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Lesson Zero, part 7
nervous breakdown, failed her SAN roll
The sun is getting low in the sky over Ponyville. No one, not even Princess Celestia herself, is more aware of this than Twilight Sparkle.

"Clock is ticking, Twilight. ClOcK. iS. tIcKiNg."

She paces back and forth in front of the window. "Keep it together," she mutters to herself over and over and over again. She can do this. She has to do this. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

But how? Rarity doesn't need help, Apple Jack doesn't need help, none of her friends need help...


"If I can't find a friendship problem," she says to herself, "I'll mAkE a friendship problem!"

She rubs her forehooves together in glee as she opens up her old toybox. She knows just the perfect tool for this job...

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Not so very far away, three friends are laughing and playing together. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, for once not crusading at all, are bouncing a beach ball back and forth.

Suddenly, the ball starts glowing and distorting, finally exploding to reveal...

"hIiIiI, gIiIiRrRrLs!"

"Oh, hi, Twilight," says Apple Bloom, a bit awkwardly. That's rather an odd thing to do, teleporting into their ball. Also it makes it a bit hard to continue the game. Still, it doesn't hurt to be polite. "How's it go-"

"GrRrEaT! Just great." The rictus grin hasn't left her face; her left ear twitches. "You three look like you're doing great too! Looks like three good friends who obviously don't need the help of another gOoD fRiEnD..."

She lifts a well-worn plush filly doll with yarn hair and button eyes up for the three foals to see. "This," says Twilight, "is Smarty Pants. She was mine when I was your age, and now I want to give her to yOu!"

Well-worn is the adjective of the day, here.

"Uh... she's... great!" says Scootaloo, trying hard to sound enthusiastic.

"Yyyyeah, great," agrees Apple Bloom.

Sweetie Belle struggles to come up with something more than just another 'yeah'. "I really like her... mane?"

Twilight doesn't even notice the fillies' discomfort. "She even comes with her own nOtEbOoK and qUiLl--" Twilight offers the items in question to Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, respectively-- "for when you want to pReTeNd she's doing her hOmEwOrK!"

How can anyone not love pretend homework??

Edited at 2011-11-09 06:24 pm (UTC)

...Yes. How, indeed?

"That's... um... great." Somehow Scootaloo can't quite manage as much enthusiasm as she could a moment ago.

"Yyeah, great. Heheh..." Nor, it seems, can Apple Bloom.

Sweetie Belle takes a bit longer to answer, so both of the others nudge her, perhaps a bit harder than necessary. Startled, she just repeats, "I really like her... mane?"

"I just hope the fact that there are three of you and only one of her doesn't become a pRoBlEm. I'd hate to cause a rIfT between such gOoD fRiEnDs..."

Edited at 2011-11-09 06:44 pm (UTC)

Twilight's looking away. Taking advantage of the mare's distraction, Scootaloo catches her friends' eyes and twirls her hoof near her head.

Twilight shoves Smarty Pants in the fillies' faces. "SOWHOWANTSTOPLAYWITHHERFIRST?"

Quick, everypony for herself!

Apple Bloom is the first to try to get out of it. "Uh, you should play with her first, Sweetie Belle! Y'know, 'cause you like her mane so much." Having said that, she runs off so as not to be targeted in turn.

Sweetie Belle's eyes go wide. "No, no, no, no, no! I think Scootaloo should get to play with her first!" And she goes to fetch Apple Bloom back.

Oh, no, what's a Scootaloo to do? Thinking fast, she says, "I'd love to, but, um, you take her, Apple Bloom."

The earth filly manages to wriggle out of the others' grip and tries to shove them back toward the Smarty Pants. "Applejack says it's important to share!"

Something's wrong. They're acting like none of them want Smarty Pants! Why in Equestria wouldn't anypony want Smarty Pants?

I gotta think of something. ThinkthinkthinkthinkTwilightthink--that's it!

"Ooh, you're going to LiKe Smarty Pants," Twilight murmurs as she casts the spell on her old doll, "and you're going to like her mOrE tHaN aNyThInG."

Edited at 2011-11-09 07:14 pm (UTC)

As soon as the fillies catch a glimpse of Smarty Pants, they stop arguing. At least, for a moment. All ♥eyes♥ are on the doll.

"I want it!" cries Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom tries to do one better. "I need it."

Sweetie Belle, seeing nothing wrong with re-using words, simply reiterates that "I really like her mane!" She's much more certain and enthusiastic this time around.

The golden moment is broken as all three dive for Smarty Pants at once, and start fighting over who gets it.

"The 'Want It, Need It' spell. Works every time." Twilight steps over purposefully. "Okay, okay, let's break it up. I think we can all see that there's an important lesson here to be learned about--"

Unfortunately, Twilight appears to have underestimated the power of her spell. The fighting Crusaders pay no attention to her at all, even when one of them accidentally hits her in the face mid-sentence. All their attention is on ♥Smarty Pants♥.

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