“Coooome on Rarity! You have got to try some of this sugar cake! Its gooood for yoooou!” Pinkie Pie said, and Rarity could practically hear the ‘sproig’ in Pinkie’s steps as Pinkie bounced in place, the sugar cake balanced perfectly on its platter.
“No thank you, Pinkie. Too much sugar will keep me up all night and I need my beauty sleep if I am to wake up early tomorrow for my graduate classes and completing my designs for the Young Creative Entrepreneurs Exhibition this week.” Rarity replied, politely pushing the sugar cake plate away, but Pinkie persisted pushing right back.
“Your designs are amazing Rarity! You are going to do great! Now, stop being a silly filly and try this cake, it is a party after all.” Pinkie was using both of her hands now to shove the plate toward Rarity who noticed it was coming dangerously close to being pressed against her nose. For such a short pony Pinkie had the strength of 10 bakers baking and Rarity feared she would be getting a face full of cake, but she silently thanked Rainbow Dash (something she was still not used to doing) when she iintervened.
“Pinkie, it looks like we’re out of punch and I saw some ponies were looking pretty bummed out about it…”
“GASP! Not the punch!” Pinkie immediately backed away from Rarity and pressed her hoof to a small wireless earbud in her ear, “Order Up, the punch has been punched. I repeat, the punch has been punched. Hold your position and start to serve the mini-quiches. I’ll do a refill from the 500 gallon tanker! Don’t panic on me! This is no time to panic! Pinkie, over and out.”
Like a pinkie lightning bolt Pinkie raced away from Rarity and Rainbow Dash, zig-zagging through the crowd until she was lost from sight.
“Thank you for the rescue, darling” Rarity let out a sigh of relief.
“Haha, no problem. I’ve been watching Pinkie run all of this party all night. Its too bad she isn’t in graduate studies with us otherwise she would be great on the hoofball team, I mean not as great as me of course…” Rainbow Dash said. She had come to Pinkie’s party at Club Hoofbeatz wearing her hoofball jersey. Rarity had tried to convince Rainbow Dash to wear one of her own designs, but Rainbow Dash had been stubborn about showing her team pride (not to mention making it easier for her fans to spot her). Rarity had not managed to convince Rainbow Dash but she had more success with her marefriend, Applejack, who wore a stunning green dress that Rarity had designed.
“Where is Applejack? I have not seen her all night. She is the reason we are here after all, Pinkie being a guest speaker at one of her culinary classes and inviting the entire class and their friends…and their friends’ friends…”
“If I know AJ, she is back in the kitchen helping Pinkie.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Easy,” Rainbow reached to a grab several bite sized appetizers from a serving tray held by a passing waiter, “These little sandwiches have apple slices in them.”
“You mean, the hors d'oeuvres.” Rarity corrected.
“Gesundheit.” Rainbow Dash replied, throwing several of them into her mouth and munching loudly.
“Applejack really never stops working, does she? She should enjoy herself.” Rarity said and narrowed her eyes at Rainbow Dash when her Pegasus friend let out an uncouth snort.
“She isn’t the only one. We’ve been here for two hours and all you’ve been talking about are your dresses for your expo thingy.”
“I believe I don’t know what you are talking about.” Rarity huffed, but looking at the clock Rarity realized that time had flown by since their arrival. She had stuck to one of the side balconies at Club Hoofbeatz that overlooked several of the dance floors. Each was separated by either small tables where groups of Ponies chatted or drank, or by stairs. Sometimes the dance floors themselves moved, by some kind of magic or machinery or perhaps both, rising or falling like the music that played throughout the club.
“Why bother worrying about it anyway? Your dresses look sweet and this thing isn’t a competition or anything. The way I see it, if it isn’t a race with a winner why bother?” Rainbow Dash took a sip from her drink, a still fizzing apple cider.
“Why bother? WHY BOTHER? Rainbow Dash the Young Creative Entrepreneurs Exhibition is everything! It can make or break a young fashionista’s hopes and dreams! If a business partner likes, no, LOVES with all their heart and soul my dresses then that could mean a-a-a commission that could help pay to get Carousel Boutique started or the networking connections to have my dresses displayed at fashion shows across Equestria! My dresses cannot be something so pedestrian as ‘sweet’ they must be ‘magnifique’! They must be…be…!” Halfway through her ranting monologue Rarity’s voice had become shrill and body had begun to shake but she did not care, a primal part of her needed to release the frustrations and hopes of not being frustrated that had built up inside of her for months.
“Wow, wow, wow. Slow it down a notch! Here drink this, relax.” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, pushing her drink forward to Rarity’s lips. Surprising herself Rarity greedily drank the contents of Rainbow Dash’s glass. Whatever was in the glass was not just cider as it burned the whole way down Rarity’s throat. “See what I mean? You’re ready to blow! You have to check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Rarity was not sure if it was Rainbow Dash’s advice, her own release of built up tension, the cider or a combination of all three but she found herself agreeing with her friend. Perhaps, she did need to relax and push the expo from her every waking thought. At least for a little while.
“I don’t say this very often, for good reason, but maybe you are right Rainbow Dash.” Rarity said, still holding the empty glass she turned and walked down toward one of the dance floors.
“I know, ri-HEY!” Rainbow Dash’s words were lost to Rarity as she walked, if with more than a little sway in her step, away and out of sight from her friend. The music boomed above her from loud speakers set all around the room, and she felt that she could feel every vibration of sound. The ponies around her seemed to be enjoying themselves, lost in the rhythm of the music or shouting to be heard by their friends or much newer acquaintances. Given the erratic nature of the club Rarity had several dance floors to choose from, most were completely crowded, ponies pushing one another to get some dancing space. As suddenly carefree feeling as she was, the stubborn ‘lady’ part of Rarity refused to be jostled around like a cow in a herd.
She was almost ready to give up hope when she spotted one of the dance floors looked to be particularly empty. Her attention caught, Rarity moved through the crowd toward it, gracefully side-stepping ponies as easily as water slips around rocks in a stream. On a much closer inspection she realized there was something strange about the dance floor. Not with the floor itself, Rarity did not want to look down at the dirty floor covered in the hoof detritus of hundreds of ponies, but the occupants themselves. Like planets orbiting the sun, a crowd danced around, rather than with, a single solitary dancer. The dancer, a mare, Rarity’s expert eyes so used to staring at models and mannequins for her dresses easily picked out such details, danced at the center of the dance floor but the other dancers gave her an almost excessive amount of space, dancing on the edges. It did not take Rarity long to guess why.
“Her dancing needs some…refinement, doesn’t it?” she said to herself and watched as the lone dancer pumped her fists in the air while at the same time kicking one of her legs out, so she was standing on just one leg for several seconds before switching to her other leg and waving her arms side to side. Surely, the dancing mare must have knocked over several ponies and from the sheer…enthusiasm of her dancing she may not have noticed at all, at least until they moved away to their present arrangement.
The dancing mare wore a lavender hoodie with the hood over her head so Rarity could not very well make out the full features, but Rarity could see she was smiling and the way her lips moved she must be mouthing the words to the songs. She couldn’t quite place it but something about the mare’s smile made Rarity’s soul leap, perhaps it was passion calling to passion? Despite her normal poise and restraint, it was the passion for her love of her work and to experience high society that motived her to move ever forward with her dresses and her business. Whatever this strange pony’s story was it hard to mistake that she was enjoying herself now, and that was certainly what Rarity needed to do now for herself.
“Well, it would be a shame for her to realize she is dancing all by herself. Emotion like this should be enjoyed.”
With the same ease that she had used to slip through the crowd of dancers before she found herself in the open dance floor. And then she danced. Rarity did not dance with wild abandon, even inebriated as she was, she was still in a crowded public place and appearances needed to be kept. Every step, every move of her arms and body were thought out and as opposed to the mysterious mare’s wild abandon her own dancing flowed together taking her to the mysterious mare. Dodging a misplaced right hook from the mysterious mare, who was a good deal taller than herself, Rarity decided to get her attention, timing it perfectly she slid to the mare’s side and bumped the mare with her hips. Just a tap, one that would not wrinkle her own dress, but it seemed to be enough as the mare’s hoodie turned to Rarity and she was met by the loveliest pair of violet eyes. Rarity actually stopped for a moment to stare into them before she realized what she had done, she did her best to contain her blush and smiled at the mare.
Muted reaction from her new dancing partner had Rarity worried for several seconds that she had committed a faux pass but then the mare, whose coat was similarly lavender as her hoodie, returned Rarity’s smile. Rarity could not tell exactly the age of her new dancing partner but to her she seemed to be about Rarity’s own age, in her early twenties, or maybe a year or two older. The mare bowed low to her as if she was a princess being greeted by a dignitary or bodyguard before going right back to dancing. Rarity was able to see that this time the mare takes into account Rarity’s presence, flinging herself as she seems want to do but not letting her limbs go wild in Rarity’s direction. Accepting, the acknowledgement Rarity returns to dancing herself.
“My word, that was exhilarating.” Rarity said after several songs later, the tension she had felt before seems to her to have been subdued, at least for now, and she felt like she was sobering up. She and the other mare had danced several songs together, sometimes she would spot the other mare watching her intently from the corner of her eyes and other times the mare would let out a giggling laugh when the music took a particular upbeat turn. They had not yet said more than two sentences to one another but then again, they had not needed to. Rarity turned and curtsied to the other mare, returning the previous bow, “I really should be going now. My friends are around, and I have to look into something important to me tomorrow.”
“Wait!” Rarity heard the shrill voice call out to her as she turned to walk away and felt an unfamiliar but surprisingly strong grip on her arm. When Rarity turned back to the mare she let go of her arm, reaching back and forth toward Rarity as if unsure of and most certainly panicking over at what she had done. “I-I wanted to ask you! What are you looking for?
The mare’s last words almost came out as a squeak but to Rarity she could not help but feel it was…adorable. A smile formed on her face and she tilted her head ever so slightly, looking the other mare straight into her eyes.
“What do I want? Do I even know the answer to that? I wanted to marry a prince when I was younger but now…”
She left the words hanging to fluster the other mare, it was not the first time she had responded to similar attempts at flirtation before. She had expected the other mare to melt and blush adorably some more, perhaps struggle to stand her ground a little more or run off. What the other mare though did was change everything, to Rarity it was as if night had suddenly become day. The mare composed herself and smiled back at Rarity just as deviously as Rarity had and instead of backing away she advanced another step making Rarity suddenly even more conscious of being much shorter than her. She then spoke, but her voice was not panicked or nervous in the slightest, no, it had a steel to it, of a voice used to giving commands. It was also not as young or shrill as before, but older and husky that made the hair along the straight of Rarity’s back stand on end. “Well, then. In that case I could certainly be your Princess, instead.”
Then with a dramatic pause that Rarity envied the mare gripped the hood of her hoodie and pulled it off revealing her full face. The mare, a unicorn mare, was indeed much older than Rarity was, at least in her early thirties. That wasn’t the only detail of course, the mare’s hair also slid down her brow in bangs the color of deep purple with bright pink streaks. Her eyes that Rarity had been entranced by before shone brighter under the club’s lights or perhaps, if Rarity’s sudden spiraling thoughts were correct, it was the light of this unicorn’s passion held underneath. The stunning mare took another step forward, she smelled nice which made Rarity confused about why she was so incredibly interested by that little fact.
In fact, Rarity’s composure had broken down at the other mare’s words. For the first time, in a very long time, Rarity felt absolutely flabbergasted! She felt like she was on the wrong hoof. Her stitching had come apart. Most importantly, she did not know how to respond to the other mare, such was the utter senses of delight and attraction she was feeling then and there. She felt her mouth had gone dry, and the reason was because it hung limply under her jaw. Blushing, at the sudden lapse of manners and most certainly NOT the stunning mare’s words, Rarity manually shoved her mouth shut and mumbled a response, “Yes.”
Rarity who could out talk and out haggle saddle salesponies found her brain functioning like it was full of mush.
“Hehe.” The other mare giggled, her voice once more sounding much younger before the seductive voice returned with a vengeance. “Perhaps, you would like to sit down someplace? Where we can…chat?”
“This is it Rarity. Your time to shine, darling!” Rarity said to herself, and ignored the nervous glances of other ponies that heard her. They gave her strange looks, ones that questioned if this strange, strange mare was really talking to herself and if they were safe. She ignored them. It was Young Creative Entrepreneurs Exhibition and it was time for her to show all of Equestria what she was made of.
“Uuuuh, Rarity, ‘ah hope you know your talkin’ to yourself again.” Applejack said from the impromptu catwalk that Rarity had created to be apart of her booth. It was centered around the short runway which was really only big enough for Applejack to take a step at most but surrounding it were mannequins wearing her other dresses as well as boards with sketches and business plans. It appealed to Rarity because it put Applejack in the center stage and made it appear as if her works were the adoring public.
“Hush now, Applejack. I do not believe I was talking to you anyway.” Rarity replied, she wore her best business suit now, but Applejack was dressed in one of Rarity’s own dresses. It was a bold dress, modeled after the starry night sky, but what was even bolder about it was that she had come up with and finished it only a few days ago. She had been inspired.
“Just tryin’ to look out for you.” Pausing to force a smile and sashay her dress as a stallion with a badge that said ‘sponsor’ pinned on his jacket walked by, “After that party you’ve been a little off.”
“First Rainbow Dash, now you Applejack. I had a wonderful time. End of story.” Rarity replied, the night was slightly fuzzy to her now, but she could remember enough details of it to make her blush then and there.
“Goin’ off with some stranger, texting us after you’ve gone with ‘em, and then reappearing at the crack of dawn back at the university campus? That doesn’t sound like you Rarity one bit.”
“It…it’s just the exhibition. This is important to me Applejack. Once this is over I shall be able to not only celebrate a new hoof forward for my boutique but some well deserved relaxation.” Rarity said to Applejack, but her friend did not seem all that convinced. Rarity instead turned away from Applejack and smiled for the various ponies as they came and went. She would not admit to Applejack that at least in part she was right, she had awoken the next day and chided herself on being so…so…star struck by the…other mare. Whose name she had, much to her own irritation, forgotten completely and utterly. Part of her still was unsure if the other mare had said her name at all. What was also frustrating was the name always seemed to be on the tip of her tongue, it felt very familiar, as if she should recognize it from somewhere besides Club Hoofbeatz.
The other mare had treated to her a lovely evening but Rarity doubt that they would ever see each other again. If she did not know the other mare’s name and she had checked to see if a new number had been added to her phone, which it had not, then all too likely their meeting was a one-time affair. She had read many a romance novel where such things did not always lead to good consequences, especially if she searched frantically she would likely give off a more maniac than romantic vibe if she tracked down and found the other mare.
“Oh, how quaint. Aren’t these designs just adorable?” a haunty voice said, which snapped Rarity out of her own thoughts. She looked to the source of the voice and almost screeched with delight. The words had come from a white coated stallion with a pale yellow mane. She recognized him as Prince Blueblood, the Prince of Canterlot, while not a part of the Equestrian royal house he was still counted as one of the richest nobles in all of Equestria. And he had walked right up to her booth and was looking at her dresses and designs.
“Your highness.” Rarity curtsied to Blueblood before walking over to him with her best winning smile. “It is a pleasure to have you here at the expo and here at my booth. I am Rarity, the owner and fashionista of the Carousel Boutique. Where everything is unique, chique, and magnifique!”
“You even have a little catch phrase, this becomes more of a treat every moment.” Blueblood laughed, and leafed through one of her design books, the smile he wore growing every moment. To the side Rarity caught Applejack staring down Blueblood, the look on her face was not pleased. Applejack tried to motion something to her, but she waved her off and gestured back for Applejack to smile. She cleared her throat before launching into her well-practiced speech.
“At Carousel Boutique we aim to do a large range of custom designed clothing for the mares and stallions of Equestria. Ones that will change the face of high fashion. Now you see so far I have been working with very basic materials but with proper funding I’ll be able to bring to life some of my designs that-“
“Oh, please I am so tired of hearing all of these same old pitches. ‘This will realize the dream of… or make wonderful whatever’. I just came here because I saw these dresses and they look ridiculous! I needed a good laugh before I head back out there.”
Rarity for a moment was not sure if she had heard Blueblood correctly.
Prince Blueblood called her dresses ridiculous.
“Now you wait just a gosh darn minute!” Applejack said from the runway, already she was trying to climb down but the dress she wore seemed to get in the way, “Dang dresses. I can’t see where I’m puttin’ my feet.”
“Applejack! You are a model! Stay up there, and smile!” Rarity’s words were icy enough to make Applejack pause. Rarity turned back to Blueblood and with a surge of her magic closed the design book he was looking through with a loud thud. “I am sorry that you feel my dresses are ridiculous. I cannot change your horrible tastes. However, I am here not to be gawked at and ridiculed. This is a business expo and therefore if you do not wish to do talk business with me I ask you kindly to please leave.”
Blueblood looked shocked by her words, and for a minute Rarity believed he would actually slink away. Unfortunately, a spoiled expression bloomed on his face and he stamped his hoof repeatedly. “You have no right to talk to me that way. I am Prince of Canterlot.”
“Prince or not, you have no right to insult me or my work. I ask you again, sir, to please leave.” Rarity curtsied to him once again but her sharp gaze never wavered from staring him down. He gawked at her, chewing his lip in frustration before he replied again, his voice dripping with acid.
“I have a lot of pull in the business community. You are going to wish for the rest of your miserable life that you had just kept your mouth shut. I am going to have you removed and anything you design blacklisted. I’ll personally see to it that your UGLY DRESSES…!”
“Ugly? I think they look absolutely wonderful.” An all too familiar voice spoke from behind Rarity. Slowly, she turned and faced the dancing mare from the club. She no longer wore a worn out hoodie, but in fact a custom tailored professional business jacket attire, her mane tied back in a single pony tail. She wore the same smile she had worn when she asked what Rarity was looking for. And just like that she remembered the mare’s name, it was Twilight.
“No, no, no it can’t be possible…” she squeaked under her breath as now with the light of Celestia’s sun and less exhaustion and alcohol coursing through her veins she completely recognized who Twilight was. She in fact had not seen Twilight for the first time this week at the club, no, she had first seen Twilight years ago on the cover of the Equestrian Daily where the founder of the millions of bits worth company, Spark It, Inc had been selected to be the country’s youngest ambassador and member of the Equestrian Council. That was Twilight Sparkle. Twilight was Twilight Sparkle. The mare she had met swinging the most ridiculous dance moves was THE Twilight Sparkle. And they had kissed. A lot.
“Rarity,” Twilight said Rarity’s name and it struck her to the core. Twilight Sparkle had said her name. “You finished my design? Already? I am impressed!”
“Y-your design?” Rarity asked as Twilight walked over to Applejack, who seemed to be equally stunned, her eyes constantly flipping back and forth between Twilight and Rarity.
“Hello, my name is Twilight. It is nice to meet you…?” Twilight extended a hand to Applejack who after a moment of hesitation shook it in return.
“Applejack. That’s my name, I mean.”
“Applejack? Oh! You are the graduate student who Pinkie met and invited her and…” Twilight glanced sidelong at Rarity before returning to Applejack, “...her friends.”
“Woah, hold your saddle. You and Pinkie know each other? I mean I guess that makes sense since Pinkie owns all those chains and-“
“The dress, Twilight. Twilight Sparkle?” Rarity asked, having pushed past Blueblood, who seemed equally stunned to see Twilight, to stand beside Twilight. She found it hard not to stare.
“Yes, don’t you remember? I commissioned you to make it. We went back to my apartment in Canterlot…and uhm,” now it was Twilight’s turn to blush ever so slightly which Rarity found seemed to suck the air out of her lungs, “…we talkedabout the exhibition and your business plans. I asked you to make it. You said you would have it done by today, I didn’t believe you and told you to take your time but, uh here it is!”
Memories flooded Rarity’s already precariously balanced mind at this point and Twilight’s description of events played out in her mind’s eye. She remembered getting a quick drink at a nearby bar with Twilight before being whisked away to Twilight’s apartment where they had made out quite a bit but in between she had gone on and on about the Exhibition. And that she would see Rarity here.
“T-twilight Sparkle! Wha-what are you doing here?” Prince Blueblood asked, the hesitation and fear in his voice more than recognizable.
“Well, I am the major sponsor of the exhibition by 75.34%. I have been planning my schedule to be here in Canterlot for this for months.” Twilight paused and turned to look at Blueblood, “A better question is why are you here? There is a privy council meeting for the Canterlot Council’s proposals to the Equestrian Council for funding going on…” she checked a wrist watch on her arm, “right now.”
“It was stuffy and boring in there. I just wanted a quick break to-“
“To berate artists like Rarity?” Twilight cut Blueblood off, it struck a chord with Rarity herself that Twilight recognized her work, “To bully the ponies here? Threatening them and getting them to pay you off with goods or services?”
Magic crackled around her horn as she advanced on Blueblood, who retreated backwards. Twilight stopped for a few seconds then took a short run at Blueblood but instead of standing still he bolted and ran down the hall, whimpering the whole way. Rather than give chase Twilight stopped herself and giggled, turning back to Rarity and Applejack.
“I swear, he is so lazy. He should be running right back to the council meeting now. I don’t think he will bother you again, Rarity. In fact, you may get an order for a hundred dresses from him in the near future, especially if I ask Shiny to make him apologize…”
“Twilight, I don’t know what to say!” Rarity, was still at a loss of words.
“Don’t worry you do not have to say anything. In fact, I actually have to be going. Lots more booths to see and I don’t want to get behind my schedule.” Twilight straightened her jacket and turned to leave, before stopping and turning right back around. “I almost forgot! Here is your commission check. You can have the dress delivered to me later. Take care!”
Like a lavender blur, Twilight handed the check to Rarity and was off down the hallway. Leaving Rarity to stare first at the direction where Twilight had left and then at the check she had given her. Applejack finally managed to hop herself down from the runway and stand over Rarity’s shoulder to look at the check.
“Wooowe! That…that will be enough to get your business started, Rarity.” Applejack said.
“That, my dear Applejack, is not all.” Rarity replied, taking a deep breath before exhaling it.
“What do you mean?”
“This…this…also has her phone number.”