Marshmallows and Cotton Candy

by GentlemanJ

Chapter 1: Sweetie Belle Does Business

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This is a short story in The Journey of Graves.

The series begins with the first story: When the Man Comes Around.

IMPORTANT: If you haven't read the series, please head back to the beginning and check it out. While each story stands on its own, the character and relationship developments will build on each other as the series progresses.

And so, the saga continues...

Marshmallows and Cotton Candy

By: GentlemanJ

Sweetie Belle Does Business

Silently, dutifully, the marshal sat at his kitchen table and scribbled away at his reports. Quill dipped into inkwell. Quill scratched on paper. Quill dipped into inkwell again. Incessant. Administrative. Bureaucracy.

… It was awful.

Reports definitely had to be the least attractive part of the job, and that included the extensive variety of shootings, stabbings, bitings, smashings, and other physical traumas that came part and parcel with being one of Equestria’s finest. Not for the first time, Graves found himself wishing he had officer rank like Shining Armor just so he could get a junior to fill the forms out for him. Sadly, that was neither here nor there, so the grey-eyed soldier wearily continued scratching away.

He continued even as the front door opened to announce the arrival of a diminutive guest. He steadily worked as soft grunts and quiet scrapes sounded from a spare chair being dragged across the room and up to the table. He kept his eyes down even when the fluffy-headed intruder scrambled up into the seat and peered up at him with big, expectant green eyes.

Quill dipped into inkwell. Quill scratched on paper.


One more scrawling note, and Graves finally looked up. Sweetie Belle, bedecked in a very Rarity-esque miniature pants suit set, looked back at him through stylish, thick-framed glasses.

“Can I help you?” he asked, his gravelly baritone voice rumbling forth with absolute neutrality of tone. The little girl smiled.

“Actually, I believe today’s visit should be about how I can help you.”

“Oh?” Eyebrow arched. “How so?”

Grunting as she reached over and pulled up an over-sized briefcase, the girl with cotton candy curls only took a moment’s pause to straighten the lovely designer glasses she was clearly not accustomed to wearing before popping the case open and pulling out some very official looking forms.

“It’s come to my attention,” she began, adopting the cool tones her elder sister often used, “that you’ve been neglecting your contractual obligations. I’m sure I needn’t remind you how serious an issue this is.”

“No, of course not,” Graves nodded, his face a smooth mask of perfect composure. “But, ah… you may have to remind me which obligations I’m missing.”

“Several, really,” Sweetie Belle sighed as she flipped through various papers and folders. “You’re behind on your TSF contributions, neglected to schedule your CMCSP hosting obligations, and completely missed out on several SWCSR opportunities, to name a few. But the biggest problem by far is your failure to perform your very crucial LSAT duties. The others, we could work around, but that one’s a definite deal breaker.”

“Mm, I see.”

The marshal leaned back in his chair and stroked his chin in thought.

“You’ll have to pardon me,” he softly grunted as he settled back into his seat, “for I’m a simple man of simple ways. Can you remind me just what is this LSAT you speak of?”

“Not a problem,” the squeaky girl beamed before pulling out an honest-to-Luna flip chart, which she propped up on a collapsible easel with great relish. “Your LSAT, or "Little Sister Adventure Time" obligation, as it were, is a requirement that you take your little sister on regularly scheduled outings for exposure to the hilarities, absurdities, and sheninugi-… shenunaga-… shenimug-…”

“Shenanigans?” Graves offered.

“Right, shenanigans,” Sweetie Belle nodded, “that are necessary for a child’s growth and developmental well-being.”

“Make sense,” the marshal nodded. “But ah... when exactly did I get a new little sister?”

“The moment you departed from bachelorhood, of course,” the little lady primly answered. “See, when you and Rarity became an official item, you assumed all duties and obligations regarding her little sister therein, henceforth, and forthwith. It’s part of the contract.”

“I don’t remember signing a contract,” Graves mused.

“It’s a tacit understanding,” Sweetie Belle shrugged. “We don’t do paperwork.”

“Ah. I see.”

“So if you’ll turn your attention here,” the little lawyer continued as she gestured towards the flip chart, “this graph here represents the average time spent on LSAT activities by an average older brother figure such as yourself, while this graph here charts your performance over the last few quarters.”

“... It's blank.”

“Exactly,” Sweetie Belle nodded as she folded up the chart. “And that’s why I’m here. We need to work out a schedule for you to make up those payments post haste. If not, well… let’s just say the punishments will be very severe.”

“How severe?” the soldier inquired.

“Life imprisonment, for starters,” Sweetie Belle replied. “And then they execute you. Twice.”

“Oh my,” Graves intoned gravely. “How long do I have to make the payments?”

“Twelve hours. That means you have to do them by today.”

“Hm, that’s not a lot of time,” the marshal frowned. “I don’t think I can come up with something that quickly.”

“Don’t worry, you leave that to me!” Sweetie Belle beamed with chest puffed up proudly. “I’ve taken the liberty of drafting some preliminary proposals, just for such a circumstance.”

“Well, wasn’t that thoughtful of you,” Graves smiled. “So let’s hear them. What’ve you got?”

“Option one,” Sweetie Belle began as she pulled out a big manila folder marked ‘one.’ “We go on a safari to the Serengeti of the Southern Continent to hunt King Buffalo.”

“Tempting…” the marshal nodded. “What else?”

“Option two,” she continued whilst producing another folder, “is that we plan a heist of the Canterlot History museum and clean out their ancient artifacts and treasures exhibit.”

“Ooh, that’s a good one,” he nodded sagely. “Any more?”

“Well… there is one last one,” the fluffy-haired girl said with a good deal of trepidation. “But I warn you, it’s the toughest one by far. I don’t know if you can handle it.”

“That bad, huh?" Graves somberly inquired. "Well, what is it?”

“Option three,” Sweetie Belle said with the severest of severe looks, “is that you take Rarity and me to the annual Spring is Here Fair in the next town over and spend the whole day with us, fireworks and closing parade included.” Graves let out a low whistle of awe.

“Wow, that is tough.”

“I know, right?” the little girl sighed morosely. “But you needed options fast, so I had to throw something together.” Clearing the tabletop, Sweetie Belle leaned forward and rested her chin on folded hands, scrutinizing the marshal through her non-prescription glasses.

“So, Mister Graves,” she continued. “It seems you’ve hit an impasse, a proverbial rock and tough place, so to speak. You’ve got a choice to make, so what’s it gonna be?”

The marshal leaned back in his chair once more, trigger finger tapping his chin in quiet contemplation.

“I may be crazy,” he finally said, “and I may be biting off a whole lot more than I can chew, but I’ll go with… option three.”

“Really?!” Sweetie Belle squeaked.

“I feel like taking risks,” Graves chuckled as he stood up and tucked the little girl under one arm. “Come on, the next train leaves in twenty minutes.”

And with only a moment spared to grab his coat and hat, the two were out the door, fast on their way to shanghai a very unsuspecting dressmaker to head off for the hilarities, absurdities, and shenanigans the little one required. Of course, that meant that the reports wouldn’t get done till the next day, but sometimes you just have to prioritize and deal with the big issues first.

After all, he had a contract to keep.


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