“Got any threes?”
“Go fish. Got any eights?”
It was one of those wonderfully lazy summer mornings where perfect weather plus a free schedule meant you could spend the entire day doing the best possible thing: absolutely nothing.
Applejack and Pinkie Pie were playing a slow game of Go Fish while Fluttershy watched and cheered both sides. Not that Go Fish really needed much cheering mind you, which made her enthusiastically inaudible “yays” the perfect sort of support. Rainbow Dash watched as well from her overhead tree branch perch, but her drooping eyelids clearly indicated a nap was quickly taking priority.
“So what do y’all wanna do today?” Applejack asked as she drew another card.
“I’m fine with anything,” Pinkie Pie grinned: she was always up for anything. “Got any twos?”
“How about a nice picnic in the park?” Fluttershy suggested.
“Works for me,” Rainbow Dash mumbled sleepily, “long as I get to stay right here.”
“But, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy hesitantly asked, “how can you have a picnic in the park if you don’t actually go to the–”
Whatever the shy girl was about to stay was promptly forgotten as she saw an incredibly unusual sight. Rarity was running. And not just running, but straight up sprinting across the town square, her white sundress hiked to her knees and violet hair streaming behind her as she dashed ahead with a large bag at her side.
“Whoa there, Rarity,” Applejack called out, “Why’re you haulin’ tail like a cat at a dog show?”
“Sorry, girls, no time to talk,” the seamstress called out without breaking stride, “Twilight’s called me in to deal with an emergency.”
“An emergency?” Fluttershy called out in alarm. “Oh my goodness, is someone hurt?”
“Worse,” Rarity called back, her voice growing fainter with the distance. “It’s an emergency of fashion!”
As the pretty seamstress disappeared around the corner on her way to the library, the four girls looked at each other, card games and naps immediately forgotten.
“Twilight? Worrying about clothes?” Rainbow Dash scoffed. “This I gotta see.”
Running after their harried friend, the four girls found her pounding on the front door of the library. Odd: the door was never locked at this time of day.
“Twilight, darling, are you there?” Rarity called out, sounding quite vexed. “Open up!”
“Hiya, Rarity!” Pinkie Pie smiled, seemingly oblivious to her friend’s concerns. “What’s going on?”
“I honestly have no idea,” Rarity huffed. “All I know is that Spike comes by the shop and tells me Twilight needs me to come by with my tools and some fabric.”
“So… how do you know it’s an emergency?” Applejack asked, obviously unconvinced. Rarity replied with an exasperated sigh.
“Applejack, please. If Twilight wanted a new outfit, she could always have stopped by. But asking me to come over so she wouldn’t have to be seen in public? What else could it be?”
The four other girls looked at each other: it did make a weird sort of sense.
Just then, they heard the sound of a sliding bolt and the front door opened a crack, revealing a very anxious looking Twilight Sparkle on the other side.
“Rarity, you’re here!” she breathed out in relief, pulling a stray strand of purple and pink hair behind her ear. “This is good. If you could just come on in and close the door behind you–”
It was only then that she caught sight of the other four. She froze.
“... Hey girls…” she said slowly as an attempted casual smile failed miserably. “What brings you all here?”
“Well, we heard there was an emergency, so we came by to see if you needed help,” Fluttershy murmured. “That is, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Twilight laughed awkwardly with a wave of the hand. “Don’t worry about it: everything’s under control.”
Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie glanced at each other, shared a knowing look, and nodded. Before Twilight knew what hit her, all three pushed open the door and walked inside.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Twilight cried out in alarm.
“We’re your friends, sugar cube,” Applejack smiled as she put a consoling hand on the shell-shocked librarian’s shoulder. “If you’re in trouble, you know you can always come to us.”
“Trouble? What trouble? Who says I’m in trouble? I’m not in trouble. No trouble here,” Twilight babbled, a strange twitch appearing around her eye as she laughed again.
“Uh, Twi? No offense, but you’ve kind of got that whole, ‘two minutes till I go completely bonkers’ look,” Rainbow Dash grimaced. “You know, the one you got right before you started the Smarty-Pants Riot?”
“So before you go loco en el coco, we’re gonna help you fix your problems,” Pinkie Pie grinned, “and then we can all go back to Sugar Cube Corners for a party and celebrate! So, what’s going on? Is Discord on the loose again? Parasprites come back to town? Another late homework assignment? No problem’s a problem ‘cause we’re here to fix it!”
Eyes widening, Twilight Sparkle looked from one girl to another, trying to find some way out. But between all those supportive, eager-to-help expressions, what could she really do?
“All right,” she wearily sighed as she got out of the doorway so that the somewhat dazed Rarity and Fluttershy could enter as well. “I do have sort of a teensy, tiny, little bit of a problem.”
“Well, what is it, darling?” Rarity asked, already unpacking her bags and organizing various mini-bolts of fabric across the table. “Just say the word and we’re ready to help.”
“Hey, Twilight, I got him dressed like you asked,” Spike called from the top of the stairs. “It’s still pretty big, but it was the best I could find.” All eyes went to the second floor.
Spike, in his usual purple windbreaker and pants, came walking down the stairs followed by another, even smaller, black-haired boy. Probably six years old at most, the small child was dressed in one of Spike’s green T-shirts which hung down well past the knees of his tiny frame.
“Aw, he’s so cute!” Fluttershy cooed as the child finally stumbled down the stairs. “I didn’t know you had more little brothers, Twilight.”
“I don’t,” the frazzled librarian sighed.
“Ooh, ooh, if he’s not yours, can I have him?” Pinkie Pie asked, practically bouncing off the walls in excitement. “I’ve always wanted a little brother, and he’d be so perfect!”
“Only if you let me dress him up,” Rarity squealed in delight. “Why, when I’m done with him, this little darling will look absolutely adorable!”
“Ugh, great,” Rainbow Dash gagged. “I miss a perfectly good nap to watch you all make goo-goo faces at some random kid.”
“You think that’s bad?” the little boy said, his tone childishly high yet oddly flat as he gave her a level look with his big, gunmetal grey eyes. “Try the receiving end. Trust me: it’s a whole lot worse.”
Rainbow Dash blinked, and all the other girls save Twilight did as well. That voice. Not the voice itself, but the words, the attitude, and the delivery all seemed strangely familiar.
“Pardon me,” Rarity began, squatting down so she could speak to the child at eye level. “This may seem like an odd question, but have we met before? I would swear we haven’t, but it feels like I already know you.”
“Rarity, really?” the little boy said with an incredulous look. “I save you from a landslide, and you still can’t recognize me?”
The young lady gaped, and the other girls save Twilight did as well. No way. It couldn’t be. It was impossible!
“… Graves?" Rarity gasped. "Is that you?!”