• Published 29th Nov 2020
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Mr. And Mrs. Cake's Crosstime Bakery - Coyote de La Mancha



An anthology of stories about spacetime, confections, alternate realities.... and, of course, ponies.

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1. On Pies and Cakes and Other Confections.

It was four days until the wall, and Pinkie couldn’t sleep.

She hadn’t even realized she’d remembered the date, from so many years ago. Well, in a way it was years ago. And in a way, it wasn’t.

But no matter when it was or wasn’t, it was only five days away. And it worried her, like a cat worrying a piece of yarn.

She was still Pinkie, of course. So she bounced, and smiled, and planned for parties as a party pony should. But the wall loomed, and she could feel its shadow around her, even as she continued to fray at the edges.

Aside from placing the newly-baked confections and setting the tables, Sugercube Corner was ready to open by the time Mr. and Mrs. Cake made their way down the stairs together, nuzzling and sharing sleepy endearments. The stopped near the base of the stairs, looking around the bakery with mild concern.

“Pinkie?” Mrs. Cake asked. “Did you do all this?”

“Uh-huh!” Pinkie bounced, circling the little shop’s interior. “I was up early, and I just thought – well, I was up late until it was early, which is basically the same thing, at least when it turns early again – and I thought, hey, why not just get a head start on everything…”

“She mopped the ceiling,” Mr. Cake marveled, staring upwards.

“Pinkie,” Mrs. Cake tried, “Pinkie, slow down a minute, dearie…”

“I alphabetized all the recipes!” Pinkie exclaimed happily. “Twice!”

Then, she abruptly stopped bouncing, cocking her head as she considered the older ponies. “And do you guys always come downstairs at the same time? I’d never noticed before. I guess because I was usually still asleep? Huh. Of course, I don’t notice most things when I’m asleep. Including being asleep…”

Mrs. Cake smiled. “Well, Carrot always helps me with my make-up in the mornings.”

Pinkie paused, looking at her quizzically. “Was that an answer?”

“What was the question?”

Pinkie blinked, opened her mouth, then closed it. Then, the moment passed, and she was in motion again.

“I’m heading out,” she chirped. “See you evening shift!”

And then she bounced out the door, and was gone. Mr. Cake stared for a moment, concerned, then turned to his wife.

“Um.” He decided.

“Pretty much,” Mrs. Cake agreed, setting out the morning displays.

Mr. Cake began placing placemats and napkins on the tables, all of which had been folded into origami.

“What do you think, honeybun?” he asked. “How worried should I be?”

His wife considered for a moment, then went back to arranging pastries.

“Probably not very,” she decided. “It’s later than I thought, is all.”

He nodded. “So, we don’t need to keep an eye on her or anything.”

“Oh, I don’t think there’s any need for that,” she said contentedly, continuing her arrangements. “There’s always the chance she might decide go off on her own without warning, of course. But we can just keep the kitchen locked at night, and she’ll talk when she’s ready.”

Mr. Cake paused, gently pulling on the tail and head of the crane he held. Its wings moved when he did.

“And if she does go back?” he asked. He pulled again, and the wings moved again. Neat.

Mrs. Cake gave a helpless shrug. “If she goes back, I don’t think we’ll know about it anyway. But I think she’ll want to talk about it first. She’s got a lot invested in the way things are, after all.”

Then, with the smile he loved so well, she added, “Now c’mon, angel cake. Help me with these bearclaws.”


It was three days until the wall, and Pinkie couldn’t sleep.

The impending nature of it seemed to cover everything around her. It was a blanket that wrapped itself around her, tangling her legs, and she couldn’t kick it off.

But today, at least, she had something else to occupy her mind. Applejack’s birthday was today. And even though her marefriend…

Pinkie stopped, frowning. Wait. Did Applejack have a marefriend? Pinkie had thought she had, a moment ago, but who? Was it Rarity? Twilight? Or, maybe she… didn’t?

The party pony shook her head violently. She was too tired. It was getting harder to keep track of that stuff.

Glancing suspiciously at her reflection in the widow, she moved a hoof up, then down again. Her reflection moved with her, perfectly. She made a face. Her reflection made the same face. After a bit more experimentation, Pinkie gave a small sigh of relief. At least it wasn’t one of those days. She had enough to worry about as it was.

And as for the whole marefriend thing, sure, being so close to so many maybes might get a little disorienting sometimes. It was just the price she paid for what she’d done. But it would all come back to her, she told herself. It always did.

Meanwhile, there was a party to prepare for. Mrs. Cake was always happy to host, which made things so much easier. And Mr. Cake would probably play the accordion for ponies to dance to, as he often did.

Pinkie frowned again, puzzled at the new feeling of déjà vu assailing her. Usually she declined Mrs. Cake’s offers to help decorate, but this time she thought she might accept. She was way more tired than she’d realized.

If only she could sleep.


It was two days until the wall, and Pinkie couldn’t sleep.

The certain uncertainty of it all, it… wrapped? Clung? Um… hovered?

Darn it, she sighed inwardly. I’m running out of metaphors.

Anyway, the point was that it was still on her mind. And not only was she running out of descriptions, she was running out of time. And, possibly, running out of… um…

Pinkie shook her head to clear it. Without sleep, it was getting harder and harder to concentrate on anything. And while she had plenty of energy, without mental focus doing even the most minor magic could be super dangerous. Much less what she had in mind.

And that was assuming she would have an opportunity in the first place. The Cakes had taken to locking the kitchen every night for some reason, and at least one of them was always in the shop during the day.

Even as tired as she was, she made it through most of the day without incident. It was while getting ready for the dinner rush that the cake exploded. Well, technically, the oven exploded. But the cake was why it exploded. So, yeah.

Looking around at the multicolored morass of fruit and pastry that had once been a kitchen, Pinkie made a mental note that her recipe for two-and-a-half minute spiced pineapple upside-down cake with strawberry frosting a la mode might need some recalibration. With a sigh, she reached over the main sink, and grabbed the scraper thingy hanging above.

She knew it had a more kitchen-technical term, but the scraper thingy was the very best for scraping pastry off of things, and walls, and ceilings, and separating things from other things when frosting had stuck things together, before applying other cleaning things like, say, mops and rags and firehoses and…

She paused. Maybe that’s why kitchens have so many drains in the floor? She thought.

Then, she shrugged. Oh, well.

Licking the splattered batter off her face (“Mmmm! Delish!”), she started scraping the counter when the kitchen door opened to reveal Mrs. Cake, balancing two stacks of dishes as she entered, oblivious to the frosting-slick floor.

“Oh, and Pinkie, dearie, could you waaaaaaahhhhhhh!”

With a horrified gasp, Pinkie leaped forward with lightning speed, grabbing and stacking dishes from mid-air where Mrs. Cake had flung them as she’d fallen, only to trip over her employer while catching the last teacup, spilling helplessly forward, sending the dishware hurtling upwards again...

Whereupon Mrs. Cake leaped upwards and forward like a starving gazelle on a pogo stick in a hayburger buffet, and started catching the stacks of dishes that Pinkie had dropped…

Until she slipped again, spilling everything into the air for a third time, inspiring Pinkie to tap into her energy reserves and spring into the air herself, catching the falling dishware in mid-air even as she, herself, was falling…

Even as Mrs. Cake was spinning in mid-air towards the floor, catching and tossing plates and saucers like Frisbees before they hit the kitchen tile, so that Pinkie could, in turn, keep hurling them into the air as she fell…

Just as Mr. Cake came out from the walk-in cooler and suddenly found himself beset by a veritable wall of spinning, orbiting dishware against a backdrop of falling mares and pastry Armageddon. Eyes wide, mouth open in horror, he began to juggle frantically as he slid helplessly across the kitchen floor on his rear hooves. As more dishes fell, Pinkie and Mrs. Cake continued catching them and wildly passing them to him and to each other as they rose to their knees and then their rear hooves, even as they all glided in a slow, pastry-slick circle around one another, team juggling feverishly all the while.

“Quick!” Carrot Cake yelled desperately. “Somepony play some polka!”

It took several moments, and an inspired musical interlude between the three of them, but ultimately they managed to gain enough traction to stop their mutual orbits and fill the dish pit without anything striking the floor.

The three of them were still leaning on the kitchen counters, gasping for breath, when Mr. Cake looked from one mare to the other, saying, “Um, you do remember the plates are unbreakable, right?”

The two mares looked at one another. There was a heartbeat of silence, and then they broke into laughter, while Mr. Cake rolled his eyes with a grin.

“Yeah, okay,” he said. “Anyway. Honeybun, would you give me a hoof cleaning up? Pinkie, I think you’ve got a picnic with the rest of the Elements, don’t you? I packed a few things for you while you were cooking.”

Pinkie Pie stared.

“Ohmygosh! I forgot!” Then, looking around herself, her shoulders sagged. “Aw, I can’t leave you guys with this…”

“Oh, now don’t you worry about a thing, dearie,” Mrs. Cake assured her. “Me and Carrot will have this cleaned up in no time. You run along.”

“But…”

“It’s alright, Pinkie,” Mr. Cake assured her with a careless wave. ”Believe me, we’ve cleaned up far worse.”

“Well,” Pinkie hesitated, “If you’re sure…”

“We’re sure, sweetie,” Mrs. Cake interrupted gently, shooing the younger mare out as she did. “You go along now and get some time in with your friends.”

With a grateful grin, Pinkie bounced out from the bakery, pausing long enough to pick up the basket Mr. Cake had prepared for her as she did.

Even as Pinkie Pie closed the door behind her, Mr. Cake was donning his face shield while his wife was uncoiling the fire hose from its resting place in the corner.

“I can’t believe she was going to use the scraper thingy on this,” he said with a shake of his head.

Mrs. Cake grinned as she readied the hose. “I know. After all, why else would a kitchen floor have so many drains?”

Later on and not too far away, a picnic between friends dissolved into laughter as stories wound down and dishes and leftovers were gathered and carried away. Pinkie avoided her friends’ questions, and ignored their worried looks as best she could. It took her longer to get home than usual; it was dark by the time she arrived.

The kitchen was locked again. Unsure how she even felt about that anymore, she sighed and trudged her way to her room. She spent the night staring at the ceiling until dawn, wondering.

How could she take it away from them all?

How could she leave things as they were?


It was one day until the wall, and Pinkie couldn’t sleep.

Aside from Pinkie’s ever-growing exhaustion, it was a normal day at Sugarcube Corner. Well, normal for the bakery, anyway. But then, right after lunch rush, there was a terrible pop! and Mr. Cake’s head was hanging down, his eyes screwed shut in pain, his normally forward-jutting chin withdrawn somehow into a more traditional pony-face shape.

“Ohmygosh!” Pinkie cried, bouncing over at once. “Are you okay?”

“Oh, that’s just his jaw acting up,” Mrs. Cake assured her as she trotted up to them both.

Feeling along her husband’s jawline, she added, “Poor Carrot got his head caught in an automatic rice picker, years ago. Broke it in I don’t know how many places. It’s fine nowadays, but every now and then, it acts up, and he needs help.”

There was a horrible but brief grinding sound as she suddenly wrenched his jaw back into its usual configuration.

“Hank you, hunnyhun,” he managed through his tears of pain.

“Oh, you’re welcome,” she smiled, kissing him on the forehead.

Nodding her relief, Pinkie Pie went back to work, humming happily to herself as she did. It was funny, though. With his chin dislocated, Mr. Cake had reminded her of somepony. Frowning, she tried to pierce through the fatigue-induced fog in her brain to remember. But for the life of her, she couldn’t put her hoof on who.


It was the day of the wall, just after closing, and Pinkie couldn’t sleep. She wanted to, mind you. Even for a pink party pony of her particular power, inescapable insomnia was increasingly irritating.

And now I’m falling into narrative alliteration, she thought as she leaned with lifeless lethargy against the west wall. I’ve got to figure this out before I go into full blown tautograms, that always gets so confusing…

“Pinkie?”

Pinkie started, then focused her eyes. There was a slight chill as another wave of energy was released from somewhere within her, and as she perked back up she saw Mr. Cake looking at her from across the store, his eyes full of concern.

“Pinkie?” Mr. Cake asked again. “You know I hate to pry, but there’s obviously something wrong. It’s been bothering you all week. Is it something you can talk about?”

“Um…”

He raised an eyebrow of eternal enticement.

“I have cupcakes,” he said. “They have ice cream in them.”

He was expecting her to simply bounce away, or at the very least a refusal. But to his surprise, Pinkie Pie pushed herself away from the wall, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards slightly.

“Yeah,” she said. “Okay. I can try.”


A few minutes later, and they were sitting together at one of the booths, Pinkie sighing as she contemplated the last cupcake on her platter.

“I always thought I was resilient,” she said. “That’s what I told myself. That’s what I told other ponies they needed to be, too. Resilient. Unbreakable, no matter what the world did to them.”

Mr. Cake said nothing, just tilted his head as an invitation to continue.

“When I was a little filly, my parents died in a fire.”

While he stared in shock, she went on, “And it wasn’t just them, most of the village went up. Most of the grownups, anyway.

“But after we finished burying the dead, I helped the other foals remember how to dance and play. Not because I wasn’t crying inside, but because even then I was determined to never let life take away my smile. And, I was determined to help other ponies keep smiling. Keep laughing. No matter what.

“But as life went on, bad things kept happening. And no matter what I or other ponies tried, they just got worse.”

She looked down, her voice quiet.

“There was a war,” she said. “All my friends went insane. And even after the war stopped, ponies died every day, and no one…”

She swallowed, and went on, “…no one seemed to care. And after a while, I realized that the universe wasn’t just uncaring, but that it was mean. That it had just created us to play with. And you know what?”

Meeting his eyes with her own with new vigor, she pronounced, “I decided that if the universe was like that, then I would be better than the universe! Sure, nothing mattered. With the world just a disc of rock zooming through the stars for some eternal Thing’s amusement, how could it?

“But if that were true, then nothing mattering… also didn’t matter.”

She blinked, looking down.

“When you realize the world is just a cosmic joke played at your expense, the only sane response is laughter,” she said. “And while you’re at it, dance. Wiggle your flank! Because there’s no sense in obeying or imitating a mean universe. Gravity hates us either way, so why give it the satisfaction? Be nice despite the universe, and buck the consequences!

“But after a while, I started to realize something.”

“Oh?” Mr. Cake asked. “What did you realize?”

“I realized that fighting the universe is…”

She sighed. “…exhausting.”

Sitting back, Pinkie Pie let her gaze wander to the window nearby. Carrot Cake wondered what she was looking at; her reflection, or the darkness beyond it.

“Before the Two Sisters became princesses, earth ponies were known for their strength way more than we are now,” she said. “Because just like the pegasi who can fly and do weather magic, or unicorns who can do telekinesis and sorcery, we have our own magic. Sure, we have a connection to the soil and what grows there, but that’s just a shadow of what we used to do.

“‘The way of the lithophage is all but lost,’” she sighed. “That’s what Dad always said. And back then, with my family gone, I was pretty much the last. But we earth ponies, if we practice when we’re young, we can consume stones. Jewels. Precious metals. And when you can eat stone, you can convert it into magical strength, like a dragon.

“That’s the secret of the earth ponies. The secret of our lost power.

“And since I was also the closest thing that Spike had to a friend – which wasn’t saying much – a lot of times we ate gems together. So, even with all my bouncing and party tricks, I had a lot of energy stored up over the years. Like, a lot of energy.

“But at the same time, I was just so tired. Tired of the crazy, tired of the hurt, tired of swimming against the current every day just so I could do it all over again the next.”

Her voice dropped almost to a whisper as she said, “And, well, I was tired of being alone.”

Shaking the moment off, she continued, “So, I used the powers I had as a party pony, fueled by all the magical energy I had and, well, by just how much I wanted to see my parents again.”

Mr. Cake swallowed, growing pale. “So, you… you tried to bring them back to life?”

Pinkie Pie stared.

“What?” she gaped. “Haven’t you been listening? Of course not! How could you even think that? I wanted to see them and know they’d be okay! Of course I didn’t try to bring them back!

“No, I baked and mixed and opened and jumped,” she cried, “and there I was! But that was so long ago, that I’m almost there. Right back to the now that’s this now-now like it was that now back then!”

“Um, okay?” Mr. Cake said, gesturing helplessly.

Pinkie Pie sighed again, sinking her chin onto her forelegs.

“The day I went back,” she said miserably. “The day I used the magic I’d been saving up as a rock eater, combined with my pastry magic as a party pony, and travelled back in time to fix everything. The point in time that I don’t know anything beyond, that I can’t see past, because I’ve never lived through it.

“I call it the wall,” she said miserably. “And… it’s tonight.”


“When I went back in time, I was sure it was the right thing to do,” Pinkie went on. “And at first, it was. History’s so much better now than it used to be. Even things that shouldn’t have been touched by my going back. Couldn’t have been. Twilight and her brother, for one thing. The war not happening for another. Sisters actually love each other now, and friends are actually, well, friends. And that’s great.

“But not only is my family still alive, but there was never a fire in the first place. Or even a village.

“And I don’t know if I splintered things when I went back or if it just made me more aware of my other me’s, but… it wasn’t just this now, it was all nows. The ones I’m close enough to see, anyway. They were all better.”

Carrot Cake nudged the cupcake towards her a little, but she pushed it away.

“Then, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Because now, I don’t know,” she said quietly, staring at nothing. “I went back thinking, ‘No problem, All I have to do is invent time travel, then go back in time, and then the future will be better! My plan is great!’ And at first, it was. And sometimes, my knowing things about the future I’d left behind even let me help with stuff. I mean sure, nothing was really the same same, but the big stuff still kinda rhymed. I could help ponies, make things even better than better.”

She sighed, then looked up at the older stallion. “Betterer?”

He gave her a gentle smile. “Sure.”

She managed a little smile herself, but it faded far too quickly.

“But after tonight, that ends.” She said. “I won’t know anything that comes next, or who a new pony is, or what problem they’re trying to solve. And I’m not used to not knowing anymore. And that’s…”

Her voice was almost too quiet to hear as she finished, “…hard.”

Then, her eyes narrowed slightly as they bored into the table before her.

“But I can’t go back to being who I was before, either,” she snarled. “I’m not just some victim of fate, just some toy in a snow globe that the universe keeps shaking for laughs. Not anymore! I took control. I made it right. I betterered everything! I’m a party pony, and I make the world a happier place. It’s what I do.

And then, her mane becoming dangerously straight, her eyes hardened as she growled through bared teeth, “And if a problem shows up that threatens that happiness, then I make that problem go away.”

“Um, Pinkie?”

Pinkie felt a hoof rest gently on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw Mr. Cake, his eyes full of concern for her.

“That doesn’t sound like a good way to be happy yourself,” he said softly.

She sighed, her mane re-curling a little as her colors regained their normal hue.

“No,” she agreed. “It doesn’t. But what if Equestria ends tomorrow, because of something I did, but I didn’t know when I did it? Or maybe the whole world?

“Or maybe it won’t be anything that big. Maybe Rarity just gets hit by a turnip wagon when she wouldn’t have before, and dies. Or even somepony I don’t know. But then again…”

Her voice cracking, she managed, “…but then again, how could that not have happened, somewhere, sometime, to creatures I’ll never even know about? Am I just supposed to shrug and carry on? Like I don’t care, like I couldn’t do something about it?”

“So, you’re thinking of going back in time and fixing your fixing things?”

“Maybe?” she said, struggling harder against her tears. “But… should I? Is that selfish? Or should I go back again to try to make the betterering even better? Or… should I just leave everything like it is, just because I’m more comfy with things the way they are?”

“But would that be the real reason?” Mr. Cake asked gently.

“I don’t know!” she went on, the tears coming at last. “I mean, even if I can fix the fix and unbetterer everything, what about all the choices everypony’s made along the way, between then and now? Everything was so bad before, that didn’t even occur to me!

“But now, ponies are happy. And not just ponies, creatures I’d never even known about before! They’re all made decisions, fought through stuff, been happy and sad together, and, and… can I really take all that away from them?”

Up until that point, Carrot Cake had been very, very good. He had listened, given advice, played devil’s advocate, and that was all. Well, that and offering comfort food. But he distinctly hadn’t invaded Pinkie’s space in any way, or done or said anything uninvited.

But now, he was in motion before he even realized it. He gathered up the young mare and her misery, and hugged her as hard as he could. After less than a second, she was hugging him back.

“I don’t know,” she sobbed again and again. “I don’t know what to do…”

Eventually, the tears wrung out of her, they parted. Pinkie blinked, then looked mildly uncomfortable.

Oh, horseapples, Carrot Cake thought, did I just mess everything up?

“Um,” Pinkie Pie said quietly at last, “I think I got snot on your apron.”

There was a heartbeat’s worth of silence, and then Mr. Cake started laughing. A moment later, Pinkie was laughing with him. Then they paused, and Mr. Cake grabbed a napkin and with a great show of dignity wiped his apron clean, which led to a new round of laughter.

Finally, their mirth had run its course, and Mr. Cake spoke again.

“Well, Pinkie,” he said, “it seems to me that by its nature, time travel isn’t a now or never kind of thing. Sure, you could go back now and take your chances. Or, you could go back a year from now. Or ten. Or twenty. Or, never at all. Or, maybe you could just wait until you know more about it. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll find a way to travel back in time and be a helper to ponies without taking away their choices.

“But no matter what, you’ll always have the option, and there’s no rush. And until then, if then ever comes, you’re still a time traveler, in a way.”

She raised her head to look at him, and he smiled.

“One day forward at a time, just like the rest of us.” He said. “Throwing parties, helping ponies laugh, and making life better for whoever you can with what you know.”

It was another one of those moments that happened occasionally at Sugarcube Corner, where Mr. Cake reminded her of somepony else. Somepony she just knew she knew, if she could just put her hoof on it.

Pinkie smiled and hugged him again, and the older stallion hugged her right back.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Anytime, hon,” he whispered back.

After a minute or two, they parted again.

“I should probably crash,” Pinkie said. “Lotta stuff to do tomorrow. Whatever tomorrow ends up being, anyway.”

Mr. Cake nodded. “I’ve got a few things to take care of first, but I’ll probably be heading that way myself. Did you get that shopping list put together?”

“Hm? Oh, yeah,” she said distractedly, already bouncing towards the stairs. “There’s a few things we’re all the way out of…” She stopped. “Aw, I was gonna get that stuff earlier.”

“No problem, I can pick up a few things now,” he said, waving her concerns away as he plucked the list from the kitchen door. “You go to bed.”

She smiled. “Thanks, Mr. Cake.”

“No problem.”

“No,” she said, facing him fully. “I mean… thanks. Really.”

His smile was gentle. “Like I said Pinkie, anytime.”

Pinkie, still smiling, nodded, then turned back to the stairs. She had just begun her ascent when Mr. Cake spoke again.

“Hey, Pinkie?”

She glanced at him over her shoulder. “Uh-huh?”

“Is the universe still mean?”

She smiled.

“Nah,” she said. “Not with ponies like you in it. I still don’t know if it cares as much as it should, but it’s not mean.”

Then, her voice fading slightly as she continued her bouncing ascent, she yawned, “It just needs a little help being nice now and then, is all…”

Carrot Cake smiled as well. Then, once she was safely headed for bed, he glanced at the list as he opened the front door. If he hurried he could just make it to the grocery before they closed.

But even as she heard the front door close again, Pinkie froze halfway up the stairs, eyes wide.

Because come to think of it, Mr. Cake did remind her of somepony else. And now that she’d seen it, she couldn’t see him any other way. The way he sang and played the accordion, the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled, and above all the way he hugged

“This is crazy,” she whispered, staring into the dark, her eyes darting from shadow to shadow. “This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy…”

But crazy or not, the idea stuck.

Carrot Cake had an orange mane, not a brown one. But a brown mane might shift to an orangish one with age. Pony colors were funny that way, and sometimes coats changed over time without turning a full grey or white. It could happen.

And come to think of it, hadn’t Grandma’s coat changed color as she’d gotten older, turning from pink to a kinda bluish color before she’d died?

But then, what about their cutie marks?

In Pinkie’s mind, images of the Cakes coming out from their bedroom together in the morning, chatting happily. The bedroom that had its own bathroom and shower.

Carrot always helps me with my make-up…

Pinkie clutched the stair rail, feeling dizzy, eyes screwed shut.

And seriously, how many ponies would’ve hired her on, given her a room of her own, even accepted her as family, sight unseen? Especially an Element, somepony prone to having dangerous adventures, maybe even having those dangerous adventures follow her home? Especially especially when she maybe kinda sorta made things go explodee herself sometimes, just a little bit…

It’s alright, Pinkie. Believe me, we’ve cleaned up far worse…

The giggles pounced on her as she stood there, nomming at her ribs without mercy while she clutched helplessly at the railing. They rose up from within her, refusing to be kept at bay.

Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll find a way to travel back in time and be a helper to ponies without taking away their choices…

The giggles grew into full-on laughter as she let herself slide into a sitting position on the stairs, hugging her hind legs. She laughed a long, long time. Longer than she had in a while. And, eventually, she grew quiet again, giving a contented sigh as she stared into the darkness

“Yeah,” she said happily to nopony in particular. “That’s fair. I guess there’s no rush.”

Feeling better than she had in a very long time, Pinkie Pie bounced the rest of the way upstairs to her room, threw herself under her covers, and, exhausted, finally slept.