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    Later that week…

    “Move over, Zipp.”

    “Say ‘please’.”

    Pipp rolled her eyes. Even when veiled in the dull light of her 4K UHD TV, her sister’s smug look vexed her.

    “Seriously? I was only gone for like two minutes.”

    “Say it.”

    “Fine. Please move over. You’re such a pain sometimes.”

    “They say it takes one to know one, Pipp.”

    “Oh, real mature, Zipp. Who’s the older sister here again? Spoiler alert: it’s clearly not you.”

    Zipp laughed. “Uh-oh, here come the threats to the sister hierarchy. Guess I better get my act together.”

    Shuffling beneath layers of blankets, Zipp repositioned and allowed Pipp to reinsert herself beneath the same mound of fabric. Pipp sighed contentedly, and pulled a small side table littered with snacks closer to her. Zipp smiled.

    “So are you adequately tucked in this time, princess? I’ve already memorized this movie’s main menu pattern.”

    Pipp frowned through a mouthful of popcorn.

    “Don’t rush me. Snacks are a part of the experience, and I’m a grazer.”

    “No rush.” Zipp stretched out her hooves. She let her chin sink into her sister’s mattress. “Just don’t get upset when I inevitably fall asleep halfway through the movie.”

    “I’ll just poke you if you do.”

    “Yeah, that’ll work. Do it too much, though, and I might just poke you back harder.”

    Pipp scoffed.

    “Um, no you won’t. You remember our truce—no phones, no roughhousing.”

    “Darn. Foiled again,” Zipp muttered, smiling. She rolled onto her side. “That’s alright. I probably won’t get any time to sleep anyway. Hitch was telling me about this movie. Apparently, it’s a doozy. By the time we get to the first jump scare I bet you’ll already be freaking out.”

    “I will not!” Pipp insisted. A slow head turn and knowing look made her blush. “I don’t get spooked that easily, Zipp. I’m not a filly.”

    “If you say so. Still can’t help but think that I’m essentially cuddle fodder. I mean, this ‘scary sister movie night’ thing isn’t really your style, is it?”

    “Well maybe I was trying out something new. Something you might like, too.”

    “Aw, that’s sweet of you. Thing is, I know you know that I prefer action and drama, sis. Why go for horror?”

    “Because I could, and because the Pippsqueaks recommended I try it. Now shut up, we’re missing dialogue.”

    Zipp smirked, but she kept to herself, for now.

    “No, don’t go in there! Why would you go in there?! Ugh, these ponies are so stupid!”

    Zipp watched her sister rant and rave from beneath a cocoon of safety blankets. What had begun as a single comforter had evolved into several, each folded tight over her body. Only her hair and snout were visible.

    “I dunno, Pipp, for all you know there could be something worthwhile in there. Food, water, a spare wheel for Little Spring’s wagon…”

    Zipp trailed off purposefully, awaiting that incredulous stare.

    “Are you insane? Obviously Slenderhoof’s in there, waiting for them to stumble in and split up. He’ll go after Beaten Path first because he’s the strongest among them. After that, it’s game over. Ponies will start tripping over branches and doing dumb things one after the other. You’ll see.”

    “You sure do get scared easily by things you can pick apart in a few sentences.”

    “I’m not scared, Zipp.”

    “Yeah, alright, blanket queen. You’re not scared.”

    Pipp’s emerald eyes flared.

    “I’m not scared, Zipp! I’m just getting cozy.”

    Zipp snorted. “I don’t think those are mutually exclusive.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean—”

    Without warning, Zipp gripped a section of blanket with her teeth and pulled. Like clockwork, Pipp scrambled to pull it back.

    “Hey, quit it! What are you doing? Those are mine!”

    Casting half her face in shadow, Zipp put on a disturbing smile. “Come on out, little Pipp. The darkness misses you.”

    Pipp’s eyes went wide. It took all of Zipp’s willpower to not fall into hysterics then and there.

    There was a scream on screen, and it transferred to Pipp in an instant. Tumbling forward, she snowballed into a sentient mass of fabric, bowling over Zipp in the process. The lower half of the bed became a sprawling mass of hooves and wings sticking out from a shifting comforter.

    “Zipp, you’re not funny!” chided Pipp, finally breaching the surface. Zipp’s muffled laughter only steamed her further. She lightly punched the twitching comforter. “You’re such a jerk!”

    Zipp pulled herself free from the blankets and tossed back her head, combing a hoof through her frazzled mane. She grinned again.

    “It’s alright, Pipp. I think I know exactly what’s going on here. ‘Cozy’ must be chat lingo for ‘scared.’ You know what, that’s my bad, sis. As we’ve already established, I’m pretty bad with that stuff.”

    Pipp rolled her eyes.

    “Are you done?”

    “Yeah, I think I’m good now. Thanks for asking.”

    “Like I said, you’re a jerk. You deliberately tried to get me on edge. That’s why the jump scare got me.”

    “Look, I was being good. A model big sister, in fact. But then you started cowering under the covers and I just couldn’t resist. It’s just too cute, Pipp.”

    Pipp opened her mouth, but the movie answered for her. Another scream, the loudest one yet, made her go rigid, but not before she sought out her sister’s snowy coat.

    There was no going back, this time.

    “And there’s my cue,” Zipp cooed triumphantly, ensnaring the pink pegasus in a fluffy trap of wings and hooves. “Don’t worry, sis, I’ll protect you from the low budget CGI. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, this is perfect timing. I was just wondering where my chin rest had gone. Thanks for finding it, Pipp.”

    Pipp giggled as she was kneaded like dough into place, her sister’s chin vigorously rubbing along her head.

    “What are you, a venus flytrap for ponies?”

    “I guess that’d make you the fly that should’ve known better,” Zipp replied, letting herself fall back against the plush collection of blankets. “You can’t fool me, though. This was all by design.”

    Pipp huffed, shifting her head to a more comfortable angle. “Can’t say I know what you mean,” she muttered. “You’re the reason the jump scare caught me off guard again.”

    Her smile betrayed her.

    It was quiet for a time. Even the movie had reached a lull in action. A welcoming fatigue fell over the both of them, and their bodies grew heavier from it. The next time a jump scare occurred, a high-pitched squeak was all that Pipp could muster.

    Of course, even this was enough to relight the fire in her sister’s smile.

    “‘Oh no, it’s so scary, Zipp!'” Zipp mocked playfully, gently shaking the smaller pegasus back and forth. “‘I totally didn’t invite you over to be cuddle fodder from the start, honest! Please don’t go or the Slenderpony might eat me!'”

    “Slenderhoof doesn’t eat ponies, Zipp,” Pipp giggled. “You’d know that if you’d actually watched the movie at all! You’ve done nothing but tease me this whole time!”

    Pipp glanced at the TV, listening to patches of dialogue filter through the bouts of teasing coming from behind her ear. All of her sister’s shenanigans made the movie seem so trivial, now.

    She didn’t mind it one bit.

    Pipp woke up. This was all she could gather. Rational thought wasn’t quite so rational yet.

    The moon shone through her balcony door and lit up her bedroom, allowing her eyes to adjust. A familiar gray box, titled ‘No Input,’ sat in the middle of her TV.

    When a gentle squeeze identified hooves and wings curled around her, the night before came rushing back.





    “Do you know what time it is?”

    “I think it’s half-past too early for you to be asking,” Zipp mumbled, her voice gravelly and slurred. “Go back to sleep, Pipp.”

    “Wow, okay, mom. Sorry to impede your beauty rest.”

    “…I’ll remember that snark when I’m awake enough to care about it.”

    Pipp closed her eyes again. She raised her head, and in doing so, wedged herself ever tighter under her sister’s chin. Zipp chuckled.

    “I imagine this is what living with a cat is like. You got food, attention, and now a warm sleeping spot all on your terms.”

    “I’m sorry, the flytrap pony says what? I’m just trying to get comfortable and make the most of the situation I was forced into, Zipp. You’re the one still hugging me.”

    Zipp sighed, surrendering with a shake of her head. She would never win that argument, even if she did have access to all her brain cells.

    “Yeah, I guess I am. You realize Hitch and the girls aren’t gonna believe me, by the way.”

    “About what?”

    “When I tell them how crafty you are with getting hugs from me, now.”

    “Zipp, I will disown you so fast.”

    The moody pegasus was squeezed again.

    “Come on, why can’t I brag about how my sister and I have reconciled? Izzy will probably drop to the floor if we hug in front of her. You don’t wanna see that?”

    “No, Zipp. If I can’t hug you on livestream for my fans then you can’t gossip about stuff to Izzy, Sunny, and Hitch.”

    “Alright, alright, that’s fair. No bragging, got it. But that comes with a condition attached.”

    “To Tartarus it does.”

    Zipp used her wing to pull the heavy comforter over them more completely.

    “If you wake me up again before the sun does, I can’t be held responsible for what I might let slip to Izzy.”

    Pipp thought of a counter, but it didn’t come out. Instead, she buried her face away in cotton sheets.

    “Hey, Zipp?”


    “Thank you. For sort-of-not-really watching the movie with me, I mean. This was really fun.”

    “No problem. I thought so, too. Compared to dealing with loud, demanding crowds or being put on a screen so thousands of strangers can watch my sister hug me, just holding you while we watch stuff isn’t so bad, Pipp. I’d be down for more movie nights in the future if you are.”

    “Aww, Zipp, of course! I’d love to make this a regular thing with you.”

    Zipp smirked.

    “Maybe next time though you can just ask your sister if she’ll hold you during the movie, instead of relying on jump scares?”

    “I—I wasn’t relying on jump scares! Those were natural reactions, Zipp.”

    “Were they? I thought you said you weren’t spooked that easily.”

    “I’m not! Both times you had me on edge or distracted, so I got caught off guard.”

    “Uh-huh, sure. I guess I must be imagining this very obvious ploy, then.”

    “I guess you must be.”

    “Am not.”

    “Are too.”

    “Am not times infinity.”

    “You can’t multiply by infinity, Zipp.”

    “When dealing with actual values, you’re right. However, I’m not trying to define a specific value, Pipp. All that matters is that ‘am not’, or an, is infinite. I can write out the expression on a cheat sheet for you if you want.”

    Pipp groaned. The comforters stretched and shook as she endeavored to throw them off.

    “And just where is it you think you’re going?”

    “To my own end of the bed, away from your antagonizing. Let go of me.”

    “It’s too little too late for that, Pipp. You reap what you sow. You wanted to be held, so now you’re locked in for the night.”

    “Zipp, let go of me!” Pipp demanded. Her giggling betrayed any chance of true dissonance. She squirmed in her sister’s grasp to no avail. “You know what, I take it back—you’re not a flytrap, you’re a bear trap.”

    “What’s the difference?”

    “Flytraps are elegant and kinda pretty to look at. And then there’s bear traps.”

    “Oh, that’s it, c’mere—you just opted to sleep in and miss your livestream in the morning,” Zipp retorted, successfully wrestling the giggling pegasus back beneath her chin. “You’re better off saving your sass and energy for another time, sis. Neither of us is getting any sleep at this rate.”

    Properly contained once more, Pipp tilted her head back and found her sister’s neck. She shifted against the snowy hooves and wings holding her, and they tightened. Even her tail was subdued from flicking—coiled around by her sister’s.

    “And so in the pursuit of getting back to sleep, I’ll ask again: are you adequately tucked in, princess?” Zipp asked softly. “Don’t think I can hug you any tighter than this, so you can drop the act. This is all you’ve really wanted all night, isn’t it?”

    Pipp merely hummed, nestling herself into her sister’s coat. It shook with Zipp’s laugh.

    “I’m sticking with my cat metaphor. You’re adorable, if not a little manipulative. I’d say, ‘you know that, right?’, but I already know the answer.”

    “It’s a gift,” Pipp replied with a sigh. “Having a big sister who gives great hugs is a gift, too, when she’s not being a math nerd or teasing me.”

    “If this is your attempt at making up for that bear trap comment, it’s pretty lousy,” Zipp mused. She closed her eyes and laid her cheek along her sister’s mane, holding her tight with every hoof and wing. “Luckily for you, I’m easily swayed when I’m this tired.”

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