• 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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76. The Anticipation

Radish Root and Light Fantastic stood in an alleyway a block from the Crystal Empire’s main public library. Radish looked at his watch. Twilight was running behind.

“I didn’t think our first date to the CE would involve Twilight Sparkle as a third wheel, hon,” said Light.

“She just needs a little help with this guy. And we owe her for bringing us together. Once they’re dating, she’ll probably spend all her free time with him. Then you and I can come here for real.”

“But they live like a thousand miles apart. Aren’t we just setting her up to fail?”

“Well, he could always transfer back.”

“Oh, yeah, imagine that request: ‘Sir, I’d like to transfer back to Canterlot so I can bang your sister.’ ‘No prob, Flash. Here, take a rubber.’”

“Ugh.”

“So, why is she so hot for this Flash guy, anyway?”

“He’s just that dreamy, I guess. I know he’ll treat her right. Or at least let her down easy.”

“And he’s a guard with a yellow coat, too? Maybe she’s sublimating her feelings for you by chasing a similar guy.”

“He’s a pegasus. Maybe she’s sublimating her feelings for you, too.”

“She should’ve just asked us for a threesome, then. Save a lot of trouble.”

“Oh really, Fan?”

“No. Don’t even think about it. I don’t care if she is a princess- I don’t share.”

Princess Twilight Sparkle appeared between them in a burst of teleportation magic. Light yelped and jumped back. Radish instinctively raised a hoof in self-defense, then lowered it.

“Twilight! So good to see you again! And without warning!” Light said, catching her breath.

“Thanks for coming, you guys. It’s good to see you again, Light. Well, how do I look? Rarity picked this outfit for me- she said it’s what the cool ponies wear for clubbing these days. I changed in the library’s bathroom and teleported here directly so nopony would know what I’m up to!”

Twilight was wearing an olive drab skirt, a black T-shirt for a band Radish didn’t know, and a denim jacket. There were no cutouts for her wings.

“You’re hiding your wings? You just got them,” said Radish.

“I’m not trying to get recognized as a princess. I’m here for one guy, and he already knows who I am. Oh, but would you like to see them, Light?”

“Uh, sure.”

Twilight pulled off her jacket and drew her shirt up to her neck. Radish moved to put his body between her and the alley entrance to block the view of any curious passers-by.

Light poked Twilight’s wings. “Wow. I’m touching an alicorn.”

Twilight giggled.

“And your wings are bigger than mine,” grumbled Light.

“Well, yours are very lovely, Light. I’m still learning how to control all the feathers.”

“You know, there’s this thing you can do with your primary feathers that can drive a stallion wild,” Light said, dipping her head toward Twilight.

“Oh?” Twilight asked, bending forward in interest.

“Yeah, Rad loves it. Come here, Rad- let’s show her.”

“No.”

“Oh, well. I’ll tell you later.”

“Can we get a move on?” asked Radish.

“Not before you tell me how I look,” said Twilight, replacing her shirt and jacket.

“You look fine, Twilight,” Radish quickly said.

“Do I, Light?” asked Twilight.

Light looked her up and down. She shrugged. “Well, we can work with this. Come here.”

She hastily made a few revisions to Twilight’s ensemble- untucking her shirt, rolling up the sleeves of the jacket, tearing a long slit in the skirt, and curling her mane in a rather un-princess-like fashion. She stepped back to appraise her own work.

“What do you think, Rad? If you saw her in a club, would you try to pick her up?”

“I’m not answering that.”

“Radish, please. I need a stallion’s perspective on this. Am I… attractive?” Twilight asked anxiously.

Radish sighed. “Twilight, you are a very pretty pony.”

Twilight looked down and smiled.

“Wow, Twilight,” said Light, nudging her, “that’s high praise coming from a guy who’s obsessed with Celestia.”

“Oh, still?” asked Twilight, looking at Radish.

“No,” said Radish quickly. Then he added, “But I’d like to see her in denim.”

“I was asking for that,” sighed Light. “Let’s go.”

They strolled down the streets of the Crystal Empire’s nightlife district. The sidewalks were full of ponies, crystal and otherwise, who mingled, laughed, and waited in long lines for clubs. Music could be heard from all around, coming from restaurant patios, bars, and outdoor stages. Light took the lead, excited to see the places her Canterlot friends had recommended.

“Okay, next venue, ‘The Open Door’,” Light said, looking up at the club. “Dumb name for a place. Looks like the band Victory Spirit is playing tonight.”

“I think I’ve heard that name,” said Twilight. “Yeah! Flash was a fan! There was an equivalent band in the human world!”

“Twilight, that’s classified!” hissed Radish.

“Classified, my hoof. I’m not keeping a whole other world a secret, no matter what my brother says.”

“If that’s the case, I have a ton of questions,” said Radish. “About their technology, weapons…”

“Not now, okay? I get enough of that from Shining.”

“Wait, hold on,” said Light. “All that stuff about a mirror world is true? I owe Splash Page ten bits.”

“Fan, you should never bet against Twilight Sparkle making life weirder.”

“Very funny, Radish,” sighed Twilight.

“And you really had a different body?” asked Light. “Like, a primate species?”

“Yes.”

“And you were attracted to one of them?”

“Is that so wrong!?” Twilight hissed defensively. “No one else judged me for it!”

“Hey, girl, no judgment! I think you’re a pioneer!” laughed Light. “I’m sure someday everyone will be dating across dimensions.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“Do you think you could draw me some of these humans sometime?” asked Light. “They might make cool figurines.”

“Two-legged action figures?” asked Radish. “How would they even stand up?”

“Huh. Good point.”

“Human Flash did this thing where he leaned back on one leg,” reminisced Twilight. “And sometimes he’d lean against the wall, just looking cool.”

“Uh, but we’re here for the pegasus Flash, right?” asked Radish.

“Right! Yes!” said Twilight, snapping out of it.

“Well, maybe he leans on walls, too,” said Light, nudging Twilight.

They pushed open the closed door of The Open Door. A grungy band was playing on stage, fronted by a white pegasus with a short-cropped black mane. Ponies were milling about, most on the floor, some in booths, some at the bar. The three took a booth and peered around.

“I’ll check the bathroom,” said Radish.

“You’ve been to the bathroom at every place we’ve been tonight,” said Twilight, giving him a worried glance.

“What can I say? I love bathrooms made entirely of crystal.”

Radish trotted into The Open Door’s bathroom. He saw what he was looking for. There was a stack of fliers on the sink. He read the one on top, pocketed it, then dumped the rest into the trash.

He went to rejoin Twilight and Light Fantastic at their table, but as he walked, he saw something on the other end of the club that made his heart shudder. He quickened his pace.

“Everything come out all right?” Light asked with a wink.

“You know, I think this place is dead. Let’s go check out that dive across the street,” said Radish.

“In a minute. So, Twilight, was there a human Radish?”

“I didn’t see one.”

“But there was a human Celestia, right? Maybe they’re together in that world.”

“Uh huh,” said Twilight, looking around the room.

“Fan, I’m sure you and I are together in every world,” said Radish.

“Oh? Like it’s cosmic destiny, babe?”

“Would you two quit… oh my!” squealed Twilight. “It’s him!”

Twilight’s wings fluttered under her clothes as she put her hooves on the table. Radish grimaced, and braced himself. Light craned her neck to look.

Through the shifting crowd, they could see Flash Sentry at a table along the far wall. He wore casual clothes and had his mane down to the side.

He was with a female crystal pony. She was sitting very close.

“Uh, they’re probably just friends,” said Radish. “Coworkers.”

Twilight stared at them, frozen. Flash leaned in and kissed the mare.

“Maybe it’s a break-up kiss?” offered Radish.

The mare kissed back. They pulled each other close and passionately made out.

Twilight slowly turned her head at Radish. Her face was filled with an expression that struck fear into the back of his skull.

“Twilight,” said Light Fantastic. “It’s okay. It’s- wow, they’re really going at it. In public. Way to go, Flash Sentry.”

Twilight slipped under the table and climbed out the other side. She left for the door.

“Come on,” said Radish.


Princess Twilight Sparkle sat at an outdoor picnic table, staring down at the ice cream Radish had bought her from a sidewalk stand. It was melting into a goop in its cup. She had said nothing since seeing Flash.

“Look,” said Radish. “This was always a possibility. Some things are out of our control.”

Twilight made a small wheezing sound.

“Honey?” asked Radish to Light.

“What?”

“Can’t you do some kind of, I don’t know, girl talk with her?”

“Girl talk?” she asked, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah. Now.”

“Twilight, sweetie. I don’t know you very well, or that Flash guy at all, but look at it this way: we’re out in the coolest corner of the coolest part of Equestria. I bet we can find you a way hotter guy here within ten minutes.”

“Light!” yelled Radish.

Twilight made a small twittering sound. Then, she cackled.

“Oh good, she’s laughing about it now,” said Light.

Twilight threw her head back and laughed.

“We just met. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, but he hooked up with the first floozy to flounce his way!”

“Come on, you can’t blame him for meeting someone,” said Radish. “Love just strikes you. You can’t control it.”

“Aww,” said Light, sweetly, “is that how you felt with me?”

“Yeah,” he said, snuggling into her.

Twilight looked at Radish and bared her teeth.

“Oh, I don’t blame him. I blame you.”

“Me? What did I do?”

You encouraged me to come all the way here! You told me all about how wonderful he is! You said we’d make a nice couple!”

“I was trying to help you!”

“Why did this happen?” she moaned, leaning back. “This shouldn’t have happened!”

“Twilight, it was your first crush,” said Light. “And granted, it was later than most get theirs, but…”

“Light!” yelled Radish.

“You’re going to have your heart broken many, many times before you find the right one,” said Light, patting Twilight.

“For Celestia’s sake, Light!”

“No. I’m not ever going to get my heart broken again. No one is!” announced Twilight.

Her horn glowed with an intense red light and her eyes drained of their color into solid white. She winglessly floated off her bench. The table started shaking, and the food on it slipped to the sidewalk. Ponies around them turned and stared.

“Honey, what’s happening?” asked Light.

“I don’t know! It must be an alicorn thing!”

A blast of wind burst from Twilight in all directions. Napkins and hats flew off into the street.

“Hey, watch the magic, sister!” called out a nearby pony. Twilight whipped around to look at him in disdain. He cowered.

“It’s okay, everypony,” said Radish, standing up and addressing the crowd. “She’s just having a little stallion trouble, nothing to see here.”

Twilight whipped around again to hauntingly gaze into him. He froze.

“Oh, honey, just forget him,” said a large mare at the next table. “Guys aren’t worth losing your mind over.”

Some of the crowd muttered in assent. Then, a column of light burst skyward from Twilight. The wind from her increased and swirled, forming a small twister around her hovering form. Radish was starting to get pushed back. He gripped the table.

“Why should I get my heart broken when I did nothing wrong?” she growled. Her voice sounded like several instances of her all shouting over each other. “It should have worked out!”

“Twilight, honey, that’s just life!” said Light Fantastic, flapping against the gale.

“Well, not anymore! I’m changing life! I’m changing it forever!” Twilight roared.

“What does she mean by that?” called Light to Radish over the wind.

Radish shook his head, worriedly.

The ponies around them backed up or fled. The ice cream seller closed the shutter of his stand.

“Rad!” called Light, “You have to calm her down!”

“How!?”

“Kiss her!”

“What!?”

“Do it! Use tongue!”

WHAT!?

“It’ll work! Trust me!”

Radish squinted into the wind. He pulled himself along the table toward Twilight. He strained to reach her with his hoof.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle!?” called a voice. The cyclone and column of light vanished. Twilight fell out of the air, hit the edge of the table, and bounced to the ground. She shakingly looked up.

Flash Sentry and the crystal mare were there, holding hooves, with shocked expressions on their faces.

“Oh no,” squeaked Radish to himself.

Flash looked at Radish. Their eyes locked, and an understanding wordlessly passed between them. The crystal mare looked at Light, and the same passed between them. The ponies who had scooted back were now scooting forward. The ice cream seller peeked from under his shutter.

Flash approached Twilight and held out a hoof to help her up. She stared at it, eyes twitching. She let him pull her off the ground. She then took a step back, fixed her mane, and cleared her throat.

“Ah yes, I remember you. You are that helpful guard from the palace. It is so very nice to see you again!” she said, giving a polite and regal nod. Radish hadn’t heard her sound this forcibly fake since the Hearth’s Warming play.

“Uh, yeah. I mean, it’s nice to see you again, too, your highness,” said Flash. “Are you okay?”

“I am fine. I merely suffered a leg cramp and fell over. We simply must stop meeting like this!”

“Oh? Okay.”

“And who is this lovely lady upon your hoof?”

The crystal mare cowered behind Flash. “Uh, I’m Shinethrough.”

“What a delightful name. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Shinethrough. I hope I have not disrupted your date tonight.”

She hugged into Flash tightly. “No, everything’s fine.”

“Glad to hear it. Please take good care of him, miss. I wish you two all the happiness in the world.”

“I will,” she said, more confidently.

“Now, if you will excuse me, I must make my train. Farewell, and good health.”

“Goodbye, Princess Twilight Sparkle,” said Flash. He and Radish exchanged nods. Light winked at Shinethrough, who didn’t catch her meaning.

Twilight trotted off, her pace quickening as she rounded the street corner. Radish and Light found her on the other side, slumped against the wall, staring at the sky.

“Twilight, I’m sorry,” said Radish.

“Yeah. He was hot,” said Light. Radish shot her a scowl.

“I’m fine. I’ll be fine. Thank you both. I think I need to go home now.”

“Come on,” said Radish, helping her up and giving her a squeeze. “I think you were very brave. And you let everyone save face, except you. You’ll be one heck of a good princess.”

Twilight groaned. “Oh my gosh, did I almost go Nightmare Twilight over a guy? That could have been a disaster! Please don’t tell anypony.”

“Don’t worry. Good guards don’t gossip,” replied Radish.

“And I don’t know how I’d describe any of this, Purple Squirt,” said Light.

“Purple Squirt?”

“That’s what she calls you,” replied Radish. “I tell her not to.”

“I like it,” said Twilight. “Good use of assonance.”

“Hey, we actually do have to make our train,” Light said.


The train ride home was silent. Twilight sat by the window, staring out at the expanses flying by. Light Fantastic sat beside her, sleepily leaning into Radish. Radish held his hoof around Light, stroking her softly. Twilight looked at Radish, then to Light, then back to Radish.

Radish made the Plains Rangers gesture for, “Do you need assistance?”

She responded with the signs for, “All clear” and “Thank you”.

The train creaked into Ponyville in the dark. Twilight slipped off the bench and brushed past Light and Radish. Before exiting the car, she turned back and made the gesture for “End of watch”, with a directional indicator from Radish to herself. Then, she left.

Radish put his head back and gave Light Fantastic a gentle squeeze. He leaned his head on hers.

No, Twilight. I’ll never stop watching out for you. I owe you too much.

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