"I gotta say, Pinkie," Applejack said, "you've been mighty calm this whole trip. I figured you of all ponies would be wanting to know what Rainbow has planned for us in Canterlot."
"Of course I wanna know," Pinkie replied, shifting in her seat. "That's part of the fun with surprises, though. You think and wonder, coming up with all sorts of amazingly amazing and wonderful possibilities of what it could be. Then you find out and it's so so exciting. If you're right, then you get a surprise and the fun of having guessed. If you're wrong, you're doubly surprised because the surprise is something you never ever ever would have expected. That's why I love surprises."
"I meant I figured you would be pestering Spike the most about it," Applejack stated.
A gasp escaped Pinkie as she turned to look at Applejack. Her eyes were wide and mouth hung open.
"But if he told me, I would know," Pinkie replied. "Then the surprise wouldn't be a surprise anymore. What would that even be? I don't know what to call a surprise that's not a surprise. A not-surprise? An un-surprise? Boundless disappointment leading into a rapidly spiraling void of depression with a sense of betrayal? A consolation prize?"
"Well," Rarity spoke up, "I for one would certainly wish to know." She turned her full attention to Spike. "Are you certain that you can't tell us anything more?"
"I'm sorry," Spike said, "but even if I wanted to, I can't. I've already told you everything I know: Rainbow got really excited at lunch and wanted to hurry back to the library to write a letter. I was supposed to write it, but for some reason she changed her mind and wrote it herself. She didn't let me see the reply either. She then told me she had to go to Canterlot to get a surprise ready for all of you, and I was to stay in Ponyville so she could send a message when everything was ready. Rainbow then left to get the next train to Canterlot. Next thing I know, the five of you show up at the library, and I get the letter from Rainbow telling me to bring you all to Canterlot and the castle."
"Do you remember what you were talking about at lunch?" Twilight Comet asked, moving closer to place a hoof on Spike. "Maybe it has something to do with that."
Spike's eyes went wide as he stared at the hoof touching his shoulder. She was touching him. She was touching him. This was a very exciting moment for the young dragon.
Okay, he thought, okay. Play it cool. Just tell her what you and Rainbow talked about at lunch, and you'll make her happy.
"Uuuuuuhhhhhh...." he said instead.
"Oh, my," Flowershy said gently. "Are you alright?"
For some reason, his traitorous mouth had decided not to say the words he was telling it to. Instead it was making him look like an idiot. How could it do something like this to him? In front of the cutest and smartest pony he had ever met (Princess Celestia excepted)?
Let's try this again. Closing his mouth, Spike took a deep breath. This time, it was not going to double-cross him like that. This time, he would say exactly what he wanted to.
"Now arriving at Canterlot!" a deep booming voice announced.
"Yay!" Pinkie called out, hopping out of her seat. "We're here, we're here, we're here."
"Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough," Rarity said as she got up.
Once the train came to a stop, the five mares and dragon -- as well as a great many other ponies -- stepped off the train and onto the platform.
"Twily!" a voice called out, getting Twilight's attention. Standing off to one side of the platform was a white pegasus stallion dressed in guard armor. His wings gave a flicker of excitement as he stood there, grinning.
"Shiny!" Twilight Comet shouted. With a flap of her wings, she took off, leaving the ground and launching herself at the stallion.
"Twilight!" the stallion shouted. "Wait! Stop before-"
A massive metallic thump filled the air as Twilight collided face first with the guard's armor. This was followed by a softer thump as Twilight fell to the ground, letting out a groan of pain.
"I tried to warn you," the stallion said as he leaned down. "I'm wearing armor so your normal tackle hug of a greeting would be a bad idea. Are you okay?"
"I've had worse," Twilight answered as she moved to sit up. "What are you doing here?"
"The princess sent me to escort some of Rainbow Burst's friends to the castle. I was supposed to recognize them because they would be with -- Spike!"
"Hey, Shining Armor," Spike said as he walked up toward the two. He glanced back and forth between the pair of pegasi. "You two know each other?"
"Shining Armor is my older brother," Twilight explained. Grinning, she wrapped a wing around the stallion, pulling him close.
Spike gave a nod, as a small thrill of relief flowed through his body. For a moment, he had been worried that the two were romantically involved with each other or something. It would have been a little irritating to have the mare he has a crush on get back into a relationship because of him. Although, admittedly, he had no right to stop or interfere on the matter. It was also silly since in all the time he had known Shining Armor, the young stallion had never spoken about being involved with a mare.
"So I take that you're one of Rainbow's friends?" Shining asked.
"Yeah," Twilight replied. "I'll introduce you to the others. Spike and Applejack you already know. This is Flowershy, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. Girls, this is my brother Shining Armor."
"Oh, my," Rarity gasped as she studied Shining Armor. The gaze caused the stallion to blush, shifting where he stood with his wings flickering.
"So, is everyone ready?" he asked, getting nods. "Well then, please follow me."
As Shining Armor started to walk, Twilight moved along beside him. The others soon fell in close behind, with Rarity making sure to follow directly behind the stallion and smiling at the view.
"So, has anything exciting been going on with you?" Twilight asked.
"Well, after the events of longest night," Shining answered, "I ended up getting promoted to Second Lieutenant. I've also been assigned to Princess Luna to guard her and help her get acclimated to the modern era."
The two continued to talk and catch up as the seven of them made their way through Canterlot toward the castle.