by Gabriel LaVedier

Twinkie- Minty Fresh

Another typical day in Ponyville was passing by. Birds sang, clouds drifted, Opal and her kittens strolled the main boulevard with Angel at the back watching over his offspring. Pinkie Pie was also up to her usual shenanigans, zipping rapidly back and forth between different points in town.
With each zooming pass she whipped by Twilight Sparkle, who was watching the spastic activity with a look of resigned bemusement. She was not normally wont to delve into the strange actions of her marefriend but it seemed like a good time to do so. “Uhh, Pinkie..?”
“Oh my gosh, Twilight! This is so great! So great! I am so super nervocited!” Pinkie squealed, pausing only long enough to squeeze Twilight in a crushing hug before running off again, leaving the unicorn gasping and quivering after a dose of earth pony strength.
“Th-that seems apparent,” Twilight groaned out, shaking off the effects of the squeeze and brushing off her coat. She waited for Pinkie to come within earshot again before she asked, “But just what has you so nervocited?”
“Didn't I tell you? I thought I left you a note, or a cake, or a notecake,” Pinkie mused, while still on the move.
“That explains the half-eaten cake in the fridge with the incomplete message on it. Spike needs to learn not to eat other folks' mail... I'll add that to the list of things I never thought I would say,” Twilight said, pulling out a note card and scribbling down a quick note. “Since Spike ate your... notecake... can you tell me what has you so charged up, besides the usual hot-sauce-laced cupcakes?”
“Minty's coming! Minty's coming!” Pinkie squealed, bouncing on her bottom as she made her way to another part of town.
“Minty's coming? That sounds exciting. Or would if I knew just who this Minty is. Is she another baker or some kind of party planner?” Twilight asked.
“No, silly! Minty was my bestest, bestest, super-bestest friend back in the Cannonite community. Her family owned another rock farm near ours. I haven't seen her since dad sent me off for my wilding and I never came back. She's decided to come visit me because she said she was sorry that she never came when hers was happening,” Pinkie gushed, pausing to remember her friend fondly before resuming her frenzy of activity.
“Wow... that's a lost of 'bestests.' And that's not even a real word, which is especially impressive,” Twilight said. “You're really putting in a lot of effort for her, aren't you?”
“She's only going to be here two days. She'll stay overnight and leave late the next day so we can spend lots and lots of time together. I need to put in a lot of effort to make it an amazing, super-fun time!” Pinkie shouted, pulling on a rope to unroll a tremendous banner that read, 'Welcome Minty!'
“She must be special,” Twilight said, smiling a little bit as an uncomfortably familiar feeling moved through her chest. The sensation passed in an instant, almost not there. But Twilight knew what she had felt.
“She's really special. She was my only friend back then. Even my sisters weren't as nice and special as Minty was. I want to make sure she knows it,” Pinkie said, slowing down and smiling with full sincerity as she recalled those days.
“Do you need any help? I can be a really big help. And I always want to be involved with what you're doing. I'm your marefriend after all,” Twilight said, a touch too eagerly, throwing a leg around Pinkie's shoulders and hugging her close, not coming anywhere near Pinkie's natural strength.
“Nopenopenopenope!” Pinkie insisted, returning the hug with another crushing one of her own, then zipping away. “I've got it all planned out and it's almost ready. But you can join us if you like!”
“N-no, that's alright,” Twilight insisted, as the feeling ran through her again. It was slower to vanish the second time.”I don't want to be a bother to the two of you. You're the friends after all. I'd just be a third wheel.”
“Ooooh! Like a tricycle! That sounds like fun. Come on, Twilight, join us! You'll have a good time,” Pinkie said, rubbing her puffy mane up against Twilight's side.
“It's fine, it's fine,” Twilight said, giving a loving smile but waving Pinkie off. “I... I have you all the time. She's not here like I am. I'll keep on being here,” she said, with a certain desperate implication.
“Alright. If you want I'll just bring her by the library so you can at least meet her. I think she'd like to meet you and get to know you. You're really important to me,” Pinkie said, planting a peck on Twilight's cheek.
A blush crossed over Twilight's features and the familiar feeling vanished from within her. She was still special, still important to Pinkie. That was what mattered the most in the end. “I'll look forward to that. Maybe I should tidy up a little. I don't want your super-best friend...”
“My bestest, bestest, super-bestest friend,” Pinkie corrected.
“R-right, yes, your... that, to get the wrong impression of me through seeing a dirty library,” Twilight said with a soft chuckle. “I want to look good and really impress her. It's important.”
“Thanks, Twilight,” Pinkie said, giving Twilight another kiss and zooming away.
Twilight rubbed the kissed spot and watched Pinkie go. “I love you...” Twilight whispered, staring at Pinkie's vanishing form.

- - -

Twilight's magic had been in motion for hours, holding multiple rags, spray bottles, brooms, and other tools of cleaning. When a tendril of mana was unoccupied by a tool it was filled with as many books as possible, being shuffled from space to space according to many different display schemes with proper decimal order. Spike had been regarding the flurry with a sort of awe. “Wow Twilight... do I need to find a new place to work? I hear that the cafe is hiring.”
“Oh Spike! I'm not trying to take your job. But this needed a horn-on approach. This has to be absolutely perfect,” Twilight commented, scrutinizing a small speck of floor that didn't shine quite as bright as the rest. Polish was applied and furiously rubbed in.
“So... is Princess Celestia coming to... live here or something? You haven't been this crazy since... uh-oh,” Spike said, his eyes going wide. “Are you going to Paddock Fifty-One again?”
“I didn't go to Paddock Fifty-One the last time,” Twilight grumbled as the recalcitrant spot refused to shine properly. A blast of magic scraped down a few layers and more polish brought out the proper shimmer. “And this is totally different.”
“Right... right... on a completely unrelated note, I'm going to go see Rainbow Dash. No special reason, I just need to see her,” Spike said, as casually as possible, sliding his way along the smooth floor.
Twilight put a magical aura over the door and shook her head. “Spike... it's not about Rainbow Dash. Pinkie has a guest coming to Ponyville today. An old friend. A good friend. Her... 'bestest, bestest, super-bestest friend', and that's a direct quote,” she said.
“Oh. Neat,” Spike said, giving a shrug. “So... why are you going crazy on the library?”
“Didn't you hear me? She used a made-up word three times. This is serious. She really, really thinks a lot of this friend. I need to... make a good impression. Show that I'm special,” Twilight said, the various products and tools being put carefully away in the closet.
“Do you really think that Pinkie's going to stop loving you? Seriously? You two are always together. Nothing's going to change that. Trust me,” Spike said, sliding over to give Twilight a reassuring pat on the back.
A small smile spread across Twilight's face. “Thanks, Spike. I really needed to hear that. I guess you're right. I really shouldn't be nervous. Pinkie's my marefriend and we really love each other. An old friend visiting isn't going to do anything to change that.”
The door to the library burst open suddenly and there came the boom of Pinkie's party cannon, scattering long streamers and great clouds of confetti. The carefully cleaning of the library had nearly been for naught, save that the floor maintained its shine and the books were still arranged properly. Pinkie stepped into the room beside her cannon and cleared her throat. “And now presented, the bestest friend a filly on a rock far could have hoped for, the one and only Minty Tea!”
Minty stepped through the door next, head down and a shy blush on her features. She looked about as old as Pinkie, with a pale green coat and a mane and tail that were two tones of pink. On her flank her Cutie Mark was three green-and-pink circular peppermint candies. She was mostly undressed, though she wore long socks on all four legs that reached nearly to the top of each leg, plain black shoes, and a small black vest. “Um... hello there... I'm... not quite used to this.”
Twilight regarded Minty for a moment, unsure of what to think of her. She finally settled on thinking nothing, and merely held out a hoof with a lopsided smile. “Pinkie takes some getting used to. I'm surprised, you were her friend for so long, you should be in tune with her.”
“It's been a while since we last met, I don't really know much about her life outside of the community,” Minty confessed, still blushing. “She said that you were her... marefriend? Is that right?”
“Yes! Twilight Sparkle, of Canterlot, graduate of Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, with a Master's in General Thaumatology, in the graduate program in the new discipline of Emotional Psychothaumaturgy,” Twilight said proudly, standing up tall and placing a hoof on her chest.
“Wow...” Minty said, shuffling awkwardly in place.
“And she's cute!” Pinkie said, breaking Twilight's look by planting a kiss on her cheek. “Looks like you were busy in here.”
“Yes, I did a little tidying and arranging. Not that the library is usually a mess but I wanted everything to be just so for a visit. It was... very clean...” Twilight looked around at all the mess while hooking a foreleg around Pinkie.
“Don't worry. She's done this to every other place. That white unicorn really yelled about it. We didn't even have a chance to get introduced...” Minty said, idly looking around the library.
“That's Rarity. She's... passionate about cleanliness,” Twilight said with a small chuckle. “So... this is Golden Oaks Library. Though smaller than, say, the Grand Archive of Canterlot, where I also once worked, it is still a wonderful collection of thought-provoking treatises, edifying books on science, an assortment of archival accounts for the region, with biographies, and the place to find all the newest Daring Do books and related materials, as well as a full archive of the entire series,” Twilight reported, voice turning from a docent-like moderate tone to a higher-pitched squeak of fannishness.
Minty regarded her oddly for a moment before asking, “What's 'Daring Do'?”
“You've never read the Daring Do books?” Twilight asked with a gasp.
“The Cannonites don't really read popular books. They prefer educational books and a few traditional tales,” Pinkie said. “I told you it was boring. Oh! Sorry Minty...”
“No, that's perfectly natural. I expected such a position because you left the community. It was right for you to do so,” Minty said.
“That's a little mean, isn't it? She was right to leave? Well that's their loss then,” Twilight said strongly, hugging Pinkie a little tighter.
“I meant that as a fact. If a Cannonite finds the community contrary to the life they feel is right, if their inner spirit yearns to trot the world beyond, they must go. It would be wrong to keep them held where they cannot grow. We Cannonites know a lot about growing,” Minty explained.
“Oh. Right. Her nature,” Twilight said, blushing a bit and clearing her throat. “In any case, would you like to hang around here and explore this library? It's really a wonderful place.”
“Nope! Sorry, Twilight, we can't stay. There are more places I wanted to show her, then we have dinner plans,” Pinkie said, rolling the party cannon out of the library.
“Dinner... plans..?” Twilight asked with a flat and distant tone.
“Yes. She is going to take me to a cafe, a unique experience I have not had since I went out to the world. Then she will hoof-make what she says will be the most amazing dessert. It sounds decadent, but in the world we may be a bit more free,” Minty noted with a soft laugh.
“Decadent and free,” Twilight echoed with a slight grind of her teeth. A tiny surge of mostly unintentional magic slipped from her, and a small whirl of wind stirred the fallen streamers and bits of confetti.
Spike, who had been hiding after the party cannon had gone off, emerged just in time to see the small breeze die away. “Should I ask for the dispensation now or will you be walking straight up to Professor Sliver?”
“I'm not going to see Professor Sliver. I'm fine,” Twilight said, putting a hoof down on the last bit of paper still in the air. “I'll be out for the day but I promise, nothing's going to happen.”

- - -

Applejack whistled happily to herself as she stacked barrels in the barn. The cooper had just delivered a load to replace the few that had broken or become otherwise unsuitable over the prior year. Cider season was always the best time to get and use new barrels, and the time was approaching. The small sound of the barn door squeaking turned her head, and she smiled when she saw the source of the sound. “Well howdy there, Twilight. What can ah do fer ya?”
“Applejack... I have a serious question to ask you. But I'm... worried about how it might make you feel,” Twilight admitted, slowly making her way into the barn.
“Ya know ya can ask me anythin' ya like. Bein' the element of honesty means ah'll give it to ya straight on, so there's no need ta dance around anythin',” Applejack said, standing up tall and proud.
“Alright. If you say so... umm... how did you deal with... I mean, you say you saw her again and... I, um... I need to know how you dealt with... Gilda...” Twilight said, almost whispering the last word.
A crack ran through Applejack's confident facade. Her mouth quirked and her eyes got a bit narrower. “Never thought ah'd be hearin' that critter's name. What about her?”
“Well you know she and Dash...” Twilight deflated slightly under Applejack's sudden withering gaze and she looked away. “I'm just saying they used to have meaning to one another. Significant meaning. There was something... special there...”
Applejack maintained the gaze for a moment longer before a different thought entered her head. “This... ain't really 'bout Gilda, is it?”
Twilight sighed softly and scraped a hoof on the ground. “How do you deal with the old feelings, the old emotions and connections that happen between ponies?”
“Come on, quitcher dancin' 'round the subject and tell me what it's all about,” Applejack said, in what she hoped was a warm and encouraging tone.
“Pinkie has a visitor. A friend. A good friend. Her very best friend, described in words she made up just to express how good,” Twilight related, a sad smile on her face. “She's so excited, so happy, so... Pinkie over her visit. She's more animated and active than usual, so much more... more. I know I love her. She does love me. But... does she still... feel... for this mare too?”
Applejack considered the problem for a moment then went back to her barrels. “Yer right, Twi. Pinkie don't love ya anymore an' she's gonna run off with this here new gal.”
“Wh-what? Applejack...” Twilight ran around in front of Applejack and put a hoof on her shoulder. “I never thought of you as such a... defeatist.”
“Well ah ain't, sugarcube but consarnit, Twi, ya have yer own ways about ya when ya get jealous. Ah was near tempted ta run off an' warn mah Dashie that she's gonna be in trouble again.”
“Why does everyone assume..? Okay...” Twilight shook her head and turned aside. “I know you're a straight-talker, and direct and blunt and... I know you think it's that simple. But I promise you it is anything but that easy.”
“Then tell me why, an' maybe ah can give ya some decent advice. Right now ah feel like ah'm talkin' ta a wall,” Applejack said with a hint of exasperation.
“You know me. Yes, I don't do very well with jealousy. And, again, I'm sorry to both you and Dash. But I'm no good at love either. Sure, I look perfectly competent, hugging her, kissing her, going on dates and enjoying a bit of snuggling on a park bench at sunset. But I can't explain why she likes me! I don't know the whys and wherefores of love, not in the slightest. It's why I need to write a thesis on it, maybe study will tell me the secrets I can't explain. That's the whole thing, Applejack,” Twilight said, hanging her head and looking close to tears.
“Ah don't understand, sugarcube. So ya don't 'get' love. Ah 'spect none of us does. Ain't stopped me 'n' Dash from getting' engaged, 'r Rarity an' Fluttershy. You 'n' Pinkie 'r still gonna... ain't ya?” Applejack asked, with a worried tone.
“Yes. I want to. I have to think she does, she hasn't said anything. But that's what I mean. I don't understand what made her love me, I don't understand what keeps her loving me. The standard explanations don't work for me. 'It's who I am inside' or 'it's all about the happenstance' or 'affections are just a mystery.' I'm not good with mysteries either!” Twilight shouted, stomping a hoof down hard. After a short bit of panting she said, “I can't live on a mystery. I can't not know what drives Pinkie's affections. If I don't know what keeps her... I can't keep doing it and stop her from drifting away. I gave up an honorarium for her, and the form of an alicorn. But in the end, I still don't know what makes her want to keep sitting by my side, at sunset, huddled under a blanket drinking a root beer with two straws...”
Applejack waited until Twilight's words had faded away and she had started to cry before going over to give the other mare a soft pat on the back. “Let it out. It ain't none too easy when ya finally see yer love's like fallin' off a cliff. Ain't no control, ain't no sense, ain't nothing ta do but fall. Fall an' enjoy th' ride.”
“But how can you?!” Twilight shouted, turning teary eyes on Applejack. “No control, no hoofholds, no way of understanding! You can't live like that.”
“No. Ya can't. Ya can't keep fallin', that don't end too well. So ya grab onta somethin', somethin' strong, sure, solid. And ya don't let go, not fer one second. Next thing ya know yer hooves 're back on the ground and yer doin' fine,” Applejack said sagely.
“How? How do you get there from being completely unsure?” Twilight asked.
“Because what ya said was right. She loves ya fer who ya are, 'cause somewhere in her deepest heart somethin' was always waitin' fer ya. A gal jus' like you, that had all that ya got, that filled a hole in her life shaped jes like you,” Applejack said, slowly leading Twilight out of the barn. “And ah think if ya really look... you'll find there's a pink baker curled up in a little spot shaped jes like her in yer own heart.”
Twilight put a hoof over her heart and used magic to wipe her tears away. She gave a sincere smile back to her friend and said, “Thanks, AJ. It really helped.”
“It's what ah do, sugarcube. Now go on ta yer mare, she's probably been wantin' ta share some good times since her friend arrived.”
“Of course. Thanks again. I promise I'll find some way to repay you for this help,” Twilight said, giving a smile and then galloping down the path from the barn.
“Is she gone?” Rainbow Dash asked, popping out from the only sealed barrel in the entire bunch, set slightly aside and in the shadows.
“Yer safe, sugarcube, she wasn't mad atcha, she was more mad at herself fer not knowin' all about love. So come on out an' help me,”Applejack said casually.
“Sure, sure... not that I was worried or anything. I got through it last time I could totally manage it again,” Dash said confidently, polishing a hoof on her chest.
“Ah know, sugarcube, ah know... there's a whirlwind!” Applejack shouted, pointing out the barn doors.
Dash went stiff and flopped onto her back to the sound of a goat bleating. She crossed her forelegs across her chest on hearing Applejack's laughter and blushed, trying her best to look mad. “Not funny...”

- - -

It was late in the day when Twilight arrived at Sugarcube Corner. “Hello? Pinkie?” She called out on entering the shop.
“She left for an early dinner but she should be back soon,” Mrs. Cake said, trotting to the front room from the back. “How are you dear? I'm surprised you didn't go with them.”
“I'm surprised too. I guess it took me a while to get my head on right,” Twilight said with a laugh and a slight rubbing of the back of her head.
After only twenty minutes of waiting the door opened wide and Pinkie burst in, followed by the more sedate and reserved Minty. “That was great! I wish we could have dinner tomorrow but you have to leave early enough to get back to the community,” Pinkie said with a touch of disappointment at the end.
“I wish I could stretch it to an extra night but I don't want to be away too long,” Minty said, contritely.
“Pinkie... are you two going to do anything else? I'd love to join you if you think I won't be in the way,” Twilight said with a hopeful smile.
“So you wanted to be a tricycle after all,” Pinkie said, confused looks passing between Mrs. Cake and Minty. “We were just going to head up to the room and talk, but I'd love you to join us. You can hear all kinds of great stories about when we were fillies.”
“I'd really love that,” Twilight said.
“Then let's get this party started!” Pinkie shouted, heading up the stairs with Minty.
“P-pinkie? Can I talk to you down here for a minute, just you and me?” Twilight asked, directing herself to the private party space.
“Okie-dokie-lokie!” Pinkie cried out, bouncing down to the room. “Go on ahead and get comfortable, Minty, we'll be there soon.”
“Alright Pinkie,” Minty said, disappearing up the stairs.
The two mares looked to one another, Pinkie smiling, Twilight looking down with slight embarrassment, Finally, Pinkie asked, “What did you need to talk about?”
“R-right... Pinkie... I was... well I was worried. Not now, not after I talked with AJ but I was worried before. I was... Well you and Minty you were... I didn't know what to think, and since I don't know how our love... works...” Twilight's statement tapered off as Pinkie began to laugh.
“Oh Twilight. My silly filly...Minty isn't a Filly Fooler, not even half of one like AJ or Rarity. She's a Cannonite and the ones that stay aren't like that. She likes stallions,” Pinkie's laughter ceased and she looked seriously at Twilight. “Were you... jealous?”
Twilight looked even more embarrassed. She should have known that. She had made a serious study of Cannonite tradition after starting her relationship. Her own jealousy and inexperience with love had blinded her to her own knowledge. But even given how she felt she did not hide it. “I can't help it. She was your best friend. She knew you, deeply, for many years. She still knows everything about you, everything that shaped and formed you, that made you you. I just couldn't help thinking...”
Pinkie wrapped Twilight in a warm embrace and kissed her just below the horn. “But you know what really matters. You know I love you. You know you love me. And that's all we need to know,” Pinkie said, kissing Twilight again. “Now let's go upstairs. She's really, really clumsy and I don't want her to break anything.”
Twilight smiled brightly and kissed Pinkie on the lips. “Sounds like a good idea.”