“A date, ya say?” Applejack's southern slur ended with her putting the edge of her hoof to her bottom lip. She pondered for a moment before Twilight interrupted her.
“Yes, a date. It seems like the princess wants to enlarge our friendship experience by integrating other ponies.” She sat her flank onto the ground and looked at her orange friend. “I just don't understand why. I mean, last time, just the six of us destroyed the gala. Why would she want us to bring other friends?”
“I don't think a friend is quite what the princess meant, sugarcube.”
“What do you mean?” The lavender pony stood on all four again and rose an eyebrow.
“Uh, ya see here on this note?” Applejack took the scroll in her mouth and set it on the ground where she pointed to some lines in it with her hoof. “Princess Celestia makes note of yur brother's wedding right here and says 'it would only be appropriate.' I think she wants us to take our very special someponies, if'n ya know what I mean.”
“Very... special...?” Twilight's face turned beat red in an instant. “You don't mean, you know, boyfriends, do you?”
Applejack bellowed a modest laugh and tapped Twilight on the leg with hers. “Yes, Twi, that's exactly what I think she means.” Twilight withdrew into a frenzy of embarrassed noises. Pulling herself to the ground, she covered her eyes with her hooves.
“I don't understand!” She moaned quietly. Uncovering her eyes to look at her friend, she continued, “I'm still learning the importance of friendship! The thought of moving any of my friendships further than that is absurd!”
“I hate to admit it, sugarcube, but I think I actually like the idea.” Applejack pulled her hoof up and chuckled with her knee by her face, her cheeks pinched a slight hew of pink, only to disappear as fast as Applejack realized it was there. “I-I think it would be a nice addition to some of our lives. I mean, if yur not up to the huge step right now, I don't think it could hurt looking for a good stallion to get to know better as a friend, either.”
“Maybe you're right.” Twilight answered, not sounding sure herself. She stood up tall again and pouted. “This is just all so strange. I never really thought about it. I didn't feel like I need anypony besides you guys and my books. But who would I ask...?”
“Aw, shoot, ya don't have to worry about it right now. Just go about your daily life. If anypony sticks out to ya, maybe they're worth gettin to know!”
“I-I suppose that sounds pretty logical.” With Twilight's ears low on her scalp, she shuffled backwards. Using her magic, she passed two tickets over to Applejack.
“Thank ya kindly.” The apple-marked earth pony stated as she took hold of the tickets. “I think I'm gonna go put these somewhere safe. Ya'll should probably go tell the others.” Nodding in agreement, Twilight slowly turned to leave the scene. As she trotted along the dirt path, she discreetly hid the tickets into a saddle bag so as to prevent other ponies from taking notice.
First stop, Sugar Cube Corner, Twilight thought silently. As she approached the front door of the sugary shack, the prominent sound of babies screaming drifted out to the open air. A light chuckle escaped Twilight's lips as she swung the front doors open. Much to her surprise, the cakes were not present in the front room, only Pinkie Pie. However, the crying and screaming was still outstanding, apparently coming from a room in the back. Smiling, Twilight approached her pink friend.
“Oh hi Twilight!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed in her ever-cheerful tone. She hopped off the chair and did a rabbit bounce over to the unicorn. “Whatcha doin over here?” As she spoke, Pinkie Pie cocked her head dramatically.
“Hello Pinkie.” Twilight's lips bent into an awkward smile as she leaned her head back away from her eccentric friend. “I was just hoping that I could talk with you.”
“Talk? Talk about what? About cupcakes? How about pillows? Or milkshakes? Oh I love milkshakes! I love all kinds of ice cream. Like chocolate, strawberry, cake batter, ohhh cake batter is my favorites! Ittasteslikethereisabunchofsweetsugarygoodnessthrowingasugaryparty – ”
As the pink earth pony went off on a tangent, Twilight noticed that sometime while Pinkie was talking, the babies has calmed significantly. She couldn't bask in the silence as long as her friend kept talking, so she took a seat, glancing from side to side, her mind fluttering about thoughts of this new request of her princess.
Though it is true that there were many stallions in Ponyville that Twilight knew, none of them seemed especially close to her, as a matter of fact, she didn't talk to any of them very often. The names of many unspecific colts that she knew of filled her mind; of course, she was not surprised to find that none of the names drew particular interest. Why, none of them would even take any notice of her if she tried to grab it, she thought.
She lifted a front hoof and looked down at it. Her tone of fur; was it attractive enough? Taking the tip of her hoof, she brushed over her mane. Was the feel of it silky? Do colts even prefer silky manes? The best colt she ever knew just got married, and of all the fillies he knew, he picked Cadance! She's a princess! Using a wave of magic, she combed through her mane swiftly. Her colors were all so boring when she remembered the waterfall of harmonic colors that her old foalsitter bore, would any colt even be interested in her?
A brush of cold loneliness ran through her. She looked over at her pink friend, her mouth a raging storm but her words gelatin, and examined her closely. Her figure, her mane, her tail, everything about her appeared to be much fresher than Twilight's. Pinkie was so lively and fun to be around, but Twilight's only perks were her library and her smarts. Nopony would be impressed with that.
“ – And then I thought, why not? After all, all trees taste the same! Don't you think?”
Pinkie Pie hopped in place before stepping forward, pushing her face closer to Twilight. “Helloooooooo? Twilight?”
“Agh!” Twilight yelped as she realized this pink reality. “Wha – ”
“Anyway! Whatcha here for again?”
“Oh, right, well I have come here to discuss something that the Princess asked of me...” Her voice trailed off as she used her magic to pull two tickets out of her saddle bag, lifting them up to Pinkie. “It's about these.”
“Oh, that silly-willy princess Celestia! I thought she would have assumed that we all wanted to go again this year! It's all okay though! 'Cuz you can just ask her for more tickets, right?” Pinkie Pie blurted out in one breath, hopping in place again. “So that means the grand galloping gala is coming up soon? I almost forgot! But I didn't! I knew it was coming up so I've been practicing my fancy dancing! Want to see?”
With a shake of her head, Twilight responded, “no, Pinkie. These tickets are actually both for you.”
“Both for me? That doesn't make sense because I'm only one pony! Did the princess forget? That's really funny, you know, this one time I forgot that Fluttershy wasn't a tree again. Ever since that trip it just keeps switching back and forth in my head! I thought she was a – ” A lavender hoof covered the blabbering lips until Pinkie made eye contact with Twilight.
“Princess Celestia actually has requested that you bring a date. And not just any date, either, a stallion date.” Once again, Twilight's tender cheeks turned red. The thought of the event still brought an uncomfortable sensation to her chest and she withdrew her eyes.
Twilight readied herself for another long line of speech. One second, two seconds, three, and there was still no words. The unicorn went to return her gaze, to find a very puzzled Pinkie looking at her, holding the tickets in her hooves. Her lower lip was shoved to the side, her brow bent upwards in a confused and thoughtful twist. Surprised by the subtle reaction, Twilight smiled nervously. “Er, yeah, a date. Like a-a,” Twilight paused, swallowing a wad of saliva, “b-boyfriend.”
“That's funny,” Pinkie mused, “why would she ask about that?” Setting the tickets on the nearby table, the pink earth pony drifted into silence for a moment.
“Pinkie, are you alright?”
“Oh me? Yeah, of coursey worsey, I'm okie dokie lokie!” Pinkie suddenly broke into a smile. “I just don't know who to invite! I wonder who to pick! Ooooh there are so many choices! I wonder who else in Ponyville would like to go with me to the biggest party in all of Equestria! I've never had a boyfriend before! I bet they're so fun!” The Earth pony pulled herself into another set of excited hops, holding the tickets in her teeth. She suddenly stopped, opening her mouth as if she were in shock, letting the tickets fall to the ground. “Ohh! I gotta go Twilight! I just had a brilliant idea!”
Before Twilight could respond, Pinkie was gone in a flash, the front doors of the shop flapping back and forth. For a moment, there was silence. Twilight bathed in it, breathing it into her lungs and releasing it as a sigh. As she stood, she made sure her saddle bag was sealed and trotted out of the building, silently wishing she didn't have to go all around town.
As night poured over the sky, Twilight pushed open the doors of the library. The day that she left behind her was uneventful aside from telling Pinkie and Applejack. Upon arriving at Carousel Boutique, Sweetie Belle was eager to inform that Rarity was away on business and that she and her friends could play there as much as she wanted. Hunting down Rainbow Dash proved impossible to trace, and the idea of breaking news to Fluttershy never crossed Twilight's mind until it was too late.
A single shudder drifted down Twilight's neck arch as the thought of uttering the word “date” to the shy pegasus made her nervous. Informing Fluttershy will take delicacy, and certainly some thought.
Suddenly, she heard Spike's feet run against the floor with the sound of pitter-pattering little claws.
“Twi! You're home!”
The small purple and green figure welcomed Twilight with a smile as he approached. His little sharp teeth grinning wide, he rolled back and forth on his back legs like the child he was.
“Ugh, what a day.” The unicorn moaned as her hooves clobbered the sturdy floor underneath her. “Spike, can you fetch me The Magical Inquirer's Guide to Magical Inquiries? I am completely spent and I want to reread Chapter 42 again.”
“Of course.” Spike answered, hurrying off to whichever shelf the book was being stored in. In the meanwhile, Twilight made her way up the steps. Her room was atop the stairs, where she readied the sheets in preparation for sleep. She glanced out the window cautiously, watching as the moon rose higher and higher into the sky, slowly, as if it weren't moving at all. Heaving a brooding sigh, she considered the Princess' request again.
Of course the Princess insisted that she did not have to bring a date if she didn't feel comfortable, but obviously it is something Princess Celestia is wishing from her and Twilight certainly didn't want to let her noble teacher down. It's such a simple request. Ask, go, and then the two never really have to talk again!
That was it! She would simply ask a stallion to attend with her in a non-intimate way. After all, most ponies would love to get a free ticket to the gala. That way she did not have to make any unwanted advances without letting anypony down.
“Here's the book you wanted!” Spike hollered as he lifted the book up and clumsily made it up the stairs.
“Thanks, Spike.” Twilight's magic made Spike's heavy lifting a lot easier as it hovered away from him. The small dragon scurried over to his comrade's side and smiled at her.
“What's got you so happy?” Twilight finally asked, looking at him with tired eyes.
“Oh nothing much, except...” Spike relaxed his body before pulling it taught, flexing what little muscles he had and raising an eyebrow. “I'M going to ask Rarity if I can be her date to the Gala!”
With a smug chuckle, Twilight began to flutter through the pages of the book, shaking her head in a slight enough way to go unnoticed. “Good luck with that, Spike.”
Knock, knock, knock.
As Twilight lifted her head, she looked towards the staircase. “Now who could that be at this time of night?” Sighing, she shut the book and set it delicately on her bed. After descending down the stairs, she slowly swung the door open.
“Agh!” Twilight bellowed again as she jumped back an inch or two. After catching her breath from the sudden outburst, she immediately noticed in the light of her room that it was in fact Pinkie Pie knocking. “P-Pinkie?”
“I've come here to invite you to my super-duper awesometacular party spectacular tomorrow!” Pinkie Pie explained while excitingly frolicking in place. “It's my All-stallions-welcome-dance-party-rendezvous-extravaganza~!”
“R-rendezvous?” Twilight asked, although a little hesitant to actually know the answer.
“Duuuuuuh!” As Pinkie's face drew closer, it also appeared to have turned so far to the side that it was almost upside down. “A RENDEZVOUS! For finding us all dates to the Gala of course! ButofcourseIdidn'tputthatitwasaboutthegalaintheinvitationsbecauseI – ”
“ – andafterlasttimeIreallylearnedmylessonbecauseyouknowIdon'twantyouto – ”
“ – theneveryponywouldblamemeandthenIwillfeelsadbecauseIruinedallofourchancesforasuperduperfun – ”
There was silence again, and Twilight for once did not desire for this silence to break. Pinkie stood with a goofy smile on her mug as the lavender pony sighed with annoyance.
“I get it, rendezvous. I'll be there.”
“Yay! I'm so amazingly excited! Everypony around town already said they'd make it 'cuz, you know, my parties are so fun!”
“Well, thanks for the invite anyways. I'll be there.”
The door shut. Finally. It was time for some peace and quiet.