FimFiction Link - Short ID: 524719/it-isnt-tea
Published: Oct '22
'It isn't tea' is a four thousand-word oneshot. A kirin is summoned to the guidance counselor at the Friendship School.
How should I put this plainly? On one hand this story features many things much of the board generally dislikes or even outright hates. It's set in the school, it plainly calls Trixie old and married to Starlight, and (besides her) features no ponies at all. If these things generally sour the experience for you, this won't be your story either. However, if one's willing roll with these, the actual narrative is quite nice.
The fic deals with a kirin, who attempts to self-medicate using a diluted form of the water that originally made them mute. It doesn't take a psychology degree to realize this is more or less a metaphor for drugs, but the fact that the substance is so elegantly weaved into the plot makes the whole thing feel natural and prevents it from being out of place. Dusty, the kirin herself, is an interesting character: She is pessimistic, not overtly polite, and quick to assume the worst, but as the story unfolds the author takes care to show that these bad traits aren't there because the character is bad, but more because she is vulnerable and struggling to fit in. I think it was a clever choice to use a kirin, since they are prone to violent bursts of emotions which is basically what the entire plot hinges on. The other significant character in the story is a much older Trixie whose characterization I really enjoyed. She is still coy and dramatic, but also tempered by age and an abundance of empathy. Obviously she is quite different from the character we've seen in the show, but this is only natural and her behavior felt like a logical conclusion to her "arc."
Since the fic is largely just the two talking, I'd rather not recap it, but what I can say is that their conversation feels mostly realistic. There are a couple lines before the "big reveal" that felt somewhat off to me, not in the sense that I couldn't understand them or anything, but they managed to feel a bit out of character for an OC we were just introduced to. It's by no means a deal-breaker, but it distracted me for just long enough to be worth a mental note and a mention here. Once the plot swings past it, things go right back on track and though I wouldn't really call the story complex, the author portrayed it with enough nuance to feel mostly satisfying.
Overall: 6/10 I suppose ultimately your enjoyment will come down to how much you enjoy reading about a very real everyday drama rendered in a SoL setting. If you enjoy the idea of two characters having a heartfelt conversation that could easily fit into a later-season episode, you'll likely enjoy this story. While due to the fairly predictable plot and very short runtime it didn't leave a massive impression on me, I had fun with the story and I'm impressed by the way it handled the central topic. Can recommend.