• Published 24th Feb 2012
  • 2,889 Views, 67 Comments

The Great Switcheroo - JimmyZD

A bizarre incident involving an exploding pig at the Carousel Boutique leaves Rarity in shock and unable to work. Shenanigans ensue.

  • ...

Passing the Buck

"Spike! How's that tea coming along?"

"Ready now, Twi!"

"You got the right flavor?"


In Twilight's library, Spike took the kettle from above the fireplace, and poured its boiled contents into a mug on the table beside the couch, upon which was laying the still-frozen rigid figure of Rarity.

Twilight took the mug in the magical grasp of her horn, and deeply inhaled the aroma of the tea. "Aaah, yes. Rarity's favorite. This should do it," she said, handing it back to Spike, who received the mug, and, taking extreme care not to spill it, wafted it gently in front of the unresponsive unicorn's face.

Rarity's nose twitched.


Her sudden scream caught both Twilight and Spike unawares, and the baby dragon leapt backwards in shock, letting go of the ceramic mug and sending it flying across the room, where it shattered to pieces against the wall, leaving a substantial pool of steaming herbal tea in its place.

"Aw, nuts," Spike grumbled.

"Rarity, don't panic! Everything's okay!" Twilight said, who was actually more immediately concerned with the well-being of her friend than some smashed crockery. "You've had a nasty shock, but you're safe and sound in the library now!"


Twilight held her ears and Spike raced into the kitchen, ostensibly to fetch another mug, but mainly to get as far away from the shrieking unicorn as he could.

"Please, Rarity! Relax! Try to breathe!" Twilight said, with a franticness in her voice that probably wasn't helping her friend relax.

"B-b-b-b-b-but... m-m-m-my b-b-b-boutique..."

"Yes, there was a fire at your boutique," Twilight felt the need to remind her, "but I called the fire brigade and they took care of it lickety-split. Everything is fine."

Rarity stared into Twilight's eyes vacantly. Everything was not fine. Her mind was still firing on all cylinders, trying to process the current situation, and recall the events leading up to it. However, her memory was fuzzy, and only small snapshots of the previous evening were readily accessible. She remembered an almighty explosion, her boutique falling into chaos, and the...

The pig.

The filthy, filthy, squealing, exploding pig.

She screamed a third time, but this time managed to stifle it by plunging one of her front legs square into her mouth.

"I know, Rarity, it must have been traumatic for you, but Spike and I are here to help you recover," Twilight reassured. "Spike's just fetching you some more tea."

As she said this, Spike reemerged from the kitchen with a fresh mug, filled it up, and presented Rarity with her favorite blend of herbal tea. Rarity lifted it with her magic, very shakily.

"My... my dresses. Your dress!" she squeaked. Her horn's magical grip on the mug promptly dissipated, sending it crashing to the floor.

Spike buried his face in his hands and returned to the kitchen.

"I told the fire brigade to salvage everything they could from the fire," Twilight replied, "And they got their best pegasus ponies on the job. As far as we know, all of your dresses were recovered."

This provided some relief to Rarity, who slumped back into the couch. "Oh, Twilight," she whimpered, "it was awful."

"I know, Rarity, I know," replied the purple unicorn, stroking her friend's head soothingly. "Tell me how it all happened, if you can remember."

"Well, Twilight..."

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Spike positioned a small stepladder in front of himself, and clambered up onto the workshelf. Then, he dragged the toaster in front of him, stood shakily on top of it, and tried to balance himself as he opened the cupboard directly above him. As he attempted to open it, the toaster gave way beneath his feet and he hit himself in the face with the cupboard door, toppling over backwards and crashing into the stepladder, which in turn fell to the floor with an awful clatter.

"Spike! Be more careful in there!" shouted Twilight Sparkle.

"Owwww..." Spike groaned in response.

"Sorry, Rarity, what was that?" the unicorn said, turning back to her friend. "Spike's antics in the kitchen drowned out what you just said."

"Well, Twilight... it was an exploding pig."

Twilight frowned. "I'm sorry, Rarity. What was that? That sounded like, 'exploding pig'." She giggled light-heartedly.

Rarity returned a deadpan expression.

"I am serious, darling."

Twilight's smile vanished. "An... exploding pig?"

"An exploding pig."

A few seconds passed in awkward silence between the two unicorns. Spike presently returned from the kitchen, brandishing a third ceramic mug. He filled it up, set it down cautiously on the table beside Rarity, and sped out of the room again before anything else could happen.

"Thank you, Spike," Twilight called out.

Suddenly, there was a deafening crash and Twilight's door nearly flew clear off its hinges.


Standing in the doorway, talking with fleeting breath and a panicked tone, was Fluttershy.

Twilight raised a hoof to calm the disturbed pegasus. "Relax, Fluttershy, it's all taken care of!"

Fluttershy raced over to the couch and leant over Rarity, and, scarcely allowing herself to breathe between sentences, started speaking again. "Oh Rarity, are you alright? Any scratches? Burns? I brought along some medical supplies! Where does it hurt? Oh, your mane is a mess! Want me to comb it for you?"

"Easy, Fluttershy!" interjected Twilight. "She's not hurt, honest... although she did receive quite a shock when it happened. We're still not entirely sure how it all happened."

"I'm telling you it was a flying exploding pig! It came right through my window!"

"Suuuure..." muttered Spike as he unhooked the kettle to top it up in the kitchen, presuming he was out of Rarity's earshot, but the unicorn had obviously heard and shot him a devastating glare as he exited the room.

The door flew open again. "Miss Sparkle!"

Standing there was a caramel-colored stallion with a dark brown, well-combed mane. The three ponies cast their glances his way. "You said you had a friend in distress?"

"Oh, hi Doctor," said Twilight. "Thanks so much for coming on such short notice. She might have some memory loss and maybe a teensy bit of delirium, but overall Rarity seems okay for the time being."

"I am not okay for the time being!" the unicorn shouted indignantly, kicking a hoof unintentionally into the side table, knocking the mug of herbal tea to the floor.

"FOR PETE'S SAKE!" yelled Spike, stomping back towards the kitchen, but this time to retrieve a dustpan and brush.

"Ah, that's good, then," the doctor responded to Twilight gladly, ignoring Rarity's interjection. "At least it's nothing serious."

"THIS IS SERIOUS!" Rarity screamed.

"I'll just recommend that she gets a good rest for a day or two. Maybe three. Make sure to keep me posted, girls." And with that, he walked out.

Rarity plopped back into the couch for the second time that night. Her heart sank, and she stifled a sob. How could this have happened? It was all going so well... it had been such a lovely starlit evening, Sweetie Belle had been out of the house and hadn't caused any disasters whatsoever, and she'd just laid the finishing touches on Twilight's fabulous new dress—

Twilight's dress.

Oh, no. How was she ever going to finish it, now? She was essentially confined to a couch for two or three days. That made two or three days that could well be spent on the dress, if that wretched farm animal hadn't exploded all over her studio.

This was bad. Very bad. She would disappoint herself, her friends and even possibly Princess Celestia if that dress wasn't completed. What could she possibly do to turn this around?



"Fluttershy," Rarity implored the pegasus with a weak and wavering voice that was more symptomatic of her trauma than a simple overdramatic performance. "As you well know, The Grand Galloping Gala is next week. All of the dresses I've been hard at work for it are done... except Twilight's. I took extra special care with that one, and it was almost finished - ALMOST - but now I'm cooped up here for days on end, and it surely won't get finished in time!"

Fluttershy looked into her unicorn friend's pain-filled eyes. She wasn't entirely sure she liked where this conversation was headed.

"Fluttershy, darling," Rarity grabbed hold of her friend's face, and brought it directly in front of her own. "You know about dressmaking. I ask, nay, beg of you that you finish the dress for me!" She attempted a smile to win the pegasus over, but it didn't come out looking entirely genuine.

"Oh, Rarity! I'd... I'd be so happy to... but..."

"There's a 'but'?" Rarity inquired, her already awkward facial expression spasming even more.

"I'm afraid I've got a lot of patients still waiting on me back at my cottage. I just couldn't leave them for so long."

Rarity put on her absolute best puppy face.

"Oh, alright! I'll give it my best! But..."

Another 'but'? Rarity's face fell again.

"...but you're far superior to me when it comes to dressmaking, Rarity. I'm not sure if I can do a good enough job."

"Oh, Fluttershy! You have to! You must! You shall! I have my faith in you as a friend!"

"And so do I," added Twilight helpfully.

Fluttershy didn't.

"Well," she said, turning towards the door, "I'll... be off now, I guess. I'm just glad you're okay, Rarity."

"I'll be fine, sweetie," Rarity replied. As she said this, her mind became flooded with images of her burning boutique again, and her facial expression turned gradually from hope to despair as she slumped in an undignified manner into the couch and slithered slowly to the floor.

"Just please check to see if my beautiful dresses are all right," she whimpered.

"It would be best if you did just check by the boutique to see how things are, Fluttershy," suggested Twilight.

"Yes!" Rarity exclaimed. "And don't forget about Twilight's gala dress! It has to be ready by the end of the week, remember!"

"I will," Fluttershy said.

"Oh, and... and... don't bring it here!" Rarity called out. "On any account! I don't wish Twilight to see it... y-yet... Nothing personal, darling, it's just that I want it to be a super-special surprise for you."

Twilight laughed. "Fair enough, then."

"So long, Rarity! Get well soon," said Fluttershy, fluttering off into the evening sky.

When the yellow pegasus reached the boutique, there was still a faint scent of smoke in the night air, but the firemares had long since departed.

She slowly ascended the stairs to Rarity's studio and, cautiously opening the door, gasped at the sight before her.

It was a royal mess. The stench of smoke and burnt fabric was at this point overpowering, and the floor was drenched.

Fluttershy coughed, gracefully. A single rasher of bacon swam past her.

She wandered to the back end of the room, towards the wall nearest the open window, where a shiny, purple, silver and blue dress lay draped over a mannequin. Clearly visible in the fabric was a giant rendition of Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark.

"Twilight's dress..."

It was a beautiful wreck. The whole thing was dry, but had obviously become completely waterlogged in the firefighters' attempt to quell the flames, as evidenced by the fabric looking bloated and uneven. The edges of the dress where the fire had begun to consume it were blackened almost beyond recognition. Fluttershy couldn't even make out the color of the hems.

This looks terrible. There's no fixing it, Fluttershy thought to herself. But I can't break this to Rarity, it would destroy her. I guess I'm just gonna have to remake this dress from the ground up.

Thinking it out loud reminded her of her predicament. Oh, but it'll eat up all of my time! I'll have to spend all week on it! And... and my animals! Who could...

She had an idea. She didn't like it particularly, but it could conceivably work, and at this point she had to try anything, even if there was only a slim chance that it might work. She took off into the air once more.

"Now who in Equestria would break into mah barn just to steal one pig?!" Applejack asked no-one in particular. She'd been busy applebucking all day, having worked especially late this particular evening, and had been carrying a wagon full of apples towards the house, when she'd noticed a large hole in the barn that most certainly hadn't been there before. On investigation, she'd discovered all but one of her pigs to be accounted for, if the rest seemed a little shaken up.

"Oh, Applejack!" Apple Bloom shouted, appearing out of nowhere and speaking in a slightly overdramatic tone. "Thank goodness you've come! Somepony's gone and blown a hole in the barn!"

"Ah noticed, but thanks for the heads-up, sis," she said dryly. "Didya see who done it?"

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were crouched tensely within a bush behind the Apple sisters, observing this exchange, and chewing their hooves furiously.

"Oh, uhhh..." Apple Bloom hesitated, "Noooo way. No. Nope. I did not. That I didn't."


Applejack proceeded over towards the hole again and inspected it further. It certainly looked as though the intruder had somehow blasted their way through. The entrance to the barn certainly hadn't been sawn or chopped through - that much was clear from the overall shape of the hole.

"Apple Bloom," the earth pony inquired. The filly swallowed nervously. "What were you doing at the time, exactly?"

"Oh, uh..." Apple Bloom scrambled for the right answer. "Uh... nothin'. Nothin' at all. See, ah was, uh, in up in mah room with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, and we were just..." She stumbled. "...sittin' around, doin' nothin'... when we heard this thunderous crash outside. And when we went down to see what all the ruckus was, the perpitater had, uh, already gone."

"I thought I'd locked this thing up already," Applejack muttered, swinging the door back and forth softly with a hoof. "What's it doin' unlocked?"

"Well... we unlocked it," her sister replied truthfully. "We... wanted to see the damage that had been done," she added, not so truthfully.

"You unlocked the door?"

"Ee-yup," Apple Bloom replied confidently, mimicking her brother Big Mac.

"You unlocked the door with the massive, pony-sized hole in it?"

Apple Bloom's confidence came crashing down. Inside the bush, two little hooves met with two little faces.

"Apple Bloom, are you sure—"

But the applebucking pony's inquiry was interrupted by a panicked pegasus landing at her feet.

"Oh Applejack I'm so sorry for bothering you especially so late but I have a real problem you see Rarity's not too well and she has a dress to finish and she can't do it so she asked me to do it but I can't do it because I've got animals back home who need my care and attention and, and, and—"

"Whoa-ho there, silly filly," Applejack said, stopping Fluttershy's mouth with a hoof. "Now, breathe."

Fluttershy inhaled and exhaled gradually.

"Now run all that by me again," said Applejack kindly, lowering her hoof to the ground, "and slowly."

"Alright," Fluttershy breathed. "Well, Rarity's quite upset at the moment - a fire started at her studio, and when she woke up, she seemed to think that a pig had flown through her window."

"A pig?!?" Apple Bloom's eyes darted from side to side, and then she smiled awkwardly at the two elder ponies. "W-well, heheh, whoever heard of a flying pig? Th-that's just plum ridiculous!"

"Sure is, sis." Applejack turned back to the yellow pegasus. "Well, that's awful for poor Rarity."

"Yes. So, I'm taking Rarity's place for a few days because she wants me to finish one of her dresses, but... it's going to take me much longer than I thought. I was just wondering if you could possibly fill in for me at my cottage, and look after my animals while I'm gone?"

"Well, shoot, Fluttershy... I'd love to help out, really, but unfortunately somepony broke into mah barn and pilfered a pig."

Apple Bloom grimaced, shut her eyes tight and punched the sides of her head with her hooves.

"Ah'm still investigating this whole thing, and ah'm afraid it's gonna take me all day tomorrow to get the authorities' attention, file a damage report, and all that hay. On top of all the applebucking."

"I understand, but... but, please, Applejack! I know how you love animals almost as much as me! You're honestly and truly the only one who can fill in for me!"

"Ah'm sorry, Fluttershy, but ah'm just too darn busy right now. Is there honestly and truly nopony else who can help ya out?"

"Nopony." The pegasus turned away solemnly.

A few awkward seconds passed during which nopony uttered a word or glanced another pony's way. Applejack scratched the back of her neck, and Fluttershy kicked at the ground.


Another few seconds passed as the two ponies interrupted themselves.

"Ah'm sor—"
"It's oka—"

Another few seconds.

"Look, alright. Ah'll lend ya a helpin' hoof. What do you need me for?"

Immediately the pegasus perked up. "Oh, well, let's see - Angel Bunny needs his carrots, there's a squirrel with a fractured knee I'm taking care of, and there's a bear cub that's fallen into my hooves, I think he answers to Freddie, and he needs an hour or two to play outside or else he gets violent—"

"Whoa whoa whoa there, darlin'. Ah think it'll be a darn sight easier if you just wrote me out a checklist."

"Good idea! I'll get started on that right away! Thank you so much!" Fluttershy clasped her earth pony friend in a tight embrace, then bade the two sisters farewell as she flew off back in the direction of Twilight's library.

"Hoo, boy. Ah sure hope ah know what ah'm doin'..." Applejack sighed. "Apple Bloom."

The sudden sternness in her sister's voice made the filly's heart lock in her chest.

"Can ah entrust you to sortin' out this whole business?" she nodded her head in the direction of the large hole in the barn door.

"Ohh, geez, well... ah'd love to, big sis," said the filly. "Buuut... ah think ah'm gonna be awful busy with school and everythin' tomorrow..."

"Tomorrow's Saturday."

"Oh! Right. Right. Well... shoot... uhh... well, okay! Y-you can count on me, Applejack!"

"That's mah girl." The orange pony yawned. "Ohhh, well... ah think ah'm gonna hit the sack. But ah gotta drop these babies off, first," she said, indicating the wagon of apples she was still attached to, "and go talk with Rainbow Dash about somethin' first. Lock up the barn there, and push somethin' over that there hole to stop the pigs from escapin'."

"Will do...!"

"So long, sis."

And so, Applejack departed, and a despondent Apple Bloom trotted over to the bush where her two friends were hidden. Their heads cautiously emerged from it.

"...How deep are we in it?" asked Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom responded by stretching a front hoof several inches above the top of her head.

"Rainbow, please!"

"AJ, I couldn't possibly!"

Applejack's patience was wearing thin, and her neck was starting to develop a cramp from craning it upwards to meet with Rainbow Dash's face, which was peeking out from behind the cloud she was lying on. Dash herself was annoyed at having just been woken from an amazingly Wonderbolts-themed fantasy by the earth pony.

"Rainbow, ah'm gonna be far too busy with Fluttershy's animals the next morning to attend to the farm! Have you seen how many critters she's got in the house alone? Let alone all the ones she keeps in her garden?"

"I'm not blind, Applejack, of course I have! But do you know how many responsibilites a pegasus pony of my stature has on the weather team? I can't spend, like, three days on your farm rebuilding doors and kicking trees! I've got duties to uphold!"

Sometimes Applejack swore that Rainbow Dash's ego could eclipse that of that awful showmare, "The Great and Powerful" Trixie. Seeing that there was no other foreseeable way of persuading the pegasus, she decided to try a different approach.

"Rainbow, you should be honored that ah chose you to be the one to replace me. Normally ah wouldn't let a single other pony buck mah apples, but you're the most dependable and capable pony ah know. We'll lag behind on the apple harvest what with repairing the barn and investigating the incident an' all that - but you'd have that orchard o' mine cleared in a flash. Come on, don't let me down. Don't let the Apple family down."

Rainbow Dash was torn at this point. Abandon her duties on the weather team for a day or two, or let down one of her best friends? Well, she was the Element of Loyalty... but to whom was she the loyalest?

She looked deeper into Applejack's eyes, and clearly saw signs of desperation. She considered the possibility of actually helping out on Sweet Apple Acres in Applejack's absence, and which of her abilities would be required. All of a sudden the idea of kicking trees actually seemed appealing. She sure loved destroying that old barn a few months ago - an exercise that required her to use the full extent of her brute strength. Maybe this wouldn't be too dissimilar to that...?

"Okay, Applejack. You've got a deal. What time do you want me to be there?"

"7:00. Sharp."

"What?! That's... that's like seven in the morning! I'll still have the taste of toothpaste in my mouth, for Celestia's sake!"

"That's life on the farm, Rainbow."

"Ohh, maaaan." The pegasus was steadfast in her decision to stay loyal to her friend, but now that the concept of being up super-early had entered her mind, she was starting to see flaws in the plan. She'd be up so early that she wouldn't even be able to drop into Cloudsdale to let the weather team know she was going to have to take the next few days off. Helping out the Apples on the farm would suck up all of her free time.

She flopped unceremoniously onto her cloud again and spread all four of her hooves outward, groaning.

"Applejack, is there any wa—"


"Argh! What am I gonna do?" the blue pegasus pony despaired.

"Come on, Pinkie!" Rainbow pleaded, laying on the ground and clutching the hooves of the pink pony. She was on the top floor of Sugarcube Corner, having caught Pinkie Pie just as she was putting the baby Cakes to bed.

"I'm begging you, you've gotta be my substitute for the next three days at least! I know it sounds like an awful responsibility, but I'm doing a big favor for Applejack and it's gonna eat into all of my time on the weather team! Please, help a girl out!"


"W... what...?"

Rainbow Dash stared up her friend in disbelief. "Are you sure?" she asked.


Rainbow Dash got up and scratched the back of her neck. "Youuuu... honestly have nothing to do? You can just... do it for me?"


"And you're... okay with that?"


Rainbow Dash frowned. "You don't see any problems, what with being an Earth pony, and not being able to do... this?" She opened her wings out and flapped them back and forth. "Or... walking on clouds? 'Cause that's pretty important."

"Nope! Anything for you, Dashie!" The pink pony ruffled a hoof around her friend's rainbow-colored mane. And with that, she bounced merrily out of the door, humming a happy little tune, and leaving Rainbow Dash dazed and confused in the baby Cakes' bedroom.

"...What just happened?"

*knock knock knock*

"Oh, hey Pinkie Pie. What are you doing up so late? It must be past 10:00."

"Hi Twilight! Well, I'm doing a big favor for Rainbow Dash, see? And I've gotta be away from Sugarcube Corner for three days, or something like that. Anyway, I was just wondering if you'd like to take my place until I'm done."

"Sorry, Pinkie. I've really gotta watch the library for the next three days."

"Really? Come on, Twi! I'm sure you'll love baking with the Cakes!"

"I'm really sorry, Pinkie. Under normal circumstances, I'd be more than happy to help you out, but you see, Rari—"

Twilight stopped mid-sentence and looked straight at Pinkie.

"The Cakes? As in, Mr and Mrs Cake? Like, the ones who own Sugarcube Corner? And have two adoooorable little babies?"

"Oh yeah! And if I'm not there, the baby Cakes won't have anypony to play with!"


Twilight's face froze into an enormous grin of pure joy.

"...Uhhhh...Twilight, are you okay?"

"What? Okay? No, I'm fine. I'm perfectly fine! I'll see you at Sugarcube Corner tomorrow, Pinkie. Byeee!"

The door shut.

"Huh," the pink pony said. "...What just happened?"

Author's Note:

Oh boy this is getting fun. :P This oddly didn't take me quite as long to write as the last chapter, even though it's more-or-less the same, word-count-wise. I guess my inspiration is as sporadic when I'm writing fiction as when I'm writing music. :P (And believe me, it is.)

And yep, as I foresaw, I definitely struggled with the pronouns in places. Consarn it all. :P

Thanks so very much for all the tracks and watches, everypony! Hope you enjoyed this chapter. The story shall continue...

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