Finding Your Rhythm

by Donny's Boy

Chapter 1: Finding Your Rhythm

"Finding Your Rhythm"

by Donny's Boy

Synopsis: At this year's Grand Galloping Gala, Twilight Sparkle finds out just what a terrible dancer she truly is. Fortunately, there to comfort her is the one pony who is possibly an even worse dancer than Twilight.

"Got no feel, I got no rhythm,
I just keep losing my beat …
Can anybody find me

Somebody to love?"
-Queen, "Somebody to Love"

Twilight Sparkle sat alone at a table, dejectedly sipping punch and pondering over her many failures as a pony, as a student, as a friend, and as a dancer. Especially her failures as a dancer.

All around her, the Grand Galloping Gala merrily continued on, with ponies mingling and laughing, eating and dancing. Twilight lifted her cup to her lips using her magic and downed half the remaining punch in one long swallow. As she ran her eyes over the crowds that milled around the huge, stately, and lavishly decorated palace ballroom, she caught sight of each of her friends.

There was Applejack standing with Fluttershy over by the desserts table, chatting and nibbling on various apple pastries. There was Rainbow Dash out on the dance floor, swooping over the heads of all the unicorns and earth ponies, twirling through the air in perfect time to the music, as athletic and graceful as ever. And over near the stage, where the Canterlot court musicians played something tasteful and refined, Rarity held a small gathering of ponies in her thrall, beaming at them with a wry smile and a quirked eyebrow.

In fact, the only one of her friends that she couldn't see at the moment was -

"Hiya, Twilight!"

She gave a small jump, even though, really, she should have been used to this by now. Turning around, she saw Pinkie Pie there, standing entirely too close and bouncing with barely-suppressed energy.

"Hi, Pinkie." Twilight tried to infuse her voice with an enthusiasm she didn't feel.

"Isn't this party so much better than last year's Gala?" Pinkie sighed rapturously. "I've eaten four slices of cake and drank a gazillion glasses of punch, and I even got Fluttershy to dance with me for a little bit and, I mean, c'mon, Fluttershy! Right?"

Twilight nodded as politely as she could. "That's great. I'm glad you're having such a good time."

"I am! It's been the most super and terrific - " Abruptly the pink pony cut herself off. She stared at Twilight with a keen, piercing gaze, which the unicorn found more than a little intimidating. "You're not having any fun. Are you?"

But it wasn't really a question. Truth be told, it was much more of an accusation.

"How'd you know?" Twilight asked. She couldn't entirely hide the note of surprise in her voice. "Was it your Pinkie sense?"

Pinkie shook her head. "Oh, no, no. This was party sense. Totally different kind of sense."

"Oh," said Twilight, frowning in confusion.

"But that's a conversation for another time, Twi! Right now, the question is … why aren't you having any fun?"

Twilight looked away. She stifled a sigh as she watched all of the bright, sparkling ponies out on the dance floor, moving in perfect harmony. "It's … it's nothing important."

And it wasn't, really. She was just being selfish and indulging a bad mood, acting like a mopey little filly. She was wallowing in self-pity when she should have been taking pleasure in how much fun all of her friends were having at the Gala. Sometimes, Sparkle, she thought glumly, you really are the worst friend ever.

So lost in all these thoughts was Twilight that she didn't notice that Pinkie had stepped up beside her until she felt the brush of Pinkie's mane against her neck. She gasped in surprise as the other pony gently nuzzled her.

"Of course it's important," said Pinkie, after taking a step back. "If you're upset about something, how could it not be important? That's just silly, Twilight."

Twilight felt a sudden burst of warm affection for her friend. Sometimes she forgot, amidst all of Pinkie's randomness and hyperactivity and utter inability to follow even the simplest of instructions, that Pinkie could sometimes say the exact right thing at the exact right time. Not all the time, maybe not even most of the time, but pretty often. Often enough, anyways.

As a slight smile crept across her face, the unicorn found herself confessing, "I was dancing earlier tonight. And, um, I guess I was kind of getting in the other dancers' way a little bit …"

Pinkie tilted her head, indicating she was listening.

"So, uh, anyway. Some of the ponies said I should probably leave the dance floor. Because I wasn't dancing very well … and, apparently, I was a hazard to other ponies as well as to myself." She shrugged, feeling ridiculous at having gotten so upset over what was, after all, nothing very serious. "But as I said, it's not that big a deal."

For a moment, just a brief moment, a dark anger flashed in Pinkie's eyes. The very intensity of it nearly took Twilight's breath away. But then the anger was suddenly gone again, and a broad grin broke over Pinkie's face, as bright and blinding as a sunrise.

"Aww, don't you listen to those negative Nellies," the pink pony urged, with a giggle that ended in an amused snort. "I think you dance just great!"

"Oh, really?" Twilight raised one eloquent, skeptical eyebrow.

"Absolutely!" And then suddenly Pinkie was right behind her, nudging Twilight's rump with the top of her head as she steered the unicorn towards the dance floor. "C'mon,Twi! Let's go get our groove on!"

Twilight briefly considered resisting, but she knew doing so would ultimately prove pointless. It was easier to just give in. Pinkie Pie always won in the end, anyways. Besides, sometimes it could even be fun to surrender to whatever Pinkie's madness of the day was - though that was something Twilight dared never confess. Best not to encourage Pinkie, after all, as Pinkie never needed encouragement anyways. Best to just keep mum.

So she chose to simply trot along obediently as Pinkie led them out onto the parquet flooring. Feeling even more awkward than she usually did, Twilight mostly just shuffled in place as Pinkie Pie began leaping around like a rabid squirrel who'd just gone on a three day sugar binge. All of the finely attired ponies in the general vicinity glared at the pink menace, but the earth pony danced on blissfully unaware.

Wincing, Twilight immediately felt tempted to slink back off the dance floor.

But Pinkie was looking directly at her and smiling ever so encouragingly, and it seemed rather rude to just disappear when Pinkie was trying this hard to cheer her up. So Twilight stayed, and Twilight danced, despite the fact that she could feel dozens of pairs of angry eyes boring into them.

She tried to ignore all those glares, however, and focused on Pinkie instead. She was wearing yet another Rarity original - as were the rest of them, in varying styles and hues - and this year's dress was another frilly, ruffled monstrosity of fabric. But unlike last year's very pink creation, the current dress had been crafted using a lovely azure satin that made Pinkie's eyes look somehow even bluer than they usually appeared. Twilight had been surprised that the dress wasn't pink, at the time of the big Gala dress unveiling, but Rarity had just smiled one of her secret little smiles and said that a completely new Gala called for a completely new dress.

But even Rarity's stunning design sense and seamstress skills couldn't take Twilight's mind off the uncomfortable, disdainful atmosphere that now permeated the dance floor. She'd tried, but she just couldn't take it anymore. "Uh, Pinkie," she said, leaning forward to whisper in her friend's ear. "Don't you think we should, er, go do something else?"

"How come?" Pinkie tilted her head, eyes full of genuine curiosity. "Aren't you having a good time dancing?"

"It's not that I'm … well, actually, I'm kinda not really having … but that's beside the point! Pinkie, can't you see that we're annoying all these other ponies?"

Pinkie took a step back, as if taken by surprise at the very thought of such a possibility, and glanced around. "Huh. Well, I guess they do look a teensy tiny bit annoyed," Pinkie admitted, with a thoughtful expression on her face. Then she shrugged. "So?"

Try as hard as it might, Twilight's brain could not process what Pinkie Pie had just said. Does not compute, said her brain. Non-concern with social propriety is illogical. 404 error. Try reloading later.

"You okay, Twilight?"

The unicorn stared at her friend and blinked slowly.

"Um, 'cause you kinda don't look okay. You kinda look like you did that time when you burst into flames, actually, and you were - ooh, is that gonna happen again? Are you gonna burst into flames?"

Twilight could feel her mouth open and close, but no words seemed to come out. It was very strange. She wasn't sure what to do about that.

"If you're gonna burst into flames, Twilight, you probably shouldn't do it out on the dance floor. There's too many ponies around, and they might catch on fire." And with that, Pinkie grabbed one of Twilight's forehooves between her own and began dragging the stunned unicorn away.

Before long, Twilight found herself outside the palace in the royal gardens, enveloped by dark green foliage and a pleasantly chilly night air. She glanced around and took it all in as best as she was able. They stood next to a small stone fountain that was softly babbling away and, although the immediate vicinity held nothing but neatly-trimmed grass and tidy stone walkways, not too far away towered tall and regal trees.

After a few long moments, during which she managed to return her breathing to something resembling normal, Twilight turned to face her companion. Pinkie Pie was waiting with surprising patience and wearing yet another one of her ever-ready smiles.

In a tone that was rather harsher than she intended, Twilight barked out, "How can you just not care what other ponies think about you?"

Pinkie shrugged. "I dunno! I guess I just like dancing too much to worry about all that stuff." She reached out with a forehoof and lightly poked Twilight in the chest. "How come you do care?"

Utterly flabbergasted by the sudden turning of tables, Twilight stammered for a bit. "Well, because … because I … because …"

The truth was, she didn't know. She didn't know, and she was shocked to discover that she didn't know. She knit her brows and tried to remember just why she'd been so upset, why she'd cared so deeply about all of those glares. But out here in the gardens, surrounded by the quiet trilling of countless birds and the gently whispering breeze, all of that seemed strangely distant and unreal. Almost as though they were memories from years ago, not minutes ago.

"I still don't understand," the unicorn finally muttered. She frowned. "I mean, you cared when you thought I was accusing you of being irresponsible. Back when you were foal-sitting for the Cakes, remember? So why did you care about what I thought but not about what those ponies in the ballroom think?"

"Oh, that's an easy one!" explained Pinkie with an eye roll and a grin. "That's because those ponies aren't important, but you are."

And there it was again. That explosion of warmth in her chest, that flush in her face, all from Pinkie's uncanny ability to find the perfect thing to say to her. It filled her up, from hooves to horn, with a giddy sort of happiness. She felt so happy, and it felt incredibly good to feel this happy after how awful she'd felt earlier - and it was all too much. It was too much emotion, and she didn't know what to do with it all.

Twilight looked away and trained her eyes on a pair of bushes that sat nestled underneath the trees some distance away. Idly she speculated as to the species of large, white flowers that bloomed among the bushes' leaves, just to give herself something solid and tangible to think about.

She could hear Pinkie's breathing, soft and steady, coming from nearby. She could also hear the music from the palace's grand ballroom as it trickled out to the gardens, muted but still audible. The musicians had switched from an upbeat selection to something slower, something mellower, but still cheerful.

"You wanna dance again?"

Twilight glanced up abruptly. Pinkie Pie had her head cocked to the side again, eyes wide and expectant, and the earth pony had never looked more like a giant pink bird than she did in this exact moment.

"Dance?" Twilight repeated, feeling befuddled and sounding stupid even to her own ears.

"Uh-huh!" Pinkie nodded. "I mean, out here, all those meanie ponies can't glare at us, and we won't get in their way, right?"

Twilight blinked. "B-but … but …"

With a casual shrug, Pinkie replied, "If you don't wanna dance anymore, that's okay, too! We can always go back inside and-"

"No." It couldn't hurt to dance a bit more, after all. It was too nice of a night outside to go back in, just yet, anyways. At least, that was what Twilight told herself. "No, I want to … c'mon, Pinkie, let's dance."

Pinkie's smile never wavered. For some reason Twilight found that unnerving-that Pinkie wasn't unnerved. Of course, Pinkie never seemed to get unnerved, no matter the situation. Twilight found that unnerving, too.

Nervously she swallowed.

The pink mare took the unicorn's front hooves in her own, and with her heart hammering in her chest, Twilight took a step towards her friend. Pinkie's cheek brushed lightly against her own, as the pink mare began leading them in slow, lazy circles around the grassy clearing in which they stood. Twilight tripped over her own feet quite a few times and, after each time, she grew a bit more flustered and stumbled that much harder

After the fourth or fifth stumble, Pinkie leaned in close and whispered, "You gotta relax, silly filly. We're only dancing, and dancing's supposed to be fun!"

But Twilight couldn't relax. Twilight couldn't relax, because Twilight couldn't stop thinking about the way all those ponies in the ballroom had been staring at her, couldn't stop feeling the heat and disgust that had burned in their eyes. Nor could she stop that old, familiar sick feeling from beginning to churn in her stomach. It was the same feeling she'd gotten the day she'd enchanted a raggedy old doll and disappointed Princess Celestia so terribly. The same feeling she'd gotten too many times, for too many reasons.

She hated that feeling. She hated it more than almost anything.

"Just close your eyes, Twilight. Close your eyes and listen to the music, okay?"

"Okay," whispered Twilight, feeling suddenly and strangely fragile. But she closed her eyes, as Pinkie told her, and tried to focus on the music. The piece being played by the musicians inside sounded vaguely familiar, but Twilight didn't know its name. Her studies had always focused on more practical matters - magic, astronomy, alchemy - and she'd never spent much time studying the arts except for the bare minimum her early schooling had required.

"It's pretty." Twilight's voice was quiet, low, almost dreamy. She decided that she liked the glimmering little melody that the violinist was playing, in particular. "The music, I mean. The music's pretty."

"Mmm-hmm," murmured Pinkie in reply. Twilight could feel the other pony nod. "It's kinda like drinking sarsaparilla. You know, when all those little bubbles tickle the back of your throat?"

Twilight smiled but kept her eyes closed. "Yeah. Kinda like that."

She didn't even notice that she'd stopped tripping over her own hooves.

The two of them still weren't dancing well, of course, but … it felt nice. It felt better than nice, really, to have somepony hold her so close and so carefully, to feel warm, soft fur against her face. To smell that vague scent of strawberries that always lingered in Pinkie's mane. If Twilight had been thinking more clearly right then, it might have worried her that she even knew what Pinkie's mane smelled of - but she wasn't, and it didn't.

Twilight just felt nice and relaxed and bubbly. Kind of like sarsaparilla, actually.

At last the song came to an end, and Pinkie Pie pulled away. The moonlight from above reflected in the earth pony's eyes, causing them to sparkle even more brightly than they usually did.

"See?" said the earth pony, grinning triumphantly. "I told you that you're a great - "

It was then that Twilight kissed her.

Kissing Pinkie was a startlingly easy thing to do. Twilight just leaned forward and pressed her lips to the other mare's, and just like that, they were kissing. At first, there was only pure, raw sensation-the unexpected softness of Pinkie's lips, the almost sickly sweet taste of the Gala's punch, the sound of Pinkie gasping in surprise. Then Twilight's brain finally caught up to the rest of her and began screaming, What in Equestria do you think you're doing? Abort! Abort, abort, abort!

Immediately Twilight stumbled backwards, breaking the kiss. She stared at her friend with a rapidly growing sense of horror and disbelief as her stomach returned to its previous churning. Meanwhile, for once in her entire life, Pinkie Pie was absolutely speechless. Her mouth opened and closed rapidly, like the mouth of a fish ripped out of water, but she didn't say a word.

"I'm sorry!" Twilight managed to gasp out. "Oh, Pinkie, I'm so sorry!"

Pinkie blinked her huge blue eyes, as though coming out of a trance. She slowly licked her lips while wearing an indecipherable expression on her face.

Run! shouted Twilight's brain, all klaxons blaring. Run, you fool! Save yourself!

And so she did.

Turning smartly on her heels, she dashed back into the palace, past the guards, past the ballroom, past all the dancers, past the inquiring eyes of all her friends, past everything and everyone. Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight could see Applejack take a few steps towards her before being stopped by Fluttershy, but Twilight kept on running. She didn't stop until she'd reached the relative safety of the palace's library, a room composed of dark rich woods and towering shelves filled with heavy, dusty books.

It had always been her favorite room in the palace. Just the smell of all those wonderful old books helped to calm her, if only a little.

Twilight Sparkle hid between the biographies section and the section on medieval histories, hunkering down between the large shelves and struggling to catch her breath. She curled up on herself, much as she would have done as a young foal, and tucked her chin tightly against her chest. She wished Spike was here or, at the least, her old friend Smartypants. It was a foolish thing to wish, of course, a very foolish and childish thing to wish - but she wished for both of them nonetheless.

"Hi, Twilight!"

Twilight flinched but had to admit she wasn't too terribly surprised to hear the sudden intrusion of that particular high-pitched, buoyant voice. Sighing, the unicorn kept her eyes firmly fixed on the library's floor. "Oh, um, hi there, Pinkie Pie. How … how did you find me?"

"Uh, duh? You're in a library. Where else would you go?"

"Right." Twilight simply nodded. "Right. Well, that makes sense, I guess."

There was a brief pause before Pinkie asked, in a very matter-of-fact tone, "Can I kiss you?"

At that, Twilight's head jerked up. "W-what?" she spluttered, staring into Pinkie's open blue eyes. Her friend sat just a few inches away.

"Can I kiss you?" the pink pony helpfully repeated. "I was kinda surprised the first time, so I didn't really get a chance to kiss you back."

Slowly but surely, realization dawned on Twilight Sparkle. It was quickly followed by incredulity. "You mean … you mean, you want to kiss me."

Pinkie nodded, smiling brightly. Twilight could only stare. In many ways this entire night had been utterly surreal, but this moment just might take the cake. The unicorn sat there and tried to formulate a good response, a nice, calm response, a smart response. The first kiss had been an accident, after all, an accident and a mistake, and she needed to find a tactful way of saying so.

"Yes," is what she finally said, however, in a soft and wondering whisper. "Yes, you can kiss me."

Still smiling, Pinkie leaned forward and brushed her lips against the unicorn's. Twilight allowed her eyes to shut, trying to ignore the almost painful thudding of her heart in her chest, and leaned into the kiss. It was far more tender than she'd have ever thought a Pinkie Pie kiss would be, had she ever taken the time before tonight to think of what it might be like to kiss the party planner. To be honest, she wasn't at all sure what to do. She mostly just inhaled Pinkie's sweet-tasting breath and savored the feel of Pinkie's soft mouth, until the thought floated through her bewildered mind that she should probably be taking more active participation in things.

She tried to remember what she'd read in that one book she'd smuggled out of the Canterlot library all those years ago, On the Art and Science of Kissing, but it was hard to think. Hard to breathe. Pinkie's kiss had deepened, becoming just a bit harder, just a bit more insistent, and Twilight panicked. She snorted and began choking on air -on her lack of air? - and she quickly pulled away and fell into a loud coughing fit.

"Sorry," she mumbled once all the coughing and hacking had subsided. Her cheeks blazed with mortification. "Sorry."

"It's no biggie," replied Pinkie, her voice soft, low, a tad teasing. "Just means ya gotta try, try again."

Twilight felt a tiny but unmistakable smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Practice makes perfect, eh?"

"Exactamundo, Twilight!"

The pink earth pony sat there, completely unruffled, utterly at ease. And, apparently, all too willing to attempt another kiss with Twilight Sparkle despite Twilight's repeated attempts to ruin just about everything ever.

"Pinkie, you're absolutely amazing," the unicorn blurted out, catching herself off guard even as she said the words. But they were true, these words, absolutely and deliriously true, and Twilight didn't take them back. Wouldn't take them back.

What Twilight said seemed to catch Pinkie Pie off guard, as well. The earth pony lapsed into a brief silence, blinking rapidly, before her grin returned, twice as large as it originally had been. "Oh, Twilight. You're a super-duper awesome pony, too!"

And then, before Twilight could even realize what was happening, Pinkie swooped back in, and they shared their third kiss of the evening. This time, though, Twilight didn't snort or choke or anything.

Later, much later, Pinkie would tell everypony that this was the night that she'd gotten the absolute best, most unexpected surprise that she'd ever gotten in her life - which was no small thing to claim, given that she was a pony whose life involved a great many surprises. But when asked for her version of events, Twilight Sparkle would simply smile in her quiet, thoughtful sort of way and explain that this was the night she learned how to dance.

Author's Notes: This now marks TWO full-length TwiPie stories I've written compared to ONE full-length RainbowPie story I've written. Granted, both TwiPie stories are one-shots, and the RainbowPie story is a multi-chapter fic, but STILL.

This is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs. Must go write more RainbowPie tout de suite.

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