4w, 2dNaNoWriMo: Week One 8 comments · 64 views
10w, 4dApplePie Ship Group Prompt Collab 0 comments · 92 views
13w, 5dName Change to "Drought" and Other Sundries 12 comments · 169 views
16w, 6dShip Group Prompt Stories 4 comments · 200 views
19w, 6dStory Recommendations of the Day: FLUFFCATION Edition! 12 comments · 269 views
23w, 3hI return from an unexpected hiatus and bring you crappy presents no one asked for! 5 comments · 173 views
34w, 2dStory Recommendations of the Day 11 comments · 253 views
40w, 2dI return in triumph and with a slightly different user's name! 29 comments · 446 views
43w, 3dMY DARK POWERS HAVE REACHED THEIR ZENITH 21 comments · 387 views
43w, 4dNew Co-Written Story: "The Eulogy of Mr. Acorn, by the Coward Twilight Sparkle" 3 comments · 266 views
“If this world makes you crazy, and you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up, because you know I’ll be there.”
--Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
The cupcake was almost the size of her entire head. It stood on the counter in front of her, tall, proud, a visionary masterpiece of chocolate cake and vanilla frosting. Pinkie nearly wept at the beauty of it all. Her mouth watered, and she licked her lips.
It was almost too difficult to tear her eyes away from the glorious treat, but she forced herself to do so, just so she could take another look around the bakery. Because the bakery itself was every inch as beautiful as the cupcake that it had produced. The interior had been decorated in warm, rich colors, such a lovely and stark contrast to the gray monotony with which she’d grown up. A majestic symphony of tasty scents wafted through the entire shop, and the happy chatter and laughter of the bakery customers rang through the air like church bells.
Pinkie didn’t know if there was a heaven or not, but if there was, she was absolutely certain that it must look exactly like Sugar Cube Corner.
From somewhere to her left, Granny Smith issued a soft snort. “Well, go on, filly! That there cupcake ain’t gonna eat itself.”
That finally broke Pinkie out of her reverie. Without any further ado she lunged forward and buried her face in the cupcake, happily breathing in its sweet, sugary scent as she began devouring the dessert. It was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten in her entire life. Ever.
After she’d finished, she leaned back with a heartfelt, satisfied sigh.
“Oh … my,” came a quiet voice from behind. Pinkie glanced over and saw a light blue mare with a pink mane staring at her with undisguised wonder. “You sure can put away food in rather a hurry, can’t you, dearie?”
Over to Pinkie’s right, Applejack chuckled as she ate her own cupcake at a more leisurely pace. She replied while still chewing, spraying crumbs rather indiscriminately as she said, “Shucks, Mrs. Cake! Y’think that was somethin’? You shoulda seen the way she gobbled down the apples I been givin’ her.”
Mrs. Cake favored the two fillies with an indulgent smile. “I can imagine! I must say, it does warm my heart to see my baking being enjoyed so much.”
Grinning widely, Pinkie gave her small belly a pat. “Oh gosh, Mrs. Cake, of course I enjoyed it! That was the bestest cupcake I’ve ever had!”
“That’s very sweet of you to say, Pinkie.” Suddenly the bakery owner’s eyes darted over to Granny Smith, and Granny Smith gave a slight nod. “Actually, dear? I was wondering … “
Pinkie Pie tensed up immediately. She could feel Applejack lean against her, in a friendly sort of way, but she dared not take her eyes off the adults.
For her own part, Mrs. Cake’s smile never wavered. “I was just wondering if you’d like to learn to bake cupcakes, too? Well, all sorts of desserts, really.”
The little pink filly swallowed. She didn’t trust herself to speak.
“Carrot and I are doing more and more business lately,” Mrs. Cake continued on, in a slightly nervous tone, as she sneaked another glance towards Applejack’s grandmother, “and we’d love to have some help around the bakery.”
Applejack gave Pinkie a nudge with her shoulder. “Hey, now. I bet you’d make a real fine baker!”
Mrs. Cake nodded in enthusiastic agreement. “Most certainly! And … only if you’d like to, dearie, mind you … you could also stay here with Carrot and I at Sugar Cube Corner.”
It was too much. All of it, everything, it was too much. Pinkie collapsed to the bakery floor and began sobbing, curling inwards on herself as she cried and not knowing just why she was crying so hard. She heard Applejack and her granny muttering to one another, but their words were too soft for her to quite make them out. Then, she felt somepony kneel down close beside her, somepony warm and soft, and Pinkie caught the faintest whiffs of vanilla and cocoa.
“Shh. It’s all right,” whispered the baker soothingly, as she gave the filly a brief nuzzle. “Don’t you worry, dearie--you don’t have to decide anything right this moment. We really shouldn’t have overwhelmed you like that.” She dropped a gentle kiss onto the top of Pinkie’s head. “Everything’s going to be all right.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Pinkie surrendered herself to the older mare’s embrace, craving the comfort of physical affection and unable to stop herself even if she’d wanted to. But really, she wasn’t at all sure that she did want to stop herself. Because right then and there, for the first time in a long time, she felt as though maybe things possibly could be all right someday.
Scootaloo felt cold. She unfurled her wings as far as they’d go, then wrapped them tightly around herself in an attempt to retain some of her body heat.
It didn’t really work.
Tucking her chin against her chest, she hunkered down in her hiding place and regretted that she hadn’t thought to swipe a blanket or something from Sweet Apple Acres before she’d taken off. Bitterly she wondered how she was supposed to get herself out of this whole mess. She couldn’t hide here forever--that much she knew--but she had no idea where she could go or what she could do.
All she knew was that she couldn’t leave Ponyville. She’d briefly considered it, but even just the thought of that possibility caused her chest to seize up so painfully that she felt like she’d taken a kick to the ribs. No, she couldn’t leave Ponyville. Everything she’d done, everything she’d fought for, had been so that she could stay. So that she could stay in this town with the ponies and places she loved so dearly.
Hidden as she was, she could still see a bit of sky. She frowned when she noticed that tiny white flecks were beginning to drift slowly through the air, and she stifled a sigh. Snow. Great. Just great.
It was going to be a long, cold night.
She slept fitfully as the night wore on, her every sense set to high alert. She woke up at the tiniest of noises--at the soft hoot of a nearby owl, at the rustling of the wind through the streets, at the grumbling of her own empty stomach. And Scootaloo awoke when she heard the sudden intrusion of voices coming from down below.
“I can’t believe ya just let ‘er get away! You, the fastest flier in all Equestria!”
“Hey, it wasn’t my fault! She was on her little scooter, and she’s a lot speedier on that thing than you’d think. Besides, I was totally right behind her all the way up until she disappeared into the Everfree.” A frustrated growl. “Stupid trees made it so I couldn’t see where she went after that ...”
“Oh, for the love of all things fashionable, please don’t start that up again, you two! You’ll just make Fluttershy cry, and the poor dear can only be expected to stand so much in one day.”
“T-thank you, Rarity, but really … I’m okay … “
There came a sigh, exasperated and all too familiar. “I just wish we’d been able to find her somewhere in those woods, since we lost all those daylight hours searching the Everfree.” Then, a guilty tone. “Ugh, I wish this search and rescue spell worked more precisely than it does! I can tell we’re getting nearer and that she’s somewhere here in Ponyville, but I can’t really feel exactly where. Maybe if I’d practised doing--”
Scootaloo felt every muscle in her body coil up, tight and angry, as though preparing for a fight. She held her breath and waited.
Down below, the other ponies were startled into a momentary hush, before Twilight asked, “What? What is it, Pinkie Pie?”
“She’s here, guys.” Pinkie speaking now. A hint of steel in her voice. “Somewhere really, really close.”
“Darling, how can you possibly--”
“How does Pinkie Pie know any of the stuff she knows?”
“All right, everypony.” Twilight again. Talking in that take-charge, leader-like way of hers. “Let’s fan out to search the area and see if we can find anything. We’ll meet back right here in ten minutes, okay?”
Scootaloo could hear faint mutterings as the ponies dispersed. She knew better than to relax, though. Knew better than to let down her guard. And she felt utterly vindicated when, only a few minutes later, she heard the soft clop of hooves come from behind and the quiet voice that suddenly cut through the darkness.
The pegasus refused to turn around. “I hate that name,” she muttered, her teeth chattering a bit as she spoke, “and I hate you.”
Pinkie Pie didn’t reply, but the sound of her footsteps came closer and closer. Scootaloo both felt and heard the other pony settle down beside her, near enough that she could feel the warmth from Pinkie’s body. For several long moments, Scootaloo didn’t move, and neither did Pinkie. Then the younger pony shifted over a bit. She nestled against the mare’s soft side and drank in the pleasant heat like a lizard might bask on a rock on a nice spring day.
Still Pinkie didn’t speak. Instead, she simply wrapped a foreleg around Scootaloo’s shoulders and pulled her closer. They sat there in awkward silence for what felt like an eternity but was probably only a minute or two. Slowly but surely, the younger pony stopped shivering.
“How’d you even find me?” Scootaloo found herself asking. “Did you use your Pinkie sense?”
“Nah, not for this. I just asked myself, Self, where could Scootaloo be hiding? And then I thought about it, and then I answered myself, and I said, Self, I bet she would hide just where Rainbow Dash would hide!”
Scootaloo blinked in surprise. “Rainbow Dash would hide here? In the schoolhouse bell? Really?” She glanced around, at the cold smooth metal of the large bell that surrounded them on all sides, before turning her head to finally look at Pinkie.
Pinkie grinned. “Oh, no! Not just would hide … but did hide!”
“Huh.” Scootaloo sat with this knowledge for a few moments, unsure of what to think or how to respond, before venturing, “Rainbow Dash is really brave, so how come she was hiding? Was there a monster?”
“Oh. Um. Kinda? It was … kinda something like that …” Pinkie lapsed into nervous giggling. “But anyways! The real question here is, why are you hiding?”
Scootaloo stared down at her hooves. Feeling that same uncomfortable flutter in her stomach that she’d felt back at Applejack’s barn, she said nothing. Pinkie’s hug tightened a bit and, after a moment, Scootaloo let out the breath she’d been holding in. “I don’t wanna leave,” she confessed, very quietly, as though afraid to say the words aloud.
There was a short pause. When Pinkie spoke, her voice was unusually solemn. “You won’t have to.”
“But … but I don’t--”
“We’ll make sure you won’t have to. I promise.” Suddenly Pinkie’s hooves were cupping Scootaloo’s face, gently lifting her chin and forcing the young pegasus to look up at the older pony. “I promise, Scootaloo. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”
From listening to conversations Rarity had had with Sweetie Belle, and from Applejack talking to Applebloom, Scootaloo knew of the utter sanctity and seriousness of a Pinkie Pie promise. Especially from hearing that one story about the time Applejack went to work at a cherry orchard.
Scootaloo bit her lip. “Okay,” she allowed, her voice little more than a whisper. She wasn’t entirely sure just what she was agreeing to.
“Oh, yay!” With a sudden, fierce grin, Pinkie let go of the filly and jumped to her feet. “Why don’t we go round up the girls and head over to Sugar Cube Corner to get all warm and toasty? I can make us hot chocolate again!”
Scootaloo found herself standing up, as well, almost as if her hooves had a mind of their own. To be honest, hot chocolate sounded like a really good idea right about then. To be honest, it sounded perfectly heavenly. As Pinkie began eagerly bounding down the ladder that led from the bell tower back to the ground, Scootaloo followed close behind.
Pinkie turned around and flashed a tiny smile as soon as she reached the bottom. “Hey, on the way back to Sugar Cube Corner, I can tell you a story.”
Scootaloo couldn’t quite resist the urge to roll her eyes. “And what story are you gonna tell me? The one about how Equestria was made?”
“No, silly, you already know that one.” Pinkie snorted in mirth. But then her voice dropped low, and her face took on a serious expression. “No, Loo-Loo, I’m gonna tell you the story about how I made my very first friend ever in Ponyville. It started way back when I was an itty bitty filly and still living on my parents’ rock farm.” Together the two ponies began walking away from the schoolhouse, as Pinkie Pie continued speaking. “There was a really bad accident … a rock slide over in the west field …”
“Are you done cleaning in there yet, dearie?”
The little pink filly came prancing out of the kitchen, a dishrag held between her teeth. With a jaunty toss of her head, she sent the rag flying all the way across the room, where it landed in a bucket of water with a small splash.
“All done, Mrs. Cake!” Pinkie chirped. “Sorry again about the teeny tiny explosion in the oven.”
After blinking dazedly at the water bucket for a few seconds, Mrs. Cake recovered herself enough to reply, “Oh, that’s all right, Pinkie. The muffins got finished on time, and that’s the important thing.” Her eyebrows knit together. “Though I’m still not quite sure how cookie batter ended up on the ceiling …”
Pinkie just giggled.
Mr. Cake walked out of the kitchen next, grinning broadly. “Well, since a certain pink pony’s been such a good little helper in the bakery today, I think she should get a reward now that her shift’s over. Don’t you think so, Cup?”
Mrs. Cake returned her husband’s grin with one of her own. “Why, Carrot, I think that’s a wonderful idea.”
“And what do you think, Pinkie?” asked Mr. Cake, turning to the filly in question.
Pinkie Pie’s eyes lit up like fireworks on the night of the Grand Galloping Gala. “Yes! Oh, pretty please!” The filly began hopping excitedly around the room, a fluffy pink pinball of energy, and drew amused chuckles from both the Cakes. “I think yes, Mr. Cake! Reward! Ooh! Yay!”
Mr. Cake reached out with a hoof and gently grabbed Pinkie by the shoulder. “Now, settle down, or else you won’t be able to see your choices.”
Immediately the young pony froze, as if Celestia herself had commanded it. Her eyes went as wide as saucers. “I get to choose?” she murmured, in an awed and reverent tone.
“Why, certainly, dearie!” Mrs. Cake took a step back and gestured towards the bakery’s display case. “You can choose whichever muffin, cookie, or cupcake you’d like.”
Leaping forward, Pinkie pressed her snout against the cool, smooth glass of the display. Her breath quickly fogged up the glass, and she wiped her foreleg across the case’s window to clear the view as she gazed in rapture. There were rows upon rows of enticing treats, almost too many to bear to look upon. Finally, she spotted the perfect one.
“That one,” she said, jabbing her small pink hoof towards one of the muffins. “Can I have that one?”
“Of course you can!”
Soon enough, the muffin of her desire was all packaged up, nice and neat, and Pinkie Pie was carrying off her spoils in triumph. Immediately she set off towards the marketplace at a brisk trot. On her way there, she passed by a number of ponies whom she’d come to recognize over the last few weeks and gave each a bright smile. She received a smile and a nod from each pony in turn, and she felt so incredibly happy. The happiness welled within her chest to such an extent, in fact, that she thought she just might explode. Maybe even twice.
She reached the marketplace in just a few minutes, and with little trouble she found the Apple family’s fruit stand. Granny Smith and Big Macintosh greeted her with cheery waves as soon as they spotted her making her way towards them, but Applejack didn’t so much as crack a grin.
“Why so glum, chum?” Pinkie asked her friend, as soon as she was within speaking range.
The orange filly shrugged. “Oh, don’t mind me. Just feelin’ a bit sore still on account of some prissy white unicorn filly who came by earlier this morning. Said I was gettin’ mud all over the apples.” She huffed a bit and stamped her foot. “Ain’t no mud on my hooves! I washed ‘em just three days ago!”
Pinkie set down her package and grabbed one of Applejack’s hooves between her own. She studied it carefully. “Nope! You’re right. No mud.”
Applejack yanked back her leg and rolled her eyes. “I know! That’s what I said! Silly fuss-budget unicorn ...” She glanced towards the package. “But that’s enough o’ my belly-achin’. Whatcha got there, sugar cube?”
“Oh!” Pinkie had already forgotten that she’d brought something with her, but now that she’d remembered, she began hopping up and down in excitement. “It’s a present, Applejack! A present for you!”
Pinkie swiftly knelt down to pick it back up, and she placed it up on top of the apple stand so that it was within easy reach of her friend.
With a small but genuine grin, the other filly tore open the package. “Well, boy howdy! A muffin?” She took a sniff. “And it’s an apple walnut muffin, too, if my nose don’t deceive me.”
“Ya didn’t have to get me any present, y’know,” said Applejack, even as she began heartily munching on the muffin in front of her and glaring daggers at her very interested and hungry-looking brother.
Pinkie smiled a tiny, quiet smile. “Yes, I did.”
Author's Notes: "RARITY, CATCH ME!" For me, that just might be the "Secrets and lies! It's all secrets and lies with those ponies!" of season 2.