• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Saddle Row

"I didn't think we'd be coming to Manehattan so soon." I thought out loud, garnering a response from Rarity.

"Well, it'd be rather silly not to, considering that I haven't even opened up shop here yet." She shifted forward in her seat by the train window. "Despite the business with the boutique, I can hardly get enough of the sights in this gorgeous city. Not to mention, I get to experience them once more with all of you!" She directed towards the other girls gathered around.

Rarity was making a return to the big city to finally open up her line of work in Manehattan, and I had to admit that she never failed to impress me. She reminded me of the big jump in progress she made regarding her boutique in Canterlot; It took her a considerable amount of time to open that shop, but it felt like only a day afterwards to open one in Manehattan. It was only a matter of time before her brand would have a place in every town and city. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if the princesses back in Canterlot had their own personal shop inside the castle.

Over the past few days, especially with Rainbow Dash's progression to becoming a full-fledged Wonderbolt, my worries and concerns began to come to mind, just like in the middle of my previous visit to Manehattan. At that time, I had to swallow up those uncertainties like a cold hard pill and push it deep behind me. It worked for a moment, but it definitely wasn't a solution; it was only a quick fix, if you will. I felt these same feelings rise back up as if they had been a floatation device in deep water, and all I could do was ignore them and try to busy myself with the other ponies.

I remained silent for the most part when we arrived at the station and walked outside the building into the busy streets of the city. Thankfully, since it had been such a large group, nopony really noticed that there had been some trouble brewing in me. It was yet another big day for Rarity, and I definitely did not want to ruin it by gathering an unnecessary amount of attention.

Nevertheless, I imagined that Athena would notice immediately, but it seemed that she didn't when she walked and talked with Fluttershy along the way. I still had no idea on how her connection specifically worked with me, and every time she's tried to explain it somewhat to me, my jaw nearly hung out and drooled in confusion. Like with anything illogical in our land with Equestria, I just rolled with it.

A faint sound of techno blurbs and rhythmic static jabbed at my ears from behind. I stopped in my tracks and turned around to notice a friendly face stand out from the crowd. Well, I didn't see everything that was essentially important to recognize a face, but it was good enough.

She had been descending down the steps from the station as she endlessly bobbed her head to the sound of the music within her headphones. I made a few steps forward and prepared to greet her from down below. I knew she most likely wouldn't hear me, so I needed to get in her field of vision.

When her hooves finally touched the sidewalk, she coincidentally turned in my direction and walked a few more steps before she stopped and appeared to notice me. However, I wasn't entirely sure about this, seeing as her shades hid the location of her pupils. The music in her headphones came to a halt, and she grabbed each can with a hoof and hung them around her neck. She brought the shades in front of her eyes and hung them over her head.

With her clear and bright open eyes, she prepared to greet me with a warm smile.

"Yo, what's up? Didn't know you were here."

"I'm curious about the same thing." I acknowledged, returning a friendly grin. "I don't think I've ever seen you step hoof into Manehattan, much less talk about ever being here. But, I guess it's not a surprise when I really think about it. Sometimes I forget you're a pretty big DJ."

"Haha." Vinyl chuckled. "That's right. I'm actually here for work."

I began walking with her, seeing as we seemed to have been heading in the same direction.

"Oh, really? Where is it that you're heading?" I asked.

"You know that one block? Um, Saddle Row or something? There's like a bunch of dress shops there. It's really weird, like, I don't even know why there's a dance club there, but it's where I'm going."

"Oh really?" I responded, my eyebrows lifting up in surprise. "That's where I'm heading too. I'm here with the other girls. Although, I don't remember there being a dance club around there…" I had only been there one time when Rarity confirmed the location for her boutique, and it was only for a short moment, so I wasn't staking any bets on my word.

"Yeeah." Vinyl seemed to understand. "In a way, it's kind of an exclusive club, mostly because the place isn't right on your face. You kind of gotta know about it beforehoof. It's not even its own building actually. It's on the top floor of this vacant place on Saddle Row."

"Huh. So, how exactly do ponies get into this club?" I inquired about out of curiosity.

She suddenly stopped and held up a straight hoof in front of me. "First rule of Club Pony Party Palace: You do not talk about Club Pony Party Palace. Second rule of Club Pony Party Palace: You do not talk about Club Pony Party Palace."

I immediately tilted my head in confusion. "…but you just talked about Club Pony Party Palace."

Vinyl laughed and resumed walking towards our destination. "I was just messing with you. I just thought that sounded really cool. Anyways, to answer your question, it's mostly by word of mouth or referrals. It's not exactly open, to begin with. There's this huge security guy that keeps random ponies out. But, hey, if you ever want to come check the place out, I can totally get you in. Hang on." She pulled out what appeared to be a small hoofband and hovered it towards me. "This can get you past the buff dude, but if you start coming regularly, he should recognize you and let you in."

"Oh, thanks." I accepted her offer. "I can't say that I'm a big clubber, but I might stop by to see you."

"Sounds cool, brah."

Once we arrived at Saddle Row, Vinyl pointed out the door used to access the club she had been talking about. It was a door right next to Rarity's new boutique, which actually surprised me a bit. Before, I hadn't been sure if Rarity had the entire building for her use, but her shop ended up only being the first floor of this building. The "exclusive" club took place at the top of this building, and considering how fashion overtook this block, I could see how this club was hard to find, just like Vinyl said.

"Oh! So, Rarity rented out this place, huh? That's cool." Vinyl returned after learning the news. "Last I saw, the place needed a good cleaning."

"That's why we're all here." I replied. "Anything to help Rarity jumpstart a major step towards her dreams."

"Well, I wish you all the best of luck." Vinyl winked before stepping towards the door to the upper level of the building. "I'd totally love to stay and chat, but I gotta go and get my mixes ready. Let me know if you need anything."

"Sure thing." I waved at her and watched her enter the building before I turned and made my way to the dusty interior of Rarity's new shop.

Just as I was about to open the door front door, I was surprised to find it being open from the other side. Expecting the pony responsible to be one of the girls already inside, I virtually jumped out of my skin when I found a gigantic dust bunny walk out slowly.

"Oh. Oh, my." This unidentifiable creature slipped out softly after noticing me outside.

"F-Fluttershy?" I responded, finding my head inflate with a thousand questions. "What happened to you?! You've got dust and dirt all over you!"

"Um, well…" She averted her eyes as if she had felt a great deal of shame for looking so dirty in a literal sense. "Pinkie ended up sneezing at this huge pile of dust, and she covered it all over me." She sighed sadly afterwards, poking at her hair. The dust didn't look like it'd come off easily.

"Oh, shoot." My eyebrows furrowed and a frown formed on my face as a result of witnessing her gloomy state. "Let's get you cleaned up. Is there a bathroom in there?"

She sadly shook her head.

I unhurriedly looked around and thought for a moment. Remembering that I watched Vinyl leave just a moment ago, I figured that there'd be a bathroom near, if not inside, the club. "Come on." I grabbed ahold of her semi-sticky hoof and began leading her towards the door to the upper floor.

"Oh no." Fluttershy slightly pulled, stopping me momentarily. "You shouldn't touch me. I don't want you to get dirty too."

"What kind of a pony would I be if I worried about myself while you're in a time of need?" I answered her. "A little dirt isn't going to hurt me." I chuckled warmly.

"Mm. I suppose you're right." She lowered her head as if she was slightly embarrassed by the response. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't witness her cute blushing under the large amount of dust on her face. It was just another reason for me to clean her up as soon as possible.

We managed to find one of those family bathrooms inside the building. I felt a little bad for whoever the custodian was because I practically pulled out at least half of the paper towels that were stocked up inside the towel dispenser. It took us quite a deal of time as I had to brush off as much dirt as I could with dry paper towels and then thoroughly clean her with moist ones.

The last thing I carefully cleaned was her face, and I caught myself staring a little too long at her adoring eyes. However, she didn't seem to mind my gazing at all. Instead, I believed she welcomed it. If I remembered correctly, it had been quite a long while since we had a moment like this together. A moment I could only describe as recognizing how fortunate we were to be with each other. It didn't help that I noticed her cheeks redden up, as butterflies fluttered all over inside my stomach at the sight of this. As a matter of fact, I was just about to close in for a delicate kiss until I realized the kind of area we were in.

I paused the connecting moment momentarily to clean up and wash my hooves. Afterwards, I escorted her out of the bathroom and back towards the front of Rarity's boutique. Nevertheless, before I made our way past the door to the outside, I stopped and turned to kiss her fervently, not wanting to have disappointed her with the short little moment we had earlier.

"Ah…" She voiced shortly before cutting off when I pulled away.

"Hm?" I questioned.

"Mm." She shook her head. "I just want you to know that I love you."

Figuring she greatly appreciated the time I willingly took to help clean her up, I enthusiastically nodded back. "Yeah, I love you too."

I just hope somehow, someday, we can spend a lot more time like this together soon.

Fluttershy and I reunited with the other ponies to find them dusting and sweeping the interior of the building. I spotted thick cobwebs in nearly every part of the structure, and literal mounds of dust were piled on various spots all around. I could see how Fluttershy was able to get so dirty in the first place, and I almost wanted to keep her outside so there wouldn't be a chance for her to fall victim to the dust again. Vinyl wasn't kidding about this place needing a good cleaning.

"Hey, there you are." Twilight spotted Fluttershy and me by the door.

"Hey." I continued looking all around and found one pony missing. "Where's Rarity?"

"Aah!" We suddenly heard a scream from somewhere not clearly discerning at first. "Fluttershy! Where's Fluttershy?! I need her in the stockroom, posthaste!"

"Oh, my." Fluttershy worriedly turned towards a particular purple curtain on the back of the left wall of the shop. She quickly galloped towards this area, having me follow closely behind to see what the buzz was all about. She placed a hoof on those same curtains and pulled them to the side, revealing another room that had been practically hidden by the curtains themselves. "Aw, hello." She said with the sweetest voice.

Poking my head inside, I found that her attention had been drawn to a trio of racoons jumping around inside. On the corner on top of a barrel, Rarity hugged the brick and murky wall as if the floor had been lava. "But what are they doing here?" She nearly whispered to Fluttershy.

One of the racoons chittered and chattered intelligible noises that only Fluttershy could make out. She listened closely until she had enough information to explain things to Rarity. "Smoky made too much noise eating garbage, so Softpad's mother made them move out of the trashcan."

Ouch, really? I wouldn't have expected a mother to kick out her own children for making "too much noise". It's actually quite sad to know.

"No, no, no!" Rarity jumped over and as far away as she could keep from the racoons. Afterwards, she immediately made her way out back into the shop interior. "I can't have a family of rubbish-scented raccoons living in my boutique!"

"But, I don't know if they have any other place else to stay." Fluttershy worriedly spoke on their behalf.

"I'm sure Smoky can amend things with their mother and promise not to make too much noise eating garbage in exchange for moving back into their old trashcan." Rarity swiftly suggested before the chandelier inside the shop creak and wobbled. Dust from the ceiling fell as booming dance music slightly shook the walls of the building. The music was muffled for the most part, but it was still easily heard. "Uh, did you hear that?"

"That must be Vinyl." I addressed. "She's DJing for the place upstairs called, um, 'Club Pony Party Palace'."

"There's a Club Pony Party Palace upstairs!?" Pinkie Pie excitedly skidded her hooves in front of me from a sudden speedy dash.

"Whatever the case is, I can't be having music this loud interrupting business with the boutique." She began trotting over the front door and held it open. "I'm going to ask her to lower the volume. I'm certain she doesn't need her music to be that loud." Afterwards, she walked out and let the door shut behind her.

Despite the intensity of the music, the others continued to work together in cleaning the place bit by bit. At one point, Applejack worked with Twilight and held down the dustpan for her to sweep the dirt into. However, just as Rarity had mentioned, the sudden BOOM of the music slightly shook the place and caused Applejack to fumble with the dustpan before she accidently allowed the collected dirt to fall over and land back on the floor.

"I wish we were having as much fun as they are." Rainbow commented, despite having no knowledge of what had been actually going on upstairs.

"Well, sweeping can be fun, too." Twilight held her broom with her magic and began to literally sweep with the music upstairs. "Sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep." She matched the beat as if she had been recording some kind of original mix. Twirling the broom for a short second, she began sweeping in a different direction. "Sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep..."

Applejack and Rainbow glanced towards each other, and soon, they found their heads bobbing to the unending beat. It wasn't long before they followed in Twilight's hoofsteps and began sweeping from one side to the other. Everypony else in the vicinity joined began joining along, but it wasn't long before it ceased all together when Rarity returned.

"No luck?" I asked, noticing her dismayed frown.

"Security wouldn't even let me see her." She explained.

Ohhh. That must be what Vinyl meant about the 'buff dude'.

Before I could respond, there was a loud ear-splitting honk nearby. To be honest, it proved to be so much louder than the muffled music could ever be, and I could feel my heart leap at the sound of it.

"Aah! What in the name of Celestia was that?!" Rarity acknowledged.

The sound ensued, and we were forced to direct our attention towards the door. There, a young filly stood constantly pushing the door towards the end of an airhorn. She spotted Rarity looking at her and returned some kind of weird gesture.

"Who is that?" I immediately asked Rarity.

"She's the landlord's daughter." Rarity answered with a tone of distress. "Let's just say I was 'pushed' to giving her 'ideas' a try."

"That airhorn for a doorbell?" I observed. "You can't have that. It doesn't even let the door close all the way."

"I know, but I can't say anything that'll upset her!" Rarity looked like she could scream out in agony. She took in a deep breath and relaxed to the best of her ability before she resumed speaking. "We'll deal with it later. Right now, I'd really like to do something about the music."

Remembering the band Vinyl gave me, I decided I could see about doing something about the music. "Let me try and talk to her." I offered.

"But security won't let you in." Rarity reminded.

"Don't worry." I placed a hoof on her shoulder and shared a confident smile. "I think I'll be able to get in."

"If you say so. In that case, I'd truly appreciate it. Thank you ever so much."

I nodded and began to walk out of the boutique shop under construction. "I'll be back!" I called out, passing a pony who seemed to be delivering large boxes into the shop.

Inside the club, I was almost immediately able to have a good view of the dance floor. I was a bit surprised when I only noticed three ponies having the time of their lives. Having heard the constant booming from downstairs, one would imagine the dance floor being filled to the brim. Was this club that exclusive?

Either way, Vinyl did just get here, and these three ponies were probably crazy party goers and big fans of her. At the same time, it was pretty early in the day, and I didn't think the peak time for clubs wasn't until the night. I pulled out the band Vinyl had given me in preparation and approached the security guard, ready to be stopped.

He didn't seem to do anything besides just standing there. In fact, I was almost tempted to go on ahead, seeing as he looked more like a statue rather than a living being. Nevertheless, I pulled out the band and showed it to him. He didn't move his head an inch, but I had to imagine his eyes shifted behind his dark sunglasses to take a look at my band.

For a second, based on his expressionless reaction, I almost figured he wouldn't permit me entry either way. However, stiffly leaning towards the rope behind him, he pulled it open and waited for me to walk in. Without a word. I couldn't help but cautiously walk in, leading him to replace the rope to its original position afterward.

The dance floor was now literally in front of me, and as I got a closer look at the ponies "raising the roof", I noticed one of them looked oddly identical to Pinkie Pie. In fact, I nearly believed that she might have snuck out from downstairs and came up here for a little fun herself. However, it was easy to confirm that it wasn't actually her after taking a quick look at her cutie mark.

After being reminded enough of being interjected into Vinyl's dream sequence that one weird night, I stayed off the neon flashy dance floor and walked around until I eventually came across Vinyl at her wub station. As always, she was too busy pumping her hoof to the beat and working a little creative input into the mix to notice me.

I figured she wouldn't hear me if I tried to call her, so I approached her at her side and tapped her shoulder. She turned her head and spotted me, quickly moving her shades over her horn. "Hey! Wasn't expecting you to show up so soon!" She raised her voice due to the blasting thumping music.

"Me either." I acknowledged, matching the volume of her voice. "But, I was wondering if you could do me a favor."

"What's up?"

"Remember how Rarity is downstairs getting things ready for her new shop? Well, she wanted to know if you could, um, lower down the music a bit?" I returned a sheepish grin, understanding that lowering the volume of her music is kind of like asking Rarity to not put up so many dresses on display at one time.

"Sure! I could do that…" She turned towards the dials on her turntable and looked a little uneasy all of a sudden. She placed her hoof on what I guessed was the dial for the volume. After a few seconds, she turned back to me. "Is that okay?"

I listened for a moment longer, just to make sure that there was a difference in the sound of the music, but I legitimately couldn't tell. It sounded just as loud as it did before. I didn't want to be "that" pony, but I needed to bring it up to her. "Think you could make it…not as thumpy?"

It seemed as if Vinyl gulped greatly in response. Then, she sighed and focused on the hoof that remained on the dial. "I can do this." A short moment later, I started noticing a slight difference in music, and eventually, the volume lowered to a noticeable level. The music no longer poked at my chest, but it was still clearly audible.

The three ponies that had been dancing this entire time turned their heads, immediately noticing this change. Afterwards, they approached the turntable and the one I almost thought was Pinkie Pie began to speak to Vinyl.

"Yo, DJ. What's haps? I can actually hear my voice."

"Sorry." Vinyl apologized with an embarrassed grin. "Gotta keep it down a bit for a friend of mine. Music's still good though, right?"

"It'd be better if it was a whole lot louder." Another one from their group wearing a cap replied. "I really want to feel the dance floor move! It'll be back to the way it was later on tonight, right? That's when we really get to raising the roof up this place."

Vinyl glanced over at me for a second before she answered. "Y-yeah! Course!"

"Love your sick beats, DJ-PON3!" The last one winked before they returned to the middle of the dance floor.

"You won't need the music down later on tonight, will you?" She turned to me worriedly.

I actually had to pause for a moment to think about that. I wasn't entirely sure if Rarity only wanted the music lowered so she could concentrate on bringing the shop up to par. If she was expecting the music to stay like this throughout the entire time she's running the shop, it would certainly pose a problem for Vinyl and her job. I strongly hoped that it was only for this one occasion because I was afraid I would have to side with Vinyl, should Rarity expect anymore.

"Yeah, you're good." I responded, but then I began feeling guilty for having Vinyl make these changes. "Hey, I'm sorry about asking you to do that Vinyl. I know having loud music is pretty important in cases like this."

She shook her head. "It's not a big deal. Like the girls said, tonight is when the party really gets started. I'm sure they won't mind music that's not as loud as they're usually used to. After all, you're my pal, Alex. Anything for you."

With a soft smile, I nodded. "Thanks, Vinyl. I owe you. I'll let Rarity know that the music will be back up for tonight."

"Cool. See you around then?"


Sending her a small wave of appreciate, I began making my way back out of the party scene. I knew she told me not to worry about it, but I still ironically felt a little hollowed out inside as if I caused a decent amount of pain to somepony else.

As I pushed my hoof inwards at the shop front door, I was ready to give Rarity the update on the music situation until I noticed another unexpected friendly face sneezing violently.

"Coco, you shouldn't be here! You should be in bed resting!" Athena approached her without any hesitation.

"I'm sorry." Coco apologized, sniffing greatly. "I just wanted Rarity to know about my unexpected illness."

"Do not fret, my dear. I understand." Rarity acknowledged.

"Athena's right." I quickly trotted towards her and took a look at her myself. Her mane was frazzled and her nose was severely agitated. I was worried that she might have even had a fever, yet she still came in to give Rarity a sick notice. "You should get home as soon as possible, Coco."

"Alex, let's help her get home and feel better!" Athena immediately suggested.

I turned to Rarity, who didn't appear to have an objection to the idea. "You three go on ahead. We'll manage somehow. I just feel awful for Coco having to come down here and tell me this face-to-face."

"You sure you won't need us for anything?" I questioned with concern.

Rarity shook her head. "I have enough help as it is. Thank you for bringing the music down. It'll be one less thing to stress over about."

Seeing as Athena and I had to help take Coco home, giving Rarity the news about the music was going to have to wait. I wanted to, at the very least, get Coco to bed and give her anything she might need, such as medication. Even if I wasn't her caring friend, I still owed her immensely after what she did for Pinkie and Maud.

Athena and I began guiding Coco down the street, hoping that she wouldn't collapse from exhaustion or something.

"You two don't really have to do this. I'll be fine." Coco said, her voice sounding congested.

"No way, Coco." Athena rejected with gusto. "The least we can do is get you nice and tucked into bed. You should sleep and stay in bed for the rest of the day."

"You're not behind in any work, are you?" I asked, worried that resting might get her deeply behind schedule.

"I can afford to spend a few days taking it easy." She sniffed strongly as if she fighting to open up a clear path within her nostrils. "Of course, I'm not happy about not being there for Rarity when she needs me, but since that's the case, I should be fine workwise."

"Well then, let's get you to bed so you can start getting better as soon as possible!" Athena encouraged positively.

Once Coco was firmly hunkered down, Athena and I gathered some things to help alleviate her symptoms. We brought over some NeighQuil, extra tissues, and any other kind of medication she may have found useful.

"You want me to get you a glass of water?" Athena asked, almost as if she was able to tell that Coco was thirsty just by looking at her.

Coco lightly smacked her lips. "I would like that. Thank you."

"One glass of water coming right up!" Athena scurried on over to the kitchen.

I panned my eyes across the room as Coco rested her head delicately on her pillow. "I wish your room was a bit bigger. For some reason, I feel like the lack of space you have here might make you feel even worse.

"I'm fine, really." Coco responded with a soft smile. "If anything, I'm just embarrassed that you had to come and see me like this. And…" She turned her eyes over to the small bin of trash she had. Instead of crumpled up papers from sketchbooks, there were only crumpled balls of used tissues. "My room's quite a mess."

I only chuckled and turned my attention to the bottle of NeighQuill we had brought for her. "Here, you better take some of this. It should get you drowsy enough to sleep."

Coco returned a small look of fear, almost as if she had been afraid of a mere bottle. "Ugh. I really don't like the taste."

"Sorry." I apologized as I poured some into the plastic cup it came with. "Medicine does tend to taste pretty bad."

"I don't think you have a spell that can make me feel immediately better, do you?" She asked.

She sounded like she was half-joking and half-serious, but it could have been either or as well.

"Unfortunately, no." I admitted, running along with her question. "I don't even know if there is a spell like that. If there was, it'd probably put a lot of doctors out of business."

Coco began giggling to this, but it was soon cut short by a few intervening coughs. In return, I brought over the plastic cup to her lips with my magic and waited for her to open her mouth. She looked like a little filly for a moment when she noticed the cup in front of her. I could tell that she didn't want to take the medicine, but she and I knew it would make her day a lot easier. After releasing a light sigh, she closed her eyes and slightly opened her mouth.

I began tilting the cup past her lips, hoping she wouldn't spit it out back at me. Fortunately, that didn't end up being the case. As soon as the medicine was inside her mouth, she seemed to have trouble swallowing. In fact, it looked more like she didn't want to swallow. I was on the brink of advising her to do so before she finally gulped it down. Afterwards, she lightly stuck out her tongue as if she had just finished tasting something utterly sour.

"Doing alright there?" I jokily asked.

"I'll feel a lot better with some water." Coco replied, reminding me of the task Athena had been tending to.

"Where's Athena with that glass of water?" I wondered, peering towards the doorway. "It's not like she can get lost in here, can she?" I began heading past the door in order to check up on Athena until she unexpectedly showed up all of a sudden.

"Sorry!" She apologized loudly. "I was trying to figure out what cup was better for you."

"Any is fine." Coco responded as cheerfully as she could, appearing to hold back another giggle from being let out.

Athena placed the glass on her nightstand, which Coco took shortly after. Holding the glass with both of her delicate forehooves, she drank a few gulps before she set it back down. "Thank you, both. I really appreciate this."

"You're our friend." Athena happily responded. "We're not just going to not do anything while you're home alone completely sick!"

"You deserve a lot of rest." I reinforced her need for sleep. "Just remember that if you ever need anything, send us a letter."

She nodded and placed her head gently on top of her pillow. "Thank you again. You two are amazing friends. It makes me wonder how things would have been if we grew up together."

Huh? Makes her wonder how things would have been if we grew up together? Did Athena tell her that story too?

"I know, right?" Athena appeared to fully agree. "We better get back to Rarity. Try not to worry about anything, alright, Coco? Sleep tight!"

After she returned a little wave back, we started making our way outside of her apartment room and building.

"Hey, Athena." I brought up on our walk outside. "Did you tell Coco about, you know, the life before?"

She appeared to let my question sink in for a bit before she answered. "I did. I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell her, but I felt like she should probably know. In fact, to be honest, I actually…um…sort of told her a few things way before I told you."

"Wait, what?" My curiosity almost stopped me in my tracks. "What things? When?"

"Back at the Grand Galloping Gala." She reminded, "When you invited Coco and Starlight. I hung out with Coco, and I told her, well, she and I used to be best friends. She didn't understand at first because she hadn't obviously known about me before, but I managed to convince her when I gave her answers than no other pony would know about her. Now that I think about it, I feel like it was a really stupid thing to do at the time, but I just felt so lonely, Alex. I felt lonely in the sense that no one really knew who I was, and I sort of just felt like a stranger to everyone, including you. For a while, I was able to feel like somepony talking to her at the Gala. Even though she still didn't truly remember me, she was still so sweet. She promised she wouldn't tell anypony else, including you, about what I told her. After all, I wanted to be the pony to do that, and even though it didn't come out the way I had wanted it to, I'm just glad everything's still okay."

"I see…" I paused in thought for a moment, receiving a worried glance from Athena. In response to this, I smiled warmly. "I get it. You think a friend is more important than your own brother. I see how it is."

"What? No! It's not like that at all!" She reacted seriously to my joke.

I chuckled at her reaction. "I know. I know. I'm sorry you felt like that, Athena, but I guess what's most important now is the present, right? You and Coco seem to be really good friends now. Even though you don't visit much, it seems like you two are pretty close."

"We are!" She reiterated with a jubilant smile. "In fact, she's entrusted a few things to me herself. Secrets that she wouldn't dare tell anypony else."

"Oh, really?" I raised my eyebrows, deeply intrigued.

"Yep!" She stated proudly. "But, don't think you're going to get anything out of me. I've been explicatively instructed not to say a word to anyone, especially you."

"I…don't know what to think about that." I responded with uncertainty.

"Don't worry about it." Athena shared a reassuring smile. "Nothing bad about you or anything. Just consider me a diary." She concluded with a wink.

Back on Saddle Row, we found Rarity working inside of the display window to her soon-to-be boutique. A pile of clothes sat on the floor beside her as she tried out many different types of hats on the mannequin she was working with. As Athena and I walked towards the front door, she spotted us and waved with an ecstatic grin.

We waved back, noticing how she was in a jolly mood unlike before when we left to take Coco home. Judging from the look on her face, I could only assume that all of the problems that had been bothering her were now taken care of. If that was the case, I believed that the interior of the shop probably looked much nicer than we had left it.

Wanting to take a look for myself, I placed my hoof on the door handle and began pushing it open. However, before I was even able set my eyes past the door, I began hearing a loud ruckus from the ajar door. I pressed my weight forward, fully opening the door to find a large number of ponies scattered about inside the shop.

I began to distinguish a distinct rhythm coming from the floor above us. Vinyl's music had been playing loudly again, and it surprised me since I hadn't expected to hear the chandelier-shaking music until later on tonight. Nevertheless, my attention had been hooked on the sight of Fluttershy being chased by the same racoons from the room hidden behind the curtain.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Fluttershy apologized frantically before she jumped onto a counter.

In addition, Rainbow stood in front of three ponies that were covered in fabric for some reason. Applejack was being aggressively confronted by the landlord Rarity had told me about, including his daughter. Twilight was in a bath of various clothes. And, Pinkie was in the middle of this entire ruckus silently dancing to the music from upstairs.

"Uhh…what's going on?" I nearly had to exclaim.

"We're just helping Rarity get a few things done while she works in the display window outside." Pinkie responded casually while moving her hooves to the beat.

"No offense, but it looks like a mess in here." I brought up since Pinkie, at the very least, didn't seem to notice it. "Does Rarity know what's going on?"

"I did organize all these clothes." Twilight responded, seeming to believe that I had been talking about the pile of clothes she was underneath. "But, I didn't know what Rarity wanted, so I decided to do it all over again!"

"Just what exactly are you girls trying to do?" I tried to get some sort of clarification and possibly some insight on what exactly happened in the shop while I was gone.

Before I could get a response, Twilight suddenly shot a look past me, gasping sharply. She immediately jumped over me, ran towards the front of the shop, and slammed herself against a part of the wall that appeared to have a knob on it.

"Ooh!" We heard a muffled cry on the other side of the wall.

"Quick! A chair!" Twilight exclaimed out in a hush, placing the weight of her body against the wall.

Without hesitation, Pinkie obliged and pulled up a chair that had been turned over on the floor. Dragging this chair over to the wall, Twilight angled it and placed it just right under the doorknob, preventing the door from being opened at all.

"Hello? The door appears to be stuck!" Rarity informed from the inside of the display window.

"Yep. We're workin' on it!" Twilight lied.

"Can somepony please explain what's going on?!" Athena nearly shouted out in frustration.

"We were only trying to help Rarity out!" Rainbow Dash responded in an almost frenzied state. "I tried hiring the best pony for her shop, but I just can't decide! Doing it Rarity's way isn't working at all!"

"I thought Rarity wanted the racoons gone, so I told them they needed to leave! Now, they're really upset with me!" Fluttershy added.

"Rarity couldn't just say no to Plaid Stripes, so I told her no for her!" Applejack continued.

"That's just it!" Twilight pointed out. "We've all been doing things Rarity's way, but we haven't bothered doing it our way first!" Throughout the annoying ruckus around us, Twilight managed to voice her words out clearly enough for everyone to understand. "I thought Rarity wanted me to do things the way she'd do them, but I didn't realize until right now that there was a reason she specifically chose us to do the things she asked us to. Rarity asked us to help her with everything because she knows all of us so well." Twilight approached Fluttershy. "She knows how much you care for animals. She'd trust you to solve the problem your way. Maybe we should all do the same. Doing this our way is what Rarity wants. It's not too late. Let's all dig in and we can fix this." Turning back around, she noticed the chaos unraveling at the back of the shop. "Before Rarity finds out how bad we messed up." She faced me next. "Alex, do you think you can handle the music?"

That was one thing I wasn't entirely sure of. I had already asked Vinyl to turn it down, and I could tell it hurt her to do so. I wouldn't feel comfortable asking her again, especially if it would put her job in jeopardy. I don't see how we can turn off the music without soundproofing the boutique walls or something.

"I don't know, Twilight." I stated worriedly. "The thing is: Vinyl has her own job to deal with, and that job so happens to need loud music for club members. I know this might sound silly, but if she doesn't have her music as loud as it is now, there are probably going to be a lot of unsatisfied customers."

"Heeey!" We heard beside us. "Maybe you don't have to turn down the music." Pinkie continued to happily dance as she spoke. "Maybe there's something we can do that can work for everypony?"

"Like what?" I turned to her, genuinely curious about what she had in mind.

"Let's head straight over there and I'll show you exactly what I'm talking about!" Pinkie grabbed my hoof, already dashing straight out the front door.

At the club scene, we saw many more ponies on the dance floor than I first had earlier. The sun hadn't even set yet, and there was a decent number of ponies swinging their hooves and flanks. At this rate, I could only predict that the club would be jam packed during the night.

Pinkie still needed me to get her in, so I went up the security guard and showed him my band in case he didn't recognize me. Pinkie seemed to find his silence something to be amazed about as he opened the rope and allowed us in. Once we were inside, it was a little hard to see Vinyl through the crowd. Just like last time, I led Pinkie around the dance floor and approached Vinyl from the side.

I tapped her shoulder and caught her attention. However, she didn't look so happy to see me this time. She lifted the shades from her face and revealed anxious and trembling eyes. "Look, I know I said I would keep the music down until the night, but more and more ponies kept coming early, and they really wanted the music to be loud. I tried to stall for as long as I could, but I was worried that if I didn't raise it up soon, ponies would get bored or tired and leave the club! Ponies here have looked up to me for their source of music for so long. I didn't want to disappoint them…" Her eyes flapped down as her head lowered in shame.

It seemed she was expecting me to be upset or angry with her, but that wasn't the case at all. I placed a gentle hoof on her shoulder and proceeded to respond to her.

"I'm sorry that I made you feel that way Vinyl. You have a job here to do yourself, and I actually appreciate the fact that you stuck out as long as you could. You didn't have to lower the volume at all, but you did. You practically went against the principles of your work for your friends, so you shouldn't feel ashamed at all."

"Really?" Vinyl lifted her head slightly to my answer. "But…what about Rarity and her shop?"

"That's why I'm here." Pinkie proudly announced. "I think I just may have the best idea ever. Something that could really work out for all of us." She raised her eyebrows a couple of times in a playful manner.

"What do you got, Pinkie?" Vinyl leaned in, willing to hear her idea.

"Four words! Club Pony Party Boutique!"

The idea Pinkie had proposed was to actually bring the dance floor inside Rarity's boutique. This, in turn, could allow Vinyl and Rarity to do both their jobs. At first, this seemed a bit counterproductive, seeing as Rarity didn't want the music to begin with, but after exchanging brief ideas with Vinyl, Vinyl believed that she could mix up a few beats dedicated exclusively to Rarity's shop. In other words, she could play music that wasn't the "obtrusive" kind.

Vinyl grabbed the short microphone near her turntable and tapped it a few times before feedback from the microphone was heard.

"Yo, listen up!" She stopped the music and announced loudly, catching everypony's attention. "We're gonna change things up a bit tonight! We've just been invited to the grand opening of the new boutique downstairs called 'Rarity For You', and I say we make it one heck of an opening! Y'all with me?!"

Whether it was the hype she generated or her audience genuinely didn't care where they partied, they all seemed to be on board when they loudly cheered and flailed their hooves about.

We helped Vinyl gather as much equipment as she could bring and moved it over to the shop downstairs. Even having the equipment, we still needed to set up the furniture inside the boutique once it was as clean as we could make it. Once the proper furniture was set up, Vinyl was allowed to get her equipment in the right place.

Twilight did the most work in regards to the shop's vanity. After she had aligned everything she was tasked with, it was easy to set up the mannequins and stands of clothes all around the shop with her magic. At some point in time, Fluttershy had come in with the same racoons smelling distinctly of soap and shampoo. They were also wearing small formal outfits, looking completely like trained and civilized critters. The landlord and his daughter had settled down, compared to before, so I believed Applejack had done her job. Rainbow Dash appeared to be giving directions to the same three fashion ponies, so I also figured she worked her issue out as well.

Evidently, everything was at its place and laid out in the shop by the time night fell. Vinyl stood behind her equipment, testing the sound out in her headphones as she bobbed her head repeatedly. I turned towards Pinkie Pie, still feeling a little unsure about Rarity's reaction to live music pounding inside her boutique.

"You sure Rarity won't mind the music?" I asked.

"It's something I would do." Pinkie mentioned, referring back to Twilight's speech. "I'm sure Rarity will love it! Not only will the shop attract ponies that are crazy about fashion but also ponies that are crazy about sick beats! Trust me, Alex, this opening is going to be a hit! Every newspaper and magazine in Manehattan, maybe even all of Equestria, will be talking about it!"

I found firm belief in Pinkie's enthusiasm. "You're the best when it comes to attracting ponies." I confirmed with a nod.

There was a sudden shake of a nob coming from the window display outside. Rarity was trying to come in after hours of work, but the chair was still in the way. Twilight looked at us and made a quick check around the shop to make sure everything was in order.

"Good? Good? Okay!" She established before dashing towards the chair and placing it aside. As soon as she began opening the door with her magic, Rarity ran out and fell to the floor.

"Wow, looks like we fixed that door just in time!" Twilight mentioned awkwardly before helping Rarity up.

I was afraid Rarity would ask what the issue with the door was exactly, but she instead paid more attention to her surroundings. I couldn't blame her, as the shop looked completely different from the last time she had been outside of the display window.

"Oh!" She gasped lightly. "What's all this?"

"What do you think?" Twilight asked as the other girls joined her side. "You like it?"

"Oh! I knew I could count on you!" Rarity expressed her glee, wrapping her hooves around Twilight before walking towards the front door. "All right... It's about time for the grand opening. I suppose this is the moment of truth..." She opened the door, but before she could look outside, she noticed a bell jingling on top. She glanced back at us with joy, most likely exhilarated that the horridly loud airhorn wasn't there anymore. "Rarity For You is now open!" She announced outside. A few moments later she stepped backwards, allowing whoever was outside to come in. A long line of ponies neatly poured in, many of them scattering about in the shop. "Oh, dear. I wasn't quite prepared for such a crowd. How will I handle them all?"

"My name's Blue Bobbin." One of the ponies Rainbow Dash had worked with introduced herself with an outgoing smile to a seemingly lost customer. "I'll be your personal shopping assistant this evening."

"Right this way, everypony, and one of our talented salesponies can help you out!" Rainbow called out, pointing towards the corner where the other two waited to be of assistance.

Pinkie dashed over to Vinyl on her stage and bounced repeatedly in excitement. "Okay, Vinyl! You're up!"

Returning a firm nod, Vinyl lifted her headphones and lowered her shades. Dramatically lifting her hooves in the air, she brought them down to her turntable and pulled a few switches before the music began playing loudly in the boutique. However, this time, there wasn't any intrusive or distracting intense pounding. It sounded more like the kind of music you'd hear at a fashion show, but it still retained to Vinyl's style of mixing.

Pillars of light fell from the ceiling, and the area in front of Vinyl filled with smoke. Once it had dissipated, several of the dancers from Vinyl's club began putting on a dance show. Pinkie swung over to Rarity and began dancing lightly, encouraging her to find this music appealing. Next up, Fluttershy's racoons walked around in a calm manner and offered ponies drinks that looked like they came straight from Canterlot.

"Ah, a blue corn reduction with shallot confit!" One of the ponies in the crowd pointed out in detail. "But how can I possibly enjoy it without a—"

"Spoon?" The landlord's daughter popped in between and danced around with spoons on her hooves. These spoons were arranged in a way as if they were claws, and I was surprised to see the customer try them out to taste the drink.

"Mmm! Exquisite!" He announced after a small sip. "This is the most whimsical and wonderfully fashionable boutique I've ever seen!"

It no doubt had to be one of the most unique and interesting openings in Saddle Row. And it was only possible with the addition of different perspectives from Rarity's best friends. To prove her customer's point, everypony else responded with positive feedback, and Rarity could only turn to her friends with tears nearly escaping her eyes.

"Thank you all so much…!" She began to express to us. "I don't know how I could have managed to produce such an amazing opening without you!"

Twilight shook her head from the crowd. "You're welcome, Rarity. But, you go on and enjoy your big day. After all, so many of your customers look like they really want to talk to you!" Twilight pointed past her at a group of ponies gathering together. Wiping a few lingering tears, she quietly nodded before turning her attention to the ponies anxious to see her.

"Everypony did amazing! Great job!" Twilight praised among us, gathering cheers from everyone.

A few moments later, Rarity surprised us when she brought a distinctively-looking stallion over to us. He looked like a middle-aged business pony, but the most eye-catching detail about him was the notepad and pencil as his cutie mark.

"Excuse me, everyone, this is Buried Lede, and he says he wants to write about us in an upcoming article!" Rarity introduced. "Isn't that exciting?!"

"With such a successful grand opening, I'd be dumb as a bag of rocks not to follow this scoop!" He mentioned in a kind of accent you'd expect an ecstatic reporter to have. "How's about this? I'll buy all of you lunch and each of you can tell me the story of how this grand opening all came together?"

"Oooh!" Pinkie cooed excitedly. "I like the sound of free lunch!"

"This grand opening did turn out pretty great." Twilight threw in her five bits. "I don't see why not."

"Then, it's settled?" Rarity held her hooves to her bitten lips excitedly.

"I'm in!" Rainbow Dash settled on. "Everypony can totally know how awesome I am!"

"And ponies can appreciate the hard work it takes to do something great." Applejack added.

"Maybe somepony will read about the adorable little racoons and offer to take them in?" Fluttershy hoped.

"Looks like everypony agrees then." I decided.

"Excellent!" Rarity clapped her hooves happily. "When would you like to schedule the interview?" Rarity turned and asked the reporter.

"How about noonish tomorrow? That sound good to you folks?" He proposed, later earning general nods and agreement from the others. "Great!" He pulled out a notepad, wrote a few things onto the piece of paper, and ripped it out to give it to Rarity. "I've written the details of the meeting on there, along with my business information if you need to contact me. Any questions?"

"Well, I suppose I actually—"

"Fantastic! See you tomorrow!" He trotted back towards the door, leaving us silent for a short moment.

Despite having been cut off before she could actually ask the question in mind, Rarity seemed to shrug it off and accept it as the culture of Manehattan. "Once again, I couldn't have done any of this without all of you. You truly are ponies I can completely count on. With that said, would you like to help make the rest of this grand opening the best of all?"

"Heck yeah!" Rainbow exclaimed in agreement.

"There's no way I'd turn away from a fun party!"

With different signs of general agreement being sent all around, it was decided that we'd stay to make sure that Rarity's grand opening in Manehattan was the best one yet.

Afterwards, all we'd need to look forward to was our interview regarding how things came together in the first place.

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