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As I washed my hands in the sink, I pondered over my situation, and aside from the fact that I at least had a roof over my head, it didn’t look enviable on other counts.
I only had one set of clothes, which had already grown dirty from all I’d done today, no toiletries (I probably stank too), no money (what was the exchange rate in Ponyville, anyway?), no phone (did they even get reception out here?)…In fact, I didn’t even have a way of contacting my family.
My family…In all the excitement of today, I’d nearly forgotten. They must be beside themselves with worry by now, if they’d realized I was gone. I wracked my brains, trying to remember what I had been doing before waking up in Equestria…but nothing came. The time before I had woken up was all a vague blur. If I could only just let them know I was fine, it would have made things much more bearable…but the very fact that I couldn’t, and that they would be saddled with worrying about me when I was alive and well, even across such a far distance, brought tears to my eyes, and a pain in my throat, as if I’d swallowed a baseball bat…
But it was worse…much worse.
What if I never got back to them at all? The pain in my throat increasing, I recalled all the times I’d been distant from them, impatient with them for being asked to do something, unwilling to partake in their activities when I didn’t feel like it, even if those times weren't generated from real malice…none of those times could ever be paid back, amended for…What if I’d gotten into a fight with my parents before being whisked off, and I never was to be given the chance to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I love you’?…
Such a thought burned in me like a hot iron, and the tears dripped onto my hands as I clenched them on the rim of the sink, trying my hardest to keep from sobbing…
(Mom...Dad...if only you could hear me...If only you knew...)
A sudden knocking at the door snapped me back to reality.
“Davie? Is everything ok in there?” came Pinkie’s voice.
I swallowed, trying to keep my voice steady as I spoke.
“Fine, Pinkie, really,” I said.
“Well, all right. When you come back up, there’s something I want to show you. I think you’ll like it!”
“Uh, great, Pinkie! I’ll be out in a second!” I answered back.
I rinsed my face in the sink, dried it off with a towel, then left the bathroom. To all appearances, nothing had happened.
“That was like 10 one-seconds, mister,” said Pinkie, in a pouty voice, with the face to back it up.
I couldn’t help but laugh; somehow, someway, Pinkie knew exactly how to make me smile.
“Relax, Pinkie, I wouldn’t leave you hanging,” I said, ruffling her mane.
Her pout disappeared, and her smile returned.
“I know, silly. Now, come on! You don’t want to miss it!”
She dashed up the stairs leading to the upper landing, and I followed, curious as to what I was urged not to ‘miss’. Was there a meteor shower tonight? Something about the moon? Whatever it was, it had put Pinkie into a profound excitement. As I approached her as she waited outside her door for me, I could see her pudgy body practically shivering with anticipation.
“Ok, what’s the big surprise?” I asked, crossing my arms, smiling at her behavior.
By way of answer, she pushed the door open.
Whether it was the collective shouts that assailed my eardrums or the sheer force of the sight that met me that staggered me, I don’t think I could guess. At any rate, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: Pinkie’s room was packed with innumerable ponies, most of which I could recognize as either being part of the crowd in the town square, customers at Sugarcube Corner, or Pinkie’s closer friends. The only ones I couldn’t see were Twilight and Spike, no doubt absent because of the former’s headache. There were streamers and balloons set up, and a large table with tasty-looking refreshments and a punch bowl. Over in the corner was a turntable, where a grinning unicorn DJ wearing enormous shades was standing. I just stood there, absolutely bewildered.
“Pinkie…how…what…when did you have time to do all this??”
“While you were waiting for dinner!” said Pinkie, who was grinning from ear to ear. “While the water was boiling for the spaghetti, I hurried off to pass out the invitations! Then, while the breadsticks were baking and the sauce was cooking, I let them in through the back door, and they came up here to wait for us!”
“But then, Mr. and Mrs. Cake! Were they in on it?”
“Of course! They were helping set up after getting your bed in order!”
She pointed to where the mattress had been set up, on a short bed frame with a wooden headboard. It was situated about a foot or two from Pinkie’s, in the same comfortable little nook.
“Pinkie…” I said, after a stunned silence on my part, “I don’t know what to say…”
“Don’t, yet!” said Pinkie, still grinning. “There’s one more thing I have to do!”
She zipped off, and in the next instant, she returned with a small, colorfully-painted wagon, shaped vaguely like a treasure chest on wheels. She pressed a button on its side, there was a clicking and whirring noise, and the top slid open to reveal flags, trumpets, what looked like striped organ pipes, and a glass-fronted box. All at once, music, like a carnival calliope, began to play. As it did so, Pinkie began to caper and dance as if she were in a vaudeville performance, and then she started singing,
“Welcome, welcome, welcome, a fine welcome to you
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say how do you do
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say hip-hip-hoo-RAY
Welcome, welcome, welcome, to Po-ny-ville
She finished this up with a slide on her knees, fore hooves held high. The dance itself was funny to see, but she also had a surprisingly sweet singing voice.
“Wait for it!” said Pinkie, excitedly.
Then, suddenly, with a ding, the glass front on the box sprang open, and jettisoned a freshly-baked cake straight past me and onto a nearby table. So it was an oven: very clever. Then, the striped pipes let out a boom, and confetti came blasting out, raining it down on everyone present. Everypony attending applauded by stamping the floor with their hooves. I was surprised the ruckus didn’t wake up the babies.
“Yes!” cheered Pinkie. “I knew I’d gotten it right!” She whispered as an aside to me, “You wouldn’t believe how many times I got it mixed up.”
I shuddered to imagine such an occurrence, but moreover, I was extremely touched; Pinkie had gone out of her way to give me a proper Ponyville welcome in her own way, when she hadn’t had the time or opportunity to do it earlier, and all planned out before dinnertime! I regarded the little pony with misting eyes.
“Pinkie…you don’t know how much this means to me…thank you…”
With a smile as warm as a preheated stove-top, she threw her forelegs around me in a hug, and I returned it. A collective “aww” floated through the attendees.
After Pinkie released me, I picked up a glass of water and held it up for a toast.
“Everypony, before we get this party underway, I’d like to propose a few toasts.”
Everypony held up their own glasses, either with their hooves or by unicorn magic.
“First, to Twilight Sparkle, who I can see was unable to attend, due to a recent magic-induced headache. I’ve had the honor of meeting Miss Sparkle today, and can only express my regrets at her absence and my wishes for her speedy recovery. To Twilight!”
“To Twilight!” said everypony.
“Second…to you, Ponyville. You’ve made a stranger outside of your norm feel as welcome as if I were one of you…I can only hope that during my stay, I can repay you for your kindness. To Ponyville!”
“Third…to Princess Celestia, who knows of my presence, and was gracious enough to communicate with me via dragon mail.” This got a few snickers from those who knew what I meant. “I can only express my gratitude for her understanding of my situation, and hope to be of service to her when I can. To Princess Celestia!”
“To Princess Celestia!”
“And finally, but certainly not least…to Pinkie Pie…”
Pinkie looked up.
“It was she who discovered me, and if she hadn’t, I might not have been introduced to the Equestrian way quite as handily, as I’m told there’s no better friend than her.”
Pinkie’s cheeks turned red with pleased embarrassment.
“And by George, I believe what I was told…To Pinkie Pie!”
“To Pinkie Pie!”
“And now, Ponyville, without further ado…"
Pinkie leaped in to finish the statement.
"Let’s get this party started!”
The DJ started up a record that wouldn’t have been out of place at a disco dance party, as everypony started dancing and mingling and Pinkie led me around to introduce me to those in attendance that I hadn’t formally met.
From her, I learned that the purple pony with the grapes cutie mark was named Berry Punch, a yellow mare I’d seen with a very curly orange mane and a carrot cutie mark was known as Golden Harvest, and the gray pegasus with the mismatched eyes was named Derpy Hooves.
Apparently, this Derpy was Ponyville’s mail carrier, and even if she sometimes misplaced her deliveries, she was very faithful and friendly, and had a deep fondness for muffins, though she was difficult to talk to due to her eyes. I wasn’t sure which one I should have been looking in…
I was spared the awkwardness as Pinkie took me off to introduce me to more ponies. However, she got caught up in the music, which she claimed was her ‘jam’, and went to dance, so I was left to mingle by myself. Naturally, I gravitated over to where Pinkie’s other best friends were. They were gathered at the refreshment table, where Rainbow Dash seemed to be telling a joke.
“A colt was working bagging groceries at a market. They recently installed a machine that made fresh-squeezed orange juice.”
“No foolin’?” asked Applejack. “Boy, what I’d give for somethin’ like that.”
“The colt asks if he can try the machine out, but he was denied. The manager said-”
“'Sorry, son, baggers can’t be juicers.’”
The four looked up and spotted me. I had supplied the punch line for Rainbow’s joke myself; if there was one thing my friends back home knew about me, it was my affinity for corny jokes.
Rainbow looked annoyed at first at not being able to finish the joke herself, but brightened almost immediately when she saw it was me.
“Well, well, it’s the man of the hour himself!” she said.
“Good to see you again, dear,” said Rarity.
“Howdy, big guy!” said Applejack.
“Um…hello again, Dave…” said Fluttershy.
“Hey, girls! Glad you could make it! Then again, I had no idea this would be going on. Pinkie’s really unpredictable.”
“Don’t we know it,” said Rarity with a small sigh.
“But everypony knows that Pinkie throws the best parties in Ponyville!” said Rainbow.
“That she does,” I said. “I’ve never seen a party like this before. It’s amazing how much thought she puts into setting them up.”
“She always did have an eye for what’s ‘fun’,” said Rarity.
“So whatcha been up to before you came up?” asked Applejack.
“Well, Pinkie had actually treated me to a nice dinner of spaghetti and wheat balls.”
“Oh, that sounds wonderful!” said Fluttershy. “I have my own recipe for it, of course, but I’m sure hers was perfectly tasty, too.”
“You cook too, Fluttershy?” I asked, interested. She looked away, bashfully.
“Well, I wouldn’t say I’m good at it…”
“Aw, c’mon, sugarcube, don’t be so modest,” said Applejack, putting a friendly foreleg around the shy pegasus’s shoulders. She then said to me, “How do ya think she takes care of all them animals she keeps?”
“Good point,” I said, reflectively.
“Really, I’m only good with soups and salads, mostly,” Fluttershy insisted. “So many of my pets are herbivores, anyway.”
I decided to pour myself a glass of punch while this was going on.
“What’s in this?” I asked.
It looked bluish-purple, and there were lemons in the punch bowl.
“Oh, it’s Pinkie’s special recipe,” said Rarity. “I believe she calls it a…” She tapped her chin with her hoof in thought. “What was it, Applejack?” she asked the farm pony.
“I think she said it was a ‘fruit-tastic jam-bonanza’,” said Applejack.
That did sound like something Pinkie would say.
“Ah, yes, thank you, dear. And it’s, er…Gummy’s favorite,” she added, with a slight hesitation.
I wasn’t quite sure what the hesitation was for; maybe Rarity wasn’t a fan of reptiles, like me. At the worst, she could be implying that Gummy…nah, that was just silly, and kinda gross.
“Oh? Where is the little guy? Wouldn’t this kind of activity spook him?”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’m keeping him entertained,” said Fluttershy.
She looked down with a warm smile, and I followed her gaze, nearly laughing at what I saw. Fluttershy was gently swishing her long, silky tail, and Gummy was scampering after it, nipping at its tip. If I hadn’t met Gummy beforehand, I would not have taken the sight so lightly, especially considering that this was Fluttershy, but I remembered Gummy’s lack of teeth, and also saw that this was just a part of Fluttershy’s love for animals shining through again, even for ones as peculiar as Gummy. I took a sip of the punch.
“…Wow!” I exclaimed. It had been like an explosion of fruit flavors dancing on my taste buds. “It’s like Pinkie made two parties: one out here and one in my mouth!”
“When Pinkie parties, she goes all out!” said Rainbow. She looked like she was loving every minute of it.
“I can certainly see that. Bringing in a live DJ, too. I wonder how much that cost.”
“Probably not much,” said Rainbow. “Vinyl and Pinkie are pretty tight.”
“Yeah, Vinyl Scratch, or DJ P0N-3. That’s her stage name.”
I looked over at the DJ. She was white, with an electric-blue mane striped with lighter blue, wearing obnoxiously huge purple-tinted shades, and her cutie mark resembled a pair of musical eighth notes. She was up on her hind legs, fore hooves on the turntable, bobbing her head in time with the beat. Pinkie did seem to have a very wide, very diverse selection of friends. Then again, I suppose that was expected when you were friends with everyone in a town.
Looking around at all the party guests, it made me realize how shabby and unkempt I must have looked, which in itself is a poor thing, being the guest of honor. Sure, my hair was fine, but my clothes were still worn and used-looking from the very active day I’d undertaken.
Then, all at once, an idea came into my mind: Rarity! She was a seamstress! Maybe she could give me some advice on how to alleviate my embarrassing predicament, though I'd have to wonder about the financial repercussions.
“Uh, hey, Rarity?” I asked, as she was downing her own glass of punch.
“Hmm? What is it, darling?”
“Could I ask you something? It’s kind of important.” I gestured to an unoccupied corner of the room where we could talk.
“Oh, of course! I’ll be right back, girls,” she told the others, and followed me over to where I had indicated. “Now, don’t be bashful, dear, what is it?”
I knelt down so I could be on her eye level. “Well, see…it’s kind of embarrassing to say, especially to someone in your profession, but these clothes are the only ones I have with me.”
“The only ones?…” She looked disgusted at first, as her eyes roved over my outfit, then said, with sympathy, "You poor, poor boy. How did I not see it before?.."
“Yeah, I know, gross, isn't it? I'm not too thrilled about it either, especially considering how I already stand out from everypony here. So, I was going to ask, do you know how I should-”
“Wait a moment…”
She gasped, a look of inspiration dawning on her face.
“I-DE-A!” she squealed. “I know just what I'll do! A gentleman like yourself can’t possibly be expected to survive on only one shirt and a pair of pants, and I for one refuse to let such a crime against fashion go unchecked! Dave, I shall take it upon myself to see that you are equipped to survive your stay in Ponyville with a fresh suit of clothes! You just swing by the boutique tomorrow and I’ll take your measurements. For someone of your size, it shouldn’t take terribly long.”
I had been taken aback by her zealous behavior, but that was mingled with surprise and gratitude.
"You'd really do that for me?"
"But of course! I'm always fond of ambitious side projects, and you are a gentleman in need. It'd be in poor taste to ignore your plight. Don’t you worry, Dave. Under my hooves, you’ll look spectacular!”
She threw another pose full of dramatic flair.
"I was only going to ask for advice on what I ought to do. I couldn't just ask you to make stuff from scratch on my account."
"It's no trouble, darling," said Rarity, waving her hoof airily. "As I said, I love side projects, and this should be my most ambitious yet!"
Gosh, and I thought getting the free haircut was a kingly gift.
"Thanks, Rarity," I said, gratefully.
I took her hoof in my hand and kissed it in a gentlemanly way. She smiled warmly at the gesture.
“There you are, Davie!”
I started in surprise, and Rarity jumped similarly. Pinkie had snuck up on us from out of nowhere.
“What are you guys doing over here?”
“Huh? Oh! Rarity and I were working out a bit of a...business arrangement.”
“Yes, indeed,” said Rarity. “Poor Dave tells me this is the only set of clothing he has. Such a thing is unacceptable in my eyes, so I’ll take it into my hooves to make him some new clothing.”
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” said Pinkie, nonplussed. “He could just go naked like us.”
Such a comment nearly gave me a coronary.
“P-Pinkie, are you nuts??” I spluttered, hoping I'd heard wrong.
“Pinkie, how can you be so uncouth??” said Rarity, scandalized.
“What?” asked Pinkie, innocently. “We don’t normally wear clothes.”
“Pinkie,” I said, trying to be patient, “it doesn’t quite work that way with humans.”
“Why?” Pinkie asked, tilting her head.
“Because…humans are just more comfortable wearing clothes, ok?”
This was not the time or place to be having this kind of discussion…
Pinkie still looked skeptical, but then her face brightened with comprehension.
“Oh! Okie-dokie-lokie! All you had to do was say so! Now come on! There’s tons more partying to do!”
She bounced off to return to the dance floor. Rarity and I looked at each other, both of us with crimson faces.
“That could have gone better,” I said.
“I agree,” she said. She cleared her throat, her composure returning. “Well, then, when should I expect you?”
“Well, how open is your schedule?”
“Fairly. Just come around some time around…say, early afternoon? We’ll work it out from there.”
“Great! Shall we, Miss Rarity?” I asked, with a bow.
“After you,” she said, with a smile, and we returned to the party.
*Special props to Daniel Ingram for composing Pinkie's Welcome Song*