A Taste of the Good Life

Main Course is a successful chef and restaurant owner. Or he was, anyway, until a fire tore up his life's work and left him adrift. When he visits his sister in the rural backwater town of Ponyville, he discovers an abandoned building that's perfect for a quick fix-up so he can flip it for a profit. But the building comes with an unforeseen tenant, and when he lets her stick around he discovers that maybe, just maybe, there's something out there more important than wealth and fame.

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11. Wake Up Call

WAKE UP CALL

Main Course woke up as the first rays of light shone into his face, earlier than they should have. He blinked a few times and then rolled over.

There was Ebby, sound asleep next to him.

Everything from the night before came rushing back. He reached up and gently lifted a strand of her mane off of her cheek, smiling as her eyes flickered open. “Well, good morning,” she said as a grin slowly spread across her face.

“Best one I’ve woken up to for awhile,” he replied as she leaned in to kiss him.

The two of them clung to each other for a few moments before Ebby pulled herself away. She turned her head towards the nightstand, the early morning sunbeam catching her mane and making the dark hair shimmer. “Ugh, do you always get up this early?” She glanced at the clock. "5:45 isn't really my best time. I'm not a morning pony."

"My alarm usually goes off at six," replied Main.

"Well I guess that means you aren't going anywhere for the next fifteen minutes, doesn't it?" She rolled over and pressed her back into Main's stomach, while he draped a foreleg over her side. Holding her this close, he took a moment to enjoy the feel of her body against his for a moment before she spoke again. "In... fourteen minutes now you're going to get up, and all the problems and complications we just set in motion are going to rear their ugly heads. Until then, though, I just want you to hold me."

"You think last night was a mistake?" asked Main Course. A tiny hint of pain and disappointment slipped into his voice.

He felt her nod. "An amazing and wonderful mistake. I don't regret it, but we both know this can't become a regular thing. Scootaloo would be furious if she found out. I really like you, Main, but I don't love you as much as I love her. If she thinks I'm trying to get back into her life through you, she'll freak out."

"I guess you're right," said Main Course. "Boy, the two of us just have the absolute worst timing, don't we?"

She laughed. "It's about par for the course, where my love life is concerned."

Main Course kissed her neck and felt her arch her back, pressing into him a little harder. "Has anypony ever told you that you have a beautiful laugh?"

She rolled over to face him. "Come on, Main. Don't make this harder than it has to be."

"I've got twelve minutes left. I plan to put them to good use," he replied, kissing the tip of her horn. She jolted and let out a little squeak as his lips made contact. "Oh my gosh, did you just squeak?" he asked with a smirk.

Ebby blushed through her orange coat. "That's a sensitive spot for unicorns, okay? You took me by surprise." Her glower utterly failed to be intimidating. How many other embarrassing little quirks like that did she have?

"That was adorable. What other noises do you make?" He started to slide a hoof lower on her body and she moaned. "I heard that one a few times last night."

"Oh, you want to start that game? For the next ten minutes I'm going to play you like an instrument, buddy." She climbed on top of him, straddling his barrel between her thighs and pinning his forelegs to either side. Main Course tried to free his rear legs, but found them hopelessly wrapped up in the blankets and sheets.

"I'm tangled, hold on," he said.

She grinned. "Oh no you don't. I like having you at my mercy like this." She leaned down and started slowly and deliberately planting kisses one by one up the length of his neck. He groaned, and heard her give a breathy little chuckle as she reached his left ear. "I told you so."

He turned his head and lifted his mouth to meet hers, locking them into another kiss. When Ebby's hoof slipped off his foreleg he reached up with the intention of flipping her over and regaining the initiative. As his hoof pressed into the discolored patch of fur behind her shoulder, she cried out in pain. Main Course pulled his hoof away instantly, and Ebby sat up. She winced and turned away, tears welling up in her eyes as she gently rubbed the spot with her hoof. "I'm sorry, are you alright? I didn't mean to hurt you."

"I know you didn't. That's just another sensitive spot," she replied, refusing to look down at him.

"What happened that messed up your coat like that?"

"Burned. It never regrew quite right afterwards,” said Ebby. Her coat gently crackled under her touch, the damaged hair stubbornly refusing to settle down unlike the otherwise smooth and silky parts of her coat that had slid against his as they’d coupled the night before.

"Burned?" repeated Main Course. "Ebby, what did he—"

"Really not what I want to spend our last four minutes talking about, Main," interrupted Ebby. She laid down on top of him, belly to belly, and wrapped her forelegs around him as she buried her face in his chest. They laid together in silence with their eyes closed, willing the seconds to pass just a little bit slower. “Thank you for this,” she whispered.

Main Course opened one eye and looked at the clock. “5:59. Better make this last minute count.” Ebby lifted her muzzle to his and kissed him deeply, both of them desperately trying to capture that feeling of closeness for as long as they could.

Then the clock struck six, and the two pulled apart. They stared into one another’s eyes for just a few more seconds, then Ebby tossed back the covers and climbed out of bed. “You can take the shower first if you want to. I wouldn’t usually surface until at least seven thirty, so I’m not in a hurry.”

Main Course stepped into her bathroom and climbed into the shower. He stared down at the foreign knobs and eventually, lacking any direction, twisted one of them. He was rewarded with a blast of icy-cold water, and shivered until he’d deciphered the trick to making it at least lukewarm. He cleaned himself off with an intensely floral-smelling body wash he found half a bottle of and some shampoo. When he emerged, clean and ready to start his day, he found Ebby in her kitchen munching on a bowl of cereal. “I guess I’ll see you at the play tonight, then,” said Main Course.

“I’ll be there, but you may or may not see me. I probably won’t stick around very long afterwards. Still, I’m looking forward to it,” she said between bites. She studied a little fruit bowl on the far side of the counter intently, resisting any attempt he made to meet her gaze.

“Well, bye then,” said Main Course. He stood there awkwardly for a few moments before leaning in and giving her a chaste peck on the cheek, then turned and left before she could reply.

In the long walk back to the Knoll in the early morning light, he reflected on the night before. For just a moment, everything had felt right. But he shook off the feeling and focused on the ponies he had to be responsible for. His employees counted on him for their livelihood, and more importantly his daughter was counting on him to put her needs ahead of his own desires. With a sigh, he reached his front door and went inside to start prepping for lunch service.

----------------------

“Ready for an evening of scintillating and provocative theatre? The very height of Ponyville culture?” asked Silver Scroll as she waited for Main Course to lock up the Knoll.

“I’m just happy that she’ll finally be finished rehearsing those lines. Sorry, line, singular. Do you have a camera?” asked Main Course as he trotted over the front yard to meet up with her. Above, the first stars of the evening had just begun to come out.

"Didn't bother to bring it. The school photographer is pretty good, and they'll send out pictures to all the parents," said Silver, "geez, it's been three weeks already since you adopted her and I'm still a little freaked out whenever I try to think of you that way. I got a letter from Mom the other day asking when I’m going to settle down with somepony and have a foal too. I swear that mare is insatiable.”

Main Course chuckled as they walked towards the little schoolhouse at the edge of town. They weren’t the only ones headed in that direction. Silver Scroll’s sarcastic little jab at the sleepy little town had been half-true; even ponies who didn’t have any foals of their own in the play were trotting in the same direction to support their friends and neighbors. It struck him as odd the way everypony knew everypony. Back in Manehattan he hadn’t even learned the names of his neighbors who lived in the same apartment complex. Here, though, he recognized at least half of the stallions and mares walking with them from the Knoll. “Well, it’s not like I’m settled exactly. I’ve only been open for what, two months? It’s too soon to tell if this will last.”

“Sure it is,” she replied with a knowing little smile as she adjusted her glasses. “Do you know Daisy? She was wondering if you had a free evening sometime in the next couple weeks. I know you’re busy, but she’s really cute.”

“Are you trying to set me up on a date?” asked Main Course.

“Maaaaaaaaybe,” said Silver Scroll. “It wouldn’t kill you to put down some roots somewhere, would it?”

“I’ve already got a lot on my plate, Silver,” said Main Course as the stage that had been set up in the open field behind the schoolhouse came into view.

“Hey, none of us are getting any younger. At least I’ve got my eye on the cute filing clerk who works at city hall, but you barely ever leave your kitchen. What are you going to do, sleep with one of your waitresses?” asked Silver Scroll.

Main Course frowned. Why did she decide to bring this up now, of all times? “Can we change the subject?” he asked.

Silver Scroll looked over and studied his face. He stopped and leaned back from her penetrating stare. “Hmm... No, you aren’t interested in any of them.”

“You don’t know that for sure. Lyra’s reasonably attractive,” said Main Course.

“Nah, I’d know if you had your eye on one of them. You get this look to you that you haven’t ever learned to hide,” said Silver Scroll. “There’s a reason you’ll never beat me at poker.” They walked on in silence for another minute looking for a good spot in the field to watch the play from. Several ponies had come with blankets and picnic baskets, with the intent to make an evening out of the show. Silver Scroll came to an abrupt stop, holding out a foreleg to stop Main Course as well. “Main,” she hissed, “Ebony’s here.”

Sure enough, on the other side of the crowd Ebby was sitting apart from anypony else making small talk with another mare, a pink bow tied into her mane. “It’s fine. Scootaloo gave her the okay to see it. I told her last night that she could come.”

“Well that’s good,” said Silver Scroll, letting out a relieved breath. “Heh. Dropping by her apartment late at night to invite her to a show? Good thing you aren’t dating her.” Main Course clenched his lips closed a bit tighter and hoped she wouldn’t notice. She did. “Main, that’s the part where you laugh, because the idea that you would be dumb enough to do something like that is so ridiculous it’s farcical, right?” she asked. “Right, Main?”

“We should, uh,” stuttered Main, stalling for time. “We should talk about something else right now.”

“Oh, Main,” said Silver Scroll as an incredulous look began to spread over her face, “tell me nothing happened.”

“Nothing’s going to happen from now on, does that count?”

Silver brought a hoof up to her face and shook her head. “You moron. Of all the mares in Ponyville you could have had a one night stand with, you went and picked literally the worst one. What were you thinking?”

Main Course motioned for her to lower her voice. “Look, it just kind of happened, okay? I didn’t go over there planning on staying the night. She’s just really alone right now, and when I saw some of the scars she has under those dresses she wears—”

“You decided you just had to save her like the noble idiot that you are,” finished Silver Scroll. “And of course, the best way to do that was to let her seduce you. Have you even considered that she might not have your best interests in mind?”

“It’s not like that. Come on, don’t you think she’s earned the benefit of the doubt?” insisted Main Course. “We talked about it this morning. She’s not trying to do an end run around me to get to Scootaloo. She’s a better pony than that.”

“Or at least that’s what she says. Because it’s not like she’s ever manipulated your feelings for her before,” said Silver Scroll, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Don’t try to deny that you have feelings for her, either. I’ve seen the way you get all dreamy-eyed when you talk about her. I just that you were smart enough to have learned your lesson by now.”

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about her. And I don’t want to talk about this right now,” said Main, his voice threatening to rise above the furious whisper they were conversing in.

“Fine,” said Silver Scroll, “but you’re playing with fire, Main. You aren’t the love ‘em and leave ‘em sort, and I don’t want to see you get hurt. Remember that mare you had a crush on in culinary school? Pepper, I think? When she shot you down you moped for nearly a month, and I don’t especially like mopey, whiny Main Course.” She shook her head but then leaned over and gave him an affectionate nuzzle. “You dumb lug. It’s a good thing I love you or I don’t know how I’d put up with you. When you ignore my advice and she breaks your heart I’ll be there to help you pick up the pieces.”

Despite the condescending tone, Main Course returned the gesture. “It’ll be fine, Silver. It’s not going to happen again. I got it out of my system. Ebby and I can just be friends.”

They settled down onto the grass as the stage lights came up and colts and fillies began to march out onto the stage for the opening scene, the colt in the fake mustache complaining to his ‘wife’ about the rabbit that was sneaking under his fence and digging up his crops. When Scootaloo appeared on the stage with her gem-encrusted prop shovel, he silently mouthed her line along with her as she spoke the awkward, stilted dialogue. He found that a grin had crept up on him unawares as the moment passed.

He glanced across the field. On the other side of the audience, he spotted Ebby in the gloom. In the low light, he could just make out her smile and the tear running down her cheek.

----------------------------

“And how did you feel about that?”

Main Course couldn’t help but roll his eyes at Briggs’ question, not for the first time. He’d expected the revelation he’d had sex with one of the doctor’s other clients who was also the mother of a third to provoke a bit more of a reaction, but not much seemed to get much of a rise out of the stallion. He settled a bit deeper into the overstuffed chair, one he’d never found the right spot in to be comfortable throughout these sessions. At least this was the last one before FPS would leave him alone. He was looking forward to reclaiming the hour of precious free time each week. “It was a mistake. We discussed it afterwards and came to the mutual decision that it couldn’t happen again. I just figured Ebby would mention it and didn’t want you thinking that I was trying to hide anything.”

Briggs scribbled something down onto the ever-present notepad. “Do you feel like it’s something you need to hide?”

“Well, yeah,” said Main Course, “I mean, obviously. I’m not going to share intimate details of my sex life with Scootaloo, especially not when it involves the mare she’s so uncomfortable around. I think it’s best for everypony involved if we just pretend that night never happened.”

Putting down the notepad, Briggs looked askance at Main Course from his spot next to the aquarium that sat on the little table underneath the window. “Yes, I often tell my patients that denial and suppressing their feelings is the best course of action.”

“Was that sarcasm?” asked Main, raising an eyebrow. Briggs’ delivery had been so deadpan he legitimately couldn’t tell.

“It was,” he replied. “Listen Main, I know this is our last session together, and I know you’ve been counting down the minutes until you don’t have to put up with me anymore. So I want you to know that no matter what you say to me now, I’ve already decided to recommend leaving Scootaloo right where she is. I’m confident you’ll be a good father to her.”

“Great,” said Main Course, rising up from his chair. “Can I go then?”

“No. Sit,” ordered Briggs. Reluctantly, Main Course returned to his seat. “How do you feel about Ebby?”

Main Course shrugged. “Look, doctor, I have an awful lot on my plate right now. Ebby thinks it’s a bad idea, my sister thinks it’s a bad idea, I’m sure Scootaloo would think it’s a bad idea if I told her, I have a business partner coming to town tonight and I’m still not sure what I’m going to tell her when she does. I don’t have time for that right now.”

“Fascinating,” said Briggs in a tone that suggested he was anything but fascinated, “not fascinating enough that I didn’t notice you dodging the question I actually asked, though. How do you feel about Ebony?”

“She’s...” Main Course trailed off, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. “She’s been a really bad mother to Scootaloo. I’m not overlooking that. I’m not about to force Scootaloo to talk to her again just because I slept with her either. I’m fine with what I have with her now. We meet up once a week, while Scootaloo is here with you, and we just talk.” Main Course smiled as he reminisced. “She, heh, you should hear what she told me the other day about—”

“Changing the subject,” interrupted Briggs. “You still haven’t answered my question.”

“Fine. I like her, okay?” said Main Course, knocking the chair back as he stood up again and subconsciously leaned towards Briggs. “You found me out. I feel good around her. I want to get to know her better. I want us to have a chance together but I know that isn’t going to happen because the filly who we both care vastly more about despises her and won’t even be in the same room as she is. We’re not going to get a happy ending, we’re not ever going to be a family together, we’re not ever going to be anything and thank you so much for reminding me of that!” He realized that he’d started shouting at some point, and lowered his voice. “Sorry. I’m just not sure what you really want from me.”

“Acknowledging your own feelings would be a start,” said Briggs. “Like I said earlier, you like being the good guy. The pony everypony can count on. The rock. How often do you ask yourself that sort of question?”

Main Course frowned. “What sort?”

“The selfish sort,” replied Briggs as he glanced at the clock on the wall behind Main Course. “How often do you do what you want to do instead of what’s expected of you? Or put your needs ahead of somepony else’s? Burying the way you feel isn’t a solution, just a bandage over the real problem.”

“I don’t have a problem,” growled Main Course. “I have a business that I run and a daughter to focus on. What I don’t have is time for stupid flights of fancy that are going to end up hurting somepony else.”

“You mean like the restaurant you just opened up?” asked Briggs. “From what you’ve told me, there’s no way you can stay here in Ponyville with Scootaloo and still honor the obligation you feel towards your business partner. So which of them do you plan to disappoint?”

“I’m... I’m going to—”

“We’re out of time,” said Briggs. Main Course looked up at the clock behind him. Indeed, his final appointment had flown by. “You’re welcome to come back and we can continue our sessions together, but if you don’t I have a few suggestions for you.”

“Like what?” asked Main Course. He didn’t want to come back here again. Finally, he could put this whole stupid exercise behind him.

“Like you should try being a selfish jerk a little more often,” said Briggs. When Main Course didn’t respond he continued. “You’re a good stallion, Main. I think you’re going to be great at whatever you eventually set your mind towards. But I’m not sure you’ll be happy doing it if you let others’ ideas and priorities shape yours. Taking on Scootaloo as your daughter was stupid. Sleeping with Ebony was stupid too. But they were an honest sort of stupid that I suspect you don’t allow yourself to indulge in very often."

“I can’t afford to,” replied Main Course. He felt a great deal less sure of himself than he had when he’d arrived, but then that was how he always felt at the end of these sessions. “Ponies depend on me. Besides, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I love running the Knoll, I love Scootaloo, and I’m sure I’ll be happy anywhere as long as I have those. Why try to convince me otherwise?”

“I’m not trying to convince you of anything,” said Briggs. “All I’m here to do is help you understand yourself a bit better, and make sure your daughter is safe in your hooves.”

“She is. I wouldn’t ever do anything to hurt her,” said Main Course. “It’s probably good that you’re helping Scoots and Ebby, but I’m doing just fine. Don’t try to make a problem where there isn’t one. We’re done here, aren’t we?”

“If you want us to be, then yes we are. Please think about what I’ve said, though.”

“Sure. I’ll think about it,” said Main Course without really meaning it, “I’m sure you’re eager to write up your final report, and I need to start prepping for lunch.” He was about to walk out of the office for good when he stopped. “Sorry,” he said as he turned around again, “I’d rather not leave on that note. I really do appreciate the time you took to meet with me, and what you’re doing for Scootaloo. I didn’t mean to snap at you, it’s just...”

“A sensitive issue. I understand,” said Briggs. He got up from his seat. “Why don’t I walk you out?” The two stallions walked through the waiting room together, empty except for the receptionist scribbling something down with a quill. She nodded to Briggs before returning to her work. “As you know, it would be unethical for me to tell you anything another patient said in our sessions together,” he said as they reached the front door. “Still, I have this strange hunch that things between the three of you are going to work out just fine.” He winked at Main Course as he waved goodbye and opened the door for him.

Main Course walked out with a great deal on his mind, turning over the last few words Briggs had said. He only had another hour to run to the market and stock up before he’d need to get started in the kitchen or he’d fall behind before the meal had even started. The last thing he needed right now was a distraction.

“Main Course!” called out a voice he hadn’t heard for several months. He turned around and plastered a smile on his face even as he felt his stomach drop.

“Grace? What are you doing here?”

His partner trotted up to him and gave him a big hug. Main was too stunned to return it for several seconds. “I caught an earlier train. I just couldn’t wait to see you again, you know?”

He looked her over. She was a bit leaner than he remembered, which would make sense if she was teaching now instead of hanging around a kitchen all day, but otherwise just as he remembered her. “I like the new manecut.”

“Oh, thanks. It’s a big improvement over being half burned off, right?” she asked as she ran a hoof across her bangs. “I like it shorter. It’s a lot easier to deal with in the mornings. Now come on, tell me everything! I can’t wait to see the refurbished Knoll, and you adopted a filly too?”

“Yeah, it’s been a crazy couple of months,” admitted Main Course. “I was just about to go shopping, actually. I’ll fill you in if you don’t mind tagging along.”

“Absolutely. I won’t get in your way. Actually, I was thinking I could join you in the kitchen tonight. It can’t be easy to handle an entire service by yourself, and I miss cooking with you. Besides, it isn’t like there’s much else to do in this town. You must be getting a little stir crazy living somewhere so dull.”

“I haven’t really had time to get bored,” said Main Course. He saw Rarity turn a corner down the street, and found himself grateful for an excuse to change the subject. “Come on, let me introduce you to some of the other ponies who live around here...”

---------------------------

By the end of the dinner rush, Main Course found himself wondering how he’d managed for all these months without having another pony helping him in the kitchen. He and Grace hadn’t taken more than a few minutes to fall back into their usual dynamic, working together just like back in the old days. Just having another pony to talk to and joke with while they worked made the hours fly by.

“I still don’t get the pink one’s system for numbering tables,” said Grace as she poured a ring of bearnaise sauce around several thick slices of butternut squash they’d found on sale that morning.

“I know it’s weird, but it does make an odd sort of sense when you get used to it,” Main replied. “The whole town’s like that, really.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll be happy to get back to normal when you move back to Manehattan, right?”

“Hey, could you roast these pumpkin wedges for me really quick?” asked Main Course. For the entire day, he’d been diligently changing the subject whenever the future came up. He wasn’t sure he was going to be able to keep Grace’s focus off it for very much longer without her becoming suspicious.

As the last few diners paid their bill and left, Grace cracked her neck to one side. “I forgot how tired I got after a whole shift of this. Teaching’s making me go soft.”

“Do you like it? Teaching, I mean,” asked Main Course.

“It’s alright, just different. It’s nice to get home in time to cook dinner for my family instead of a hundred strangers.” Her stomach growled. “Speaking of dinner, what’s left over from tonight?” The two went through the time-honored ritual of pulling together two meals for themselves out of odds and ends that were left over from the night’s service and carried their plates out to the dining area. Hanging their hats and aprons on the back of their chairs, they settled down to eat. “I still can’t believe you got this place for five thousand bits. It’s a lot nicer than I thought it would be.”

“You didn’t see it before I fixed it up. I probably put in at least that much on top of the purchase price just refurbishing it,” he said as he bit into a hunk of garlic bread. “How’s your soup?”

“Really good. Better than I would have expected. I have no idea how you’ve managed to run this place by yourself, but all the practice is making you a better cook. That’s one lucky filly you adopted.”

“I’ve been teaching her some of the basics in my downtime. Helped me to remaster the fundamentals, and she’s really coming along. Sorry you didn’t get to meet her tonight, but you will tomorrow. She usually slips in the back and heads upstairs when she’s done playing with her friends. Most evenings I barely even see her before I close for the night.”

“Well, I can’t wait to introduce her to Windy. She’ll love having a new playmate her own age.”

“Yeah, um, about that,” said Main Course. No way to put this off any longer. “I was thinking maybe she could stay here?”

“Stay where? I don’t think whoever we sell this place to would appreciate having a tenant living upstairs,” said Grace, putting her fork down.

“What if we didn’t sell it?”

Grace stared at him for several seconds, irritation creeping into her expression. “What do you mean ‘if we didn’t sell it?’ Main, the entire point of opening this place up was so you could sell it and use the money to reopen in Manehattan. Now we’re just a month from finally getting the insurance money and you’re getting cold hooves?” she asked, slowly and deliberately enunciating every word in the way she always did when she was stopping herself from getting mad. “Heck, I had a mare ask me about buying the place a little over a month ago. Ebony something.”

“We’ve met, believe me,” said Main Course. “She’s Scootaloo’s mother, actually. It’s complicated.”

“Then explain it,” said Grace, her voice rising in volume. “For Celestia’s sake, Main, this is exactly what I was afraid of when you bought this place. You promised me that it didn’t mean anything to you and you weren’t going to go native like this. Your life is in Manehattan, and now suddenly you have a marefriend and a foal in some backwater, two-bit town? What the buck?”

“I... things have been changing for me since I got here, Grace. I like it here, a lot more than I expected to. I’ve made more friends here in the last four months than I did in the last three years of living in Manehattan, and—”

“So you’re just ditching me? We started the Knoll together, Main, I don’t want to run it without you,” said Grace. “I’m sure your friends will write, and Scootaloo will make new friends of her own.”

“Maybe there’s a compromise here,” suggested Main Course. He’d been wracking his brain all week trying to come up with one. “Why don’t we keep both places open? I could work part time in both of them a couple days a week.”

“You want to run two restaurants? At the same time? I know you like the business, but that’s beyond insane. You can’t half-ass that kind of thing. You have to choose one or you’ll lose both of them, and it shouldn’t be that tough of a choice.”

"It is, though,” said Main Course. “I don’t want to choose between Ponyville and Manehattan. Either way I’d be letting somepony down.”

“Well, tough. That’s life. I know you don’t like making the hard decisions, that’s always been something I’m better at than you are. Because we’re a team, and a damn good one. Now you want to throw that away? I thought I meant more to you than that,” said Grace. She blinked away the tears starting to mist up in her eyes.

“You do mean a lot to me, Grace, you know that. But there are other ponies in my life now who mean a lot to me too. I have to think about what’s best for all of them.”

“I can’t even talk to you right now,” said Grace, abruptly standing up from the table. “I need to sleep on this, and you need to figure out what the hell really matters to you. I thought it was me, but clearly I was wrong about that. You know where to find me when you come to your senses and realize that Manehattan is where you belong.”

“What if you came to live in Ponyville? It’s a great town,” Main called after her as she walked towards the door.

“I have a life in Manehattan. I’m not uprooting my entire family to move based on your selfish little fantasy,” she replied as she walked away. Her horn glowed as the front door swung open. “Sell the Knoll, Main. Then things will go back to the way they should be.”

Main Course winced as she walked out, slamming the door behind her. “Well, that could have gone better,” he muttered to himself.

“Daddy?” asked Scootaloo’s voice from behind him.

Main Course went rigid as he turned around. Standing it the doorway leading to the back room and the stairs was Scootaloo, trembling in her favorite set of purple pajamas. “Scootaloo? Were you listening to—”

“You’re not really gonna sell the Knoll, right?” she asked, cutting him off. Main sat there trying to figure out what to tell her. “Right?”

 

 

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