Of Parties and Rainbows

Of Parties and Rainbows

by Donny's Boy


  • 1. I Am Afraid
  • 2. Reasons
  • 3. But Where Do They Bury The Survivors?
  • 4. Understandings
  • 5. The Lovers That Never Were, Part 1
  • 6. Carrying Torches, Passing Torches
  • 7. Method Acting
  • 8. The Lovers That Never Were, Part 2
  • 9. Nothing But Trouble
  • 10. When She Smiles
  • 11. After Every Storm
  • 12. And Then They All Died
  • 13. More Than Cupcakes
  • 14. Gummy Sings the Blues
  • 15. Captain Obvious and the Oblivious Wonder
  • 16. The Letter
  • 17. The Sign
  • 18. The Homecoming
  • 1. I Am Afraid

    "Of Parties and Rainbows"

    by Donny's Boy

    Synopsis: A series of drabbles exploring the relationship between Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. Most will be romantic in nature.

    "I Am Afraid"

    Synopsis: "The truth is, there are lots of things I fear ... Mostly, I'm afraid of Rainbow Dash."

    Sometimes, I don't tell the truth.

    Like, about the corncakes. It wasn't two corncakes, or three, or even six. It was … well, it was a lot of corncakes. A lot of corncakes.

    But it's not always my fault, at least not entirely. For example, I never actually came out and said that there isn't anything I'm afraid of. That's just something other ponies assumed, all on their own. Just because I'm not scared of spooky old woods, or dragons, or hydras, or chocolate rain, doesn't mean that I'm completely fearless or something silly like that. I don't know why it should mean that, but ponies seem to think that's what it means.

    The truth is, there are lots of things I fear. I'm afraid of my friends getting tired of me and not wanting to come to my parties anymore. I'm afraid of the look Twilight gets every once in a while, like she wants to cast a spell that will make me disappear forever, which is worrying since forever is a really long time. I'm afraid of not being a good worker and disappointing the Cakes, because I love the Cakes and owe them so much.

    But mostly? Mostly, I'm afraid of Rainbow Dash.

    I'm afraid of her eyes, which are as beautiful and sparkling as any gem Rarity's ever found, and I'm scared of her laugh, which always makes my insides feel all warm and jiggly and strange, like I've eaten too many candies. I'm afraid of her standing too close, because it makes me feel like I've suddenly burst into flames, and I'm afraid of her standing too far away, because it makes everything in the world feel empty and dark and cold.

    I'm afraid of every confusing thought and complicated feeling that Dashie stirs up inside me, and I'm afraid of how I can't make any of it stop or go away.

    And I am afraid of how desperately I want to kiss her whenever she smiles at me. She smiles at me too much.

    She doesn't smile at me enough.

    I don't understand any of this, and yet … and yet, I think some part of me does. Understand, I mean. Maybe not understand everything, but understand enough.

    Enough to be terrified that one of these days, she'll finally slip up, I'll finally slip up, and this entire house of cards will be blown all to pieces and nopony will be able to put us back together.

    2. Reasons


    Synopsis: It might not be wise to question why one loves whom one loves ... but being wise is for boring ponies like Twilight Sparkle.


    "Why, what?"

    "Why me?" A pause, unusually tentative. "I mean, you could have any pony in Equestria …"

    A quick reply. "I don't want just any pony. I want you."

    "I know. But I still don't know why. I mean, not really."

    "I just do! Okay?" A gusty sigh. A sigh of the long-suffering. "Okay, look. I … I don't really know why. It never seemed important. But …"

    A hopeful echo. "But?"

    "But, now that I'm thinking about it, I guess it started with Mare Do Well. I was really annoyed that she came out of nowhere to show me up, and all that, but when I was at the construction site, I gotta admit I was kinda impressed."

    "Yeah?" Soft, almost disbelieving voice.

    "Yeah." Warm, smiling voice. "Plus, you kinda looked cute in the costume. That didn't hurt."

    "Oh, oh! You think I'm cute?"

    In reply, an amused chuckle. "Okay, your turn. Why me? Besides the obvious-y'know, that I'm the awesomest pony in all Equestria."

    "That's easy-peasy! It's because of your wings. I've totally got a thing for feathers."

    "Oh." A long, thoughtful pause. "Is that … is that really why?"

    "Hee! No. Well, kinda. I mean, I do like your wings an awful lot." A throaty giggle. "But no, that's not the really for-realsy real reason."

    An eye roll. "Then what is?"

    "It's … it's because you gave me a reason to smile."

    "What? But you've been smiley and jokey ever since before we-wait, wait, wait." A hushed tone. "You don't mean the Sonic Rainboom, do you?"

    "Of course, silly!"

    "But that would mean … that long? Really? For that long?"

    A slow nod. "Since always."

    "I … I'm … I'm sorry. That it took me a while to figure things out. To realize that-"

    "It's okay!" Rushed words. Reassuring blue eyes. "We're here now, aren't we?"

    "Yeah. Yeah, we are."

    A mischievous smile. "Besides, you can make things up to me."

    "Oh, really? And how would I do that?"

    "Weeeeell." Another giggle. "I still have that old Mare Do Well costume, you know. You could maybe wear it? For me, I mean. Just in private. Once in a while?"

    "You are so weird."

    "Aww! Does that mean you won't wear the costume?"

    An equally mischievous grin. "I didn't say that."

    3. But Where Do They Bury The Survivors?

    "But Where Do They Bury The Survivors?"

    Synopsis: The two old friends don't have much in common with one another, but what they do have in common means the world.

    Slowly, the two elderly earth ponies trudged upwards through snow and ice. The hill stretched out in front of them imposingly, and the cold wind bit at their faces, but their pace never slowed and never faltered. They were tough, after all. They were survivors.

    True, the farm pony's knees weren't as good as they had been in her youth, ravaged as they were by decades of hard tree bucking. Much as it injured her stubborn pride, she had to lean against her friend for physical support as they climbed. In turn, the baker's eyes had gone nearly white with cataracts, and she also leaned against her friend, so that the farmer could lead her in the right direction.

    Neither complained, though. They were tough, after all. They were survivors. Besides, they'd made this trek dozens of times. They probably could do it in their sleep by now.

    In relatively little time, they'd made it to the top of the hill. The wind was colder here, fiercer here. The farmer found herself reflecting on the appropriateness of that. Yes, it was somehow right that it was so cold and so fierce up on this hill. She carefully led her friend towards the lone tree on the hilltop, under which sat a small stone.

    They approached the stone with their heads bowed low. The stone greeted them silently, as it always did, and they stopped to read the inscription chiseled into the rock even though they knew each and every word by heart.

    "Here lies Rainbow Dash," Applejack recited aloud, partly for Pinkie Pie's sake and partly just to hear the words herself. "Never has Equestria seen a truer friend or a faster flier."

    Pinkie remained silent for a moment. "I still wish we could've put something about pranks on there."

    "Rarity would've just about killed ya if ya had. You know how uptight she was about the funeral arrangements bein' all perfect and reverent-like."

    "But Dashie was the best prank partner ever!" The pink mare shook her head. "But now nopony will know that, after we're all gone."

    Applejack tried not to dwell on that depressing thought. Instead, she gave Pinkie a small nudge and offered, "She really was somethin' else, wasn't she?"

    "She was …" Pinkie paused, and she shivered a bit. "She was beautiful. She was absolutely beautiful."

    Applejack felt a familiar ache tug at her chest. "She sure was."

    "Do you think she knew, Applejack? Did she know how we … that we … " Pinkie trailed off and turned her pale eyes down towards her hooves.

    "I dunno, sugar cube. Sometimes I think she must have, but other times? Other times, I think there weren't no way she knew." She laughed, but somehow the laugh twisted somewhere in the middle and ended in a sob. "She could be so smart and so stupid, and all at the same time."

    Pinkie nodded in agreement. A small, teary giggle escaped her.

    "No, I think she knew," Applejack said suddenly, decisively. The words felt true as soon as she'd said them, and that was good enough. "Maybe not all the little details, but she knew we loved her. That we all loved her."

    "Oh, I hope so. I really, really, really hope so."

    Applejack leaned against Pinkie Pie a little more, grateful for the warmth and the companionship. In return, Pinkie gently rested her snout on the top of Applejack's head. They stood in companionable silence for a few minutes, as the wind whipped around them, and the outskirts of Ponyville spread out down below like rows of tiny toy houses.

    Finally, the farm pony muttered, "It wouldn't have worked out, anyhow. An earth pony and a pegasus pony? Just crazy foolish thinkin', that's all it was."

    Pinkie grinned at that, and when she grinned, she almost looked like the boundlessly energetic and happy young pony Applejack had first met all those many years ago. "Speak for yourself, Applejack! I totally could've made it work. Don't you remember my Pinkie 'copter?"

    "Oh, I remember, all right." Applejack snorted good-naturedly. "I remember that it crashed dang near every time you flew it. Thing was a death trap."

    "Yeah," agreed Pinkie, with a wistful sigh.

    Applejack leaned over and gave the other pony a quick nuzzle. "C'mon, sugar. Let's get back to town before we freeze ourselves to death."

    "Okie dokie lokie." But the words were quieter now, slower now, than they would once have been. "I wonder if Twilight will make us hot chocolate if we drop by the library."

    Applejack chuckled as she began leading Pinkie away. "Naw, she'll probably just lecture us for bein' out in the cold when we're such broken-down old mares. But Spike might, if we ask real nice."

    "Good old Spike! I always knew I liked that dragon."

    They paused as they reached the path down the hill and turned to glance back over their shoulders. The stone and the tree were still in view, just barely.

    "So long, RD."

    "See ya later, Dashie."

    They made their way down the path much the same way as they'd come up it, but for some reason, it seemed to take twice as long. Once, Applejack slipped on a patch of ice, but Pinkie managed to catch her and hold her up until she could regain her bearings. With any other pony, it might have been an awkward moment, but she and Pinkie had too much shared history for there to be any awkwardness between them.

    Thank Celestia for small favors, thought Applejack, a touch bitterly.

    The farmer waited until they'd reached the bottom of the hill before she asked, more for the sake of ritual than anything else, "So … same time next year?"

    Pinkie Pie gave a nod and a small smile. "Yeppers. Same time next year."

    4. Understandings


    Synopsis: There were many things Pinkie Pie did not understand, and many things that she did. But above all else, Pinkie understood the peculiar inner workings and quirky eccentricities of a pegasus named Rainbow Dash.

    There were many, many things that Pinkie Pie did not understand - higher-level mathematics, the international political relations between Equestria and the various griffon kingdoms, how Twilight Sparkle didn't die of boredom from having to live in a library. But there were also many things that she did understand, such as how to adjust dessert recipes to account for missing ingredients or how to throw together a surprise party for fifty guests in under ten minutes flat.

    And, above all else, Pinkie understood the peculiar inner workings and quirky eccentricities of a pegasus named Rainbow Dash.

    Which was why she was not at all concerned when Dash began yelling at her just a few minutes ago, the pegasus' pink eyes blazing with fury and her forelegs gesticulating wildly. Pinkie simply stood there, let the yelling wash over her like chocolate rain, and patiently waited for Dash to finish saying what she had to say. To while away the time she thought about cake recipes, tuning back in every so often to check if Dash was saying anything that she should pay attention to.

    Dash mostly wasn't.

    " … can't believe you jumped on top of that monster's head … "

    The problem with cakes, of course, was the frosting. It was always the frosting. Too cold, and it wouldn't spread easily enough. Too warm, and it melted into a gloppy mess that slid right off the cake. It was a very serious dilemma and, as a consequence, Pinkie Pie spent an inordinate amount of her daily life pondering over the mysteries of cake frosting.

    " … and then when I hauled you away, you ran right back in! I swear, Pinkie, I should have just left you there and let that thing … "

    Vanilla was also a puzzle that refused to be solved. Pinkie loved vanilla almost as much as she loved her sisters-and she loved her sisters an awful, awful lot - so she was always tempted to add more vanilla to recipes that called for that particular ingredient. More of a good thing should mean a really, really good thing, she reasoned. But strangely, that's never how it seemed to work out. Too much vanilla somehow ended up resulting in a nigh inedible mess.

    Still, Pinkie remained confident that one day she would be able to invent a way to add as much vanilla to baked goods as her heart desired and not have it turn out a disaster. She had to remain confident in that - because if she didn't have that hope, that dream, then what did she have?

    "... and you don't look like you're even listening to me!" A frustrated huff. "Pinkie Pie, are you listening?"

    "Darling, please! You simply must calm yourself. Can't you see that the poor girl is … "

    Rarity? Pinkie Pie blinked. Usually it was Twilight who interrupted Dash's yelling sessions. Rarity interrupting was a nice change in the routine.

    Ignoring her myriad dessert problems for the moment, Pinkie glanced around and took in her surroundings, just to make sure she hadn't missed anything important. But the forest looked the same as it had right before Rainbow had started shouting - big creepy trees, tall branches spreading out their fingers like spider webs, leafy boughs blocking out nearly all the sunlight from above. Nothing to get too worried about, in other words.

    Next she turned to look at Rarity. The unicorn was giving her a sad, sympathetic smile, which caused Pinkie's stomach to drop. She hoped Rarity wasn't mad at Rainbow. She'd have to throw a party later, where the pegasus and unicorn could talk - and make up, if need be - just to be extra sure.

    After all, a pony could never be too sure in these kinds of situations. That's why Pinkie hosted at least half of the parties she hosted. Parties were good insurance against friendship decay.

    "That's right, Rainbow Dash." Ah, there was Twilight. Good old, reliable Twilight. "If Pinkie hadn't gone back in, then we never would have … "

    Pinkie briefly considered resuming her musings on cakes and cake frosting, but her train of thought had been broken. It'd be too hard to get back on track now, most likely, so she decided she might as well keep paying attention to the current conversation.

    "We're all okay now," murmured Fluttershy, her voice little more than a whisper. "Isn't that, um, the important thing?"

    "But she almost wasn't!" Dash looked at all of her friends one by one, with a sense of confusion and betrayal in her eyes, before she turned back towards Pinkie Pie. When she spoke again, the pegasus' voice cracked like shattered glass. "Pinkie! You could have gotten really hurt back there!"

    "But I didn't," Pinkie replied, very calmly and very sensibly. "You saved me! You always save me."

    Rainbow Dash glared her very best glare, as though she was trying to use the pure power of her rage to explode the pink earth pony into nothing but cotton-candy fluff. It didn't work. Pinkie guessed that this meant the pegasus had probably run out of steam and that it was finally her turn to talk.

    "So, Dashie," she began in a bright tone. "Are you done being all ranty and ravey now?"

    Dash pondered over the question for a few moments, wearing a thoughtful scowl, before she nodded grudgingly. Pinkie grinned in victory.

    And then she leaned forward and pressed her lips tenderly to Rainbow Dash's. She could both feel and hear Rainbow gasp in surprise. But after a moment Dash kissed her back, softly at first, then deeply, almost frantically. The pegasus tasted like softness and warmth, even though those weren't really tastes, strictly speaking.

    Pinkie Pie smiled as she pulled back from the kiss. "I love you, too. Even though you're such a silly worrywart."

    Blushing, Dash coughed and looked away. "Stupid! You're crazy, and you're stupid." But when she turned back, she was grinning a bit. "And I'm just as stupid for even caring if a monster gobbles you up or not. Shoulda just let it eat you."

    Pinkie's smile remained firmly in place. Rainbow would never, could never, allow anything even remotely like that to ever happen, and they both knew it.

    "Y'all are the weirdest couple I ever seen," observed Applejack. She shook her head slowly, as if she wasn't sure whether to be amused or disgusted.

    5. The Lovers That Never Were, Part 1

    "The Lovers That Never Were (Part 1)"

    Synopsis: Sometimes it was worse when Rainbow couldn't sleep and laid awake all through the hours, thinking, remembering, hurting. Sometimes it was worse when she could sleep, and she would dream of soft feathers and warm fur and an aching need that never, ever went entirely away.

    It wasn't so much that Rainbow Dash was bothered by the other fillies calling her names. It was more that Dash knew that what they were saying was actually true.

    Pervert. Unnatural. Freak.


    They didn't know, of course - they were all young, and none of them yet dated, so the taunts and barbs were thrown at Dash merely because of her rough voice and tomboyish ways - but Dash knew, and that was enough.

    A kind older mare, one of the teachers at flight school, told her that things would get better as she grew older. That things would change. Would get easier.

    That older mare had meant well, but she'd been wrong. Dead wrong.

    It was at night, as she laid her head down on soft fluffy clouds, that Rainbow tended most to remember. Try as hard as she could to forget, the memories refused to remain at bay and came marching in like grim little soldiers from the past.

    Gilda's wing wrapped around her shoulders, warm and intimate, and Rainbow had to suppress a shudder of pleasure at the touch. The griffon was whispering right in her ear, and Gilda's breath felt hot and moist against her fur.

    "Why don't we blow this joint?" The voice was low, coaxing. "Just forget all this Junior Fliers nonsense and hit the skies, just you and me …"

    Rainbow could feel her head start swimming. Everything felt very claustrophobic. She struggled to maintain her concentration, to maintain control.

    "Just you and me, Dash. Whaddaya say?"

    Rainbow kissed her.

    For just a moment, one beautiful perfect moment, it was everything she'd always wanted. Gilda tasted like salt and air and maybe fish, and Dash felt drunk with happiness at the delicious feel of her very best friend's mouth against her own.

    "What is the matter with you?" But then Gilda was shoving her away with both arms, and the griffon's eyes revealed stormy darkness and betrayal. "Get off of me!"

    Dash swallowed and shrank back. She felt suddenly cold, so very, very cold. "I … I thought …"

    "Well, you thought wrong!"

    At night, Rainbow Dash worked very hard to forget. But during the day, she took great care to remember the lessons she'd learned - even as she tried not to remember the specific events associated with those lessons.

    "I ain't no fillyfooler!"

    Rainbow Dash instantly regretted that she'd ever started this particular conversation. Her wings dropped down to her sides, sagging heavily as though each one weighed a ton.

    "Did Rarity put you up to this?" The other mare's bright green eyes flashed with anger. "I have told that unicorn, just 'cause I ain't all that fussy with my mane and don't mind gettin' a bit muddy, that don't mean that I-"

    "It wasn't Rarity," Dash muttered.

    "Then who in tarnation was it?"

    "It wasn't anypony!" Rainbow felt her lips draw back, leaving her teeth exposed and gleaming in a snarl. "It was just a question. Okay? I was just wonderin', that's all."

    Applejack seemed to calm down a bit, thankfully, but she still pawed at the ground restlessly. After a moment, she spoke again. "Well, RD, why are ya askin' something like that anyways? Kinda rude, if ya ask me."

    The pegasus stared into her friend's expectant eyes. The anger that had been in those eyes just moments ago was mostly dissipated now, but they still sparkled brightly in the sun. Sparkled with fire, with strength, with life. Little flecks of gold swirled in the green depths, making Applejack's eyes - her whole entire face, actually - look as though they were glowing.

    Dash felt her chest constrict, in a pain so pure it was almost joy and in a joy so pure it was almost pain, and she had to look away.

    "No reason, really," the pegasus lied, staring out at the rows upon rows of apple trees. "No reason at all."

    The nights were long. Sometimes it was worse when she couldn't sleep and laid awake all through the hours, thinking, remembering, hurting. Sometimes it was worse when she could sleep, and she would dream of soft feathers and warm fur and an aching need that never, ever went entirely away.

    "Rainbow Dash!"

    Before Dash even had time to react, Pinkie Pie was right there, touching noses with her, leaning in close enough that the pegasus could feel the warmth of the other pony's fur. Close enough that she could almost taste Pinkie's breath. An old, nearly-extinguished fire leapt back to roaring life within her, and Dash's heart began hammering in her chest.

    Too close. Much, much too close. Too close, too close, too close-

    "Pinkie Pie!" Rainbow grabbed a hold on all of the sudden heat coursing through her body and channelled it into angrily screaming her friend's name. Anger was good; anger was safe. "What is the matter with you? Get off of me!"

    Unceremoniously she shoved the other mare away - and perhaps a bit more roughly than was strictly necessary. Just a bit. Pinkie just grinned back at her and, with a carefree shrug, allowed herself to be pushed back to a distance that was more friendly to boundaries of personal space.

    Rainbow Dash relaxed, ever so slightly, once Pinkie's breath no longer fell across her face, soft and sweet. But the familiar, tight feeling in her chest didn't go away.

    That night, for the first time, she dreamt of towers of cakes and multi-colored balloons and of bubbly giggles that ended in snorts. She dreamt of eyes as wide and as blue as the sea.

    "You're not as annoying as I thought."

    That had been the first mistake. Admitting any sort of positive emotion towards Pinkie was an error of first order. A crack in the shield, a chink in the armor.

    "You wanna hang out?"

    That had been the second mistake and an even graver one than the first. But Pinkie's eyes had been so happy and so hopeful, and her laughs had been so infectious, and her smile was as bright and as warm as Celestia's sun … but, still, it was a mistake.

    They spent all day together, playing and pranking and giggling like maniacs, until finally the moon slipped up above the horizon as the sky turned dark. Rainbow Dash couldn't remember the last time she'd had so much fun in a single day. She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so happy and at ease in another pony's company. In anyone's company, really.

    It was all a terrible, terrible mistake.

    Author's Notes: The title of this story is taken from Paul McCartney's song, "The Lovers That Never Were," from his 1993 album, Off the Ground.

    6. Carrying Torches, Passing Torches

    "Carrying Torches/Passing Torches"

    Synopsis: Rainbow Dash was utterly convinced that all of her friends were going to be absolutely over the moon with the news that she and Fluttershy were now dating. It was not a conviction that Fluttershy shared.

    Rainbow Dash was utterly convinced that all of her friends were going to be absolutely over the moon with the news that she and Fluttershy were now dating. It was not a conviction that Fluttershy shared.

    But there was no arguing with Dash when the blue pegasus believed something as firmly as she believed this, and so Fluttershy offered no protest or complaint. Instead, she trudged along behind her beloved as Rainbow Dash happily and speedily flew towards Twilight's tree. When they arrived, they found that their four closest friends were already inside and waiting, just as Dash had requested.

    The room felt uncomfortably warm and stifling. Fluttershy opted to stand near the corner and observe, while Dash positioned herself right in the middle of the room. The weather pony beamed a huge grin at all of their assembled friends.

    "Well?" Twilight smiled expectantly. "What's this big, important announcement you two have for us?"

    Holding her breath, Fluttershy trained her eyes on Pinkie Pie and, for the moment, ignored the two unicorns and other earth pony. She wasn't entirely sure about what was going to happen, but … but she had suspicions. It wasn't as good as Pinkie sense, that was true, but spending so much time caring for animals taught a pony how to read silent, subtle clues, and Fluttershy had gotten enough clues to suspect that Rainbow's big reveal might not go as well as they hoped. Best to stay alert, at any rate.

    "It's totally awesome," Dash began, flaring out her wings dramatically. "Fluttershy and me? Yeah, we're dating now. Totally in love and all that. Probably gonna adopt, like, a gazillionfoals."

    Fluttershy smiled despite herself. Dash always did have a way of just cutting right to the chase, blunt and direct, something Fluttershy herself could never quite do. It was one of the things she most admired about Rainbow Dash, actually. One of the things that had all but forced her to fall in love with the brash young pegasus.

    But the smile dropped from Fluttershy's face just a moment later when she noticed Pinkie's bright blue eyes blinking rapidly, as though the room was suddenly too bright, and Pinkie's mouth jerking down in a tight frown. A small shiver ran the full length of her pink body, and the earth pony clenched her jaw. Pinkie almost looked like she was in pain.

    Then, almost instantly, all signs of any trouble had vanished - Pinkie was smiling again, her eyes wide and untroubled. She gasped loudly. "Oh, my gosh! I have to throw you guys the bestest party ever!"

    "And I must, must, must hear all the details!" Rarity chimed in, eyeing Fluttershy with an odd mixture of reproach and glee in her eyes. "I want to know exactly how this little romance began, as I admit it's taken me rather by surprise."

    And then Rarity was hugging her, and Applejack was grinning and slapping Rainbow on the back, and Twilight was asking nopony in particular about whether she should write a friendship report on this new development, and Fluttershy was utterly and completely overwhelmed. Through all the noise and congratulations and hyperventilating, she did manage to form one coherent thought, that it was nice that all of their friends seemed to be taking this so well. She hadn't known what she and Rainbow would do if anypony had been upset by the news.

    Except, she remembered suddenly, that one pony had been.

    With a quiet apology and hastily whispered excuse, Fluttershy disentangled herself from Rarity's embrace. She turned to face Pinkie Pie. Pinkie sat a few feet away, separate from the others, smiling blankly at everything and nothing all at once. She'd never looked more painfully young than she did right then and there.

    Fluttershy took a few hesitant steps towards the other pony, and Pinkie glanced up. They locked eyes for several endless, tense seconds, before Fluttershy completely broke. She threw her forelegs around her friend and held on as tight as she dared.

    "I'm sorry," she murmured into Pinkie's fluffy mane, "but I also can't help not being sorry, because I really do love her, and it's all very complicated and confusing, and … and … oh, Pinkie."

    Gingerly Pinkie hugged her back. "I … I really am happy for you. For both of you."

    "I'm s-so sorry ..."

    "Take good care of her, Fluttershy." Pinkie's voice was quiet, nothing more than a whisper, and discordantly serious. "She needs somepony to take care of her, because she's a silly pony and not very good at doing that herself." There was a strained pause. "But don't tell her I said that, okay?"

    Fluttershy pulled back a little and saw that Pinkie was smiling ever so slightly - and, though the earth pony's eye shone with tears, the smile was warm and genuine. Fluttershy found herself smiling back.

    "I won't tell her," she promised.

    Author's Notes: Come for the Rainbow Pie, get blindsided by Flutter Dash! That's just how we roll here at DB Stories Incorporated.

    7. Method Acting

    "Method Acting"

    Synopsis: The earth pony and pegasus pony nations clash in an epic battle of epicness.

    Commander Hurricane, the strong and fearless leader of the world's pegasus ponies, eyed his adversary with a cool, appraising gaze.

    "So, Chancellor Puddinghead," he said with a sneer, "we meet again."

    The chancellor, esteemed head of the earth pony nation, haughtily lifted her nose in the air. "Commander Hurricane. I wish I could say it was a pleasure, but we both know I'd be lying."

    That was a verbal blow that could not go unanswered. The pegasus took a threatening step forward. "Is that so? That's not what you said last time."

    Chancellor Puddinghead's bright blue eyes went wide in surprise, and she giggled a bit before recovering herself enough to put on a glare. "Perhaps," she allowed, with a disdainful sniff. "But I also seem to recall that, the time before last, it was you who was begging for mercy, my dear Commander."

    "Lies! Pegasus warriors do not beg!"

    "You will after I'm done with you!"

    Simultaneously they attacked. The chancellor went low, aiming to take out the pegasus commander's legs, but Hurricane dodged to the side and reached out to grab Puddinghead's tail in his mouth. In one fluid movement, he managed to spin her around so that they were facing one another, and then he pounced.

    Hurricane pinned Puddinghead to the floor and loomed menacingly over his prey. The earth pony struggled a bit, her shoulders shaking with what seemed very much like barely-suppressed laughter but was more likely to be barely-suppressed terror, and she glared up at the pegasus. Commander Hurricane felt his wings spread out in a wide fan of blue feathers as the thrill of imminent victory washed over him.

    "Surrender, Chancellor! Surrender to the superior pegasus powers!" he barked at his fallen enemy.

    "Never!" shouted the chancellor, as her eyes flashed in defiance. "You may have the upper hoof right now, but you still have absolutely no sense of executive leadership or edible headwear!"

    Hurricane grinned ferociously. "Oh, I'll show you some executive leadership, all right ..."

    The next few minutes were filled with no further taunts or insults, but only with growls, giggles, and the occasional sigh or moan. Thus occupied, neither embattled dignitary heard the creak of the bedroom door as it opened.

    "Hey, girls? Mrs. Cake said you were up here, and I was just wondering if you've - oh, my moon and stars!"

    Commander Hurricane and Chancellor Puddinghead both froze immediately at the sound of the intruder's voice. Slowly they turned to look towards the door, and identical expressions of shock and horror spread across both their faces.

    "Clover the Clever!" exclaimed the chancellor, her voice a high-pitched squeak. "Oh, my gosh! The unicorn forces are invading!"

    Blushing, the pegasus commander jumped off Chancellor Puddinghead. He nervously flapped his wings. "This is totally not what it looks like!"

    The stunned intruder just blinked at them.

    "Actually, uh, this is totally what it looks like."

    Without a word, the unicorn backed out of the room and quietly shut the door behind her.

    Twilight Sparkle slowly and laboriously descended the stairs of Sugar Cube Corner. Spike waited for her at the bottom, munching on a cupcake.

    "So, are they up there?" the little dragon asked once she reached the bottom of the staircase. "Do they still have their costumes from the play?"

    Twilight's face was perfectly blank, but her left eye gave a slight twitch. "Yes, they are. And yes, they do."

    "Cool. Glad the costumes aren't actually missing." Spike frowned when he noticed that Twilight was staring off into the distance, even though there wasn't really a distance inside the bakery to stare off into. "Um, Twi? You okay?"

    "No. No, Spike, I am not." Her voice remained oddly serene. "In fact, I may never be okay again."

    Spike nodded as though this made any sense whatsoever. He hadn't lasted this long as the number one assistant to an overworked, uptight unicorn by being fazed by little things like Twilight acting weird. Nope, this was no problem. He could handle this.

    With forced cheerfulness, he tried again. "Right! Well, uh, right. Are we gonna bring the costumes back to Canterlot, then?"

    "No." Twilight shook her head, and her eye gave another twitch. "We are going to take the costumes, and we are going to burn them."

    8. The Lovers That Never Were, Part 2

    "The Lovers That Never Were (Part 2)"

    Synopsis: If she shut her eyes and concentrated intently, she could still remember the exact place where the other mare's lips had touched her face. Could still feel how the kiss had burned against her cheek.

    It was all a terrible, terrible mistake.

    She realized this almost as soon as she'd stepped through the door and caught sight of the anemic excuse for a party in front of her, as soon as she saw the hollow bleakness in Pinkie's eyes. With sudden, awful, belated clarity, she realized they never should have taken their birthday surprise this far, not after they'd found out how upset Pinkie was getting.

    But Rainbow Dash always did learn her lessons just a little later than she should.

    "Hey there, Pinkie Pie" Her voice almost cracked with the strain of forcing false cheerfulness into the words she was speaking. "Sorry I was in such a rush earlier ..."

    Things rapidly went downhill from there.

    Pinkie Pie avoided her for an entire week after the surprise birthday party. Pinkie didn't act angry or upset or anything like that - she just managed to somehow never be anywhere within a mile radius of Dash. It was almost as though she was a ninja. The few times the pegasus did manage to actually track down Pinkie, Rainbow would blink or turn her head or hear somepony call out her name, or something, and in that fraction of an instant she was distracted, Pinkie would just vanish on her.

    It was the longest week of Rainbow Dash's life.


    Dash's head jerked up, and her eyes went wide, as though she'd just seen an apparition. Even though she sat right at her usual table at Sugar Cube Corner - and therefore shouldn't be at all surprised at hearing who'd just called out her name - she'd given up all hope of actually catching glimpse of the pony who now stood in front of her.

    "Pinkie," she murmured, her voice rough and ragged.

    The pink mare shifted back and forth on her hooves, rocking with nervous energy, as she stared down at the floor. "I'm sorry I haven't been around much this week, Dashie."

    "You haven't been around at all."

    "I … I know."


    The question burned on the tip of her tongue, but Dash stubbornly bit it back and remained silent. She contented herself with glaring. Glaring was good; glaring was safe.

    "I just felt so guilty," Pinkie whispered, as though she'd somehow heard Dash's question. "After everything you girls went through to put together such a nice surprise … I treated all of you terribly! Especially you, Rainbow Dash."

    The pegasus blinked stupidly. She wasn't sure exactly what she'd been expecting from this conversation, but it wasn't this. "It was no biggie. I mean, you didn't know what we were planning."

    "Still, I should've known better than to think the Element of Loyalty herself would just give up being friends with me. I can be such a silly filly sometimes." She shook her head, a bit sadly and more than a bit regretfully. "So I just wanted to say thanks, for dragging me to that super-duper awesome party, even when I didn't think I wanted to go."

    "Hey, sure thing," Dash replied with a grin.

    "And thanks for not giving up on me, even when I was being a big grumpy meany-pants." Smiling brightly, Pinkie leaned forward and kissed the pegasus on the cheek. "You're the bestest friend a pony could ever ask for, Dashie."

    It wasn't everything she wanted. It wasn't eternal love and devotion; it wasn't passion or romance. But even so, Pinkie's friendship and Pinkie's forgiveness were an awful lot. They were precious.

    Even though it wasn't everything she wanted, it could be enough, she decided. It'd have to be, at any rate. But it was hard sometimes. If she shut her eyes and concentrated intently, she could still remember the exact place where the other mare's lips had touched her face. Could still feel how the kiss had burned against her cheek.

    It could never be enough.

    Nothing good ever lasted. Nothing good could ever be real or could ever be trusted.

    Rainbow Dash sometimes wondered if her entire life was nothing more than a long, torturous exercise designed to teach her this truth, over and over and over again, until she finally remembered it and stopped expecting anything different. And yet, knowing all this as she did, she still couldn't help the sudden shock of surprise that ran down her body and through her wings.

    She always did learn her lessons just a little later than she should.

    Beneath Dash, pinned firmly on her back, laid a smiling Pinkie Pie. But Pinkie's eyes were troubled and unhappy, and her smile was as hollow as a bullet.

    The mask of the mysterious Mare Do Well rested on the ground right next to them, silent, accusing.

    "I said I was sorry!"

    "And I heard you." Dash turned away. "I just don't care."

    There was a blur of pink, and then the earth pony was right back in front of her, blocking her exit. "Please, Dashie! Please let me make this up to you."

    Her eyes were soft and blue and pleading, and it seemed suddenly wrong and terribly unfair that those eyes could reach down deep inside Rainbow Dash and pluck at her heart the way that they did. As if to add insult to injury, a hint of tears made the blueness of Pinkie's eyes shimmer like the sea. Dash decided she couldn't stand looking into those eyes even one second longer or else she'd completely lose what little of her mind she still possessed.

    "Buzz off, Pinkie Pie."

    The other pony flinched as if she'd been struck.

    "Didn't you hear me? Get lost!" Dash repeated, louder this time. Don't go, whispered a voice in the back of her head, which she resolutely ignored. Please don't leave me. "Just - just get out of here!"

    When Pinkie finally spoke, her words were quiet, halting - broken. "Dashie. Dashie, I … "

    With a grimace, Rainbow shut her eyes. Her breaths turned ragged in her chest, and it took everything she had to hang on to what meager control she still possessed. "I need you to go away," she muttered, almost to herself, as she struggled to keep her tone calm and even. "If you stay, I won't be able to … I can't … "

    "Dashie, I love you. I'm sorry, and I love you."

    Rainbow Dash's eyes shot open. Pinkie was still looking right at her. A few stray tears trickled down the pink pony's cheeks.

    I love you.

    The sound of those words ringing in her ears, of those words said in Pinkie's voice, drowned out the noise of her own heavy, labored breathing. Slowly but surely, all the rage and pain drained from her body. She felt strangely empty without those emotions, so familiar and so comforting, and a creeping ache snuck in to fill up the empty space.

    Eyes full of uncertainty, Pinkie bit her lower lip. "Um. Is it okay for me to stay? Or do you still want me to - "

    Rainbow Dash leapt forward and kissed Pinkie hard on the mouth.

    The kiss was much rougher than it had been in all those many times she'd dreamt of this moment-much more of an assault than a caress. It took Dash a moment to realize that Pinkie wasn't kissing her back. Abruptly she pulled away, and she braced herself for anger or disgust or hatred or … or she didn't quite know. But all she saw in Pinkie's shining, bright blue eyes was joy and affection.

    "Say it again," Dash heard herself blurt out.

    Pinkie frowned slightly and seemed confused. She hesitated before offering, in a tentative tone, "I … I love you?"

    "Again." Dash sounded desperate even to her own ears. "Say it again."

    Pinkie's voice was stronger this time. "I love you, Rainbow Dash."

    Pinkie took a step forward and kissed her, with all of the gentleness that had been missing from Rainbow's own kiss of just seconds before. The earth pony tasted vaguely spicy, much like the hot sauce she was so fond of, and Dash happily breathed in the sweet smell of Pinkie's mane. Finally, Pinkie pulled back and stared at the pegasus with an inscrutable expression on her face and a trembling smile on her lips.

    Rainbow smiled back.

    "I love you," said Pinkie, as she kissed Dash's cheek.

    Dash allowed her eyes to slide shut once again.

    "I love you," said Pinkie, as she kissed Dash's neck.

    Dash felt her throat tighten and her legs begin to shake. She was half afraid that her knees would buckle under her, but she dared not move a muscle.

    "I love you," whispered Pinkie, fiercely, protectively, as she kissed the very tips of Dash's wings.

    A single, keening sob escaped Dash's lips before she could swallow it down. "Love you, Pinkie Pie," she gasped out, her voice a strangled whisper. "So much. So much."

    They made love all night and well into the early morning hours. They made love until they were utterly exhausted and spent, and then they collapsed into a deep, dreamless sleep.

    When Dash finally awoke, it was to the sound of Pinkie giggling - giggling at the sight of the pegasus' mussed, tangled mane. Dash raised an eyebrow and, with a wicked grin, she shoved Pinkie Pie out of the bed. A second later, the earth pony hopped right back up and, as fast as lightning, swung a pillow aimed directly at Rainbow's head.

    The next half hour passed in a dizzying whirl of high-stakes, pillow-enhanced warfare interspersed with stolen kisses and giggly laughter.

    It was everything Rainbow Dash had ever wanted.

    Author's Notes: The title of this story is taken from Paul McCartney's song, "The Lovers That Never Were," from his 1993 album, Off the Ground.

    9. Nothing But Trouble

    "Nothing But Trouble"

    Synopsis: From the very beginning, Mr. Cake had known that cocky young pegasus would prove to be nothing but trouble.

    From the very beginning, Mr. Cake had known that cocky young pegasus would prove to be nothing but trouble.

    She had bounded into his bakery all those many years ago with a dangerous fire in her eyes, her multi-colored mane wild and uncombed. She'd held herself tall and proud, and she'd passed her eyes over the entirety of the shop as a princess might survey her kingdom. Her wings flared out in an aggressive display as she strode through the shop, heading for the front counter.

    Mr. Cake, who'd stood in the back of the store near the ovens, could see his lead cashier freeze as soon as she caught sight of the dramatic winged pony, and immediately he felt justified in his misgivings about this pegasus. There was something new and something frightening in his cashier's eyes - a spark, a light, a hunger

    No, nothing but trouble would come of any of this.

    The cashier stood uncharacteristically still - almost impossibly still - as the other pony swaggered up to the counter. A lazy grin spread across the pegaus' face. "Hey there, pink stuff," she greeted with a wink. "So, what's good to eat in this place?"

    The shop cashier just stood there gaping, utterly silent, for a few seconds.

    The pegasus frowned and glanced towards Mr. Cake, gesturing with an impatient forehoof. "This one's not a big talker, huh?"

    At that exact same moment Pinkie Pie all but leapt over the counter, grabbing the pegasus around the neck with both forelegs as an excited gasp echoed loudly throughout the bakery. "Oh, my gosh! A new customer! A really great new customer!"


    The pegasus's front hooves scrambled desperately against the counter as she tried to extricate herself from the sudden embrace. She glanced over at Mr. Cake with a pleading expression, but Mr. Cake only smiled in response.

    Meanwhile, Pinkie rattled happily onwards, like a steam engine building up speed. "I am going to have to throw a party for you later, too! And I'll make rainbow-colored cupcakes, and they'll look just like your mane, because you have the prettiest mane I've ever seen, and there'll be so much punch, and we'll be super awesome friends …"

    The pegasus's eyes went wide in barely-suppressed panic. "Can't … breathe," she gasped out. "Hugging … too tight … "

    Still smiling, Mr. Cake turned back to his baking. Though he still didn't have a good feeling about this newcomer, at least he could take some reassurance in the fact that his beautiful, chaotic, indomitable Pinkamena would be able to dish out at least as much as she'd have to take. In fact, he almost felt sorry for the pegasus, who even now probably couldn't even begin to guess what trials and tribulations she'd soon be put through.

    He almost felt sorry for her, but not quite.

    10. When She Smiles

    "When She Smiles"


    She's loud and annoying
    Her attention can be cloying
    She talks for way too long
    And her laugh is all wrong
    And you just wish she'd go away

    She gets in your personal space
    Doesn't understand time and place
    Her randomness can irk
    And though you feel like a jerk
    You just wish she'd go away

    But then she smiles
    And it's like a sunrise
    Yeah, then she smiles at you
    With big blue eyes
    And when she smiles
    She is perfection
    Yeah, when she smiles
    In your direction
    You wish she'd stay
    You wish she'd stay
    You wish she'd stay

    She gives you stupid nicknames
    But she's always glad you came
    To visit her at her bakery shop
    And you feel like you've lost the plot
    And you just wish that you'd stayed away

    But then she smiles
    And it's like a sunrise
    Yeah, then she smiles at you
    With big blue eyes
    And when she smiles
    She is perfection
    Yeah, when she smiles
    In your direction
    You wish she'd stay
    You wish she'd stay
    You wish she'd stay

    And then there was that moment
    In a desert so far from home
    You were both surrounded
    Enemies on the roam
    You said you'd hold them back
    You told her to go
    But she didn't listen
    To your cries, oh, no
    She refused to leave
    Despite the price she'd pay
    She stood right by your side
    Yeah, she stood there and stayed

    She thinks you're something special
    And you'd go through your own hell
    Just to prove that you're the star
    That she seems to think you are
    So she won't want to go away

    And then she smiles
    And it's like a sunrise
    Yeah, then she smiles at you
    With big blue eyes
    And when she smiles
    She is perfection
    Yeah, when she smiles
    In your direction
    You hope she stays
    You hope she stays
    You hope she stays

    And when she smiles
    You ask her to stay.

    Author's Notes: These are song lyrics, and I've used the song in a Rainbow Pie music vid I've uploaded to my YouTube account. If you'd like, you can hear my terrible singing and marginally less terrible guitar-playing at "youtu. be / yeV0WVq-Lv0" (just take out the spaces).

    11. After Every Storm

    "After Every Storm"

    Synopsis: The storm raged through Ponyville for two whole days and two whole nights. The storm pulsed and roared as though it were a living thing, a ravenous beast, and the beast's every heartbeat poured out torrents of wrath, of passion, of grief.

    The storm raged through Ponyville for two whole days and two whole nights. Its winds howled through the emptied streets, shrieked through the village square, and ripped branches straight off the trees at Sweet Apple Acres. The storm pulsed and roared as though it were a living thing, a ravenous beast, and the beast's every heartbeat poured out torrents of wrath, of passion, of grief.

    At the very center of the storm flew a tiny blue speck, a streak of rainbow trailing behind it.

    Ponyville's denizens mostly stayed indoors during the maelstrom, staring out their windows with wide eyes and aching hearts.

    By the end of the first day of the storm, Princess Celestia had written to Twilight Sparkle and asked if she should magically intervene. None of the pegasi who worked on the weather teams near Ponyville had been able to calm the unscheduled storm - indeed, none of the pegasi had been allowed near enough to even make a solid attempt at doing so - and the princess worried about the well-being of the little hamlet that was now facing such punishing forces.

    Twilight hadn't been sure what to write in reply, so she'd braved the dangerous streets to take a census, using her magic as a shield against the blowing debris and freezing hail. She'd asked her friends, and she'd asked the Mayor and Nurse Redheart and Miss Cheerilee and Mr. Breezy, and she'd asked any other pony she could find. In turn, each and every pony said the exact same thing. Each and every one asked her to tell Celestia to not interfere.

    Finally, she'd ventured all the way out to Sweet Apple Acres and asked Applejack about the welfare of the trees on her farm. After all, if any pony would think about this reasonably, logically, that pony was Applejack.

    But Applejack had just shrugged. "That ain't important," she muttered, her voice sounding hollow. "Just … just let her alone, Twi, all right? Just let her do what she's gotta do."

    "But AJ, your trees ..."

    "The trees will be fine. They always are. And the rest o' us in Ponyville … well, I reckon we'll do what we always do, and we'll fix everything up all neat and proper after the storm's settled." She lifted her eyes, up towards the heavy dark storm clouds that hung like death over the land, and she frowned. "It ain't the trees I'm worried about."

    At that Twilight had nodded. And Twilight had written back to Celestia and requested that they be given more time to deal with the storm on their own, and Celestia had graciously granted that request.

    On the morning of the third day, the storm finally abated. The winds died down enough that the residents of Ponyville were able to safely venture forth into the streets and, as one, they surged towards the hills just on the outskirts of town. Twilight joined them, her every footstep falling heavily. Spike clung to her back much like he had as a newborn, and neither of them spoke. Neither of them felt any desire to.

    Dark gray clouds still hung low and thick over the village, despite the fact that the winds had gone.

    Slowly but steadily, the ponies of Ponyville made their way out of town. Only one pony in the entire town did not join them out in the hills, and Twilight found her gaze drifting up towards the skies, searching, hoping.

    The service was long and boring. As she stood there numbly, Fluttershy leaning against her on one side and Rarity leaning on the other, with Spike standing to the side with Applejack and Applebloom, Twilight found her thoughts skipping like a record. She couldn't really pay much attention to any of what was happening for any length of time. It was as though this was all some ridiculous play she was being forced to watch, from a balcony far, far away.

    There were numerous dignitaries, of course. Of course. She'd been important, after all. A very important pony. Not for any of the reasons all those ceremonious government speakers thought she had been - they only talked of her service, of her noble sacrifice, and they insisted on referring to her ever so stiffly and formally as The Element Bearer - but they were absolutely right that she'd been important.

    They didn't talk about the things that had actually mattered, though. They didn't talk about brightly colored balloons, or sarsaparilla, or impromptu song and dance numbers that came complete with intricate choreography They didn't talk about one-pony marching bands or inexplicably toothless alligators, and they never once mentioned cupcakes slathered in hot sauce.

    As each speaker spoke even more officiously than the previous speaker, Twilight grew steadily more and more furious. She'd never felt this kind of uncontrollable rage before in her entire life, and it left her trembling and breathless. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Rarity shooting her a concerned look.

    "You didn't know her!" It took a moment for Twilight to realize she'd said this aloud. Not just said, but screamed. "None of you know the first thing about her!"

    The stallion who had the podium, some minor noble, a duke or a marquis, immediately shut his mouth, too shocked to continue speaking.

    Princess Celestia took a step forward, her eyes creased in concern, murmuring, "Twilight Sparkle … " But, as Luna put a gentle hoof on her sister's shoulder and slowly shook her head, Celestia froze.

    It didn't matter. Not even Celestia herself could stop Twilight at this point, as the unicorn barreled onwards like a runaway train. "She wasn't just some - some - some abstract ideal! Just some stupid Element of Harmony! She was a pony, a real pony. A wonderful pony! She … she threw me a party." A choking sob escaped her throat. "She barely even knew my name, and the first thing she did was to throw me a party … "

    Twilight faltered, and she felt Fluttershy give her a soft nuzzle. She tried to keep a grasp on her anger as it began to drain away from her, but she couldn't. Embarrassment came rushing in like the tide to take the place of her quickly receding rage.

    She was spared from having to stammer out an apology, however, as right at that exact moment, the entire heavens exploded with a blinding white light.

    The force of the explosion knocked all of the ponies right off their hooves and, in an instant, it punched through all of the storm clouds with all the ease of a knife slicing through an apple. As the shock waves spread out, the clouds dissipated into nothing more but a fine mist and left behind a bright blue sky and brilliantly shining sun.

    And, after the last of the explosion rippled away, a blazing rainbow stood in its wake, huge and triumphant. All of the gathered ponies stared mutely at the sight for several long moments.

    Fluttershy was the first to speak, whispering in a tone filled with awe, "She did a Sonic Rainboom ..."

    Still stunned, Twilight looked around the hillside, at all of Ponyville as well as half the royal Equestrian court. As the sheer shock of the Rainboom started to fade away, she could see a few faint smiles begin stealing across the faces of the other ponies around her, and astonished whispers began rippling through the crowd like waves. Some of the younger foals even began pointing up at the sky while laughing in joy and surprise.

    Suddenly Twilight sensed a presence behind her, and she whirled around - only to find herself staring into a pair of familiar rose-colored eyes.

    The unicorn struggled to find words to say, struggled to find words that were adequate, but for once, nothing but silence came out of her opened mouth. Apparently she'd used up all of her voice earlier. So instead of speaking, she glanced up at the rainbow then back to her friend, a question burning in her violet eyes.

    Rainbow Dash just shrugged. "She would've wanted everypony to be smiling."

    Twilight threw her front legs around the pegasus, hugging tightly, and she held on for dear life. "You're absolutely right," she whispered hoarsely, hiding her face against Rainbow's strong shoulder. "She absolutely would have."

    Author's Notes: Come for the Rainbow Pie, get blind-sided by subtextual Twi Pie? I ... I don't even know with this one.

    I will try to ensure that the next installment is as fluffy as possible. Like, super, duper, cotton-candy fluffy.

    12. And Then They All Died

    "And Then They All Died a Horrible, Painful, Tragic Death"

    Synopsis: Romance is not an option; it is a mandate.

    "... and guess what happened next? Dashie kissed me! On the mouth, even!"

    With great gusto Pinkie Pie slammed down her front hooves on the cafe table, to emphasize that she'd reached the denouement of her story. She beamed happily across the table at all of her friends, across the towering piles of empty plates and glasses, as the other gathered ponies let out a collective gasp, with the exception of Rainbow Dash. For her own part, the rainbow-maned pegasus just grinned - although she looked as though she couldn't quite decide whether to be proud or embarrassed.

    Applejack was the first to recover herself, and she turned to stare at Dash with an incredulous expression on her face. "Didja really kiss her?"

    "Well, you know ..." Feigning casualness, Rainbow gave a small shrug. "It just seemed like the thing to do at the time."

    "She's a super great kisser," Pinkie added in a stage whisper.

    At that, Fluttershy made a soft, strangled noise in the back of her throat, and her face turned several different and very interesting shades of red as she blushed furiously.

    While the yellow pegasus floundered in embarrassment, Dash began thumping her own chest with a hoof. "Yes, it's true. Best kisser in Equestria! Right here!"

    Twilight frowned in her pensive, analyzing way. "Should I write to the Princess about this? I think I should maybe write to the Princess about this, so that we can - "

    "Oh, Twilight Sparkle, don't you dare!" Rarity gasped in horror and began rapidly shaking her head. "To even think that you might debase this beautiful, fledgling love affair by treating it as just another homework assignment!"

    The other unicorn flinched at the chastisement and hunkered down in her seat, all thoughts of a letter to Celestia immediately abandoned. She had to stifle a sigh, though, as it undoubtedly would have been a really, really great letter. The sacrifices one had to make in the name of friendship ...

    Meanwhile, Rarity turned towards the two young lovebirds with unmistakable glee shining in her eyes. "Well, darlings, just what are you going to do now?"

    Rainbow and Pinkie exchanged confused looks. After a moment, Pinkie hesitantly offered, "We could … um, we could go play pranks?"

    "Pranks are cool," agreed Dash in a lofty tone, the very picture of magnanimity. "Or maybe try to eat all the cookies at Sugar Cube Corner?"

    Grinning, Pinkie nodded at the suggestion offered by her partner in crime. "It would be a big job, no doubt about it - but somepony has to do it!"

    "No, no, no," Rarity interrupted, as a small, strained laugh escaped her lips. "I meant, what are you going to do now that you're established as paramours?"

    There was a silence. Applejack mouthed the word "Paramours?" at Fluttershy, but Fluttershy still had that frozen, deeply traumatized look in her eyes and, consequently, didn't respond. Twilight helpfully leaned over and whispered the word's definition in Applejack's ear. As soon as she had, the earth pony began snickering.

    On the other side of the table, more than a little confused, Dash was blinking at Rarity. "Is a paramour like a parasail? 'Cause I don't think Pinkie's very much like a parasail."

    "No, not really," the pink pony confessed. There was a hint of sadness in her words. "But Dashie kinda is, what with being a pegasus and all."

    "Paramours!" Rarity repeated, her voice rising to its higher registers. "Inamorata! Lovers!" Rarity took in the blank stares of her two friends and sighed. "Fillyfriends, that is to say."

    "Ohhhh," said Pinkie, slowly nodding.

    Rainbow cocked her head and frowned. "Why didn't ya just say that to begin with?"

    Rarity's right eye gave a very slight but still noticeable twitch. "Anyways. As I was saying, what sorts of romantic activities do you have planned for the future?"

    Another awkward silence fell over the table. Fluttershy cautiously lifted her chin, just enough to sneak a peek at everypony through the strands of her long mane.

    "You have no idea how this is supposed to work," murmured Rarity, gazing at her two friends with a growing sense of alarm. "Do you?"

    "Weeeell." Pinkie scrunched up her nose, deep in thought, before shrugging. "I kinda just figured that everything would be like it was before. But with more make-outs!"

    "Lots more make-outs," interjected Dash.

    Pinkie giggled a bit. "Lots and lots of make-outs."

    With a scandalized squeak, Fluttershy slipped to the ground and disappeared completely underneath the table. Quickly Twilight ducked her head and went after the skittish pegasus, and from under the table, the other four ponies could hear the magician as she tried to gently coax Fluttershy to return to her seat. Although, from the sounds of things, Twilight wasn't having much success.

    Rarity gritted her teeth. "Make-outs, as you so crudely term them, are not romantic. Do you really mean to say that you've no intentions of infusing a bit of romance, a bit of fairy tale charm, into your new relationship?"

    Pinkie Pie fixed her eyes onto Dash and squinted intensely, as though trying to gaze into the very depths of the pegasus' soul. In an unusually quiet voice, she began, "Rainbow Dash and I could … we could …"

    Rarity waited with bated breath. A small tendril of hope, tender and fragile, took root within her breast.

    " … we could make Gummy and Tank race each other!"

    Dash pumped her hoof into the air, immediately taken with the idea and practically quivering with excitement. "Aww, yeah!"

    "No!" screeched Rarity.

    Pinkie and Dash both slumped down in their chairs, wearing identical pouts. "No?"

    "No!" The unicorn stamped one white, dainty, perfectly-manicured hoof. "That is not how this is supposed to work!"

    It was at this point in the conversation that Rainbow Dash made a mistake. A very costly mistake. A mistake that would prove to be the biggest mistake of her life to date.

    Frowning, Rainbow glared daggers at the irate unicorn and huffed, "Well, how do you know how it's supposed to work, anyways? You've never even dated anypony!"

    Rarity's eye gave another twitch. A much more noticeable twitch, this time.

    As one, the four ponies who were not Rainbow Dash or Rarity rose from their seats and slowly began backing away from the table. Even Pinkie Pie seemed to comprehend that there was a bad moon on the rise, as she placed a firm hoof on her beloved's shoulder and began tugging, in an attempt to get Dash's attention.

    But the stubborn pegasus continued on obliviously: "And that stupid old Canterlot prince doesn't count. I mean, you didn't even like that guy …"

    And then they all died a horrible, painful, tragic death.

    Well, that is not quite literally true, perhaps. They may not have died actual deaths, in a purely factual manner of speaking. But by the time Rarity's rage-fuelled, whine-injected lecture drew to a close - nearly an hour after it had began - most of them felt as though they had died. Had died, and been dragged to hell and back. The ones who did not feel this way, meanwhile, simply wished that they had in fact died rather than being forced to face the almighty wrath of a unicorn denied her romance.

    When the dust finally began to settle, Rarity did not allow any of her friends to escape until Rainbow Dash promised to buy flowers for her new fillyfriend at least once a week and Pinkie Pie swore to write (and perform) a love song for Dash no less than once a month.

    "Now, then," finished Rarity, with a prim little smile, after she'd successfully extracted these concessions. "Was that really so very hard, darlings?"

    In lieu of a verbal reply, the rest of the table just stared at the unicorn with a terrible, crushing sense of awe and fear - and, in the case of Applejack specifically, with a great deal of confusion about just how turned on she suddenly felt.

    Author's Notes: The title of this one came from my Beloved Spouse, who is deliciously evil. Also, I believe this might be my first attempt at writing in the third-person omniscient. It feels strange. Not bad, but a bit strange.

    13. More Than Cupcakes

    "More Than Cupcakes: A Love Story in Five Drabbles"

    Synopsis: Snippets of a lifetime.

    Act I: Unquestioned

    No one questions it. No one questions just why it is, when they need someone to wrangle Pinkie Pie, they all immediately expect Rainbow Dash to be the pony to do it. No one questions just why Pinkie will shut up when Rainbow yells her name in that particular tone of voice, when the excitable pink mare won't for anypony else. No one questions why Rainbow Dash seems able to tolerate Pinkie Pie's Pinkieness more than any other pony in town.

    No one really questions it, as it all seems as right and as natural as the sun rising in the east - and Pinkie and Dash probably question it least of all.

    Act II: Lies of Omission

    "Somepony tell the truth!" Applejack's voice rings out, loud and strong, through the town square. Dead silence follows. "Somepony! Anypony!"

    I love her. The words pop into her mind almost immediately, and she has to bite down to keep them from tripping their way out of her mouth.

    "Yesterday I told Mrs. Cake that I ate two corn cakes," is what she says instead. "But I really ate three."

    It frightens her, this love she feels. And it frightens her that she doesn't quite understand just why it scares her so.

    "Okay, six!" She can feel sweat trickle down her face. "I ate six corn cakes!"

    Because she is stupidly, hopelessly, recklessly in love with Rainbow Dash.

    "Make it stop! Oh, make it stop!"

    Act III: Inevitable

    It was inevitable, really. Inevitable that the Element of Laughter wouldn't be able to take very much seriously, not even a romantic relationship. And just as inevitable that the Element of Loyalty couldn't help but take a romantic relationship all too seriously.

    It was inevitable, but still, Twilight hadn't seen it coming. She's not sure what she would have done differently, even if she had, though. Because that was the thing about inevitability - there wasn't anything you could do to stop it. That's what made it inevitable.

    She should have stopped it anyway.

    Act IV: More Than Cupcakes

    It was forever remembered as the night that Ponyville exploded. After endless days of gloomily overcast weather came a night that was as clear as cold, clean spring water. And on that night, just as the sleepy town began to settle down for the evening, the entire heavens erupted into a thousand sparkling colors.

    "Fireworks," said somepony in an awed tone, as the villagers gathered in the square to watch the unexpected show.

    Slowly but surely, the fireworks spelled out letters, then whole words, as they burst in the air:

    Rainbow Dash
    I'm so sorry
    I love you
    I love you more than cupcakes

    Down below, one of the pegasi in the assembled crowd began to shake her head at the sight. But there were tears in her eyes and a tiny smile on her lips.

    Act V: Ebb and Flow

    They ebb and flow like the tides, sometimes spending days on end solely in one another's company, sometimes going for nearly a week without seeing each other at all. But just as water always flows towards the sea, they always come back to one another, drawn together by forces neither of them fully comprehend.

    Laughter and Loyalty. It doesn't make sense. They don't need one another in the way that Honesty needs Kindness to temper its blunt edges, or how Magic needs Generosity to prevent it from giving in to dark temptations. They don't make any sense at all, really.

    So they've had to create their own kind of sense - and while nopony else seems to understand, somehow it works for them. It's worked for decades now, and they have no reason to think it won't work forever.


    "You are so random."

    Author's Notes: If you do a word count for these, you'll see that they're not drabbles in the technical sense of the term. But they're the closest I've ever gotten to writing a proper drabble, so what the hey, I'm calling 'em drabbles.

    14. Gummy Sings the Blues

    "Gummy Sings the Blues"

    Gummy did not approve in the least of the recent and tragic events that had befallen his small but mighty kingdom, which was comprised mainly of the loft apartment above Sugar Cube Corner. Unfortunately, Gummy didn't have the faintest idea of how to go about fixing things.

    He knew from whence the problem came, though. Oh, yes, that he knew all too well. All of Gummy's current troubles traced back to a single source. Oh, yes, indeed. Everything and anything currently wrong in his life was all the fault of the Blue Intruder.

    The evidence was incontestable. When the Pink Provider of Food forgot to give him his dinner, inevitably it was because she was out gallivanting somewhere with the Intruder. When the Pink One woke him up from one of his dozen daily naps, inevitably it was because she was laughing at something that had been uttered by the Intruder. And when Gummy had taken the high road and attempted diplomacy, by climbing into the bathtub to make nice while the Pink One and the Blue Intruder were bathing together, he'd been kicked out! Not just kicked out of the tub - which would have been bad enough all on its own - but kicked out of the bathroom altogether!

    It was an unacceptable state of affairs, to state the case very mildly.

    Logically, after diplomacy had failed, Gummy decided that all-out war was the only remaining viable option. Over the course of several weeks, he carefully and painstakingly planned his ambush. When fateful day came, he was ready. He stood perched above the doorway to the loft apartment, every sense on high alert, prepared to strike out like a tiger.

    Well, not really like a tiger. More like … more like a toothless alligator, really. But a fierce, intimidating, majestic toothless alligator.

    Then, the door to the apartment slowly creaked open, and in walked the Pink One with the Intruder in tow. Gummy flung himself forward and attacked with all the fury his tiny little body could muster.

    There was a fatal flaw in his plan, however, as he soon discovered. It was hard to bite a pony's head off when you didn't have teeth. He thought maybe he could dissolve his target's flesh with his digestive juices, perhaps, if he just held on long enough, but the Pink One quickly snatched him away.

    "Gummy, no!" She shook her head at him, her voice positively brimming with disappointment. "You should be nice to Dashie! She's our guest."

    The Blue Intruder, meanwhile, glared at him with hatred burning in her eyes. "Just you wait, Toothless," she muttered, just loud enough for the alligator to hear but not so loud that the Pink One could. "You're gonna get what's coming to you. Just you wait."

    So finally it came down to one final, desperate option. Gummy wasn't born yesterday, after all - his birthday wasn't for another seventy-four days, in fact - and he knew a futile situation when he saw one. So with a heavy heart he set out one dark, gloomy evening, past the cheery walls of Sugar Cube Corner, a lone vagabond finding his way though a cold, lonely world. He stopped by Carousel Boutique, of course, on his way out of town, to bide farewell to his beloved Opalescence, who took the news surprisingly well.

    He wondered anew if Opal was dallying with that unspeakably horrid Winona. He decided it was best not to dwell on such distressing possibilities.

    Instead, he continued on his way and ventured forth into the wider world. After many hours of wandering and adventuring, he found himself in a deep, dense woods. It wasn't very welcoming, truth be told, but he supposed it would have to do. Gummy searched out a place to spend the night and located a small cave not too far into the forest. Once inside, he curled up into a tight ball, in an attempt to retain body heat, and drifted off into a light, fitful slumber.

    He was awoken the next morning by a loud, echoing growl.

    Immediately Gummy's eyes snapped open, and he found himself staring right into the enraged face of a huge green dragon. In an instant, he saw his entire life flash in front of his eyes. The color pink featured prominently. So did streamers and punch bowls.

    He silently offered an apology to the Pink One, for being unable to give her a proper farewell.

    Then, just as the dragon lunged towards him, a blue blur came out of nowhere and smashed into the side of the dragon's muzzle. The dragon shook his head, momentarily stunned, and Gummy took the opportunity to waddle off, underneath the dragon's belly and hopefully out of the dragon's line of sight.

    The blur of blue, as it turned out, was the Intruder. She hovered right in front of the dragon's face, scowling. "Why don't you pick on someone more your own size, huh? Ya big bully!"

    The dragon let out another blood-curdling roar, and the Intruder flinched, ever so slightly.

    With a snarl of anger, the dragon opened his gaping maw and snapped at the Blue Intruder, missing by mere inches. The Intruder darted, weaved, and bobbed, always just a step ahead of the larger but slower dragon. Loathe as he was to admit to the Intruder possessing any good qualities, Gummy nonetheless had to admire her for her speed and agility.

    But the Blue Intruder was not infallible, alas. After dashing out of reach of one of the dragon's claws, the dragon managed to whip his tail around, lightning-quick, and his aim proved true. He hit the Intruder dead on, and she went flying backwards. She smacked against the wall of the cave and slid down, collapsing on the cave floor in a pathetic heap of blue fur and blue feathers.

    Gummy watched in horror as the Intruder just laid there, perfectly motionless but groaning softly. The dragon advanced on his fallen foe with a throaty chuckle. Involuntarily the small alligator imagined the look on the Pink One's face if she were to come here and discover the Intruder lying dead and lifeless. As clear as day he could see the tears spring in her eyes, could see her hair hang flat and straight, could hear her sobs as she would weep over the Intruder's cold body.

    And just like that, Gummy knew what he had to do.

    He stepped forward and, with every ounce of strength he possessed in his small reptilian body, he bit down on the dragon's tail. The dragon whirled around, his red eyes glowing through the dim light in the cave, and Gummy prepared himself to enter the afterlife. He lifted his chin and nobly blinked his eyes at the dragon in cheeky defiance.

    But suddenly there was another flash of blue, and then he was somehow in the Intruder's grasp, as she sped out of the cave while holding him tightly against her chest. He gazed up at the Intruder in surprise and wonder, but she merely stared straight ahead with narrow, determined eyes.

    Finally, once they were safely out of the woods and had reached the meadows, the Blue Intruder landed. She let go of the alligator as soon as all four of her hooves touched the ground, and he fell to the earth with a soft thud.

    The Intruder glared down at him. "Do you even realize how worried she's been over you? She hasn't eaten a single cupcake since you left! Not one!"

    Gummy's attention perked up a bit. The Pink One worried about him? The Pink One … missed him? He couldn't help wagging his tail a bit in joy at the realization.

    With a sigh, the Intruder looked away, back towards the woods they'd just exited. "But, uh, anyways ... thanks. For helpin' me out back there. And, um … yeah."

    Intrigued by this turn of events, Gummy tilted his head and patiently waited for the Intruder to continue. He knew she would, if he just waited long enough. After all, this creature did seem to love the sound of her own voice.

    "Look, here's the deal, Toothless. I love Pinkie. You love - well, actually, I'm not sure that you're even sentient, let alone capable of feeling emotion. But for the sake of argument, let's just say that you love Pinkie too. So, since we both love her, we should stop fighting." The Intruder finally looked back at him, and her voice turned pleading. "For Pinkie's sake. What do you say?"

    The alligator very seriously and very carefully deliberated over this. The Intruder had offered him many insults over their shared acquaintanceship, and she had committed countless unforgivable acts against his person. But then again, the Intruder had just saved his life. But then again, again, he had saved the Intruder's life in turn.

    It was terribly confusing. He started to feel a bit dizzy from all his mental exertions.

    "For Pinkie Pie, Gummy. C'mon? Please?"

    Ah, the Pink One. It all come down to the Pink One, didn't it? Gummy did not understand-would never understand-just why she favored the company of the Blue Intruder, but it was undeniable that she did. The Blue Intruder, as utterly detestable as she was in every conceivable way, made the Pink One happy. And the sad fact of the matter was, Gummy could not be happy if the Pink One was not happy.

    With a silent sigh, he gazed up at the Blue Intruder and blinked his eyes.

    "Is … is that a yes?" The Intruder scratched her head. "Uh, I'm gonna just go ahead and assume that was a yes. All right, then. Let's go home."

    She scooped him up again, and he nestled against her chest as she flew the both of them back to Sugar Cube Corner. It was not a long flight. As soon as they'd entered through the open second-floor window, Gummy found himself snatched away from the Intruder.

    "Gummy!" His entire field of vision was obscured by pink as kisses began raining down upon his head. "Oh, Gummy, I was so, so worried about you! Don't you ever run away like that again, mister!"

    A snort came from behind. "What? No kisses for the pegasus who went and found him for you?"

    The Pink One lifted her head, and Gummy could see tears sparkling in the corners of her eyes. "Oh, Dashie," she said, smiling as huge as he'd ever seen her smile. "You're the bestest fillyfriend ever, and thank you, thank you, thank you!"

    "I fought a dragon, too. Did I mention that?" The Blue Intruder began preening a bit, as she stepped down from the windowsill. "Dragon was totally gonna make Gummy into his morning snack, but the Dash said, 'Not today, fire-breath!' Kicked that dragon right in the face. It was pretty awesome."

    "Really?" The expression on the Pink One's face melted like a cupcake left out in the sun for too long, and Gummy grabbed the opportunity to scramble out of her crushing embrace. He knew exactly what was coming next, and he knew he didn't want to be around for it. He began tottering towards the bathtub. The bathtub should provide a good enough hiding place.

    "Heck, yeah!" The Intruder strutted up to the Pink One with a fierce grin. "And y'know what? I'd totally do it again. I'd face, like, a gazillion dragons to save Gummy for you."

    "A gazillion is a really, really big number," breathed the Pink One, her eyes wide and adoring. "Oh, Rainbow Dash …"

    From the safety of the tub, Gummy could hear those gross smacking sounds that meant the Intruder and the Pink One were mashing their muzzles together in that weird way they sometimes did. He could never understand it. At first, he'd thought perhaps the Pink One was trying to eat the Intruder - which was something he could understand and something of which he highly approved - but that never seemed to be the case. After their little muzzle-mashing sessions, the Blue Intruder always remained whole and ungobbled.

    Oh, well. With a tiny mental shrug, Gummy settled down in the cool confines of his bathtub and began plotting how he would be revenged upon the Blue Intruder now that premeditated murder was out of the question. Perhaps if he could somehow recruit that sociopathic bunny who lived in the cottage just outside of town …

    Author's Notes: Well, here we are. It's been a month and a half since I've added anything to this little collection of stories, and what do you get? A story about Gummy trying to murder Rainbow Dash.

    I don't even know, y'all. I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

    15. Captain Obvious and the Oblivious Wonder

    "The Continuing Adventures of Captain Obvious and Her Sidekick, the Oblivious Wonder"

    "Hey, Pinkie? You said you wanted me to come over so you …" The rest of whatever Rainbow Dash had been about to say died in her throat. She blinked once, then twice. "What is all of this?"

    Crammed into Pinkie's not-terribly-large studio apartment were a big brass band, an entire line of chorus girls, and Pinkie Pie herself. Pinkie was dressed in a long, dark blue gown, perhaps something created by Rarity, and—and was that make-up that Pinkie was wearing?

    Rainbow Dash blinked again, very slowly. It felt like the thing to do.

    Pinkie Pie didn't answer the question that had been asked. Instead, she took a long, deep breath. As she did, the trumpeter in the band lifted his instrument to his mouth using his magic, and the chorus girls all raised their right front legs. Immediately Rainbow recognized what was about to happen next, but even as fast as she was, she wasn't fast enough to escape the inevitability of a song cue:

    Dashie, take off that frown
    And give me a bright smile
    Sit yourself down and
    Just listen for a while

    Pinkie bounded over to Rainbow and enthusiastically shepherded the pegasus over to a chair. Rainbow found herself forced down into the chair somewhat against her will. But before she could protest, Pinkie was gone, bouncing over to the chorus girls, still smiling and singing away.

    I got something to say
    And I need to be heard
    'Cause you haven't listened
    When I just say the words

    I want you, I need you
    But what's even more
    I'm in love with you truly
    Yes, Dash, it's you I adore!

    From somewhere nearby came a sudden burst of confetti. It rained down from above and got stuck in Rainbow's mane, but Dash was too disoriented to bother brushing it off the top of her head. Meanwhile, Pinkie and her chorus line began doing the can-can.

    You're my rainbow when sad
    You're my sun when it's gray
    And whenever I'm scared
    You chase all my fears away

    So, Dash, what do you think?
    Can you ever agree?
    Oh, please, won't you be
    My special somepony?

    The song ended with Pinkie doing a huge split that seemed to defy both equine anatomy and the boundaries of common sense. But even despite the uncomfortable-looking position, the earth pony beamed at Dash with shining eyes.

    Rainbow Dash sat silently for a few long moments and just stared blankly at her friend. Soon the corners of Pinkie's smile began to tremble, ever so slightly.

    "Um." The trombonist was nervously scuffing the floor with a hoof. "Should we be here for what happens next?"

    Finally, blessedly, Rainbow Dash grinned. "Wow! That was awesome, Pinkie! Is that for a new musical you're practicing or something?"

    At that, Pinkie Pie's smile cracked and completely fell apart. From behind one of the chorus girls gasped quietly. Another began openly sobbing. The brass band's saxophonist, meanwhile, glared at the pegasus with open, undisguised hostility.

    Rainbow began to suspect that, somehow, somewhere, she had missed something. Something important.

    Then, Pinkie's eyes narrowed, and her mouth formed a thin, firm line. "That is the last time I take Rarity's advice," the suddenly serious party pony muttered. "I should've done what Applejack suggested from the very beginning."

    "Uh, Pinkie Pie?" Dash shifted in her seat, feeling a curl of unease form in her stomach at the look in her friend's deep blue eyes. "Are you … you okay there?"

    In a loud and booming voice, not unlike Princess Luna using Royal Canterlot speech, Pinkie announced, "Everypony, take cover! It's time to implement Plan B!"

    As one, the musicians and dancers hit the floor, covering their heads with their hooves.

    Rainbow Dash frowned. "What are you—"

    But Dash was unable to finish her question, as at that exact moment, Pinkie Pie launched herself across the room with a savage war cry and tackled the pegasus to the floor. Dash soon found herself utterly breathless, almost shaking, as Pinkie Pie kissed her with more passion and intensity than any pony had ever been kissed before in the entire history of Equestria, with the possible exception of that one time Princess Platinum and Clover the Clever got very, very drunk off some awful alcohol the earth ponies called "hard cider."

    When at last Pinkie pulled back from the embrace, the chorus girls and band members began applauding, stomping their hooves on the floor so loudly that Mrs. Cake's voice could be heard yelling up the stairs that the twins were taking a nap and for all of them to quiet down. Pinkie Pie, for her part, was sitting back on her haunches, flushed and triumphant.

    Rainbow blinked again. "Ohhhh," she said after a moment, with a small nod of her head. "You like me like me. Well, why didn't you just say so, Pinks?"

    Pinkie's face went slack. "But … I mean … but you didn't …"

    "I mean, geez, no need to make a big production number out of it, y'know?" Smiling, Rainbow Dash leaned forward and gently bumped snouts with a still-stammering Pinkie. "Because you wanna know something? I like you, too."

    The chorus girl who had cried earlier began hysterically sobbing all over again, this time twice as hard. Even the trombonist couldn't hold back a small, dignified sniffle.

    … and that's how Equestria was made. Maybe next time I can tell you the story of how Pinkie Pie proposed to Rainbow Dash. It's a gem!

    Author's Notes: All credit for the basic premise of this story goes to Chengar Qordath. This story is the result of a discussion happening in the comments section of AbsoluteAnonymous' "Sweet Nothings," over at FiMfiction, which is awesome and you should go read.

    16. The Letter

    "The Letter"

    I love you I love you I love you ...

    The letter sat, unfolded, on the counter of Sugarcube Corner. The crisp sheet of paper almost glowed under the bright lights of the bakery, and the blue and gold logo in the corner of the page stood out against the surrounding whiteness. On either side of the counter stood two ponies, staring down at the letter that rested between them. For long seconds, neither said a single word.

    It was, unsurprisingly, Pinkie Pie who finally broke the tense silence. "Congratulations, Dashie," she whispered.

    Rainbow Dash looked up from the letter and immediately frowned. Pinkie was smiling at her, just like she always did, but the smile was a little too wide and a little too bright. It hurt to look at that smile, and so Rainbow turned her head away. Instead, she stared at a smudge of dirt over in a corner of the bakery.

    "Thanks, Pinks," she muttered in reply, eyes fixed firmly on the floor. "I haven't decided whether I'm gonna accept the offer yet or not, but it's still pretty cool that-"

    "But you've gotta accept it! You just gotta!"

    And then a pair of pink hooves was grabbing Rainbow's shoulders, shaking her roughly, and the pegasus glanced up in time to see Pinkie leaning across the counter, those bottomless blue eyes wide and urgent. Almost fearful, Rainbow might have said, if she hadn't known any better.

    I love you I love you I love you ...

    Gently Dash shook her head. "If I become a Wonderbolt, then what about us? What'll we do?"

    "I'll come with you!" The words were more explosion than speech, and Pinkie didn't let go of Rainbow's shoulders. "I can come to all your shows, and it'll be like a really long vacation, and we can -"

    "You'd leave Ponyville? You'd leave Twilight and Applejack and Fluttershy and Rarity?"

    At that, Pinkie hesitated.

    Quickly picking up steam, Dash continued on: "And Mr. and Mrs. Cake … you'd really be okay leaving them? Pound and Pumpkin, too?" She shook her head again. "C'mon, Pinkie. I know you. You can't lie to me. It'd kill you to leave behind Ponyville - and I'm not gonna make you do that."

    Pinkie Pie leaned back, then, and took her hooves from Rainbow's shoulders. Instantly Dash felt the absence of the other pony's touch, and a deep, aching emptiness settled right in the pit of her stomach. Never before had Sugarcube Corner - usually the warmest and friendly place she'd ever been - felt so cold or so lonely. Dash took a step back and crossed her forelegs tightly over her chest.

    "What about you?" asked Pinkie, glancing down at the letter still laying open on the counter. "You've always wanted to be a Wonderbolt, Rainbow Dash. Always always! Since before I even met you! If you don't tell them yes, then …"

    I love you I love you I love you ...

    Rainbow Dash tucked her chin against her chest, glaring a little. "I'll be fine! I mean, I'm still the coolest pony in Equestria, no matter if I'm a weather pony or whether I'm a Wonderbolt."

    It was Pinkie's turn to shake her head. "You won't be happy, Dashie," she replied softly, in a tone of voice that made Dash's stomach twist in a vicious and awful way. "You'll never be happy. And I'll be so sad that you're sad, and I'll try everything to make you smile again, but you won't smile. You won't."

    Rainbow opened her mouth, to yell, to scream, to refute everything Pinkie was saying, but she found that she couldn't utter a single sound. She tried -she swallowed hard and took a deep breath, reaching deep down for the words she needed - but still she couldn't speak.

    "And I'll get super duper frustrated because I can't make you happy, and then you'll get super duper frustrated because I'm not happy, and then …" When Pinkie glanced up, her eyes were wet with tears. A small, sad smile graced her face. "And then we'll fall apart anyways."

    "I don't …" The words were choking her, and that emptiness was spreading out from her stomach to her chest, through all four of her legs, to the very tips of her wings. "I don't want to lose you, Pinkie."

    Slowly Pinkie walked around the counter so that she was directly in front of the pegasus. She reached out with a hoof and ran it lightly through Dash's mane. "I don't want to lose you, either," she said, still smiling her sad little smile. "That's why you gotta say yes. That's why you gotta go. So you don't get so sad and mopey that you won't be Dashie - and so I don't get so sad and mopey that I won't be Pinkie Pie."

    I love you I love you I love you …

    Rainbow Dash wanted to tell Pinkie Pie that she was crazy. That Pinkie was being ridiculous and random, just as always. That Dash didn't understand the contortionist logic that the pink mare was offering up. But the truth was, Rainbow Dash understood. She understood perfectly.

    Worst of all, a quiet, tiny voice somewhere inside her whispered, "Pinkie's probably right."

    She decided to ignore that voice. To ignore everything Pinkie just said - at least for now, at least for tonight.

    Instead of offering up a response or refutation, Rainbow Dash let out a low growl that came from deep in the belly and leapt forward, pinning Pinkie to the bakery floor. She peppered the earth pony's face with kisses, quick and fierce, dozens upon dozens of kisses. A kiss for every day that she and Pinkie would have to be apart. A kiss for every moment they would never have, for every dream that had just shattered before them like so much delicate glass.

    Pinkie wrapped her forelegs around Dash's neck, pulling her closer, holding her tighter. And then Pinkie's hooves were anywhere and everywhere - cupping Rainbow's face, trailing down Rainbow's sides, brushing along her wings, caressing the soft fur of her stomach - and the pegasus felt as though she was on fire, as though Pinkie was a ravenous inferno that was consuming her alive from the inside out. Before long, hot tears began trickling down her cheeks, but Rainbow Dash ignored those too.

    Tomorrow, the Element of Loyalty would leave the pony she loved more than any other in the whole of Equestria. Tomorrow, the Element of Laughter would cry until she'd be left as dry and as hollow as a corn husk forgotten in the field and baked by the sun. But tonight, they still had one another, and tonight they would make use of every single moment they had.

    There was nothing else. There was nothing more.

    Tonight, they held on to one another as hard and as long as they could.

    I love you I love you I love you ...

    Author's Notes: My Fimfiction pal Professor Piggy requested a RainbowPie break-up story, and then Thirty Minute Ponies had a break-up prompt, so I pretty much was required to write this. I'll try to do something happy for next time, though.

    17. The Sign

    "The Sign"

    Note: This is set in the same continuity as "The Letter."

    Rainbow Dash flew higher and faster than she'd ever flown before, doing a corkscrew in perfect synchrony with her squadmates. The wind whipped through her mane, and Rainbow pointed her forehooves out as straight as possible, slicing through the air like a knife through butter. Down far below she could hear the muffled cheering from an entire Fillydelphia stadium full of Wonderbolts fans.

    She knew, without quite knowing how she knew, that if her friends were here, she'd be able to hear their cheering specifically. That she'd be able to pick them out of the crowd. And she knew, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that the loudest cheering of all would have come from an excitable pink earth pony.

    "Dash!" Rainbow glanced to her right, in time to catch the look that Soarin' was shooting in her direction. "Get your head on straight, rookie!"

    Dash blinked behind her flight goggles and noticed that she was just the tiniest bit out of formation. Grimacing, she gave Soarin' a small nod and pulled herself back into line.

    For the rest of the performance, she kept her thoughts firmly fixed on nothing but the wind in her mane and the bright, sunny sky spread out before her like a bottomless ocean. She didn't think about the pair of surprisingly gentle hooves that once ran through her mane just like the wind was doing now, and she didn't think about the sparkling eyes that somehow were the exact same shade of blue as the sky above.

    The rest of the show went well. The crowd roared and stomped its hooves, and Soarin' told her she'd made a good recovery, and even Spitfire seemed pleased with how the performance had gone. And Rainbow Dash was happy. She laughed as she chatted with the other rookies in the locker room showers, and she smiled big and bright as she signed autographs for the fans who were hanging around outside the lockers, and she was happy. The reality of wearing the blue and gold of the Wonderbolts was, impossibly, even better than she'd ever imagined it would be. How could she be anything other than happy?

    She was happy.

    She just wished she didn't have to be happy alone.

    She walked with the other rookies, a mare named Summer Skies and a stallion named Thunderclap, as they finally left the stadium after last of the crowds had dissipated. A light drizzle started up, and the three pegasi gave periodic flicks of their wings to shake off the water. They talked easily as they trotted down the sidewalks of downtown Fillydelphia, and Rainbow enjoyed having ponies to hang out with. Her fellow rookies were a fun pair, too - Summer couldn't stop raving about Fillydelphia's museums, in a way that reminded Dash of a certain librarian of her acquaintance, while Thunderclap told corny jokes and made terrible puns at the rate of twelve a minute.

    They were good ponies. Rainbow liked them. She even considered them friends or, at least, potential friends. But they weren't her family. Not like a certain five ponies she knew and loved more than any others in Equestria. And not like one very special pony in particular.

    It had been Pinkie who'd told her to go. Who told her to accept the Wonderbolts' offer, when the letter came. Rainbow had resisted, and Rainbow had refused, but nopony could win an argument the way that Pinkie could when Pinkie was convinced she was right.

    "You won't be happy, Dashie," the earth pony had told her, her blue eyes huge and earnest. "You'll never be happy. And I'll be so sad that you're sad, and I'll try everything to make you smile again, but you won't smile. You won't."

    She'd hated Pinkie for saying something like that. And she'd hated Pinkie even more for saying something that made so much sense.

    Just thinking about those blue eyes caused her gaze to shift up again, almost involuntarily, up towards the sky she cherished just as much as she cherished the crazy pink baker who'd sneaked into her life and stolen her heart. As soon as she did, she stumbled to a halt and gasped.


    "You okay, buddy?"

    Right above the stadium stood a rainbow, sparkling and bright. The rainbow stretched across the entire sky, and she could only stand there and stare. It looked exactly, but exactly, like the rainbow she'd created after her very first Sonic Rainboom.

    It was a sign. She knew it. It had to be.

    "Yo! Equestria to Dash!"

    It was a sign. And signs were meant to be followed.

    "Sorry, guys," Rainbow called out to her teammates, as she crouched down and flared out her wings, "but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to bail on dinner tonight."

    Thunderclap frowned. "What? Why?"

    "Because I gotta go get a cupcake. A really special cupcake."

    "A cupcake?" repeated Summer, sounding half amused and half appalled. "You know there must be at least a hundred bakeries right here in Fillydelphia, right?"

    Rainbow Dash grinned. "Not like this bakery."

    With that, she launched herself into the air and let out a loud whoop as the rain pattered against her face. She flew as fast as she could, despite the ache in her muscles left over from this afternoon's show, because she knew she had to hurry if she was going to make it all the way back to Ponyville in time to get a cupcake while they were still fresh. And there wasn't anything quite like a fresh cupcake from Sugarcube Corner.

    Author's Notes: This was adapted from a piece I wrote for a Thirty Minute Pony Stories writing prompt about Rainbow Dash getting accepted into the Wonderbolts.

    18. The Homecoming

    "The Homecoming"

    Note: This is set in the same continuity as "The Letter" and "The Sign."

    Pinkie Pie's ears perked up as she heard the tell-tale jingle of Sugarcube Corner's front door bell. It was five minutes until closing time, and Mr. and Mrs. Cake had already gone home for the day, so the young baker was in the back of the kitchen alone, washing pans and bowls, spoons and spatulas. With a grin, she tossed aside her dishrag and trotted out of the kitchen, ready and eager to greet her last-minute customer.

    She froze as soon as she stepped through the kitchen doors.

    There, not ten feet away, quite impossibly, stood Rainbow Dash. The newly-minted Wonderbolt was resplendent in her blue and gold uniform, with her flight goggles perched atop her head. She was panting a little - from the exertions of flying, Pinkie guessed - but a huge grin remained firmly on her face.

    It took Pinkie a few seconds to be able to squeak out, in a soft, surprised voice, "D-Dashie?"

    "Heya, Pinks." The pegasus' smile wavered, just a bit. She shifted her weight, and her uniform pulled tight across her chest in a way that sent Pinkie's heart racing even faster than it already was. "Um. Yeah. Hope it's okay that I came to visit without lettin' ya know I was gonna be-"

    Pinkie let out a whoop and leapt forward, tackling Rainbow to the floor of the bakery. She buried her face into Dash's mane and breathed in the achingly familiar scent of rain and sky. Dash let out a laugh, and a moment later, Pinkie felt a foreleg wrap around her shoulders.

    When the earth pony pulled back, she wore a smile that stretched from ear to ear. "Rainbow Dash! You're you! You're real! I mean, you're really here!"

    "Heh, yeah, 'course I'm real. Who else would have this awesome, flowing mane?"

    "But …" Suddenly Pinkie frowned. "But I thought you were supposed to be in Fillydelphia, doing a show with the Wonderbolts?"

    Rainbow Dash hesitated before replying, "Uh, yeah, I was. And I did do the show." She reached up and ran a hoof through her multi-colored mane, brushing the hair from her eyes. "But then after the show, I was thinkin' about you - I mean, about all of you, about Ponyville, y'know? - and I saw this rainbow …"

    "A rainbow?" Pinkie leaned back and sat on her haunches. "You saw a rainbow and … and you thought about me?"

    Dash's eyes darted to the side. "Kinda. Yeah. Truth is, I've been thinking about you a lot, Pinkie, since I left. Since … since we broke up."

    Pinkie sat quietly as Rainbow picked herself off the ground and brushed off her uniform. Still the earth pony's heart hammered in her chest, a wild polka beat that made her want to sing and dance, and it was too much. Too intense. It had been three months since she'd set eyes upon that wonderful, mischievous grin that promised adventure or upon those beautiful magenta eyes that sparkled with zest and joy, and it was entirely too much.

    Pinkie Pie grabbed Rainbow Dash's face between her forehooves and kissed her. She kissed Rainbow Dash as hard and as long as she could, desperately drinking in the taste and smell and feel of the pegasus, savoring each bit of Dash as she might savor her very last meal on Earth. Finally, reluctantly, Pinkie broke the kiss - and only then did so in order to gulp down a few lungfuls of badly-needed air.

    Once she'd caught her breath a bit, she blurted out, "I don't wanna be just-friends, Dashie."

    Rainbow nodded. "I … I don't wanna be just-friends either." She leaned forward and rested her head against Pinkie's own. "But what about all that stuff you said? About how we'd both forget how to smile and everything if one of us moved or if we tried to do the whole long-distance thing?"

    Pinkie thought that over. It was a valid question, she had to admit. But what she finally said in reply was, "I don't care." She gave the other pony's cheek a nuzzle. "I need you, Rainbow Dash. I love you, and I need you, and I wanna be with you."

    "Oh, Pinkie Pie …" Rainbow kissed her, quickly and fiercely, and the kiss was only slightly less desperate than their first. "So, what now? What do we do?"

    Pinkie grinned. "That depends. How fast can you fly us to Las Pegasus?"

    "To Las Pegasus? Why would we go to-" Dash's jaw dropped open, and her eyes went wide. After a second or two of speechlessness, she managed to sputter, "Are you … are you asking what I think you're asking?"

    Pinkie Pie nodded.

    The last three months had been harder than she'd ever imagined they would, or could, be … and she'd imagined they'd be pretty hard. The girls had done what they could to cheer her up, and she was even happy, actually and honestly happy, a lot of the time. But every night that empty ache would take over her chest, and every night she'd dream about a beautiful rainbow mane that framed lovely, flashing eyes. And now that those eyes were back, right in front of her - now that she could see and hear and hold her beloved pegasus - Pinkie knew that she never wanted to let go again.

    And she wouldn't. Not until and not unless Rainbow Dash made her.

    Slowly, almost as slowly as the sun rising in the morning, the pegasus smiled back at her. "Well, if that's what you're asking …" She paused and gave a wink. "I bet I can get us there in about ten seconds flat."

    It turned out to take them a bit longer than ten seconds to fly all the way out to Las Pegasus, but Pinkie couldn't deny that Rainbow flew faster than seemed within the boundaries of either physics or physiology. But then, again, her Dashie always did perform best when she had the proper motivation.


    Author's Notes: This was adapted from a piece I wrote for a Thirty Minute Ponies writing prompt, "Pinkie Pie's peculiar proposal."

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