Vanish Mountain

by Darth Pestilence

An Unexpected Reunion

“Thank you all for coming out here! I Iove you all!”

The audience roared in response to Sweetie Belle’s closing statement as she turned and strutted off the stage. Once she was backstage, her smile vanished and was replaced with an expression of exhaustion. She rubbed her temples in an attempt to quell the headache that all of the day’s planning and work had brought on.

She loved her work, honest. It was just very tiring sometimes.

“Miss Belle!”

Sweetie looked up to see her manager, a unicorn mare with the distinctly prench sounding name of Charge d’Affaires, running toward her with an excited look.

“Tonight’s show was a smashing success! The turnout was fantastic, and…”

Sweetie Belle tuned her out as she listed off the various statistics on the clipboard she held in her telekinetic grip. While she would normally listen attentively while Charge spoke, she was more tired than she usually was after a performance like this, and simply wanted to get some sleep.

“Charge?” Sweetie interrupted her abruptly. “Can all of that wait till tomorrow? I’m really tired, and I feel another headache forming, so can we just talk business later?”

“But wouldn’t you like to go back--”

“No thank you. The show is finished, and I’d just really like to get some rest.”

Charge nodded in understanding. “Of course. The motor carriage should be waiting out back for you already.”

“Thanks.” Sweetie weaved her way through the hallways of the stadium she had performed in, muttering barely audible responses to all of the workers who congratulated her on another successful show. After a little more walking, she arrived at a door which would lead outside.

She paused, taking a moment to smooth the black skirt that extended to just above her knees before forcing the same smile she had worn on stage prior to pushing the door open.

Waiting just outside the door were two suited stallions, who followed her to the motorized carriage that awaited her.

She continued to smile, waving to all of her fans, who shouted praises and words of admiration at her as she passed by them. She was almost at her carriage before she heard a familiar voice call out to her over the screams of the other fans.

“Sweetie! Sweetie! Over here!”

Sweetie Belle paused for a moment before spinning around to see a group of ponies she hadn’t seen in a good while.

Standing before her were Applebloom and Scootaloo, her childhood friends and former Cutie Mark Crusaders. And beside them were Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, the two mares that had once bullied her, but now proved to be good friends now that they had matured.

Sweetie rushed over to them and took time to hug each of them ( much to the envy of some of her more dedicated fans ).

“Girls! What are you doing here?!”

“We’re here to see you, silly!” Scootaloo answered. “We wanted to surprise you!”

Sweetie laughed joyously. “Well consider me surprised! I’m so happy to see you all!” She felt a tap on her shoulder, and saw one of the suited stallions was beckoning her over to the carriage. She frowned and turned back to them. “I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to go! Here,” she shouted something at one of the stallions, who rushed over and brought her a slip of paper and a pen. She then scribbled a short message down and handed it to Applebloom.

“Meet me at the place and time on the note tomorrow! I’ll see you then!” Her friends and fans shouted goodbyes at her as she hopped in the carriage, which sped her away from the stadium and in the direction of her hotel.

She took a deep breath and took in the beautiful cityscape that was Canterlot. She was so glad that her tour of Equestria was finally over, and she could finally have some time away from the stage. And now that her friends were here, she already had something to look forward to tomorrow.

So caught up in the sights of Canterlot and the thoughts of her friends that she almost didn’t notice when she arrived at her hotel. She got out and entered the resort, and was guided to the penthouse by her bodyguards. She walked in and flopped down on her bed, allowing the comforting embrace of sleep to overtake her.

A day later and Sweetie’s motor carriage stopped next to the sidewalk of the cafe she had told her old, dear friends to meet her at. She entered and was approached by a waitress.

“Miss Belle? Your friends informed me that you would be sitting with them. Follow me right this way, please.”

Sweetie complied and was led to a rather spacious booth where she found not only her friends, or even Scootaloo’s and Applebloom’s respective husbands, but her breakfast waiting for her too. For some reason, though, snips and snails were there. That was weird, but she was too hungry to ask any question right off the bat.  

“So nice of you to join us, Sweetie Belle,” Diamond Tiara said, motioning to the plate of pancakes waiting for the popstar. “Sit down and eat.”

When Sweetie noticed that the pancakes seemed to be covered in a dark red syrup she thought was strawberry or raspberry… well, let’s just say Diamond Tiara didn’t need to tell her twice. She plumped her rump next to Applebloom, grabbed a hold of a nearby fork and butter knife, and proceeded to rip and tear into the delectable, sweet rain drizzled, golden tower of deliciousness as though she hadn’t eaten for days. Much to her pleasant surprise, the syrup was neither strawberry or raspberry, but cherry.

“Dang girl! Chew with your mouth closed!” Applebloom said, getting out bits of pancake and syrup that had spread forth from the hurricane of Sweetie’s voraciousness out from her fur and mane as the others laughed at Sweetie’s pigging out and Applebloom’s misfortune.

“What do you mean the cafe’s full? This place is never packed!” a voice that was vaguely familiar to the ponies sitting at the table said, frustration evident in his voice.

“I’m sorry, sir, but a rather large group checked in today, and it was already a busy morning. I’d love to help you, but there is nowhere to sit right now,” one of the waitresses responded.

Sweetie froze. Despite it having been a while, she recognized that voice. “Oh sweet Faust, no! Don’t be him!” She, along with the others, turned around to see a familiar purple and green dragon standing in front of a waitress, the one who had informed him that the cafe was full.

Sweetie looked down at herself, seeing that in her hunger-crazed state, she had gotten cherry syrup and bits of pancakes on her magenta skirt, purple top, white fur, and mulberry mane. Seeing the sorry state of her exterior, she internally panicked. “I can’t let him see me like this!”

She was about to make a mad dash to the bathroom when Scootaloo called out to him. “Hey Spike! Over here!”

Sweetie’s blood ran cold as Spike turned his attention towards the table, and subsequently, her. He smiled that giant, toothy smile that she had grown to love over her later teenage years, and waved at them. Everypony waved back at him, minus Sweetie, who was frozen in place.

“It’s ok, lady, he’s with us,” Scootaloo said to the waitress, who nodded and allowed Spike to walk over and sit down in the only remaining chair, which was, to her horror, right beside her.

He brushed some imaginary dust off of his jeans, and glanced over at Sweetie Belle. He looked at the mess Sweetie had made of herself and chuckled.

“Hungry I’m guessing?”

Sweetie’s face lit up like a Hearth’s Warming Tree as she began stuttering. She was torn between sprinting to the bathroom and cleaning herself up, or running out of the cafe. Thankfully, she had enough common sense not to act on either of those ideas, and instead, calmly excused herself to go clean up. As soon as the door to the mare’s room shut closed behind her and she was out of the others’ sights, she began hitting herself repeatedly on the head.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!, STUPID!” she berated herself over and over. She had allowed her hunger to make a mess of her appearance not only in front of her friends and their spouses, but also in front of the dragon she had fallen for years earlier. Sure she hadn’t expected him to show up, but she should have been dignified enough to not eat like she did in private.

After berating herself a little more, she gathered some paper towels, and used that along with the water from the sink to clean herself up as best as she could. As she did this, she began reminiscing about how she had first come to love Spike. How, after countless visits to Rarity’s house and long nights of him tutoring her, she and him had become close friends. It was only years later, when she visited him during his first year as a Royal Guard, that she realized that she had indeed fallen for him.

Once she was as presentable as she could make herself, she trotted back over to her seat and sat down, ready to try and salvage as much of the situation as she could.

“Sorry about that. I was very hungry and… well… I’m used to eating alone.”

Spike shrugged. “It’s alright, Sweets, I’ve seen a lot worse than that.”

Sweetie blushed profusely at the mention of the nickname he had made for her, and a quick glance around the table showed her that the others had heard it too.

“Great. Scootaloo is never going to let me hear the end of this, is she?”

The orange pegasi’s face confirmed her suspicions. “Yeah, Sweets, chill. The stallion… errr… dragon… whatever, said he’s seen a lot worse than that, so relax. Take it easy. Have some more pancakes,” Scootaloo said with a cheeky grin, kicking up her hind hooves on the table and resting her head on her forelegs.  

“But please, take my advice this time and shut your piehole while you’re munchin,” Applebloom said, still trying to rub out out some stains on her clothes with a napkin. “Come on, darn you. Get out!”

Spike chuckled and looked around at the others seated at the table. “So, how have you guys been lately?”

And so they launched into a discussion about what they had done since parting ways in Ponyville. Applebloom had gone on to become a professional engineer while her husband, Featherweight, had become a renowned journalist. Scootaloo’s profession was obvious, for she had made a name for herself as a Daredevil that was in the same weight class of fame as Sweetie, while Pipsqueak had chosen to write a series of novels about pirates which had become very popular. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon had become successful business mares like their parents had before them. Meanwhile, their boyfriends (which REALLY threw Sweetie and Spike for a loop) Snips and Snails had become traveling comedians, who regularly drew in large crowds of ponies who were looking for a good laugh.

And Spike was, well, to hear him say it, one of Celestia’s guards, as well as bored on a continual, daily basis. “...And after yet another mind-numbing meeting, we finally got to return to the castle. Her highness was nice enough to give my squad a week and a half off for our hard work. And I’m probably going to spend it like I have the others: visit Ponyville before returning to my house and lounging around like a lazy bum.” He sighed, finishing off the remainder of the banana syrup drenched pancakes he had ordered. “What about you guys, huh? What are you planning on doing?”

“Well,” Sweetie Belle began, “I recently bought a cabin that’s up on a mountain from an old stallion called Dusty Hooves. I’ve got to do a little bit of work to do today, but tomorrow, I’m going to spend a little while up there.”

“That sounds nice. Wish I could take a vacation to a place like that. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the bits or the time for one,” Spike lamented. “Heh, maybe you could take me with you.”

While Spike had meant for those words to be a joke, Sweetie’s mind interpreted them in a different way. “Of course!” The words had exited her lips before she could stop them. Yet again, she felt her face heat up as Spike gave her a surprised look.

“Really? I mean, I was trying to make a joke, but I’m fully willing. I mean, as long as I’m not a burden or anything,” Spike said.

Sweetie had to think of something fast, otherwise she would be forever tormented by the jokes the now-smirking Scootaloo would throw at her if she didn’t re-word herself.

“Y-Yeah. It’s been so long since we’ve hung out like old times. In fact, why don’t the rest of you come too? There’s plenty of room, and the view is amazing! Why don’t we take this chance to get together and catch up. I mean, we’re all friends here, right?”

The others contemplated the idea. They did like the idea of a vacation, and the thought of a week-long reunion between friends wasn’t something they opposed.

“I’m definitely coming,” Spike answered eagerly, excited that he was finally going to take a real vacation, which brought a smile to Sweetie’s face. “We’re going to have to leave by train, right? What time will I need to be at the train station in the morning? And where will it be taking us?”

Sweetie wracked her brain for the name of the town and the time her train was scheduled to leave. “The train leaves at 11:00 A.M., so you should probably be there by 10: 50 at the latest, and it’s taking us to a town called Nowhere.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “Nowhere? What a weird na-” Spike’s words caught in his throat as he spied a nearby clock. “Crap! My train to Ponyville leaves in fifteen minutes! Sorry guys, I have to leave now! It was fun catching up! See-the-rest-of-you-tomorrow-here’s-some-bits-to-pay-for-breakfast!” Spike tossed a small bag of bits onto the table before sprinting out of the cafe and flying off in the direction of his house, where his luggage still was.

“Wow. Spike sure has gotten a lot speedier since the last time I saw him, that’s for darn sure,” Applebloom said, staring at the dragon shaped dust cloud that even then still lingered along his path out of the cafe.

“Yeah. He’s also gotten a lot bigger and stronger too. Last time I saw him he was just starting to grow. I’m sure our good friend Sweetie Belle appreciates that change, right Sweets?” Scootaloo said, nudging the flustered unicorn’s side.

“W-What are you--?”

“Don’t try and spew that crap,” Diamond Tiara interrupted. She dragged Sweetie and the others outside, where none of the cafe’s customers could overhear them. “I’ve seen enough by now to know when a mare’s fallen hard for someone. So, spill it.”

Seeing that they had caught onto her, she decided that she had no choice but to tell them. “Besides,” she thought, “These are my friends. I can trust them.” And so she recounted the tale of how she had become friends with, and eventually fallen, for Spike. By the time she had finished, Scootaloo and Applebloom had wide smiles of glee adorning their faces.

“Why didn’t you tell us sooner?!” Applebloom demanded to know.

“Well, I figured Spike would have too much work and that you girls would be too busy to--”

“Are you kidding?! A little work won’t keep us from helping our old friend win the heart of the drake she adores! We’re going on this trip of yours.” Scootaloo spun around and grabbed Pipsqueak by the arm. “C’mon, Pip! We’ve got a vacation to pack for!” And with that, she took off into the air, dragging her screaming spouse with her.

The group watched the two lovers fade out of sight before returning their attention to each other.

“Scootaloo hasn’t changed very much,” Sweetie Belle started, gaining a nod from the others.

“Welp, ah’ve been planning on taking a break anyway, and I’m sure Featherweight can afford to miss work for a week. So you can expect to see us at the train station tomorrow.”

“Well, actually, I have this big scoop I’ve been working on for a while and--” Featherweight turned when he felt a nudge from his wife to find Applebloom glaring daggers at him. An enormous smile then plastered itself on his face and, as he loosened up his collar nervously, he turned back to Sweetie and said, “Uhhh… sure. Yeah. I can miss work for a week. And you can expect to see the both of us at the train station tomorrow. Just like my dear, sweet, adorable wife said.”  

Applebloom’s sweet smile returned. “See ya tomorrow, Sweetie!” She and her husband walked away, leaving Diamond and Silver, along with their boyfriends, with Sweetie.

“We’ll see if we can get off work, and we’ll meet you and the others tomorrow if we can,” Diamond Tiara said.

“And we’ll be sure to assist you. Spike’ll be fawning over you before the week is over,” Silver Spoon said before winking. “Trust us.”  

With a chorus of ‘see ya’s’ exchanged between her and Diamond and Silver and Snips and Snails, Sweetie Belle was on her own once again. For a while she stood there as the four of them disappeared around a corner, warm thoughts of home and childhood playing through her mind like a film reel. When she finally returned back to the hustling and bustling of Canterlot during lunch hour, she sighed and walked with foot-falls heavier and more melancholy than usual as she trudged along and hopped into her motorized carriage.

As she drove away from the cafe, she tried to decide whether or not the following week was going to be amazing or stressful. Probably both. Whatever this unexpected vacation was going to hold in store, however, she could at least tell that it would be anything but ordinary and memorable for years to come, if nothing else.

She had no idea just how right she was as she parked the carriage back at the hotel...