A Dash Of Pink

by inacti

First published

Pinkie grows very ill, and Rainbow Dash takes the burden of cheering her up.

Pinkie Pie becomes ill and Rainbow Dash takes on the burden of cheering her up until the end.

Laughing Softly By Yourself

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Today was the day Twilight Sparkle would be returning home to Ponyville. It was a bright morning, and everypony had gathered in the town square to set up the welcome. Pinkie Pie, a bright pink mare whose talent was, in fact, parties, was in charge of the festivities. The town was draped with banners, and figures of the elements of harmony decorated the scene, all of which declared most proudly that Princess Twilight Sparkle, resident of Ponyville, would be coming home today. The sun shone brighter on this particular morning, for Celestia wanted everything to be beautiful on the day of Twilight's return. Twilight Sparkle stood in her carriage, watching over Ponyville and getting ready to land. Her dear guards, Blueshine and Forestpeak, were flying her so smoothly into Ponyville that she could scarcely tell that she was in the air at all. Twilight would have flown to the little town herself, but she hadn't gotten used to her wings enough to be comfortable.

"Over here boys, right in the town square. Thank you for flying me all this way," she said, unused to this treatment.

"It's our pleasure, Princess," Blueshine answered as they hit the ground softly.

Twilight stepped out of the carriage, flapping her wings slightly as she walked with the element of magic pronounced proudly on her head.

"Well if it ain't Twilight Sparkle! How ya' been?" Applejack, a farm pony from Apple Acres, asked, trotting toward her friend.

"Oh, I've been all right. Still getting used to these wings, though," she laughed, giving her dear friend a warm hug.

"Well ain't that nice! Hey girls, Twi is here!" Applejack called out.

Rarity and Fluttershy emerged from behind the fountain. Rarity was wearing a lovely pink dress with white and yellow ribbon dangling from it and a beaded hat.

"Hello Twilight, it's been quite a while. I made you a delightful outfit while you were away. Since you're a princess now, you'll absolutely need extra fancy clothes," Rarity squealed with delight.

"Aw Rarity, what about all of those other beautiful gifts you sent me?"

"Those were just fancy clothes. This one is really smashing, you'll absolutely love it!"

Twilight smirked, knowing her friend probably put way too much effort into it.

"Hi, Twilight . . . " Fluttershy cooed. "We missed you."

"I missed you guys, too! Where are Rainbow and Pinkie?"

"Hey, where are those two? Don't they know yer' here?"

"Hmm. Well, maybe they're at Sugar Cube Corner . . ." Fluttershy said.

"Perhaps. Let's check, we wouldn't want them to miss the celebrations. After all, Pinkie is supposed to be planning them," Rarity replied.

"Good idea. Let's go girls," Twilight answered. "I'll say hi to everypony else in a bit."

They walked to Sugar Cube Corner, the sun shining down on their eyes, reflecting perfectly off of the element of magic. The sand and rocks they kicked up while walking began to cover Twilight's shoes, but she didn't mind.

"Oh dear me, you are ruining that lovely outfit, Twilight," Rarity whined.

"Don't worry Rarity, I'll wash up. Maybe I can wear that dress you made me while I greet the town."

They knocked on the hard wooden door of Sugar Cube Corner. There was a rustling at the other end, frantic running, and a loud sigh before Mrs. Cake came to the door.

"Oh my, hello Miss- I mean, Princess Sparkle. I am sorry we weren't at your arrival, we're just so busy," Mrs. Cake gasped.

"Don't worry about it. I was just looking for Pinkie, is she here?" Twilight asked brightly.

"Oh my . . . Come inside, girls. It's a private matter, really," Mrs. Cake shook her head sadly.

"What is it Mrs. Cake? Is Pinkie Pie all right?" Fluttershy asked politely.

"Follow me upstairs. You see girls, Pinkie has a very rare sickness and can't leave the house right now. It was all very sudden. Your dear friend Rainbow Dash has been helping us take care of her," she said calmly.

A collective gasp from everypony in the group drowned out the sudden coughing fit upstairs.

"What is it that she has? Maybe I know a sp-" Twilight started.

"They don't know what it is . . ." Mrs. Cake was on the verge of tears.

Rarity held a hoof to her forehead, feeling a tad faint. The room seemed darker now even when the bright sun shone down through the windows. Applejack held Rarity's hoof with fear. They were silent on the way up to Pinkie's room, listening to the two ponies upstairs talking.

"I wonder if Twilight is here yet," Pinkie said softly to Dash, who was sitting in a chair next to Pinkie's bed.

Pinkie's fur was an off color, almost white, and her hair, droopy. She had reddish marks on her cheeks, but still a smile on her face.

"I don't know, but if you want me to check, maybe I could . . ." Rainbow Dash started.

"No, please, I don't want to be by myself right now, Dashie . . . I hope she comes here though, I miss her," Pinkie coughed.

"All right . . . You know, this book is amazing," Dash said holding up the copy of Daring Do she had been reading to Pinkie. "It's just so cool."

Pinkie smiled. "You are a total egghead, Dashie," she giggled.

Rainbow Dash sighed. "Yeah, I am, but don't tell anypony, okay?"

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," Pinkie smiled.

Twilight looked at Rarity, Applejack, and Fluttershy with fear in her eyes.

"At least she's still happy . . ." Applejack started. "Ya'll know she's the only pony who could laugh at the face of death."

"Lets go in now, I don't want to keep her waiting," Twilight said, opening the door.

"Mrs. Cake?" Rainbow Dash questioned.

"No, it's me, Twilight. Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy came with me, too. We came to say hi." Twilight tried to smile, but she was worried.

Rainbow Dash smiled. "We expected you'd look for us. Sorry I didn't have the chance to tell you guys, I couldn't leave her."

"Twiliey! I missed you!" Pinkie threw up her hooves weakly.

"I missed you too," Twilight said, happily taking Pinkie's hoof in hers.

"What happened, Pinkie? How did you get like this?" Twilight asked.

"I was just jumping around, and then this thing bit me. I don't know what it was, though. It was, like, a big bug thing."

"A parasprite?" Rarity asked.

"No, smaller, and less parasprite-ey," Pinkie giggled.

"Hmm, I should research that in my library. I'm sure I have a book on disease carrying bugs. How do you feel, though?"

"I don't know, I kinda have this weird headache, but other than that there's, like, no feeling anywhere . . ." she coughed softly, still managing to keep a smile. "I wish I could get up and hug you but-"

"Pinkie, don't even try it, the doctor said you can't walk because-" Rainbow Dash interrupted.

"I know, I know, my bones are weak . . . but so? I could crawl or something. I was supposed to plan that party . . ." Pinkie moaned.

"We could just have it in here. Ya'll want to have it in here, just us girls?"

"As long as you're quiet," Dash said, hiding the book behind her back. "No loud noises for her."

"Aw, Dash, lighten up!" Pinkie said.

"I don't like loud noises, Dashie. Can I help you with her?" Fluttershy asked.

"I guess so. You're good with animals, you should be good with ponies, too." Dash sighed, she wasn't going to bother rejecting the nickname.

Twilight looked nervous for a moment. "I'm so sorry girls, but I need to go now, I'm supposed to greet the townsponies. By law, I am supposed to be there along with everypony in the town who can walk.

"If you need anything, Rainbow, just holler," Applejack said. "We'll all be back soon."

Mrs. Cake popped her head into the room. "Rainbow Dash, that reminds me, I need you to go get Pinkie's medicine from the Fillydelphia clinic. I would do it myself, but I'm not fast enough to get back by the end of the day. Don't Worry, I'll watch over Pinkie."

Everypony said goodbye and left for the welcoming speeches. Pinkie sat alone in bed, her fur matted and messy, and looked up at her ceiling. The painting she had drawn of her five best friends was still there. She was smiling just thinking of them.

"When I get out of here, I will throw them all the biggest *cough* party I've ever had," Pinkie smiled.

She remembered all the fun she had with those five mares and laughed softly as she waited for her friends to come back.

Loyal To The Core

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Rainbow Dash flew out the window, gliding smoothly and quickly to get the medicine, which was only available in a little shop in Fillydelphia. She didn't want to take too long; Pinkie probably wanted her back as soon as possible. She flew straight through a cloud and over all of Ponyville, going as fast as she could go. Even though Fillydelphia was quite far away, she knew she could make it within an hour if she kept going. The wind beat at her back as she flew toward Canterlot Castle. Fillydelphia was just on the other side of the train tunnel. She paused briefly to breathe and flew over the castle, swiftly scanning the landscape for the medic's house who lived between Ponyville and Fillydelphia. She spotted it and nearly crash landed through door.

"Sorry, I'm here to pick up Pinkamina Diane Pie's prescription," Rainbow Dash gasped.

"Oh yes, one moment, please. I believe it's right here," a gray male pony with a red tie said as he shuffled through a collection of bottles. "Ah yes, here it is. No, that's Berry Punch. Aha! Pinkamine Diane Pie."

He slipped the bottle into a brown paper bag before sliding it onto the counter and nodding at Rainbow Dash.

"Twenty bits please."

"Here," Rainbow Dash said wildly, almost throwing the money at him.

She grabbed the bag and rushed out.

Rainbow Dash felt her heart pounding faster and faster as she rushed with the brown paper medicine bag back to Pinkie. The wind propelled her forward, her mane nearly flowing straight behind her. She could have made a sonic rainboom then and there if it weren't for the fear that filled every piece of her being. Pinkie's house was straight ahead. She gripped the brown paper bag tightly in her mouth. If she dropped it, everything would be ruined.

"I'm coming, Pinkie!" she thought as she nearly crashed through the open window.

She zoomed into the room and dropped the bag on a table. Pinkie was asleep. She was relieved to see her chest rise and fall steadily. She removed the washcloth from Pinkie's forehead, warmed it, and put it back on. Her wings fluttered involuntarily in nervousness as she was hoping that Pinkie would be okay. She was visibly shaking. That was the first time she had left Pinkie Pie alone in a while. Pinkie's condition was progressively getting worse as the days went on.

Dash held the Daring Do book close to her chest. How she wanted to zoom up to cloudsdale and imagine that everything was all right. That Pinkie would be okay. That Twilight had never left. That she could just not be worried for once. She sat in the feather-light rocking chair and watched Pinkie breathe, jumping at every cough or change in the cycle.

"Dashie? I'm sorry . . ." Pinkie whispered.

Rainbow Dash clenched the book to her chest. "About what?"

"Oh Dashie, I'm sorry you have to take care of me . . . If we make it through this, I promise I'll make you the best party . . ."

"Pinkie, please don't say if . . . It's all right, I want to stay here," Rainbow Dash sniffled.

"You are the best friend a pony could ever have Dashie . . . When the others come back, I- *cough*"

"Pinkie!? Don't talk anymore, you need rest. The others will come back later and I promise I won't let you miss them. "

Dash waited for Pinkie's eyes to flicker shut again. She didn't want to take any risks. She sat down with her book in whispered sobs. If anything happened to Pinkie, she would just- no, nothing would happen. Twilight would go to her library, do some magic tricks, and make everything better.

She watched her sleep for a while, glancing down at the cover of Daring Do with tears in her eyes every now and again. What harm could it do to take a little nap? She shut her eyes and imagined she was flying with Twilight while Pinkie was walking on clouds with some wacky invention of hers. They laughed together, having more fun than Dash had ever had. Dash smiled and was about to fall asleep when she heard a noise from the bed.

"Dash, *cough* I don't feel- *cough*" Pinkie wheezed softly.

Rainbow Dash stood upright and wiped the tears from her face, her mane bristled and her eyes wide and fearful.

"What?! What's wrong?!" Rainbow asked worriedly, beads of sweat forming at her face.

"I-" Pinkie started, then her eyes grew wide and she began to shake slightly.

Rainbow watched horrified as her friend grabbed at the air, spasming uncontrollably. She darted forward and tried to figure out what to do. Tears fell down her reddening cheeks as she screamed for help.

"Help! Anypony, help!" she cried out.

Pinkie stopped twitching and grew still, her chest still rising and falling, but very slowly. Too slowly.


Rainbow Dash screamed louder and louder. Looking out the window, she saw Twilight and the others on their way back to Sugar Cube Corner.

"Twilight! Something's wrong! Hurry!" Dash cried out, hoping Twilight, or at least somepony in the group, would hear her.

Applejack's ears perked up. She tapped Twilight's shoulder and her eyes grew wide. Without a word, the group started running to the building faster than any of them ever had. Rainbow Dash listened for the sound of the door opening, the sound of hooves running up the stairs, and the crack of the bedroom door as it was slammed open by Twilight's hoof.

"What happened?!" Rarity questioned loudly, the other ponies nodding in agreement.

"Pinkie, she started shaking and now she's unconscious! This has never happened before, Twilight. What should I do?"

"Sweet Celestia! We need to call a doctor and have her taken to Ponyville hospital! If it's getting worse, she can't stay here."

Rainbow Dash tried to keep from crying, but it was hard. She leapt forward and hugged Fluttershy tightly.

"Fluttershy? You have animals get sick on you all the time, how do you handle it?"

Fluttershy shook her head. "I do my best to make them better, and if I can't, I don't handle it at all . . ." she sniffled.

A few minutes later, the Ponyville hospital ambulance arrived. Twilight, with tears in her eyes, levitated Pinkie's unconscious form into the doctor's hooves. She looked back at her other friends, only to find Rainbow Dash missing from the group of hugging, tearful mares.

"Dash? Where did you go?" She asked aloud.

She turned to the sound of retching sobs from the ambulance. Rainbow Dash stood next to Pinkie's gurney and held her hoof. Twilight fluttered over to Dash silently.

"Rainbow Dash, she'll be okay. We'll follow the ambulance to the hospital. You can-"

"No! I am staying with her, right here! I promised I would."

Twilight put a hoof in Rainbow's shoulder and sighed.

"I'm sure she'll be happy to know you would have stayed with her. We'll follow the ambulance, okay?" Twilight said.

"Okay . . ." Dash sniffed, stepping out of the ambulance.

The door shut and the vehicle began to drive off. Rainbow Dash looked at it with her tearful, magenta eyes and flew above it, hoping, even more than she had ever hoped to join the Wonder Bolts, that Pinkie would be okay.

Honest and Brave

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When they arrived at the hospital, Applejack raced in after Dash. Rainbow Dash was looking exceedingly tired, fatigued, and messy. Her face was red from the crying, and beads of sweat shone all over her body.

"Listen sugar cube, Ah think it would be best if ya' went home and had some sleep. You look horrible . . ." Applejack explained.

"I know AJ. I can't stand leaving her, though. Come on, follow me to Pinkie's room," Rainbow replied hastily.

Rarity chimed in, "Applejack is quite right Rainbow, you should really-"

"Rarity, I'm fine, I promise."

The group stopped talking for a moment, entering the hospital room quietly. Still unconscious, Pinkie Pie was being set into the bed by a nurse. Applejack turned and looked at the others.

"Honestly, I ain't seen anything like this since Mom . . ."

"It's okay, Applejack. You aren't going to lose anypony else . . . It's okay," Fluttershy reassured.

"Ah sure do hope ya'll are right. Pinkie ain't lookin' too good to me."

"Hmm, perhaps it could have been the slight change of temperature since Discord turned good. It could have awakened the species of insect that infected Pinkie. At least, that's my best guess. I'd hate to leave to research further, I can look into it after she wakes up," Twilight said stiffly, noting that anypony could get infected by this disease.

"That sounds like Twi has an idea!" Applejack exclaimed. "Does that mean you can cure Pinkie?"

"I don't know, Applejack. She appears to be in the later stage of whatever it is that she is infected with. I have some idea of how to cure it, but I can't be sure without further research. Any cure I could conjure up right now would most likely do more damage."

"Twiliey? Is that you?" Pinkie coughed, not opening her eyes.

"Y-yes Pinkie . . . it's me," Twilight said, her voice shaking.

"Hi Twiliey, what happened?"

"Um, nothing much, you just took a nap," Twilight said softly.

"Now, don't be lyin' to 'er, Twi. Pinkie, ya had a fit of some sort and ya passed out."

"Yes, I suppose that is accurate," Rarity said. "Isn't it Dash?"

"Yeah, I guess. I was too panicky to really remember much, though."

"Well, it's okay now, right Twilight? Pinkie is better now?" Fluttershy asked.

"Um, Fluttershy, I don't know. You'll have to ask the doctors."

"Mrs. Cake knows where I am, right? I don't want her to-" Pinkie began.

"I left a note on your bed. It's okay Pinkie, don't worry," Rainbow Dash said in an unusually mature manner.

"Thanks Dashie . . . thanks, everypony, for being here for me. I love you guys. I'm sorry I missed the party . . ."

"It's okay Pinkie . . . we-" Applejack started. She was interrupted by a loud 'ahem' from Nurse Redheart.

"Sorry girls, but Pinkie needs some rest and I can't have you all in here. If she likes, she may have one friend stay with her, but that is all I can allow. We cannot crowd the patient," Nurse Redheart said firmly.

"Oh, all right. Sorry for the intrusion, I didn't mean to disturb the peace . . ." Twilight Sparkle apologized.

"Oh my, Princess Sparkle, it is not your fault, it was a pleasure. I am sorry, but rules are rules: you must go. Do have a nice stay in Ponyville," and with that she turned into a corner office and wrote something down on a sheet. "I will call you if anything goes wrong."

Twilight nodded and motioned for everypony to leave. Rainbow Dash waved goodbye, having decided immediately after Redheart had mentioned the rule that she would be the one to stay.

She put her hoof on Pinkie's and looked straight into her graying, blue eyes.

"You promise me you'll get better, and I will never miss one of your parties. We can do whatever you want."

"I'll try Dashie, I promise. All I really want right now is for you to stay with me."

"Of course I'll stay with you! Now you get some sleep, we can talk tomorrow."

"Okay," Pinkie coughed slightly. "Will you read me Daring Do?"

"Of course, I brought her with me just in case," Rainbow Dash paused. "Where were we?"

"Daring Do was just about to leap the fire pit to save the gold from the evil Doctor Moustachio."

"Ah yes," Rainbow Dash smiled as she flipped through the novel. "And so she grabbed the vine and prepared for the-"

"Ooh, ooh! Don't forget to do the voice! I am Doctor MOOOOOOOustachio!! Wahahahahaha *cough* hahaha!" Pinkie laughed.

"Of course, duh!" Rainbow Dash kept reading.

Applejack smiled as she closed the door to the hospital room. Rainbow Dash was such a loyal friend. Applejack walked down the hallway to meet up with her little sister at the Ponyville schoolhouse. The hospital was so white, it was a bit unnerving. She closed her eyes as she departed. She turned to face the school only to find Apple Bloom looking up at her with big, frightened eyes.

"Ah just heard. Is Pinkie gonna' be okay, big sis'?"

"We don't know, we just don't know . . ."

"That's awful . . . Ah hope she'll be better soon."

"So do Ah, sugar cube."

"Can the Cutie Mark Crusaders visit her? Maybe we can make her smile; maybe that's my special talent!"

"Maybe tomorrow, we need to let her rest right now . . ."

"Oh, okay . . ."

Meanwhile, Twilight headed to her library. She needed to look up that insect. She quietly entered the library through the front door to make sure nopony noticed her. Spike was back in Canterlot Castle taking messages for her. The house felt so quiet without him around to brighten things up.

"Parasprites, parasprites. It could have been a hybrid. A slightly smaller, less-cute hybrid. Parasprites book, where are you? Oh, I wish Spike were here keeping tabs on these books," Twilight said under her breath. "Ah, here it is!"

She pulled the parasprite book from the shelf. If only she had read this before that invasion. Twilight remembered how active everypony had been that day; she really could look back on it and laugh. She flipped through the pages of the book, searching for the hybrid she wanted to find. A picture of a small, grayish bug caught her eye, and she stopped flipping.

"Here we are, an unnamed hybrid."

She held the book close to her nose, reading intently.

"I see, it's a Parasprite that has been exposed to extreme dark magic. They are very rare because the dark magic needed to produce such a being is so incredibly strong, so much so that the few around only exist today because of the ancient rule of Sombra. But how did it get here in Ponyville?" Twilight pondered before reading on. "Their bites bring on a deadly sickness that only a few ponies on record have ever survived, and even that was luck. There is no known cure."

Twilight held her mouth wide and dropped the book in horror. "There is no way it was one of those, they are so rare. What would be the chance of it? The symptoms probably don't even match up. Let's see: dizziness, headache, numbness, fits, color change . . . death," Twilight let out a gasp and slammed the book shut. There was still hope that it was something else.

Twilight stood up and wiped a tear from her cheek. She would have to watch Pinkie die, just like she always knew she would. Not only was Twilight immortal due to the alicorn spell, but Pinkie had even less time than Twilight had originally thought. She needed to tell the others; she needed to break it to them in the best way and as calmly as possible. She was already distraught on her own terms, but she still had hope that there was a chance of her information being wrong.

"Twilight, calm down. Jumping to conclusions doesn't solve anything . . . Pinkie could just have some exotic flu and be better in a week. You don't need to scare everypony."

Applejack sat in the Cutie Mark Crusaders' tree house alone. She knew her sister would come up there any minute, maybe with her friends, maybe without. She stared out through the window. It was a beautiful sunset: pink and blue, with splashes of orange. She sighed. She would have to stay strong for Pinkie. If she wasn't strong, who would be? She was afraid, but for Pinkie, she'd be brave. Pinkie wouldn't want her to be sad. Suddenly, she heard somepony climbing up the ladder. It was Big Mac.

"Howdy Big Mac . . ." Applejack said, distracted.

"Listen Applejack, I know what you're going through. This has happened to me before," Big Mac said. He rarely spoke this much.

"Haven't heard you talk that much in a long time."

"AJ, look at me. Please?"

"I'm sorry Big Mac, Ah just don't know what Ah'd do without Pinkie," she sobbed, giving him a hug.

Big Mac patted her softly. "None of us do, but she'll pull through, I know it."

"But what if she don't?" asked Applejack, feeling like a blubbering filly.

"We'll move on, just like we did before."

Applejack nodded, remembering her parents and every other pony who had died on her.

"Ah guess we'll have to . . ." she sobbed, letting go of Big Mac.


Applejack looked back at the window one last time.

"Now let's get you to bed, it's late."

"Okay," Applejack said softly, wiping her tears away.

Giving Your All

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It was morning in Ponyville. The hype for Twilight's return had died down a bit, and she had settled into her library again. Nopony in the group had slept very well. Rarity had been up most of the night staring at the wall, so much so that Sweetie Belle stayed up with her to 'protect' her from nightmares. Applejack had watched her younger sibling sleep to make sure nothing bit her as well. She wasn't going to let anypony else she loved get sick. Fluttershy had managed to sleep, but she had nothing but nightmares of a gravestone with Pinkie's name etched on it. Angel Bunny had not received food the way he liked it that morning because Fluttershy was so flustered. Twilight had paced all night wondering what to tell everypony in the morning. It seemed that nopony in the village was normal today.

Rainbow Dash rubbed her eyes. It had been a long night, and she didn't remember falling asleep. She trotted over to Pinkie's bed just to be sure.

"Still okay . . . still alive,' she whispered to herself.

There was a knock on the door. Rainbow Dash shook her head and yawned. She opened the door ready to tell Nurse Redheart all was well when, to her surprise, a mess of fluff and pink emerged.

"Hello Rainbow. I made Pinkie a lovely dress to wear when she gets well! I was up half the night thinking of it. Isn't it divine? She'll love it, I'm sure."

"Oh, is that you Rarity? I thought you were that puff ball from Fillydelphia. Well, she's asleep, but I guess we can talk in here."

Rarity stepped inside and laid the dress on a nearby table.

"Oh dear, you look dreadful! You absolutely must sleep, Rainbow Dash. How many days has it been?"

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "I think maybe four days since I slept."

"Oh my . . . Well, I know you want to stay here, so how about you take a nice nap in that chair and I'll make sure Pinkie stays safe while your asleep, okay? Please Rainbow, you want to be your best when Pinkie is awake. She would want you to rest."

Rainbow Dash didn't protest. She simply sat in the chair and closed her eyes, sleeping for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.

"Poor darling. I guess I'll just stay here for the time being. The others will probably come by soon," Rarity yawned. "Perhaps I should go get some breakfast for when Rainbow wakes up."

She took a few bits from her saddlebag and exited the room. She walked down the empty hallway, her hooves making echoes throughout the hospital. She turned left, reaching the cafeteria. She grabbed three oat pancakes and an apple and turned to go back to the room when she spotted Sweetie Belle and her two friends sitting next to one another, writing things down on a piece of paper. Rarity trotted over to them.

"What are you three doing here?"

"We're gonna' earn our cutie marks!" cried Apple Bloom.

"By cheering up Pinkie Pie!" cheered Sweetie Belle.

"And it's going to be so awesome!" Scootaloo shouted.

Rarity rolled her eyes and sighed. "Girls, Pinkie is-"

"We know, we know. We want to make her feel better, and I bet Rainbow Dash could use a pick-me-up," Scootaloo said, more seriously this time.

"I suppose she could use that. Well, how about you three girls come with me and visit them? You can test out those jokes of yours once they are awake."

"Cutie Mark Crusaders Smile Patrol!" screamed the three fillies excitedly.

Rarity sighed and began walking back up the halls, leading the girls to Pinkie's room. "Ah, here we are."

Scootaloo stepped into the room quietly and, upon spotting Dash, ran up to her and poked her side. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle moved tenderly into the room as well. Upon seeing Pinkie, Sweetie Belle let out a small gasp.

"Oh no, she looks sick! what happened?" Sweetie Belle asked, with concern overflowing her lightly colored eyes.

"Yeah, Ah knew it was bad, but Ah never imagined it like this . . ." Apple Bloom was white with horror at the sight of the normally lovely and brightly colored party pony.

"Well, she is in a hospital. Pinkie is very sick girls. If you'd like to wait for her to wake up-"

"What the hay do you think you're- oh, hi Scoots," Dash said groggily.

"Oh, I'm sorry Rainbow Dash, I just wanted to say hi," Scootaloo backed away guiltily.

"No, it's okay, I'm glad you woke me up. I promised I'd watch Pinkie."

"What's up with her?" asked Scootaloo curiously.

"Well, the doctor isn't really sure. We just know it's a very odd disease," Rainbow Dash sighed.

"Who is it Dashie?" Pinkie Pie whispered hoarsely.

"It's Rarity, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scoots."

"Oh, hi guys," Pinkie smiled, opening her eyes.

"Hello, Pinkie Pie. How are you feeling?" Rarity asked.

"Oh, fine . . . How are my three favorite fillies?"

"We made a comedy routine for you!" cheered Sweetie Belle squeakily.

"Yay!" Pinkie cried weakly, but still clearly pleased.

"Y'all ready?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Readier than ever-ier!" Pinkie cheered.

"Take it Sweetie!" Scootaloo said.

(to the tune of Smile song)

"We are the CMC, and we are here to say, we wanna' make you smile and we will show you the way!"

Pinkie smiled happily as scootaloo spun around while Sweetie finished her song, Apple Bloom keeping the beat on her hooves. They stopped, trying to gauge the reaction.

"Yay! That was *cough* amazing!" Pinkie said.

"Maybe this is our special talent after all," Sweetie Belle said, glancing at her flank. "Nope, I guess it's back to the drawing board. How about you guys?"

"Nope, Ah ain't got nothing."

No cutie marks here," Scootaloo sighed. "Hey Dash, did you like it?"

"Uh, sure, I loved it Scoots," Rainbow Dash was distracted by Twilight talking to Dr. Hooves in the hallway.

"So, did I help?" Twilight asked, closing her notes up and looking at the doctor.

"Sadly, we had already guessed some of this. Perhaps we should discuss it in private. Here, come into my office."

Twilight followed Dr. Hooves into the room across from Pinkie Pie's. The walls were elegant and very Victorian. Twilight Sparkle admired the lovely blue accent and feel of the room before sitting down in a chair across from Hooves.

"My apologies for being so blunt, Princess Sparkle, but your friend isn't going to pull through as far as we can tell right now. You see, your deductions were correct. Pinkamina is in the final stages of the sickness, and the disease she caught from the parasprite hybrid is usually, in its later stages, well . . ."

Twilight's eyes welled up with tears, she didn't want to hear the rest of that sentence. "Fatal?" she asked, sobbing.

Dr. Hooves crossed his forelegs, and shook his head. "Not always. She still has a small chance. We have one more trick up our sleeves. You see, there is a special medicine available in Manehattan that we have in stock. We can try it, but if her body rejects it, she doesn't have a fighting chance."

"You mean you have some now? Do you think it will work?" Twilight asked, hope rising in her chest.

"Perhaps. We can only hope, because frankly, without Miss Pie, the world would be a much sadder place, indeed."

Twilight shook her head sadly, knowing the chances were minuscule. "Well, if that's all, I guess I'm going to go spend some time with Pinkie. Applejack and Fluttershy will be there any minute and I don't want to be the only one absent.

"Very well. Goodbye, Miss Sparkle."

Twilight did her best to cover up her tears. She couldn't tell the others; it would make everypony miserable, and she wanted Pinkie's last days to be happy. She opened the door to Pinkie's room quietly, plastering on a smile and tucking her wings down. She listened to the laughter and cheering coming from the small room. She smiled for real this time, knowing that everypony was having fun in there. With a sharp intake of breath, she stepped in.

"Hi everypony," Twilight said, with a bright smile.

"Hi Twiliey," Pinkie said with a grin. "You missed an amazing party."

"Yeah! We were awesome!" said Scootaloo with a clap.

"I'm sure you were incredible," Twilight agreed.

Twilight Sparkle trotted over to Pinkie's bed and knelt beside her. Pinkie looked at her with her giant eyes, once bright blue, now a dark gray. It was as though she could sense that Twilight wasn't really happy. She lifted her hoof up weakly to touch Twilight's shoulder. She patted it softy.

"I know . . . But it's going to be okay," Pinkie whispered into Twilight's ear.

Twilight gazed down at her. She must have guessed what was going to happen. Twilight nodded softly. Her eyes and voice were filled with a sincerity that could not be replicated by anypony. Pinkie was happy. She wasn't afraid of anything.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," she said louder.

Rainbow Dash scooted past Rarity and nearly crashed into Twilight.

"What are you talking about?" she asked, her voice filled with a light concern.

Rarity chimed in. "Dear, perhaps she'll be more comfortable telling you when we all go home for the night?"

Pinkie nodded, dropping her hoof off of Twilight's shoulder.

A sudden knock startled Rainbow Dash, and she flew to the door to let whoever it was inside. Applejack and Fluttershy stood alone in the hallway. They smiled brightly, and Dash, who fluttered her wings tirelessly, worried that everypony being here would overwork the poor pink mare.

"Hey there, sugar cube. Sorry we were late y'all. We were lookin' for Apple Bloom," Applejack said.

She turned to see the three crusaders looking innocent with their hooves behind their backs.

"Apple Bloom! You know what I told ya' 'bout goin' places without tellin' me!" She let out a sigh. "Ah well, I guess yer' okay, and that's what matters."

Apple Bloom blushed and looked at Pinkie in the bed, whose smile was fading slightly.

"Aw, *cough* AJ, she just wanted to see *cough* me," said Pinkie.

"Ya', I guess that's good, too. Real nice of y'all to visit her."

"So, Pinkie, how are you feeling?" Fluttershy interjected. "If you don't want to answer, you don't have to, it's fine."

"Super duper, especially since these sweet little fillies did their song," Pinkie smiled.

"Oh, yes, it was quite nice. You were marvelous, all of you," Rarity said.

"We need to go cheer up everypony in this hospital!" Sweetie Belle proclaimed.

"Great idea!" Scootaloo and Apple Bloom cheered as they all dashed out of the room.

Rarity sighed as she closed the door behind her.

Twilight shook her head and looked up. "Well, I'm glad you're feeling better, Pinkie."

"Oh yes, *cough* much better," she smiled weakly.

Rainbow Dash flew over to Pinkie's side once again. "You aren't overexerting yourself, are you Pinkie? Maybe everypony should leave."

"Oh Dashie, don't be so-" Pinkie began.

There was a soft knock at the door. It was Nurse Redheart.

"I'm afraid I have to ask everypony to leave now. We are about to try some new medications on Pinkie Pie here."

Everypony gaped. "Already? Miss Redheart, please?" Rarity asked.

"I'm sorry, everypony must leave," she replied stiffly.

Pinkie's friends shuffled out of the room, Rainbow Dash still standing by Pinkie. She held Pinkie's hoof in her own, concern filling her face.

"What new medicine?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"That, I'm afraid, is classified. I am not at liberty to disclose such information. Now, Miss Dash, please leave the room. You can see her once we have finished the treatment."

Rainbow Dash bowed her head sadly. "Pinkie, what should I-"

Pinkie smiled. "See me when they're done, okay *cough* Dashie? It'll be fine."

Rainbow Dash turned bright white. She nodded. "Okay . . ."

Kindness Counted

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Later that night, after all of the others went home, Rainbow Dash paced back and forth endlessly outside the door next to Pinkie's room. She waited for somepony to give her some news. Her head darted upward as Nurse Redheart left the room and looked straight at her, looking distraught. She put a hoof on Rainbow's shoulder and shook her head.

"You can . . . go in now . . ." she sniffed. "I'm sorry . . ."

Rainbow Dash gasped and rushed into the room. She stood by the bed and watched Pinkie slowly open her eyes and smile at her.

"Hi Dashie . . ." she said.

"Pinkie . . . is it . . . really-"

Pinkie nodded her head slowly. "I'm sorry, Dash."

Rainbow Dash stood by the bed as the doctors cleared the room. She knelt down and held Pinkie's hoof tight. Tears streamed down her face. Pinkie Pie turned her head slightly to face her friend.

"Oh, Pinkie . . . how am I going to survive without you?"

"You'll be fine *huff* Dashie . . . just keep smiling . . ."

Rainbow Dash buried her head in the bed sheets and sobbed for a moment. Pinkie held her head up with her free hoof. She brushed the tears away.

"Promise me Dashie . . . You'll keep smiling," Pinkie coughed, her voice fading to barely a whisper.

"O-okay . . . I promise. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," Rainbow Dash sniffled, trying very hard to wear a big smile.

Pinkie Pie giggled softly. "Giggle at the ghostly . . ."

Rainbow Dash smiled. "Guffaw at the grossly," she sang. They finished the song together.

Rainbow Dash embraced Pinkie Pie as she started to fade. "I love you, Dashie . . . I always will . . ." she whispered.

Rainbow Dash hugged as hard as she could as Pinkie drew her last breath.

"Don't forget . . ."

Rainbow Dash sobbed as Pinkie went limp in her outstretched arms. There was no Pinkie Pie. There was no Pinkamina. There was no anything left in this empty shell.

"I won't . . ." Rainbow Dash said through her rattling sobs. "I'll smile twice as hard for both of us."

She held what was left of Pinkamina Diane Pie in her arms and hummed their last song together over and over. She stood up. She couldn't stay here forever. She had to go tell the others. Her eyes still overflowing with tears, she hugged her friend's lifeless body in her arms once more, then she tucked her into the bed and shut her eyes: her once bright, happy blue eyes. Rainbow Dash let out a long, empty sigh. Pinkie was dead. Nothing was going to bring her back. Her heart ached with horrible pain and sadness. She left the room, but before turning out the door, she looked back at the seemingly sleeping Miss Pie.

"I'll always remember to smile . . . And I'll never forget you . . ." she whispered, leaving the room and walking down the empty hall.

There was nothing but horror and guilt in Dash. She closed her eyes and stopped walking for a moment. Behind that closed door was her friend: her best friend in the whole world. And she was gone.

"I . . . I can't . . . believe it . . . I Wished so hard for her to be okay. Why would you do this to me, Celestia?! What did she ever do to deserve this?!"

Rainbow Dash collapsed in the hallway, hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably. Dr. Hooves stepped out of his office and helped Dash up.

"She's- she's . . . Gone . . ." Rainbow sobbed.

"You need to calm down, Miss Dash. Come into my office. I can get you something to help ease the pain."

Rainbow Dash couldn't speak. She simply followed him, in a fashion more fitting to Fluttershy than to the brave and strong Rainbow Dash. She was a broken mare. Without her other half, she felt like she was nothing. Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy were just her friends . . . Pinkie was her sister, her life, her world, her best friend. She was gone, and so was the part of Rainbow Dash that made everything okay. She collapsed into a chair. Dr. Hooves looked worriedly into her eyes.

"Rainbow Dash, please try to relax. I know Pinkie Pie was your friend, but-"

"Shut up! You don't understand, she was more than that! She was my best friend in the whole world, and nopony can replace her," Rainbow Dash pounded her head on the table.

She breathed in slowly. "Pinkie said to smile. Smile, Dash," she thought to herself over and over. She regained her composure, her eyes quite swollen and red.

"I'm sorry . . ." Dash sniffed.

"I understand. Why don't you go home and rest? You need it. I know it's hard right now, but trust me, you'll be okay."

Rainbow Dash nodded and stood up.

Meanwhile, at Twilight's library, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, and Twilight herself stood together waiting for news.

"Y'all think she'll be okay?" Applejack asked.

"I hope so . . ." Fluttershy replied.

"We all do dear," Rarity sighed.

Twilight stood staring out the window. She felt sick. She closed her eyes and felt that something was odd, that something was broken. There was a panicked slamming against the door. Twilight flattened her ears to her head. Something was different. Something strange. She rushed to the door.

"Girls . . . it's Rainbow Dash," Twilight whispered, her chest clenching up with fear.

"What?!" everypony yelped at once.

Twilight held her breath and opened the door. Rainbow Dash collapsed into her arms, her entire body wet with tears and sweat.

"No . . ." Twilight said, confirming her suspicions.

Rainbow Dash sniffled and looked up, giving a soft nod and letting go of Twilight, running into the room.

"She's gone!" Rainbow Dash sobbed, collapsing onto the floor.

Rarity gaped. "No . . . it can't be . . ."

Applejack leapt up. "She seemed better though! This is some kinda' joke!" she screamed, tears flowing down her cheeks.

Fluttershy shuddered in the corner of the room. "Not Pinkie . . ."

The five girls huddled together and tried to speak, choking out hardly a single word through their tears.

"What are we going to do?" Twilight sniffled, trying to stay calm.

Nopony answered. Twilight didn't know what they could possibly do now. It was too late. She hugged the others and sobbed. Everything was broken: the elements, their friendship, everything. Kindness didn't matter, honesty wasn't important, generosity was worthless, loyalty wouldn't help anypony, and more than anything, magic didn't make a difference in the world.