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Study Buddies (Anon x Twilight, EQG, updated 6-18-21)

By MagnaAnon
Created: 14th May 2021 01:03:19 AM
Modified: 18th June 2021 01:08:28 PM
Anon Twilight Twilight Sparkle Equestria Girls EQG

  1. >Junior year of high school at Canterlot High started this week.
  2. >Even though you're up by a grade level, everything still feels about the same.
  3. >You are Anon, and this is just another typical day for you.
  4. >You're not the smartest guy around, but you're certainly not an idiot, either.
  5. >Your grades for the most part have been average, with mostly B's and an 'A' here and there.
  6. >It's been pretty much passable and forgettable, with the exception of one subject.
  7. >History.
  8. >To say you're obsessed with it would be an understatement.
  9. >You're not sure if it's because of the teachers you've had for it....
  10. >...the various TV programs that cover significant events in-depth...
  11. >...or the old saying of 'if we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it...'
  12. >But whatever the reason, you absolutely love it.
  13. >One of the only 'buff' things about you, but that's fine.
  14. >It's by far your best subject these past few years, and this year should be no exception.
  15. >The first half of the day is uneventful to you, as these classes are of little interest.
  16. >When lunch comes around, you find your usual group of friends and sit down with them.
  17. >There's Norman, who's perhaps the most normal of the group, and your best bud.
  18. >While he doesn't care much history, he'll at least listen to what you've come across in your research.
  19. >Blitz transferred here from overseas in time for Freshman year, but he warmed up to you all quickly.
  20. >While he's not a history buff like you, he's fascinated with military history from all different eras.
  21. >Finally, there's Ace, the science fiction fanatic of the group.
  22. >He's the one who goes to all the local conventions, and is lucky enough to meet some of the biggest names in the industry.
  23. >You've been in touch with them throughout the summer, so there's no need to 'catch up.'
  24. >As you eat and chat, part of you is waiting with anticipation for what comes after.
  25. >World History is the subject for Junior year, and you can't wait to dive into it.
  26. >You're not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen...
  27. >...and then you hear...her...
  28. >“Uh...Anon, right?”
  29. >You look up from your tray, and you see a purple and pink-haired girl with glasses standing there.
  30.  
  31. >Twilight Sparkle is her name.
  32. >She's also a transfer, but not from as far away as Blitz.
  33. >She's by far the smartest student in your class.
  34. >While not the most popular girl in school, she has a large group of friends as well as a following.
  35. >She's also dating Flash Sentry, one of the more apparent 'desirable' guys here.
  36. >At least, that's what you gather, as you've only really seen them in passing.
  37. >You don't know too much more about her, but that's not a surprise given your obscurity.
  38. >Your friends are as confused as you are as you look around between them and the girl in front of you.
  39. “Uh...that's me.  And you're...Twilight?”
  40. >She nods.  “That's right.  Can I speak with you for a moment?  Privately?”
  41. >You point a finger at yourself, shocked that someone like her wants to talk with someone like you.
  42. >When she nods again, your friends goad you on, perhaps seeing it as a 'chance.'
  43. >You shrug and stand up.
  44. >She leads you out of the lunchroom, to the looks of amazement from several other students you pass.
  45. >That includes what appears to be her own group of friends, although one just gives a nod of her own.
  46. >Once you reach the other side of the doors, she stops and leans against one of the lockers.
  47. “Okay...so what's with all the secrecy?”  You ask.
  48. >Twilight fidgets with her hands.
  49. >“Um...I was wondering if you could...do me a favor...”
  50. “A favor?”
  51. >“Yes...can you...be my tutor?”
  52. >You do your best to hold back a laugh.
  53. “Wait...what?”
  54. >“In History, I mean...”
  55. >You can hardly believe what you're hearing.
  56. “I thought you were great at all subjects here.”
  57. >“Well...not all of them.  Science and Math, for example?  Easy for me.  History, on the other hand...”
  58. “What's the problem, then?”
  59. >“I just have trouble remembering dates and people.  It's a lot to take in, especially with what the focus is this year.”
  60. >Makes sense.
  61.  
  62. “That still begs the question – why ask me for help?”
  63. >“I was told by a friend of mine that you're one of the better students here on the subject.”
  64. “None of your other friends can do it?”
  65. >“They could, but...none of them would be of as much assistance as you...”
  66. “Does that include Flash?”
  67. >Twilight nods.  “Yeah.  Besides, he's...too busy after school with his band, anyway...”
  68. >The way she says that is unusual to you.
  69. >Regardless, this is the first time someone has asked you to help on something like this.
  70. >It'd be a nice opportunity to flex your knowledge, at least, so...
  71. “I mean...if that's what you want, I've got the time for it.”
  72. >Her eyes seem to glow.  “Really?”
  73. “Sure, why not?”
  74. >She smiles as she takes your hands, and comes close to jumping up and down.
  75. >“Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I won't let you down!”
  76. “Okay, okay,” you reply, calming her down.  “Though it's not me you'd be letting down if you flunk.”
  77. >“You're right.  I better get ready, then.  I've got that World History course next.”
  78. “What a coincidence...so do I.”
  79. >She's beaming at this point.
  80. >“Even better!  Everything's falling into place perfectly!  I can't believe this is happening!”
  81. 'You're not the only one,' you think to yourself.
  82. >“Oh my, this will make it SO much easier.  We can be together in group discussions, pair up for team projects...and maybe-”
  83. “Hey, one step at a time,” you reply, having to calm her down again.  “It's a marathon, not a mad dash.”
  84. >Twilight laughs.  “Well, Dash wouldn't be mad, as she doesn't really care...”
  85. >You tilt your head in confusion.
  86. >“She's one of my friends.  A little play on words, you'd say...”
  87. “Gotcha.  Tell you what, we can find seats next to each other to start, and we'll go from there.”
  88. >“Perfect.  Thank you again, Anon.  I'll be sure to make it up to you once the semester's over.”
  89. “Hey, just one student helping another, right?”
  90. >Twilight shakes her head.  “No...it's more than that to me.  I'll see you in class!”
  91. >She takes her leave, probably to rejoin her friends.
  92. >You're left there in utter amazement.
  93. >What the hell just happened?
  94.  
  95. >You head back in and reunite with your own friends.
  96. >“So...what did she want?”  Norman asks.
  97. >“Yeah, give us all the juicy details!”  Ace pleads.
  98. >“It had to be important if she wanted to speak with you alone,” Blitz comments.
  99. “Not really,” you reply.  “She just needs helps in history, that's all.”
  100. >Ace looks puzzled.  “Huh?  Why?  Isn't she in the running for valedictorian of the class?”
  101. “She is, but nobody's perfect, including with school.”
  102. >“That doesn't really describe her, though,” Norman says.
  103. “That's what I thought, too.  But hey, I'm not complaining.”
  104. >“Especially when it's a girl as cute as her,” Blitz says.  “You're a lucky guy.”
  105. “Hardly.  One, she's taken.  Two, I don't see any real connection other than helping her study.”
  106. >Ace laughs.  “Come on, Anon, you're being closed-minded about it.  You could be the first one in the group to land a girlfriend!”
  107. >Everyone laughs...except you.
  108. “Guys...I told you, there's nothing like that going on here.”
  109. >“Not yet,” Ace replies.
  110. >“Ah, be quiet,” Blitz orders.  “You've been fantasizing about her since she transferred here.”
  111. >Ace holds up his hands.  “Can you blame me?  Anyone would be lucky to have her in their life!”
  112. >“And like Anon said,” Norman replies,  “Someone already does.”
  113. >“You mean that Flash guy?”  Ace asks.  “He's a poser.”
  114. “Says the guy who has multiple costumes to wear at every weekend convention he goes to.”
  115. >The other guys laugh, including Ace.
  116. >Norman leans in to whisper to you.  “He may have a point, though.  If you play your cards right, this could turn into something more than just study sessions.”
  117. “We'll see,” you reply, doubtfully.
  118. >The bell rings to signify the end of lunch, and you all pack up to head to your next classes.
  119. >For you, it's off to World History...
  120. >...with, as Blitz put it, a cute girl sharing it with you.
  121. >You shake your head to snap yourself out of it.
  122. >You need to give yourself a break...why are you suddenly thinking like this?
  123. >You wouldn't stand a chance with someone like her...
  124. >She's way out of your league...
  125. >Besides, what are the odds of anything else really developing out of all this?
  126. >Oh, yeah....that's right...
  127. >Slim to none...
  128.  
  129. ------
  130.  
  131. >You find the room the World History course is being held in.
  132. >It's the same as the U.S. History class from last year, which has you brimming with anticipation.
  133. >You know who teaches in this room, so it's going to be a fun one.
  134. >Twilight is already in here, and there's an open desk to her left.
  135. >There's no assigned seating, thankfully, so you fulfill your little promise and take that spot.
  136. >She's clearly excited, but perhaps not in the same way you are.
  137. >Soon after, the teacher walks in.
  138. >He's wearing a trench coat of sorts, as well as a pair of glasses with thin frames.
  139. >The aviator's hat on his head completes the outlandish look, but it's all part of his charm.
  140. “You're gonna like this guy,” you whisper to Twilight.
  141. >“Welcome to the History of the Entire World...I guess,” he begins, which gets a laugh.
  142. >“For those who don't know me, you can call me Mr. V for short, and if you prefer.”
  143. >“The V is short for 'Voyance,' by the way, and it's only coincidence that I married a lady named Clair, but she claims she foresaw it all.”
  144. >He hits a key on his computer's keyboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=937zhQ27XK8
  145. >This gets even more laughs from you and others in the room who already know him.
  146. >Twilight needs a moment to think about it, but she finally giggles when she realizes what was said.
  147. >Mr. V always starts class with a 'dad' joke, and this one is no exception.
  148. >He quickly takes attendance, and gives you a quick wink when he checks off your name.
  149. >You were at the top of his class last year, so it's no surprise.
  150. >He turns on the overhead projector and syncs is to his computer, and he brings up a video.
  151. >“Now, why did I introduce the class the way I did?”  He asks.  “Here's why.”
  152. >He clicks play, and this is what you see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuCn8ux2gbs
  153. >It's obvious a lot of the other students have seen this one, as they're singing along with the narrator.
  154. >Twilight certainly hasn't, and she's laughing all the while.
  155. >“I can't imagine how much research he had to do to make this,” she comments.
  156. “A helluva lot,” you reply, “and with over 100 million views, it was all worth it.”
  157. >By video's end, there's clapping, and Mr. V is pleased to see you all enjoyed it.
  158. >“Now that is a very abridged history lesson,” he explains.  “We'll be going into a bit more detail.”
  159. >“Not everything you saw is going to be covered by me, but the important parts will be.  Got it?”
  160. >Nods from the students.
  161. >“Good.  Then let's begin...”
  162.  
  163. >Mr. V hands out copies of the syllabus and book you'll be using
  164. >However, you know this is more for reference than anything else.
  165. >He's more of a hands-on approach kind of teacher, after all.
  166. >The first thing he covers is the earliest civilizations, starting with Mesopotamia.
  167. >It is not your typical 'recite from the textbook' sort of class.
  168. >He goes into detail, and injects a little comedy with each 'segment' of his.
  169. >Twilight doesn't seem used to this, but she's fascinated with this style.
  170. >Near the end of class, Mr. V opens the floor to questions anyone may have.
  171. >There doesn't seem to be any.
  172. >“Well, guess we can ease our way into the next period, then,” he announces.
  173. >He allows people to get up and socialize, as long as the noise level is kept light.
  174. >The bell rings a few minutes later, and you and Twilight go your separate ways for your next classes.
  175. >Once school is over,  you go to grab what you need from your locker.
  176. >“Hi, Anon!”
  177. >You turn as you finish up business, and you see Twilight coming towards you.
  178. “What did you think of the first day?”  You ask.
  179. >“Plenty of familiar things,” she replies, “but even more unknowns.”  
  180. “Like what?”
  181. >“Well, I'd never even heard of some of the events mentioned in that video, and I did not expect the teacher to go about things like he did.”
  182. “You'll get used to it.  He's...eccentric, to put it lightly.”
  183. >Twilight giggles.  “You're right about that.  He's definitely not like the other teachers I've had.”
  184. “Is that a good thing, or bad thing for you?”
  185. >“If he keeps it up, let's say I may have an easier time with this than I thought.”
  186. “So...does that mean you won't be needing my help after all?”
  187. >You say this with the tiniest hint of disappointment, and she's quick to pick up on it.
  188. >“Oh, I'll still be coming to you for help, don't worry.  I'm not about to back out on something like this after a first impression.”
  189. >Part of you is actually relieved to hear this.
  190. “Heh, glad to hear.”
  191. >“Speaking of which, you wanna go to the library for a bit?  There are some things I wanted to go over with you.”
  192. >You wave an arm for her to lead the way, and you follow her to said place on the next floor.
  193.  
  194. >The library feels even dustier than when you were here last, which was just before summer vacation.
  195. >You feel your nose acting up; your allergies are not going to appreciate this level of dust, but you're sure it'll be worth it somehow.
  196. >Twilight finds a table for you both to sit at, and she pulls our her history book.
  197. >“Alright, let's see we've got here,” she says, opening up to the section used as reference.
  198. >The two of you spend the next half hour or so going over what you learned in class that day.
  199. >You show her the notes you had taken, as well as their overall structure.
  200. >“Remind me to try and make my notes like yours,” she requests.  “These are pretty good.”
  201. “Not much to it besides putting a spin on them,” you reply.
  202. >As time goes by, it sounds like she's getting a better grasp of things, which means there's time for other questions.
  203. “So, who suggested you come see me for this?”
  204. >“Hm?  Oh, that'd be Sunset.  She shared the U.S. History course with you during sophomore year.”
  205. >You remember this fiery redhead; just the year prior she came out of nowhere to assert dominance over everyone.
  206. >You don't know when or how it happened, as you generally don't attend big school events you don't care about, but she mellowed out and became more approachable.
  207. >You got paired up with her on a couple history assignments after that, and she seemed nice enough.
  208. “Guess she was impressed with the knowledge I had,” you say.
  209. >“That's why you're perfect for this,” Twilight replies.  “She said I could count on you.”
  210. “I'll do my best, just like you will.”
  211. >“Right...”
  212. >As you're packing up, another question pops into your head.
  213. “One other thing - when I brought up Flash earlier, you sounded a little off.  Did anything happen between you two recently?”
  214. >Twilight gets up.  “I'd rather not talk about that, if that's okay with you...”
  215. “Sorry, didn't mean to pry.”
  216. >“It's not your fault.  I'm just...dealing with a few things right now, and I wanted to focus on something else for a while.”
  217. “Gotcha.  So...you wanna make this our normal routine for now?  Meeting up here after school to go over what we learned?
  218. >Twilight thinks about it.  “That's not a bad idea...if you don't mind, or course.”
  219. “Hey, I've don't really have anything going on afterward, so I'd be glad to keep this up.”
  220. >“Wonderful.  You want to exchange numbers?”  
  221. “Numbers?”  You ask in a joking tone.  “But we've only barely met.”
  222. >Twilight chuckles.  “You know what for.  This way we can let each other know if something comes up and keeps us from meeting.”
  223. >You nod, and you take your respective phone numbers down
  224.  
  225. >She parts ways with you after that, and you make the drive back home.
  226. >As you're going through your other homework that night, you get a call from Norman.
  227. >“Hey man, how did it go?”  He asks.
  228. “How you'd  normally expect a tutoring session to go,” you reply.
  229. >“You know what I mean...”
  230. “You and the rest of our group.  And no, nothing came of it.”
  231. >“Not yet.  Give it time.”
  232. “Will you stop?  It's bad enough when Ace kept going on and on.”
  233. >“Hey, you know I'm joking.”
  234. “Partially...”
  235. >“Even so, I still think you can get at least a friendship out of this.”
  236. “We'll see how it goes...”
  237. >“Plenty of time, Anon.  Plenty of time.”
  238. “Say...did you happen to have a class with Flash today?”
  239. >“Yeah, why?”
  240. “Twilight told me she was...dealing with a few things.  I'm wondering if maybe something happened between them.”
  241. >“Hard to say.  He didn't look or act different than he usually does.  If something did happen, he's hiding it well.”
  242. “He might be, but Twi's another story.  I didn't press her on it, as that's more of a personal matter.”
  243. >“You could always ask one of her friends if you wanted to.  They might have heard a little more.”
  244. “Maybe, though I may seem like an intruder...”
  245. >“Depends on who you talk to and how you ask.  I'd say Sunset or Pinkie's your best bet.”
  246. “If there's time, I'll try.  Thanks for the suggestion.”
  247. >“No prob.  Look, I've got work of my own to do.  See ya tomorrow.”
  248. “Okay, bye...”
  249. >You hang up and get back to the task at hand.
  250. >All the while, more and more questions are brewing in your brain.
  251. >What if there was some kind of falling out between Twilight and Flash?
  252. >How would that affect her attention, let alone yours?
  253. >How long would either of you be able to keep quiet about it?
  254. >Is it even possible to get answers from any of her friends?
  255. >It'll have to be dealt with one step at a time, as you told her earlier.
  256. >It's just a matter of how big those steps will be...
  257.  
  258. ------
  259.  
  260. >The rest of the week seems to follow a pattern.
  261. >The first half of the day is boring as hell.
  262. >Lunch gets you geared up for the second half.
  263. >Mr. V livens things up his class.
  264. >The remaining classes after that are boring as hell.
  265. >You go through the history material with Twilight in the library.
  266. >And you neglect to talk to anyone else about her possible 'issues.'
  267. >That is, until Friday comes around.
  268. >You're grabbing a few things from your locker before heading to the cafeteria.
  269. >That's when you hear a different voice.
  270. >“Hey Anon.”
  271. >You recognize who it is almost immediately.
  272. >When you turn around, there's Sunset Shimmer in all her glory.
  273. “Hey, what's up?”
  274. >“Just checking in to see how my little suggestion is going,” Sunset replies.
  275. “Still too early to tell how Twilight will do on tests and whatnot, but I'm sure she'll be fine.”
  276. >“Glad to hear.  I hope her asking you for help hasn't been a burden on you at all.”
  277. “Not really.  It was more of a surprise than anything else, but a welcome one.”
  278. >“Thank you.  She's been going on about her new 'study buddy,' and it's taking her mind off of things for now.”
  279. >You laugh at the term being used for you, but this comment opens another door.
  280. “What kind of things do you mean?”
  281. >Sunset doesn't respond at first.
  282. >“I'm not sure if I should be talking about that...”
  283. “If it's something I'm not supposed to know about, I can understand.”
  284. >She starts looking up and down the hallway.
  285. >“It's not that.  It's more along the lines of the fewer people who know about it, the better.”
  286. “Hey, I don't go running my mouth to anyone about other people's problems.  I was hoping for a little clarity, that's all.”
  287. >Sunset sighs, then stares you straight in the eye.  “You swear you won't repeat what I tell you to anyone else?”
  288. “I swear it.  If I go back on that, you come find me and break me in half.”
  289. >She chuckles at this 'promise' of yours.
  290. >“Well...if you're sure about that...it's between her and Flash.”
  291. “That's what part of me was thinking.  What happened?”
  292. >“She and him got into an argument near the end of the summer.”
  293. “An argument?  About what?”
  294.  
  295. >“From what Twilight told me, basically it sounds like it was a matter of time, or lack thereof.”
  296. “That doesn't make sense...”
  297. >Sunset shakes her head.
  298. >“Flash spent most of the vacation either with his band or doing things on his own.  Twilight was hoping they could spend some time together, but that didn't really happen.”
  299. “So she was upset because he didn't save any time for her?”
  300. >“Pretty much.  When I spoke with Flash, he said he told her he had a lot going on, both with performances and preparing for them.”
  301. “Did they still stay in touch throughout all this?”
  302. >“For the most part, but there's a difference between simply being over-phone and physical contact.”
  303. “I guess...”
  304. >“But two weeks before school started, Twilight must have left numerous voice messages and emails for him, and he didn't reply to any of them.”
  305. “Not good...”
  306. >“No.  She reached a boiling point and finally had enough, and she went to confront him about this.
  307. >“Flash told her the biggest show of the summer was coming up, and he didn't want any distractions.  She lost it, and that's when the fight happened.”
  308. “And what came of it?”
  309. >“It sounds like Twilight told him if he's going to ignore her like this, maybe they should 'take a break and try again later.'”
  310. “So they haven't broken up or anything.  Just spending time apart for now.”
  311. >“That's what I could gather.  She was pretty upset when she talked to me about it that day.”
  312. “Who else knows?”
  313. >“The rest of our group does, and now so do you.  Not sure who on Flash's side does, however.”
  314. “I haven't heard talk around school about any of this, so he's probably being tight-lipped, also.”
  315. >“Hopefully.  Like I said, the fewer people who know, the better.”
  316. “And I'll make sure it stays that way.”  
  317. >“You'd better, or it won't just be me you'll have to answer to.”
  318. >You gulp.
  319. >“And please don't mention this talk we're having to Twilight, okay?  I don't want to look like a liar in front of her.”
  320. “Promise.  They'd have to put me through torture before I talk.”  
  321. >“I don't know much about that, but I bet Applejack or Pinkie would.”
  322. >You feel another lump in your throat.
  323. >Sunset laughs. “I'm kidding...well, maybe.  Come on, it's pizza day, and I'm starving for it.”
  324. >You laugh yourself, albeit nervously, as you both make your way to the lunchroom.
  325.  
  326. >Mr V's class today finishes up the week of early civilizations with an overview of Egypt.
  327. >He mentions that there would be a quiz on Monday, giving you time near the end of the period, as well as the weekend, to prepare for it.
  328. >Twilight seems a little nervous about it during your study session that afternoon.
  329. >“Geez, a quiz already?”  She comments.
  330. “I figured you'd be all over that,” you reply.
  331. >“If it's a subject I'm good with, yes, but this is different.”
  332. “Not really.  We're going over all of this now, and I can show you my notes from the week if you're still having trouble.”
  333. >“I guess.  You said you've had this teacher before.  What are his tests like?”
  334. “They're not your typical multiple-choice pop quizzes.  He usually gives several names or terms, you pick at least half of them, and you write a paragraph's worth about them.”
  335. >“Unusual...”
  336. “He looks more for what you've learned, rather than what you remember.”
  337. >Twilight gives you a confused look.
  338. “Let's try that again.  It's one thing to recite names and dates, but another to put it all into context and describe it.”
  339. >“Okay, that makes a little more sense.”
  340. “There we go.  Sorry, sometimes I have trouble understanding what the hell I'm saying, myself.”
  341. >Twilight giggles.  “You're not as bad as me.  Half the time, NO ONE knows what I'm talking about.”
  342. “Is that when you're going through your science wizardry?”
  343. >“I wouldn't call it 'wizardry,' but it's the subject I'm most captivated by, just like you are with history.”
  344. “To each their own.”
  345. >“Yes.  Have I thanked you enough for all of this, by the way?”
  346. “There's no need to thank me all the time.  I'm glad to be doing this with you, and it's a nice change of pace from what I'm used to.”
  347. >“Oh?  What is it you're used to?”
  348. “Being on my own, mostly, but that's when my other friends are busy with schoolwork or other things.”
  349. >Twilight looks down.  “I know the feeling.  Doesn't it get lonely?”
  350. “Sometimes, but I find ways to keep my mind occupied.”
  351. >“Must be nice...”
  352. >Sunset's request/threat fresh in your mind, you move on from this subject.
  353.  
  354. “But enough about that.  It's Friday, so there's the weekend to look forward to.”
  355. >“I've got homework and studying to do, but I usually have it hammered out early on.”
  356. “Do you have plans for after that?”
  357. >“Nothing is set in stone as of yet.  Why?”
  358. “Would you...want to try doing something not related to studying?”
  359. >Twilight gives you an inquisitive look.
  360. >“With you?”
  361. “Yeah, why not?”
  362. >Twilight turns her head away as she mulls over it.
  363. >“What did you have in mind?”
  364. “Well...I guess it depends on what else you like to do.  I can roll with whatever you decide on.”
  365. >Twilight gives a light nod as she continues to ponder.
  366. >You can easily sense the hesitation.
  367. “Not feeling it, I guess...”
  368. >“No, it's not that...”
  369. “Then what?”
  370. >She gives a weak smile.
  371. >“It's...just an awkward time for me...”
  372. “I get that...”
  373. >“And I'm still with Flash...to a degree...”
  374. >Not 100-percent honest, but again, you don't want to press her on it.
  375. “This wouldn't be a date.  Think of it as finding other ways of getting to know each other..”
  376. >Twilight scratches her chin, still unsure.
  377. “It's really up to you.  If you don't want to, I won't be mad.”
  378. >“You promise?”
  379. “I'm spending some quality time with you right now, so even that's enough for right now.”
  380. >Twilight shakes her head, the smile on her face growing.
  381. >“Why don't I think about it?  If I feel up for something, I'll get in touch with you, how about that?”
  382. “That's fine with me.  You know how to reach me.”
  383. >Twilight nods, and you get back to your study session.
  384. >You part ways afterward, and you head home.
  385. >As Norman may say, you at least have your foot in the door.
  386. >It'll be interesting to see if Twilight takes you up on your offer.
  387. >Even better if things develop further as a result...
  388.  
  389. ------
  390.  
  391. >Saturday arrives.
  392. >After your normal morning routine, you follow Twilight's example and tackle the homework you have left over from last night.
  393. >You're done just before lunchtime.
  394. >With the exception of studying for the quiz – which can be done the night before – you now have an open schedule.
  395. >You're about to raid the fridge when you get a text notification.
  396. >You expect it to be one of your friends for a possible gaming meet-up.
  397. >Instead, it's from Twilight.
  398. >'Hi, Anon.  Hope I had this copied down right...'
  399. >You chuckle as you type out your reply.
  400. 'Hey Twilight.  Yes, you have the right number.  What's up?'
  401. >'I've been thinking about the offer you made yesterday, as I said I would.'
  402. 'Okay...'
  403. >'And I was wondering if you'd like to grab lunch somewhere.'
  404. >Foot in the door...
  405. 'Sure.  Any place in particular?'
  406. >'Well...do you like sushi?'
  407. 'Can't really say I've had it before, but I'll try anything at least once.'
  408. >'Alright.  There's a place in the mall that serves it.  I figured that would be good place to start.'
  409. >Gotta start somewhere, you guess.
  410. 'Why not?'
  411. >'Okay.  I should be there in about a half-hour.  See you then.'
  412. 'Aye aye.'
  413. >You swipe out of your messages and grab your keys.
  414. >After letting your parents know where you're going, you make the drive to the mall
  415. >Along the way, you can't help but feel perplexed.
  416. >Not just by the fact Twilight got back to you so relatively quickly...
  417. >,,,but also by the fact she's the one initiating this 'meeting.'
  418. >Another surprise, but it's as welcomed as the first.
  419.  
  420. >You arrive about twenty minutes later, and you head inside to look for this sushi place.
  421. >You usually only go to the game store here, so you haven't really explored every inch of the building.
  422. >Thankfully, the place is not too far from the food court, and you go in.
  423. >The hostess bows her head and welcomes you, and when you give your name, she tells you there's already a booth set up.
  424. >She points you in the right direction, and soon enough you find Twilight at it.
  425. >“I was starting to get worried,” she says as you sit opposite of her.
  426. “You didn't think I'd stand you up, did you?”  You ask.
  427. >Twilight laughs nervously.  “Sorry...”
  428. “For what?  We're both here, and we're gonna try and enjoy ourselves.  That's what matters here.”
  429. >She smiles.  “Yeah, you're right...”
  430. >You nod as you go over the menu, and Twilight points out a couple items that could be of interest.
  431. >A few minutes later, a certain somebody comes over to your booth, notepad in hand.
  432. >“Welcome to...oh, didn't expect to see the both of you here!”
  433. “Sunset?  You work here?”
  434. >It's indeed her.  She's in a short green geisha-styled outfit, her hair tied back.
  435. >“On the weekends, I do, “ Sunset replies, “and full-time during the summer.”
  436. >“This is one of the reasons why I wanted to come here,” Twilight explains.  “It lets me spend a little time with other friends.”
  437. “What's the other reason?”  You ask.
  438. >“It's a nice, quiet place for conversation.”
  439. “Fair enough.”
  440. >“Anyway,” Sunset interjects, “I'll be your server today.  What can I get you two?”
  441. >“We'll go with the double combo,” Twilight replies.  “Something basic for Anon to give a shot.”
  442. >Sunset writes it down.  “Excellent choice.  I'll be sure it comes out good for you.”
  443. “You're going to be making it, also?”
  444. >“Yeah.  I'm both a server and a chef here.  I've been mentoring under the owner for the past couple years, so I have the basics down at least.”
  445. “So I'll know who to blame if I get sick,” you comment jokingly.
  446. >Sunset rolls her eyes.  “Careful, or I just might make that happen.”
  447. >You gulp nervously again.
  448. >“I'm kidding...well, maybe...don't worry, I'll take good care of you both.  It should be ready soon.”
  449. >She walks away, and you sigh while Twilight laughs.
  450.  
  451. >As you wait, there's time for small talk.
  452. “So what's your family like?”
  453. >“Well, there's my parents, obviously.  I also have an older brother, Shining Armor.”
  454. “Can't say I've heard of him.”
  455. >“He went to Crystal Prep, the same school I was at before being transferred to Canterlot High.  He graduated a few years back, and he's now going to one of the military academies.”
  456. “I'm sure he's doing well for himself.”
  457. >“He is.  Pretty much following in my grandpa's footsteps, and we couldn't be prouder.”
  458. “Must be nice to have an older sibling to look up to.  I'm an only child, myself.”
  459. >“It has its ups and downs, but that's what brothers and sisters are like.”
  460. “So you said you went to Crystal Prep.  How was it there compared to here?”
  461. >“Besides the uniform dress code and slightly stricter rules, about the same.  I still have several friends there, just like I do here, and I keep in touch with them regularly.”
  462. “Always nice to have a multiple channels, I guess.”
  463. >Twilight nods.  “How about your own family?”
  464. “Pretty much born and raised here.  My dad's a rep at an insurance company, while my mom works as a jeweler, while also finding and collecting gems of her own.”
  465. >“Anything interesting come up in her searches?”
  466. “Nothing out of the ordinary, but she did dig up a small rough-cut diamond once that fetched a pretty penny at auction.”
  467. >“I don't know much about gems, but my friend Rarity goes nuts for them, especially if she can incorporate them into her outfits.”
  468. “Guess some girls can't resist those pricey rocks.”
  469. >Twilight giggles.  “Well, it's not just for her own outfits.  She makes them for people, too.”
  470. “Gotcha.  What about some of your other friends?”
  471. >“Well, you've met Sunset already, to start.  She's rough around the edges, but her heart's in the right place, and you count on her to get the job done.”
  472. 'Rough is putting it lightly,' you think to yourself.
  473. >“Rainbow Dash is really outgoing, and is into all sorts of sports.  She plays soccer mostly, although she dabbles in others from time to time.”
  474. “Must be a heck or a person to try and keep up with...”
  475. >“Fluttershy is Dash's BFF, and her name is pretty much her personality.  She loves animals, and volunteers at the shelter in town.”
  476. “Opposites attract, as they say.  She sounds really compassionate.”
  477. >“She is, indeed.  Then there's Pinkie, the happiest and most energetic girl you'll ever meet.  She works part-time at Sugarcube Corner, the local bakery.”
  478. “Guess that makes her the sweetest of your bunch, too.”
  479. >Twilight giggles again.  “And Applejack is the most honest person you'll see.  Her family owns the largest apple orchard in the region, as well as its own brewery.”
  480. “She's the one who's always bringing pies to parties and bake-offs, right?”
  481. >“It's mostly her grandma who bakes, but Applejack has learned a thing or two from her.”
  482.  
  483. “What about yourself?  Besides what you do at school, I mean.”
  484. >“If it wasn't already apparent, I love science.  I'm always doing experiments at home whenever I have free time, mostly with strange results.”
  485. “You haven't blown anything up, have you?”
  486. >Twilight chuckles.  “That only happened once, and I was outside when it happened.”
  487. “Dare I ask?”
  488. >“Well...I was mixing a few chemicals without realizing how they'd react.  The cloud of smoke they produced made me itch for almost a week afterward.”
  489. “Oof,” you say as you cringe.  “Not the result you were hoping for, I take it.”
  490. >“Absolutely not.  My skin was red all over afterward, and I'm surprised it didn't get worse than that.”
  491. “You learned your lesson, though?”
  492. >“Right – never deal with chemicals unless you know what they're going to do.”
  493. “Guess that barely scratches the surface,” you joke.
  494. >You both laugh, the mood lightening up even more than before.
  495. >“Wow, I wasn't think this would be going so well,” Twilight comments.
  496. “Oh?  How did you think it would go?”
  497. >“Given everything that's happened as of late, I thought it'd be all...awkward...”
  498. “Well, at least I've surpassed your expectations.”
  499. >“You're off to a good start, so far.”
  500. >Shortly after, Sunset returns with a large dish of sorts.  She says 'Hope you enjoy' before heading back to the kitchen.
  501. >Sushi of all kinds is spread throughout, and you're not sure where to start.
  502. >You've been fiddling with chopsticks since you got here to try and get a handle on them, but it hasn't done you much good.
  503. >Twilight's an apparent pro, grabbing a piece and eating it.
  504. >“The ones on this side are salmon-based,” she explains, pointing them out, “while the other is tuna.”
  505. >You try grabbing one of the tuna ones with the chopsticks, but it just keeps falling back onto the dish.
  506. >Twilight giggles at your attempts to impress her.  “Don't worry, Anon, it's okay.  Just use one of the other utensils.”
  507. >You sigh as you grab a fork and stab the sushi.  Your mind is shouting 'DIE, DIE, DIE!' as you do so.
  508. >You take a bite, making sure you get some of the fish included.
  509. >The rice and wrap make for an interesting texture.  You're no stranger to fish, and you know it's served raw here, but is does have a decent taste to it.
  510. “Not bad,” you comment, finishing the piece.
  511. >Twilight claps.  “Wonderful.  Thank you for giving this a shot.”
  512. >You nod as you both enjoy the rest of the meal.
  513.  
  514. >It's not long before the dish is empty, and your stomachs are full.
  515. >So far you don't feel strange.  You suppose Sunset kept to her word.
  516. >“Guess this was a good idea after all,” Twilight says.
  517. “Did you think I'd be grossed out and not finish anything else?”  You ask.
  518. >“No.  I'm talking in general.  I'm actually having a good time for the first time in a while.”
  519. “What's had you down?”
  520. >Twilight rests her chin in her hands.  “A lot of things.”
  521. “Care to share, or would you rather not?”
  522. >She sighs.  “Part of me wants to say 'I'd rather not,' but...”
  523. “Whatever feels better to you.”  
  524. >Twilight gives you a similar look as yesterday.  Eventually, she relents.
  525. >“It's...Flash, mainly.  He made me upset at him, and I lost it as much as one can lose it.”
  526. “I see...”
  527. >“I know you do.  Sunset mentioned the little chat she had with you yesterday.”
  528. >Crap...
  529. >“She's looking out for me, like the rest of my friends, and she knew she wouldn't be able to keep this a secret for very long.”
  530. “We're not in trouble with you, are we?”
  531. >She shakes her head.  “She said we can both trust you to keep this secret, so I'm willing to give you both a pass.”
  532. >You mentally breathe a sigh of relief.
  533. >“So...what's your opinion on all of this?”
  534. “With the info I have right now, I can sympathize with your situation.  Flash didn't do himself any favors with what he did.”
  535. >“No...that's why I wanted to take a break...I want to give him another chance after a while...”
  536. “I get it, you hit a nasty speed bump in your relationship.  Time to cool off should help matters.”
  537. >“I hope so.  That's also why I was hesitant to say yes to doing this with you today.  Everyone may think I'm moving on right away.”
  538. “But you're not.  This is just a friendly get-together with no strings attached.”
  539. >“At least we know where we both stand with this.”
  540. “Listen, if you do need help with anything besides studying, you can count on me.”
  541. >Twilight smiles.  “Thank you for that.  Say...you wanna go someplace else for dessert?  I know a good one nearby.”
  542. “I take it it's this Sugarcube Corner you mentioned earlier?”
  543. >She nods.  “I bet you'll love it even more than here.  Hopefully you have room for it.”
  544. “Only one way to find out...”
  545. >You leave money for the lunch - as well as a good tip - on the table.  
  546. >You then follow Twilight's lead, heading out to the next destination.
  547.  
  548. >Much like the sushi place, you can't say you've ever been to Sugarcube Corner.
  549. >Generally, when you want to get a sweet fix, you either get it at a store or make it on your own.
  550. >The Corner's actually not too far away from school.
  551. >Something to keep in mind for future reference.
  552. >You and Twilight park your cars and head inside.
  553. >It definitely has a retro feel, going back to the 50s era.
  554. >Checkerboard linoleum, a counter lined with stools, and booths along the outer walls.
  555. >There's even a jukebox playing a mix of old and newer music.
  556. >You can't recall the last time you've seen one of those in person.
  557. >Several girls in blue waitress outfits are moving around the floor on roller skates, serving customers various sugary concoctions.
  558. >One of them comes your way holding a tray of goodies, and she has perhaps the pinkest and poofiest hair you've ever come across.
  559. >“Hey, Sci-Twi!”  She calls, hugging Twilight with her free arm.  “How are things?”
  560. >“They're getting a little better,” Twilight replies.
  561. “Wait, Sci-Twi?”  You ask.
  562. >“It's a long story,” Twilight explains.  “Just a nickname my friends gave me after I transferred here.”
  563. >“Ooh, and who's this?”  The waitress asks.  “Is he your new study buddy?”
  564. >There we go again with that term...
  565. >Twilight nods.  “Yes, he is.  Anon, this is Pinkie.  She's one of my friends you've heard about.”
  566. “Nice to finally meet you,” you say.  “'Sci-Twi' tells me you're a very sweet individual.”
  567. >“She wasn't fibbing,” Pinkie replies with a grin.  “I become friends with just about everyone I meet.  Not all, but a good amount of them.”
  568. “Can't win them all.”
  569. >“Ah well.  I've got other people to wait on, so go ahead and find a open spot.  I'll be with you guys in a jiffy.”
  570. >Pinkie skates away, while you and Twilight take an open booth.
  571. “You weren't kidding about her,” you state as you look over the menu.
  572. >“She has a big heart,” Twilight says, “and an even bigger reserve of energy.  Often times she can be so hyperactive, she'll be bouncing off the walls.”
  573. “Is it naturally-occurring, or is it from all the sugar she gets while working here?”
  574. >“Hard to say with her.  The Cakes, who own this place, try to limit how much junk their workers have on a daily basis.  But with Pinkie, it doesn't take much to get her going.”
  575. “Either we caught her on an off day, or she hasn't just hasn't gotten her daily ration yet.”
  576. >Twilight giggles.  “Anon, stop being so fresh.”
  577. “Sorry.  It's all in good fun...”
  578.  
  579. >Pinkie comes back a few minutes later with some water glasses.  “You guys decide on anything yet?”
  580. >“What's on special today?”  Twilight asks.
  581. >Pinkie tilts her head up as she thinks.  “Let's see...we have double-chocolate cookies good to go, there's the strawberry pound cake, and our lemon eclairs are just about sold out.  Any of those sound good to you?”
  582. >Twilight ponders.  “I'll take a couple of the eclairs if you have any left.  Worse comes to worse, some lemon meringue pie would be nice.”
  583. >Pinkie writes this down.  “Good choice either way.  And for you, Nonnie?”
  584. “Nonnie?”
  585. >“Should've mentioned this,” Twilight explains, “but she likes giving nicknames to everyone she becomes friends with.”
  586. “But, I'm not-”
  587. >“You became friends with me when you became friends with Sci-Twi, silly!”  Pinkie interrupts.  “That's how it works!”
  588. >You smirk at this remark.
  589. “Tell you what, I could use a chocolate fix.  If what you say is true and you're my friend already, you'll know just what I need that can help with that.”
  590. >Pinkie gives you what looks like a devious grin.  “I accept your challenge, Nonnie!  I'll be back with your order faster than you can say Humuhumunukunukuāpua'a!”
  591. >Before you can respond to that, Pinkie zips away with the energy you were warned about.
  592. >“Told you,” Twilight laughs.
  593. “I know you did, but I didn't think it'd be like that.  She's like a cat that found nip laced with speed.”
  594. >“Have you been hanging around with Applejack at all?”
  595. “Haven't met her yet, so no.”
  596. >“Just checking.  Sounds like something she'd say, that's all. ”
  597. >You shrug as you move on to another topic.
  598. “So how have you feel about our tutoring sessions so far?  Is this what you've been looking for?”
  599. >“I'll admit, it's been going better than I expected,” Twilight replies.  “This Mr. V is making it easier to understand than normal, while how you do things seems similar to that video he started with.”
  600. “Anything complicated can become simple depending on how it's taught.”
  601. >“True.  I'll be able to give you a better answer after Monday's quiz.”  
  602. “I guess this will make it a test on multiple levels.  For you...and for me...”
  603. >“You're not sure how I'll do on it?”
  604. “Heck no.  I'm positive you'll do fine.  Just imagine how you like to describe scientific terms, but apply it to historical places and figures.”
  605. >“I hope so.  I hate to say it, but I've never gotten anything higher than a 'C' in those sorts of classes.”
  606. “That's what I find odd.  Given the research projects involved, I figured you'd be really into it.”
  607. >“Perhaps you can assist with that, too, once the time comes.”
  608. “Like I said, anything you need help with.”
  609. >“Thank you...”
  610.  
  611. >Pinkie shows up with her tray and deposits its contents in front of you.
  612. >She managed to nab a pair of eclairs for Twilight, and she looks really happy about it.
  613. >As for you, you're given a bowl with a chocolate brownie...
  614. >...topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream...
  615. >...topped with hot fudge...
  616. >...topped with a chocolate-covered cherry.
  617. >Try saying THAT five times fast.
  618. “What the heck is this?”  You say in a joking tone.
  619. >“Death by Chocolate, of course!”  Pinkie exclaims.  “Although so far no one has actually died from eating this.  Maybe today will be the first time.”
  620. >This is said with that same devious grin and a wink, which you and Twilight laugh at.
  621. “I may have to disappoint you,” you reply.  “Thanks for trying, regardless.”
  622. >Pinkie nods.  “Enjoy, you two!”  She skates off yet again.
  623. >As Twilight indulges on her first eclair, you grab a spoon and dig into your monster of a sundae.
  624. >You manage to get a little bit of everything in your first stab of it.
  625. >The first bite has you practically hooked, although you're close to getting an immediate brain freeze.
  626. >“Easy does it,” Twilight warns, “don't let your sweet tooth be your undoing.”
  627. “I'll be careful,” you say somewhat sarcastically.
  628. >You gotta admit, though, this is pretty good.  
  629. >Something you'll have to remember for next time...
  630. >It takes some doing, but you manage to completely finish your dessert.
  631. “Guess I had enough room after all,” you say with a burp.
  632. >Twilight laughs.  “And how.  What do you think of the place?”
  633. “Good food, good service, and a nice atmosphere.  I'll have to come here with you more often.”
  634. >She nods slightly.  “Perhaps we can meet here for study sessions from time to time, depending on what things look like down the line.”
  635. “I'd be up for it if you are.  Wherever you feel most comfortable.”
  636. >“Right...”
  637.  
  638. >Twilight shifts her head and attention when the bell above the front door rings, and her eyes widen.
  639. >You turn yours around to see what she's looking at.
  640. >Uh oh, there he is...
  641. >Flash Sentry.
  642. >He looks around and spots the two of you.
  643. >You look back to Twilight, who turns away while adjusting her glasses.
  644. >Attention shifts back to Flash, who sighs and shakes his head before going out the way he came.
  645. >Awkward...
  646. >With him gone, your focus returns to Twilight, who has a look of almost shame on her face.
  647. “You alright?”
  648. >“Not really...”
  649. “You shouldn't feel bad about any of this.  Flash made his bed and has to lay in it.  You have no obligation to change your mind right now.”
  650. >“I know, but...there's still the tension in the air...”
  651. “Which I'm sure can be cut with a knife.  It doesn't have to be like that, though.  Just let it burn away before you suffocate in it.”
  652. >“Easy for you to say.  You haven't told a significant other to shove it for a period...”
  653. “And hopefully I won't have to.  Then again, I'd have to find that significant other first.”
  654. >“I'm sure she's out there...”
  655. “Yeah, somewhere...”
  656. >You sit in silence for a bit, and Pinkie comes with the check and also to check on Twilight.
  657. >“See you guys next time!”  She says, moving on to the next round of customers.
  658. >As you're grabbing your wallet, Twilight bows her head.
  659. >“I'm sorry,” she states.  “Today was going so well until the very end.”
  660. “It's only ruined if you make it that way.  I had a good time regardless of that unexpected entrance.”
  661. >“I'm glad to hear.  Maybe next time we won't have that kind of interruption.”
  662. “One can hope...”
  663. >You leave cash on the table, and you and Twilight say your goodbyes for now.
  664. >She promises to get in touch with you if she needs help before Monday.
  665. >All in all, it was an interesting afternoon for you both.
  666. >Quite the step, but you have a long way to go...
  667. >With plenty of obstacles in your way...
  668.  
  669. ------
  670.  
  671. >Monday, Monday......to quote an obscure song.
  672. >Another week of school, and as usual it's off to a boring start.
  673. >When lunchtime finally comes around, you get 'hellos' from both Twilight and Sunset as you pass by.
  674. >Your friends clearly see this, and they're dying to know how things are moving along.
  675. >You tell them you spent time on Saturday with Twilight, and Ace nearly chokes on his drink.
  676. >“Damn, Anon!”  He exclaims after coughing up what went down the wrong tube.  “You're moving up, aren't ya?”
  677. “I'd hardly call it that,” you reply.  “We're just getting to know each other a little better, that's all.”
  678. >“And it can lead to something more than that if you want it to,” Ace states.
  679. >“He's got a point,” Norman says.  “Twilight's no easy mark, after all.”
  680. >“Provided a certain somebody doesn't have anything to say about it,” Blitz adds.
  681. “I'm not worried about him,” you reply.  “Besides, Twilight would let me know if things go too far, which I don't see happening right now.”
  682. >“A slow burn of the candle,” Norman muses.  “That will definitely make things last longer.”
  683. “Depends on how this first quiz goes for her.  She didn't ask for help after Friday, so I'm thinking she's at least prepared.”
  684. >“What if she gets a bad grade?”  Ace asks.
  685. “Then we double our efforts and figure out what went wrong.  She's determined to get a final grade above what she normally does.”
  686. >“Is she determined, or obsessed?”  Blitz asks.
  687. “What do you mean by that?”
  688. >“Like we said last week, she's pushing to be at the top of our class, and this history course is a big barrier to overcome.”
  689. >“You think she'll push the both of them to the brink?”  Norman asks Blitz.
  690. >“It's always a possibility, given her character.  Just be mindful, Anon, and don't let it take over.”
  691. “You let me worry about that.  I know what I'm doing.”
  692. >“Mmhmm, whatever dude,” Ace comments.
  693. >You sigh, shaking your head before moving on to other topics.
  694. >When the bell rings, you start making your way out.
  695. >“Wait up, Anon!”
  696. >You turn to see Twilight coming up to you.
  697. “You ready for the quiz?”  You ask.
  698. >She nods.  “First time in a long time I've been looking forward to one like this.”
  699. “Then we better get there soon.  Come on.”
  700. >You head off to the history class, with Twilight walking by your side.
  701.  
  702. >The two of you arrive with plenty of time to spare.
  703. >Mr. V is at his desk, the quiz paperwork at the ready.
  704. >Everyone is at their seats before the bell rings again.
  705. >“It's time for your bad joke of the day,” Mr. V announces.  “Why can you never hear a psychiatrist using the bathroom?”
  706. >You've heard this one before, so you keep quiet.  No one else can seem to get it.
  707. >“Because the 'P' is silent!”  Mr. V calls, hitting the drum sound effect on his computer.
  708. >There's a mix of laughter and groaning from the rest of the room.
  709. >“But enough about that.  Let's move on to our first quiz of the semester.”
  710. >He passes out the paperwork to everyone.
  711. >“You have the entire period to finish this.  If you get done early, you can turn it in and quietly work on something else.  Sound good?”
  712. >A combination of nods and 'yeah's'.
  713. >“Then you may begin.”
  714. >You look over the quiz, and it is precisely as you described it to Twilight last week.
  715. >There are twelve terms, and you are requested to write a detailed paragraph on at least six of them.
  716. >Piece of cake.
  717. >You decide to go a little further, picking eight you feel you know the most about and work your knowledge onto the paper.
  718. >You tilt your head and see that Twilight's really going at it.
  719. >You're not about to make any comments, as that may be seen as cheating.
  720. >You return your attention to your work, and you're done with about twenty minutes to spare.
  721. >After turning in your work, you do a little doodling on some scrap paper.
  722. >Twilight is still working, and doesn't turn hers in until about five minutes before the end of the class.
  723. >She gives a long sigh when she returns to her desk.
  724. “So?”
  725. >“I think I did okay.  I ended up writing something for all of the terms.”
  726. “Seriously?  Even I didn't go that far?”
  727. >“I wanna make sure I make a good first impression.  I hope this will be enough.”
  728. “There's a difference between quantity and quality, though.”
  729. >“I know, but I believe I gave quality work on all of it.”
  730. “We'll find out soon enough.”
  731. >Twilight nods with a smile.
  732.  
  733. >At the end of the day, you're gathering things from your locker.
  734. >Twilight comes to see you again.
  735. >“Hey Anon!”
  736. “Hey.  Still feeling confident?”
  737. >“Yeah.  I was wondering...since there was nothing new learned in there today, did you want to do something else this afternoon?”
  738. >This is a surprise.
  739. “Uh...yeah, I don't see why not.  Got anything in mind?”
  740. >“You wanna go back to the Corner for a bit?  Maybe try something else they have?”
  741. “I don't know, that 'Death by Chocolate' sounds tempting again...”
  742. >Twilight laughs.  “Whatever floats your boat.”
  743. >You chuckle, and then a thought comes to mind.
  744. >You open up your backpack, then check your locker.
  745. >“What's wrong?”  Twilight asks.
  746. “I must have forgotten one of my books underneath the desk I was using last period,” you reply.
  747. >“Oh.  Well, it should still be there, right?”
  748. “Yeah.  Tell you what, you go on ahead.  I'll meet you over there once I get the book back.”
  749. >“Okay, see you in a bit!”
  750. >As Twilight takes her leave, you head off in the direction of the last classroom you were in.
  751. >The teacher is still inside, and has your book set to the side.
  752. >You thank them, put the book in your backpack, and start making your way out.
  753. >Along the way, you're passing by the room used for band practice, and there's music playing.
  754. >Curious, you peek inside to see Flash and his group playing a number.
  755. >You hang outside the door for a minute or two until they end the song.
  756. >Flash looks up and sees you, and he narrows his eyes a bit.
  757. >“Seems we have an audience,” he says to his band mates.
  758. >The rest of them turn their attention to you, and they each give their own non-verbal greetings.
  759. >“Why don't we break for five?”  Flash suggests.  “We can finish up after.”
  760. >The band members nod, getting off of their instruments and exiting the room.
  761. >You let them pass, and Flash waves you in.
  762. >You're apprehensive at first, but you decide to give it a chance.
  763. >You sit down several feet away from Flash, but in a way where you can face each other without having to turn your heads too far.
  764. >“Now that we're alone, we can talk...”
  765.  
  766. >You raise an eyebrow at this comment.
  767. “What do you wanna talk about?”  You ask.
  768. >“I'm sure you know the answer to that,” Flash replies.
  769. “It's about Twilight, I imagine.”
  770. >He nods.  “What were you doing with her the other day?”
  771. “Just a little get-together, is all.”
  772. >“That all?”
  773. “Yes...”
  774. >“That's bull, and you know it.  What's really going on?”
  775. “If you really wanna know, she asked me to tutor her.”
  776. >Flash laughs.  “Bull again.  She doesn't need tutoring!”
  777. “In History, she does.  We're sticking with that and meeting after school to work on it.”
  778. >Flash's laugh dies down a little.  “Wait, really?  I figured she was great at everything.”
  779. “Shows you how much you really know about her.”
  780. >Flash scoffs at this.  “Come on man, give me a break, here.”
  781. “Trying my best to.  You're not doing yourself any favors as of late.”
  782. >“You heard about the fight, I take it.”
  783. “I did.”
  784. >“Care to hear my side of the story?”
  785. >You stare him down for a moment.
  786. “We've got time.  Let's hear it.”
  787. >Flash nods.
  788. >“Twilight can be a little...obsessive, as I'll call it.”
  789. >Second time today you've heard that term used for her.
  790. >“It just feels like during the entire summer she wanted to meet up with me.  I get it, I'm her boyfriend, but I've got a life of my own, you know?”
  791. “I can understand that.”
  792. >“Plus, my band had a lot of shows over the summer, and we wanted to make sure we'd be at our best for each one.  That meant spending a lot of time practicing and otherwise preparing for them.”
  793. “And you let Twilight know this?”
  794. >“Every time she called or texted me, which was a lot.”
  795. >“And by a lot, I mean a helluva lot...”
  796. >Here we go...
  797.  
  798. >“There were days when would send me ten texts in a half-hour's time, wondering where I am.”
  799. >“If I don't reply right away, she'll send another, then another, before trying to call me directly.”
  800. “That doesn't sound right...”
  801. >“Yeah, it doesn't for a normal person.  But this is Twilight we're talking about.”
  802. “Oh come on...”
  803. >“You gotta understand, I can't spend every minute of the day letting her know what I'm doing.”
  804. >“Besides, she's got at least six other friends she can get together with on a daily basis.  Why focus all of her attention on just me?”
  805. “Because she feels closest to you?  Because she cares about what you're doing?”
  806. >Flash sighs.  “I know, I know.  But sometimes...it can get...what's the best way to put it...”
  807. “Annoying?”
  808. >“I was thinking more...tiring...”
  809. “Did you try talking to her about that?”
  810. >“Plenty of times, but it didn't seem to register with her at all.  The texts just kept coming.”
  811. “So what happened right before the fight you had?”
  812. >“Well, the biggest show of the summer was coming up in a few days, and I had my phone off to avoid any distractions from practicing.  I wanted to make sure we sounded perfect.”
  813. >“It was just around the time we finished up when Twilight found us and blew up on me.”
  814. “She thought you were ignoring her, from what I was told.”
  815. >“How would I have known that without the phone being on?  I tried explaining it to her, but she wouldn't have any of it.”
  816. “And that's when she suggested you two 'take a break.'”
  817. >Flash nods.  “It really hurt when she said that.  I wanted to say something back, but...”
  818. “You figured it wouldn't have made a difference.”
  819. >“No...it rarely does after a girl has made up her mind...”
  820. “Give her time.  She did say she wants to give you another chance at some point.”
  821. >“Then why does it feel like she's already moved on?”
  822. “Believe me, she hasn't.  If she was done with you, I bet she'd have told you right then and there.”
  823. >“Alright, Mr. Optimistic.  Why is she spending time with you, now?”
  824. “Because she needs help with studying, and Sunset suggested she ask me for it, knowing that I'm good at the subject.”
  825. >“And you're sure there's nothing else going on between the two of you?”
  826. “Are you sure Twilight's the one being obsessive?”
  827. >Flash gives you a glare.
  828.  
  829. >“You realize once the semester is done, she'll have no other use for you.”
  830. >You look back at Flash.
  831. >“If that's the only course she needs help with, that will be it.”
  832. “And?”
  833. >“I'm betting she'll give me that 'chance' you mentioned after she passes the class.  She wants to focus on her work right now, just like I was focusing on our music.”
  834. “Perhaps.”
  835. >“So keep up the good work, Anon, but don't forget your place in all this.”
  836. “Excuse me?  My 'place'?”
  837. >“Try not to develop things any further than you already have, alright?”
  838. >You chuckle.
  839. “Are you threatening me, or are you the one feeling threatened?”
  840. >Flash scoffs again.  “What would I feel threatened by you?”
  841. “Maybe it's the fact that I'm actually giving Twilight the time of day, unlike you were a while ago.”
  842. >Another scowl.
  843. >“Let's get one thing straight – she's mine, not yours.”
  844. >So we're going that route, eh?
  845. “Doesn't she have a say in all this?”
  846. >“She does, and she'll tell you she's done with you once this is all over.  Remember that.”
  847. >You've just about had enough.
  848. “Whatever helps you sleep better at night,” you remark, getting up and going to leave the room.
  849. >“Where are you going?”  Flash asks.  “We're not done.”
  850. “Oh, we're done alright.  Besides, don't you have more 'important' things to get back to?”
  851. >As you leave, you hear Flash say “this isn't over.”
  852. >This conversation is, at least, as you don't acknowledge that last comment.
  853. >As you leave, you walk past the other band members as they return to practice, but you don't acknowledge any of them.
  854. >If anything, they'll all be on Flash's side, and you don't want to be outnumbered in a room with them.
  855. >It looks like you're going to have to tread carefully for the time being.
  856. >There's no telling what this guy's capable of, and you'd rather not provoke him further if you can avoid it.
  857. >You push the chat as far back into your mind as you can, as you yourself have more important things to do.
  858. >Like meeting up with Twilight again...
  859.  
  860. >...which happens a short time later.
  861. >Pinkie greets you when you get to Sugarcube Corner again, and says Twilight is already here.
  862. >You find her at the same booth you used the other day, and you take your place there.
  863. >Shortly after, Pinkie comes over and takes your orders.
  864. >Twilight gets a trio of the double-chocolate cookies, and you decide to get some, also.
  865. >As Pinkie skates away, you lean your head back as you look to the ceiling.
  866. >Twilight, on the other hand, brings something up.
  867. >“So what kept you?”  She asks.  “Couldn't have taken that long to get your book, right?”
  868. “Yeah, sorry about that.  I...got sidetracked.”
  869. >Twilight tilts her head curiously.  “What happened?”
  870. >You've been debating back and forth whether or not to keep this quiet, but doing so just doesn't feel right with someone like her.
  871. >With that, you decide to answer.
  872. “You-know-who, that's what.”
  873. >She tenses up a little.  “You saw him?”
  874. “And spoke with him for a bit.  Guess he wanted to clear the air after seeing us over the weekend.”
  875. >“Oh, I see...how much did you know him before this?”
  876. “Hardly anything, and part of me wishes it stayed that way.”
  877. >Twilight now looks concerned.  “What did he say?”
  878. >You look down at the table.
  879. “A lot of things, some I'd rather not repeat.”
  880. >“Anon...”
  881. >You look back up to Twilight.
  882. >“Please, tell me...”
  883. “Are you sure you wanna know?”
  884. >“If it means we can be honest with each other, yes.”
  885. >You take a breath.
  886. “First, he feels threatened by the fact you're spending time with a guy other than him.”
  887. >Twilight sighs.  “That's not a surprise.”
  888. “Second, he says that you're using me as a means to an end.”
  889. >“What?”
  890. >You look back down at the table as you wring your hands on top of it.
  891. “What we're doing will be cut off once the History course is over...that after you get a passing grade, you'll cast me aside and move on...”
  892.  
  893. >You can't see it, but you sense Twilight has a shocked expression.
  894. >“He couldn't have said that...that's not like him...”
  895. “As far as you know.  Sometimes we show different faces to different people.”
  896. >There's silence for a moment.
  897. >“If that's the case...then what face are you showing me right now?”
  898. >You return your gaze to Twilight, who is looking at you intently.
  899. “A face of honesty, which is what you wanted.  I wouldn't dare lie to anyone about something as serious as this.  That would only make things worse.”
  900. >“Do you...believe what he said?”
  901. “I...don't know...he could be lying, but I don't know enough about either of you to be sure...”
  902. >Twilight reaches out and puts a hand on top of yours.
  903. >“Anon, listen.  You're becoming a good friend of mine.  I swear, I would never just abandon you or anyone else like that.”
  904. “You mean that?”
  905. >She nods.  “I do.  Building a trusting friendship is more important than building up a good grade.”
  906. “As long as it doesn't become an obsession,” you chuckle.
  907. >“Is that something else he said?”  Twilight asks.
  908. “Him and a few others I've talked to.  They say once you're dedicated to something, you focus almost entirely on it until it's completed.”
  909. >She laughs.  “Well, I guess that's true in some respects.  There have been times when I get like that, especially with my science experiments or building different machines.”
  910. “How bad does it get?”
  911. >“Some instances are worse than others.  I remember one time I was assembling a small laser for a project I was doing.  I started after dinnertime, and I just kept going.  By the time I was finished with it, the sun was coming up again.”
  912. “You did all this with no breaks?”
  913. >“Nope, not even to use the facilities.”
  914. “Geez, they weren't kidding, then...”
  915. >“It was worth it, though.  I completed the project, and the laser was working like a charm when I tested it after.”
  916. >“Well, I guess that's one truthful thing I've heard today...”
  917. >Twilight giggles.  “Indeed.  But to get off that little tangent, don't worry.  We can keep spending time together, even after the semester's over.”
  918. “Really?”  You ask, perking up a little.
  919. >“I've been enjoying this so far, so yeah.”
  920. “A certain somebody's not going to be happy with that.”
  921. >“Let him stew over it.  You were right before – no matter what he thinks or does, I shouldn't change my mind about a decision like this.”
  922. >“Besides, I'm not going to let what he said get in the way of this.”
  923. >You smile, mentally sighing.
  924. “Guess I needed to get that off my chest...and I'm glad to know how you feel about it.  Thanks...”
  925. >“You're welcome...”
  926.  
  927. >Pinkie arrives with her tray moments later.
  928. >“Okie dokie lokie, here was come...uh...'cokies' for you!”
  929. >You and Twilight laugh at her attempt to make a weird rhyme, while Pinkie set sets two plates of the famous goodies in front of you with a toothy grin.
  930. >They're double-chocolate alright, with extra thick chunks instead of regular chips.
  931. >“To quote a certain movie,” Twilight says, “once you've eaten this, you'll feel right as rain...”
  932. >You take her word for it and chomp down.
  933. “Wow, these are fresh, basically melting in my mouth...”
  934. >Twilight grins.  “Perhaps Pinkie realized we both needed a pick-me-up and waited for a new batch.  That would explain why it took longer than usual.”
  935. “Whatever the reason was, I may need to make these my go-to instead.”
  936. >You both enjoy your treats and discuss other things in the process.
  937. >It's your turn to talk about your own friends, and you give brief descriptions for each of them.
  938. >You mention Ace's love for conventions and cosplay, and Twilight comments how she'll also do that from time to time.
  939. >You're intrigued by this.  You'll have to remember to ask Ace when the next big event will be.
  940. >Could mean something else you can do together if she's up for it...
  941. >For Blitz, you talk about how he's a transfer who didn't fit in at first, much like Twilight.
  942. >You also say he was able to fit right in with the group, another thing she can relate to.
  943. >Of course, Norman has been a big influence...and a bigger wingman for everyone.
  944. >Twilight laughs at this, and says some of her friends are the same way, backing her up without hesitation in times of need.
  945. >Soon, it's getting close to dinner time for the both of you, so you decide to call it a day.
  946. >At least there were no 'uninvited guests' this time.
  947. >That evening before bed, you get a text notification, and you see it's from Twilight again.
  948. >'I'm sure I said this to you earlier, but I wanted to say it again – don't let Flash's words get you down.'
  949. 'I'll try my best not to.  Thanks again for today.'
  950. >'Any time, Anon.  I'll see you tomorrow, okay?'
  951. 'Course you will.  Night, Twi.'
  952. >She replies with a laughing emoji, and you don't see anything else after that.
  953. >She must have turned in for the night, much like you're about to do.
  954. >Today was rocky, to say the least, but it feels like you're both standing on firmer ground now.
  955. >It also feels like not only is your foot in the door, but it's been opened up for you.
  956. >It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to walk through it...
  957.  
  958. ------
  959.  
  960. >The next day, you reach the World History class.
  961. >Mr V starts with his bad joke of the day.
  962. >“What does James Bond do before he goes to bed?”
  963. >You have an idea what the answer is, but you keep quiet.
  964. >“He goes under cover.”
  965. >Ba dum tss...
  966. >The usual mix of laughs and groans, although Twilight's in the former category.
  967. >“But in all seriousness, the quizzes have been graded.  Not bad overall, although some of you will need to review your notes...”
  968. >He comes around and hands them out one by one, face-down.
  969. >You and Twilight look at each other once hers is given back.
  970. >“You first,” she says.
  971. >You flip yours over on command.
  972. >You got a solid 'A,' naturally.
  973. >Twilight gulps, hesitating for a moment.
  974. >She's quivering with fear.
  975. “Come on, let's see it,” you say.
  976. >She garners the courage and flips hers.
  977. >She gasps at the 'A-' on it.
  978. >“Oh my god...this is the best grade I've gotten on any history quiz...”
  979. “Was there any doubt?”  You reply.  
  980. >“..maybe a little...”
  981. “Not for me.  You worked hard to prepare for this one.”
  982. >“But if it wasn't for you, I might not have been able to do so well.”
  983. “I'm just a small part of the bigger picture.  You deserve most of the credit for your dedication.”
  984. >Twilight smiles.  “You're selling yourself short.  Thank you for getting me here...”
  985. “The semester's only just started.  As long as you keep this momentum and hard work going, you'll get that 'A' no problem.”
  986. >“And as long as I have you to help me...”
  987. “Don't worry, I've got you...”
  988.  
  989. >With the quizzes returned, it's time to start talking about ancient China.
  990. >That video from last week summed it up pretty well.
  991. >A dynasty is dominant for a period before breaking apart, then a new one comes together, only for it to break up.
  992. >Rinse and repeat.
  993. >After that, the rest of the day goes as you expect.
  994. >Once school is out, it's back to the library.
  995. >As you and Twilight sit down to begin your study session, another girl arrives.
  996. >She has long, light pink hair, and an air of unease all around her.
  997. >“Hey Fluttershy,” Twilight says, waving her over.
  998. >The girl sees you, but stays where she is, rubbing her arm nervously.
  999. >“It's okay, Shy.  This is Anon, the guy I've been telling you about.”
  1000. >You lift your hand up in a small wave, giving as warm a smile as you can muster.
  1001. >Fluttershy is hesitant at first, but she finally returns both and comes over.
  1002. >“Um...hi...I hope I'm not interrupting anything...”
  1003. “Nope.  We were just about to start.”
  1004. >“So what's up?”  Twilight asks.
  1005. >“It's...my science course,” Fluttershy replies.  The past few classes have been really confusing to me, and we're going to have a quiz tomorrow.  I...need help with it, if that's okay with you. ...”
  1006. > “Oh, is that all?”  Twilight comments.  “Mr. Turner is your teacher for it, right?”
  1007. >“Y...yeah, he is.”
  1008. “Hey, I've got him too.  Guess I have him in a different block than you.”
  1009. >“Is he...going through stars with you right now?”
  1010. >You nod, and  Fluttershy gasps, putting her hands over her mouth.
  1011. >“Oh my, it's a sign!  Or maybe, it was written in those stars...”
  1012. “Well, I don't know about that,” you chuckle.  “Science isn't really my thing.  That's more Twilight's...area of expertise.”
  1013. >“I've got an idea,” Twilight says.  “How about we go over both courses together?  Anon can help me out, and we can both help you as best we can.”  
  1014. >“You're...sure you don't mind?”  Fluttershy asks.  “I don't want to be a bother...”
  1015. “You wouldn't be,” you reply.  “We're happy to do it, right, Twi?”
  1016. >Twilight laughs.  “He's right, Shy.  Come on, let's say we get started?”
  1017. >Fluttershy sits down next to her friend.
  1018. >“T...thank you...”
  1019.  
  1020. >The next hour or so involves pooling your collective knowledge in two areas of study.
  1021. >Not only does Fluttershy get a better understanding of the science aspect...
  1022. >...she also gets to see first-hand how even Twilight sometimes needs help, herself.
  1023. >She's says she's quite fascinated with Asian cultures as a whole.
  1024. >“I just love their art styles,” she comments, “and their writing.”
  1025. >“Gotta agree with you there,” Twilight replies.  It beautiful compared to what we're used to using.”
  1026. “It's funny how China pretty much invented kanji, then Japan goes and steals it for its own use.”
  1027. >“Would that really be considered theft, or is it just laziness?”  Twilight comments.
  1028. >Everybody laughs, having a good time out of it all.
  1029. >Fluttershy checks her phone.  “Oh dear, I need to get going.”
  1030. >“Are you needed at the shelter?”  Twilight asks.
  1031. >“No, they had enough help today.  That's why I had time to come up here to ask for help.  I was expected home sooner, though.”
  1032. “We'd best not keep you.  If you do need us again, don't be afraid to ask.”
  1033. >Fluttershy nods, then bows her head.  “Thank you both again.  I hope I do well tomorrow.”
  1034. “You'll be fine, just like Twi was for yesterday's history quiz.
  1035. >The pink-haired girl giggles.  “I heard she got a good grade.  She has an equally good tutor, from the sounds of it.”
  1036. >As Fluttershy takes her leave, Twilight laughs nervously.
  1037. “You're not embarrassed, are you?”  You ask her.
  1038. >“N...no, of course not!”  Twilight replies, a little flustered.   “Why would I be?”
  1039. “I don't know...that comment from Shy had you going there.”
  1040. >She sighs.  “I'll say it's...unusual for me.  Normally I'm the smartest in the group, so I find it strange needing outside assistance.”
  1041. “First time for everything, I guess.  Maybe we should hire ourselves out.”
  1042. >“What do you mean?”
  1043. “Well, think about it.  Flutters seemed to understand her trouble subject a little better, much like you.  We could make a happy buck tutoring others in the same boat.”
  1044. >“You can't be serious...”
  1045. “Nah, I'm kidding.  Too much of a hassle, and it'd mean we'd have less time to spend together...”
  1046. >Twilight blushes a little.  “Aw, now you're REALLY getting me embarrassed...”
  1047. “I can't help it,” you reply with a laugh, “especially when you get that way so easily.”
  1048. >She playfully whacks you on the head with her notebook.  “Alright, that's enough for one day...”
  1049.  
  1050. >It's time to head home for the day, so the two of you start making your way out.
  1051. >“I hope Fluttershy joining us was really alright with you,” Twilight says.
  1052. “It wasn't that big of a deal,” you reply.  “I'll say I wasn't expecting company, let alone from someone like her.”
  1053. >“I guess a part of me was expecting her.  She said she'd been going back and forth about finding help with her science class, but she didn't have a lot of time or confidence to ask for it.”
  1054. “I'm surprised you don't help her during lunch, when you're all together.”
  1055. >“I've suggested that to her before, but she's afraid of getting things accidentally spilled on her books and paperwork.”
  1056. “Fair enough...”
  1057. >You walk in silence for a bit.
  1058. >“You know,” Twilight begins again, “I've been thinking a little...”
  1059. “Hm?  About what?”
  1060. >“About where and how we meet.  I'm wondering if perhaps we can shake things up a little.”
  1061. “I'm listening...”
  1062. >“Like how we've gone to the Corner on days where nothing new is learned.  What if we met up at other places?”
  1063. “Is there something wrong with the library?”
  1064. >“Oh, not at all.  I just thought going to the same place almost every day would get stale after a while.”
  1065. “I'm game for whatever you wanna do.  If you wanna find other spots where you think we can still do this effectively, I'm willing to try them.”
  1066. >“You're sure?”
  1067. “Hey, it's not what I want that matters here.  It's what you want.”  
  1068. >Twilight smiles at this remark.  “Alright.  I have a few spots in mind.  I'll get back to you on that.”
  1069. “Sounds good...”
  1070. >You're finally out of the building and in the parking lot, and you walk Twilight to her car.
  1071. >“Thanks again for the help so far.  You may not think it, but you really are making a difference.”
  1072. “Like I said at the start, I'm glad to be doing this with you.”
  1073. >“Me too,” she replies, coming in to give you a hug.
  1074. >You feel your heart skip a beat, but it returns to normal once she lets go.
  1075. >“See you tomorrow!”  She says, getting into her car and driving off.
  1076. >You chuckle to yourself as you watch her go.  Perhaps this really is the start of something big.
  1077. >You turn and start heading to your own car.
  1078. >That's when you see Flash on the other end of the lot.
  1079. >It's a little hard to tell from your distance from him, but his eyes are narrowed.
  1080. >He's quick to start up his vehicle and zip out the other way.
  1081. >Your heart rate goes up as a result of this.
  1082. >You recall his words from the other day.
  1083. >Looks like you've got a rival on your hands, now...
  1084.  
  1085. ------
  1086.  
  1087. >The rest of the week floats on by.
  1088. >Although you feel you have to be a little wary.
  1089. >You're finding yourself looking behind you as you walk the halls, in case Flash or one of his bandmates make an appearance.
  1090. >You're sure he wouldn't resort to violence to settle his 'dispute' with you...
  1091. >...right?
  1092. >There's still that tiniest part of you that feels he's capable of just about anything.
  1093. >Better to be safe than sorry, you suppose...
  1094. >On Thursday, the science quizzes come back.
  1095. >You got a 'B+,' which is average for you in here.
  1096. >Fluttershy comes to see you during lunch that day to tell you she got a 'B+,' as well.
  1097. >She's so happy with the results that she asks if she can join you and Twilight before science quizzes for now.
  1098. >You look to Twilight from across the way, she gives a nod and a 'thumbs-up,' as if to say she's fine with it.
  1099. >When you give your 'yes,' you're practically glomped by the normally skittish girl.
  1100. >This one is even more unexpected as Twilight's regular hug from earlier in the week.
  1101. >Your friends laugh at this display, but Fluttershy doesn't seem to care.
  1102. >Ace, of course, asks if there's another love triangle developing.
  1103. >You, of course, tell him to shove it.
  1104. >By Friday afternoon, Twilight shares several ideas with you for additional meeting places.
  1105. >They include the park (when the weather's nice enough), the sushi bar, and a few others.
  1106. >When she asks for other suggestions, you recommend a pizza place you go to all the time.
  1107. >She's never been to it before, but she's as willing as you are to try other places, and quickly adds it to her list.
  1108. >Your friends were right about one thing – she's really getting into this.
  1109. >With so many choices, you suggest setting up a little meeting schedule, so you can plan when and where to get together.
  1110. >She's on-board right away, and a while later passes you a diagram with her 'proposal.'
  1111. >During the week, it would alternate between the library and Sugarcube Corner
  1112. >You would then meet up at either of the two restaurants on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on what you both have going on.
  1113. >Seems adequate, with just enough variety to make things interesting.
  1114. >When you give your 'stamp of approval,' Twilight is beaming.
  1115. >You can't help but chuckle in amazement.
  1116. >You suggest going to the pizza place that weekend to start things off, and she agrees to it.
  1117. >Progress is progress...
  1118.  
  1119. >It turns out that Saturday is an open day for the both of you.
  1120. >You decide to meet at the pizza place for a nice lunch and to ready yourselves for the next quiz.
  1121. >You're the first to arrive, and you wait outside for Twilight to get here.
  1122. >She does so a few minutes later, and you head inside.
  1123. >You're a regular customer here, although it's rare for you to actually sit down and eat.
  1124. >Twilight takes in the atmosphere, admiring all of the paintings adorning the walls.
  1125. >The owner, an older gentleman whom you know well, greets you as he always does.
  1126. >“Benvenuta, Anon!  Come stai oggi?”
  1127. “Fare bene, Mr. Riggs,” you reply.
  1128. >Twilight looks confused.
  1129. “His family immigrated from Sicily many years ago,” you reply.  “He keeps the traditions and language alive as best he can, and he likes it when I play along.”
  1130. >“Oh, okay...”  Twilight nods, while Mr. Riggs eyes the two of you.
  1131. >“And who is this piccola fiore with you today?” He asks, mixing in his native language with words you can both understand.
  1132. “This is Twilight, a new friend of mine and classmate.”  
  1133. >She waves with a little 'ciao,' which is probably as much Italian as she know.
  1134. >Mr. Riggs raises and eyebrow.  “New friend, eh?  You know how to pick'em, don't ya?  Or did she pick you?”
  1135. >Twilight blushes as he laughs, while you casually wave it off.
  1136. “We're here for business, and to enjoy some food.  Don't read too much into it.”
  1137. >Mr. Riggs nods, but gives a skeptical look.  “Bene, bene.  What can I get you, then?”
  1138. >You decide to split a 'pie,' as is the term here, and you're told it'll be ready in a while.
  1139. >There are plenty of booths open, so you find one and pull out your books and notes.
  1140. >“He seems nice,” Twilight says.
  1141. “He's practically a godfather to me, given how often I come here.  I've learned a lot from him.”
  1142. >“How long have you known him?”
  1143. “A very long time, and even longer for my parents.  He owned this place even before they started dating and coming here.”    
  1144. >“It sounds like a nice history to have,” she muses.  
  1145. >You nod, while thinking 'I wonder if history will repeat itself...'
  1146. >Twilight is about to start, when you hold up a hand.  
  1147. >“What's wrong?”  She asks.
  1148. “Wait a moment.  I wanna wait for something...”
  1149. >“Uh...wait for what?”
  1150. “The latest interruption.  Seems like the last few times we've done this, someone or something comes along to either improve or ruin the mood.”
  1151. >“Come on, you can't be-”
  1152. “Three...two...one...”
  1153.  
  1154. >The bell above the door rings, and you both look that way as two girls walk in with backpacks.
  1155. >One has on a cowboy hat, while the other has the most colors in her hair you've ever seen.
  1156. >“Well ain't this a surprise?”  The blonde comments as she sees you.  “Fancy meetin' ya here, Twi.”
  1157. >“Applejack?  Rainbow?  What are you doing here?”  Twilight asks.
  1158. >“We just got done with some training drills,” the girl with the six-colored hair, whom you assume is Rainbow, replies.  “Thought this would be a good place to relax and have a bite.”
  1159. >Twilight chuckles.  “I, uh...guess so?  I've never been here before, so I wouldn't know...”
  1160. >“And who's this?”  'Applejack' asks, looking at you suspiciously .  “You this Anon feller I've been hearin' about?”
  1161. “Yeah, that's me.”
  1162. >“Oh, so you're Twi's new study buddy?”  Rainbow asks.  “I mean, I've seen you around before, but didn't think she'd go with you.”
  1163. >“Guys, cut it out,” Twilight interrupts.
  1164. >“What's the matter?”  Applejack quips.  “Ain't nothin' wrong with meetin' new faces, is there?”
  1165. >“Yeah,” Rainbow adds, “especially when they can do us a favor.”
  1166. “Favor?”
  1167. >Applejack rubs the back of her head.  “Ya see...ah've been havin' trouble with this al-gee-bra stuff.  You any good at it?”
  1168. “I know my way around it, sure.”
  1169. >“How about literature?”  Rainbow asks.  “I've got an exam next week about Edgar Allen Pone, and I can't make heads or tails of it.”
  1170. “I know some of his works, at least...”
  1171. >“Y'all wanna help us while we're here?”  Applejack asks.  “Then we can see if what Twi's been saying is true.”
  1172. “And what has 'Twi' been saying?”   You rebut with curiousity.
  1173. >“That you're the best thing that's happened to her in a long time,” Rainbow replies.
  1174. >Twilight's beet red at this point, burying her face in her book.  “Not now...not in front of him...”
  1175. “Okay, this has gone off the rails in a hurry.  Let's get back on track, alright?”  
  1176. >Twilight's friends can see they went too far, and look ashamed for it.
  1177. >“Sorry, Twi,” Applejack says.  “We didn't mean it.”
  1178. >“Yeah,” Rainbow mumbles, “but it's all in good fun, isn't it?
  1179. “Not when the one you're aiming it at doesn't want to hear it,” you reply.
  1180. >“Guess it's a good thing we got our stuff to go,” Applejack comments.  “We'll leave ya be.”
  1181. “I'll get back to the both of you on the courses you need help with,” you say.  “How about during lunch on Monday?”
  1182. >“Sounds like a plan,” Rainbow replies.  “Sorry again...”
  1183. >The two go and grab their orders, then head out the door after a quick 'see you later.'
  1184.  
  1185. >Twilight gives a long, drawn out sigh once they've left.
  1186. “Guess I should apologize, too.  I went and jinxed it...”
  1187. >“It's not your fault, Anon,” Twilight finally says.  “This was nothing but a coincidence.”
  1188. “One that really hit you hard.  Have they always been like this?”
  1189. >“Even before I became friends with them, yeah.  Sometimes they just can't help it, but I'm used to it.”
  1190. “At least they didn't stick around for long.  Hopefully there won't be any other unwanted distractions.”
  1191. >“We'll see...”
  1192. >The pizza is ready a short time after.
  1193. >You finally get to do what you came here to do.
  1194. >Fill your minds and your stomachs.
  1195. >Much like the previous time before a quiz, Twilight is gaining a better understanding of the material.
  1196. >By the time the pizza is gone, she feels she's ready.
  1197. >“Not quite how I thought today would go,” she comments, “but at least we had a nice recovery.”
  1198. “It could have been a lot worse,” you reply.  “A certain somebody could have walked in, also.”
  1199. >Twilight looks to the ceiling.  “Ugh, now I'm wondering if your 'jinx' theory holds water...”
  1200. “Best not think about that now.  Let's say we get out of here before it does get tested.”
  1201. >“Good idea.  Speaking of which, I was wondering...”
  1202. “Hm?”
  1203. >“The museum's opening a new exhibit this weekend you might like.  It's on Egypt and the like.”
  1204. “Oh, I didn't hear about that.”
  1205. >“You wanna...check it out?”
  1206. >You tilt your head slightly, but you soon give a grin.
  1207. “Sure, why not?”
  1208. >Twilight smiles as she packs her bag.  “Then what are we waiting for?”
  1209. >You pay Mr. Riggs and give a 'ciao' before heading out.
  1210. >He replies with a 'buona fortuna,' which you also thank him for.
  1211. >You'll need all the luck you can get going forward...
  1212. >...but if things keep up as they have been, it should be in steady supply...
  1213.  
  1214. >The museum's on the other side of the city, but at least traffic isn't too bad today.
  1215. >Once you arrive, you follow Twilight inside.
  1216. >You honestly can't remember the last time you've been here.
  1217. >You had to have been just over knee-high to your father, at least.
  1218. >The one thing you remember about it was the giant T-Rex skeleton on display near the front.
  1219. >Lo and behold, it is still there, posed in a way to be facing down onlookers with open jaws.
  1220. >It brings a smile to your face, and Twilight can see it clearly.
  1221. >“I take it you liked dinosaurs as a kid.”
  1222. “As a kid?  They're awesome no matter what age you are.”
  1223. >She giggles as you continue on.
  1224. >Neither of you is sure where the new exhibit is, as there aren't really any signs to say so.
  1225. >Must be the staff's way of getting people to explore the whole place.
  1226. >That's fine with the both of you.
  1227. >The exhibit  placement seems all over the place, follow different themes rather than flow of time.
  1228. >There are plenty of science-based setups, which Twilight takes time to look at.
  1229. >One is about the moon landings, and includes scale models of the rockets, modules, and other equipment used in the missions.
  1230. >There's an old TV set up with a loop of the first videos of people walking on the moon.
  1231. >The piece of moon rock, however, is of highest interest to Twilight, surprise surprise.
  1232. >One that catches your eye is the 'Evolution of the Machine Gun.'
  1233. >It starts with a replica of the first gatling gun used in the years after the Civil War.
  1234. >There's also some weapons used during both World Wars, including the infamous MG-42.
  1235. >It ends with a look at some of the more modern weapons used by the military today.
  1236. >“Ooh, that looks like one that my brother trains with,” Twilight muses.
  1237. >You see she's getting a call from somebody, but she swipes it away on her phone.
  1238. >When you ask who it was, she tells you not to worry about it.
  1239. >About an hour or so later, you feel you're getting closer to your destination.
  1240. >The exhibits are now further back in time, showing off clothes, weapons, and artwork from more ancient empires throughout history.
  1241. >The Middle Ages exhibit features a knight's helmet, broadsword, and halberd.
  1242. >One on Japan has a full set of samurai armor, complete with multiple katanas.
  1243. >Rome's shows statues of various emperors either admired or feared by their people.
  1244. >China's has a replica of one of the first printing presses to be invented.
  1245. >Getting closer...
  1246.  
  1247. >At last, in its own section, there it is - Ancient Egypt in all its glory.
  1248. >The walls are made to look like the stone carvings found on their monuments.
  1249. >Hieroglyphics and depictions of their gods adorn these walls and the replica furniture and pottery.
  1250. >There are even some papyrus scrolls made the way it would have been during that period.
  1251. >A few mannequins are also set up to feature clothes of the era.
  1252. >The cream of the crop is the sarcophagus.
  1253. >It's large and in charge, covered in gold and precious stones.
  1254. >The lid is on its own stand, while the inside is visible, complete with a well-preserved mummy.
  1255. >“It's hard to imagine how much time and effort they went through to prepare someone like this,” Twilight says.  
  1256. “It'd be a long forty days or so,” you reply.  “All in the name of being presentable in the afterlife.”
  1257. >“Presentable?”
  1258. >“They believed their souls could go in and out of the body as it pleased.  If the body was damaged in any way, the soul would not recognize itself, and would never be able to return to it.”
  1259. >“And why would they take their organs out?  Why not leave them in?”  
  1260. “They felt certain ones were important, and needed to ensure they were as preserved separately from the main body.  That's where the sacred jars came in.”
  1261. >“I guess that makes sense...”
  1262. “They left the heart in the body, though, as that's where they felt the person's soul resides.”
  1263. >“Still feels arbitrary, but who was around to tell them otherwise...”
  1264. “Egypt's not the only culture that has mummies, but they're by far the most interesting.”
  1265. >Twilight looks back to you.  “What do you think?  Has this been worth the time to come out here?”
  1266. “I'd say so.  We just recently went over it, so it's nice to see things like this up close.”
  1267. > “Yeah...that's why I thought of you when I saw this was being set up.”
  1268. “Thanks for thinking of me.  Even though it's been years since I've been here, there's always something new to find.”
  1269. >“Perhaps...we can do stuff like this more often...”
  1270. “If you'd like,” you say almost absentmindedly.  
  1271. >You turn to Twilight when you realize what you've said, and she has that beaming look in her eyes.
  1272. >She shakes herself out of it when she sees your expression.  “Sorry, sometimes I get carried away...”
  1273. “Don't worry about it.  You're having a good time, and that's what's important.”
  1274. >“What about you?”
  1275. “I'm with you, right?  So it's a good time for me no matter what.”
  1276. >Twilight blushes, tilting her head away.  “Aw, you're sweet...”
  1277. >“He's something, alright...”  Another voice says.
  1278.  
  1279. >You both turn, and wouldn't you know it...
  1280. >It's him...
  1281. >“Flash?”  Twilight exclaims.  “Why are you here?”
  1282. >“I've been looking for you,” he replies.  “I've tried to get a hold of you over the phone, but you weren't picking up.”
  1283. >The pot calling the kettle black...
  1284. >“What did I say to you?”  Twilight reminds him.  “We're taking a break.”
  1285. >“Does that mean we're not allowed to see or talk to each other?”
  1286. >“Well, I...uh...”
  1287. “Can't you take a hint?”  You ask Flash.  “If she doesn't want to see you right now, then leave her be.”
  1288. >“You stay out of this, Anon,” he replies.  “It doesn't concern you.”
  1289. “The hell it does,” you state with narrowed eyes.
  1290. >“Stop it, both of you,” Twilight orders.  “I don't want this to escalate...”
  1291. >You comply, but Flash on the other hand...
  1292. >“Why are you spending all this time with him, anyway?”
  1293. >“Because he's being a big help to me,” Twilight replies, “and I want to get to know him better.”
  1294. >“But...he's a nobody.”
  1295. >“So was I.  Don't you remember?”
  1296. >Flash is taken aback.  “That was different...you're different...you're better now than when you first came here...”
  1297. >“Was I different?  Look...I know I'm not the same, but...I've tried my best to be what you wanted...”
  1298. >“You know that doesn't matter, Twi.  I like you no matter what.”
  1299. >You gaze goes back and forth between these two as you try and figure out what they're talking about.
  1300. >You want to say something here, but you choose to keep your mouth shut.
  1301. >“I know you do.  It's just...I felt really hurt when I didn't see you for so long.  It was like you were avoiding me on purpose.”
  1302. >Flash looks down.  “I...didn't mean to make it look like that.  My music and band are just as important as my relationship with you.  I see you all the time, and I...needed to find my own space for a while.”
  1303. >Twilight sighs.  “I get it...and I guess that's what we're doing right now.”
  1304. >“Yeah...again, I'm sorry for what happened...”
  1305. >“Me too.  Let's keep this going for a little longer...then maybe you can give me some more time down the road...”
  1306. >Flash nods.  “I will...”
  1307. >“Then...please...leave me be for now...”
  1308. >Twilight turns away, leaving Flash to look at you.
  1309. >He gives you a neutral glare before making his way out.
  1310.  
  1311. >Your focus returns to Twilight, whose eyes are watering a little.
  1312. “You okay?”
  1313. >“No...I'm not...”
  1314. “Anything you want me to do right now?”
  1315. >She sniffles as she adjusts her glasses.
  1316. >“Can you promise me something?”
  1317. “Hm?”
  1318. >“Promise you won't ignore me if I need anything from you...”
  1319. “Like...the time of day?”
  1320. >She nods.  “I know it sounds silly, but...I just need someone who can give me that...”
  1321. “Is it really silly?  It's only typical for people to want to look for a close friendship.”
  1322. >“Guess I'm not exactly typical,” she replies with a chuckle.
  1323. “Neither am I.  There's at least one thing we have in common.”
  1324. >“I'm sure there's more than that...”
  1325. >She comes in for a hug.
  1326. >“Thank you...for sticking up for me.  It means a lot...”
  1327. >You return the embrace.
  1328. “Any time.  You wanna stay here a little longer, or do you wanna head out?”
  1329. >“I guess I've had enough excitement for one day.  I still have some other work to do before the weekend is out.”
  1330. “Sure thing...”
  1331. >You part ways shortly after, and you head home to relax.
  1332. >Throughout the remainder of the weekend, you get the occasional message from Twilight, which you reply to.
  1333. >They're mostly questions regarding what you've been learning about...
  1334. >...but one on Sunday night asks what you have going on the following weekend.
  1335. >You reply with 'we can figure something out,' and 'we'll talk about that more when it gets closer.'
  1336. >She sends a 'thumbs-up' emoji before turning in for the evening.
  1337. >You soon do the same, with a whirlwind of questions in your head.
  1338. >Will Twilight fully forgive Flash and get back together with him?
  1339. >Is she looking for a 'close friendship' with you, or something deeper than that?
  1340. >Would you be able to fully keep your promise to her if it did become something more?
  1341. >And what if Flash was telling the truth all along, and this will all be for nothing?
  1342. >You drift off, still unsure of what to make of any of this...
  1343.  
  1344. ------
  1345.  
  1346. >Another Monday, another quiz to be taken.
  1347. >Before that, of course, Mr. V. tells one of his bad jokes.
  1348. >“Now, for all you 'fantasy officionados' out there, I'm sure you know what a necromancer is.”
  1349. >There are plenty of nods from the class.
  1350. >“Shouldn't individuals like that be buff?  They do so much 'dead-lifting'!”
  1351. >Da dum tss...
  1352. >After the usual mixture of laughs and groans, he hands out the quizzes.
  1353. >You breeze through yours, while you see Twilight taking her time to give an answer to each term.
  1354. >Seems that's going to be her standard practice on these.
  1355. >All of the students are finished with about ten minutes to spare.
  1356. >“Alright,” Mr V. says, “before we ease our way into the next period, I have an announcement.”
  1357. >This should be interesting...
  1358. >“Tomorrow we begin our first group project of the semester.”  
  1359. >Twilight's ears perk up.
  1360. >“Dividing into teams of two, you're to pick a civilization we've discussed thus far.  Then, make a diorama and a presentation about one aspect of it you find the most 'amazing.'  Sound like fun?”
  1361. >Twilight gives a gasp.
  1362. >“Take the rest of the time to figure out who you'll work with and what civilization to choose, and we'll make selections first thing next time.”
  1363. >The other students begin talking amongst themselves, while you hear a low 'EEEEE!' beside you.
  1364. >“I can't wait!”  Twilight says.  “You wanna pair up, Anon?”
  1365. “We've come this far, so why not?”
  1366. >“Oh my, we've covered a lot so far, and I have so many ideas on what we can do!”
  1367. “Remember, it's just for a little presentation.  We're not doing it in front of the entire world.”
  1368. >“You yourself may think like that,” Twilight replies, “but I've never been good at keeping things like this to a minimum.”
  1369. >Oh boy...
  1370. “Well, first of all, what do you want to cover?”
  1371. >“Hm...”
  1372. >She ponders for a moment.
  1373. >“I've been leaning towards Egypt, given our little experience over the weekend.”
  1374. “So what, are we going to build a full pyramid?”
  1375. >“No, silly!  Just a scale model of one.  Plus, I have another idea for what we can do.”
  1376. “Okay...”
  1377. >Twilight sends you a message over her phone.  “Meet me here after school.  We can talk more there.”
  1378.  
  1379. >Once school is out, you head to your car.
  1380. >Twilight must have gotten to the parking lot before you did, as her's is already gone.
  1381. >You plug the address she gave you into your GPS and follow it to a section of the city you've never been to.
  1382. >It's an upscale community, as there are larger houses with expansive front and backyards.
  1383. >You end up at one of these mansions, and you see Twilight's car in the driveway.
  1384. >She gets out of it when you arrive.
  1385. >“Come on,” she says, bringing you to the front door and ringing the doorbell.
  1386. >The door opens, and another purple-haired girl about your age is on the other side.
  1387. > DARLING!”  She exclaims, giving Twilight a big hug.  “So surprised to see you so soon!”
  1388. “So who is this?”  You ask.
  1389. >The other girl lets go and clears her throat.  “Oh my, where are my manners?  I'm Rarity, one of Twilight's friends.”
  1390. >“And this is Anon,” Twilight says.  “He's the one you've heard so much about recently.”
  1391. >Rarity gives you a once-over.  “Hm, I see.  Well, come in so we can get started.”
  1392. “Get started on what?”  You ask as you enter.
  1393. >“You'll see,” Twilight says in a sing-song tone.
  1394. >Rarity leads you both up a flight of stairs to what you assume is her room.
  1395. >It seems more like a seamstress's abode, as there is various material and implements everywhere.
  1396. >“In case you haven't guessed already, I like designing clothing of all sorts during my free time,” Rarity explains.  “I've been doing this since even before high school.”
  1397. “Okay, I think I know what Twilight has in mind...”
  1398. >“As do I,” Rarity states.  “She threw the idea my way earlier, and I'd be more than happy to help.”
  1399. “So you want us to walk and dress like Ancient Egyptians?”  You ask Twilight.
  1400. >“I thought it would add something extra to our presentation,” she replies.  “Is that alright?”
  1401. “I'm not saying it isn't.  It just feels like it'd be too much, especially with having someone else making the clothes.”
  1402. >“Oh, it's not a problem for me,” Rarity says.  “Besides, Twilight tells me your teacher may appreciate a little 'authenticity,' as she calls it.”
  1403. “Oh, did she?”  You ask, looking at your 'partner.'
  1404. >Twilight laughs nervously.  “I did say I go overboard a lot on stuff like this...”
  1405. >You sigh as you look to the ceiling.
  1406. >“Please?”  She asks, batting her eyes.  “For me?”
  1407. >You see her pleading look, and it's tough to resist it.
  1408. “If you really think it will help...then fine.”
  1409. >Twilight does a little clap, while Rarity gives a nod of approval.
  1410. >“Then let's get to it!”  She proclaims.
  1411.  
  1412. >You start by going through what fabric Rarity has available.
  1413. >Twilight looks at each type, apparently trying to match it to the examples you saw at the museum.
  1414. >She points out a couple that she feels would work best, and you just go along with it.
  1415. >She also brought along a reference book showing examples of what Egyptians wore during their time.
  1416. >It looks like she wants to go the royal route, showing off a large photo of a wall carving.
  1417. >It depicts a pharaoh and his queen with staffs pointed up to the heavens.
  1418. >They appear simple to make, so you suppose it's not a big deal, after all.
  1419. >“And now, we need to get some measurements,” Rarity says.
  1420. “Ladies first,” you state, allowing Twilight to be done up before you.
  1421. >Rarity pulls out her measuring tape and begins her work.
  1422. >“So tell me, how has it been studying together so far?”  She asks.
  1423. >“I did really well on the previous quiz,” Twilight replies, “and I'm sure this one went just as well.”
  1424. >“Wonderful.  I guess Sunset had the right idea about you, Anon.”
  1425. “Not much to it besides going over what we've already learned.” you say.
  1426. >“Perhaps, but it's how you learn and come to understand something that matters.  I've always hated literature at school, for example, but Twilight helped me to 'get it' better.
  1427. “I guess it helps when she almost always has her nose in a book.”
  1428. >Rarity laughs, as does Twilight.
  1429. >“Maybe not ALL the time,” she replies, “but I do my fair share of reading.”
  1430. >“You've gone through almost half of the books in the library, haven't you?”  Rarity jokes.
  1431. >“Well...maybe more like a quarter...”
  1432. >Rarity chuckles as she measures Twilight's bust and waist, writing down the numbers she finds.
  1433. >“That should do for you.  Come, Anon, it's your turn.”
  1434. >You roll your eyes as you step forward.
  1435. >She has you stretch out your arms to either side of your body and gets the lengths on both.
  1436. >You feel really awkward as she works, but you know it's all to make Twilight happy.
  1437. >It's not long before Rarity gets measurements for the rest of your body.
  1438. >“I sense you're going to pull off this look well,” she comments.  “Twilight will have a fine pharaoh to rule beside.”
  1439. >Twilight looks away at this comment, but you don't notice it.
  1440. >“I...gotta use your restroom real quick, okay?”  She says.
  1441. >“You know where to find it, darling,” Rarity relies.
  1442. >Twilight nods as she makes her way out of the room, leaving you with the self-proclaimed fashionista.
  1443.  
  1444. >“Another question for you, Anon,” Rarity says, sitting down.  “How has 'she' been so far?”
  1445. “Hm?  What do you mean?”
  1446. >“You know what I mean, darling.”
  1447. >You don't answer right away.
  1448. >“Oh, don't make it seem like you're been oblivious to her.  She's gushed to all of us about how great you are.”
  1449. “Has she really?”  You ask, skeptically.
  1450. >“Of course she has.  It's why I was so willing to help you two out like this.  Well, I would have you  anyway, but still.”
  1451. “So...what else has she said?”
  1452. >“Let's see...you're intelligent, you're helpful, and you're attentive, I believe she called it.”
  1453. “Nice things to say, I guess...”  You say with a little laugh.  
  1454. >“What do you think of her, then?”
  1455. “I mean...she's far smarter than I am, she's devoted to whatever she does, and...”
  1456. >“And?”
  1457. “She has a certain cuteness to her.”
  1458. >Rarity grins.  “You like her, don't you?”
  1459. >You feel your cheeks burn a little.
  1460. “A little...but I wouldn't stand a chance with her.”
  1461. >“Why not?”
  1462. >“For one, she's already with Flash, and two, I'm not in her league...”
  1463. >Rarity shakes her head.  “There's no need to speak so lowly of yourself.  As for Flash, I'm sensing that may not last much longer.”
  1464. “What makes you say that?”
  1465. >“I've seen it before with some other girls at school.  They all had big disagreements with their boyfriends, and the relationships just couldn't be put back together the way they were.”
  1466. “It doesn't mean it's all over with Flash, though.  Twilight told him herself she hopes to get back with him eventually.”
  1467. >“Which means right now you have the time to make something of it, if you really want to.”
  1468. “Would she even want that?  Having another guy pining for her at a time like this?”
  1469. >“As long as you're not a brute about it.  Right now she could use someone who can relate to her...”
  1470. “And give her the time and attention she needs.”
  1471. > “Exactly.  See, I knew you weren't oblivious.”
  1472. “Heh, maybe not.  On the off-chance I went through with it, do you think it could work?”
  1473. >“You sound like a good guy, from what Twilight has said.  If anyone can get her out of her little funk, it's you.”
  1474. “Guess I'll have to try my best.  Thanks for the kind words.”
  1475. >Rarity smiles again.  “My pleasure.  Just try not to mess it up.”
  1476.  
  1477. >Twilight returns shortly after.
  1478. >“Is there anything else you needed from us?”  She asks.
  1479. >“No, I think that's everything,” Rarity replies.  “I should have your outfits ready by the weekend, but I'd like you both to come try them on beforehand.”
  1480. >“Sounds good,” Twilight says.  “Well, Anon?  You feel confident about our chances?”
  1481. “I'm sure Mr. V will appreciate the effort.  We'll have to plan out that model you were talking about, and figure out how to make it.”
  1482. >“You wanna go to the Corner for that?”
  1483. >You look to Rarity, and she raises her head slightly.  It's as if she's reminding you of what she said.
  1484. “Yeah, we can do that.”
  1485. >Twilight's beaming again, and you both say bye to Rarity before heading out.
  1486. >Over more of the double-chocolate cookies from the Cakes, Twilight draws out her schematic.
  1487. “You know, I've got a lot of little building bricks,” you suggest.  “They aren't all yellow, but I could easily paint them.”
  1488. >“No need,” Twilight replies.  “I have a lot of old packing material at home, so we could use that to cover up the bricks and paint it up however we want.”
  1489. “And how big did we want to make this?  Can't be too heavy for either of us to move around.”
  1490. >“I'm thinking at least a foot long each way.  You could always make it hollow if you're worried about the weight of it.”
  1491. “True.”
  1492. >“Ooh, this is going to be exciting!  I can't wait to get going on this!”
  1493. “Guess we know how we're going to be spending the weekend,” you quip.
  1494. >“Well, maybe not the WHOLE weekend.  With our combined efforts, we can have this knocked out in no time, leaving us room for something else.”
  1495. “If you want.  I'm open for whatever you may have in mind.”
  1496. >“Alright.  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy working with you?”
  1497. “Enough times to have it drilled into my mind.”
  1498. >Twilight giggles.  “Sorry, sorry...”
  1499. “Don't be.  I like working with you, too.  Could be the start of something bigger.”
  1500. >Twilight blushes.  “We'll...see how things work out...”
  1501. “Of course,” you say with a nod.
  1502. >'Try not to mess it up,' you hear Rarity say once more.
  1503. >You want to do everything you can to take the advice you've been given.
  1504. >You also don't want to make the same mistakes Flash did.
  1505. >Tread lightly, play your cards right, and a good job with your current projects.
  1506. >Both this one, and being a good companion for Twi...
  1507.  
  1508. ------
  1509.  
  1510. >In World History on Tuesday, the quizzes come back.
  1511. >Both you and Twilight got 'A's' on it, so she's very happy about that.
  1512. >You also put in your civilization selection for the project, with her declaring 'Egypt!' with a healthy does of enthusiasm.
  1513. >It would appear the rest of Mr. V's classes this week will be held in the library, so everyone can do proper research and preparation.
  1514. >You're already ahead of the game, however.
  1515. >That afternoon, you finally get around to helping both Applejack and Rainbow with their respective subject issues.
  1516. >With AJ, it's a matter of how to assign values to each different letter in an equation.
  1517. >With Dash, it's trying to find the meaning in certain stories and poems of her aforementioned author.
  1518. >You and Twilight help them as best you can, and they both seem to understand things a little better by the end of it.
  1519. >“That should do for today,” Twilight tells you.  “I'm gonna start getting my part of the diorama ready.  When do you plan to start your part?”
  1520. “Once I've found and gathered enough bricks,” you reply.  “They're somewhere in the basement, but I'll look for them tonight.”
  1521. >“Excellent,” Twilight states.  “I'll see you tomorrow, then!”
  1522. >She takes her leave, but Applejack and Dash decide to hang around a little longer with you.
  1523. >“So Anon,” Dash begins once Twilight is gone, “have you done anything with her yet?”
  1524. >“Rainbow!”  Applejack exclaims.
  1525. >Dash puts a finger to her own lips in a 'shush.'  “We're in the library, remember?”
  1526. >“Ah don't give a hoot about that.  What's the ideer asking Anon somethin' like that?”
  1527. >“Oh come on, it's just a simple question that he can have a simple answer to.”
  1528. >“This ain't exactly good conversation,” Applejack states.  “Besides, it's a private matter, ain't it?”
  1529. “Got that right,” you reply.
  1530. >“At least gimme a 'yes' or 'no,'” Dash pleads.  “I'm dying to know.”
  1531. “You can get your mind out of the gutter.  Nothing like that is going on.”
  1532. >Dash smirks.  “I bet you'd like it to be going on, though.”
  1533. >You turn your head away as you roll your eyes, while Dash gives a knowing 'mm-hmm.'
  1534. >Applejack shakes her head in response to this.  “Just ignore her, Anon.”
  1535. “Kinda difficult when she's right in front of me...”
  1536. >“But ah guess ah'm kinda curious, also.  Has Twi shown any kinda interest in ya?”
  1537. >You think about it for a moment.
  1538. “Hard to say.  Flash is still in the picture, after all, so she's probably doing a mental and emotional balancing act.”
  1539. >“Darn tootin',” Applejack replies.  “Honestly wouldn't surprise me if she cut Flash off.”
  1540. >“Break up with him?”  Dash asks.  “He'd have to do something really stupid for that to happen.”
  1541. >“Hasn't he already?”  AJ questions.  “He's lucky she didn't end it right then and there.”
  1542. “And that's why I'm being as careful as I can.  I don't want to make this any more awkward.”
  1543.  
  1544. >“Ah don't think you are,” Applejack replies.  “Y'all're takin' her mind off the 'break time' and bein' a good friend ta her.”
  1545. “I guess...”
  1546. >“You're telling me you don't wanna try your luck with her?”  Dash asks.  
  1547. “It really depends...”
  1548. >“Go on,” she implores.
  1549. “If things continue to deteriorate between Twi and Flash, I don't wanna look or feel like I'm swooping in to take advantage of it.”
  1550. >“Ah doubt any of us see it that way,” Applejack says.  “What matters is how ya step up ta support her if things do go south.”
  1551. “What she does also matters here, not just the things I do.”
  1552. >“Don't you think it'd be nice if she came around to you?”  Dash asks.
  1553. “Of course it would, but it has to be natural, not forced.”
  1554. >“Whattya mean?”  Applejack asks.
  1555. “You know how Twilight can become obsessive, right?”
  1556. >Applejack tilts her head a little.  “In what way?”
  1557. >“He's talking how she sometimes gets a little too involved in her science experiments and whatnot,” Dash explains.
  1558. “It's not just in that, but in just about anything.  Twilight even admitted it, herself.  Flash said this led to her constantly trying to get a hold of him over the summer, and that itself led to that big fight of theirs.”
  1559. >Applejack nods in understanding.  “Now ah get ya...”
  1560. “What if I become her next obsession after that, and I do something to screw it all up?  Where would that leave us?”
  1561. >Applejack lowers her head in thought.  “Ah think y'all're overthinkin' this...”
  1562. “Am I?”
  1563. >“Yeah, just play it cool,” Dash comments.  “Twi wouldn't let this new friendship with you fall apart over something stupid, so you shouldn't worry so much about it.”
  1564. >“She's gotta point,” AJ adds.  “If y'all wanna keep this 'natural,' just be there for her and let the current drama run its course.”
  1565. >“If she's still with Flash once all's said and done,” Dash says, “you won't be any worse off than you are now.”
  1566. >“We weren't kiddin' about what Twi said the other day,” Applejack adds.  “Y'all really are the best thing that's happened ta her in a long time.”
  1567. >You give a meek smile.
  1568. “Well, with any luck, this will keep developing into something nice.”
  1569. >“We've got ya,” Dash replies.  “Think of us as your 'liaisons.'”
  1570. >“Lee...what?”  Applejack asks.
  1571. >“Basically, we'll be there to talk between the both of them if they need us.”
  1572. >“Gotcha,” AJ says.  “She's right, Anon.  Y'all can count on us.”
  1573. “Thanks, you two.  Twilight's lucky to have friends like you.”
  1574. >“As are you,” Dash says.  “Welcome to our little club.”
  1575. >The three of you laugh before you all take your leave.
  1576.  
  1577. >That night after dinner, you go through whatever homework you have left.
  1578. >You then make the trek down to the basement to look for your old building bricks.
  1579. >You were given a bunch of sets when you were little, but you grew out of them over time.
  1580. >You're a hoarder, though, and didn't want to just sell or otherwise give it all away.
  1581. >Besides, you figured you could hold on to them for your own kids down the road.
  1582. >After digging through dozens of boxes, you finally find one with the bricks...
  1583. >...then another...
  1584. >...and another...
  1585. >Geez, how much of this stuff DID you get as a kid?
  1586. >Apparently enough to fill six big parcel-sized boxes.
  1587. >You also find some baseplates you can attach your project to, and when put together they're big enough to handle the dimensions Twilight wanted.
  1588. >You remember her saying the colors of the bricks didn't matter, so you start gathering as many pieces of certain sizes as possible.
  1589. >Soon you're setting to work, starting with a square foot base.
  1590. >You follow Twilight's advice and keep it hollow, only adding bricks one stud in for each layer.
  1591. >Your mother comes down during your construction.  “Wow, I haven't seen you playing with these in a long time,” she comments.
  1592. “It's for a history class project at school,” you explain.  I'm doing this, while my partner is working another part to add to this.”
  1593. >“Oh, is this partner a friend of yours?”
  1594. “You could say that.  Only really got to know her a few weeks ago.”
  1595. >“Her?  Oh my, what's she like?”  
  1596. “Very smart, but needs help with a couple things, including this class.  She asked me to tutor her.”
  1597. >“And how has that been going?”
  1598. “She easily passed the first couple quizzes, so it's a step in the right direction.”
  1599. >“Is she a cutie?”  Your mother asks with a chuckle.
  1600. “Mom...”
  1601. >“Oh, don't mind me.  I'm just kidding...maybe...anyway, I'll leave you to it.”
  1602. “Gee, thanks...”
  1603. >You focus back on your work, and the pyramid is climbing higher and higher.
  1604. >Within another couple hours or so, you're reached the point where you can't add any more.
  1605. >If a pharaoh of Egypt was a building brick guy, you can imagine this being what they'd want their body entombed in.
  1606. >It's impressive, but this is merely the bottom layer.
  1607. >It should be interesting to see how Twilight adds to this.
  1608.  
  1609. >You take a picture or your creation and text it to your 'partner.'
  1610. 'What do you think?'
  1611. >'OMG you're done already?'
  1612. 'Wasn't much to it once I got everything gathered.'
  1613. >'Still, it's amazing how quickly you knocked this out.'
  1614. 'Well, I figured the sooner you have a base model to work with, the sooner you can tinker.'
  1615. >'Right.  Thank you.'
  1616. 'How's your end coming along, by the way?'
  1617. >'Well enough.  Just a lot of grinding up this packing material, and I picked up some paste earlier to mix it up with.  I also need to finish putting the molds together.'
  1618. 'Molds?'
  1619. >'The plan is to put the resulting mixture into them, and they should come out like the outside of a pyramid you'd find over there.'
  1620. 'How long will this take?'
  1621. >'The molds will be done soon, as I'm 3D-printing them.  I'm going to add the mix to them before bed and let it all harden overnight.
  1622. 'Gotcha.'
  1623. >There she goes...
  1624. >'That being said, you wanna come over tomorrow so we can put it all together?'
  1625. 'You mean at your home?'
  1626. >'Of course, silly.  Everything else is here, and it'd be a hassle to do it anywhere else.'
  1627. 'You already discussed this with your family, right?'
  1628. >'Don't worry, they'll know you're coming.  I don't bamboozle them and not say anything.'
  1629. 'If you say so.'
  1630. >'Oh, I do say so.'
  1631. 'Alright, alright...'
  1632. >'Before I forget, do you have any gold or yellow paint?  I don't have enough here to cover the surface area we need to.'  
  1633. 'I should have some.  Worse comes to worse I can pick some up at the hobby store or something before I come over.'
  1634. >'Perfect.  I can't wait to see what we craft out of all this.'
  1635. 'Me too.  I'll see ya tomorrow.'
  1636. >'Night, Anon.'
  1637. >You both sign off, and part of you is worrying.
  1638. >It sounds like Twilight is already getting overly involved, and making things more complex than they should be.
  1639. >You'll need to be careful not to step on her toes...or cross any unspoken boundaries.
  1640. >The words from Applejack and Dash replay in your mind, and you try to have that overpower your current anxieties.
  1641. >'Play it cool, Anon...play it cool...'
  1642.  
  1643. ------
  1644.  
  1645. >At lunch the next day, your friends keep egging you on, asking you how things are going...and how far things have gone.
  1646. >You have to remind them, once again, that it isn't about 'that.'
  1647. >Although you have to admit it to yourself – maybe Dash's words aren't that farfetched after all...
  1648. >During research time in the library, Twilight brings you up to speed on her progress.
  1649. >She had filled her freshly-made molds before bedtime, and the resulting pieces popped out this morning without much difficulty.
  1650. >You mention you found the paint she was looking for, and she once again has her beaming look.
  1651. >That means today's indeed the day to put everything together.
  1652. >She has you follow her home that afternoon.
  1653. >What are ya, a lost puppy?  Nah...
  1654. >You grab your little 'brick building' from the back seat, which is in a plastic tub to make it a little easier to move around.
  1655. >You both head inside, and you're greeted by whining.
  1656. >The strangest looking dog you've ever seen comes out from one of the rooms and walks over to the two of you.
  1657. >“Hey Spike,” Twilight says, crouching down to give the dog a scratch behind the ears.
  1658. >He pants happily as his itch is taken care of.
  1659. “Spike, huh?”  You ask.
  1660. >“He's a rescue,” Twilight replies.  “He's been with us for many years.”
  1661. “I can tell.”
  1662. >Spike turns his attention to you, giving a low growl.
  1663. >“Hey, you behave yourself,” Twilight scolds him.  “He's a friend.”
  1664. >You get down to a knee, setting your project on the floor beside you, and slowly hold out a hand.
  1665. >Spike is reluctant, but he gives you a chance and sniffs the hand.
  1666. >He then gives a little lick, and you respond by scratching his head.
  1667. >“There you go,” Twilight says.  “He's not so bad, right?”
  1668. “You talking to him, or to me?”
  1669. >She chuckles.  “Guess it could go either way.”
  1670. >Spike soon has his fill of attention, and heads back to where he was before.
  1671. “Mom, I'm home!”  Twilight announces as you both get up, you grabbing the tub in the process.
  1672. >A woman with purple and gray hair and blue eyes peeks out from the kitchen area.  “Hi, honey!”
  1673. >Her look changes to confusion when she sees you.  “Oh...this is someone new...”
  1674.  
  1675. “I thought you said you'd be telling your family I was coming,” you say to Twilight.
  1676. >“I did,” she replies.
  1677. >“You said one of your friends was,” her mother says, “but I was expecting it to be one of the other girls...or Flash...”
  1678. >Twilight looks down at the mention of his name.
  1679. >“Mom, we've been over this.  He and I are taking a break.”
  1680. >Her mother sighs.  “Sorry, honey...didn't mean to say it like that...”
  1681. >Twilight shakes her head.  “No, I should have been clearer with you about who was coming over.  This is Anon.”
  1682. >You'd give a little wave, but your hands are full at the moment.
  1683. >Her mother looks you over.  “Hmm, so you must be my little Twilight's new history tutor.”  
  1684. “Yeah, I guess you could say that...”
  1685. >“Lovely.  I'm Twilight Velvet, but most people just call me Mrs. Sparkle.”
  1686. >Two Twilights, eh?
  1687. “Nice to meet you.  'Sci' here invited me over to work on a project.”
  1688. >“That explains the model you've got in your hands,” Mrs. Sparkle replies.  “I'll leave you to it, then.  I'll call you when supper's ready”
  1689. >“Thanks,” Twilight says.  “Let's head up, Anon.”
  1690. >You head back by the front door and follow her up a flight of stairs.
  1691. >After a left turn and a trip down the hall, you find yourself in a spacious bedroom.
  1692. >There is all sorts of stuff on the ground, but it's not a total cluster.
  1693. >There are several tables with different bits of science-related equipment on them...
  1694. >...gizmos, gadgets, and even the portable laser Twilight mentioned to you before.
  1695. >Part of you was half-expecting a surgeon's table a la Dr. Frankenstein.
  1696. >On another of the tables, you see what looks like the molds she made.
  1697. >“You can set it over there,” she instructs, taking the can of paint from you.
  1698. “No problem,” you say, and you take a step forward...
  1699. >...onto something on the floor that makes you slip.
  1700. >Clearly, there IS a problem...
  1701. >You trip up, Twilight gasps loudly, and the pyramid goes flying.
  1702. >You land flat on your back with a 'thud...'
  1703. >...while the pyramid hits the floor behind you with a 'crash.'
  1704. >It breaks into hundreds of...well, pieces.
  1705.  
  1706. >“ANON!”  Twilight cries.
  1707. >She rushes over and gets to her knees to check on you.
  1708. “Ow...”  You groan, the wind having been knocked out of you.
  1709. >“Are you okay?”
  1710. >You look up to her and see the look of deep concern.
  1711. “I'll survive...though I can't remember the last time I've had a fall like that...”
  1712. >You manage to sit back up and turn around, and you both see the aftermath.
  1713. >There goes all the work you put in last night...
  1714. >Twilight is just beginning to realize what happened, and she looks even more afraid.
  1715. >“Oh no...no...no no no no no no no.....”
  1716. >She goes over to the pile of bricks as you return to your feet.
  1717. >“Not good...not good...not good...”  
  1718. >She's hyperventilating at this point...
  1719. >She falls to her knees again and puts her hands on her head, as if trying to figure out what to do.
  1720. >You kneel down next to her.
  1721. “Twilight, calm down...”
  1722. >“Calm down?!”  She asks exasperatedly.  “I had everything perfectly planned, but now it's ruined!  This whole afternoon is RUINED!”  
  1723. >The shout takes you off guard.
  1724. >Here's her obsessive nature manifesting itself...
  1725. >“Oh, I knew this was a bad idea...I should've cleaned up more...I should've known something like this could happen...”
  1726. >Tears are forming in her eyes.
  1727. >'Play it cool...play it cool...'
  1728. >You put a hand on her shoulder, which she jerks at.
  1729. “Hey, don't worry about it...”
  1730. >“How can I NOT worry about it?  This is all my fault!”
  1731. “No it's not...”
  1732. >“Thanks to my messiness, your part of our project is destroyed!”
  1733. “But we can rebuild it.”
  1734. >“That'll take time!”
  1735. “Which we have plenty of.  Presentations don't start until next week, remember?”
  1736. >“But...”
  1737. “And now we have a good excuse to spend more time together.”
  1738. >“But I...I...”
  1739. >She's trembling now...
  1740. >You shake your head as you pull her in for a hug.
  1741.  
  1742. >Twilight resists at first, but she quickly breaks down, burying her face into your shoulder.
  1743. “Listen to me...it's not your fault.  I should've been paying more attention.  Had I seen...whatever that was, I could've stepped over it.”
  1744. >You can feel her warm tears soaking your shirt as they flow.
  1745. “That's it...let it out...we'll get through this...”
  1746. >“Everything alright up there?”  You hear Mrs. Sparkle ask from downstairs.  “I heard a crash, then some shouting.”
  1747. “It's fine,” you call in reply.
  1748. >Though you say it to the Mrs., it's also meant for the little miss in front of you.
  1749. >After a minute or so, Twilight has calmed down a little, and you let go.
  1750. >She takes off her glasses so she can more effectively wipe her eyes.
  1751. >After putting them back on, she looks up to you.
  1752. “How are you feeling?”
  1753. >“Awful...”  She replies with a sniffle.
  1754. “Could've been much worse...”  
  1755. >“How?”  
  1756. “Well, I could've broken into hundreds of pieces, too.”
  1757. >Twilight takes a moment to think about that.
  1758. >“I don't know...the way you landed, it wouldn't be possible for your body to break apart like that...”
  1759. “I was trying to joke around and lighten the mood...”
  1760. >Twilight laughs, blushing a little.  “Sorry...”
  1761. “Don't be.  Again, it's not your fault.”
  1762. >“Can't I just take equal blame for this?”
  1763. “If you really think it'll make you feel better...”
  1764. >“Not totally, but it'll have to do...”
  1765. >You help Twilight to her feet, and she gives you a hug of her own.
  1766. >“Thanks, Anon.  This afternoon turned into a real mess...”
  1767. “Again, we can clean it up.  Who knows, maybe you can find flaws in the design and make it even better than it was.”
  1768. >“Hm...you might be right.  It clearly wasn't stable enough to survive a fall from that height.”
  1769. “Neither could Humpty Dumpty, but unlike him, we can put this together again in no time.”
  1770. >“You think so?”
  1771. “I know so.  Come on, let's get to work.”
  1772.  
  1773. >Thankfully, you don't have to start this completely from scratch, as some of the sides broke apart like a puzzle.
  1774. >It's just a matter of finding the right placement for everything and reassemble it all.
  1775. >You show Twilight how you did things, and she helps as best she can.
  1776. >After an hour of building, the pyramid is back to almost where you had it originally.
  1777. “What'd I tell ya?”
  1778. >“I'll admit it,” Twilight replies, “you were right.”
  1779. “Sometimes.  How's about we get to what were going to do at the start?”
  1780. >Twilight nods as you put the pyramid back in the tub and pick the whole thing up.
  1781. >This time you check the floor in front and ahead of you to make sure there aren't any more 'obstacles.'
  1782. >At last, the piece is safely on the table.
  1783. >Twilight gathers the molded pieces she made and lines them up, making sure it all fits properly.
  1784. >Naturally, it does.
  1785. >She applies epoxy to the pieces' ends and sticks them together, covering up your work with hers.
  1786. >Besides being a dull gray, it does indeed look like an Egyptian pyramid back when it would have been first built.
  1787. >Twilight hands you a brush and opens up your can of paint.
  1788. >“A little bit at a time, and dab it in gently,” she says, picking up a brush of her own.  “We don't want this to fall apart by being rough on it.”
  1789. >You nod, and the next half hour is spent painting everything a nice gold.
  1790. >Soon, it is all covered up, looking all the more realistic.
  1791. >“Now for a final touch...”
  1792. >She grabs a bag of something, and she slowly and carefully pours it into the tub.
  1793. >Turns out it's playground sand, and she uses it to cover the bottom around the pyramid to give it more of a desert feel.
  1794. >It does look nice once all is said and done.
  1795. “See?  That wasn't so bad, now was it?”
  1796. >“It'd be better if I didn't make you trip like that...”
  1797. “So...what DID I trip on?”
  1798. >You look in the direction the object in question went flying, and Twilight gasps.
  1799. >“So THAT'S what happened to my stylus!”  She says, going over to pick it up.  “I've been looking for this since yesterday!”
  1800. “Glad I was able to help 'point' it out...”
  1801. >Twilight groans.  “Oh god, Anon, I hear enough bad jokes from Mr. V.”
  1802. “You can NEVER hear enough bad jokes.  Where do you think I get most of them from?”
  1803. >She smiles with a sigh, and it clearly looks like she's doing better than she was earlier.
  1804. >“Guess I could use a laugh or two...”
  1805.  
  1806. >”Honey, supper will be ready in a few!”  Mrs. Sparkle calls.
  1807. >“Just in time,” Twilight says.
  1808. “It all worked out in the end, so that's what matters,” you reply.
  1809. >“I suppose.  We should let this stay here at least overnight so everything can dry.  That alright?”
  1810. “Sure.  And I've been thinking...”
  1811. >“Uh oh, about what this time?”
  1812. “This little episode gave me an idea of something we can do near the end of our presentation.”
  1813. >“Okay...what?”
  1814. >You quickly do a search on your phone for a particular movie scene, and you show it to her.
  1815. >It's clear she's never seen the movie, and she gasps at what happens.
  1816. >You laugh nervously to yourself, unsure of what she'll think.
  1817. >“I don't really get it...but maybe if I saw the whole thing I'd understand it better.”
  1818. “I've got a DVD of it at home, and it's a riot.  Want me to swing by this weekend so you can watch it?  We can think of it as part of our work on the project.”
  1819. >Twilight considers it for a moment.
  1820. >“You know...I might like that...”
  1821. “Consider it done.  I've got dinner plans of my own, so I'm gonna head out.”
  1822. >“Sure,” Twilight says, giving you one more embrace.  “I'm glad we were able to salvage that little disaster of ours.”
  1823. “Wasn't a doubt in my mind.  See ya tomorrow.”
  1824. >“Bye...”
  1825. >You also say a 'goodbye' to Mrs. Sparkle as you leave, and she says the same.
  1826. >It doesn't look like Twilight's father is home yet.
  1827. >Probably for the best for right now.
  1828. >Today certainly had its ups and downs, for sure.
  1829. >You weren't expecting Twilight's flip-out, nor her nearly losing it over something as trivial as this.
  1830. >At least you managed to do some damage control.
  1831. >And your interactions with her went a lot better than you hoped.
  1832. >Perhaps she's coming around to you a little more.
  1833. >Only time will tell...
  1834.  
  1835. ------
  1836.  
  1837. >The rest of the week features a balance between homework, studying for quizzes from other classes, and doing research for the history project.
  1838. >Your earlier assumption proves to be correct when it comes to Twilight.
  1839. >Once she had a better grasp of how to research in this field, she has found it much easier.
  1840. >The fact she's been doing it with you has been a bonus.
  1841. >She tells you on Friday that Rarity is just about finished with the outfits she had been working on.
  1842. >She wants the two of you to visit that weekend to make sure they fit properly.
  1843. >You agree to make the trip Saturday morning.
  1844. >When you knock on the door this time, a younger girl answers.
  1845. >“Hey Sweetie,” Twilight says.
  1846. >“Hey Twi,” the girl replies, while also eyeing you.  “I guess you're looking for Rarity.”
  1847. >Twilight nods.  “Is she home?”
  1848. >She gets her answer when Sweetie shouts up the stairs.  “SIS, you've got company!”
  1849. >“Is that you, Twilight?”  You hear Rarity call.
  1850. >“And Anon, too,” she replies.
  1851. >“Wonderful!  Come on up, darlings!”
  1852. >You thank Sweetie as you follow Twilight up to Rarity's abode.
  1853. >When you enter, she is putting the finishing touches on one of the costumes.
  1854. >“Good to see you both,” she says, lifting the outfit and holding it up in front of her.
  1855. >“Wow Rares,” Twilight comments, “you outdid yourself again.”
  1856. >“Comes with the trade,” Rarity states.  “Let's get you into these so I can see how they look.”
  1857. >She hands you your costume and promptly shoos you out of her room, pointing towards the bathroom down the hall before closing the door.
  1858. >You guess Twilight will be changing in Rarity's room, which makes sense.
  1859. >You head to said bathroom, lock the door, and proceed to make your own change.
  1860. >Your outfit consists of a white tunic with an elaborate belt keeping it by your waist, as well as a white shirt covered up by ribbons designed to look like falcon wings.
  1861. >There is also a neck collar done up in colorful beads, and a traditional pharaoh's headdress.
  1862. >It doesn't look half-bad, all things considered.
  1863. >You head back to Rarity's room and knock on the door.
  1864. “Is Twilight decent?”  You ask.
  1865. >“Much more than decent,” Rarity responds.  “Come in.”
  1866. >You open the door and are met with a surprise.
  1867.  
  1868. >Twilight has on a white dress that comes down to her ankles, with shoulder straps keeping it all up.
  1869. >There are two silken sashes dyed blue and purple draped around her.
  1870. >A piece of cloth is wrapped around her waist, which includes patterns reminiscent of hieroglyphics.
  1871. >She is decked out in jewelry, including rings, bracelets, shoulder bands, and a gleaming necklace.
  1872. >On top of all this is a small golden crown on her head.
  1873. >You're so used to seeing her in her normal outfits, so this is quite the change.
  1874. >Twilight gasps at the sight of you.  “Oh my, you look amazing!”
  1875. “You even more-so,” you reply.  “Just beautiful.”
  1876. >She smiles at this.  “Thanks...”
  1877. >“Ooh, I knew it, I simply knew it,” Rarity says.  “You're pulling this off how I thought you would.”
  1878. “You really think so?”
  1879. >“Oh yes, although I couldn't make Twilight's outfit truly authentic.”
  1880. “Authentic?”
  1881. >Rarity nods.  “You see, Egyptian dresses for noblewomen were made of near-transparent material...”
  1882. >You clear your throat as you and Twilight blush at the thought of it, her much redder than you.
  1883. >“Anyway,” Rarity says, changing the subject, “I hope these meet your expectations.”
  1884. “I say you did a good job.  Right, Twi?”
  1885. >She adjusts her glasses with a nervous chuckle.  “Yes, yes you did.  Thank you again.”
  1886. >“Not a problem, darling.  Come, let me get some pictures of you together.  Think of it as having your  royal portrait taken.”
  1887. >You shrug as you go stand by Twilight, trying to strike as regal a pose as you can.
  1888. >“Oh, that won't do at all,” Rarity says.  “Get closer to her.”
  1889. >You respond by inching a little ways towards her.
  1890. >Rarity shakes her head and approaches you, practically pushing you until you're shoulder-to-shoulder with Twilight.
  1891. >“Now then, put your hand on her shoulder.  Go on...”
  1892. >It's your turn to laugh nervously.  
  1893. “Is this really necessary?”
  1894. >“It's alright,” Twilight replies.  “I'm fine with it...”
  1895. >You sigh as you wrap your arm around her back to her opposite shoulder, holding her close.
  1896. >“Much better,” Rarity states as she starts snapping photos.
  1897. >She has the two of you take a few other poses, including the stereotypical 'Egyptian walk' look one would see on their stone carvings.
  1898. >“That should do,” she announces.  “Let me know how your little presentation goes!”
  1899. >You leave the room once again so you can change back into your normal clothes.
  1900. >Afterward, you thank Rarity for the millionth time, pack up the outfits, and head out once again.
  1901.  
  1902. >You notice it's getting near lunch time, so you invite Twilight to grab a bite before heading back.
  1903. >She readily accepts, and you get something light over at Mr. Rigg's pizza place.
  1904. >He asks you a few questions in his native language, but you casually wave it off.
  1905. >Afterward, you follow Twilight back to her home for the rest of your 'preparation.'
  1906. >You remembered to bring that movie you were talking about, and you pop it in.
  1907. >Twilight hands you the remote, in case you need to point out anything she gets confused by.
  1908. >Spike comes into the living room just as you're ready to start, and he hops onto the couch between the two of you.
  1909. >Twilight giggles as she pets him, and he gives another of his growls as you go to sit down.
  1910. >She scolds him again, but he seems to mellow out after you hit 'play' and get comfortable.
  1911. >As the movie progresses, it gets more and more absurd and outlandish.
  1912. >There's one scene where the main character asks a question, another gives a detailed explanation, and the main asks the same question again.
  1913. >You pause and explain the actor forgot what his next line was, but the director decided to keep this scene for the final film, since it fit the character's mindset so well.
  1914. >Twilight laughs at this, and when you reach the scene you showed her earlier, she finally gets a kick out of it, now that she has actual context.
  1915. >She finds it as crazy as you made it out to be, but she seems to be enjoying it all the same.
  1916. >All the while, Spike is content with his place, getting head and back scratches from the both of you.
  1917. >By movie's end, she gives a 'wow.'
  1918. “So?  How was it?”
  1919. >“You weren't kidding about any of this,” Twilight replies.  “Some of it was ridiculous, but I bet it's the kind of comedy Pinkie would love.”
  1920. “Maybe.  So I thought we could do our own little rendition of 'that' scene near the end of our act.  How would that sound?”
  1921. >“You want to destroy your hard work a second time?”
  1922. “I'd be tearing it apart afterward, anyway.  I thought it'd be something funny we could do.”
  1923. >“And what are the odds of it increasing our grade on this?”
  1924. “That's not the point here.  It's about having a little fun, as we should be doing.”
  1925. >Twilight considers this.
  1926. >“Well...I guess we could give it a try...”
  1927. >'Success!'
  1928. >“But don't expect me to clean up your mess afterward.”
  1929. “Yes, ma'am.”
  1930. >Twilight giggles at this.
  1931. >“You wanna hang out a little longer?  I'm sure there must be something else of interest on.”
  1932. “I'd like that...”
  1933. >Another growl from Spike, but Twilight quickly shushes him and puts him on the end of the couch.
  1934.  
  1935. >She flips through the channels for a bit, finally settling on a nature documentary show.
  1936. >It's covering different courtship rituals for all sorts of animals, showing the lengths some males will go to in their attempts to woo the female.
  1937. >Unbeknownst to you, Twilight is inching her way closer and closer.
  1938. >It isn't until she's practically next to you that it gets your attention.
  1939. >You don't openly react or question it, preferring that she set the tone.
  1940. >You mentally lob a decision back and forth on whether or not to try your luck with something.
  1941. >The choice to go for it wins out in the end.
  1942. >You wrap your arm around, much like earlier in the day, and it rests on her shoulder.
  1943. >There is no verbal reaction from Twilight.
  1944. >Instead, she leans towards you, resting her head on your own shoulder.
  1945. >“This is nice,” she finally says.
  1946. “Agreed...”
  1947. >You stay like this for a while as the show continues.
  1948. >One scene in particular involving the dancing spider gets similar reactions out of the both of you.
  1949. >The male literally dances for his life while avoiding getting killed by the female.
  1950. >She eventually allows him to mate with her, and it looks like he won her over...
  1951. >...but the female kills him anyway...
  1952. >“That's terrible,” Twilight comments when it goes to commercial.  “After all he did to impress her, it didn't matter.”
  1953. “Guess she needed the extra protein for the egg-laying process.  A lot of female spiders will kill the male after the deed is done, or sometimes while it's still going on.”
  1954. >“I know.  It's still awful.  I'm glad that's not natural for people like us.”
  1955. “Like us?”
  1956. >Twilight gets a little flustered, adjusting her glasses again.
  1957. >“Um...I mean...for people in general.”
  1958. “Whatever you say...”
  1959. >Spike growls for a third time.
  1960. “Hey, come on now, what's the matter with you?”
  1961. >“Please don't mind him,” Twilight replies as she sets Spike onto the floor.  “He's just so used to having...him around...”
  1962. >Spike gives a 'woof' of disapproval as he takes his leave from the room.
  1963. “I get it,” you sigh.  “Must be weird for him to see someone else like me here.”
  1964. >“It's...not just weird for Spike...”
  1965.  
  1966. >You turn your attention back to Twilight.
  1967. “Weird for you too, huh?”
  1968. >“Yeah...”
  1969. “Would you rather I head out now?”  You ask, standing up.  “If it's making you uncomfortable-”
  1970. >“No, it's not that,” she replies, getting up herself.  “I just...don't know what I should really be doing right now...”
  1971. “In terms of what?”
  1972. >“You know what I'm talking about, or should I say...who.”
  1973. >You take a moment before nodding.
  1974. >“It's really tough, especially when we're all treading on thin ice.”
  1975. “Ice that can break at any moment with a single misstep.”
  1976. >“Right.  I really thought he and I had something special going...I mean, we did have it for a while.”
  1977. “But then the summer happened.”
  1978. >Twilight nods.  “I just don't know if I can ever forgive him for that...and recent events have made it even more complicated.”
  1979. “You mean spending time with me?”
  1980. >“Don't get me wrong, Anon, I've been enjoying my time with you.  And you've been so good to me, being patient with all of my faults...”
  1981. “I sense a 'but' coming.”
  1982. >“But...I have to know...what is your endgame here?”
  1983. >You tilt your head down and to the side as you formulate your answer.
  1984. “You want the truth?”
  1985. >Twilight nods.
  1986. “The truth is...I want you to be happy...”
  1987. >“What?”
  1988. “I'll admit it, I've thought about the time we've spent together, and part of me wishes it could be more than that...”
  1989. “But now's not a good time, not when you're at an emotional crossroads like this.”
  1990. >Twilight tilts her own head away.
  1991. >“If he was...no longer in the equation...what would you do, then?”
  1992. “I'd continue trying to make you as happy as I can, even if it doesn't go any further than a friendship.  Your feelings are what matter here, not mine.”
  1993. >“Is that your honest answer?”
  1994. “As honest as I can make it.”
  1995.  
  1996. >Twilight sighs as she approaches you.
  1997. >She embraces you like she did at the museum.
  1998. >“You've been such a great friend so far, Anon.  I can't thank you enough for that.”
  1999. “You don't have to thank me for that...”
  2000. >“Yes I do.  And you're right...now's not the best time for either of us to really pursue anything.  But...”
  2001. “But?”
  2002. >“Why don't we just let things play out for now, and see where it takes us?”
  2003. “Like you said, I've been patient with you.  I'm willing to wait for whatever decision you make.”
  2004. >“You won't be upset if I choose to stay with him?”
  2005. “No.  Whatever makes you happy in the long run...”
  2006. >Twilight lets go of your torso, but takes your hands in hers.
  2007. >“I promise you, even if it turns out that way, what we're doing now won't just end.  We can still continue this for as long as you'd like.”
  2008. “I can live with that...”
  2009. >She reaches her head in to give you a short but tender kiss on the cheek.
  2010. >You're surprised by this move, while she plays it cool, albeit with a slight blush.
  2011. >“Thank you, again....”
  2012. >The commercial ends at this moment.
  2013. >You both look to the TV, then to each other, and chuckle before retaking your spots on the couch.
  2014. >That includes being close, with her head back on your shoulder.
  2015. >This time, however, you have your arm on her waist, which she seems to have no objection to.
  2016. >Once the show is done, you decide to go over your talking points for the presentation.
  2017. >You also decide to have the comedic scene occur at the end, serving as your spectacular finish.
  2018. >Afterward, you take your leave, as you have other work to take care of.
  2019. >You feel like a lot of progress has been made...
  2020. >...although it also feels like that progress has ground to a halt.
  2021. >Still, it appears that Twilight shows at least some interest in you right now.
  2022. >It really depends on the moves a certain someone makes going forward.
  2023. >You're just going to let this run its course, as has been suggested by many people already.
  2024. >You don't know what her eventual decision will be...
  2025. >...but you at least have a good feeling about this...
  2026.  
  2027. ------
  2028.  
  2029. >You had found out on Friday that you and Twilight were scheduled to present on Tuesday.
  2030. >After school on Monday is spent making sure everything is perfect.
  2031. >Given how you'll be in costume, you end up deciding to make the whole thing an act of sorts.
  2032. >With that in mind, you rehearse your 'lines' to make sure it all sounds right, including the finale you have planned.
  2033. >The next day arrives, and Twilight is excited, as expected.
  2034. >You drop off your pyramid model with Mr. V first thing, to make sure nothing happens to it between now and then.
  2035. >At lunch, the two of you eat as quickly as you can.
  2036. >This gives you time to grab your costumes and get dressed for your little show.
  2037. >You arrive at Mr. V's classroom just as the bell ending lunch period rings.
  2038. >Mr. V himself is already there, and he is surprised to see two 'Egyptians' walking in.
  2039. >“Well now, isn't this a sight to see,” he states.
  2040. >“We wanted to make this as authentic as we could,” Twilight replies.
  2041. “With a few artistic liberties,” you add.
  2042. >Mr. V grins.  “I have a good feeling you're going to knock this out of the park.  You want to lead us off today?”
  2043. >“Can we?”  Twilight asks.  “Wait, silly me, of course we can, if you'd like us to.”
  2044. “Fine with me,” you shrug.
  2045. >Mr. V nods as you take your seats, and you watch as the other students give you as surprised of looks when they see you dressed up.
  2046. >Once the bell rings, Mr. V starts with his joke of the day.
  2047. >“I recently bought a new pair of shoes from a drug dealer...”
  2048. >“I have no idea what he laced them with, but I've been tripping all day!”
  2049. >Da dum tss...
  2050. >This surprisingly gets a lot of laughs.
  2051. >“Strange footwear aside, let's get day two of our findings underway.  Who wants to be start?”
  2052. >Twilight raises her hand, and you do the same.
  2053. >“Very well, let's have our 'exchange students' take the stage.”
  2054. >You stand up with your model, and you and Twilight head to the front of the class.
  2055. >There's a table set up there for any objects to be shown during the presentations.
  2056. >You place your pyramid on top of it, as well as a long hook of sorts.
  2057. >Taking a deep breath, you turn to Twilight, and she gives a nod, going to the other side of the room.
  2058. >Welp, here goes nothing...
  2059.  
  2060. “Welcome to another episode of 'How I Met Your Mummy,” you announce.
  2061. >This gets some laughs, so a good start.
  2062. “At long last,” you say, “my good-for-nothing jackal of a father has passed on, and I am officially the new pharaoh.  I wonder, what should my first act be?”  
  2063. >“As long as it's not as bad as your preview last night, you should be fine,” Twilight says as she comes towards you.
  2064. >'Oooooooooooooooh...'
  2065. “Ah, here is my sharp-tongued queen.  Finally done with your morning bathing session?”
  2066. >“Yes, although I wish I could have spent more time enjoying it.”
  2067. “Whether you're in the water or out in the sunlight for extended periods, you're still going to shrivel up like raisins.”
  2068. >“You're one to talk.”
  2069. “Ha ha, it is to laugh...”
  2070. >“So, my pharaoh, what IS on the agenda today?
  2071. “First, I want to find out what this implement I found is supposed to be.”
  2072. >You pick up the hook and hold it out.
  2073. >“Oh, one of the embalmers must have left that out by mistake.  They're working on preparing your father for his journey to the afterlife.”
  2074. “And how is this supposed to help with that?”
  2075. >“Quite simple,” your 'queen' replies, taking the hook from you.  “It goes right up your nose and makes mush out of your brain.  Then it's taken out one scoop at a time.”
  2076. “You can't be serious,” you say with a shudder.  “Is that what they'll do with me, too, when I pass on?”
  2077. >“At least you won't be alive when it happens.  You won't feel a thing...although that's already kinda true right now.”
  2078. >More laughs.
  2079. “So what else are they doing to him?”
  2080. >“They'll be cutting him open, taking out his lungs, stomach, liver and intestines, and putting them all into sacred jars.”
  2081. >“His body will be washed, then dried out with salt for the next 70 days.”
  2082. “And here I thought he already had plenty of salt in his diet...”
  2083. >Mr. V throws in some of his 'canned laughter' sound effects.
  2084. >“After that, he'll be wrapped in the finest bandages, and he'll be ready to be entombed.”
  2085. “Is his burial mask ready yet?”
  2086. >“Oh yes, here's a sample,” Twilight replies, holding up some artwork she had made of such a mask.
  2087. “Hmm...”  You say as you examine it.  “Yes, this will do splendidly.  Although I wish I knew what good these really are.”
  2088. >“It will be of help to your father's soul,” Twilight explains.  “If, gods forbid, his body becomes damaged, this mask will allow the soul to identify who it is so it can come and go as it pleases between our world and the afterlife.”
  2089. “And if the mask itself is stolen or destroyed?”
  2090. >“Oh please, it's not like thousands of years from now, people will raid his tomb and steal everything out of it to display to the ignorant masses.”
  2091. >Plenty of laughs at this comment, including from Mr. V.
  2092.  
  2093. “Well, it sounds like all of that is being handled well.  What about my father's tomb?”
  2094. >“It's ready.  The workers have only been on it for the past few decades.”
  2095. “And this is after allowing them to take breaks every other full moon,” you comment.
  2096. >“Now now, they've all been working themselves to death to make sure it's perfect.”
  2097. “So, where is it?”
  2098. >Twilight motions to the model.  “Here's what it looks like.”
  2099. >You go around it, eyeing it with a look that slowly but surely becomes sour.
  2100. “What is...THIS?”
  2101. >You pick it up and toss it to the ground, and it breaks apart, to the amazement of the rest of the class.
  2102. >Thanks to the molding Twilight had made, it's not as catastrophic as your incident from last week.
  2103. >She plays it up well, giving a shocked expression.
  2104. “A tomb for ANTS?”  You continue.
  2105. >A few gasps and giggles from the other students, who are piecing your little reference together.
  2106. >“What?”  Twilight asks.
  2107. “How do you expect my father to be laid to rest, when he can't even fit inside his tomb?”
  2108. >Twilight massages her temples in her frustration.  “My pharaoh, this is just a-”
  2109. “I don't want to hear your excuses!”  You interrupt.  “His tomb has to be at least...three times bigger than this!”
  2110. >That garners the most laughs so far.  It looks like they know what you're parodying.
  2111. >“And this is why I didn't get married to you for your brains,” Twilight sighs.
  2112. “No, you didn't.  This was an arranged thing, anyway.”
  2113. >“Are you saying you don't love me?”
  2114. > 'Oooooooooooh....'
  2115. “Of course I do.  I love you more than Osiris loved Isis.”
  2116. >“Was this before or after he got chopped to pieces?”
  2117. “Okay, maybe not the best analogy...”
  2118. >“But I believe you.  I pray to the gods that our rule will be a fruitful one for the people of Egypt.”
  2119. “With how things got started, you better do plenty of that...”
  2120. >There's a quick laugh, a hug, and a bow from the two of you as the rest of the class gives applause.
  2121. >“Well done,” Mr. V says.  “I think it's going to be tough for the rest of us to follow that up, but we'll try, right?”
  2122. >You quickly clean up the mess you made and head back to your seats.
  2123. >You notice a few of your classmates have been recording the whole thing, so you remind yourself to have it shared for future laughs.
  2124.  
  2125. >You're allowed to go and change back into normal clothes.
  2126. >You meet up with Twilight in the hall as you head back to the classroom.
  2127. >“That was so much fun,” she says.  “We'll have to do this more often.”
  2128. “I'm down with that,” you reply.  “There'll be plenty of chances for it this semester, so it all depends on what we want to do.”
  2129. >“And it looks like you were right about that little scene near the end.  I'm surprised so many of them got the reference.”
  2130. “It's an obscure movie, but there are plenty of memes that came out of it, this one included.”
  2131. >“I guess.  It went over well, so that's what's important.”
  2132. “Right.  So, since these presentations are taking up the rest of the week, there's no need to truly study.  What did you want to do with the rest of our afternoons?”
  2133. >“I suppose Pinkie could use a few extra visits from us.  How about it?”
  2134. “Sounds good to me.”
  2135. >You get back to class and enjoy what's left of the presentations for the day.
  2136. >None of them are as creative as yours, so you know Twilight will want to keep the bar raised as high as possible.
  2137. >Nothing wrong with that, of course...
  2138. >You're indeed able to get a copy of the recording, and you share it with Twilight, also.
  2139. >You hit Sugarcube Corner shortly after school, and Pinkie is somehow already there.
  2140. >She says she's been getting a lift from a co-worker, so that explains it.
  2141. >Twilight tells her all about your little show, and plays the recording for her.
  2142. >Pinkie giggles at all of the punch lines, while she nearly explodes in laughter at your destruction of the model.
  2143. >Another success.
  2144. >As you're having some good food and conversation, you notice a certain someone come in.
  2145. >Flash sees the two of you, scowls, and promptly leaves.
  2146. >Twilight doesn't see him, but she definitely felt his brief presence.
  2147. “It's going to keep being awkward, you know,” you say.
  2148. >“I do know,” she replies.  “But I can't rush this.  Otherwise I may regret the choice later...”
  2149. “Do you still plan on avoiding him?”
  2150. >“There'll soon be a time when I won't be able to.  I'll talk to him...when the time is right.”
  2151. >You nod, and you go back to enjoying each others' company.
  2152. >Deep down, you know she'll be seeing Flash again.
  2153. >It's just a matter of how long it will take...
  2154. >...and what the end result of that visit will be...
  2155.  
  2156. ------
  2157.  
  2158. >The week is near it's end.
  2159. >Mr. V has been handing out grades for both your papers and your presentations a day or so after they've been given.
  2160. >As expected, you and Twilight got an 'A.'
  2161. >You're amazed how far she's come since she first asked you for help.
  2162. >In the beginning she was completely unsure of herself, and unsure on whether this was a good idea to start with.
  2163. >And now, she's becoming well adapted.
  2164. >You can see her gushing about your success at lunch on Friday.
  2165. >She gives Rarity a big hug, obviously as a thank you for the costumes she made.
  2166. >Sunset looks across the way to you and gives one of her 'thumbs-up' motions.
  2167. >“Damn, Anon,” Ace states, getting your attention, “this just keeps getting better and better for you.”
  2168. >You had shown your friends the video of your presentation, and it looks like they aren't the only ones who have seen it.
  2169. >You've gotten the occasional 'nice job,' 'good work,' and 'tomb for ANTS' comments from students passing by.
  2170. >It's clearly gone viral.
  2171. >This is perhaps the first time you've been recorded doing something like this, so it's certainly a new experience for you.
  2172. “It depends on how you look at it,” you reply to Ace.  “I'm just seeing this as my 15 minutes of fame.”
  2173. >“Selling yourself short once again,” Norman states.  “You should make these a regular thing.”
  2174. >“And keep doing them with Twilight,” Ace adds.
  2175. “You mean do our own videos of stuff like this?”
  2176. >“I don't see why not,” Blitz replies.  “You looked like you were both having a lot of fun with it, so why not keep going?”
  2177. >You shrug.
  2178. “We'll see what the next project looks like when the time comes.  I guess if Twi's up for it, and if we can find good material, maybe...”
  2179. >“Another excuse to spend time with her, right?”  Ace asks.
  2180. “Yes, yes, you're right.  Although...”
  2181. >“What's up?”  Norman asks.
  2182. “It's starting to feel like we don't need an excuse.”
  2183. >Ace does one of his claps.  “Don't tell me-”
  2184. “No, we're not there...not right now.  There's still something in the way.”
  2185. >“I think you mean 'someone',” Blitz corrects.
  2186. >You sigh.
  2187. “Yeah, you're right there.  But I can't be the one to move him...”
  2188. >“Stay the course, Anon,” Norman says.  “Stay the course...”
  2189.  
  2190. >In Mr. V's class, the last of the presentations are given.
  2191. >He announces that you'd be moving on to the Greek and Roman cultures starting next week.
  2192. >Something to look forward to, you guess.
  2193. >Twilight seems to think so, as she's already brainstorming possible skit ideas.
  2194. >By the end of the day, she meets up with you again.
  2195. >“How's the weekend shaping up for you?”  She asks.
  2196. “I've got a gaming meet-up with my buddies tomorrow, but Sunday should be clear if you wanted to try and do something.”
  2197. >“Hmm...”
  2198. “Sounds like you need a moment to decide.”
  2199. > “No, I'm just trying to do some calculations in my head, as my brother's coming for a visit that day.”  “Gotcha.  It wouldn't leave a lot of time, then.”
  2200. >“Right...”
  2201. “Well, that meet-up won't be happening until the afternoon, so we could always fit something in during the morning.  That work for you?”
  2202. >“Perhaps.  I'll see what I can come up with and shoot you a message later.”
  2203. “Sounds good.”
  2204. >“I better get going, then.  If we do end up going with that plan of yours, I'll want to get an early start on my homework.”
  2205. >She gives you one of her trademark hugs, which you return.
  2206. “Talk to ya later then.”
  2207. >Twilight waves as she heads out.
  2208. >You're about to leave yourself, when suddenly you feel the urge to do another type of going.
  2209. >May as well deal with this now, so it won't be a bother on the way home...
  2210. >You zip to the restroom to take care of business.
  2211. >One of the other stalls is being used, but you don't take much notice of it.
  2212. >Nor do you when you go to wash your hands.
  2213. >It isn't until the door to the other stall opens that your focus changes.
  2214. >Flash walks out out it and goes to use one of the other sinks.
  2215. >You're about to turn and leave.
  2216. >“Hold it,” he says sternly.
  2217. >You physically and mentally freeze up.
  2218. >Not good...
  2219.  
  2220. >“It looks like you still haven't learned your place,” he continues.
  2221. “What did you say?”
  2222. >“What the hell is up with that thing you did with Twilight?”
  2223. >He pulls out his phone to show the video of you that had 'blown up.'
  2224. “Oh, you must mean the little scene we did for History class.  Lots of people have liked it so far.”
  2225. >“You didn't answer my question.  What the hell is up with it?”
  2226. “What about it?”
  2227. >“That quote-unquote little confession you made!”
  2228. “Flash, if you don't realize that was part of the act, you're an idiot.”
  2229. >“Who are you calling an idiot?  I can tell you've been getting nice and comfy with her.  Don't you dare tell me that was all an act.”
  2230. “One, she and I agreed we wouldn't be doing anything but hanging out for now.”  
  2231. “Two, I'm calling YOU an idiot, for more reasons that I can count.”
  2232. >Flash is seething.
  2233. >“You just don't get it.  She's MINE, and she's STILL be mine when she decides to get back with me.”
  2234. “There you go again, deciding things for her like she has no say.”
  2235. >“She doesn't...not in this case...”
  2236. “And you may want to change that 'when' to a big 'if.'  Wouldn't want to count those chicks before they hatch, right?”
  2237. >“What, have you been spending time with the other girls, too?  That sounds like something Applejack would say.”
  2238. >You shake your head.
  2239. “Are you even listening to yourself when that garbage is spewing out of your mouth?”
  2240. >“Shut up...”
  2241.  “You know what, I was right – YOU'RE the obsessed one here, even more than Twilight herself.”
  2242. >“I said SHUT UP!”
  2243. “How about you make me?”  You reply, taking a stand.
  2244. >“I'm warning you, Anon – stop what you're doing with her.”
  2245. “Stop what, exactly?”
  2246. >“Everything!  I don't want you having anything to do with her anymore!  You're trying to take her away from me!”
  2247. “That's it, I've heard enough of your bullshit,” you say, turning to leave.  
  2248. >“Don't turn your back on me!”  Flash yells.
  2249. “Shove it.  Let's try this again once you actually have a coherent thought in that hollow head of yours.”
  2250. >With your back to Flash, you don't see what comes next.
  2251.  
  2252. >He jumps you, grabbing your head and slamming it against the wall.
  2253. >You're taken completely off-guard.
  2254. >Before you can try to fight back, Flash knees you in the gut.
  2255. >You crumple over from the pain.
  2256. >He follows up by putting his foot on your neck.
  2257. >You half expect him to stomp down harder and choke you out, but he keeps it in place, applying little to no pressure.
  2258. >“You listen and you listen good, you sonuvabitch.  Either you keep your distance from her...”
  2259. >“...or I make your life a living hell...”
  2260. >You give a cough, followed by a growl.
  2261. >Flash uses his free foot to kick you in the back.
  2262. >“Can it.  You're in no position to threaten, here.”
  2263. >“And don't even think about telling anyone about this.  With a reputation like mine...and one like yours, for that matter, no one would believe you, anyway.”
  2264. “Not even Twilight?”  You manage to ask.
  2265. >“Especially not her,” Flash replies with a grin.
  2266. “You're one...twisted bastard...you know that?”
  2267. >“Not as twisted as you'll be if you don't quit it.  This is your last warning.”
  2268. >He takes his foot off your neck and casually walks out of the restroom.
  2269. >You finally have the chance to sit up, and you're not feeling great at all.
  2270. >After taking a few minutes to recuperate, you slowly stand up and look at yourself in the mirror.
  2271. >There's a nice bruise forming on your forehead, as well as on your neck from Flash's shoe.
  2272. >You look at the wall, and there's a nice spot where your head got slammed into.
  2273. >Surprisingly, there's no blood, either on your head or the wall, so the hit wasn't as hard as you thought.
  2274. >Note to self – take a good amount of aspirin when you get home.
  2275. >Another note to self – figure out what your next step is.
  2276. >You honestly don't know if anything Flash says is true.
  2277. >Would he really take even more drastic measures to prevent you from seeing Twilight?
  2278. >If so, would he be the only one involved, or would he get 'help'?
  2279. >Two things are clear right now...
  2280. >Flash can't be allowed to get away with this...
  2281. >...and Twilight has to hear about this...
  2282.  
  2283. ------
  2284.  
  2285. >Saturday arrives.
  2286. >As you go through your morning routine, you check yourself in the bathroom mirror.
  2287. >As expected, the bruise on your forehead is nice and black, as is the one on your neck.
  2288. >You were able to keep it hidden from your parents last night, but it's going to be next to impossible to do so now.
  2289. >You've spent the night before thinking about what you wanted to do...on multiple levels.
  2290. >With your mind made up said levels, you give Twilight a call.
  2291. >“Hi Anon!”
  2292. “Hey.  How are things this morning?”
  2293. >“Going well.  I've got it open if you wanted to squeeze something in, and then perhaps a nice lunch.”  
  2294. “Did you have anything in mind for either?”
  2295. >“I thought maybe we could go to the nature reserve near my home.  It's still warm enough for a nice, long walk there.”
  2296. “That's the one with the big pond, right?”
  2297. >“Yeah.  I take Spike for walks there all the time, and he loves it.  That sound alright?”
  2298. “Why not?  I could use some fresh air, anyway.”
  2299. >“I'll be heading over there soon, so I'll wait for you at the entrance, okay?”
  2300. “See you in a bit.”
  2301. >As Twilight hangs up, you go through your wardrobe real quick.
  2302. >You find one of your sweatshirts, and you also grab a baseball hat to wear.
  2303. >Downstairs, you find your mother had left out a bag of old bread.
  2304. >It's going to be tossed, anyway, so you offer to take it off her hands.
  2305. >You let her know where you're going, and you head off.
  2306. >It's not long before you get to the reserve, and Twilight is there waiting for you in the parking lot.
  2307. >She's got Spike on a leash, and he gives one of his signatures growls as you approach.
  2308. >“You behave,” she scolds, and the 'mutt' groans.
  2309. “Guess it's gonna take a while to get on his good side,” you say.
  2310. >“If he ever comes around to showing it to you,” she replies.
  2311. “Not exactly holding my breath on that, but you never know...”
  2312. >Twilight giggles.  “Maybe a nice walk will help keep his mind off of things.  Ready to go?”
  2313. “Lead the way.  You know this place better than I do.”
  2314. >She nods, and you follow her onto the property.
  2315.  
  2316. >When you said Twilight knows this play better than you do, you weren't kidding.
  2317. >Mainly because this is the first time you've been here.
  2318. >Spike seems to be taking his time, given his short legs, so you decide to follow suit.
  2319. >It gives you the chance to take in the scenery, at least.
  2320. >You don't really talk much, instead preferring to focus on the walk itself.
  2321. >The path you're on splits off into multiple.
  2322. >A newbie like you would probably get lost, but Twilight seems to know her way around.
  2323. >She takes you down a winding path between two lines of trees, passing by other park goers, some of whom have dogs also.
  2324. >Spike, of course, wants to stop and say hi to all of them...and to sniff the butts of the other dogs.
  2325. >A glutton for attention, it seems.
  2326. >You finally reach the pond in question, and it's pretty massive.
  2327. >There are multiple people fishing, either on the water's edge or out on boats.
  2328. >Plenty of ducks are swimming about, perhaps taking a break during their migration.
  2329. >You knew there was a reason why you brought that bag of bread.
  2330. >You pull it out of your sweatshirt and crumble it up the contents.
  2331. >Twilight helps tossing bits at a time to the ducks that swim close to shore.
  2332. >They gobble it up, naturally, and you continue on.
  2333. >There are several benches placed nearby, and you both decide to take a little break at one of them.
  2334. >Twilight ties up the leash around one of the bench's  legs, and Spike lays down underneath it, out of the sun.
  2335. >“It's beautiful out here, isn't it?”  Twilight asks as you sit down.
  2336. “It has its charm.  I don't have pets of my own, so there was no real reason for me to come out here.”
  2337. >“Well, I'm glad you were able to find one this time.”
  2338. “Same.  Although I'm a little worried.”
  2339. >“Worried?  About what?”
  2340. “If whether a certain someone will catch us out here.”
  2341. >“You mean Flash?  I thought we were going to deal with it as it came.”
  2342. “It came, alright, and not in a good way.”
  2343. >Twilight looks at you with concern.  “What happened?”
  2344. “I was told you wouldn't believe me if I told you.”
  2345. >“Anon, please, I'm being serious here.  Tell me.”
  2346. “You really wanna know?”
  2347. >When Twilight nods, you take a deep breath before pulling off your hat.
  2348.  
  2349. >She gasps at the sight of your bruise, putting a hand over her mouth.
  2350. >“How did you get that?”
  2351. “The same way I got this,” you reply, stretching out the top of your sweatshirt to show the bruise on your neck.
  2352. >“Oh my...this is awful.  How...”
  2353. “Him.”
  2354. >Twilight's eyes widen.
  2355. “He got in my face yesterday after school.  I told him off, and he got me from behind.”
  2356. >“No...he couldn't have...”
  2357. “And he's threatening to 'make my life a living hell' if I don't stay away from you.”
  2358. >Twilight is shaking her head in almost disbelief.
  2359. >“He's never done anything like this...never for as long as I've known him...”
  2360. >You sigh.
  2361. “Guess he was right...you don't believe me...”
  2362. >“It's not that I don't believe you.  It's just...difficult to understand why he might have done this.”
  2363. “I thought it'd be obvious – he's being jealous and spiteful.  He thinks I'm taking you away from him.”
  2364. >“But you're not.”
  2365. “Which I tried to tell him, but he wasn't having any of it.”
  2366. >Twilight turns head head away, as if contemplating.
  2367. >“Well, it's going to be impossible for you to truly avoid me.  We share a class, after all, and we're still studying together.”
  2368. “I'm sure he means doing things outside of school, like what we're doing right now.  Given what he did to me yesterday, I can't imagine how far he'd go next.”
  2369. >“Do you really think he'd take it even further?”
  2370. “He could have easily choked me out, Twi, but he didn't.”  
  2371. >“How come?”
  2372. “He was sending a message.  At this rate, I'm not putting anything past him, anymore.”
  2373. >You look out to the pond, leaning back on the bench.
  2374. “I just...don't know where to go from here...”  
  2375. >You sit there in silence for the next few minutes, neither of you sure of what to say next.
  2376. >Twilight finally breaks the ice.
  2377. >“Do you still plan on spending time with me?”  She asks.
  2378. “That's just it.  I like being with you, but I also don't want that to be the cause of future problems.”
  2379.  
  2380. >You feel a hand being placed on top of yours.
  2381. >You turn to Twilight, who has an odd expression on her face.
  2382. >It looks to be a mix of concern and...caring.
  2383. >“I...like being with you, also,” she says.
  2384. “I thought we weren't going in that direction...”
  2385. >“I guess...a part of me is changing its mind a little.”
  2386. “What about you-know-who?”
  2387. >“If he has a problem with what we're doing, he needs to see me about it.”
  2388. “Wish I shared the same thinking...although my mind's still a bit scrambled from yesterday...”
  2389. >“Does it...still hurt?”
  2390. “My head?  A bit, but it's not as bad as before.”
  2391. >“Here, maybe this will help...”
  2392. >Twilight leans in and kisses you on the forehead where the bruise is.
  2393. “You know, I think I'm feeling better already,” you say with a grin.
  2394. >Twilight gives one of her own.  “Glad to hear it.”
  2395. >She notices that Spike is becoming restless, so she unties the leash and stands up.
  2396. >You follow suit, putting your hat back on.
  2397. >“Shall we continue?”  She asks.
  2398. “With the walk, or with what we've been doing all along?”
  2399. >“Both,” she replies, extending her free hand to you.
  2400. >You nod as you take it, and you proceed to make a circle around the pond.
  2401. >It's another half-hour of walking, but the path eventually leads back to where you started.
  2402. >You head back to Twilight's place briefly so she can drop Spike off - and to give him a biscuit for his mostly good behavior.
  2403. >You go to the sushi place afterward for lunch, and Sunset is briefed on the Flash situation.
  2404. >She seems to share a similar mindset as Twilight, although she assures you she'll help keep an eye on things for the both of you.
  2405. >It's after this where you part ways for now, but not before Twilight provides a warm embrace.
  2406. >“Keep your chin up,” she tells you before heading out.
  2407. >As you make your way to Ace's for the gaming session, you feel your head has become a bit clearer.
  2408. >The little kiss Twilight gave you may have had something to do with that, but her words had just as much of an impact.
  2409. >You just hope you'll be able to keep this up without a certain somebody getting in the way again.
  2410. >One thing's for sure – you've got quite the story to tell the other guys today...
  2411.  
  2412. ------
  2413.  
  2414. >It's mid-October, and you've adjusted to a new sort of regimen.
  2415. >You and Twilight agreed to have your non-studying meet-ups in places that aren't as public.
  2416. >Or at the very least, in places where Flash wouldn't expect to run into you.
  2417. >He hasn't approached either of you since the restroom incident, so at the moment he's none the wiser.
  2418. >Part of you hates having to keep things on the down-low, but Twilight doesn't seem to mind.
  2419. >The way she sees it, they're now more private settings where there are few to no distractions.
  2420. >It also allows her to focus a little more on her studies with you, which have been going well.
  2421. >So far, she has yet to get a quiz or test grade lower than an 'A-'.
  2422. >And another project improv you put on, in which you portrayed two Greek/Roman gods, garnered school-wide praise.
  2423. >There were no 'romantic' undertones included this time, so one less thing for a certain somebody to complain about.
  2424. >Rarity, of course, helped design the robes you wore for it.
  2425. >She also offered to make outfits for the two of you for the upcoming costume party at school.
  2426. >You're invited to her home for this, but you're honestly not sure what you want to go as.
  2427. >You suggest you could just use one of the costumes she designed previously for you.
  2428. >“Nonsense, darling,” she replies.  “You need something new, something fresh.”
  2429. >She pulls out multiple reference books and photos on her computer so you can all pore over ideas.
  2430. >As you look,  Twilight has an idea.
  2431. >“Did you want to try a matching theme?” She asks.
  2432. “Matching?”
  2433. >“You know, where we'd go as two characters from the same series or movie.”
  2434. “Guess it depends on which one we settle on...”
  2435. >“It's not just that,” Rarity says, “but also what would work best on you without having to really change your appearance.”
  2436. >Twilight's really into this, pointing out different characters she feels she could 'pull off.'
  2437. >“Ooh!  How about this?”  She exclaims, stopping on a certain video game franchise.
  2438. >You remember playing some of the older games all the time, but you're not sure at first.
  2439. “I don't know...that may get a little too much attention, wouldn't it?”
  2440. >“Oh, you mean from-”
  2441. “Yeah...”
  2442. >“But given everybody else is going to be in crazy costumes anyway, would it matter that much?”
  2443. “Possibly...”
  2444. >“Please, Anon?  For me?”
  2445. >There's her trademark pleading look...
  2446.  
  2447. >You mull over it for a moment, until something else comes to mind.
  2448. “I've got a better idea,” you say.  “Instead of these two...”
  2449. >You flip through other pictures for the game series until you find what you're looking for.
  2450. “Let's go as THESE two.”
  2451. >Twilight eyes the characters in question.  “What would the difference be?”
  2452. “For one, it's more my color, and given his insecurities, it would work better for me.”
  2453. “And his relationship with the other character is ambiguous at best, as there's no confirmation that they're actually 'involved.'  Kinda fits our current situation, doesn't it?”
  2454. >Rarity gives you a 'knowing' look, while Twilight takes a moment to think it over.
  2455. >“Well...I can't say I've worn that color much, and the hair would be a challenge...”
  2456. >“I'm well ahead of you there,” Rarity replies.  “I've got a wig I can fix up so it'll fit the bill.”
  2457. >“Oh,” Twilight says, “in that case, why not?  These costumes should be simple, right?”
  2458. >“The only real challenge would be the overalls,” Rarity states.  “I don't have enough material here at home for them.”
  2459. “I've got that covered, literally.  I have a relative who works in construction, so he should have an old pair or two lying around that fits.”
  2460. >Rarity claps her hands.  “Wonderful!  I'll get going on the rest of it right away!”
  2461. >“You're sure you don't mind doing this?”  Twilight asks.
  2462. >“Darling, you know I'm always willing and able to help out for things like this.  Given how well your other acting bits have gone, it's the least I can do.”
  2463. >Twilight smiles.  “I can't thank you enough, no matter how many times you do this.  This is going to be so much fun!”
  2464. >“Speaking of having fun,” Rarity chimes in, “are either of you going to do the karaoke event?”
  2465. >“I've got a couple ideas for songs,” Twilight replies, “but I'm still not sure which one I want to do.”
  2466. “Same here in terms of ideas, but I'm kinda leaning towards one in particular.”
  2467. >“Ooh,” Rarity says, “do tell.”
  2468. “You'll have to wait and see.  If I told you now, it'd spoil the surprise.”
  2469. >Both girls look a little bummed out, but they seem to understand.
  2470. >“Well, I'm sure you'll sound as splendid as you're going to look, “Rarity states.  “Anything else I should know before I get started?”
  2471. >“That should do it,” Twilight replies.  “Anon, you ready?”
  2472. “As I'll ever be.  Let's go.”
  2473. >Rarity looks confused.  “Ready?  For what?”
  2474. >“For our weekend fun, of course,” Twilight says.  “I've been looking forward to this all week!”
  2475. “Same here.  Later!”
  2476. >The two of you are gone before Rarity can question you further.
  2477.  
  2478. >As mentioned previously, you've taken up a new weekend routine.
  2479. >With the exception of today, it begins with a morning walk at the nature reserve.
  2480. >It'll need to be adjusted again once winter comes around, as a normal trek will become more difficult.
  2481. >But for now, you can more than easily manage.
  2482. >Twilight normally brings Spike along, but because of the other stop it's just the two of you today.
  2483. >Even better – there were hardly any other cars in the lot, so the odds of seeing anyone else are slim.
  2484. >She has taken you through pretty much every path there is at this point, as a ways of familiarizing you with the place.
  2485. >This time it's the one you originally started on, leading down to the pond.
  2486. >When you get there, it's an amazing sight to behold.
  2487. >It's the peak period where all of the trees' leaves have changed color, and you have a widespread view of the foliage no matter what direction you look in.
  2488. >You take a break at the same bench as per your new custom.
  2489. >“I can't wait for the party,” Twilight says.  “I had a lot of fun with it last year, so this time should be no different.”
  2490. “I'm not much of a Halloween guy, myself.  As you get older, it feels more like an excuse to dress up in silly costumes and get away with it.”  
  2491. >“Oh, I didn't know you thought of it that way.  Is this something you're comfortable doing, then?”
  2492. “I never said I wasn't.  It's just something I haven't really done in a long time.  That Egypt project we did is probably the first time I've 'dressed up' since I was a kid.”
  2493. “Besides, if doing this makes you happy, and we both have fun with it, it'll work out fine in the end.”
  2494. >Twilight sighs.  “As long as you're okay with it...”
  2495. >A sudden wind gust makes it chillier out here than normal, so she takes the opportunity to snuggle up to you.
  2496. >You don't mind at all, bringing her in close in your attempt to warm things up.
  2497. >The moment is quickly ruined when Twilight's phone vibrates.
  2498. >She sees who's calling, and swipes it away.
  2499. “Him again?”
  2500. >“He can't seem to take a hint,” she replies.
  2501. “Have you really not talked to him since the museum?”
  2502. >“No.  I don't want anything to do with him right now, not after what he did - to me, and to you.”
  2503. “I feel we're going to reach another boiling point, though.  He may try to seek you out again.”
  2504. >“If he does, I'll tell him what I told him before.  If he doesn't like it, tough.”
  2505. “Just be careful, alright?  I don't know what would happen if he turned his anger on you instead of me.”
  2506. >“He wouldn't dare.  He's walking on egg shells as it is, and doing that would cause them all to break.”
  2507. “I'm just saying...and you know what I said about how far he'd take things...”
  2508. >“CAN WE NOT TALK ABOUT HIM RIGHT NOW?!”  Twilight shouts.
  2509. >You stop yourself, as does she.
  2510.  
  2511. >“S-sorry, I didn't mean to yell at you...”
  2512. “No, it's my fault.  I kept pressing the subject.”
  2513. >“I'm just...not over it yet.  I thought being apart from him would help cool things off.”
  2514. “But it's just gotten hotter?”
  2515. >“That's putting it lightly.  I feel like it's only gotten worse since then.”
  2516. “So much for the old saying about absence...”
  2517. >“What...should I do, then?”
  2518. “I'm not the one who should be answering that.  These are your feelings we're talking about, not mine.”
  2519. >“But if they WERE your feelings, how would you see it?”
  2520. >You contemplate.
  2521. “If I were in your shoes?  I'd keep a sharp eye on him.”
  2522. >“How so?”
  2523. “He's trying to get back with you as soon as possible.  He'll make all the promises in the world, but none of that will matter if he falls back into the same pattern.”
  2524. >“You mean ignoring me when I try getting a hold of him.”
  2525. “Which you're doing to him right now.  I know turn-about's fair play, but it's still a little harsh.”
  2526. >“Maybe...”
  2527. “My opinion about this is one thing, but you have to be the one to make the decision on where you want to stand with him.”
  2528. >“I know.  I want things with him to be normal again, but I don't know if they can...”
  2529. “I hear it's never easy after a big fight.  It's just a matter of picking up the pieces and putting them back together as best you can...even if some don't fit properly anymore.”
  2530. >“Kinda like your pyramid.”  Twilight says with a chuckle.  
  2531. “Yeah, right.  Sure, it didn't look the same after we rebuilt it, but it still got the job done.”
  2532. >She smiles.  “That's one thing I like about you.”
  2533. “Hm?”
  2534. >“No matter what kind of problem I've had, you've been there to try and give a solution, regardless of whether or not it works.”
  2535. “That's what friends are for...”
  2536. >“It's more than that, Anon, and you know it.”
  2537. “Just trying to make sure you're happy, remember?”
  2538. >“Right...”  She puts her head on your shoulder as she muses.
  2539. >You respond by putting your head on hers, and you go back to admiring the Autumn landscape.
  2540. “Whatever works for you...works for me...”  You say softly.
  2541.  
  2542. >Soon after, you complete the walk and grab a light meal.
  2543. >You invite Twilight to your latest gaming session with the guys, and she decides to take you up on it.
  2544. >You make sure to get a hold of said guys and tell them to be on their best behavior.
  2545. >You lead Twilight to Norman's house, and she gets her first formal introductions to the rest of your group after hearing so much about them.
  2546. >At first you were worried about Ace, given the way he's spoken, but he's true to his word and doesn't come off the rails.
  2547. >First time for everything, you guess.
  2548. >You decide to make it simple today with a bunch of motion control centered games, so that way Twilight can participate if she wants to.
  2549. >When she says 'yes,' it takes little time to show her how to play each game.
  2550. >It turns out she's a natural, even winning a couple of the matches she plays.
  2551. >The other guys give approving nods to you when she isn't paying attention.
  2552. >“I've got an idea!”  Ace exclaims.  “How's about she becomes a regular with us?”
  2553. >“Me?”  Twilight asks.
  2554. >“Yeah, sure!  You've been having a lot of fun, and I bet you can quickly learn and beat us in the other games we play.”
  2555. >Blitz gives a nod.  “I've got no problem with it.  Always good to have new blood around here.”
  2556. >“I agree,” Norman says, “although wouldn't that get in the way of other things?”
  2557. >He's looking at you with this statement, and you roll your eyes.
  2558. “I'd enjoy having you here with us, but it's not up to me,” you tell Twilight.  “It'd be your time as well as mine.”
  2559. >She thinks about it for a moment.
  2560. >“I guess it depends on what things look like during the weekend.  If there's nothing else going on...then I'd be happy to join in.”
  2561. >“HUZZAH!”  Ace cries out.  “Welcome to the fold!”
  2562. >This gets laughs out of everyone, although yours is a little awkward.
  2563. “Just make sure you keep that enthusiasm of yours in check when she's around, okay?”  You ask him.
  2564. >“No problem, man!  You know me!”
  2565. “Exactly what I'm talking about...”
  2566. >After another hour or so of playing, Twilight sees it's time for her to head home.
  2567. >You step out with her, and you receive her trademark hug before she parts ways.
  2568. >When you head back into the house, you get the biggest grins you've ever seen from the other guys.
  2569. >They must have been watching from one of the windows.
  2570. >“So?”  Norman asks you.  “Are you there yet?”
  2571. >You shrug.
  2572. “Not yet...but I feel like we're both on the right path...”
  2573.  
  2574. ------
  2575.  
  2576. More to come...

Study Buddies (Anon x Twilight, EQG, updated 6-18-21)

by MagnaAnon

Uncommon Ground (Anon x Rainbow Dash, EQG, complete)

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Pinkie Promises (Anon x Pinkie Pie, EQG, Complete)

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Measuring Up (Anon x Rarity - Complete)

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Secret Santa (Anon x Fluttershy)

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