Snails' Big Problem
An MLP:FiM Fanfic by Squeejee
It had been the worst day of Snails' life. Possibly the worst day of anypony's life. It had certainly seen the end of his social life, his reputation, his family's reputation, his chances with the filly of his dreams, and probably even his friendship. Oh, Snips had put on a brave face through the whole ordeal, but Snails was keenly aware of the social suicide inherent with maintaining a relationship with the taller colt, and wouldn't wish that upon his friend. Indeed, he would rather break it off himself than see Snips go through what he felt right now.
It had begun, like so many other things, in Ms. Cherilee's class. The teacher had turned around to write something on the blackboard, and for the first time ever Snails became aware of something which he had taken for granted his entire life: every pony in his class was naked.
And his teacher was facing away from him.
He tried not to look, to focus on the board which even now was full to bursting with math problems he hadn't the faintest clue how to solve. But the more he didn't look, the more he thought. And the more he thought, the larger the problem he was facing became.
Now, Snails was a gifted colt in many ways. He had a good family, good friends, good luck and a fine special talent. Thing is, there was one very big gift – passed down to him by his father – that he could not brag about in public.
Nopony had noticed yet, and for that Snails was grateful. Cautiously, he slid one of the notebooks from atop his desk onto his lap, praying silently that he was imagining it, or that it would go away on its own, or that the building would catch on fire and he would be able to run away and wait it out.
But alas, the presence of a foreign object only seemed to exacerbate the problem. Snails set his jaw, chewed on his tongue, and felt a bead of sweat drip down his face. This was getting him nowhere, and the teacher's droning on about math wasn't helping either. He needed something more effective.
Deftly, and in his mind casually, he replaced the notepad upon his desk and reached for his saddlebag, placing it on his lap and pretending to rummage through it in search of some important document. Only for a moment, then the unthinkable happened.
“Mr. Snails, are you paying attention?” Everypony is looking at me! Ohcrapohcrapohcrapoh-
“Uh, Nothing, Ms. Cher- I mean 'yes!' Yes, Ms Cherilee. Yes I'm paying attention.” Smooth.
“Then please put your saddlebag away.”
Wordlessly, he zipped it up and placed both hooves on his desk, looking intently at the board and not his teacher.
“Under your desk, please.” Cherilee groaned, fighting the urge to roll her eyes or glare, and the class giggled.
Now, as Snails often reminisced, he was a very lucky colt, and as he slowly slid his backpack under his desk, he became keenly aware of just how lucky. You see, were his desk in the middle of the classroom, the jig would be up right now. But his desk was on the side.
He placed his bag under his desk, feeling the eyes of his peers leave him, and shifted his sitting position towards the wall. He slightly crossed his rear hooves as he did so, and placed his head in one hoof in a desperate attempt to look like he wasn't worried. He could do this, he could wait this thing out, he coul-
“Hey Snails, can you loan me a quill? I broke my last one.” Snips, the best friend a colt could ask for, whispered while the teacher turned back towards the board.
For his part, Snails was trying very hard to focus on the windowsill. “One sec.” There was no way he could deny his friend, right? But reaching back into his bag for a quill would require shifting his sitting position.
“Uh, think you can put a rush on that, buddy?” Snips was indicating the board, where old notes to be taken were being erased by the teacher to make room for new ones. Indeed, Snails' own notebook had fallen several minutes behind, and there was likely no catching up with the lesson today – but his friend was somewhat more dedicated to the task of keeping up.
Carefully, slowly, and as quietly as he could muster, Snails summoned the magic to draw a quill from his bag. The zipper opened a bit louder than he had intended, and he shut the magic off and bit his tongue – Cherilee hadn't noticed, thank Celestia.
Last time he and Snips had tried to use magic to do something in the classroom had been last year, and they nearly blew the whole thing sky high. Snails had grown into his horn a lot since last year, and had mastered telekinesis and other basic Unicorn spells, but there was still a moratorium on using magic in the classroom as a result of their actions.
Snails carefully reached in with his fifth hoof – a poor choice of words, but nevertheless – and produced the quill. The hue it glowed changed as Snips took hold of it, but Snails wasn't paying attention, and their horns sparked and competed to maintain control of the object.
“Hey!” Snips had only enough time for that as the quill shot out of their grasp, flying point-first into the back of the filly sitting in front of Snails.
“Ow! Wha'did ya do that fer?” Applebloom rubbed the back of her head and turned around to glare at Snails, though thankfully she had had the mercy to whisper.
“Sorry.” It was all Snails could manage at the moment, trying very hard to look genuinely apologetic. Thing is, looking at Applebloom only made it harder to concentrate on not looking at anything pretty.
“Well, watch it nex' tahm.” She hoofed the quill at him, and he took it with his own – handing it back non-magically to Snips (being very careful to turn in such a way that didn't blow his deception), who was more grateful than anything.
The problem was taking a long time to go away, and it was getting harder to ignore. And now that his eyes were lingering on Applebloom's hair, Snails was worried that it could explode any second. He needed a distraction, something to take his mind out of the gutter – maybe he'd doodle on his notebook?
Grasping a quill in his mouth and dipping it in ink, Snails put to paper whatever came to his mind first – his cutie mark! That will work, a little snail just floating on the page, looking up at the viewer with a neutral face. What now? A pair of scissors, a few flashing stars, a wand waving through the air, but what was Applebloom's cutie mark?
Come to think of it, she doesn't have one – but Snails remembered some of the ones she got by mistake not too long ago. A loop-de-hoop, spinning plates, those three curvy lines, a sponge...
But none of them were quite it. No, now that he thought about it, Applebloom was quite perfect without a cutie mark, as if to say that her special talent was the quest for meaning. With a goofy look on his face as he imagined it, he drew a curve that some would say resembled a blank flank.
Of course, that was when the problem got out of hoof.
“Mr. Snails, are you paying attention?” Cherilee was much less successful at hiding her irritation this time – Snails wasn't a problem student by any means, but a few years of teaching him had worn down her patience for his shenanigans.
“Y-yes, Ms Cherilee.”
“Then what is the answer?” She pointed a hoof at the board, indicating a very complex looking algebra problem. Snails' instinct was to rapidly scan the board for a number he thought was the answer, but underneath the problem was only another, similar problem. And underneath that, a third version of the same problem. Snails couldn't make heads or tails out of what he was looking at.
“Forty-two?” The class laughed. Worth a shot.
“Would you care to show what you've been doodling to the class?” Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcr-
“No.” Maybe he'll get off easy.
“Then come to the board and solve this for us.” Maybe not.
Snails would have rather faced an Ursa Major alone than stand up right then. Desperately he racked his brain for an excuse, but had only managed a halfhearted “um” when this happened.
“Oh my gosh!” Diamond Tiara broke down into fits of laughter, practically falling out of her desk. Silver Spoon followed shortly thereafter, realizing the same thing her friend had. Snails didn't dare look at anypony else, but he heard a murmur grow as his classmates undoubtedly figured it out.
There was nothing else for it: he ran out the door as fast as he could, his entire head flushed red.
His father would catch up with him two hours later, well after things had simmered down. They met at the edge of the Everfree Forest, by the huge tree where Snails had earned his cutie mark. At first, they simply sat with each other, in silence.
“So.” Dad always did have a way with words.
“Your mother's worried about you.”
“Now come on, when did you get so sarcastic?” And to that, Snails lacked an answer, so he remained silent. Another moment of silence passed, where his attention was squarely focused on a lone ant making it's way across the ground.
“Hey, you remember that fight you and your mom got into last week?”
“...yeah.” Why bring this up now? Trying to make me feel worse?
“You two really went at it, and you said some things I'm sure you regret.”
“Well, what did you say to her this morning, when you left for school?” His dad looking right at him, Snails finally looked at him back.
“Um, 'have a nice day?'”
“You said, and I quote, 'love you, mom.' It was as if last week never happened at all.” And with that, Snails got a hoof placed on his shoulder, and was helped to his feet. “Now come on, it's getting dark out here.”
Dad always did have a way with words.
The gods of chance had the mercy of placing the above incident on a Friday, so Snails was able to put as much time between himself and it before he was forced to return to school. He had considered asking his parents for another day off to delay the inevitable, but with his father's words in his head he pressed on, making his way to ground zero along the same route as always.
Snips was, for lack of a better word, awesome. They talked at length about a new magic trick the smaller unicorn was working on that could cut anything into any pattern, instantly. The trouble with good conversation is that it made the trip pass that much quicker, and very soon they spotted Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
Of course they're just waiting for me, they've probably spent all weekend coming up with jokes.
“Hi Snails.” Silver Spoon was playing the good cop.
“Or should we say 'snakes?'” And Diamond Tiara was the bad cop. They had a good laugh, but they were far from done.
“Oh come on, don't give him a 'hard' time!” They giggled some more.
“But it's been such a 'long' time since we've seen him, I just had to say something!” Giggling, laughing, it's all the same. But it was Snips who broke the combo.
“Keep your day job, ladies. My man Snails here doesn't care what you have to say, right, Snails?” His confidence was infectious, and Snails had a rebuttal in an instant. I say it again. Snips is awesome.
“Yeah, and besides, when you emphasize the word like that, it kills the joke.” And with that, Snips and Snails pushed past the two and into the classroom, ignoring the catcalls and laughter that followed them. It made him angry, sure, but with his buddy sitting right behind him there was nothing that could get him to lose his cool.
Once in the classroom, they were in the safe zone – Cherilee knew that teasing was inevitable among children, but that didn't mean she let it slide. Snails was grateful for that, but eventually realized that he had completely underestimated the bulk of his classmates.
Not a one, save for the two who reveled in the pain of others, dared to mention what happened. Most were simply busy talking about the crazy occurrences of the past Saturday, or the upcoming Hearth's Warming Eve play. By the end of the day last Friday had banished itself from even Snails' mind, which was relegated the far more important task of copying Snips' notes from last week.
That was what they were doing after class, when two of the Cutie Mark Crusaders approached them.
“Hey, Snails! That's his name, right? Snails?”
Sweetie Bell rolled her eyes. “Yes. Gosh Scoot, you should really have figured this out by now.”
“Whatever. Hey Snails, our friend Applebloom wants to talk to you.” Scoot pointed at the corner of the school building, where the yellow filly was unmistakably waiting and watching them. Snips and Snails rose as one, more out of habit than anything.
“Alone, Snips.” Sweetie Bell raised a hoof to the smaller unicorn, who gave his friend an uncertain look.
“Okay, watch my stuff, man.” Snails followed the two Crusaders to their friend, not wanting to question this turn of events. A chance to talk to Applebloom – and alone, no less? They lead him to the corner, then practically shoved him around it, where he landed face-to-face with her.
“...” Her face was almost as red as her hair, and she didn't seem to be able to look him in the eye.
“Um, hi.” He had similar trouble looking at her, though his complexion wasn't quite as compromised. Behind him, the two Crusaders poked their heads around the wall, and waved silent encouragement to their friend.
“You dropp'd this. Las' class, ah mean.” She reached her head into her saddlebag and produced Snails' extra notebook, passing it to him.
“Oh, thanks! I completely forgot.” He was about to reach out with magic when he realized what happened last time he did that, and reached with his mouth instead. Despite everything they had been lead to believe by romantic movies, their noses didn't touch when they exchanged the object. It was all quite drab, actually.
“So, um, about your special talent...” Behind the wall, the other two Crusaders suddenly exploded into giggles. Snails and Appleblooms faces both turned the color of the latter's hair, and Snips facehoofed from where he had been eavesdropping.
“Gardening! Ah meant gardening! That's all ah meant by it!” The Earth Pony was mortified, but at least Sweetie Bell stopped herself laughing by shoving a hoof in her mouth. Scootaloo didn't.
“Y-yeah. We kn-know what you meant. App-App-Applebloompffftsnickerlaugh.” She started rolling around on the grass and guffawing in the way she picked up from Rainbow Dash. Sweetie Bell shoved a hoof in her pegasus friend's mouth for her, and there was finally some quiet. Applebloom was determined not to be interrupted again.
“Winter break is comin' up soon an' Ah was gonna spend it workin' on the tree house an' Ah was wonderin' if'n you want'd to help me put togeth'r a gard'n fer it!” She gasped for air at the end of that sentence, but was otherwise satisfied that it hadn't been cut off.
“Um...” Come on, say something smooth and cool! “...yes?”
Applebloom heaved a sigh of relief, her face turning its normal color again. “Good! Lemme show ya where it is...”
Author’s notes: [d]
Hey! I guess there was some kind of controversy regarding whether EQD would post this or not, but I’m mostly glad they didn’t send me back a laundry list of technical errors this time. Anyway, as usual for things like this, I suppose I should include the following:
1. Hasbro owns the ponies, not me.
2. Don’t take this fanfic too seriously, because I certainly didn’t when I wrote it.