As soon as Sunset Shimmer was inside the house, she started talking. "We've got a problem."
"What now?" Ditzy asked.
Sunset took a deep breath, looked at Flash, and braced herself. "Twilight Sparkle is on her way here."
Fluttershy gasped, covering her mouth. "What?!"
Flash's jaw dropped. "T-Twilight? She's here?!"
"Twilight being here means...means there's a new magical problem, right?" Fluttershy whimpered.
Uncle Rear raised an eyebrow. "Magical?"
"No, she's not here for that...I don't think," Sunset said. "Sounds like she's just visiting. Pinkie Pie was supposed to keep her occupied and not say anything about any of this but apparently she screwed up, so..." She shrugged, the bags of ice cream rustling in her hands. "Yeah."
Flash began pacing. "Oh man, oh man, oh man," he moaned. "If Twilight finds out, she'll...she'll hate me..."
"So who says she needs to know?" Sonata said. "I mean, she'll drop by, stay a bit, then go away, then you'll be all mine again!" She smirked into the back of her hand. "All we need to do is pretend we're just having a little ice cream party and it'll be okay!"
"Works for me," Uncle Rear said. "If you can keep from taunting this girl or tipping your hand."
Sonata snorted. "Please," she said. "I'm not as dumb as I am."
Everyone blinked as they parsed that. Fluttershy shook her head. "A-anyway, I...I think that's all we can really do. Umm. Play like everything's fine, for Twilight's sake."
"Except how do we explain Sonata being here?" Ditzy pointed out. "Also, the other Dazzlings are bringing her stuff over. It'll be pretty hard to explain that to Twilight."
Everyone stopped, frowning, to consider this.
Sunset sighed. "Ice cream first," she decided. "We can figure out what to do about Twilight while we're...yeah."
"Good idea," Uncle Rear said. "It'd be a shame to let good ice cream go to waste just because we're all panicking."
"I know, right?" Sonata giggled.
"I think I'm gonna cut out now," Ditzy said. "Sorry, but I really don't wanna be here to see what happens when this whole thing blows up in your face. Besides, you've got Sunset, you don't need me."
Flash sighed. "Fair enough. Thanks, Ditz. Sorry for dragging you into this whole mess."
"Yeah yeah," Ditzy said, waving him off. "If you live through this mess, you can make it up to me next month. Music festival in Canterlittle. You drive, you pay for snacks."
"Deal," Flash said.
As Ditzy left, Sonata gave Flash a sly look. "Making a date with another girl in front of your girlfriend? Kinda risky, isn't it?"
Flash groaned. "It's not a date," he said. "Ditzy and I are just friends. Always have been, always will be."
"Sure," Sonata said. "Come on, let's get to that ice cream already!"
"I'll go along with that," Sunset said. "If only because this stuff was expensive and I don't want it going to waste."
As the group filed into the kitchen, Fluttershy said, "I didn't know you and Ditzy were such close friends, Flash."
"Yeah, ever since first grade," Flash said. "We've always had each other's backs. I'm one of the few people that knows the real Ditzy."
"She used to be a huge pain in my ass back when I was, y'know...my old self," Sunset said as she unpacked her purchases while Uncle Rear got out bowls and spoons. "She's one of the few people at CHS I couldn't hold anything over or do anything to because she's already got such a weird reputation nothing bothers her."
"I can kind of see that," Fluttershy said. "I mean, I've never liked it when people call her Derpy just because of her eyes, but she played the musical saw at the Battle of the Bands..." She shook her head. "Even I thought that was a little, umm...weird."
Flash chuckled. "Yeah, she...has her moments. But then, you girls are friends with Pinkie Pie, you know how that is."
In addition to the ice cream, Sunset had bought canned whipped cream, a small jar of maraschino cherries, a jar of crushed cookie crumbles, a jar of fancy fudge sauce, and a small bag of chopped walnuts. "Ooh, you have good taste in ice cream and toppings," Sonata said, licking her lips.
"Glad you approve," Sunset said wryly. "By the way, you're paying half since it's your fault we're all in this mess to begin with."
Sonata shrugged. "Fair enough." Sunset passed her the receipt; Sonata winced, but took out her wallet and handed Sunset a few bills. While they settled up, Fluttershy grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl on the counter and started peeling it. "Ooh, out comes the banana, just like in a harem anime!" Sonata giggled.
Sunset made a stuck sound in her throat. Flash's eyes bugged out. Fluttershy froze, blinking slowly. She looked around the room, then at Sonata. "No," she said. "Just...no. I'm going to make a banana split, not...that thing you're thinking."
"What thing?" Sonata asked innocently.
"Let's not go there," Flash said hastily. "EVER."
"Agreed," Fluttershy and Sunset said loudly.
"Aww, you're no fun," Sonata pouted as she plopped down at the table.
Uncle Rear shook his head and laughed. "You kids," he said as he opened the triple fudge brownie swirl. "I am so glad I was here for all this."
The little group set about scooping ice cream into bowls and adding various toppings. As Flash finished mixing walnuts into his bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough and started eating, he couldn't help but watch Fluttershy as she meticulously constructed a banana split; after slicing the banana down the middle and spreading it in the bowl, she spooned fudge sauce down the center, then scooped triple fudge brownie swirl on top of that. She added a few sprinkles of cookie crumbles and walnuts, then sprayed a huge dollop of whipped cream on top before adding a cherry and some more cookie crumbles. Lastly, she drizzled one more spoonful of fudge sauce around the entire thing in a lazy spiral.
Flash wasn't the only one watching her. Sunset stared, eyes wide, as Fluttershy took her first creamy spoonful and savored it slowly, moaning appreciatively. "Uhh...wow," she said. "You...really know your way around ice cream."
"That looks soo yummy," Sonata moaned. She scrambled over to the fruit bowl and got herself a banana, then clumsily copied Fluttershy's banana split.
"Somebody's got experience," Uncle Rear commented.
Fluttershy looked up, noticed everyone staring at her, and blushed. "Oh. Umm. Well..." She ducked her head. "I, umm...I always make myself an ice cream sundae every day when I get home from school. It's...it's my little thing. It's how I unwind."
"I think I like your way of unwinding," Uncle Rear said with a grin.
"That explains your tits," Sonata commented through a mouthful of ice cream. Fluttershy paused with her spoon halfway to her mouth, her eyes wide and her cheeks red. Sunset spluttered; Flash choked on a walnut piece.
"Umm," Fluttershy whispered. "Umm...oh my...umm..." She ducked her head and shrunk in on herself. "Please...please leave me out of...anything weird or perverted going on in this house. Please?"
"Yeah, Fluttershy's boobs are off limits," Sunset said. Flash choked again. Uncle Rear started giggling. Fluttershy shot Sunset an exasperated look; Sunset's eyes widened as she realized what she'd just said, and she groaned, smacking herself in the forehead. "Oh god, I am so sorry, Fluttershy."
Fluttershy sighed. "Well, they are," she said resignedly. This just sent Uncle Rear and Sonata into giggling fits.
The doorbell rang. Flash sprang out of his seat. "I'll get it," he said hoarsely, still pounding his sternum. He rushed to the front door and threw it open to find Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle standing there. His breath caught in his throat, his heart hammered in his chest, and the blush already rising to his cheeks deepened. "H-hey, Twilight," he stammered.
Twilight smiled and waved the fingers on one hand, a blush coloring her own cheeks. "H-hi," she said. "Umm...I heard you needed...help with something? So I came over. To help! Because I...I like helping. Yeah."
"Oh. W-well." Flash looked at Pinkie, who shrugged and shook her head. "Actually, we're...we're just having a little ice cream party in the kitchen, kinda, so..."
"SAY NO MORE!" Pinkie exclaimed, grabbing Twilight by the wrist and dragging her through the house. Twilight yelped and flailed, but made no move to disengage. Flash followed them, his stomach doing flip-flops as he watched Twilight's violet hair flounce around.
*Oh god,* he thought, swallowing nervously. *I don't know if I can handle this...*
Things had largely calmed down in the kitchen, though Fluttershy had a slightly peeved look on her face as she rather viciously tore into her banana split. Uncle Rear looked up and smiled pleasantly at the new arrivals. "Well! This house just keeps getting more and more pretty little things in it all the time!" he said loudly.
"Pinkie, Twilight," Sunset said in a matter-of-fact tone, "this is Flash's uncle, Rear Sentry. Uncle Rear, this is Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle."
"O-ho, the Twilight Sparkle," Uncle Rear said saucily, looking Twilight up and down. "Well, make yourself some ice cream and then tell old Uncle Rear all about how you and Flash met."
"W-well, that's—" Twilight began, then paused, noticing Sonata. She blinked, then tilted her head. "Sunset Shimmer? Why is one of the Dazzlings here?"
"It's...complicated," Sunset began. "You see—"
"Adagio kicked me out, I was wandering around town all alone with nowhere to go, Flash took pity on me and loaned me his guest room," Sonata said lightly.
"Oh," Twilight said, blinking. "Well...good for you, Flash! It's always good to be a friend to those in need, even if they haven't always been the nicest to you."
Flash scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. "Uhh...thanks?"
Pinkie and Twilight joined the group at the table; in no time flat, Pinkie had plonked whipped-cream covered bowls of ice cream in front of herself and Twilight. As Twilight spooned fudge sauce around her bowl, she looked at Fluttershy. "So what brings you here?" she asked.
"Oh, umm...I drove Sunset over," she said. "She, umm...wanted to make sure Sonata wasn't up to anything evil, because...because she used to be evil, but she's not evil now, umm...right?"
"Hmm...nah, not much," Sonata said, making a 'so-so' gesture with her hand. "Maybe a little."
"Stop being evil," Twilight said tartly. "Being evil isn't nice!" She glanced at Uncle Rear, then at Flash. "Umm...so you live with your uncle?"
"Oh, I'm just visiting for the weekend," Uncle Rear said airily.
"My folks are off on their second honeymoon," Flash said.
"Oh, really!" Twilight said with interest. "Huh, that's funny. Mine just went on theirs the other day too! It's their thirtieth anniversary, so they decided to go..." She paused, licking her spoon as she thought how best to word what she wanted to say next. "Well, up where my brother and his wife live."
"They're spending their anniversary with their son and his wife?" Uncle Rear asked. "That's a little...unusual."
"Yeah, well, it's kind of a big tourist attraction," Twilight said absently. "They haven't really had a chance to go there yet, so..." She trailed off. "A-anyway. So yeah, funny coincidence."
"And you don't need to be home minding the house while they're away?" Uncle Rear asked.
"Oh, I don't li—" Twilight started to say, then caught herself. "I mean...the house can mind itself for a little while."
Uncle Rear narrowed his eyes slightly. "Hmm." He clicked his tongue. "Well, anyway. I hear you're from out of town. So you what, hopped a bus to come visit your long distance boyfriend?"
Twilight stammered, her face dark purple. "N-no! I-I mean, I'm happy to see Flash, but..." She paused to shovel some ice cream into her face, then let out a pained yelp as she succumbed to an ice cream headache. Everyone watched her with varying degrees of concern, dismay, and amusement. Finally, she got control of herself and coughed once, then continued, primly, "Actually, I was a little bored at home, so I decided to come see what Sunset Shimmer and her friends were up to."
"I see," Uncle Rear said. "And you don't have any friends of your own back home?"
"I have lots of friends!" Twilight protested. "They're just all busy with their own stuff. You know how it is."
Uncle Rear chortled. "Yeah, I know." He shook his head.
"You're being unusually responsible," Sunset noted.
Uncle Rear considered this. "Huh. Maybe." He shrugged, licking his spoon. "I guess I'm just trying to get a feel for this girl my favorite nephew is pining after. I mean, you understand a long-distance relationship at your age just isn't going to work, hon, you do know that, right? But after...well, after what happened the last time Flash had a girlfriend, I guess I'm feeling a little...careful."
An awkward silence descended upon the table.
"Wow, way to kill the party, Uncle Hairball," Sonata said.
"Yyyyyeah," Sunset drawled, her eyes clouded and her expression sorrowful. "I, uhh..." She sighed. "Look. Me and Flash, we already...we already hashed out a lot of stuff about where we were when things ended, and..." She looked down at her bowl. "I mean, Flash accepts that I've changed—hell, he trusts me enough to call me when he's in a tight spot—but I know I...I know I still have a hell of a lot to live down."
"It's okay, Sunset," Twilight said gently, smiling across the table at her. "You're not that person anymore. You've changed. You let real friendship into your heart. Everybody knows it now, right? I mean, you saved—" She paused, glanced at Uncle Rear, then continued, "You showed everybody how you've changed at the Battle of the Bands."
"She sure did," Sonata said with a giggle. She paused, then blinked. "HEY! I totally forgot I'm still supposed to be pissed at you girls over that!"
"Oh, knock it off," Pinkie said, waving her spoon at Sonata. "Do you want to hold a grudge over us stopping your evil plans, or do you want to have fun? I think you're more like me than you're like any of the others, and I know which I'd rather do."
Sonata considered this. "Well," she drawled, "it's not like holding a grudge does me any good, and..." She giggled. "You're right, having fun is more important than being all AHH! REVENGE!! like some people I could name."
Uncle Rear chewed his lip. "Okay, hold the phone, kids. I get the feeling there's a heck of a story I'm missing out on, and I'm totally lost and confused here, so...you wanna explain all this?"
The teens looked around the table at each other uncertainly. "Uhh..." Flash said, swallowing.
"Twilight?" Sunset asked hesitantly. "What...what should we do?"
"You're asking me?" Twilight said incredulously. "You should be the one to decide. I'm just visiting, remember?"
"Well, yeah, but you're the Princess," Sunset pointed out.
"Well...! But!" Twilight shook her head. "You know how out of my depth I am here. Seriously. It's your call. You decide."
Sunset sighed. "Alright." She shook her head, looked around the table, then grabbed a couple of stray spoons and tossed them to Pinkie. "Pinkie? Pony up."
Pinkie grinned maniacally as she caught the spoons, twirled them, and started drumming away on the table, her bowl, the spoons themselves, and everything else in reach. Within seconds, a pink glow surrounded her body.
Uncle Rear's eyes widened and his jaw dropped as Pinkie Pie rose into the air, pointy pink pony ears poking proudly through her poofy pink perm...