“You heard me. Want to go on a date with me?”
“You’re asking me out?” Rainbow Dash asked, suspicious of Spike’s spontaneity.
“Yeah, I am.” Spike confirmed with a nod. “I’m thinking a nice little picnic would be nice. How about it?”
“I don’t understand.” Rainbow Dash shook her head, confused. “Aren’t you trying to fight me on this? I mean, don’t get me wrong, going on a date would just bring me one step closer to victory, but I don’t get why you’re asking first.”
Spike crossed his arms and snorted. “Who cares why I asked? If you’re so set on making me fall for you, then you should just accept right away, right? What, are you scared now?”
Rainbow Dash’s eyes thinned conspicuously, staring daggers. “I’m not scared of anything.”
Rainbow Dash then put a hoof to her chest and announced assertively. “I accept! You’re on, Spike! This is going to be the greatest date you’ll ever go on…ever!”
Spike produced a toothy grin. “One hour. Usual picnic spot. Be there.”
“Bring your A-game! Because your heart's mine!” Rainbow Dash grinned back excitedly.
Rainbow Dash’s heart palpitated ferociously. She hadn’t been this excited since being invited into the VIP crowd by the Wonderbolts at the Grand Galloping Gala. The game was definitely getting to her head, and she loved it. The competitive atmosphere was strong between she and Spike, and the Pegasus took pleasure in having to overcome an even greater challenge than before. This was going to be fun, Rainbow Dash concluded whole-heartedly. This was the real deal. Spike was hers!
Instantaneously, the two contending forces rushed to their next destination. Spike sprinted while Rainbow Dash soared. Both the dragon and the mare had to prepare for the upcoming date, and the limited amount of time pushed them forward in great haste. The games had officially begun. Both sides now geared for action, the love battle was initiated under the scorching sun.
Ponyville’s Golden Oaks Library oozed an ominous aura. Unsuspecting ponies passing by the towering Treehouse immediately experienced an uneasy sensation, inevitably quivering noticeably in response. And as the tense passersby found themselves quickly moving away from the source of uneasiness, a wave of relief gradually washed over them. Whatever that was inside the Library Treehouse certainly exuded a pressure reminiscent of overwhelming stress.
Inside, an anxious purple unicorn sporadically paced about her home. She frequently turned her head to the candlestick emblem etched on the front door to confirm the absence of one purple dragon. The mare could not believe she had been put under so much worry, and as she cogitated the many scenarios that could go wrong for her number one assistant, the pony’s edgy state of mind dramatically spiraled into peril.
“Spike, what exactly are you doing?” Twilight Sparkle spoke aloud, turning her head once more to the front door.
As if answering Twilight Sparkle’s perturbed questioning, the front door swung open in a full sweep, presenting the image of a heavily breathing baby dragon. There stood Spike, his chest inflating and deflating rapidly to doubly allow oxygen to enter his lungs. Sweat dribbled down his glimmering scales. His shoulders bobbed up and down, trembling slightly. Spike had been running, Twilight observed.
“Spike!” Twilight galloped hurriedly towards the dragon. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
“R-Rainbow Dash…” Spike heaved, bending over and resting on his knees. “Going on…a date…”
Did Spike just say what she thought he just said?
Twilight Sparkle feared for the worst. “Spike, please don’t tell me! Don’t tell me you fell in love with her!”
“Twilight…listen…” Spike continued to pant loudly, attempting to catch his breath. “Dash…and I…”
“I knew it! Spike, don’t you get it? She’s just going to hurt you in the end!” Twilight Sparkle turned away, frustrated. “I have to fix this. Where is she right now, Spike?”
“Twilight…listen to me…” Spike stood up, stepping forward slowly. “We’re going on…a date because…”
“I’m not going to let her trick you like this, Spike. That pony’s just gone too far this time.” Twilight Sparkle turned back, ignoring Spike’s wheezing.
“Twilight!” Spike’s breathlessness neared an end as he winded down. “Listen to me!”
“I’m heading out.” Twilight headed for the open door. “Don’t worry, Spike, I’ll-“
“Twilight, I’m not in love with her!” Spike halted Twilight in her tracks. “You gotta help me with something. I’m going on a date with her in an hour, and I need food!”
“What’s going on? If you’re not in love with her, then why are you going on a date with her?” Twilight argued, annoyed at her ignorance of the situation.
“No time to explain. I need to start cooking some treats, but I can’t possibly make enough food in an hour!” Spike replied as he ran inside the adjacent kitchen. “I need you to get some pies from Applejack or something! Just set up the picnic blanket where we usually eat at, and leave the food there!”
Unable to fully take in Spike’s rambling, Twilight called back. “A picnic? Why are you doing all this? I can’t follow your reasoning at all, Spike.”
Spike appeared at the foot of the kitchen entrance wearing a white apron specifically sized for his small stature. The baby dragon rubbed his hands together and licked his lips energetically. His mind raced as he mentally assembled his plan to defeat Rainbow Dash at their game. The dragon was a bit surprised by his own enthusiasm for the date, though he realized it must have been the warring nature of the battle that urged him on. Spike was finally recognizing the challenge, and Rainbow Dash’s unfazed mindset only encouraged the male deep inside to dominate. He was ready for her, and she for him, he knew. Rainbow Dash was going to learn a new lesson about dealing with a dragon. For it was on!
“I’m following your advice, Twilight.” Spike answered matter-of-factly. “I’m going to win.”
Ponyville’s Carousel Boutique was no longer bustling with activity as it had previously in the day. The young fashionista seemed to be functioning much more slowly than she was used to when the demand for work exceeded short orders. She could not quite make sense for her lack of drive, and at each overbearing tick of the clock Rarity grew more unsatisfied. What was she unsatisfied with? She did not really know. All she knew, though, was that a deadline was advancing, and she was still ages away from finishing the many dresses on line. The unicorn continued dispassionately, letting out the occasional sigh while trying to focus on the tasks at hand. What was wrong? Why was she feeling so down?
Then she remembered the words of one cyan Pegasus. Rainbow Dash’s declaration to obtain Spike’s innocent heart was troubling to Rarity. Soon after Rainbow Dash left Rarity exasperated and filled with inquiries, fellow ‘quills and sofas’ shopkeeper Davenport confronted the unicorn and informed her of a particular betting pool spreading throughout the town like wildfire. At first Rarity remained silently still as she swallowed the new information.
“So, who should I bet on, Miss Rarity?” Davenport had whispered as he huddled closer to Rarity. “We can work together on this, you know. Our combined business sense may come in handy in predicting the winner.”
Rarity had forced a smile in response. “Oh, I do not believe I’ll be participating, Mr. Davenport. I am just too swamped right now with orders from Canterlot, and I may not have the time to come up with any kind of prediction.”
Davenport had frowned disappointedly. “Ah, is that so? Well, I am more leaning towards Miss Dash, but I don’t know, though. Spike is a fine young dragon, and he could very well-“
“Bet on Spike.” Rarity had cut off Davenport straightaway.
“Huh. Yeah, maybe I should. Thank you, Miss Rarity.” Davenport had smiled to himself in thought. “Are you sure you won’t take part in this? Everypony’s doing it now, it seems.”
“I’m sure.” Rarity had then promptly moved on, leaving Davenport to wave farewell.
Now Rarity sat at her sewing machine, operating robotically and mindlessly. Somehow she knew that Rainbow Dash was the cause for her current distress. Or was Spike the cause? The unicorn lowered her head, irritated at her own conflicting sentiments. Why was she so bothered by this? What was making her feel such inconvenience?
“Rarity! I need your help again!” The rainbow-maned Pegasus on the unicorn’s mind darted inside the boutique, crashing into a mannequin. “Don’t ask me why I look like this! I need another makeover! Now!”
“Rainbow Dash?” Rarity bounced off her seat in shock. “W-What are you doing?”
How many times was Rainbow Dash planning to interrupt her work today? Why did she have to choose today of all days?
Rarity scowled at her friend temperately. “Rainbow Dash, as you already know I am quite busy.”
“Never mind that! This is important!” Rainbow Dash waved off Rarity’s concerns. “I know the last makeover was messed up, but I need your skills for a new, more awesome-looking one! You know, one that can win anypony’s heart!”
Rarity clicked her tongue. “For what? So you can snatch up Spike’s heart like a ball at a hoofball match?”
Why use the word ‘snatch’?, Rarity wondered to herself. And why behave so cross? Hardly ladylike.
“Oh, right.” Rainbow Dash said as it dawned on her that Rarity knew the object of her desire. “You heard about that, huh?”
“Well, you did tell me initially.” Rarity went back to her sewing machine. “And I am also aware of the betting surrounding your little game.”
“Betting? What betting? You mean my bet with Spike?” Rainbow Dash, ignorant of the betting pool, questioned Rarity.
“Oh, you haven’t heard? Everypony in Ponyville is betting on the…” Rarity gulped softly, furrowing her brows. “…winner of your game.”
Rainbow Dash jumped to her hindhooves and shouted. “Really? That’s so cool! I had no idea ponies were getting so into this!”
Rainbow Dash beamed, proud as ever. “Now everypony will see the loveliness that is Rainbow Dash! Alright! I’m pumped now! Rarity, I really need your help on this. You can tell Lotus and Aloe how to fix up me up like last time.”
Rainbow Dash figured Rarity, whether she was truly uptight about the challenge or not, would once again immediately become thrilled by the prospect of providing another makeover. This was the opportunity of a lifetime! Never in her life did Rainbow Dash guess she would desire two make-up and hairdo sessions in one day. Rarity loved transforming ponies into more fashionable items. So she’d be happy to do this for her friend, Rainbow Dash assured herself. Maybe now she could wear the dress Rarity had been saving especially for her. That’d show Spike!
Oh, how wrong Rainbow Dash was. Because Rarity was not too amused by the pegasus’s willingness to partake in such a match of wits and love. In fact, to Rarity her friend’s behavior came off as cruel and heartless. How dare Rainbow Dash trick her into overseeing a makeover for such superficial intentions? Spike wasn’t to blame at all, Rarity ruminated. He was the guiltless baby dragon duped into a challenge he did not even want to be a part of!
Rarity stopped sewing, still facing away from Rainbow Dash. “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I am too busy at the moment. You’ll have to make do by yourself.”
“What?” Rainbow Dash gasped at Rarity’s unexpected answer. “Are you sure? I mean, I’m actually asking for another spa session here.”
“I must refuse.” Rarity replied sternly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a deadline to make.”
Rainbow Dash heard the humming of the sewing machine run. She couldn’t believe it. Rarity actually refused her offer to get made-up. So what was next? Spike obviously had something planned for the nearing date, and Rainbow Dash desired to be equipped with at least a plan of her own. The athlete felt the need to counter any future attacks sent her way, yet she did not even take into account Rarity’s negation. The option of attempting a self-makeover was definitely out of the question. Was Rainbow Dash going to be forced to enter the spa alone? She deduced Lotus and Aloe being able to reproduce their last session wasn’t impossible. Should she head over to the Day Spa now?
Rainbow Dash was at a loss for the next course of action. She was a bit upset by Rarity’s unyielding denial to aid, though the Pegasus understood Rarity’s surviving business was just as important - if not more important - as the results of the challenge. Rainbow Dash suddenly came upon guilt for having disrupted her friend’s duties. As the element she was meant to represent, Rainbow Dash decided it was best to leave Rarity to her own tasks in peace.
“Sorry for bothering you, Rarity.” Rainbow Dash apologized as she hovered to the front door.
Confident, Rainbow Dash picked her head up. “I’ll take care of it myself then. Thanks for the help before.”
Rainbow Dash departed from the Carousel Boutique, rising towards the bright blue sky. Rarity kept at her mute embroidery at the sewing machine. Nothing was wrong. Spike couldn’t possibly fall for such feeble deception, Rarity secured herself. Rainbow Dash had no idea what was coming.
“I don’t know why…” Rarity muttered inaudibly. “I feel this way.”
Rarity lifted her hooves off of the half-stitched fabric. “Spikey-Wikey will win. He loves another mare.”
The unicorn sniffed discretely, liquid welling up in her azure eyes. “For he loves me.”
A third of the time allotted, until Spike and Rainbow Dash’s fateful date, passed by in hectic routine. Twilight finally arrived at Sweet Apple Acres, the rural countryside and home of the famous Apple Family, to find Applejack, an orange earth pony with a southern tongue, busily bucking apple trees. After confronting Applejack about the plans for a picnic date, the earth pony made light of her overall opinion of the entire debacle.
“Ah’m sorry, Twilight. But I ain’t gettin’ involved in no date.” Applejack said, moving onto the next apple tree. “I got a funny feelin’ about all this, and I’d feel safer not bein’ a part of it.”
“But, Applejack, Spike could seriously be in trouble right now.” Twilight debated, following Applejack. “I agree this whole thing is ridiculous.”
“Then why make it worse by doin’ this date thing in the first place?” Applejack jutted her hindhooves back with great strength, causing a multitude of red fruits to fall in her basket sacks. “Don’t make no sense, if you ask me.”
“Spike claims he has a plan to make Rainbow Dash stop all this.” Twilight assured. “You know how Rainbow Dash can get, Applejack. She won’t stop until she is satisfied. And she’ll only be satisfied with a victory.”
“Ya got that right.” Applejack bucked the apple tree once more, collecting more produce. “That mare don’t know when to quit sometimes.”
“We need your help right now, Applejack. A few apple pies would suffice. All paid for, of course.” Twilight Sparkle pleaded, bringing her face closer to Applejack’s snout.
“Oh, Twilight, I don’t know.” Applejack scratched her head in uncertainty. “We should just let em’ settle it by themselves. And I’d never let you pay for our pies. You know that.”
“If Rainbow Dash wins, she could really break Spike’s heart.” Twilight stated in sincere worry. “That wouldn’t be good for anypony. You and I both know that.”
Applejack thought of the repercussions. Twilight was right, she knew. If Rainbow Dash did win Spike’s affection, would she immediately dump him afterwards? What would that do to Spike? What would that do to their friendship? How would everypony else be affected? What about the elements of Harmony?
Applejack sighed in defeat. “Okay, Twilight. We’ll try it Spike’s way. But I’m tellin’ you I have a real funny feelin’ about this. Things are about to get weird.”
Twilight, relieved by Applejack’s acceptance, said. “We’ll just have to be ready, then.”
Half an hour was left until the time of eve, and Pinkie Pie, the bright pink party pony of Ponyville, bounced about Sugarcube Corner exuberantly. Wearing a green visor atop her head to fit the role of the bookkeeper, Pinkie Pie called out to the audience of gamblers shouting out bets and frantically waving Equestrian currency. Hundreds of ponies plugged the entire first floor of the large edifice, a few dozen having been stuffed into the kitchen. Many others waited outside and peered through the windows. Members of varying species and backgrounds crowded the Cakes’ sweets shop. Chief Thunderhooves the buffalo, two Diamond Dogs, Iron Will the minotaur, Philomena the phoenix, the cockatrice – who wore sunglasses at the request of Pinkie – and even the Great and Powerful Trixie huddled around Pinkie Pie, awaiting for the special announcement they had been notified of.
“The Great and Powerful Trixie demands you hurry up and tell us about this announcement!” The cloaked unicorn barked out, followed by the approving shouts from the rest of the spectators.
“YEAH!” Yelled Snowflake, a brawny Pegasus with the cutie mark of a dumbbell.
“Just get on with it.” Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon demanded simultaneously.
“Is Rainbow Dash winning?” Scootaloo’s voice was heard from beneath the horde. “Rainbow Dash is winning, right?”
“No way! Spike is going to beat Rainbow Dash at her own game!” Sweetie Belle’s voice squeaked.
“Rainbow Dash has got this in the bag. That mare’s tough.” Soarin’ the Wonderbolt commented from the back.
“My bet’s on Spike! Go Team Spike!” Vinyl Scratch hoof-pumped the air. “Octavia, who are you voting for?”
“Rainbow Dash, of course. Do you think that dragon’s maturity level can resist the advances of any mare?” Octavia answered snootily. “Please.”
“Hey, Spike’s more mature than you’ll ever be! He’s a man!” Iron Will bellowed at the top of his lungs.
“Did you even know Spike?” Pipsqueak’s voice responded.
Iron Will shrugged, snorting. “No matter. I heard he’s a dragon. So he must be monstrous in size. He’s a winner for sure.”
“He’s, like, smaller than me.” Bon Bon scoffed, followed by laughter from her companions.
“He’s what?” Iron Will screamed. “Hey, you pink pony! Twenty bits on Rainbow Dash!”
“Pinkie Pie, just tell us! What’s going on now?”
“Come on! I got fifty bits riding on this!”
“Yeah, what is it, Pinkie? Ah’ve come all the way from APPLE-LOOSA!”
“Squak!” The cockatrice screeched.
“Caw!” Philomena cawed.
“Okay, everypony! Hold your horses!” Pinkie Pie giggled at her own pun, spreading her forehooves wide apart. “You’re going to love this! Because Spike and Rainbow Dash are going to…”
Pinkie Pie noticed everypony leaning forward, listening intently to every word coming from her mouth. Enjoying the attention, Pinkie Pie decided to milk it for all it was worth.
“On the other hand, I could just tell you all later!” Pinkie Pie watched as everypony groaned in sheer irritation.
“Just tell us!” Roseluck, the floral pony, prompted.
“How rude.” Octavia said.
“Hurry it up, will you?” Lyra Heartstrings cried.
“I knew the moment that pony came up to me she’d be like this.” Grunted Chief Thunderhooves.
“The Great and Powerful Trixie is not amused!”
“Goo-goo, ga-ga.” Pound Cake made aware.
“Ga-ga, goo-goo.” Pumpkin Cake agreed.
“SQUAK!” The cockatrice began to remove its sunglasses using its scaly tail.
“GO TEAM SPIKE!” Snips and Snails jumped as a pair.
“GO TEAM RAINBOW DASH!” Scootaloo and Pipsqueak retorted back.
“Everypony, please settle down!” Applebloom attempted to avoid the breaking out of an angry mob.
“Okay, okay. I’ll tell you now. Just know that I’m so happy everypony was able to get involved in this betting pool. I’m so excited by the fact that I could be the bookkeeper! Because that means I’m able to meet and talk to anypony willing to take part! And that seems to be almost everypony I’ve met! Which is a good thing because I did not want anypony to miss out on the fun, and then there’s the point that not everypony really knows the two players of this game of love. But that’s okay. Because I went ahead and told them a few things about each player, and the better was able to make a decision based on that. Isn’t that a good thing? I think it’s just great! Now we’re all here, and you’re all ordering cakes and sweets and treats and – “
“PINKIE PIE!” Everypony in the room roared savagely.
“Spike and Rainbow Dash are going out on a date in thirty minutes!” Pinkie Pie squealed animatedly, bouncing up and down in pure elation.
The room registered the new information for only a second before blowing up into gasps, cries, grunts, groans, shouts and an endless array of questioning. Pinkie Pie’s perky smile reached near impossible limits as it stretched into the shape of an upside down crescent moon. She scanned the throng of gatherers in delight, relishing in the sounds of the cacophony. This was a party, she reasoned. The biggest party Equestria will ever know was afoot.
The pink pony grabbed at her green visor and grinned. “Okay, everypony! You all probably have loads of questions! So ask away!”