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Rainbow Dash was napping.
She’d just spent her entire morning training, going over her aerial routines in preparation for her eventual audition for The Wonderbolts. It was going to happen any day now, and when it did, she wanted to be ready, no matter when it happened; but then she’d caught sight of a beautifully fluffy white cloud drifting idly along, and she hadn’t been able to resist. The next thing she knew she was sprawled across it, eyelids growing heavier and heavier until they finally fell shut.
She was dreaming about being a raincloud, for some reason (it was very damp), when she was suddenly jolted awake by a familiar voice screaming “RAINBOW DASH!”
Her eyes snapped open, and she sprung upright, ready to flee. It was purely habit. She knew now that it was impossible to escape when Pinkie wanted to find you; but although she and Pinkie were friends, she was so used to flying at the sight of her that her initial instinct was still to run.
But she was still half asleep, and as she rose she stumbled on a tuft of cloud and found herself plummeting to the ground with a crash.
Wincing, Rainbow Dash opened her eyes, only to find herself staring straight into Pinkie’s as the pink pony leered over her, awe-struck. “Wow, Dashie! You must be really super-duper amazing! I’ve never even seen a Pegasus fall off a cloud before!” She cried.
“Whatever. Don’t surprise me like that.” Rainbow grunted as she pulled herself up.
“Oh, but Dashie, I had to!” Pinkie cried, voice tinged with anxiety.
Only now did Rainbow Dash allow her gaze to fall on her pink friend, so that she could get a good look at her. She looked unusually nervous, a worried expression on her face as she trotted in place. “Something wrong, Pinks?”
“You bet something’s wrong! I just got the biggest, baddest, woozy of a doozy I’ve ever had!” She shouted. “It was like a jumbo-wumbo-mombo-combo! An ear-flap, knee-pinch, nose-itch, tail-twitch-“
And just like that, Rainbow Dash tuned her out. Applejack, Twilight, and pretty much everypony else in town were utterly convinced of the validity of the Pinkie Sense; but the truth was, Rainbow had never had much faith in it, and as soon as Pinkie started talking about her various twitches and pinches, her inner skeptic made her stop listening. Until something Pinkie said caught her attention.
“Wait, what?” she cried, jerking her head upright in alarm. “What did you just say?”
“I said, the world’s gonna end!” Pinkie shrieked, leaping into the air. “It’s all gonna be over, and we’re running out of time!”
“What do we do?” Rainbow shouted, grabbing Pinkie’s shoulders in alarm, wings spread in panic. “What’s gonna happen? How do we stop it?!”
Pinkie blinked. “I thought you didn’t believe in my Pinkie sense,” she asked, cocking her head in puzzlement and any traces of fear seemingly forgotten for a moment.
Rainbow dropped her. “I don’t, but if you think something bad’s going to happen, I’m not just gonna stand by and – ah!”
Suddenly Pinkie tackled Rainbow Dash, wrapping her hooves around her as the two of them fell to the ground in an awkward hug; and then she was sobbing loud, noisy tears into Rainbow’s middle. “Dashie!” she wailed. “We don’t have any time, we have to hurry!”
The Pegasus awkwardly rubbed Pinkie’s back in what she hoped was a comforting manner.
She’d never seen Pinkie cry before, except for when they’d defeated Nightmare Moon and Luna and Celestia had reunited. But those had been tears of joy, a typically extreme reaction for her, and Pinkie had immediately brightened at the thought of getting to throw a party for the two of them. Now, these tears seemed to be genuine distress.
“What do we do?” Rainbow asked again, this time trying to keep her voices soft, so as not to get Pinkie worked up again. “Should we call Twilight and everypony? Do we need the Elements of Harmony?”
“No.” Pinkie mumbled, voice muffled as she buried her face in Dash’s coat. “Wow, you’re really soft, Dashie. This feels nice.”
Rainbow Dash pushed her away.
Pinkie drew back, sniffling and rubbing her eyes before suddenly leaping to her hooves, a determined glint in her eyes and all traces of tears magically gone.
“No, Twilight can’t help up. It’s up to us, Dashie!”
“Up to us…how?”
“You’re going to help me…” and here she paused for dramatic effect. “Do everything in the world!”
There was a beat.
The two of them stared at each other.
“…what?” she finally asked.
“You’re going to help me…” and here she paused for dramatic effect. “Do everything in the –“
“I heard you the first time!” Dash snapped, shoving a hoof over Pinkie’s mouth to silence her. “I meant, what are you even talking about?”
Pinkie jerked her head away from Dash’s hoof, and began to anxiously trot in place again, dancing about in a jittery way. “We’re running out of time!” she babbled. “The world’s gonna end and everything’s gonna end with it and then we won’t be able to play with everypony anymore, so we have to do it all now before it happens, and I have a list, a list of everything we need to do before the world ends!” And out of nowhere she pulled out a scroll that she proceeded to unroll before her.
“Where did you get-“
“This is all the stuff we gotta do before the world ends! We don’t have much time, we need to get started right away! There’s a million things to do!”
Any mention of the Pinkie Sense tended to immediately discredit most of what Pinkie said in Rainbow Dash’s opinion. Similarly, the moment Rainbow Dash realized Pinkie was just being random again, she tended to stop taking it seriously. For a moment she’d been caught up in Pinkie’s frenzy, her unexpected outburst having seized her attention, but now that she was talking about “doing everything in the world,” Rainbow was finding this interest fading, even as Pinkie got visibly more excited.
“Pinkie, if you’re really worried that the world is ending, shouldn’t you tell Twilight, so that she can tell Princess Celestia?” she asked bluntly.
“I did! But she won’t listen to me, and Rarity just laughed and Applejack said she was too busy, and I couldn’t say anything to Fluttershy because she’d get too scared! So that just leaves you, but that’s okay because you’re reeeeeally brave and won’t get scared, and anyway I know you’ll help me because you’re my super extra bestest best friend ever!”
And then Pinkie Pie was looking up at her with enormous, pleading puppy-dog eyes, filled to the brim with tears she had seemingly summoned at will.
Rainbow Dash couldn’t say no to those eyes.
“…fine.” She sighed.
“YAY! Oh, thank you, Dashie!” Pinkie shrieked; and then she threw herself at Rainbow Dash again, tackling her to the ground in a fierce hug.
Rainbow Dash shrugged out of the hug, grimacing in pain at having been unceremoniously thrown to the ground for the third time in ten minutes. “So, this list of yours,” she began, rubbing her aching head. “What’s on it, anyway?”
“Number one!” All traces of concern were gone, and Pinkie was suddenly back to her normally bubbly self, even hopping in place as she read. “Bake the biggest cupcake ever!”
She shouldn’t have been surprised, really, that it was going to be that kind of list. Pinkie wasn’t the kind of pony to be especially poetic or philosophical about anything, so it was only natural that her things-to-do-before-the-end-of-the-world list would
having something about sugar in it.
“The biggest?” Rainbow Dash repeated. “How big are we talkin’ here?”
“The biggest ever.” Pinkie repeated firmly, with utter seriousness. “The size of Twilight’s tree house, if we need to. Maybe the size of Dragon’s Peak! It just needs to be big. Now let’s go, we need to get started if we're gonna have time to do it all!"
Sugarcube Corner was built to look like an enormous gingerbread house, and certainly smelled like one. The closer Rainbow Dash got, the stronger the fragrance of sugar and chocolate became, only making her hungrier.
Pinkie had led the way to the bakery first. Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Cake had no problem with her closing shop for the day so that they could bake uninterrupted; Rainbow Dash supposed that they’d just gotten used to Pinkie’s erratic behavior.
“These won’t just be boring normal cupcakes!” Pinkie announced to nopony. “This is the time for epic cupcakes! Big, ginormous, fantastical cupcakes! The biggest and bestest ever! We need flour! And sugar! More sugar! MORE SUGAR!”
“Pinkie Pie, calm down.”
“I CAN’T CALM DOWN!” she shrieked, again spontaneously leaping into the air, which Rainbow Dash was pretty sure defied the laws of physics. “We don’t have much time, either! You gotta go get flour and sugar and frosting and stuff!”
“Doesn’t the bakery already have that?” Rainbow asked, eyeing the door to the storeroom, which she knew was stocked with everything the Cakes used for making their treats. She found it hard to believe that Pinkie Pie had anything in mind for this cupcake that they wouldn’t already have stocked.
Then again, this was Pinkie Pie…
“Pinks,” she spoke up.
“And, and we need sprinkles, and – huh?”
“Cupcakes are usually pretty tiny, right? Like, cups. Cupcakes. So making the biggest cupcake ever won’t actually be that hard, since it won’t need to be that big. Can’t we just make it, like, ordinary cake size? There’s probably enough stuff already in the bakery to do that, right?”
Pinkie stared at her. There was a look of vague confusion reflected in her blue eyes, as if what Rainbow was saying was completely incomprehensible to her.
And then she beamed an enormous smile, and started to hop up and down in her typically giddy way.
“Yes!” she cried. “Yesyesyesyesyesyes, you’re so smart, Dashie! I knew you were the perfect pony to help me! That’ll be so much easier! Okay, we still need flour and sprinkles and sugar and stuff, but I bet the Cakes have everything, so let’s go look!”
“Right,” Rainbow Dash agreed, visibly relieved. The idea of baking a cupcake the size of Dragon’s Peak had worried her a little, especially since Pinkie might have actually tried to do it.
When they had finished, they were left with an enormous cupcake the size of Pinkie’s head. It was set on the counter in proud display, as if some sort of holy light ought to be emanating from it, and was slathered with swirling mounds of bright frosting and little sugary candy flowers and hearts for decoration. It made both Rainbow Dash’s mouth water and her stomach turn just to look at it.
“It’s the biggest cupcake ever.” Pinkie declared firmly, stomping her hoof on the floor for emphasis. “And now, we will eat it!”
Rainbow’s stomach lurched.
“Just kidding! We’ll save it for later. Now we have to do number two on the list!”
“Oh, right.” Rainbow Dash had almost forgotten about the list in the heat of the kitchen, but that was why she’d been baking at
all. Normally she hated anything that required extended effort that didn’t involve flying or practicing for The Wonderbolts; but Pinkie had been trying to get her to help her bake for a long, long time. To her surprise, it hadn’t been that bad.
“What’s next?” She asked quickly.
“Number two!” Pinkie announced, again pulling the scroll from nowhere. “Throw a party for all of Ponyville!”
“A party for Ponyville?” Rainbow Dash repeated. “Um, really? Haven’t you already thrown like a million of those?”
“We need one more.” Pinkie answered firmly. “If the world’s gonna end, then there’s a bunch of ponies that won’t get to enjoy my parties anymore, so we need to throw one for everypony before it happens to make up for it!”
“Isn’t that something you can do by yourself? I mean, you throw parties all the time, and I’m not really good at that kind of thing.” Rainbow Dash began to flap her wings, rising and preparing to leave and maybe let Pinkie find someone else to share her enthusiasm with.
“No!” Pinkie shouted, grabbing Rainbow’s tail and yanking her back down to the ground. “You have to help me! Besides, you’ve never helped me plan a party before! It’ll be fun, I promise!”
“Well, if you promise-“ Rainbow Dash said sarcastically, rolling her eyes; but Pinkie had already taken the solemn stance of the Pinkie Swear.
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye-“
“Let’s just go.” She interrupted.
It turned out that party planning was much more exhausting than it appeared at first glance, especially for an entire town, making Rainbow think that maybe Pinkie’s boundless energy was not just a quirk of hers, but a necessity for maintaining her cutie mark’s meaning. At the shopping list stage, Rainbow Dash had already doubted she could take much more.
This is too much work. How does she do it?
Before she really knew what hit her, they were at the market, Pinkie skipping around from stall to stall, with every intention of buying out everything on display if she needed to. “GET ME BALLOONS!” she bellowed. “ALL THE BALLOONS!”
“Ah awready god sub,” Rainbow Dash answered in a muffled voice, teeth clenched to keep the enormous bunch of helium balloons she carried in her mouth from escaping. She’d been half afraid that they’d just float away, taking her with them, when she’d remembered that she had wings; but so far she stayed with all four hooves flat on the ground.
“Good! Now we need streamers. ALL THE STREAMERS! And we need a cake, a big ginormous cake, big enough so that everypony can have a piece!”
“Shouldn’t we have done that first instead of making that dumb cupcake?!” Rainbow Dash snapped, forgetting for a moment the hundreds of strings she was holding in her mouth, and releasing them all at once.
All at once, hundreds of helium balloons floated away into the clear blue sky, scattering and fading and shrinking into tiny dots of colour in the distance. Everypony in the market, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash included, raised their heads to watch the spectacle in awe.
“Darn,” Rainbow muttered, and shot into the air. A crowd was slowly gathering on the ground, gaping at the Pegasus performing countless fantastic whirls and loops and spirals in the air, but she paid them no mind, too focused on collecting the balloons she’d carelessly lost.
When she descended, again holding an enormous bunch of balloons in her mouth, the crowd began to applaud, stomping their hooves on the cobblestones before dispersing.
“Dashie!” Pinkie cried, bounding to where she landed. “Dashie, that was amazing! You got them ALL, wow! You’re so cool!”
“Phankths.” Dash mumbled. “Ah god dem all, Ah fink. Wad now?”
“So while you were busy I decorated! And also I found a cake, a super duper big hugie one that should be big enough for everypony! So now all we need to do is turn on the music and get everypony dancing!”
Rainbow Dash didn’t want to dwell too much on thinking about how in Equestria Pinkie had managed to decorate the entire town already, or where in Equestria she could have “found” a cake that would be that big, so instead she just let it drop and followed Pinkie as she led her to the clearing where the party was going to be centered, still carrying the balloons. Sure enough, every tree was draped in streamers, and an enormous collapsible stage was erected in the middle, where a DJ with an electric-blue mane was bopping her head happily to the music thrumming through the speakers. A crowd, several times larger than the crowd that had gathered to watch Rainbow fetch the balloons, had already gather in anticipation of another one of Pinkie’s famous parties.
“Okay, let them go now!” Pinkie ordered.
“Wut?" Rainbow spat.
“I only wanted the balloons so that they could all float away and everypony could see them and think ‘wow, this is some party, huh?’ because I already have enough for decorating, see?” Pinkie explained, sweeping her hoof towards the festivities in an all-encompassing gesture.
No point in arguing. So Rainbow Dash opened her mouth and released all of the strings at once, and let the balloons drift away. Just like before, everypony stopped and raised their heads to gape at the sight of countless dots of color fading into the sky. Pinkie was beaming, looking happier than Dash had seen her in a long, long time – which was really saying something.
“Pinkie,” she asked hesitantly. “If you could do all this, in no time at all, then you didn’t really need help. So why did you make me come with you?”
“Because you’ve never helped me plan a party before, silly, and doing something fun with your friends doubles the fun!”
Rainbow Dash didn’t answer. Instead she looked at the sky, and at the disappearing color, and she found herself smiling. Ponies around her were beginning to dance, and the music was wrapping around her in a surprisingly comforting way.
What exactly had she been going to do today, anyway? Sleep? Train? Sleep some more? Sure, it was tiring to be with Pinkie, but this was definitely better than spending her day on a cloud somewhere, idling away her time.
“I’m glad you asked!” Pinkie cried, whipping the scroll out. “While everypony’s busy with the party, we’re gonna pull off the biggest prank anypony’s ever pulled! We’re gonna prank Equestria itself! We’re gonna prank…” she paused, taking a deep breath. “Princess Celestia herself.”
“Whoa,” Rainbow said, cutting her off with a hoof over her mouth. “Whoa, no, that’s going too far. We can’t prank the princess! Do you even know what she’ll do to us if we do? What if she banishes us to the moon? Or what if she banishes us to somewhere even worse than the moon, like, like just space? What if she banishes us to space, and we just float around for a thousand years?!”
“She won’t do that,” Pinkie piped up dismissively.“The princess likes jokes. Especially if they’re funny ones. And it doesn’t have to really be major prank, we’ll just do something itty-bitty and silly. The important thing is that it’s Princess Celestia that gets pranked, because that’ll be, like, the ultimate prank!”
“Well…” Rainbow asked hesitantly, suddenly nervous. She loved pranking, everypony knew that, but even she had limits; and pranking the deified princess of the sun might be a little too far. And she wasn’t especially fond of the idea of floating around in black nothingness for a thousand years, even if she had Pinkie for company.
Her mind instantly leapt to the mental image of her and Pinkie floating through space.
"I'm in space! So much space, gotta see it all! Spaaaaaaace!"
"I know you are, Pinks. Yep. We're both in space."
"Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace! Yee-haw! Ooh, there's a star! Another star! And another one!"
She shuddered. And for some reason she still found herself asking,“What do you have in mind?”
“There he is,” Pinkie whispered, peering over the window ledge.
“Why are we whispering?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“In case Twilight hears, duh. There’s no way she’s gonna let us prank her teacher, she hates pranks. We need to talk to him alone.” And then she bellowed at the top of her lungs, “HEY, SPIKE!” Rainbow Dash flinched.
The purple dragon looked up, startled, only to see Pinkie Pie frantically beckoning to him from her hiding place under the window. He crossed the library floor, and leaned out the window to see Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie huddled together in a conspiratorial way beneath the ledge.
“Spike, we need you to send a letter to Princess Celestia for us!” Pinkie hissed. “But you can’t let Twilight find out! Okay?”
“Why can’t Twilight know?” He asked suspiciously. “Are you two up to something?”
“Yes!” Pinkie stage-whispered, even trying to cup her mouth with her hooves. “But there’s something in it for you if you help us!”
“Like what?” Spike asked, crossing his arms and tapping one of his claws in a skeptical stance.
Wordlessly, Pinkie held out an enormous purple gem.
Both Rainbow Dash and Spike’s jaws dropped.
“Where did you-“ Rainbow began in a fierce whisper, at the same time as Spike’s mouth began to water and he reached for the jewel; but Pinkie pulled it just out of reach.
“You have to help us first!”
“Anything!” He cried. “Anything, I’ll do it, just tell me what to write!” And as if to prove his willingness to sell his soul for the sake of the tantalizing gem, he pulled out a blank scroll and quill, prepped to write, placing the quill to the page.
“Okay. Spike, take a letter.” Pinkie cleared her throat with a slight ‘ahem.’ “Dear Princess Celestia. Is your refrigerator running? If so, you’d better go catch it. Sincerely, the Mysterious Phantom Pinkster Prankster.” Spike stopped writing. He and Rainbow Dash both stared at Pinkie, but she just sat, wriggling about in obvious excitement.
“You got that?” Pinkie cried. “Okay, send it, send it!”
He frowned at her, giving her an odd look; but obediently rolled the letter and raised it to his mouth before blowing a puff of magical smoke to send it with. The scroll dissolved into nothingness, and he turned to her expectantly. Pinkie tossed him the gem, and then she bolted, giggling like a maniac.
Rainbow Dash and Spike exchanged a questioning look, before Spike shrugged and slammed the window shut, leaving Rainbow Dash with nothing to do but follow the pink blur.
“Was that really it?” Rainbow Dash asked as she caught up to Pinkie Pie, flying low beside her. “That was your doozy of a prank for Princess Celestia?”
“It sure was!” Pinkie said proudly. “And she’ll never know it was us! Ooh, that was so great!”
“Huh…okay, so, what else is on your list?”
Pinkie paused, and turned her head as if to rummage through a saddlebag for something. Only she wasn’t wearing any kind of saddlebag, leaving Rainbow Dash to wonder what exactly she was digging through. And then, she whipped out the list and read, “Number four; go flying!”
“Flying?” Rainbow Dash repeated. “How exactly do you wanna manage that? You don’t even have wings, Pinks!”
“Yeah, I know,” Pinkie said mournfully, gazing at her wingless-back with a sigh. “Too bad they went to Fluttershy. I would’ve liked to have been a Pegasus.”
“Nothing!” Pinkie sang, bouncing along the dirt road.
Rainbow Dash didn’t know where they were going anymore; she was just following Pinkie Pie as she went about her absurd, and yet strangely predictable, list. So when they reached the end of the road and found themselves overlooking a cliff, she was surprised.
“Pinkie, what is this?” She asked hesitantly, touching down and stepping beside her. “You’re not gonna do something stupid, are you?”
Pinkie Pie looked offended. “No, of course not, you goof! We’re gonna go flying!”
And Pinkie fell forward.
Rainbow Dash didn’t have time to think. She just reacted. Like a lightning bolt, she shot forward after the plummeting pink pony.
“What the hell?!” she screamed after catching her, moments before Pinkie would’ve hit the ground. “Why would you do that? That’s not funny, Pinkie, that went too far!”
But Pinkie didn’t look ashamed or frightened. Instead, she smiled up at Rainbow. “I knew you’d catch me.”
Rainbow Dash was carrying Pinkie like a child, cradled in her arms; and then Pinkie leaned into her, wrapping her hooves around Rainbow’s neck. Rainbow Dash could feel her face grow hot, but she wasn’t sure whether it was from the way Pinkie was clinging to her or the pure outrage she felt that a friend of hers would be so stupid.
“Seriously!” she snapped, trying to fight off the blush. The two of them began to rise, Rainbow Dash’s wings beating heavily as she ascended. “Why would you even do that? Are you just an idiot? I knew you were weird, but I didn’t think you’d ever pull a crazy stunt like that!”
“I’m not too heavy, am I?” Pinkie suddenly asked, sounding concerned.
“N-no. Not really.”
It was true. She knew that Pinkie ate a lot of sweets and baked goods, and she’d gained a plumper, curvier figure than most
ponies as a result, so Rainbow had expected her to weight more, as well; but she was surprisingly light. It was like holding a little filly.
“I wanted to fly with you,” Pinkie explained sweetly. “And I knew that you wouldn’t take me if I just asked. But I knew you’d catch me. You’d never have let me hit the ground.”
Rainbow’s face was growing warmer and warmer, and she could feel her the feathers of her wings grow stiffer and spread, even as they beat. "You're an idiot," she muttered under her breath.
When they reached the cliff again, she wordlessly and unceremoniously dropped Pinkie on the ground, and then turned away, ready to fly off in anger; but then she caught a glimpse of the sunset.
The horizon was melting into a million different colours, orange and red and yellow and pink, and it was so incredibly beautiful and she wanted to go and touch it.
And hell, the world was going to end, apparently, so how many more chances after today was she going to have to fly into the sunset?
She touched down, and knelt on the ground in front of Pinkie.
"Go ahead," she said. "Just make sure to hold on tight."
With a squeal, Pinkie threw herself onto Rainbow Dash's back, wrapping her hooves around her in a strange kind of embrace, and Rainbow Dash took off to chase the sun. She flew. They flew.
They spent hours in the air, streaking across the sky and chasing the sun and trying to catch the birds they met on the way, only stopping when the stars began to glimmer in the evening sky. When they landed, Pinkie fake-pouted at having to get off, and Rainbow Dash could only grin and grin and grin. “So, what else is on your list?” She asked.
They ended up settling on a hill somewhere that overlooked the village. The moon was high in the sky, bathing the ponies and buildings of the streets below in a soft, silvery light, and all Rainbow Dash could think was how beautiful everything was.
“I think we probably have time for one more thing.” Pinkie answered. “Number five; have a sleepover with Dashie.”
“A sleepover?” She repeated, and Pinkie nodded.
“Yeah-huh! ‘Cuz we haven’t had one yet together yet! And we can do it right here and look at the stars, right? Then we’ll do everything else tomorrow!”
“I guess so. But…” Rainbow Dash fake-frowned, pretending to seriously consider it. “If the world’s gonna end, then how do we know how much time we have left? Maybe we should get it done right now.”
Pinkie didn’t answer, and Rainbow Dash turned to look at her.
Pinkie was visibly deflating. Her legs were pulled up and she was huddled in a tiny ball, her normally curly poof of hair growing limper and flatter by the second.
“Pinkie?” she cried, suddenly alarmed. “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been a bad pony.” Pinkie whispered.
“What are you talking about?”
“I was lying. There was no jumbo-wumbo-mombo-combo.”
“Well, yeah, I knew that.”
Pinkie jerked her head upright, and looked at Rainbow Dash, eyes wide in surprise. “You did?”
“Yeah. I mean, for one thing, how would you even know for sure? And besides, if the world was really going to end, you’d probably have told Princess Celestia or somepony that could actually do something about it, right? I just figured I'd play along."
She tried to sound lighthearted, but Pinkie was visibly upset. Her eyes were wet and shiny with tears springing from nowhere, and somehow this sudden, inexplicable sadness was much worse than the desperation she’d seen in her that morning.
Pinkie turned away, staring at the moonlit Ponyville before them.
“I had a bad dream.” she said suddenly. She didn't say anything more, as if waiting for Rainbow Dash to answer her, but the pegasus wasn't sure how to respond.
When it was clear that Rainbow Dash wasn't going to speak, Pinkie continued. “Last night, I mean. I had a dream that I threw a party, and nopony came. So I went to look for you I asked you why you didn’t come and you said you were too busy. You said you had more important stuff to do. And then I woke up and I cried for a really long time. And I got really scared.”
Her entire body was trembling.
“I got really scared because I know that we’re growing up, and everypony has really important stuff to do. I know that you girls have responsibilities and important work, and soon you’re not going to want to come to my parties anymore, because you’ll be too busy with serious stuff, but I don’t want that to happen. I’m scared that everypony will grow up before me and they won’t want to just play anymore. So I made a list of everything I want to be able to do with you, and I pretended that it was like this was our very last chance to do any of it, so that we’d do it as…as hard as we could. And then it would be okay, even if you decided not to play anymore, because we’ll have had one day where we did everything.”
She was crying. Silent tears were streaming down her face as her shoulders shook, and she seemed to be curling even tighter into herself.
“But…but it’s even worse than that. I’m scared it will happen to me. I’m scared that we’re all going to grow up, even me, and suddenly parties won’t seem important, and suddenly I’ll think pranks are stupid, and I won’t want to eat candy or cake anymore, and instead I’ll find something stupid and boring that I like to do instead. And I don’t want that! I want to be like this Pinkie forever! I want to be able to play, even when I get older, and I always want to like parties, and I, I…I…”
Rainbow Dash wordlessly moved into hug her. As her hooves wrapped around her, Pinkie moved in as well, leaning against her as her entire body shook with sobs.
They stayed like that for a long time, and finally Pinkie heaved one long, shuddering sigh. “I want us all to stay like this," she choked. "I want to be able to play all the time. I don’t want the friendships we’ve built to just end someday, because we got tired of them."
And then Rainbow Dash understood.
A bad dream. That was all. But a dream where this world they’d built together had ended, so Pinkie had come to her in a flurried panic, desperate to rebuild what she was terrified of losing. The worst part was, she’d been almost right. After all, everypony else had rejected her when she’d gone for comfort, and Rainbow Dash herself had considered brushing her off, thinking that she was too tired from working for Pinkie's shenanigans.
When had she forgotten how to play? When had her life become nothing but sitting and training and resting?
Today had been fun. When had she stopped wanting to live this way? When had she stopped trying?
“Growing up doesn’t meant stopping, Pinks.” Rainbow Dash whispered. “We can still play. Okay?”
“What if we don’t want to anymore?”
“Then…then we won’t want to. But you’re really upset about that, right? So that means you do want to. You’re not losing anything, Pinks. Growing up doesn’t mean you stop growing, it just means...changing. And, and you’ll find new stuff you like to do, maybe, but that doesn’t mean you lose everything you had. I mean, I had fun with you today, and I want to still do stuff like this tomorrow.”
Pinkie pulled away, sniffling. “Really?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “Stuff changes, but it doesn’t just stop. So, even if we all grow up and get serious and boring, we’ll be different, but we haven’t just ended. We’ll still have been friends, and we’ll still have played together. That won’t stop, I promise.”
Pinkie gave her a very watery smile. “I’m sorry.” She whispered. “I wanted today to be fun. I wanted to do everything I’d have wanted to do with you if the world really was ending. And now I’m crying, but…but I guess I might have done that, if I’d been right.”
Rainbow Dash gave her another tight hug.
“It’ll be okay, Pinks.” She said softly. “From now on we’ll do everything we want to do, okay? We’ll play as long as we can. And that way, just in case we ever have to stop, we’ll have already done everything and we won’t have to worry about missing out. And if you ever get scared or sad again, it’s okay to tell me, I promise.”
For a moment they just held each other, with Pinkie giving the occasional sniff.
But when she pulled away, breaking the hug, she was smiling again, her hair mysteriously back to its normal curly state. “I feel better now!”
“That’s good, I guess." And Rainbow Dash smiled at her wryly, before yawning. "I'm really tired now, Pinks, so can we actually get to the sleeping part? We sort of did a lot, now that I think about it.”
In the morning, Rainbow Dash was shaken awake on the hill at the crack of dawn, the sun only just beginning to rise, by a fidgety pink pony already bursting to the seams with excess energy.
“Already?” she mumbled. “Go ‘way, I need at least ten hours of sleep before I get up.”
“How can you need sleep?!” Pinkie shrieked. “We didn’t even do half as much as I usually do on a normal day! How can you be tired still?! Come on, I have a great idea! Flying was so fun, let’s see if we can fly around the world!”
Rainbow Dash just smiled.
Normally she’d have blown off a suggestion like this, writing it off as typical Pinkie Pie weirdness. But today, she was thinking something else.