• Published 26th Jul 2016
  • 4,052 Views, 189 Comments

Sick Little Ponies (And One Dragon) - Estee



Seven sick Ponyville residents. Seven short stories. Six Bearers. One dragon. (Bring your own hoof sanitizer.)

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Pinkie: The Party To Temporarily Suspend All Parties

The slightly chubby pink earth pony sat in the tiny spotlight which illuminated the center of the darkened room (and nothing else), blue eyes downcast, and spoke to the shadows.

"So it's like this," she steadily said. "I spent a lot of my filly years on the rock farm. We didn't have a lot of visitors, and I didn't go visiting or meeting ponies or... anyway, we were kind of isolated. So when it came to foal and childhood illnesses, I never had any. Because I didn't have anypony to catch them from."

She sighed.

"When I came to Ponyville, though..." she carefully continued, gaze refusing to seek the darkness. "...I was sort of trying to catch up with everything at once. Classes, and culture, and how ponies who didn't live on rock farms behaved -- which was really really hard because of all the days I was losing. Because my body was trying to catch up with everything else. I'd never had any of the childhood stuff, and suddenly I was around ponies who were going through all of it, and -- I got sick. For the first couple of years, I got sick a lot. But eventually, I -- caught up, I guess."

A small shrug. Curls bounced.

"Or at least that's what I thought," she told the shadows. "But now... now the Cakes have the twins. And a couple of weeks ago, they came down with -- well, it turns out I missed one. The doctor told me it takes a couple of weeks to -- incubate? Which is why I'm really just getting it now. That's a funny word, isn't it? Incubate? Like you're supposed to be stuck inside a box while it's working. Only... that's kind of what's gonna happen. I'll be in a box for two weeks. In my bedroom. I won't be allowed to go outside, and the only ponies who can see me will be ponies who've had it already because you can only have it once. That's fine, really, because just about everypony in the world's had it. Except for me, until right now. But I still can't go outside, just in case I run into any kids, and... that means I'll lose days again. It's harder to lose days when you have work, and commitments, and friends..."

Silence was her only response.

"So I'm going away," she concluded. "At least when it comes everything I have to do, for the Cakes and friends and Ponyville. I'm going away for two weeks, starting tomorrow because that's when the doctor thinks the big symptoms will come in. And you know what you do when somepony's leaving for a while?"

Her right foreleg came up, stabbed into the shadows, and hit the edge of the main lighting device.

Pinkie's friends surrounded her. Streamers surrounded her, tables laden with refreshments were on the right, the dance floor had been put together on the left side of the rented hall, Lyra was settling into position with the band behind her, and balloons blocked off every last possible view of the ceiling.

"You throw them a going-away party, sillies! Hit it!"

Lyra shyly smiled, and hooves moved across her instrument at the same moment Twofour's hooves went for the drums. The music began, the laughter started, and Pinkie happily nodded to herself as she began to circulate around the room, making sure everypony (and in fact everyone, as Cranky was in attendance) was starting to get into the good time.

Which admittedly felt as if it was going to take a little more work than usual.

Twilight was the first to carefully approach. "Are you sure you're going to be okay?"

"In two weeks," Pinkie tried to assure her. "I know it's a foal and filly illness, Twilight, but it's not one of those things that's worse when an adult gets it. I'm not worried about being sick, even though they told me my throat's gonna hurt a lot, it'll be hard to talk -- but there's a plus side! I get to eat all the ice cream I want!" A thoughtful pause. "I'm not sure it's possible for somepony to get sick of ice cream. I hope it isn't. But I guess I'll find out."

"So," Twilight awkwardly smiled as Caramel twirled by on her right, pursuing a decidedly disinterested Cloudchaser, "you decided to throw yourself a going-away party?"

"Who would know better how to do it?" Pinkie grinned. "I know my own tastes! Food, music, guests -- well, especially the guests this time. I had to make sure all the kids stayed home, just in case they hadn't had it yet. Well, except for Spike, of course." She nodded towards the current Master Of The Pastry Table, keeping careful watch over his realm. "Because he can't catch pony stuff, due to not being a pony. But there's another reason I had to be really really careful about who I invited, because --"

Pokey's horn cut in between them, and they both pulled back a little.

"Pinkie?" the game booth operator asked. "Would you mind taking a quick look at the punch trough? A couple of ponies are saying the mix isn't right."

"That's weird..." Pinkie immediately decided as she began to trot over. "Let me check." She approached the long wooden mini-river, dipped her head, sipped the red fluid, swished it around in her mouth before swallowing. "Huh. Twilight? I'm not really sure of my sense of taste right now. Could I get a second opinion? I think it needs a little more lemon, but I really need another pony on this."

Twilight gave the sloshing liquid an awkward look. "I -- usually don't use troughs, Pinkie..."

Eyelashes cheerfully batted. "But taste is just chemical interaction, right? And who's better with the chemical stuff than you? Please?"

It got her a reluctant smile. "All right. I guess when you put it that way, it's just checking on the experiment..." The unicorn's head went down, came back up. "I'd say add some more lemon too."

"Okay!" Pinkie smiled. "So we'll just add some now." She headed for the juicer, Twilight following.

"So what's the other reason you had to be so careful about who you invited?" the librarian asked.

It triggered a small sigh. "Because -- I'm going to be in my room for two weeks. Two whole weeks. And it's a really really awkward two weeks to be away from everypony, because there's just so much going on, things I promised to do which I could always do if I wasn't sick and we didn't have a mission, and I thought -- that maybe if I asked a lot of ponies to do only a few things each..." She trailed off, and the glance reluctantly made towards Twilight was an awkward one.

"They could cover for you?" Twilight easily guessed, and Pinkie sadly nodded. "That's not asking much, Pinkie! I'm sure that if you just ask ponies to do a few things each, they'll be able to find the time! And besides, how many things could you possibly have scheduled for the next two weeks?"

"Well..."


[/hr]

"Say that again," a dazed-seeming Rainbow slowly requested.

"Come out to the balcony with me and --"

"Buck off, Caramel. I was talking to Pinkie." The stallion slunk away. "Pinkie -- repeat that. All of it. Slowly."

"Okay..." A brief shrug expressed most of the confusion. "So first, you drop by Thunderlane's. His brother's having a party which you don't have to throw because he wants to do that himself and he's really afraid of something marey sneaking in. But between you and me, he's one of the worst gift-shoppers on the whole continent! I mean, he's the sort of pony who would go to an all-night pharmacy two hours before Sun-raising and take the --" Rainbow's eyes were starting to display a certain glimmer of recognition "-- only he's not as good at it as you are. But he wants some help shopping. Because he keeps trying to get his brother stuff that's macho and Rumble just wants things that are fun. You can do fun, right? But nothing marey!"

"Nothing marey," Rainbow carefully repeated. "What does that even mean?"

"He said it means no pink."

Frowning. "I know three pink stallions. And that's just on the west side of town."

"I know, I didn't get it either... Anyway, after that, it's Noteworthy's birthday, so make sure you go and say hello. And drop off the cake for his party: that's all you need to do there. It's also Blue's birthday and he's not having a party, but he is going on a date and you know Blue, the only way he's going to make it on time is if somepony puts their head into his ribs and shoves him all the way there. But you'll probably just have an easier time flying him over and then dropping him off. Only not from too high. So after that, it's Minuette. Now, for Minuette, I wrote everything down for you, and it shouldn't take more than thirty minutes to put together if you just make sure to get all her guests working on the setup before she comes in the door. But then you're lucky, because her house is right next to Stile's place, so all it'll take you is about two flaps and then -- Rainbow?"

"...what?"

"You're facehoofing."

"I know."

"A lot. Like, over and over."

"I know." The weather coordinator groaned. "Luna's frozen tail, Pinkie, what sort of Tartarus-chained schedule do you call this?"

Pinkie gave the answer some exceptionally careful thought. "...I call it... a slow weekend afternoon?"

"Urgh," Rainbow said, and probably should have left it at that. "Can you write all this down? And maybe a few diagrams for a couple of those setups..."

Sparkler danced by, a mug of punch surrounded by her signature glow. The mug, despite the fact that it was moving in time to the music, was safely encased in her field. The liquid inside the mug was not.

"...HEY!"

Sparkler looked to see where the splash had landed, noted the presence of a damp-faced, drip-snouted, furious Rainbow -- and laughed. "Sorry! Maybe I need a little help closing this! I'd better go find somepony qualified!"

None of the punch flashed into steam on Rainbow's face, but that was mostly because it didn't know how to work with a good moment. "HEY! Get back here, you --" and the unicorn slipped into the crowd. "Oh, one of these days..."

"You're dripping a little," Pinkie noted.

"I know," Rainbow grumbled. "I'm gonna go wash up before this stuff goes sticky."

"There's going to be a line at the bathroom," Pinkie pointed out, letting her tail keep time with the music. Lyra was really on form tonight. She'd initially been surprised when the composer had accepted her request to play at the party, but in retrospect, she supposed Lyra was just looking forward to not dealing with Pinkie's one-pony-band efforts for two weeks.

"So I'll fly home for a few --"

"-- no, don't do that. Hold still!"

"Hold --?"

Pinkie did it.

"-- GAH!"

"All done!"

"You licked me!"

"I know! All done!" Pinkie briefly smacked her lips.

"With your tongue! And -- you've got a really long tongue, you know that? But -- Pinkie, you just licked me!"

"So? It got the punch off."

"With your tongue."

Pinkie felt a certain compulsion to point out the obvious. "You're a pegasus."

"So? Feather fade, I think you got some of your spit in my mouth..."

"Which means you preen yourself. All the time. With your mouth. And tongue."

"Yeah, but... that's different."

"How?"

"It's my tongue. And ponies are looking at us..."

Pinkie shrugged. "Ponies always look at us. We're Bearers! Come in, let's get some cupcakes before they're all gone!"


[/hr]

"So how you holding up, kid? Because if I had to guess, I'd say 'not so good.' I usually don't catch you leaning against the curtains this early," Crankly patiently observed. "Believe me, if you're not up to the rest of this, I'm okay with making a few excuses and getting you home."

Pinkie managed a smile. "Just -- tired, Cranky. And a little hot. The doctor said symptoms would really start coming in soon. But I'm okay until the throat swelling starts."

"Throat swelling?" the donkey asked. "Oh... huh. You know, you never said what you had and I didn't see the twins when they had it, but I'm pretty sure I can guess now. Kid, are you sure you should be at this party?"

"We're all adults, Cranky! And that means everypony's had it, except for the ones who can't get it. That includes you, doesn't it?"

He nodded. "Donkeys can't get it any more than dragons can. But I spent a lot of years crossing Equestria, so I know something about pony illnesses. The twins caught it because pegasi and unicorns can get it. You're proof that earth ponies come down with it. But you're kind of making an assumption here, kid. That nopony at the party could ever get it. You're an adult, and you'd never had it until now. Why can't somepony else have missed it?"

"Because nopony else grew up on a rock farm," Pinkie skillfully reasoned. "They've all been around other ponies all their lives, lots of other ponies. And I wasn't, so..." Topic change. "Well, if I'm feeling hot, then I guess the clock really is running. So is it okay -- I know you and Matilda are starting to make plans now, and I don't want my plans to get in the way of your plans, but if you have any planned free time over the next two weeks, then I was planning on asking you to take over some plans on --"

He smiled, just a little. "Kick it to me, kid. I'm retired, remember? Party inclinations, low, happiness instincts, possibly zero. Time, though? Time, I've got -- but don't ask me how much is left... oh, don't give me that look: our humor's a lot like our literature. If you're not thinking about the implications by the end, there wasn't much point."

She started to give him that portion of the schedule, and got about a quarter of the way through it before Rarity pranced up to them.

"Pinkie? Have you seen any chocolate cupcakes? I was just trying the most darling hors d'oeuvre and I thought a bit of chocolate might set it off perfectly, but that section of the table seems to be rather suspiciously empty..."

"Spike's out," Pinkie said. "And I know that for a fact because I got the last one." She nodded to the little pastry, sitting on a nearby table. "But you can have it if you want to, Rarity. I only nibbled on a corner."

"Why, thank you, Pinkie," Rarity smiled. "I accept your gift in the spirit in which it was given. Truly, two weeks without you will be a trial."

"Well, you can always visit!" Pinkie happily pointed out. "Because you're an adult, so you've had it!"

"It, yes," Rarity nodded -- then stopped. "Pinkie -- exactly what is --" and frowned. "Dear, you appear to be a little flush. Should you even be here?"

"I'm okay," Pinkie told her, and decided it wasn't a lie. "I'll stop when I have to, Rarity, I promise. But can we talk later? Right now, Cranky sort of needs the rest of the schedule, or at least that little bit of it."

Another nod. "I'll circulate for a while. Fluttershy... well, nopony's been able to get her away from her chosen corner all evening. Perhaps a little chocolate will tempt her out. And after that, I believe I need to put some distance between Applejack and the trough before she once again attempts to tip the balance of power across our taste buds. Also, do not forget: I shall be requiring my assignments as well. Until then, Pinkie..."

They both watched the elegant tail until the crowd blocked the view.

"Good mare, right there," Cranky decided. "If you can get past the airs. Which takes a while. Back to the schedule, I guess. Unless you need some water. Or a cart home."

"No," Pinkie smiled. "But maybe a little ice cream. Okay, so after you drop off the pies..."


[/hr]

And at all the best parties, it ultimately came down to the hostess and those she cared about the most.

"One more dance," Pinkie insisted.

"No, dear," Rarity insisted slightly harder. "The clean-up crew has started to arrive, and I believe the hall owners would prefer to greet Sun from their beds. It is time to go home."

"We could stay and help clean up," Pinkie considered. "It's just being helpful. Do you know how much cleaning is required after a really good party? I do! And it's not a little bit, either. So if we pitch in --"

Fluttershy's visible eye blinked at her. "...I have to go home, Pinkie. It's hard enough being away this long. And..." A shapely foreleg stretched out as the pegasus took off, hovered just behind Pinkie's head and touched the back of her right ear. "...you're starting to run a temperature. You have to go home." And with that odd insistence, "Now."

"But I won't see anypony," Pinkie sighed. "Not once I'm home. Only the ones who can drop in, and maybe everypony's had it, but you all have work, and schedules, and your own lives. I can't go to anypony and it'll be hard, coming to me..."

Spike's right hand gently moved through her fur, the claws angled to avoid scratching. "We'll walk you home. How about that?"

"Fine..." And they left the hall.

The group was silent for a while as they moved under Moon and attentive stars, with Pinkie straining her gaze up towards the orb. Two whole weeks of being inside...

She sighed. "Stupid crumps." And trotted towards home.

It took her a few seconds to realize she was alone.

Pinkie turned. The other six were several body lengths behind her. Frozen, postures and expressions. Even Spike had turned into a scaly statue.

"Was it something I said?"

"Crumps?" Rainbow abruptly shouted. "You've got crumps? And you're trotting around outside like nothing's wrong? Don't you know how contagious that is? Maybe nopony's sure how it spreads, but as far as I can tell, just being around somepony with it is enough to catch it!"

Twilight was starting to go pale. "Didn't the doctor tell you to quarantine yourself immediately, Pinkie? She must have said --"

"-- I... well, I know I'm supposed to be in my room for two weeks, and no kids can visit unless they've already had it, but... I kind of got out of the office because the clock was running and I had to throw the party together fast before my time ran out and I couldn't see anypony for two whole weeks!" Urgently, "I guess she was still talking when I went for the door, but -- I had to think about everypony else! There wasn't time! And it doesn't matter, because except for Spike, who could never ever get it, you're all adults! You're done with it!"

Slowly, Rainbow touched down, landing on Fluttershy's right. They looked at each other. The animal caretaker silently shook her head. The weather coordinator facehoofed.

"Pinkie..." Rainbow began, her voice starting to approach growl, "we're from pegasus settlements. Some diseases have a lot of trouble getting up to cloud level because most of the ponies who get them can't fly."

"Mah... mah Mommy..." Applejack swallowed. "It was harvest time, Pinkie. She heard tell 'bout an outbreak at the school before Ah could go in that day. She had t' choose between exposin' me and gettin' it over with, or lettin' me catch it later, when there wasn't so much t' do. She kept me home, an'... Ah just never.... aw, no..."

Twilight could barely get her words past the frozen wince. "I -- stayed inside. Reading. A lot."

And Rarity's hooves were pawing at the road. "It would seem that luck... has a way of running out. Pinkie? Are you truly capable of trotting home? Is your illness such that you are unable to travel on your own?"

The blue eyes were a little wider than usual. "N-no..."

"I am glad to hear it. And given that..." She glanced at Rainbow.

The pegasus' gaze went tunnel vision.

"Pinkie?" Rainbow said in a too-calm growl. "Run."


[/hr]

She had been allowed into the group quarantine room. After all, it was perfectly safe for her. She'd already had it.

"So, everypony..." she carefully began.

Five ponies glared at her from their beds.

"...I know this is -- kind of my fault. Or really, it's totally my fault. Only everypony would have gotten it eventually, and now you've -- gotten it over with! And if you're going to be sick, isn't it best to be sick together? So really, I've been thinking it over, and I sort of wish you'd all been there with the twins when I was, and then we could have -- seriously, when you think about it, you're the lucky ones..."

The group glare didn't seem to be losing any intensity.

"But I can visit! I'll make sure to drop by every day, no matter what I have going on, and make sure everypony's okay. I can even bring some extra ice cream. Which you're going to get sick of, by the way. On the fifth day. In case anypony's wondering. So --"

"-- Pinkie," Rarity rasped out through her swollen throat.

"Easy, Rarity," Pinkie quickly jumped in. "Don't talk. It hurts to talk, I know..."

"Yes. As do I. And yet we will talk. Because you are the only one among us who can -- go outside."

"And," Twilight hoarsely added, "there's certain... schedules... checklists, really..."

"We all went an' put our bits t'gether," Applejack forced out. "Turned out we had enough t' hire a student baker. For two weeks. She'll be at Sugarcube Corner --" stopped, painfully coughed three times "-- in a few minutes, an' the Cakes know it. You've got the next couple of weeks off, Pinkie."

"Actually," Rainbow said, and the smile was not a reassuring one, "that's almost a lie. Or at least... it's the wrong way of putting it."

"...because," Fluttershy determinedly whispered, "...for the next two weeks... you work for us."

Pinkie tried to move. The direction was going to be forward. Probably. But it didn't matter, because it didn't happen, and it took a moment before she looked down and saw the glow of Twilight's field around her legs.

The librarian's own smile was slightly -- vicious.

"Hold still," Twilight told her. "This could take a while."


[/hr]

...and after she helped Spike with the reshelving, she had to go into the Boutique and compare the actual inventory of the stock to the sheet she was carrying, then subtract any of the sales the temporary had somehow miraculously managed and use that to figure out if there was anything missing, followed by the barn, oh how could Applejack be in need of barn repairs already unless the Crusaders -- well, that explained it, so the barn, and then she had to deliver the updated weather schedules to the entire team which was going to mean pedaling until her legs wanted to fall off, but they couldn't because they had to carry her onto the train and into the special livestock car which would take so many animals to a temporary host in Canterlot until their mistress could come back to them, a train which would take all night to run and return, trying to keep animals she couldn't talk to calm for the entire trip, and when she returned, she'd be bringing one back and there was no way of telling how Angel and Gummy would manage to live together for two whole weeks...

She made a silent vow to always listen to her doctor, and from now on, that meant to the end of the sentences. But until then...

Pinkie sighed.

"Stupid crumps."

There would have been more, but the schedule was before her. It was literally all she had time to say.

Still, she said it again just for emphasis, and so very nearly missed the train.

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