The Big, Fat Charity Ball
Ponyville's Old Town was where tribute was made to great ponies from the days when Ponyville was simply Ponyville. Amongst these great monuments stood the Old Town Hall, where Mayor Mare had first been elected mayor of Ponyville; the first Sweet Apple Acres, where it was rumored that the owner, Applejack, tended to it more than her current business; even the Ponyville Library, renamed the Twilight Sparkle Public Library (for quite obvious reasons), was still there, basking in the moonlight as its branches swayed in the gentle breeze.
Ponyville's Old Town was also home to ninety percent of the immigrants, drug dealers, and squatters in Ponyville. The other ten percent were their neighbors.
The monuments had long been degraded and vandalized (save for the Library; ponies still went there occasionally, and thus, Twilight herself put an enchantment on it to keep thugs away) by various thuggish ponies. Along the streets and back alleys of Old Town, various drug dealings, gambling pits, and other unmentionable activities went on almost constantly. While the police force claimed they cleaned the streets of Ponyville, the view from Pinkie Pie's window told another story.
The pink mare turned away from the window to the mirror beside it, admiring herself. Her brand new super-duper colorful pearls looked just Pinkie keen with her thin black dress. She turned towards her door, already anticipating her excursion for the night.
The sound of two ponies fighting near the stairwell made her stop. She recognized one of those voices, and groaned when she realized what was happening.
"I told you!" Pumpkin shouted. She was shaking a hoof at a colt in a suit. "Money first!"
"You stole my wallet!" replied the colt. Pinkie could tell where this was going, and she slunk closer to the fighting couple, concentrating on what the colt was doing.
"Damn you!" he continued, apparently not satisfied enough with an accusation. "You took my bucking wallet!" He raised a hoof to punch the young mare. There was a golden watch on his hoof.
No you don't, Pinkie thought. The colt, thankfully, was so intent on punching Pumpkin that he didn't notice the bubbly mare reach out and grab his hoof. She twisted it, and growled, "Get out of here."
The colt stared in stupid astonishment. "She took my wallet!" he said dumbly, as if she cared. Pinkie shoved him away, towards the stairwell, and the colt fumbled at the edge of the stairs for a moment. He grunted with pain, and gave Pinkie a dirty look.
"Now," she hissed, and the colt went away.
Pinkie turned to Pumpkin, an accusing look on her face. The light orange unicorn was flipping through a large brown wallet, and looked up only after she removed a small sack of bits from it. She checked it, and frowned. She turned back to Pinkie Pie, ignoring the loo she was getting.
"He only had sixty bits in here. Don't know why he was so angry."
"What did I tell you about messing with plotholes?"
Pumpkin rolled her eyes. "They're all plotholes."
Pinkie sighed. "The ones that hit, then." Though there weren't many things that Pinkie cared about in her life besides her work, Pumpkin had been a key reason for her continuing to thieve. The unicorn and her entire family, consisting of her brother and parents, were all trying to live of of whatever they could get. Mr. and Mrs. Cake were fantastic bakers, but could barely afford to keep the shop they sold their goods in. Her brother, well...Pinkie didn't know what her brother did. And she didn't want to know, either. Pumpkin was her heir of a sorts, and she was trying her best to teach the young filly what she knew, so that her poor family could live with basic essentials. Pumpkin was practically her sister, and if anything happened to her, she would die.
"No I wouldn't," she'd responded when having a talk with Mrs. Cake one day. "If anything happened to Pumpkin, I'd kill them."
They heard the colt swear from outside the building. Pumpkin sighed again.
"Seriously, there's only sixty bits! Nothing else! Why's he so mad?"
"Probably the watch." Pinkie grinned, and held up the glittering gold watch the had been on the colt's hoof mere moments before. She tossed it to Pumpkin, and said, "Give this to your father. I've got to go. Don't wait up."
Pinkie bounced out of the apartment complex and into a nearby taxi completely unaware of the silver Lamborghini parked on the other side of the street. As the cab drove off, so did the Lamborghini.
Arriving at the Ponyville Museum of Art, Rainbow Dash prepared herself for what was about to happen. She stepped out of her car, and opened the back seat of the car to get her cane.
She heard a nearby paparazzo (they were everywhere; this was the place to be in Ponyville right now) chortle and say, "Look. Another stiff too lazy to get out of his car." What was said next made Dash want to check and see what expression the paparazzo was wearing: "No! That's Rainbow Dash!"
She could already feel the paparazzi hounding her as she moved from her car to the valet, who seemed to be the only pony without a camera. Fortunately, she'd come prepared. As the press moved in, she quietly clicked a button on her cane. The cameras, phones, and other electronic devices that were assigned to capture her image went out, without explanation. The paparazzi studied their cameras furiously, hoping to fix the proble in time to get a picture of the Rainbow Dash.
She never gave them a chance. Smiling, she entered the Museum, ready to take back her pearls.
She spotted Pinkie only ten minutes after entering the ball. She stood at a banister on the upper floor, watching couples dance, and kept her eyes locked on the pink mare wearing the stolen pearls and a velvet mask with (she almost laughed) cat ears dancing with a stallion who looked at least 30 years older than her. She made to intercept, but was intercepted herself instead.
"Rainbow Dash? At a charity ball?"
She already knew who the voice belonged to and groaned inwardly. She turned to face Rarity, hoping she could end the conversation quick. She was startled by how attractive the white unicorn looked wearing a long black dress with matching mask and necklace. Her stunning blue eyes shone knowingly from behind the wall of velvet. Rainbow shook her head to clear it, and pretended she didn't know who it was talking to her.
"Is that...Ms. Rarity?"
She smiled, and pulled the mask away, revealing the whole of her visage. "Very observant, darling." She seemed amazed to see her at the ball, and made it clear by saying, "Even when you weren't a recluse, you never came to places like this..."
Rainbow felt she would need to be extra cocky to win her hand tonight. "Yeah, well," she said, "it isn't about the charity part, 'cause everypony knows the profits from this pay for the big fat spread. These things are done to stroke the nice, big egos of the old, boring hags who hold these kinda things." She took a champagne glass from a nearby server, sipped, and added, "Make 'em feel good."
Rarity's smile was gone. "This is my party, dear."
Rainbow Dash swallowed her drink hard. "Oh," she sputtered, choking on the fruity champagne.
Now the smile came back. "The profits will go wherever I so wish, deary," she continued, "because I've paid for the 'big fat spread' myself."
Dash didn't dare doubt her.
"How generous of you."
"You have to invest, if you want to fix the world," she said, setting the mask down on the banister. "Take our clean energy project, for instance."
Zecora and Fluttershy were both right. This mare was extremely lovely.
"I'm sorry that your investment in me didn't pay off," Rainbow answered.
Rarity scanned her over, thoughtfully.
"It seems to me, Rainbow, that you have a practiced apathy towards other ponies. But I can see that you care about the world--why else would you spend half of your fortune on it?" She trotted past, and stopped to whisper in her ear:
"And, just between us, I've been investing in the project, not you. Not yet." Then she slipped off.
Rainbow Dash stared at the mask she'd left behind. Part of her wanted to take it and turn to call to the unicorn, make her come back to get it. The other part of her was focused on a certain mare with cat ears currently dancing with a senior citizen in the middle of the dance floor.
Eh, she probably wouldn't have taken it back, she thought as she trotted down the stairs to the dance floor, her eyes never leaving the pink mare. When she made it to the couple, she was laughing at one of her "date's" jokes. Or, at least, pretending to laugh.
"Mind if I cut in?" she said, pushing the old stallion out of the way with her cane before handing it to him. Ignoring the silent complaint of the senior citizen, she took Pinkie's hooves in her own, getting up on her hind legs (something she hadn't done in years, she realized, eight to be exact) and moving into the rhythm of the music without skipping a beat. Pinkie looked less than happy to see her.
"You don't look very happy to see me."
She let Dash lead, stepping with her across the dance floor. She ignored the looks they were getting.
"You're supposed to be sitting all comfy-wumfy in your big bad mansion."
"I wanted some fresh air."
Pinkie's head tilted. She look more curious than irked now.
"Why didn't you call the police?"
"I have a...powerful friend who can handle this kind of thing," she said, hoping she sounded enough like Dashie and not Rainbow Dash. She rubbed a hoof along Pinkie's cat ears, admiring them. "Pretty funny costume for a cat burglar."
"At least somepony gets the joke," she said, rolling her eyes at the pegasus. "So, who are you supposed to be?"
"Why, I'm Rainbow Dash, eccentric billionaire and sickest gal in Ponyville," she said, smiling. She noticed the old stallion glaring at them from across the room. "So, your date? Cool guy?"
Pinkie rolled her eyes. "His wife's in Ibiza, but she left her diamonds with him." She giggled. "She didn't want them to get stolen."
Rainbow Dash smiled, and muttered, "It's pronounced I-beetha. Ya don't want these nice, fancy ponies noticing how out of place you sound."
Pinkie was still smirking. "Silly filly. I don't care what anypony in this room thinks of me." Her voice had changed to one that sounded almost like Rarity's, and Rainbow Dash almost congratulated her on her acting abilities.
"I highly doubt you care what anypony anywhere thinks of you," she said, still smiling.
"Oooo, don't condescend," said Pinkie. "I don't think you know anything about me."
"Well, Pinkamina Diane Pie, I know you got here from your ghetto pad in Old Town. I know that that's a very modest place for a master jewel thief, and thus, I know that you're either saving up for something real nice...or you're hiding from a big, bad crowd."
Pinkie was no longer smiling. Rainbow Dash decided she didn't like that. She also decided not to let Rainbow Dash have too many cracks with her anymore.
"You think you're super smart, don't you?" said Pinkie, giving her best pity face. "Just 'cause you were born in the master bedroom of the Rainbow Manor."
"Actually, it was the Swimming Pool. Long story."
"I did what I had too, first," she said, ignoring Dash's last comment. She looked nostalgic, and Dash decided that also wasn't good. "But, once you do what you have to, you can't do what you want to." Now she looked genuinely sad.
"Ah, a fresh start. That's a good one."
Surprisingly, Pinkie giggled loudly. "Silly filly, you can't get a fresh start! You can't erase your history, just like that. A blank-flank little filly could look up everything you've done in a book. The world doesn't let you go. It lets you know what you did wrong, even when you already know."
"It also lets you know what you did right," Dash argued.
"Yeah, but the bad stuff sticks better," Pinkie said. "The good stuff is like flour. It just won't stick."
Rainbow Dash eyed the Rainbow Pearls around Pinkie's neck. Mistakes, huh? she thought.
"I suppose that justifies your stealing, then."
"I take what I need from the ones with too much to handle," she answered. "I wouldn't take from somepony who couldn't survive if I did." Her mind drifted to Pumpkin for a moment.
"I can do more to help somepony than anypony else in this room," she said. "Including you."
Her playful mood was coming back. That wasn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't good, either.
"You're assuming too much, I think," Dash replied.
"Well, I think," she said, slipping a hoof down to Rainbow's flank, "that you're being very unrealistic about what's in your pants beside your wallet."
"I'm a mare," Rainbow replied. She hadn't flinched.
They glided across the extravagant dance floor, silent for a moment. Pinkie kept her hooves in the same position as before, and Rainbow Dash was beginning to worry about the wandering eyes of other ponies at the ball. Pinkie glanced at the artwork hanging around them, and giggled again. She did not use her Playful Voice when she spoke again.
"Do you think all of this can last?" she asked, drawing closer to the cyan mare's muzzle. "There's a storm coming, Dashie, and when it hits, you and all your rich little friends are gonna be standing around wondering how you could have lived so large...and left so little for everypony else."
"Somepony sounds excited about it," she replied.
For now, thought Rainbow Dash, remembering the list of accusations on her computer screen down below the Manor. She was being reeled in, though her struggles were mighty, and she knew it.
"Well, I gotta admit, you look pretty sweet with those pearls," she said, putting up the shield of her other self. She let her own hooves wander up to the back of Pinkie's neck, and unclasped the necklace. "But I still can't let ya keep 'em."
Pinkie Pie glared at Rainbow Dash for a moment. They'd stopped dancing, thankfully on the edge of the dance floor, where nopony else was dancing towards. Rainbow Dash realized this at the same moment Pinkie tightened her grip on the cyan mare's butt and kissed her, hard. She pulled away quickly and sped off into the crowd. Rainbow Dash felt the taste of bubblegum fading on her lips, and realized she was already halfway to the door. She knew she couldn't reach Pinkie on her bad legs, and went to retrieve her cane from the old stallion.
"You scared her off," he complained when she took her cane back.
"I don't think so," she said, looking behind her again. "And, honestly, guy, I don't think you should go after her."
She began to make her way to the door. "I think she's a fillyfooler."
She heard the old geezer curse behind her, and grinned.
When she stepped out of the museum again, she reached the valet fumbling in the suit she was wearing. She felt herself beginning to blush, and forced it back.
"Uhh...I think I lost my ticket."
The valet looked confused.
"I'm sorry, but your wife said you were taking a cab home?"
Pinkie Pie was grinning from ear-to-ear in the Lamborghini as it zoomed down the road. She loved it when boys let other boys play with their toys.
Pound Cake's gonna love this, she thought, and revved the engine to warn other drivers to clear the road.
Fluttershy picked Rainbow Dash up an hour later.
"Just you, miss?" asked the butler.
"I swear to Celestia, Fluttershy, I'm gonna tuck and roll." She didn't like being outsmarted.
"Don't worry, Mistress Dash," Fluttershy replied cheerfully. "It takes a few days to get back in the swing of things."
Rainbow Dash ignored her, and pulled out a phone. She hit a speed dial button, and several seconds later was on the phone with Zecora.
"I have an unusual request."
"I knew it," said Zecora. "You-"
Rainbow stopped her. "I get it, I'm predictable. Now, that order..."
As the two talked over the phone, Dash noticed that the pegasus driving the car had lost her cheerful attitude, and had fallen silent at the wheel. Looking in the rear-view mirror, she noticed that Fluttershy was crying, not enough to interfere with her driving or for anyone to notice from behind, but she was. Rainbow Dash felt a pang of guilt strike her in her gut. Then Zecora mentioned the Bat, and she was sucked back into the world she had avoided for eight years before finally coming to face the truth.
It was time to come out of retirement.