Tears in the Snow

by Wintergreen Diaries

The Anti-Checklist

Chapter 17: The Anti-checklist

Cerulean gently eased his eyes open, blinking as the first rays of Celestia's morn filtered through the window, lighting the dust motes as they danced happily through the air. Closing his eyes, he snuggled closer to the lavender mare asleep beside him, drawing her close while being careful not to wake her. He sat in silent reflection that, if there was ever an afterlife, this was how he would spend it. A small sneeze broke him from his revery, spraying his hoof and causing a drowsy Twilight to turn and face him.

"Good morning~" Cerulean sang softly, smiling. Twilight groaned and buried her face in his chest. Of the things at which she was exceptionally talented, being coherent the morning right after a three day emotional roller coaster didn't quite make the list. "Forecast today is sunny with light showers, with a twenty percent chance of grumpiness," he declared in an official voice, wiping his wet hoof on the blankets. Cerulean yelped as he was shoved out of her bed, finding the floor to be his new cuddle buddy. He lay sprawled face down for a moment, before adding "Ok, make that one hundred twenty percent," in a quiet voice, for which he was rewarded with a two pillows to the back of the head.

Deciding it was better for his health and the rest of the day to ease up on the teasing, Cerulean went downstairs and began to prepare breakfast. He found some flour and began mixing up some pancake batter after dicing up a fresh apple and setting it to the side. "I really want this morning to be special, and I've kinda blown it so far... What can I do to make it up to her?" he wondered aloud.

"Strawberries." Cerulean turned to find Spike giving him a serious look, arms folded across his chest. "She like strawberries, so if you're trying to apologize make something with strawberries."

"Thanks for the tip, Spike," he responded gratefully, for which he recieved a grunt as Spike excused himself. Cerulean's smile persisted as he watched the dragon set about organizing various things around the library, though it was nearly perfect already due to Spike's care while they were patching things up in Canterlot. He turned to the fridge only to find strawberries to be one of the few things that weren't present. Cerulean quietly excused himself from the house and, summoning his wings, made straight for the market stalls which were just beginning to open. Princess Celestia had graciously given him a bag of bits to get him started in Ponyville, and these strawberries were definitely of the utmost importance.

Twilight's senses came alive as her nostrils were suddenly tempted by a most tantalizing aroma. She took a deep draft of the delightful smell and sat up, blinking a few times to clear her vision. She let out a small gasp as she noticed the room was bathed in rainbow light. Looking at the window she noticed a thin layer of ice, just enough to cause the refraction necessary for the brilliant display. To her left she noticed a small bed table with the delicious breakfast still warm and a hand drawn card. There were pancakes with diced strawberries over the top and lightly frosted with powdered sugar, apple slices and a glass of orange juice.

Reaching passed the food she grabbed the card and brought it closer. The drawings were terrible, something even a two year old foal could outdo, but it seemed to be a depiction of the scene in front of her, including her waking up. A heart framed the words "I'm sorry for waking you, hope breakfast tastes good!" Twilight smiled and gently pressed the card to her lips where Cerulean had drawn himself, beaming.

"That's not fair, I make you breakfast and the paper gets the kiss?" Cerulean pouted as he ascended the steps. Twilight giggled and motioned him to come closer. He shook his head and trotted over to the pillows still on the ground where he had been unceremoniously evicted from the comfort of the bed and flopped himself facedown upon the floor.

"Uh... What are you doing?" Twilight inquired, utterly confused.

"Well seeing as how you're so friendly with that papyrus, I figured I'd just get to know the floor a bit better," he muttered sullenly.

"Hmmm, that's actually not a bad idea, you two will probably be seeing a lot of each other," Twilight mused. Cerulean cringed a little, not sure if she was joking or not. As he was searching his mind for a way to resurrect the situation he felt himself bodily lifted and floating through the air. Twilight gently set him down on the bed and gave him a heartfelt kiss. "Thank you for the card, Cerulean. Don't worry, you're forgiven," she proclaimed with a grin. She again noticed the smell of the pancakes, encouraging a cavernous rumble from her stomach. Cerulean motioned to the food with a dramatic flourish, and she dug in eagerly.

The library seemed strangely roomy, likely due to the fact that every tome was in it's proper place for once and the spare bed had been returned to it's usual spot. Spike had done a tremendous job cleaning while they were away, though he left shortly after their kiss, leaving a brief note saying he was going to go help Rarity with something. Cerulean regarded Twilight's dejected face with a confused grin.

"Twilight, what's with that face? Your house is clean for once."

"I know, that's the problem! Do you know how far behind I am on my studies thanks to you? I mean, just look at all these unused scrolls! Every single one should be a completed checklist!" she ranted, grabbing various tomes from the shelves and creating a small pile in front of her before levitating the parchment and quill over to her side. Cerulean waited for her to laugh at her own joke, but as she began furiously scribbling out a rough checklist for the rest of the day it became all too apparent that she was dead serious.

"This doesn't bode well," he muttered, Twilight fortunately not having heard the remark. Cerulean never planned anything, doing everything on a whim and not caring about the details as long as everything got done. It was going to be great "fun" adjusting to living with someone who scripted every part of every day. He read over her shoulder, shaking slightly as he attempted to contain his amusement at the contents.

"Checklist Start:
[ ] study magic: 2 hours
[ ] practice magic: 2 hours
[ ] eat lunch: 0.1 hours
[ ] study magic: 2.9 hours
[ ] practice magic: 2 hours
[ ] double check checklist
[ ] eat dinner: 0.5 hours
[ ] study magic: 2.5 hours
[ ] practice magic: 1 hour
[ ] leisure reading: 1 hour
[ ] put off going to bed: 1 hour
[ ] await Spike's return: 0.5 hours
[ ] triple check checklist"

As she finished, Twilight noticed Cerulean was scribbling on one of her other parchments. She was eager to start in on the book she had bought in Canterlot but curiosity got the better of her and as she watched him she squealed with delight; he was writing a checklist! Her fascination was short lived as she started reading the contents, some of which apparently were set in direct contradiction of her own.

"Anti-checklist Start:
[X] wake up: 0.0000003 hours
[X] get kicked out of bed: 0.5 seconds
[X] make amazing breakfast: 0.5 hours
[X] score a kiss: not long enough
[ ] help Twilight with studies: 1 hour
[ ] search around town for a job: 3 hours
[ ] make Twilight eat a reasonable meal: 1 hour
[ ] distract Twilight from studies: 1 hour
[ ] get kicked out and go for a flight: 1 hour
[ ] reconcile and score some more kisses: 0.25 hours
[ ] help Twilight with studies: 1.75 hours
[ ] make something tasty: 1 hour
[ ] leisure reading: 2 hours
[ ] night flight: 1 hour
[ ] read Twilight's diary while she's distracted: 1 hour
[ ] cuddle time: 1.5 hours"

"Just what do you mean by 'Anti-checklist?'" she prodded, jabbing him painfully in the ribs. "And there is no way you're reading my diary. Touch that and you're a dead stallion."

"It's just a little safeguard for my sanity, nothing more," Cerulean quipped, grinning ear to ear. He ignored her obvious displeasure and set about perusing the tomes she had collected on the floor. She joined him with a sigh and was soon too involved in her studies to be worry about his complete disrespect for the venerable checklist.

"Weren't you going to go look for a job? It's been an hour," Twilight said in a drab tone, not bothering to look up from her book as the clock's chime signaled the turn of the hour.

"Are you that eager to get rid of me? And here I was thinking I had been a good little colt," his cheery though sarcastic response eliciting no response from Twilight. With a sigh he stood, unsure of if she was just being difficult or if he really had offended her with his checklist joke. He walked to the door, noting that she didn't even glance at him, and then cantered back to where she lay, thoroughly engrossed in a tome detailing some advanced magical theorum on bending time. Her concentration was broken as he gently kissed the tip of her horn before continuing out the door and towards the center of town. As the door closed Twilight stood and looked over his checklist, begrudgingly admitting that he had some good ideas which she added to her own checklist - after the studying, of course.

Cerulean wandered through the town, not sure where to begin looking. Most of the stalls that lined the market place wouldn't require any kind of assistance, and there weren't many larger shops that he could try asking. Rarity ran the Carousel Boutique, but Cerulean had no talent for fashion, and something told him his input wouldn't be considered helpful anyways. Spying Sugarcube Corner he decided that baking would make the most sense since he had picked up quite a bit of knowledge on the subject from Lemon back in his schooling days. As he was making his way there he was stopped by a pony asking for his help rebuilding their roof, which he gladly obliged.

After two hours of moving planks and nailing shingles the job was finished, and Cerulean waved goodbye as he continued on to Sugarcube Corner. The shop was bustling with ponies stopping in for a bit of lunch, and Mr. and Mrs. Cake were busy behind the register, calling out orders to the back which seemed to appear nearly instantaneously. The front display case was nearly empty, but due to the incredible speed at which the treats were being produced the veritable mob of ponies had disappeared in about fifteen minutes, treats in hoof.

"Oh Cerulean! What brings you here today?" Mrs. Cake called out happily and walked towards him.

"Well, I was gonna ask if you needed any help but apparently you have a great team in the back already." Cerulean chuckled.

"Team? Oh, that's just Pinkie Pie. She sure is speedy when it comes to baking." Cerulean stared at Mrs. Cake in complete disbelief that a single scatterbrained mare like Pinkie could turn out delicious treats at such an alarming rate.

"Do you mind if I watch her bake for a while? I might learn a thing or two." Mrs. Cake nodded and Cerulean excused himself to the main kitchen, where he watched in awe as Pinkie simultaneously baked bread, mixed up a batch of cup cakes, laid out cookies to bake, and removed several pies from an oven, all in the space of sixty seconds. She continued her breakneck pace until the display case in the front was again filled with the tantalizing aromas of all manner of sweets, from cake to hard candy. Seemingly reaching an end, she bounced over to a stunned Cerulean and thrust her face close.

"Hey there, Cerulean! How are you today?" Cerulean caught a strong whif of cotton candy and took a step back.

"How do you do that?" he said slowly. He had watched Lemon during some of his advanced classes and not even the course instructor could have performed at near the speed Pinkie had, even with the aid of unicorn magic.

"What, baking? It's easy! All you have to do is take a cup of flour, add it to the mix~," she began to sing before Cerulean cut her off.

"I know about the ingredients but... how... the speed?" he stammered. She folded her arms and turned away, pointing her muzzle into the air. "Uh, you ok?"

"You interrupted my song," she said flatly.

"Ok, ok, you can sing. I'll listen." Cerulean caved, sitting down in front of her.

"No!" She turned away from Cerulean, and while part of him wanted to return to the realm of ponies that actually made sense, he really did want to understand how she could possibly turn out so many delicious treats so quickly. Spying an unused mixing bowl, he used his magic to set it on the counter, grabbing a small bag of flour as he did so and measuring out a cup.

"All you have to do is take a cup of flour, add it to the mix~," he sang, following the instructions of the song before casting an imploring eye towards Pinkie.

"Then you take a little something sweet not sour, a bit of salt just a pinch~!" she responded enthusiastically, immediately perking up at the thought of singing while baking. Cerulean struggled to keep pace with the song, adding ingredients and mixing it for just a few seconds before Pinkie slapped the mix into a cupcake tray and threw it in the oven. After just a few minutes she pulled out the tray to reveal twelve perfectly baked cupcakes, as if by magic. Several repetitions and a few hours later, he gave up trying to understand how her methods could consistently produce impossible results.

"I don't... how did..." Cerulean muttered, staring at the treats in disbelief. He examined Pinkie's forehead thoroughly for a horn, but with no such luck he came to the same conclusion that everypony else who ever knew Pinkie came to; this mare exists outside the realm of feasibility and physics. His thoughts were suddenly disrupted as Pinkie zipped out of the room, returning a short while later wheeling in a blue cannon with pink rimmed wheels. "Is that a..?"

"Frosting cannon!" she yelled, smacking the fuse without warning. Cerulean's vision went white as he flew a short time in the air before finding himself bodily glued to the wall in a thick, sticky cream. He felt something warm and wet brush over his eyes, and as he blinked away the remnants of the frosting he found himself staring into Pinkie's wild eyes, an enormous grin plastered to her face as she licked her lips. As she continued to "clean" his face, his thought processes crashed completely as he noticed that the trays of cupcakes sitting on the counter were pristinely and evenly frosted.

After she had removed much of the frosting on his face the sticky substance caved to his weight, and he fell on top of her as gravity beckoned him towards the floor. He immediately stood up and made all haste to exit the shop, calling out his "thanks" over his shoulder as he left. Pinkie, oblivious both to the fact that he hadn't exactly enjoyed the bath nor being stuck to the wall, contented herself with lapping up the remaining frosting with gusto, not wanting a single drop of the sugary treat to go to waste. Besides, the secret ingredient she put in her cotton candy every morning was in there, and it wasn't the type of thing you'd just callously wipe up with a wash cloth, after all!

Twilight's growling stomach and Cerulean's blatant disregard for even his own list had set her in a foul mood, and she regarded the frantic banging on the door with great irritation. She had skipped her meal thinking that Cerulean was going to make her something tasty, and now two hours later he comes waltzing back to disrupt her studies? If it weren't for the fact the the door made so much noise, she would have just let him sit outside for the next hour or two. She threw open the door and stared wide eyed at the still frosted Cerulean, only a small portion of his face being even somewhat clean. The ridiculousness of his position replaced her frustration with rib splitting laughter, and she quickly found herself on the floor and unable to stand.

"I wish to utter profanities of the vilest persuasion," he gritted out through clenched teeth. His serious face was too much for Twilight, who was now gasping for air, and she waved a hoof as if to fend him away. He was forced to admit the humor in his situation, and Twilight's laughter worked wonders on his mood, and he too was soon joining in the mirth. Twilight noticed his mischevious grin to late, and she struggled for but a moment before he pounced on her, coating her in the now quite dirty frosting. She squealed and tried to push him away, her lack of oxygen depriving her hooves of the force to adequately defend herself, and she was soon every bit as dirty as he was.

After a time he pulled away to let her recover. She stood shakily and walked around the house, beckoning him to follow. As he rounded the corner he was met with a steady stream of icy water, Twilight laughing maniacally as she hosed him down. He immediately ran inside and locked the door, ignoring Twilight's calls as he trotted miserably to the shower, shivering as he went and dripping frosting residue everywhere. Twilight stopped to taste test the frosting from a somewhat clean area of her chest, blinking in surprise at how delightful it tasted. It was better than any she had tasted before, and she helped herself to a good amount of the cleaner patches on her coat until she realized just how unclean it was to do so. Shaking her head a few times, she continued shouting until she heard the sound of running water, at which point she knew that she was stuck outside. Unless...

The warmth returned to his limbs as the steaming cascape caressed his sticky features. A good deal of the frosting had made it into his mouth when the cannon was fired, and he had to admit that it was quite delicious. Cerulean's train of thought was interrupted as his vision exploded with rainbows, and he soon found himself quite fascinated with the vibrant colors radiating from the simple white shower curtain. He leaned towards it's magnificent presence before finding himself inexplicably on the ceiling, staring at the rainbow factory that seemed to burst from the window in the cat's mouth.

Twilight snickered gleefully as she snuck up to the bathroom and threw open the door, having teleported inside with nary a sound. Not having thought the action through in the slightest, she turned an extremely bright shade of crimson as she beheld a dripping wet Cerulean laying on the floor, waving all four legs in the air as if swimming. The bizarre action overpowered the embarrassment enough that she slowly approached, trying to get her heart rate within normal limits.

"Cerulean? Are you ok?" she asked sheepishly, averting her eyes.

"I lookit rainbow box, in town place?" Cerulean mumbled, turning his head slightly and staring in Twilight's general direction. "Applejack baked the hammer cakes!" Twilight's returned the stare, attempting to decipher the cryptic message before she suddenly made the connection.

"Oh no... No no no please no!" The frosting. Pinkie's "special" ingredient. And she had eaten some. She ran out to the main floor of the library and curled into a ball, waiting for her sanity to be forcibly removed. She didn't have long to wait.