Looking Up

by BlackWater

2 - Evolution

Party Favor blinked slowly. He knew it was morning and that Double Diamond had left his hooves. Aside from that, he was just a slow groggy pony with barely any motivation to leave the warm sheets. To think this had become a routine only two months after Double Diamond's competition.
That happy accident of water-soaked sleeping bags had given them the idea to board together at Double's house instead of live separately. Party was still elated about it and Double's apprehension had bled away soon after they tried it. It turned out that, besides the decision to sleep in the same bed, neither of their daily lives were altered that much. Living together was far less of a deal than even Party had imagined – and their friends considered him the more down-to-Equestria pony by some stroke of irony.
Today was going to be interesting, however. There was a special event going on in the evening, which was a big deal for their small bustling town. They might have been out in the middle of nowhere, but the town had undergone vibrant changes since everypony got their cutie marks back. Party was about to see how these changes were evolving as he got out of bed and fixed his mane and tail. Styled but with enough chaotic freedom to give him that special “Party” look.
The blue stallion was out the door and immediately breathed in the sweet but earthy smell of the town's decorative trees and flowers. Bland, non-beautified, and dusty hues everywhere? Not since the gardening ponies got their cutie marks back. And the city planners and beautifiers needed credit too. The town's main road was lined with new fruit trees of several varieties, though only a few were starting to bloom.
Spring was still officially a little ways off. Party walked up to one road divider filled with tulips and petunias. The bright and light colors of orange and pink somehow managed to complement nicely. It must have been the saturation of the leaves. In any case, Party felt they smelled lovely as he leaned down to catch a more robust scent.
Any party planner worth their salt knew to stop and smell the roses. Or petunias. Actually, dandelions would be better. Those were at the western end of town, which Party conveniently needed to go towards to pick up his supplies for the night's event. Time to get working!
Party put a hop and a skip into his step as he strode down the town's road. Many colorful Earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns greeted him happily as he went along. The town was already as excited as he was and he hadn't even begun hyping them up for it. Or perhaps what had them in a good mood was everypony's unique talents having returned. It had been some time since that happened but the joy still had yet to ebb.
It was as Party finally got to the western crest in the town road that he could see downhill to the field outside the town's box-like shape. It used to be an empty dirt field but was now populated with a green pasture littered with small gardens and mini-orchards that didn't fit within the town's space. Aside from baked goods, garden produce was the settlement's primary export.
“Yo!” a voice called from above.
Party didn't have to look to know who it was. “Since when does Night Glider stay awake during the day?” he asked with a grin.
“Since the boss gave us the night off for the royal visit,” Night enthused, setting hoof down next to him. She seemed quite happy over it considering she still would need to sleep before the event.
“If you stay up now,” Party half-lectured, “your graveyard sleep schedule will trip you up when Celestia tries shaking your hoof.”
Night rolled her eyes and followed Party into his usual supply store. “I'm nopony. She wouldn't shake my hoof. Besides,” she insisted as the stallion pondered over pink and yellow balloons, “I'm more interested in spending time with Sugar at this thing than any royal mares.”
“I know the feeling,” Party replied automatically.
The pegasus mare smirked. “I would think so. What with the way you and Double keep the town up every night. I never knew you could rock a bed-”
Party dropped the balloons and stuffed a forehoof in Night's mouth. “Geez, Nighty!” he complained with near panic. “Don't go saying things like that in public! Especially when they're not even true. Double and I are not like that and you know it.”
Night Glider only responded after the hoof was kindly removed. “But you want it to be, right?” she wiggled her brows.
Party shook his head in exasperation. “Maybe you're just projecting what you want with Sugar Belle.”
“Ppptht,” Night made a raspberry and reclaimed her smirk while gaining a boisterous mood. “Want? I've already got. If I was a stallion, she'd have more than muffins in her oven.”
“You're shameless, Nighty,” Party Favor shook his head and picked the balloons up.
“Hey,” the dark pegasus lifted her head in pride. “I dreamed of the day I could be with her. And now I am. What do I have to be shy about?”
If the lighter blue stallion had anything to say to that, he kept it to himself. Being with Double Diamond made him wonder if there was anything more he wanted as well. Marriage? Perhaps. But that would be years later at their current pace. He didn't really want anything material either since he enjoyed experiences more than objects. Perhaps that was what he should set as the next goal.
They should have some kind of special experience together. Him, Double Diamond, and the girls. Sky diving? No. Scuba diving? No.
“Hmm,” Party hummed to himself in thought as he checked out with his selected items.

The sun was just below the horizon now. Its orange glow was fading, casting a calming glow over the landscape of the town. Double Diamond looked down at the town from the nearby ridge, just coming back from his practice runs. The center of the establishment was bustling. That much he could see even from here.
The white stallion hefted his relatively light skis onto his back and made his way down the boring trail into town. The gardeners had done a fantastic job on the western end but hadn't gotten to the eastern side yet. Thankfully, the dull trip was short. Double went to his house first to drop off his equipment, though he didn't intend to stay there for long.
It was when he finished his shower and left for the event square that he realized his coltfriend normally would have surprised him around a corner by now. Or he would at least pop in to hurry him along. Party was always impatient for...well...parties.
“Time to rock,” Double told himself in his usual cool demeanor. He figured he'd run into Party soon enough now that he was leaving the front door to greet the colorful balloons strung all the way down Mane Street. If the thrumming sound of a bass and the trickling sound of a lyre were any indication, Party Favor had gotten the band to start warming up.
“Yo, up top,” Night Glider swooped down to greet Double as he entered the outer circle of the event square.
Without effort, the stallion smacked her forehoof with his and took a glance around the area. Night Glider moved on immediately since Sugar Belle suddenly caught her eye. Lots of other ponies were here already too. Double had to weave himself to and fro to get through patches of ponies talking and jumping about. The town was practically as boisterous as Party Favor normally was. Double spotted the blue stallion near the stage.
“Need a hoof?” Double asked as he stepped up to the unicorn and figured out what his coltfriend was tugging at with his teeth.
Party grunted an affirmative to which Double Diamond came to his side and grabbed a portion of the rope. With both of them at it, the pulley turned and the landing board swung upwards. The stage would now be set for when the royal sisters arrived. Party kicked an extra fallback board into place for protection and then wiped a bead of sweat from his brow.
“Thanks for the hoof, hot stuff,” Party winked.
Double chuckled at that nervously and tried to hide a blush. He wondered if he'd ever get used to Party acting that way with him. “All done or are you going to be working the whole time?”
Party walked by him and purposely brushed his tail against the male's side. “Why you ask? Want me all to yourself for the evening?”
Double grinned. “Are you playing with me?”
“I'm Party Favor, love,” Party twirled around as he headed towards the nearest drinks stand. “It's just what I do.”
“I'll take that as a yes then. To both questions,” Double decided, following the other stallion and reveling in the positive spirits. When they got around the groups cluttering the adjacent snack table, he had to comment. “You're so chipper I'm surprised your cutie mark isn't glowing.”
Party bounced to his favorite drink and poured a glass with his magic. “I'm in my element and it feels great,” he replied and then spontaneously decided to lean over and give his coltfriend a loving peck on the cheek.
Double bit his bottom lip. “Maybe I need to have you throw the town a party more often.”
Party almost laughed out the sip he had taken from his glass of punch. “As if you need any more of my love.”
“I never get enough,” Double replied back in quick banter.
A voice cried out from across the party square. “The princesses!”
The whole town began shouting out happily and indeed two alicorn forms could be seen flying down towards the square. Double's brows raised and Party looked to his imaginary hoof watch.
“They're early,” he stated, seemingly without as much concern as might be expected.
Early dark was setting in but, when Celestia got close enough to the square, it began to glow with the light of her horn that was casting her and her sister in a warm sunny hue. When the two alicorns touched down on the platform connected to the stage, the hue morphed into an almost orange glow in harmony with the square's streetlights that were only now being turned on.
“Fellow Equestrians!” Celestia greeted the crowd gathering closer to the stage, all cheering and lifting glasses in a form of toast.
“We hoped to avoid too much formality by getting here early and initiating the fun posthaste!” Luna exclaimed, her eyes darting back and forth, looking for acceptance.
“And get away from the castle,” Celestia whispered low enough for nopony to hear.
The town was eager to respond with more cheers and toasts.
At that, Celestia made a short speech about how the town was seeming to do so well and was a treasured part of Equestria. It was the kind of positive rhetoric that one might expect for a town being recognized by high royalty for the first time. The sisters were not kidding about the formality though because the talk was short and they were off the stage quite fast.
Party shot a signal spark from his horn and the band on stage took the cue to start playing more upbeat festive songs. Double wanted to take the chance to dance with his coltfriend, given that the townsfolk – the ones without the liquid-filled glasses – were getting to the stage front for dancing. But the couple was halted halfway by a certain tall mare who approached them.
“Party Favor,” Princess Celestia greeted with a calming aura.
“Princess-” they both started to bow before the royal stopped them.
“Don't,” she commanded. “This is a party and I'd hate to ruin the mood. If not for me then for my sister.”
The two stallions looked around the alicorn to see Luna dancing with the townsponies before the stage. Her moves were...hilariously bad. But she seemed to be having a blast.
“I just wanted to ask if you got my special order,” Celestia kept her voice low enough not to be overheard but loud enough so that the pair could comprehend.
Party Favor saluted. “Yes, ma'am. It's behind the stage in a box labeled Plastic Spoons.”
“You are a treasure, Party Favor,” the princess beamed like a filly. “Go enjoy yourselves now. I know I will!”
Double Diamond watched in awe as the princess skipped away towards the backstage area. He had never thought the princesses to be so light-hearted. Of course, he didn't know they were usually quite different. They had only loosened up because this was a town far away and nopony here knew them well. It was the perfect sanctuary for them to relax.
“Don't just stand there!” Party pulled his coltfriend's hoof. “We've got a dance to win.”
“It's not a contest,” Double weakly argued.
“You know what I mean!” Party stuck his tongue out and bumped his flank against his coltfriend's.