• Published 28th May 2013
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The Arrival of Ford Mustang - RoyalRainbow



After a mysterious golden light teleports him to Equestria, the human, Ford, has been transformed into a full-grown Pegasus without a Cutie Mark. What challenges await him as he coops his new life in Ponyville?

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Chapter 19 – Rainbow Dash’s Birthday Party

Chapter 19 – Rainbow Dash’s Birthday Party

Today’s the day. The day in which I attend Rainbow Dash’s birthday party this afternoon. After all the hard work I put into this present, it’s all or nothing from here. Right now, in Ponyville, I’m walking with Applejack and Big Mac to Sugarcube Corner, where the party’s being held at. Each of us bearing our wrapped-up gifts saddled to our backs. Applejack has her Zap Apple gift basket, Big Mac has what looks like a medium-sized box, and I have my portrait of our esteemed guest. Along with our presents, we are also carrying jugs of the Apple Family’s specially brewed hard cider, which are strapped to our sides.

As we get closer to the bakery, I begin to feel extremely nervous about all of this. This morning, I was very excited for this day to come, but now, I’m starting to have doubts about my present. I mean, what if Rainbow doesn’t like it? What if this doesn’t meet her expectations? What if… she doesn’t like me anymore because of my gift?

“You know, I think there’s a shop nearby selling some Wonderbolts merchandise over there.” I say anxiously to the two siblings. “Maybe we should stop by real quick and see what they have to offer!”

Applejack and Big Mac stop and turn their heads around to face me, each with a puzzling look on their faces. “What in tarnation for?” AJ asks.

“Oh… you know…” I answer timidly as I twirl my fore hoof on the ground. “In case I need a back-up gift or something.”

“Now come on, sugarcube!” she says as shoves me from behind while I remain motionless like a rock. “There’s no need to be so nervous!”

“Nervous?!” I deny hysterically. “Who’s nervous?! I’m not nervous at all! Are you nervous?! ‘Cause if you’re nervous, that’s perfectly--!”

SLAP!

Before finishing my hysteria, I get a quick smack to the face by Big Mac’s firm hoof. I am paralyzed by this startling gesture I have received.

“Big Mac!” his sister gasps in surprise at his unexpected course of action.

“What?” he responds with a slightly confused yet regretful look on his face. “It usually works in the movies.” Strangely enough, it does work as most of my nerves start to diminish once I regain my senses.

“Thanks, Big Mac.” I say to him while I rub my sore cheek. “I guess I kind of needed that.” Big Mac smiles softly at my recovery and just nods to me.

“Sorry about that…” I apologize to them. “I’m just… so uncertain on how this is going to turn out when I show my gift to Rainbow Dash.”

“Ah completely understand, sugarcube.” Applejack approaches me before resting a gentle fore hoof on my back. “But listen to me on this. Ah may not know what you’ve just created for Rainbow Dash right there, but what Ah do know is that yer a very kind, dedicated, and hardworking pony. So Ah know for a fact that you’ve put a lot of heart into this for her, and she’s gonna appreciate that from ya! You’ll see!” She gives me her always reassuring smile as Big Mac agrees in silence with a tilt of his head.

“I… I guess you’re right.” I start to cheer up a bit.

“Yer darn tootin’ I am!” Applejack confirms with pride before we continue our walk towards Sugarcube Corner. “Now let’s get going already! These jugs aren’t gonna drink by themselves ya know!”

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After what seems to be a long trek from Sweet Apple Acres, we finally arrive at Sugarcube Corner. Applejack knocks on the door, and Rainbow Dash in a brief second opens it for us.

“AJ! Big Mac! Ford! You’ve made it!” the birthday girl greets us excitingly. “And it’s about time too! We were all waiting for you!”

“Hmph!” Applejack grunts lightly at Rainbow’s impatience. “Ah like to see you do better when ya haul these heavy jugs strapped to yer sides!”

“Heh! No prob!” Rainbow begins her boasting. “With those, I can get from your place to here in ten seconds--!”

“Without flying I might add!” Applejack says with a confident smirk. Surprisingly, AJ manages to cut off Rainbow Dash’s charming boasting short for a change.

“Well… when you put it that way…” Rainbow flusters gradually as she tries to think of a good answer. But it’s nothing but silence between the flustered cyan Pegasus and the grinning, Stetson-wearing farmpony.

“Ugh, nevermind about that!” Rainbow Dash groans in pride-shattering defeat. “Come inside already!”

After we have set aside our hard cider on the table with the rest of the food and drinks, I look around the decorative bake shop to see who else is attending. Obviously, Rainbow would invite the rest of the Mane Six: Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle. Yes, even Twilight is able to be here with her friends to celebrate this special occasion, the only difference about her is that that she isn’t wearing any of her princess attirement this time. Must be kind of a relief to her, being able cast aside her royal duties every once in a while.

“Oy! Mustang! Over here!” A familiar pony calls out to me. I turn my head to the source, and to my delightful surprise, Vinyl Scratch and Octavia are here today for the festivity. Vinyl energetically waves at me while Octavia just smiles at me as she holds a cup of fruit punch in her hoof.

“Vinyl! Octavia!” I say with a gleeful smile as I walk over to them. “This is a nice surprise! I didn’t know that you two were well-acquainted with Rainbow Dash!”

“Actually…” Octavia confesses softly while staring at her drink. “Vinyl knows Rainbow Dash better than I do, since she’s a big fan of DJ-PON-3 and all. I’m just… merely tagging along for this occasion.”

“And leave my sexy marefriend all by herself?” the grinning DJ pony states while wrapping a hoof around the blushing cellist. “Not a chance, Tavi!” She then give a nice, quick peck to Octavia’s rosy cheek as the grey Earth Pony giggles softly to herself.

“By way, Ford.” Octavia speaks to me after regaining her composure. “Did our music help you in any way possible?”

“Oh, absolutely!” I confirm with an enthusiastic smile. “Thanks again for the records! They have been put to great use, I assure you!”

“Well come on! Tell us!” Vinyl demands whiningly. “What is it?!”

“Vinyl!” Octavia chastises her pouting marefriend. “You shouldn’t be so demanding like that!” Then she turns her attention towards me after clearing her throat briefly. “So tell us, Ford Mustang. Would you be so kind as to inform us of your mysterious gift?” Octavia asks politely with a persuasive smile and fluttering eyes.

“Hmph! How’s that different from the way I asked?” Vinyl Scatch grumbles to herself as she witnesses her marefriend’s art of persuasion.

As I try to decide on whether I should let them know about my gift or not, we hear Rainbow Dash announcing, “So, is everypony here?!” I take that opportunity to avoid revealing the identity of my gift just yet.

“Well, I guess you’ll find out soon enough.” I answer slyly to Octavia, who’s slightly disappointed that her tactic didn’t work this time. The party guests and I gather together in a semi-circle with Rainbow Dash as the center of attention of course.

“Awesome! Now to get down on what we have all been waiting for… PRESENTS!” she declares with uncontainable excitement. At once, cheers, stomps, and confetti fill the room after hearing Rainbow’s declaration.

“Umm… Rainbow Dash.” Twilight intervenes as she magically pulls out a book from nowhere. “I don’t think that’s the way it works for a typical birthday party.” Quick as a whip, the magical princess flips to the desired contents of her book. I guess it has something to do with the guidelines for birthday parties or something. “Usually, we start off with some games to involve social interaction with each other. These games can include board games, Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Pony, musical chairs--”

“Uhh… Twilight.” Rainbow Dash says with deadpan expression as she lowers the levitated book away from Twilight’s fixed gaze. “My party. My rules. And as my first rule, I say we open presents NOW.” Pinkie Pie and Vinyl Scratch excitingly back up Rainbow Dash with their walloping shouts of approval.

“Fine. Presents it is.” Twilight sighs grudgingly as she closes her book with a slam and carelessly throws it behind her before it magically disappears.

“Since we have royalty in our presence…” Rainbow addresses to us in a mocking noble tone. “…we shall allow our princess the right to present the first gift on this momentous occasion!”

“Why, thank you, Rainbow. How very gracious of you.” Twilight responds sarcastically with a smile. Using her magic once more, she levitates her wrapped gift to Rainbow. Despite its wrapping, it’s obvious to us on what kind of gift it is.

“Oh gee! Whatever could it be?” Rainbow lazily inspects her gift with unemotional sarcasm. “I wonder if it’s a book this time.” A few snickers is heard among the crowd.

“Oh come on!” Twilight retorts at Rainbow Dash’s mockery. “You haven’t even opened it yet! Not everypony can assume right away that it’s a book!”

“Oh really?” Rainbow says to Twilight with a raised eyebrow and a devious smile. Then, she turns her head around and asks us, “Everypony? What do you say to that?” One at a time, our answers are all the same.

“A book.” Vinyl answers without hestitation.

“A book.” Octavia answers the same way.

“Yep! Definitely a book!” Pinkie Pie answers in her usually cheerful manner.

“Most assuredly, it’s a book.” Rarity answers without a doubt.

“Got to be a book, wouldn’t y’all agree, Big Mac?” Applejack asks his big brother.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac replies with his traditional catchphrase.

“Umm… A book. Sorry, Twilight.” Fluttershy responds meekly.

Then, it’s my turn. I didn’t want to add more salt to the wound, but eventually, I say to her, “Yeah… sorry, Twilight, but I’m gonna have to side with the majority on this one.”

“Let’s face it, Twilight.” Rainbow turns her attention back towards the speechless Twilight. “We can all practically read you…” Then, out of nowhere, she puts her cool shades on before continuing with a grin, “…like an open book.”

“YEAAAAAH!”

Through a window outside, nearly all of us jump startlingly at the sudden outburst of an overly muscular, white stallion Pegasus with tiny wings, red eyes, and a blonde buzzcut mane.

“Thanks for the cameo appearance-slash-meme reference, Snowflake!” Pinkie Pie approaches the unexpected pony with a tray of cupcakes as payment towards him.

“No prob!” Snowflake says nonchalantly as he accepts the delicious treats before taking his leave. We all stand there in silence by Snowflake’s sudden appearance, but then we turn out attention back to the dumbstruck Alicorn princess.

“Okay, fine! It’s a book, alright?!” Twilight snaps aloud. “But do you know what kind of book it is?” Rainbow Dash tries to come up with an answer, but all that comes out of her mouth is brief stutters.

Satisfied with Rainbow’s silence, Twilight smugly responds, “That’s what I thought! Now open it!” With a shrug, Rainbow proceeds to open her first present. After one big rip of the wrapping paper, her eyes grow wide as she lets out an awestricken gasp. Immediately, she rips the rest of the paper to gaze at her unveiled book.

“NO WAY!” Rainbow marvels ecstatically. “It’s the latest book in the Daring Do series! But how did you get it?!” she asks Twilight with great surprise. “It doesn’t come out until like next month!”

“Well, when you’re a princess like me…” Twilight boasts slightly to herself. “…you tend to have certain advantages for special requests. But that’s not all! Look inside the cover!” Rainbow perplexingly looks back at her book, which Twilight is pointing at. Then, she opens the cover before reading something on the inside to herself.

‘To my biggest fan ever! Signed--’ GASP! Ohmygosh! The author signed her copy just for me!” She then shows the inside cover to all of us as we gaze and awe at the author’s personal inscription. To my disappointment, I couldn’t tell much on what the signature says. Sigh… even in Equestria, the signatures of celebrities are no different than careless scribbles.

“Twilight, have I ever told you that you’re my favorite princess of them all?” Rainbow asks playfully as she gratefully hugs Twilight.

Twilight giggles to herself and replies with an amusing smile, “No, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it every now and then.”

Rainbow finishes her hug and says, “But seriously though, thanks Twilight! I definitely can’t wait to read this! Okay! Who’s next?”

“Ooo! Ooo! Pick me! Pick me!” Pinkie Pie shouts out wildly as she waves her fore hoof vigorously like an anxious student trying to answer the next question.

“Hmm… let’s see…” Rainbow teases a bit while placing a hoof on her chin. “…how about the energetic pink ball of fur over there?”

“Where? I don’t see a--! Oh wait! That’s me! Te-hee!” Pinkie Pie says with a giggling smile before bouncing over to Rainbow Dash to present her gift. With her next present in hoof, she opens it up eagerly as she awes at another book.

“Oh, cool!” she says with a bright smile. “It’s a book on pulling off some of the best pranks and scares ever!”

“Yep-per-rooni!” Pinkie chimes in cheerfully. “I figure it might help you bring in your ‘A’ game when Nightmare Night comes around!”

“Yeah, totally! Thanks, Pinkie Pie! Hey, look at this!” The pink party enthusiast leans in closely to see which page Rainbow Dash is reading. “This one says it’s a classic! ‘For this trick, you simply need a paper bag, a lighter, and…’ EWWWW! Gross!” Then, the two pranksters couldn’t help but laugh at what they just read. From what it sounds like, I think I know which disgusting prank those two are talking about.

“I wonder where we can find a dog to help pull this one off?” Pinkie asks her cyan, feathered friend. In a moment of silence, the two ponies, who are still holding the book, look at Applejack & Big Mac. Then everypony else looks at the two farmponies, considering that they are the only ones we know who have a dog.

Once AJ put two and two together, she firmly growls at the two pranksters, “Don’t even think about it!” From seeing Applejack’s reaction, Rainbow and Pinkie Pie laugh for a bit before the pink pony rejoins the circle of friends.

Next up is Fluttershy, who delicately approaches Rainbow Dash with her gift. Judging by the way it was wrapped up, it looks like it’s going to be another book.

“Another book, huh?” Rainbow confirms after inspecting her third gift. “What am I, Twilight all of sudden?” she jokes with a raised eyebrow. Nearly everypony laughs along with Rainbow. Well, except for Twilight of course, judging by way she’s frowning from being teased at again.

“Oh, if you don’t like it, I can just take it back and--” Fluttershy meekly states.

“No no! It’s fine, Fluttershy! I was kidding around!” Rainbow Dash greatly reassures her timid friend before opening her present. Once she opens her gift, she smiles at what she has received.

“Hey, it’s a recipe book!” Rainbow says happily. “Oh wait! These are your recipes, aren’t they?”

“Mm-hmm.” Fluttershy confirms quietly. “I remember how you always like my cooking, especially when you were sick last month, so I was happy to prepare my very own recipe book for you.”

“Thank you, Fluttershy!” Rainbow says before hugging Fluttershy gently. “Although to be honest, I’m not that great of a cook myself.” she admits with a small blush.

“Oh, that’s okay, Dashie.” Fluttershy comforts her friend kindly. “I’ll be more than happy to help you along with anything you want to try.”

“Thanks again, Fluttershy. Next!” Vinyl Scratch and Octavia step up to present their gift next.

“Actually, this is a gift that me and Tavi have created together.” Vinyl says as she magically levitates a large, flat, square-shaped present to Rainbow. It must be an enveloped vinyl record. Huh, wonder what kind of music they got for her? Rainbow carefully reveals the disc before she smiles widely at it.

“Ah, sweet!” she glees ecstatically. “Is this a new album?”

“Correct.” Octavia confirms with a soft smile. “This is our very first collaborated album where we have successfully fused her electronic music and my cello symphonies into perfect musical harmony.”

“Yep!” Vinyl affirms grinningly while she embraces her marefriend with a fore hoof. “It’s just something special that we’ve come up with together. You could say that it’s our very own baby. In fact, it all started out when we were in bed while making some very ‘sweet, beautiful music’ together. So in a manner of speaking, we actually copulated--!”

SMACK!

“OW! WHAT?!” Vinyl groans in pain while rubbing her sore shoulder after receiving a proper smack from a greatly aggravated Octavia.

“I thought we’ve discussed this already about talking of our private matters outside the bedroom!” the blushful cellist scolds with uncontrollable fury. “Or do I have to get the frying pan again to remind you?!”

“Tavi!” Vinyl responds sobbingly with crocodile tears. “How could you threaten me like that?! You’ve sworn that you wouldn’t hit me in front of the children!” As Vinyl whines playfully to a great extent, Octavia’s anger comes to a rolling boil.

“THERE AREN'T ANY CHILDREN HERE!” Octavia yells at her extremely childish marefriend.

“And what about the one we’ve just created together?” Vinyl whimpers melodramatically as she embraces Octavia closely. “Isn’t our own precious baby supposed to be your child too? How could you even think of just abandoning us like that?! I THOUGHT WHAT WE HAD WAS SPECIAL!!” Meanwhile, the rest of us stare in awkward silence as we witness the latest soap opera unfold before us, featuring the grieving Vinyl Scratch and the disgruntled Octavia.

“Okaaaaay… moving on. Thank you, girls.” Rainbow breaks the ice uncomfortably. “Rarity, whatcha got?”

“Well, I got something that you wouldn’t believe--!” Rarity says as she levitates her present to Rainbow.

“It’s a dress, isn’t it?” Rainbow smirks all-knowingly after glancing at the long boxed gift.

“I… umm… well…” Rarity stammers a bit before regaining her composure as she simply answers, “Sigh… Let’s just skip this charade and go straight to the unveiling, shall we?”

After a brief chuckle, Rainbow proceeds to open her next gift. Once she lifts the lid of the elongated box, she lets out awestricken gasp from what she is seeing. I couldn’t tell much on what it is, but all I can see from here is a shimmering purple aura radiating from the opened box itself.

“Is this…?!” Rainbow asks with wondrous eyes as she looks back at Rarity.

“Mm-hmm! Just like you have asked of me!” Rarity confirms with a pleasant smile.

“Thanks, Rarity!” Rainbow hugs Rarity with surprising glee. “This is perfect!” Huh, I would never think that Rainbow Dash would be this ecstatic for a dress.

After the embrace, Rarity walks by Applejack as I hear the seamstress boasts softly, “See? Am I good, or am I good?” With a chuckling smile, Applejack just rolls her eyes before shaking her head.

“Ooo! Let’s see it!” Pinkie Pie asks with an exciting smile. Rainbow Dash’s beaming smile drops immediately after hearing Pinkie’s request. Instead, her face is replaced with a heavy blush. And why does she keep looking at me for some reason?

“Uhh… not yet!” Rainbow responds blushingly as she hastily places the lid on Rarity’s gift. “There… are… colts present! And uhh… I might ruin it if I swish it around here!” This is quite perplexing. Rainbow Dash usually never cares much when it comes to fashion at least.

“Oh, yes!” Rarity agrees hastily. “We can’t have that, now can we?” Eventually, without question, the rest of the girls nod and agree with Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Big Mac and I look at each as we try to figure this out, but all I got as an answer from him is a silent shrug. I decide for myself to not question this any further as Big Mac walks up to Rainbow and presents his gift.

After opening her next gift, Rainbow makes a puzzling smile at what she has just received. “‘Apples to Apples?’” she reads on the box. Wait, did she say, “Apples to Apples?” I remember hearing that name. It’s a well-known party game back on Earth. I wonder if this is the same game as I recall.

“Looks interesting! Is this a new game?” Rainbow asks Big Mac gleefully.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac answers.

“You’ve picked that one out because it said ‘apples’ on there, didn’t ya?” Applejack playfully nudges her big brother.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac repeats his answer. I closely examine Rainbow’s new game. It not only says “Apples to Apples” on it, but it also features a couple of cartoony apple characters on the cover: one is red, and the other one is green. There’s only one way to confirm if my hunch is correct.

“Hey, Big Mac.” I ask him gingerly. “Is this where you try matching a noun card to go with the best choice of an adjective card?”

“Eeyup. How did ya know?” he asks me back with surprise.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing this game!” I reply with my uncontained excitement for this familiar game. “It’s truly one of my favorites!”

Rainbow Dash smiles to herself as she bears witness to my enthusiasm for her new game. “We should definitely give this a try for today!” Rainbow chimes in gleefully. “Thanks Big Mac!” The gentle, red giant nods in return and joins back with the small herd.

Now, it’s just down to two ponies, Applejack and I. The orange mare eyes at me as if she’s insisting that I should go next. Realizing this, some of my nerves begin to shoot back up. For now, I figure it would be best to allow Applejack to go next so I can try to regain my composure in the meantime.

“Umm… ladies first, AJ.” I say to her gingerly while bearing an awkward smile. Applejack shrugs at my chivalry and proceeds to go ahead of me.

“Thanks, Ford. You are a true gentlecolt.” she grins sarcastically as she walks past me. “Here you go, RD!” Applejack says to Rainbow Dash as she hands over her large wrapped-up basket. After ripping off the wrapping paper, Rainbow smiles at her basket of goodies.

“Ohmygosh! Zap Apples!” Rainbow says with big hungry eyes.

“Eeyup!” Applejack confirms with pride. “And not just apples or jam this time! This here basket also has mini apple pies, applesauce, apple turnovers, apple fritters, and apple crisp! All made from Zap Apples!”

“Wow, they all sound delicious!” Rainbow says delightfully while licking her lips. “Thanks, AJ! Though I wish you brought another basket though, ‘cause I’m gonna finish this in one day!”

“Just try to pace yourself for a change.” Applejack says jokingly.

“No promises!” Rainbow chuckles along with AJ. After that, Applejack walks right back to us where she stands next to me.

“You’re up, sugarcube!” Applejack cheers for me with a wink as she playfully nudges me. That push almost makes me stumble, but I maintain my posture as best as I can before I steadily walk over to Rainbow Dash with my present secured on my back.

“H-here you go, Rainbow Dash. Happy birthday.” I say shyly to her before using my mouth to firmly grasp my present and handing it over to her.

“Thanks, Ford.” She accepts my gift with a tender smile. Instead of ripping the paper right away like she usually does, she examines this one carefully. “Huh, this is pretty unusual for a present. Heh, maybe it’s an autographed portrait of Spitfire or something!”

“Uh, yeah… maybe.” I nervously chuckle to myself. Please tell me she was just kidding about that!

Soon enough, Rainbow opens the wrapping with care to finally reveal what her last gift is. I wait in anticipation on her reaction as she is almost finished with the unwrapping. With the last bits of wrapping paper being discarded, Rainbow finally gets to look at the portrait of herself.

Initially, she is quite surprise as she gazes at it with wide eyes, but after that… nothing. No smile. No awestricken gasp. Nothing. Just a blank, wide-eyed stare that is completely frozen on her face. I start to get really nervous as I continue to study Rainbow Dash’s blank expression. Then I start to imagine on various frightening situations on how Rainbow is going to break the news to me if she didn’t like my artwork. At best, she could just lie to me so that she doesn’t hurt my feelings. At this point, I’ll take a sweet, little lie than facing up to the cold, hard truth.

The dead silence continues as Rainbow continues to stare speechlessly at my pastel drawing. The guests around me look at each other with concern and worry. Suddenly, Rainbow Dash takes a break from staring at my present as she looks at me while bearing the same stunned expression.

“Did you… make this yourself?” she asks me gently.

“Umm… yes?” I respond meekly. After hearing my hesitant answer, Rainbow resumes to stare at my picture again. This disturbing silence is almost killing me. I don’t know how much I could take anymore. I have to hear her opinion once and for all, no matter how much the truth may hurt.

“Do you… like it--?” I begin to ask her with caution.

It’s beautiful.” she says quietly. Did she just say what I think she just say? Maybe I have misheard her somehow.

“…What?” I say with startling surprise.

“It’s beautiful.” She repeats herself as she gazes at me with a soft smile.

I couldn’t believe it! I honestly didn’t see that coming. I mean, I expected Rainbow to say something like “awesome”, or “cool”, or “totally radical.” But no, she says my artwork is beautiful! Hardly anypony, or anybody for that matter, has ever considered my work to be beautiful. I smile warmly at Rainbow Dash’s unexpected compliment.

“T-thanks, Rainbow.” I say to her with relief. “I’m glad to hear that--!”

In one swift move, Rainbow sets aside her portrait and rushes over to me. In one felt swoop, she hugs me very tightly in a deeply warm embrace. This unforeseen gesture of hers made me stiff as a statue. But eventually, I melt into her forelegs as I gratefully return her affection for me. From this tender moment we are sharing together, I don’t need any more words to tell me how she feels about my present. This… is surely enough for me.

“Sooooo… can we see it this time, or not?” Pinkie Pie interrupts us in a cheerful tone. Rainbow Dash and I break out of entrancing cuddling as we bear heavy blushes for each other. Afterwards, I hear some snickering from most of the other girls, especially Applejack and Rarity.

“Huh? …Oh! Yeah, sure! Why not?” Rainbow gives her approval after composing herself.

At last, everypony in the room gets a look at my portrait of Rainbow Dash. In this pastel piece, it shows Rainbow in a magnificent pose while flying freely in a stunning sunset background. The mostly orange-colored environment depicts the clouds of Winsome Falls where some of them pour out miniature rainbow waterfalls while the sunset shines like a glistening, polished gemstone. As for the depiction of Rainbow, it shows her arching her back gracefully as she looks beyond the horizon with her wings in full-span and warm, satisfying smile on her face. Thanks to these pastels, I was able to bring out the brilliant colors I wanted for this portrait.

As they gaze at my work, everypony starts to crowd around me as each of them offers their praise for me.

“Wowie-Zowie!” Pinkie Pie yelps out in joy. “That looks amazing!”

“Wow is right, Pinkie!” Twilght Sparkle agrees with a stunned expression. “How did you do all of this?”

“Heh, not bad, Mustang!” Vinyl Scratch grins with approval.

‘Not bad?’" Octavia baffles at Vinyl’s choice of words. “Vinyl, this should go straight to an art gallery!”

“This is simply gorgeous, darling!” Rarity expresses with delight. “I knew those pastels I lend to you would serve their purpose well!”

“Oh my!” Fluttershy gasps happily. “These colors are simply breathtaking! Wouldn’t you agree, Big Mac?”

“Eeyup!” Big Mac agrees with his smiling marefriend.

“Gee, sugarcube!” Applejack stares at my work with disbelief as she smiles. “Ah can’t scribble well enough to save my own hide! Good job, Ford!”

As much as I enjoy the compliments from my friends, it’s beginning to become quite overwhelming. I was never the one to be the center of such attention. Luckily, Rainbow Dash is there to save me as she starts break up the small admiring crowd.

“Alright alright! Let the artist breathe! Let’s not forget that this party’s about me here!” she says with a smirk. “Now that all of the presents have been taken care of… LET’S PARTY!”

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And thus, the party begins!

Our first activity is musical chairs. In this game, we use Vinyl & Octavia’s newest album to play the music. As the game goes underway, I have been doing pretty well for myself. However, during the middle portion of the game, I become too mesmerized by how enticing the collaborated music is. It is with this distraction that made me lose in this game. All that remains after me is Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, and Pinkie Pie. In the next round, Vinyl Scratch missed her seat, but claims that there's one seat remaining as she enthusiastically sits on Octavia’s lap. Of course, this leads to more laughs before a greatly embarrassed Octavia tries to push Vinyl off of her. Once that is settled, the game resumes, and overtime, it is down to two ponies: Rainbow Dash and Applejack. After the catchy music stalls long enough, the two competitive ponies make a mad dash for last chair. But by the end of this game, Rainbow Dash is the winner. Applejack, being a much better sport than Rainbow, only jokingly claims that Rainbow used her wings to win. In response, Rainbow jokes back by stating that nopony said that she couldn’t use her wings in the first place.

For the next game, we try out Big Mac’s present, “Apples to Apples.” In this game, each of us possesses seven noun cards in hand (Can I still call it that or do I still need to call it “hoof” for this one?). And for each round, one of us must play as the “judge.” The judge must draw an adjective card from a separate deck. And the remaining players must anonymously choose a noun card that may go well with the judge’s adjective card. Once the judge collects all the players’s noun cards, he or she must decide which noun fits well enough with the current adjective. Once the judge announces the chosen noun, the player must announce his or her win and claim the adjective card as his or her prize, and then a different judge is chosen for the next turn. The one with the most adjective cards by the end of the game wins.

In this game, I start off with a bit of advantage since I’m already familiar with this game. Even though the nouns all relate with something in Equestria, their short descriptions do help me out a bit. Still, it’s not the same without have a “Hitler” card at hand; those are usually an instant win for me. As victory is close at hoof, Rainbow Dash learns really fast as she catches up pretty quickly. Soon, it’s neck and neck between us. However, out of nowhere, Twilight Sparkle wins a chain of rounds for herself and, to everypony’s surprise, emerges victorious in the end. Huh, I guess reading the game’s handbook along with its suggested tips a dozen times must have given Twilight the edge she needed.

Next up is definitely one of my favorite games, Pictionary! Of course, once they found out about my artistic ability, everypony wants me to be in their team. But since Rainbow is the guest of honor, she calls dibs on him and that settles it. In my team, we have Rainbow Dash, as the self-declared captain of the group, Applejack, Fluttershy, Big Mac, and I. For each time it is my turn to draw, I dominate the drawing board. The Unicorns on the opposing team are quite a challenge since they’re very dexterous thanks to their magic, but my toughest opponent would have to be Rarity because of her artistic talent. She certainly draws beautifully, but my advantage over hers is that I can draw a bit faster so I can get the basic shapes and features down more quickly. After all, speed is the name of this game. In the end, my team wins by 20 wins to 13 loses.

After some games, it’s time to eat. Pinkie Pie helped cater to this event with freshly baked pizza. Considering that we are in a bake shop, it would make sense for Pinkie Pie to take the opportunity to create some incredibly tasty crusts for the pizza she made for us.

When we finished having some delicious pizza, Pinkie Pie brings out the pièce de résistance: the birthday cake! Pinkie Pie really outdid herself as she presents a large, sky blue-colored sheet cake featuring cloudy white trimmings around the cake’s edges. On top of the cake, it features simple edible illustrations of white clouds, an arching rainbow, and a striking pose of Rainbow Dash. And of course, you can’t have a birthday cake without some icing letters reading “Happy Birthday, Rainbow Dash!” Lastly, Pinkie Pie touches it up with sparkling candles.

Once we sang the traditional birthday song, Rainbow attempts to blow out the candles with a mighty gust, but the sparklers lit themselves back up. Rainbow tries it again, but the results are still the same. Eventually, she realizes that they are trick candles, and she and everypony else have a good laugh before we all join in to blow out the candles. Once the candles have been extinguished, each of us grabs a slice of cake. It is a unique marble cake, which features multiple colors swirled together. Just like Pinkie Pie’s cupcakes, this cake is as delicious to eat as it is artistic to look at!

After indulging some delicious food, some of us spend the rest of the night drinking some of the Apple Family’s hard cider. For the most part, it’s just me, Rainbow Dash, Vinyl Scratch, and Applejack partaking in some of the drinking games. For the first game, Rainbow and I face off the unlikely duo in a game just like beer pong, except with cider of course. It’s certainly a tough match, but Rainbow Dash and I manage to pull through and win this game while AJ and Vinyl have to drink the rest of our remaining few cups. Not that they didn’t mind anyway.

For our second drinking game, we play something similar to the memory game of “Simon Says”. For each pony, they must come up with a silly gesture. Then the next pony must copy the gestures in order before coming up with a new gesture. The one who messes up has to take a drink, and we start all over again. Pinkie Pie joins in on this one as she comes up with some crazy gestures that are nearly impossible to copy off. The only one I can’t copy off is the “derpy eyes” look. Seriously, how could everypony pull that off so easily? This game really isn’t a matter on who is winning, but out of all the participants, Applejack had to take the most drinks in the game.

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Finally, the party is coming to close. After we help Pinkie Pie clean up the bake shop, each of us go our separate ways. Twilight teleports back to Canterlot. Vinyl Scratch and Octavia walks back to their house. Big Macintosh escorts Fluttershy back to her cottage. Rarity decides it is best to escort the tipsy Applejack back to her farm. And meanwhile, I insist to help Rainbow Dash with transporting her presents, which she gladly accepts my generous offer.

With a cart Pinkie Pie lends to us, Rainbow Dash and I fly to her floating house under the calm, nightly, blue sky. While I pull the cart loaded with her presents, Rainbow Dash insists on doing her share by holding on her pastel portrait. After we arrive at her home, I unload the rest of her presents in her living room before meeting with Rainbow outside, who is still holding my present very dearly.

“Okay, I just gotta say this: BEST… BIRTHDAY… EVER!” Rainbow cheers with an uncontrollable smile.

“Ditto!” I agree with a gleeful chuckle.

“Uh... Rainbow Dash?” I say to her a bit hesitantly. “Thanks again for inviting me over to your party. I really had a great time today.”

She smiles softly and says to me, “No sweat, Ford. I’m really glad to hear that. Remind me to return the favor when your birthday comes up.”

“S-s-sure. I’ll… be sure to keep that in mind.” I nervously chuckle to myself. I’m not sure if I’m ready to reveal anything personal just yet at this point.

I get myself ready to take my departure, but then I hear Rainbow saying something quietly to me, “Hey, Ford?”

“Yeah?” I respond delicately as I face her. As I turn around, I see Rainbow acting very uncomfortably all of a sudden. I am filled with concern as I approach her carefully while waiting for a surprisingly nervous Rainbow Dash to continue what she wants to say to me.

“What do you think of me when you drew me in that portrait?” she asks bashfully. I am caught off-guard as I fluster greatly by Rainbow’s unexpected question. I’m not sure how to answer that one for her.

“Doesn’t the picture speak for itself?” I reply slyly.

“Well… I kind of wanna hear it from the artist himself.” she attempts to persuade me with a blushing, tender smile. I take a moment to gather my thoughts carefully before taking a deep breath. After composing myself for a bit longer, I finally begin my statement to her.

“Well… Rainbow…” I start off steadily. “When I think about you, I see you as somepony who is a big dreamer, and somepony with a big ego to go with that too.” Rainbow chuckles a little at my brief teasing before I continue. “But more importantly, I see somepony with an even bigger heart. No matter how difficult the challenge may be, or how tempting it is to pursue your ultimate dream, you are always there for friends and family no matter what. There is no other pony out there more suited as the Element of Loyalty than you, Rainbow Dash. And yet… despite all of your responsibilities, nothing ever holds you back from doing what you love the most. With all of your grandstanding heroics and your spectacular accomplishments, you are an inspiration to us all. But more importantly, you are an even greater inspiration to me as well.”

After finishing up on what I just said to her, I look back at a speechless Rainbow to meet up with her eyes. Gazing at them, I see something different than before. Her eyes… they look like they are sparkling right before my very own eyes. I couldn’t tell if her magenta eyes are doing that by themselves, or if they are reflecting the twinkling stars right above us. But either way, they are just so… dazzling to look at.

“Wow…” she finally speaks up to me while still maintaining those sparkling eyes of hers. “Nopony has ever praise me like that before. Thanks, Ford.” She smiles warmly at me. “I kind of feel bad though for you not earning your Cutie Mark after doing something like this for me.”

“Trust me, Rainbow Dash.” I say to her with a very reassuring smile. “Seeing you smile over my gift for me is worth more than any Cutie Mark I will ever earn for myself.” Then, we just stand there, gazing and smile for each other for a little while longer.

“Still, I wish I can think of something to give you in return.” She pouts softly to herself. But then, she brightens up as a smile starts to creep up on her muzzle.

As I am about to question her, something truly unexpected has happened. Rainbow Dash, without any warning, gives me a kiss… on my cheek! It isn’t a quick peck, and it isn’t a hard smooch. Just a simple, tender kiss, that’s all. Sure, I received several kisses from the other mares, but this one... this is different. This is something that really matters. This is something that’s… really special. But as I’m lost in my self-induced trance…

FOOMPH!

My cursed wings fan out in uncontrollable excitement over this new feeling. After she finishes her kiss while I’m still frozen in place with a heavy blush, she giggles softly to herself as she looks at my awkward stance.

“What? You once asked for me to take a rain check on that kiss, didn’t you?” she says to me with a sly smile. Since I am too flustered at the moment, I figure it would be best to call it a night and take my leave right away.

“G-g-goodnight, Rainbow Dash.” I stammer while trying to control my excited wings before taking off.

“Goodnight, Ford Mustang.” She says to me sweetly before entering her house.

Once I have enough control for my wings, I immediately take off like a rocket, ready to explode, as I make my way back home.

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As I flutter all the way back to Sweet Apple Acres, my wandering mind just keeps repeating all of the things that have happened on this day: the presents, the party, the games, the kiss. Yes… that kiss. I still couldn’t believe it… Rainbow Dash actually kissed me! I’m so giddy right now, I couldn’t stop smiling to myself! I mean… what if this is the start of something? What if… Rainbow Dash actually loves me? Could she really love me? I mean… I really do like her a lot, and I always want to start a relationship with somebody (or in this case, somepony) special, but… will it all work out between us? Ugh, I’m getting ahead of myself! I should be happy for what has happened today, and that should be good enough for me! Besides, I’ve got plenty of time to figure this out before the supposed date of my return back on Earth. No pressure, right?

I finally arrive at the farmhouse at Sweet Apple Acres. After making a soft, graceful landing, I quietly open the front door and stealthily hover inside without trying to wake up anypony. But as I am about to head upstairs, I hear something that sounds like somepony is crying. Curiously, I follow the grieving sounds into the living room, where I see something that my once giddy smile vanishes gradually: Applejack is lying on the couch as she muffles her sobbing with one of the pillows.

“Applejack?” I ask her quietly with surprise and immense concern. She didn’t budge from her grief upon my return. Her unforeseen crying must have prevented her from hearing me. So, I walk up to her slowly, lean right next to her, and try asking her again.

“Applejack, what’s wrong?” I say to her in a soft tone.

“Ah… Ah bucked up, Ford!” she grieves continuously while still covering her face with her pillow. “Ah bucked it up real good! And now… it’s all over between us!”

“Well, what happened, AJ?” I coo to her. “Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?” After trying my best to comfort her, she finally takes a moment to lift her head up as I look into her tearful eyes. My heart sinks heavily as I bear witness to Applejack’s surprisingly sorrowful state.

“Ya don’t understand, Ford!” she wails to me with never-ending tears. “Ya see Ah… Ah… DANGIT! AH KISSED RARITY!”

Oh boy, here we go again.