The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle

by Gravekeeper

It's Not a Date

The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle
By: Gravekeeper
Chapter 12: It’s Not a Date

“So, what do you think?” Officer Bobby Flat-Hoof grimaced as he sipped on his coffee, or what the vending machine falsely advertised as 'coffee'. He sat at one of the small wooden tables in one of the break rooms at the police station—a room that was about as luxurious as the holding cells, and where the machines tended to be stocked with food and drinks that would violate a prisoner's rights to fair treatment. “On the one hoof, her story checks out with the medical reports—all the injuries were relatively minor and most of those ponies went back to work the same day—not something you'd expect if they had been attacked with swords.”

Detective Gummie Horseshoe riffled through her jacket's pockets, looking for change as she glowered at the beat-up vending machine with the large logo down its front; a logo that hadn't been used by that particular soft drink company in at least 35 years. “Don't tell me you actually believe all that stuff about fashion accessories!” The gray mare's eyebrows arched over her ever-present shades. “Or is she too pretty to go to jail? I thought you already had a girl, Flat-Hoof.”

The stallion produced some bits from his uniform pocket and placed them on the table, sliding them towards his partner. “What, you think I'm gonna make a pass at her? C'mon, after seeing how much you like her?”

Gummie stamped her hoof on top of the change, hitting the table loudly. “Funny.” she deadpanned, sliding the bits off from the table and into her other hoof.

“Thanks. Look, all I'm saying is, we took some statements from the guards, but this investigation's not over until we interrogate all of them.”

The detective shrugged as she made her selection on the vending machine. “Yeah well, forgive me for not siding with the thoroughly armed nutjob on this one.” Gummie started pressing the button for her selection repeatedly when she noticed that the machine had not produced her cherished soda. “I mean, she said so herself that some Trixie character was trying to seduce her friend!” The gray mare turned around on the spot, her tail towards the machine. “It's kinda obvious that she's just a crazy, jealous filly trying to dock-block her ex-lover.” Detective Horseshoe kicked her hind legs at the vending machine, making it slam into the wall behind, the sound reverberating across the room.

Another sip of coffee. “It's all sold out, Horseshoe.” Flat-Hoof tilted his chair back as he put his rear legs on the table, his eyes almost completely covered by his cap as it fell forward over his face. “It's been sold out for the past two weeks.”

Gummie harshly kicked the coin return button on the machine. “...Stupid budget cuts... Then why were you able to get a stupid drink?” The mare deftly pocketed the change.

The stallion shrugged. “I'm fairly sure I'm the only pony here in the station that drinks this stuff.” he answered, taking one final gulp and shuddering lightly. A single tear escaped his eye as the vile liquid intruded upon his body. “It's not very good coffee; the machine must still be practically full of it.”

Both ponies turned their heads at the sound of the door opening—another pony of the law came into the room to join the pair. “Horseshoe, Flat-Hoof, I think we may have a positive ID on the suspect's vehicle—the eye-witness descriptions match that of a vehicle that was towed late last night in the downtown area.” The forest-green unicorn stepped closer to the table, floating some papers close to her head with telekinetic magic.

Flat-Hoof blinked and gave a wry smile as Horseshoe took off her shades and faced the unicorn. “Really? You guys were somehow able to pick out the one hot-air balloon in an impound lot full of carriages? I'm impressed.”

The unicorn looked slightly embarrassed as she sheepishly turned to Officer Flat-Hoof. “...It's got a Canterlot registration, but it doesn't seem to be stolen; there aren't any reports on it being missing.” she said, flipping through the papers and avoiding the Detective mare's mocking gaze.

Nudging his cap up and away from his eyes, Flat-Hoof dropped his rear legs off from the table and then leaned across it. “Any weapons or anything unusual in the basket?” asked the stallion, holding out his upturned hoof towards his partner.

The green mare shook her head. “Nothing... The balloon didn't even have a burner or gas tanks.”

Detective Horseshoe glared at her partner as she reached into her pockets for her ill-begotten change. “Whose name is the thing registered under? The suspect's?”

The unicorn officer winced a bit as she floated the papers down to the table. “It's uh, it's registered to Princess Celestia.”

- - -

“So yeah... Two years of my life I am never getting back, but hey, it got me a swanky house, so I guess I can't complain.” Rainbow Dash shrugged as she leaned back on the park bench, putting the half-chewed popsicle stick back in her mouth.

The freshly-bailed Rarity sat in stunned silence next to the pegasus, her hooves covered in the melted ice-cream she had stopped paying attention to half an hour before; below her, a trail of ants surrounded the ice-cream that had dripped to the ground. She felt a headache coming on—this was entirely too much information to process.

Sure, the unicorn wasn't completely surprised to learn that without Fluttershy's influence, the young Rainbow Dash had quickly spiraled out of Flight Camp and into juvenile delinquency, but the rest of her story was just absolutely incredible and ridiculous. How many repeat offenses do you need to commit to actually become friends with your court-appointed lawyer? Perhaps more tellingly was what happened when Rainbow Dash was legally prohibited from flying—all her boundless energy was suddenly redirected to fervent studying, of all things.

'Had nothing better to do.' was how the pegasus had shrugged it all off, but Rarity suspected that Rainbow Dash's diligent turnabout came from a passionate necessity to earn back her freedom—the dressmaker couldn't even begin to imagine what it must have felt for that young blue filly to have her wings bound so soon after tearing the Sonic Rainboom out from the pages of pony myth and bringing it into reality.

Those bindings would not last, of course—the driven pony had made sure to rise to the challenge set before her and proved she could straighten up and fly right, so to speak. Rarity was slightly miffed—not jealous, for that would be unladylike—at the fact that Rainbow Dash had gotten a better education than her! The indigo-maned mare turned to her friend. “Rainbow Dash, then why... Well, why are you a Weather Pony now?”

The pegasus quickly turned to face the unicorn, looking slightly offended. “Hey! That's a totally important job!”

Rarity flinched. “Oh, I'm sorry Darling, I didn't mean it like that—it's just... Well, you could be so much more—“

The acrobat spit out the stick as she jumped from the bench. “Ugh! C'mon Rare!” Rainbow Dash flapped her wings, entering a low hover in front of the unicorn. “That boring, schooly stuff isn't what I do!”

Rarity watched as the pegasus quickly blasted into the sky, brazenly carving a rainbow trail all the way to the spire of the Clydesler Building a few miles away—the scattered clouds in the sky dissipated around the pegasus, and the sky itself seemed to be getting a brighter, deeper blue behind her. 'Is she cutting through the smog?' The cyan pegasus circled the spire three times before carving a second rainbow trail back to Median Park. The seamstress had to chuckle as her friend skidded to a halt in front of her. 'Ten seconds flat.' she mused.

“See? That's what I do, and I'm the best at what I do!” exclaimed the acrobat as the dust from her landing settled around her.

Rarity gave her friend a genuine smile. “I know you are, Rainbow Dash, I was there when you got the trophy.”

Rainbow Dash returned the smile with confidence. “Besides, I already forgot all that college stuff after that stupid exam they made me take—I made sure to clean out all that useless crud from my head in—”

“Ten seconds flat?” Giggled the white pony as she got up from the park bench.

The pegasus winked. “Now you're gettin' it!”

“I suppose I am, Rainbow Dash.” said Rarity quite truthfully, her reservations about the pegasus's chosen path already leaving her. Looking down at her ice-cream covered hooves, she frowned. “Come on, let's see if we can find someplace where I can wash off this mess.” Rarity began trotting down the small trail that crossed through the wooded area of the park. It was a fairly secluded spot, and nearly as peaceful as Ponyville—quite the contrast to the city surrounding Median Park. The fashionista's thoughts drifted again to the pegasus that she was seeing in a new light; Rarity mentally chided herself for not having taken an interest in really, truly getting to know Rainbow Dash before. 'Perhaps a weekly spa session is in order!'

“Hey uh, Rare?”

“Yes?” Rarity turned to her side, facing the pegasus that was flying a short distance from the ground at the unicorn's walking pace.

The acrobat's eyes flickered from side to side, almost as if she were scanning for eavesdroppers, “I meant what I said back at the station... About you being kinda, kind of a cool friend.” Rainbow Dash stopped beating her wings, landing on her hooves next to the white pony with a soft thud. “Thanks for not letting me give up on Applejack.” she said, lightly hitting Rarity's shoulder with her hoof.

Rarity's eyes widened as giddiness coursed through her body—new couple, new gossip! “So I was right about Applejack? Was she afraid and confused about her feel—”

“PFFFFT! No!” Guffawed the pegasus. “That mare can't get enough of me!” Rainbow Dash took a moment to flex her foreleg, admiring her muscles lovingly. “I mean, not that I can blame her.”

Rarity's admiration for her friend quickly deflated as she raised an eyebrow at the rainbow-maned wonder. Before the unicorn could say anything, she noticed that a number of ponies were running through the woods and heading in the opposite direction as the pair from Ponyville. They all seemed to be so excited about whatever was happening behind Rarity and Rainbow Dash that the seamstress had to stop one of them out of curiosity. “Um, excuse me, sir... Is something the matter?”

“Oh my gosh, didn't you see it?!” The earth pony was actually in tears as he stopped his gallop to face the two mares.

Rarity and Rainbow Dash exchanged a confused look. “Uh...”

“It's a double rainbow!” The pony was actually shuddering and as he cried. “It's a full-on double rainbow all the way to the Clydesler Building! What does it mean?!

Both mares backed away from the emotional pony as he continued on towards the bench that they had vacated a few minutes ago. Taking a closer look at their surroundings, Rainbow Dash and Rarity noticed that all of the ponies around them seemed equally as overexcited; all of them clamoring over the colorful, fading streaks in the sky. The cyan pegasus blinked as she saw one downtrodden pony in an overcoat with a large sign around his neck, 'THE END IS NEIGH'.

“Uh, Rarity, should we...”

“Yes, I believe it would be best for us to leave.”


- - -

“Shoot girl, ain't you just a regular ol' Casanovah!” Applejack slapped Trixie's withers in a forceful, friendly manner. “That's a perfect idea!” The unicorn mare almost fell forward at the impact that rocked her entire skeleton and internal organs.

“That is such an awesome super booktastic idea! I never would've thought to take Twilight out on a date to a library before but then again I've never thought about taking out Twilight Sparkle on a date before even though she's like super-smart and super-pretty and stuff but then again Mom and Dad are probably still mad from the last time I brought a filly home but I mean it's so obvious—Twilight loves books so much that she might as well live in a library! Wouldn't that be incredible for her? Ooh, ooh! You should totally buy her a library, Trixie!”

But Pinkie Pie, Twilight does live in—

“But then again Dashie's always saying that if Twilight likes books so much she should marry one, but if she marries a book then she won't be able to be with you Trixie! You should be careful at the library 'cause you never know when one of those sexy, wily books might sweep Twilight off her feet and steal her from you right under your nose! Ooh, but maybe you and Twilight and Mr. Book could try for an open relationship! Mom and Dad were super extra mad that time I brought home two—” Pinkie Pie was swiftly silenced from the rest of the ponies by a large, pink bubble that magically encased her.

The Great and Powerful Trixie's horn stopped glowing. “Could we not talk about this as if Twilight Sparkle is not right down the hall showering this very minute?!” The unicorn mare looked... twitchy there in the kitchen of the apartment, surrounded by the rest of the ponies and the dragon she couldn't remember the name of.

“Now c'mon, Ah know yer nervous about yer date with Twilight, but Pinkie Pie just wants to help—y'all said you wanted our assistance, remember?” Applejack poked the giant bubble, watching as it floated slowly away from her.

Trixie blushed slightly. “This is not a date!” she hissed, turning her head to look back at the hallway, relaxing somewhat as she heard the shower still running... and singing?

Spike crossed his arms as he leaned back on the cabinet door behind him. “Wish Rarity was here... Then I could go on a date too...” The young scribe was still peeved at the offensive drawings he had woken up to, and the scrubbing that followed. 'At least they didn't use a belt sander like Pinkie suggested.'

Fluttershy giggled as she bumped the bubble with her head, sending it drifting softly upwards. “Oh but Trixie, it would be such a shame to waste this opportunity to get to um, know Twilight better...”

“See? Fluttershy's got the right idea! Just find the most boringnest, secludest part of the library and work yer magic on her, if-ya-know-what-Ah-mean!” The farmer bumped the bubble as it neared her, sending it floating towards Trixie. “Ah betcha ain't nopony gonna stumble in on you two rasslin' in the back of the dumb ol' chemistry section!”

Fluttershy lowered her head, hiding her blush with her long mane. “But... that's not what I meant at all...

Trixie looked positively galled—this was the second time these ponies suggested she do untoward things to Twilight Sparkle! “Speaking such aspersions upon Trixie's good name! What kind of perverse pony do you take her for?”

Applejack smirked at the unicorn. “Now come on, y'all can level with me—Ah think we both know what yer really after, and it ain't Twilight's booksmarts!”

The showmare bumped the bubble away with her muzzle before glaring at the farmer, stepping forward. “Trixie would never use her magic to take advantage of anypony, especially her!”

Applejack stepped forward as well, glaring right back at the showmare, looking evenly into her eyes. Towards the back of the kitchen, Fluttershy and Spike looked at each other worriedly, until they heard the blond-maned mare loose a chuckle. “Ain't no way to hide lyin' eyes, Sugarcube.”

Trixie blinked in confusion at the good-natured grin on the orange pony's face. “And yer eyes are tellin' the truth; Ah can tell y'all are gonna treat 'er right.” Stepping back and taking a seat at the kitchen table, the draft pony winked at the showmare. “Ah just needed to make real shore one last time before Ah sent'cha on a date with our little Twilight.”

Fluttershy bobbed her head, trying to shift her long mane from covering her vision. “Um, but Applejack, aren't you younger than—”

“Now Sugarcube, don't go an' involve yer fancy-pants math in on this.”

All the ponies were startled by a loud explosion as Spike accidentally popped the giant bubble when he poked it with his claw. His surprised yelp was cut short as Pinkie Pie dropped from the bubble and landed on him. “—and that's when Mom and Dad kicked me out of the farm and then I needed a new place to live so I built Ponyville and invited all my friends to party every day!”

Silence filled the room for a second or two until an alarmed Twilight Sparkle came out running from the bathroom, toothbrush in her mouth and towel wrapped around her head, dripping water everywhere. “Whah whuf daht?!” In her haste, the lavender unicorn slipped and slid across the floor, slamming into the back of one of the living room's sofas. Everyone in the room winced; Trixie felt a hoof on her shoulder—it was Applejack, sullenly shaking her head and giving the showmare a pitying look that very clearly relayed: 'Yep, that's who you fell for.'

- - -

Twilight Sparkle wondered how many more times she was going to embarrass herself in front of The Great and Powerful Trixie—her only saving grace was that Rainbow Dash was not around to provide her thoughts on the lavender unicorn's less-than-graceful display of coordination and calm.

The bookworm fidgeted with her saddlebag as she stood outside the apartment, waiting for her Test Subject to join her for their research outing—the showmare had told her to wait outside for one moment, claiming she had forgotten something back inside. Twilight tried keeping her mind busy with ways in which she could prove or disprove the prevailing supposition shared by her woefully unscientific friends. She furrowed her brow in frustration—despite the months of research stored in her head, nothing she had found in her study of Friendship was yielding anything relevant to the matter at hand.

Twilight had a vague idea of what this suspected affliction—'Being in Love' as the laypony called it—was supposed to feel like, if Rarity's musings on romance were anything to go by. To hear her unicorn friend tell it, it would seem that a pony's body would go through a gamut of strange psychosomatic responses, some even hallucinatory in nature. Twilight flinched as she recalled when she first arrived at the Clydesler Building. 'That would explain why I couldn't see all the newsponies yesterday!'

The thought that The Great and Powerful Trixie's mere presence could trigger such a response in her brain left Twilight Sparkle somewhat perturbed—not only at the implication that her less-studious friends somehow managed to produce a baseless but correct hypothesis, but also at the fact that this 'Love' thing apparently caused selective blindness! “Ridiculous.”

What did you call Trixie?”

“GAH!” Twilight reeled away from the azure mare, sparkling in and out of teleportation a few times before materializing close to the hallway's ceiling and falling on her haunches a few feet away. “Ohmygosh T-Trixie! Don't sneak up on me like that!” the streak-maned pony could feel her heart about to burst from the scare she got. 'I didn't even notice when she came out of the apartment! Oh Celestia, she's making me blind and deaf!'

The Great and Powerful Trixie raised an eyebrow at the adorable display; she briefly wondered what had distracted the lavender pony so thoroughly. “Trixie has been standing next to you for a while now.”

Twilight got back to her feet, using her magic to dust herself off, intent on completely ignoring her magical panic attack. “W-well, since we're here, you know, both of us... I guess we should head to the library now?” she smiled sheepishly, ears turned back and one hoof slightly raised from the floor.

Trixie blinked and blushed slightly—it's just a library visit, right? Not a date. “Uh, yes. There are two of us, and we're going to the library.” she replied stiffly, mirroring Twilight's nervous stance.

Both ponies remained in silence for a moment, each avoiding the other's gaze as awkwardness permeated them thoroughly. They were both waiting for the other to take some sort of action, but as each second passed, each mare grew more reticent and fearful of breaking the uncomfortable air around them with even more awkwardness.

“Oh fer cryin' out loud!” Both mares were startled out of their thoughts by Applejack's muffled voice coming from the other side of the apartment door. Throwing the door open, the blond-maned pony stamped her hooves repeatedly on the floor as she bucked wildly. “Git a move on you two! C'mon, c'mon! ELEVATOR NOW!” she shouted, before producing a length of rope and whipping Trixie's flank with it.

The showmare reared up reflexively at the stinging hit, losing a loud neigh that frightened Twilight into rearing up and neighing as well. Both unicorns quickly took off, galloping at full tilt with Applejack right behind them whooping and hollering. “Git along, little ponies! YEE-HAW!”

Down the hall, Pinkie Pie waited for the trio with a large DETOUR sign in hoof pointing at the elevator she had already called. Applejack easily corralled the unicorns into the elevator as Pinkie Pie stretched her foreleg inside and pressed the button for the main lobby. As the door closed behind them, the still-frantic unicorns quickly calmed down after their fight or flight instincts wound down. They looked at each other with wide eyes as their heaving breaths normalized—a silent agreement suddenly sparked between them: there is no need to ever speak of what just happened. Ever.

With that settled, each mare quickly used her magic to straighten up her disheveled mane and coat. In doing so, Twilight was reminded of the saddlebag she had brought, and specifically, what she had packed in it the day before. Glancing at Trixie out of the corner of her eye, the unicorn grew nervous once more. 'Should I? What would she think of me?' The bookworm turned and faced the deep blue unicorn. “Um Trixie...?”

'Does this uncouth pony not know common elevator courtesy?' The Great and Powerful Trixie rolled her eyes. “Yes?

How to begin? “Trixie, do you remember Rarity?” Twilight shifted her weight anxiously. At Trixie's confused stare, the lavender unicorn continued. “She's that really pretty unicorn you uh... Well, you turned her mane into a rotting green nest?”

The Great and Powerful Trixie winced—she didn't need to be reminded of how she had begun to misuse her magic, even after the vow she had made as a young filly. “Trixie recalls the... event.”

“Well, see...” The librarian was quite visibly anxious, something that made Trixie somewhat uneasy as well. “After you left Ponyville I... Okay, you see, the point is I went to her to...” Twilight's horn began glowing, as the cutie mark buckle on her saddlebag became magically undone. “...I went to her because she's so good at... I mean, she didn't want to at first, but—”

With a loud chime, the elevator came to a lurching stop on the 42nd floor, a crowd of business ponies quickly piling in and pushing Twilight and Trixie to the back corner of the space. Twilight quickly buckled closed her saddlebag. “Um, you know what? I'm just rambling, forget I said anything.” she whispered as she smiled apprehensively at the showmare. 'What were you thinking, Twilight? You were going to give yourself away and ruin the whole experiment!'

The Great and Powerful Trixie's mind was currently reeling—her brain was coming up with an endless number of possible words that could fill in the blanks in Twilight's nervous rant, and every word that Trixie added just made the finished paragraph all that much worse. Just what is that Rarity character so good at, anyways? She couldn't possibly be better than The Great and Powerful Trixie! And yet, Twilight was apparently drawn to that white, haughty trollop of a pony who had the absolute gall to refuse the poor lavender unicorn's attention?

'Who the moon does that Rarity think she is? Trixie will show that talentless, bad dye-job who the better unicorn is! Trixie will give Twilight everything she wants!'

Twilight Sparkle didn't know what to make of the determined, slightly evil grin smeared across The Great and Powerful Trixie's face.

End Chapter 12