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Look, I Can Explain... · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Fighting Fractions of Friendship
“Twice!” exclaimed Rarity as she stalked back and forth in her kitchen with Sweetie Belle and Cheerilee at the table, both of whom seemed more than eager to be anywhere else in Equestria. “We talked when you were sent home for fighting the first time, Sweetie! I thought you understood! Fighting is not ladylike behavior, particularly at school! Mother is going to be so disappointed with you.”

“I’m sorry, Rarity.” Sweetie Belle did not take her eyes off the spotless tablecloth, but she did squirm uncomfortably in her chair. “Maybe we… I mean I could make it up with some extra credit homework or something.”

“Brawling like some common street hoodlum,” continued Rarity as if she had not even noticed Sweetie Belle’s words. “What if you got your cutie mark in violence? You could wind up making your way in the world as some roller-derby skater or boxer. You could even become a—” Rarity shuddered “—professional wrestler.”

Cheerilee looked up with a momentary wince before putting on her best Teacher’s Serious Expression, which had gotten a lot of use over the last few weeks. “I really should be taking this up with Sweetie’s parents, but since they’re still on their vacation…” She trailed off in deep consideration of the stacks of unfinished dresses in the room Cheerilee had just walked through with dejected young filly in tow.

Rarity seemed to pick up on Cheerilee’s reluctance and promptly waved a hoof in dismissal. “I am more than willing to oversee my sister’s punishment for her second infraction of the school rules, Miss Cheerilee. She is my sister, and I love her very much despite her brutal actions at school.”

“I said I was sorry.” Sweetie Belle put her head down on the table and sighed. “It wasn’t even my turn.”

There was an exceedingly long silence that stretched across the kitchen as Rarity and Cheerilee looked first at each other, and then at the young unicorn who seemed one small step away from breaking into tears.

“Sweetie.” Rarity carefully ran her tongue across dry lips and chose her words with great care. “Perhaps it would help if you told us, in your own words, just exactly what happened out on the playground between you and Diamond Tiara. Again.”

“It won’t help.” An enormous sigh escaped the tiny filly and she lit her horn up with a flickering green glow to extract one of the sugar cubes out of Rarity’s tea set. It was a snacking habit which Rarity had been trying to suppress in herself as well, but she held her composure and waited until the quiet crunching had died down and Sweetie Belle began to speak again in a low voice.

“Scoots, Apple Bloom and myself were over by the swings, just like last time, talking about what we were going to do to get our cutie marks, when Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon came over. We were thinking they had changed their behavior, because Diamond hadn’t bugged Scootaloo about not being able to fly in almost a week, which is a record for her, but she started right in on her. So I popped her one.”

“Sweetie.” Rarity cleared her throat. “A lady does not ‘pop’ another pony in the face.”

“She called Scoots a dodo and an archaeopt… archaeopte…”

“Archaeopteryx,” said Cheerilee almost apologetically. “We’re studying dinosaurs this week. I didn’t think Diamond Tiara was going to use them to pick on Scootaloo again, though.”

“Diamond Tiara uses everything to pick on Scootaloo.” Sweetie Belle floated another sugar cube out of the bowl, but dropped it on the table while floating it back to herself.

“Sweetie, when other ponies in school pick on you, they need to be reported to the proper authorities.” Rarity snuck a look at Cheerilee, who was looking rather guilty. “She has been reporting Diamond Tiara to you, right?”

“Every time.” Cheerilee gave out a sigh. “There’s really not much I can do for discipline other than to separate her from the other students for a while, or keep her out of recess, in which case she complains to her father, and her father complains to the school board, and you know who is on the school board.” Cheerilee looked up with a sudden guilty twitch and added, “Please don’t repeat that, Sweetie.”

“I know, I know.” Sweetie Belle gave off another sigh of such immense magnitude and intensity that it would have been considered impressive even if she had been a fully-grown mare. “Diamond Tiara’s mother is on the school board and can get you fired. We know. That’s why we…” She trailed off to a halt and glanced furtively around the room.

“That’s why you did what?” Cheerilee tapped one hoof on the ground while waiting for an answer, which appeared not to be forthcoming anytime soon.

“Just one moment.” Rarity paused with a thoughtful expression. “Didn’t Scootaloo and Apple Bloom get sent home from school this semester for fighting in the playground?”

“They’re not the only ones.” Cheerilee rolled her eyes. “After the school board passed that zero tolerance rule at the beginning of school to cut down on violence, the fighting started. It’s trailed off recently, but I’m afraid the fights out in the playground may be picking back up again. I hope it doesn’t, because for a while there it seemed as if I was sending one of the children home every day.”

“Two,” said Sweetie Belle in a very quiet voice.

“Yes, two,” corrected Cheerilee. “Policy says that any fight, no matter who starts it, winds up with both of the involved students withheld from class for a day at the minimum.”

“And how many of these fights has Diamond Tiara been involved in?” asked Rarity while keeping an eye on the guilty twitch that traveled down Sweetie Belle’s back.

“Most of them.” Cheerilee paused. “Actually, all of them. In fact, she missed almost every day at the beginning of the semester.”

Rarity nodded and turned to her sister. “So all of your friends are taking turns beating up your class bully?”

“NO!” Sweetie Belle looked up at the two similarly disapproving glares that the adult ponies were bestowing upon her and wilted under the pressure. “Maybe?” She squirmed under their combined glares until a confession began to slowly emerge, one word at a time.

“We didn’t mean for it to happen this way. That first time, I just couldn’t stand seeing her bully Scootaloo around and I was just trying to push her away. Silver Spoon went running off to you, Miss Cheerilee, and when you came back, Diamond Tiara was all ‘She punched me!’ and ‘She knocked me down!’ with that smug expression she always has. It was the greatest moment of my life when you told her we both had to serve a day of suspension. She just had this look as if somepony had sucked all the air out of her lungs.”

“Filthy Rich was not happy,” said Cheerilee. “He was even less happy when Apple Bloom hit his daughter the very next day she returned to class.”

“Not everybody got to see the way Diamond Tiara looked that first day,” explained Sweetie Belle.

“Or when Scootaloo hit her on the next day she returned to school,” added Cheerilee.

“Featherweight wanted to get a picture,” said Sweetie Belle. “It kinda grew after that.”

Rarity shook her head. “How in the world did you get the whole class involved? Why did you get your whole class involved?”

“Fractions,” said Sweetie Belle, perking up slightly. “You see, if just one of us popped— I mean hit Diamond Tiara whenever she mouthed off, she would have to spend just as many days out of school as Diamond, and that would really suck. I mean it would be bad,” corrected Sweetie Belle quickly. “With two of us, we each would have to spend half as much time out of school. Three of us would be a third, and with twenty or so, it worked out to five percent.”

“Twenty?” Rarity stole a glance at Cheerilee, who could only shrug.

“Last year, teaching my class had some real low spots,” admitted Cheerilee. “I didn’t realize it was quite this bad, though. I thought things were finally getting better this year, but I didn’t know why.”

“How did you determine who was going to strike her next, Sweetie?” asked Rarity. “Did you sell tickets, or start a raffle?”

“That’s a great idea!” Sweetie Belle looked up from the table, paused, and tried to put on her best apologetic expression, complete with wide eyes and a trembling lower lip. “I mean that’s a terrible idea. Just awful.”

“Sweetie.” Rarity sat down next to her little sister and put a foreleg around her neck in order to give her a gentle squeeze. “Your class can’t keep doing this. Somepony is going to get hurt.”

“But it was working,” whined Sweetie Belle. “Diamond Tiara used to bug us every day about getting our cutie marks, or Twist about the way she does her esses, or other ponies about their teeth or their tails. Miss Cheerilee told us all about positive and negative conditioning with rewards and punishments, so we just applied it. We tried rewarding her when she was good, but she never was, and we tried ignoring her when she was being a pain, but that turned out to be just about all the time.”

“So you hit her.” Rarity focused her most serious expression and tried her best not to smile.

“It was hours after she came back that first day before she started being all snippy again.” Sweetie Belle pushed the loose sugar cube around on the kitchen table for a moment and sighed again. “We really thought she was cured this week. We were even going to write a paper for Twilight Time.”

“No,” said Rarity with as much firmness as she could muster. “Absolutely not. You have no idea how Princess Twilight Sparkle would react to this kind of information.”

Cheerilee cleared her throat and added, “Besides, you weren’t just modifying Diamond Tiara’s behavior. You managed to modify the whole class into using violence to solve their issues. This has to stop. Somepony will get hurt if it continues.”

“I suppose.” Sweetie Belle leaned forward to nibble the loose sugar cube off the kitchen table and crunched it slowly while thinking. “Am I still getting punished?”

“Most certainly.” Rarity reached out with her magic and put the lid on the bowl of sugar cubes. “First, you are to go to your room and clean it. I’m quite certain that Scootaloo and Apple Bloom will be over shortly to help you with all of the homework you’re going to have to do at home, and before that happens, I want your room spotless.”

Sweetie Belle looked pensive. “Mom clean or Grandma clean?”

Rarity leaned over to put her nose in direct contact with her little sister. “Sister clean. Now go. I’ll be up with a white sock shortly, and I will look inside your closet. And when your little friends have a sleepover tonight, please restrict your midnight snack on the gallon of chocolate chip ice cream that I’ve got in the icebox down to one bowl each. One small bowl,” she clarified.

The two adults remained silent as Sweetie Belle galloped away and vanished into her bedroom with the distant sound of a slammed door. The silence only lasted a few more moments until Cheerilee snorted in laughter.

“I can’t help it,” she managed to say through the snickers and chuckles. “All I could think about was being a little filly back in school when my sister beat up on Plum Pudding for calling you a blank-flank.”

“She deserved it,” said Rarity, although fighting back a smile of her own. “After all, she was being a very rude little filly, and your sister got her cutie mark out of it after she performed that spectacular flying mare that dropped Plum into the sandbox.”

Cheerilee giggled along with Rarity at the memory of younger and more carefree days. “Whatever happened to Plum, anyway? I lost track of her when I went to Canterlot for my teaching degree.”

“Door to door salesmare,” said Rarity. “Quite successful, too. Somehow I doubt that Diamond Tiara will pick the same career path, despite their similarities.” After a deep breath, Rarity continued, “So do you think the little ruffians will be able to keep from being dragged into a life of professional wrestling like your sister? Perhaps we should get Cherry Blossom to visit Ponyville sometime and give them all lessons.”

“Actually…” Cheerilee considered the situation while nodding. “That may be a good idea. Wrestlers have to use a lot of skill to keep from injuring themselves or others. She could teach a week-long seminar to our more rambunctious students.”

“And I could make them darling little outfits to practice in,” said Rarity with growing enthusiasm. “You know, maybe that is a good idea.”

“Wonderful,” said Cheerilee with a beaming smile. “I’ll sign you up as a volunteer. ‘Diamante Elegante’ would make an excellent assistant to the Mystery Mare, don’t you think?”

“Well…” Rarity glanced out the door for eavesdroppers and lowered her voice. “As long as you can keep it quiet, ‘Mystery Mare.’”

Cheerilee giggled and shook her head with a smile. “Helping teach little ponies in this town is more like tag-team wrestling with my sister than I would like to admit. I’m just glad you’re in my corner.”
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