you think we’d…” she fumbled, trying to get a grip on the idea.

“I see you ending up with a really cool guy,” Radish quickly said. “Like a noble prince, or some legendary wizard.”

“Really?”

“I bet you’ll end up going back in time and marrying Starswirl himself. You know, when he was young and handsome.”

“Starswirl never married.”

“That’s what the history books say because you wrote them that way. You didn’t want your future self to know too much before it was time.”

“Yeah?”

“You teach him everything he knows. And the two of you fight evil as a couple. All the ladies of that age are envious of you, and all the guys are envious of him.”

“But he disappeared.”

“No, the two of you saw a much bigger threat out there, and had to leave our world to fight it. You’re still fighting it now, somewhere across time and space.”

“But I never see my friends and family again? I never see you again?”

“You’ll eventually return to Equestria in its hour of need. You’d never leave us hanging for long.”

“It’s a nice story.”

“You’re destined for greatness, Twilight.”

“I’d never have gotten anywhere without my friends.” She squeezed him. “Any greatness I have comes from knowing them. Including you.”

“Twilight, I’ll find you a guy. I promise.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she said. She yawned.

“I do. You helped me meet Light. It’s only fair, remember?”

“I shouldn’t have put that on you. Friends don’t keep track.”

“How about Joe? He’s good-looking.”

“Yeah? Maybe…”

“My buddy Spats is really smart. Good manners. Very well-groomed.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“We could go back to the café. I’ll be your wingpony.”

“Hmm.”

Radish felt her body get heavier. He looked down at her. She was sleeping against him. He shifted, trying to give her a more comfortable position. She made a contented sigh, and her full weight rested on him.

He sat there with her for a few minutes. Her closed eyelids twitched. Occasionally, her wing would spasm. A few ponies going about the palace regarded them and smiled before going on their way. Radish could tell from a shadow on the ground that Rainbow Dash had flown over them to check, but quickly sped away.

“Radish…” Twilight muttered through her sleep.

He looked at her, not knowing if he should answer.

“…can’t tell Radish…” she said, almost whispering.

Well, that could mean anything, he thought.

“…cutie marks…”

Radish’s heart twisted. He looked around, then leaned and whispered into her ear.

“What about cutie marks?”

Twilight let out a soft snore. Radish leaned back and sighed. After a few more minutes, he could feel her body tense, then fidget. She made a fearful whine under her breath.

“No… stop!”

Her legs kicked in panic. Radish was at a loss, wondering if it was his job to protect a princess from a nightmare. He looked up at Luna’s tower. She only patrolled dreams at night- she was asleep now, unavailable to do anything about a mid-day nightmare.

“Please stop!” Twilight moaned.

Would Luna tell Radish to interfere and wake her up? Or let her handle her own nightmare?

Then, Twilight started to cry. She sobbed into Radish, as if being tormented. Radish had had enough. He hugged Twilight with just a little too much pressure, and she shuddered awake. She lifted her head and looked around, confused, then looked up at Radish’s face. Her eyes were red and her facial fur was wet.

“Oh… sorry,” she mumbled. “Didn’t mean to hold you up.”

“No worries. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just a weird dream.”

“Okay.”

“You can let me go now.”

“Okay.”

Radish released her. She stumbled off the bench.

“I’ll see you later, okay?” she said. She looked around the commons, as if trying to remember the way out of the palace.

“Okay.”

She walked away. Radish frowned.

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