"Sonata did mention a girl you've been pining over..." Rear Sentry's smirk turned malicious. "Why don't you tell your Uncle Rear all about that..."
At Flash's stricken expression, Fluttershy's eyes turned soft and sad. She laid a hand on Flash's shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. "Umm...Mr. Sentry? That's...that's kind of a sensitive subject."
"No, it's okay, Fluttershy," Flash said in a tired, defeated tone. "I mean, I...I kinda know, so..."
Uncle Rear frowned, his mirth turning to concern. "What's wrong?"
"W-well, it's a little tough to explain," Fluttershy said, "but basically, Twilight's...she lives very far away and can't visit here very often. I mean, she has a crush on Flash, and he has a crush on her, but..." She shook her head. "It isn't really..."
"Ahh," Uncle Rear said, nodding sagely. "Yeah, the same thing happened with Chop when he was your age. Met this cutie from Cloudsdale, they hung out a bit, they were sickeningly cute together. But it wasn't long before they stopped exchanging letters, and then he met River in college..." He shrugged. "The rest is history." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Say, you pining over this out of town girl wouldn't happen to be how you got into this whole mess, would it?"
"Yeah," Flash said, nodding miserably.
"Ouch," Uncle Rear said, wincing. "Rebound gone wrong is even worse than one-night stand gone wild." He tilted his head. "Still, Sonata seems like a pretty decent girl."
Fluttershy coughed. "Umm...she's blackmailing Flash into letting her stay here," she pointed out.
"I mean besides that," Uncle Rear said airily. "I could probably even smooth this whole thing over with Chop and River if you wanted to keep her around."
Flash made a stuck sound in his throat. "N-no!" he stammered. "She's seriously gotta go! You have no idea how much trouble she can be!"
"Aww, and I just texted my meanie-pants roomies where to bring my stuff," Sonata interjected from the hallway in a dramatic pout. Three heads whipped around to see her standing there wearing white canvas shorts, pink canvas tennis shoes, and a dark pink T-shirt with horizontal white stripes. She rocked on her heels, sticking out her bottom lip. "You really hate me that much?"
Flash stared at her, then sighed. "I guess you can stay tonight at least," he said. "Tomorrow, umm...tomorrow you should, maybe...try to find somebody else to..." He trailed off. "Or maybe not."
"Yay!" Sonata cheered, rushing forward and hugging Flash enthusiastically.
Ditzy facepalmed. Fluttershy winced. Uncle Rear snickered. Flash sighed again.
* * * * *
Pinkie Pie puttered down the pavement on her sparkly party scooter, pondering the prickly predicament Flash Sentry had poked his pecker into. So preoccupied with preponderance was Pinkie, she passed a pretty purple pony princess without parsing her presence.
"Pinkie Pie! Wait up!"
Pinkie blinked, then pulled over and parked. "Pielight Parkle!" she said. Then, she shook her head, her eyes rolling comically. "I mean, Twilight Sparkle!"
Twilight braced her hands on her knees, taking deep breaths. "I...was...chasing you...for two blocks..." Twilight wheezed.
"Oh! Sorry. I was kinda lost in thought," Pinkie said. "Surprised to see you here today!"
Twilight shrugged. "Well, I had a break in my schedule and didn't really feel like doing anything back at the castle, and my friends are all busy with other stuff today, so I thought I'd take a quick trip over. I mean, I don't get to see you all very often, and usually when I come to this world I don't get to just enjoy myself, you know?"
"True that," Pinkie said. "I was just on my way home from Applejack's, want me to drop you anywhere? Or you could come to my place."
"How about Sunset Shimmer's place?" Twilight asked.
"Oh, umm..." Pinkie's eyes darted back and forth nervously. "She's...not home right now. She's, umm...she's helping...another friend. With...something."
"Oh," Twilight said. Then, brightly, she added, "Maybe I can help?"
"NO!" Pinkie cried. When Twilight flinched away, she laughed nervously. "I mean, haha, it's not...I mean, it's kind of a personal thing, you know?" After an awkward moment, she said, "Hey, hop on, we'll head to my house! We can see what some of the other girls are doing when we get there!"
"Well...okay!" Twilight climbed onto the back of Pinkie's scooter and wrapped her arms around Pinkie's midsection. Pinkie peeled back off onto the road at a more sedate pace, her mind whirling.
*This is bad...! Whatever I do, I've gotta keep Twilight from finding out about Flash and Sonata...!*
* * * * *
"Gotta keep Twilight from finding out this ever happened," Sunset muttered to herself as she browsed the ice cream selection at the nearest supermarket to Flash's house. "Then again, what are the odds she'd find out? I mean, unless I write to her about it or she randomly comes through the portal at just the wrong moment..." She chuckled. "Yeah, like that'll happen."
Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and checked it.
Twilight's here. Taking her to my place. Gonna keep her busy.
Sunset nearly dropped her phone. "What the f..." She noticed a cream-skinned woman with long honey-brown hair scowling fiercely at her and held her tongue, offering a sheepish smile. "Sorry. Bad day."
"Uh-huh," the woman said sourly as she thrust an arm into the next freezer over and pulled out a box of ice cream sandwiches. She tossed them into her basket and moved on, a young brown-skinned boy wearing a propeller beanie hot at her heels.
Shaking her head, Sunset withdrew a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and another of triple fudge brownie swirl from the freezer, then mosied down the aisle to select various toppings and goodies to go along with it. *If Twilight's here, there's no way in hell I can let her anywhere near Flash, or Flash anywhere near her. Unless this whole Sonata thing blows over really fast, and I don't see that happening...* With a sigh, she finished loading up her basket, then headed for the check-out lines. *I hope Fluttershy's doing okay back at Flash's place...maybe I should've sent her after the ice cream instead...*
* * * * *
*I really wish Sunset had let me go after the ice cream...* Fluttershy shuffled her feet awkwardly as she studied Sonata, who was clinging to Flash and giggling. Ditzy stood off to the side shaking her head sadly; Flash's Uncle Rear was smirking on the sofa.
One thing Sonata had said, though, stuck out in Fluttershy's mind and filled her with dread. "Umm...Sonata...did-did you say the other Dazzlings are...are coming here?"
"If Adagio ever gets her head out of her butt," Sonata said. She snicker-snorted. "Which should take a few hours with all that hair, am I right?"
"Is...is that a good idea?" Ditzy asked. "I mean, I'm not sure those two having Flash's address is...is a good idea..."
"Well I'm not gonna haul my own stuff across town," Sonata said with a roll of her eyes. "Besides, they kicked me out, the least they can do is bring me my stuff."
"It's just that...they're, well..."
"Totally evil bitches?" Sonata asked. "Yeah...but I'm the only one they're mad at, so don't worry!"
"Umm...I'm not so sure about that," Fluttershy said nervously. "I mean—"
Sonata blinked. "Oh wait, I remember you now! You're one of the Rainbooms!" She giggled. "I honestly didn't recognize you because, you know, you spent most of the Battle of the Bands hiding behind things."
"That's enough, Sonata," Flash said sternly. "Don't start on Fluttershy, okay?"
Sonata sighed. "Yeah, you're right. My bad."
"And I gotta agree, I'm not totally cool with the idea of those other two showing up," Flash said. "After what you three did at CHS, I mean—"
"Oh, don't worry about it," Sonata said airily. "They won't cause any drama, promise!"
* * * * *
Aria Blaze tested the heft of an aluminum baseball bat, scowling. "I dunno, Dagi," she said sourly. "I mean, yeah, Sonata's the worst, but isn't this kind of...much?"
Adagio Dazzle sat at the breakfast nook, oiling a pair of sharp, nasty-looking pliers. "Sonata insulted me. Me. And presumed to tell me what to do. She needs to learn her place."
Aria's brow furrowed. "Umm...you know, Adagio...you're not exactly better than any of us. Your big plans always fail. It's your fault we're stuck in this shithole of a world. It's your fault we lost our magic."
Adagio glared at her. "The three of us have survived this primitive world all these years because of my wits, my cunning, my understanding of human nature."
"Your willingness to spread your legs..." Aria leaned to the right, dodging a coffee cup that sailed past her head and shattered on the wall.
"YOU BOTH OWE ME," Adagio seethed, "and I will NOT have the most useless Siren ever spawned telling ME to eat shit!"
Aria snickered. "Man, she burned you good." She sighed and tossed her baseball bat onto the couch. "Look, you wanna mess her up? Go for it. I just...really don't care, okay? This is your drama." She turned to head back to her room. Over her shoulder, she tossed, "And don't even think about pulling this crap on me, Adagio. I can rip you apart with one hand tied behind my back and you know it."
Adagio growled, glaring murderously in the direction Aria had departed. She then set the pliers aside and picked up a large pair of shears and a sharpening stone.
* * * * *
"So, what's life like in magic pony land lately?" Pinkie asked as she parked in front of her family's exceptionally ordinary-looking house.
Twilight, a bit wobbly on her feet after the ride, stomped her feet in place for a minute to get the feeling back, then steadied herself. "Oh, it's...it's been fine," she said. "My castle has a magic map that summons my friends to different parts of Equestria whenever there's a friendship problem that needs solving..." She let out a deep sigh. "It hasn't summoned me anywhere...even the one place I really really wanted to go..."
"Aww, that's too bad," Pinkie said sympathetically. "I hate missing out on fun things I really want to do. Like, last week? I had to miss a super cool birthday party at Greas E. Pizza's Pizzaporium because I had detention!" She tilted her head. "Well, not like I was invited, I mean it was Thunderlane's kid brother Rumble's party, but it was a party at Greas E. Pizza's and I mean come on, who can say no to the ball pit?"
Twilight stared at her. "Uh...huh," she said. "Well, as...as fun as that sounds...wait, why'd you have detention?"
Pinkie scratched her cheek sheepishly. "Mthvbnbldngprtycnnntkndblwp," she mumbled.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" Twilight asked, cupping a hand around one ear and leaning closer.
Pinkie sighed. "I might've been building a prototype party cannon in shop class and it might've sorta...blown up..."
"Oh," Twilight said, blinking. "Well...still...I mean, it's shop class, right? Accidents happen when you're working with tools..."
Pinkie toed the driveway, her expression even more sheepish. "Yyyyeah, thing is...I'm not in shop class...I was supposed to be in history class at the time..."
Twilight frowned. "Oh," she said in a mildly disapproving tone.
"I COULDN'T HELP IT!" Pinkie cried, digging through her curls with clawed fingers. "History is boring and party cannons aren't boring and Mr. Doodle hates me and—"
Twilight held up a hand. "It's okay," she said. "You're Pinkie Pie. Pinkie Pies do crazy things, I get it. You got punished for it, you learned your lesson, case closed." She clapped her hands together. "Are you grounded or anything?"
"Nope," Pinkie said. "I got yelled at for an hour, but Maud got me out of anything worse."
"Good." Twilight smiled. "Let's have some fun then!"
Pinkie immediately brightened. "Okay! I'll call Rainbow Dash and Rarity and Flutt—no, wait, Fluttershy's helping Sunset Shimmer at Flash's pla—" Her eyes widened as her brain caught up with her mouth.
"Flash?" Twilight asked, perking up. "Flash Sentry?"
Pinkie giggled nervously. "Hahahaha, no? Flash Sentry, why would Sunset and Fluttershy be at Flash Sentry's house? No, they're helping Flash Dancer, yeah, totally different Flash, you see, and—"
Twilight gave her a half-lidded glare, arms folded. "Pinkie Pie, what's going on?" she asked slowly and sternly.
Pinkie stopped rambling, letting her hands fall to her side. "Yeah, okay, so there's kiiiind of a problem with Flash, but you shouldn't worry about it, really, because Sunset's got it covered, and—"
"Take me," Twilight said.
"Uhh...don't know where he lives?" Pinkie offered sheepishly.
"Find out," Twilight said.
Twilight rolled her eyes. "I know how smartphones work, Pinkie," she said. She reached into Pinkie's hair, pulled out her phone, and tapped the button on the side. "Hey Coocle, show me how to get to Flash Sentry's house from here."
Pinkie's jaw dropped. "How did you—"
"Please," Twilight said with a smirk. "I've been friends with the other Pinkie Pie for years. You really think I haven't learned how you work?" She studied the phone's screen, then nodded. "Okay, let's go."
"Umm...Twilight?" Pinkie offered plaintively as she took her phone back. "I seriously, really, really really think you don't wanna do that."
"If Flash is in trouble, I wanna help," Twilight said confidently, though she wasn't able to hide the blush that crept across her face. "I'm the Princess of Friendship, solving problems is what I do."
"No, see, it's—"
"Twilight, you really don't have to—"
Pinkie jumped. Her hair deflated. "O-okay, Twilight. We'll...we'll go...to Flash's house..." She crammed her helmet back on her head and hopped onto her scooter. As Twilight secured herself behind her, Pinkie reached into her pocket—having placed her phone where it was supposed to be and cursing the Rule of Pink for betraying her earlier—and touch-texted Sunset Shimmer.
BIG SOS! Twilight's making me take her to Flash's place! THINK OF SOMETHING!
* * * * *
Sunset Shimmer had just walked through the front door with the ice cream and was looking forward to sitting down with the unusual group at Flash's house and maybe talking through a lot of things over delicious creamy frozen desserts when she got Pinkie's frantic texts.
Her irises shrank to pinpricks. She almost dropped the ice cream.