• Published 23rd May 2022
  • 435 Views, 20 Comments

Two-Player Game - mushroompone

Rainbow Dash is determined to reclaim the top-scoring spot on her favorite arcade cabinet.

  • ...

Level Five

“I’m never going to beat this game,” I whined, falling forward onto the controls as the cabinet counted down to my doom.

“You’re doing so much better, though!” Cheerilee put a hoof on my back and rubbed encouragingly between my wings. “I can see it. You’re improving like crazy. You’ve expanded your moveset by leaps and bounds!”

“It doesn’t matter,” I moaned. “I’m never, never, ever going to win. I’m just gonna be number two on the cabinet for the rest of my natural life.”

Cheerilee giggled. “Well, in that case, thanks for making me look good.”


She giggled again.

It was a nice sound.

Like, really nice.


I whipped my head around and looked at the entrance. Starlight was standing in the open door waving to me, looking a little bit frazzled.

“One sec,” I said before zipping off.

Then, on second thought—

I zipped back.

“Don’t you dare beat me while I’m gone.”

Cheerilee laughed. “No promises, Rainbow.”

She took her spot at the controls. After a moment’s hesitation, I did my best to let go of the perfectionism, and went careening back to the door.

“You’re still here?” Starlight asked.

I scoffed. “I mean. Not still,” I said. “I just come here in the afternoon to play Hoof-to-Hoof with Cheerilee.”

Starlight blinked. “You… do?” she asked.


“How many afternoons?”

“Uh…” I scratched the back of my head. “Most of them?”

“And she’s done her grading?” Starlight asked, craning her neck around me to see… well, I dunno what she thought she was going to see, but she sure was looking.

“Yeah, duh,” I said. “It’s, like, way after Hearth's Warming. Grades have been due for ages now.”


Starlight stood in the door, silently and shrewdly observing the situation. Judging by the look on her face, she saw some pretty heinous things, as is expected in the worst restaurant on the planet.

I sighed. “Can I help you?”

Starlight shook her head to clear away the daze. “Uh. I actually just came by to get food, if you can believe it.”

“Great,” I said. “Get food, then.”

Starlight sighed. “If I just leave you to your own devices you’re never going to ask her out, are you?” she asked.

I blinked.

Starlight blinked back.

“I… huh?”

“Wow, that Hayburger food really is rotting your brain,” she said. “She’s been hanging out with you every single day in this smelly awful place?”

I scoffed. “It’s not that bad.”

“I’m literally watching a full-grown stallion drink soda directly from the dispenser.”

I looked over my shoulder.

Starlight was not kidding.

“Yeah, but—”

“Don’t you have to buy food to play the games? What in Celestia’s name are you eating?”

“Mostly just coffee!” I argued. “A-and sometimes hayfries. And one time a sandwich.”

Starlight looked disgusted.

“You’re literally here to pick up food!”

“Not every day!” Starlight argued.

Then she sighed.

"Look. I'm just saying. I wouldn't hang around a place like this unless I really liked the mare I was hanging out with," she said. "And I mean, like… I really liked her."


Maybe that was kinda fair.

I looked back over my shoulder at Cheerilee, who was methodically beating the crap out of yet another pixelated pro wrestler. Her tail swished along the floor.



"You win!"

The very first thing she did when she won was look for me. When she caught my eye, she waved and beamed with pride, even though she'd repeatedly kicked my flank at the game.

I think I just stood there like a statue.

Starlight smirked and waved politely.

Cheerilee had no idea who she was, but she smiled and waved politely in return, only with a twinge of confusion in her face.

"Seriously, Rainbow," Starlight said. "Remember how I said I was your coach?"

I rolled my eyes. "Uh-huh."

"You asked what I was coaching you in?"

"Yeah. I remember."

Starlight smirked and nodded once. "Great. I'm coaching you in life," she said. "Please go ask out the mare who's clearly into you so you can stop hanging out in a disgusting foal's restaurant. I'm literally begging you."

She gave me a pat on the shoulder, not waiting for me to respond, and brushed past me to get in line.

My mouth hung open for a long moment as I tried to think of something witty or snarky to say in return. Nothing came to mind, and so I turned, defeated, and trotted back over to the cabinet.

"You think you're ready for another go?" Cheerilee asked brightly. "Or are you already quitting for the day?"

"I, uh…" I rubbed the back of my head, thoroughly mussing my mane in the process. "Y'know, I think I'm done."

Cheerilee's smile faded. "Oh. O-okay," she said softly. "Well, we can meet back here tomorrow at--"

"Let's not," I said. "I think I'm kinda over this place."

Cheerilee tried to reply, but was cut off by the piercing scream of yet another unhappy foal.

She cleared her throat. "That's… fair," she said, with a forced giggle. "Well, alright. So I guess I'll--"

"Why don't we go someplace nicer?" I suggested.

That caught her by surprise.

"I-it doesn't have to be, like, a lot nicer," I corrected. "Y'know. We could go eat outside at Cafe Hay or something. O-or, if you'd like to play some games that aren't quite as sticky, you could, uh… you could come over my place."

Cheerilee blinked. "Don't you live in Cloudsdale?"

I smacked my forehead with one hoof. "Aw, crap. You're right. Duh."

"Never taken a non-pegasus out on a date before, have you?" Cheerilee asked slyly. She gave me a little nudge and a smirk to match.

My knees practically gave out. Does that happen? Do knees give out?

"Uh. Well, it's not so much that I haven't--I mean, it's not on purpose, I don't--"


I stopped myself. "Uh-huh?"

"I'll meet you at Cafe Hay tomorrow at our usual time," she said. "And, if you'd like, you can come over to my home afterwards. On the ground."

I think I broke out into a smile almost instantly, much as I wanted to pay it cool. "Really?"

Cheerilee giggled. "I've been waiting for you to… well, I don't know. To at least suggest we go spend some time somewhere else," she said. "I'd be stupid to turn down a date with the second-best Wonderbolt, wouldn't I?"

I forced a laugh. "Don't push your luck, Cheer."

Comments ( 16 )



iamsinner systems: read engaged

And it's a comedy!! For YOU!!! :rainbowkiss:

oh my gosh flashback to me obsessing abt cheeridash on tumblr. can’t wait to read this!!

Howdy, hi!

Loved this. Has all the best aspects of your writing on display. Love this pairing and how you wrote their chemistry together. Cherokee and rainbow are just so much fun. Also the way you describe this restaurant gives me flashbacks and it is a trip. Anyways this nerd romance was top tier and I loved it.

Thank you for the read!

Yes!! I was inspired by your cheeridash posts when I was hunting for a good crackship to write :D

Rainbow Dash is a dork and a half and she needs to accept this fact or die by Cheerilee's sword

Thanks for reading my friend :)

Never really thought of this pairing, but you made it really work. It’s great that you gave the two something to bond over, with both of them realizing that they’re not the best and that they have to get over it. I really like the portrayal of the Hayburger as a place you go to when you want to get away from life. That trope, of having a respite which you always return to, is one that I really love, but don’t really see as often as I feel I should.

The characters felt very natural. I very much enjoyed them. Rainbow Dash would totally try and fight for the top after seeing she’d fallen from it.

I do have to commend this quote, though:

I did my best to let go of the perfectionism…

I love this quote in the context of the story, because earlier on, Cheerilee mentioned that a lot of the students’ essays were about perfectionism. Cheerilee mentioned that the essays were supposed to be about something they learned, and I really like this because in spite of Cheerilee mentioning a lot of the essays were similar, it was something that Rainbow Dash hadn’t quite learned yet. This implies that she’s always learning, and I really love that.

I enjoyed reading this story, and Rainbow Dash is now a gamer in my headcanon.

I'm so glad you caught that detail!! I always try my best to incorporate the special talents of ponies who, like Cheerilee, we don't get a lot of in the show. I find that this helps these characters ring true with readers, even when they depart from what little content exists of them in the first place. For Cheerilee, this means that a lot of her character revolves around guidance - both for her students and for Rainbow Dash.

Thank you for reading! I'm so glad you liked it!

It's always good to see Cheerilee get more love (both from the fandom and from other ponies), and it's nice when a reference to the comics shows up in someone's story. I liked reading this.

The only nitpick I have is that while Dash lives in a cloud house, she does live within the boundaries of Ponyville, not in Cloudsdale. (She and 'Shy are from Cloudsdale, that's all.)

Edit -- forgot to mention that I love the cover art. Very retro.

Starlight is best life coach, lol.

Pretty funny in a good way. Love the comedy.

Oh wait, you need to edit the cover so Cheerilee's sprite is taller.

This was a pretty fun story. It was enthralling seeing the interplay between Rainbow and Cheerilee, as their respective issues bumped up against each other and they eventually worked out their feelings. Also, as others have mentioned, you've described the restaurant in a very horrifically realistic manner.

oh man. i finally got around to reading this and wow do i wish i had done so sooner!! the palpable awkwardness between rainbow and cheerilee that slowly turns into a friendly rapport really sucked me in.
sidenote; as an avid idw comics fan (i think i’ve read the mlp run at least three times) i’m completely ashamed at how long it took me to get the reference haha.

Aw, thank you so much!! I'm glad you liked it - I really do wanna revisit this pair again. You just made me love it!!

It's about time it found its way onto the site

Damn right it does, I say, as I arrive super late to the comments section.

But yes, finally managed to find the time to reread this. And yes, it's still as cutesy and fluffy as I remember it to be. The dynamic you've crafted between Rainbow and Cheerilee was captivating as it was adorable. Really shines a light on so many parallels between the two that I never would've considered before. And though it was pretty clear how the story would turn out, I'm just so engrossed in their interactions that it doesn't really matter anyway.

Beyond our rare pair, I dig all the little glimpses we have of the diner they're in. Also loved the snappiness and bluntness of the prose—Dash's personality comes through so well, I could hear her voice doing the narration in my head as I was reading this! I could go on and on about the little details here and there, but really, this story was genuinely majestic as it is simple and I'm glad it's out here now for everyone to read. All I wanted with my prompt was to read a story someone enjoyed writing and you've delivered that in spades.

Once again, thank you so much for writing this, Mush. Hope to read more from you soon!

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