• Published 22nd Apr 2015
  • 6,063 Views, 87 Comments

Just Once - HudsonHawk

Pinkie Pie develops a friendship with a displaced human, and tries to set him up with a mare on Hearts and Hooves Day.

  • ...

Friendship That Has Caught Fire

“Max Frazier, tonight, you will find love.” I reassured myself.

I stood at the bathroom mirror, clad in my white T-shirt and my Blues Brothers boxers. I eyed myself in the mirror. My mop of black hair still retained its natural scruffiness, even after a shower. My pudgy midsection was a sorry sight, but one I'd come to accept. I just hoped my blind date would accept it as well. I was nervous as hell. This would be my first ever date... and at twenty-seven. Yeah, I felt pathetic, but better late than never.

My slightly chubby face had been freshly shaven. As I splashed on some Brut, I felt the familiar sting of aftershave against shaven skin and toughed it out.

"Ahh, Max..." I said to no one in particular. "You look mahhhvelous!!!"

"Hi Maxie!" Said the familiar pink pony who popped into view.

A year ago, this would have been frightening, maybe even heart attack-inducing. But after living among the inhabitants of Equestria for a year, I'd gotten used to Pinkie Pie and her antics. Hell, she was my best friend... the best friend a human among sapient equines could ask for.

"Hi, Pinks." I said, turning to my visitor. She sat on her haunches, like a loyal dog. Her flank was emblazoned with a cutie mark, a mark denoting her special talent. In her case it was three balloons, one yellow and two blue, denoting her party planning abilities and general tendency to make others happy. It accented her pink coat perfectly. Her darker pink mane and tail were poofy, almost like she had 80s hair. Her baby blue eyes and wide, infectious grin were a joy to behold, able to make me smile on a bad day.

"Are you ready yet? I don't want to keep her waiting. It'd be so, so, sooo rude to do so!" She said, barely taking any breath between words.

"Almost, Pinks, almost." I replied, her grin eliciting one from me in return. It helped to ease my nervousness a bit.

My mind started to wander back over the past year and change... starting back to when we first met... when I first wound up in Equestria...

I awoke to darkness and the feeling of a cold rag over my eyes.

"What... happened?" I managed to ask with a groan.

"You just had a little fall." A soft, yet timid voice replied. "You don't look too hurt. Just a bump on your head."

Her voice was so soothing... it was almost motherly.

"I had the weirdest dream..." I started.

"Really?" The voice replied. "What about?"

"I dreamt I was in a land of talking horses. Some grey, cross eyed one tried to greet me. I just... I just fainted from shock... It was so weird..."

There was a pause. Then...

"Well, you're safe now." The voice said, somehow more calm and soothing than before. "You're safe now, back in good old Equestria."

Yes, I thought. I was safe. Safe and cozy back home. Back in... wait a goddamned minute...

"EQUESTRIA?!?!" I shouted. I ripped off the rag and was blinded by the light of the afternoon. When my eyes adjusted... Oh... God...

I was what appeared to be a cozy cottage. I was lying on a rather comfy couch. But what had me in shock was the inhabitant.

She was a horse... but not like any horse I knew. She was smaller, yellow... and oddly cuddly. I took notice of her long pink mane and tail, and... wings? She was a flying horse... a pegasus?

I was in shock. I wanted to scream... but nothing came out... I covered my face with a pillow and started speaking a mile a minute.

"I'm just dreaming I'm just dreaming I'll wake up home in bed and this is all just a crazy dream..."

I heard the flapping of wings. Soon, I felt something pull the pillow away from my face. The yellow horse was looking at me, scared as hell, but concerned.

"Shh... shh..." She said, as she rubbed a hoof on my back. "Calm down..."

I wasn't dreaming... this was really happening... Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ on a goddamned pogo stick... this wasn't a dream...

"Fluttershy! Fluttershy!" A bubbly voice said. Soon, a pink pony bounded into the room. "OH! You're awake!" She... she didn't so much as walk but bounce over to me. Landing in front of me, she smiled an infectious smile.

"Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie! Are you new here? Are you? Are you? Huh? Huh? Huh? Of course! You must be new here because you fainted when Derpy tried to say hi, and if you weren't new here you wouldn't have fainted and... I HAVE A NEW FRIEND!"

All the time, she was bouncing around me, a pink ball of hyperactivity.

"Oh! I've got a 'Welcome to Equestria' party to plan! You must be so lonely, and I don't like to see ponies or whatever you are lonely! Lonely ponies make me so sad. I'd like to be the first friend you have here, so... hug me, new bestie?"

Technically, Fluttershy was the first new friend I made here... but I didn't want to burst the bubble of a cheerful and possibly psychotic pony. I held my arms out and a pink blur dove onto my lap, pulling me into a tight hug.

"You give great hugs... ummm... I never got your name."

I smiled at Pinkie. A genuine smile.

"Max. Max Frazier."

"Maxie, welcome to Equestria!" She said, suddenly producing ten instruments and becoming a one pony band. As she started playing a polka using every instrument at once, I marveled at her.

Pinkie Pie and physics must have had one ugly divorce years ago. Judging by her continued ability to flip it the proverbial bird, she must have also given up custody of the kids.

With a friend like her, things were bound to get interesting.

The next day, Pinkie and Fluttershy took me to see their friend Twilight Sparkle. It took an hour and a battery of tests and questions for the purple unicorn to slowly get on my nerves. Each probing question, each new test, each machine I was strapped into... I started to feel like a sideshow attraction more than a human being.

However, thanks to her, we were able to piece together what had happened:

Somehow, someway, a dimensional gate linking Earth and Equestria had opened. My '69 Dodge Charger, towing a U-Haul trailer with all my stuff as I headed for a new job in Arizona, sailed through it. I didn't notice it at the time: I was too busy looking at the damned map and trying to figure out where I was. The desert started to look the same after a while, and the fact that the map (as Twilight would later point out) was ten years out of date didn't help at all.

Twilight told me that she would see what she could do, and if I could get home. Until then, I'd need a place to stay.

"Ooh! Ooh! Twilight!" Pinkie said, hopping up and down waving a front leg in the air. "We have an extra room at Sugarcube Corner! I can talk to the Cakes, and we could see if he could stay there!"

Twilight turned to me. "It's up to you, Max. Personally, I think you should stay here. There's so much more I need to know about your species-"

I immediately turned to Pinkie. The thought of getting probed and prodded again was NOT appealing at all.

"Pinkie, I accept." I said.

Pinkie's eyes grew as wide as her smile. She grabbed my hand with a hoof.

"Oh goodie goodie gumdrop! The Cakes are gonna adore you! And Pound and Pumpkin... that's their little foals... they'll love you too! My new bestie's coming to live with me! This is the greatest day ever!"

As I was dragged off to meet the Cakes, I wondered if I made the right decision.

The Cakes welcomed me with open hooves, and I started doing odd jobs around town to make some money. Pinkie's friends were the first to employ me: Applejack had me gathering bucked apples at Sweet Apple Acres, Fluttershy had me help her with the care of her animal friends, I assisted Rarity at the Carousel Boutique, and Twilight had me assist in organizing the library in order to give Spike some much needed time off.

A few months later, I got the sad news... I couldn't go home. What happened was simply a freak occurrence, one that couldn't be replicated, no matter what spells Twilight could find.

I was stuck here.

I left the library in a rush, climbed into my Charger, and drove. I had no set destination... I just needed to get away and think.

I eventually stopped in the middle of a large open field. There were no trees, no flowers, nothing but grassland as far as the eye could see.

I stepped out of the car, shut the door behind me, and climbed up onto the hood. I sat cross legged on the hood, just looking up at the sky. There were no clouds, just endless stars and Luna's moon, shining brightly. That was something that took getting used to as well, the fact that the sun and moon were raised by demigod ponies rather than any natural means.

I let my mind wander... I knew there was nothing worth going back for. My parents had died a year earlier, and I was an only child. They'd get someone else to fill that job. I'd just be written off as another missing person... that is, if anyone bothered to report me at all.

Then why did I feel so crushed about not being able to go back?

I soon realized why.

I was the only one of my kind here. I'd spend the rest of my life without seeing another human. I'd never been a social butterfly. I'd prefer being by myself to being around others, but I never really realized just how much it would suck to be truly alone, to never see another human face again... never until that moment.


I turned.

"Pinks?" I asked. "How...?"

She trotted over and jumped onto the hood next to me, sat on her haunches and joined me in stargazing.

"I hid in the backseat." She started. "I know you said you wanted to be alone, but... I couldn't just let you go running out like that."

We kept looking at the stars.

"Nice night." I said, idly.

"Yeah." Pinkie replied. "Princess Luna's really on her game tonight."

There was a long pause.

"Do you have a family, Maxie? Back home?"

I swallowed hard.

"I had my parents." I said.

"Had?" Pinkie said, her ears perking up.

"They were on their way to Las Vegas... it's a great vacation spot in my world... they were on their way there for a second honeymoon. From what I was told, the engines failed... the plane spun in..."

The tears started to flow.

"...there were no survivors..."

Pinkie's eyes widened. Her jaw dropped.

"Oh, Maxie... I'm so sorry..."

I wiped my eyes and continued. "I have their ashes. As long as I have those, and I remember them... they're immortal."

Pinkie was quiet for a few minutes. Odd, considering how she usually was. Her ears folded down. Then...

"I lost Granny Pie years ago... not lost as "I need to find her" lost..." She started.

"I understand." I said. "What happened?"

Pinkie's baby blue eyes started to glisten with tears.

"Old age, Maxie. It was her time. For a time, I thought she was gone forever, too... but then I remember all the super-duper-wonderful times we had, and all the good advice she gave me, and it feels like she's still here, watching over me."

I felt a leg go around my shoulders and pull me close.

"I haven't cried since the funeral." I said. "I don't know why. I have to be strong and carry on, but I just feel weak when I feel it coming on..."

"Maxie..." Pinkie started. "Crying doesn't mean you're weak or less of a pon- person. I thought that too, that I had to be happy all the time after she died. But happiness can't be there without sadness. I had to cry, Maxie. I felt a lot better getting all those sad feelings out."

I hugged Pinkie tightly as a year worth of repressed grief came out. I sobbed into her shoulder. Long, loud sobs. I felt a gentle hoof on my back, rocking me gently.

"You're not weak, Maxie." Pinkie said. "You've just been strong for too long."

After a while, the sobs subsided and we broke the hug.

"Pinkie..." I said, smiling. "...you're my best friend."

Pinkie beamed, her infectious grin on full display. "You're one of my besties, too."

We laid down, our backs on the windshield, and resumed looking at the stars.

"You know what cheers me up, Maxie?" Pinkie asked

"What?" I replied.

"Funny words."

"Like what?"

Pinkie stifled a giggle. "Kumquat." She couldn't hold it in. She laughed. Her laugh, like her smile, was infectious. I started laughing too.

"My other favorite is pickle barrel. Put it together and say it with me: pickle barrel kumquat! Pickle barrel kumquat!"

I was laughing my ass off.

"I always liked foreign names." I said. "They're just fun to say."

"OOH!" Pinkie gave me her full attention. "Got any?"

"One of my favorite composers is a man named Angelo Badalamenti."

"Angelo Badalamenti..." Pinkie said, repeating it three times. "You're right! That IS fun to say! Angelo Badalamenti!"

"My other favorite is Antonio Margheriti."

"Ooh... I like that one, too! "Margheriti, Margheriti, MARGHERITI!"

We giggled like schoolchildren.

"I got one more: banana hammock!"

Pinkie giggled. "Banana hammock pickle barrel kumquat!"

Somehow, we kept on doing that for the next hour. I never had a friend like Pinkie before... never had someone who could cheer me up like this, who could take my loneliness and help give it the heave-ho... she was a treasure.

The day after the bad news had been given, I was summoned to the palace of Princess Celestia in Canterlot. There, I was granted full citizenship. I had the same rights and privileges granted to those under the rule of Celestia and Luna.

I finally felt accepted.

The best news was yet to come: a human-sized cottage had been built for me, a way of solidifying my new status. What amused me was the ultimate fate of the trailer that brought my stuff here: it was now a garden shed, possibly the biggest one in existence.

Pinkie brought in all my Equestrian friends for the housewarming party, and her present was the best of all: she had talked to Mr. Cake about permanent employment at Sugarcube Corner. Mr. Cake had been fascinated with my Charger, and had inquired if, in addition to helping around the bakery, I could do deliveries as well. With the aid of a synthetic brew that Twilight created, I didn't have to worry about running out of gas.

The next day, I accepted his offer. I'd be working with my best friend! I couldn't be happier.

The next several months were a blur. The ponies in town started to accept me as one of their own, and I started to learn more about their customs and holidays. Unfortunately, one hit a sore spot for me... Hearts and Hooves Day.

I was behind the counter when my three favorite fillies came in: a yellow Earth pony with a Southern drawl and a big red bow, a white unicorn with a purple and pink mane, and an orange pegasus with a purple mane.

"Hi, Max!" The Cutie Mark Crusaders said in unison.

"Hey, girls!" I replied. "Your usual?"

"Yes, please!" Sweetie Belle said.

As I set to work making their milkshakes, I did what I normally did: make small talk.

"How was school?" I asked.

"School was great!" Apple Bloom said. "Big Mac came to pick Miss Cheerilee up. I think they might actually be dating."

I stopped. "You guys didn't have anything to do with that, did you? Cause I heard about the last time you guys played matchmaker..."

Scootaloo facehoofed. "Oh, you had to bring THAT up..."

"Sorry." I replied.

"I assure you, we had nothing to do with it." Sweetie Belle said, crossing her heart, making fluttering motions with her hooves, and sticking a hoof in her closed eye: a Pinkie Promise.

"Alright, I believe you." I said. "Only cause you Pinkie Promised."

I was putting the finishing touches on their milkshakes when...

"So..." Apple Bloom said.

"What?" I asked.

"Do you have a special somepony?" Scootaloo asked. "A nice guy like you should be drowning in dates!"

Thankfully, I was turned away, my hurt expression hidden from them. When I first came here, I thought I would be leaving in a bit, so I didn't consider dating. Then again, I was twenty-seven years old, a virgin, and had never been on a date back home either, so... the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I know some of you will judge, but hey, if you were the only human in a world full of talking, colorful equines and had no way of getting back... you'd think about settling down with Trigger, too. Besides, let's just say my right hand and I had become so frigging intimate I started buying it dinner before... you know...

I'll admit that I may be part of the problem: I'm scared to death to approach a girl in a romantic sense. Every time I had the courage to, I'd been shot down. I guess a large part of me had just given up. When you've been shot down as much as me, you start to feel like you're doomed to be alone.

"Max?" Apple Bloom said. "Are you okay?"

"Of course!" I lied. "Why wouldn't I be?"

I put a fake smile on and turned to the girls, handing them their shakes. They looked less than convinced, but it seemed like they didn't want to press the issue further.

The girls paid for their shakes and took a seat at a booth for their usual cutie mark planning session. I heard them mention something about getting them in demolition and where they could get dynamite, and I swore I could hear insurance adjusters everywhere scream in horror.

I had started wiping out a glass when Pinkie came out from the kitchen, a tray of cupcakes on her back.

"Uhh, Maxie?" Pinkie asked. "Could you...?"

I took the tray off her back and started setting them in the display case. Pinkie sidled up next to me.

"Sooo..." She started.

"Yeah?" I asked.

"Do you have any plans for Hearts and Hooves Day?"

I continued to put cupcakes in the display case. "It's just another day, Pinkie."

"Just another day? JUST ANOTHER DAY?" Pinkie grabbed me by the cheeks and pulled me into the kitchen. She then pulled me down until I was eye-to-eye with her. "Hearts and Hooves Day is not just another day, Maxie!"

I pulled her hooves off my face. "It is when you have no one, Pinks, when you've never had anyone. When you look around and see everyone who has somebody... it's like they're unconsciously rubbing it in your face that you're lonely and undesirable... It's just another GODDAMNED DAY!"

Pinkie shrank back, ears folded, lip quivering. As my hurt faded, I realized what I'd done and quickly pulled Pinkie into a hug.

"Oh, Pinks... I'm sorry." I said, rubbing her back. "I'm so sorry... I shouldn't have taken it out on you...

I felt hooves go around my back and squeeze.

"You've never had anypony? At all?" Pinkie asked.

"No." I replied. "Never."


"I don't know. Pinks. I've always been too scared to talk to girls..."

"But you talk to me! You talk to me a lot!"

"Yeah, but you're my best friend, Pinkie."

Looking back, I should have taken the sigh she made in response as a sign, but hindsight is always 20/20, as they say.

I saw her eyes brighten and that familiar smile spread across her face.

"Maxie, I just had the most wonderful idea!" She exclaimed.

"What?" I asked.

"I know a lot of single mares in town. I know one who'd be right up your alley! Her name's Golden Slumbers!"

Golden Slumbers? Now that song wasn't going to leave my head...

"She's so nice, and lovely, and she's never had anyone either... she's perfect for you!"

"You sure she'd like me?" I asked.

"I'm absolutely, positively, 110% sure she'd love you!" Pinkie replied. "She's been looking for a date for tonight! What do you think? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

I mulled it over. Having a date was better than no date at all, and at least I wouldn't be lonely this year.

"Why not?" I replied.

Pinkie bounced around me happily. "Then it's settled! I'll tell her to meet you here at 6 sharp!"

"Pinks..." I said, hugging her tightly, "You're a national frigging treasure."

As I headed back into the dining area, I thought I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a frown form on Pinkie's face.

Once again, hindsight is always 20/20.

"Maxie?" Pinkie asked.

The mention of my name snapped me out of my little trip down memory lane. I found myself at the front of Sugarcube Corner, dressed to kill. I sported a black dress shirt and purple tie, brown dress slacks, black hi-tops (dress shoes were never very comfortable for me), topped off with a brown sport coat and the brown fedora Rarity had made me as a housewarming present.

Still, it felt like something was missing...

A pink hoof thrust a bouquet of roses into my hand.

"I think this'll help with the first impression." Pinkie said, an encouraging smile on her face.

"Thanks, Pinks." I replied.

"You nervous?"

"Very. My heart feels like it's going to burst out of my chest."

Pinkie took my hand. "You'll do fine, Maxie. Come on!"

Pinkie half-dragged me through the door of Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie scanned the crowd until...

"There she is!"

At a booth in the back was a golden-coated Earth pony. Her green eyes were framed by black horn-rimmed glasses. She had a yellow mane and tail, but from my vantage point, I couldn't tell what her cutie mark was. Pinkie dragged me over to the booth.

"Hi Goldie!" Pinkie greeted. "This is Max."

Goldie looked up at me, uninterested. "Hi. So, Pinkie, where's this stallion you said you were setting me up with?"

"This is him!" Pinkie said, a hint of worry in her voice.

I held out my fist for a hoofbump. "It's very nice to meet you, Goldie."

Goldie eyeballed me and laughed. "Joke's over, Pinkie. Where's my real date?"

Alarm bells went off in my mind. Danger... danger, Will Robinson...

"Maxie here IS your date!" Pinkie said.

Goldie's smile dropped. "Really, Pinkie? You're setting me up with the monkey?"

"Maxie is NOT a monkey! He's a human being. He's just like us in a lot of ways!"

My heart started to sink.

"Not where it counts! He doesn't have four legs, or a coat... he doesn't even have a cutie mark. You said you had a single, handsome stallion here that I'd love to meet, but you send me... this. You might as well set me up with a griffon or a changeling... actually, the changeling would be better. At least he can look like a pony!"

Painful memories started flooding back.

I swore I gave you the right number...

...why ruin our special friendship?

She says that you would know where the DVDs are...

I'm sorry Max, but I have a boyfriend...

...I already have a boyfriend, but you seem like a nice fella...

"What you're suggesting, Pinkie, is that I sin against nature." Goldie, shockingly, wasn't finished yet. "There's a reason he's the only one here. He was an accident. If he really wants to date, he should date inside his species."

"But... he's the only human here..." Pinkie said, sadly.

"Well..." Goldie said, smugly. "That should tell him something, shouldn't it?"

Goldie may just as well have punched a hole in my chest, ripped out my heart, and bucked it into the nearby blender. I looked around. I saw pony/pony couples. No interspecies dating... My brain said she was wrong, but my broken heart and my insecurities said she was right.

"I... I have to go..." I said as I bolted for the door.

"Maxie!" Pinkie called. "WAIT, MAXIE!"

I ran through the door and down the street, eliciting several looks from the passersby. I didn't care. I just wanted to go home, just go home and forget what happened... just get used to the fact that no one would ever love me...

I finally reached home and barrelled through the front door, the tears flowing in earnest. I had tried to suppress them, like I had done every time I had been rejected, but I couldn't this time... I just couldn't... the grief and rage and sorrow had hit critical mass and the emotional dam had burst. I cut through the living room and through the north door to my bedroom. I chucked the bouquet of roses in a corner, then, grabbing my iPod off the night table next to my bed, I slipped on the headphones and tried to find solace in my music. I hit shuffle.

My ears were greeted with James Ingram's "Just Once."

My tears gave way to heaving sobs. Of course this song would be the first up. A reminder of every romantic failure I had ever had... and it was time to add another to the pile. Maybe I should give it up. After five previous attempts, it's obvious that nobody will love me as more than a friend.

As I lay there, my tears soaking into the pillow, I heard a knock on my door. I paused the iPod.

"Go away." I said.

"Maxie? Please let me in!" Pinkie said, frantic.

"I want to be alone!"

More knocking.

"Maxie, please!"


The knocking stopped. Maybe she'd gone away. I shut my eyes, and began crying myself to sleep...


The voice was nearer now. I opened my eyes and was greeted by the sight of the poofy-haired pink pony I knew all too well. My grief and shock turned to confusion.

"How? The door was locked... and you... dah.." I gave up. I learned to never trust physics or logic when Pinkie Pie was involved. It only caused headaches, nausea, upset stomach, and the occasional bout of insanity.

The pink mare leapt onto the bed next to me, sat up next to me, and pulled me up into a bone-crushing hug.

"Oh, Maxie! I'm so, sooo, sooooo sorry! I didn't know, I really didn't know! If I knew, I wouldn't have tried to set things up and you'd be happy and we'd still be friends and..."

I raised a hand.

"Pinkie... crushing... spine... can't... breathe.." I said in pained, labored breaths.

Pinkie looked at me with those baby-blue eyes and gasped, loosening her grip. "Oh, no! I did it again! I'm sorry. I just keep messing up today..."

I caught my breath and started to speak, wiping my eyes with the bottom of my dress shirt. "Pinkie, you didn't know that about her. One mistake doesn't mean that you're not my friend, my BEST friend, anymore. I messed up."

Pinkie looked at me, confused. "How did YOU mess up?"

"I thought that someone would like me as more than a friend. It was stupid of me to think that anyone could love... this." I pointed at myself.

Pinkie gasped. She grabbed me by my cheeks with her front legs and turned me to face her, an unusually stern look across her face.

"Maxwell Frazier, how can you say you're not lovable?!? You're a sweet guy, sweeter than cupcakes... or donuts... or a chocolate fountain..." A dreamy look was on her face as she started drooling. "Mmm... chocolate fountainy goodness..."

I spoke up. "Uh, Pinkie? Was there a point to this?"

Pinkie snapped out of her daydream. "Huh? Oh.." She wiped the drool from her chin with a hoof and continued. "As I was saying, you're a super-duper sweetheart, Maxie! You've been nothing but nice to me and my besties. You've been a super-extra-extra large help to the Cakes and I. You're one of a kind, in more ways than one! You shouldn't let one rejection paint you as unlovable."

"That's the thing, Pinkie." I replied. "It's not my first rejection."

"It's not?" Pinkie looked puzzled.

"No, it's not." I started. "It's my sixth. The first was a friend of mine. When I asked her out, she said we 'shouldn't ruin our special friendship.' Friendzoned. Second time was someone in high school who I thought liked me back. She gave me her phone number..."

"THAT'S a rejection?" Pinkie asked, confused.

"It is when it's the number to a limo service. She gave me a false number, Pinks."

"WHAT?!?! Why would somepony do such a mean, awful thing like that?"

"Because they thought it was funny to get someone's hopes up and dash them to pieces."

Pinkie nodded for me to continue, a sympathetic look in her eyes.

The third time was someone I worked with. As it turned out, she was stealing stuff from the store and stabbed me in the back by lying and saying it was me. The fourth was a classmate in college I liked. She had a boyfriend. The last time was someone in a bar. We got along, we traded numbers, I called to talk to her... and she told me she had a boyfriend and was tipsy when she gave me her number. At least she let me down easy, I have to respect her for that..."

Pinkie put a comforting hoof on my shoulder. "Oh, Maxie..."

I kept going. "I see everyone else with someone... with their soul mate... And I wonder when it'll be my turn. I've never even been kissed, Pinkie! I'm twenty-seven fucking years old and I haven't been kissed once! That's pathetic..."

The tears started flowing again. I felt Pinkie pull me into a gentle hug. As one hoof rubbed my back, another pressed my head into her shoulder as I sobbed.

"Let it all out, Maxie..." She said softly. "Just let it all out."

As I sobbed into Pinkie's shoulder, she held me and started to rock me gently back and forth, trying to comfort me.

"Shh... it's okay, Maxie... your friend Pinkie's here for you..."

The sobs went on for a while. All the while, Pinkie continued to hold me, rocking gently. It was odd to see her calm, a complete 180 from her usual, hyperactive self.

As the sorrow left my system, I looked up at Pinkie, her expression one of concern.

"If it makes you feel better, I've never had anypony either."

"No..." I said in shock. "You?! Everyone loves you! You should be beating the stallions away with a stick!"

"I love my friends, I love them all so, so, soooo much... but nobody sees me as marefriend material. They think I'm too childish or hyper for them... I've spent a lot of Hearts and Hooves Days helping make others happy... I'd like some of that happiness too..."

"I... I'm sorry... If I had known, I wouldn't have let you set me up..."

"Don't apologize, silly! I like doing that! I loooove making ponies happy! But, I'd just like someone to truly love... I'd like to be held close, to share a dance, to be truly loved... just once..."

"Pinkie..." I started. "Thank you... thank you for trying to help me... even if it didn't work out, the sentiment was there, and I appreciate it. You're one of the best."

Pinkie smiled warmly at me. I soon snuggled into her shoulder.

"But don't waste your time on me, Pinks. I mean, who'd really want an... accident.. like me?"

There was a long pause. I looked up to see Pinkie looking away, her cheeks crimson.

"I... I... I would..." She said, at a volume normally reserved for Fluttershy when she introduced herself.

"You?" I asked in shock. "You? Why'd you want someone like me?"

"Because..." She started. "...because you're really sweet and kind... when I'm with you, I feel whole... I thought so ever since I first met you. When we looked at the stars that one night, I felt... whole. I like knowing more about where you came from. It sounds like such a super-awesome place... and... I... I love you, Maxie. I love you more than cupcakes, and you know how much I love those. I loved you enough to help you out, even if it hurt me, because I didn't want to see you hurt..."

I was stunned. All this time... I did have someone who loved me... who really loved me, enough so that she was willing to give it up to make me happy... and I was so blind...

She was always there. I always felt at ease. I could stare into her eyes for hours, and she could always cheer me up on a dark day. She was the perfect girl... God, I'm an idiot.

I put a hand on Pinkie's cheek and turned her head to face me. I felt butterflies in my stomach... I never felt that way with any other girl...

"Pinkie..." I started.

"Yeah, Maxie?" She asked.

I walked over to the corner of the room, and picked up the roses.

"...Happy Hearts and Hooves Day." I said, handing her the roses. She took a deep sniff and let out a content sigh.

"Would you like a dance?" I asked.

This perked her up. "WOULD I?!?"

She damn near threw me off my bed in excitement.

A few moments later, I had the perfect song cued up on my iPod, now hooked to my stereo. We had assumed the proper slow dance form: my right hand on her hip, my left hand holding her right hoof, and her left hoof on my... well, as close as she could get to my shoulder with her height. I hit play.

As the silky smooth vocals of Survivor filled the room, Pinkie and I began to dance. I couldn't help but look in her baby blues. I couldn't look anywhere else... It was like I was caught in a tractor beam.

As the second verse ended, I felt Pinkie's forehooves wrap around my neck as we continued to sway. My now free left hand rested on her other hip. We continued to look into each other's eyes...

"Close your eyes, Maxie." Pinkie whispered. "I have a present for you."

I did so. She pulled me down, and I felt soft lips on mine. It was like lightning. It was magical... brain meltingly, spine tinglingly magical. It was a feeling I had never experienced before, but I knew I would experience again. She pulled away as the song ended, leaving me there with a stupefied expression on my face.

“Are you okay, Maxie?” Pinkie asked.

“Errhh…” was all I could utter.

She waved a hoof in front of my eyes. “Maxie? Ground control to Major Maxie!” She then grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me back to reality the way a bartender would shake a martini.

“Uhhh… I’m sorry?” I uttered as my brain finally resumed function.

“I asked if you were okay, silly.” Pinkie replied. “You looked like you were oodles of miles away there.”

“I’m sorry, Pinks. That was just… it was just a hell of a kiss…”

“You liked it?!”

“Of course I did!”

Pinkie pulled me into a hug. “Ohh, Maxie… I’m so, sooo glad to hear you say that…”

I wrapped my arms around her and returned the hug. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

Pinkie held me close. “Grandpa Pie had the same problem. No matter how hard Granny Pie tried, it took her years before Grandpa Pie saw she was flirting with him. He was her one and only… it was so romantic…”

I felt a little better. At least I wasn’t the only one who had trouble with hints.

“Pinkie…” I started. “...would you like to stay the night?”

Pinkie pulled away and looked at me in shock. “Whoa there! I’m not that kind of mare…”

“I didn’t mean in THAT way, I meant just literally sleeping together. I’m not ready for… you know… yet, either.”

Pinkie facehoofed. “Why didn’t you say so?” In seconds flat, a pink blur dragged me into bed, climbed in beside me, and had the covers up. Pinkie then held me again as we lay together, letting the events of the day set in.

“Pinkie…” I started. “I… I… I love you.”

Pinkie smiled from ear to ear. Somehow, she morphed into a rocket and blasted off. Before she put a hole in my roof, she morphed back and floated down gracefully into my arms. Who needs physics? Screw you, physics.

“I love you too, Maxie.” She cooed before we kissed again.

At long last, I felt whole. I was not alone, and had a feeling I never would be again. Whatever lay ahead, my new marefriend and I would face it together... no matter what. At that moment, as sleep overcame me, I knew for sure...

The search was over. Love was right before my eyes.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
-Ann Landers