• 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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Simple Ways

Episode 78 – Simple Ways

I stared at the mirror and adjusted my suit accordingly to the formal transition I was about to go through.

"I can't believe it!" Comet exclaimed. "You're a big shot now! Sitting at the table with royalty?! And most importantly, you're going to closer to Princess Luna than any one of us could get to!"

"Calm down." I advised with a soft smirk. "It sounds like you're separating me from anypony else as if I'm more important than anyone else."

"But you are! You're eating dinner with royalty!" He persisted.

"Shut up, you idiot." I returned. "I better not hear another word about being 'more important' from you anymore."

"Geez…" He pulled back a little. "I was just trying to help you."

"I know…" I nodded, understanding what he was trying to do. "I just…I don't want to get corrupted with the thought of being 'big', you know? I'm just going to eat some dinner with some pretty important ponies, and that's that. I'm not going to change or anything."

"Okay, sure." He agreed. "But what about Princess Luna? That's more important. Now you're going to finally meet and even have a chance to talk to her!"

The thought of it in my mind made the butterflies in my stomach rattle around. "Stop…you're going to get me more nervous than I should be…"

"Well, I mean, I think you really have a chance! Look at your cutie mark! Stars? Her specialty with the moon? It works perfectly!" He continued to be his excitingly self.

"Yeah, and you're cutie mark is a comet, Comet." I pointed out the resemblance too.

"No, no!" He shook his head. "Mine doesn't count. It's all about you-" He quickly paused and cleared his throat. "Ehem, not that I'm saying you're more important or anything."

"Hm." I chuckled slightly. "Either way, I hope you're right…maybe…"

Comet glanced over to clock and lightly shoved me. "Yeah, yeah, you better get going. You're going to want to make a first good impression."

"Yeah." I agreed when I was out the front door. "I'll try."


I sat up on my bed after hearing three light pounds on the door downstairs. I groaned and paid more attention on thinking over my recent dream, as it had left me with a really weird feeling than the average dream.

"Alex! We're going to be late for the Ponyville Days pony of ceremonies selection!" I heard Twilight's voice from outside muffle out as it came through the door and up the stairs.

That's a mouthful…

Trying let the feeling shake off me, I began walking in the almost eerie silence and headed down the stairs to the front door.

I opened the door to be greeted by all of my best friends…well…maybe not all of them.

"There you are." Twilight mentioned with a smile.

"Oh…yeah." I rubbed my head a little tiredly. "Sorry, I had weird dream."

"About?" Twilight tilted her head in curiosity, keeping her small beam.

"Eh…" I lightly shrugged it off. "The same random stuff when we were in Canterlot."

"I see… Well, we don't want to be late for the selection, do we? Who knows who going to get picked this time!"

"Uh, sure." I returned, not quite remembering what the whole ceremony was about again.

"How have your wings been feeling?" Fluttershy asked me as we headed towards Town Hall.

They were still wrapped, so I couldn't really move them at all. "They haven't really been hurting that much, like if you were to poke them or something. I still can't fly…yet…but it won't be too long until I get there…I hope." I thought ahead about the Equestria Games, believing they would be just as good as new in time for the largely massed event.

"Oh, don't worry." Fluttershy assured me with her grin. "You'll get there in no time." Fluttershy rubbed her head with mine, which I warmly accepted.

"Wow!" Rainbow Dash suddenly exclaimed as she hovered in flight. "I can't believe how many ponies showed up!" She pointed out as we crossed the bridge to Town Hall. It was true. There were tons of other ponies gathering around, just like Winter Wrap only, only they weren't wearing any vests.

"I can!" Pinkie Pie added in excitedly. "I mean, finding out who the Ponyville Days pony of ceremonies is is a pretty big deal!"

As we joined in with the other ponies, Mayor Mare stepped up to the podium while three elder ponies sat at a table, one of them being recognized by all of us.

"I didn't know Granny Smith was on the selection committee." Twilight mentioned.

"Of course she is." Applejack assured confidently. "Ponyville Days celebrates the founding of Ponyville, and she was right there." She explained as a little filly with a balloon had walked up to Granny Smith, whom pat the little filly's mane lightly.

"I'm glad the committee didn't automatically pick me so everypony gets a chance to see how great being me actually is!" Pinkie began to excitedly let herself go verbally, leaving upset frowns on everypony. "Even though the festival's basically a party and the pony of ceremonies gets to organize the whole thing! So it'd totally make sense if they did pick me."

"Shhh!" Everypony shushed her, as the event seemed to be starting.

During that time, I noticed Vinyl actually not to far from we were. In fact, she was pretty close. She noticed me and sent a small smile. I returned the same thing, but then I noticed…him… Bulk Biceps stood out from the crowd like nothing, and I couldn't help but lose my smile when I turned my attention back to Mayor Mare, who began talking.

"Citizens of Ponyville, this year's applicants were all exceptional, but there can only be one Ponyville Days pony of ceremonies." I looked to see who she could have been talking about, and I assumed it were the ponies that were…dressed a little…differently. "And that pony is..." Mayor Mare paused and looked at the selection committee as they talked quietly and eventually agreed on something…or somepony.

Pinkie Pie inhaled in a lot longer than anypony could actually take and then surprised me when she inflated herself and floated above us.

"What the…?!" I exclaimed quietly, being unable to believe what I saw.

Granny Smith walked over to Mayor Mare and placed a slip of paper on the podium for her to see. The mayor's smile disappeared for a quick moment, as if she was surprised to see who it was, but then it quickly grew back when she announced the name. "Rarity!"

Rarity was shocked herself to hear such a thing, placing a hoof to her chest. As the others cheered and congratulated her, ponies around her shook hooves with her and one even gave her a bouquet of flowers.

"Congratulations, Rarity!" Twilight expressed, facing Rarity. "Do you know what you're gonna do?"

As soon as Twilight asked that, Spike came in, rolling over a model scale of Ponyville. However, this model had a bunch of red banners that connected each and every building.

"Oh, I might have a few ideas." She admitted.

Walking up to the model, I felt poised about Rarity's intentions. "Whatever they are, I'm sure they'll be worth it."

"Aw." Rarity lightly played with her hair and blushed lightly. "Believe me, I've recently formed many more ideas that don't all adhere to Ponyville."

"What you mean?" I asked curiously.

"Oh, never mind that. Please, if you all will, we must continue this at the boutique. That is where…the magic begins." Rarity stroke a short pose and then walked fashionably ahead in a ladylike manner.

At the boutique, Rarity set up the stage in the middle and asked for Spike's help on other things. For the moment, I found it a bit…surprising or odd that she didn't really request assistance from me, especially since she loved to always include me in art-related projects, but I didn't really think much of it and waited for Rarity and Spike to finish whatever they needed to do.

The six of us, Pinkie, Rainbow, Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, and I stood in front of the stage. There was an easel holding Rarity's presentation and, of course, some music ready to play.

"I'm so excited for the festival, I can hardly stand up straight!" Pinkie Pie eagerly bounced and hopped up and down until she fell flat on her face to prove her point.

I used my magic to gently pick her back up to place while Twilight added in to the conversation.

"Me too. I'm glad Rarity was picked. I know she'll add a touch of elegance to the whole thing!"

"Probably more than a touch!" Applejack stated right before the lights turned off.

Next, the spotlights at the front of the stage directed themselves at the curtains. Spike walked out and cranked on the music. He messed with his bow tie and cleared his throat. Another spotlight from the ceiling lit up and faced him. He pulled out several notecards and held them up to his face, reading off them. "This year's Ponyville Days festival, designed by Rarity, will feature various high-class events such as..." He grabbed ahold of the first page on the easel and turned it over to reveal another page that depicted a drawn picture of ponies tasting a certain drink. It was most likely done by Rarity. "…a silent cider auction and tasting."

"Ooooh!" The others returned.

"A Ponyville gala in town square." Spike revealed another page depicting couples dancing with each other.

Fluttershy and I exchanged a look with each other. It seemed we silently already made plans to dance at this event. However, I also imagined Rarity asking for a dance.

"Ahhhh!" The girls continued.

"And, of course, a Ponyville fashion show." Another drawing was shown revealing the scene.


"This year's Ponyville Days festival pony of ceremonies creates shimmering couture of her own design." Spike continued professionally, directing our attention to the circular light on the curtains.

Of course, they opened sideways to reveal the important pony behind this project. Rarity was wearing a beautiful and shining dress that was studded with gems, along with the accessories like the ring on her horn and her earrings.

"And the theme is..." Rarity kept us in suspense as she walked into the middle of the catwalk. "'Small Town Chic'!" She threw her head around with each word pronounced, ending with a presentable grin.

"Wow, Rarity. You really have put a lot of effort into this." Twilight commented.

"I'll say." Applejack added.

"Oh, I think it's going to be magical." Fluttershy mentioned, possibly continuing to be excited from the thought earlier with the dance.

Rarity gasped, seeming to actually be surprised to hear this. "Do you really think so?"

"Are you kidding? I can't wait!" Pinkie expressed clearly.

"Me either." I joined with a smile.

"Oh, that's such a relief. But of course, I couldn't possibly do it all on my own." Rarity said as the lights turned back on and Spike rolled over some steps for her to walk down from the catwalk. "The festival is in three days!"

"Pinkie Pie and I can hang lights and decorations in the town square!" Rainbow Dash immediately offered.

"And I can get Sweet Apple Acres all ready for the cider tastin'." Applejack added.

"Oh, that's just perfect!" Rarity's face was struck with glee. "And now, Twilight, if you and Fluttershy wouldn't mind helping with the fashion show..."

"Of course!" Twilight responded.

"I'd be honored." Fluttershy softly replied.

I was expecting to…receive a job too, but she didn't seem to have something in store for me right away. I decided to not mention anything, seeing as she might have wanted to wait until later to tell me. She usually always had something planned for me… Even for projects I felt I wouldn't be great at, she'd always try to include me somehow…

"I can focus on the thing I'm worried about most of all." Rarity stated, snapping me out of my thoughts.

"What?" The rest of the girls inquired about.

"Creating a Ponyville Days festival fantastic enough to impress..." Rarity paused and then squished her cheeks with her hooves while her eyes gleamed with the lights in the boutique. "Trenderhoof!"

As everypony remained silent at the sudden name that came out of her mouth, I could only feel… I don't know what I felt… My face made its own expression by lowering an eyebrow in both curiosity and concern, but I just couldn't…describe what I felt.

After receiving a shrug from Fluttershy, Applejack decided to bring the question up to Rarity. "Uh, who's Trenderhoof?"

"What?!" Rarity exclaimed out loud in a sharp tone, seeming to expect us to automatically know who this…Trenderhoof was. "How can you not know who Trenderhoof is?" Rarity trotted a bit angrily to the side of the room and pushed a couple of curtains away with her magic. I had no idea she would reveal this…hidden room that actually held a huge collection of this pony she must have been talking about. "Trenderhoof is only the most amazing, handsomest travel writer to have ever traveled or written! Before Las Pegasus became an Equestria travel destination, he wrote about it! Before the culinary revolution in Trottingham, he discovered it!" As Rarity excitedly described him, I could only let my eyes squint and my eyebrows furrow by themselves. "He knows what's going to be hot even before it's tepid!" She grabbed ahold of one of the posters of him, brought it close to her, and hugged it while giggling and slightly squealing.

I couldn't give a reason why…but I felt a little angry at the sight of this.

"Sounds like somepony has a little bit of a crush!" Twilight nudged Rarity playfully.

"Oh, Twilight, 'crush' doesn't even begin to describe it!" She allowed herself to fall in Twilight's hooves, as if she was really love-struck with this guy. "He's practically divine. I can't believe he's coming!" She twirled and spin eagerly, later to follow with a lot of tittering.

The more she obsessed over him, the angrier I felt.

After sharing similar looks with each other about Rarity's obsession, the girls decided to excuse themselves. "Well, I guess we better get going so we can start on our parts." Twilight announced. "C'mon, girls." Twilight advised, bringing the others with her to the outside, including Spike.

Once the door was shut, there was only Rarity and me in the same area we were standing on. I turned from the door to Rarity, whom was continuing to stare at her poster. Despite the new unexpected feelings that formed and wanted to come out, I had to swallow it all in to talk to her.

"Rarity…" I stepped forward, trying to feign a…barely content mood. "…I never knew you…um…had a crush on this…Trenderhoof."

"Oh." Rarity placed the poster away and turned to me to walk towards me. "Don't tell the others this but…" She lowered her tone to almost a whisper. "…I actually had forgotten about him for a while…" She noticed my lightly furrowed eyebrows that resulted after her explanation. "…a long while…um…" She cleared her throat. "…perhaps…before I met you. Um. Either way…" She turned and tapped her hooves together. "Recently, I was just reminded about him. I had forgotten that I left all the stuff I collected of him in my closet, and getting back into him, I decided to make this." She presented her hoof at the very thing I did not need another look at. "Never mind that, Alex." She turned back to me. "This is perfect, don't you see?" She walked closer to me. "Now, we don't have to worry about that silly little crush I have for you anymore! Now, you don't need to worry about me getting in the way of you and Fluttershy, and I can focus on Trenderhoof!"

"Uh…huh…" I really had no words to say…not after she just…explained everything just like that.

"That reminds me!" Rarity recalled. "Trenderhoof is supposed to be arriving in Ponyville today! Would you please ever do me the favor to come with me? I could really use somepony like you."

"Why?" I questioned, feeling a little better just to hear that she needed me.

"I'll be meeting the Trenderhoof, Alex. I might just die of nervousness if I was to be all by myself!"

And just like that, I kind of felt shattered inside. Nonetheless, I still felt the need to go with her. "…sure…" I answered reluctantly.

As we stood waiting at the train station, Rarity was anxiously waving a paper fan in front of her face. I had to angrily look away, but I hoped that I wasn't making it too obvious… When the train arrived in sight and later stopped, Rarity felt right to talk to me then.

"Thank you ever so much for joining me, Alex." Rarity expressed quickly, clearly revealing her nerves. "It's so delighting to have some support."

"Uh-huh…" I responded, feeling completely opposite than content.

The train door slid open, unboarding the chattering ponies from inside.

"Is that him?" Rarity immediately asked and continued to question with her nervous striking high. "Is he here? Alex, is he there?"

"I don't know." I answered emotionlessly without trying too hard to look.

"You don't suppose he's decided not to come?" Rarity continued to fretfully interrogate. "Alex, I don't see him! What if he doesn't arrive? The whole festival will be a disaster! Alex, where is he?!" She exclaimed out loud, alarming all of the ponies around us and causing an awkward silence. She darted her eyes around the train station to notice so and cleared her throat. "Sorry."

"Is he seriously that important to make you nervous?" I asked a little bitterly. "What's so great about him?"

"'What's so great about him'?!" Rarity repeated in disbelief.

Not wanting to hear it, I decided to retract that question. "Never mind…"

Lastly, one especially different pony stood out from the rest when he stepped out the train. And from seeing the posters Rarity had…I could tell it was him. After all, the way he was dressed…was the first time I've ever seen a pony dress like that, at least face-to-face. When I glanced over to Rarity, she was completely stuck with her gaze at him, leaving me to frown irritably at her.

She released a loud gasp and then hid behind me under my tail while clenching onto my back legs.

"So?" I spoke, beginning to become annoyed.

"It's him, it's him, is it him? Is it him? It's him, he's here, he's here!" She stuttered and released quickly and anxiously.

"Aren't you going to talk to him?" I asked, unable to believe she was actually too nervous to talk to this guy when usually it was the other way around.

Rarity shook and returned some unintelligible screeching. "I can't!"

I narrowed my eyes and began turning to leave. "Then, I'll just get going then."

"No, wait!" Rarity called me.

I sighed and turned back.

She took in a deep breath and exhaled it. Afterwards, she walked towards this stallion while I could only be forced to watch this conversation I so much cringed at.

After nervously laughing, Rarity began rubbing her hoof as she stood in front of him. "Uh, hi—" She cleared her throat in midsentence. "Hello, Mr. Trenderhoof. I am Rarity, and I have been chosen as pony of ceremonies for the Ponyville Days festival." She continued to laugh while blushing at the sight of him.

I only shook my head and rolled my eyes.

"Please, call me 'Trend'." He stated in this really…in my opinion…obnoxious way.

Rarity turned from her flushed grin to a twitching eye and appeared to faint and fall to the floor.

"Seriously?" I questioned heatedly and walked to her to wake her back up.

As I began trying to pull her up, Trenderhoof began speaking to me. "Ah, you must be the Prince."

"Yeah, I guess so…" I answered unwillingly.

"It's fantastic to meet you. It'd be amazing to do a story on you. There's just so much to write about." He continued. "You wouldn't mind, would you?"

As much as I really felt like returning an outburst, I kept it inside. "Sorry…I'm not too comfortable about that…"

He shrugged and seemed to take it lightly. "Oh well, there's always next time."

Sorry, there is no next time.

"Rarity, come on. Wake up." I lightly shook her.

She lightly fluttered her eyelashes as her eyes opened. "Hm? Is that you, Trend?" She was quick to narrow my eyes again. However, once she knew it was me, she quickly retracted that name. "Oh, I mean, it's you, Alex!"

"Yeah…" I returned uneasily, pulling her up back on her hooves.

"Well then." She looked at the both of us as she dusted herself off. "Why don't you say we get started on our look of Ponyville?"

"After you." Trenderhoof presented, causing Rarity to giggle with a blush as she led him out of the train station.

I only rolled my eyes again as I regrettably followed them.

"And over here will be the climax of the festival, the Ponyville Days gala! Music, dancing!" Rarity chuckled in a certain way as she glanced over to Trenderhoof at that last word. "And of course a locally sourced menu of delicious treats." She added.

"Reminds me of the 'Spring Fling meets Manehattan Wedding' I wrote about in Gallop & Prance." He mentioned.

Sure, why don't you tell us all about it?

"Exactly! I, I can't even describe how much your work has influenced me!" Rarity returned.

I couldn't really take all this talk anymore, so I decided to excuse myself.

"You know, I think I'll go check on the others and how they're getting on with this festival." I stated.

"Oh, of course, of course." Rarity easily responded. "You go on ahead."

I flopped my ears down as I stood there speechless when she continued to walk along with Trenderhoof by her side. This was the first time she so easily dismissed me from her company…and I could hardly believe it. I scrunched my face in anger for a moment and then turned around to find something else…far away.

I came across Twilight's door like a helpless dog and knocked.

"Hey there. What's up?" Twilight asked as she answered the door.

"Hey…you've got any room for helping with fashion show?" I questioned.

"Actually…" Twilight glanced back inside. "We haven't really started on the fashion show. We're waiting until things are a little more put together. After all, I believe the fashion show is at the end after the gala." She chuckled a little.

"Oh, right…" I responded with.

"What's bothering you?" Twilight noticed my trouble through my tone.

"I guess I just feel a little…I don't know…left out." I answered truthfully, but it wasn't everything I was enduring. Twilight stepped to the side for me to walk in. "Rarity didn't have anything for me like she usually does for projects like this. And…it doesn't seem she…" And that point, I wanted to put "care"…but I couldn't allow myself. She had to care… "I don't know."

"Oh, Alex." Twilight placed a hoof on my shoulder. "I'm sure she didn't want to bother you. If she always wants to include you in her art projects, maybe she felt she needed to give you a break? Otherwise, she'd feel like she's asking too much of you."

"Twilight's right." Fluttershy had come from another area. She must have been in here because she was supposed to work with Twilight on the fashion show. "I know I'd feel like that if I was always asking for favors from you."

"Hm…" I looked slightly away. "I don't know… It just…feels weird."

"When's she done planning for the festival, you can talk to her. Then, she'll tell you what she was really trying to do for you." Twilight appeared to feel highly confident about that suggestion.

"Hey." Spike walked towards us but mostly faced me. "If it makes you feel any better, I was going to go Rarity's to see if she wanted to taste the cider when it's finished." He held up a cup in his claw. "I have my cider-tasting cup!"

I managed to smile lightly. "Gee, thanks, Spike. Normally, I thought you would rather want to be…you know…" I lowered the tone of my voice. "…alone with Rarity?"

"I wouldn't enjoy it knowing that one of my best buds is feeling down. Besides, she's all over that Trenderhoof guy anyway."

I sighed and spoke under my breath. "Don't remind me…"

"Listen, Alex." Spike began telling me as we were on our walk to Rarity's boutique. "Let's be real here, we're pretty much the only dudes here in our huge group of friends. Shining Armor and any other guys are too busy doing their own thing, so that leaves us. I just want to tell you that if you ever need anything, I'm your guy to help you out." He pointed to himself proudly. "You've been there for me before and I can't really remember when I actually did something for you, so I'm just letting you know."

"Oh… Thanks, Spike." I responded, feeling a bit grateful for his offer.

"Believe it!" Spike assured. "I'll even mess with the ponies that bother you the most!" He pulled out his claw and used it for his thoughts. "Like that Starlight I've heard you guys talk about."

I widened my eyes in surprise for a second and then allowed them to rest as I turned my head to Spike. "Uh…let's just…leave her out of this conversation, okay?"

"Oh!" Spike understood. "Yeah, gotcha!"

We reached the door to Rarity's boutique. Spike raised his free claw to knock on the front door.

There was no answer.

"Maybe she's still with Trenderhoof." I assumed.

"She couldn't have taken that long…" Spike scratched his head. "Besides, we're supposed to go try the cider samples, and this festival is important to her!" He opened the door and I followed in after him, closing it behind me. "Rarity? Rarity! Hello?" Spike called out.

We suddenly heard what sounded like muffled sobbing coming from that room that held the huge collection of Trenderhoof. From the entrance of the room, I looked down to see a huge trail of water leading straight to it.

"…what the?" I questioned.

Spike walked up to the curtain and opened it to reveal Rarity crying at the table holding all her Trenderhoof stuff.

"I brought my cider-tasting cup, and Alex is coming with me!" Spike approached Rarity happily, seeming to not know or realize that she was crying loudly right in front of him. "Are you ready to go try the samples?" He held out his cup towards her.

"What's the point?!" She answered loudly, throwing her hooves out and knocking the cup out of Spike's claws.

"Rarity, what happened?" I walked in, beginning to greatly feel concerned about her.

"Nothing!" She paused between quick breaths.

"Is it…Trenderhoof?" I guessed.

"He doesn't like me." She stated almost quietly.

"What?" Spike asked.

"He doesn't like me." Rarity repeated in the same manner.

"Rarity, I can't hear what you're—"

"He doesn't like me because he has a crush on Applejack, even though I've had a crush on him ever since the beginning of time, and it's not fair!" Rarity turned and cried out loud through huge sobs.


"Trenderhoof doesn't like you? That's ridiculous!" Spike continued conversing with Rarity while I could only remain silent.

"Oh, Spike, how could you ever know what it's like to be totally obsessed with a pony only to find out they're obsessed with somepony else?" She asked as she focused her eyes on a poster of him. Spike crossed the claws in front of him and looked at me with ironic eyes. "I mean, what could Applejack possibly have that I don't?!"

"I 'unno." He merely shrugged, still pretty annoyed at the thought that Rarity had no idea what he himself had to go through.

"Well, to be honest, Rarity. You two are completely different." I spoke up. "For example, you have your thing with fashion. She has her thing with the farm. You hate getting dirty. She doesn't mind it as long as she gets her work done."

"Hmm..." Rarity rubbed her chin in thought after hearing this. "That's it!" She suddenly perked up.

"What?" Spike inquired.

"If Trenderhoof likes Applejack because of what she does…" Rarity rubbed her hooves together in thought. "Then if I do what Applejack does, he has to like me then!"

"What?!" I exclaimed, unable to believe that she was going to go this far. "Why don't you just give it a rest!?"

"No!" Rarity shouted out. "I HAVE to get him to like me!" She then dashed out of the curtained room to who knew where.

"So…I guess she doesn't want to go cider-tasting then…?" Spike assumed.

I sighed and began walking out. "Come on, Spike…"

"I think Applejack should have some samples ready for us back at the farm." Spike mentioned as we walked through town, everywhere being busy with ponies.

"Alright then." I merely responded, but I was too distracted by Rarity's behavior.

"Hi, Alex!" I heard a cheerful voice exclaim and land by me.

I turned my head to see Derpy joining me by my side. "Oh, hey, Derpy." I greeted, surprised by her appearance.

Derpy tilted her head to notice my bandaged wings. "Ooh. What happened to your wings?"

"I…got into a little trouble…" I tried to explain subtly. "…with a creature…"

"Oh! I hope everything is okay."

"Yeah, don't worry. They'll get better over time." I assured with a small smile.

"That's good to hear!" Derpy grinned before we heard another voice behind us.

"Alex!" I looked back to see Applejack trotting towards us with another pony strictly following behind her. "I'm so glad to see you."

"Why?" I questioned in concern.


Trenderhoof suddenly cut in between us. "As I was saying before, I wanna know about you! What do apples mean to Applejack?"

Applejack sighed and focused her eyes seriously on Trenderhoof. "Look, I'm glad you're interested in Ponyville 'n' all, but I'm kinda busy with my chores. And if I can't get 'em done, there won't be a Ponyville Days festival for you to write about."

"Well, that will never do!" Another pony sounded, having us turn to see Rarity dressed in a different style that she managed to work to her liking.

"I should probably get going now…" Derpy whispered and then flew away from the scene, believing it was getting too crowded.

"Rarity, what are you wearin'?" Applejack asked with a touch of humor in her tone.

"What, this old thing?" She presented her outfit. Her fashionable cowgirl presentation didn't look old at all…

"Aren't you too busy plannin' the festival to keep makin' new outfits for it?" Applejack questioned as Trenderhoof continued to obviously gaze at her.

"I am. But the thought of hauling apples inspired me, and I just couldn't stop myself!" Rarity explained, stepping forward next to Trenderhoof.


"Really?" Applejack included a skeptical tone now.

"If there's one thing I love, it's hauling apples!" Rarity flipped her mane right in front of Trenderhoof, trying to earn his attention.

"I'm growing fond of it myself." Trenderhoof added in dreamily, continuing his sight on Applejack after she rolled her eyes.

"Maybe you two should try it sometime…" I could hear Applejack speak under her breath.

"I'm feeling a tad inspired." Trenderhoof voiced, earning Rarity's admiration. "Without farm life, there'd be such disparity…" He began in a poetic tone. "These thoughts I think with great clarity…"

I narrowed my eyes and began leaving as he continued doing what he apparently did best. "I'll see you at the farm, Applejack." Spike quickly followed me by my side.

"I, uh…" Applejack tried to say something, but seemed to be stuck with Rarity and Trenderhoof when he directed his attention to her.

Spike and I waited at the farm, seeing as we needed Applejack to get on with tasting the cider. For some reason, Rarity arrived first, but it didn't seem she bothered stopping by to talk to us.

"There's Rarity." Spike brought up and stood up from sitting on a hay bale. "I'm going to see what's up!" He quickly caught up after her.

I sighed and placed a hoof to my face. What had this day come to?

"Looks like you need somepony." I heard before looking up from my hoof.

Spirit was smiling softly at me as she took Spike's place on the hay bale.

"Spirit!" I softly exclaimed. "It's been quite a long time since I've seen you…that is…outside our dream."

"I noticed you were kind of lonely…" She answered. "I thought I could cheer you up if I came by."

"Well, you did." I smiled back at her. "But I can't promise I'll continue like this if things don't change."

"Want to fill me in?" She asked, reminding me that she wasn't going to know my days already before I told her anymore.

"It's Rarity. Ever since this morning, all she's been talking about is Trenderhoof. She's so crazy about him…I feel like it's changing her."

"Trenderhoof, huh…"

"Do you know him?" I asked.

"…not really." It took some time for her to think about it and respond.

"Whoever he is…I can't help but feel angry towards him. I know I shouldn't be, because he didn't do anything specifically to me…but the way he's having Rarity change… Ugh. It's just getting on my nerves."

"Excuse me, Mr. Trenderhoof, but are you just going to keep following all day?" We heard Applejack in the distance.

"I should get going." Spirit hopped off the hay bale. "We'll talk about this later, kay?"

"Okay…" I said before she headed off.

"Oh, I'd just love to hear all about your farm, Applejack. More importantly, I'd love to hear what you offer for it." I could hear Trenderhoof continue to persistently bug her.

"Funny thing about that. It's really hard for me to offer anything if you keep trailing behind me like a hungry dog." The both of them came into view. Once, Applejack spotted me, she quickly trotted to me while trying to keep the apples in her basket intact. When she reached me, she placed down her apples and almost frantically appeared to speak. "Alex, quick. I could really use your help. I need—" She suddenly stopped midsentence when we both noticed Trenderhoof happily listening in on our conversation. Applejack irritably cleared her throat and turned her head to Trenderhoof. "Ah-hem. Do you mind…?"

"Oh! Not at all!" He shook his head, but continued to remain there.

Applejack narrowed her eyes in annoyance and spoke in a defeated manner. "Never mind…" We then heard some high-pitched grunts somewhere by, catching Applejack's ears. "What in tarnation…?"

Applejack and I began heading towards the source of this noise, but of course, Trenderhoof stupidly followed.

"…you want me to…you know…?" I spoke softly to Applejack and subtly directed my eyes towards Trenderhoof.

Applejack shook her head and responded in the same tone. "We can't risk anything against the festival." She stopped in both talk and walk after seeing Rarity on top of a plow as if she was trying to get it to work by riding it like a carriage. "That is…if the festival even happens…"

Rarity ceased her efforts and sighed. "Oh, how does Applejack do it?"

"Well, it would help if the harness was on right!" Applejack answered to the flaws in her actions, walking over to Rarity on the plow. "What are you doin'?"

"I am simply lending a hoof with the chores, which I love doing ever so much." She returned.

Annoyingly lowering my eyelids was beginning to become a normal thing now.

Applejack shared a quick glance at Trenderhoof and then worked on getting the harness correctly on herself. "Well if you're still interested after the festival I can teach you all about it. But right now, I need to get the plowin' done, if you don't mind." In a second, she immediately worked her hind legs to move the plow across the field very easily. It was just so surprising how much strength was really in that pretty slim body of hers.

Besides that, Rarity was thrown off the plow as soon as Applejack dragged it. "Not at all." Rarity returned dreamily once she realized she was in Trenderhoof's forelegs. Seeing how he was too interested in Applejack, he merely let her go to get a better look at Applejack's work. "Ugh! Oh!"

I sighed, seeing how even though I was pretty silently furious with Rarity's behavior, I still couldn't resist helping her in her need, whether it was short or long. I grabbed her hoof and gently pulled her up.

"Thank you…Alex…" She expressed a little slowly.

"She makes it look so easy." Spike shared with Trenderhoof.

"I know. Isn't she fantastic?" Trenderhoof responded in the same manner as Rarity had with him.

Rarity took notice of this comment and lowered her head as if she was disappointed that her efforts made no change.

I silently furrowed my eyebrows and placed on a disgruntled face while I walked away with my eyes facing the floor. "Sure." I said before I left the area.

From the sidelines, I watched bitterly as I rested my head on my forelegs and my forelegs on the white fence. Applejack was doing her job in bucking the apples from the trees. Trenderhoof was clinging on to her figuratively. And Rarity was attempting to do the same to Trenderhoof. Normally, I would have loved to help out, but I was in too of a bad mood to even think about it. I really felt like giving Trenderhoof a piece of my mind, but there were two things that stopped me. One: Applejack preferred for me to not be straight up with him like that, most likely because he might write negative things about Ponyville or something. Two: I had to admit that Trenderhoof really didn't do anything. Well…he was bothering Applejack while she was trying to work, which annoyed me as well. But focusing on Rarity, he wasn't actually doing anything. Just the…sight of Trenderhoof apparently made Rarity feel like gelatin. And now…it doesn't even really feel like we're friends anymore… Am I selfish for thinking this? Is this really the right thing to think about?

Trenderhoof clapped yet again after Applejack performed a swift kick to the tree.

"I really don't see what the fuss is all about." Rarity announced and then turned to the tree behind her to lightly knock on it with her hoof.

"Now, Rarity, you be careful." Applejack cautiously warned. "If you don't get the buckin' just right, you could sprain a hoof."

"I am perfectly familiar with the apple-bucking process, thank you very much." Rarity reacted, appearing slightly offended by Applejack's warning. "But while you seem to rely on raw power, I believe a certain amount of style is required. It's really more of a dance, if you ask me." She specifically mentioned the last part to Trenderhoof and then went on to do whatever she meant.

She hopped and lightly danced, as told, while making happy sounds as if she was humming a song. After taking a few seconds, she sent one of her hind legs out and knocking at the tree and causing one apple to barely fall and land in her basket. "Et voilà!"

"Well, your way is definitely long on style." Applejack critiqued with a hint of sarcasm.

"Thank you." Rarity answered in almost a relieved tone.

"Now, if you'll all excuse me, Alex and I have some more chores to do." Applejack unexpected included me. She was just about to reach me when she noticed Trenderhoof was still following her with a big grin. She turned and controllably asserted herself. "Inside!" She continued on her way and grabbed ahold of my hoof to lead me to a chicken coop. "C'mon." She let go and squeezed into the coop while I did the same. I had a little more trouble, seeing as I was a bit bigger than her, but she helped me by pulling me inside with her hoof. Afterwards, she shut the door to the coop.

"Do you really have chores in here?" I asked as I looked around at all the chickens clucking inside. "Or did you just need a reason to get away from Trenderhoof?"

"I do." Applejack answered, showing a little of her frustration. "But it's just so darn annoyin' to be having that Trenderhoof following me. There's no doubt about it, that pony's got a hardcore crush on me or somethin'."

"No kidding…" I looked towards the door to where he probably roamed about.

"I would really appreciate if you could do me a favor. I know you probably want nothing to do with him, but could you somehow just distract him so he can lose his scent on me? Or do you at least know a way that'll distract him?"

I shrugged. "Let me go see what he's doing outside, you just do what you need to do here." I turned and slightly opened the door enough to see what he was doing.

He seemed to be focused on a tree. I didn't know if he was "observing the ethic lifestyle around here", but either way, he seemed distracted for a moment. But just to be sure…

"What'd you need to do here?" I asked.

"Just needed to make sure the chickens were doin' alright. Why?"

"Can I have an egg?"

"Uh…" I could see the curiosity in her eyes. "I guess." She hoofed me an egg, leading me to look back outside. "What are you gonna do?"

I crawled outside and hid behind a bush. Trenderhoof had messed with the tree enough to have one of its apples land on his head. I used my magic to carry the egg as I narrowed my eyes in concentration. I let go of the egg with my magic and then used my foreleg to throw it across the field towards him. As soon as I did that, I rushed over to Applejack as quietly as I could and pulled her along with me under cover. I could hear the crack of the egg as we both were able to silently escape.

At the end, we were able to gallop into the barn. Applejack immediately slammed the door shut and placed her body on it to make sure there was no way for him to walk in.

"Whew! Well, that was close." Applejack mentioned. "Tha—"

"If you've come to apologize, there's really no need." Rarity spoke, showing her back to us, but mostly at Applejack.

"What are you talkin' about?" Applejack confronted.

"Let's dispense with the charade, shall we?"

"Listen, I know you really want Trend to like you—"

"And he does! Despite somepony's best efforts!" Rarity pushed herself close up and face-to-face with Applejack and then walked away. She headed towards the wooden cart that Big Macintosh seemed to be filling up with a bunch of tools.

"I swear I don't know why he has to pay so much attention to me. And I don't know anypony who's that interested in farmin'. Not even me!" Applejack responded truthfully.

"Well, maybe it's time Trend met a real country pony." Rarity began walking off with the cart, holding her eyes dramatically closed.

"Shouldn't you be workin' on the festival instead of comin' up with new ways to impress Trend?" Applejack reminded.

"Oh, I'm sure you'd love that. Well, I have a new vision for the festival…" She turned to speaking in a very off country accent. "…and it's gonna be more country than the whole Apple family put together!"

Applejack exchanged a look of concern with me. "You've got to knock some sense into that pony, Alex."

"Seriously?" I replied. "Apparently, she's too obsessed over Trenderhoof to listen to anypony. She's going way too far with this."

"That's exactly why you need her to see what she's doing over a single pony!"

"Hmph." I turned around and crossed my forelegs on the ground. "Seems a lot more than just a 'crush'…"

"Listen, Alex." Applejack brought up. "I'll come with you, alright? We'll both try to knock some sense to that pony. She has to listen if we pester her long enough!"

I sighed and decided that I saw no harm in that. "I guess."

"Good." Applejack reached my side to walk me to the barn door. "We gotta reach her before she gets too crazy."

It took us a little longer than usual to get to Ponyville as we had to be extra careful that Trenderhoof wasn't in sight or following us. Seeing as she would most likely be at the boutique, we headed there first to see…something different than the last time we were there.

The steps of Applejack's trots surprised the girls that were already inside.

"Applejack, Alex, what's going on?" Twilight questioned with a hint of fear.

"I'm too scared to guess." Applejack responded as we noticed the obvious change in scenery.

I, for one, began to realize what Rarity was trying to prove with this new change.

The lights buzzed and turned off.

We began hearing that same country accent Rarity was trying to imitate from the barn sound from within the stage. "Firstly, I just want to thank you all for comin', and second, I know y'all will all adore my new festival theme!" Spike then came walking out while playing a banjo with a straw hat. Oh, geez… "'Simple Ways'!" Rarity announced as she opened the curtains to reveal herself in a farmer's outfit along with the same styled scenery behind her.

As she received questionable looks from the others, I could only slap a hoof to my forehead.

However, Applejack soon burst out laughing, having to hold a foreleg on Fluttershy for support.

"Well? What's so funny?" Rarity continued with her accent.

"Rarity, that is the silliest getup I have ever seen!" Applejack answered in a heartily tone.

"It is a little funny." Fluttershy giggled.

"Fun-nay?" Rarity replied in surprise.

Twilight joined in by laughing as well. "Rarity, you aren't serious, are you?"

"Well of course I'm serious!" Rarity walked down and angrily responded in her normal voice but then quickly cleared her throat and returned to her ridiculous voice. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because you would never dress like that!" Applejack pointed out. "You like fashion and high society and fancy things."

"And I can like plowin' fields and haulin' apples just as much." Rarity argued.

"But you don't!" Applejack shot.

"How do you know what I like?" Rarity asked.

"Because I know you." Applejack reasoned.

"Wail, maybe you don't know me as well as you thank." Rarity pushed Applejack away and began walking off.

"And I suppose it's just a coincidence that Trenderhoof seemed so interested in country life, too?" Applejack didn't hesitate to mention.

Rarity had stopped at the name of Trenderhoof and turned around. "I don't know what you're gittin' at!"

"Well then, I guess I'll just have to show you!" Applejack stated, leading me to wonder how exactly Applejack was going to do that.

"Be my guest!" Rarity continued walking out the boutique. "Now, if you all will excuse me, I have a hootenanny of a festival to put on."

Applejack growled deeply while holding her ears down.

"What's going on?" Twilight asked out loud concerningly.

"I'll take care of this!" Applejack began storming up the stairs inside the boutique.

I glanced over to the rest of the girls, noticing how they still held questions in their mind. Nonetheless, I trotted over to Applejack to catch up with her upstairs.

"What are you planning to do?" I asked, keeping up the same fast pace as she held.

"We'll have to fight fire with fire." She answered as she entered Rarity's room.

"You don't mean…" I released, having a good idea on what she meant.

"You know plenty what I mean!" She began going through Rarity's closet, retrieving a particular outfit along with a few accessories.

"But you hate wearing "girly frou-frou" outfits."

"Well, I gotta." This is the only way I can think of that can work." She began working herself in placing on the outfit. "Help me out, will ya?!" She requested in almost an aggressive tone.

Applejack was really angry from that argument with Rarity…and I couldn't blame her.

Applejack almost looked like a new pony once she had her targeted appearance on. Not only did she wear the accessories and dress in Rarity's closet, she even took the time to style her mane in a perfectly sophisticated and formal manner.

"Applejack… How were you even able to do your mane?" I questioned with a serious interest.

She sighed as if she was ashamed to answer. "I never really forgot the process after leaving my Aunt and Uncle Orange." She messed with the twirls of her mane at the sides of her head to make sure they were just perfect. "I never thought this would actually come in handy." She took a moment to place a hoof to her chest and inhale a deep breath and later exhale it. "C'mon. The day is going to end before we know it and Rarity is still ragging on her ridiculous idea."

"Okay…" I couldn't help but keep staring at her for a while longer as we walked.

I really never thought I'd see Applejack this sophisticated-looking.

Once Applejack and I were at the barn, we noticed Rarity was tending to some fillies that were apparently going to be in the fashion show.

"Okay." Applejack whispered. "I'll go around the back and get behind that stage. You tell Spike that 'Apple Jewel' is on the list."

"Sure…" I accepted.

She patted me and made her way around the barn.

I sighed, unable to assure myself that this would actually work.

As Rarity spoke to the fillies, I caught up to Spike by his side. He was still wearing the straw hat while holding his checklist.

"Alex?" He asked, pretty surprised of my visit.

"Hey…um." I rubbed my head a little. "There's another pony that's going to be modeling for the fashion show."

"Oh cool! Who is it?"

"… 'Apple Jewel'"

"Huh." Spike scratched his cheek as he thought about that name. "I don't think I remember anypony by that name…"

We heard the fillies began leaving the barn, along with Applebloom…covered in just…something I didn't feel like describing.

Rarity turned to Spike without really acknowledging my presence. "Who's our next model for the fashion show?" She was just trying way too hard on her accent.

"Um... Apple... Jewel?" Spike faced me, questioning the name in his head.

"Who the hay is that?" Rarity asked before the lights inside the barn dimmed.

Everything was focused on the center of the stage. The curtains opened to reveal Applejack. I still could hardly believe Applejack was standing before my eyes wearing something I never thought she would wear before. I could tell this certainly caught Rarity's attention more than it did from Spike. Applejack was really good at pushing away her actual feelings on the subject as she walked fashionably towards us. Then, she gave a spin and walked back in the same manner. She even went as far as to stop in the middle of her walk, pause, and then turn to strike a pose, pursing her lips.

I think we were all shocked to see this actually coming from her. At least…I was…

"Is this some kind of joke?" Rarity demanded.

Stepping up her upper-class accent to counter Rarity's country one, she began speaking loud and clear elegantly. "Why, Rarity, whatever would make you think I was joking?"

"Because you would never wear an ensemble like that." Rarity returned to her normal voice to argue a similar argument from before. "You like plowing fields and hauling apples—"

"And I can like fashion just as much." Applejack explained with Rarity's previous reason, pushing the straw hat of her hers down to her face.

"But you don't!" Rarity switched back to her country accent and lifted the hat back up.

"Well, maybe you do not know me as well as you think." Applejack continued.

"Fine." Rarity allowed for Applejack's behavior to slide off. "But I got a whole festival to plan, so if you're goin' to start modelin', just get on with it!" It seemed Rarity was having trouble keeping up with her accent, or she was already getting fed up with continuously talking like that.

Applejack angrily glared at her but then switched to a more deviant face that held a smirk. It showed that she had something in stock to use. "Life is a festival, and you should celebrate it by looking just like me!" She presented herself girly-like. "Because I'm a trend-setting fashionista!" She struck several poses, even blowing a kiss at the last one.

Honestly, if they were just messing around, I probably would had found the situation absolutely hilarious, but just to remember that this was all because of one freaking pony, it really ticked me off.

"You're a trend-setting fashionista?!" Rarity allowed her anger to slip once she realized the satire slipping from Applejack's lips. "Why, that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever—" She caught herself in midsentence. "I mean..." She now forcibly used her country accent again while taking it up a notch… "Good for you. I, on the other hoof, couldn't care less how I look, long as I get the chores done." Rarity had scratched her mane with her hind leg. Then, she moved on to pressing her nose against her face with her hoof as if she was stupid.

Okay…she's going too far…

"Oh, is that so?" Applejack reacted calmly but was ready to counteract as she stepped down from the catwalk.

"Yes, indeedy-doodle!" Rarity resumed.

Applejack gasped. "Not me!" She held up a mirror, looking into it, and puffed up her mane. "My mane needs to be perfectly coiffed at all times."

Rarity removed the straw hat from her head and presented her mane. "Well, my mane is full of dust and split ends."

Applejack held up her hooves and observed them. "My hooves are so polished, you can see your reflection in them."

Rarity presented hers. "My hooves are cracked and dry from working in the fields!"

"I'm so fashion-forward."

"I wear droopy drawers!"

"I find sophisticated and well-groomed stallions attractive." Applejack placed her hooves on me.

"I like strong and pure-hearted stallions to help me with chores!" Rarity continued to counterattack.

"I smell like rosebuds!" Applejack held up a bouquet of roses close to her.

"I love being covered in mud!" Rarity shouted out crazily and then jumped and dove towards a puddle of mud in one of the stalls inside the barn.

This led mud being thrown at me, along with some landing on Applejack's outfit.

I just had enough.

"Are you serious?!" I shouted angrily, feeling the mud dry up on my coat and face. "I can't believe it! All for one stallion?!" I growled heavily. "Look at yourselves! Rarity, you're covered in mud! Applejack, you're wearing the type of dress you so much despise! Because of one hipster stallion! Who's next?! Twilight?! Rainbow Dash?! Fluttershy?! This isn't like you at all! I thought feeling like you didn't need me anymore was enough!" I directed that last statement at Rarity, who opened her jaw in shock. "But now I have to see all my friends change too?!" I forced my eyes shut, immediately feeling tears want to escape like a fire was in town. I grunted and turned towards the barn door to rush out and disappear from sight.

I fled towards the orchards where I could just be by myself. I threw myself to the grass and covered my face with my forelegs. I tried to not let myself sound like a baby as I allowed the tears to stream down my face.

"Don't cry." I looked up from the startling but soothing voice in front of me. It was Spirit. "I don't like seeing you cry." She expressed with an earnest as well as saddened expression.

I sniffled and wiped the tears off with my hooves. "Sorry." I apologized.

"It's okay…" She returned. "It just hurts me…when I see you cry."

I took in a deep breath and released it in hopes to stop the waterworks. "I…I just…" I sighed at the frustration of trying to come up with what exactly to say. "I don't know if I'm selfish for thinking this…but I just hate the idea of…one…stallion changing all my friends. At first…it was just Rarity… As soon as she just moved on to that stallion…I felt kind of…heartbroken." I shook my head. "I don't mean it like romantically, but… It's just… She used to look up to me so much…I guess…" I chuckled at the silly thought of it. "It just…made me feel so good inside when she would act nervous around me because of her little crush…and to just have that all ignored and taken away overnight because of some one random stallion… It hurts…" I placed a hoof at my chest, feeling a heartache inside. Spirit released a short gasp as she furrowed her eyebrows sadly. "Her admiration was like…" I paused in order to attempt to compare it to something easy. "…was like a little filly who looked up to you so much because you were a really big hero to her… She wanted to be like you…act like you…be brave like you… Her motivation… Just like…" I allowed one more tear to slip by. "…Sweetie Belle…" Spirit frowned and looked away towards the ground. "For now… I guess I just have to get used to it… I just hope…my friends don't change…"

Spirit threw her hooves around me and held on tight. "You'll be okay…" She spoke softly…and I felt like I could even hear some emotional breakage in her voice. "You're always okay. You want to know why?" She pulled away and revealed her watery eyes. "Because you're you. And what does Alex do? He doesn't give up. Never. What would Alex do at a time like this?"

I looked away and thought about it for a moment. "Talk… I need to…talk to Rarity…"

Spirit nodded and smiled, even through her watery eyes. "She's your best friend. She'll listen to you no matter what."

"Thanks…Spirit…" I felt a warmth radiate from her.

She managed to chuckle a bit. "No problem." She closed her eyes, tilted her head, and grinned.

However, she quickly jerked back and placed a hoof at her forehead, appearing to be in pain. She began grunting and clenching the hoof she held.

"Spirit." I held out a hoof towards her in great surprise and concern. "Are you okay?"

She slowly turned her head to the side as if she saw something. Her left eye was clenched shut while she was able to open her right one. I looked in the same direction she was staring at to see an almost grim surprise. There stood an unknown pony who seemed to just stare at us. This pony was unidentifiable as he wore a hoodie that covered most of his body, as well as his face.

"…that's…" Spirit continued to struggle. "…that's my… That's my hoodie…!"

"What?" I exclaimed, glancing at her and then facing back to this pony. "Hey!" I called, but received no answer. "Who are you?!" I asked again, but this pony remained silent. I growled and headed towards him. "Answer me!"

This pony answered with silence, and as soon as I got close enough, he bailed.

"Hey!" I shouted and then ran after him, whom seemed to lead me back all the way to Ponyville.

Whoever this pony was, he clearly wanted to be seen as little as possible. Since everypony must have been preparing for the festival in the middle of town, he led me to empty streets and alleys in Ponyville. He must have been looking for an escape…but he wasn't going to have one if I could help it…

I continued to follow this pony's moves as fast as I could, but he was pretty fast himself. Around one corner, he had disappeared, and he could have gone in four different directions! I quickly looked and galloped around until I actually noticed him standing still. Was he…waiting for me?! Nevertheless, I readied my hooves and ran after him. Hearing the sound, he continued on with the chase.

What kind of thief was this?!

In the middle of the chase, he jumped on the walls and climbed ahead to higher ground. I gasped shortly and stared at him as looked back at me, continuing to wait. Was he mocking me? I glanced over to my wings and remembered the fact that I was rooted to the ground. I grunted and decided that I had to continue going on my four hooves. I climbed up to reach toward him, but as soon as I could start getting on my hooves to run, he fled.

After this, he jumped back down to the streets, leaving me to glare at him from atop.

"Are you kidding me?!" I stomped hooves.

I jumped downwards, took a second to recover, and then continued galloping.

The thief eventually led me to this dead end alleyway. I wasn't sure if he knew it was a dead end or not, but either way, I had to get that hoodie back!

He turned around the corner and had to just reach the dead end as I caught up with him.

"There's nowhere to run now!" I exclaimed and skidded from the corner to face him.


I quickly looked around and noticed that he just vanished. There was nowhere that he could have escaped! Where could have he gone?!

"Alex…" I heard a breathless voice, just like me.

I turned to notice Spirit worriedly catching her breath.

"Spirit…" After I regained control of my breathing, I sighed greatly. "I'm sorry… I couldn't get your hoodie back."

"It's okay…" She stepped up to me. "I'm just glad…that you're safe."

I nodded. "…what about you? Are you okay?"

She nodded as well. "I'm fine."

This time, I gave a sigh of relief. "Good. I'm glad."

"Come on…" She gestured with her head. "Let's go. I don't like it here…"

I understood. I didn't know where he was…but I felt like I could still feel his presence lurking around.

Spirit left and told me she'd see me later at the balcony sometime after we left that abandoned-looking place. I made my way back in town to see preparations being made for the festival. Right…the festival… However, as soon I took a closer look, I recognized that the decorations weren't from that "Simple Ways" theme. It looked…elegant and formal.

"Alex!" Twilight spotted and flew down. "What happened to you?" She looked me over from down to up.

"I…uh…" I could only really shrug.

"There's no time." She shook her head. "You look pretty dirty, to be honest. No offense. The festival's going to start soon, and you want to look clean for your date, don't you?" She smirked lightly.

"H…huh?" I tilted my head in slight confusion, not being able to get my thoughts straight for the moment.

Twilight rolled her eyes and grabbed ahold of me. "Come on."

She took me the boutique and opened the door. "Go on in and wash up. Rarity left something special for you in her room."

"But…what about the decorations? And the…the other stuff? Don't you need help?" I asked about.

"Don't worry about it!" Twilight pushed me in. "Just worry about getting clean and looking good!" Afterwards, she closed the door and left me in the silence of the boutique. I assumed Rarity wasn't home…

After I rinsed and dried off with a towel, I walked up the stairs to Rarity's room to see what she had apparently left me. The door was ajar, so I lightly pressed my hoof against it to open it. I walked in, looking around for a bit until I saw a dress form that stood out from the rest. I walked towards it to see a familiar tux on it that appeared to be upgraded to match my personality more. I noticed a note on top of the dress form. When I picked it up, I figured it wasn't really quite a note. It just held my name so I would know it was mine. Still…

I placed my hoof on the tux and lightly rubbed it.

There was no way she could have done this in such a short time…

Despite feeling a little lonely inside the boutique, once I was dressed up and ready, I began to exit Rarity's room to receive yet another surprise. There was a rose along with a note in her writing as well.

For her.

I picked up the rose with my magic and stared at it for a moment. I glanced back at the note and then back at the rose. I sighed and fit the rose into my pocket. I carefully placed the note back onto the counter from whence it came.

I stepped out into which was now the night sky. There was a bustling of people in the middle of town. As I moved closer into the heart of the festival, which looked gorgeous, I remained pretty confused. I wasn't exactly sure what to do now.

"Heeey!" I heard, turning to see Twilight approaching me. "Don't you look handsome?" She was wearing her own dress for the festival.

I laughed a little at her humor. "What are you? My mom?"

"Nope!" She answered with a smug grin. "She's right behind you!"

"Huh?" I was struck with confusion for a second until I turned around and noticed that Princess Luna was right there with a softly bright smile. "M-mom!" I almost stuttered at the sight of her. She herself was dressed for the occasion.

She immediately greeted me with an enormous embrace, especially counting the size of her. "Twilight is right. You look very handsome."

"Eheh heh." I shrugged embarrassingly. "What are you doing here? Is Tia here too?"

"Unfortunately, she couldn't make it as she's resting right now. I, for one, am a different story. I am the princess of the night, am I not?" She replied.

"Oh, right…" I remembered.

"Don't worry though." She assured. "I will be roaming about and greeting others. You, on the other hoof, have somepony to be with." Her smile stretched as she looked past me.

I turned yet again to see Twilight stepping to the side to reveal Fluttershy.

I was truly stunned at the sight of her. She was just as, if not more, beautiful as she was at the Grand Galloping Gala. This even gave me nostalgic memories of that night, even though it ironically had gone wrong and I was the sucky self at that time.

Fluttershy timidly walked over to me, the blush increasing in her cheeks and her eyes almost wanted to lower away from mine. Once she was in front of me, she looked away with her eyes and shyly rubbed her right foreleg with her left.

"Come on, Princess Luna." I heard Twilight suggest. "Let's go get something to drink!"

They both left, leaving us two alone besides the other ponies mingling around.

I quickly got the rose and offered to her. Not with my magic, but with my mouth.

"Oh…!" Fluttershy took sight of it and the redness in her cheeks radiated further.

"For you." I stated.

Fluttershy smiled softly and grabbed ahold of it, purposely touching my lips with hers. I feel my heart bloom intensely. I couldn't resist offering her another kiss at her cheek after she pulled away with the rose.

"Thank you…" She expressed tender-like.

"Shall we go then?" I turned, stood by her side, and offered my hoof.

"Let's." She accepted, grabbing ahold of mine and allowed me to escort her.

We followed on schedule to what Rarity had originally planned. I didn't know what exactly changed her mind back, but I could always find out about it after the festival. Either way, we had tasted the cider and moved on to the dancing.

Despite the unbothering noise and ponies around us, it almost actually only felt like the two of us as I held Fluttershy close to me. She closed her eyes as she swung lightly with my body. I opened my eyes for a brief moment to look around and notice Trenderhoof walking towards Applejack's direction. Applejack still had the outfit she "borrowed" from Rarity on! Heh. Only, it was good as new now. Hm. I wonder what had her actually look and feel comfortable in it while being at the festival. However, Trenderhoof surprised me greatly when he offered a hoof, but not to Applejack. He offered it to Granny Smith who was besides her. Applejack sure was happy about that.

I heard a clearing of a throat nearby, catching Fluttershy's and my attention.

"Ahem." Rarity stood near us. "Please…forgive me for the interruption but…" She turned to Fluttershy. "Fluttershy, do you mind if I can have a dance with Alex?"

"Oh, not at all!" Fluttershy kindly approved. She turned to face me. "If that's okay with you."

I was a bit shocked that Rarity asked, but I shook my head nonetheless. "I don't mind."

Fluttershy carefully pulled away and smiled. "I'll go have a drink."

"Okay." I nodded.

When she began walking off, I turned back to Rarity to feel a little awkward about earlier. "Um…"

"Don't just stand there." Rarity began and lifted her hoof. "Aren't you going to accept my hoof?"

"Oh…! Okay…" I grabbed onto her hoof and she began generously placing her hooves on me for the dance.

She closed her eyes and then began to move softly as well. I could only stay there with my eyes lightly opened and followed her movements. It was a while until she spoke up.

"Listen…" She said. "I must…apologize for my behavior before… It was very…selfish of me…to act such a way."

"No…no…" I shook my head lightly. "If anyone's selfish…it's me." Rarity slightly widened her eyes and lifted them up towards me. "I guess I…started feeling angry…" I paused. "…jealous…about you and Trenderhoof."

"W-what ever d-do you m-mean?" She questioned shockingly.

"Well…just in case you might be thinking about that kind of jealous…it's not that. What I mean is… I guess…it was just so flattering about you…you know…having that little crush…" Rarity quickly darted her eyes away and blushed. "You know…this probably sounds weird…but it really showed how much you cared about me. And when you kind of just gave up that crush. Those feelings… It seemed like you kind of broke my heart as a friend, you know? Maybe it's just me though… It's still pretty crazy how there are feelings I still haven't even experienced before, or at least remember experiencing. Maybe I'm just the one being crazy. Either way…it just really hurt me. And when I saw you and Applejack fighting back in the barn, I got really scared… It looked like…I was losing my friends and they were losing who they really were."

"Oh, Alex, darling…" She looked up to me and shook her head. "I…have to be completely honest with you…"

"What is it?" I asked, not expecting this from Rarity.

"I…never really liked Trenderhoof…"

"…what?!" I softly exclaimed.

"Mm-mm." She reinforced. "You see…sometimes…I think about you… You and Fluttershy. Then…I think about my feelings…for you… I then begin feeling bad because…I feel I might stand in the way between you and Fluttershy." I continued to carefully listen to her. "I don't want to do that…but I can't just throw away the way I feel. So…I pretended to be completely obsessed with Trenderhoof. I used to like Trenderhoof when I was a tad younger, before I ever met you. I thought if I could become obsessed with somepony else, maybe I won't have such feelings for you and I wouldn't have to worry about getting in the way between you and Fluttershy. So, I brought out the collection I had of him from the old closet and made some silly part of my boutique of him. That's why…I unfortunately made myself…avoid and ignore you…at least for the most part. My feelings then wouldn't be able to get in the way of attempting to develop new feelings for Trenderhoof." She chuckled a little. "I guess it didn't work out either. Even after the hectic day of today, I feel no difference for Trenderhoof." She lifted up her head and looked at me. "You saw and remember how desperate I was to change those feelings, right?"

I looked back and thought about how many crazy things she went through. "Yeah." I smiled lightly.

She shrugged. "If anything, I probably even made them even bigger."

"Rarity…" I mentioned. "I don't want you to force yourself to make your feelings a lie so you yourself don't feel bothering to anyone. I think that would be much worse. But at the same time…I want you to be happy. I don't want you stay stuck with the crush, thinking we could eventually be together or anything. Don't take this the wrong way…but frankly…I don't think that'll happen…" Rarity subtly frowned and lowered her eyes. "I really wish, Rarity." I tightened my grip on her a little. "I really wish that I could, you know, just make you content too by just the way we are right now." I sighed. "It's complicated, but I'd hate keeping you away from love with the whole 'crush' business."

"I understand, Alex." She nodded. "But I suppose…just your regular love…the love you give to each one of us…is enough. Although I may feel bothered about…you know…sometimes…I will always be happy and grateful for your special love." She smiled at me, leading me to smile back. "Besides, if I ever meet a stallion as great as you, then it'll probably take a lot longer than one night." She giggled. "I can wait."

"I want you to be happy too, Rarity. I just…honestly don't want you or anything to change between us." I shared.

"Don't worry." She patted my chest. "I know now how you really feel, and I won't be hurting you in such a way again."

"I'm glad to hear that." I stated before we ended with a warm hug.

"Hi, Rarity!" Fluttershy returned back. "Did you have a nice time?"

"Oh, yes!" Rarity quickly pulled away while sharing flushed cheeks. "Thank you, Fluttershy." She lightly bowed. "I truly appreciate it."

"Of course!" Fluttershy smiled brightly with a tilted head.

Spike came running along. "Rarity! It's time for the fashion show!"

"Of course!" She remembered and then faced the both of us. "I'll see you later!" Afterwards, she hurried on to the catwalk.

Fluttershy turned to me. "Did you have a good time too?"

I smiled and nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I did. Thanks for being so kind, Fluttershy. You're the best."

Fluttershy reached for my lips and placed a peck on them. "Anytime."

I chuckled lightly and noticed that Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, and Scootaloo were having their turn at the catwalk. "Want to go check it out?"

"Sure!" Fluttershy agreed and took a hold of my hoof for me to escort her.

As we reached the stage, the Cutie Mark Crusaders headed back with beams on their faces for the crowd. Afterwards, Rarity finally presented herself. Anypony with cameras took pictures at the sight of her. She obviously didn't mind. As she came to the end, she gave a graceful bow to everypony. At the other side of the catwalk, I could see Trenderhoof offer a rose to Rarity. Looking back at the silly things she had done, she smiled, accepted, and held it in her teeth. Then, she turned specifically towards Fluttershy and me and grinned brightly before she headed back beyond the curtains.

At the balcony with Spirit, I felt really warm and jubilant from the festival. I wasn't sure if it was just me, but the sun providing the sunset felt extra radiant today.

Holding my ice cream in front of me, I turned to Spirit to apologize.

"Hey, Spirit… I'm still really sorry I couldn't get your hoodie back."

"It's okay." She gave another lick at her ice cream and then paused. "Actually… It was really special to me…"

"Sorry…" I apologized again and frowned as I lowered my head to face the ground below us.

"But honestly…you're still more special to me than the hoodie." She added.

I looked up in surprise and turned back to her. "Really?"

"Yep." She took a bite. "In ways you couldn't understand."

"Spirit…" I looked back out at the sunset.

"Hm?" She questioned.

I held out my ice cream directly in front of the sunset and narrowed my eyes. "If I ever see that thief again… I promise I won't let him get away again."

"Come on… You don't have to promise that…" She slightly mentioned worriedly.

"If I don't promise, then I might not feel as motivated as I should be." I explained.

"Hm." Spirit took a moment to continue. "Okay. Fine. But instead of promising that, you have to promise you'll do what you have to and not give up."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because sometimes…" She paused and narrowed her eyes troublingly as she stared at her ice cream. "…things don't turn out the way we plan…and…we do whatever we have to do to help the ones we love…no matter how much it hurts us."

That was…surprisingly deep… There seemed to be much more underneath that…but I didn't ask. I knew what I'd get if I did.

"Okay…" I nodded. I looked at my ice cream and focused. "I promise."

I took a strong bite out of it, the bite serving as my indication of my promise.

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