• Published 6th Aug 2018
  • 1,092 Views, 73 Comments

Sugar and Spice - Pearple Prose



Saving the damsel in distress is less impressive when you're the one who ruined her life in the first place. Pony Joe is going to try anyway.

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Epilogue: A Bit Defensive, 'Cause That's Kind of Offensive

“I still fail to understand,” Saffron Masala was saying for the third time that evening, “how calling a dragon a serpent is ‘racist’.” She made heavy air-quotes with her hooves, and somehow managed to bump her floating coffee cup when she did, spilling it onto the Diner’s countertop. “Oop. Whoopsie.”

Pony Joe gave her an unamused look. “I really shouldn’t have let you drink so much coffee.” Then he sighed, shook his head, and grabbed a dishcloth. “Also, it is absolutely racist.”

Saffron huffed. “Well, it was not so where I come from.” And then she drank some more coffee. It was her third cup, and it had already been two cups too many.

“And we understand that, Saffron dearest.” Sunny Skies wrapped a wing around Saffron’s shoulders in camaraderie. “But it is rather a crude thing to say, no? It would be like saying that a changeling is the same as, say, a cockroach. Or calling a gryphon a pigeon.”

“Or calling a pony a donkey!” suggested the indigo mare on Sunny’s other side. She had been watching the three ponies bicker back-and-forth from beneath her waves of winter-white hair, spooning up ice cream from a decadent sundae twice the size of her head.

“Okay,” said Joe, “now that was racist.”

Saffron frowned. “So the serpent one was not, then?” she whispered.

“It really was,” Sunny Skies whispered back.

“Oh. Whoopsy.”

Comet Trail tilted her head at Joe. “But they are demonstrably dissimilar, are they not? Ponies and donkeys?”

“Well. Yeah, but, like. Context.”

Comet frowned. “Well, it was perfectly fine when I was born.”

Sunny let out a long-suffering sigh. “Sister, we had slaves when we were born.”

“So? That was also fine!”

“Well, yes, but – perhaps you shouldn’t base your moral compass on a time when we still thought soap was made out of demons? Maybe?”

“Hm.” Comet slurped her sundae. “Point.”

It was a very lovely afternoon. Ponies of all shapes and sizes (all two of them) trickled in and out of Donut Joe’s Diner, whether they were families buying cakes and sweets for their delighted children, or simply strangers dropping by for a coffee and a snack before they went home for the day. Jazzy show-tunes cranked out of the newly repaired gramophone in the corner.

Shame, then, thought Joe, how his three favourite customers were drowning it all out with a very loud and controversy-riddled conversation in the middle of the room.

“I agree with Ms Masala, for the record,” Comet Trail continued. “Really, if it were not for the wings – and noticeable un-flamboyance – dragons would be near-indistinguishable from serpents.”

Sunny stared at her. “Sister, no. Sister, that’s–”

And Joe couldn’t stop smiling.

“Thank you, Comet!” Saffron beamed at her. “At least somepony is on my side.” And she shot a glare at Joe, who was rolling his eyes, and at Sunny, who was hitting her head on the table.

Sunny lifted her head, put her hooves on her hips, and fixed her sister with a scowl. “Now, this is just getting–” She paused, flustered. “Silly. I’ll have you both know that there is a very lovely sea serpent who lives in the Everfree Forest, and I am very glad that he isn’t here right now to hear you two–”

“River serpent.”

“–To hear you two saying… W-What?”

“He would be a river serpent,” Comet pointed out, jabbing her spoon at Sunny. “There are two main subspecies of serpent that still exist after the star serpents went missing about two thousand years ago. The Everfree is fed by the River Canter. Your friend would most surely be a river serpent.”

Sunny flapped a hoof at her. “Whatever. Same difference.”

“Oh, but that is okay to say.”

“Aha! Yes!” Saffron leaned forward and poked Sunny in the ribs. “You have been outwitted! Bamboozled! Like a silly serpen–”

“’Sup, weirdos,” came a deep voice from the door.

“Hey Ginger,” said Joe.

Sunny spun around and grinned at Ginger, very innocently. “Oh! Hello, Ginger! How lovely to see you, on this jolly evening!”

Saffron blinked, then turned her head and blanched when she saw the enormous dragon squeezing through the door behind them. “Ginger?!” She paused. Then she, too, smiled, also very innocently. “I mean, Ginger! How are you doing, today?”

Comet continued to eat her sundae in silence.

Ginger just looked at them askance. “…Fine? It’s going fine.”

Joe turned around so nobody could see him smirking. “Coffee, G?” He opened a cupboard and pulled out a fresh carafe.

“Please.” Ginger turned back to the three mares and found themself staring at Comet’s enormous sundae, dripping with sugary syrup of all the colours of the rainbow. “Wow, that thing is huge. Not going to lie, I thought you were Princess Celestia for a second, when I looked in through the window.”

All three of the mares sitting at the counter jolted to attention. “What?” They asked in unison.

Ginger blinked at them. “What ‘what’? It looks just like her. Tall, white, rainbows on top. Probably just as saccharine, too, bless her heart.”

Sunny frowned, opened her mouth to say something, and then Joe immediately cut in with an explanation: “It’s something new I’m trying out for the menu!” He gave his sugary monstrosity a proud, fatherly smile. “Summer Sun Celebration is in a couple weeks, after all. Lots of tourists and kids running around… A-And adults, too,” he appended, when he saw the dirty look Comet gave him.

“It smells disgusting.” Ginger blanched.

“Aren’t you biologically predisposed to hate ice cream?”

“Yeah, but I’m sure it smells disgusting anyway.”

“Oh?” Saffron asked. “Are you intolerant to lactose?”

“Nah.” Ginger puffed up a plume of smoke. “It’s just too cold. Upsets my stomach. Y’know, because my insides are made of lava.”

“Oh.”

“Because I’m a dragon.”

“Of course.”

Joe gave them a look, and handed Ginger the entire carafe of coffee, the surface bubbling and black like hot tar. “Here you go, G.”

“Cheers.” Ginger took it, daintily, between their enormous talons. “I didn’t mean to offend, by the way. I’m sure it’s delicious for all you pony weirdos.”

Joe tried not to burst out laughing at the look on his customers’ faces when Ginger said the word ‘offend’. “Hey, actually, Comet,” he said, shooting her a glance. “What d’you think of the sundae? Good, huh?”

Comet gave him a look of grave seriousness. “It is divine, Joseph of Donuts. Your confectionary creativity should be on display in our– in Princess Luna’s gallery of the greatest artistic triumphs.” She paused. “Although, I cannot say I am as much a fan of the name of your masterpiece.”

Sunny frowned. “Wait, what’s wrong with the name? I think it’s wonderful.”

Joe shrugged. “I mean, hey, it’s a sundae for children – and adults. Not for an art gallery. Besides, I think it’s sweet.”

Ginger stared at the menu. “’Celestia’s Funday Sunday Summer Sundae Celebration.’” Ginger knocked back their carafe of molten black, bitter-as-Hell coffee and shuddered. “Wow, I needed that. That is sickly sweet, Joe. If this is gonna be just like that whole Donutopia thing again, I swear to the gods–”

Saffron perked up. “Oh, you have those?”

Saffron!” Joe and Sunny stared at her, aghast.

“What? What did I–” Saffron looked around at them, eyes wide, with a hoof over her mouth. “No, wait, I did not mean to– I was just curious! Really!”

Ginger emptied the last dregs of their coffee into their gullet, belched out a wreath of bright orange flame, and chuckled. “You ponies are so weird.” They handed the carafe back to Joe and turned to leave. “See ya, Joe. You should bring your friends over to my place after the Summer Sun Celebration. It’ll be a hoot.”

Joe watched Ginger’s tail disappear around the corner. He shook his head. “Wow.”

Saffron buried her head in her hooves. “I really should not have drank so much of this coffee that you all seem to enjoy so much.”

“Probably,” the rest of them said in unison.

“Do you think they are going to be angry at me, Joe?” Saffron looked at him with big, tearful eyes. “Because I am so sorry if I have ruined your friendsh–”

“Pffft.” Joe waved aside her worries and gave her a gentle smile. “Honestly, don’t worry about it. You should hear some of the stuff Ginger says when they’ve had a few too many down at the bar. Yeesh.” He winced and tugged on the collar of his apron. “Not for polite company, that. Anyway, they’d probably just think you were cute, more than anything. Hard to really care that much when you’re, you know, a giant fire-breathing apex predator.”

“If you say so,” Saffron mumbled, pushing her half-empty coffee cup across the counter. “I am afraid I must leave you all, now, in any case.” And she gave Joe a kiss on the cheek. “You have the day off tomorrow, yes?” she asked innocently, the stars twinkling in her eyes just so. “And truthfully, this time.”

Joe blushed, looked down at the bar with a bashful smile. “You know it. Wanna swing by Carda’s place for lunch?”

Saffron gasped and clapped her hooves. “Oooh, that would be delightful!” She stepped down from her stool, took a step, and then slapped her head in realisation. “Oh! And it was so very lovely to meet you, too, Ms Trail!” And she offered her a hoofbump.

Comet stared at the outstretched hoof, for a moment, and blinked. “Hmm. Oh! Um.” And she shook it timidly. “And I you, Saffron Masala. May the star serpents find you in your dreams.”

And Saffron left, smiling all the while.

Comet turned back to her sundae. She spooned another lump of ice cream into her mouth, mulled over it as she ate. Then she swallowed. “I enjoy her. Greatly,” she decided. And then she fixed Joe with a Look, and Joe could feel the capital-L burning into his retinas. “You will refrain from hurting her again in future.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Joe swallowed.

“Otherwise,” Comet continued, casually dropping her spoon into the now-empty glass, “You will go the same way as the star serpents, as it were.”

“Sister, stop threatening the mortal. I’m rather fond of him.” Sunny smiled at him. “And I think he’s learned his lesson, anyway.”

“You can both stop being terrifying at any time.” Joe dropped Saffron’s mug and Ginger’s carafe into the sink.

“Some day, perhaps.” Comet made a face at him, and then glanced at the clock. “And I do think my sister and I should be heading home ourselves.”

“Yes!” said Sunny Skies, with a big toothy grin. “We have to head home for that special–” And she winked at him. Hard. “–Thing–” Wink wink. “–That we must do. Come, sister!” And another wink for good measure, before dropping onto the floor and skipping towards the door.

Comet Trail let out a long-suffering sigh. “Always the subtle one, aren’t you, sister dearest?” And she went to follow her.

…But not before sliding a tiny pouch across the counter towards Joe. “For the sundae,” she said, and then she winked, and it was so subtle that Joe doubted he had ever saw it, and yet so meaningful that he did not once doubt the meaning of it. It was the most beautiful wink that Joe had ever seen.

And then Comet Trail turned and marched out the door like a tiny empress. Joe watched her go, dumbstruck.

“Weirdos,” he muttered under his breath.


He waited until all the customers left first, and then another hour or so past that just to be sure – until Celestia’s Sun began to set and Luna’s Moon began to rise, on opposing sides of the sky. Until the purple-orange light of the dusk faded into an absolute darkness, and the stars began to roam once again.

Even then, Pony Joe did not open the pouch. Instead, he went back into the kitchen, stepped over to a small and uninteresting door in the corner that only led to a small and uninteresting broom closet.

Joe opened the door and looked inside. Then he looked back and forth, to ensure that nobody else could possibly be watching. Only then did he open the pouch, reach inside, and pull out a pinch of soft, soft sand.

And, with a delicate puff, he blew the sand into the closet, and the mops and brooms vanished as if they weren’t even there. As the illusory walls faded, there remained only a stairwell, heading down into a soft, inviting darkness.

Joe descended, his hooves making no sound as they hit against the stone steps.

At the bottom of the stairs, the basement opened out into a large, empty chamber, pitch-black. Joe glanced around, eyes wide with wonder. It all looked familiar to him.

He had seen it in his dreams.

And, just like in his dream, he opened the pouch of sand a second time, looked inside it, and lit his horn. The incantation came to him, then, and he whispered it into the darkness.

“Agent Con Mane, reporting in.”

And a torrent of sand flew forth from the pouch – more sand than it seemed possible to contain in such a small vessel – and swirled throughout the chamber. Magelights activated at its touch, revealing the ornate, freshly-cut stone architecture of the chamber. Brickwork shifted aside at its passing, twisting into new patterns, and unveiling a enormous crystal ball, milky mist moving beneath its surface. And, eventually, the sandstorm died down, slowed down, and shrank down into a tiny, gentle dust-devil attendant.

Surrounding the orb in the centre of the room, there was a large rectangular table, and a single high-backed chair. Joe sat down, and smirked at the martini glass standing on the table in front of him.

The susurrus of the sandstorm had faded to the gentle whisper of the dust-devil shifting about the room, then ducking into a wardrobe in the corner. Joe glanced around the room, stunned.

There was a long silence, for a moment, as he contemplated the orb. “Uhhh,” he uhhh’d. “…Are either of you listening, or–”

Suddenly, the mist contained beneath the surface of the orb shifted and swirled into the shape of a familiar face. Princess Celestia stared out at him. “Joe? Are you there? I mean, Agent Con Mane.” Celestia smiled. “Oh, now this is jolly good fun, isn’t it?”

“Sis-teeer!” came a second voice that Joe just about recognised. “You’re ruining the atmosphere!”

“Oh!” Celestia looked ‘off-screen’ at somepony. “My apologies. Look, I’ll just start this–” And then her face winked out.

Total darkness for two or three minutes. Joe sipped his Martini. It was good.

"Hm." He looked at the monitors, still black. "Equestria is so doomed."

Silence followed. And then Celestia’s face appeared in the sphere once again. This time, she had schooled her expression into a serious-looking scowl. Even through the haze of the scrying spell, however, Joe could see the twinkle in her eyes.

“Agent Con Mane.” Celestia nodded. “Welcome to the Department of Investigation into Nasty and Evil Rogues.”

Joe frowned. “The… D.I.N.E.R.?”

“Yes.” Pause. “We probably should have workshopped that one a little more, now that I’m hearing it in real life. Dream-communication is very convenient but really confusing, honestly.”

“I still like it!” Luna lobbied from somewhere off-scry. Celestia shushed her.

"Won't that be confusing, though?" said Joe. "Like, do you mean the Diner or the D.I.N.E.R.? Do we have to spell it out? And if we do, why don't we just–"

“We will consider your proposal for further workshopping of your department’s title, Agent Con Mane.” Then Celestia smiled. “But, before then, I think we have our first mission for you. Are you ready and willing?”

Joe heard the flapping of fabric, and turned to see the dust-devil was floating by his side. Suspended in its grasp was a brand new, very expensive, properly fitted tuxedo.

Pony Joe kicked back in his chair, smiled, and sipped his martini. “Ready whenever you are, your Highness,” he said.

And Con Mane the Superspy gave her a winning smile.

Comments ( 21 )

Really good and a sweet story, veri naisu

Concerning the last bit: Whatttttttttttt the heck

This had words that I liked.

Bravo! Bravissimo! Well done with this sweet and wonderful story! You deserve an award for it. It's also very nice that the Royal Sisters appointed Donut Joe as a special agent for them. I just hope it doesn't interfere with his date with Saffron.

9100509

I wasn't certain I was going to write anything to follow this up, but then the next thing I started to write was a follow-up to this. Only a small one! For now, anyway.

Thank you so much for your comments, it's made me very happy to see people enjoying it.

Sometimes, dreams come true. Or at least true dreams. Having the right ponies help.

“Well, yes, but – perhaps you shouldn’t base your moral compass on a time when we still thought soap was made out of demons? Maybe?”

"Is yours not? I find this modern stuff lacks the lather provided by the rendered substance of Tartarus given flesh."

In any case, wonderful stuff from start to finish. Thank you for a fantastic read. Quite literally in a few places. :raritywink:

DINER

Now suddenly I feel guilty

Occasionally I will read a story with fascinating bit of headcanon that I want to adopt into my official idea of My Little Pony. Like earth ponies having a grounding magic that gives them temporary super strength, or the changelings having a true uncorrupted form (I kid you not there was a fanfic that came up with that way before the show did and I was SO EXCITED when that idea became actual canon. :D)

Now I am going to add this idea of Princess Luna doing elaborate shows in the skies. It was beautifully written, it gave me a sense of awe and power and majesty, and i loved it. I havent seen anyone more than lightly touch on the idea of Luna moving the stars before this, but you made it feel so mysterious and playful and demonstrative of her person. Wonderful job, Im definitely keeping hold of that one! And good job on the story overall; I havent laughed that hard and often at a fimfic in a while. XD

Gods, this was lovely. Excellent from start to finish. Witty and dry narration, fantastic character work and relationship-building with Joe and Saffron, a vibrant miscellany of well-realised secondary characters and a colourful Canterlot, and the Sunny Smiles reveal had me grinning in my seat. Very well done indeed, Pear. You're not half-bad at this writing business. :twilightsmile:

I've seen bits and pieces of this story as you wrote it, so I knew it was going to be amazing.

Turns out the whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

I'm so glad you returned to writing. I look forward to reading anything you might write in the future.

wonderfully cute, with great characterization. I particularly loved literally any scene with Ginger in it. Would you consider giving them their own story?

9119876
Dude, totes. Ginger is like, the only OC I've ever written that I'm actually super proud of. I'm so happy you like them too!

This was a really good story and I'm glad I kept track of it to read once it was fully posted. The characters were great, particularly Sunny (and Saffron and Joe, and Coriander threatening to break Joe in half, etc.), and the storyline was a lot of fun.

9126754
Thank Heaven it worked out in the end though.

It would be like saying that a changeling is the same as, say, a cockroach.

Yeah, it's totally wrong!

Changelings are more like lice.

:trollestia:

Sunny let out a long-suffering sigh. “Sister, we had slaves when we were born.”

“So? That was also fine!”

Sunny face-hoofed, "And we also used to let you go out and gobble up foals."

Comet suddenly looked pensive, "Ah. That is... not done anymore either then, I take it."

Sunny frowned, "How many?"

Comet fiddled with her hooves, "Just a few... they were orphans! It's not as if anypony wanted them!"

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle never found out what became of Scootaloo.

:pinkiecrazy:

Alondro finds it odd that Ginger is referred to via plural personal pronouns.... he ponders... and has a solution!

"I get it! Because Ginger is a DRAGON, it means it's in league with SATAN and is likely inhabited by a LEGION of demons! It all makes sense now!"

...

So racist.

:trollestia:

9182972

Ah, shit, that was something I should have been more clear about: Celestia didn't know for sure that Cuckoo was behind all of this, but once Joe blew the whole thing wide open she looked into the matter and surmised roughly what had happened to the parties involved.

Sorry for not making that more clear in the text, and thank you for commenting!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

...What the hell?

Dan

EQG feature. Mazel tov.

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