"Are you sure, Pinkie Pie?" Cheerilee asked hesitantly. "A twelve layer cake seems a bit..." She made a circular motion with her hoof. I could see the hesitation clear as day. Then again, there wasn't a hesitation alive I couldn't destroy with a single phrase.
"Super-duper absolutely awesome!" I hopped cheerfully, not giving her a chance to finish. "And if it isn't enough, I can add a special mega-hyper—"
"No!" Cheerilee quickly stopped me. Haven't lost your touch, Pinkie. I smiled. Possibly, I could have gotten her to buy two of those. Nah! One was enough. Besides, once the fillies and colts got a taste of the cake they'd come back for more. This way everypony was happy. "Here you go, Pinkie," Cheerilee gave me a small bag of bits. "And you'll have it ready by next week?"
"Pfft!" I waved a hoof. "I'll have it ready by the next hour! Especially since Gummy will be helping me! Nothing can beat that Gummy goodness!"
"Err, very well." She took a step back. "I'll be waiting for the surprise then. Goodbye, Pinkie."
"Bye bye, Cheerilee!" I grinned. "Don't forget next week's lemon muffin special!"
My words caused to pause for a moment. Just as I planned! She muttered something along the lines of "take care" and was off. Perfect! I rubbed my forehooves. Another satisfied customer, which made it another perfect day. The Cakes were going to be pleased, and that meant I would be pleased, and a that meant I could—
Suddenly my Pinkie Sense tingled. Itchy nose, itchy eyes, dry throat...
"Hello, Pinkamena." A voice came from the kitchen. That name, it was a bad bad name. That voice was a bad bad voice. "Will you join me for cup of cocoa?"
Sour Sweet! I could recognize her voice anywhere. Quickly, I rushed to the door and put up the Closed sign. The last thing I wanted anypony to do was to see me with her. Cocoa! I so hate the cocoa you make, Sour! It's icky and bitter, and... and... I didn't even want to think about it! Maybe she just came to say hi? She could be nice at times. Well, occasionally... Actually, just twice. Who knows, though? Maybe this was the third time?
My hooves felt cold as I walked into the kitchen. Sour was just sitting there, sampling a batch of cupcakes. They were the good ones too! I was so going to have her pay for that! Five bits each — she bit it, she bought it!
"You've improved," she purred in a way that would make a Yak's fur fall off in terror. "I almost couldn't taste rocks in this one." My mane flattened.
"What ya doing here?" I didn't dare approach. "Did anypony see you? Because if anypony saw you—"
"Will you stop with the funny stuff?!" she shouted. That was one of the reasons I didn't want to sit near her whenever we talked. "Of course, nopony saw me! What do you take me for? A two-bit comedian? Unlike you, not all of us wasted our skills on..." She lifted her forehooves in the air and groaned. "But it's okay." She smiled returning to her sweet state. "Really, it's okay, because I've got a job for you."
"Ponyville was off limits!" I said menacingly. Her "Sour" was scary, but so was my Pinkamena. "That was the arrangement!"
"Just the messenger here." She shrugged, taking a sip of her cocoa. It was literally made of pony tears. I could smell them from here. "Bring it up with Loki, if you dare. Besides," she put the cup on the table, "the agreement was that you keep you cover. You didn't."
"What?!" That's rich coming from you! I wasn't called Miss Screwup for three years running!
"Your files," she said, yawning demonstratively. "They found your files."
"Oh, please!" I frowned. "These were my party files. Nothing to do with—"
"Loki wants you to do a job," she interrupted me. "So, will you do it or not?!"
Loki, you triple party pooper! Of course, I was going to do it. I had no choice. I really didn't like Sour telling me, though. It was so tempting to say no. The mare was no match for me. Yes, she had a Sense, but I was a pro! I had been doing this way before I got my cutie mark! Way before Loki "discovered" me. Sour Sweet had been trained to do it, and it showed.
I sighed heavily and nodded. "Okie dokie... Loki." Saying the last word felt like squeezing a pickle through the eye of a needle. There was no going against Loki. I had been foolish to think I could simply get out of that world. True, he had said yes, and the last few years had been fun, but in the back of my mind I always knew. No matter what I did, Pinkamena was always within me, hidden under a fluffy mane and a tone of giggles.
"Isn't that sweet?" Sour Sweet smiled. "Because you wasted weeks of my time! Hay, I hate it here! I can't stand this stupid village you moved to!" She slammed an envelope on the table. "Here's your target," she grumbled sourly. "Loki asked I offer help, if you need it."
"Pfft! As if!" I grabbed the envelope and opened it. "Chocolate will burn before I—" No! Chocolate clouds, no! Anypony but her! I felt as if all the air had been squeezed from he like a deflated balloon. Loki, you are sick! And Sour was grinning at me! Grinning! My glance quickly focused on the kitchen knives.
"Good luck, then," Sour laughed. Before I could even reach for the knives, she slid under the table and vanished from the kitchen! Curse your Sour Sense! I felt like screaming. Why was the universe so unfair? I always knew my past would catch up to me, but... but...
I slammed my head against the table. Multiple times! Why didn't gave to be you? Loki was supposed to punish me, not somepony else. Guess he never forgave me for leaving the team. It was so like him to wait years for me to get a sense of happiness, then bam hit me like a surprise pie in the face.
"Why, Gummy, whyyyyy?" I shouted hooves in the air. "Whyyyy did it have to—"
"Pinkie Pie?" a concerned voice asked from the kitchen door. "Is everything alright? Did you run out of ingredients again?"
Oh, Mrs. Cake... This is so much more serious than a salt and sugar shortage. More serious than a flower shortage. I did my best to smile, but with my mane down it probably look mega creepy. Oh, how I wished I could tell her. She and her husband were the ones who took me in when I was at my lowest. I owed them more than I could say. Still, if they learned the truth about me, they'd throw me out like a five year old Brie.
"Just a failed recipe, Misses C." I quickly hid the envelope behind my back. She clearly saw me do it, but that was the point. The safest way to keep a secret was to let ponies suspect what they thought they already knew. "Just why must zucchini squish so easily, when dipped in mustard?"
Mrs. Cake opened her mouth to say something. Like most, her brain was incapable of processing the phrase I had used. Loki had told me that trick — a sure way to derail any train of thought. Well, maybe not the Princesses', but pretty much everypone else's.
"Oh, Pinkie," she chuckled after a slight pause. "Just please try to keep it down, dearie. I just put the twins to sleep."
"Absotively, Misses C!" Imagining the twins managed to puff my mane up a bit. "I'll be as quiet as a window mouse!" I whispered.
That seemed to work. Mrs. Cake chuckled again and left. I was alone once more... alone and facing the most difficult choice of my life. I looked at the picture again. She was one of the reasons I stayed in Ponyville. No! She was the reason! If it hadn't been for her, I would have kept on drifting across Equestria like a loose balloon. Was that what Loki wanted?
Oh, Ponyville, you think you know me, but you are so wrong. I went to the fridge, took a lemon and started chewing on it. Everypony knew me as the town's party planner, and recently — the Element of Laughter. What they did not know was that secretly I... I was a secret murderer... and Rarity was my latest target.
* * *
Secret murderer. Secret murderer. I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Gummy was chewing on my tail, trying to cheer me up. It wasn't working.
"What am I going to do, Gummy?" I closed my eyes. At this point not even his wisdom would be of any help. If only I had come clean when I had first arrived in town maybe Loki wouldn't have such a hold on me. It wasn't my fault I was born like this! I tried to keep it under control, I super-really-honestly did! Maybe Twilight and the others would forgive me? She did forgive Starlight... and Discord... and a whole bunch of other meanies. Why shouldn't she forgive me? Then again, I had been through all this before. Once, I thought my family would forgive me, but things had turned out differently.
Maud had been the first to find out. Somehow she knew what I was before I did. When I was young and sloppy, she had been the one to hide the traces and make sure nopony noticed. I still love her for that. Oh, how easy it would have been for her to tell my parents, or anypony, actually. Yet she hadn't, and that had cost her her smile. It was normal for her to want to leave. Her departure had come as a shock to all... except me. Even back then, I knew exactly why she was doing it — she had had enough, enough of me, enough of my messes. The saddest thing of all was that her leaving hadn't changed a thing. I had continued to do what I did. My targets were small things at first, innocent things that none would miss. I'd find them, track them, murder them while nopony was paying attention. Then, I would then hide in my room and cry my eyes out. It didn't help. A few weeks later I would feel the hunger again, stronger than a sugar craze.
"Guffaw at the ghosties," I tried to sing, but my heart wasn't in it. This felt worse than missing a birthday. Maybe I could just leave? Loki wouldn't be pleased, but at least Rarity would be well. Who am I kidding? Loki would send somepony else to do the job just out of spite. Then he would hunt me down.
Gruesome images appeared before my eyes. This wasn't the first time I saw those. Wouldn't be the last, either. I took the picture out of my mane and looked at it again. Why did you have to be so pretty, you silly filly? It was bad enough she was my friend, she was also the one I had been fantasizing about since day one I got here. Way before Spike started slobbering over her!
"Argh!" I jumped out of bed. "Any advice, Gummy?"
The little guy stared at me for a few seconds then blinked. Of course! I felt like hitting myself on the head. There was only one thing I could do, one last thing. My mane puffed up with excitement and joy. Oh, I was still terrified, but that wasn't the reason not to enjoy one last super great day! Sort of like a scoop of chocolate ice-cream in a bowl of bitter lemon juice.
"I'm gonna do it!" I said. "I'll have the bestest date in Equestria!" And then I'll murder for the last time.
* * *
Carousel Boutique. I had been here hundreds of time, yet today was different. Naturally, I had picked my timing perfectly. Thanks to all my handy dandy files, I knew exactly where everypony would be. Sweetie Belle was with her friends in the CMC clubhouse. Derpy had just finished her rounds and would not pass for another eighty-seven minutes, right after she found out she had given Rarity the wrong package. Spike was busy rearranging the castle library with Twilight. Oh, and Fluttershy was having tea with Discord, who had appeared in her cottage on a surprise visit.
"Just perfect!" I smiled, then knocked three times on the door.
"I'll be with you in a minute!" Rarity's voice came from within. I knew it would take her precisely four minutes to finish what she was doing and answer the door, but I didn't want to wait that long.
"Are you still working on the La Fleur collection?" I asked loud enough for her to hear. "You shouldn't worry about that, silly. Even griffins know that—"
I wasn't even able to finish, when I felt Rarity's hoof over my muzzle. Oh, you could be really fast when you want to, Rarie. Brain, speed and elegance. I like! Without a word, she pulled me in the boutique and closed the door.
"Pinkie!" She shouted through a whisper. Of everypony I knew, she was the only one who could pull that off. "Why in the great wide world of Equestria would you shout that for everyone to hear? Are you crazy?!"
I took a deep breath to reply, but she only waved a hoof in front of me.
"No, please don't answer that." She turned around with a humph. "I really don't want to know the answer." You really are sweet when you do that, Rarie! That was one of the reasons I tried to stay as far away from her as possible. For better or worse, I always targeted those whom I liked the most. When I was five, I had done the same to Marble. That's the real reason she could no longer talk properly. The shyness developed much later. The things she'd witnessed at my hooves, no filly should witness.
No! Bad Pinkamena! Only fun Pinkie thoughts today! I hit my head against the wall. I really, really, really didn't want to ruin this day so early. Just a few more hours, maybe half a day at most, that's all I asked for! With a grumble my dark thoughts slithered away under the mountain of fun in my mind. Phew. Good thing I could force anyone to make a deal!
"Pinkie, darling, please don't do that." Rarity said, giving me a disapproving glance. "I might be slightly upset, but there really is no need to take it so hardly." Aww! She does care! I knew it! This will make things so much more fun! Half a day, remember, evil thoughts? You promised me half a day!
Smiling widely, I hopped to one of the mannequins. The fabric the dress there was made of seemed quite nice. The orange silk looked particularly tasty. Any other day I would have sampled it ten times already. Today, though, I had to be at my best behaviour. Well, my best Pinkie behaviour, that is.
"I do not wish to be rude or anything, Pinkie dear, but I do have a lot of work." Rarity looked at me expectantly. "Maybe you could share why you came to see me?"
"I just like you, silly!" I hopped in place.
"Pinkie Pie, really." Rarie frowned and went back to arranging gems on the latest dress-fashion-thing. So much for the direct approach. If I wanted to get anywhere, I had to be devious. Before I could say a word, my eyes watered.
The door of the boutique opened, having Rarity rush away from my reach and to greet her potential new customer.
"Welcome to the Carousel Boutique," she chimed her usual welcome greeting. Unlike her, I was not at all happy. My mane slowly flattened as the "client" set hoof inside. "I am Rarity, fashion designer and owner. How may I possibly be of service?"
"Why, this place is quite enchanting!" Sour Sweet said with fake sweetness. "I must say the things I've heard about you don't do you justice. Your designs are simply to die for."
"Oh, please." Rarity waved a hoof in false modesty. No fair! I was supposed to use flattery on her. If you are trying to steal her from me you'll be sorry, Sour! I don't care what Loki does to me afterwards! "It's nothing special really. Just doing my small part to bring a bit of elegance and style to the world."
"And you are doing it quite well." Sour looked at me. How I hated her smug expression. My only consolation was that I knew how uncomfortable this act was for her. She had difficulty maintaining her sweetness for more than ten seconds. I could almost feel the pain in her cheeks. "I know this is unexpected, but can you make a dress in one hour?"
"One hour?" Rarity gasped shocked. For a moment I thought she would faint. Unfortunately, she didn't. "Well, that is quite a tall order. Fortunately, I am a professional, and have never turned down a customer. Especially one who has—"
"Oh, my apologies!" Sour interrupted. I could see the sweat forming on her forehead. "I should know better than to interrupt the work of a true genius. Please, don't mind me. I'll return at a later time. Toodles."
Toodles? Seriously? As if anypony would be stupid enough to fall for that! Quickly, I glanced at Rarity. Her expression was as confused as Twilight's when I had told her there was a chilly pepper in her cake. Ha! Take that! I knew Rarity can't be stupid! My mane puffed up again, yet only half way. Sour's message was clear — I had one hour to finish the job.
"Well, she was a bit eccentric." Rarity passed by, going back to her work place. "I wonder who referred me."
"A dress!" I shouted causing her to hot startled in the air. Aww, you're so cute when you hop, Rarity! "I want you to make me a dress!"
"Pinkie!" she snapped at me. The smile didn't leave my face. "I believe I have been quite reasonable and understanding, but if you are to interrupt my work, I think it's better if you—"
"A dress for my special somepony!" There, I said it! Now all I had to do was wait. Three... Two... One... Her jaw fell at least five inches. Unable to resist, I pushed it up again. "Please?" I made the cutest face I had seen.
"Why... I..." She pushed my hoof away. "Your... Well... I never knew you had a special somepony, let alone a mare." She paused for a moment. "It is a mare, right?"
"Well duh!" I looked at her with my best level-eyed expression. "Who else would it be? Stallions don't wear dresses."
"Yes, of course." Her cheeks flustered with embarrassment. "Please do forgive me, darling, this is just so unexpected. All this time I've never seen you show interest in anypony. To be honest, I was worried that your... career, wouldn't allow for companionship. You do take your job as party planner extremely serious, I must admit."
Yes, I definitely do. Sadly that's not the only job I take seriously. Even now I could feel the Pinkamenaness grumbling in my mind. Let me do my thing it screamed. Should I let it? Just one little murder... It's not as if it would matter. Before anypony could find out a second murder would follow, and by then it would be too late — I would have gotten what I deserved.
"Can you make a dress in half an hour?" I asked sheepishly. Thirty minutes. That left me twenty seven to take her to a romantic spot, shower her in begonias, and confess my love. Then I could go ahead with the whole secret murder business. Oh, how I hated working on tight schedules! All the books said it took a months for a proper romance to unfold. I had fifty-six minutes! This one was going to be close!
"Surely, you can't be serious!" Rarity coughed. "Half an hour? Why even if I leave all my other work, and I'm not saying that I will, I could hardly manage to—"
"But she'll be going far far away in fifty-five minutes." My ears flopped. If she couldn't do it in that much time, it meant I'd have to try to set up a date without a proper dress, but I can't set up a date without it, because I wanted her to look pretty, and if she didn't look pretty... Ohhh! Why are you being so difficult, me? My Pinkamena side wouldn't know how to act on a date, if Equestria depended on it, and my Pinkie side was full of so much bubbly fun that I couldn't tell the difference between love and laughs! Where are you, or mystical middle ground?! My lower lip trembled, as I fought back my tears.
It was so difficult to keep my mane up. The urge to murder something screamed inside me. Just go ahead and be done with it! I had heard the same scream when I had left home. It had kept tempting me, torturing me, until I had finally given in. The very first town I had gone to, I had murdered... Nothing big, just a small innocent thing, but it had been enough. That was when Loki found me. Just thinking about that snake in the grass made me feel mad! He could see both my Pinkie and my Pinkamena side, he was kind, and knew exactly what I was going through. I had trusted him!
"Pinkie?" I felt Rarity's hooves on my shoulders. "Please, don't cry. If it is a matter of such importance, of course I'll have it ready in half an hour!" My mane hesitantly moved back up. "There are some things in life that take priority over everything else, after all." She nodded with enough determination to make me smile. "So, tell me more about this special mare." She nudged me jokingly. I bet she was dying of curiosity.
"She's special!" I said, as I felt a thousand fireworks exploded inside me. "And a mare!" I grinned expectantly. Did I go overboard with the hints? I really hoped not. I didn't want to kill the surprise so soon, but, oh, the temptation!
"Pinkie, dear," Rarity sighed. "I was hoping of something more elaborate."
"She's a unicorn?" I felt my hooves shiver. Danger zone! Danger zone!
"I see." She harrowed her eyes. "Well far be I for me to pry in the personal lives of others, but I was expecting... hoping, for a bit more details. Like, where you met her? Was it love at first sight? Have you confessed? Where is she from? How long have you been together? Do I know her? Does she know me? Why have you been keeping your romance a secret? What's her star sign? Is she somepony famous?"
So many questions. I took a deep breath. Just as I was an out to start giving answers, in order, I felt a hoof on my muzzle once more.
"What in Equestria am I thinking?" Rarity asked dramatically. "How senseless of me to ask you such things before your very special date!" I don't mind, Rarie. Really. "For now," she removed her hoof from my muzzle, "I just need to know the basics to work with. Body proportions, hoof size, coat colour, mane style..."
As she was talking I carefully started examining her. What better way to be sure of the proportions. I mean, I did have all the information already! but it never hurt anypony to double check. Maybe triple check even?
"Hmmm!" I gently poked her side with a hoof. Looks like she had lost 347 grams since last month. Nothing to be alarmed of. I'm sure a few slices of cake would fix that.
"Pinkie!" Rarity hissed. "What are you doing?!"
"Comparing measurements, silly!" I chuckled. Oh, Rarie... you're so adorable when you are annoyed. "And I guess you are close enough."
"Well," she pushed me aside, yet not without blushing slightly. "While I do admire you using me for the perfect standard, a true lady should always ask for permission before—"
"Can I? Can I? Can I?" I started hopping wildly. Oh, it was so fun to be full of so much... err... fun! The only times I felt like this was was after a murder. My Pinkamena hunger would disappear then, sometimes for days, leaving my Pinkie side to go wild. Rarity sighed audibly. "Is that a yes?"
"For the sake of our friendship, and the important matter that awaits you, I'll pretend this didn't happen!" She turned around with an angry tail flick, going back to her fabrics. "Just tell me two things. Coat and mane colour."
"Pink!" i could picture it now. This was going to be the best date ever! Well, the shortest date, but the best! "And deep purple."
"Pink, you said, and..." She didn't finish the sentence. Her entire body froze. Her left ear started twitching madly. "And deep purple?" I could tell she was upset. The way she turned around to glare at me would make even statues run away screaming. Her left eye was twitching, almost in sync with her ear. "Pink and purple is a horrendous combination! I'd go as far as to say..." She stopped, steam coming out of her nostrils.
"Uh-huh! Beautiful, isn't she? Isn't she?" I started hopping again.
"Pinkie, dear, do you mind waiting outside until I finish?" Uh-oh. She was speaking through her teeth. She only did that when she was super upset. "I will need my full concentration, if I am to work miracles."
"Sure thing, R—" Suddenly everything around me changed. I felt a fair of hooves grab me, followed by the cold ground hitting my rump. Before I knew what was going on, I was outside. "—arity." I managed to finish only to have the door slam in my face. Sheesh! Somepony takes their job a bit too seriously.
Twenty minutes to kill. I felt my dark urges rise. And I do mean kill. Come on! You know you want to. It's not like it will matter. As long as you are discreet about it, you can do it and go on your date. It's not like anyone in this little backwater town will thank you if you don't. In the end it won't matter, remember?
"Bad thoughts, bad thoughts!" I shouted, punching myself in the stomach. Listen, me! We had a deal! I let me have this, then I do the dark thing I always do! Usually, I could convince any pony alive, but convincing myself was more difficult. So far I only managed to do that two times our of three. To be honest, I was way too sneaky for my own good. Also, I knew all my tricks.
This was exactly like the time I passed through Manehatten. It was a few weeks after I told Loki I won't work for him anymore. The bits I had gathered were gone, and it wasn't like I had any special skills other than my secret job and my cutie mark. A kind couple had helped me back then. Seeing me shivering and starving on the street, they had invited me to their house, given me food, water, a bath... Rarely had anypony been so nice to me. They didn't deserve what I did to them, nopony deserved it. Week after week, I had fought it, until one day I could no more. My memory was still blurry, but I remember it happening after dark. The poor ponies never saw it coming.
"Thinking of the good old days?" an annoying pony asked beside me. "Well, if you hadn't run off, they never would have ended!"
"Like I'll ever invite you to my wedding, Sour!" I grumbled at her. "So, there!"
"Oh, I didn't know you cared, you annoying stupid mare!" She yelled into my ear. "There will be no wedding! Did you forget? Huh? Are you stupid or something?"
"Don't," I whispered. It was quiet, but my flat mane and my wide smile did all the shouting I needed. No one messed with Pinkamena! Sour Sweet knew that better than anypony. There was a time she used to compete with me for Loki's favour. One day I had done five murders in front of her, just to prove I could. She had never challenged me since.
"You shouldn't have left, Pinkamena." Her voice was quiet. "You could have risen to the top. Hay, you could have taken Loki eventually. Look at you now — about to lose everything. Was it worth it?"
No need to answer that. She wouldn't understand. Yes, it was worth it... so very worth it. Both the dark laughter and the light. Well, mostly the light laughter — it was warm and squishy and nice. I would never forsake my laughter, even if it meant I could replace Loki.
"I'm giving you an hour." She stepped away. "If you haven't done it by then, I will. Got that, stupid?!"
"I will," I whispered back. Celestia help me, I was. What irony of fate had chosen me to be an Element of Harmony? It should have been Minuette, or Derpy, or even Lyra Heartstrings! I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Logic was cold and painful.
Sour Sweet snorted, then trotted off. She was going to keep her word. That much I could be sure. Date! The word hit me like an anvil. What was I thinking?! I was about to go to the greatest date of my life and I still hadn't prepared for it! Well, a dress for me was out of the question. Even if Rarity could make a dress for me in that amount of time, there would be no surprise. And, hey, I looked good au naturel. Next I needed some flowers — nothing too fattening — and a gift. Gift, gift, gift. What gift could I find in fourteen minutes?
"Better start with flowers!" Flowers were always good. And tasty! Everypony knew Rarity loved begonias. Also, I happened to know who had such, and in large quantities. "Alright! Off to Rose it is!" I hopped along. Did I bring enough bits? Sure I did! And even if I didn't, I'll just give a I.O.U. Rose knew me well enough to accept it.
It took me precisely four minutes twenty seconds to get the flower ponies' shop. Two minutes seventeen to wait for Bulk Biceps to pick a bouquet for his marefriend. Twenty seconds for him to pay.
"YEAH!" he shouted as he saw me.
"Yeah!" I replied in turn. We were both had a tense and beautiful moment to look forward to. Only mine was going to be significantly shorter — around twenty minutes to be exact. Give or take depending on how fast Rarity walked.
"Hello, Pinkie." Rose smiled. "Planning a new party?"
"Absotively!" I hopped twice. "It'll be the bestest one ever! I'll take a sack of begonias. A big one!" My eyes widened as I spoke. The image of Rarity laying on a carpet of begonias filled my mind. "Oh, oh, oh! Do you have different colours? I'd love different colours! And a white and violet rose!"
"Oh, Pinkie," Rose chuckled, hoof on mouth. For her it was just another day. She didn't know that once I left her shop nothing in would ever be the same. Poor Rose. I hope my actions didn't bring her too much grief. Oopsie. I didn't think of that! What would my friends think? I know it wouldn't matter for me... or Rarity, but I didn't want to make them sad. Maybe I had time to write a note or something?
"Err, can I also have a piece of paper?" I mused. "And a pen?"
"Umm, sure." There was surprise in her eyes. I could feel her feel something was wrong.
"And don't forget it's cupcake special tomorrow!" I quickly added a bit of randomness. That always managed to destroy any thoughts a pony had. Rose just stared at me. It took her a few seconds to remember our initial conversation, a minute more for her to fetch the flowers I wanted. Meanwhile, I scribbled a few things on the piece of paper.
Dear all, I love you so much. Sorry for everything!
Your ex-friend / ex-sister / ex-daughter,
It didn't take long for the flowers to arrive. Quite the nice sack of them, all for only 1532 bits. I haggled a bit to get the price down to 1514. It would be stupid to give a I.O.U. for eighteen bits. Checking the time I rushed to Sugarcube Corner. There was one last thing I needed to get from my secret lair — something from my past. I never expected to use. Nuh-uh. Not in a million years.
"Sorry, Gummy!" I yelled as I rushed out of my lair. "No time for goodbye! Please take care of the twins for me!" Must hurry, must hurry! If I'm late for my own secret date Rarity would never forgive me!
Rarity was standing impatiently at the boutique entrance as I arrived. The only reason she wasn't looking at her watch was because she didn't have one. I could tell she was furious. Flaring nostrils, impatient hoof tapping, a glance that could melt a frozen lake. I swallowed.
"There you are, at last!" She scooped me from the ground, ushering me inside. "Quickly! There's no time! Try this on!" A sparkling white suit levitated onto me. "Now, I did this on memory, so it might require a few adjustments." I'd say! The collar was so tight I was having trouble breathing!
"What's...?" I barely managed to squeak, suffering from a severe lack of oxygen.
"Let's just put this somewhere." The sack of flowers was hastily levitated away, as Rarity circled me as a hawk focusing on every small detail of my suit? "Hmm. Right. This could work. This might need a little adjustment." The collar loosen up. Finally, I could breathe again! Usually I was the one who gave suffocating hugs! Oh, you sneaking, Rarie, you! "Let me see your hooves. Well, at least you keep them in good shape. Nice hoofacure."
"Why, thanks." I smiled. So glad you noticed!
"Well, I supposed this is all I could do in such a short amount of time." There was a hint of disappointment in her voice, but it was drowned among a sea of pride. "Any mare would have to be blind not to see the beauty you project."
"Thank you! I guess?" I needed a moment to figure it out. If I was projecting beauty, did that mean I was blinding? Or was the other pony already blind, in which was I projecting too little? Hmm. I wish Gummy could be here now. He's good with math and logic problems.
"Now, the piece de resistance!" Rarity beamed. I held my breath. The most spectacuful dress floated in front of me. It was... it was... it was it! Simple, yet elegant. Loose, yet not floppy. Transparent, yet noticeable. My jaw slowly took a life of its own, determined to reach the floor. A cake! I was looking at a celestial cake of wind-thin layers of blue. Well, not blue. I bet it was one if those fancy colours whose names only Rarie knew.
I spent fifteen full seconds admiring it. If it up to me I would continue forever. Then, my jaw hit the floor. Stupid jaw!
"I take it you like it?" Rarity's chuckle went through my ears like confetti through a room. Good thing I was already pink.
"Err, it's okay." I tried to behave naturally. If I didn't have thirty seven minutes left, I'd be crazy nervous right now. Like, super-duper-double-extreme nervous. Mom always told me not to keep my emotions bottled up. Now I see why. This felt so... it was as if I had put a bottle of champagne in the cellar, then Rarity had come along and shaken the entire house! Oh, Rarie. Maybe I should have done this sooner. Thirty-six minutes aren't enough!
I glanced at her behind the dress. She was standing there, looking at me with that smug see-what-masterpieces-I-could-do-even-if-I'm-extremely-busy-and-you-gave-me-twenty-minutes-darling look.
"It's better than ok?" I ventured, smiling sheepishly. Please, don't get mad! I'm still not used to giving such compliments. Anything else - sure. Love... err... oh, a lovely dress!
"Why, Pinkie, could it be that you are slightly nervous?" Rarity levitated the dress away.
"Me?" A smile covered half my face. Silly, Rarie. I'm not nervous. I'm hysterical! I can barely breath from excitement! I'm just waiting for you to look away, so I can use a paper bag and not faint! "Nah-ah. Nope. Absotively not."
"But, of course." She gave me another look, as she was packing the dress. "Horseshoes and tiara are made to match, naturally. You should be thankful, I used all of my sapphires on them. No hat for you. You have an enchanting voluminous mane, and it would be a shame if—"
* THUMP *
Something hit me in the face — it was the floor. Enchanting! She called my mane enchanting! I could leave this world happy now. Good thing too, because I was going to leave in thirty three minutes.
"Pinkie?" Rarity's worried face appeared before my eyes. So beautiful. "Pinkie Pie, what's the matter? Are you feeling unwell? Is there anything I could do?" Do CPR! Do CPR! No, actually, don't! We haven't been on our date yet! Don't do CPR! Don't do CPR!
You are wasting time! my Pinkamena self grumbled. Do you think Loki will let this slide? Sour is crap, but even she can pull this job off. Sheesh! I sure was grumpy.
"Surprise!" I jumped back up. "It's just so super-fan-duper-tastic that I fainted!"
"Well, now." Oooh! She's blushing! She's blushing! "Naturally, I gave it my all, paying meticulous attention to every detail. After all, that's what friends are for." Marefriends! I giggled. "I wish you the best of luck, Pinkie Pie! Now go and swipe that mare off her hooves!"
"I don't want to that, silly!" I giggled some more. "Why would I want her without her hooves?" Rarity just rolled her eyes. I knew she would, I just enjoyed watching her do it. "Err can I just ask you for one more thing?"
"Pinkie..." she sighed. "It's not that I don't appreciate your company and confidence, but I really need to get back to work. I'll be doing this all night as it is. I simply don't have the—" Again I did my sad face. It was fake, but I was so good that nopony could tell. The internal conflict raging in Rarity was quite amusing. She would start by looking away, then glance back. She'd bite her lower lip, move her chin about. Finally in three... two... one... "Oh, very well!" she humphed, eyes closed in indignant fashion. "But, I'll let you know that this is the final time!"
Perfect! Time for some Pinkie Sense. Rarity would only keep her eyes closed for a moment, but that was all I needed. The Pinkie Sense would take care of the rest. I felt the ticklish tingly sensation of space twisting around me. Ha, you have nothing on me, Discord! In the teensiest part of a second I moved me, Rarity, the dress and the flowers to the perfect dating spot — a small hill not too far away. I rubbed my forehooves. Finally! Thirty minutes of eternal joy and happiness! After that, I do the deed.
"So," Rarity opened her eyes, "what must I, gaaah?!" Ooops. You've never travelled by Pinkie Sense before. My bad. "What? Where? How?" Brain lag. That's what she was going through. It always took a few moments for a brain to catch up to reality after a Sense jump. Of course, I was a Pinkie professional — my mind always jumped about!
"There, there." I rubbed her mane gently as I had seen Fluttershy do to calm her animal friends. "Everything's going to be all right."
"Pinkie!" Rarity shoved me away. Hey! Thus never happened when Fluttershy did it! "Where, by the stars, are we?" She looked around, then at herself. "And what am I doing in this dress?!"
"Do you like it?" I hopped around her. For some reason I felt even happier than usual, like the sun and the moon were inside of me! It was as if all the muffins I had eaten this morning had transformed into butterflies. I must be calm! I must be calm! I don't have time to be nervous!
"Pinkie!" Rarity growled at me. "I made this dress! Why would—" I grabbed the sack of begonias and emptied it all over her. This definitely must be romantic! Just like Twilight's books said — love in the air, like a gentle drizzle of flowers.
Rarity said nothing. Her eyes did, though. Looking deep into them I could almost hear her whisper "Pinkie, I'm going to hurt you! What is the meaning of this nonsense?!"
"Oops." I smiled sheepishly, hiding the empty sack behind my back. Judging by the piles of flowers on her head and back, this was more like a flower monsoon than a drizzle.
"That's the last straw!" She stopped on the ground. "I have had enough of this silliness! If you want to prank somepony, I suggest you find another victim. One that does not have a busy schedule and a crushing deadline!" She shook the flowers off her head. "Now, if you would excuse me."
"Wait!" I grabbed her hind leg. The things she said... they scared me, more than I ever thought possible. Never had I felt anything like this, even that time when I failed to make Cranky smile, or when I thought the girls were going to chase me out of Ponyville. No, this was different. It was as if somepony had baked me a cake of sunlight only to throw it away right before my eyes.
My mane fell flat. There was no Pinkie now, no Pinkamena, just me — alone, uncertain, terrified that I might lose something I didn't even know I wanted.
"Please, don't go," I whispered. There were no tears in my eyes, no false sadness, just a deep feeling of void... and fear, so much fear. "Stay with me. If only for twenty minutes."
"Pinkie." Rarity turned around. My hoof slid off hers. I didn't have the strength to move it anymore. "This is so unlike you. What is really happening?" Oh, why are you so stupid, Rarity? Dreaming everyday of the great romance, yet when somepony comes to show you love you don't even notice. Am I just another Spike to you? And why am I so stupid? Spending all my life bringing joy to others in the hopes that I'll get to experience some as well. Living off others' happiness never works in the long run... never ever.
"The dress is yours." I looked away.
"Well, of course it is mine." I could hear her eyes roll. "As I said, I made it for you. Naturally it—" She suddenly stopped.
At this point, I didn't dare hope anymore. She'd probably come to the wrong conclusion again. Could anypony blame her? I had spent so many years creating a Pinkie self that would hide my Pinkamena nature, than nopony would ever take anything I said seriously. Maybe I should just do the deed and put me out of my misery?
"Pinkie." A pair of hooves gently turned my head around. "You wanted me to make a dress for... me?" Oh, that face, so close, yet so far away. Inches separated our muzzles. Might as well have been miles. "The begonias, this hill..."
"You are my special somepony, Rarity." I said before she could. "You've been for years. I just... didn't know how to show it." There! I did it. I felt horrible inside, as if I'd eaten a basket of rotten tomatoes, but at least I managed to say it. One less regret, I guess.
"Well, I..." A shade of pink covered her face. "Well, you definitely have an appreciation of fine things." Her voice was almost natural, yet it was clear she was stalling for time. Her mind needed to catch up with reality again. Most probably she was trying to find a painless way to tell me she wasn't interested. Why did I have to be such a silly stupid romantic dreamer to think this might actually work?
"It's okay." I forced a smile. "I'm just a silly punk pony. I'll understand if you have somepony else..."
"It's not that. It's just..." She sat on the ground beside me. "This is terribly sudden. I honestly don't know what to think. Part of me still believes this is one of your elaborate pranks."
"Well, yes, I know, but..." She sighed. "Listen, Pinkie. I admire your straightforwardness, but these things usually take a bit more time." I felt her hoof on my shoulder. That made me feel a bit better. "The way you described things, I imagined you were going to propose, not go on a first date. First dates are short, sweet, leaving both sides to yearn for more. What you did was..."
"A bit too much?" I offered.
"Err, yes, we can go with that." Rarity chuckled. It sounded strange. Freeing myself from my Pinkie and Pinkamena selves, was far more than strange. It was as if I had never seen her before in my life — a totally different unicorn, that could eclipse Celestia herself with her warmth and beauty. Gee, you totally sound corny, me! "Maybe we should take this slowly? For example, you can start by sharing your feelings and—"
"But I only have twenty-seven minutes," I whispered. "After that I will go far far away." And so will you...
"You are leaving Ponyville?!" Could I be mistaken? Was that denying shock in her voice? "Darling, whoever for? And why didn't you tell anypony about it? You know that we..." she coughed, "that I would gladly help in any way possible."
"I didn't know either." And nopony could help me. Not against Loki. "I just wanted to spend my last few minutes here with you."
"You, I... last few..." She was stuttering. For a moment it almost looked like she would faint onto me. Drat! So close! I would have enjoyed that! "Well, then!" Her voice rang with new, extreme determination. "If it's twenty-seven minutes, it's twenty-seven minutes! My unfortunate experience at the Gala lasted half that long. Although, I definitely wish it had been less."
"You can say that again!" The joy factory inside me started working at full output.
"Brr! Don't remind me!" Rarity winced. "So, when was the first time you, ahem noticed me?"
"Oh, that one's easy! Right before your Welcome to Ponyville party!"
"Pinkie, I was born in Ponyville." Oh, I so loved it when she rolled her eyes!
"I know, silly!" I shoved her gently. "I wasn't, so I had to catch up for all the arrivals I missed!" Actually, that was a lie. When I had first seen her, it was something else entirely that had made me gasp. Back then, I hadn't developed my Pinkie self too well. Rarity had simply caught me unprepared. All the parties that followed had been to hide that fact.
"You mean to tell me you had a crush on me ever since then?" She gasped. "And you never told me?"
"Uh-huh!" I beamed.
"Pinkie, you idiot!" Wait, what? What did I do this time? There was anger in her eyes once more, enough to make me want to cower in fear. "Why, by the stars, did you wait all those years? We could have had a date, a real date, ages ago! What am I saying, we could have gone on hundreds of dates! We could have even been living together by now! But, noooo, you run about pranking ponies, organizing parties and not say a word!"
"Sorry. I..." Stupid words! Why do you stop working at a time like this?! There are so many things I want to say to her! "I had no choice." That didn't sound ominous, at all, my Pinkamena self cackled. Go ahead, tell her. About the jobs, about Loki. If she really loves you she'll understand. Right? "There are things you don't know about me, Rarity. Things you will hate."
"Whatever do you mean, darling?" Her hoof felt warm around me. "Whatever it is, I'm confident I—"
"Do you want do do it now?" I didn't let her finish.
"Huh?" She blinked.
"All those years we lost, do you want to spend them with me now?" This could work! This could actually work!
"Pinkie, we can't make up for years in twenty something minutes!" On the surface there was anger in her words, but I knew it was false. She hoped we could. She actually hoped it was possible!
"Maybeeee." I smiled looking cheekily at at her.
"Pinkie Pie, if this is one of your foolish pranks, by the stars, I swear I will never talk to you again!"
"Grab my hoof!" I reached towards her. She stared at it, if it were last year's fashion. "Trust me, it'll be super-duper fun!"
Rarity hesitated. Damn it, Rarity! Now is not the time to hesitate! Just grab my hoof and you'll see! Five seconds passed. Ten seconds. Why was she still hesitating? She was no longer angry, I could feel that much. Could it be that she was scared of this being a prank, or worse having her dreams shattered again? To be honest, she always did dream a lot, almost as much i did. That's what makes it difficult finding a special somepony. Just do it, Rarity! Just do it! Don't let your dreams be dreams! Then suddenly, as if by magic, she did.
Our hooves touched. A bright warm fuzzy light surrounded us, making my whole body tingle. Then all time stopped.
"Pinkie Pie?" Rarity asked. "Where are we?"
"Welcome to the Pinkie Sense zone!" I announced, hopping wildly on air. "Do you like it! Do you? Do you?"
"Pinkie, there is no such place as the—" she stopped abruptly. There was nothing beneath us, or above us, or around us for that matter.
"Of course, there is, silly!" I giggled. "I was born with it! How do you think I go from one place to another without anypony noticing?"
"Well, I always presumed—"
"And so quickly?" Should I hug her? Maybe I should hug her. Or should I wait for her to hug me? Usually it's me that does all the hugging. Ponies rarely hug me.
"Err." She wobbled, about to faint. Brain lag again. This time, I took advantage! Swooping in, I caught her in mid air.
"Would mademoiselle like a dance?" I asked, the experience only slightly ruined by my squeaky high voice. This was probably the only time I envied Sour Sweet. She could change her voice as easily as I could change my mane style.
"You know what?" Rarity smiled, letting herself be carried. "I'd like that a lot."
My first real dance with Rarity. Followed by our first real trot next to each other, our first real romantic talk, our first kiss... Weeks, months, years passed in the course of twenty minutes. We were together, we danced, laughed, even had begonias together. They weren't exactly my taste, but I didn't say a thing. What was important was that Rarity was happy.
Twenty minutes. Twenty beautiful, priceless minutes. And still, Rarity was right. We could have had twenty beautiful months together, maybe more, if I had only dared do this sooner. I hate you, Loki! You and your irony! If it wasn't for you I never would have found this happiness, but I wouldn't have had to lose it either!
"Is everything all right, Pinkie?" Rarity purred beside me. "You appear a bit perplexed."
"Nah!" I waved a hoof, as she nuzzled me. Time is nearly up, my Pinkamena side reminded. Sadly, it was true. Soon I would have to get on with the task given to me. But first, there was one last thing, I needed to do. "Rarie, I want you to have something." I pulled a small box out of my mane and placed it in front of her.
"What is it?" Curiosity got the better of her. I didn't say a word. Huh-uh! This is one secret I'll let live.
Seeing that she wouldn't get any help from me, Rarity took the box. Just a plain wooden box. When she opened it, however, her entire expression changed.
"Pinkie!" She gazed in amazement. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Absotively!" I smiled. "Magma diamonds from—"
"An engagement horseshoe!" She wrapped her hooves around me.
"Oh, that too!" It felt nice being hugged. "Was my granny's."
"And now you give it to me?" Rarity pecked me on the cheek. Mmm. Kisses are good too! "I must say, you definitely did sweep me off my horseshoes. Even if, in the case, these were my literally horseshoes." She giggled. I joined in, though I didn't quite get the joke. "There's one thing I must ask you, though. Why did you tell me the coat of your special pony was pink?"
"You know. Reasons." Actually there was just one reason. Sadly it would have to wait. My time was up. I could feel my Pinkamina urges slowly stirring. "Walk with me to town square?" I asked, my lip trembling slightly. "One last time?"
The magic around us faded away. We were on a normal hill once more, just outside Ponyville. As the pun went, it was all downhill from here. Rarity must have felt it, for she didn't say a word. No question, no protest, she just stood up, waiting for me to lead the way. Gee, I so hate this part! I've seen it in all the movies and it never goes well!
Slowly, we made our way towards town hall. Everypony stared at us as we passed. I wasn't sure if they were staring at my suit or at me being with Rarity. Nah, it had to be the suit. They're minds couldn't handle the thought of me being romantically involved with anypony. I mean come on! Me? Pfft! ... I felt so doomed.
"Why do you have to leave?" Rarity whispered. I was beginning to wonder when she would. A tiny part of me considered grabbing her and making a run for it. There was a chance that Loki would get tired of chasing us, maybe? Looking around, I spotted Sour Sweet hiding among the crowd. Typical of her to say she was giving me an hour, when in fact only fifty seven had passed!
"Rarity, I have to tell you something," I said quietly. "I'm a secret murderer."
Rarity gasped. Well, as far goodbyes went, this one was really bad. Great when working, or breaking the ice in the underworld. Here — a big no no. "I've been doing it for years, ever since I was a filly. That's why I left the rock farm. That's why I came to Ponyville. I wanted a fresh start."
"..." Her mouth opened, but no sound came outside. I felt her move a step away.
"You don't have to say anything." I tried to smile, although my Pinkamina self was doing everything possible to turn it into an ominous grin. "I know how it sounds. And that's not the worst of it. I was recruited by an organization that used ponies like me to do... things." My stomach felt like ice. "I thought I had left them years ago. Turns out they had given me an extended vacation instead."
"Oh." A single word, yet with so much meaning that it could fill a library. "That's why you had to leave in twenty minutes, isn't it?" I nodded. No point in telling her about my actual task. If anything, I wanted her to feel calm until the end. "Did the ponies you do it to deserve it?"
"Some." Flashbacks came and went. "Not all. There were some who were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. None in Ponyville," I preemptively answered her question. "I had stopped doing this by then." Another lie. Well, a semi-lie. It wasn't ponies I had targeted while here.
"Does anypony know?"
"Nope. A few nearly found out. I guess soon the entire town will know." Gently, I brushed a few begonia petals off her mane. "Thank you, Rarity. For twenty-seven minutes you made me the most super-hyper-mega happy mare alive. Also, please forgive me."
"Pinkie," her eyes became as wide as teacups, "what do you—"
Before she could finish I reached into my mane and took out a megaphone. From the corner of my eye I saw Sour Sweet grin.
"Everypony!" I yelled as loud as I could. "When Rarity was a filly she was overweight and had braces!" A collective sigh filled the air. I took a deep breath. Beside me, Rarity was trembling on the ground, hooves coveting her face. "I'm also a secret murderer!" I went on. "I've been murdering secrets since I was four! Yes siree, no secret is safe from me!" In the crowd, Sour Sweet stomped her hooves furious. Nyaaa nyaaa! Let me see you explain that to Loki! "But none of that matters, because me and Rarie love each other!"
Pleased, I tossed the loudspeaker away and. The deed was done. I had killed Rarity's greatest secret, as well as two of my own.
"Whyyyy?" My beautiful fiancée dragged herself towards me. Oh, you're so cute when you're being dramatic. "Why, Pinkie? How could you?"
"I just yelled really loud, silly!" I smiled widely. "And look, your coat is now pink!" Pink, of embarrassment, that is. This was probably the best prank ever! And my very first romantic prank. I'm sure that Rarie would come to think so too in time. Maybe by the end of the day, even! "Come on," I put her, still weeping, on my back and hopped joyfully towards Carousel Boutique. "Don't forget you have a super-secret-mega-awesome fashion line to finish! And you know what? I'll help you!"
This really was the best day ever!