While Apple Bloom recovered, Twilight and Spike began collaborating with the others. Rarity and Rainbow brought two younger fillies along for the shoot. The first was Rarity's younger sister, Sweetie Belle. She was the cheerful and bubbly one of the bunch. The other was a Pegasus named Scootaloo. Twilight wondered where the child's name originated from. She would have to research it later.
"It's nice to meet you." Sweetie greeted.
"Likewise." the Alicorn replied with a smile.
"Are you really the Twilight Rainbow's always talking about?" Scootaloo inquired.
"Looks like it." Twilight responded.
"I promised her we'd play Final Fantasy later." Rainbow interjected.
"Which one?" Twilight questioned.
"That's one of my favorites."
"Took me a minute to get used to the quest system."
"Yeah. I wondered why I couldn't figure out where to go the first time I played it."
"Huh. I figured you of all people would get it right away."
"Now I see the resemblance between you and Spike."
"Since we're on the subject, did you come up with any ideas for the game?"
"We did, actually. After the prologue, we decided to set the rest of the game in the spirit realm."
"We're gonna skip ahead a few years from '97 to '01."
"Let me know when the comics are done so I can read 'em."
"We will. We're thinking about adding cheat codes, too."
"Max level, max stats, 99 of each item: basically stuff to cut out the grind for people who just want to play through the story."
"What about alternate costumes?"
"The character designs are already horror-inspired. Can't really get much more metal than that."
"True, but you can try the same thing you did at Shining's wedding and give 'em normal clothes."
"That could work."
"Anyway, it's cold. Let's get this done so we can go inside."
The first photo was taken in front of Fluttershy's house. She lied under a large oak tree, pretending to read while Angel sat next to her. Each girl had a shot taken at their location of choice. When all was said and done, Twilight led the others back to her place to upload their respective images.
"Hey, mind showin' us your CD collection?" Rainbow asked.
"Sure." the Alicorn agreed. She escorted the party to her and Spike's room. A black case filled with discs rested on her computer desk. She opened it for her new companions to see. Rainbow memorized the titles.
"You've got some pretty obscure shit in here. I haven't heard half this stuff."
"I scoured everywhere for the heaviest stuff I could find," Twilight explained, "For a while, all I did outside class was fall asleep to it."
"If I hadn't heard it from your mouth, I never would've believed you were depressed."
"Like I said earlier, shit happens. It wasn't anybody's fault. I just felt what I felt, and I had to learn to deal with it."
"I hear ya."
"Anyway, you guys can chill out here for a bit if you want. There's more music in that box over there. I've got movies and games in the living room. Help yourself to whatever's in the fridge."
"Thanks. We'll try not to go too crazy."
Twilight gave a weak smile. She left the group to their own devices, scanning the photographs while they made themselves comfortable.
A short while later, Twilight returned to the living room. Spike and Rainbow had begun a playthrough of Doom on her PlayStation. Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo watched intently as they breezed through each level. Pinkie finished stuffing her face full of whipped cream just as the Alicorn entered the chamber.
"Photos are uploaded," Twilight announced, "Now we just have to wait."
"Kick-fuckin'-ass," Rainbow responded, "Everyone's gonna be jealous as shit."
"You're welcome to stay the night. There's a guest room close to ours."
"Might take you up on that. I don't think I'll be putting this down anytime soon."
Twilight approached the pink earth pony in front of her refrigerator.
"Pinkie, you have a little something on your mouth."
"Where?" Pinkie inquired, straining to see the dollop stuck to her face.
Twilight licked the corner of Pinkie's mouth. The action quickly escalated into a full-fledged kiss: tongue and all.
"Excuse me," Spike interjected, "There are children here!"
Twilight pulled away.
"Who are you bullshittin'?"
"Damn. Ya got me."
"And I thought I was straightforward." Rainbow cackled.
Applejack fanned herself with her hat.
"Is it gettin' hot in here, or is it just me?"
"If you can't casually make out with your friends, are you really living?" Twilight joked.
"Your friends are so weird." Sweetie said to her sister.
"Yes," Rarity acknowledged, "That's precisely why we're friends."
"Good thing for us Granny's progressive." Applejack stated bluntly.
"How's Apple Bloom doing?" Twilight asked.
"She's fine. Should be ready to see ya in a couple more days."
"I'm looking forward to meeting her. I could tell over the phone she loves you a lot."
"Strange thing is, I didn't realize how much she meant to me 'til you opened my eyes. Makes me wonder how I was blind for so long."
"It's not your fault. We came into this world not knowing what to expect. We had to learn as we went along."
"Amen to that."
"I'll make lunch soon."
"Mind if I help?"
"Not at all."