A New Hero

by Alex The Lone Wolf

First published

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

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? An actual male who at first seemed worthless? Will his actions, even presence, affect the choices and outcomes of the pony gang? Will different relationships form? That's for him to find out...




(Remake of the FIM series)

Mare Of The Moon

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Episode 1 – Mare in the Moon

All the laughter… all the cold shoulders… what's the point? I don't ever want to be with any pony ever again… not if the same conclusion will occur every time…

I awoke from a deep slumber… gosh… I slept like… almost all day… not to mention about that strange dream I had… something about… elements of harmony… Anyway, I guess I better get ready for that "special event"… what was it again…? Ah… I forgot… oh well… it's not worth remembering… then again… what is?

I brushed the blankets off my body and rose out of bed. I shook my mane and then made my bed. I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I stared at my blue eyes alone with my dark blue body. However… the dark blue was light as well… I then continued at my ruffled mane. The hair above my head halted a few inches over my forehead as my tail stopped a little below my knees.

I decided to take a rinse if I shall show respect to Princess Celestia. I entered the shower and scrubbed my hair and body, passing through my mark that presented a wolf.

I walked out of the shower and shook my mane again, spraying drops of water everywhere. I walked to the front of my door and thought for a minute.

Well here you go Alex… just walk outside… everything will be alright… you're tough… you're pure-hearted… you'll make it through this… just don't pay attention to anyone… you've got this. I took several deep breaths, opened the door, and walked outside, shutting the door behind me.

Despite the atmosphere in my home, it was really sunny outside. Every pony was walking, sprinting, even rushing for the special event Princess Celestia would be hosting. I had just woken up… so I guess I could get myself something to eat…

I walked over to the apple acres, but along the way, something pink flew as fast as lighting right by me. I looked back to see what it was, but it was gone. I shrugged and continued walking to my destination.

When I arrived, I saw a pony with the color of an orange… despite the fact that she had a cutie mark with a triplet of apples on her left leg. She also had three freckles on each side of her cheeks and a long blonde mane which was tied at the end, including her tail. Lastly, she wore an old western, farm girl, cowboy hat. I walked up to her as she continued kicking the trees for the apples to fall into a bucket near her.

"Excuse me?" I asked as I approached her.

She heard my voice and turned around, revealing her lime green eyes as well as a smile.

"Well howdy there, partner. What can I do for ya?" She replied in a cheerful and warming voice.

"I would like an apple, please."

"Of course!" She kicked the bucket which led to a flying apple shooting out of the bucket and on to her head. She bounced the apple off her head and it landed on the back of my mane.

I was impressed by her amazing skill.

"Thanks. How much is that, miss?" I questioned.

She seemed surprised by my choice of words, which showed my respect and express of gentleman-like words.

"No worries about that, partner! It's on the house!" She revealed another smile, but this time with her teeth and closed eyes.

"Really? That's nice… thank you." I replied.

"No problem! Have a good one, ya hear?"

"Thanks. You too." I walked out and headed back in town.

As I walked, I chewed the apple in mouth, noticing a light blue pony with the mane and tail of a rainbow color lying lazily on a cloud. Strange… why does that color seem so familiar?

I arrived back at town, noticing a violet pony rush out of a beauty shop along with a baby dragon of the same color as her. I noticed every pony was rushing today for some reason. Most likely the special event…

After a few seconds when the purple pony disappeared, another pony of a white, with a little tint of blue, color opened the door slightly and looked out. She had a horn on her head and the top of her eyes were touched by light blue makeup. Her eyes were blue while her mane was purple and properly taken care of. She contained three diamonds on her right leg. She continued looking out with a worried expression on her face.

"Oh… where ever did she go? I was really going to be generous enough to help her look FABULOUS for the princess…" She sighed and walked back in the shop.

I continued walking throughout the town. There was still a long time until the event started… maybe I could just go back home and sleep some more… I walked gloomy back to my house, even hearing sounds of loud music from another house in town, and walked through the front door. When I shut the door behind me, darkness engulfed the area. Only the sound of silence greeted me home as I walked up the stairs to my bed. I lay myself down and closed my eyes. I couldn't really sleep… but I just lay there with my eyes open… struggling with the hatchet that never wants to stay in the ground…

It was nighttime… but at the point where the sun was going to rise in a while… I lazily sat up and yawned. I jumped off the bed and made it just like earlier today. I walked outside my home and over to where the special event was to take place. I had arrived in time to see a large amount of ponies gathered below the balcony. There was another pony… she was directing the birds' song…

She had a warm yellow color… the color of a beautiful sunrise… She also had a pink mane and tail, as well as three butterflies as her cutie mark on her left leg. Her face contained sweet, innocent eyes with the color of light blue and she contained wings on her body. As I saw her motion the birds with her legs, something different stirred in me as I stared at her in awe.

"Fillies and gentlecolts, as mayor in ponyville, it is my great pleasure to announce the beginning of the summer sun celebration!" The mayor announced.

Every pony cheered at this point.

"In just a few moments, our town will witness the magic of the sunrise and celebrate this, the longest day of the year, and now… it is my great pleasure to introduce to you the ruler of our land, the very pony that gives us the sun and the moon, each and every day, the good, the wise, the bringer of harmony to all of Equestria, Princess Celestia!"

The curtains opened… only to reveal darkness on an empty spotlight. Every pony gasped and began whispering.

"Remain calm, every pony. There must be a reasonable explanation…" The mayor explained.

However, I knew that something was wrong…

Suddenly, a pink pony, most likely the one I saw earlier, began jumping and saying excitedly, "Ooh! Ooh! I love guessing games! Is she hiding?" She looked around, clueless.

A pony came out of the area where the curtains stood and announced horridly, "She's gone!" I noticed it was the same pony from the beauty shop.

Every pony then immediately gasped.

As expected, the pink pony cried out, "Ooooh… she's GOOOD!" Despite the cheerfulness in her voice, she screamed immediately when a mist of darkness appeared on the balcony.

A large and dark pony appeared in the dark mist, having the same color of nightfall. She looked over us and spoke.

"Oh. My beloved subjects, it's been so long since I've seen your oh so precious sun loving faces…"

"What did you do with our princess?" A pony cried out. It was the pony with the rainbow hair that I had seen earlier as well on the cloud. She tried to charge at the night pony but was held back by the same pony that gave me the apple.

The dark pony laughed and said, "Why? Am I not royal enough for you?" Her tone immediately shifted. "Don't you know who I am?"

The pink pony again said, "Ooh. Ooh! More guessing games! Ummmm… HOKEY SMOKES! How bout QUEEN MINNIE? No. BLACK SNOOTY! BLACK SNOO- "The pony who gave me the apple stuffed her mouth with apples.

"Does my crown no longer count as I have been imprisoned for a thousand years?" She stated as she frightened the sweet innocent pony who directed the birds.

Her eyes shifted to the pony from the beauty shop and continued her speech. "Did you not recall the legend? Did you not see the signs?"

However, her speech was interrupted by the same purple pony I saw escaping from the beauty shop, "I did! And I know who you are! You're the mare of the moon! Nightmare Moon!"

Every pony gasped again.

"Well well well!" Nightmare Moon said. "Some pony who remembers me! Then you also know why I am here!"

The purple pony spoke, "You're here to…" She hesitated. "to…" She gulped.

Nightmare Moon laughed once again and announced, "Remember this day little ponies, for it is your last… from this moment forth… the night will last FOREVER!" She laughed manically after, as shots of thunder boomed and lightning flashed above her.

I stood in disbelief. What was going to happen? Night forever? Wait… I've seen this in my dream today… does it mean… does it mean… it was… real…?

To be continued…

Elements Of Harmony

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Episode 2 – Elements of Harmony

Nightmare Moon continued cackling insanely.

The mayor alerted, "Seize her! Only she knows where the princess is!" The royal guards charged at her.

"Stand back you fools!" Nightmare Moon warned as the hasty scene occurred. Her eyes glowed and she laughed once again while bolts of lightning attacked the royal guards.

Nightmare Moon then transformed into a mist of darkness and bolted out the door while every pony could only stare and gasp. The pony with the rainbow mane managed to free herself from the other pony's grasp and chase after Nightmare Moon, stopping outside. The purple pony then raced outside as well.

A few other ponies raced outside but I was unable to see who they were as the other ponies inside continued to panic. I managed to finally squeeze myself out of there. As I stared out at the night sky that was supposed to be now eternal, I thought to myself.

What can I do? What AM I supposed to do? Do… I just do nothing? I feel like there's something I can do but…what is it?

I sighed. I didn't know what to do. I walked gloomy through the town… hoping something might show me the path to my next objective. As I continued walking I heard some noise from a house in town. It was the same home that was playing the loud music…

"And just what ARE the elements of harmony?" I heard a loud voice. "And how did YOU know about Nightmare Moon, huh? Are you a SPY?"

I walked towards the house to try to find out what was going on. I slowly moved to a window to see a light lit inside the house with six ponies, which five of them were talking to the purple one. All the ponies that were in there were the same ones I had seen earlier today. Knowing it was wrong to eavesdrop, I pressed my ear against the window to try to gain any information that might be crucial to know, but unfortunately, it was a bit faint.

"I read all about the predication of Nightmare Moon. Some mysterious objects, called the Elements of Harmony, are the only things that can stop her, but I don't know what they are, where to find them, I don't even know what they do!"

They all looked towards the pink pony that was near a shelf. I could tell she was speaking but her voice was too faint to hear clearly. She jumped and cheered for some reason but the purple pony retrieved a book from a shelf and began talking again. I was able to make out her words.

"There are six Elements of Harmony, but only five are known. Kindness, laughter, generosity, honesty, and loyalty. The sixth is a complete mystery. It is said that the last known location of the five elements was in the ancient castle of the royal pony sisters. It is located in what is now…" She paused. "… the ever free forest..."

They all gasped.

"The ever free forest? That place is really scary! I don't want to go in there!" The pink pony said.

"We have to, if we are ever to achieve the Elements of Harmony and defeat Nightmare Moon." The purple pony replied clearly.

"But… But…" The pink pony stuttered.

"C'mon yall." The orange pony began. "I'm sure it's not that bad!"

The other ponies talked for a moment, but eventually they agreed and all headed out. Shoot! I have to hide or they'll see me! I hid behind a bush near the window and stared as they walked outside the home. However, the last pony to walk out was the sweet and tender one. She looked back at where I was for a moment, causing me to duck further below the bush, but fortunately she seemed to not notice me.

I sighed and thought once again. Should I follow them? I suppose it's better than doing nothing… maybe I can help for once…

I decided I would follow them, but I had to make sure they wouldn't see me… otherwise… I don't want to think about it…

I walked slyly behind them as they walked towards the forest.

After they finally arrived at the forest, they stopped and stared in horror towards the inside of the forest.

Finally, the pink pony exclaimed cheerfully, "WHEE! Let's go!"

However, the purple pony intervened and stopped her, "Not so fast. Look… I appreciate the offer, but I'd really rather do this on my own.

The orange pony interrupted, "No can do, sugar cube. We sure ain't letting any friend of ours going into that creepy place alone. We're sticking to you like caramel on a candy apple." They began walking towards the forest.

"Especially, if there's candy apples in there!" The pink pony spoke, "What? Those things are good!" The pink pony began walking with the other ponies while the purple pony could only sigh and begin walking too.

I waited for a moment until they were far enough to start following again, but I noticed they disappeared into a dark mist that formed in the forest. I began walking quickly before I could lose them.

However, it was to no avail. I had already lost them in the fog. I tried to cover the top of my eyes to see better, but it was no use.

"No, I lost them…" I spoke to myself. "Now, what am I going to do…?"

A dark blue mist suddenly formed in front of me.

"Huh…?"

Several ponies walked towards me from the mist. All I could do was just stare.

"Oh look!" One of them said. "It's what's-his-face!"

The other ponies laughed. I turned a bit gloomy, lowering my head a little.

"Aww. What's wrong? Sad I don't remember your name?"

I stood silent while my eyes looked away.

"You're just a loser." The pony smiled. "A usable loser."

The ponies continued laughing while I could only look away, but their mimicking… their taunting… it was getting to me… I… I couldn't take it anymore… I strained my eyes and tried to fight it… but… I don't think I can make it…

At that point, something inside of me sparked…inside of my heart… I grew the strength to overcome the bad and looked at them straight in the eye. I pounced at them with vigor in my heart. After I finished panting, I opened my eyes and noticed they were gone.

Was it all fake?

I continued looking around but there was only more fog surrounding me. I continued walking but I grew tireless soon enough. The road seemed endless. Finally, my legs gave up and I fell to the floor. My eyes began closing and eventually, I fell asleep.

"Wake up Alex… it's your time now…"

That voice… that voice sounded like Princess Celestia!

"Princess? Is that you?" I answered.

She appeared in the darkness that covered me. I saw her angel skin color. I saw the hair and tail filled with aqua, light purple and light green. Her tiara reflected the long horn on her head while her necklace, filled with a violet gem, hung on her neck. On the back of her legs, there was a cutie mark of the sun.

"Yes, Alex… you have to wake up… you must help your friends…"

"Friends? What friends? I don't have any friends…"

"Trust me, Alex." She gave a warm smile.

"Princess…"

"Now go Alex… and prove your strength!"

I wanted to ask her many more questions after, but she slowly faded away and my eyes opened.

The fog in front of me cleared up, and I saw what looked to be a castle that was destroyed. However, beyond the destroyed building, I saw five of the ponies running up the steps to another one. Trusting my instincts, I ran over there as well. When I finally caught up, I saw all the six ponies together, standing against Nightmare Moon. I didn't reveal myself, but only hid in the top of the stairs.

"Applejack, who reassured me when I was in doubt, represents the spirit of… HONESTY!"

Several crystals surrounded the orange pony.

"Fluttershy, who tamed the manticor with her compassion, represents the spirit of… KINDNESS!"

Several crystals surrounded the sweet pony as well.

"Pinkie pie, who banished fear by giggling in the face of danger, represents the spirit of… LAUGHTER!"

The same occurred with the pink pony.

"Rarity, who helped a sorrowful serpent with a meaningful gift, represents the spirit of…GENEORISTY!"

Crystals surrounded the pony from the beauty shop.

"And Rainbow Dash…, who could not abandon her friends for her own heart's desire, represents the spirit of… LOYALTY!"

Finally, the crystals appeared with her.

"The spirits of these five ponies got us through every challenge you threw at us!"

"You still don't have the sixth element!" Nightmare Moon quickly announced. "The spark didn't work!"

"But it did…" The purple pony replied. " A different kind of spark…I felt it the very moment I realized how happy I was to hear you… to see you…how much I cared about you… the spark ignited inside of me… when I realized you all… are MY friends!"

Suddenly, the sixth element came down upon her, showing brightly.

"You see Nightmare Moon… when those elements are ignited by the… the spark that resides in the heart of us all, it creates the sixth element. The element of… MAGIC!

All of the ponies' crystals formed together into necklaces and a tiara for the purple pony. Each of the ponies glowed and Nightmare Moon's face remained unchanged. That can't be good…

It turned out it wasn't… the ponies' entire glow dissolved and they fell to the floor.

"Wha… What happened? Why didn't it work?" The purple pony exclaimed.

Nightmare Moon laughed.

"Don't you see? There is ANOTHER element! Did you not know that?" Nightmare Moon answered their failure.

"What? Another element? My books only told me there were six!"

Nightmare Moon laughed evilly once again.

If the ponies don't have the seventh element… then how can they defeat Nightmare Moon?

Nightmare Moon then used her evil magic to grab the ponies and hold them up in the air. I could only hear their struggles.

"Well looks like I have the opportunity to rid of you ponies ONCE AND FOR ALL!"

At that point, I did the only thing that came to mind, the action that changed my whole life around…

I charged in there, unsuspectingly. I hit Nightmare Moon which interrupted her spell holding the ponies hostage. I could tell every pony was surprised of my appearance.

"Wha… What's this? Another pony?" Nightmare Moon replied to my presence.

"That's right…" I answered with my fierce look planted on my face. "I'm here… here to help my…" As much as I was scared to say it, I trusted Princess Celestia enough to actually say it… "I'm here to help my friends!"

Suddenly, something inside me glowed.

"Could it be…?" Nightmare Moon gasped. "The… The…"

"The seventh element!" The purple pony exclaimed.

I was surprised for a moment...but then it suddenly all made sense... I WAS the seventh element... the element of...

"That's right…" I answered. "The element of… A PURE HEART!"

The many ponies behind me began glowing once again, creating a rainbow while my night color combined with the rainbow and surrounded Nightmare Moon.

"NOOOOOOO!" Nightmare Moon cried as the elements of harmony attacked her.

Soon, the whole room was engulfed with light and then faded away…

I was lying on the ground when it finished.

"Ooh. My head…"

"Every pony okay…?"

"Oh! Thank goodness!"

"Why, Rarity. It's so lovely!"

"I know! I'll never part with it again!"

"No, your necklace. It looks just like your cutie mark!"

"Oh! So does yours!"

"Look at mine! Look at mine!"

"Aww! Yeah!"

I heard all these voices behind me. I slowly got up and looked around. The ponies were excited over their accessories. I guess my job here is done…

I was getting ready to walk out but the purple pony stopped me.

"Wait!" She ran up to me.

I turned around to see her looking at me.

"Who are you…?" She asked.

I moved my eyes around, uneasy. I didn't answer for a moment.

"… I'm Alex…" I answered.

"Alex, huh? Well you really saved our butts back there" She replied with a smile. "I'm Twilight Sparkle! This is Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity." She pointed to each of the ponies.

Every pony greeted and thanked me, except Fluttershy. She looked a little nervous and really shy.

"Fluttershy…" Twilight said.

"…Thank…you…" Fluttershy spoke very softly.

"Gee Twilight, I thought you were just spouting a lot of hooey… but I reckon… we really do represent the elements of friendship!" Applejack exclaimed.

Suddenly, a light appeared. "Indeed you do…"

Princess Celestia appeared in front of us from a ball of light! Every pony bowed. I did the same thing after seeing them.

However, Twilight spoke. "Princess Celestia!" She ran over to the princess as the princess replied.

"Twilight Sparkle! My faithful student." Princess Celestia said in a very heartwarming voice. "I knew you could do it!"

"But…" Twilight responded. "You told me it was all a pony tale."

"I told you that you needed to make some friends, nothing more. I saw the signs of Nightmare Moon's return, and I knew you had the magic inside to defeat her. But you could not unleash it until you let true friendship into your heart."

"But… what about the elements? I read that there were only six."

"Oh, Twilight. There was another hidden element, but not even the book knew about it."

They both smiled and looked at me. I kind of blushed.

"Now if only another will is well…" They looked over to the defeated pony. "Princess Luna…"

The defeated pony was startled when Princess Celestia began walking towards her.

"It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this… time to put our differences behind us… we're meant to rule together, little sister."

"Sister?" The other ponies questioned.

"Will you accept my friendship?" Princess Celestia asked Princess Luna.

Every pony but me leaned forward, even having Pinkie Pie fall towards the floor.

"I'm so sorry!" Princess Luna exclaimed. "I missed you so much, big sister!"

"I've missed you too!" Princess Celestia replied. Both the princesses were in tears.

However, Pinkie Pie began crying and blowing into a tissue, loudly. Suddenly, her tone shifted and she exclaimed, "Hey! You know what this calls for? A PARTY!"

"Yes…" Princess Celestia told Princess Luna. "The ponies of Ponyville should meet you."

"Really…? You think they wouldn't hate me?" Princess Luna responded, frightened.

"Oh dear, of course not. Trust me." Princess Celestia smiled, which was all Princess Luna needed to accept the offer.

Princess Celestia called her royal guards and they began escorting her and Princess Luna to ponyville. Princess Celestia motioned us to follow.

All the ponies began heading out, but I stayed inside. Before Twilight left, she looked back to see a gloomy face.

"Alex, aren't you coming?" She asked.

"I don't know…" was the only thing I could answer.

She walked over to me. "C'mon, you're our friend!"

"Really?" My eyes opened wide.

"Of course!" Twilight answered with a smile. "You said it yourself, remember?"

"Yeah… I guess I did…"

She motioned me to follow her and I did. All of us headed back to ponyville, where we began the party. When we arrived, the whole town stood there to welcome us back. The baby dragon I had seen earlier with Twilight rushed out to hug her. Two little ponies flew to Princess Luna and placed flowers on her neck, catching her surprised.

Twilight turned sad, to which Princess Celestia attended to her problem.

"Why so glum, my faithful student? Are you not happy that your quest is complete and that you can return to your studies in Canterlot?"

"That's just it…" Twilight responded. "Just when I learned how wonderful it is to have friends…I have to leave them…"

As she continued speaking, the only thing I could do was watch.

"Spike, take a note, please." Princess Celestia ordered politely.

The baby dragon, who must have been Spike, took out his tools for writing as Princess Celestia began speaking.

"I, Princess Celestia, hereby decree that the unicorn Twilight Sparkle shall take on a new journey for Equestria. She must continue to study the magic of friendship. She must report to me her findings from her new home in Ponyville!"

Each of her pony friends gathered around her and cheered.

"Oh thank you, Princess Celestia! I'll study harder than ever before!" Twilight exclaimed.

Every other pony cheered and the party resumed.

But I wasn't affect by this happiness. I sat out of the party, looking at the ground, thinking about all the things that happened today, even before. Thinking about what is now supposed to happen.

However, I was caught off guard by Twilight who approached me from behind.

"Alex…?"

I jumped and looked over my shoulder.

"Oh… Hey Twilight…" I replied.

"What's wrong? Don't you like the party Pinkie Pie threw?"

I sat silent for a moment. "It's not that… It's just…" I sighed.

Twilight paused for a moment as well then spoke, "What is it?"

"It's nothing, Twilight."

"…well why don't you come join the party? I bet that will cheer you up! You could talk to the other ponies and-"

I had stood up and started walking home.

Twilight ran over to me and stopped me. "Why are you leaving…?"

"I'm sorry…" I began. "… but I don't think I want to do that… I can see you ponies are having a good time… I don't want to ruin it…" I walked around her and started home again.

"But…" That was the only thing I could hear from her voice.

I entered my home and shut the door. I walked to my bed and lay down, staring at the ceiling.

I felt really bad for ditching the party…but it's true…I would just ruin everything…I would be better off not attending. I moved to my side. Besides, I still have to get used to these… Elements of Harmony…I still don't really fully understand but…

I sighed.

I guess I could just think about all this tomorrow…

And I lay there… with my eyes closed… hoping I could finally get some sleep.

The Ticket Master

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Episode 3 – The Ticket Master

The sound of knocking caused me to wake up. I looked around lazily to see where the noise was coming from. I exited the bed and walked to my front door.

I opened the door and saw Twilight standing outside with a smile on her face.

"Hi, Alex! I was heading over to Applejack's farm to help her out a bit. How would you like to come?" She asked.

"Um…" I thought for a moment. I wasn't going to be busy with anything today. I guess I could go… "Sure… I'll go."

"Great!" Twilight exclaimed. "C'mon! Let's go!"

When I was walking with her outside, I noticed she had the baby dragon on her back. She noticed me notice her dragon and spoke.

"Oh! Sorry, I forgot to introduce you to Spike! He's my assistant with my studies."

"Hey there!" Spike greeted me.

"Hey… I'm Alex." I replied.

"I heard you helped Twilight defeat Nightmare Moon! I can't believe you're the hidden element that no one even knew about!"

"Okay Spike, no need to get excited. Don't overload him with questions; I think he just woke up." Twilight told Spike, giggling a little.

I just continued walking.

"But, Twilight, I really want to know!" Spike whined.

"Oh, Spike. Stop acting like a baby." Twilight responded.

"But I AM a baby!" Spike replied.

They both laughed and I tried to cope with the situation.

When we both arrived at Applejack's farm, she stood at the gate to greet us.

"Well, howdy there, Twilight! I see ya brought… I'm sorry I never caught ya name." Applejack said.

"It's Alex." I responded.

"Well howdy, Alex. I'm glad you could be joining us." Applejack smiled.

"Why don't we get to work, then?" Twilight announced cheerfully.

And so, we began harvesting apples where Applejack had a lot of apple trees that covered up everywhere I looked. We had on saddles that contained two empty buckets on each side for picking apples.

We each chose our own group of trees and began picking apples. While I was placing apples in my baskets, I could see Spike sitting lazily on Twilight's back.

He must be a handful…

Once we all filled up our baskets, we grouped up together and began walking back to the barn.

"Thank you kindly Twilight and Alex, for helping me out. I bet Big Macintosh I could get all these golden delicious in the barn by lunchtime." Applejack thanked with a hop, while Spike was on Twilight's back tossing out Apples with a "Nope" for each one. "If I win, he's going to walk down stir up street in one of grandma's girdles!" She giggled.

"No problem at all, Applejack. I'm glad the goal is lunchtime. All this hard work is making me hungry!" Twilight replied.

"I KNOW, RIGHT?" Spike interrupted, as he tossed another apple which bounced off of Twilight's head.

Twilight gave him a mean stare, "Oh really, Spike? You've been lounging on my back all morning while WE worked!"

"EXACTLY!" Spiked responded. "You guys were taking SOO long that I missed snack time!"

Twilight's stomach grumbled. She laughed nervously. "Well I guess we better get some food."

Spike continued sorting through the apples in the baskets, tossing out ones that he didn't like for some reason. "AHA!" He finally pulled out a bright red shiny apple from the basket.

Twilight licked her lips. "Oh, Spike! That looks delicious!"

However, Spike immediately forced it in his mouth and chomped down.

"Spike!" Twilight scolded.

"What?" Spike questioned.

Spike immediately burped and something formed with his smoke that even surprised me. It was a scroll letter…

"It's a letter from Princess Celestia!" Twilight exclaimed.

Spike grabbed the letter and cleared his throat. He opened the letter and read what was inside. "Here ye, Here ye! Your grand royal highness, Princess Celestia, of Equestria is pleased to announce the Grand Galloping Gala to be held in the magnificent capital of Canterlot on the 21st day of… yadda yadda yadda… cordially extends an invitation to Twilight Sparkle plus one guest!"

Both Applejack and Twilight gasped. "The Grand Galloping Gala!"

Applejack and Twilight continued to jump around and dance, repeating the same words of which I did not know.

"What's the Grand Galloping Gala?" I asked.

The both gasped and looked at me.

"You don't know what the Grand Galloping Gala is?" Twilight asked.

I shook my head.

"It's only THE annual royal ball held in Canterlot!"

I still looked confused.

However, Spiked looked annoyed and he opened his mouth to make a disgusted look, but he suddenly burped out two golden tickets.

"Look! Two Tickets!" He announced.

"Wow! Great! I've never been to the Gala, have you Spike?"

"No! And I plan to keep it that way! I don't want any of the girly frilly froo-froo nonsense." Spike replied.

"Aw, come on Spike! A dance would be nice!"

"Nice?" Applejack interrupted. "It's a heap good more than just nice. I'd love to go. Land sakes, if I had an apple stand set up, ponies would be chowin' our tasty vittles till the cows came home. Do you have any idea how much business I could drum up for Sweet Apple Acres? Why, with all that money, we could do a heap of fixin' up 'round here. We could replace that saggy old roof, and Big Macintosh could replace that saggy old plow, and Granny Smith could replace that saggy old hip. Why, I'd give my left hind leg to go to that gala."

"Oh… well in that case… would you like to-"Twilight was interrupted by a scream.

"Are we talking about the Grand Galloping Gala?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed after she had fell on top of Applejack and Twilight.

"Rainbow Dash! You told me you were too busy to help me harvest apples! What were you busy doing? Spying?" Applejack demanded.

"No!" Rainbow Dash immediately responded. "I was busy… napping. And I just HAPPENED to hear that you have an extra ticket?"

"Yeah but…" Twilight was interrupted once again.

"YESS! This is so awesome! The wonder bolts perform at the Grand Galloping Gala every year! I can see it now…"

Rainbow Dash was already going to begin her story.

"Um… I'm just going… to put the apples in the barn…" I said.

But the ponies seemed to be too busy discussing about the Grand Galloping Gala. I grabbed the baskets of apples and managed to carry them over to the barn. I placed them where they belonged and sat down for a moment, catching my breath after carrying three baskets of apples at the same time.

Geez, they're so obsessed over the "Grand Galloping Gala", what's so special about it? Besides it being a royal ball, of course…

Who knows? Maybe it's just my negative thinking…

I shook my head and decided to get back to the others. When I arrived back near the apple trees, I saw Rainbow Dash and Applejack leg wrestling on a tree stump.

"Aw, Forget this!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed and flew out of the area.

"You're not getting away from me!" Applejack ran after her.

I sighed. I guess I better go after them… I ran after Applejack who led me into town. When I stopped to catch my breath, I could hear her saying, "Wait just another minute!"

"Applejack! Were you following me too?" It was Twilight.

"No! I was following THIS one!" Applejack pointed to Rainbow Dash, "to make sure she didn't try any funny business…still trying to take my ticket…"

"YOUR TICKET?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"But Twilight's taking ME!" Pinkie Pie interrupted, who was obviously a part of the group too.

Soon every pony was joining in, trying to win their way to the extra ticket.

Okay, this was getting on my nerves.

"GIRLS!" I shouted.

They all looked towards me.

"Don't you think you girls are getting a bit out of hand? I know this 'Grand Galloping Gala' is a huge deal for you, but that doesn't mean you should be fighting for it! Twilight is the one with the extra ticket and she'll take whoever she wants, now just leave her alone, so she can think about it!"

"Yeah! What he said! Now go on, shoo!" Twilight exclaimed.

Every other pony except Twilight started walking out of the area, muttering under their breaths.

"Don't worry I'll figure this out!" Twilight yelled out to them.

Twilight sighed and looked at me. "Thanks Alex. I can't think straight! Especially since I haven't got anything to eat."

"Well now's your chance." I replied.

"You're right." She smiled. "I'm going to get Spike and grab a bite, want to come?"

"Sure…" I didn't really know what I wanted to do… so I just went with the flow.

We walked for a moment until she grabbed Spike who was waiting in the library in her home after the whole situation with the other ponies.

"Took you long enough…" Spike said.

"Not now Spike… I just want to get something to eat. I'm SOO hungry!" Twilight replied.

"Oh boy!" Spike quickly changed into a positive mood. "Let's go!"

Twilight sighed again and looked over to me. "C'mon Alex, let's go before I starve to death."

We arrived at a nearby Café. We sat in a table with Spike across Twilight and I being in the middle.

"Oh guys, what am I going to do? All five of my best friends have really good reasons to go to the Gala!" Twilight said. She then looked over to me. "Alex, I'm sorry."

"For what?" I asked.

"I didn't even ask if you wanted to go."

"No, thanks, I'm alright."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

Twilight sighed. "Well at least you understand Alex…" She then used her magic to peel leafs from a flower in the plant. "Applejack…or Rainbow Dash…Pinkie Pie, or Fluttershy…Rarity? Oh, who should go with me?"

After hearing her stomach growl, she even licked the petals off the table.

"Have you made your decision?" The waiter asked.

"I CANT DECIDE!" Twilight yelled out loud.

"Twilight, he just wants to take your order…" Spike said, pointing to his menu.

"Oh…" Twilight said. She told her order to the waiter.

"And for you, sir?" He asked me.

"The same." I replied.

"Do you have any rubies?" Spike asked. After Spike looked at the waiter's face, he said, "No? Okay… I'll have the hay fries… extra crispy!"

"Well what do you think Spike?" Twilight asked.

"I think we have to try another restaurant, I mean I like grass just fine but would it hurt anybody to offer some gemstones?" Spike replied.

"I mean about that gala and the ticket and who I should take!"

"Oh…You're still on THAT?"

"Spike! LISTEN! How do I choose? And when I do choose, will the other four be mad at me? I mean I can give up my ticket and give away two, but that would still leave three disappointed ponies! What if I-"

The waiter had come by and dropped our food.

"Oh thank you… this looks SO good." Twilight shared while Spike ate away on his fries. "I'm sure everything will be MUCH clearer once I eat."

I had been thinking for a moment, and I finally thought of a solution that might save us all from this mess.

"Twilight." I called.

"Hmm?" She said as she was about to take a bite of the sandwich using her magic to pick it up.

"Why don't you just-"

Suddenly, many ponies began running near us. They had all headed towards the inside of the building.

"Uh, madam. Are you going to eat your food in the rain?"

Rain?

Twilight dropped her sandwich and explained, "It's not raining."

Suddenly, the whole area was bombarded with water droplets. Everywhere except our exact spot.

"What's going on?" Twilight asked.

"Hi there, best friend forever I ever ever had! Enjoying the sunny weather?"

We looked up to see that it was Rainbow Dash who was holding a cloud open.

Twilight grew an annoyed look on her face. "Rainbow Dash… what are you doing…?"

"What do you mean? I just saw the smartest, most generous pony about to get rained on, so I thought I'd kick a hole in the clouds to keep her dry so she can dine in peace! That's all."

"Rainbow… you're not trying to get extra consideration for the extra ticket by doing the extra special favors… are you?"

"Meee? No no no, of COURSE not!"

"Uh huh…"

"Seriously! I'd do it for ANY pony!"

However, we saw many other ponies running to get shelter in the rain.

Rainbow Dash saw this and she giggled nervously.

"Rainbow…" Twilight began. "I am NOT comfortable accepting unwanted favors, so I'd appreciate it if you close up that rain cloud RIGHT NOW."

Rainbow Dash groaned and did as she was told.

"That's better!" Twilight was about to finally eat the sandwich, but it got soaked along with her in the rain. She groaned in frustration. Spike on the other hand, began snickering.

That's when my eyes caught sight of another pony… a pony with an umbrella… uh oh… this is not going to go good…

"TWILIGHT! It's raining!" Rarity exclaimed.

"No… really?" Twilight replied, sarcastically.

"Come with me before you catch a cold!" Rarity grabbed Twilight and rushed her over to her beauty shop.

Spike and I looked at each other and sighed. We had followed Twilight and Rarity along the muddy road. Once we arrived, I saw Twilight shaking her hair. I did the same.

However, Twilight realized that the water she shook landed on Rarity. "Oops… Sorry"

Although, Rarity changed her look and said, "Oh no! It's quite alright! After all, we ARE the best of friends, are we not?"

Here we go… I rolled my eyes.

"And you know what the BEST of friends do?"

Twilight was speechless, "Uhhh…"

"MAKEOVERS!"

Rarity began messing with Twilight behind a cover. All I could hear were her struggles.

"There! Oh, you're simply darling!" Rarity exclaimed. I saw that she had placed a dress on her.

"Uh… yeah! It is kinda pretty, isn't it?"

Spike made a disgusted face, but Rarity went over to him. "And you! Oh Spike, I have a dandy little outfit for the dashing gent!"

Rarity then captured him the same way she captured Twilight and placed him in an outfit.

"Now you just need a hat!" Rarity placed one on him.

"Bleeh!" Spike shouted. "I told you! I don't want any part of this girl gala gunk! See you back at the library!" He raced off ahead.

Rarity laughed. "Oh, who needs him anyway? This is all about you. How fabulous you'll look at the Grand Galloping Gala!" Rarity tried to persuade Twilight, as Twilight continued observing herself in the mirror.

"Wait… the Grand-"

I walked over to the corner and sat down to continue to listen to Rarity's persuasion about the Grand Galloping Gala. I decided I would just wait until she was finally finished.

Finally Twilight figured out her scheme and said, "You're just going to have to wait for my decision like everyone else!" as she threw the accessories Rarity gave back at her.

"Now if you excuse me, I'm been trying all day, just to get some lunch!" Twilight exclaimed as she started heading out the door.

Before she could say something to me, Applejack appeared out of nowhere. "Did some pony say lunch?" Applejack took Twilight to a cart full of apple treats outside. Applejack then tried to persuade her with her food. Twilight grew angry and left in a hurry.

I sighed and walked up to Applejack. "Why can't you guys just wait for her decision? She's stressed enough about being hungry."

Applejack sighed. "You're right…" She grew a disappointed look.

Rarity came out, looking for Twilight. "Where did she go now?"

"She left, Rarity." Applejack explained. "Because of our selfishness… Alex here made me realized it…"

Rarity thought for a moment and realized it as well. "Oh no… I've been a fool too…" Rarity grew sad too. "If only I can tell her how much I'm truly sorry for the way I've been acting."

"Darn right." Applejack agreed.

"C'mon we can still catch up to her." I suggested.

"That's true… Oh no!" Applejack suddenly cried out.

"What is it?" I responded quickly.

"If other ponies find out she has an extra ticket, they won't EVER leave her alone!"

"Then let's hurry!" Rarity exclaimed and we all rushed over to Twilight's home.

When we arrived, the lights were off and it was nighttime. I hope it wasn't too late…

We opened the door to her home just to finish seeing Twilight staring at Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash. She turned to us when she noticed we came in.

She screamed and spoke. "I can't decide! I just can't decide! It is important to all of you and I just can't stand to disappoint any of you, and giving me some gifts and doing me favors won't make any difference because you're all my friends and I want to make you all happy and I can't! I just can't!"

Applejack walked gently up to her. "Twilight, sugar. I didn't mean to put so much pressure on you. And if it helps, I don't want the ticket anymore. You can give the ticket to some pony else. I won't feel bad. I promise."

"Me too." Fluttershy flew near Twilight. "I feel just awful that I made you feel so awful."

"And me too!" Pinkie Pie joined as well. "It's no fun upsetting your friends!"

Rarity walked over to Twilight. "Twilight, it was unfair of me to try to force you as I did."

"YES! THAT MEANS THE TICKET IS MINE!" Rainbow Dash laughed as she chanted.

We all looked at Rainbow Dash with an upset look on our faces.

Rainbow Dash realized this. "You know… I haven't perfected my signature move for the wonder bolts anyway… I don't need that ticket either."

"We all got so gung ho about going to the gala, that we couldn't see how un gung ho we were making you…" Applejack confessed.

They all apologized to Twilight and I finally received my chance.

"Now… I was about to explain to Twilight about this idea I came up with before we were interrupted…"

"What is it, Alex?" Twilight asked.

The other ponies leaned towards me, wanting to know.

"Why don't you ask Princess Celestia if she could give you enough tickets for every pony that wants to go? I'm sure she would understand…if not… then you could return the tickets and no one can go. After all, it's better to not go and stay together than to fight over the tickets… right?"

Every pony was silent for a moment until Twilight spoke to Spike.

"Spike, take down a note."

Spike got his utensils ready.

"Dear, Princess Celestia. I've learned that one of the joys of friendship is sharing blessings, but when there's not enough blessings to go around, having more than your friends can make you feel pretty awful… so… though I appreciate the invitation, I am returning both tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala."

"WHAT?" Every pony exclaimed.

"I agree with Alex. If all you ponies can't go with me, then I don't want to go either. And I know I can ask for more tickets… but I don't want to risk upsetting Princess over this situation… so I am returning them."

"Twilight…" Applejack began. "You don't have to do that..."

"Nope, I've made up my mind. Spike, you can send the letter now."

Spike opened the window and sent the letter with his breath.

"Now you won't get to go to the gala either…" Fluttershy said.

"It's okay… if you all aren't there…, my best friends, then I couldn't possibly have a good time."

Every pony went up for a group hug, but I stayed away. Spike made a disgusted face for the third time today already. However, he looked as if he was going to throw up.

"Well wallow my withers, Spike. Isn't that just like a boy who can't handle the least bit of sentiment…"

He burped up something else… it was a letter!

"A letter from the princess?" Twilight exclaimed, surprised. "That was fast!"

Spike grabbed the letter and opened it to read it. "My faithful student, Twilight. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

Something popped out of the letter. Spike grabbed them and held them up in the air.

"Seven Tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala!" He cried.

Every pony gasped.

"Now we can ALL go!" Twilight announced.

Every pony cheered.

Twilight's stomach rumbled. Rarity walked over to Twilight. "Allow us to treat you to dinner!"

They began walking out the door, grabbing their own ticket on the way. When each of the ponies received their ticket, Spike walked out with his in his hand as I followed behind him.

"Spike!" Twilight told Spike.

"What?" He questioned.

Twilight used her magic to slip the ticket from Spike's hand and place it in front of me, "Here." She said with a smile.

"Me…? Why?" I asked.

She began explaining while Spike tried to jump to retrieve the ticket. "You were a really BIG help today, Alex! You deserve to go."

"But… it's alright… Spike should have it."

Before Twilight could argue, Spike burped something else out. It was another letter.

"And one for you, Spike." He said as another ticket came from the letter. He grabbed it with much excitement as he began laughing and skipping, but after he saw us and the rest of the ponies, he quickly returned his excitement. "Oh well… looks like I have to go too!" He began walking "cool" at first, then after being far enough, he continued his excitement. Every pony began laughing, but I kept my mood. I really wanted to have fun… but it just seemed that for now… that wasn't going to happen…

We all headed towards a pizza parlor, grabbing a table large enough for all of us. Every pony began talking to each other excitedly; especially pertaining to how they expect the Grand Galloping Gala to be. I kind of wanted to talk… but it was like I didn't have the energy to. So I just listened to every pony and tried to talk when the moment was right.

The girls ordered a large pizza with hay toppings. Twilight had asked me if there was anything I wanted, but I said I was alright with whatever. Spike made sure to have his slices covered with rubies. After hearing Rainbow Dash's flight bragging, Pinkie Pie's laughter, Applejack's apple bucking, Rarity's new ideas for her fashion designing, and Twilight's new studies for spells, I truly learned a bit more from my new friends. I may have not talked much, but I am certainly a great listener.

After every pony's bellies were full, they started to go their separate ways for the night.

"I should get some sleep! I gotta wake up mighty early for some more apple bucking!" Applejack said.

"Yep! Those clouds don't push themselves, you know!" Rainbow Dash added.

"I need to study anyway." Twilight explained. "It's Spike's bed time and I should get him to bed."

"Absolutely, I need my beauty sleep!" Rarity said.

"Sleep? Who needs sleep? I'm wide awake!" Pinky Pie began jumping around.

"Pinkie Pie… you're going to wake the whole town…" Twilight replied, shushing her a bit.

"Aww… I guess I could go to bed with some cookies and milk…"

Every pony laughed. They all said goodnight and left. Twilight hung around a bit.

"I'm glad you could join us, Alex." Twilight thanked, picking up Spike, who was already asleep, and placing him gently on her back. "Maybe another time?"

"Sure." I responded.

She walked off, saying goodnight.

I looked around and noticed that I had not even seen Fluttershy. It looked as if she left early.

I decided that I would end my day by walking through the park. The star filled night sky was perfect. There was a slow, cool, and gentle breeze. I began walking through the park, enjoying the scenery.

However, I suddenly heard a faint sound of singing. When I walked closer to where the noise was coming from, it slowly grew from a faint sound to a beautiful voice. When I finally reached where the noise was coming from, I saw Fluttershy… she was singing with a couple of birds. She sat down on an edge of a cliff where below was the magnificent ocean.

I slowly walked up to her and called her name. "Fluttershy…?"

She gasped and quickly turned around to see me. She looked terrified as she was sort of flinching.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you… I'll just be on my way…" I said as I started to turn around.

"Wait." Her voice called.

I turned back to her.

"…You're Alex… Right…?"

"Yeah…"

"Oh… I'm sorry I haven't talked to you…much…"

I walked over to where she was and took a seat next to her.

"That's alright…" I answered.

"No, No. It isn't… I'm just…" She couldn't really finish her sentence.

"Shy?"

She looked down at the ocean. "Yes…"

"I know how you feel…" I looked up towards the sky. "Don't worry about it… I don't mean to put any pressure on you, or any other pony…"

"That's nice…" she replied.

After a moment of silence, I asked, "So… what do you do, Fluttershy?"

"What do you mean…?" She asked.

"Like… do you help the animals?" I asked from seeing her with the birds.

"Oh… yes, I do!" She started showing some excitement, but it was still very soft. "I love sweet little animals! That's how I got my cutie mark!"

"That's amazing." I said as I turned to look up at the sky again.

"What about you, Alex?" She asked.

"Me?" I was a bit caught off guard.

"Yes… what do you do?"

I felt a little uneasy… I didn't really do anything but…

"Well… I guess… I just help ponies… I don't know if I have a special talent…"

"Helping ponies is really good! But I'm sure you have a special talent! What about your mark?" She noticed the wolf mark.

"My…mark?" I nervously replied.

"Yes. How did you get it?"

"Um…" I quickly responded. "It's… It's a long story. Don't worry about it, it's nothing."

"Alex…?" She looked a little worried.

I sat in silence for a moment. "Um, I should probably go… It's getting really late."

"Oh…" Fluttershy looked a little sad. "Ok, then... maybe I'll see you tomorrow…if that's okay...?"

"Yeah…" I responded, while standing back up. "Good night…"

"Good night…" she replied.

I began walking back to my house. When I arrived, I jumped on my bed and thought about what just happened. I started getting this feeling that I have never really felt before… what was this feeling…?

Applebuck Season

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Episode 4 – Applebuck Season

I immediately fell off my bed. Everything was shaking. I tried to grab hold on whatever I could find.

What was happening?

"STAMPEDE!" I heard outside. It sounded like Rainbow Dash.

I immediately rushed outside to find out what was happening. When I raced out my front door, every pony was crashing into each other, all yelling "Stampede!" Ponies were closing their windows and locking their doors.

I looked around and saw Pinkie Pie, who was the only one not panicking. "Hey...!" She laughed. "Thiiis maaakes myyy voooice sooound siiilly!"

"Pinky Pie, are you crazy?" I heard Twilight announce from the other side of the road. "RUN!"

"Every pony calm down, there is no need to panic!" The mayor alerted outside.

"But, mayor! Whatever shall we do?" Rarity responded dramatically.

"Look there!" Rainbow Dash cried.

She pointed across the river to where the large stampede of cows was rushing towards us.

"YEEEHAW!" cried Applejack in the middle of the group.

When the ponies saw her, they began cheering for her to save us. Applejack began rounding them up and collecting them in a straight and narrow line.

While the other ponies could only watch, Pinkie Pie, holding a bag of popcorn, exclaimed, "This is the best rodeo show I've ever seen!" She stuffed her face in the bag of popcorn.

Applejack then pushed some cows to the side, jumped on one of them, and then lassoed the leader of the group. She pulled hard on the rope in order to change their direction to run along the river instead, all while cheering on.

The ponies cheered once again. Applejack pulled on the rope until the stampede came to a complete stop. She had a short conversation with cows until they finally returned back to where they belonged. The rest of the ponies continued cheering.

"Yee haw! Ride 'em, cowpony!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed while trying to be like Applejack.

I sighed and walked over to where the mayor, Twilight, and Rarity stood.

"Applejack was just… just…" The mayor said.

"APPLE-TASTIC!" Pinky Pie finished for her.

"Exactly! We must do something to thank Applejack for single-hoofedly saving the town." The mayor added.

"I know…" Pinkie Pie began. "A PARTY!"

Soon the whole town began getting the festivities ready.

Twilight saw me. "Hey… Did the Stampede wake you up?"

"Definitely." I replied, rubbing my head.

"Good thing we have Applejack here!" Twilight smiled.

"Yeah… Pinkie Pie is throwing another party?"

"Yup! Want to help?"

"Sure."

"Alright, we'll you can help Rarity and I put up streamers. Is that okay?"

"No problem."

"Okay! Let's get started!"

I retrieved a part of streamers from Pinkie Pie and Rarity, Twilight, and I started placing them up together. When we finished, Twilight and I walked over to Rarity, who had just finished placing the last bow.

"We all ready?" Twilight asked.

"Just one last thing…" Rarity responded. She picked up a banner decorated with Applejack's symbols with her magic and placed it on top of a building. "Now, we're ready."

"Is Applejack all set?"

"Actually…" Rainbow Dash joined the conversation. "I haven't seen her at all."

"Not since the Stampede this morning." Pinkie Pie added.

"But she'll be here for sure!" Rainbow Dash said in confidence. "Applejack is NEVER late!"

Moments later, everyone gathered up in front of a podium. Twilight came up on the stage and used her magic to grab and sort index cards she was to use for the speech.

"Welcome every pony!" She began. "Today we are here to honor a pony we can always count on to help in matters great and small. A pony whose contributions to—

"DID YOU SEE Applejack's slick moves out there? WHAT an ATHLETE. This week she's gonna help me with my new flying trick, and I know it's gonna be so AWESOME." Rainbow Dash immediately interrupted.

"EXACTLY!" Twilight regained control of her speech. "And…"

She lost it to Pinkie Pie now. "This week, I get to run SugarCube Corner for the first time!"

"…What does that have to do with Applejack?" Twilight questioned her.

"OH! Applejack, one of the best bakers EVER, is gonna help me. Applejack makes everything great, so free samples for every pony!"

"Okay…that's great." Twilight pushed Pinkie Pie gently out of the way. "Now if I could just make a point without being inter—

"Twilight…" I saw Fluttershy slowly creep out of the stage.

"—rupted…"

Fluttershy took the podium and began talking. "Twilight, I'm so sorry, but I just wanted to mention that Applejack is also helping me this week with the official bunny census, where we count up all the new baby bunnies that were born this season. She's gonna help gather them using her wonderful herding skills."

Fluttershy saw the annoyed look on Twilight's face and slowly backed out.

"Anyone else…? Anyone…?" Twilight announced, but silence replied to her. "No? Well then, as I was trying to say…" Twilight noticed the mayor excitedly waiting to take the podium. "UGH! Never mind!" She threw her index cards all over the place. Twilight had walked over to where I was standing while the mayor was about to give her next speech. She had her arms crossed and an annoyed face.

"Sorry about that…" I said.

The mayor took the stand and announced, "Ah-ahem. And so, with no further ado, it is my privilege to give the prize, Pony of Ponyville Award, to our beloved guest of honor, a pony of the utmost trustworthiness, reliability, and integrity. Ponyville's most capable and dependable friend: Applejack!" The mayor pointed to the curtain that just opened while every pony cheered.

Although, Applejack wasn't behind the curtain… everyone gasped. Spike didn't seem to notice…

"Cool! Way to go Applejack, that was awesome! I mean- heh." Spike exclaimed, embarrassed afterwards.

The mayor cleared her throat while Spike reminded every pony how awkward the scene was.

Suddenly, we heard Applejack's voice. "I'M HERE! I'M HERE!" She was walking towards the trophy with a back full of apples, which at the same time fell one by one as she bumped in to every pony. She yawned and continued talking. "Sorry I'm late-whoa-I was just... Did I get your tail?" She walked over to the stand and took control. "Miss Mayor. Thank you kindly for this here... award thingy." She continued yawning. "It's so bright and shiny and, heh, heh heh, I sure do look funny heh. Ooo-ooo. "

Pinkie Pie joined her in the awkward situation. Regardless, Twilight walked up to the stage. "Okay…Well, thank you Applejack for saving us from that scary stampede, and always being there for every pony."

Applejack yawned loudly again and spoke. "Yeah. I like helping the pony folks and…" She yawned once again… "and stuff…" For a few seconds she had fallen asleep. "Oh, uh, yeah. Uh, Thanks."

Applejack grabbed the trophy with her teeth and dragged it all the way back where she came from.

It was silent for a moment until Twilight finally spoke. "Was it just me, or did Applejack seem a little—

"Tired?" Rainbow Dash offered.

"Dizzy?" Fluttershy added.

"Messy?" Rarity said. We looked at her awkwardly. "Well did you SEE her mane?"

Pinkie Pie offered her opinion. "Well she seemed fine to me. Whoo! Whoo!"

"Hm…" Twilight said.

"She looked like she hadn't had any sleep… I think that's what her problem is… for some reason…" I suggested.

"We better go find out before anything gets worse." Twilight responded. "C'mon, Alex."

I nodded and followed her. I guess we were the only ones who were going to check up on her.

When we arrived to her farm, we saw her bucking apple trees for the apples to fall down into the buckets below the trees. However, she was having trouble trying to stay awake. From the lack of sleep, she wasn't concentrating right on her duties.

"What on earth is that pony doing?" Twilight asked.

"It's the lack of sleep… she can't concentrate on anything…" I responded.

Twilight looked at Applejack. "Hey! Applejack!"

Applejack stopped for a moment and fell asleep.

"Applejack!" Twilight called again. Applejack still didn't budge. "Applejack!" No Answer.

Twilight used her magic to teleport right in front of Applejack and called her name even louder. Applejack finally shook her head and looked at Twilight.

"Oh, howdy Twilight." Applejack greeted. She noticed me standing near her. "Howdy, Alex."

"What IS all this?" Twilight questioned.

Applejack began walking.

"It's Applebuck season."

Twilight teleported in front of Applejack again, just as she finished kicking another tree, causing more apples to fall to their buckets. "Applewhat Season?"

I kept up with them if they started to move around.

"It's what the Apple family calls harvestin' time. We gather all the apples from the trees so we can sell 'em." Applejack continued to walk, which caused Twilight to continuously teleport.

"But, why are you doing it all alone?" Twilight asked.

"'cause Big Macintosh hurt himself."

"What about all those relatives I've met when I first came to Ponyville? Can't they help?"

Applejack sighed. "They were just here for the Apple family reunion. They actually live all over Equestria and are busy harvestin' their own orchards. So, uh, I'm on my own."

Twilight teleported in front of Applejack again, but didn't budge. " Which means, I should really get back to work. Ahem..."

Twilight stood her ground. Applejack tried to persuade her. " hint hint...? Get back to work?"

"Fine…" She moved out of the way.

"Could you step aside, Twilight?" Applejack asked.

"I just did. Applejack, you don't look so good."

"Eh, don't any a' you three worry none, I'm just fine and dandy. Whoa." Applejack said as she missed another tree.

Twilight teleported once again and asked, "Do you want some help?"

"Help? No way, no how."

"But there's no way you can do it all on your own." Twilight made a point.

"Is that a challenge?" Applejack asked aggressively.

"Uhm…no?"

"Well, I'm gonna prove t' you that I can do it! Now if you'll EXCUSE me, I've got apples to buck." Applejack continued to walk.

I walked over to Twilight and she looked at me. "Any ideas?"

"I could try to talk some sense into her… but I don't think it will make any difference…"

"Better than nothing… you should go try."

I nodded and walked over to Applejack, who was still bucking trees. She noticed me and spoke again.

"I told Twilight that I need t' work!"

"Yeah, I know… but you haven't slept at all, have you?"

"Noo, sir. I here have been working nonstop, since the last time I…uh…went to sleep."

"You need to rest, Applejack. Why don't you let Twilight and I help you out while you go get some rest. Then you can come back when you feel better?"

"I said… I don't want any help!"

"Applejack…"

She continued to buck trees, missing a lot of them.

"No luck…?" Twilight asked.

I shook my head.

Twilight sighed. "We should get back to town… I don't think we can do anything else to help…"

"Alright."

We walked over to her home.

"Here, come inside." She said.

I did and looked around. The whole place was like a huge library with many books on different shelves.

"I suppose I'll just read until something can be done. Make yourself at home." Twilight welcomed me.

"Thanks…" I replied.

However I leaned on the railing over the balcony while Twilight lay on the ground reading a book. Twilight noticed my silence as I just stared outside.

"Is something bothering you?"

I sighed. "I guess… I'm just worried about Applejack… she shouldn't be working… she needs help."

"I understand, Alex… but what can be done?"

I started thinking… I tried to think of something we can do, but at the moment, nothing came. We certainly don't want to force her to do anything… so…

In the middle of my thoughts, I heard a loud yell and something flew right at me. It was Rainbow Dash and she crashed right on the railing in front of me, causing me to fall back.

"Alex? Are you alright!" She asked.

"Yeah…" I rubbed my head.

She looked over to Rainbow Dash, leaning over the railing, tired. "Can I help you…?"

"I think some pony else needs your help…" Rainbow Dash replied, sounding disoriented.

"Applejack?" Twilight answered.

"Yup!" Rainbow Dash knocked out.

Twilight sighed and stood up, closing her book. "C'mon Alex."

"Where are you going?" I asked, getting up.

"Making another trip…" She replied.

And thus, we ended up in the valley of apple trees again.

We saw Applejack buck a tree and try to grab the apple that fell with her teeth, but she hit the back of her head from a branch that stood out.

"Applejack, can we talk?" Twilight asked.

Applejack ears twitched and she stood silent for a moment. "CAN BEES SQUAWK? I DON'T THINK SO!" She yelled loudly.

"No! Can we TALK."

"TWENTY STALKS? BEAN OR CELERY?"

"NO! I need to TALK to YOU!"

"YOU NEED TO WALK TO THE ZOO? WELL, WHO'S STOPPING YOU?"

"I NEED to TALK to YOU!"

"OH! WELL WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO? WHAT YOU WANNA TALK ABOUT?"

"Rainbow Dash dropped in to see me today!"

"THAT'S QUITE NEIGHBORLY OF HER!"

"Yes, except that she crashed onto my balcony after YOU launched her into the air!"

Applejack finally lowered her voice. "Oh, yeah. I wasn't feeling quite myself this morning."

"Because you're working TOO HARD and YOUNEED HELP." Twilight stressed emphasis.

"WHAT? KELP? I don't need kelp. I don't even like seaweed."

"HELP! YOUNEED HELP!"

"Nothin' doin', Twilight. I'm gonna prove to you, t'everypony, that I can do this ON MY OWN."She bumped herself from a tree branch. "Ow! Now if you'll EXCUSE me, I've gotta go help Pinkie Pie."

"Ugh!" Twilight sounded frustrated enough.

"Twilight, maybe you should go rest, yourself. I can try to keep talking her out of working so hard." I suggested.

"Thanks for the offer, Alex…but I can't rest until I know she stops working…"

"What do you suppose we do?" I asked.

"I have no clue… but we better think of something soon…"

We walked back to Twilight's home, but before we could think of a plan, Spike came running in, shouting in panic to Twilight. "TWILIGHT! TWILIGHT!"

"What? What is it?" Twilight asked.

"There are a bunch of ponies sick down at the clinic!"

From that, we raced down to the nurse and she opened the curtain to many ponies that were green-faced and having buckets. All of them were groaning and moaning in pain.

"Oh no! What happened?" Twilight asked.

"It was a mishap of the baked goods!" The nurse answered.

"No… not baked goods!" Pinkie Pie was among the sick ponies. "Baked bads!"

"Applejack…" Twilight announced.

However, we saw Spike eating one of the bad muffins that made the ponies sick.

"Want one?" Spike asked.

"Ew! Spike! Get that away from me! I don't want to get sick too!" Twilight responded.

"Fine! More for me!" He chomped another bite of the muffin.

"We have to go tell Applejack that she's hurting ponies by working too hard!" Twilight told me as Spike continued to eat the bad muffins.

I nodded and we raced toward Apple acres… once again…

We had just made it to see Applejack upside down with a cart she was using to load apples into a bucket.

"Applejack… we need to talk…" Twilight said.

"Whoa, huh? Oh, it's you, Twilight. I know what you're gonna say, but the answer is still NO."

"Not to upset your applecart, but you NEED help."

"Hardy Har." She struggled with her own situation. "No I don't."

"Here, let us help." Twilight offered.

"Help? No thanks." She continued to struggle with the cart. "A little more... Little... There." She managed to get herself unstuck. "I'll prove that this apple can handle THESE apples. Come on apples…" She continued to kick the tree, but failed. "FALL OFF!"

"AJ, I think you're beating a dead... tree."

Applejack looked up and noticed that all the branches on the tree were bare.

"I knew that…"

Applejack continued walked, forcing us to walk behind her.

"Actually Applejack…" Twilight started. "I had something else to talk to you about. I just came back from Ponyville Urgent Care and—

"You know, I'm a little busy to get lectured right now, Twilight." Applejack immediately interrupted Twilight.

"But if you'd just let us help—

"UGH!" Applejack groaned. "No, NO, NO! How many times do I gotta say it? I don't need no help from no pony!"

"Ugh. That pony is stubborn as a mule." Twilight told me.

"You got that right…" I replied.

We heard something behind us and caused us to turn around.

"No offense." Twilight told the mule.

"None taken." The mule replied.

"So what's the plan now?" I asked, tired.

Twilight sighed. "Well, I guess I'll take you up on the offer Alex, I don't think I can take anymore of this…"

"Alright let's go to town then…again…"

We both sighed and walked over to town … something worse happened to town by the time we came back...

We saw ponies lying on the ground.

"The horror, the horror!"

"It was AWFUL!"

"A disaster! A horrible, HORRIBLE disaster!"

There was silence for a moment. "I don't get it…" Twilight told me.

I was about to shrug but then we began hearing more cries.

"Our gardens, destroyed!"

"Every last flower, devoured!"

" By... by... THEM!" One of the ponies toward a hurricane of bunnies ruining everything.

Fluttershy was with the bunnies, trying to softly persuade them into leaving with her. "Oh my. Oh... Please stop, little bunnies. Oh no! Please, let's go home. Oh my goodness." They didn't move a muscle.

"Alright. Enough is enough!" Twilight placed her foot down.

We raced over to Applejack's farm to see her trying to buck a tree while gasping for air between each word she muttered.

"Alright, Applejack. Your applebucking hasn't just caused YOU problems, it's over-propelled Pegasus', practically poisoned plenty of ponies, and terrorized bushels of brand new bouncing baby bunnies. I don't care what you say, you. Need. Help."

Applejack gave one last kick to the tree, causing apples to fall in her basket.

"Ha! No I don't. Look, ah did it. I harvested the entire Sweet Apple Acres without your help. How d'ya like them apples?"

Surprisingly, I did not notice Big Macintosh appear next Applejack. "Um, how do YOU like THEM apples?" He pointed towards another pile of trees waited to be harvested.

Applejack began to mumble. "Where'd all the apple...?" She continued mumbling until she passed out.

Twilight began calling her name, trying to wake her up again. "Applejack. Applejack."

She woke up. "Huh?" She looked exhausted.

"Oh, good, you're okay. Now Applejack, I completely respect the Apple family ways. You're always there to help any pony in need, so maybe you can put a little of your stubborn pride aside and allow your friends to help you?"

Applejack looked at all the trees and closed her eyes. "Okay, Twilight…"

"I am not taking "no" for an answer—what?" Twilight replied, thinking Applejack would still decline the offer.

"Yes, Twilight. Yes. Please. I could really use your help." Applejack was even begging now.

Twilight laughed and sighed.

"Alex, stay here and help Applejack. I'm going to get the others."

"Alright." I replied.

Twilight ran off. I helped Applejack get up from the floor and walk her to her home.

"Thank you mighty, Alex. You are very kind." Applejack told me as I helped her home.

"It's no problem." I replied.

"I'm very glad to have you as my friend." Applejack smiled weakly.

She surprised me. I continued walking, but I wasn't paying attention, I focused on what she had said...that she was really glad to have me… as her friend…

"Is something wrong, Alex?" Applejack asked.

I shook my head and snapped out of it. "No, I'm alright." I placed her on a comfortable chair in her living room.

"Thank you, ugh."

"Need me to get you anything, Applejack?" I asked.

"I'm fine, thank you." Applejack responded. "Hey, Alex?"

"Hm?"

"Is it alright, if I ask you a question?"

"Sure…"

"How come, I've never seen you smile?"

I felt as if she had bucked an apple straight to my heart. She didn't hurt me… but… it was just something I never really expected to hear… It's true… I never smile… I've never smiled… I don't even remember the last time I have…

"I…" I couldn't really say anything… It was silent for a while…

"I… I don't know…"

"Alex…?"

I wanted to change the subject. "Listen, I should get going. Twilight and the others are probably there, and I should go help them. Just stay here and rest up." I said quickly.

Applejack didn't say anything, but she looked worried.

I walked out the door and looked around. I saw Twilight coming with the other ponies. She walked over to me.

"Hey there! Where's Applejack?" Twilight asked.

"She's inside resting." I replied.

"Oh, ok." She noticed my face. "Something wrong?"

"No, I'm fine." I nervously said. "Let's get to work."

She hesitated for a moment, but she agreed. We all worked on different parts of the trees. Some of the ponies worked together to get the apples down.

"Twilight, do you need any help?" I asked.

"No, thanks. With magic, this is super easy!" She used her magic to grab all the apples of many trees combined and placed them in huge baskets.

Wow… that's great. I don't mean it sarcastically…

"Alright, then…"

I turned around and saw Fluttershy in the distance. She was flying, picking apples and placing them in her basket. I could help her… besides… I kind of wanted to see her after I left last night… I walked over to her.

"Hey Fluttershy…"

"Oh, hi Alex." She stopped picking apples to see me.

"Do you need any help?" I asked.

"Sure!" She smiled. "Could you grab one of those big buckets and have them ready for when the apples fall down?"

"Of course." I did as she asked me and had them under where ever the apples fell.

Fluttershy and I continued working together until the sun began setting.

"How about y'all take a little break? I got some fine apple juice waitin' for ya!" I heard Applejack from over at the barn. She had a table with several drinks of apple juice. We all walked over to Applejack.

"Girls…" She looked over to me. "And Alex…, I can't thank you enough for this help. I was acting a bit stubborn."

"A BIT?" Twilight replied.

"Okay. A might' stubborn, and I'm awful sorry. Now, I know the town gave me the Prized Pony award…, but the real award is having you six as my friends."

We started drinking our apple juice.

"Phew! That applebucking sure made me hungry!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

Spike had walked over here and offered us a "snack". "And I've got the perfect treat!" He showed us the bad muffins that made every pony sick.

"Eeew... Spike, I threw those all away." Pinkie Pie flinched as Spike had them in front of her face. "Where'd you get them?"

"From the trash." Spike replied.

Everyone made disgusted faces and shouted "EW!".

"Just a little nibble? Come on." Spike encouraged.

However, every pony declined his offer with disgust.

Applejack offered us her apple treats to settle our hunger. She, and her sister Applebloom, made us delicious treats.

"Mmm! Applejack, these are great!" Twilight exclaimed.

"Aw shucks, nothing to it!" Applejack replied with a wink.

"Spike, take a note, please." Twilight asked, looking over to Spike.

Spike brought out his writing utensils.

"Dear Princess Celestia," Twilight began. "My friend Applejack is the best friend a pony could ever have, and she's always there to help any pony. The only trouble is, when she needs help, she finds it hard to accept it, so while friendship is about giving of ourselves to friends, it's also about accepting what our friends have to offer. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

Spike sent the letter.

"How bout a toast... TO FRIENDSHIP!" Applejack exclaimed.

"TO FRIENDSHIP!" Every pony cheered, smacking their apple juice together and laughing.

After everyone one finished their treats, they all said their goodbyes and thank yous. Before Twilight left with Spike, she came over to me.

"Thanks Alex for accompanying me the whole time." She said with a smile. "Sorry, if it was a bother."

"No its okay… I'm glad to help." I responded.

She smiled and waved goodbye.

I exited out of the house to find Fluttershy waiting outside. She spotted me and walked over to me.

"Hi, Alex."

"Hey Fluttershy…"

Her eyes shifted around as she began moving her leg on the ground, shyly.

"I was wondering… if you wanted to help me feed my baby bunnies…"

It was almost dark out, but for some reason… I wanted to do this…

"Okay." I replied.

"Really?" Her eyes grew with soft excitement.

I nodded my head.

"Let's go!"

She led me to the outside of her home, which lay many more homes for different kinds of animals.

"So… how many animals do you have here, Fluttershy?" I asked.

"I have so many! I have chickens, bunnies, butterflies, squirrels, birds— she looked towards me and then blushed a little. "Well… you know… a lot…"

She walked me over to where the baby bunnies were, but they weren't in sight.

"Where are they?" I asked.

"They're just hiding under the trees. You have to call them very gently, so they won't get scared." She flew over to where the bunnies were hiding and called out to them very soft and gentle. "C'mon baby bunnies, its feeding time… it's time to come out."

They slowly crept out, looking at Fluttershy.

"There you go…" She began feeding them the food she had retrieved earlier. When they started nibbling it, she slowly petted them.

"Do you want to try, Alex?" She asked.

"Okay…"

She handed me the food and led me to another tree where more baby bunnies were hiding.

I looked at her and she nodded at me.

"Here…baby bunnies…there's some…delicious treats for you…" Despite my struggle with speaking sweet and soft, several small baby bunnies poked out and looked at me.

"There you go… nothing to be afraid of… I just have some food for you…" I continued encouraging.

They sniffed the air for a moment and slowly lurked out. Finally, they seemed to get used to me and began nibbling on the treats I gave them.

"That was great, Alex…" Fluttershy spoke.

I looked over to her, analyzing her soft and sweet smile. The feeling inside me started coming back… it felt… nice…

After a moment of silence, Fluttershy blushed. "I guess I should go to bed now… It's getting really late…" She said as she looked out to the star-filled night sky.

"Alright then…" I replied.

"Maybe we could… um… hang out… tomorrow…? Well… if you want to…" Fluttershy offered.

"…That sounds great." I responded, feeling the unknown feeling grow a little more.

Fluttershy smiled. "Okay, then. Goodnight, Alex."

"Night…"

She returned to her home.

I began walking home; thinking about this feeling that was slowly growing inside of me. The feeling felt really nice, I didn't really want it to go away… I continued walking through Ponyville. There was no pony on the roads and only the lights on the road were lit on. I could hear the slow, cool breeze of the wind and owls hooting in the trees. I arrived back at my home.

I entered my bedroom and jumped on the bed.

That's when I noticed that something definitely changed.

Griffon the Brush Off

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Episode 5 – Griffon the Brush Off

"RAINBOW DASH!" I heard in a sing-song voice outside. I shook my head and started for the front door to see what was going on. When I walked outside, I saw Twilight. I walked up to her.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Pinkie Pie was just looking for Rainbow Dash." She answered.

"Why?"

"I don't know… Pinkie Pie was talking about her all morning." She said with a sigh.

"Hmm…"

Suddenly a rainbow flashed out of nowhere, blowing a huge wind at us.

"I'm guessing that was Rainbow Dash…" I said.

"Mhmm." Twilight replied.

After, we saw Pinkie Pie bouncing all the way where Rainbow Dash was headed. There was a moment of silence until Rainbow Dash came back in a slouchy way, while Pinkie Pie continued skipping. They moved to a building near us. Pinkie Pie noticed me and waved. "Hi, Alex!"

She then turned to Rainbow Dash and began telling her to move a cloud.

"Over to the right. No no, a little to the left. Oh wait, back to the right." Pinkie Pie told Rainbow Dash, which Rainbow Dash moved the cloud, boringly and a little annoyed. " Now a little leftish while staying rightly. STOP. Hmm. Maybe a few inches to the south. Now a couple centimeters north. Okay. One more smidgimeter to the—

"PINKIE PIE!" Rainbow Dash shouted.

"Uh, I mean, perfect. Now wait for my signal." Pinkie Pie responded. She began sneaking around. I then noticed, after a few seconds, Spike came out. Pinkie Pie signaled Rainbow Dash, causing her to kick the cloud. Thunder boomed, scaring Spike. He dropped the handful of scrolls he was carrying with both of his hands. Pinkie Pie smiled at him as Spike continuously hiccuped. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie began snickering and soon started laughing.

"Oh Rainbow Dash, we startled Spike into getting the hiccups!" Pinkie Pie laughed.

Rainbow Dash chuckled.

Spike chuckled along as well. "Good one, Pinkie – He hiccuped. – Pie! – He hiccuped again. - You're always pulling a fast one – Hiccuped… - on me. -Hiccuped.- Nnaa-

He tried to pick up one of his scrolls, but due to his dragon breath and hiccup combination, he ended up sending it.

"Oh no, you're not hurt are you?" Pinkie Pie asked, worried.

"Ne-eh, don't be - silly, dragons are - fire-proof." Spike continued to hiccup mid-sentence.

"Oh, okay, good." Pinkie Pie replied. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash burst out laughing again.

He picked up more scrolls, but he accidentally sent them all too when he hiccuped.

"I wish the same thing - were true with scrolls…" Spike announced.

Spike tried to pick up the spare scrolls on the ground but with each one he tried to pick it up, he kept sending it when he hiccuped.

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash continued laughing.

"Have you ever SEEN anything more hilarious?" Pinkie Pie asked Rainbow Dash.

"I can think of ONE thing." Rainbow Dash replied. She kicked the cloud again, scaring Pinkie Pie this time.

She screamed. After a few seconds, she began laughing and hiccuping at the same time.

Twilight sighed after she had enough. "I'm going to go read a book…"

She left back towards her home.

"I didn't take you for a prankster, Pinkie Pie." Rainbow Dash told Pinkie Pie.

"Are you - kidding? - I love to pull pranks. It's all - in good fun, and Pinkie Pie lo - oves to have - fun!" Pinkie Pie responded, continuing to hiccup.

"You know Pinkie Pie, you're not as annoying as I thought. You wanna hang out?"

"That'd be - I'd really - When do - I mean - When would you –

Rainbow Dash placed her hoof on Pinkie Pie. "A simple nod would do."

"Mmm-hmm." Pinkie Pie responded, and they went off to do whatever they were going to talk about.

I sighed. Well I told Fluttershy, we could hang out today. I guess I could go see what she is up to. I began walking towards Fluttershy's home.

When I arrived, I looked around but I couldn't find her outside. However, she walked out of her home, shortly, with a bag of food in her mouth. She saw me and smiled. She gently placed the food on the ground.

"Hi, Alex! I'm so glad you could come!" She said.

"Thanks… What are you going to go do?" I asked.

"I was going to go feed the fishies today, want to help?"

"Sure, okay." I grabbed the bag of food with my mouth and placed it on my back. Fluttershy and I began walking towards where Fluttershy was headed. We were on the edge of the land, where a creek flowed by, containing fishes and other sea life creatures. I placed the bag on the ground.

"Thanks, Alex." She said. "You can just grab some pieces of the food and throw it out to the fishies." She grabbed the food with her mouth like she said, and threw it out to the fishes that hopped around in the water.

"Okay…" I tried doing the same, stumbling a bit while trying to grab the food and throw it out to the creek.

Fluttershy looked at me and giggled. She continued feeding the fishes. I followed her example and got used to it after a while of practicing. While we continued to feed the fishes, Fluttershy looked behind her and noticed some more fishes and a turtle, opening their mouth real happily for some food too. However, I noticed something fishy (no pun intended) about another turtle hanging around with them.

Fluttershy walked up to it and noticed something weird about it too. She was staring at it, trying to figure out what it was, even tapping on it. It made a squeaking sound and its head flopped around.

"What is this…?"

I found out it was some kind of squeaky toy that was a fake turtle.

I sighed. Fluttershy looked back at me.

"It must be one of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash's pranks…"

"Huh…?" Fluttershy asked, clueless.

I walked over to the fake turtle and noticed the rope that was attached to it but hidden underneath the water.

"Just forget about the turtle, it's not real." I showed her what I meant.

"Oh…" she replied.

We finished the last of the food.

"Thanks again, for helping me, Alex." Fluttershy said with a smile.

"No problem, is there anything else you need help with or want to do?"

"We could go into town, maybe see if any pony wants to do something."

"Alright."

We walked to town but noticed Twilight walking a few feet away from us. She looked annoyed while she was carrying a bag of something. We walked over to her to see what was happening.

"Hey, Twilight." I called.

"Hm?" She looked towards me. "Oh, hey Alex…"

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

She sighed. "I guess… Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash replaced my ink with invisible ink and I HAD to go get more… they even messed up my experiment…"

"I'm sorry Twilight… they even tried to prank Fluttershy, but for some reason, they didn't do anything…"

We continued walking with Twilight.

"I know they are doing it for laughs and fun… but some people find it annoying… like me…" Twilight said.

"You should be careful, Alex. They might be after you next." Fluttershy advised me.

I shrugged.

We stopped by Twilight's home. She invited us in. We saw Spike reading quietly in the corner.

"I was trying to study, taking notes of my experiment…" Twilight began talking as she placed the new ink near her paper and pen. "If they mess up my studies one more time—

"TWILIGHT! TWILIGHT! TWILIGHT!" Pinkie Pie barged in, screaming her name.

"Pinkie Pie! NOT NOW! I'm totally not in the mood for a prank!" Twilight replied.

"No! No! I promise I'm not pranking you!"

Twilight sighed and opened a book, which she began reading.

"Rainbow Dash has this griffon friend and she's being a REALLY BIG MEANIE!"

"Pinkie Pie, are you sure that this friend of Rainbow Dash is really so mean?" Twilight asked as she continued reading, flipping the pages with her magic.

"Um, YEAH! She keeps stealing Rainbow Dash away, she pops my balloons, and she told me to buzz off! I've never met a griffon this mean! Well, actually, I've never met a griffon at all, but I bet if I had, she wouldn't have been as mean and grumpy as Gilda!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"You know what I think, Pinkie Pie?"

"Hmm?"

"Well, I think... you're jealous."

"JEALOUS?"

"Green with envy." Spike added, who was listening on to the conversation. "Well, in your case, pink with envy."

"Well, yes. Jealous." Twilight continued. She stopped reading the book. "Listen, Pinkie, I don't want to upset you, but just because Rainbow Dash has another friend doesn't make Gilda a grump. I mean, perhaps it's you, Pinkie, who needs to improve her attitude."

"Improve MY attitude? But I... D... B.. Th... " Pinkie Pie continued stuttering. "Gilda's a... D... Are you seri..." She screamed with frustration.

She left and slammed the door behind her.

"Wow…" I finally said. "I've never seen Pinkie Pie so upset…"

"Well Pinkie Pie was having so much fun with Rainbow Dash, she probably just got really jealous when she saw Rainbow Dash with her other friend."

"Maybe…" I added.

"Oh!" Fluttershy suddenly exclaimed. "I just remembered that I have to help some baby duckies walk through town… do you mind if you help me, Alex?"

"Not at all, let's go." I replied to Fluttershy. I told Twilight farewell and walked with Fluttershy.

We went to a pond where a mother duck and her babies were swimming along the water. Fluttershy sweetly called them to follow her. We continued to escort them through town. We reached the part where several ponies were running stands, buying fruits, or hanging around the café.

"Alright little ones, this way, this way." Fluttershy softly spoke to the ducks. "Mama duck, you're free and clear."

However, she bumped into some strange creature I had never seen before.

"HEY!" The creature exclaimed.

"Please, excuse me." Fluttershy politely asked.

"I'M WALKIN' HERE!" The creature yelled now.

Her attitude and choice of words angered me…

"Oh, um, I'm sorry. A-a-I was just trying to..." Fluttershy tried to apologize, slowly backing away.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." The creature mocked Fluttershy. "Why don't you just watch where you're going, doofus?"

The creature began walking towards Fluttershy while Fluttershy could only back away. I immediately jumped in front of Fluttershy and prevented the creature from making any move further.

"NO! Why don't YOU watch where YOU'RE going!" I yelled at the creature.

She roared loudly as thunder, but I didn't move anywhere.

"Is that all you got?" I continued challenging the creature with my body filled with rage.

"Alex…" I could hear Fluttershy calling my name very worriedly.

"All these lame ponies are driving me buggy. I gotta bail." The creature backed off and flew away. What a coward…

I turned around to see Fluttershy begin sobbing.

"It's alright Fluttershy…" I tried to help her. "She's gone…"

She, however, continued to cry.

"C'mon." I said and took her back to Twilight's house.

When we were inside, Fluttershy was still sniffling a bit.

"What happened?" Twilight asked as she approached us.

"Some…thing… was bullying Fluttershy…" I told Twilight as I placed my front leg around Fluttershy.

"What thing?" Twilight asked.

"I don't know… some creature that had… a body of a lion… and a head of a… eagle…" I responded.

"A body of a lion… and a head of a… WAIT!" Twilight ran to her shelf and began shuffling through books.

"What is it?" I asked.

Twilight pulled out a book and began flipping through the pages. She gasped when she found the page she was looking for. "It must have been that griffon Pinkie Pie was talking about!"

"Griffon?"

"Pinkie Pie must have been telling the truth!"

"Well, what are we going to do about it?" I asked.

"I don't know…"

However, there was a knock on our door. Twilight answered it, revealing the pony to be Pinkie Pie. She invited all of us to a party. Before we could tell her what we just realized, she left as fast as lightning.

"Okay…" Twilight said. "That was weird…"

"Hey Fluttershy…" I called her as I was still trying to cheer her up. "Why don't we go to that party? Maybe that will cheer you up."

Fluttershy looked at me, still sniffling a bit. "Okay…"

Twilight, Fluttershy, and I walked over to the party Pinkie Pie was hosting.

"Welcome!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed to us.

"Pinkie Pie… What's this party for?" Twilight asked.

"Gilda!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Twilight gasped and Fluttershy whimpered.

"Gilda? Pinkie Pie, are you crazy? She—

"Don't worry your pretty little head about mean old Gilda, your auntie Pinkie Pie has got it all taken care of!" Pinkie Pie interrupted, patting Twilight's head. She moved to the door, noticing Gilda walk in. "Gilda! I'm so honored to throw you one of my signature Pinkie Pie parties, and I really, truly, sincerely, hope you feel welcome here amongst all us pony folk."

Pinkie Pie held out her hoof. Gilda hesitated for a moment, but she reached out to grab it but was instantly shocked. Pinkie Pie laughed and so did every pony else.

"Oh Pinkie Pie, the old hoof-shake buzzer. You are a SCREAM." Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"Yeah…" She chuckled nervously. "Uh, good one, Pinkie Pie…"

"Come on G, I'll introduce you to some of my other friends."

"Right behind you Dash." She replied, however, she told Pinkie Pie something that I couldn't make out.

Nonetheless, Pinkie Pie giggled at each comment she made.

"Everyone, I'd like you all to meet Gilda, a long-time, dear friend of Rainbow Dash. Let's honor her and welcome her to Ponyville." Pinkie Pie announced, even hugging Gilda.

All the ponies cheered.

"Please help yourself!" Pinkie Pie offered.

Gilda walked over to some candy on the table. "Vanilla lemon drops. Don't mind if I do." She said, beginning to chew. After a few moments, she made a sour face and released a roar of fire. "HOT!" She cried out. Pinkie Pie even roasted a marshmallow with the flames.

"G, the punch!" Pinkie Pie yelled over to Gilda.

Gilda raced over to the punch bowl. However, she had an unexpected surprise with the glass.

"Well, whaddya know, pepper in the vanilla lemon drops, and the punch served in a dribble glass!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"Ha! Priceless! Priceless!" Rainbow Dash laughed.

Gilda raced over to another drink that was prank free. She chugged the drink and gulped. "Yeah, HILARIOUS." She said, sarcastically.

"Hey G, look! Presents!" Rainbow Dash pointed to several boxes of presents lying on the table. Gilda immediately ran over to the presents, excited.

She began opening a cylinder one, but several fake snakes shot out of the can and surprised her.

Ponies laughed.

"Spittin' snakes." I heard Applejack. " Heh, somepony pulled that prank on me last month."

"Ha ha. I bet I know who THAT was." Gilda responded, sarcastic with her laughter again.

"You DO?" Pinkie Pie asked.

I didn't understand, was Pinkie Pie pulling all those pranks?

Later on with the party, Fluttershy had started directing the birds' song. Suddenly, Pinkie Pie came out, exclaiming, "Cake time everypony!"

"Hey, can I blow out the candles?" Spike excitedly asked.

"Why don't we let Gilda blow out the candles, Spike. She IS the guest of honor after all." Twilight replied to Spike.

"Exactly!" Griffon pushed over Spike and moved over to the cake.

She began enraging me again. I was about to go up to her, but Pinkie Pie placed her hoof in front of me.

Gilda took a deep breath and blew out the candles. Yet, flames appeared on the candles again. Gilda noticed this and tried to blow out the candles another time, but they turned on anyway.

Every pony began laughing. Gilda continued to try blowing out the candles but she failed every time.

"Re-lighting birthday candles, I love that prank! What a classic." Spike announced.

"Now, I wonder who could've done that!" Pinkie Pie said.

"Yeah, I wonder…" Gilda replied.

Spike literally began digging through the cake. "Mmm, who cares? This cake is amazing!" He came out on top.

"SPIKE!" Twilight scolded.

"What? It was great, try some."

I could see that Gilda was getting annoyed and angry.

"Hey G, you're not upset about some silly candles, are you?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"No way Dash, like I said, I'm down with a good prank." Gilda replied, trying to keep her cool…

"Come on then, let's have some cake." Rainbow Dash ran over to the cake.

After a moment, Applejack announced another event. "Hey y'all, it's pin the tail on the pony. Let's play!"

"Oh, my favorite game. Can I go first? Can I have the purple tail?" Rarity asked.

"Well, I am the guest of honor; I'll have the purple tail." Gilda quickly retrieved the tail. I started realizing that the whole time at the party, she was acting like a child…maybe even worse than a child. I really disliked her… just like those other ponies that acted JUST like her…

"Yeah, Gilda should definitely go first. Let's get you blindfolded!" Pinkie Pie encouraged.

"Hey what- ugh—

Spike quickly blindfolded Gilda.

"What are you doing? Rrrah."

Pinkie Pie spinned Gilda around.

"We're spinning you around and around and then you pin the tail on the pony. Now just walk straight ahead and pin the tail." Pinkie Pie directed.

"Now just walk straight ahead and pin the tail." Gilda mocked. "Heh, yeah, right. This is another prank, isn't it? I'm going this way." She turned around the exact opposite way the poster was at.

"Wait. The poster is this—Pinkie Pie tried to warn.

Gilda, finally getting her just desserts, slipped on cake icing while she was walking. She crashed in the other room and came out with the tail on her beak.

"Uh, Gilda? You pinned the tail on the wrong end." Pinkie Pie pointed out.

All the ponies laughed, causing her to finally burst into flames, figuratively. She roared in anger. "THIS is your idea of a good time? I've never met a lamer bunch of dweebs in all my life. ...and Pinkie Pie, you, you are queen lame-o with your weak little party pranks. Did you really think you can make me lose my cool? Well, Dash and I have ten times as much cool as the rest of you put together. Come on Dash, we're bailing on this pathetic scene." Rainbow Dash didn't move though. Instead she had an angry expression on her face. "COME ON, Rainbow Dash. I SAID, we're leaving."

"You know Gilda…" Rainbow Dash spoke. "I was the one who set up all those weak pranks at this party."

"WHAT?" Gilda gasped.

"OOH." Pinkie Pie said.

"So I guess I'M queen lame-o." Rainbow Dash continued.

"Come on, Dash, you're joshing me." Gilda responded, laughing weakly.

"They weren't all meant for you specifically; it was just dumb luck that you set them all off."

"I shoulda known, that dribble cup had Rainbow Dash written all over it." Pinkie Pie shared.

"No way. It was Pinkie Pie." Gilda continued to be a stubborn child, trying to act "cool". "She set up this party to trip me up, to make a fool of me."

"Me? I threw this party to improve your attitude. I thought a good party might turn that frown upside down." Pinkie Pie replied.

So is that what Pinkie Pie meant?

"And you sure didn't need any help making a fool of yourself." Rainbow Dash stood up to Gilda. "You know, this is not how I thought my OLD friend would treat my NEW friends. If being cool is all you care about, maybe you should go find some new COOL friends someplace else."

"Yeah?" Gilda stuttered. "Well you, you, you are such a, a flip-flop: cool one minute and lame the next."

I finally spoke, "There's the door Gilda, I think YOU should leave."

Gilda noticed I was the same pony she had seen earlier. She growled and suddenly lunged towards me. Before she could attack, something amazing happened. The whole area was engulfed in light, just like when we were against Nightmare Moon. However, there were no Elements of Harmony with us… unless…

Gilda was pushed back to the floor. Every pony was surprised, but a little amazed.

Gilda's eyes grew large. She shook her head and spoke. "When you all decide not to be lame anymore, gimme a call."

She immediately left afterwards. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy immediately dashed over to me and asked if I was alright.

"Yeah… I'm alright…" I responded.

"NOT cool." Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"Wow, talk about a party pooper… I wonder what that flash was anyway?" Spike wondered.

Every pony began talking about how awkward the scene was and wondered, what just had happened, was all about.

"I'm sorry everypony, for bringing Gilda here." Rainbow Dash apologized. "I didn't know how rude she was, and Pinkie Pie, I'm really sorry she ruined that awesome party you put on for her."

"Hey, if you want to hang out with party poopers, that's your business." Pinkie Pie cheerfully replied.

"I'd rather hang out with you. No hard feelings?"

"No hard feelings."

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash both shocked each other when they shook hooves. They both revealed that they each had the shocker button on their hooves. Every pony began laughing. Twilight walked up to Pinkie Pie.

"Hey, Pinkie, sorry I accused you of misjudging Gilda. Looks likes I'm the one who misjudged you." Twilight apologized as well.

"It's okay Twilight, even you can't be a super smart smarty smart-pants all the time." Pinkie Pie accepted her apology. "Come on everypony, there's still a whole lotta partying to finish!"

Every pony laughed again.

Pinkie Pie continued the party, and everyone else continued to have fun. I actually didn't want to be separated from my friends… I felt like… I wanted to belong… Although, I still wasn't used to "partying" so I tried to enjoy the party, but I stood back and watched, talking to Twilight and the others while they continued to make sure I was alright.

Once the party was over, I helped Pinkie Pie and the others clean up the place.

"Boy! That was the best most funnest party ever!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "I can't wait for another one!"

Twilight smiled and looked over to Spike. "Spike?" she called.

"I'm on it." Spike delightfully followed.

"Dearest Princess Celestia," Twilight spoke. "Today I learned that it's hard to accept when somepony you like wants to spend time with somepony who's not so nice. Though it's impossible to control who your friends hang out with, it is possible to control your own behavior. Just continue to be a good friend. In the end, the difference between a false friend and one who is true will surely come to light. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

She smiled at every pony, then at me. Spike was about to send the letter, but Pinkie Pie stopped him.

"WAIT!" She exclaimed.

"What?" Spike asked.

Pinkie Pie was snickering. "Don't—Don't—Don't forget to send her some ink!"

Spike looked at the ink and shrugged. He combined the letter and the ink and sent it.

Pinkie Pie burst into tears from laughing.

"What was that all about, Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked.

"I made Spike send her Invisible Ink!" Pinkie Pie continued to laugh.

"PINKIE!" Twilight scolded.

However, soon every pony, even Twilight, began laughing. After most of the ponies had left with a farewell, I walked outside and stared at the moon, thinking about today's adventure.

"Hi, Alex." I heard Fluttershy's soft voice beside me. I looked over at her to see her looking at me.

"Hi, Fluttershy." I responded.

She began rubbing the dirt with her hoof again and looked around while she spoke to me. "I just wanted to… thank you… for standing up for me… earlier…"

"Oh… it's alright… I can't and won't let ANYONE try to be a bully to my friends… I won't accept that."

Fluttershy giggled a little and smiled. "Well then… I guess I'll head home…"

"Okay, Good night Fluttershy."

She looked at me for a moment and suddenly embraced me. She held on for a few seconds while I could only be confused and surprised. When she pulled away, she was looking away and blushing very much. She began to gently fly back towards her home.

I sat there in awe with the same expression on my face. It left me so speechless that I didn't even know when I started to head back home…

Boast Busters

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Episode 6 – Boast Busters

"Come one, come all! Come and witness the amazing magic of the Great and Powerful Trixie!"

I heard racket outside near my home, which woke me up. What's up with things outside always waking me up? I jumped off my bed and made the covers.

Walking outside the door, I noticed a huge crowd gathered around a stage. There was a light blue pony, prancing around, wearing a magician hat and a magician cape held with a jewel in the center. She had light blue hair that almost matched her skin color. Her eyes looked to be light violet.

"Watch in awe as the Great and Powerful Trixie performs the most spectacular feats of magic ever witnessed by pony eyes!" Fireworks exploded around her…

Are. You. Serious?

I had to deal with Gilda, now I have to deal with this show off?

As I grew closer to the stage, I could hear Rarity's voice. "My, my, my! What boasting!"

"Come on, no pony's as magical as Twili- Twi- Twi- Oh!" I heard Spike say, then clearing his throat. "Hey, Rarity, I, uh- Moustache!"

I tried squeezing in through the other ponies that blocking the way.

"There's nothing wrong with being talented, is there?" I heard Twilight.

"Nothin' at all, 'ceptin' when someone goes around showin' it off like a school filly with fancy new ribbons." Applejack replied.

"Just because one has the ability to perform lots of magic does NOT make one better than the rest of us." Rarity agreed.

"Especially when ya got me around being better than the rest of us." Rainbow Dash's voice said, laughing for a moment. "Eh, I mean, yeah, uh, magic shmagic. Boo!"

I had finally reached where the ponies were standing, which was at the front of the crowd and nearest to the stage.

"Alex?" Twilight noticed me.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Just some pony that thinks she is the better than the rest of us…" Rarity responded.

I looked over at Trixie, who overheard our conversation.

"Well, well, well, it seems we have some NIEGH sayers in the audience. Who is so IGNORANT as to challenge the magical ability of the Great and Powerful Trixie? Do they not know that they're in the presence of the most magical unicorn in all of Equestria?"

Rarity blew a raspberry. "Just who does she think she is?"

"Yeah!" Spike barged in. "Since we all know that Twilight here is—

"Spike! Shhh!" Twilight tried to silence Spike, taking him to somewhere they could talk in private.

"What makes YOU think you're so special?" I interrupted her boasting.

"You dare challenge me, you pathetic average pony?" Trixie replied to my comment, using her magic to pick me up by the tail, dragging me upside-down towards her, facing her. "You do remember, as I said, I am the MOST MAGICAL unicorn in ALL of Equestria!"

I could hear Applejack behind me say, "Hey! Let him go!"

"Most magical?" I replied. "More like an ignorant show off who thinks she always has to be the center of attention."

I could hear Rainbow Dash and the others laugh after I had told her.

"Why, you!" Trixie steamed. She then used her magic to lift me up and fire me away from her. I was flying further from her, but before I could hit the ground, Rainbow Dash had caught up to me and caught me before I could get hurt.

"Gotcha." Rainbow Dash said, smiling.

"Thanks…" I responded.

She took me back to where I was previously and flew up to Trixie's face.

"Hey! What makes you think you can do that to my friend? Afraid of the truth?" Rainbow Dash questioned.

Trixie laughed. "The truth? It is just a mere sign of jealousy of a common fool!"

I started to go back to tell off Trixie, but Applejack held me back.

"Easy there..." Applejack restrained.

"So, Great and Powerful Trixie, what makes you think you're so awesome, anyway?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Heh, why, only the Great and Powerful Trixie has magic strong enough to VANQUISH THE DREADED URSA MAJOR!"

Fanfare and fireworks followed.

Her audience gasped at her "amazement".

"When all hope was lost, the ponies of Hoofington had no one to turn to, but the Great and Powerful Trixie stepped in, and with her awesome magic vanquished the Ursa Major and sent it back to its cave deep within the Everfree Forest!"

"Trixie truly is the most talented, the most magical, the most awesome unicorn in Ponyville." A kid walked up to the stage, encouraging her boasting.

"No, in all of Equestria!" Another one added, increasing the encouragement.

"How do you know? You didn't see it! And besides, Twi—Twilight zipped Spike's mouth shut, literally with her magic. "Mmph! M-mmph!" Spike continued to try to disprove her bragging. I could feel how angry he was getting from Trixie's boasting.

Trixie laughed, "It's true, my enthusiastic little admirers. Trixie is most certainly the best in Ponyville."

There was silence and crickets.

"Don't believe the Great and Powerful Trixie?" She laughed. "Well then, I hereby challenge you, Ponyvillians - anything you can do, I can do better. Any takers? Anyone? Or is Trixie destined to be the greatest equine who has ever lived!"

Fireworks and fanfare followed again.

Spike unzipped himself and begged Twilight, "Please! She's unbearable! Ya gotta show her! Ya just gotta!"

Twilight began whispering to Spike, but she was interrupted by Trixie.

"Hmm, how about - YOU!" She pointed at Twilight. "Well, how about it? Hm? Is there anything you can do that the Great and Powerful Trixie can't?"

"I- I—Twilight stuttered.

"Well, little hayseed?" Trixie pursued.

"That's it! I can't stand for no more of this!" Applejack finally broke.

"You show her, AJ!" Spike encouraged.

"Can your magical powers do THIS?" Applejack began using a lasso to do a few tricks and then tossing it to grab an apple off the tree and bringing it back to her mouth to eat it. Every pony cheered. "Top that, missy."

"Oh ye of little talent. Watch and be amazed at the magic of Trixie!" Trixie began her turn, revealing the horn under her hat. She used her magic to grab the rope Applejack had used and hypnotize her with its Snake-like movements. She used the other end of the rope to grab an apple from a nearby tree. With the snake end, she tied Applejack's legs and placed the apple in her mouth. The audience laughed and cheered.

"Once again, the Great and Powerful Trixie prevails." Trixie announced as I rushed over to help Applejack, untying the rope and getting rid of the apple in her mouth.

"Thanks…" She sighed and gave Trixie a mean stare.

"There's no need to go struttin' around and showin' off like that." Rainbow Dash challenged.

"Oh?" Trixie replied, intrigued by Rainbow Dash's comment.

"That's MY job!" Rainbow Dash immediately flew through a windmill, shot upwards like a rocket through clouds, puncturing them. She stopped in front of the sun and then dashed downwards through the punctured clouds, repeating her pathway. When she arrived back at the stage, a rainbow emerged on top of her from the water droplets she had carried.

"They don't call me 'Rainbow' and 'Dash' for nothin'!" Rainbow Dash said.

The crowd cheered.

"When Trixie is through, the only thing they'll call you is loser." Trixie replied. She used her magic to use the rainbow Rainbow Dash made and wrap it around her. She spinned the rainbow, causing Rainbow Dash to form a tornado for a few seconds until she stopped outside the stage, dazed.

"Seems like any pony with a DASH of good sense would think twice before tussling with the Great Trixie."

Applejack had helped Rainbow Dash up. However, she formed a dark cloud and caused lightning to strike Rainbow Dash.

"OW!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

Every pony laughed.

"What we need is another unicorn to challenge her. Someone with some magic of her own." I heard Spike from behind me.

"Yeah! A unicorn to show THIS unicorn who's boss." Rainbow Dash agreed.

"A real unicorn to unicorn tussle." Applejack added.

"Uh..." Twilight hesitated.

"Enough. Enough, all of you." Rarity exclaimed. " I take your hint, but Rarity is above such nonsense. Rainbow Dash and Applejack may behave like ruffians, but Rarity conducts herself with beauty and grace."

"Ooo, what's the matter? Afraid you'll get a hair out of place in that rat's nest you call a mane?" Trixie insulted Rarity.

"Oh, it. Is. On! You may think you're tough with all your so-called powers, but there's more to magic than your brutish ways. A unicorn needs to be more than just muscle. A unicorn needs to have style." Rarity used her magic to grab the curtain Trixie was using and create an instant dress for herself. "A unicorn is not a unicorn without grace and beauty." Rarity said as the audience gave "Ooh"s.

However, Trixie began using her magic as Spike backed up Rarity. "Rarity won't let Trixie get the best of her! She's strong, she's beautiful, she's—

Trixie had changed Rarity, causing the audience to gasp.

"QUICK! I NEED A MIRROR! GET ME A MIRROR! What did she do to my hair? I know she did something terrible to my hair!" Rarity squealed.

Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack tried to prevent Rarity from freaking out.

"Nothing."

"It's fine."

"It's gorgeous."

Spike ruined the chain. "It's green…" Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack looked over to Spike. "What?" He asked.

"No. Green hair! Not green hair!" She cried. Her hair was indeed changed to a green color, that which looked as if it actually had been turned to grass. "Such an awful, awful color!" She continued crying, running away.

A pony she passed, who had green hair, exclaimed, "Well, I never!"

"Well, Twilight, guess it's up to you." Spike insisted. "Come on, show her what you're made of."

Trixie blew on her hoof and rubbed it against her front leg.

"What do you mean? I'm nothing special." Twilight replied.

"Yes, you are! You're better than her!"

"I'm not better than anyone."

"Hah! You think you're better than the Great and Powerful Trixie? You think you have more magical talent? Well, come on, show Trixie what you've got. Show us all." Trixie provoked.

"Who, me? I'm just your run of the mill citizen of Ponyville. No powerful magic here. I, uh... I think I hear my laundry calling. Sorry, gotta go." Twilight declined and ran off. She seriously didn't want to prove her skills…

"Twilight?" Spike called.

"Ha! Once again, the Great and Powerful Trixie has proven herself to be the most amazing unicorn in all of Equestria. Was there ever any doubt?"

"Trixie!" I called her.

She did not turn, but looked over her shoulder instead.

"You think you're so great? Why don't you bring a REAL Ursa Major and defeat it for us?" I said.

Every pony, especially spike, began to agree with me. I could see Trixie get a little nervous, but she kept her cool and replied. "Nonsense! As much as I'd love to show every one of you ponies my true skill in magic, it would be MUCH too dangerous to bring an Ursa Major to town or near it. Of course, a fool like you would make that mistake."

"Just you wait!" I shouted as she continued to walk. "Your fifteen minutes of fame won't last! Someone with true skill will stand out!" She acted like she ignored me, but I knew she was listening…

After the crowd had died, I walked over to Twilight's house. I knocked on the front door and waited a few seconds.

"Oh… hey Alex." Twilight said as she opened the door.

"Can we talk?" I asked.

"Um…sure."

She invited me in. She seemed like she was reading a book when I came over.

"What did you want to talk about?" She asked.

"…What was up with you and Trixie? You acted like you had no special talent when you really did. Why were you hiding it?"

She sighed and walked over to her book. "Didn't you see how they hated Trixie's bragging, Alex? Especially you. If I go out there and show off my magic, I run the risk of losing them as friends."

"But that's different, Twilight. She was showing off her magic to gain the attention of a crowd. If you used your magic to shut her up, that would be just sticking up for your friends…" I kind of learned that from what Fluttershy had told me…

"It's not different, Alex. I would still be showing off."

"Twilight… trust me… you wouldn't be showing off… I know braggers… and they are completely different from you. You're good, Twilight. If you just show her some magic, I'm sure that would make her leave Ponyville…even though she'll probably just go somewhere else and repeat the process again…"

"Alex…" She sighed. "I don't know… I mean… you do make a point… but…ugh… I just don't know. I'm sorry. I need some time to think about this…"

"Alright…" I turned around to walk out the front door. I took one last glance at Twilight. She was sitting, reading the book. She turned the pages with her magic quietly. However… her silence said a thousand words…

I spent some time walking around town. I had noticed ponies go up to Trixie, eager to see her powers. However, she always refused to, making excuses for each time. How odd… I know she's not the pony that everyone thinks she is…I KNOW she's hiding something…

I sighed.

Night began to fall. Maybe I should go tell Twilight that it's okay if she doesn't want to do anything. I felt like I put too much pressure on her…

I began walking towards Twilight's house, but all of a sudden, I heard a loud roar. After, the ground began shaking. More loud roars boomed, making ponies all over town come out of their homes. All the ponies gasped. I looked up to see a humongous blue transparent creature climb on top of a home and smash it to pieces. All the ponies gathered in a group and ran towards where I was like a stampede. I tried to move out of the way, but they had prevented that. They all ran through, covering my eyesight with the dirt they spewed up with their hooves stomping on the ground.

"ALEX!" I heard a voice call my name, but I could barely distinguish who it was from all the noise the other ponies made. Suddenly, I was pulled out of the crowd and over to somewhere clear. It was Twilight! She had used her magic to pull me out of the stampede.

"Twilight!" I called her name.

"Are you okay?" She asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine but—

"Twilight, look!" Spike pointed.

We both ran to the area, seeing the two kids earlier from Trixie's performance.

"What's going on?" Twilight asked.

"We brought an ursa to town." One of them replied.

"You WHAT?" Twilight exclaimed.

"Don't worry, the Great and Powerful Trixie will vanquish it."

"I can't…" Trixie finally admitted.

"WHAT?" The two kids shouted.

"Uh, I can't, I never have. No one can vanquish an Ursa Major. I just made the whole story up to make me look better."

"Made it up!"

The ursa growled. We turned around to see it right behind us. It let out terrible and ferocious roar. Spike tapped Twilight with his elbow and motioned for her to use her magic against it. Twilight gulped. She walked over to the ursa as the ursa stomped over to her. I couldn't let Twilight face that thing alone… but I didn't want to distract her… She began using her magic, which caused a gentle breeze to flow by. Due to the wind, a soft lullaby played. The ursa noticed this and changed its expression to a soothed one. Wait… Twilight must know what she's doing!

"Nice use of number sixteen." Spike announced.

Twilight then grabbed a water tower. She dumped the water inside and ran the empty tower through a barn filled with cows. When the tower came out, it was filled with milk.

"That's new." Spike also announced.

She screwed the top back on. The ursa was beginning to doze off. It almost fell on Trixie, but Twilight stopped it and instead carried it over to the bottle, which he began sucking on as a baby…

Every pony came out to observe. I could see that Twilight was using a lot of strength to carry that ursa back where it came from… Twilight finally finished. She was panting as every pony was cheering for her.

"Heavens to Betsy!" Applejack exclaimed. "We knew you had ability, but not that much!"

"I'm sorry." Twilight immediately replied. "Please, please don't hate me."

"Hate you?" Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack exclaimed.

"Why, whatever do you mean, darling?" Rarity asked.

"Well, I know how much you all hated Trixie's showing off with her magic tricks, and I just thought—

"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Rainbow Dash cut off Twilight. "Magic's got nothing to do with it. Trixie's just a loudmouth."

"MOST unpleasant." Rarity added.

"All hat and no cattle." Applejack finished.

"So - you don't mind my magic tricks?" Twilight asked.

"Your magic is a part of who you are, sugar cube, and we like who you are. We're proud to have such a powerful, talented unicorn as our friend." Applejack explained. I nodded towards what she said.

"And after whuppin' that ursa's hind quarters, we're even prouder." Rainbow Dash encouraged.

"You are?"

The ponies agreed.

"Uh-huh."

"Mm-hmm."

"Mm-hmm."

"Wow, Twilight, how'd you know what to do with that Ursa Major?" Spike wondered.

"That's what I was doing when Alex came over to check up on me. I was so intrigued by Trixie's bragging that I was compelled to do a little reading up on them."

"So it IS possible to vanquish an Ursa Major all by yourself?"

"That wasn't an Ursa Major, that was a baby, an Ursa MINOR."

"THAT was just a BABY?" Trixie immediately questioned.

"And it wasn't rampaging; it was just cranky because SOMEONE woke it up." Twilight explained, directing the blame on the kids.

Every pony stared angrily at them.

"Well, if THAT was an Ursa Minor, then what's an Ursa Major like?" Spike asked.

"You don't wanna know." Twilight responded after thinking for a moment.

"Huh." Trixie walked over to Twilight. "You may have vanquished an Ursa Minor, but you will never have the amazing, show-stopping ability of the Great and Powerful Trixie!" She popped out a screen of smoke, but once the smoke disappeared, every pony could see her retreating.

"Why that little..." Rainbow Dash began to fly towards Trixie, but Twilight stopped her.

"Just let her go. Maybe someday she'll learn her lesson. Now, about you two." Twilight noticed the two kids trying to sneak out.

The small one laughed nervously. "Uh we're sorry that we woke up the Ursa Minor."

The tall one spoke, "We just wanted to see some AWESOME MAGIC."

"Yeah! And the way you vanquished that Ursa Minor was AWESOME!"

Twilight looked at them, seriously.

They bowed down before her and spoke sulkily. "We deserve whatever punishment you give us."

"For starters, you can clean up this mess." She looked over at the broken stage where Trixie performed. " And..." She looked at Spike. "What do you think, Spike? Should I give them number twenty five?"

"Oh, twenty five! Yes! And I think I deserve it, too." Spike agreed.

The kids wondered what they were talking about. I had no idea what it was either…

"I think you're right." Twilight casted her magic.

The two kids were frightened, trembling at what their second punishment was going to be. However, Spike held out his face for some reason. Once, Twilight finished her spell, the three of them had mustaches on their face.

"SWEET!" The three of them exclaimed.

Twilight turned to me. "I guess I should have listened to you Alex…"

"It's alright… Applejack's right; you shouldn't be afraid of your talents. Just don't use them for the wrong reasons like Trixie."

Twilight smiled. "Well, another lesson learned. C'mon Alex, I want you to hear my letter."

Despite how late it was, I followed her.

When we were inside her home, she walked over to her table that contained a stack of books. Using her magic, she grabbed an empty scroll and placed it over the books. She grabbed her pen and dipped it in ink. I sat down as I began to listen to her letter.

"Dear Princess Celestia, I have learned a very valuable lesson about friendship: I was so afraid of being thought of as a showoff, that I was hiding a part of who I am. My friends helped me realize that it's okay to be proud of your talents, and there are times when it's appropriate to show them off... Especially when you're standing up for your friends."

Her speech gave me a kind of… heartwarming feeling, as if I had learned something too…

"So, you finally admit that you're the most talented unicorn in all of Ponyville?" Spike had stepped in with his mustache.

"Well… yeah, but it's nothing to brag about. So, uh, how did it go with Rarity?" Twilight replied.

"Ah, she didn't go for the mustache…" Spike responded, disappointed.

"You know, Spike, that mustache has nothing to do with who you really are. Maybe you should just try being yourself."

"Or... Maybe the mustache wasn't enough. Maybe if I had a mustache AND a beard!"

"Uh, not this again!" Twilight sighed.

"Okay, imagine me with a nice, long, Fu Manchu type beard. Or maybe a goatee. Oh, no—

"Spike, just go to bed!" Twilight exclaimed, annoyed.

Luckily, he had already fallen asleep, snoring soundly.

"Well…" I spoke. "I better get home, I'll see you later."

"Bye, Alex." Twilight replied as she began to pick Spike up and take him to bed.

I left the house and started home. As I walked, I thought about today. I didn't see Fluttershy at all today… it makes me kind of sad… I hope she's alright… I'll go check up on her tomorrow. I arrived at my home a little saddened from my thoughts.

I crept through my bed and lay my head on my pillow. As I tossed and turned, I could only think about Fluttershy...

Dragonshy

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Episode 7 – Dragonshy

I couldn't sleep well last night, so I didn't stay asleep as long as I usually did. I woke up in the morning, feeling a bit sleepily. I walked over to the bathroom and took a quick shower. After waking up a bit, I raced over to Fluttershy's.

I really want to see her.

However, I couldn't help but notice that the sky seemed darker than usual. I shook my head and answered it with a guess. It was probably just the morning sky… I continued to gallop.

When I reached Fluttershy's home, I was so relieved to see her feeding a bunny who was inside a small little home that contained a cardboard carrot on top.

"Not too fast, now, Angel bunny." Fluttershy spoke. "You don't wanna get a tummy ache." The bunny suddenly stopped eating and dropped the carrot. It crossed its arms and looked away with its eyes closed. Fluttershy giggled. "You really should eat more than that. Don't you think?" The bunny hopped out of the home. "It's not play time yet." Fluttershy began flying to catch up to the bunny. "I know you want to run, but... just three more bites." The bunny shook its head. "Two more bites?" The bunny shook its head again. Fluttershy moved the carrot closer to the bunny. "One more bite? Pretty please?" The bunny kicked the carrot and hopped off, causing Fluttershy to sigh.

"Hey Fluttershy." I walked up to her.

Her mouth formed a smiled and she raised her head. "Hi, Alex!"

"I didn't see you yesterday. Everything okay?" I asked.

"Yes, everything is alright. I'm sorry. I didn't go to town because I was too busy taking care of my animals."

"It's alright."

"Why? Did I miss anything important?"

I thought about yesterday's long and bizarre adventure. "Yeah… you could say that…"

"You need to tell me everything that happened!" Fluttershy exclaimed, excited.

"Alright… maybe later on today?"

Fluttershy smiled with her eyes closed. Her bunny suddenly coughed. She raced over to him.

"Oh. Oh, goodness. Are you okay?"

The bunny continued to cough.

"Are you coughing because there's a carrot stuck in your throat?"

The bunny replied with more coughs. I looked at where the bunny was looking.

"Because you need some water?" Fluttershy continued to ask.

The bunny emphasized his cough.

"Fluttershy… I think he's talking…" I pointed. "…about that."

Fluttershy observed to where I pointed. There was a huge mountain with a large trail of smoke pouring from it. The smoke was heading over to Ponyville…

Fluttershy gasped. "Because of that giant cloud of scary black smoke?" The bunny tossed a carrot at Fluttershy. "I'll take that as a... yes."

"We should warn the town." I suggested to Fluttershy.

"Of course! Let's go!"

Fluttershy and I ran across town, starting off at the park.

"Help. Help! Please?" Fluttershy tried to shout, but her voice was too soft for anyone to hear or take serious. "Help? There's- there's a horrible cloud of smoke. It's headed this way and- aaa!" A ball had flashed over her, along with a rainbow as well.

"Fluttershy, are you okay?" I asked.

She nodded, a little frightened.

"Don't be such a scaredy-pony." It was Rainbow Dash. She was bouncing a ball on her head as she talked. "It's just me. Future Equestria ball-bouncing record holder. Two forty six, two forty seven..."

Pinkie Pie had been observing and shouted. "This calls for a celebration!"

"No, Pinkie Pie, this is NO time for celebrations." Fluttershy responded. "This is a time for panic, for—

"Ooo! I'm going to need balloons! One for every pony in Ponyville!" Pinkie Pie interrupted.

Fluttershy followed her, trying to warn her. "There's- there's smoke. And- and where there's smoke, there's fire. And—

"Let's see, that's one, two, three, four..." Pinkie Pie continued to talk, ignoring Fluttershy.

"Two hundred fifty four..." came from Rainbow Dash.

"Five, six..." Pinkie Pie talked over Rainbow Dash's counting.

"Two hundred fifty five no wait…" Rainbow Dash lost count.

"Seven!" Pinkie Pie poked Rainbow Dash.

"Pinkie Pie! Now I have to start over." Rainbow Dash replied, annoyed.

"We're all going to have to start over." Fluttershy continued to warn. " In a new village. Because ours is gonna be—

Regardless, Rainbow Dash flew off with Pinkie Pie trailing behind her.

"Oh, please, this is an emergency. I-I need every pony to—

Annoyed with Fluttershy being ignored, I was about to shout out the warning, but somepony had beaten me to it.

"Listen up! Smoke is spreading over all of Equestria." Twilight yelled.

All the ponies finally began exclaiming and panicking.

"That's what I've been trying to—

Fluttershy tried to talk…

"But don't worry…" Twilight continued. "I've just received a letter from Princess Celestia informing me that it's not coming from a fire."

"Oh, thank goodness." Fluttershy was relieved.

"It's coming from a dragon." Twilight broke.

Every pony gasped, especially Fluttershy.

"A... d-dragon?"

Twilight spotted us and ran over.

"Fluttershy. Alex. I need you guys to come with me!"

Fluttershy and I looked at each other. Twilight began galloping back into town. We followed her all the way to her home.

When we were inside her home, we noticed Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash while Twilight was flipping hastily through a book.

"What in the name of all things cinnamon swirled is a full-grown dragon doing here in Equestria?" Applejack asked.

"Sleeping." Twilight answered briefly.

"Huh?" The rest of the girls asked.

"According to Princess Celestia, he's taking a nap. His snoring is what's causing all this smoke." Twilight explained as she was finishing packing books into a saddle.

"He should really see a doctor!" Pinkie Pie shared. "That doesn't sound healthy at all!"

"Well…" Rarity replied. "At least he's not snoring fire! What are WE meant to do about it?"

"I'll tell you what we're meant to do!" Rainbow Dash announced, flying mid-air. "Give him the boot. Take that!" She kicked a small statue Twilight had. Twilight used her magic to keep it from falling. "And that!" Rainbow Dash flew towards the statue again, but Twilight lifted it up, causing Rainbow Dash to miss and crash into a pile of books.

"We need to ENCOURAGE him to take a nap somewhere else." Twilight made her point. "Princess Celestia has given us this mission, and we must not fail. If we do, Equestria will be covered in smoke for the next one hundred years."

Fluttershy gasped.

"Talk about getting your BEAUTY sleep. Rarity added.

"All right, every pony." Twilight began. "I need you to gather supplies quickly. We've got a long journey ahead of us. Let's meet back here in less than an hour." Twilight placed the saddle she finished on her back.

"Okay, girls, you heard her. The fate of Equestria is in our hooves. Do we have what it takes?" Rainbow Dash asked.

Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity agreed cheerfully as all of them raced out the door.

"Um, actually..." Fluttershy said.

I walked up to her. "Fluttershy, are you okay?"

She looked at me and motioned for me to walk along side her. When we reached far enough from the house, she spoke softly to me. "I'm scared…"

"Why don't you stay here…?" I asked.

She thought for a moment. "Twilight might need me…"

I couldn't argue about that…

"Alex, aren't you going to get your stuff?" She asked.

"I don't think so. There's not much stuff that I could use on this 'mission'."

"Oh…"

When we arrived at her house, I waited outside for her to grab the things she needed. When she came out, she was wearing a pony football helmet, a hard leather vest, and floaters. The door behind her shut and she shrieked, frightened by the noise.

"It was just the door, Fluttershy." I told her.

"Oh… sorry…" She apologized.

"Why are you wearing that much stuff?" I asked.

"You never know what could happen…"

I began taking off the football helmet. "Trust me, you're going to be fine, Fluttershy."

"Are you sure…?"

"Yes." I finished taking off the rest of her gear. "Besides if you wore that much, it would most likely weigh you down too much so you wouldn't be able to fly."

"I guess so…"

"Come on, we should get going."

"Umm… let's… not?" Fluttershy hesitated. She then let out a whine.

I faced her and looked into her eyes. "It'll be fine… I'll be with you to take care of you…"

She stared at my eyes and then looked away, blushing. "Okay… I trust you…"

We had regrouped with Twilight back in town. She had us line up in attention as she briefed us on the mission.

"All right, ponies, listen up. I'm mapping out the fastest route, but we've all got to keep a good pace if we expect to make it up the mountain by nightfall." Twilight announced.

Fluttershy looked at Twilight and stuttered. "M-m-mountain?"

"The dragon is in that cave at the very top." Twilight pointed.

"Looks pretty cold up there." Applejack commented.

"You bet it is. The higher you go, the chillier it gets." Rainbow Dash explained.

"Good thing I brought my scarf." Rarity added. She unpacked a pink scarf.

"Ooo!" Pinkie Pie observed Rarity's scarf. "Pretty!"

"A-heh, oh yeah. THAT'LL keep you nice and cozy." Rainbow Dash responded, satirically.

I noticed Fluttershy continue to stare at the mountain in horror. She gulped and walked over to Twilight, who was observing a map.

"Um, excuse me, Twilight? I know you're busy, but..."

"Uh-huh. Well, we could go this way." Twilight replied, not noticing Fluttershy.

"But if I could just have a second..."

"Uh-huh. No, we want to avoid that."

"So, um, I was thinking that, um, maybe I should just stay here in Ponyville."

"Uh-huh." Twilight still hadn't noticed.

"Oh! Good. I'll stay here and—

"Wait!" Twilight finally realized what was going on. "You HAVE to come! Your way with wild animals will surely come in handy."

"I don't think I—

"Oh, and don't worry about your little friends in the meadow. Spike's got it covered while you're gone."

Spike came over with little animals on his arms and head. "You can count on me!" The bunny kicked his head and every creature ran off. "Oooh! Hey! Hey! Wait!" Spike exclaimed as he ran after them.

"I don't really think he's up to the task. Maybe... But... But..." Fluttershy slipped out another whine as she noticed Twilight had walked away, ignoring her pleads.

I walked over to Fluttershy as she lowered her head and stared at the ground. I placed my front right hoof on her and tried to comfort her.

"I'm sorry Alex…" She said with closed eyes. She opened them and noticed her shadow. She screamed and jumped in a bush.

"Fluttershy, it's okay. It's just your shadow."

She poked her head out and looked at me. "I'm so sorry, Alex… I'm just going to slow all everypony down."

"You'll do fine, Fluttershy. I—

"All right, ponies, move out!"

Fluttershy noticed the girls moving straight towards her. "But... but...!" They took her along with them. I ran after them as Fluttershy screamed.

When they finally stopped in front of the mountain, the dragon let out a loud snore, causing Fluttershy to gasp and hide behind Applejack.

"Whoa. What was that?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"That is what it sounds like when a dragon snores." Twilight answered.

"It- it's so... high!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

"Well, it IS a mountain. I'm going to fly up there and check it out!" Rainbow Dash was getting a head start in flying to the top, but Applejack grabbed her tail with her teeth and prevented her from going.

"Hold on, now. I think we should all go up together. Safety in numbers an all." Applejack reasoned.

"Oh, all right…" Rainbow Dash said, grumpy.

We began walking up the mountain.

"I hear the only thing that sparkles more than the dragon's scales are the jewels they use to build their nests. Ooo, if I play my cards right, I might be able to convince him to part with a few!" I heard Rarity say above me.

"Welcome to my cave, Rarity." Pinkie Pie imitated the dragon. "Care for a diamond?" She let out a roar, making the ponies laugh.

Twilight continued onward. "Girls, this is no laughing matter!" She scolded. "Fluttershy, you're the expert on wild creatures. What do YOU think the dragon will be like?" There was no response. "Fluttershy?" The girls and I looked back. We could see Fluttershy hiding at the bottom.

"Hey! What are you waiting for? An invitation?" Rainbow Dash called.

"Ooo, I think I have one in my bag!" Pinkie Pie literally grabbed an invitation along with pop whistles.

"I-it's so... so... steep." Fluttershy whimpered.

"Well, it IS a cliff. You could just, I don't know, FLY up here?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"Rainbow Dash… do you think you could be a little more sensitive?" I asked.

She seemed to ignore my comment.

"Come on, Fluttershy, you can do it. Flap those wings!" Pinkie Pie encouraged.

"Oh... okay." She began flapping her wings. She managed to begin flying. However, the dragon let out another loud snore, causing Fluttershy to whine in fear. Her wings failed and she fell straight onto another bush.

"Fluttershy!" I called and ran after her.

"Augh." I could her Rainbow Dash groan behind me.

I reached up to Fluttershy to make sure she was okay. "Fluttershy, are you alright?" I asked, observing if she had any cuts or bruises.

"Yes… but—

Fluttershy let out soft grunts as she tried to open her wings again.

I could hear Twilight above me. "Uh, we don't have time for this!" Applejack grabbed her map and observed it on a nearby rock. "What are you doing?"

"I'll need this if I'm going to take her around the mountain another way." Applejack replied.

Rainbow Dash groaned. "AROUND the mountain? That's going to take them forever!"

Applejack skidded down toward us. The dragon snored again, causing Fluttershy to fall to the floor, paralyzed. "Don't worry, Twilight. We'll be there lickety-split."

Twilight sighed and continued on.

Applejack walked over to Fluttershy and asked if she was alright. Fluttershy didn't respond but remained paralyzed.

Applejack sighed. "So… what are we gonna do?" She asked me.

"Why don't you let me carry her?" I asked.

"You sure you can?"

"Yeah… just not climbing up the mountain… that would be nearly impossible. We have to go your way. Just stay be me and make sure Fluttershy doesn't slip off."

"Alright…" Applejack helped pick up Fluttershy and place her on my back. "Ready?" She asked.

"Yeah…" I could feel the weight of Fluttershy. "Ready…"

Applejack walked and directed me the path we were taking. I carried Fluttershy all the way to see Twilight and the others waiting for us, bored. Applejack helped me place Fluttershy on the ground. In a moment, she finally regained herself and stood up.

"What…happened..?" She asked.

"Alex had to carry you all the way to the top." Applejack responded.

Fluttershy looked at me, and then blushed, looking away. "Oh… sorry…"

Rainbow Dash interrupted. "COME ON! WE DON'T HAVE ALL DAY!"

We all began walking further into the mountain while I stayed by Fluttershy. We came to a point where we would have to jump across to another part of the mountain. The others jumped across, leaving me and Fluttershy to be the last ones.

"It's just a small jump, Fluttershy." I said. I ran and jumped across, showing her. "See?" I yelled. "You can do it!"

"Your turn, Fluttershy!" Twilight said.

"But... it's so... wide…" Fluttershy trembled, holding a rock.

"Come on, Fluttershy, we should be much farther along by now." Twilight tried to reason.

"You could just leap on over." Applejack encouraged.

Fluttershy looked at the height. "I—

The dragon snored loudly, making Fluttershy back off and tremble more.

"I don't know…"

Twilight and Applejack shook their heads."There's nothing to be afraid of!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "It's just a hop, skip and a jump. See?" Pinkie Pie jumped across to where Fluttershy was and began singing. "It's not very far. Just move your little rump. You can make it if you try with a hop, skip and jump!"

"We don't have time for this!" Twilight repeated.

"A hop, skip and jump. Just move your little rump. A hop, skip and jump. A hop, skip and jump A hop, skip and jump. A hop skip and jump, A hop skip and jump!"

Pinkie Pie continued singing, attempting to encourage Fluttershy to jump by continuously jumping over many times.

"O-okay. Here I go. A hop." Fluttershy hopped.

Applejack, Twilight, and Rarity encouraged her.

"That's it."

"You've got it."

"Almost there."

"A skip." Fluttershy skipped, beginning to come to us.

"Just don't look down." Twilight added.

However, most of the time when you say DON'T LOOK DOWN, you end up DO LOOKING DOWN.

When Fluttershy was in mid-air, she looked down. She whined, but her front legs caught on the other end of the jump."

"Ugh." Rainbow Dash groaned.

I walked over to Fluttershy and grabbed her front hooves, pulling her across.

"I guess I forgot to jump." Fluttershy said, releasing a smile.

Twilight warned us about the area we reached next.

"Let's keep it down. According to my map, we're entering an avalanche zone. The smallest peep could cause a huge rockslide." Twilight whispered.

"An... an ava... ava..." Fluttershy grew terrified.

"Shh!" Twilight shushed.

Every pony began walking softly along the dangerous area. Rainbow Dash had been flying low, but she pushed through a tree branch, which caused a couple of leaves to fall. These leaves landed on Fluttershy.

"AVALA-!" She immediately screamed, however Applejack placed her hoof on Fluttershy's mouth, preventing her to finish her sentence.

After a few seconds, everyone sighed.

On the other hand, a rumble commenced shortly afterwards. Rocks began tumbling down straight towards us. All the ponies cried out Avalanche. I tried to dodge the rocks coming straight towards me. I barely escaped, alive. However, I saw Fluttershy shaking terribly when a boulder was about to plunge down on her.

"Fluttershy!" I rushed over to her and push her out of the way. However, the only things I can see now are many rocks… and I feel rolling motion on my body… now… everything is black.

"Alex!" I could hear very faintly. "Alex!"

"Alex, where are you…? Alex!"

I could feel that my eyes were open… but why was everything black?

I felt weight on me, separated by little pieces. However, it was a little hard to breathe. It felt as if I was losing air by the second… I tried squirming around but I didn't even know if it had any effect. What do I do?

"Maybe he's already at the top…"

"No! He's not! Something must have happened to him during the Avalanche!"

I continued to hear my name being called, along with voices… but too faint to distinguish whose it was.

"Keep searching!"

I tried kicking in front of me with my back leg. I kind of felt a hole open up where I kicked… like a dent… but if I continue to kick, I'll waste energy. And if I don't make any progress and waste all my energy, I'll be done for… but if I save my energy and hope that help finds me, I might make it out alive… What should I do…?

I closed my eyes, despite the lack of sight. I looked inside myself and pulled out my decision. I trusted my instincts and continued to kick. With little grunts, I could feel the dent growing larger and larger. I finally gave one last kick and broke open the hole. I heard the chunks of rock that I kicked away. My leg felt free. I could hear the voices clear now. I took a deep breath, sucking in the air that I now had access to and continued pushing the rocks with my other legs. When I finally removed a lot more weight off my chest, I pushed myself forward until I could finally see everything now. All the piles of rocks on my chest fell downward as I sat up.

"Alex!" I heard Rarity's voice from behind me. I looked behind and saw Rarity running towards me. She hugged me and continued speaking. "I thought you were DONE for!"

"Gee… thanks, Rarity…" I replied, brushing off the dirt from my coat.

"Oh, I didn't mean it like that! I meant—

"It's fine."

She helped me up and shouted to every pony. "Alex is alright!"

Every pony suddenly ran over to me, making sure I was alright and that nothing was broken. They all asked me what had happened. But all I could say was that I didn't know. Fluttershy had broken through their blockage and ran towards me, sobbing.

"Oh, Alex! I'm so glad you're okay! It was my entire fault!" She said through tears.

"No it isn't Fluttershy, I'm fine." I replied.

"Well…" Rainbow Dash started, but I gave her a stare that shut her mouth.

"Will you still be able to come with us, Alex?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah…"

We continued walking to the dragon's lair. It turned out that I was on the other end of the avalanche. How I survived, it is a mystery…

"We're here." Twilight announced. "Rainbow Dash," She spoke softly. "You'll use your wings to clear the smoke."

Rainbow Dash nodded and flew up to do her duty.

Twilight continued to direct the others. "Rarity and Pinkie Pie, you'll create a diversion to distract the dragon if things get a little hairy in there." Pinkie Pie grabbed a rubber chicken and began waving it around. "Applejack, you're ready with the apples in case he decides to attack." Applejack kicked a few apples to a nearby tree to show her accuracy. "But it shouldn't come to that, because Fluttershy will do what she needs to do to wake him up, and between the two of us, we should be able to get him to understand why he needs to go. Is every pony ready?"

Every pony gave their affirmatives, except Fluttershy. She was trembling.

"What about me?" I asked.

"After that avalanche? I don't want you getting into any more dangerous situations."

"But—

"No buts. If Applejack or any other pony needs help, you can help them. But, I don't want you going into that cave."

I sighed. I didn't want to argue. "Alright…"

"Okay then, we're goin' in." Twilight walked inside the cave alone. After a few seconds, she came back out, looking for Fluttershy.

Fluttershy's face was buried in the ground.

"Come on!" Twilight grunted, grabbing Fluttershy's wings with her teeth and pulling her head out. "We have to do this!" Twilight released another grunt, pushing Fluttershy from behind. "Now!" Rainbow Dash began to help Twilight push. "Every - second longer that dragon—Rarity joined – sleeps is another – Applejack helped - acre of Equestria that's covered in—Twilight grunted –smoke." Pinkie Pie flew straight towards them. "Ooh!"

"I- I- I can't go in the cave." Fluttershy spoke.

Ever pony groaned.

"Oh, great." Rainbow Dash announced. "She's scared of caves now, too."

"I'm not scared of caves, I'm scared of…" Fluttershy mumbled.

Applejack walked towards Fluttershy. "What's that, sugar cube?"

"I'm scared of…" Fluttershy mumbled again.

"What?" Twilight asked.

"I'm scared of dragons!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

The dragon gave out another loud snore, blowing out a large cloud of smoke and causing Fluttershy to squeal. All of us coughed until the smoke disappeared.

"But, Fluttershy, you have a wonderful talent dealing with all kinds of animals." Twilight tried to reason with Fluttershy, who was hiding behind Applejack.

"Yes. Because they're not dragons." Fluttershy replied.

"Oh come on! We've seen you walk up to a horrible manticore like it was nothing." Rainbow Dash added.

"Yes. Because he wasn't a dragon." Fluttershy made a point…

"Spike is a dragon. You're not scared of him." Pinkie Pie spoke.

"Yes. Because he not a huge, gigantic, terrifying, enormous, teeth-gnashing, sharp-scale having, horn-wearing, smoke-snoring, could eat a pony in one bite, totally all grown up dragon!"

The dragon snored again which made Fluttershy whimper.

"But, if you're so afraid of dragons, why didn't you say something before we came all the way up here?" Twilight asked.

"I was afraid to." Fluttershy replied.

"Augh." Rainbow Dash groaned.

"All of us are scared of that dragon." Applejack pushed Fluttershy up.

"I'm not!" Rainbow Dash bragged.

"Almost all of us are scared of that dragon. But we've got a job to do. So, get in there with Twilight and show her what you're made of." Applejack encouraged.

"I- I- I just... can't." Fluttershy lowered her head and began walking back.

"Oh, Fluttershy…" Twilight said.

"I'll go talk to her…" I offered.

While the other ponies began their persuasion to get the dragon to leave, I walked over to Fluttershy, who was sniffling behind a large boulder.

"Fluttershy…" I said as I took a seat next to her.

She wiped her eyes and looked at me. "I can't do it Alex…"

"Yes, you can… you have a fear… and that's alright… but at one point of your life, you're going to have to face it… believe me. You don't want to be scared of dragons your whole life, do you?"

"I don't know…" Fluttershy stared at the ground. "What if I just ruin things all over again? Like I did with that avala—

"Stop about that Fluttershy." I interrupted her. "It's in the past. I didn't get hurt. You can just forget about it. We all make mistakes because we're not perfect. I promise you… you'll be fine. I believe in you…"

"You do…?"

I nodded.

She managed to smile softly. "Oh, Alex… I—

We heard a terrifying and awfully loud roar from the dragon's cave. The ground shook and the dragon poked his head out of the cave. It blew the other ponies toward the boulder we were at with its smoke, causing half of it to collapse. Fluttershy stared in disbelief at her moaning and groaning friends. She didn't notice that the dragon saw her and was about to grab her. I jumped in the way, making the dragon grab me instead. It held me tightly in its scaly hands. It looked over at Fluttershy, whose eyes looked around nervously. Fluttershy then balanced herself and looked at the dragon with the fear gone.

"How dare you?" She finally spoke. "How dare you!" Fluttershy began to exclaim louder than I've ever heard her before. She flew straight towards the dragon and landed on its mouth, walking towards its eyes. "Listen here, mister. Just because you're big doesn't mean you get to be a bully. You may have huge teeth, and sharp scales, and snore smoke, and breathe fire. But you do not- I repeat- You do NOT! HURT! MY! FRIENDS! You got that?"

The dragon backed its head away, whimpering like a puppy.

"Well?" Fluttershy asked, hooves crossed.

"But that rainbow one kicked me…" The dragon responded.

I could see Rainbow Dash nodding, proudly.

"And I'm very sorry about that. But you're bigger than she is, and you should know better. You should also know better than to take a nap where your snoring can become a health hazard to other creatures."

"But I—

"Don't you 'but I' me, mister." Fluttershy interrupted. "Now what do you have to say for yourself?" The dragon remained silent. "I said WHAT do you have to say for yourself?"

The dragon whimpered and began to cry, surprising me with its huge eye drops.

"There, there. No need to cry." Fluttershy said, compassionately. "You're not a bad dragon; you just made a bad decision. Now go pack your things." Fluttershy flew downwards, pulling me out of the dragon's hand and placing me back on the ground. "You just need to find a new place to sleep. That's all."

The other ponies cheered.

"You did it! I knew you could do it." Twilight exclaimed.

The dragon began flying out of the cave, searching for a new home.

"Thanks… but I didn't do it by myself…" Fluttershy's eyes shifted towards me. I felt a little red.

We returned home to see all the flying ponies clearing out the smoke from the sky. We had walked over to Twilight's home to see Spike having a lot of trouble with Fluttershy's animals.

"Spike, take a letter." Twilight announced.

Spike sighed, dropping the bunny he was holding. "With pleasure."

"Dear Princess Celestia..." Twilight spoke. " I am happy to report that the dragon has departed our fair country, and that it was my good friend, Fluttershy, who convinced him to go. This adventure has taught me to never lose faith in your friends. They can be an amazing source of strength, and can help you overcome even your greatest fears. Always your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

When Twilight was finished, we had noticed that Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash had left.

"Twilight! You gotta come see this!" Applejack yelled. We ran outside to see Rainbow Dash bouncing a ball on her head. "She's just five away from a new pony record!"

"Three hundred forty-seven, three hundred forty-eight..." Rainbow Dash counted.

Some pony had roared, causing Rainbow Dash to drop the ball. "Dragon!" Rainbow Dash fell to the floor.

Every other pony began laughing.

"Why are you laughing? That awful dragon is back!" She stood back up.

Pinkie Pie had walked up to her and roared loudly again.

"Pinkie Pie, you scared me!" Rainbow Dash then realized what she said and shifted her tone. "I mean, uh, you... broke my concentration."

Fluttershy flew near her. "It's okay, Rainbow Dash. Not every pony can be as brave as me."

Rainbow Dash blew a leaf that was floating in the air. The leaf swerved over to Fluttershy and landed on her back. Fluttershy screamed and fell to the floor. Every pony laughed, even Twilight who shook her head.

When night began to fall, every pony returned back to their homes. I helped Fluttershy bring back the animals to her home. When we placed the animals back where they belonged, we traveled over to a cliff, where we sat and watched the ocean.

"Thanks for helping me bring my animals, Alex." She spoke.

"It's not a problem at all." I replied.

Fluttershy paused for a moment. "…And thank you for helping me face my fear too…"

"Me?" I placed a hoof on my chest, confused. "I didn't do anything…"

Fluttershy smiled and looked towards the ocean. "Yes, you did. When you told me you believed in me… I began to believe in myself… and when I saw every pony hurt because of the dragon, especially you… that when I remembered…"

I continued looking at her.

She looked over at me. "I remembered when you stood up for me when Gilda was being a bully… so I did what my heart told me and faced the dragon." She looked up at the stars. "And now… I'm not so scared of dragons anymore… so… Thank you…"

"Wow…" I looked at the ocean. "I never knew I could affect somepony so much like that…"

Fluttershy giggled. "I'm pretty sure there are so many more things you can do, Alex."

"Maybe…"

"Well… I guess I better be going now…"

"Mmk…" I felt something soft and sweet planted on my cheek, leaving me even more paralyzed than last time.

"Goodnight, Alex." Fluttershy said, blushing intensely but most of the redness was hidden by the dark. She began flying away to her home while I sat there breathless…

I placed my hoof on my cheek.

"Wow…" was the only thing on my mind while the new feeling grew even stronger, which was pounding like crazy now…

Look Before You Sleep

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Episode 8 – Look Before You Sleep

I woke up early this time and did my usual morning routine. I walked out of the house and looked around. I saw ponies in the skies, moving dark clouds in front of the gleaming sun. I'm guessing there is going to be rain today... Every pony seemed to be heading to the park. I wonder what's going on... I walked over to the park to see many ponies picking up dead branches off the floor and trees. When I spotted Applejack, who was using her lasso to break a branch of the tree, I walked up to her.

"Hey, Applejack. What's going on today?" I asked.

"Oh hey there, Alex." Applejack responded. "Every pony is picking up dead and loose branches so they don't hurt no pony."

"I see… can I help?"

"Sure, you can pick up the branches that are on the ground, or if you find a way to get them off the tree without hurting yourself, you can do that instead."

"Alright."

We heard Rarity a few feet away from us.

"Hmm. Hah! Perfect." Rarity announced. She had formed the leaves on the branch to art with her magic.

However, Applejack threw her lasso at the branch at took it down, frankly. She spit the rope out of her mouth. "Just take the broken limbs down, Rarity. Don't cha all care about nothing other than prettifyin'?"

"Some pony has to. You were making an absolute mess of the town square, Applejack." Rarity replied, looking around at all the branches on the floor.

"Yeah, well, the storm's gonna make an even bigger mess if we don't prune all these loose branches so they don't tumble down on anypony."

"I simply cannot imagine why the Pegasus ponies would schedule a dreadful downpour this evening and ruin what could have been a glorious sunny day."

Applejack sighed. "Think more practical-like, will ya? They accidentally skipped a scheduled sprinkle last week, so we need a doozy of a downpour to make up for it, is all." Applejack kicked a tree, releasing leaves and more branches to fall to the ground.

Unfortunately, it began raining while the two were arguing, while I could only watch.

"Oh no! My wonderfully styled mane shall be ruined!" Rarity cried out.

"Ya shoulda hurried up and finished the job already." Applejack argued.

"Oh! Ah! Oh! It's coming down too fast! Ah! Oh! Ah! Help me!" Rarity began running all over the place to find shelter.

Applejack searched for somewhere to keep from the rain. She spotted a table and told Rarity to go under there. "Uh, there. Hunker down to yer heart's content whilst I finish this."

Rarity began galloping over to the table while Applejack continued to bring down the branches.

"Alex, you ain't afraid of a little rain are you?"

"No…"

"Ok then, here. Help me bring down these—

"Oh, no, no, no!" Rarity cried out.

Applejack sighed heavily and ran over to her, including me.

"What now?" Applejack asked, annoyed.

"I prefer not to get my hooves muddy." Rarity responded.

"Guh. There is just no pleasin' ya, is there? Everything's got to be just so." Applejack began.

"Well, and how does muddying my hooves serve any useful purpose?"

"Um… girls…" I tried to interrupt.

"Y'all wouldn't know useful if it came up and bit cha." Applejack continued to argue.

Rarity laughed. "That doesn't even make any sense."

"Does so."

"Does not."

"Does so."

"Does not."

"Does so."

"Does not."

"Girls…" I attempted again.

"Does so infinity. Hah." Applejack said.

"Does not infinity plus one. Hah."

They both started at each other aggressively. "What say we go our separate ways before one of us says something she will regret?" Rarity offered.

"I reckon y'all're gonna say something you'll regret first."

"On the contrary. I believe it shall most certainly be you who says something you will regret first."

"I'm not sayin' anythin'."

"Nor am I."

"Y'all just be on yer way, then." Applejack scooted her away with her hoof.

"After you!" Rarity pointed.

"GIRLS!" I finally shouted, but I was too late as thunder crackled in the sky, scaring both the ponies. The both hugged each other, ironically.

"Perhaps we should stick together for now and find some shelter." Rarity suggested.

"Uh-huh, perhaps we should. And fast." Applejack agreed.

I sighed as I continued to be drenched in the rain.

Applejack had ran over and ducked under the table.

"Nice and dry under here, sort'a." Applejack said, noticing the mud squished under her hooves.

Rarity continued to look for a better shelter to be in. "Oh! Unacceptable."

"Applejack! Rarity! Alex!" We heard our names from a distant voice. We turned around to try to see who was calling us.

"Applejack! Rarity! Alex!" Our names were called again. We managed to see it was Twilight who was calling our names. She was inside her home with the door open so she could get our attention.

"Come inside, quick!" She invited.

We all ran towards the inside of her house. Rarity and I arrived inside, but Applejack stopped in front of the door.

"Whoa, Nelly. Is inside a tree really the best place to be in a lightning storm?" Applejack asked.

"It is if you have a magical lightning rod protecting your home like I do." Twilight replied. "Come on in!"

"Hah! We are most grateful for your invitation." Rarity thanked.

"Thank ya kindly for yer hospitality." Applejack joined, walking inside. However, Rarity saw this and stopped her by placing her front leg in front of her.

"Uh, do be a polite houseguest and go wash up please, won't you?" Rarity asked, pointing to her muddy hooves.

Applejack grumbled. "If I gotta spend one more second with that fussbudget Rarity today, I can't be held responsible for what I'm gonna do." She walked out to wash her hooves.

"Some storm, huh? The Pegasus ponies sure have outdone themselves this time. I hope you guys don't have any trouble getting home." Twilight said.

"It may indeed be a problem." Rarity replied.

"Well, you're welcome to stay if need be. Spike is away in Canterlot on royal business. I'm home all alone tonight." Twilight gasped. "You ponies should totally sleep over! We'll have a slumber party! I've always wanted one of those." Twilight looked over to me, a little disappointed. "Oh… but those things aren't the kind of things that guys do… is it?

"It's okay… you girls can do whatever you want, I'll just head home." I began walking out the front door to the harsh rain, the thunder that boomed, and the lightning that flashed.

"No!" Twilight exclaimed. "You can't go out like that in this kind of weather!" She thought for a moment. "I mean… you can hang out. I just don't think you want to do… you know… girl stuff."

I stopped and turned back. "I suppose I can stay… I'll find something else to do…"

Twilight smiled. "Well make yourself at home!" She walked over to Rarity to talk about their plans.

Rarity refused, most likely due to Applejack staying. "Oh! Uh, goodness. Uh, I do believe I have another engagement scheduled for this evening that completely slipped my mind until just now." Rarity laughed nervously. "Ah, silly me, I can't possibly stay here all night - with Applejack."

Twilight walked up to her shelf and brought out a book. She opened the book to Rarity and revealed the contents inside.

"Slumber 101: All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties But Were Afraid to Ask." Rarity read out loud.

"My own personal copy. It's a fantastic reference guide. You should see the table of contents. I've been waiting for a chance to use it, and today is the day! This is gonna be so great!"

"Yes, uh, great." Rarity continued to laugh nervously.

Outside, Applejack was still trying to wash the mud off her hooves using a hose, but she had some trouble with it.

"Well, let's get started, shall we?" Rarity suggested.

They began to grab, whatever it was they used for face masks, so I decided I would just leave them to their fun. I began looking around at the shelves, seeing if I could find something to read.

"What in tarnation..." I heard Applejack. "Now wait just a goll-darn minute. Ya make me wash the mud off my hooves, but it's okay for y'all ta have mud all over yer faces?"

"Silly! This is called a mud mask. It's to refresh and rejuvenate your complexion." Rarity replied.

"We're giving each other makeovers! Tee-hee!" Twilight added. I heard excitement in her voice. "We have to do it, it says so in the book."

"Slumber 101: Everything You... Oh hey, heh, would'ja look at the time. I gotta skidaddle on home quick. I'm powerful late for, uh, fer somethin'. Uh, g'night." Thunder roared outside. "Or maybe I'll stay here for a spell."

"Hurray slumber party!"

"Blahch. What in the world is this for?"

I heard Rarity sigh. "To reduce the puffiness around one's eyes, of course."

"Puffiness-schmuffiness! That's good eatin'!" Applejack made some loud chewing noises.

"Tee-hee! Isn't this exciting? We'll do everything by the book, and that will make my slumber party officially fun."

"Did you hear that, Applejack? You certainly would not want to do anything that would ruin Twilight's very first slumber party, would you?"

"Of course not, 'n you wouldn't either, I reckon."

"So do we have an agreement?"

"You betcha." I assumed Applejack spit in her hoof afterwards.

"Oh! Gross! You know, there's messy and there's just plain rude."

"You know, there's fussy 'n there's just plain gettin' on my nerves."

"Fortunately, I can get along with any pony, no matter how difficult SHE may be."

"Oh yeah? Well, I'm the get-alongin'ist pony yer ever gonna meet."

"That's not even a word."

"This is going to be the bestest slumber party ever! Yay!" I heard Twilight say in the middle of the argument.

Suddenly… I don't feel like reading anymore… I walked upstairs and opened the door to the balcony and shutting it behind me. Luckily, the balcony had a covering over it, so I didn't get wet. I listened to the sound of the rain, as well as the thunder boom. To be honest… I loved the sound of the rain… even the thunder. It also seemed to calm me down, ironically. Nonetheless, I sat out there observing the rain. After a moment, I sat up and leaned on the railings. Something seemed missing…

I placed my hoof on my cheek and thought about the scene again. Fluttershy… she had kissed me on the cheek… that was the first time anyone had ever done that to me… Why did she do it? Was it because of what she was thanking me for? But why? I have done a lot more stuff than that before and that never happened…

I sighed.

Thunder roared once again and lightning sparked. I noticed the lights in Twilight's home behind me suddenly turn off. The wind grew stronger as did the sound of the raindrops splashing on the ground. Suddenly, I also heard screams from inside the house. I immediately ran inside the house to check on the girls. When I raced downstairs, I saw Applejack and Rarity hugging each other while screaming.

"What going o—I exclaimed, but unable to finish when I saw Twilight pull over a blanket from her body and walk over to her book.

"Ghost story, check." Twilight said. "Now, who wants s'mores?" She asked. She noticed me standing near the stairs, confused. "Oh, hey Alex. Did Applejack and Rarity scare you?"

"Um…uh…" I couldn't really speak. "Yeah… I guess…"

Twilight giggled. "Come on, let's go to the kitchen!"

We went into the kitchen, where Applejack began roasting marshmallows on a nearby fireplace while Rarity was going over the instructions on making a smore.

"Then you place one marshmallow on the top of the chocolate and be sure it's centered - that's critical - and then carefully put another perfectly square graham cracker on the top. And done. Ta-da!"

"Ooo!" Twilight gazed at the treat.

"Nah, ya just eat 'em." Applejack munched loudly on the treat as Rarity stared at her, very annoyed. Finally, Applejack belched.

Rarity sighed. "You could at least say excuse me."

"Aw, I was just about to, but you interrupted me." Applejack replied. "Pardon."

"S'mores, check. Now the next item of fun we have to do is Truth or Dare." Twilight announced, writing in her book.

"I dare Applejack to do something carefully and neatly for a change." Rarity began fighting.

Here we go… again…

"Oh yeah? Well I dare Rarity ta lighten up and stop obsessin' over every last little detail, for a change." Applejack fought back.

"I think the truth of the matter is that SOME pony could stand to pay a little more attention to details."

"And I think the truth is SOME pony oughta quit with her fussin' so the rest of us can get things done."

I grew more annoyed with each argument they made. Twilight walked over to her book and flipped through the pages. "Um, I don't think this is how the game's supposed to work. You have to give an honest answer to any question or do whatever any pony dares you to do."

"I dares you to step outside and let your precious, tidy mane get ruined again!" Applejack began first.

Rarity gasped.

"You have to. It's the rule." Twilight backed up.

"HAH!" Applejack laughed.

"Fine!" Rarity slowly walked to the door and then outside, letting herself get drenched in the rain. Applejack snickered as she came back in with her mane and tail shivering. Applejack began laughing but was cut short when Rarity walked straight towards her.

"Okay! I dare Applejack to play dress-up in a fru-fru, glittery, lacey outfit!"

Applejack gasped, but she walked away to put on her outfit. When she came back, she was wearing, what appeared to be, a princess outfit.

"Happy?" She asked.

"Very." Rarity, replied, giving a smirk.

"Um, do I ever get a turn?" Twilight asked, trying not to interrupt.

"I dare ya to enter the next rodeo when it comes to town." Applejack commenced.

"I dare you not to enter the next rodeo that comes to town." Rarity replied.

"I dare ya to not comb your mane a hundred times before bed."

"And I dare you to comb yours just once."

As much I didn't want to get mad, I couldn't handle anymore… all this fighting… it was getting to me… I finally broke and shouted.

"I DARE YOU BOTH TO STOP ARGUING AND SHUT UP!" I immediately stormed out of the room, retreating away from the silence that followed and in to my own.

I stepped out into the balcony and lay down. I was rubbing my head with my hooves. My head was pounding like crazy. I closed my eyes and tried to let the rain sedate me.

"Alex…?" I heard a voice behind me… It was Twilight's.

"Yeah…?" I answered very softly.

"Why are you out here?" She asked.

"The rain… it soothes me…and right now… I have a headache…"

"Listen… I'm really sorry about Applejack and Rarity… I don't know what's gotten into them…"

"They shouldn't be arguing…"

"Huh…?" She walked a little closer to me.

"That's how friendships break…"

"Why do you say that?" Twilight asked, concerned about my answer.

"Just trust me…" I buried my head in my hooves and closed my eyes, continuing to listen to the rain and the wind. I could feel Twilight struggle with the words in her head. She didn't know what to say. I could feel that she wanted to make me feel better… but she didn't know how.

"Will you come in…?" She asked.

"I think I'll just stay out here for a while…" I responded, gloomy.

It was silent for a moment. "I'll come back to check up on you in a while…" Twilight left the balcony and headed back downstairs.

I continued to have my eyes closed. I listened to the rain…the wind…even the thunder… I heard some loud talking downstairs too. As I tried to calm myself, suddenly, thunder roared louder than ever before, causing me to open my eyes. Lightning struck a tree near me. The tree began limping towards another house, as if it was going to fall.

I stood up and was going to rush to tell Twilight, but a lasso grabbed hold of the tree. It must have been Applejack! After a few seconds, the rope pulled the tree, which led the tree to begin falling straight towards me! I tried running, but I didn't make it in time. I could feel the tree pull me down straight toward where Twilight and the others were.

"I tried to tell you it would come crashing down in here!" Rarity cried.

"Well, ya should'a tried harder!" Applejack replied. "I'm mighty sorry, Twilight."

They seemed not to notice me crushed under the tree, but Twilight did.

"Alex!" Twilight exclaimed. She managed to pull me out.

"I'm alright…" I replied. I felt okay…

"What in tarnation are y'all doin' over there?" Applejack asked Rarity, who was placing the books back on Twilight's shelf while using one of them to cover her mane.

"Cleaning up this mess SOME pony made. Who was that again? Oh, right, that's YOU." Rarity responded.

"We gotta do somethin'!" Applejack exclaimed. She tried kicking the tree, pulling the tree with a rope, jumping on the tree, and any other way to get rid of the tree. "Rarity, for pony's sake, stop sweatin' the small stuff and help me get rid of this thing!" Rarity only glanced back and then continued placing the books back. "I said hussle over here and help me!" Rarity didn't listen. "Look, I'm sorry, all right?"

"What was that?" Rarity asked.

"I said I'm sorry!" Applejack yelled through the storm. "I shoulda listened to you when you noticed where this here branch would end up. Yer annoyin' attention to detail woulda saved us from this whole mess. But right now, ya need to stop bein' so dang fussy pickin' up all those little things and help me move the one big thing in here that actually matters! Please!"

Rarity finally looked over at the tree when Applejack said that. She looked like she wanted to help, but she was worried about something. "Uh. Uh, but I'll get all icky!" She exclaimed.

"Consarnit! What the... eh... you... I mean, yes, ickiness is often a side effect of hard work. But y'all need to get over it, on account I just can't fix this mess I made myself. I need your help!"

Rarity hesitated for a moment, and then thought. Finally she looked toward Applejack. "Oh. Let's do this."

Rarity walked over to Applejack and they both talked for a moment, sharing a plan. Rarity and Applejack began to get to work. Rarity used her magic to make the tree into a bunch of small ornaments instead. Applejack was about to kick the bottom of the tree out the window, but she noticed Rarity's look on her face and paused. She placed her feet down and turned around. She grabbed the stump instead and lightly threw it out the window. Applejack closed the window, and the chaos died down. Rarity looked at herself. She was covered in mud and leaves.

"U-ugh. Oh, I look awful" Rarity said.

Applejack thought for a moment and thought up of an idea. She grabbed a couple of the eye pieces used in spas and placed them on Rarity's eyes.

"Better?" Applejack asked.

"Hm, thanks." Rarity responded.

They both hugged. I drew out a long sigh.

"I'm glad you two made up… all your arguing has been only trouble!" Twilight said.

"You're right…" Applejack answered. She looked over at me. "I'm mighty sorry, Alex. I didn't mean to cause you no harm… I was too busy being dumb enough to argue…"

"I'm truly sorry too, Alex. I shouldn't have argued with Applejack. We are all friends after all… and we don't like to hurt one another. Can you ever forgive us?" Rarity asked.

They all looked at me with pleading eyes. I sighed and then looked at them both. They were eagerly waiting for my answer. "Alright, I forgive you guys… I know how hard it is to keep a perfect friendship… but still… I don't like it when friends argue…"

"Aww!" They rushed over to me for a group hug. They got me a little dirty… but I really didn't care. I had this really warm feeling in my heart that felt really good. It was some other feeling that was special, that I had never felt either.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you girls too…"

"It's alright, we deserved it." They said, cheerfully.

Soon, they pulled away.

"I think we should get ourselves clean… shall we?" Rarity suggested.

Everyone agreed and laughed. I was the last one to use Twilight's shower. After I was finished, I came downstairs to see what the girls were up to. They were laughing, wearing accessories in their hair, except Applejack, who had on her farm hat.

"Hey, Alex!" Twilight called me. "You should join our game!"

I was in an alright mood, so I guess it couldn't hurt. "Alright…" I sat down in the circle.

"Is it bigger than a barn?" Applejack asked.

Twilight laughed. "Nope."

"Is it smaller than a saddle?" Rarity asked.

Twilight laughed again. "No! Only three of your twenty questions left!"

"We're never gonna guess what y'er thinkin' of, it could be anythin'." Applejack said.

"Are we getting warmer?" Rarity questioned.

"Why? Is it too cold in here for you? I can turn up the heat." Twilight offered.

"She means are we gettin' any closer with our guesses?" Applejack corrected.

"Oh! No. And that technically counts in as a question, so only two more left!" Twilight responded.

"Is it... a six-legged pony with a purple polka-dotted mane and shootin' stars comin' out of his eyes?" Applejack began.

"Who flies through the air all over the world to hide magic, sparkly eggs?" Rarity finished.

"That's it!" Twilight exclaimed.

"It is?" They both asked, surprisingly.

"No." She chuckled. "It's that." She pointed to a telescope above her. "But it was just so nice to see you two finally getting along; I wanted you to be able to win together."

Applejack and Rarity began laughing.

"See? We could have been having fun like this all along." Twilight said.

"If only some pony hadn't been so persnickety." Applejack announced, directing it to Rarity.

"Well, maybe she wouldn't have been if some pony else hadn't been so sloppy." Rarity responded to Applejack's comment. Their eyes stared towards each other, coldly. I was about to say something about the scene, but then their moods shifted.

"Sorry for being such a pain in the patootie." Applejack apologized.

"Oh, no, I'm sure I was much worse." Rarity replied.

"That's kind a ya ta say, but I'm the one who's sorry."

"Oh, I'm much more sorry than you are."

"Ugh. Are not."

"Are too."

Twilight and I kept shaking our heads to Applejack and to Rarity.

"Are not!"

"Are too."

"Are not!"

"Are too."

After they finished their "argument" with smiles, I realized that they were just joking… they began laughing.

"I declare my first slumber party a success!" Twilight announced.

Rarity and Applejack cheered, clapping hooves.

Twilight grabbed her book with her magic and wrote in it. "Have fun, check!"

Rarity and Applejack laughed again.

"I have another idea for a game!" Rarity exclaimed. She set up the room for the game, which was something like pin the tail on the pony. Applejack was blindfolded and was being directed by Rarity who was telling her where to go. I sat down, continuing to watch them.

"Now take two steps to your left. Uh, no, MY left." Rarity directed.

"Well, which is it?" Applejack asked. She stumbled onto the pile of books in front of her, crashing on them. "Whoa! That mess is your fault, not mine." They both laughed. I was really appreciative that they patched everything up between each other.

"Dear Princess Celestia…" I heard Twilight behind me say. I walked up next to her to listen to another one of her fantastic letters. She was using her magic to write with the pen. "It's hard to believe that two ponies who seem to have so little in common could ever get along. But I found out that if you embrace each other's differences, you might just be surprised to discover a way to be friends after all!" Twilight had finished her letter. She noticed me and smiled. Then she looked over to Applejack and Rarity, who were still having fun. "So, who's up for another slumber party tomorrow night?" They threw her a couple of pillows to the face. "How about a week from Thursday?" She continued to ask. "Oh, how about two weeks from Saturday? A month from now?"

The ponies did not respond, but only laughed. Twilight joined in the laughter as well. I looked at the window and noticed the sun had come out.

"Well…" I said. "I guess I should get back home then."

"Aww." Twilight responded, who was just finished being attacked with another pillow. "Well, it was great having you here, Alex!"

I paused for a moment, thinking about what she said. I looked back at her. "Thanks… you girls were… fun… too."

They all giggled and had me in one last group hug before I was off.

When I arrived back at home, I slid inside my bed. I was really tired from not really having any sleep at all last night. Although, I began thinking about the time spent with Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity. Despite all the problems that occurred that night, it was still really enjoyable. I had increased my relationship with them… and it felt really good… my friends… they are so much different from the other ones… in my past…

I dozed off.

Bridle Gossip

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Episode 9 – Bridle Gossip.

For a strange and unusual reason, I had managed to sleep without any interruptions. I felt fully awake and rose from my bed. After tidying up a bit, I walked to my front door and stood idly for a moment. That's odd… there's no noise outside whatsoever… I wonder what's up? I walked out the front door to see that Ponyville was a ghost town…

I continued walking, looking around suspiciously. The only noise was the wind, which brought an eerie feeling inside me. Every door was locked shut and so were all the windows. I continued walking until I saw some pony that looked to be digging at the ground. I looked hesitantly at the pony for a bit. It had on a hooded cover, revealing only the striped hooves.

I slowly began walking towards it.

"Hello…?" I asked.

The pony glanced over my way, revealing dark, glowing eyes. This frightened me a bit, but I continued to walk over to the pony.

"Hey…" I began. "Do you know where every other pony is?" I asked.

"This, I do not know." The pony replied. I assumed it was a female to do the sound of her voice. "I am just looking for things that grow. Know this, I am no pony. Instead, to this village, I am lonely." She removed the hood, which covered her face, to reveal that she was actually a zebra.

"Oh… I'm sorry. I had mistaken you for a pony… I've never seen a zebra around here."

"It is alright my good friend, as I am far from this land." She continued to dig at the ground.

"What is it that you're digging for?" I asked.

"I am digging for something new, something which to brew."

"Okay…" I scratched my head. "Do you need any help…?"

"No thank you, I am alright. Once these flowers are dug, they are easy to sight. I must go now, for I have much more work to do. I have much more things to find, which are needed for my brew." She began walking off to the park. I continued to look, with a mind full of questions as the zebra continued to dig for whatever she was looking for.

"You ponies are being ridiculous!" I heard Twilight say, muffled a bit.

I looked over to where the sound came from. In a window, I could see the shadow of Pinkie Pie and Twilight. It looked as if they were arguing.

"Well, I heard that Zecora eats HAY!" Pinkie Pie replied.

"Pinkie, I eat hay; YOU eat hay!"

"Yeah, but I heard it's the EVIL way she eats hay."

I walked inside to find every pony surprised of my visit.

"He's ALIVE! That must mean the evil zebra put a super evil CURSE on him!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"What are you talking about?" I questioned. "I'm not cursed."

"That's what SHE wants you to think!" Pinkie Pie replied.

"Pinkie, stop it!" Twilight intervened and walked towards me. "Alex, is not cursed. Alex, we saw you talking to her, even while SOME ponies kept saying she was going to curse you… could you PLEASE tell us that she's NOT EVIL?"

Every pony looked towards me. I looked at them, confused. "Um… she doesn't seem evil…"

"See!" Twilight exclaimed.

"But she was talking about finding some things to brew…" I added.

Pinkie Pie screamed and hid behind Rarity. "You mean she's finding some PONIES to brew!"

"That crazy! I'm pretty sure she just means—

"Hey! Where's Applebloom?" Applejack interrupted Twilight, frightened by her little sister's disappearance.

"The door's open!" Fluttershy pointed out.

"She went outside!" Rarity cried out.

"And Zecora's still out there!" Rainbow Dash added into the fear.

"That silly lil' filly! I told her to stay put!" Applejack said.

Every pony began running out the door, hastily. Twilight started for the door too, but before she left, she spoke to Spike. "Spike, you stay here in case Apple Bloom comes back."

"Will do!" Spike replied.

"Alex, let's go." She told me as she raced out the door. I followed her, unhesitating.

We galloped through the path to the Everfree forest. We had made it just in time to see Applebloom following Zecora. All the other ponies had walked through a patch of blue flowers. Just as I was about to do the same, my instincts prevented me to.

"Applebloom?" Applejack yelled.

Applebloom gasped and looked back at us.

"You git back here right now!" Applejack shouted.

"Beware! Beware, you pony folk!" Zecora exclaimed. "Those leaves of blue are not a joke!"

"Y-you keep your creepy mumbo-jumbo to yerself, ya hear?" Applejack exclaimed while picking up Applebloom.

Every other pony agreed with Applejack, standing against Zecora, except Twilight.

Twilight sighed. "Oh brother."

"Beware! Beware!" Zecora warned for the last time as she disappeared into the mist of the jungle.

"Yeah, back at ya, Zecora! You and your... lame curse are the ones who better beware!" Rainbow Dash continued to fight back with words.

"And you! Why couldn't you just listen to yer big sister?" Applejack asked Applebloom.

"I...I..." Applebloom tried to say something.

"Who knows what kind of nasty curse Zecora could have just put on you?"

"Just like in my song!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, singing her song.

"You guys, there's no such thing as curses!" Twilight exclaimed.

"Well, that's interesting to hear coming from Miss Magic Pants herself." Rainbow Dash responded.

"My magic, REAL magic, comes from within. It's a skill you're born with. Curses are artificial, fake magic. It's conjured with potions and incantations; all smoke and mirrors meant to scare. But curses have no real power; they're just an old pony tale."

"Just you wait, Twilight." Applejack replied, giving off an eerie mood. "You're gonna learn that some pony tales really are true."

Twilight stood back as she thought to herself, while all the other ponies began leaving the area.

"Twilight…" I called.

She looked back over at me.

"I don't think you should stay in those flowers…" I warned.

"Why?" She asked, coming over to me.

"Just a feeling…" I responded.

Every pony walked back towards their home, trying to shrug off the eerie mood that hung around us all. Every pony in Ponyville eventually came out, slowly recovering from Zecora's visit. The day ended in silence, leaving me with a bizarre feeling that something worse was going to happen…

The next day, I woke up normal as usual. I don't feel any different… so why does this feeling still cling around me?

I walked outside and decided I would visit Fluttershy. I haven't talked to her since the last time… when she…

I shook my head and started my way towards Fluttershy's home.

When I arrived, she was outside. She had just finished feeding the animals. She sat gloomily near a tree and stared at the ground. I walked over to her.

"Hey… Fluttershy… Is something wrong…?" I asked.

She looked up to me and blushed. She turned her head and looked away, giving a nod afterwards.

"What is it?"

Her eyes moved uneasy, and she continued blushing for a moment. She opened her mouth as if she was about to talk, but then immediately shut it.

"Fluttershy…" I was growing worried about her.

She picked up her hoof and pointed towards town.

"You want to go to town?" I asked.

She nodded. She stood up and began walking over to town. I walked by her side, looking and thinking curiously.

When we arrived in town, she used her body language to tell me that she wanted to go into Twilight's home. Still wondering intensely about what was going on, I obeyed her wish. We entered her home to see every other pony gathered there… but I was so surprised by the appearance of the other ponies that… I couldn't stop staring with my mouth agape.

Twilight's horn was limp and covered with spots of blue. Pinkie Pie's tongue was swelled significantly and covered with spots of blue as well, disabling her ability to talk well. Rainbow Dash continued to crash into shelves. Rarity, who I did not even recognize for a moment, had her mane and tail all frizzled up and soggy. Applejack, who I did not even see until I looked at the color for a bit, was reduced in size and on the back of her little sister…ironically.

"Fluttershy!" Twilight exclaimed. "She seems just fine! What about you, Alex?"

"Uh… I guess…? What's going on here? What happened to you girls?" I asked, still struck in confusion and surprise.

Pinkie Pie tried to explain, but all she did was spurt out muffled words and sprayed saliva all over the place.

"What she's trying to say is…" Rainbow Dash began talking as she continued to crash into different places. "Zecora… CURSED US!"

"Cursed?" I wondered. "I feel just fine… however, despite that Fluttershy looks okay, something is odd about her…"

"Yes, there doesn't seem to be a THING wrong with her." Rarity added through the drapes of her mane.

Fluttershy had stared, worriedly, at the ground.

"Fluttershy?" Twilight asked. "Are you okay?" Fluttershy closed her eyes and looked away. "Is there something wrong with you?" Fluttershy opened her eyes to look over at Twilight and closed them again, straining her eyes and giving a nod. "Would you care to tell us?" Twilight said, sounding irritated. Fluttershy looked over at Twilight again and refused by looking away. "So... you're not gonna to tell us?" Fluttershy gave a confident nod. "Yes you're not, or yes you will?" Fluttershy shook her head.

Applejack ran over to Fluttershy on the table, stopping on top of a book. "Good gravy, girl! What's wrong with you?" Applejack demanded, surprising Fluttershy.

Fluttershy held her head down and looked over to me, blushing. After hesitating for a moment, she looked away from every pony and finally spoke.

"I don't want to talk about it." A voice responded that I did not recognize. It was very deep and it came from Fluttershy… my eyes grew wide and I remained silent.

Spike snorted, and then burst out laughing. "This is hilarious! Look at all of you! We got: Hair-ity, Rainbow Crash, Spitty Pie, Apple-tini, Flutterguy, and... uh..." Spike looked over at Twilight, trying to think of a name for her. " I got nothin'... Twilight Sparkle. I mean seriously, I can't even work with that."

Twilight laughed sarcastically. "This is no joke, Spike. Now start looking for more books so I can find a cure!"

Spike groaned while Rainbow Dash continued to pull herself out of a ladder she had crashed in to. Once she broke free, she spoke to Twilight while flying unbalanced.

"I think we'll find a cure to this curse at Zecora's place!"

"It's not a curse!" Twilight exclaimed, making Rainbow Dash crash again.

"I agree with Dash! We'll go to Zecora's and force her to remove this hex!" Applejack agreed.

"It's not a hex either!" Twilight argued.

Soon, every pony began arguing, endlessly. After a moment of trying to resist, I finally gave in and intervened. "ENOUGH!" I shouted. The whole room immediately grew quiet. "I believe Twilight is right; I don't think she cursed us. If she had, wouldn't I have something wrong with too?"

"I don't care what you and Twilight say;" Rainbow Dash responded. "It's time to pony up and confront Zecora. Come on, girls; are you with me?"

"Ah am-pft!" Pinkie Pie spat.

"And I as well." Rarity added.

"Uh, I don't know. Seems awfully dangerous." Fluttershy gave her opinion, leaving Spike to only giggle again.

"How about you, Applejack?" Rainbow Dash asked. She looked over to where Applejack was supposed to be, but she wasn't there. "Applejack?"

"Pf-she's gone-pft!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Rarity screamed. "Aah! Or somepony stepped on her!" She checked her hooves, causing every other pony to check as well.

"... or sat on her?" Twilight added. Every pony checked there too.

"Rarity's hair!" Rainbow Dash offered.

Pinkie Pie began searching through Rarity's hair. "Oh! OH! Pinkie, what are you doing?" Rarity exclaimed. " Ah, really. Aah! You ever hear of personal space?"

"Nopthe." Pinkie Pie replied, shaking her head.

"Applebloom is gone too!" Twilight cried out.

"I bet they went after Zecora!" Rainbow Dash responded.

"Well we better go find them." Twilight began walking out. "Come on ponies, let's go."

Pinkie Pie had her hoof on a strand of Rarity's hair, causing her to be unable to move.

"Oh dear." Rarity announced. "This is so unseemly. Auuuaah!" Rarity broke free.

Rainbow Dash was flying upside down on the floor. "Hey, a little help here?"

"Oopsie! Sorry." Fluttershy said, helping Rainbow Dash along with Pinkie Pie, which only caused her to crash again.

"Uh... Spike? Are you coming?" Fluttershy asked.

"Nope! Uh... gotta stay here and look for a cure." Spike gasped. "Twilight Flopple!"

I rolled my eyes and sprinted by Fluttershy on the way to the Everfree forest.

We arrived, already galloping into the forest with no hesitation.

"C'mon. We've got to get to Zecora's. Hurry!" Twilight announced.

However, Rarity continued to trip on her loose strands of hair while Rainbow Dash continued to crash. Rarity had caught up to us, but Rainbow stayed behind. We didn't have time to lose, so we continued on.

We arrived at Zecora's hut.

"Oh. I look horrible!" Rarity exclaimed, having twigs and leaves in her hair.

Pinkie Pie lifted up her hair to see the hut. "Plis place plooks horrible!"

"Oh my." Rarity responded. "That place really DOES look horrible." We walked towards the window to see many tribal things inside. "Nice decorations, if you like creepy!"

Zecora walked in, making us duck below the window. We poked our heads back on the window to hear Zecora chant in a different language.

"Sthe sthtole my sthong! Shthe shtole mm mm!" Pinkie Pie angrily announced.

"She stole your song?" Rarity asked.

"Oh Pinkie." Twilight responded. "Doesn't sound anything like your song."

"Ah. Hmm..." Pinkie Pie ran over to Fluttershy and begged her. "Pbth!"

"Come on Pinkie Pie… Fluttershy is self conscious about her… voice… leave her alone." I told Pinkie Pie.

Pinkie Pie began to whimper. Fluttershy placed a hoof on me to let me know that it was alright. She sighed and began singing in her new voice.

"She's an evil enchantress

And she does evil dances

And if you look deep in her eyes

She will put you in trances

Then what would she do?

She'll mix up an evil brew

Then she'll gobble you up

In a big tasty stew

Soooo... watch out. " Fluttershy sang, all while Pinkie Pie was dancing out her moves.

"You saw those terrible things." Rarity told Twilight. "NOW you believe us Twilight?"

"Scary looking masks, confusing incantations, and a great big bubbling cauldron?" Twilight sighed. "Everything IS pointing to Zecora being... bad. Or... What if Zecora is just making soup?"

We looked back in the window to see Zecora take a taste of what was inside the cauldron. "Mmm! The perfect temperature for ponies, I presume. Now, where is that little Apple Bloom?" Zecora asked herself.

"Or... What if she's making Apple Bloom soup?" Twilight exclaimed, finally losing her cool. Every pony screamed. Suddenly, something flew straight into Zecora's hut, alarming her. She spoke in native language while Rainbow Dash continued to crash everywhere in the hut. Everything was happening so fast, I didn't know what to do, I could only just watch at the chaotic destruction occurring.

Twilight and the others barged inside the hut, demanding answers. "What have you done with Apple Bloom?"

However, Zecora ignored them and paid more attention to Rainbow Dash. "No! No!" She shouted, continuing her native language.

I saw a lasso grow out of Rainbow Dash. That must have been Applejack! She threw the lasso at Zecora's ear and threw herself at her, wrestling with her ear. Zecora reacted in confusion.

"Ponies!" Zecora exclaimed. What is this you..." Rainbow Dash screamed, knocking over the cauldron. "No! You know not what you've do! You've gone and spilled my precious brew!"

As Zecora knelt over the spilled fluids, Twilight continued to talk at her. "We're onto you Zecora. I didn't want to believe that you cursed us, but the evidence is overwhelming!"

"You made me look ridiculous!" Rarity added.

"You made me SOUND ridiculous!" Fluttershy emphasized.

With incoherent speech, Pinkie Pie joined in. "You made me speak ridiculous!"

"You ruined my horn!" Twilight finished.

"How DARE you! You destroy my home, destroy my work. Then rudely accuse me of being a jerk?" Zecora responded, defensively.

After realizing what the REAL problem was, I began rushing inside the hut.

"You put this curse on us, now you're gonna uncurse us." Rainbow Dash demanded.

"It is unwise to venture down this road. Your actions will make my anger explode!"

"Where IS Applebloom?" Twilight demanded and began shoving her head at Zecora's.

"Girls!" I shouted after entering the hut. "This isn't Zecora's fault! It's the flo—

"Zecora!" A familiar voice exclaimed. "I think I found all the things ya asked for." It was Applebloom, she had walked in and noticed the situation. "What in Ponyville is goin' on here? "

Applejack gasped. "Applebloom! You're okay!"

Applebloom smiled. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Twilight jumped in front of Applebloom. "Because Zecora is an evil enchantress who cursed us and was gonna cook you up into soup!"

Right before I could try to explain the whole situation, Zecora and Applebloom began laughing.

"Oh Twilight. Did those silly fillies finally get in yer head? You know there's no such thing as a curse." Applebloom said.

"Apple Bloom, sweetie. You can't just stand there and tell me this isn't a curse." Twilight replied, presenting the others' misfortunes.

"AS I WAS TRYING TO SAY…" I forcibly intervened. "Zecora is not the cause of your problems. In fact, she was trying to help… however, every pony was being too stubborn about one zebra looking like an evil 'enchantress', that they didn't watch where they were going and didn't take the warning." I announced, having every ponies' eyes on me.

"He's right." Zecora responded. "If you will remember back, the words I spoke were quite exact."

Every pony began remembering the time Zecora gave them the warning.

"About that blue plant… It's called Poison Joke." Applebloom explained.

"That plant is much like poison OAK. But its results are like a joke." Zecora added.

"What in the hay does that mean?" Applejack asked, still lingering on top of Zecora's head.

"It means this plant does not breed wrath. Instead this plant just wants a laugh." Zecora replied.

Applejack stood silent for a moment, trying to translate what Zecora had just said. "... Will somepony please talk normal?"

"I think what she's saying is that when we ran in to save Apple Bloom, we ran into the poison joke. All our problems are just little jokes that played on us." Twilight responded.

"LITTLE JOKES? Very funny…" Applejack replied sarcastically.

"Ok, fine. But what about the cauldron?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"And the chanting?" Fluttershy added.

"And the creepy decor?" Rarity joined.

"Treasures of the native land where I am from." Zecora looked over to the couple of masks that lay against the wall. "This one speaks 'hello', and this 'welcome'."

"Not welcoming at ALL, if you ask me." Rarity replied.

"The words I chanted were from olden times. Something you call a nursery rhyme." Zecora explained.

"But the cauldron... The Apple Bloom soup?" Twilight questioned.

"Lookie here Twilight. That pot of water wasn't for me, it was for all these herbal ingredients." Applebloom pointed to a nearby book that contained ancient recipes for cures. "The cure for poison joke is a simple all-natural remedy. You just gotta take a bubble bath!"

Twilight read over the book and continued to wonder. "But I tried to find a cure in all my books and couldn't find anything." She said as her horn continued to wobble. "What book has this natural remedy?"

Zecora walked over to the book and closed it, showing the cover. "Here is the book you see. Sad that you lack it in your library."

Twilight looked disappointed. "Actually, I do have this book, but I didn't look inside because the title was so... Weird." Zecora opened the book again, showing Twilight a page, which Twilight read out loud. "Supernaturals: Natural remedies and cure-alls that are simply super. I...I... I'm so sorry Zecora. I had the answer the whole time, if only I had bothered to look inside..."

Zecora chuckled. "Maybe next time you will take a second look, and not judge the cover of the book."

"Isn't that the truth…" I muttered.

"Hahaha." Applebloom laughed.

"Zecora? Would you be kind enough to mix up another batch of the herbal bath?" Twilight asked.

"Mix it up I certainly will. Yet I am missing an herb from Ponyville." Zecora accepted.

"But whenever Zecora comes to town, all the shops are MYSTERIOUSLY closed." Applebloom questioned.

"Oh, well... I think we can help you with that."

Twilight had led all of us back into town. I figured she knew that every pony would begin running in fear again, but she must have had a plan for that…

When we were in town, we noticed it was filled with ponies. However, It wasn't long until they noticed Twilight and the others still with the Poison Joke symptoms.

"Look Rose! How awful!" One screamed.

"The wicked enchantress has cursed them all!" Another exclaimed.

"The horror, the horror!" A pony overdramatically announced.

All the ponies began screaming and running in to their homes. Regardless, Twilight walked up to the flower shop and knocked on the door. When the door was answered, there was a small opening and Twilight spoke. "Daisy, we need to talk."

After explaining how misjudging the ponies have been against Zecora, Twilight managed to help Zecora attain the ingredients for the bubble bath. With the help of Twilight, she spread the word at the Spa, which the ponies, who ran the place, agreed to allow Zecora to make the bubble bath there. I sat outside the opened door, while Zecora had just finished the touch ups to the bath.

"Now after all the troubles you have seen, you may finally become nice and clean!" Zecora exclaimed.

I could hear every one of the girls jump in the tub, excited. While they were beginning to relax as their symptoms began to disappeared, Twilight readied her letter to Princess Celestia. "Dear Princess Celestia," Twilight spoke as they continued to bathe. "My friends and I all learned an important lesson this week: Never judge a book by its cover. Someone may look unusual, or funny, or scary. But you have to look past that and learn who they are inside. Real friends don't care what your "cover" is; It's the "contents" of a pony that count. And a good friend, like a good book, is something that will last forever. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

Attaining that same warmth feeling in my heart, I looked up at the ceiling and thought how special it was to hear that… especially how much it meant to me…

"Miss Zecora." I heard a pony say inside. "I would love to get the recipe for this bath. It's simply luxurious!"

"Applejack! Hey. Where's Applejack?" I heard Applebloom exclaim.

I could hear the girls gasp and scream in fright as they desperately searched for Applejack.

"I'm right here lil' sis. I ain't tiny no more!" Applejack announced.

"Ooh. I have never felt so lovely in all my life!" Rarity exclaimed.

"Oh my gosh!" Pinkie Pie cried out. "I've never realized how horrible it is not to be able to talk. I mean I LOVE talking so much and when I couldn't talk 'cause my tongue was all 'ehhhh'. It was the WORST! Don't you agree, Fluttershy?"

There was a pause for a moment. "Yes…" I heard Fluttershy's soft and sweet voice again.

Every pony laughed inside, while I could only remain calm on the outside of the room, laying my head on the wall.

After they had finished their bath, they walked out of the spa, renewed and refreshed.

"That was the BEST BATH EVER!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Zecora looked over at us and spoke. "Thank you ponies for understanding, yes indeed. You may come and visit me, in your time and need."

Every pony said goodbye to her, and she left towards her home. The night was day, and the day was night; it was late. Every pony returned back to their home, except Fluttershy. I began walking with her to her home.

"That was some adventure, wasn't it?" Fluttershy asked as we walked under the moon.

"Yeah…" I responded. "Every time, there is a new lesson awaiting us…"

"You're right…" Fluttershy replied. There was a moment of silence as we continued walking. "Remember when my voice was all…you know…"

"Yeah… what about it…?"

"To be honest… I was so embarrassed of letting everypony hear how it sounded… especially you… I was scared that I might have been made fun of…"

"Why would you ever think that…?"

"I don't know… reasons I guess… well Spike did laugh a bit but…" She smiled. "It was just for fun, he didn't mean any harm."

"Well… that's Spike." I paused for a moment. "Hey, Fluttershy…" I looked over at her. She returned her look. "Even if your voice was… different… you were still the same Fluttershy… at least… to me…"

She blushed and looked away. "Really…?" She asked softly.

"Of course." I responded.

We arrived at her home. I walked her to her door and we both stood there, looking at each other.

"Thank you… Alex." She said.

"For what?" I asked.

Fluttershy giggled a little. "For being you…"

I looked at her, tilting my head while I was a little confused. I understood what she meant but… for being me…?

She hugged me and opened the door to her home. She turned around and faced me. "Have a good night, Alex."

"You too… Fluttershy." I responded.

She gave one more smile and closed the door gently. I stood there for a moment, thinking. I turned around and started for the way home.

When I arrived at my house, I immediately started for the bed and threw myself on there. I thought about what Fluttershy told me… I could still hear her exact words as I began dozing off to sleep.

"For being you…"

Swarm of the Century

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Episode 10 – Swarm of the Century

I slipped under the covers and out the front door. It was a little early, but I wanted to go see Fluttershy. I assumed she would most likely be tending to her animals, so I wanted to see if I could help. The smell of sweets originated from the pastry shop in town. There were a few ponies out in the town, but the population was bound to increase later on during the day.

As I was walking through the park, I was surprised to see Fluttershy gathering flowers nearby instead. There were birds around her as she softly continued to grab the flowers delicately with her mouth and place them sweetly on her basket.

"La, la la, la la, la la, la la." She sang as she skipped over to the next area where she was going to pick more flowers. She grabbed one of them, but a squirrel ran over to her and offered her a dandelion. "Thank you little squirrel, but remember: these flowers are for Princess Celestia. Only the prettiest ones will do." A gentle breeze flowed by and blew the dandelion, removing all of its children. The squirrel looked embarrassed and fled. "La, la la, la la, la la, la la." She continued singing as she moved nearby to a basket of apples.

I walked up to her and greeted. "Hey, Fluttershy."

She noticed me and blushed for a bit. "Oh… hello, Alex."

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm gathering flowers for Princess Celestia! She's going to come visit Ponyville and everypony is getting ready for her visit."

"Oh, really?"

She nodded. "I'm almost done."

She was about to pick another flower, but something very close by chirped.

"Gah!" She hid behind the basket full of apples, frightened. Her basket of flowers was thrown off her back. I quickly retaliated by catching the basket on my back.

Fluttershy poked her head out, looking at where the sound came from. Behind a rock, came out some sort of fly. It had four wings, a small round blue body, two emerald eyes, and four tiny legs as it smiled. It chirped again.

Fluttershy slid over to it. "Hello little guy. I've never seen anything like you before."

The little creature flew over to an apple that dropped from the basket and began sniffing it.

"Oh, are you hungry?" Fluttershy asked. She crushed the apple with her hoof. "Here you go." She offered. Surprisingly, it sped toward the bucket instead and ate every single apple like a razor. Fluttershy gasped. "I guess you WERE hungry."

The creature flew over to Fluttershy's mane and nestled itself in it, chirping.

"You're the cutest thing EVER. I can't wait to show you to my friends." She looked over to me, noticing her basket of flowers was on my back. "Oh, thank you for catching my flowers, Alex!"

"You're welcome… where do you want me to put them?" I asked.

"Let's go drop them off at my house, and then we can show this cute little thing to our friends!" She exclaimed, looking at the creature.

We had walked over to her home and placed the bucket of flowers on the porch. We began walking towards town. As I walked by Fluttershy, I could not help but stare at the thing she had found. Sure, it may be "cute" but eating a whole bucket full of apples isn't exactly a good thing… well for everypony…

Arriving at town, we saw a bunch of decorations held up and planted as we walked through. There was a couple of ponies scratching out a banner and rewriting. It appeared as if they were writing "Welcome, Princess Celestia!" but they had trouble trying to fit it in.

We stopped by the cake shop and Fluttershy hopped in, excited. "Twilight, Pinkie, you won't believe..." She halted and looked over at Twilight and Pinkie Pie who looked as if they were having a discussion. "Oh, I'm sorry. Uh, am I interrupting?"

"No, not at all. Come on in and make yourself at home." Pinkie Pie grabbed the whole cake that was in front of her with her tongue and swallowed it all in one bite. "What's going on, Fluttershy?"

"You won't believe what Alex and I found at the edge of the Everfree Forest." Fluttershy sweetly called out to the creature. "Come on out, little guy. It's okay." Its head poked out, then came out. However… two more followed. They were yellow and brown instead. Fluttershy gasped. "Three?"

"They're AMAZING. What are they?" Twilight walked over and asked.

"I'm not sure. I'm also not sure where these other two came from." Fluttershy responded.

"I'll take one off your hooves." The yellow one landed on Twilight's hoof. "I've never seen anything so... ADORABLE." Twilight hugged the creature. She blushed when she realized she had done that in front of us. "Besides, it'll be nice to have a companion for Spike so he won't bother me so much while I'm studying."

"Pinkie, do you want the other one?" Fluttershy asked.

"UGH!" Pinkie Pie stuck her tongue out. "A parasprite? ARE YOU KIDDING?" Pinkie Pie walked off.

"Ugh?" Fluttershy questioned.

"A para-what?" Twilight asked.

"How could you not like..."

"Now I gotta go find a TROMBONE." Pinkie Pie interrupted Fluttershy.

"A what?" Twilight asked again.

"A trombone, you know…" She imitated the instrument and hopped off.

Twilight sighed. "Ahhh, typical Pinkie." The yellow parasprite flew up next to her and purred. "Well, I'm going to go show this little guy to Rarity! Bye!" She fled off in excitement.

"Don't you think it's a little weird that that … parasprite… had more with it? I thought you had only one." I questioned Fluttershy as we walked around town.

"A little…" Fluttershy responded, looking at her parasprite. "I thought so too… but maybe a few more sneaked inside my mane when I wasn't looking…"

"Hmm… well if that IS the case… then what about their appetite? That one ate a whole bucket of apples, who knows what else they eat… and how much of it they take in."

"Oh, Alex." Fluttershy giggled. "I'm sure we can train them to eat something specific, like a pet. Besides, there are only three of them, how much trouble can they be?"

I had no comment. "Well… let's just hope your right."

Fluttershy smiled. "I think I'll go teach it some new things right now. I'll see you later?"

"Sure, okay."

Fluttershy began walking off to her home. I continued looking at her depart as I thought. Twilight had a whole library of books… maybe I can go check them out to see if they have something on these creatures? Pinkie Pie seemed like if she's seen these guys before… maybe she knows a lot about them too? But I don't even know where she is, since she went looking for an instrument for some reason… when she left, she seemed angry when she heard about the parasprites… there must a con with them…

I shook my head and headed towards Twilight's house. I better go do the first thing on my list before I forget…

I knocked on Twilight's door. After a moment, she opened it. "Hey, Alex."

"Hey, Twilight… I was wondering if I could find out more about those… parasprites… in one of your books." I replied.

"Oh, gosh, Alex. I was curious about those too, I wanted to look myself, but Spike and I have been so busy with cleaning up the place, you know, stacking the books back on the shelves and dusting."

"I see…"

"It was strangest thing though… when I went to show Rarity, I had three of them with me too! I didn't know where they came from!"

My eyes opened in surprise. "You have two more of them?"

"Yes, I –

"TWILIGHT! Get your butt in here and help me!" Spike announced from inside the home. I could hear a crash of books and a groan.

"Sorry, Alex. I have to go before Spike blows a fuse." Twilight said and closed the door.

I turned around and placed a hoof on my chin. Twilight had three instead of one… just like Fluttershy… I suppose it is possible that another couple could have snuck in her mane… but… it's just very unlikely… what if they reproduced and multiplied? But wait… there was only ONE, and I think they would need two… man… this is making me insane… if only I could have found a book that Twilight has that has these bizarre things in them…

I sighed… there was a lot going on in my head. I guess the only thing I can do now is just to see what happens…

When the next day arrived, every pony was finishing up the necessities for Princess Celestia's arrival, which was in about a few hours. I decided to check up on Fluttershy to see how things were going with her new pet.

I knocked her door and waited for a moment. There was no answer… I knocked again and called her name. "Fluttershy?" There was still no answer. I started to worry. I placed my ear on the door and heard small faint squeaks. I opened the door and rushed in. "Fluttershy!" I called. However, I was greeted by many parasprites. There were literally hundreds all over the place, making a mess.

"Fluttershy!" I called again.

"I'm over here!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

She was trying to catch the parasprites that flew away from her.

"What happened?" I asked as I tried to help.

"I don't know! I just woke up this morning and there was a bunch of them!"

Chasing after them and trying to catch them seemed useless… it wasn't until a while after that Fluttershy's door opened once again, releasing an army of the parasprites outside. Rarity, Twilight, and Rainbow Dash rushed in, trying to get Fluttershy's help.

"Ugh, do something Fluttershy, can't you control them?" Twilight asked.

"I tried everything I know: I've tried begging, and pleading, and beseeching, and asking politely and..."

Rainbow Dash groaned. We had no choice but to race outside where the other many parasites were at.

"If we can't get them under control before the princess arrives, it'll be a total disaster!" Twilight exclaimed.

A yellow parasprite flew near Rarity and hacked something out. It looked like a mud ball at first, but then it instantly formed into a new brown parasprite.

"Ew!" Rarity cried. "If you ask me it's already a total disaster!"

"Here's all those apples you wanted, Fluttershy." Applejack announced while she was crossing the bridge. "But I still can't figure why y'need so many." The parasprites noticed the cart full of apples and instantly attacked them, leaving nothing behind and fleeing. "HEY!"

"What do we do?" Fluttershy asked, worriedly.

Twilight gasped. "I got it! No pony can herd like Applejack."

"Yeah! We can drive 'em back into the forest." Rainbow Dash encouraged.

"I'll rustle 'em up, but I need everypony's help to do it. Twilight, you and Rarity wait over there. I'll herd the little critters straight at ya like a funnel. Rainbow Dash, you and Fluttershy stay on top of 'em, don't let 'em fly away." Applejack ordered.

"Aye aye." Rainbow Dash understood.

"Alex, stay on the other side, so they don't escape." Applejack stated.

I nodded and ran to my position.

"Yeeeeeee-haw!" Applejack cheered.

Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, and I began making all the parasprites flee into the same area while Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew above them to lower them down. We all had the parasprites form into a sphere and began rolling them back to the forest.

"Alright y'all, here goes nothin'. Look out Rarity, that one's fixin' to get away. Keep a lean on 'em, Rainbow Dash. Hold on, we're almost there!"

However, Pinkie Pie suddenly appeared at the front of the pack, running along with Twilight.

"Pinkie!" Twilight cried out.

"Twilight, we don't have much time!" Pinkie Pie responded.

"You're telling ME? The princess could arrive at any moment."

"Exactly. That's why I need every pony to drop what they're doing and HELP ME find some MARACAS."

"Maracas? Pinkie, we've got much bigger problems than missing MARACAS!"

Pinkie Pie gasped. "You're right! Getting a tuba has to be our number one goal. Follow me!" Pinkie Pie ran ahead, but ran backwards when Twilight didn't follow her. "I SAID, follow me!"

"Pinkie Pie, you are so RANDOM." Rainbow Dash announced, flying closer to Twilight.

"And you are all so stubborn." She ran off.

"Forget her. Focus. Head 'em up and move 'em out." Applejack called out to every pony.

"I know she sounded ridiculous…" I told Applejack. "But I think she's on to something."

"On to something?" Applejack replied. "How can she get rid of these critters by playing the darn ol' tuba?"

I sighed. You never know…

We finally reached the Everfree forest and let them continue their flying in there.

"ALRIGHT!" Rainbow Dash slapped hooves with Fluttershy.

"Ouch…" Fluttershy responded.

"We did it. Nice work, Applejack." Twilight told Applejack.

"Couldn't a'done it without y'all." Applejack thanked.

"Now let's get back and clean the mess they made, before the princess arrives." Twilight offered.

We all walked back towards Fluttershy's home.

"Okay, everyone knows what to do, right? We gotta work extra hard to make up for lost time." Twilight announced. Fluttershy grabbed the handle with her teeth and opened it, only to reveal another army of parasprites fly out of the house. " Where did THEY come from?" Twilight cried.

"Uh, I may have kept just one. Heh." Fluttershy responded, showing the orange parasprite she had kept. Every pony looked at her annoyed and irritated. "I couldn't help myself. They're just so cute."

"We don't have time to keep rounding up these things. What do we do now?" Twilight exclaimed.

"We call in the weather patrol!" Rainbow Dash shouted. "Yeah!" She flew above and yelled. "YAAAAAA!" She spun around until she formed a tornado, collecting and sucking in all the parasprites.

"Way to go, Rainbow Dash!" Twilight congratulated.

"Looks like our problems are solved!" Applejack said.

"They will be with these cymbals." Pinkie Pie randomly appeared, clashing cymbals together. However, the tornado sucked in the cymbals as well. "Hey! Give me those back!"

The cymbals began causing problems for Rainbow Dash. "Whoa. Yaa! Yow! Woah! Wow! I can't hold it! She's breaking up!" Rainbow Dash flew straight towards a tree and crash landed. The tornado disappeared and released all the parasprites, freely. They all headed towards Ponyville.

"Pinkie Pie, what have you DONE?" Twilight exclaimed, furiously.

"I've lost a brand new pair of cymbals, that's what I've done!" Pinkie Pie responded.

"Will you forget about your silly instruments for one second? You're ruining our efforts to save Ponyville!"

"ME? Ruin? I'm not the ruiner, I'm the ruinee! Or is it ruiness? Ruinette?" Pinkie Pie thought.

"Come on, there's no reasoning with that one." Applejack announced. "She's a few apples short of a bushel."

They ran off, leaving Pinkie Pie. I stayed for a reason.

"Hey! I'm trying to tell you all that the ruining is on the other hoof. If you just slow down and LISTEN TO ME!" Pinkie Pie screamed.

"I'm here, Pinkie Pie. What's the plan?" I asked.

"You believe me…?" Pinkie Pie responded.

"Yeah… now what's the plan? You're gathering these instruments for some reason… is it to distract the parasprites?"

"Yeah! Sorta. You see, I have dealt with these nasty little –yet cute- critters before and I found out that these instrumentals get rid of them!"

"How?"

"When I play them, they get distracted with the music and follow it, so if I get every one of those parasprites to follow me, I can get them back to the Everfree forest!"

"Okay then! Let's get the rest of the instruments you need!"

We ran towards town.

The town was being raided by all the parasprites; they were eating all the food! Pinkie Pie managed to find tambourines and gather several different instruments in a bag. We spotted Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Twilight, and Rarity.

"Look, tamborines! If you can all just..." Pinkie Pie paused, noticing that the others were still not listening to her. She screamed and ran off while I tried to get the attention of them.

"Pinkie Pie has a PLAN to—

Twilight gasped, noticing a parasprite about to eat an apple, but sighed when it refused the food. The parasprite immediately ate the bucket and not the apple. We began seeing every parasprite eat anything that WASN'T food!

"Heh. Hey," Rainbow Dash looked over to Twilight. "It worked. They're not eating the FOOD anymore."

"Oh no... if they get inside my store... EVERY PONY FOR HERSELF!" Rarity exclaimed.

Twilight ran off to her home. Rainbow Dash began being chased by many parasprites. Everywhere was in complete chaos. Princess Celestia was going to be here in a few minutes and this is how she's going to see Ponyville?

Soon, I heard music being played. I saw Pinkie Pie leading a trail of parasprites while marching with the many instruments she gathered. Well… she was right…

Twilight walked over to us and shrugged in disbelief. We followed Pinkie Pie and her fan of parasprites. Twilight stopped at pointed. "Look!" Princess Celestia, escorted by her royal guards, arrived before us. We ran ahead of Pinkie Pie and bowed.

"Twilight Sparkle, my prized pupil!" Princess Celestia greeted.

"Hello, princess!" Twilight responded with a hint of nervousness in her voice.

"So lovely to see you again, as well as your friends."

A clash of the cymbals interrupted the conversation. To our side, we saw Pinkie Pie leading the parasprites, which left Twilight embarrassed and Princess Celestia surprised.

"So... how's the trip? Get much traffic?" Twilight asked, trying to change the subject.

"Ah, what is this?" The Princess responded, confused. One of the parasprites landed on her wing for a moment and flew away to the music. "Oh ho ho, these creatures are adorable."

"They're not THAT adorable…" Rainbow Dash muttered.

"I'm terribly honored that you and the good citizens of Ponyville have organized a parade in honor of my visit." Princess Celestia thanked.

"Parade?" Twilight asked, confused, but then realized her escape plan. "Oh. Yes, the parade!"

"Unfortunately, that visit is going to have to wait for another time. I'm afraid an emergency has come up in Fillydelphia. Apparently there's been some sort of infestation." Princess Celestia apologized.

"An... infestation?" Twilight asked, nervously.

"Yes, a swarm of incredibly bothersome creatures has invaded the poor town. I'm sorry Twilight, to have to put you all through so much trouble."

"Trouble? What trouble?"

"Before I have to go, would you care to give me your latest report on the magic of friendship in person?"

"My... report?"

"Haven't you learned anything about friendship?"

Twilight looked over at Pinkie Pie and smiled. "Actually, I have. I've learned that sometimes the solution to your problems can come from where you least expect it. It's a good idea to stop and listen to your friends' opinions and perspectives…" Another crash of the cymbals roared. "…even when they don't always seem to make sense."

"I'm so proud of you, Twilight Sparkle, and I'm very impressed with your friends as well. It sounds like you're all learning so much from each other." Princess Celestia looked over all of us.

"Thank you, princess…" Twilight replied as the Princess began leaving.

We walked over to Pinkie Pie as she finished having the last of the parasprites leave.

"Hey, what happened to the princess?" Pinkie Pie asked, stopping her music.

"Emergency in Fillydelphia." Twilight responded.

"Some sort of infestation." Rainbow Dash added.

"Oh no! Have they got parasprites too? Well, have tuba, will travel." Pinkie Pie blew her tuba.

"I think the princess can handle it." Twilight replied.

"So you knew what those critters were all along, huh Pinkie Pie?" Applejack asked.

"Well DUH, why do you think I was so frantic to get my hooves on all these instruments? I TRIED to tell you." Pinkie Pie stated.

"We know Pinkie Pie, and we're sorry we didn't listen." Twilight apologized.

Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack followed the same.

"You're a great friend, even if we don't always understand you." Twilight told Pinkie Pie.

Pinkie Pie grinned. "Thanks guys, you're all great friends too, even when I don't understand me."

"You saved my reputation with Princess Celestia, and more importantly, you saved Ponyville."

We arrived back at town to see the total mess that was left by the parasprites.

"Or not…" Twilight said, disappointed.

Everypony gathered around us inside the town after they noticed all the parasprites were gone. Soon, every pony was helping out to restore the town. Ponies used their magic to fix the buildings while others that could fly, picked up broken pieces and safely removed them. The rest of us did a little of both. With the help of every pony, we managed to restore the town again.

It was nightfall by the time we finished. Every pony left towards their home for their night's sleep.

I was about to go home myself, but Fluttershy called me.

"Hey, Alex…" Fluttershy said behind me.

I turned around to face her. She started moving her hooves along the dirt and looked around again.

"You're going to the Grand Galloping Gala… right…?" She asked.

"I guess so… why...?"

"…were you thinking of taking anypony…?

"What do you mean?" I asked, a little confused.

"You know…" She paused for a moment. "… as a date…"

"oh… well… not really… I don't think anypony wants to go with me anyway…"

Fluttershy smiled and blushed. "I'm sure there's some pony that does…"

"Huh…?"

She continued smiling. "Goodnight, Alex." She began to fly towards home.

I stood there a little confused. After a moment, I returned home.

As I lay in bed awake, I thought about what Fluttershy told me. In my mind, I did not know what she meant…but in my heart… I did…

Winter Wrap Up

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Episode 11 – Winter Wrap Up

A loud and rapid knocking noise startled me out of bed; in fact, it made me fall out of bed. I slowly stood up, exhaling a heavy breath . I walked over to my front door and opened it to see Twilight smiling brightly and excitedly. I could see Spike asleep on her back.

"Twilight?" I questioned.

"Hi, Alex! It's Winter Wrap Up Day!" She responded.

I looked beside her and noticed the snow outside.

"Oh… yeah…" I said softly, still a little tired.

"C'mon! They're starting to pick teams, let's go!"

"Huh?"

She grabbed my hoof and pulled me towards her. Then, she had me walking behind her as she hurried over to the gathered crowd in town, her legs shifting in place hastily, but in rhythm. "Those must be the team vests Rarity designed. Blue for the weather team, green for the plant team, and tan for the animal team. I wonder which team vest I'll be wearing."

"I'll take a blue vest, same color as my blanket," Spike spoke, sleepily. "which I think I hear calling my name. 'Spike! Spike! Come to bed!' Ugh, it's too early."

I caught up with Twilight when she stopped in the crowd.

"Thank you everypony, for being here bright and early." The mayor announced. "We need every single pony's help to wrap up winter, and bring in spring."

The whole crowd of ponies cheered.

"Now, all of you have your vests, and have been assigned to your teams, so let's do even better than last year, and have the quickest Winter Wrap Up ever!"

I don't have a vest…but I was too tired to say anything.

"Oh, this is so exciting." Twilight told me as Spike looked at her, grumpy.

"Alright everypony, find your team leader, and let's get galloping!" The mayor pointed to a field, where Rainbow Dash was the blue team leader, Applejack was the green team leader, and another pony I did not know was the tan team leader.

"Oh gosh, where should I go?" Twilight looked around. "I'm not sure where I fit in. What exactly does everypony do?" Twilight looked worried. I was about to help Twilight, but everypony began their Winter Wrap Up.

"Three months of winter coolness

And awesome holidays…" Rainbow Dash began singing with a determined yet mournful tone.

"We've kept our hoovsies warm at home

Time off from work to play" Pinkie Pie added, hopping joyfully..

"But the food we've stored is runnin' out

And we can't grow in this cold" Applejack joined, emphasizing the need for our confidence and togetherness .

"And even though I love my boots

This fashion's getting old" Rarity finished, adding more of an opinion, but still motivated the persuasion of increasing the morale in a very secretive way.

Twilight began walking through the snow as I followed her. She took a turn in the song as well...

"The time has come to welcome spring

And all things warm and green

But it's also time to say goodbye

It's winter we must clean…"

Her voice gave me a sudden feeling of...warmness... the kind of warm that can even pierce through the temperature of the friendly snow. She looked around at the scenery, observing the work that was to be done, and then looked at me.

"How can I help? I'm new, you see

What does everypony do?" She looked back up towards the sky, reaching into her thoughts for the plan she hoped to come up with.

"How do I fit in without magic?

I haven't got a clue!"

The ponies near us all sang in harmony, including Fluttershy, Rarity, and another pony that was on the green team.

"Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

Let's finish our holiday cheer!

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

-Applejack sang-

'Cause tomorrow spring–

-Rainbow dash flew by her, finishing her sentence-

–is here!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here!"

Rainbow Dash sang as the other ponies cleared the skies.

"Bringing home the southern birds

A Pegasus' job begins

And clearing all the gloomy skies

To let the sunshine in

We move the clouds

And we melt the white snow"

Pinkie Pie joined in.

"When the sun comes up

Its warmth and beauty will glow!"

The sun's rays shined on Twilight and me, providing not only warmth, but a high sense of hope.

"Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

Let's finish our holiday cheer

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

'Cause tomorrow spring is here!"

Rarity began singing as the tan team rung bells and woke the animals from hibernation.

"Little critters hibernate

Under the snow and ice"

Then… I heard Fluttershy's amazing soft and sweet voice…

"We wake up all their sleepy heads

So quietly and nice"

"We help them gather up their food

Fix their homes below"

"We welcome back the southern birds

So their families can grow"

"Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

Let's finish our holiday cheer

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!" We stood in amazement as we watched all the ponies sing in unison and clear the snow, however a pile of snow tumbled on us. We looked up to see Rainbow Dash smiling as she continued singing.

"'Cause tomorrow spring is here

'Cause tomorrow spring is here!"

"No easy task to clear the ground" Applejack began, lightly tapping the box of seeds near her.

"Plant our tiny seeds

With proper care and sunshine

Everyone it feeds

Apples, carrots, celery stalks

Colorful flowers too

We must work so very hard"

Two other ponies joined.

"It's just so much to do! "

Little ponies were skipping and hopping with the bunnies while the blue team ponies shoveled snow off the rooftops.

"Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

Let's finish our holiday cheer

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here"

Pinkie Pie sang as she skated on the frozen lake.

'Cause tomorrow spring is here!"

Twilight resumed singing as she walked gloomily through the snow and her thoughts. Seeing her sing like this made me feel a little sad in the inside… I wanted to help her out…

"Now that I know what they all do –She looked towards me-

I have to find my place – She looked back at all the other teams of ponies working-

And help with all of my heart

Tough task ahead I face

How will I do without my magic

Help the Earth pony way

I want to belong so I must

Do my best today

Do my best today" Twilight sustained the note as the other ponies continued to sing.

"Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

Let's finish our holiday cheer

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up!"All the ponies of the three different teams gathered together and sang in unison, providing hope to everypony into getting the job done.

"'Cause tomorrow spring is here

'Cause tomorrow spring is here

'Cause tomorrow spring is here!" Twilight finished, keeping the note for a while until she looked out at the other team of ponies, still unable to decide what to do. "Everypony belongs to a team." She said as she looked over at me. "What should I do? Where should I go?"

I was about to open my mouth to offer some advice, but Rainbow Dash interrupted me when she ordered her team above us.

"Alright team, you're clear for takeoff!"

"Rainbow Dash!" Twilight called.

"Oh, hey Twilight, what's up?" Rainbow Dash replied.

"What are you doing?"

"Sending off one of my flight crews to retrieve the birds that have flown south for the winter."

"Oh, can I help? How about if I help clear out the clouds?"

"Um..." Rainbow Dash flapped her wings.

"Right. No wings…"

"Sorry Twilight." Rainbow Dash sped away towards her teammates.

"Great, now what do we do…?"

"I don't know about you, but I'm gonna be nappin'." Spike responded over at a bush where he began snoring at.

Twilight pressed a hoof at his cheek. "Come on Spike, this is serious business. Winter needs to be wrapped up, and I'm determined to do my part. Somehow…"

"Twilight…" I called. She looked over to me."Maybe you don't need to be in a team… I know this is your first Winter Wrap Up in Ponyville, but maybe you can do something any other pony can't do?"

"That's just it…" She responded. "I don't know what IT is…"

"I'm a hundred percent sure you'll find out Twilight. I know there's something you can do..."

"Thanks, Alex." She smiled. "Well, what are you going to do?"

I thought about Fluttershy. "I think I'll just head over to the tan team…"

"Oh, Alright. I guess I'll just try to help the other teams and see what I can do."

"I can stay and help you, if you want."

"Oh, no. Thanks for the offer, but you should go and do your own thing. I'll be okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Mm-hm."

"Alright… well good luck then, Twilight."

"You too."

I began walking over to where Fluttershy was helping the animals as Twilight grabbed Spike off the bush and headed to Rarity, who was fixing the nests.

Fluttershy had a bell in her mouth. She was ringing it to wake up the animals as she softly spoke to them. After she finished evacuating the home, she turned around to walk to another one. However, she bumped herself in front of me.

"Oh, excuse me." Fluttershy apologized. She looked up to recognize it was me. "Oh!" She blushed. "Hi, Alex. I didn't see you there...Where's your vest?" She asked, after noticing I wasn't wearing one.

"Oh… uh… I don't have one… but I thought I could just come over and help you with the animals." I responded.

"That's nice of you…" She looked away. "Well of course you can help me; I'm just waking up the little critters." She gave me a spare bell. "Just gently poke your head in their homes and call them."

"Alright. Got it." I walked over to another hole. Grabbing the bell with my mouth, I rang it several times and gently called them to get up. A couple of baby bunnies walked out, yawning and stretching their arms.

I continued doing this for a moment until I met up with Fluttershy again. She had just finished another home. "How did you do Alex?" She asked.

"Pretty good I guess… they woke up fine." I responded.

"That's fantastic!" Fluttershy smiled. She walked over to another home and poked her head inside. "Wake up little sleepy heads. Hope you had some wonderful dreams and restful hibernation, but it's time to get up now, spring is coming."

A couple of hedgehogs walked out, yawning.

"Awww, how cute." I heard Twilight say. I didn't know she had stopped by.

"Aren't they? This is my favorite task the whole season, when I get to see all my little animal friends again." Fluttershy replied.

"Uh, what's 'hibernation'?" Spike asked, looking fully awake now.

"It's like a long sleep." Fluttershy walked over to another home.

"Long sleep?"

"Yes." She rung the bell. "Wake up little porcupines." She called inside the home. She turned back to Spike. "Animals often hibernate through the winter to save their energy and eat less food."

"I definitely like the idea of hibernation, uh, except for the 'eat less food' part." Spike responded.

The porcupines yawned and poked each other when they hugged.

"Oh, would you just look at all these warrens and dens; I'm worried that Alex and I won't be able to wake up every animal before spring comes."

"Well, I'll help, Fluttershy!" Twilight announced, gladly.

"You will? Oh, that would be wonderful." Fluttershy gave her bell to Spike and looked towards me. "Let's go wake up the critters over here."

I nodded and called over to Twilight. "Just be careful of certain dens, Twilight..."

"Gotcha!" She yelled back.

I began walking with Fluttershy towards the other dens.

"So...Fluttershy..." I started.

"Yes, Alex?" Fluttershy, keeping her head facing in front of her but moving her eyes to the corner to see me, asked while she smiled.

"I was just wondering..." My eyes moved uneasy; I wanted to know what she truly meant when she brought up the Grand Galloping Gala last time... but I was feeling a bit anxious. "About the Grand Galloping Gala...what did you-

"Waaa! Snakes! Snakes!" Twilight screamed.

We turned around to see Twilight backing away, quickly, from a group of snakes into another den. She ran out with bats speeding outside the cave. Twilight bumped herself into a tree and a bee's nest fell on top of her. She continued to run and scream straight into another den.

A pair of skunks walked outside the den Twilight ran into. "Good morning friends." Fluttershy greeted them warmly.

We heard Twilight groan inside. After a while, she came out with bee stings all over her face and smelled badly.

"Whoa, Twilight! You stink!" Spike announced.

Twilight looked at him, angrily. "Thanks… I didn't know that…" She said, sarcastically.

"Looks like you need to bathe in Tomato juice, Twilight…" Fluttershy advised.

Twilight sighed. "I know…" She responded in a very disappointed and even depressed tone. She began to walk off with Spike trailing behind her while he held his nose. I was starting to feel really bad for Twilight.

"Poor Twilight…" Fluttershy said.

"Yeah…" I agreed.

A moment of silence passed.

"So... what was it you wanted to ask me about the Grand Galloping Gala, Alex?" Fluttershy asked, looking bright.

I lowered my head, stared at the snowy ground, at felt a little red. "Never mind..."

After continuously waking up more animals from their hibernation, Fluttershy and I decided to take a break.

"We should go check up on how the other teams are doing." Fluttershy offered to me.

"Sure." I accepted.

On the way, we stopped by to see Rarity, who was supposed to be working on the nests. She was mumbling many things about nest-making while she was fixing up a nest that...well... wasn't as great as hers in comparison.

"Hi, Rarity." Fluttershy greeted as she walked over to the table where she was working on. "How is it going with making the nests?"

"Oh...I...um..." Rarity continued pulling out things from the nest. "I'm okay..."

"How many have you made?" I questioned.

Rarity halted and remained silent for a moment. "...one..."

Fluttershy and I were shocked.

"Rarity... you've only made one...?" Fluttershy asked, worried.

"Yes... but... these things take time with such grace! But I promise you... I'll create enough in time for Spring!"

Fluttershy and I both looked at each other.

"Do you need any help...?" I asked Rarity.

She looked at the nest she was fixing up and quickly looked back at me, laughing nervously. "Oh, no, no, no! I'm fine! Really!"

"Alright..."

Fluttershy and I left... but we still felt a little doubtful in our minds...

We walked towards town to see the other teams doing their jobs.

"Rainbow Dash, y'all on the weather team need to melt the rest of the snow here on the ground and the trees, pronto." Applejack ordered Rainbow Dash.

Fluttershy heard this and quickly rushed over to Rainbow Dash.

"Got it." Rainbow Dash was just about to fly off until Fluttershy stopped her.

"Wait. My poor little animals' homes will get flooded if the snow melts too fast."

"Got it."

"I'm tellin' you Rainbow, you gotta melt that snow NOW." Applejack counterattacked.

"No, you simply must wait." Fluttershy defended.

"Okay." Rainbow Dash flew up, annoyed.

However, Fluttershy and Applejack continued to argue for the order.

"Go."

"Stop."

"Go."

"Stop.

"GO!"

"STOP!"

"Ugh! Make up your minds!" Rainbow Dash responded, irritably.

"Oh! What in Equestria are all you arguing about? This sort of silliness is why we were late for spring last year, and the year before that, and the year before that." The mayor intervened. "I was hoping my amazingly inspirational speech would urge everyone to do better than last year, but now it looks like we're going to be later than ever. I mean just look at this catastrophe. The ice scorers made the ice chunks too big to melt; the nest designer is horrendously behind, we need several hundred, and she's only made one; And don't get me started on all the clouds in the sky, the icicles on the trees... This isn't good, not at all!"

"And it's gonna be all to pieces disastrous if we can't get our seeds all planted." Applejack included.

"Chillax Applejack, we're bustin' our chops as fast as we can." Rainbow Dash replied.

"No, not fast, we have to wake animals slowly." Fluttershy warned.

"Uh, AJ?" Big Macintosh had come over to Applejack.

"Oh good gravy, Caramel lost the grass seeds again, didn't he?"

"Ai-yup."

One of the Pegasus ponies flew over here to lodge another complaint. "Ditzy Doo accidentally went north to get the southern birds!"

"Oh that featherbrain. Didn't she learn her lesson last year when she went west?" Rainbow Dash reacted.

All the ponies began grumbling and complaining.

"Stop this at once. We don't have time to argue. It's almost sundown. Spring is going to be late again. Another year of scandal and shame. If only we could be more organized."

Something finally clicked in my mind. That's it! That's how Twilight can help with the Winter Wrap Up! She's great at organizing! I was just about to go look for her when she came up to the crowd instead.

"Stop everypony." The ponies continued to argue. "Stop!" She used her magic to make the bird near her chirp loudly enough to gain the attention of everypony. "Sorry." She apologized to the bird. "I know you all want to complete your jobs on time, but arguing is no way to go about it. What you need is organization, and I'm just the pony for the job."

Twilight's organization skills quickly took effect. She had every pony follow her plan. While I was with Fluttershy, she had an idea of having bells at each den, and with a shake of a single rope, the bells rang at each den, waking up every critter. When the snakes came out, we saw Twilight on top of tree, shaking. Fluttershy nodded at the bird on top of her and the bird released a fierce chirp, ordering the sky team to form into a tornado that cleared all the skies and snow a lot faster than independently, which then caused the ice to melt over at the lake.

By the time night fell, everypony, including me, was plowing the grass and planting seeds. Morning rose and everypony released the birds which headed towards their nests. We had all finally finished as we looked over at our completed work.

"I can't believe it. Spring is here! On time!" The mayor looked over at Twilight. "And we have you to thank for it. If it weren't for your organizing skills we would still be arguing."

"Ai-yup." Big Macintosh stated.

Everypony laughed, joyously.

"It was a team effort." Twilight said.

"And since you helped every team…" The mayor announced." We have an official vest for you. We give you the title, 'All-Team Organizer'!"

The vest had all three colors of the vest teams.

"Gosh, I don't even know what to say. Thank you everypony."

"And hereby I declare that winter is... wrapped up on time."

All of the ponies cheered.

Twilight walked over to me and smiled. "You were right, Alex."

"Eh… you were the one who found out by yourself…"

She giggled a little. "When Spike and I get back home, this is the letter I'm going to write." Twilight cleared her throat. "Dear Princess Celestia, Winter Wrap Up was one of the most special things I've ever been a part of here in Ponyville. It helped me to learn we all have hidden talents, and if we're patient and diligent, we're sure to find them, and as always, with good friendship and teamwork, ponies can accomplish anything." She looked over at me. "How was that?"

"It was great... That's a really good letter..." I responded. Every time I heard one of Twilight's letters... it warmed my heart.

She smiled. "Thanks. Well I better get Spike and take him to bed, we've been up forever."

"Alright, bye Twilight."

"Bye!" She walked off to find Spike.

My eyes were beginning to close by themselves from working overnight. Fluttershy walked over to me and smiled while her eyes looked sleepy. "I'll see you later…" She departed towards her home. She must have felt the same way I did… too sleepy to talk…

I walked home.

When I entered, I immediately traveled to the bed and threw myself on it, falling asleep instantly.

Call of the Cutie

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Episode 12 – Call of the Cutie

I rose out of bed and walked to bathroom. I turned on the sink and splashed water on my face. I observed myself in the mirror for a moment. After, I wiped my face and closed my eyes for a while. However, I heard knocking at my door which caused me to glance back. I walked over to the door and opened it.

"Hey there, Alex." Applejack greeted.

"Oh… hey, Applejack… Is something wrong?" I asked.

"Oh… well, not really. I wanted to ask for a favor from you, if you're willing to help..."

"Um, sure. What is it?"

"Do ya mind if ya pick up Applebloom from school? I kinda got my hooves tied up with harvesting apples, Twilight's catching up on her studying, Rainbow is clearing the sky, Rarity is designing new dresses… well you get the idea."

"Oh, okay then. I can pick her up from school."

"Oh, thank ya greatly, Alex! Is there any way I can repay ya?"

"Don't worry about it; you don't need to worry about repaying me, that's what friends are for right?"

Applejack smiled. "I guess you're right."

I began walking towards the school, smelling the sweets and pastries coming from the shop. It was an average day in Ponyville. Ponies began setting up their carts and stands for the items they were going to sell. I'm guessing Applejack had to harvest apples so she could sell them later on today. I arrived at the school in a short time. There were no ponies outside, so I assumed there was still time left.

As I waited, I observed the scenery of the school. The red flag danced with the breeze as a statue of a pony rose proudly above it. They even had a playground with different kind of rides in it. I thought as I waited near the wooden gates. Everything here sure does bring back a lot of memories…

Finally, the school bell sang and the little students walked outside the school. Applebloom was the last one to walk out, but she looked sad as she walked out slowly. She was walking with another pony that was talking to her. Another couple of ponies walked near them as they talked about the day.

"I don't know why we had to sit through a lecture about getting a cutie mark. I mean, waiting for your cutie mark is sooo last week. You got yours, I just got mine. We all have them already." The light pink pony gasped. "I mean, almost all of us have them already. Don't worry you two; you're still totally invited to my cute-ceañera this weekend."

"It's going to be amazing." The grey pony agreed as they walked around Applebloom and her friend...preying on them with their words.

"It's a party celebrating me and my fantastic cutie mark. How could it not be?"

"Bump! Bump! Sugar-lump, rump!" The two ponies announced in unison, doing their own cheer and laughing.

"Gimme a break…" Applebloom muttered.

"See you this weekend, blank flanks!" They both said, laughing.

I glanced at them, annoyed, as they walked past me, continuing to laugh. This place really DOES bring back memories…

Applebloom's friend looked at Applebloom with a frown. "I guess I'll see you later." She walked off as Applebloom look gloomily at the ground. I walked up to her.

"Hey… Applebloom."

"Alex?" She looked up to me, surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Applejack asked me to pick you up from school."

"Oh…" Applejack replied, sadly.

As I began walking her to Apple Acres, I asked her about what had just happened.

"What were those girls bothering you about?" I asked her.

"They were just making me feel bad because I don't have my cutie mark yet…"

"Don't worry Applebloom, I know EXACTLY how you feel…" I scoffed and shook my head. "Don't let them make you feel bad about yourself, your cutie mark will come in time… before you know it, you'll have it when you least expect it."

Applebloom sighed. "It's not fair! Diamond Tiara invited me to her cute-ceañera, but it's only because she KNOWS I don't have a cutie mark!" She lowered her head. " Everypony is gonna make fun of me…"

"Do you really want to go to the party or not, Applebloom?" I asked.

"I don't know…"

"Well… If you really think you'd have fun at the party, if you had the cutie mark, then you should go anyway, even if you don't have one. You're still young… why rush something just for the benefit that some other pony has instead of you? If you don't go to the party, then they will win. You should go to the party to show them that you're not afraid, that you're not going to let some provokes and insults bother you because you still have a whole adventure ahead of you. They may make fun of you… but I promise that every other pony wont."

"Thanks Alex…" Applebloom still held her head down. "I guess…"

I continued walking Applebloom, changing my expression to a gloomy one.

We arrived at Apple Acres to see Applejack kicking trees for the apples to fall down. She heard us walking and turned around.

"Howdy, Alex!" Applejack greeted me brightly. "Thanks for bringin' Applebloom home!" She noticed Applebloom's expression. "What's wrong, sugar cube?"

"I don't know if I want to go to Diamond Tiara's party…" Applebloom responded softly.

"You should! Why wouldn't you?" Applejack asked.

Applebloom remained silent for a moment. "…Because I don't have my cutie mark…"

"Y'know, I was the last pony in my class to get my cutie mark, and I couldn't be prouder of it. I know my future was to run Sweet Apple Acres, and these bright shiny apples sealed the deal." Applejack gasped. "Come to think of it, Granny Smith was the last one in her class, too. Huh, same as Big Macintosh. What about you, Alex?"

I was startled and my eyes shifted sideways. "Um… I don't remember…"

"I really don't see how that's supposed to make me feel better." Applebloom responded as she walked over to an apple on the ground and kicked it. "It probably means that being the last one in your class to get a cutie mark runs in the family. ...runs in the family." Her eyes opened wide, as if she discovered something great, instantly changing her mood and releasing a great and wide grin. "Runs in the family! Runs in the family! You've got apples for your cutie mark, Granny Smith has an apple pie, Big Macintosh has an apple half, my unique talent must has som'n to do with apples! Apples apples apples!" Applebloom hopped around excitedly, which eventually caused her to crash into a bucket of apples. " Oops... apples."

"I'm just about to go set up a cart in town." Applejack patted the rest of the buckets she had nearby. "I hope I have me a good day of sellin' apples!"

"OH!" Applebloom exclaimed. "Can I go with you, please? I might get my cutie mark from helping you!"

"Well…" Applejack hesitated. "The more the merrier… right?" Applejack released a nervous smile and laugh. "Well, Alex, me and Applebloom are gonna go sell us some apples, thanks again!"

"Yeah… no problem…" I responded.

They walked off, carrying the buckets of apples with them. Applebloom stumbled a bit with them, however. I sighed and began walking out of the farm.

Fluttershy noticed me as I walked towards her home.

"Hi, Alex!" She exclaimed softly and flew towards me.

"Hey, Fluttershy…" I replied.

Her face changed to a worried one. "Is something wrong…?" She asked.

I sighed. "It's just that Applebloom is worried about getting a cutie mark because she is being made fun of by some other ponies at school."

"Oh, my. That's horrible!"

"I know… but the thing is… that she's letting some ponies ruin her experience of getting a cutie mark… she will never have the excitement when she's doing it for other ponies who are mean to her…"

"Oh, Alex… you are absolutely right… It's only the best experience when you discover it yourself…"

I sat nearby a tree. Fluttershy followed me and sat down next to me.

"I hope she doesn't rush it…" I spoke.

"Me too…" Fluttershy responded. There was a moment of silence until Fluttershy spoke again. "Alex…?"

"Hm?"

"Remember when I asked about your mark?"

I was startled. I instantly began feeling hot, and my words felt like they couldn't walk straight out of my mouth. "My mark…?"

She nodded her head. "Why did you seem terrified when I asked you?"

I stared towards the ground, gloomy. "Because…" I tried to think of the words I should say. "I…" Fluttershy continued to look at me, concerned. "…I don't know… I guess… the story is really pathetic…"

"Pathetic? What do you mean? It can't be pathetic…"

"Why do you think that…?"

"Because…," she looked towards the ground. "Nothing can be pathetic about you, Alex…" I looked towards her, shocked. She continued to rub her hooves together. "Do you think… you'll ever tell me…?" She asked.

"Maybe…I mean... it's not like I don't want to tell you... it's just..." I sighed. "... I think I just need some time..."

I knew Fluttershy didn't truly understand why I said this... but she seemed as if she didn't want to bother me... so she let it slide. "Oh... it's okay... I understand."

It was silent for another moment.

"How about we take a walk in town?" Fluttershy offered me, managing to form a smile.

"Okay." I replied.

As Fluttershy and I walked through town, we could hear music blasting from the cake shop. Fluttershy and I noticed Twilight walking out of the shop.

"Hey, Twilight…" I greeted as we walked towards her.

"Oh, hey you guys." She responded, sounding a bit tired.

"What's going on in the shop?" I asked.

"Pinkie Pie is hosting a cute-ceañera for a pony that just got her cutie mark."

Cute-ceañera? Was that the party Applebloom was talking about?

"I see…" I replied. "Is any pony invited?"

"Yeah, of course."

"Want to go, Fluttershy?" I asked.

"Okay." She responded with a smile.

Fluttershy and I started making our way towards the door, but we were suddenly interrupted by a yell.

"TWILIGHT! TWILIGHT!" Spike had come running towards Twilight, carrying a letter in his hand.

"Spike? What's up?"

"It's a letter from the Princess!" Spike quickly handed the letter to Twilight. Twilight grabbed the letter with her magic. She opened it and began reading it. Her eyes opened wide and looked over to me. "Alex… Princess Celestia wants to see you!"

"See me…?" I questioned, shocked.

"Yes! The letter states that the Princess requires your presence, and she shall send royal guards to escort you to Canterlot!"

"But… I was going to go to the party with Fluttershy…"

"It's okay, Alex." I turned to see Fluttershy smiling at me. "I'll be with Twilight, you should go see the Princess, it must be very important."

"Are you sure, Fluttershy…?"

She nodded. "Mm-hm. You can come see me afterwards and tell me all about it when you come back!"

I hesitated for a moment, but when I looked at Fluttershy's face... the light smile she formed... her understanding eyes... they all sent me a message that I should really go see the Princess."Okay…" I looked at Fluttershy for a moment, and then I turned towards Twilight and nodded.

"Spike, send a letter to Princess Celestia saying that Alex is ready for his department to Canterlot." Twilight told Spike.

"Consider it done!" Spike wrote a few words and then sent the letter.

Soon enough, royal guards descended down towards us and landed. They asked for me.

"That's me." I stepped forward.

"Take a seat, and we shall take you to the Princess." They responded.

I obeyed and took a seat in the carriage. I looked over to Fluttershy. She smiled, but looked as if she was holding back sadness. She waved goodbye at me until I was to come back. I waved back as the royal guards began taking me towards Canterlot.

I had passed beyond the endless sky and taken to where the Princess resided.

"She's waiting for you. " They said as they pointed towards a door. "We'll be outside if you need anything."

"Alright, thanks…"

A bit nervous, I opened the door and walked inside. The door closed softly behind me. I noticed the Princess nearby the fireplace which was currently lit. She was lying on the ground reading a book. She closed it and looked towards me. I quickly remembered to pay my respects. I nervously bowed, which caused her to chuckle.

"Rise, Alex. There is no need for you to be so nervous."

I slowly rose. "I'm sorry… I'm just wondering why you wanted to see me personally…"

"To hear how you are doing with your friends, of course." She responded as she continued to give her heart warming smile.

"My friends?"

"Yes, how have you been doing with your friends so far?"

I took a seat. "I've been pretty good with them, actually… Ever since I met them… I started having these really great feelings… feelings that I have never felt before…although… I don't know what they are…"

"Well, tell me more about these feelings." Princess Celestia grew interested, resting her head anxiously, but calmly, to hear my explanation.

"Well… when I'm with my friends, and we are all spending time together, it gives me this… heartwarming feeling… it feels really good and truly warms my heart. But that's not the only feeling…"

"Oh? Then what is the other feeling?"

My eyes moved around, trying to find the right words. "When I'm around this one certain pony… I feel a bit hot inside… it's almost like the feeling when I'm with all of my friends… but this one is more special… whenever I'm around her… I get this pounding sensation in my heart and it just… well… feels amazing…" I paused for a moment. "I'm sorry… I don't really know how to explain it…"

Princess Celestia chuckled. "I see… and what is this pony's name? If I might ask…"

I was silent for a moment. "Fluttershy…"

Princess Celestia gave a different kind of smile.

"Can you tell me what these feelings are, Princess?" I asked.

"I can… but it would be far much more thrilling if you find out for yourself." Princess Celestia spoke as she continued to smile.

"I see…" I remembered how it's better not to rush things. "Of course, Princess, you are right."

She closed her eyes for a moment, and then reopened them. "Twilight has written to me about how much of a true friend you are."

"She has?" I asked, shocked.

Princess Celestia nodded, and then continued to speak. "She has explained to me how if you weren't apart of her friendship, it would significantly not be the same." Wow… did she really mean that? "You have amazing friends, Alex. Though they may fight from time to time, it will heal. This friendship will never break, especially with you by their side to help them. I know you have had trouble in the past, but it is gone now. You have friends who care about you and they will always be there for you."

I thought about it for a moment and realized the Princess was right. "Of course, Princess." I responded with confidence.

She smiled and asked me about another thing. "What about the Grand Galloping Gala? Are you thinking of attending?"

"I'm not sure… I don't know too much of formal events like the Grand Galloping Gala…"

"You're friends will guide you." Princess Celestia continued to smile. "It will truly be amazing if you and all your friends show up. You all would really make the Grand Galloping Gala the most entertaining night to have!"

"Thank you, Princess." I responded. "Maybe I will go."

"That's excellent to hear." Princess Celestia said. However, a letter suddenly appeared near her. "Oh, what's this?" She brought the letter closer to her and opened it with her magic. "Dearest Princess Celestia," She began reading out loud. "I am happy to report that one of your youngest subjects has learned a valuable lesson about friendship. Sometimes, the thing you think will cause you to lose friends and feel left out…can actually be the thing that helps you make your closest friends and realize how special you are." She looked at her cutie mark. "Hmm…"

"Applebloom… she must have stopped the influence of the other ponies about her cutie mark yet to come…"

"And so she has…" Princess Celestia responded, smiling.

Time passed as Princess Celestia and I continued to talk.

"Princess Celestia?" I asked.

"Yes, Alex?" She answered.

"There's been something on my mind, which happened not too long ago."

"What is it?" Princess Celestia asked, concerned.

"I'm sure you've read a letter from Twilight, which was about how true friends separate themselves from fake ones… well… there was this griffon named Gilda and she was being a bully. In the end, when Pinkie Pie threw a party for her, in hopes to improve her attitude, she tried to attack me… but something strange happened…" Princess Celestia continued to listen. "She didn't really get to hurt me because… this bright light filled the room and she was unable to touch me. Afterwards, she fled, but I wondered what had just happened… the beam of light was like the light that we used to defeat Nightmare Moon… but I don't understand… there were no elements of harmony…"

"Ah, but there was." Princess Celestia stated, releasing a smile.

"Huh?" I questioned.

"Alex, do you remember what the 7th element is?"

"Yes… a pure heart."

"Exactly… that pure heart is your heart; the heart inside you… the element of a pure heart has always been inside you. That's why you didn't have your own artifact for your element, like the necklace. It is your heart. That's how you managed to prevent Gilda from touching you. From what I've heard, she has a heart filled with evil intentions… but your brave and pure heart won the battle against hers. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

It had all made sense…

"Yes, Princess. I finally understand now…" I placed my hoof on my chest. "I am very grateful… for my heart…"

"You're very special and unique, Alex. Nothing or no pony can change that." With that said, Princess Celestia released another heart warming smile.

We shared some stories between each other. I told her about the adventures I had with my friends… Soon, I realized it was getting late and that I should probably go.

"It's getting late, Princess. I should probably head back to Ponyville now."

"Okay then, Alex." Princess Celestia smiled. "It's been great to have you here. Perhaps we could do this another time. If not soon, then we shall meet in the Grand Galloping Gala, that is, if you'll be attending."

I thought for a moment… about Princess Celestia… my friends… and Fluttershy. "I'm pretty sure I'll be there…" I responded.

"Wonderful news. Until then, I cannot wait. The royal guards shall take you back to Ponyville. I will see you soon. Goodnight, Alex."

"Goodnight… Princess Celestia."

She presented one last heart filled smile.

The royal guards began escorting me back to Ponyville. As I gently sat in the carriage, I observed the star-filled sky along with the full moon, which released my inner being...

When I arrived, I quickly remembered to see Fluttershy and tell her what happened. I raced over to Fluttershy's home. On the way, I noticed that she was sitting on top of the cliff where the ocean lay below. She was playing with a flower as I began walking towards her.

"Fluttershy…" I called her.

I startled her, but she became happy when she saw me. "Alex, you came!"

"Of course," I said as I finished walking up to her and took a seat next to her. "I felt bad enough for ditching you at the party, so I wanted to come as soon as possible."

"Oh, Alex." She responded. "You didn't ditch me… you just had to go because the Princess summoned you."

"Still…" I shook my head lightly. "Anyways, how was the party?"

"It was great. Applebloom learned that it wasn't bad to not have her cutie mark yet."

"How so?"

"A couple of ponies had been teasing her... but she stood up for herself, asking how it could be bad by not having a cutie mark as early as them. She mentioned something about..." She paused for a moment to remember what Applebloom had said. "...how it's better to find her cutie mark because she wants to do it for herself... and not for any other pony that found their cutie mark, because they wanted to fit in a crowd... and then, another couple of ponies joined her and agreed with her. It turns out the ponies that stood up for Applebloom didn't have their cuties marks either… they explained how great it is to still not have your cutie mark… because you can be great at anything..."

"That's really fantastic." I responded... greatly proud of Applebloom... I guess I had actually made a difference with my reasoning...

Fluttershy nodded. "They became friends, and now they are going to find out what their special talent is, together."

"I'm proud of them." I looked up at the sky.

Fluttershy smiled. "How was your visit to the Princess?" She asked.

I thought for a moment. "Princess Celestia wanted to know how I was with you girls. You know… about our friendship…" Fluttershy continued to listen to me, attentively. "She explained how wonderful it is for me to have a friendship with you girls… then she received a letter from Twilight, which explained how the outcome with Applebloom was. I was relieved to hear it. I also asked some questions I was curious about. Afterwards, we shared stories until it was getting late. Before I left, she told me she hoped to see me at the Grand Galloping Gala."

"That's good to hear." Fluttershy responded, softly. "Will you be going to the Grand Galloping Gala?" She asked.

I thought about my talk with Princess Celestia as Fluttershy awaited my answer. "Yeah… I'm pretty sure I'll go."

Fluttershy smiled softly, but brightly. "That's great! Because I…" She had paused and looked away.

"What is it?" I asked.

Her eyes shifted towards me and I could see her blush. "I'll tell you another time." She formed a light smile.

"Okay…" Regardless, I still wondered what she wanted to say. Silence had filled the breeze, but it was a gentle and admirable silence.

"I guess I better be going home now…" Fluttershy spoke.

We both stood up and looked at each other.

"I'll see you tomorrow then, Fluttershy." I responded.

She nodded. "Thanks…Alex."

"Huh…?"

"For coming to me." She giggled a little.

"Oh… It's no problem at all."

She hugged me for a moment. "Goodnight, Alex." She said.

"Goodnight, Fluttershy…" I responded, and she began heading towards her house. She had left me with the special feeling I had talked about with Princess Celestia. A little while afterwards, I headed home.

When I arrived, I had opened the door and closed it slowly. I gently walked up the stairs to my bedroom while I carefully maneuvered in the dark. When I felt my bed, I quietly slipped in and stared at the dark ceiling, savoring the special feeling as much as I could before I closed my eyes and fell asleep, awaiting the next day with Fluttershy.

Fall Weather Friends

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Episode 13 – Fall Weather Friends

I woke up early, feeling fully awake. Right after I made my bed, I walked towards the outside of the house. I was pretty hungry, so I decided I might get some apples from Apple Acres. Maybe I can bring some for Fluttershy too… I began walking towards Applejack's farm, ready to take on a new day.

When I arrived at the farm, I looked around for Applejack. I finally caught sight of her, along with Rainbow Dash, near a field of fruits. They had horseshoes and across them was a metal pole dug into the ground.

"Hey Applejack, what's going on?" I asked, calling her name.

"Oh howdy there Alex!" Applejack replied. "Me and Rainbow Dash were just about to start playing a game of horseshoes! Wanna join?"

"No thanks. I just wanted several apples for breakfast."

"No problem! Let me just finish this here game!"

Rainbow Dash grunted and threw a horseshoe at the metal pole. It landed a few inches from the pole.

"Woo-hoo!" Rainbow Dash cheered.

"Hoo-wee! Not a bad pitch for a pony who works with her head in the clouds." Applejack responded to Rainbow Dash's throw, playfully.

"Oh yeah? Think you can do better, cowgirl?"

"I know I can." Applejack stomped the ground with her hoof, causing the horseshoe to launch from the ground. She grabbed the horseshoe with her teeth and tossed it over to the metal pole. Instead, it landed only a few inches behind Rainbow Dash's horseshoe. "Oh, for Pete's sake!"

"Heh! Looks like this Pegasus can pitch better than the workhorse." Rainbow Dash bragged, playfully flicking Applejack's head. "The object of the game is to get the closest to the stake."

"Alright, alright. You got another throw there, pony girl." Applejack replied as she stomped another hoof on the ground causing the horseshoe to fly up and land on Rainbow Dash's nose.

Rainbow Dash moved her body to throw the horseshoe. Instead, it flew off way out of range from the metal pole. I heard the horseshoe crash somewhere else.

"Wow, Rainbow, heh. You couldn't hit a barn door with that kind of a throw." Applejack chuckled.

"Yeah, yeah. I still have the closest throw, Applesmack." Rainbow Dash kicked Applejack's horseshoe. " Just try and beat it."

Applejack grabbed the horseshoe with her teeth and concentrated. She gave a grunt with a firm throw and it landed straight on the metal pole, clattering as the midpoint of the horseshoe collided with the metal.

"Yee-haw!" Applejack cheered. "It's a ringer. That's how you do it down here on the farm."

"I lost…" Rainbow Dash announced, disappointed.

"Ah, don't feel bad, Rainbow. It's all in good fun." Applejack attempted to cheer up Rainbow Dash.

"I hate losing." Rainbow Dash contradicted.

"Besides, you're a mighty good athlete. I'm just better, heh heh heh." Applejack walked over to me. "Alright Alex, let's go get you those apples. We began walking as Rainbow Dash trailed behind us.

"Alright, Applejack, you think you're the top athlete in all of Ponyville?"

"Well, I was gonna say in all of Equestria, but that might be gilding the lily." Applejack responded.

"...and I think I'm the top athlete. So let's prove it." Rainbow Dash challenged, causing Applejack to lean her ear forward to her.

"Prove what?"

"I challenge you to an Iron Pony competition." Rainbow Dash stated, causing Applejack to raise an eyebrow in confusion. "A series of athletic contests to decide who's the best, once and for all."

"You know what, Rainbow? You're on." Applejack spat on her hoof, along with Rainbow Dash, and they both pressed their hooves together, indicating a deal. "Why don't you get the things ready for the competition while I get the apples for Alex?"

"Sure thing, Applejack." Rainbow Dash replied, with a hint of competitor aggression, and flew off.

Applejack grabbed a bag and walked over to one of the apple trees.

"How many you want, Alex?" Applejack asked.

"Um… I guess five will be fine." I replied.

"Five apples, coming up." Applejack kicked the tree, causing exactly five apples to land in the bag. "Just out of curiosity, why do you want five for breakfast?"

"I was planning to share them."

"Ooooooh" Applejack teased. "Who's the lucky pony?"

"It's not like that, Applejack…" I responded a bit embarrassed as I could feel my cheeks fill up with a little red.

Applejack laughed. "I'm just messing with you. Go on and share those apples, and don't forget to come for the competition!"

"I won't." I said as I grabbed the bag with my teeth and placed it on my back. "I'll see you later."

Applejack waved as I began walking, even continuing to chuckle at the comment she had made earlier.

I walked over to Fluttershy's home. She had just finished feeding and taking care of her animals.

"Hi, Alex!" She announced as she began flying over to me.

"Hey, Fluttershy." I answered. We walked towards the cliff with the ocean below it. I placed the bag near us.

"What do you have?" Fluttershy asked.

"I brought some apples for the both of us."

"Oh, Alex." Fluttershy blushed. "You didn't have to."

"Well, I wanted to. I thought we could have something to eat together."

"That's really nice of you." She thanked. "These look delicious!" Fluttershy exclaimed, observing the apples.

I grabbed two and gave the shiniest one to Fluttershy who couldn't stop staring at how beautiful and delicious it looked. She carefully held the apple between her hooves and began nibbling on it. I bit pieces of the apple as I stared out into the ocean, feeling the firm but light breeze blow our manes.

"Oh." I remembered. "Applejack and Rainbow Dash are having this competition to see who the better athlete is. Do you want to go see?" I asked Fluttershy.

"Sure!" Fluttershy exclaimed softly but cheerfully.

After we finished our apples, I stood up and helped Fluttershy up. Then, we started heading towards where the competition was to take place.

Along the way, we met Rarity and Pinkie Pie. They looked as if they were heading towards the competition as well.

"Hey, Pinkie Pie, Rarity. Are you going to watch the competition?" I asked them.

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"I suppose so. It sounds like fun." Rarity added. "Spike invited us, so I said, 'Why not?'"

"I see…"

We all arrived at the area of the competition to see Twilight observing Applejack and Rainbow Dash set up the competition. Spike was on top of her. He jumped on top of her head and exclaimed, "Let the games begin!"

Rarity and Pinkie Pie sat themselves on the wooden bleachers nearby. Fluttershy and I walked over to the scoreboard. Fluttershy was going to be changing the score since she was the only other pony who could fly. I sat next to her, observing the start of the first event.

Twilight was standing on the side of the track, which was filled with barrels of flowers, with Rainbow Dash. Applejack readied herself, observing the obstacles in front of her.

"Ready. Set. Go!" Twilight exclaimed.

Spike began the timer as Applejack raced hastily across the track, dodging the barrels with very swift maneuvers. However, for some reason, Applejack tipped the barrel as she passed by it. She crossed the finish line, aware of this action.

"Time, Spike?" Twilight asked.

"17 seconds!" Spike announced.

"You're kiddin'!" Applejack responded, excitedly. "That breaks my record from last year's rodeo."

"But… you got a five second penalty for nudging the barrel."

Applejack sighed. "Nuts n' shrews." She kicked the rock in front of her. "Still, that's 22 seconds. Not too shabby." She noticed Rainbow Dash sweating nervously. "Hey, don't be nervous. Remember, it's all in good fun. Now git on up there." She nudged Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow Dash flew to her position and readied herself.

"Ready. Set. Go!" Twilight announced.

Spike clicked the timer, sending Rainbow Dash off. She sprinted across the track, dodging the barrels. Her speed blew the flowers on the barrels as a rainbow trailed behind her. She reached the finish line.

"Woo! That was some fancy hoofwork there, Rainbow!" Applejack congratulated.

"Thanks, but I couldn't have been as fast as you." Rainbow Dash replied, flying back to the beginning while panting.

"18 seconds!" Spike presented, shocked.

"18 seconds. Rainbow, are you sure you're not secretly a rodeo pony?" Applejack asked, jokingly.

"Rainbow Dash wins the barrel lead!" Twilight exclaimed.

Fluttershy flew upwards to the scoreboard and placed a cardboard apple, which had the number one, onto the scoreboard next to Rainbow Dash's symbol.

"Oh, I can't believe I won." Rainbow Dash expressed.

"Yeah, well, don't you go gettin' used to it." Applejack assured.

The next event began. More ponies had joined to watch the competition. The next part of the competition was to prove strength by knocking a ball to hit the bell above. Rainbow Dash walked towards the painted target and kicked it. The ball flew upwards and rung the bell. Ponies cheered. Rainbow Dash shook her hooves in cheering.

Applejack was lying on a tree as Rainbow Dash came to brag. She had a straw of wheat in her mouth.

"Mighty respectable," She spat the wheat out of her mouth. "but let me show ya how it's really done." With no hesitation, Applejack kicked the painted target, breaking it into little pieces as the sound of broken wood cried out. The ball launched straight towards the bell, even knocking it off the wooden piece of board it was attached to. The bell continued to fly upwards at an amazing speed as ponies cheered and Rainbow Dash stared at the scene, dumbstruck. "Years of applebuckin'." Applejack walked near Rainbow Dash, kicking a tree Rainbow Dash was under. Several apples fell on top of her head.

Fluttershy happily added a one to Applejack's score.

Applejack's family, Big Macintosh, Granny Smith, and Applebloom, came along and sat in the stands for the other event, cheering loudly.

The next event consisted of a sort of bull riding event like in a rodeo. Except, both the ponies had to see how fast they could shake off the victim… who was Spike.

"Why me?" Spike questioned.

"Go!" Twilight announced, regardless.

Applejack began shaking Spike off. "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa-hoa! Whoa! Whoaaa!" Applejack kicked him off, flying him towards the sky and landing on a stack of hay nearby. "Ouch."

Rainbow Dash emerged from the hay. "Ready for another pony ride?" she asked.

"No." Spike strained.

"Go!" Twilight announced.

Rainbow Dash immediately began bouncing rapidly. "Guh guh guh guh guh guh guh guh guh guh guh guhwhoaaaaaa" Spike flew off from Rainbow Dash instantly.

As Twilight observed Spike fly across the sky, she yelled out the winner. "Rainbow Dash wins the bronco-buck!"

Spike crashed over to the scoreboard as Fluttershy added a point to Rainbow Dash's score.

"And I lose…"

Applejack and Rainbow Dash were inside a square surrounded by wooden gates. They had lassos, which Applejack perfected easily, however, Rainbow Dash was having a little trouble with it. The next event consisted of roping the victim as best as it could be done. However, the victim was Spike again, who stood at the center of the square, annoyed.

Applejack twirled her rope around and threw it at Spike, instantly catching him by his arms and feet and dragging him towards her. Ponies threw roses at Applejack as a congratulation to her.

"How do I get roped into these things?" Spike struggled with his position.

Rainbow Dash grunted. "Does this count?" She had tied herself onto a tree. She struggled to free herself.

Fluttershy added another score to Applejack's.

Several events continued to occur. One was a ball bouncing event, which Applejack struggled to keep up with Rainbow Dash, who bested her, easily. Fluttershy had caught one of the roses that fell with her mouth and placed another apple to Rainbow Dash's score.

The next event was hay throwing. Rainbow Dash began and threw the stack of hay across at the end of the line. Rainbow Dash flew over to her accomplishment and taunted at Applejack, but was cut short when Applejack crushed her, literally, when she threw the hay stack right on her. Fluttershy's bunny, Angel, added the score to Applejack.

After, Rainbow Dash and Applejack were leg wrestling, but surprisingly, Rainbow Dash won that one, as if it wasn't a challenge at all.

Then, it was a football kicking contest. Both ponies kicked the ball, but Applejack was farther; it almost hit the ponies that were watching the competition on the clouds. Fluttershy was about to add a score to Applejack, but the football knocked the cardboard apple from her hooves and placed it for her.

Finally, Spike announced, "Fillies and gentlecolts, at the halfway point our competitors are tied at 5 and 5!"

"Who are you talking to?" Twilight asked.

"Them!" Spike pointed to the chattering large crowd that gathered for the competition.

The competition continued with Applejack and Rainbow Dash competing to how many pushups they could do.

"95…" Twilight announced as they strained themselves. "96, 97, 98, 99..." Both of the ponies were on the brink of giving up. "a hundred!" Rainbow Dash managed to push herself up and cheer. Applejack was still struggling to do it, but her legs gave up and she crashed on the floor. She muttered something under her breath.

The next event was to see how far each of the ponies could jump. Applejack began, gaining a good amount of distance from where she jumped. Rainbow looked a bit worried. She began running and jumped. However, before she landed, she saw how she had a lower distance than Applejack. She immediately stopped before touching the ground, and flew over a few feet to win against Applejack. Applejack saw this, and looked irritated, but she let it slip.

After, both ponies had to take several chicks across the mud to their mothers, without getting them dirty. Applejack began walking towards the other side, but her hooves flung dirt at the chicks, causing them to leave. Applejack gasped and noticed Rainbow Dash, who was walking to the mother while using her wings to cover the chicks from getting dirty, as she grew more irritated.

"Alright, you two. This is the final event. Give it all you've got." Twilight announced.

The two were having a tug of war battle, with each end of the rope grabbed with their teeth and a red flag in the middle. Below the rope lay a pool of mud. Spike flashed his flag. Each pony began grunting, trying to pull the rope to their side. Applejack had the lead.

"Looks like the workhorse might come out ahead in this one." Spike announced.

Applejack had finally managed to pull Rainbow Dash over the mud… but Rainbow Dash suddenly separated her wings and began flying. Rainbow dash flew above, causing Applejack to hover right above the mud, helpless.

"That's not fair!" Applejack mumbled with the rope in her mouth. "You can't use your wings to help you win!"

"Huh?" Rainbow Dash asked, holding a hoof near her ear.

"You're cheatin'!" Applejack exclaimed, still holding the rope tight between her teeth.

"I can't understand you with that rope in your mouth." Rainbow Dash replied.

Applejack, unable to have some time to think, released the rope from her mouth. "I SAID,- uh-oh." She fell straight towards the mud and got herself covered in it.

Every pony cheered. Rainbow Dash placed the 15th cardboard apple to her score and bragged, causing me to be disappointed on how Rainbow Dash competed. "Woo-hoo! I win by a landslide..." She flew over to Applejack. "…or mudslide in your case." She chuckled and flew straight above us. "I am the Iron Pony!"

"Only 'cause you cheated!" Applejack intervened.

"What?" Rainbow Dash flew towards Applejack.

"You used your wingpower to help you win over half those contests!"

"Sounds like sour apples to me."

"Are you sayin' you didn't use your wings?"

"Well... no. But you never said I couldn't use my wings."

"I didn't think I needed to tell you to play fair."

"I still would have won even without my wings."

"Hah! Prove it!"

"Gladly. How?"

"Tomorrow is the annual Runnin' of the Leaves. I challenge you to race me in it."

"Heh! Easy shmeasy." Rainbow Dash began flying away, but Applejack pulled her down.

"Hold on! There is one condition: the point is to run, so no wings allowed."

"No wings?" She kicked Applejack off her. "No problem."

They both spat on their hooves and shook.

They both went their separate ways and the crowd broke up and dissolved, leaving Fluttershy and I by ourselves. In a moment, the day faded into night.

"They're really worked up on who's the better athlete… aren't they…?" Fluttershy asked.

I sighed. "Yeah… I guess we'll just have to see what will happen tomorrow…" I looked over to Fluttershy. "C'mon, I'll walk you home."

"Okay…" Fluttershy blushed.

I had walked Fluttershy home and told her that I'd see her tomorrow.

When the next day arrived, the Running of the Leaves, I met up with Fluttershy at her home and began walking towards the location of the annual event.

"Welcome to the annual Running of the Leaves!" We saw Pinkie Pie above us in a hot weather balloon. " This is Pinkie Pie, your official eye-in-the-sky announcer! As everypony knows, the running is a very important tradition, for without it, the autumn leaves of Equestria would never fall. So get ready, ponies. The Running of the Leaves will begin in five minutes."

"Are you going to be in the Running of the Leaves, Alex?" Fluttershy asked me.

"I never thought about participating… maybe I will." I responded, suddenly feeling the urge to run. "What about you Fluttershy?" I asked.

"Oh, no. I think I'll just watch… If you run, I'll be cheering for you!" Fluttershy smiled.

I looked away, feeling a little red. "Thanks… Fluttershy."

Fluttershy wished me good luck and flew upwards, towards the sky. I think she's going to watch me from above… I went over to sign up and received a number for the race. I walked up the starting line to see Applejack stretching. She turned around and noticed me.

"Alex? I didn't know you were going to run too." She said.

"Yeah… well I just felt a sudden urge I guess." I answered.

"Well, good luck to ya, partner." Applejack smiled.

However, Rainbow Dash began walking towards the starting line as well, being herself.

"Pardon me, excuse me. Make way for the Iron Pony."

"The Iron phony, you mean." Applejack responded, losing her smile.

"So, Applejack, you ready to win second place?"

"I'm ready to run a good, clean race."

"Yeah, yeah..."

"You are not allowed to use your wings!" Applejack assured.

"I could win this race with both wings tied behind my back." Rainbow Dash bragged.

Applejack had this seductive look on her face. She grabbed a rope nearby and literally tied Rainbow Dash's wings, making sure she is unable to fly. "Trussed up like a turkey. Well, a turkey who can't fly, that is."

"Very funny." Rainbow Dash responded, sarcastically.

"'least now we know we're racin' fair and square."

Trumpets sounded throughout the area.

"Racers! Please take your positions!" We heard Pinkie Pie announce.

Spike came out of nowhere, in front of us, and called out to Pinkie Pie. "Um... Pinkie Pie?"

"Hey, Spike! What's up? Oh wait, it me, I'm up!" Pinkie Pie laughed.

"Uh, yeah. I know you're doing the announcing today and stuff and... I'm sure you're gonna do a great job and all, but... I was just wondering..."

"What?"

"Aw... Forget it." Spike began walking away, but Pinkie Pie called after him.

"Spike! Would you like to be my co-reporter? We could comment on the action together."

"We could?" Spike replied, excited.

"Climb on up." Pinkie Pie tossed a rope, which Spike grabbed and began climbing on to the balloon.

Applejack, Rainbow Dash, I readied ourselves into our positions, but all of a sudden, Twilight jumped into the starting line with us.

"Twilight? What in tarnation are you doin' up here?" Applejack asked.

"I'm racing." Twilight responded.

Rainbow Dash laughed. "Good one, Twilight!"

"I'm not joking." Twilight replied, keeping her positive mood.

"What? You're not an athlete, you're a... well... you're an egghead."

"I am not an egghead, I am well read."

"Egghead" Rainbow Dash whispered over to Applejack who began snickering.

"Just let her race, will you girls?" I asked, looking at them from the corner of my eye while being slightly annoyed.

"Thank you, Alex." Twilight thanked, confidently.

"But have you ever run a race?" Applejack asked.

"Well, no, but I do know a lot about running." Twilight responded.

"And you know this from..." Rainbow Dash added.

"Books. I've read several on the subject."

Rainbow Dash and Applejack continued snickering. "What'd you read, 'The Egghead's Guide to Running'? Did you stretch out your eye muscles to warm up?" Rainbow Dash laughed, even causing Twilight to sigh and become annoyed as well. "Get it? Eye muscles."

I sighed.

"Scoff if you must, Rainbow. But the running of the leaves is a Ponyville tradition, and since I'm here to learn, I've decided I should experience it myself." Twilight replied.

"Well, I think that's just dandy, Twilight. Good luck." Applejack snickered.

"Yeah. See you at the finish line... Tomorrow." Rainbow Dash and Applejack continued laughing.

I rolled my eyes and told Twilight, "I bet you've read this kind of scenario in a book, Twilight. I'm kind of guessing the same outcome is going to happen, just like in the book. Don't worry about Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Just have fun, I bet you'll do great."

My response caused Applejack and Rainbow Dash to burst out laughing. "Stop! I can't breathe!" Rainbow Dash laughed, holding her sides.

Twilight rolled her eyes, but looked at me. "Thanks, Alex." She smiled. "At least SOME pony appreciates me participating in this race!"

Applejack and Rainbow Dash continued laughing until Pinkie Pie announced again.

"All right, ponies, are you ready?"

"Get set." Spike added.

Every pony took their position. The drums rolled and the bell finally rung. I took off, almost starting in the lead.

"And they're off!" I heard from Pinkie Pie. "Welcome to the official coverage of the Running of the Leaves!" Pinkie Pie announced as she hovered above us in her balloon. "You know, Spike, despite its name, the leaves don't do any of the actual running. No, that's left to My Little Ponies."

"Why, yes, Pinkie, it's the running of the ponies that causes the leaves to fall." Spike responded.

Many leaves from the trees fell as we continued running through. "Ugh. Those lazy, lazy leaves. But this year, the run is about more than the weather. It's about the race to the finish and the two runners who want to win it: Applejack and Rainbow Dash."

Applejack was in the lead by a few inches so far, with Rainbow Dash behind her. I was trailing behind both of them, but I was pretty close. I couldn't see Twilight, she must have been somewhere behind me.

"You know, Pinkie, these two ponies have a bit of a grudge match they're trying to settle. Trying to prove who's the most athletic." Spike announced.

"Yes, and 'grudge' rhymes with 'fudge'."

"Yes it... does. What?"

"And I like fudge. But if I eat too much fudge I get a pudge and then I can't budge."

"So... no fudge?"

"Oh, no thanks. I had a big breakfast. Let's check in with our two competitive ponies, Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Having come fast out of the gate, Applejack and Rainbow Dash are evenly matched running neck in neck. But what's this? Applejack is making a move, she's now ahead by a nose. But Rainbow Dash pulls at Applejack's have-it and takes the lead. She's ahead by half a nose. Or maybe three quarters of a nose. No, about sixty-three point seven percent of a nose... Roughly speaking. Applejack sees this move and pushes forth with her strong workhorse legs slinking ahead by three hundred and fifty noses!" Pinkie Pie described exactly what was going on between the two.

Only a few feet away from them both, I continued running, trying to balance myself to where I could eventually pass them. Applejack looked behind at Rainbow Dash and muttered something. Rainbow Dash glanced at her wings, then over to Applejack, saying something as well.

"Ho-hold your horses, Pinkie! Rainbow Dash is catching up the frontrunner Applejack!"

"What an upset. I thought Applejack had this in the bag."

"You didn't think I was gonna let you off that easily, did you?" Rainbow Dash shouted, tying with Applejack ahead of me.

Applejack had her concentration on Rainbow Dash, but she tripped on a rock, falling to the ground while Rainbow Dash continued. I immediately stopped and called over to Applejack.

"Applejack, are you alright?" I shouted over to her.

"I'm fine! Don't worry about me! Keep going!" She yelled back.

I noticed the large crowd of ponies catching up. I nodded and continued to run after Rainbow Dash. The distance between Rainbow Dash and I had significantly grown when I stopped for Applejack. When I had her in my sight, she looked back and laughed.

"Good luck trying to catch me, Alex!"

I didn't say anything, but just continued my concentration on the race. Rainbow Dash stuck out her tongue and purposely lowered her speed. At this point, I took her bragging for an advantage and increased my acceleration, which in a matter of seconds, I passed her while she was having her eyes closed, for the sake of showing off. When she opened them again, she dropped her jaw.

"Huh!" She shouted, surprised. I continued running, lowering my speed by just a pinch to save up some energy.

"Go, Alex!" I heard very softly above me.

I looked up. It was Fluttershy who waved at me, smiling. I nodded at her and continued racing. In back of me, I heard:

"I don't believe it. After a huge setback, Applejack is back at the front of the pack. And Alex managed to beat them both! What an amazing move!" Spike's voice exclaimed.

"She's the head of the pack, all right. The pick of the litter! The CAT'S PAJAMAS! Oh wait, why would Applejack take some poor kitty's PJs? That's not very sporting of her."

"Oookay... Let's get back to the race."

Applejack must have finally caught up to Rainbow Dash.

"Not so fast, Applejack! This race isn't over yet!" I heard Rainbow Dash.

"It is for you. Heh."

"Whoa."

After that, I didn't hear Rainbow Dash anymore… I wondered what happened to her…

I shook my head and kept it in the race.

"Welcome back, Ponyvillians, it's me, Pinkie Pie." Pinkie Pie announced a while later.

"And Spike. Looks like Rainbow is doing her best to catch up."

"I'm not sure how ketchup is going to help her in this contest. Now, in a hot dog eating contest it can make them doggies nice and slippery, but personally I prefer mustard. How about you, Spike?"

"Uh... I... like... pickles?"

"Aaand it looks like Applejack has found herself in quite a pickle as Rainbow overtakes her."

"Look, ma, no wings." I heard Rainbow Dash as she had caught up to Applejack again. I had passed through a forest, quickly dodging a branch that stood in the way by sliding underneath it and continuing to run.

"As the racers enter Equestria's Whitetail Wood, Rainbow Dash is back in the lead, but Alex still has first place!" Spike announced.

I didn't know what was going on behind me. I really wanted to look back, but I was afraid that I might trip. I continued to focus ahead while a little while later, I heard some hooves land and gallop behind me, almost close to me.

"Applejack…? Where in the world did you come from?" I heard Fluttershy above me.

"No time to talk!" Applejack responded as she panted. "Need to make a move!"

"A move?" Fluttershy questioned.

Applejack didn't answer, instead, I heard her stop to kick something behind me.

I had just finished passing through an area with two paths. There was an arrow with a sign pointing to go right. I maneuvered right and continued galloping, hearing much more noise behind me. As much as it tempted me to look behind me, I didn't.

Rainbow Dash had managed to catch up behind me and shouted. "You're not going to get away with first place, Alex!" Then, she shifted the tone of her voice. "What the hay? You said no flying!"

"No, I said no wings!" Applejack exclaimed behind me.

"I must say, Spike, that this has been the most interesting Running of the Leaves in Equestria history!" Pinkie Pie announced as we passed through trees containing buckets to receive their sap.

"With the most interesting announcing."

"But it isn't the running that's been fascinating. It's the lack of running!"

More grunts formed behind me. Then I felt a sudden heavy wind blow my mane, which soon died down. What was that all about?

"Once again, Rainbow Dash and Applejack are neck in neck, jockeying for position. Applejack inches ahead, now it's Rainbow, it's Applejack, it's Rainbow Dash, it's Applejack—

Pinkie Pie announced. I could finally see the finish line in front of me. Was this it? Was I really going to be first?

"You're almost there, Alex!" Fluttershy exclaimed, excitedly.

I had a good, large distance between the crowd and me. I was almost there! The finish line was only several feet away from me! I started giving a final push to my running, however, I somehow tripped and landed on the ground, only a few feet away from the finish line. I could hear the crowd catching up to me.

"Alex!" Fluttershy exclaimed, worried now.

I tried running again, but I grunted in pain when my legs wouldn't run anymore! I must have sprained something! I continuously tried to increase my speed, but I could only limp towards the finish line.

"Ouch!" Pinkie Pie announced on the balloon. "Alex took a fall and that will really affect him since he's in first place! All the other ponies are catching up to him!"

Fluttershy had descended besides me, still flying, and tried to help me.

"No! I can do it!" I responded, still limping towards the finish line.

"C'mon, Alex! You can do it! Just a few more steps!" Fluttershy encouraged.

I continued limping towards the finish line, my heart pounding inside my chest, as if it wanted to come out. I released grunts and groans with each step and strained my eyes. The finish line was only a few feet in front of me.

"Oh no! Is he going to make it? The crowd is right behind him!" Spike exclaimed.

It was true as I could hear the clatter of all their hooves.

"C'mon Alex! I believe in you!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

This had sparked something inside me. I continued to quickly limp towards the finish line, feeling the breath of the crowd of ponies behind me. I gave one last grunt and attempted to leap past the finish line. I felt myself landing on the grass and closed my eyes, panting. I had no idea if I had made it or not. I could hear Pinkie Pie announce something excitedly, but I was too busy taking in rapid air to hear anything clearly. After a moment, Pinkie Pie must have returned to Applejack and Rainbow Dash. "It's Applejack, it's Rainbow Dash, it's Applejack, it's Rainbow Dash—

So did I really not win? And it was actually Applejack or Rainbow Dash?

"Alex! Alex!" I heard Fluttershy's voice. "Are you okay?"

"I won!" I heard Rainbow Dash exclaim.

"No, I won!" Applejack counteracted.

I opened my eyes and noticed Fluttershy looking at me worried.

"I think so…" I responded. "What happened…?"

Fluttershy and I looked towards where Applejack and Rainbow Dash were fighting.

"I won!" Rainbow Dash argued.

"You tied!" Spike announced.

"TIED?" Rainbow Dash and Applejack exclaimed in unison.

"For first?" Applejack asked.

"For last!" Pinkie Pie answered.

"LAST?" Applejack shouted, shocked.

"Then who won?" Rainbow Dash questioned.

Spike and Pinkie Pie walked over to Fluttershy and me.

"Fillies and gentlecolts!" Pinkie Pie announced. "I present to you our winner: Alex!"

My eyes widened immediately when she said that. "Me? I won?"

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie responded while Spike placed a medal on my neck and gave me a trophy.

"Alex, you did it!" Fluttershy exclaimed, hugging me. I could only lay breathless. I actually won? Every pony cheered, leaving me in awe.

"What about Twilight?" I heard Rainbow Dash. "How come SHE has a medal?"

"I got fifth place, which is rather good considering that I've never run a race before." Twilight walked over to me and congratulated me.

"What? How's that even possible?" Applejack asked.

"You ran so slow, and looked at the scenery!" Rainbow Dash added.

"Exactly. I paced myself, just like my book said. Then at the end, when all the other ponies were worn out, I sprinted to the finish." Twilight explained.

"I don't believe it. Twilight beat us." Rainbow Dash exclaimed, surprised.

"Well, with all your horsing around, it was quite easy."

"You're right, Twilight. Our behavior was just terrible." Applejack admitted.

"We weren't very good sports." Rainbow Dash added.

Every pony suddenly gasped and bowed.

"Sounds to me like an important lesson was learned."

"PRINCESS CELESTIA?" Rainbow Dash and Applejack cried out as Fluttershy and I turned around to see Princess Celestia walking towards us.

"W... What are you doin' here?" Applejack asked.

"Fall is one of my favorite seasons, so I came to celebrate the Running of the Leaves." She answered as ever pony bowed… except me... I couldn't since I had sprained my leg…

"I'm sorry you had to see us being such poor sports, Princess." Applejack apologized.

"That's all right, Applejack. Anypony can get swept up in the excitement of competition." Princess Celestia accepted the apology.

"It's important to remember that the friendship is always more important than the competition." Twilight taught them.

"Exactly, Twilight. Now, unfortunately, because the two of you were busy tricking each other instead of shaking down leaves, many of the lovely trees of Equestria are still covered." Princess Celestia looked over at the covered trees.

"Why, Princess, I bet we can knock those leaves down for you lickety-split. Whaddya say, friend? Wanna go for another run?" Applejack asked Rainbow Dash.

"I'd love to stretch my legs." They both sprinted towards another group of covered trees to finish the job.

"Congratulations on achieving first place, Alex." Princess Celestia said, walking over to me.

"…Thank you Princess Celestia… but I couldn't have done it without Fluttershy…" I looked over to her, which caused her to blush.

Princess Celestia smiled. "That's fantastic. You did amazing throughout the whole race."

"You watched me the whole time…?" I asked, shocked.

She chuckled. "Of course… your friend was with you, every second of the race."

I looked at Fluttershy again, who started rubbing her legs with her hooves.

"Your concentration and being focused on a single goal is what brought you to achieving it. You didn't give in nor surrendered to Rainbow Dash's… comments… though suffering a minor unfortunate accident, you still managed to pass the finish line a second before anypony else."

"Wow…" I said. I still couldn't believe that I had actually won. "Well, thank you, Princess."

The princess moved her horn towards my leg and used her magic. My leg felt different afterwards. I shook it and there wasn't any more pain!

"Let this experience be your motivation to continue to work hard to achieve your goals." Princess Celestia told me, giving one of her heartwarming smiles.

I nodded.

"I'll see you soon, Alex! For now, I must speak with Twilight." Princess Celestia announced.

"Goodbye… Princess Celestia." I responded and bowed.

She nodded and smiled. Then, she began walking with Twilight to talk to her, privately.

The crowd had soon vanished when everything was over, leaving Fluttershy and me, once again. Carrying the trophy on my back and the medal on my neck, we began walking towards Fluttershy's home. Night had begun to fall.

"Are you sure you're okay, Alex?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yeah… Princess Celestia cured it." I replied.

"That's great…"

We stopped in front of Fluttershy's door. I looked at the ground.

"…Thank you so much Fluttershy… for being with me while I ran…"

Fluttershy blushed. "It was nothing… I wanted to see you win…"

I looked up to her. "You thought I would win?" I exclaimed.

She shook her head and spoke softly. "I knew you would win."

I stared at her… feeling tears form in the corner of my eyes.

"Fluttershy…"

All of a sudden, something unexpected and amazing happened. I hugged Fluttershy, with no fear of disappointment… for the first time in my life…

"Oh, Alex…" Fluttershy's cheeks bloomed with redness. She accepted my hug by hugging me back. The feeling in my heart was intense and filled my whole body with pleasure.

After a moment, we pulled away, continuing to look at each other.

"I'll see you later…" Fluttershy spoke with a tender smile.

"Of course…" I responded. "Good night, Fluttershy…"

"Good night, Alex." She kissed my cheek and entered her home.

I walked all the way home with my mind paralyzed.

I had placed the trophy on a shelf near my bed and stripped myself of the medal, also placing it near the trophy. Finally, when I had reached my bed and snuggled in it, all these thoughts raced inside. They wouldn't let me sleep, but not in a bad way. It was good as that very strong feeling in my heart was blooming intensely, like if it had filled my entire body instead.

When I was finally able to sleep… I had the best rest ever…

Suited For Success

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Episode 14 – Suited For Success

After having a well rested sleep, I scooted out of bed and walked to the outside of my home. I noticed Applejack and Twilight walking past my house. They both noticed and greeted me.

"Oh, hey there, Alex!" Twilight called.

"Howdy!" Applejack greeted.

"Hey, where are you two going?" I asked.

"We're just going over to Rarity's." Twilight replied. "I was going to ask her if she could fix up a button on my dress for the Grand Galloping Gala." She had a saddle bag on her back, which most likely contained the dress.

"I see." I responded.

"You should come with us!" Applejack exclaimed.

"Um, sure okay." I accepted the invitation.

We walked over to Rarity's dress shop, where Applejack pushed open the door.

"Howdy, Rarity!" Applejack shouted.

"Shh..." Twilight shushed. "Can't you see Rarity is trying to concentrate?"

Rarity was designing a dress on a mannequin pony. She was busy doing the stitching on the dress.

"What do you think she's makin'?" Applejack whispered.

"Looks like a dress." Twilight whispered back.

I noticed the Rarity could still hear the other ponies and was beginning to feel irritated.

"Well, that makes sense. Since this is a dressmaker's shop and all." Applejack responded.

Rarity grumbled and looked back with a forced smile on her face. "Is there something I can help you with?" She asked. I noticed she was wearing red glasses I had never seen her wear before.

"Oh, so very sorry to trouble you, Rarity, but I need a quick favor." She pulled out the dress from her bag and placed it on the table. "Could you please fix the button for me? It's my dress for the Grand Galloping Gala."

Rarity gasped after analyzing the dress. "Oh, no, no, no! You can't wear this... old thing. You need a glamorous new outfit for the Gala and I'll make it for you. No problem at all. It will be my pleasure!" Rarity offered cheerfully.

"Oh, that's really sweet of you to offer, Rarity, but I can't let you do that. It would be so much work. This dress is fine."

"Twilight Sparkle. I insist on making you a new dress." Rarity demanded in a sort of a polite way.

"But…"

"Not another word! I won't take no for an answer." Rarity shook her hoof.

"Well, in that case... Thank you for your generosity, Rarity. Knowing your handiwork, I'm sure it will be absolutely beautiful."

Rarity looked over to Applejack and observed her. "Let me guess, Applejack. You don't want a new gown either."

"Gown?" Applejack questioned. "Shoot. I was just gonna wear my old work duds."

"You can't possibly be serious, Applejack! You absolutely must wear formal attire."

"Hm..." Applejack thought as she placed a hoof to her chin. "Nah."

"What if I just spruce up your... duds for you a little bit?" Rarity offered.

"Okay, sure. Why not? Since you're up for it and all. Just don't make them too... froufrou-y."

"Deal! And you, Alex?" Rarity asked.

"Me?" I questioned.

"Yes, are you taking any formal attire to the Grand Galloping Gala? A tux, maybe?"

"Um…" I looked around with my eyes. "I don't have a tux…"

Rarity gasped. "Oh! Then I must make one for you!"

I shook my head. "I don't want to put more than enough in your mind, Rarity."

"Oh, please. I can make one faster than Rainbow Dash can move a cloud!"

"Well… if you say so—

"LOOK OUT BELOW!" Rainbow Dash crashed through the ceiling and bounced into Rarity's designs. "Sorry. New trick. Didn't quite work." She apologized.

Rarity observed Rainbow Dash as she was in the pile of clothes with a bucket on her head. "Idea! I'll make you an outfit for the Gala too, Rainbow Dash."

Rainbow Dash looked around, confused. "Outfit for the what now?"

"I'll make one for you and you and all of you. Oh! And of course Pinkie and Fluttershy too. Oh, and when I'm done, we can hold our very own fashion show!" She exclaimed, but then looked over at me. "Well, excluding Alex from presenting at the show, of course." She chuckled.

"What a great idea! If you're sure you can handle it." Twilight encouraged.

"Oh, it'll be a little bit of work, but it will be a wonderful boost for my business. Plus, fun!" She grabbed cloths from her shelf, excitedly.

"Oh, I love fun things!" Rainbow Dash responded, still in the pile of clothes.

"Then it's settled. We'll have a fashion show starring us!" Rarity announced as she already began to get to work on a new design. Every pony cheered.

Applejack walked over to Rarity as she started clipping pieces of the fabric. "So all you have to do is make a different, stunning, original, amazing outfit for one, two, three, four, five, six... plus yourself, seven ponies? And lickety split?"

"Oh, Applejack." Rarity laughed. "You make it sound as if it's going to be hard."

"Oh… well alright then. I'll guess we'll check up on our outfits later!" Applejack replied.

Every pony, even Rainbow Dash who managed to free herself from the tangle of the clothes, left the shop, repeating their thanks. I stayed behind.

"Rarity… I know you think this isn't going to be hard… but… I would really like to help you." I offered.

"Oh, no no no. It's quite alright. As Applejack said, I can do this… 'lickety split'." She tried saying Applejack's quote, but had a hard time saying "lickety split".

"I'm truly grateful and appreciate you doing this for all of the ponies… including me. I insist I help." I replied, demanding politely.

"Oh, Alex… well… if you insist…"

Rarity began sewing a dress with her sewing machine.

"Thread by thread, stitching it together…"

Rarity sang as she used her magic to direct fabric all along the room. I was rushing all over the room, grabbing scissors, pencils, needles, anything needed to help Rarity, although I stumbled by carrying all the items together as it wobbled, almost falling off. I gave Rarity the scissors, which she used to cut more fabric.

"Twilight's dress, cutting out the pattern snip by snip

Making sure the fabric folds nicely

It's the perfect color and so hip

Always gotta keep in mind my pacing

Making sure the clothes' correctly facing

I'm stitching Twilight's dress." She continued singing as she stitched Twilight's dress, obviously. She used her magic to grab some more rolls of fabric her pet was lying on top of. I walked over and grabbed the rest and held them near Rarity.

"Yard by yard, fussing on the details

Jewel neckline, don't you know a stitch in time saves nine?" She was designing another dress for what looked like to be Applejack's.

"Make her something perfect to inspire

Even though she hates formal attire…" My eyes formed the emotion in my thoughts. Yep… definitely Applejack's.

"Gotta mind those intimate details

Even though she's more concerned with sales

It's Applejack's new dress."

She walked over to the design papers on the wall and began drawing colors to other dresses she was going to create.

"Dressmaking's easy, for Pinkie Pie something pink

Fluttershy something breezy

Blend color and form,"

She looked over to her pet, Opalescence.

"Do you think it looks cheesy?"

Her pet gave a useless meow.

"Something brash, perhaps quite fetching…" She looked over to Rainbow Dash's fabric… which was a rainbow…

"Hook and eye, couldn't you just simply die?

Making sure it fits forelock and crest

Don't forget some magic in the dress

Even though it rides high on the flank

Rainbow won't look like a tank

I'm stitching Rainbow's dress"

She sang as she finished Rainbow Dash's dress with details and the fabric.

Piece by piece, snip by snip

Croup, dock, haunch, shoulders, hip

Thread by thread, primmed and pressed

Yard by yard, never stressed

And that's the Art of the Dress!" She finalized as she had finally completed every single one of the girl's dress, including my tux.

"Wow… Rarity" I responded in awe, releasing all the other materials and tools both my hooves were holding and walked over to each dress. "You really did an amazing job with such speed!"

"Why, thank you Alex!" She bowed gracefully. "How do you like your new tux?" She asked.

I walked over to the tux with my mouth slightly agape. I admired the tux's white collar and black necktie. However the rest of the suit was black, having long sleeves with a gold button on each end. I could only continue gazing at the well crafted creation of courteous Rarity.

"Well…?" Rarity asked again.

"It's…" I could hardly speak, stricken by the amazement of the tuxedo. "It's… amazing…I've never seen anything like it…"

"Really?" exclaimed Rarity. "Oh, thank you!" She squealed. "I've got to get the others!" She began running to the outside of the shop but then stopped and glanced back at me. "Thanks for helping, Alex. I appreciate it."

"No problem at all…" I responded. "Especially, after you made me this…"

"Oh, please." Rarity flipped her hoof and giggled. She continued to run outside to fetch the others.

As I waited, I ran my hoof along the soft silk of the suit, identifying each and every perfection Rarity created. Really… it was really nice of her to do this for me… is that what friends really do?

In a short amount of time, as I continued to admire the tux, Rarity came in, walking excitedly backwards, leading the girls to their new dresses. "That's it. Keep them closed." Rarity directed as she brought them in with Fluttershy at the beginning of the line, smiling with her eyes closed. Pinkie Pie was right behind her, hopping excitedly with her eyes closed as well. "Don't look…" Every pony was standing at a line, with their eyes closed. All of them were smiling excitedly. "Okay, you can look now!" All of them gasped as they noticed their new dresses. "These are your new outfits. What do you think of your old duds now, Applejack? Pretty swanky, are they not? And Twilight! I made this dress for you and I designed each outfit theme to perfectly reflect each pony's unique personality. Oh, it took me forever to get the colors right on this one, Rainbow Dash, but I did it. Oh, and it turned out BEAUTIFUL, don't you think? Ooo, and I know you are going to love yours, Fluttershy. It just sings spring! And Pinkie Pie, look! Pink! Your favorite! Aren't they all amazing? "Rarity announced each dress's details very excitedly as she awaited the instant approval from her friends. However… by the look on their faces… they didn't look very much intrigued…

There was a silence so deep, that I could hear every pony's eyes blink, especially Rarity who kept smiling excitedly.

"Wow... They're..." Twilight didn't know what to say.

"Yeah, they're..." Rainbow Dash tried to assist.

"They sure are... sumth'n." Applejack added.

"Yes!" Twilight pointed out. "Something."

"I love something! Something is my favorite!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"It's... nice." Fluttershy commented… but she held her ears and head down as if she looked disappointed.

I was confused by all the girls. Did they not like their new dresses? I'm not a fashion designer, or a filly… but I thought the dresses looked amazing.

"But what's the matter? Don't you like them?" Rarity asked my question, worried.

"They're very nice..." Twilight struggled.

"And we're plum grateful cause you worked so hard on them." Applejack added.

Rainbow Dash had a bored expression on her face and offered her own opinion. "Mine's just not as cool as I was imagining." Twilight and Applejack gave her evil glares. "She asked."

Rarity's expression had now completely changed than when she had came into the room, eagerly awaiting their opinions.

I stepped in front of them and looked at them with a disappointed expression on my face. "You girls don't like them…? They look really amazing…"

All of them struggled for a moment, trying to think of the right words to say.

"No, we do like them… it's just that…" She paused for a moment. "I guess what we're all saying is that they're just not what we had in mind." Twilight informed. There were a collective of "yeah"s.

What did they mean by that? I thought the dresses were perfect… how much more could have been done to make them to as how the other ponies wanted? After I analyzed the expression on Rarity's face, I instantly felt really bad for her… even frowning like she was.

"That's okay." Rarity picked herself up. "Not a problem. There's plenty more where that came from. They were only a first pass. You're my friends and I want you to be 110% satisfied. Not to worry, I'll redo them."

"Oh, Rarity. You don't have to do that. They're fine." Fluttershy tried to reason.

"I want them to be better that just fine." Rarity explained as she began her redoing process. "I want you to think they're absolutely perfect."

"Are you sure? I mean, we wouldn't wanna impose." Applejack asked.

Rarity laughed. "Oh, it's no imposition. Really, I insist."

"Well, in that case... Thank you again, Rarity." Twilight thanked as she and the other ponies began leaving the room.

Rarity laughed nervously. As soon as the door closed, she looked at the ground, sadly. "What have I gotten myself into?"

"Rarity?" I asked as I took a step forward to her. She turned and looked at me, gloomy. " I don't know what the other ponies… had in mind… I thought they were perfect…"

"Oh, thank you Alex… but I really want them to be excited about their dresses… it's not good if they aren't happy with their dresses."

"I see but… you already spent so much time with first set of dresses… won't it be too much to work on the second set?"

Rarity shrugged, but then managed to pull out a smile. "Do not worry about me, Alex. I'll be fine."

"I'll help. I couldn't leave, knowing that you'll be alone working on the dresses all over again."

"Well, that's really nice of you, Alex…" She removed her fake, forced smile and replaced it while a real light one.

I thought about talking Rarity into talking to the girls to leave the dresses as they were… I mean… I know the girls looked disappointed with the dresses, but it would be too much work for Rarity… but then I thought once more… maybe it'll be a few touch ups? Nothing too much… just a little more and they'll be thrilled?

We spent another amount of time, redoing Fluttershy's dress. To be honest, I couldn't help Rarity with much as I didn't know how to design dresses, stitch perfect like Rarity, and do many other things that Rarity could. The only thing I could really do was fetch her more fabric or hold her pins and needles and other things. I really attempted my best to aid her in her time of need, but I wasn't really effective; by the time she was done with Fluttershy's dress, her mane was not puffed up as it was before. Instead, it looked as if it had been sucked up of all life.

"Hello? You wanted to see me, Rarity?" Fluttershy walked in as Rarity was sewing another piece of fabric. I was carrying several rolls of material and placing them back on the shelf.

"Fluttershy! Your new-new gown's ready. I completely revised it and I know you're going to love it." Rarity exclaimed as she escorted Fluttershy somewhere else to place on her dress. I looked back with my eyes and desperately hoped that Rarity wouldn't feel disappointed again. I could tell how much she was already overwhelmed even though she kept a confident and determined expression her face.

I walked over to the storage room to return some items and grab new ones Rarity needed. When I came back to her work place, she was already working like crazy.

"Rarity? What happened with Fluttershy?" I asked.

"She…" She paused. "She liked it…"

"Liked it…?"

"I want her to love it."

"Um…"

However, Rarity was already focused and concentrated on her work, so I decided not to bug her as I placed the items on her desk.

In no time, Twilight was directing Rarity as she continued to design as Twilight asked.

"Now, the stars on my belt need to be technically accurate. Orion has three stars on his belt, not four."

"Stitch by stitch, stitching it together…" Rarity sang, in hopes to increase her production.

"Deadline looms, don't you know the client's always right?

Even if my fabric choice was perfect

Got to get them all done by tonight"

Pinkie Pie had came over and picked a green fabric.

"Pinkie Pie, the color's too obtrusive

Wait until you see it in the light" Rarity opened the curtains.

"I'm sewing them together!"

Pinkie Pie responded. "Don't you think my gown would be more 'me' with some lollipops?"

"Well, I think..." Rarity tried to reason.

"Balloons?"

"Well..."

"DO IT!"

After Pinkie Pie left Rarity to finish her work, I quickly walked up to her and tried to reason her to rest. "Rarity, I really think you should take a break… why don't you hold off making the dresses? The Grand Galloping Gala is still a while away…"

"Oh no, what about the fashion show? I wanted to have it tonight." Rarity responded, very tired.

"Just reschedule it for another day, you really need to get some rest."

"No…I…I can't… I must finish the dresses for the girls…"

"But, Rarity!—

However, she continued to work in another room, leaving me to exhale a very depressing and heavy sigh.

"Hour by hour, one more change

I'm sewing them together, take great pains

Fluttershy, you're putting me in a bind

Rainbow Dash, what is on your mind?

Oh my gosh, there's simply not much time

Don't forget, Applejack's duds must shine

Dressmaking's easy, every customer's call

Brings a whole new revision

Have to pick up the pace, still hold to my vision" Every time, I continued to try talking Rarity out of it. I couldn't watch her struggle with this anymore… but as much as I tried to reason with her, she just refused stubbornly and worked, leaving me to watch as Rarity continued to give in to the ponies' expectations.

"That constellation is Canis Major, not Minor." Twilight presented the constellation to Rarity in an image.

"French haute couture, please." Fluttershy asked, presenting her with another image.

"Ugh..." Rarity could only respond, drastically drained out.

"What if it rains? Galoshes!" Applejack demanded.

"More balloons! Oh no, that's too many balloons. More candy! Oh, less candy. Oh wait, I know. Streamers!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"Streamers?" Rarity asked.

"Whose dress is this?" Pinkie Pie assured.

"Streamers it is…" Rarity surrendered.

When Rainbow Dash came over, she was leaning on a table, waiting for Rarity to finish her dress. Rarity looked over at Rainbow Dash.

"What?" She asked.

"Aren't you going to tell me to change something too?" Rarity questioned.

"No, I just want my dress to be cool."

"Do you not like the color?"

"The color's fine, just make it look cooler."

"Do you not like the shape?"

"The shape's fine, just make the whole thing... you know, cooler. It needs to be about 20% cooler."

Rarity lowered her head at the unspecific directions of Rainbow Dash while she was attacked with other directions from the other ponies.

Pinkie Pie: "All we ever want is indecision."

Rainbow Dash: "All we really like is what we know."

Twilight Sparkle: "Gotta balance style with adherence."

Fluttershy: "Making sure we make a good appearance."

Applejack: "Even if you simply have to fudge it."

Everypony: "Make sure that it stays within our budget."

Rarity: "Got to overcome intimidation

Remember, it's all in the presentation!

Piece by piece, snip by snip

Croup, dock, haunch, shoulders, hip

Bolt by bolt, primmed and pressed

Yard by yard, always stressed

And that's the Art of the Dress!" Rarity finished.

She fell to the floor, exhausted. I quickly ran over to her, calling her name. I didn't bother asking if she was alright because I KNEW she wasn't.

"Okay, Rarity, that is it. You've done too much for every pony. I know you want to make them happy, but look what it has done to you!"

"Oh, Alex… These are the ugliest dresses I've ever made!" She exclaimed as she covered her eyes with her hooves.

I observed the latest dresses… and realized that… she was right…

I had told Rarity to rest because she had done enough. She had asked me to get the others and I confidently agreed. As I called the others and led them back to the shop, I could only think how Rarity must have felt after working non-stop for the happiness from her friends.

"Okay. I did exactly what each of you asked for." Rarity announced when I brought them back to the shop. "Now don't hold back. Let me know what you really think."

Everypony finally released cries of happiness, exclaiming that it was exactly as they asked for. I noticed how Rarity's pet hated the dresses, as it made signs of disgust.

Rarity sighed, relieved.

"Thank you, Rarity." Twilight expressed her gratitude.

"Are you as happy with them as we are? Huh? Huh? HUH?" Pinkie Pie asked, jumping in.

Rarity, thinking first of what to say, responded to Pinkie Pie. "Well, I'm... happy that all of you are happy. I'm just relieved to finally be done."

The door immediately opened, revealing Spike who was panting hard. "You are never gonna believe this! You've heard of Hoity-Toity?" He asked, eagerly.

"The bigwig fashion hotshot in Canterlot?" Twilight answered.

"Uh-huh. He heard about your fashion show. Well, maybe I happened to mention it to him... He's coming here all the way from Canterlot to see your work, Rarity!" Spike exclaimed.

"Whoa, Nelly! You could sell a ton o' dresses to this guy. You business will be boomin'!" Applejack pointed out.

Every pony began exclaiming how cool it was going to be for Rarity, but I saw that she was having trouble inside her mind.

"Hoity-Toity? He's coming here? To see THESE dresses?"

"Yep! Get ready for all of your dreams to come true." Spike replied, which left Rarity's eye twitching.

The girls congratulated Rarity and wished her good luck as they left. Rarity fell to the floor and covered her head with her hooves.

"Rarity…" I said, taking a step forward to her.

"It's okay. Everything will be alright." She chuckled nervously. "Alex, be a dear and go tell the others to be at the fashion show an hour before it starts? They are going to have to get dressed…" Rarity looked back and shivered. "…in these…"

"But…" I tried to speak.

"Please?" She asked.

I sighed and nodded. "Okay…"

I began walking outside, wondering what Rarity was going to do… I want to help… I really do… but how can I fix this problem? I can try talking to the ponies about the whole situation but… what if it breaks their hearts to know that their dresses are actually… well… overdone?

I met up with the girls, who were in a group outside the shop.

"Hey, Alex!" Twilight greeted me when I walked up to them.

"Hey, girls…" I responded, a bit saddened from the thoughts of Rarity. "Rarity would like you five to be at the fashion show an hour before it starts.

"Sure, okay." They agreed and began walking possibly to their homes, most likely to get ready.

Fluttershy had stayed behind. She must have felt my emotions…

"Alex, is something wrong…?" She softly asked, slowly walking towards me.

My thoughts began having a free-for-all match in my head as I tried to figure out what I should say. What if I say the truth and it leads them to be depressed and disappointed, completely ruining the fashion show? Or what if the important person attending the show actually likes the outfits? Or not? Grr! I just can't decide what to do or say!

"Alex…?" Fluttershy asked again.

I shook my head. "Um…uh…"

Fluttershy continued to look worried for me.

"It's… it's nothing…" Maybe I could tell them later…

"Are you sure?"

"Mm-hm." I nodded, even though it stung me that I lied. "You should get ready for the show."

"Okay… I'll see you there?"

I nodded again.

When it was dark, every pony gathered around the catwalk for the fashion show, including Hoity-Toity… I was backstage while Rarity was nervously looking out at the crowd behind the curtains. The girls had just returned from the dressing room, where they placed on their dresses.

The show is about to start! I don't have much time! But… I…I can't tell them! I want to help Rarity but…

Music suddenly began playing and lights flashed on the center of the stage.

"Since the beginning of time the elite of Equestria have longed for pony fashions that that truly expressed the essence of their very souls. Patiently waiting decades... no, centuries! ...for the perfect pony gown. Today at long last, Equestria, your wait is over!" The curtains were being removed from sight! "Let's hear it for the breathtaking designs of Ponyville's own Rarity!" Spike announced on a microphone.

The lights drew attention to the five ponies, causing every pony in the crowd to gasp. As they walked to the center of the catwalk, I could see ponies in the audience sticking out their tongue in disgust and make comments of the horridness. All five ponies spun slowly on the lazy Susan that was at the end of the catwalk.

"Oh, those amateurish designs look like a piled-on mishmash of everything but a kitchen sink!" Hoity-Toity announced, making every pony laugh. Rarity moved a kitchen sink, which was near her, behind her. "It's a travesty, it's what it is. Those outfits are the ugliest things I've ever seen, oh for shame. Who is responsible for subjecting our eyes to these horrors? Not to mention wasting my valuable time!"

Rarity began hiding behind her pet.

"Come on out and take a bow, Rarity. You worked really hard for this." Spike announced. Rarity had no choice but to slowly walk out with her head held down. "Yes! Alright, woohoo! Go, Rarity!" Spike cheered.

Ponies whispered in the crowd, making the five ponies to smile nervously. I covered my eyes with my hoof and just waited until for everything to end…

All the ponies had left the show, including Mr. "Hoity-Toity". Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and Applejack returned to the safety of their dressing room, removing the dresses. Rarity was backstage, lying on the floor, crying with her face buried in her legs.

"Rarity…" I walked over to her with a frown on my face.

"Oh Alex, I… I…" She continued crying.

I didn't know what to say… I could only just stand there idle, trying to think of the right words…

"I think I need to be alone for awhile…" She stood up and walked out of the stage, sniffling along the way. I wanted to follow her… but I felt that I should stay behind…

All of the other ponies finally came out of the dressing room.

"Hey… where did Rarity go…?" Twilight asked.

"Home…" I responded briefly.

"Why?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"What do you think?" I turned around to face them. "Rarity had an opportunity of a lifetime, but she wanted to make sure you girls were happy with your dresses. Now…" I paused for a moment, sighing and staring at the floor. "It's gone…"

"We're…sorry…" Twilight tried to respond.

"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to…" With that, I left and headed towards home.

I know I wasn't the one who was stricken with sadness and depression… but it did pass on over to me… seeing a friend… who did something so nice for me… to lose her dream because of it…

The next day, I walked over to Rarity's to check up on her, but I was distracted when I heard meowing near her shop. I looked over to the tree where it had came from to see Rainbow Dash sitting happily while Rarity's cat was clinging for her life on the branch.

"What are you doing?" I asked her, confused.

"Shh!" She shushed.

I stared at her then noticed a dress on a mannequin near the tree, where Twilight, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy stood.

"Opal, how did you get up there? Hang on, you poor dear! Mama's coming!" I heard Rarity's voice.

Rarity came outside, rushing to get her cat off until she saw Rainbow Dash the same way I did. "Rainbow Dash? How dare you strand my poor Opal on the tree?"

"Well, how else were we gonna get you out here to show you this!"

The others presented the dress, leaving Rarity breathless.

"What is it? It's not... You..." She gasped.

"We all finished your dress for you!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"Thanks to Fluttershy's freaky knowledge of sewing." Applejack added.

Fluttershy blushed. "Do you like it?" She asked.

"Like it?" She walked around the dress and observed it. "Like it?" She said, in a negative tone.

"Uh-oh. She doesn't like it." Fluttershy reacted.

"No, I don't like it." Rarity replied boldly, causing the girls to be disappointed. Suddenly, she turned around to them and exclaimed proudly, "I LOVE IT!"

"Yay!" Every pony cheered.

"You ponies did an amazing job. It's exactly the way I imagined it."

"We just followed your brilliant design." Fluttershy responded.

"Like we should have let you do for our outfits. Those first dresses you designed were perfect." Twilight added.

"We're so super sorry." Pinkie Pie apologized.

"You worked really hard to make our dresses exactly the way we wanted them." Rainbow Dash explained as she brought down Opal. "We all saw how well that turned out."

"Oh, I forgive you." Rarity accepted.

"Well, that's mighty big of you." Applejack said.

"But my whole career is still ruined!" Rarity dramatically cried.

"Oh, right. That."

"Maybe not." Twilight added, looking over to Hoity-Toity who walked behind me.

"All right, I haven't got all day." He stated.

"Take two." He announced as I waited in the back room to observe the girls' dresses. The second show was taking place in Rarity's shop.

Spike closed the curtains leaving the room engulfed in complete darkness. Rarity used her magic to create a light, which it itself created many special effects, stunning Hoity-Toity. Twilight revealed herself in the perfect dress Rarity had made.

"Hello... Oh, this can't be the same designer." Hoity-Toity commented.

Applejack then revealed herself after.

"Simply magnificent! And suddenly I have a fierce craving for some Dutch apple pie. Candied apples on a stick? Apple turnovers? Apple cobbler?"

Third, it was Pinkie Pie, representing the candy she loves so much.

"Brilliant!" He exclaimed.

Rainbow Dash frightened him when she introduced herself through thunder sound effects.

"Oh, spectacular!" He was really getting excited now…

Lastly, Fluttershy presented herself. I was amazed by how… amazing… she looked wearing the dress.

"Now this is a fashion show. All of these dresses are absolutely amazing. Who is responsible? Step forward, show yourself!" He commanded.

Rarity introduced herself in her new dress, presenting a light.

"Bravo! Bravo! Magnifico! Encore!" He cheered.

"Oh, thank you. Thank you! Oh, thank you so much!" Rarity thanked, joyfully.

Every pony had gathered on the first floor of the shop, where Twilight began speaking her letter to Spike.

"Dear Princess Celestia. This week my very talented friend Rarity learned that if you try to please everypony, you often times end up pleasing nopony, especially yourself. And I learned this: when somepony offers to do you a favor, like making you a beautiful dress, you shouldn't be overly critical of something generously given to you. In other words, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."

I know how that feels...

Spike blew and sent the letter.

"Rarity, my congratulations. You are the most impressive fashion maven. Would you do me the great honor of allowing me to feature your couture in my best of the best boutique in Canterlot?" Hoity-Toity asked.

Rarity gasped.

"Now, I'll need you to make a dozen of each dress for me by next Tuesday."

Rarity quickly changed the expression on her face.

"Ta-ta!" Hoity-Toity left the building.

"Oh no! How will I ever be able to make a DOZEN of EACH DRESS by next Tuesday?" Rarity asked.

I looked behind me to see Fluttershy, Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack. "I think I know who can help with that…"

Thus, every pony, including Spike and I, worked for the rest of the day to help Rarity with her dresses. Since Fluttershy was amazing at stitching, she was able to help Rarity far more than us. Having known what the dress already looks like and what goes where, Rarity didn't have to spend extra time on planning the dress and deciding what material or fabric to add; she just had to make copies of each dress.

Since every pony worked together in an orderly fashion (no pun intended), we were able to finish ALL of the work in one day. We were exhausted by the end of the day, but every pony was glad that we were able to help Rarity.

"Thank you all very much for assisting me with my work. You ponies were a BIG help. I can't thank you enough." Rarity announced.

"It was nothing, Rarity! After all, we DO owe you so much for all that time you spent on fixing our dresses." Twilight replied.

"Oh, please. Don't worry about it." Rarity chuckled.

Soon, every pony left home for the night, leaving me to walk Fluttershy home.

"Hey, Alex…" Fluttershy softly spoke and she flew gently. "You're not mad at me… are you…?"

"Why would I be mad at you?" I asked.

"Well… because I was one of the ponies who wanted my dress to be exactly as I wanted…"

"Well, I'm not mad at you. I know you didn't mean to be like that…"

Fluttershy giggled a little. "Yes… I guess I just got carried away with my imagination…" She smiled.

"Well… I thought you looked amazing in the dress Rarity had for you…"

Her cheeks glowed as she looked towards me. "Oh, Alex…really?"

I looked away, feeling a little red myself. "Y-yeah…"

We arrived at her door and she looked towards me very joyfully. "Thank you…"

"You're welcome…" I replied, tilting my head a little but keeping my eyes on her.

She hugged me as we both wished each other a good night. I left after I had made sure she safely entered her home.

As I walked up the stairs towards my bed, I realized how I didn't spend much time at home anymore… I didn't stare at the bare wall and shelves nor did I waste my life doing… well… mainly nothing… besides attempting to improve myself…by myself…

I pulled the covers over me, in my bed, and went to sleep… awaiting the next day.

Feeling Pinkie Keen

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Episode 15- Feeling Pinkie Keen

I opened my eyes and slowly noticed the sunshine peeking through the window. I was tucked under the comfort of my blankets. I remained there for a moment, not falling asleep, but relaxing… After a few minutes, I rose from the bed and walked on the floor, making my sheets. I walked downstairs and stared at the inside of my home for a while. I noticed how there were not many decorations inside, except for the ones it came with. Geez… what have I've been doing with all the days I've been alone? Oh that's right… nothing… If I remember correctly… I was probably asleep all day every day before I met the girls…

I looked back at my front door and exited out. I walked towards Fluttershy's in a positive mood, though I didn't really show it. Ever since I met her, I've always wanted to spend time with her. She's just… amazing.

I arrived to see Fluttershy have a basket of frogs… a saddle with bags full of frogs… and a cart with wheels attached to her which was also filled with… frogs…

After she finished securing the toads, she spotted me and called.

"Hi, Alex!"

I began walking over to her. "Hey, Fluttershy. What are you doing with all those frogs?" I asked, stopping near her and observing the frogs.

"The pond was getting overpopulated! I couldn't stand to see the poor things so crowded together… so I decided to take these ones to Froggy Bottom Bog." She responded.

"That's great. Do you need some help?"

She smiled. "That's really nice of you, but sadly, you can't really help me."

"Why not?"

"Well… I was planning on flying over there… but since you don't have any wings… you can't really keep up with me…"

"Oh… okay… I see…" To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be able to help her.

Fluttershy noticed and instantly replied. "But that doesn't mean we can't be together when I'm done, though!" She thought for a moment. "Want to go for a walk in town before I take these toads to their new home?"

"Sure, okay." I felt a little better, but Fluttershy didn't have to offer to go for a walk…

Ironically, I was the only one walking. Fluttershy was flying a little above me as she still had her frogs with her.

"Look! There's Twilight and Pinkie Pie!" Fluttershy exclaimed softly as she spotted the two ponies.

We began moving over to them, but all of a sudden, a frog jumped out of the cart and began falling towards Twilight.

"Oh no!" Fluttershy cried out.

I quickly rushed and jumped to catch the frog with my hooves before it landed on Twilight's face. I landed with a thud while I heard the frog croak in my hooves.

"He just said, 'nice catch' in Frog." Pinkie Pie announced in her usual voice.

The frog croaked again and I sighed.

"Oh, I'm so, so sorry. Are you okay, Alex?" She asked as she lowered herself towards me.

"I think so…" I responded, standing up to place the frog back where it belonged.

"Fluttershy, what are you doing with all those frogs?" Twilight asked.

"I just couldn't stand to see the pond getting so over-populated, what with the frogs all hopping into each other and all, so I decided to fly as many as I can on over to Froggy Bottom Bog." Fluttershy answered.

"Of course you did…" Twilight replied, sounding a little... not appealed… after realizing that she could have been hit in the face with a frog.

"I should hurry and take them right now before more of them might do the same thing." She grabbed the basket with her hooves and smiled. "I'll be back as soon as I can!" She then grabbed the basket with her mouth and muffled, "Bye-bye!"

She flew off. I turned around to notice Pinkie Pie was wearing some kind of umbrella hat and that Spike was with Twilight.

"Thanks for the save, Alex." She responded and then shuddered. "I don't know what I'd do if I had a… frog… on my face!"

"Good thing too!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "If not, you would have been 'EEWW' and 'AAAH' and 'BLEEEEH' Ha! Ha!" Pinkie Pie laughed after she animated the scene that might have occurred if Twilight was hit by the frog.

"Oh, really? Did your Pinkie Sense tell you that, too?" Twilight replied, sounding a little irritated.

"Nah! I could just imagine it!" She then skipped away, humming.

After recovering from her randomness, I spoke.

"What was that all about…?" I asked.

"Ugh… It's just Pinkie Pie talking about this 'Pinkie Sense' she has or something…"

"'Pinkie Sense'?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, I don't know much about it either." She looked over at Spike. "C'mon, Spike, let's continue our practice session where there's a little less commotion." She looked back at me. "Want to join us, Alex?"

I decided I could go while Fluttershy was taking the frogs.

"Sure." I responded.

As I began walking with Twilight to wherever she was going to go, Spike immediately climbed on her back and began exclaiming excitedly, "Wow! That was amazing! Pinkie Pie predicted something would fall, and it did!"

"Oh, come on. She said that something would fall, and a frog just happened to fall right around the same time. A coincidence, nothing else to it."

However, Pinkie Pie randomly appeared before us, once again.

"My tail! My tail! Twitch-a-twitch! Twitch-a-twitch! Somethin' else is gonna fall!"

"Oh, Pinkie, please." As Twilight responded to Pinkie Pie's comment, I noticed something up ahead that Twilight was too busy to notice herself. I quickly took action and ran in front of Twilight. "Nothing else is gonna –

I placed my hooves in front of me to prevent her from falling in the trench. Her body tapped me, but when she felt my hooves, she stopped. However, even her tap caused me to tip over and fall into the trench, feeling an even harder thud as a groan released from inside me.

"Oh no, Alex fell! Is it... safe to go help him?" Spike asked Pinkie Pie, scared.

"It's okay, my tail stopped twitching." Pinkie Pie replied. She began skipping away, singing again, as Twilight immediately came over to help me.

"Alex, are you alright?" Twilight asked urgently, helping me up from the ground.

"I think so…" I answered, repeated my response from the first time.

"Ha ha! That was amazing!" Spike rushed over to us, exclaiming.

"Spike! There was nothing funny about that! Alex could have been hurt!"

"Uh, Alex? Twilight? Why are you two hanging out in a ditch?" Applejack had somehow came upon us and questioned.

"Because, Pinkie Pie predicted it!" Spike answered loudly.

"Honestly, Spike, she did not. Two coincidences in a row like this may be unlikely, but it's still easier to believe than twitchy tails that predict the future. She probably just saw the ditch ahead of us and predicted that someone was going to fall, which would have been me if Alex didn't take the fall for me."

Applejack gasped at Twilight's response. "Twitchy tail? Pinkie Sense?" Applejack quickly hid under a cart full of corn and carrots. "Woah! Nyu-uh!"

"Don't worry, it's safe. Prediction already came true." Spike calmed Applejack.

I pulled myself out of the ditch and pulled Twilight out of it as well.

"Oh, wait. Don't tell me you believe in this stuff, too?" Twilight asked, realizing Applejack's actions.

"I know it doesn't make much sense," Applejack crawled out from the bottom of the cart. "but those of us who have been in Ponyville a while, have learned over time that, if Pinkie's-a-twichin', you better listen."

All of a sudden, Pinkie Pie appeared again. "My ears are flopping! My ears are flopping!" She exclaimed as her ears flopped.

"Nyuh!" Spike immediately retaliated by flinching. "What does that mean?"

"I'll start a bath for you." She answered… not making much sense.

"Huh?" Twilight chuckled. "A bath? This thing keeps on getting more ridiculous by the minute!"

I had noticed the big puddle of mud right near Twilight. An elderly pony had come running with a cart full of hay behind him. I immediately pushed Twilight away from the area, but I didn't have time to save myself. A whole lot of mud splashed on me, soaking my whole body.

"Uh…Alex…?" Twilight said, confused about what had just happened.

I kept the angry, but calm expression on my face as I sat there soaked in mud.

"C'mon, Alex!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, grabbing my hoof. "Let's get you all nice and clean!" She began taking me to the cake shop to get a bath while I could only sigh.

Pinkie Pie had me in a tub filled with water and bubbles. Twilight was near the tub.

"I'm really sorry that I got you covered in mud Alex…" Twilight apologized.

"It's okay…" I responded. I felt a little better since I was cleaner in the tub, so I didn't really have a bad mood anymore.

Twilight seemed like she wanted to say more, but Pinkie Pie came in with some more vials of bubble soap on her head.

"Sooo, basically, it works like this:" Pinkie Pie explained as she placed the vial on the floor. "I get different, little, niggling feelings and they mean different things. Like when my back is itchy, it means it's my lucky day. And, when my knee gets pinchy, that means something scary's about to happen."

"Is your knee pinchy now?" Twilight asked.

"No, but my shoulder's achy. That means there's an alligator in the tub." She dunked her head inside the water and pulled out a baby alligator with her teeth. The sight of the alligator frightened Twilight, as for me, it seemed to only raise an eyebrow.

"How come your knee didn't get pinchy?" Twilight screamed in fear. "That isn't just scary, it's downright dangerous!"

Pinkie Pie placed the alligator on the floor and explained his presence. "No it's not, silly! This is my pet alligator, Gummy. He's got no teeth. See?" Her pet furiously attacked Pinkie Pie's whole body, but it was ineffective as he had only gums to show for it… clever… "Haha!"

"Okay, okay... I get it." Twilight calmed herself down and left the bathroom.

Pinkie Pie looked at me and smiled brightly for a moment. It was actually for several seconds that she smiled at me in an awkward silence as I looked around the room, a little uncomfortable. However, it felt more like hours…

After the time passed, she exclaimed, "Well, looks like it's time for you to get out now!"

I had jumped out of the tub and shook my whole body, including my mane. I walked out of the bathroom once I was dry enough and thanked Pinkie Pie for letting me use her bathroom.

"No Problemo!"

Once Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and I walked outside, Twilight began the argument that she didn't believe Pinkie Pie's signs, again.

"Well, I still don't believe all this... 'special power' stuff. It's just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo." Twilight argued.

Pinkie Pie glared at her, confused, but a bit angry. "What's not to believe? You do magic, what's the difference?"

"Huge! For one thing," She noticed a box near us that contained some items on top, which the nearby cart was selling. She moved them lightly and stood on top of the box. She cleared her throat. "magic is something you study and practice. It only happens when you decide to do it, and it's meant to make something specific that you choose to happen, happen. With you, uh, it makes no sense at all!"

"That's so not true Twilight! Sometimes it's a bunch of random things happening to my body at random times that supposedly predict the future. I call 'em 'combos'."

"Combos?" Twilight asked as she began nearing her home.

"Sure!" Pinkie Pie hopped after her. "You know, like, ear flop, then knee twitch, then eye flutter. That means the sky is about to be graced with a beautiful rainbow!"

"Yeah, sure…" Twilight continued walking towards the door to her house.

"Uh oh, I feel a combo coming on. Ear flop, eye flutter, knee twitch!" Pinkie Pie did the exact things she had announced.

Twilight continued walking towards the front door while looking back at Pinkie Pie, confused. Her door opened suddenly, slamming straight onto Twilight. I guess I wasn't able to prevent THAT from happening to her… Spike was exiting the home, carrying books. He seemed to not notice what had just happened.

"Twilight, are you alright?" I exclaimed, rushing over to her as she lay on the floor in front of her door.

She groaned and looked over to Pinkie Pie. "Ughhh... You said that combo meant 'beautiful rainbow'."

"Oh no-no-no-no-no." Pinkie Pie corrected. "You're thinking of an ear flop, then knee twitch, then eye flutter. This was an ear flop, then eye flutter, then knee twitch. That usually means 'look out for opening doors'. You okay?"

I helped Twilight get up. "I don't believe this." She muttered, very annoyed.

"You don't believe because you don't understand. Just ask Alex! I bet he believes me!" Pinkie Pie placed her hooves on me. "Huh? Huh? Do ya?"

Both the ponies looked at me awaiting my answer. My eyes shifted to each of them.

"Um…well…" I spoke as they continued to look. I sighed. "Twilight… you're going to think I'm crazy for saying this but… I think Pinkie Pie is right…"

"What?" Twilight exclaimed.

"Yippee!" Pinkie Pie cheered.

"Well… it may look too… well… ridiculous to be true… but I mean all those predictions Pinkie Pie had gotten correct couldn't possibly be just all coincidences… maybe that's just a random talent of hers…"

"Hmm…" Twilight wondered. "Well I have some way to figure out what this really is…"

Twilight had taken us to her home, where she set up an entire lab to… test for the reason why Pinkie Pie has the twitches.

"Just stand over here, Pinkie." Twilight directed her to the middle of the room where there was a machine.

"Okie Dokie!" Pinkie Pie cheerfully hopped to her position.

Twilight placed a helmet containing many buttons and lights on her. Then, she plugged in a wire to Pinkie Pie's helmet and closed the steel arm braces on the machine in front of her.

"Okay. Now when you get another twitch, we'll have all kinds of scientific information." Twilight walked over to the machine that looked to be recording the brain activity.

"Okey-dokey-lokey!" Pinkie Pie repeated with an extra rhyming word.

Pinkie Pie began concentrating as Twilight anxiously paced around the machines, eagerly waiting for a twitch.

I sat there observing, wondering what Twilight was going to do with Pinkie Pie's twitches.

"Um, Twilight…? Maybe this is too much…" I said, after analyzing all of the machines.

"Oh, don't worry, Alex. Pinkie Pie is perfectly safe! I just want to run some tests…" Twilight replied, and then looked over at Pinkie Pie. "Any twitches yet?" She asked.

"Nopey-dopey!" Pinkie Pie answered, returning her smile.

Twilight analyzed one of the machines she was standing right next to for a few seconds and asked again. "Now? Anything?"

"Wait! Hold on!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. She concentrated for a few seconds, and then replied. "Uhh, no."

"Are you kidding me? After a whole day of non-stop twitching, now that I've got you all hooked up, you're not getting a single one?"

"I don't control it, they just come and go."

"That makes no sense!"

"Sometimes you just have to believe in things, even when you can't figure 'em out."

"I will not believe in anything I cannot explain."

"Wait! hold on," Pinkie Pie paused. "I'm feeling something..."

"Oh my gosh, what? What is it?" Twilight asked, excitedly.

A loud rumble sounded in the room… but it came from Pinkie Pie's stomach.

"It's my tummy! That usually means I'm hungry! Let's eat!"

"Urgh... !" Twilight growled. "You know what?" She bit and snapped the cables from the machine. "Just forget it! I don't need to know if this is real or not. I don't need to understand it! I don't even care!"

Pinkie Pie stood silent for a moment. After, she removed herself from position."Okey-dokey-lokey." She responded. We started heading upstairs as Pinkie Pie hopped along cheerfully. Right before we reached the door, she suddenly gasped. "Uh-oh." Things occurred with her body as she continued gasping, catching my attention.

"Pinkie Pie, are you okay?" I worriedly asked.

" Hu-bu-bu-bu-bu" She answered and fell back.

Suddenly, the door opened forcefully, smacking Twilight as it did last time. Spike came out and questioned Pinkie Pie. "Pinkie? Have you seen Twilight?"

Pinkie Pie stood back up and hopped over to Spike. "Uh-huh." She continued to hop outside of the room. Spike stepped inside of the room, looking for Twilight. I walked over to the door and closed it, seeing Twilight flat on the door. I grabbed her hoof and pulled her off.

"Twilight? What are ya doing back there?" Spike asked.

She groaned. "Rrrrgh... Did you and Pinkie Pie plan this?"

"Plan what?"

"Urgh! This is ridiculous. This can't be happening. This makes no sense. I have to figure this out."

"Twilight… maybe you should just believe Pinkie Pie. I know it may seem ridiculous… but now… even I feel that it's all true. It doesn't make sense that it doesn't make sense… she's predicting everything that happens and every pony believes her… I think you should do the same…"

"Alex… not you too…" Twilight responded softly, a little depressed.

"I'm sorry Twilight… but I mean… I just don't want you to keep getting hurt. Since, you don't believe Pinkie Pie, you suffer from her predictions…" Twilight remained silent with her head held down. I thought for a moment and continued talking. "Twilight, haven't you every heard, learned, or read about the ponies that lived a very long time ago?" I asked.

"Huh…?"

"Those ancient earth ponies… they were able to predict mostly anything and everything… maybe Pinkie Pie is somehow a descendent from them and managed to receive that trait? I don't know…"

"Hmm…" Twilight held a hoof to her chin. "That's it! I'll study her!"

"Huh?" I questioned.

"If she really CAN predict things, they I'll go undercover and study what she does!"

"Um…"

In a flash, she left the house.

When I was outside, I decided to leave Twilight to whatever she wanted to do… I know she's my friend… but the same routine was getting tiresome. I took a walk through town, observing the day.

I wonder how Fluttershy's doing…I hope she's okay…

I thought for a minute and suddenly realized something.

Wait! Isn't Froggy Bottom Bog in the Everfree forest? I better go check up on her to make sure she's alright!

I immediately began running towards the Everfree forest.

I should have never left her side… I hope she's okay…

As soon as I passed the border, I quickly searched the forest for Fluttershy. I spotted a long cart as I ran, which caused me to halt and run towards it. When I arrived, I saw the cart attached to some pony…it was Fluttershy!

"Fluttershy!" I called, which caused her to look back. "You're alright!"

"Oh, Alex!" She responded as I ran towards her. "Of course I am, why wouldn't I be? And why are you here?"

"You're in the Everfree forest; I was worried about you…"

"Oh…" She blushed. "Well you didn't have to come… I was just about to let these frogs into the pond."

I gave a sigh of relief. "Okay." I wanted to get back to Ponyville as quick as possible with Fluttershy, so I quickly helped her detach the cart and release the frogs.

They continuously croaked as they hopped into the dirty-looking pond. Fluttershy looked at me and smiled. "Thank you, Alex."

"I'm just glad you're safe…" I responded.

Her cheeks released another glow of red.

However, I suddenly heard something behind us in the water… It sounded as if it rose and sunk back in the water… that's not good…

"Alex, what is it?" Fluttershy asked, noticing my expression.

"I…" I hesitated. "I don't feel comfortable here… we should go… now…" I responded, feeling a little afraid.

Fluttershy saw the serious expression on my face and agreed. "Okay." She began walking out of the area, but something croaked in the cart… it was another frog. "Oh no! Poor thing!" She picked up the frog. "I think he's too scared to go in alone!" She looked over to me. "Alex, I need to put him in the water, is that okay?"

I thought for a moment. "Fluttershy, why don't you let me put him in the water. You should go back to Ponyville."

"What?" She questioned. "I can't leave you here alone…"

"It's alright. I'm just going to put the frog in the water really quick. I'll catch up with you."

She hesitated for a moment but then agreed. "Okay… hurry back…" She gave me the frog as it croaked again in my hooves.

As she began flying back to Ponyville, I walked over to the bubbling water and looked at the frog.

"Okay… well here you go…" I slowly placed the frog inside the water, and it went on its way, happily, despite its surrounding. I sighed heavily and closed my eyes. I heard a sudden noise in the water again, causing me to instantly open my eyes and look around. It was the same sound a few minutes ago. I gave one last look around with my eyes and slowly began backing out of the area. However, a sudden green fog emerged which started to make me cough. What is this? I continued coughing trying to find my way out, but I couldn't see anymore!

A horrible stench followed and I heard something emerge in the water! I quickly turned around I noticed a huge orange neck appear before my widened and shocked eyes. I looked around and noticed the same thing, twice! I looked up to see four heads staring fiercely at me. They gave a terrible and loud roar.

The only thing I could do was run. I didn't know where I was going. I just ran.

I looked behind me to see the monster actually come out from the water and follow me! It was a hydra! I continued running, endlessly, hoping it would not catch me. Each step shook the ground, causing it to move closer to me! It tried to attack me by lunging one of its head towards me but I dodged it by jumping out of the way and continue running.

It did this tactic a few more times, but failed each time as I maneuvered out of the way. I had gained some distance between it, but it still wasn't far off. Regardless, I had ended up at a dead end. I quickly looked for a way out and noticed some ground above me. I immediately began running up the hill, though it was a bit steep.

I continued running, not even taking a glance back. When I reached the top… I had reached another basically dead end. There was another mountain on the other side… but to get to that side… I had to jump across several small pieces of land. I looked back to see the hydra growing closer to me. I took a deep breath and leapt for my life.

I managed to make the first jump… but I had to time each jump carefully, slowly, but quickly at the same time. I continued to make a few more jumps, but the hydra eventually caught up with me and tried to attack me with one of its heads again. Instead, it missed and tipped over, but its fall caused the small pieces of land to bend and fall towards another like a line of large pillars. I lost my balance as the ground below me moved at an angle. It was heading straight towards the spiky waters below me and if I didn't move, I'd be gone for good!

Nonetheless, as it fell, I noticed I was near the other side! I realized I could make the jump if I got close enough! I readied myself as the pillar I stood on continued falling. Once I saw the opportunity, I leapt and headed for the other side, but I was too short of a distance. I caught the edge of the ground and held for my life and I stared at the waters below me.

The hydra knew that it couldn't reach me anymore as the only path was destroyed. The hydra was gone… but I had worse problems…

I had lost a lot of energy running and dodging the hydra's attacks. I didn't know if I could make it… I struggled to keep a hold of the edge but I was starting to slip!

"Alex!" I heard a faint yell from somewhere. The sound of hooves pounding of the ground was heard. I continued to grunt and groan.

"Alex!" The voices were closer as they continued to call my name.

I couldn't hold on anymore! My hooves slipped and I began falling towards the ocean of death.

However, something suddenly grabbed my hooves. I looked up to see that it was Fluttershy! She held on tight to my hooves and began pulling me up with all her strength. She finally made it upwards and landed me softly and safely back on the ground.

"Fluttershy!" I announced her name as I panted.

She immediately hugged me. As she did, I noticed Twilight, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Spike behind her.

"Are you alright?" They immediately asked me, worried sickly.

I nodded and looked at Fluttershy. "Thank you…" I told her.

She shook her head and responded back to me. "No, thank you."

"For what? You're the one who saved my life."

"But if it wasn't for you, I probably would have been the one with the hydra…" She pulled away.

"Well what happened? How are all you girls here?" I asked.

"I met them when I was heading back to Ponyville…" Fluttershy answered.

"When we saw that Fluttershy was okay, we were relieved…" Twilight added. "But Pinkie Pie was shuddering, so she said that there was going to be a doozy here. Fluttershy told us you had came over to her and that you were still releasing a frog. When we heard the roar, we immediately headed to where the sound came from. We saw a big hydra chasing after something and we realized it was you! We rushed over to where you were and saw you hanging on for your life! Fluttershy sped towards you and flew to catch you and… well here we are…" She looked over to Pinkie Pie. "I don't know how it happened; coincidence, dumb luck, or what, but you said there'd be a doozy here at Froggy Bottom Bog, and I'd say we just had ourselves one heck of a doozy. I mean that hydra—

Pinkie Pie began shuddering again.

"Pinkie?" Twilight asked.

"That wasn't it." Pinkie Pie answered.

"Huh?"

"What wasn't what?" Spike added.

"What are you talking about Pink?" Applejack questioned.

"The hydra wasn't the doozy." Pinkie Pie responded. "I'm still getting the shudders. Oo-o-oh, oo-o-oh. You see? There it is again. Whatever the doozy was at Froggy Bottom Bog, my Pinkie Sense says it still hasn't happened."

"Huh? But Alex—

Twilight stuttered in rage. "WHAT! The hydra wasn't the doozy? How could it not be the doozy? What could be doozier than that?"

"Dunno, but it just wasn't it." Pinkie Pie replied.

Twilight immediately grew enraged and literally combusted into flames. Every pony became surprised and afraid when Twilight was filled with anger. But, then she finally cooled down and fell to the floor. "Ooh... I give up..."

"Give what up, Twi?" Spike asked as Pinkie Pie continued shuddering.

"The fight. I can't fight it anymore. I don't understand how, why, or what, but Pinkie sense somehow... makes sense. I don't see how it does, but it just does." She sighed. "Alex was right… I should have listened to him and maybe this all wouldn't have happened… Just because I don't understand doesn't mean it's not true."

"Y-y-y-you m-m-mean you b-b-b-believe?" Pinkie Pie's shuddering grew fierce now.

"Eyup, I guess I do." Twilight admitted.

"Oo-woo-oo-oo-oo, woo-oo-oo-oo-oh, woo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooh!" Pinkie Pie's shuddering became insane, and then it suddenly stopped. "Ooh!" She gasped. "That was it. That's the doozy!"

"What? What is?" Twilight asked, walking up to Pinkie Pie.

"You believing." She poked Twilight. "I never expected that to happen. That was the doozy, oh and, oh what a doozy of a doozy it was!"

And returning to her randomness, she skipped off singing as the rest of us stared at her in confusion.

"Well, let's get out of here!" Twilight suggested.

As we left the Everfree forest and back to Ponyville, Fluttershy walked right by my side, asking if I needed help or if I was okay.

"I'm okay… thank you." I replied.

When we arrived back at town, Fluttershy invited me over to her home. She led me inside of her house and patched me up, clearing any scratches and healing some bruises.

"Thank you…" I thanked as she finished. "I really appreciate it…"

Fluttershy released a soft smile. "You're welcome…"

We looked into each others eyes in silence for a moment, but she turned her head away and blushed.

Afterwards, Fluttershy and I walked back to town. We passed Twilight's house to hear her speaking. She was writing another letter… I stopped by to listen.

"I am happy to report that I now realize there are wonderful things in this world you just can't explain, but that doesn't necessarily make them any less true. It just means you have to choose to believe in them, and sometimes it takes a friend to show you the way. Always, your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

After, Twilight and Pinkie Pie walked outside of the tree and noticed us. They were both wearing umbrella hats.

"Hi, Alex." Twilight greeted as she walked over to us. "Are you doing okay?"

I nodded. "Fluttershy helped me."

Fluttershy blushed for a second.

"Well, I hope whatever falls doesn't hurt you." Twilight advised. "Pinkie Pie's tail is twitching!"

Pinkie Pie's tail did, indeed, twitch. "There it goes again."

"I wonder what's gonna drop outta the sky this time?" Twilight wondered.

"You never know…" Pinkie Pie answered as they continued walking.

However, Fluttershy and I heard something whistling down toward us. We turned around to see Princess Celestia crash, in an orderly manner, on Twilight's balcony and take the letter, personally, from Spike and fly back to where she came from.

"Well… that was… unexpected." I said, a little shocked from the surprise.

Fluttershy looked at me and giggled.

By the time night fell, I was at Fluttershy's home. She had offered me some warm sweet tea, which I drank slowly with sips. I don't know how Fluttershy makes it… but the tea is great…

"How's the tea?" Fluttershy asked.

"It's fantastic…" I answered.

"Thank you…" Fluttershy responded with a sweet smile.

Suddenly, we heard light drops of water splash on the window. As we traveled over to the window to see what was going on, the water grew heavier and faster. We realized that it had begun to rain.

"Rain?" I questioned. "I didn't know the Pegasus ponies scheduled rain at this time…"

It was also starting to get windy outside as well.

"Well, I better get home." I spoke as I readied myself to leave.

"You can't go home while it's raining!" Fluttershy stopped me.

"It's okay. I'll be fine… it's just a little rain…" Thunder boomed and lightning flashed outside, causing Fluttershy and I to look at the window. I looked back at Fluttershy. "I'll be fine."

"Mm-mm." Fluttershy shook her head. "It's too dangerous to go out now…" Fluttershy thought for a moment, and then spoke shyly. "You can stay here… if you want…"

"I don't want to be a bother…" I responded to her offer.

"I insist… I don't want you going out while the weather is like that…"

"But Fluttershy…"

She shook her head. "No 'buts'. I promise you that you won't be a bother at all."

I analyzed Fluttershy's determined yet soft face and hesitated. After looking away for a moment and thinking, I replied with my decision for her offer. "Okay… if it's okay with you."

She smiled and responded. "Of course!"

Fluttershy told me I could sleep on the couch if it was comfortable enough, if not, she would find or make me another place to sleep for the night.

"The couch is fine, Fluttershy… thank you very much for letting me stay here…" I responded.

"It's my pleasure." Fluttershy welcomed softly. "Now I guess I'll be going to bed now…" She looked towards me. "Call me if you need anything, okay?"

I nodded. "Good night, Fluttershy."

"Good night, Alex." She smiled as she walked upstairs to her room. After a few seconds of looking around, I heard her open a door and close it. It was silent now except for the sound of rain outside, along with some thunder and few flashes of lightning.

Fluttershy had left the light on in the living room, probably in case I needed to do anything else before I went to sleep. I walked over to the light switch and turned it off. The room was not totally engulfed in darkness as the moonlight seeped through the windows. I quietly sat on the couch and lay down. As I lay down, I continued looking out the window, observing the pouring rain.

Soon enough, my eyes closed by themselves.

However, I found myself opening them again, I don't know how much later. It was still dark and pouring outside. Suddenly, I noticed something outside that I had not seen there before… I slowly sat up and walked towards the window. I continued analyzing whatever it was that caught my eye. From what I could see, it was dark figure of another pony… looking more like a shadow… It stared at me for a moment and then slowly turned around and walked away. I continued staring out the window, feeling a little frightened… what was that all about?

The light behind me suddenly turned on, startling me and causing me to turn around.

"Alex? What are you doing up? It's really late." It was Fluttershy. She was wearing a white night robe with purple furry trim. "Is something wrong…?" She walked over to me.

I looked back at the window and stood silent as I wondered about what I just saw. "No…I'm alright…I just couldn't sleep…"

"Do you need me to get you something?" She asked, worriedly.

"No, I'm fine…" I looked back at her. "I'm sorry for waking you up."

"Don't worry about it… I just want to make sure you're alright…"

"Thanks…" I responded. "You should get some sleep… I'll probably try to get some myself too."

"Okay…well… if there's anything you need to tell me or talk about… I'll be up in my room…"

I nodded and she began walking back upstairs, turning off the light and entering her room.

I looked back outside of the window and continued observing the background, squinting my eyes a bit. After several seconds, I quietly and slowly began walking to the couch while keeping my eyes on the window. Then, I finally moved my head towards the couch and nestled myself on it.

I closed my eyes and tried to force myself to sleep, but it was bit difficult as I felt a little uneasy about what I just saw.

Sonic Rainboom

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Episode 16 – Sonic Rainboom

When I woke up, I had covers on me, nicely tucked. I looked around. I realized that I wasn't in my usual home… then I remembered that I had stayed at Fluttershy's home. I listened for any noise but there was only silence. The silence frightened me a bit, even though there was no real danger. I carefully uncovered myself and sat up from the couch. I planted my hooves on the ground and folded the blanket nicely. After, I walked around the house, looking for Fluttershy.

"Fluttershy?" I called her name, but there was no answer.

Maybe she's outside…

I walked outside to hear Rainbow Dash's voice.

"Now, what have we learned?" Rainbow Dash asked Fluttershy as she paced in the air.

"Lots of control." Fluttershy answered in a confident and solid tone.

"Good." Rainbow Dash praised.

"Screaming and hollering."

"Yes, and most importantly?"

"Passion!"

"Right!" Rainbow Dash landed on the ground. "So now that you know the elements of a good cheer, let's hear one."

Fluttershy took a breath in. "Yay." Fluttershy cheered in a very soft tone.

"... Ugh. You're gonna cheer for me like that? Louder."

"Yay." Fluttershy gave it another shot, but the volume remained the same.

"Louder!" Rainbow Dash yelled at Fluttershy, even making her flinch.

"Yay."

"Louder!" Rainbow Dash screamed.

Fluttershy then took a large and deep breath. "Yaay." She still cheered quietly.

"Ugh..." Rainbow Dash placed a hoof on her forehead and fell backwards.

"...Too loud?" Fluttershy asked.

"What's going on?" I asked as I walked towards them.

"Oh, you're awake, Alex! Good morning!" Fluttershy greeted. "Rainbow Dash is helping me cheer for when she performs at the Best Young Flyer Competition!"

Rainbow Dash stood up. "But the problem with that is that Fluttershy needs to learn to cheer louder!" She looked over to me. "Alex, can you please teach her how to cheer the right way?"

"Um…" I paused. "I'm not much of a cheerer…"

"Are you seri—UGH!" Rainbow Dash groaned. "Whatever, I'm just going to go start practicing my stunt! Fluttershy keep working on that cheer!" She flew up the cloud above us and looked down upon us, a little annoyed that Fluttershy couldn't cheer louder.

"Yay." Fluttershy released one quick, short, and soft cheer.

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath and bounced on the cloud. She began flying straight downwards but shot left before she hit the ground. She began maneuvering through a line of trees accurately, passing us like a rocket. A large gust of wind blew our manes while Fluttershy released another cheer. "Wooo."

Rainbow Dash flew upwards and then headed towards a cloud. She began spinning around it, rapidly, actually causing the cloud to spin itself. She applied the same technique to a couple of more clouds. Watching this, Fluttershy's eyes spun around but regained their position. "Way to go." She spoke softly.

I know how Rainbow Dash wanted Fluttershy to cheer louder… but I had to admit… the way she cheered was so…adorable… Thinking this caused me to actually blush a little on the outside.

Rainbow Dash now shot upwards at an angle and did a few loops before flying straight towards us. She was significantly gaining speed and she continued to dash downwards. Fluttershy could only gaze in suspense as Rainbow Dash was about to finish her performance. Tears formed in Rainbow Dash's eyes as she continued to attempt to break the sound barrier with her speed. She had almost made it, but suddenly the sound barrier won and threw her the opposite direction. As Rainbow Dash screamed, Fluttershy placed a hoof to her mouth.

She looked at me. "C'mon, Alex! Let's go follow her!"

I nodded. She flew as I ran towards where she had fallen at.

It turns out that she actually landed in Twilight's home. I had gone through the front door as Fluttershy flew through the window.

"Rainbow Dash, you rock!" Fluttershy exclaimed softly. "Woohoo." Fluttershy shook her hoof a little. However, we both realized the mess she had caused in Twilight's home; books were scattered everywhere. "Did my cheering do that?" Fluttershy asked.

Rainbow Dash recovered from the fall and stood up. "Hehe. Sorry about that ladies." She shook her head. "THAT was a truly feeble performance."

"Actually, it wasn't all bad." Fluttershy commented. "I particularly liked it when you made the clouds spin."

"Ugh. I'm not talking about MY performance, I'm talking about YOURS." She pointed at Fluttershy. "That feeble cheering!"

I walked towards Fluttershy and defended her. "Calm down, Rainbow Dash… she cheered the best she could. I thought she was great."

"GREAT?" Rainbow Dash scoffed. "You couldn't hear her if you were right next to her in a library!"

I looked around, which ironically, we were in a library.

"What are you three arguing about?" Twilight asked.

"Were we arguing? I'm sorry." Fluttershy apologized.

Rainbow Dash lowered her head sadly as she grunted. "I wish you guys could come to Cloudsdale to see me compete in the Best Young Flyer Competition." Rainbow Dash looked over to the other girls.

"What's that?" Twilight asked.

Pinkie Pie's eyes sparkled with excitement. "It's where all the greatest Pegasus flyers get together and show off their different flying styles! Some are fast!" She spun around in a circle through the clutter of books and created sounds as if she was racing in a track. "And some are graceful." She balanced herself on one hoof, but soon lost balance. "Woah, woah, WooooaaAAAAHH!" She crashed on another pile of books.

"Golly. I'd love to see you strut yer stuff in that competition." Applejack commented.

"Yeah. I wish you guys could be there. Fluttershy's a great support, but her cheering isn't exactly inspirational." Rainbow Dash explained as Fluttershy lowered her head a little in disappointment. I placed a hoof on her.

"OOH! I'd love to see you make a sonic rainboom! It's like, the most coolest thing ever! Even though I've never actually seen it, but I mean COME ON!" Pinkie Pie bounced rapidly. "It's a sonic rainboom! How not cool could it possibly not be?"

"What's a sonic rainboom?" Twilight asked, clueless.

"You really need to get out more." Pinkie Pie told Twilight before she explained the term. "The sonic rainboom is legendary! When a Pegasus like Rainbow Dash gets going soo fast... BOOM!" She crashed on a pile of books. "A sonic boom and a rainbow can happen all at once!"

"And Rainbow Dash here's the only pony to ever pull it off!" Applejack emphasized.

"It was a long time ago... I was just a filly…" Rainbow Dash responded, bashfully.

"Yeah, but you're gonna do it again, right?" Pinkie Pie asked.

Rainbow Dash hesitated for a moment. "Are... you kidding? I'm the greatest flyer to ever come out of Cloudsdale! I could do sonic rainbooms in my sleep."

"Wow." Twilight replied, impressed. "If you pull that off, you'll win the crown for sure!"

"The grand prize is an entire day with the Wonderbolts. A whole day of flying with my life-long heroes... It'll be a dream come true!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"Yay." Fluttershy gave another cheer, happily.

Rainbow Dash glared at her for a moment and then returned her attention to the other girls. "I'm gonna go rest up. Don't wanna over prepare myself, y'know. Hehe." Rainbow Dash walked up face-to-face with Fluttershy and emphasized her instructions while Fluttershy looked innocently helpless. "YOU, on the other hand, better keep practicing. I need a cheering section to match my spectacular performance." Rainbow Dash flew off, outside the window.

"She's practiced that move a hundred times, and she's never even come close to doing it." Fluttershy told me. "I don't know if I can cheer loud enough to help her…"

"I know you want to help Rainbow Dash, but you shouldn't force yourself to cheer loudly just because she wants you to…"

"I know but… still…" She sighed. "Sorry, Alex. I have to go follow Rainbow Dash. I would love it if you were able to come… but unfortunately you can't fly…"

"Oh…" I held my head down, a little sad. "Ok… I'll see you later…"

She nodded and flew out the window.

"Well, guess we better get this cleaned up... Again." Twilight announced, annoyed.

Twilight began picking up a book with her magic, but Rarity poked her from behind with her horn. "Go on, go on."

"Go on what?" Twilight asked with the annoyed expression on her face.

"Find a spell that will get us wingless ponies into Cloudsdale. Didn't you see how nervous she was?" Rarity answered.

"Nervous?" Applejack joined the conversation. "Have you spit yer bit or somethin'? She was tootin' her own horn louder than the brass section of a marching band!"

"Oh, puh-lease." Rarity argued. "I have put on enough fashion shows to recognize stage fright when I see it. We've got to find a way to be there for her." She looked over to Twilight and pushed her. "Now go on!"

"Owaa!" Twilight landed in a pile of books and poked her head out. "Ugh. How am I supposed to find a flight spell in this mess?"

"A flight spell? One sec." Pinkie Pie rushed over somewhere to get a book and threw it over to Twilight. "Page twenty-seven."

"How'd you do that?" Applejack asked suspiciously.

"It landed on my face when Rainbow Dash knocked me into the bookcase." Pinkie Pie responded.

"Here it is!" Twilight exclaimed. "A spell that will allow Earth ponies to fly for three days. Ooh, it looks really difficult..." She walked over to the others. "I'm not sure I can do it."

"You've got to try!" Rarity pleaded.

"Ok... But who's gonna volunteer to be the test subject?" Twilight asked.

Everypony remained quiet. Suddenly, transforming from my silence, I walked over to Twilight and offered. "I will."

"Alex? Are you sure?"

I nodded. To be honest… I wasn't doing it for Rainbow Dash… I mean sure… it would be great to watch her perform… but the reason I volunteered for a spell Twilight had not even performed before… was because that special feeling with Fluttershy pushed me to do it. It made me feel… confident… unafraid of whatever consequences that may arise from this spell. The feeling made my heart pump a little faster and stronger as I stood confident in front of Twilight. I really want to see Fluttershy…

"Ok then…here we go!" After reading her book for a moment, she placed it down and pointed her horn at me. Her horn released a faded glow as she closed her eyes on concentrating the spell. She grunted as blue waves, which looked like ribbons, surrounded me. They began levitating me and closing throughout my whole sight and body. A small explosion occurred, however, I was sent falling to the floor and releasing a loud thud sound when my body landed.

"What happened? Did it work?" Rarity asked Twilight.

I stood up and observed myself to see if there were any changes… but there weren't…

"That's weird… why didn't it work?" Twilight asked as she shuffled through the pages of her book.

"Maybe only a certain pony can have the spell?" Applejack suggested.

"No… It's not that… my book doesn't say a pony has to have certain qualifications… unless they already have wings… but Alex doesn't… so… I don't understand…"

Everypony thought for a moment, even me.

Does this mean I can't see Fluttershy…?

"Try me next!" Rarity offered, holding her hoof up. "For Rainbow Dash!"

Twilight looked at Rarity and shrugged. "Here goes…" She faced her horn at Rarity and began casting the spell. The same details occurred with Rarity as it did to me. Finally, another small explosion occurred, pushing us all back.

When we regained our balance, we stood up to look at the new Rarity. She was actually flying in midair! She opened her wings, releasing many colorful shadows when the sunlight was in the room. She had wings… but not exactly pony wings… they were more like… butterfly wings…

"I think it worked!" Twilight responded sluggishly.

"Oh my!" Rarity observed her wings. "They're so… BEAUTIFUL! I must show the other girls right away!" She was about to fly out the window but Twilight stopped her.

"Wait! What about us?" Twilight asked.

"I think I can help with that!" Pinkie Pie announced.

We looked behind us to see her motioning with her hoof. "C'mon! Follow me!"

She led us outside to where she had a huge hot air balloon.

"Pinkie…" Twilight spoke as her eyes were widened in surprise. "How did you…"

"Well, while you ponies were doing your magic mumbo-jumbo, I grabbed the hot air balloon I used for the Running of the Leaves! Pretty cool, huh?"

"Well then, let's go!" Applejack jumped onto the balloon.

The rest of us hopped in while Rarity had a head start. Pinkie Pie released the hot air and we began floating toward the clouds. In the meantime, I looked over the basket to see the ground descending below us. We continued to be separated further and further from land.

"Ok ponies, listen up!" Twilight announced. I turned to face her. "Before we arrive at Cloudsdale, I need to cast a spell on each one of you, so you'll be able to walk on the clouds." She flipped through the spell book she brought. "I was able to find something for us, thanks to Pinkie Pie," Pinkie Pie released a wide grin. "and it's so much easier than making each of us able to fly. Gather around!"

We gathered around Twilight to where she focused her horn and casted the spell on everyone in the balloon.

I didn't feel much different… instead… only a little lighter…

Finally, when we floated through the last cloud, we saw Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy staring at us in amazement.

"I... I can't believe it!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"It's incredible!" Fluttershy added.

"This is so cool! You guys made it!" Rainbow Dash stated as Pinkie Pie landed the hot air balloon on the cloud.

"Sure did!" Pinkie Pie jumped out of the hot air balloon and was about to land on the cloud.

"WAIT!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, but then she saw Pinkie Pie plant her feet safely on the cloud. Twilight, Applejack, and I hopped out of the hot air balloon as well. "…How'd you do that? Only Pegasus ponies can walk on clouds."

Pinkie Pie performed a cartwheel over to Rainbow Dash. "Haha. Pretty cool, huh?"

"I found a spell that makes temporary wings," Twilight explained. "but it was too difficult to do more than once. So I found an easier spell that lets the rest of us walk on clouds."

"And we came to cheer you to victory!" Applejack added.

"To be honest, I was starting to get just a teeniest, tiniest bit nervous. But I feel a LOT better now that you guys are here." Rainbow Dash paused for a moment. "Hey, we've got some time before the competition. Why don't Fluttershy and I show you around Cloudsdale?"

Everypony cheered and began following Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.

As we walked, Fluttershy flew to my side and looked really happy. "I'm so glad you could make it, Alex! It wouldn't feel the same without you…"

"Really…?" I responded lightly.

She blushed and looked away, nodding.

"Here it is:" Rainbow Dash announced. "The greatest city in the sky!" She presented, beyond the clouds, many ponies flying around Cloudsdale, along with the different homes made from clouds.

The ponies new to this city released their amazement through their voices. However, we heard Rarity doing the same thing, only she was observing herself in the mirror along with her wings…

"Uhh..." Rainbow Dash responded after noticing Rarity. "Some of the greatest Pegasi in history came from Cloudsdale!" Rainbow Dash walked us over to another area.

"Oh, wait for me!" Rarity called over to us and flew to catch up.

"Be careful with those wings Rarity." Twilight warned Rarity after she had noticed Rarity showing them off a bit too much. "They're made from gossamer and morning dew, and they're incredibly delicate."

"Don't worry Twilight." Rarity assured. "I'm sure they can't get worn out from too much attention?"

"Since we're up here, I'd sure like to get a look at where the weather's made." Applejack requested.

"Great idea!" Rainbow Dash responded. "C'mon. To the weather factory!" She ran to lead us over to the factory.

Before we entered the factory, we had to follow safety regulations, so we all had to wear a coat and hard hat.

"This is where they make the snowflakes. Each one is hoofmade. As you can see, it's a delicate operation." Rainbow Dash explained as she spoke is a low voice. She pointed out to the other ponies who were working on snowflakes with different kinds of equipment.

"Ooh, the snowflakes look even better from up here!" Rarity said as she flew up to the snowflakes hanging on the ceiling. However, the flapping from her wings caused a breeze to form, blowing all the snowflakes around the area and disturbing the workers. The workers began chasing after the snowflakes before they fell. Sounds of cracks and breaking were heard.

"We better move on before Rarity ruins winter and causes a drought." Rainbow Dash suggested.

Rainbow Dash escorted us to the area where they produced the rainbows in pools full of rainbow, which was stirred by different workers. "And here's where they make the rainbows!"

Pinkie Pie dipped her hoof in the rainbow and licked it. She tasted it for a moment until her face presented all the colors of the rainbow. She screamed and exclaimed, "Spicyyyyyy!..." She ran away to find something to relieve the fire in her mouth. Twilight and Applejack laughed.

"Yeah, rainbows aren't really known for their flavor…" Rainbow Dash explained.

"Woah!" We heard from a distance.

We turned our heads to see a group of three ponies following Rarity as she strutted by them.

"Oh, where'd you get those amazing wings? I want a pair!" The dark brown pony with a sort of… beige… hair color asked as he walked behind Rarity.

"Hmm... Yeah, I guess I could see that." Rarity teased.

The group noticed us and the dark brown pony spoke again. "Oh hey look, it's Rainbow Crash again!"

"Heheheyeah!" The light brown pony with the long brown mane added as they walked towards us. " Rainbow..." He stuttered. "Umm... Eyah... Crash!"

I could already tell that these guys were no good…

"Rarity! What're you doing talking to these guys?" Rainbow Dash immediately questioned, annoyed by the presence of them.

"Oh, they were just admiring my wings Rainbow Dash." Rarity replied.

"Yeah, you should forget the sonic rainboom and just get yourself some wings like these!" The dark brown one exclaimed.

They all began laughing.

"Oohh..." Rainbow Dash groaned.

After seeing a sudden image of the past, I looked from Rainbow Dash and over to the group of guys. I walked towards them firmly as they continued to laugh.

"Why don't you three shut your mouths and put your talent in it instead!" I spoke boldly.

"What are you saying…bub…?" He drew his face closer to mine, responding in a cold and bold voice, almost like mine.

"I'm saying that unless any of you three have some ACTUAL talent besides picking on others, you should keep your mouth shut."

"Oh yeah?" He responded aggressively, having his acquaintances start to surround me.

"Yeah." I replied. "What part of me didn't you understand? Oh that's right… because you're just an ignorant pony who needs to bully somepony else to feel better about yourself!"

They all growled and looked as if they wanted to attack me right there. Rainbow Dash noticed this and instantly cut in between. "Okay boys! That's enough!" She announced as she pulled me out of the aggressive zone.

They all scoffed. "You better tell your little friend to watch what he says!" The dark brown one said as they began flying away. "See you later…RAINBOW CRASH!"

I stared at them with an aggressive mood in my mind as they flew away. Rainbow Dash lowered her head in shame.

"Uhh... C'mon. Why don't we go see how clouds are made?" Fluttershy announced quickly to leave the area. "Don't listen to them." She helped Rainbow Dash as we walked away. "You're gonna win that competition for sure!"

"Are you kidding? I can't DO the sonic rainboom, and just look at these boring, plain old feathered wings. I'm doomed!" Rainbow Dash replied, worried.

"Rainbow Dash, you can. Think about it." I responded. "Who's the only one to have ever done the sonic rainboom? You. Have those idiots ever done it? No. So, don't listen to them. Just believe in yourself and I promise you'll be victorious."

Rainbow Dash managed to pull out a light smile. "Thanks Alex… I guess that makes me feel a little better…"

We arrived at the cloud factory to see all the workers immediately gaze and turn their attention to Rarity's wings as soon as they noticed them.

"Why, these old things?" Rarity bragged. "Go ahead everypony. Photos are encouraged."

Rarity continued showing off, causing Rainbow Dash to lose more of her ego and rise up in being frightened and nervous.

"Rarity." Twilight walked over to Rarity and scolded her while whispering. "We're supposed to be helping Rainbow Dash relax, remember? Put your wings away and stop showing off!"

"Oh pfft. How can you ask me to put away perfection?" Rarity ascended straight towards where the sunlight peeped through the factory. The sunlight passed through Rarity's wings, delicately, and formed several bright colors among the ponies, causing each of them to be amazed.

While every other pony was distracted with Rarity's wings, Rainbow Dash was on the floor shivering.

"Rainbow Dash. Are you ok? You don't look so good." Twilight asked.

"Of course!" Rainbow Dash answered as she panted. "Why wouldn't I be ok? Everyone's so in love with Rarity's wings that they won't even notice when I totally blow it in the Best Young Flyer's Competition."

"Hey! There's an idea!" One of the ponies emerged from the crowd and presented herself. She pointed at Rarity. "YOU should enter the competition!"

"Yeah! I could watch you fly all day long!" Another pony, that was elderly, encouraged.

"There really isn't anypony who uses their wings quite like me. Perhaps I should compete." Rarity responded as she continued striking poses.

"WHAT?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. Workers continued following Rarity as they awed of her appearance. "What am I gonna DO? I'll never win the competition now..." Rainbow Dash announced as the rest of the others gathered around her.

"Rarity has taken her temporary wings a bit too far…" I replied. "Don't worry Rainbow Dash, I'll go talk to her. Just… try to remain calm and think of positive thoughts… why don't you remember how you were before you came up here to Cloudsdale today? Or if possible, think of the time you actually did the sonic rainboom…"

"Thanks, Alex… but…" She continued shivering a little.

I looked over to the others. "Stay with Rainbow Dash and get her ready for the competition, I'll go have a talk with Rarity."

They nodded.

"Do you want me to come with you?" Fluttershy asked.

"It's okay, I'll be fine. I'm just going to talk to her really quick and see if I can get her head out of the beauty of the wings and into what actually will happen with the wings."

"Okay…"

"I'll see you at the cloud you'll be on, during the performances."

She nodded and they took Rainbow Dash as I began my way towards Rarity.

She wasn't hard to find as there was a large crowd following her everywhere she went. I struggled passing through the crowd and called her name when I got to the front.

"Rarity."

"Oh, Alex!" Rarity answered. She looked over to her admirers and scooted them away with her hoof. "Go on now. There will be plenty more to admire during my fantastic performance." The crowd left, leaving Rarity and I. She was still flying as she spoke. "So what is it Alex? Come to admire the wings as well?"

"Actually…" I responded, pausing a little. "I wanted to talk to you about the competition…"

"About my performance?" Rarity immediately asked.

"Yeah…I guess…" I looked around with my eyes, and then looked back at Rarity. "Don't you think it's dangerous to be competing?"

"How is competing dangerous?" Rarity questioned. "I have wings, remember?"

"Yeah… temporary wings." I strained. "What if you lose them during your 'performance'? I know Twilight said they lasted three days, but it was the first time she ever did the spell, so who knows how long it will really be? Besides, Twilight also said that they're delicate, so you don't know exactly what might make you lose them..."

"Oh, please, Alex." She chuckled a little. "Thanks for caring, but I'll be fine! With wings this beautiful, I'm destined to win with such grace."

"Rarity…"

"Even if I did lose them during my performance, I would still land safely on the cloud, like you ponies!"

"But, Rarity, Twilight didn't—

"Sorry, Alex. I have to prepare for my performance if I want to win! Wish me luck!" Rarity flew off towards where all the competitors were to ready themselves and wait. I placed a hoof on my head and sighed.

When I arrived at the performance center, I looked for the cloud the girls were on. Luckily, Pinkie Pie had this huge number one foam finger she was holding up. I spotted them and walked over to the cloud they were seated on.

Pinkie Pie continued giggling excitedly as I sat down next to Fluttershy. "Hey…how'd it go with Rainbow Dash?" I asked.

"She's still nervous… I'm afraid something might go wrong…"

I sighed and looked over to the building the competitors were to come out from. "I hope she does alright…even if I get annoyed by her constant bragging…she's still…my friend…"

Below me I could hear the laughter of those despicable ponies once again. I slowly grew angrier every time I heard them. However, Fluttershy placed a hoof on me, giving me this…worried look… as if she didn't want me to confront the ponies. I lightly exhaled the breath inside me.

"Fillies and gentlecolts!" The announcer announced. "Please rise and join me in welcoming our beloved Princess Celestia!" Princess Celestia appeared from the sky and landed on a special cloud reserved just for her. A couple of royal guards each stayed by both sides of her. Princess Celestia waved at every pony watching the event. "Please welcome our celebrity judges for the Best Young Flyer Competition. The Wonderbolts!" A group of six ponies flew by, doing a few tricks and finishing off with a firework. Every pony cheered for each introduction. "And now, let's find out who will take the prize as this year's best young flyer!"

Several performers emerged from the building and performed their own stunts and talents… but I didn't really pay attention as I was thinking more about the risks with Rarity, and the outcome of Rainbow Dash…

"I loved number seven." Twilight stated. "Doing fifteen barrel-rolls in a row can't be easy."

"My favorite is number ten. She just looked like such a nice pony." Fluttershy added.

"Hmm.. Wonder how come we haven't seen Rainbow Dash or Rarity yet? The competition's almost over." Applejack wondered.

"And now, for our final competitor of the day, contestant number fifteen!" Rainbow Dash flew out from the curtains, looking nervous and worried. On the contrary, Rarity appeared gracefully, having a face full of makeup and accessories. I slapped a hoof to my forehead. "Uhh... And apparently contestant number four..."

Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack cheered loudly for them. Rarity spoke to Rainbow Dash for a moment, who was shivering fiercely now, and then skipped to begin her performance.

Rainbow Dash studied the course for a moment and began her routine, just like she had done this morning. As the other girls cheered excitedly for Rainbow Dash, she continued to do her first phase. However, she knocked the last cloud and pummeled straight towards the bottom of us, crashing near the other ponies.

"Nice work Rainbow Crash!" They ignorantly exclaimed and laughed.

I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath… just let it go…

As Rarity continued dancing in mid-air, Rainbow Dash began the second phase, flying upwards and spinning the clouds.

"Look! Phase two is working!" Fluttershy announced, which led to the girls cheering again.

As Rainbow Dash was concentrating on spinning a cloud, a piece of it knocked her off. This caused the cloud to spin straight towards Princess Celestia. The Princess and her royal guards ducked as the cloud dissolved above them.

After, Rarity began flying upwards towards the sun. Hesitating for a moment, Rainbow Dash followed as well… preparing to do the third and final phase… the sonic rainboom…

Rarity arrived at the beam of the sun, panting and sweating heavily. "Look upon me Equestria," She announced loudly. "for I Am Rarity!"

She separated her wings and the sun beamed through the colors, presenting many shiny shades to appear everywhere. The crowd awed at her.

Suddenly, as she was posing, her wings burned up and disintegrated. She opened her eyes and looked at her body, noticing that her "fantastic" wings were gone. She began falling downwards at a rapid speed, screaming along the way.

"Oh no! Her wings evaporated into thin air!" Twilight exclaimed.

I stood up immediately and tried to think of something to do… but there was nothing I COULD do… I had no wings…

The wonderbolts began racing towards Rarity to catch her, but her feet kicking caused them to knock out and fall along with Rarity. Rainbow Dash saw this and immediately turned around, racing towards Rarity.

Fluttershy covered her eyes. "Oh, I can't look!"

She continued rushing at top speed, causing every pony to wait in suspense. Rainbow Dash continued flying and all of sudden; she released an explosion of rainbow, revealing different lights to everypony.

Fluttershy hopped in the air as Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and even I stood in awe. "A sonic rainboom!" She screamed. "She did it! She did it! WOOO!"

Just before the wonderbolts and Rarity were crushed to the ground, Rainbow Dash made it and swooped in to save them. She rushed back toward us and had them land safely, except Rarity, who was carried by a couple of Pegasus ponies. The whole crowd cheered, especially Fluttershy. "A sonic rainboom! Wooo! YEAH!"

Rainbow Dash and Rarity had a quick conversation. I exhaled a breath in relief.

We returned back to Pinkie Pie's hot air balloon, where Rarity was carried and placed inside the basket.

"I want to apologize to all of you for getting so carried away with my... beautiful wings. I guess I just lost my head." Everypony accepted her apology. Rarity looked over at Rainbow Dash and spoke to her. "And I'm especially sorry that I was so thoughtless as to jump into the contest at the last minute after you had worked so hard to win it. Can you ever ever forgive me?"

"Aw, it's ok." Rainbow Dash responded. "Everything turned out alright, right? I just wish I could have met the Wonderbolts when they were awake." The wonderbolts had actually walked over to us and one of them tapped Rainbow Dash. She turned around and her face immediately surrendered it's calm, cool, and collected expression. "Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohMYGOSH!"

"So you're the little pony who saved our lives." The one with a mane resembling of a fire spoke. "We really wanted to meet you, and say thanks."

"Ohmygosh Ohmygosh Ohmygosh Ohmygosh Ohmygosh!" was the only thing Rainbow Dash could reply with.

Princess Celestia and her royal guards flew over to us.

"Princess!" Twilight announced.

Each of us bowed as she spoke. "Hello Twilight Sparkle, and hello to your friends too."

"Princess Celestia, I am sorry I ruined the competition." Rarity spoke as she held her head low. She looked over to Rainbow Dash. "Rainbow Dash here really is the best flyer in Equestria."

Rainbow Dash rubbed her hooves shyly.

"I know she is my dear."Princess Celestia responded. "That's why for her incredible act of bravery, and her spectacular sonic rainboom, I'm presenting the grand prize for best young flyer to this year's winner, Miss Rainbow Dash!" Princess Celestia herself placed the award on Rainbow Dash as every pony cheered.

"Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh!" Rainbow Dash announced excitedly as Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy carried her around for a victory lap.

I remained with Twilight… because I wanted to hear today's report…

"So Twilight Sparkle, did you learn anything about friendship from this experience?" Princess Celestia asked.

"I did Princess," Twilight replied, looking over to Rarity. "but I think Rarity learned even more than me."

"I certainly did. I learned how important it is to keep your hooves on the ground, and be there for your friends… and when a certain friend tries to talk you out of trouble…" Rarity looked gently over to me. "You should listen to them…"

"Excellent. Well done Rarity." Princess Celestia responded.

The rest of the girls brought Rainbow Dash back and placed her on the cloud.

"This really is the best day EVER!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"Uhh, hey Rainbow Crash." The dark brown pony had come back.

"Dash!" The tan one nudged and corrected the dark brown one.

"Oh! Uhh... Sorry Rainbow Dash. Uhh, we just wanted to congratulate you on winning the competition."

"That sonic rainboom was awesome!"

I rolled my eyes and hopped in the hot air balloon with Rarity. I sat and looked away. I had seen it all before…

"Heh, thanks guys." Rainbow Dash replied.

"Uhh, we're really sorry we gave you such a hard time before."

"Aww, that's ok. Don't worry about it."

"Hey. Do you want to hang out with us? Maybe you could show us how you did that incredible trick!"

"Sorry boys..." She flew over to the couple of wonderbolts waiting for her. "But I've got plans!" She glided along with her idols as they headed somewhere else.

"Well, I best be going." Princess Celestia announced. "I hope you all had a great day! Night will fall shortly, so farewell all!"

Every pony bowed and Princess Celestia left with her royal guards. Rarity looked over to me and noticed my expression. "Alex, is something bothering you?" She asked.

"I just want to go home." I quickly responded. I didn't really want all of the ponies to start worrying…

Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack climbed aboard.

"Next stop, Ponyville!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed and began descending us back home.

When we arrived, we all hopped off, except Pinkie Pie, who stayed in the balloon so she could take it back to her place. Night fell and everypony responded by wishing each other goodnight. I began walking Fluttershy to her house. She walked by my side, looking a little sleepy. She was probably too tired to fly.

"That was some loud cheering you did…" I told her.

"Oh." She blushed. "I was just so caught up with the excitement…I'm a little embarrassed about it now…"

"Don't be, you were fantastic."

She smiled. "Thank you…" She yawned. "I guess it really wore me out…"

"Well… I still think your soft cheering is perfect."

"You really think so?" She asked as she looked over to me.

"Mmhm." I nodded. "That's just something unique about you."

She giggled a little as she blushed some more.

We walked through the little bridge and stopped at her door. Before she opened it, she turned around to see me.

"You're a great friend… you know that? Not only to me…but to everypony…"

I stared at her with a confused expression on my face.

"You said that you wouldn't let any of us be bullied by some pony else… and you're true to that… you are so helpful and just…" She looked at the ground for a moment and back at me. "…so amazing..."

I couldn't really say anything… I was amazed by what she told me… I stared at the ground myself for a moment and looked back at her. "That's…I…You really think that…?" I asked.

"Yes…" She answered. "Not only me… but the other girls as well…"

I looked away for a moment, muttering "Wow…" under my breath. I stared back at her. "Thank you Fluttershy… that really means a lot…"

"Well it's true…" Her head suddenly dropped a little, but she picked it back up. "I better get some sleep… can I see you tomorrow?" She asked.

"Of course… Goodnight, Fluttershy." I responded.

She smiled and opened her door, glancing back and replying, "Goodnight, Alex." She slowly walked in and closed the door.

I turned around and headed home.

After I finished opening the door and entering inside, I closed the door and placed my hoof on my chest. I closed my eyes and felt each time my heart beat. I opened my eyes again and placed my hoof on the floor, walking up the stairs to my bedroom. I walked over to my bed and slowly tucked myself in.

I closed my eyes and waited for sleep.

Stare Master

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Episode 17 – Stare Master

Slowly opening my eyes and getting out of bed, I walked downstairs to the front door. I began walking outside, heading to Fluttershy's but it turns out I didn't need to. I saw her walking by in town, carrying a basket with her teeth. She moved her eyes to see me. She placed the basket down gently and greeted me.

"Hi, Alex." She smiled.

"Hello, Fluttershy. Where are you going with that basket?" I asked, walking towards her.

She looked at the basket and explained. "I just finished grooming Rarity's pet for her. I'm taking her back to her shop. Want to come?"

I nodded, almost immediately.

We began walking through town until we reached Rarity's shop. Fluttershy rang the doorbell and entered a moment after.

"Oh, sorry." Fluttershy apologized after she saw Rarity working with the sewing machine. "I thought the 'open' sign meant you were open, but I must have been mistaken."

Rarity gasped. "Fluttershy! Forgive me!" Rarity apologized as she walked toward us. "I was so wrapped up in my work that I forgot you were bringing Opalescence back from her grooming!"

"No worries, Rarity. I've left her there in the basket."

The cat poked her head out and hopped out of the basket, purring.

"Oh, she looks great! I just don't understand how you're able to do it! I can't get near her without getting a swipe from her claws." Rarity moved her head close to Opalescence, causing her to stop purring with Fluttershy and aggressively attempt to slash Rarity with her claws. "Ahh! Did you use..." Rarity paused for a moment. "…The Stare on her?

I raised an eyebrow. The Stare?

"Oh, no! I wouldn't! I couldn't! I-I don't really have any control over when that happens. I-It just happens." Fluttershy responded uneasily. "No, I'm just good with animals. It's my special gift, you know?"

"Well, you should have a picture of Opal as a cutie mark instead of those butterflies." Rarity winked jokingly.

"Ooh, ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh!" Rarity's little sister, Sweetie Bell, exclaimed. "Maybe I can be good with animals, too!" Rarity's pet glared at her annoyingly and gave a quick swipe at Sweetie Bells mane, cutting off a piece of it in an instant. "Or not."

Rarity and Fluttershy laughed.

"I'm sorry I can't invite you both to stay and chat. I've bitten off a bit more than I can chew with this order." Rarity said.

"But you're not eating anything." Sweetie Bell answered.

"No, Sweetie, it's an expression. It means that I've taken on more work than I can handle. I've got twenty of these special robes to make tonight! They're due in Trottingham tomorrow morning." She grabbed a gold and glittering cloth and presented it to us, causing Fluttershy to gasp. "See? I've lined them in a special gold silk. It took so long to make, but I think it adds just the right touch, don't you?"

"These are lovely," Fluttershy responded as she observed it. "but twenty by tonight? How will you get it all done?"

"Well, I, uh..." Rarity tried to explain.

"Oh, oh oh!" Sweetie Bell cried out. "Maybe I could..." Rarity gave her a cold and irritated stare. "…just... just stand over here and watch." She walked over to a corner.

"I'll manage." Rarity answered.

"Well, maybe we should get out of your mane so you can work." Fluttershy replied as she began walking out the door.

A couple of fillies suddenly rushed through the door, saying Hello to each of us.

"Hello, uh, girls..." Rarity grew another worried expression.

"Hey, Sweetie Belle!" They stopped and greeted her. It was Applebloom and one of her friends.

Sweetie Bell changed her gloomy look to a joyful one. "Scootaloo! Applebloom!" She exclaimed.

"You ready for tonight?" The little orange one, who must have been Scootaloo, asked. She had a pair of small wings, creating an equal diversity in the group. She also had a darkish pinkish mane with light purple colored eyes.

"Yup! Cutie mark planning session is a go!" Sweetie Bell answered, giving a salute.

"Tonight is the night we each try to find our own special talent." Applebloom announced.

"Even if it takes us all night!" Scootaloo added.

"I'm ready! You ready?" Applebloom asked Scootaloo.

"Very ready!" Scootaloo replied confidently.

"Cutie Mark Crusader sleepover at Rarity's!" The three of them shouted loudly. "Yay!"

"And... look what I made us!" Sweetie Bell represented a velvet cape with their insignia on it.

"Oh, wow!" Scootaloo and Applebloom replied as they combined laughs and gasps.

Fluttershy walked over to them, concerned. "What does that patch on your cape mean?" She asked.

"The Cutie Mark Crusaders! Yay!" They shouted.

"We're on a crusade, a mission!" Scootaloo responded.

"To find our cutie marks!" Applebloom added.

"Yup. And look. I lined them with this special gold silk. It took sooo long to make, but I think it adds just the right touch, don't you?" Sweetie Bell finished.

My expression instantly changed to a shocked one when I heard the words "gold" and "silk". I looked over Rarity to see her eye begin twitching. She rushed over to her desk and pulled out her other gold fabric to reveal square holes in it. "Sweetie Belle! What have you DONE? That was the last of the gold silk! Oh, now I'll have to make more! Oh, I hope I can make more. I'm gonna have to work all night! Which means... sorry, girls, I'm afraid the Crusaders sleepover is cancelled."

"WHAT?" Sweetie Bell exclaimed.

"I just won't have any time to watch you if I want to get these robes delivered on time." Rarity answered.

"But—

"No buts this time. I'm sorry, Sweetie Belle; it's just the way it has to be."

"Awwww..." They groaned in disappointment.

"I, ah, I suppose I could take them for the night." Fluttershy offered.

They lifted their heads and looked excitedly at Rarity.

"I couldn't ask you to do that." Rarity replied.

Their heads shifted to Fluttershy.

"Oh, it's no problem at all." Fluttershy responded.

The three of their heads continued to shift to each speaker.

"Have you met my sister and her friends? A problem is all it would be."

"Did I have a problem with Opal? You've seen how well I handle small creatures!"

"I suppose that's true... and I do have a lot of work to do..."

"Come on, it'll be fun."

"I assure you, they're quite a handful."

"These sweet little angels?"

They stood proudly and smiled innocently.

"Well..." Rarity thought for a moment. "…all right."

"Cutie Mark Crusader sleepover at Fluttershy's cottage! Yay!" They shouted out loud, causing our ears to be sore from the volume. They rushed out the door.

"So cute." Fluttershy commented. "W-wait for us!" She grabbed my hoof and flew out the shop.

I walked by Fluttershy as she flew lightly behind the running fillies.

"Oh, won't this be ever so fun." Fluttershy excitedly told me. "We can have a nice little tea party, and braid each other's tails, and sit quietly and color, and tell each other fairy tales, and—

She noticed the fillies rush past Twilight, spinning her around and making her dizzy. When Twilight regained her balance, she noticed us. "Hello, Fluttershy. Hey, Alex."

"Oh! Hello, Twilight." Fluttershy flew over to Twilight. "Where are you off to?" She asked.

"I'm heading to the Everfree Forest, to Zecora's, to get some of my favorite tea." Twilight replied.

"Th-the Everfree Forest?" Fluttershy suddenly returned a worried look. "Ah, you'll be careful, won't you?"

"Of course! How about you? What are you doing with the girls?"

Fluttershy landed as she responded to Twilight. "Rarity has a big order to fill tonight, so I volunteered to take the girls over to my cottage for a sleepover."

"Wow. Sounds like everypony has their hooves full today. Taking care of those three fillies all by yourself? You sure you can handle it?"

"What? These sweet little angels?" Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo ran over to us, smiling innocently. "They'll be no problem at all."

"I could help you with the girls, if you want..." I offered to Fluttershy.

"Oh, you don't have too..." Fluttershy thought for a moment. "Well... okay! The more the merrier, right?" She smiled brightly.

Turning my eyes from the fillies, I looked at Twilight. "Do you want me to walk you over to Zecora's? I don't feel comfortable knowing that you'll be going all by yourself."

"Oh, Alex." Twilight laughed a little. "I'll be fine! What am I going to do? Stand in the middle of the forest like a rock?"

"Um… I guess not…?"

"Don't worry about me Alex! I'll be fine. Besides, I have magic, remember? If I get into a little trouble, I'll just use it then!"

I thought for a moment and trusted Twilight. "Okay… just be careful, alright?"

Twilight nodded. "Sure thing! Well I'll see you two later!" She began walking towards the Everfree forest.

"Well…" Fluttershy announced. "Let's get these three back at my cottage before it gets late."

I nodded and we walked them over to Fluttershy's.

As soon as Fluttershy closed her doors, the little fillies began their hyper activities throughout the home. Fluttershy could only stare confused at what she should do.

"No problem at all…Okay, girls, uh, what should we do?" Fluttershy asked.

"I'm gonna get my mark first!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"Girls?" Fluttershy asked again.

"Nuh-uh!" Sweetie Belle counteracted.

"Should we—

"I am!"

"Girls, okay, now settle –

"I'm staying up all night!"

"Me too!"

"Me three!"

"GIRLS!" I shouted after I couldn't take the ignorance anymore. They all stopped what they were doing and walked over to us, in silence. Fluttershy sighed and blew the mane that was in front of her face. "Listen to Fluttershy… please." I told them politely.

Fluttershy smiled at me. "Thank you Alex." She looked over to the girls. "So! What do you wanna do? Play a game?"

"We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"And we want to crusade for our cutie marks!" Applebloom added.

"And, and, and, we, um- yeah! What they said!" Sweetie Belle struggled.

"Mmm, I don't know..." Fluttershy began looking a little nervous again. "how about a nice quiet little tea party?"

"Or... we could go adventuring in the Everfree Forest!" Scootaloo offered.

The rest of the girls agreed and began heading out the front door, but Fluttershy flew in their way. "Oh, no. The Everfree Forest is much too dangerous. It's filled with far too many strange creatures."

"But you could go with us and we could catch those creatures." Sweetie Belle tried to reason. "We could be, umm... creature catchers!"

"YAY!" They all shouted again, damaging our ears with the strength of their voices. "Cutie Mark Crusader creature catchers!"

Scootaloo and Applebloom dressed up with a rug and basket to look like a monster. Scootaloo began making noises. "Arrrr... I am a dangerous creature from the Everfree Forest! Rrrarr!"

Sweetie Belle stared at them in confusion for a moment, but then finally realized at what they were up to. "Halt, dangerous creature from the Everfree Forest. I am Sweetie Belle, the creature catcher, and I'm here to catch you!"

"You can never catch me! I am far too powerful and dangerous!"

"You cannot run from me!"

They began chasing each other as they giggled at the same time. Fluttershy tried to calm them down by trying to talk to them again. "Um, oh, maybe that's not such a- now, girls, how about we do some nice coloring. Dhh—

"Come back, dangerous creature, so I can catch you!" Sweetie Belle bounced off of Fluttershy's head.

"Never!"

After seeing them mess around in the house without any regard for safety or destroying things, I quickly took action. "Alright, that's enough." I said, walking over to them and pulling the rug and basket off. Scootaloo fell off from being on Applebloom and Sweetie Belle stopped running.

I placed the three of them in front of me and began trying to talk some sense into them. "Look, I know how you little girls are really excited about… well… being 'Cutie Mark Crusaders'… but you've got to remember that you need to watch what you're doing. Fluttershy and I don't want you girls to be getting into any trouble or harmed. So please, I don't want to have to continue asking you fillies, but Fluttershy is allowing you three to sleep over at her home and you need to respect that. You girls need to listen to whatever she tells you three to do…"

They sighed and lowered their heads, apologizing.

Fluttershy walked over and sighed as well. "Thank you again, Alex." She looked over to them and continued speaking. "Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way, how about a game?"

"A game?" Applebloom asked as the rest of them walked over to sit on the couch excitedly, but calm so far.

"It's called 'Shhh!'" Fluttershy answered.

"What's that?" Scootaloo questioned as they pulled back confused.

"Well, it's a game about who can be quiet the longest. Sound fun?" Fluttershy asked. The girls didn't say anything but only responded with bored expressions on their faces. Fluttershy noticed this and tried to lift their spirits by introducing a competitive mood. "I'm the world champ, you know. I bet you can't beat me!" Fluttershy released an adorable squeal as she smiled. She suddenly took in a deep breath of air and held it in.

"I lose!" Scootaloo immediately announced.

"Me too!" Sweetie Belle joined.

"Me three!" Applebloom added.

Fluttershy released the breath she held in. We both sighed as the girls returned to being hyper in the house.

"Okay, now what can we do?" Applebloom asked the others. "Oooh! How about Cutie Mark Crusader coal miners?"

"YEAH!" The others agreed.

"NO!" Fluttershy exclaimed.

"Awwww!"

"I mean, it's time for bed, don't you think?" Fluttershy responded, changing the tone of her voice. "Aren't you excited to get all toasty and warm in your snuggly-wuggly widdle beds?"

"Snuggly-wuggly? But we have more crusading to do!" Applebloom replied.

"We've got plans!" Scootaloo added.

"And capes!" Sweetie Belle presented the capes that were in her saddle.

"Um, okay, um. Maybe the crusading can wait until morning? When it's light? And not so... dark?" She began walking the fillies upstairs. "C'mon Alex, I may need your help…"

I nodded and walked behind her to her bedroom, where she was going to let the girls sleep.

"How are we gonna find our special talent in our sleep?" Applebloom asked.

Fluttershy blew out the candle that was lit inside the room. "Maybe you'll have a lovely little dream about your special talent."

"But we're not even tired!" Scootaloo stated as the three of them were under the covers in the bed.

"How about I sing you a lullaby?" Fluttershy offered.

"Mm-hmm, yeah!" They agreed.

Fluttershy cleared her throat, and in the most amazing voice, she sang.

"Hush now, quiet now

It's time to lay your sleepy head

Hush now, quiet now

It's time to go to bed"

The three girls began looking sleepy as they began closing their eyes and yawning. Fluttershy looked over at me. "Alex, do you want to try?" She asked.

"Um…" I began feeling a little nervous. "I'm not much of a singer…"

"Oh, I'm sure you'll do fine!"

I looked at her for a moment, but she gave me this sweet look on her face that I couldn't refuse… I sighed. "Okay…" I walked closer to the bed and looked at the girls. They looked back at me with their sleepy eyes. I looked at Fluttershy, who nodded for me to begin. I took a deep breath and hoped for the best…

"Hush now, quiet now

It's time to lay your sleepy head

Hush now, quiet now

It's time to go to bed…"

"Oh Alex…" Fluttershy spoke behind me. I looked at her. She returned a look with a warm smile. "That was wonderful…"

"You really think so…?" I asked, very surprised.

She nodded.

I looked back at the girls to see Scootaloo and Applebloom close their eyes. However, just when Sweetie Bell was about to do the same, she suddenly opened her eyes again. "I know this one!" She exclaimed, shocking the other girls.

"Oh, how wonderful!" Fluttershy responded. "Why don't you sing it with us?"

Sweetie Belle cleared her throat. She stood up from the bed while the others placed their hooves on their ears.

"Hush now! Quiet now!

It's time to lay your sleepy head!"

Fluttershy shook her hooves to try to quiet Sweetie Belle down… but that didn't work.

"Said hush now! Quiet now!

It's time to go to bed! "

"Okay Sweetie… that was—

"Driftin' off to sleep!

The exciting day behind you!

Driftin' off to sleep!

Let the joy of dream land find you!"

Her enormous and loud voice began causing things from Fluttershy's shelf to fall. I immediately dove to catch them in my hooves.

"Thank you, Sweetie, um..."

"Hush now! Quiet now!

Lay your sleepy head!

Said hush now! Quiet now!

It's time to go to BEEEEEEEEEEEEEED! OW!"

Sweetie Bell had caused her friends to be under the covers while Fluttershy had been on the floor covering her ears. I placed the items back on her shelf, but then heard chickens clucking and flapping.

"What is that?" Scootaloo asked.

Chickens continued squawking outside while I helped Fluttershy from the floor. As soon as we looking towards the bed, we noticed the girls were instantly gone. Fluttershy gasped and called them. "Girls!" We both looked out the window to see them near the chicken pen.

"Fluttershy, your chickens are on the loose!" Applebloom stated.

"I wonder what could have caused that..." Sweetie Belle wondered.

The others glared her for a moment.

"Don't worry, Fluttershy, the Cutie Mark Crusaders will handle this!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"Cutie Mark Crusader chicken herders!" Sweetie Belle announced happily. "Yay!"

"No, I don't think that's a- ah, come back! Please!" I groaned and jumped out the window to catch the girls and possibly yell at them again. Fluttershy followed me and flew over to the chicken pen. "Come on, girls, the chickens are fine- oh, girls, um..." Just before I was about to shout their names again, a chicken came out of nowhere and attacked my face. I grabbed it with my hooves and lightly threw it at the ground. "GIRLS!" Fluttershy exclaimed for me, causing the girls to grow very quiet while the chickens continued to be bothersome. Fluttershy managed to group up the chickens and began leading them towards their home. "Come on, in you go." The chicken stopped at the entrance and refused to go inside. Fluttershy saw this and immediately changed the look on her face. She opened her eyes wide and stared right into the chickens' eyes. They immediately grew frightened and slowly backed off to the inside of their house. Fluttershy replaced her expression afterwards. "They're some good chickens." Fluttershy walked over to the fillies. "Okay, you three. Isn't it about time you got into bed?"

"BUT—

"Please? "

They looked at each other and finally gave up, lowering their heads. Fluttershy smiled and led them back into her cottage. I looked around the chicken pen and noticed something odd… there was hole in one part of the fence that surrounded the chickens. It was barely large enough for one to get through. In fact, there were footprints through the hole… I observed the footprints, beginning to follow them, however, Fluttershy called me.

"Alex, are you coming in?" She asked.

I looked back and responded. "Uh… yeah…"

I decided I would come back later and investigate. I didn't want Fluttershy to worry.

By the time I entered her cottage, she was walking down the stairs.

"I just put the girls into bed…" She finished and looked at me. She yawned. "Well, I guess I better get some sleep too… Alex, do you mind if you stay here and help me look after the girls?"

"No I don't. You deserve some sleep." I responded.

"Oh, thank you so much." She walked over to her couch and lay down, sighing. She closed her eyes and she continued to talk to me. "It really wasn't THAT hard ... I mean, all I needed to do was just show them who's in charge. Nothing's gonna get past Fluttershy! Good with animals, good with kids…"

I grabbed the covers from near the couch and placed them over her and she began to sleep.

"Good night, Fluttershy." I softly told her. "You've done enough for today…"

I turned around and walked towards the door, letting myself outside. I began looking for the footprints. When I spotted them, I began following them. They eventually led me to… the Everfree forest. I took a deep breath… this is going to be a challenge…

I continued walking through the eerie sounds of the forest. Owls hooted as I cautiously looked around for any dangers. I continued to search for the missing chicken, but I still hadn't found any yet. After some time, I heard a familiar voice echo through the forest.

"Scootaloo! Scoot-scootalooooo!"

I looked back to try to see where the voice came from. I studied the voice and finally realized that things have gotten much worse. It was Applebloom's voice… don't tell me…

I sighed. Not only do I have to look for the missing chicken… but the girls as well…

I was about to turn around… but I heard something slip by me. I quickly glanced around, searching for the mysterious noise. I walked a bit forward and noticed something shaded out by the night. It was some kind of figure, but I had no idea what it was, due to the fact that it was so dark. I slowly and cautiously walked towards the object. When I was close enough, I found out it was Twilight.

"Twilight?" I questioned her. There was no response. "Twilight?" I asked again, placing a hoof on her… but something was strange… her skin was cold… not only cold but…rock-hard!

"What the—

The dark clouds that covered the moonlight moved out of the way and uncovered Twilight's true state. I gasped when I saw Twilight's condition. She was literally turned to stone. I could only see how her eyes were widened as if she was suddenly surprised. Her mouth was agape to match the same expression.

"What did this?" I exclaimed, observing her. I looked around but there was nothing in sight. "What should I do?" I questioned to myself, worriedly. I tried to put myself where I could carry her but it was too complicated. She seemed too heavy as well.

"Hold on Twilight… I have to find the girls before they get hurt!" I immediately began running to where Applebloom's voice originated from.

"Is not!"

"Is too!"

I followed the voices as I continued to run hastily.

"Is not!"

"Is too!"

After swerving through branches and bushes, I finally spotted them. Applebloom and Scootaloo were arguing while Sweetie Belle was in the front walking.

"Girls!" I called them.

They quickly turned to me, looking very surprised.

"Alex?" They answered.

"Girls, what do you think you're doing here?" I exclaimed as I walked towards them.

"We were just looking for Fluttershy's chicken…" Sweetie Belle explained, lowering her head.

"That doesn't give you the reason to come out here all by yourselves!" I responded. "Don't you know how dangerous the forest is? Especially at night!"

"But…" Applebloom tried to speak.

"No excuses, I'm taking you girls home right now!" I began walking them out of the forest.

"But what about the chicken?" Scootaloo asked.

"Leave that to me, I am getting you three out of here."

Suddenly, we heard a voice call us from above. "Girls? Alex?" A pony flew above us.

"Fluttershy?" I questioned.

She heard me and flew down to us. "Thank goodness I found you!"

Applebloom tried to respond to Fluttershy's appearance. "Fluttershy, what—

"Girls, we have to leave the forest at once!"

"But... we haven't found the chicken yet! " Sweetie Bell replied.

"There's no time for that. There's a cockatrice on the loose!" Fluttershy warned as she began walking them back out of the forest.

"A cockatrice?" I asked.

" It's a frightening creature with the head of a chicken and the body of a snake. Now, come on!"

"The head of a chicken and the body of a snake? That doesn't sound scary, that sounds silly!" Scootaloo stated.

"Well, if I ever saw one of them cockathingies face-to-face, I'd laugh at how silly it was." Applebloom added.

"NO!" Fluttershy demanded. "Never look one in the eye. If you look a cockatrice in the eye—

Brush rustled behind us and a chicken came out, clucking.

"The chicken!" Applebloom exclaimed and the girls immediately rushed over to get it.

"Girls! Wait!" Fluttershy called as I began racing after the girls.

"Here, chick-chick-chick-chick-chick!" They said as they chased it.

They suddenly stopped and were cut off by a loud and distorted growl.

"There he is!" Sweetie Belle pointed to a chicken's head pointing out of a nearby bush.

"Girls!" I exclaimed, catching them and running towards the front of them.

Another chicken's head poked out of another bush in front of us. "Two chickens?" Scootaloo questioned.

"I thought only one escaped!" Applebloom wondered.

"Grab them both!" Sweetie Belle ordered as they began to stick their hooves out to grab them. I immediately placed my hooves in front of them to stop them.

"No! Stay behind me!" I commanded.

Suddenly, the chicken's head in front me gained altitude. It revealed its wings, which were full of scales, along with its snakelike body. It gave a terribly loud roar and flew over to Fluttershy's chicken that was running around in a panicking way. It landed on the ground and roared at the chicken. The chicken screamed and was instantly turned to stone.

The cockatrice began targeting the little girls. The girls immediately screamed and began running away. The cockatrice began following them but I instantly ran over and tackled it down to the ground, trying to keep it in place.

"Alex!" Fluttershy called after me.

"Get the girls!" I exclaimed, struggling to keep the cockatrice in place.

It continued to try to maneuver itself out of my hold but I wouldn't let it budge. It then tried a new tactic, which began being effective. It stared right into my eyes.

I knew that if I closed my eyes to prevent myself from turning into stone, I would lose concentration on holding the cockatrice and it would free itself and chase after the girls. However, I could give them time to escape if I kept my focus, but I would soon join Twilight. I instantly kicked out the "closing my eyes" choice and made sure the cockatrice didn't escape my hold.

I could slowly feel my back legs turn into stone. I was a bit afraid of what was going to happen, but my heart gave me the strength to proceed with it. The cockatrice continued clucking, struggling, and staring at me. I could already feel the stone halfway throughout my body.

I hope the girls made it out in time…

The stone was at my upper body now.

So what will happen when I'm completely paralyzed?

It was at my neck now.

Well… whatever happens… happens…

The stone was just about to completely surround my whole body now…

…for my…friends…

I was completely paralyzed… I couldn't move any part of my body. I could feel the cockatrice release itself from my grasp. I hoped that the girls got out in time…

However… for some reason, I still was able to hear voices…

"GIRLS! Behind me, NOW!"

Fluttershy? What are they still doing here?

I could hear the cockatrice roaring furiously, trying to capture them too…

"YOU!" I heard Fluttershy exclaim suddenly. "Just who do you think you are, going around turning others into stone?" The cockatrice squawked in fear."You should be ashamed of yourself. I have a mind to find your mother and tell her what you've been up to, young man. Now you go over there, and turn Elizabeak and my friends Alex and Twilight back to normal, and don't ever let me catch you doing this again! Do you understand me?"

After that, all the chaotic noise was gone… I heard footsteps near me.

"Alex…" I heard Fluttershy near me, sounding a little depressed.

Fluttershy…

I felt my heart tingle, despite my frozen state. Suddenly, a bright light emerged and I was normal again! I looked at my hooves and body to see that I was alright!

"Oh, Alex!" Fluttershy suddenly embraced me when she saw I was okay.

"Fluttershy…" I was still a little breathless.

"I'm so glad you're alright!" She looked over to the girls. "Are you girls all right? I was so worried!"

"Yeah, fine!" Scootaloo answered.

"Thanks to that stare of yours." Sweetie Belle added.

"You're like the queen of stares." Scootaloo agreed. "You're the—

"Stare Master!" The three of them shouted together.

Fluttershy blushed and giggled a little. "But, I believe it was Alex who gave me the confidence to stare at the cockatrice like that…" She looked at me for a moment, causing me to blush, and then pulled away from her embrace.

"We're sorry we snuck out of the house and into the forest." Sweetie Belle apologized.

"Yeah. We'll listen to you from now on." Applebloom nodded.

"We promise." Scootaloo assured.

"Oh, you DO, do you? Well, you better, or I'll give you..." Fluttershy focused her eye on them. "The Stare."

She made the fillies remain silent while they looked with fright at Fluttershy. Fluttershy began giggling, leading the other girls to begin laughing as well.

Twilight began walking over to us, very confused, as she looked very tired and sluggish. "What..." She shook her head. "What happened?"

We heard a chicken squawk behind us. It was Fluttershy's chicken, who was stuck in the ground, making all the noise. I walked over to it and pulled it out. It shook its head around, insanely confused on what happened. Fluttershy used her talent with animals to lead it back to her home as we followed her.

"So…" Twilight began as she walked by me. "Want to tell me what just happened…?"

I yawned lightly and looked at her sleepily. "Maybe you'll know in the morning… I'm drained out…"

When we arrived at the home, Fluttershy began placing the last chicken back into its pen and putting the fillies into bed. I walked into Fluttershy's cottage and straight to her couch. I threw myself lightly on it and shut my eyes. Right before I fell asleep, I felt something light cover me, as well as something being planted next to me on the couch. Too tired to even open my eyes to find out what it was, I mentally shrugged it off and continued my way towards slumber.

After I spent some time in darkness, I began hearing noises. I was in that type of sleep where you're still asleep… but you could hear noises in the background in your sleep.

I heard a light knocking. Something rose from the couch. Footsteps sounded. A door opened.

"Hey, Fluttershy." It was Twilight's voice. "Did Alex stay over?"

"Mmhm." Fluttershy's voice spoke softly. "He's still asleep so you'll have to be a little quiet."

"Oh, okay. Why don't we talk outside then? I'm still dying to know what happened last night."

"Okay, sure. Let me just get the girls… I wouldn't want them waking up Alex when they wake up."

I heard Twilight chuckle a little. "You're absolutely right on that."

I heard footsteps ascend above me and enter a room.

"Girls… It's time to wake up…" I heard Fluttershy faintly.

There was a moment of silence until they began to exclaim, "ALRI—

Their cheer was cut short. Fluttershy must have done something to keep them quiet…

"Come on now… let's go outside." Fluttershy stated.

I heard footsteps and tip toes walk. After a moment, a door closed and there was only silence.

I remained in this state for a moment until I had finally gained enough energy to slowly open my eyes. When my eyes focused, I noticed I was facing the window that presented the sun outside. I looked around for a moment while not moving my head. After, I picked up my head and my front leg that was hanging on the edge of the couch. I also noticed that I had covers on me, which I lightly moved to the side. I used my hooves to push me off the couch and sit up. I got off the couch and turned around to fold the covers nicely. I finished placing the organized covers on the spot near where I was sleeping. However, I felt that that part of the couch was still warm, which left me questioning a little.

I turned around and began to head outside. I opened the door to hear the sounds of nature, along with the girls running and giggling.

"And that's when it brought you back from stone." Fluttershy said.

I turned my head to see Fluttershy and Twilight both sitting on pillows which were laid on the grass. There was a table between them that contained two small cups and a large container for tea on it. Twilight was using her magic to write a letter above her.

"This is gonna make quite a letter to the princess. I was wrong about you. You certainly do know how to handle those girls." Twilight responded.

Fluttershy looked a little embarrassed. "Oh, I wouldn't go that far."

"Hmm? How so?"

"I assumed that I'd be just as good with kids as I am with animals. Boy, was I wrong. I really learned the hard way not to bite off more than I could chew."

Twilight finished writing her letter and rolled it up. "You and Rarity both."

I walked over to them and greeted. "Good Morning…"

"Oh, good morning, Alex!" Fluttershy answered.

"Morning, Alex!" Twilight added as well. We then heard footsteps behind us and turned to see Rarity. "Good morning, Rarity."

"Did you finish all those capes?" Fluttershy asked.

Rarity gave a sigh of relief. "Just delivered them. I have to admit, if you hadn't come along, I might not have. Thanks again."

"Won't you stay for some tea?" Fluttershy offered.

"I really must get back to the shop and clean up. Girls! Get your things. Time to go." Rarity called. However, the girls were too busy running around and giggling. "Girls! Girls! Time to- Girls! Your things! Girls! It's time to- GIRLS!" Rarity struggled with the little ones.

I looked over to Fluttershy, signaling for her to take care of it.

Fluttershy walked over to Rarity. "Allow me." She cleared her throat. "Girls?"

The fillies immediately stopped talking and ran over to Fluttershy.

"Yes, Fluttershy." Applebloom answered.

"You called?" Scootaloo asked.

"Go and get your things. Rarity is here to see you home."

"Of course, Fluttershy, right away!" Sweetie answered politely and ran with the girls to grab their things.

Rarity stood dumbstruck. "Ah, huh, ah, how did you... how did you do that?"

Fluttershy winked over to Twilight and me. "I guess I'm just as good with kids as I am with animals."

The girls ran out of the cottage with their capes. "Thank you, Fluttershy! Bye! Thank you Stare Master!" They said as they headed towards home.

"Ah, uh, speaking of which, I could use your help with Opal."

"Of course." Fluttershy responded. "How about later today?"

There was a fierce meow as Rarity revealed Opal, who was clinging on to Rarity with her claws. "How about now?" Rarity strained.

Twilight walked over to Fluttershy and me and observed this as well. They began giggling at the sight.

"I guess I could do that." Fluttershy pulled Opal off of Rarity. The cat began to purr sweetly around her.

"Oh, thank you so much, Fluttershy! I should take the girls home now." She began running after the fillies. "Girls! Wait!"

"I should probably head home too… I need Spike to send the letter I just wrote."

"Ok, goodbye, Twilight!" Fluttershy responded as I waved to Twilight.

She waved to the both of us as she walked home.

Fluttershy looked at Opal. "Let's get you groomed, shall we?"

Opal released a meow along with a purr.

We walked back into her cottage, where Fluttershy began Opal's grooming. As I watched Fluttershy take care of the cat, Fluttershy began speaking to me, a little shyly.

"About last night…" She began. "That was really brave of you…"

"What was?" I asked.

"You know… when you distracted the cockatrice to help us…"

"Oh… that?" I looked away. "It was nothing…"

"It was certainly not nothing. To see you sacrificing yourself to stone… just to help us… that's what motivated me to stand up to the cockatrice…"

"Really…?" I asked, calmly surprised, as I looked back towards her.

She nodded. "I don't know how you do it Alex…"

"Do what…?"

"Summon up courage. Just like that…"

I looked away a little gloomy, remembering the past. "I guess… you could just say it's experience…"

She stopped brushing Opal and looked at me. "What do you mean?"

I thought for a moment, wondering if I should tell her right now or not, but whenever I felt like opening my mouth to tell her…something inside just…prevents it…the emotions, maybe? "I…I don't know…"

She observed me worriedly for a moment, but then resumed brushing Opal. "If there's anything you need to tell me Alex… or want to talk about…I'll always be here to listen…"

Her response warmed my heart. "…Thank you, Fluttershy… I'll remember that…"

Fluttershy spent more time in grooming Rarity's cat.

After Fluttershy finished, we walked over to Rarity's shop to bring her back. Rarity thanked Fluttershy for her kindness once again. Fluttershy and I continued walking through town for the rest of the day. We even stopped by Pinkie Pie's to have a treat to eat.

During the night, I walked Fluttershy back to her cottage.

"Well… it's been really fun Alex…" Fluttershy told me when we were at her door. "Aside from the problems that happened yesterday night…"

"Yeah…" I replied. "Thanks for having me over."

"It was my pleasure…"

"Well…" I said, rubbing my head, as we continued to look at each other in the moonlight. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow…"

"Yes…Goodnight Alex."

"Night Fluttershy…"

She smiled warmly at me for a moment and entered her cottage. I returned home.

I entered through the front door and actually turned to the right towards the kitchen. I sat on the chair near the table and just thought in silence for a moment.

Now… I want to tell Fluttershy about many things… but my emotions leave them in… Hm…

I turned my head to the window and looked outside. I began receiving this feeling that I'm not such a fan of. It didn't really hurt me physically nor mentally… it just seemed to disturb me… I exited out of the kitchen and walked upstairs to my room.

I lay on my bed and closed my eyes. I decided that I wanted to go to sleep as quickly as possible, so that the next day would arrive and I would be able to see Fluttershy and my other friends again…

The Show Stoppers

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Episode 18 – The Show Stoppers

I woke up, already feeling a little hungry and thirsty. As I walked downstairs, I decided I would probably go to Apple Acres for some breakfast…but first… I wanted to bring Fluttershy along with me. Once I was outside, as I walked through town, I began thinking as usual.

Not only were my feelings for my friends growing stronger… but for Fluttershy as well… I still did not know what they were… and I have no idea when I will… but I trusted the Princess to wait to find out. Fluttershy… she's just so… different from any pony I've met in the past… I mean… the feelings I have for her are just so different… I just feel…so—

Suddenly, I heard a motor sound coming from a distance. Fast enough, it sped towards and past me in an instant, causing me to jump back and out of the way. I could only see an orange blur… was that… Scootaloo? I faced the direction she was going, which seemed to be Applejack's farm. To the right of me, I could see many ponies outside in a group, possibly talking about what had just happened. Regardless, I continued walking over to Fluttershy's cottage.

When I spotted her with her bunnies, I walked across the small bridge towards her.

"Hey, Fluttershy." I greeted her lightly.

"Alex!" She turned her head towards me. She finished feeding the bits of food she had for the bunnies and flew over to me, landing in front of me. "How are you doing?" She asked.

"I'm okay…what about you?"

"I'm better…now that you're here." She smiled warmly.

For some odd reason, I started feeling a little nervous, even a little shy. "I was wondering… if you wanted to grab a bite at Applejack's?"

"I'd love to." She responded.

I felt a pinch in my heart… a good feeling pinch… as we began walking towards Applejack's farm, together.

As we entered Sweet Apple Acres, we saw Applejack lying near a tree with a straw of wheat in her mouth and her cowboy hat leaned over her eyes.

Fluttershy and I walked over to her.

"Hi, Applejack!" Fluttershy greeted her.

Applejack tipped up her hat and noticed us. "Oh, howdy y'all." She smiled. "What brings you two over here?"

"Do you think we could have breakfast here?" I asked.

Her eyes suddenly opened wide, but then she smiled oddly and pulled back her surprised expression. "Sure…" She responded as she started getting up. "I've got some buckets full of apples over here in the barn… I can make y'all some fritters or apple pie…" She chuckled weirdly.

"Um…" I responded hesitantly. "…No thanks… we'll… just… have some apples…"

"Of course, Of course… now, Fluttershy, why don't you get yourself settled over here while I have a word with Alex?"

"Okay." She sat on the grass and waited while Applejack began leading me somewhere else. I walked by her side, very confused.

"Applejack… why did you want to talk to me in private all of a sudden?" I asked.

She stopped when we were far enough and chuckled again. "I see where this is going partner…"

"Sorry?" I responded, still very confused in the bizarre situation.

"Fluttershy… was she the pony you shared apples with last time?"

"You mean the time when you and Rainbow Dash were playing horseshoes?"

"Mm-hm!" She nodded boldly.

"Yeah…why…?"

"Let me tell you something partner…" She placed a hoof around me. "You…" She looked around and then whispered to me. "…like her…" She then spoke in her normal voice. "don't you?"

"Well… of course I do… I like all you ponies…"

She shook her head. "No, not that kind of like… I mean you like her."

"Um…" I stood, still confused. "I don't think I follow… what's the difference between 'like' and 'like'?"

"Are you serious?" She asked and sighed. "Like means that you like her more than any other pony. Like if you've got very special feelings for her, do you know what I mean?"

My heart jumped and suddenly started pounding. "Um…" Is that what it really was? I did have special feelings for Fluttershy… but I had no idea what they were… is that what Applejack means?

"So…do you?" She asked once again.

"I…" I felt a little speechless. "I think so…"

"What do you mean 'you think so'?"

"I don't know, Applejack…" I looked away and stared at the ground. "I mean… I do have these feelings for Fluttershy… but I have no idea what exactly they are… I've never experienced them before."

"Oh…really…?" Applejack responded, more softly now.

"Yeah…so… I don't know…"

"Hm…" She rubbed her hoof on her chin. "I see… well we'll get to that later! I should go get you ponies the apples before Fluttershy wonders what we're doing here."

She turned around to begin walking back towards the barn, but I stopped her. "Wait. Applejack."

"Hm?" She turned her head towards me.

"You won't tell anypony about this… will you…?"

She chuckled again and smiled. "My lips are sealed!"

When we returned, Applejack went into the barn to get us the apples while I sat by Fluttershy, still feeling a little weird about my talk with Applejack.

"Is everything alright?" Fluttershy asked, after noticing my expression.

"Um… yeah…I'm okay…"

After a moment later, Applejack came out and brought us several apples to eat.

"Well here you go! Eat up!" She sat near us, taking a bite of one of the apples as well. "Y'know, I gave my old tree house to my little sister and her friends. Y'all should come with me to see what they've done with it!"

"Oh! That sounds great." Fluttershy replied with a smile.

"Yeah…okay." I responded a little weakly.

Once we finished our breakfast, Applejack led us towards a private part of the farm. We passed some bushes and trees until we spotted a nicely built house on a tree. The house was neatly painted a light pink color. It had hearts on the windows and door. We began walking up a ramp that was painted a greenish color and had steps for climbing. Outside the house were railings for safety reasons as well.

"They all say that you will get your mark, when the time is really right…" A voice sang sweetly as we looked inside the clubhouse through a window.

"And you know just what you're supposed to do…" Applebloom added along with Sweetie Bell, who sang the first verse.

"AND YOUR TALENT COMES TO LIGHT!" Scootaloo's voice suddenly shouted, causing Applejack to lose her sweet expression, as well as piercing our ears.

Applejack placed her hooves on the window sill and poked her head inside. "Well, uh... I'll be, Cutie Mark Crusaders. You've done one fine job with this place. So, what's next?"

"Well…" Applebloom began and walked over to Applejack. "now that we have a real life clubhouse..."

"And a map of Ponyville." Scootaloo added as she presented the map on the wall.

"And a Cutie Mark Crusaders theme song. " Sweetie Bell announced.

"Theme song?" Applejack questioned.

"We're gonna go out in the world and discover our talents." Applebloom replied.

"A new adventure!" Scootaloo said.

"And earn our cutie marks." Sweetie Bell expressed.

"We'll leave no stone unturned!"

"No mountain unclimbed!"

"No meal uncooked!"

"No song unlearned!"

"Well okay then!" Applejack suddenly cut off. "Sounds like you have a plan. I gotta, uh... Leave no apple unpicked! See y'all later!"

Applejack ran off. Before Fluttershy and I followed her, Fluttershy poked her head in the window and commented. "I think what you girls are doing is great! I'm sure you'll get your cutie marks real soon!"

"Thanks, Fluttershy!" They all exclaimed.

Fluttershy smiled and turned back to me.

We caught up to Applejack who seemed a bit freaked out.

"What was that all about?" I asked.

"They're really serious about getting their cutie marks…um, not that it's bad or anything… just, I don't know."

"Well… at least their doing it together… that's something new…"

"Yup… I just hope they don't cause any trouble…" She suddenly changed her expression. "Hey, you ponies going to the school talent show tonight?"

"School talent show?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yep! All those little ponies from the school are going to perform at the talent show in town tonight, y'all should come and watch!"

"Sounds like fun!" Fluttershy replied with some excitement.

"Well then, I guess I'll see you both there then?" Applejack asked.

Fluttershy looked at me, hoping that I would come too. When I saw her face, I turned to Applejack and nodded.

"Well alright then! See you at the talent show!" Applejack began walking to the barn but stopped and looked over at us. "Oh… and if you see Applebloom and her friends, can you please make sure they aren't getting into any trouble or doing anything dangerous?"

"Alright." I responded.

"Thanks!" Applejack resumed walking back to the barn.

"I wonder what we can do to pass the time for the talent show…" Fluttershy told me.

I thought for a minute. "Maybe we can see what Twilight's up to?"

Fluttershy released another soft smile. "Okay."

On the way to Twilight's home, we actually spotted her with another pony.

Twilight noticed us and waved over to us. "Hey, you ponies!" They walked over to us and Twilight introduced the other pony she was with. "This is Ms. Cheerilee. She teaches at the school!"

"It's a pleasure." She held out her hoof to us. She was a dark pinkish colored pony. Her mane and tail was a sort of a sweet cotton candy color; there were waves and swivels of pink and light pink. She had light green eyes and her cutie mark was three smiling flowers. She also had a saddle with green bags on the side. We both shook her hoof and introduced ourselves. After, we began walking with Twilight, who was heading to her home as well.

"Ms. Cheerilee was just telling me about the school talent show that she is putting up, have you ponies heard?" Twilight asked.

"Yes!" Fluttershy answered. "Applejack told us about it!"

"Oh, it's going to be spectacular!" Ms. Cheerilee spoke very excitedly. "The talent show will really bring out the creativity in the little ponies' minds! They will all have a blast while expressing their very own special talent too!"

"I see…" I replied as I looked a little uneasy.

As Twilight was nearing her home, she continued talking to Ms. Cheerilee. "Well, I could surely help if you need some organizing for the talent show!" She opened the door and began walking in. "I could really—

"I had nothing to do with this!" Spike exclaimed as soon as Twilight walked in.

"What is going on here?" Twilight asked in shock as she and Ms. Cheerilee looked inside the home.

Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo had made a messy pile of books, which covered most of the library floor. They were each reading different kinds of books.

"Hmm... Well, we sure aren't gettin' our cutie marks for bein' librarians." Applebloom commented.

"Huh. I should think not." Spike replied. Twilight gave him an irritated stare. "What?"

Twilight began walking towards the fillies. "Girls, I think you're going about this the wrong way. Instead of trying to do things in areas you're not familiar with, why not try doing things in areas that you already like?"

"And I have the perfect place to start!" Ms. Cheerilee opened her bag and took out a poster. She laid it out in front of the three girls. It was the poster for the talent show…

"'Showcase your talents...'" Applebloom began as they read the poster out loud.

"'...for all to see...'" Scootaloo added.

"'Perform in the Ponyville school talent show!'" Sweetie Bell finished.

"There'll be all sorts of awards. Best dramatic performance, best comedy act, best magic act... Surely you can find your talent!" Ms. Cheerilee encouraged.

"This would be the perfect place to discover our talents." Applebloom exclaimed as the three of them were fascinated over the idea of it. "Jugglin'!"

"Acting!"

"Magic tricks!"

"Square dancin'!"

"Tightrope walking!"

"Tiger taming!"

"My little ponies!" Twilight interrupted. "You're missing the point. Think about the things you already enjoy doing. Think about what you're already good at."

"Sure! We can do that." Scootaloo responded.

"Yeah! Sure we can." Sweetie Belle added.

"Well, whatever we do, we'll do it as..." The three of them both exclaimed. "...The Cutie Mark Crusaders!"

They smacked their hooves together and ran out the door.

"Oh, those three…" Ms. Cheerilee said. "So full of energy."

"They're wonderful, aren't they?" Fluttershy added.

"So…" Twilight cut in. "About the talent show… I could organize the events for you, Ms. Cheerilee."

"Oh, that would be great! It would certainly help."Ms. Cheerilee replied. "Although, I could use some help for carrying the equipment…"

"I can help with that…" I offered.

"Me too." Fluttershy offered as well.

"Oh, that's wonderful! Thank you. I appreciate all your help."

Ms. Cheerilee led us to area where they were setting up the stage and equipment for the talent show. Twilight grabbed a clipboard and began creating a checklist of items and tasks in it. While Twilight began doing her own thing, Ms. Cheerilee looked at Fluttershy and me to decide on what we can do.

"I suppose you two can put on the stage curtain, is that alright?" She asked.

Fluttershy and I agreed.

"Great!" Ms. Cheerilee smiled. "The curtain should be over at the front of the stage. Good luck!" She walked off.

Fluttershy and I traveled over to her directions and found the stage curtain folded on the front of the stage. Fluttershy grabbed the curtain with her teeth and began flying upwards towards the top of the stage while I straightened it out to make sure it was placed the right way. Fluttershy and I managed to place the curtain on in several minutes.

"Great job, Fluttershy." I complimented as she flew back towards me.

"Thanks, you did great too." She looked over at the job we completed. "We make a pretty good team…"

"Yeah…" I responded with a hint of nervousness.

However, Twilight had come along to check up on us. "Hey guys, how's it going?" Twilight asked.

"We finished putting on the curtain." I replied.

She looked up to see our task finished. "Wow! It looks amazing! Great job, guys!"

Suddenly, the three fillies, Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle popped up from behind her. Scootaloo was on her scooter, wearing a purple helmet. There was a small wooden cart attached to her scooter. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were riding in that cart, along with other materials such as fabric, a fan, wood, nails, paint, paint brushes, and other things.

"Hi Twilight…" Scootaloo said, causing Twilight to turn around to face them. "I was wondering if we could borrow a book from you."

"Sure thing girls… what's with all the stuff?" Twilight asked.

"You'll see! Now let's go get that book!" Scootaloo began riding her scooter towards Twilight's house.

"I'll be right back!" Twilight announced and left to fetch the girls the book.

There was a moment of silence.

"Alex…" Fluttershy called me.

"What is it?" I asked, turning around.

"You should make sure the girls are alright…"

"What do you mean?"

"Well… they have a lot of things that could be really dangerous for them. You should make sure they don't get hurt."

"What about the talent show?"

"Don't worry. I'll be here to help Ms. Cheerilee."

"Alright… are you sure, Fluttershy?"

She nodded her head. "I'll see you in a bit." She released another warm smile.

I nodded as well and began walking to Applejack's farm.

By the time I reached the girls' clubhouse, it seemed that they had already arrived long before me. I walked near a pond, looking for them. Suddenly, I saw a roll of fabric rolling downhill and heading straight towards the pond of water. I placed my hoof on it, just in time before it plunged into the water. It stopped underneath my hoof. Sweetie Belle had come running after it and noticed I stopped it. She ran towards me, relieved.

"Phew, thanks Alex!"

"Yeah…" I responded as I began rolling the fabric uphill. "What are you girls up to?" I asked.

"We're practicing for the talent show!"

As I finished rolling up the fabric, I heard Scootaloo, who was nearby on a piano, try to come up with lyrics for the talent show. When the fabric was fully rolled, Sweetie Belle gathered different pieces of a variety choice of fabric and began sewing a costume.

"Careful…" I warned. "I don't want you girls getting hurt…"

"Don't worry, Alex! I'll be fine!" She replied as she carefully kept her hooves maneuvering the cloth underneath the sewing machine. When she finished, she held up the costume and counted the amount of legs attached to it. "One, two, three, four, FIVE?" She released a groan and sighed.

Applebloom came over, walking in a disoriented matter and fell backwards.

"Applebloom…" I called as I helped her up. "Be careful…"

"Alex? What are you doing here?" She asked.

"I'm here to make sure you girls are safe…"

"Oh… well that's nice of you!"

"How's the spin coming along?" Sweetie Belle asked Applebloom.

"I think I gotta just stick to punches and kicks." She replied and then looked at Sweetie Belle's work. "You know, ponies only have four legs."

Sweetie Belle moaned again. "I'll never be a designer like my sister Rarity."

"Hey, it's no big deal. Why don't you use the dress form?" She pointed towards one nearby. "It'll help you with your patterns and help you put all the pieces in the right places."

"Oh, is that what that's for?" Sweetie Bell questioned.

"Uh... maybe you should also clean your paintbrush between each color." Applebloom announced after noticing the messy paintings near as well.

"Oh, I was wondering why all the colors looked like mud…"

"You're not using power tools, are you?"

"Um…" Sweetie Belle remained silent.

"Applebloom, what exactly is every pony doing for the talent show?" I asked.

"Well… Scootaloo is writing lyrics for a song, as well as being the main singer. Sweetie Belle is designing the clothes and doing the decorations. Me? I'm doing the coordination for the dances!" She released a grin.

"That's a bit… off…" I replied, a little confused.

"What do you mean?" Applebloom asked.

"Well, coming from your knowledge on paint and fabric… you seem better suited for doing the work Sweetie Belle is doing. Remembering how loud, but well, Sweetie Bell sang when you girls slept over at Fluttershy's, I think she should be doing Scootaloo's work. And seeing Scootaloo's crazy stunts on her scooter from this morning, she would probably be better off doing your work, Applebloom."

"Hey! That's kind of what I said!" Applebloom responded.

"But I can't sing in front of tons of ponies!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed.

"And Scootaloo would rather sing a rock ballad." Applebloom added.

"Well…" I rubbed my head. "I can't force you girls to do anything… I'm just giving you some suggestions."

"Thanks, Alex, but I think we are doing well so far." Applebloom replied.

I took a glance at Sweetie Belle's costume. "Um… okay… well just stay safe girls, okay?" I began walking out of the area but Applebloom called me back.

"Wait! Alex!"

I turned around.

"We're going to start practicing our performance, want to be the first one to see it?" She asked.

"Um…"

I had no idea how they managed to do it, but they ended up having me watch their practice while they continued to struggle with their dance moves.

"Oh! Sorry, Scootaloo." Applebloom apologized.

"That's okay. Ugh!"

"Oops! Sorry, Scootaloo. Ouch!" Sweetie Belle followed.

"Oh, my bad, Sweetie Belle. Let's sing the chorus again!" Scootaloo advised.

"Well then…" I sat up. "Just keep practicing alright? And don't get into any trouble." I walked out of the tree house, which the three girls soon followed.

"I think that sounded pretty good." Applebloom said.

"Me too. You think we're ready?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Ready as we'll ever be." Scootaloo answered. She looked over to the bottom of their clubhouse and noticed Applejack. I hadn't seen her there before. "Hey! Did you see us practicing?"

"Uh... Yeah." She answered, very uneasily.

"Well? How'd we do? How'd we do?" Applebloom asked.

"Uh..."

"Speechless!" Scootaloo exclaimed. "See, girls? I told you that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna leave them speechless."

"YAY!" They all cheered, clapping hooves.

"'Speechless' is right…" Applejack muttered as I walked towards her.

"Hey, Applejack. Did you come to check up on the fillies?" I asked.

"Yeah… looks like you beat me to it." She chuckled a bit nervously. "C'mon let's go." She said as she began walking me out of the area. She sighed as we walked. "Oh, those girls aren't ready for the talent show…"

"To be honest… I know what you mean…"

"Well…" She looked at me. "I guess we better hope for the best…"

The sun began setting, alarming Applejack and me.

"C'mon, we better head to the talent show." She suggested.

I nodded and we began walking towards the event.

When we arrived, Applejack joined the crowd while I went backstage. I spotted Fluttershy sitting near the dressing room. I immediately walked up to her. "Fluttershy, I'm sorry I've been gone for a long time." I apologized.

"Oh, don't worry about it. How were the girls?" She asked.

"Well… they were okay with being safe and all… but as far as their performance… um…"

Suddenly, the three girls joined us backstage with their new…costumes. Their appearance surprised both Fluttershy and me.

"Hey, Alex! Hey, Fluttershy!" They greeted. They wore hooded clothing, but I could see they wore bizarre make up on their faces. They also styled their manes differently…

Fluttershy and I could only remain silent as we observed their odd appearances.

We began hearing the performances of the little ponies.

"...and on the count of three this rabbit will disappear and something tasty will reappear in its place. A one, a two and a three! Hey! Where are they? Snails, where are the... carrots. SNAILS!"

"Uh, how about a round of applause for the S&S magic act?" We heard Ms. Cheerilee's voice, along with a stomping of hooves on the ground. "Now for our next act we have Sunny Days and Peachy Pie reciting their favorite poem... on rollerskates!"

A couple of ponies passed by us, on rollerskates.

"Break a leg!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed, who had her hooves on top of a wooden box with Applebloom and Scootaloo.

Applebloom looked shocked and responded to Sweetie Belle's comment. "Sweetie Belle! What a thing to say!"

"No, no, no." Sweetie Belle explained. "You see, in the theater it's considered bad luck to say 'good luck'. So you say 'break a leg' instead."

"My little ponies!" Twilight had come by. "How are you doing?"

"Nervous..." They all answered, holding their hooves toward their mouths.

"Don't worry. You're gonna be amazing." Twilight encouraged. "Remember, just stick to what you know best. I can't wait to hear you sing, Sweetie Belle."

"Why does everypony always think I'm gonna sing?" Sweetie Belle asked, annoyed.

"Actually, Twilight Sparkle, I'm the main singer tonight." Scootaloo answered.

"Oh?" Twilight questioned surprised.

"And I'm the main dancer. Hai-ya!" Applebloom released a chop.

"Oh?" Twilight repeated, more worriedly.

"And I'm in charge of..."

"Costumes?" Twilight answered for Sweetie Belle.

"And sets and props. How'd you know?"

"Really, girls? Are you sure...?" Twilight released a smile, in hopes to change their minds, which was pretty much too late now…

"Cutie Mark Crusaders, you're on next." Ms. Cheerilee announced nearby. "Break a leg."

"Break a le..." Twilight repeated until Applebloom tripped while running towards the stage. "…Uh... good luck…!" The three threw their hooded capes backstage as they began their performance. Fluttershy and I walked with Twilight to near the stage to watch and see how they do…

The music began playing and the lights dimmed on the stage. The stage curtain opened to a dark set until Scootaloo's face was lit as she started singing.

"Look, here are three little ponies" The faces of Sweetie Belle and Applebloom were lit.

"Ready to sing for this crowd

Listen up, 'cause here's our story

I'm gonna sing it…

"VERY LOUD!" They both screamed out loud, causing Twilight, Fluttershy, and I to stand in shock and silence. I could only imagine how Applejack was feeling at this moment.

"When you're a younger pony…" Applebloom danced very…um…

"And your flank is very bare" Sweetie Belle began pulling a rope which revealed a wooden sun, which it's planks of wood were cut unevenly and all the nails were just… messy…

"Feels like the sun will never come

When your cutie mark's not there

So the three of us will fight the fight!" Applebloom made karate moves.

"There is nothing that we fear…" Sweetie Belle released a rope which lowered fake bats, spiders, and ghosts.

"We'll have to figure out what we'll do next …

The three of them began singing. "Till our cutie marks are here!"

"We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders" My eye started to even twitch at this point.

"On a quest to find out who we are

And we will never stop the journey…" Scootaloo fell off a piece of the scenery.

"Not until we have our cutie marks!" Sweetie Belle activated a fog machine, causing the stage to be engulfed in a fog.

They began jumping around, even bumping into each other again and releasing grunts. Scootaloo began singing solo again.

"They all say that you'll get your mark…

When the time is really right…" Sweetie Bell ran across with a clock in her mouth but tripped over Scootaloo.

"And you know just what you're supposed to do…" The spotlight was accidentally set on Applebloom, who released another kick, but getting her leg stuck on one of the cardboard trees.

"And your talent comes to light

But it's not as easy as it sounds

And that waiting's hard to do

So we test our talents everywhere…" Sweetie Bell ran upwards on to the top of the stage to place a blue filter on one of the spotlights.

"Until our face is blue!" Scootaloo positioned her face on to the blue spotlight.

"We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders

On a quest to find out who we are!" A sudden large wind blew throughout the stage, causing everything to be in complete chaos.

"And we will never stop the journey

Not until we have our cutie marks!" Applebloom finally released her trapped leg from the cardboard tree, only to cause the other cardboard drawings to fall. Sweetie Belle noticed this and ran on top of a platform to prevent it, even as she continued to sing.

"We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders

On a quest to find out who we are…" Another one of the cardboard houses began falling as well, causing Sweetie Belle to lift her other hoof to catch it. As she continued to struggle, holding up the scenery, I could only place my hoof in front of my face.

"And we will never stop the journey

Not until we have our cutie marks!"

Everything in the stage tumbled and crashed upon the girls, creating a very destructive noise. They poked their heads out, smiling at the audience, but they only received an awkward silence and finally laughter. The three fillies widened their eyes in shock and soon began walking back backstage with their heads held low in shame.

"Wow. That did not go as well as I expected." Scootaloo commented as she walked passed us.

"I can't believe they're laughin' at us!" Applebloom added.

"Was it that bad?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Back on stage, girls. It's time for the awards!" Ms. Cheerilee announced as Spike walked by her.

"Back on stage? No." Sweetie Belle answered in a demanding tone.

"They'll just laugh some more." Applebloom tried to reason.

"Yeah, what's the point?" Scootaloo asked.

"Now girls, let's be good sports. You made a great effort. You should be proud. Now come on!" Ms. Cheerilee, along with Spike, walked out into the stage and addressed the audience. "Let's hear it for all our talented fillies and colts." The ponies began stomping their hooves.

"Despite their performance… I hope they get an award for their efforts…" I announced to Twilight and Fluttershy as I looked worriedly out into the stage.

Twilight and Fluttershy could only agree with me by doing the same thing.

"Our first award goes to..." Ms. Cheerilee began. "Snips and Snails, for best magic act."

Spike had placed the awards on their necks. As they moved to the front, I noticed that the girls were trying to hide behind the ponies in order to cover their appearance.

"Hey! Mine's at least shinier." The short one, who must have been Snips, expressed.

"Well, mine's bigger." The tall one, who must have been Snails, argued.

"Oh yeah, well..." Snips tried to counterattack. "Well, mine is, um... heavier?"

"The next award goes to..." Ms. Cheerilee announced as the two left the stage. "Sunny Daze and Peachy Pie for best dramatic performance." Spike walked up to them and presented them with their medals. "And finally, the last award of the night goes to..." The drum rolls began and with my worried expression, I hoped that the girls would receive it. "The Cutie Mark Crusaders!" Ms. Cheerilee exclaimed, leaving the girls very shocked and surprised.

"What?" They questioned.

"For best comedy act." Ms. Cheerilee announced, which the audience followed by cheers.

Spike presented them with awards as they bowed in front of the audience.

"Well… it wasn't as I expected… but… at least they got an award…" I commented.

The three girls ran over backstage very excitedly.

"Can you believe it? We won!" Applebloom exclaimed.

"I knew our act was awesome." Scootaloo stated.

"You know what would be the best?" Sweetie Belle asked. "If we won and we got our cutie marks."

The three of the removed their costumes in hopes to find their cuties marks on their flanks, but groaned in disappointment when they found out they didn't. Twilight, Fluttershy, and I walked over to them.

"Congratulations, ponies!" Twilight exclaimed. "Job well done."

"Thanks, Twilight…" The three of them responded sadly.

"Hey, you don't sound too excited."

They sighed. "We worked really hard and won a prize but we still don't have our cutie marks." Scootaloo replied.

"Which is the prize we really wanted." Sweetie Belle added.

"Oh, girls..."

"But we think we know why." Applebloom said.

"Yes. We know why." Sweetie Belle joined.

"Oh? Tell me. I'd love to make a special report to the Princess." Twilight replied.

"Well, maybe we were trying too hard?" Sweetie Belle guessed.

"Yes? And..."

"And instead of forcing ourselves to do something that's not meant for us..." Scootaloo continued.

"Yes? Yes?" Twilight pursued

"We each should be embracing our true talent!" Applebloom finished.

"And that is...?" Twilight asked.

The girls looked at each other for a moment and answered. "Comedy!"

Their answer did not only shock Twilight, but destroyed the high hopes we all had for the girls, who had a strong chance of actually finding out their true talent…

"Apple Bloom! You did it!" Applejack exclaimed who was on the empty stage with Rarity and Rainbow Dash.

"Did you see our award? Weren't we funny?" They asked excitedly as they ran towards them.

"One day..." Twilight giggled. "One day..."

"I suppose you thought that they'd realize their actual true talents, huh Twilight?" I asked while the girls continued to have an excited conversation with the others.

"Yup." She giggled again. "Isn't it obvious?"

"Yeah…" I looked over at the girls as they continued to jump around while trying to recreate their performance. "They just have to find out themselves… and I have no idea when that will happen…"

"You got that right…" Twilight responded.

"Well, I think they still did a great job!" Fluttershy added.

"Yes…" Twilight replied. "…for comedy."

Twilight and Fluttershy began laughing as I observed the girls behavior with the Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. I could see that spark in their eyes… the spark that shows how determined they are into finding their cutie marks, but the only thing they are missing is that piece to show them how close they actually are towards their cutie marks.

"I can see how surprised they'll be when they realize how close their cutie marks actually were… when they finally get them…" I muttered.

"What was that, Alex?" Fluttershy asked.

"Oh." I glanced back at her. "Nothing…"

After several minutes, the girls went home with their new awards.

Twilight walked over to the dozing Spike, picked him up, and placed him on her back. "C'mon Spike, time to go." She said softly. She looked over to Fluttershy and me. "I'll see you guys tomorrow!"

"Goodnight." We responded as she began walking towards her home.

After, I began walking Fluttershy home.

"Do you think they'll get their cutie marks soon?" Fluttershy asked me.

"Maybe…" I answered. "…may take a while as well as dropping a lot of hints, but… I'm sure they'll get theirs."

Fluttershy giggled. "Yeah…"

We arrived at her front door.

"Thanks for having me, Alex. It was fun today." Fluttershy spoke.

"…I'm still sorry about leaving you to do all the work in the stage…"

"Don't worry about it, Alex." She lightly touched me. "It wasn't a lot of work anyway…"

"Well… I'll try to make it up to you somehow…" I offered.

"Oh, you really don't need too…" She looked away and said something too soft to hear clearly.

"Huh?" I asked.

Fluttershy blushed and smiled at me while she responded nervously. "Oh, nothing!" After a moment, the redness in her cheeks disappeared. "I'll see you tomorrow then?"

"Yeah." I answered.

She hugged me and told me Goodnight. I responded to her with the same answer. Afterwards, she safely entered her home, and I headed off to mine.

When I entered the comfort of my bed, I began thinking about what Applejack had said this morning… Like means that you like her more than any other pony. Like if you've got very special feelings for her, do you know what I mean? I did have those kind of feelings for Fluttershy… but I didn't know how to deal with them. Although, even though Applejack answered my feelings partially right… it didn't feel like just a "like". No… that word is not special enough…

My feelings were much more… deeper maybe? I know they were more special… but as I've said before… I have no idea what they are… all I know… is that… Fluttershy is really special to me…

A Dog and Pony Show

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Episode 19 – A Dog and Pony Show

I woke up and shook my mane. After getting out of bed, I made the covers nicely and walked downstairs to the kitchen. I looked outside the window and observed the sunny day. On the contrary, something suddenly stood out. A pony was walking down the street… but the pony looked much too different… As she walked proudly among the streets, every other pony could only gaze at her from behind. The pony had too many accessories and clothing to even describe. Basically, she had a mix of blue and light blue color for her mane and tail. She wore light purple eye shadow and a white top hat above her head. She wore many other things which I felt dizzy by just looking at.

I shook my head and walked outside the front door, already hearing the excitement in the crowd following the pony.

"Sapphire Shores, we love you!" Some ponies exclaimed out loud.

The crowd continued to chatter while I continued looking for a moment. I finally turned around and headed to Rarity's shop, which was the place she seemed to walk from.

"Can you believe it?" I heard Rarity as I opened the door to her shop. "I can't! She wants to buy my dresses! But the only thing is…I need to get more gems!"

"I'll help you Rarity!" Spike immediately offered, looking disoriented.

Twilight and Spike were there in Rarity's shop. I guess they heard about Sapphire Shores.

"Oh, Spike really? That would be fantastic!" Rarity replied.

Spike could only respond with a mumble of words.

"Who's Sapphire Shores?" I asked when I walked towards them.

"You don't know?" Rarity gasped. "She's the pony of POP!"

"And Rarity needs to get a lot more gems to make five more dresses for her." Twilight added.

"Yes, indeed, Twilight. And Spike is going to help me!"

"Rarity, finding gems?" I asked. "Wont that be hard?"

"Oh no, no, no, no. You see, not only do I use my horn for designing dresses; I can also find gems with it! Isn't it amazing?"

"Um… I guess…"

"Spike?" Rarity called Spike.

"Yes, Rarity?" Spike immediately rushed over to Rarity, holding his hands together near his chest.

"Get the little red wagon, would you? We're going on a gem hunt!"

"Of course, Rarity!" Spike rushed out to retrieve the item.

"Do you need me to come with you?" I asked Rarity.

"Um, not necessarily. Spike is good enough."

"Are you sure? You'll be bringing back a pile of gems. I want to make sure no one takes them…"

"Well…" Rarity thought. "If you insist… I suppose you could accompany us."

Spike returned with a red wagon. "Here you go, miss Rarity! Anything else you need?"

"Good news Spike! Alex will be accompanying us."

"Oh…" Spike replied, looking a little disappointed.

"Well, good luck, Rarity. Be careful out there!"

"Thank you, Twilight. We shall!" Rarity looked over at us. "Come now then, let's go search for some gems! Spike, bring the red wagon please."

"You got it Rarity!" Spike grabbed the red wagon and I walked by Rarity, following her to wherever she was going to search for the gems.

We arrived at some bare place that was pretty far from Ponyville. I looked around to see just mountains of rocks and absolutely no grass in sight. There was actually no green for that matter, except for the few trees in sight.

"Oh my gosh!" Spike began talking excitedly as Rarity used her horn to search for gems. "Sapphire Shores! The Pony of Pop! She is awesome! I mean, she's gorgeous, talented and-heh" Rarity stared at Spike as if she was offended. "...and not even half the pony you are. I mean, you're ten times more gorgeous and talented and..."

"Spike, a lady is never jealous." Rarity responded.

"Eh, of course not. But were you totally flipping out or what?"

"Ladies do not 'flip out', Spike. However, I was quite in awe." Her horn began glowing, causing her to search around more areas. "I need to find more jewels than ever before to decorate her costumes." As she was pacing around, she suddenly halted and pointed towards a spot beneath her. "O, aha!"

"Did you find some?" Spike hopped.

"Yes, Spike! Right there!" She pointed with her hoof.

Spike hopped over to the spot and began digging with his hands until he spotted them with his own eyes. "Ooooo!" Spike stated as he licked his lips and drooled. "You look so delicious..." He dove into the hole and grabbed the handful of jewels. He was about to shove them down his throat but Rarity stopped him. "Spike! I promised I'll give you gems to snack on, but we need to collect more first or I'll never be able to make these outfits for Sapphire."

Spike lowered his head and walked over to the wagon to place the gems on there. He sighed. "Hm... I will miss you, my sweets."

"Come along." She told us. "We have many jewels to find."

Spike placed the jewels on the wagon and bowed. "At your service, my lady."

During the search, Rarity continued to spot jewels underneath the ground to which Spike dug for. I didn't do much digging, but I did some carrying every now and then. Once in a while, Spike was tempted to eat the gems on the wagon, but Rarity scolded him before he could.

When the wagon was full of gems, Spike stood nearby, drooling and licking his lips. Rarity patted him on the head and spoke. "You've been very patient today, Spike. And for that you'll get the finest reward." She pulled out a light blue gem in the shape of an octagon. "This is from me to you." Spike held his mouth open to eat it, but suddenly he grabbed the gem instead and looked at Rarity, dazed. "Is something wrong, Spike?" Rarity asked.

Spike could only stare at Rarity for a moment and release a smile. "No. It's perfect." He expressed as he held the gem close to his chest.

Rarity horn began glowing and she was pulled over to the next location of gems. "Oh, bring the cart, Spike. There are more over here."

"For me. From Rarity…" Spike said. He began bringing the cart over to Rarity.

"Spike…" I announced as we were walking toward Rarity. "Why do act like that around Rarity?" I asked.

"Well you see…" He stopped and waved for me to bring my head closer. I did so to where he positioned his hands around his mouth and began whispering. "I have a crush on Rarity."

"A crush…?" I questioned.

"Yep. You know… when you really like someone."

"Really like…" I muttered under my breath, thinking about my feelings with Fluttershy.

"But promise me you won't tell anypony! Especially Rarity!"

"Ok, ok. I promise."

"Spike! Where are you?" Rarity called from a distance. "You know, it's terrible to keep a lady waiting."

"Coming!" Spike responded, rushing over to Rarity.

"I think we're really going to strike gold this time." Rarity spoke as Spike began digging. "So to speak."

"Jackpot!" Spike exclaimed, bringing out an armful of jewels.

Spike began placing the gems carefully on the wagon.

"Well, I think that's all we can do for today. And these will certainly get me well on my way with Sapphire's outfits. Why don't we start headi..." Suddenly, Rarity's horn began glowing again, leading her to somewhere else. "Oh! What's this? Another jewel. Oh, strange." She was led into the trees. "It's in the trees. Oooo..." She spotted a gold gem but suddenly a strange creature popped out. "Ewww!" Rarity flinched at the sight of the creature. "Uh... uh... Good day, gentle... uh, fellow. I am Rarity and these are my friends Spike and Alex." She slowly backed away toward us.

"Ehe..." was the only thing Spike could mutter.

Something about this… animal…told me that he was up to no good.

"And you are..." Rarity began.

The creature jumped out of the trees and began walking up to Rarity. "A diamond dog."

Rarity and Spike could only back away while the creature was coming towards them. I suddenly stepped in front of both, Rarity and Spike, and the diamond dog.

"Hey, back up!" I told the dog, standing in front of him. "What do you think you're doing?"

"We hunt." The dog replied.

"Uh... we?" Rarity asked behind me.

"We hunt for gems. But you are a better hunter. So now we hunt... for you!" He replied.

Suddenly we heard digging noises behind us. Two more of those dogs popped up, causing me to look back. One of the dogs tried to grab Rarity but she ducked in time.

"Rarity!" I called and tried to go help her but the dog in front of me had pushed me to the side. I grunted as I landed on the ground from a distance. I saw Spike try to harm the dogs by digging at their tails with his tail. I immediately pushed myself up and began running towards them.

"Run, Rarity! Run!" Spike advised Rarity.

Rarity began running. Spikes grabbed hold onto one of the dog's legs, causing him to trip and grab the other dog's tail and make him fall as well.

"Spike! Alex! Come on! Hurry!" Rarity called for us.

I saw one of the dogs sneaking up from behind her to pounce on her. "Gotcha!"

But before he could grab Rarity, I leapt and pushed him forwards While he was struggling on the ground beneath my hooves, he could only try to push me off. "Get off of me!" He exclaimed.

"Got him, Rarity! I got him!" I heard Spike.

"Haha! Nope!"

"Sorry, scaly one."

Suddenly, a pair of dog arms grabbed me and threw me away from the dog I was holding down. I released more grunts, feeling the pain when I landed back on the ground. I could already feel scratches, maybe even bruises on my body.

"WAAH!" Rarity screamed as the dogs grabbed her and began running towards their hole. I began trying to push myself up once again, but it took me longer as I had to deal with the soreness. "Unhand me this instant, you ruffians. Stop! Put me down, you scum! You rough-!"

"Rarity!" Spike called after her.

I managed to stand back up and notice Rarity in the hole, but she struggled to stay out on top. "Spike! Alex!" She tried to grab hold of the dirt. "Ah, dirt!" I immediately ran over to the hole and slid to prone, grabbing Rarity's hoof.

"Hold on, Rarity!" I tried pulling her up, but I was losing my grip as the three dogs fought back. I wasn't able to keep my hoof wrapped on hers as the dogs finally managed to pull her away from me.

"AAAAAH, ALEX!" She screamed as she was sucked in.

"Which, what, where?" Spike muttered quickly as he ran over to the hole.

"SAVE ME...!" Rarity screamed in an echo from a distance beyond the hole.

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Spike shouted.

"Spike! Get the others!" I ordered. "I'm going in!"

Without any hesitation, I dove into the hole.

It was several seconds until I finally landed on the ground. I groaned and stood up, shaking my head. I looked around and noticed many holes throughout the area. Great… how am I supposed to find Rarity in here?

I sighed and tried to find a way out, but it seemed useless…

Suddenly, my heart began beating as if it was trying to tell me something… I closed my eyes and looked deep inside myself. In my mind, it started showing a light… a light to… Rarity?

When I opened my eyes, I somehow knew where to go now. I wasn't completely sure… but I had to… I had to trust my instincts and my heart…

I began running towards the holes which my heart led me to.

"Oh please, diamond dogs. Please let me go." I started hearing from a distance. It was Rarity! I held out my ear in order to find out where it was coming from.

"No!" One of the dogs stated.

"You're our precious little pony."

"For ever! Muhahahaha."

"But what ever do you want from me?" Rarity asked.

"Gemsss!" One hissed.

The voices began getting louder.

"Yes! The gems. The jewels."

"Find them! Find them all!"

"Oh! Is that all?"

I finally arrived to where the voices were coming from. Rarity, along with the other dogs, were in this large area. They were in my sight and I knew I couldn't just barge in there because it would be an instant loss. I quickly found some cover and hid behind it, looking slightly at what was taking place. Rarity was searching for more jewels in the ground. She stopped, picked up a stick and marked the spot with an x.

"There. A lovely pocket of jewels are right there. Now, would you be so kind as to show me the exit? "Rarity asked.

Another dog, which must have been a guard, pointed a sharp spear at Rarity, causing me to gasp quietly.

"Good!" One of the dogs hopped excitedly. "Now, dig them up, pony."

"What? But you said you wanted me to find the gems."

"Yes! Find and then dig."

"Dig?" Rarity asked, irritated now.

"Yes. Dig."

The guard dog led her towards the x as the other dogs pointed straight at it.

"Ohh..." Rarity moaned. She began digging lightly, actually barely tapping the ground. The other dogs looked in surprise. Rarity continued grunting as she lightly tapped the ground, only moving speckles of dirt.

"What are you doing? We said dig!" The big dog commanded.

"Forgive me but prior to you so rudely dragging me into your dirt pit, I had a pony pedi and I am not about to chip a hoof because you dislike my style of digging." Rarity answered boldly. Afterwards, she continued her way of digging.

"Oh, for goodness." The medium-sized dog placed his paw on his face. "Fine! Just stop. Stop! Dig, dogs! Dig!" He called toward the other guard dogs that were in a hole above them. "And fast."

Well… I'm glad I didn't rush in…

The guard dogs began furiously digging at the spot Rarity marked.

"She won't dig, she pulls." The big dog announced, while they held up a saddle and a cart.

"I beg your pardon," Rarity responded as she began backing away. "but what, pray tell, are you doing?"

"Others will dig. You will haul the wagon." The big dog answered.

"Prrrecious pony pedi will be preserved." The small one added as he placed the saddle on Rarity when she reached a dead end.

"Well, somebody certainly needs proper nail care. When was the last time you two had a manicure? You're scratching up my coat with those jagged things." She had noticed their nails as they secured the saddle on her.

"Please be quiet!" The average one answered.

"Good heavens, what is that smell?" Rarity exclaimed.

"Smeeeeeell?" He released a horrid stench of his breath at Rarity.

"Ah, mystery solved. It's your breath." Rarity replied, frankly, which led the dog to turn around and smell his own breath.

"Enough! Search, pony!" He ordered.

"Well, since you insist..." Rarity began pulling the cart while finding gems and marking them with a stick. "But I must say the working conditions in here are simply dreadful. Musty and damp, it's going to wreak havoc on my mane. And this air is stifling, suffocating. And when I try to take a deep breath, the stench of all you dogs makes me nauseated. You look and smell like if you haven't bathed in weeks. Have you never heard of soap? You could all do with a good round of soap and water. Water, water, I'm terribly thirsty. Could I please have some water?"

"Good gracious, I can't take this anymore." The small dog pulled his ears. "BE QUIET, PONY!"

"And that's another thing." Rarity persisted. "I would appreciate if you stopped calling me 'pony'. I am a lady and I wish to be addressed as such. So you may call me 'Miss' or 'Rarity' or 'Miss Rarity'."

"Enough!" The average dog yelled out as he pulled his ears as well. "Your whining! It hurts!"

"Whining? I am not whining. I am complaining. Do you want to hear whining? Thiiis iiis whiiining! Oooh, this harness is too tiiight! It's going to chafe. Can't you loosen it? Oooh, it hurts and it's sooo ruuusty!" Rarity continued to whine in a high pitched voice, even starting to hurt my ears a little. "Why didn't you clean it first? It's gonna leave a staaain! And the wagon's getting heeeavy, why do I have to pull it?"

"Aaah! Make it stop!" The little dog desperately ordered.

"Stop whining!" The average one demanded.

"But I thought you wanted whiiining!" Rarity purposely answered.

"We'll do anything, pony!"

Rarity gave them an annoyed stare.

"Oh, uh, we'll do anything, 'Miss Rarity'." The average one laughed nervously.

"Anything?" Rarity questioned, dreamily.

Soon enough, she had the dogs doing work for her, as well as improving the conditions around her. As much as I wanted to save Rarity, I still couldn't do anything about it… I had to wait until she was alone but there was no possible way to tell her so, so the only thing I could do was just wait it out and see what Rarity did. The area was covered with ribbons as two guard dogs beside her fanned her. She was given water in a gold chalice. Unbelievable… so much for a damsel in distress…

Rarity took a sip from the water and pulled back, slightly disgusted. "Oh, this water is hardly sparkling. But I suppose it will have to do."

The three other dogs were pulling the heavy loads of gems until they stopped for some air. "Wait! Why are we doing this?" The average one asked.

"To stop the awful noises from the pony's mouth, remember?" The little one began imitating Rarity's whining but the average dog placed his paw on his mouth.

"Yes, yes, I know. This is ridiculous! Letting a pony order us around. What are we? Mice or dogs?"

The other dogs began saying "mice", but suddenly changed their answers to "dogs".

The average dog stared at them for a moment, and then continued his speech. "Dogs do not pull. Ponies pull. Let her make the awful noises."

They walked up to Rarity and began placing the saddle on her. "What are you doing?" She asked. The average dog flicked her drink. "Hey, you spilled my drink. Oh!" Rarity began her whining. "Not sooo tiiight!"

"Ha! Make the noises all you want. But move while you make them. Hyah, mule!" He ordered Rarity, slapping her from behind.

I could instantly see the shift in Rarity's eyes. "Did you just call me a... mule?" She asked sadly.

The dog moved his eyes around, wondering what he should say. "Ehh..."

"Mules are ugly. Are you saying that I too am ugly?" Tears formed in Rarity's eyes and she immediately began crying.

"What are these noises?" The little one asked, walking over to them.

"HE CALLED ME UGLY!" Rarity cried out.

"No! Mule! I said mule!" The average one replied quickly.

"An old ugly mule! And it's true! Just look at me. I used to be beautiful, but, but nooow..."

I started thinking… was Rarity doing this on purpose? I honestly couldn't tell if she was really crying, or acting it out. I mean she does have this "thing" on appearance… so I could believe if she was expressing her true feelings. If she's not… then she makes quite the actor…

"No, no! You're still beautiful, po... uh, Miss Rarity." The big dog had come along too.

"You're just saying that!"

"No, you're still pretty and... and..."

"Oh, uh uh, nice. Yeah."

"I don't believe you! You never liked me!" Rarity began wailing out loud.

"I've had just about enough of this!" The average dog exclaimed as the three of them held their ears.

They grabbed her and took her to a cell with a steel door. They placed her in there and shut the door, locking it.

"Now until you learn to stop whining, you're going to stay in here FOREVER!" The average one exclaimed and began walking off, bringing his other guard dogs along with him.

Finally was my chance…

After I made sure they were all gone, I immediately raced over to the cell Rarity was in.

"Forever?" Rarity spoke. "Oh, it can't be! I won't ever see my friends again or get pedicures and… oh no! I'll miss my only chance with Sapphire Shores!" She began crying again.

I sneaked up to her cell door and looked in. "Rarity!" I exclaimed softly.

She gasped and looked up in shock. "Alex? Is that you?" She asked.

"Yes, I'm going to get you out of here! Just hang on!" I looked around for a way to open the door, but as far as I could see, there really wasn't any unless I retrieved the key from the dog that locked her in there… I sighed and looked at Rarity, who returned a worried look. "Rarity, just hold tight… I'll go find the key and get you out."

"Oh, Alex, please hurry!"

I nodded and turned around to follow wherever the dogs walked to. I started at a light sprint as I continued looking for the holes the dogs went through. It wasn't too difficult as I started hearing faint voices when I grew close.

"Geez, it's nice to take a break from all that whining!"

"Yes, but… what if she never stops the whining?"

I followed their voices which led me to the final hole, revealing them around a table in separate chairs. They were playing cards. I quickly ducked behind whatever I could find and continued listening as I tried to find the keys.

"Hmm…" The average one thought. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. "I got it! How about we put dirt in our ears?"

"But…How will we hear each other then?" The small one replied as I poked my head out of the rock I was using for cover.

"Hand signs?" The average dog suggested.

Fortunately, the average dog was right in front of me, however, he was facing the other dogs, away from me. I slowly began creeping out after I spotted the ring of keys hanging outside his red coat. My hooves pressed lightly on the dirt landscape as I moved closer and closer to the keys. When my hoof was right under the keys, he made a sudden move, which caused me to pull back suddenly and stay still.

"Ah-chew!" He sneezed and wiped his nose. He then began looking around above me.

"What's wrong?" The small dog asked.

"I smell pony…" He responded as he continued looking around suspiciously.

"Don't we have a pony locked up here?" The big dog asked.

"Yes…but… It's as if I can smell one right near me…"

I quickly, but softly crawled towards under the table, just in case he looked down…

"That pony must have just made you keep her scent with all her whining."

How does that even make sense? These dogs must not be very bright…

"Yeah…I guess."

After a while of waiting under the table, once I heard them shuffle cards and deal them, I reached out my hoof to grab the keys. I had to carefully and slowly pull them back because even the slightest jingle of them will alarm the dogs… Once I had carefully retrieved the keys under the table, I held them in my mouth and slowly crawled out of the room.

Once I was far enough, I quickly rushed over to Rarity. She was sitting in the corner of the cell room, very sad. Once she heard me, she quickly turned around and changed the expression on her face to an excited one.

"Oh, Alex!" Rarity exclaimed.

"Shh." I warned her.

Using my mouth to hold the keys, I inserted one of them into the lock and turned. A click sound was heard. As soon as I opened the door, Rarity ran towards me, embracing me with a tight grip and pummeling me with gratitude. "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"C'mon." I said quietly as I lightly pulled her off. "Let's get out of here as quick as possible."

"You don't have to ask me twice!" Rarity replied as she followed me.

I started walking carefully towards the way I came in. When I reached the door, I opened it to find a rather unfortunate surprise. The three dogs were standing on the other side of the door, looking at us as if they were already expecting us.

"I knew I smelled pony…" The average one spoke. "Well, boys, looks like we have another work horse."

As they got ready to breach, I quickly slammed the door on them and barricaded it with my body. As I struggled to keep the door blocked, I looked around for an escape plan. Then, I remembered the carts of jewels.

"Rarity!" I called through strains. "Get those carts over here! ...Now!"

"But, I'll get all sweaty!" Rarity responded through a worried tone.

"Rarity…" I replied as I continued attempting to hold back the door. "Does that really matter right now? I'm trying to save you!"

After she analyzed my troubles, she sighed. "Okay… for you, Alex!" She ran over to one of the carts full of jewels. She began pushing the cart over to where I was, but it was taking time to be done.

"C'mon Rarity…! Hurry!" I exclaimed, already feeling that I'm losing the advantage. She slightly moved faster and managed to bring them over to where I was. "Okay, now place it front of the door!" She did so, and when the cart was able to hold the door, I let go and quickly ran over to another cart and pushed it over to the door in a matter of seconds, just to be safe. Once the door was blocked off for good, I called over Rarity and began running towards another way out. It'd be a while until the dogs realized that there are holes everywhere…

We were running through a long tunnel. We reached another area with a large amount of space between. I looked around and spotted a wooden door.

"There! C'mon!" I pointed towards the door and led Rarity to the door.

Before I could get my hoof on the handle, the door was pushed open, to reveal the dogs once again.

"And where do you think you PONIES are going?" The average one announced. I could only step back to hold back Rarity. "It time you ponies go to work!" He began walking towards us with a harness. He tried to place it on me, but instead, I charged and head butted him in the stomach.

"Oomph!" He released a grunt as he held his stomach "That pony is too much trouble! Get rid of him!" He ordered the big dog.

The large dog walked over to me. "Out of the way, pony!" He grabbed me and threw me to the side. I hit the rocky wall with enough force to cause the rocks above to fall upon me when I landed on the ground. Some rocks hit me, knocking me out and disabling my vision...I could only hear voices.

"Alex!" I heard Rarity called out. Hooves galloped over to where I was, and I assumed Rarity was trying to help me out somehow.

"Come on pony, time to WORK!" One of the dogs announced.

"Noo! Alex!" Rarity began crying again.

"No! Not the terrible noises again!" A dog cried.

"Why, did you have to hurt him?" Rarity combined her crying with her whining as she did before. "You dogs are so mean! Why? Why?"

The dogs screamed. "Stop whining!"

"You hurt my friend! Now he's not okay! I hate you fiends!" Rarity began wailing out loud, for a pretty long time. "Alex, please please open your eyes!"

"I can't take it! I can't take it!" The dogs exclaimed.

Suddenly, I heard something break open near me. "Lady Rarity, I'm here to save you!" It sounded like Spike's voice…

The dogs screamed and ran over to somewhere else nearby. "Please, save us! Make it stop! Please!"

"Excuse me?" Twilight's voice sounded.

The dogs began their reasoning."So picky."

"And critical."

"She won't stop talking."

"And crying about her friend!"

"We, uh, give her back. Yes."

"Friend?" Twilight questioned. "Alex!" She realized and rushed over to the sounds of wails from Rarity. "Rarity? Oh no…"

Rarity continued sniffling. "I don't know what to do!"

"Alex!" I heard Fluttershy's voice as she rushed over to me. "Alex, no!" It sounded as if she was desperately looking for a way to help but she couldn't… "Alex…no… please…" I felt her head rest lightly on mine. After a moment of sniffling, I felt a drop of water fall on me.

I started opening my eyes slowly to a blurry image. Things cleared up afterwards. I looked around to see the other ponies looking away sadly while Fluttershy rested her head on mine. "Girls…?" I asked weakly. Fluttershy gasped while the other ponies immediately turned around.

"Alex?" Fluttershy softly asked. The other ponies moved closer to me.

I looked at them in silence for a moment. "…well that took awhile, Spike…" I addressed the time it took for them to come help. Everypony crowded around me and gave sighs of happiness as they knew that I was okay. Fluttershy held me as she was joyful as well.

"UGH!" The dogs suddenly interrupted. "Just take the jewels and go!"

"You're letting us leave with all these..." Spike looked at the many carts of jewels in front of him. "jewels?"

"Yes. Take them. And her with them!" The average exclaimed in fright as they cowered in a corner.

"Please!" The small one added.

Fluttershy helped me up as the other ponies prepared to take the jewels.

"Alright, girls, let's bring em home!" Applejack announced and she strapped herself in one of the harness. She looked over to me and smiled. "C'mon Alex… Climb up on this here cart, you deserve to rest…" She motioned me to climb on the cart she was taking back to Ponyville. I nodded and walked over to the cart. Fluttershy helped me up. I lay myself down and closed my eyes. The rest of the ponies strapped themselves to the carts and began leaving.

"I can't believe you got all these gems!" I heard Pinkie Pie exclaim, opening my eyes again.

"Heh. I can't believe you tricked all those dogs." Rainbow Dash added.

"Just because I'm a lady doesn't mean I cannot handle myself in a sticky situation. I had them wrapped around my hoof the entire time…well…not the entire time, actually…"

"What do you mean, Rarity?" Twilight asked.

"Had it not been for Alex, I probably wouldn't have been able to get away with all these gems…" Rarity replied. "And my crying at the end…" She began saying softly. "Well…it was real…the thought of almost losing Alex…"

I looked over to Rarity. "Knowing that your 'whining' easily bothers them… I'm pretty sure you would have done it without me Rarity… After all… it was you who defeated them…"

"Oh, thank you, Alex." Rarity responded. "But, for right now, I'm just glad you are alright. By the way... I may have exaggerated a bit too much at the end... but you know me." She chuckled.

"I can't wait to write to Princess Celestia about you ponies and tell her what you taught me today." Twilight said.

"Me? What did I teach you?" Rarity questioned.

"Just because somepony is ladylike doesn't make her weak. In fact, by using her wits a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all."

"Hm... 'Outshines' is right. Now you have enough gems to cover Sapphire Shores's costumes." Spike announced as he was munching on one of the rubies.

"Not if you eat them all, Spike." Rarity used her magic to peel the ruby off of Spike's hands before he could take another bite and place it back on the cart, causing everypony to laugh.

When we arrived at Rarity's shop, all the ponies released the harnesses and began bringing in the gems. I climbed off the cart and was about to go help but Applejack stopped me. "Whoa there, partner. You let us bring them in. You've done enough for today." She released a warm smile.

"Thanks, Applejack…" I responded.

Rarity had come out after dropping off a load of gems and looked over at me. "Oh, my, Alex."

"What?" I asked.

"You're so dirty from being underground." She grabbed my hoof. "Come now, let's get you clean."

She took me to the spa where she ordered a cleaning for me. A couple of the spa workers took and led me to a huge tub of water to which they began washing my mane and allowing me to relax in the soak. They had left while I remained in the water. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to think.

Rarity was generous enough to give me this spa treatment… even though I didn't really need it…

I soaked in the water for several minutes until another pony had come in the room. I opened my eyes to see that it was Rarity.

"Enjoying the water, Alex?" She asked.

"Yeah…" I replied. "Thank you, Rarity."

"Oh, it's no problem at all, Alex. You deserve it." I climbed out of the tub and shook my mane, as well as my whole body. Rarity had walked up to me and smiled warmly. "There's something I wanted to give you…"

"What is it?" I asked.

She opened the stylish bag she was carrying and pulled out a gem… not just any gem… but… a dark blue one with a hint of white in the middle. It shined brightly under the lights. "Here." She held up the gem with her magic towards me.

I lightly took it. "Really, Rarity? For me?" I asked, shocked.

"Like I said, you deserve it." She responded as she observed me analyzing the gem carefully with my hooves. "You know… there aren't many ponies like you anymore…"

I looked up at her…feeling a little emotional, but I didn't say anything…

I had checked out of the Spa with Rarity. She had wished me a goodnight and walked out the Spa doors towards her home. I assumed they most likely finished unloading the carts full of gems…

I walked outside the Spa doors to find Fluttershy under a dark and starry sky, waiting for me.

"Fluttershy?" I asked.

"I just wanted to make sure that you were alright…" She responded.

"I'm better now…thank you…Did you girls finish with the gems?" I asked.

"Mm-hm."

I looked out and observed the environment for a moment. I turned back to Fluttershy. "C'mon, let's get you home."

"Are you sure you're alright?" Fluttershy asked along the way towards her cottage.

"Don't worry, I'm fine." I assured. We stopped in front of her door and looked at each other. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Of course." Fluttershy replied. "But… I have a spa appointment with Rarity tomorrow morning, so you'll know where I'll be at if you try finding me in morning."

"Alright, well I hope you have fun, Fluttershy."

"Thank you." She smiled. "Goodnight, Alex."

"Goodnight, Fluttershy."

She hugged me, a little more tightly, and then pulled away to walk into her home, giving me once last happy glance before closing the door.

I opened the door to my home and closed it when I entered. I walked upstairs to my bedroom and fell on my bed. I looked up at the ceiling in silence for a moment. I pulled out the gem Rarity gave me. The gem was something I've never seen before. I wonder if Rarity had found this gem, and gave it to me even if it was the only one in the pile of jewels? She could have used it for the dress… because it was obviously not a common jewel…but she didn't… she gave it to me…

I held the gem above me, near the window. The light the full moon gave off passed through the window and the jewel. On the other side, it presented a beautiful midnight color. I stared in awe as I observed the light. After a moment, I lowered the jewel and climbed out of bed. I walked towards my shelf that had the trophy and medal for the Running of the Leaves and placed the gem on there, neatly. I stepped back and observed how the gem looked as it sat there on my shelf. It was amazing…

I walked back towards my bed and snuggled under the covers. It was a little cool inside, so I wrapped myself under the blankets. For a moment, I looked out the window at the full moon and then at the gem. Afterwards, I closed my eyes and left slumber to take control for the night.

Green Isn't Your Color

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Episode 20 – Green Isn't Your Color

Slowly opening my eyes to the sun's warmth, I looked around with just my eyes. After a moment, I sat up and yawned lightly. I wonder if Fluttershy is still at the spa with Rarity… I moved my legs towards the side of the bed and stepped off. I walked down the stairs and looked out the kitchen window. I continued observing the outside until I saw something from a distance. Near the spa building, I could see…Fluttershy…she was sitting outside alone for some reason… I quickly walked out the front door and began heading towards her.

"Hey, Fluttershy." I greeted as I walked towards her.

She moved her head from looking at the ground to me. She formed a smiled on her face and greeted back. "Hi, Alex!"

I took a seat next to her. "What are you doing here all by yourself? Aren't you supposed to be at the spa with Rarity?"

"Oh, I was. We just finished, but she said that she felt a pimple coming on, so she went back in there."

"That's Rarity…"

There was a short moment of silence until Fluttershy spoke to me. "Hey, Alex?" She called, looking towards me.

"Hm?" I replied, returning a look.

"There's something I was wondering you could do for me…"

"What is it?"

"Well…you see… Rarity met this famous fashion photographer and she wants me to model clothes for her and… I was wondering if you could be there with me…"

"Of course, Fluttershy. I understand… but… why did you agree to be Rarity's model?"

"She was practically begging me to go… I didn't want to let her down."

"But you're shy...wouldn't you really be uncomfortable with that kind of stuff?"

"Well…" She looked away with her eyes. "As long you're there… I think I'll be okay…besides…it's just a few photos… it can't be that bad…right?"

I didn't get to reply as Rarity burst out of the spa exclaiming, "I'm back!" She walked over to us, freshly cleansed, and noticed me. "Oh, hello, Alex. You should have been here earlier. Perhaps you could have joined us?"

"Maybe…" was all I could respond with.

Rarity looked over to Fluttershy. "Come now, Fluttershy. We must get you ready for Photo Finish!"

Fluttershy could only look at me worriedly as she was dragged by Rarity towards her shop. I began following them, making sure that I would be there for Fluttershy.

As soon as I entered the shop, Rarity was already dressing Fluttershy behind some blinds and pulled her out when she was ready. Fluttershy was wearing…some kind of outfit that had a dark pink headdress along with a dress that was speckled with so many different colored dots and with dark pink furry trim at the hem.

"Hm..." Rarity paced around Fluttershy, observing her. "She's going to want to see attitude and pizzazz."

"A-a-attitude and, um... pizzazz." Fluttershy tried to act confident, but she was left was a worried tone.

"More light!" Rarity ordered. "It has to catch the sequins just so or the whole outfit is just a disaster." Twilight used her magic to increase the amount of light. "Oh, and the headdress needs more feathers. Pinkie Pie! More feathers!" Pinkie Pie hopped joyfully over to her, bringing a basket of feathers. Rarity grabbed about five and moved them over to the headdress, causing Fluttershy to flinch a little. Rarity gasped. "And sequins! More sequins!" Spike walked over to her in a dazed look, bringing back the sequins Rarity ordered. Rarity grabbed them as well, throwing them on Fluttershy and making her whine a little as she flinched. "And more ribbon!" Spike placed a couple of bows on Fluttershy. "Oh no! Less ribbon." Spike removed them. "No! More ribbon." Spike reattached them, which led to Fluttershy giving him an annoyed look. "Oh, this hem is completely off." Rarity continued, observing the dress. "PINCUSHION!" Spike rushed back, having a couple of regular pins on his back, along with a couple shaped as hearts. She pulled a few out and scooted Spike away. As Spike backed away slowly, Rarity placed the pins on Fluttershy's dress. "Thank you all for helping me. I'm sorry to be so short with you, but I'm... I'm just so nervous."

"Oh," Twilight expressed, creating a painful expression towards Spike. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"Thick scales. Can't feel a thing." Spike explained. "And even if I could, there is no pain that would keep me from assisting the most beautiful creature in the world. I'm gonna tell you two a secret since Alex already knows." Spike turned to us and spoke softly. "But you have to promise not to tell anyone."

"I promise." Twilight responded.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!" Pinkie added, actually poking her eye.

Spike motioned for them to come closer. They did. He motioned more. They followed. He grabbed their faces and whispered to them. "I have a crush on Rarity!"

His answered gave Twilight a very disappointed face while Pinkie Pie was left shocked. She gasped. "We won't say a word!"

"Give me a break." Twilight replied out loud. "Everypony already knows how you..."

"Twilight!" Pinkie Pie interrupted her. "You promised Spike you wouldn't say anything. He trusts you. And losing a friend's trust is the fastest way to lose a friend forever!" Spike looked at Twilight with his pleading eyes, clearly presenting a message for her to not tell any pony.

"But..."

"FOREVER!"

"My lips are sealed." Twilight surrendered. "Though I'm pretty sure Rarity is gonna pick up on your feelings."

Spike looked down to see the T-shirt he was wearing, which contained Rarity in a big heart right on the middle.

The doorbell suddenly sounded, causing us to turn back. Three ponies were revealed.

"I, Photo Finish... have awwived." The pony in the middle spoke.

"Let me just say, what an honor!" Rarity responded as she walked over to Photo Finish, who turned her attention to Fluttershy instead.

"We begin..." Another pony placed a suitcase in front of her, which she immediately kicked open to set up a camera. "NOW!"

Rarity whispered something to a worried Fluttershy and rushed back toward us. Photo Finish snapped pictures of Fluttershy as she stood there, flinching at each flash of the camera.

"Yes! Show Photo Finish something." Photo Finish encouraged as she continued to snap pictures. Fluttershy began a pose Rarity must have instructed her to do, but Photo Finish disagreed. "No!" Fluttershy immediately lowered herself and held her head low as she let out another whine. "Yeees." Photo Finish took another picture. Rarity instructed another pose behind Photo Finish, which Fluttershy followed. "No!" Fluttershy, shocked, stared at floor in a sad expression. "Yeees." Rarity presented another strong pose, which Fluttershy yet again followed. "No!" Fluttershy laid herself on the platform in another depressing pose. "Yeees." Photo Finish took two more pictures until she finally yelled out, "ENOUGH!"

The camera returned back to its suitcase form and a pony came by to pick it up. As Photo Finish began walking out the shop, Twilight commented. "She hardly took any pictures."

"I'm so sorry. I tried my best." Fluttershy told Rarity, who was removing her headdress.

"Well, the headdress is too big for you and cape had too much sparkle. I can't believe I ever thought I could impress her." Rarity responded.

Photo Finish suddenly returned and made an announcement. "It seems that I, Photo Finish, have found a next fashion star here in Ponyville."

"Really?" Rarity asked, her eyes suddenly glowing with hope.

"Yes. Really. And I, Photo Finish, am going to help her to shine all over Eqvestria." Rarity released a grin. "In an hour, a photo shoot in ze park." There was an awkward pause. "I go!" She ran out the door.

"Did you hear that? I am going to 'shine all over Equestria'." Rarity announced to us.

"Oh, Rarity. I was so worried I'd ruined everything." Fluttershy responded.

"Oh, never. I knew you'd be perfect." Rarity suddenly began giggling, which soon formed into a very excited laughter as she bounced up and down on Spike's tail, inflicting pain on him as he just stood there, staring at Rarity. Twilight noticed this and dragged him out of the way with a bored expression on her face. When Rarity finished her excitement, she looked over to Fluttershy. "Come on, Fluttershy! We have to get ready for another photo shoot!" Rarity rushed outside.

Before Fluttershy and I started following Rarity, we looked over to Twilight and Pinkie Pie. "Are you girls coming?" I asked.

"No thanks, Pinkie Pie, Spike, and I are going to get something to eat." Twilight responded.

"Oh, alright. I'll see you ponies later, I guess." Fluttershy and I continued walking behind Rarity.

When we arrived in the park, Rarity had already set up some dressing blinds and was retrieving the outfits she had for Fluttershy to wear. Rarity moved the outfits behind the blinds and brought Fluttershy as well.

As I stood outside near the blinds, I could hear Rarity dress Fluttershy in various outfits as she offered her opinion on each one. "No, no, no, yes!" She closed the blinds and revealed Fluttershy in a gem-studded outfit. "That is definitely the one. Photo Finish is going to love it. Everypony is going to love it!"

"Oh, I am so excited for you." Fluttershy responded, softly. "Just don't forget us little ponies when you become the most famous designer in all of Equestria."

"Never." Rarity assured.

"Put me down here." A voice commanded near us. We looked to see it was Photo Finish. The ponies carrying her placed her down and she jumped off the platform she was sitting on. She observed Fluttershy's outfit for a moment. "Oh, nonononononono. The model should be in something simple! Something inspired by... the nature!"

"That's just what I was thinking." Rarity responded and rushed over to her cart to look for something else. After, she kicked the cart away, nervously. "Um... give me a moment and I'll, uh, put a little something together."

"Yes... that will not be necessary." Photo Finish replied.

"But... but... how are you going to help me 'shine across Equestria' if I don't design something new for these pictures?"

"I am not going to help you shine across Equestria. I am going to help her shine." She pointed her hoof at Fluttershy, surprising every one of us. A couple of the ponies that assisted her starting pushing Fluttershy off to somewhere else in the park. "She is my star." She looked at Rarity. "You! Go!"

"Fluttershy…" I spoke softly. "…a model…?" I instantly began feeling the illness of depression fall on me as I watched Fluttershy be dragged over to Photo Finish's position so she could be dressed in something new. Beside me, Rarity was shocked and couldn't believe at the fact that Photo Finish was never actually talking about her the entire time.

Rarity and I sadly walked over to Fluttershy who was now dressed in a nature-inspiring dress. Rarity had grabbed the outfit she had place on Fluttershy, which was thrown on the floor, and placed it back on her cart full of other dresses while holding her head low.

"Fluttershy…" I called her with a low voice. "Do you really want to be a model…?"

She shook her head and replied. "I can't."

Rarity immediately heard this and added in on the conversation. "Oh, but you must, Fluttershy. Photo Finish wants to make you a star. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I know we were all hoping it would be my lifetime, but nonetheless you can't throw away this chance. You must do this for me. You must. You must! YOU MUST!"

I tried to intervene. "But—

Suddenly, Photo Finish's voice erupted. "Floottershy! It is time to make... the magics!" Fluttershy looked over at us. Rarity gave her a wide and accepting grin, but I couldn't help but turn my head away, sadly. Fluttershy turned around and began walking towards Photo Finish. "Oh, wunderbar! You are like a delicate flower. So much more alluring without all those sparkles und feathers." She commented as she walked with Fluttershy.

Rarity sighed sadly as she walked away from the scene. I felt like leaving too… but I couldn't leave Fluttershy behind, so I stayed with her. Photo Finish continued to take photos of Fluttershy's innocent appearance as that somehow… intrigued her…

"Oh, my Floottershy! I neet to show you to everypony immediately!" Photo Finish announced after she was done taking the pictures. "Come now! We have much work to do! We go!" Photo Finish began leading Fluttershy to someplace else. She looked back towards me while giving off another worried expression on her face. Her eyes told me that she needed me to be with her… and I definitely couldn't leave her like that. I began walking behind them, following wherever they walked to.

They arrived at some building where Photo Finish was going to host a fashion show for Fluttershy. Photo Finish, and the other workers and assistants, didn't seem to notice that I was there… which was actually a good thing for me at this point because I didn't want to leave Fluttershy all by herself. Fluttershy was being prepared in the dressing room. They pulled a side of her mane up and left the other side alone while giving her different styled bangs. They dressed her in something, of course, green and nature-presenting. One of the dressers tugged at her dress. Another came by and sprayed her mane. Yet another began placing blush on Fluttershy's cheeks, revealing a pink oval on each cheek that matched the color of her mane.

Photo Finish observed this and commented."Too much blush." The pony wiped Fluttershy's face. "Not enuf." The pony placed it on again. "Too much." She removed it. "Not enuf." For the third and last time, she placed the blush. "Perfiect."

Fluttershy began making the sound when somepony is about to sneeze. At first, it started off as if it was going to be very loud, but at the end, she released a very soft and gentle sneeze.

"Oh, yes! Even her schneezes are gressful." Photo Finish expressed. "NOW GO!" She began walking with Fluttershy towards the curtains as I trailed behind. "How do you feel? Excited? Overjoyed? Frilled beyond your wildest dreams?"

"N... nervous."

"Nervous? Dun be ridiculous. You're only facing a large crowd of ponies, who will be watching your every move and silently judging you." Photo Finish turned around to work on something else.

"Fluttershy…" I walked over to her.

"Alex…" She replied softly. "I'm scared…"

"You know, you don't have to do this…"

"I must… I can't let Rarity down…"

I looked at her, very gloomily. When I felt these entire sad emotions race in my heart, I hugged her. It was the kind of hug that is given when some pony you care about is leaving to somewhere far away… Fluttershy looked at me, as if she wanted to express something more. "Alex…"

Suddenly, music began playing and Photo Finish rushed over to Fluttershy. "Your cue! Now go!" She pushed Fluttershy away from me and onto the catwalk. She realized that she was in front of many ponies and looked around. She seemed as if she didn't know what to do. She began walking to the middle of the catwalk, trying to keep herself calm. When she reached the end, she looked at the ponies and released an innocent pose. After, the ponies watching seemed to be giving her positive reviews as they began cheering.

In no time, she was advertised on covers and many other things. Each little thing I saw seemed to make my feelings even worse, hurting my heart a little more each time. Applejack had even placed Fluttershy's image on her buckets of apples, which showed Fluttershy carrying nests of apples. I saw Rainbow Dash flying in the air, having a rope attached to her which depicted another image of Fluttershy advertising for some carrot juice. I noticed that in that image, she was smiling and looked very happy... but was she...? Really...? Or was it just another deception beyond looks and images?

When Fluttershy was finally free, I ran up to her when I saw her walking through town by herself…

"Fluttershy!" I called her as I raced towards her.

"Alex?" She asked when I reached up to her.

"Fluttershy…it feels like I haven't seen you in forever…well…besides on advertisements…"

"Me too Alex…I…I really miss you…"

Her response surprised me. I felt as if she had glued back the broken pieces of my heart.

"Fluttershy…" I responded. "There's… something I need to tell you…" I wanted to share my feelings… I wanted to share them in hopes that all this separation from her modeling will end.

"What is it, Alex…?"

"You see… I…I really…um…" I felt nervous, but I continued to try to bring out my feelings. "I really…li—

"It's Fluttershy!" One of the ponies exclaimed near us.

Everypony instantly began grouping together and chasing after Fluttershy. "Come on!" I grabbed Fluttershy's hoof and began our escape from the crowd. We could hear their cheers and excitement follow us along with their snapshots of the camera. We stopped nearby a house to see even more ponies with their cameras bombard Fluttershy with pictures. Fluttershy flinched at the sight of the flashes from the camera. I quickly took her somewhere else away from the crowd. Fortunately, I spotted Rarity's shop not far from us. I led Fluttershy towards the shop as fast as I could. I reached the door and immediately opened it, bringing Fluttershy in and slamming the door shut. I lay Fluttershy below the windows as I held the door shut. The crowds outside begged Fluttershy to show her face and take a picture.

"Wow. Look how popular you are." Rarity had spotted us, obviously, and spoke to Fluttershy. "I'm so excited for you. You must be having the best time ever."

The crowds outside finally died down or either left. I released my grip on the door and walked towards Rarity. "Best time ever? Ponies in town won't leave her alone!"

Rarity sighed. "That has always been my dream…"

I turned around and walked towards Fluttershy. "Fluttershy… do you really want to keep modeling?" I asked softly. Her eyes moved away as she thought. "Just tell her how you feel Fluttershy…" Fluttershy's eyes moved back towards me and she held her head down. She rose up from the floor and walked towards Rarity.

"Rarity… I… I think I—

"Flootershy!" The door barged open and in came Photo Finish. "I have been looking for you everywhere. We have the thing at the place."

Fluttershy looked over to Photo Finish and then to me. She hesitated for a moment and then turned towards Rarity. "I'll see you at the spa. Our usual time?"

"Of course!" Rarity replied. "I can't wait to hear all about the... 'thing' at the place."

Before Fluttershy started walking out the door, she looked at me and held her head down. "I'm sorry, Alex…" She said real softly. As Photo Finish pulled her away from the shop, I could only stare at her leave and lower my head in sadness…

Rarity groaned. "I'm the one who should be mobbed by strangers wherever I go."

I looked at her, but didn't say anything…

The door bell suddenly rang as two ponies rushed in.

"Welcome to Carousel Boutique!" Rarity greeted.

"Is she still here? We heard Fluttershy was here." One of the excitedly asked.

"Sorry. You just missed her." Rarity responded, annoyed, but then changed her attitude. "But you're still in luck. I'm having a huge sale of some of my best designs."

The two ponies looked at each other, and then back at Rarity. "And you are...?"

"Rarity, of course."

"Never heard of you." Afterwards, they left the shop.

Rarity cheeks grew red with anger as she steamed. Finally, she sighed and calmed down. "Well, at least I still have our spa time together!" She told herself. After, she noticed my silence and looked over to me. "Is something wrong, Alex?" I didn't answer. I just stared at the floor. "Come now, how about you join us at the spa? That always cheers me up!"

I looked at her, not moving my head, and sighed. "I guess…"

Rarity took me to the spa where she was to have the appointment with Fluttershy. The good thing about going to the spa was that I would be able to see Fluttershy again…

Rarity received a towel and wrapped it around her mane as she entered the huge tub of water inside one of the rooms. I just let myself descend into the water and moved over to the edge of the tub. My hooves fell lifelessly outside the edge of the tub as I stared at the ground beneath it. I remained silent throughout the whole time, only able to think about Fluttershy.

"Cheer up, Alex!" Rarity announced near me. "Fluttershy will be here at any moment, just sit back and relax!"

I glanced back at her with my eyes but then returned to staring at the floor.

A long while passed and Fluttershy had still not shown up… I heard hooves clatter near me, causing me to turn my head quickly until I noticed it was Twilight. I sadly turned my head back to stare gloomily at the floor.

"Hey!" Twilight greeted us.

I remained silent.

"Oh, hello Twilight. What brings you here?" Rarity asked.

"Just thought I could use some relaxing myself… what about you Rarity?"

"Fluttershy and I had an appointment…My hooves are getting positively pruney, I've been waiting here so long. Obviously Fluttershy's just too busy with her new career to spend time with her best friend."

"I'm sure she just got tied up…"

"Of course she did. She's a big bright shining star! I wish that star would burn out."

I was shocked by what Rarity said, but it made me just even more depressed…

"Rarity! Fluttershy is your friend."

"I know, I know. And I should be happy for her, but instead I'm just... jealous! Oh, please promise you won't tell her I feel this way. Please, please, pleasepleasePLEASE!" Rarity begged.

"You have my word. Losing a friend's trust is the fastest way to lose a friend."

"FOREVER!" Pinkie Pie suddenly appeared in the bowl of sponges nearby, shocking Twilight. She stared at Twilight as she slowly departed back into the bowl.

Rarity had climbed out of the tub and into a new dress.

"Wow! You look great!" Twilight exclaimed to Rarity.

"Fluttershy may be the one who's famous," Rarity explained. "…but that doesn't mean I have to stop looking fabulous." Rarity walked out of the door.

Twilight climbed into the tub and relaxed herself. She looked over to my sulking and asked about me. "So, what's going on with you, Alex?"

I remained silent for a moment as I continued staring at the floor. "Nothing…"

She noticed my tone. "What's the matter, Alex? What's gotten you so down?"

I sighed and looked back at her. "It's…it's Fluttershy…"

"Fluttershy? What do you mean?" She asked.

"She's… she's just been so busy with her modeling… it feels like we aren't friends anymore… it feels like I don't see her anymore… it feels like…" I sighed again, with a little more emotion slipping through my tongue.

"You miss her?" Twilight added.

I looked at her with almost teary eyes and then looked away for a moment, thinking. "Yes…I do…I…miss her…"

There was a pause. "Alex… can I ask you something?" Twilight asked.

"What is it…?" I responded.

"Do you…have special feelings towards Fluttershy…?"

My heart jumped. I turned around and let my hooves hang outside the edge of the tub again. "Yes…"

"Then why don't you tell her, Alex? I'm pretty sure, once she hears them from you, she'll stop modeling."

"I almost did… but we were interrupted by a crowd of ponies…"

"Oh… well tell her when she comes by!"

"What if she never gets to come…?" I questioned softly.

"Alex…?" Twilight asked.

I climbed out of the tub and began walking out the door. "I'll see you later Twilight…" I told her and left the spa.

I left towards my home. Once I entered, I walked upstairs and fell on top of my bed. I placed my face on my pillow and remained there. There was a long silence, but it didn't bother me… I was just too… depressed…

I didn't know how long it was when I woke up. I think I had just dozed off before and took a nap. I had heard a light knocking and wondered on who it could be. I walked downstairs, sluggishly. I opened the door and received a sudden surprise.

"Hey, Alex… can I come in…?"

"Fluttershy…?" I was breathless. I had never had anyone in my home before… I shook my head. "Um…yeah…" I opened the door and she walked in sadly. I walked her to the living room, which just contained a sofa, a coffee table, another table with some drawers, some empty photo frames, and a few other minor things, all which already came with the house. She took a seat on the sofa. "Sorry…" I apologized as I took a seat next to her. "I don't have anything to offer… I've never expected anyone to come for a visit…"

"It's okay Alex… I just wanted talk to you so bad…to see you…"

"See me?" I questioned, surprised.

"Yes… I was so late to the spa, that I found Twilight in there alone. She told me that you were there but you had just left a second before I made it… I had also missed my appointment with Rarity…" She placed her hooves on her eyes. "I feel like such a…jerk…"

"Fluttershy…"

"Alex, I don't like being a model. No, I hate being a model. All this attention is awful, just awful. It's made me just so busy to not even be able to see my friends… and separate myself from them…especially you…Alex…"

"Why don't you tell Rarity, Fluttershy?"

"I'm only doing it because Rarity told me I must. I must! I MUST!" Fluttershy sighed. "I must…"

"Fluttershy…" I responded. "Tell Rarity how you feel... She'll understand…"

"You really think I should?"

I nodded. "I'll go with you."

Fluttershy looked away to think for a moment and then turned back to see me. "Okay, Alex…"

Fluttershy and I walked outside of my home and headed towards Rarity's shop.

When we arrived, we opened the door to see Rarity notice us in shock. "Fluttershy? What are you doing here? I was just getting ready to see your performance at the fashion show!"

"Rarity…" Fluttershy began. "There's something I need to tell you…"

"What is it?" Rarity responded, walking over to us.

"I…" Fluttershy hesitated and looked over to me with worried eyes. I placed my hoof on her. She nodded and looked back to Rarity, who stood waiting to hear what Fluttershy had to say. "…I don't want to be a model anymore…"

"What? Why?" She asked in a very concerned tone.

"I just can't take the attention anymore… it's driving me away from being with my friends…"

"Oh, Fluttershy…why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"I was afraid if I quit, you'd be mad at me for not wanting to... 'shine all over Equestria'."

"Oh! Fluttershy! Never! Ugh, I feel so terrible!"

"Why?" Fluttershy asked, shocked.

"Because…I wanted the ponies to turn on you…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry. I was jealous! I wanted all the attention. And instead it was going to you. I even started hoping that you would do something silly so your modeling career would be over. But then I did some thinking and I realized how horrible it was of me to be like that! Especially to a friend!"

"Oh, Rarity! Why didn't you tell me?"

"I thought if I told you how jealous I was of your success, you'd think I was a terrible friend…"

"Never!"

"All this time!"

"If we just told each other the truth, we wouldn't have had to go through all this…"

"I promise never to keep my feelings in secret again."

"Me too."

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." The both expressed in unison and laughed happily after.

"Flootershy!" The door suddenly barged open to reveal Photo Finish. "I've been looking everywhere for you! Come! We're going to be late for the photo shoot!"

"I'm sorry, Photo Finish, but I don't think I'll be able to make it." Fluttershy responded.

"Wat?" Photo Finish asked, shocked.

"I don't want to be a model anymore, Photo Finish, so I guess you'll have to find a new one to replace me."

"But… you… I…" Photo Finish stuttered as Rarity began leading her out of the shop.

Once Rarity had removed Photo Finish, she closed the door and walked over to Fluttershy. "We go!" They both exclaimed and clapped hooves together.

"Now that we've gotten all that out of the way…" Rarity began. "How about we have a real spa get together, what do you say ponies?" She asked both of us.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded.

"Yeah." I responded in confidence, suddenly being stripped of all that depression that hung around me earlier.

Fluttershy, Rarity, and I traveled to the spa, where we met with Twilight again. Twilight wondered what we were all doing here for the second time, but Rarity and Fluttershy told her the whole story. Afterwards, they shared a laugh about it, and we all began our relaxation with no distractions.

"Now this is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon." Fluttershy expressed delightfully as we relaxed in the tub.

"Isn't it, though?" Rarity announced from the steam room.

"Dear Princess Celestia," Twilight began her letter while soaking in another smaller tub. "Being a good friend means being able to keep a secret. But you should never be afraid to share your true feelings with a good friend. Did you get all that Spike?"

"I would love to…" Spike replied. "But... I'm a little busy at the moment." Spike was fanning Rarity with a fan that had the same logo as the T-shirt he was wearing at the very beginning.

Twilight sighed happily and rolled her eyes.

After we all had a relaxing day at the spa, everypony departed to their homes, leaving me to walk Fluttershy home…in peace… We walked through the dark, but gentle night sky and cool breeze. This time, we didn't end our day by the door; Fluttershy invited me inside her home and poured me a cup of her amazing tea.

"I hope I never have to go through that again…" Fluttershy spoke as she sat down near me on the couch in the living room.

"Yeah…" I replied as I took a sip of the tea. I remembered what Twilight told me… that I should tell my feelings to Fluttershy. I placed the cup of tea down and looked at Fluttershy. "Listen, Fluttershy…"

"Hm?" She returned a look to me.

"I…" I struggled with what words I should say… "When you were modeling…" I paused for a moment. "I…I… was really sad…"

"Oh, Alex…"

"I really was… I felt like…I don't know… empty… You were just so busy with your modeling… that… I just…" I paused again. "I just…I just missed you so much…"

"Alex." Fluttershy placed her hooves in front of her mouth and blushed.

"I mean…"I continued speaking. "You shouldn't be a model…You're really…beautiful… and nice… and so much more… but… you aren't the type of pony to model. I think it's great when you are only yourself…"

Fluttershy had suddenly embraced me. "Alex… that's so sweet of you to say…"

"It's true…" I responded, starting to feel myself blush as well.

"Thank you…"

"For what?"

"For accepting me for who I am…"

"You know I do, Fluttershy…"

We remained in a heartwarming hug for a while. As she held me, I felt a little... proud... that I was able to share some of my feelings for Fluttershy... though... they weren't all of them... But at least it was a great start. After, Fluttershy slowly pulled herself back and began looking at the floor. "Alex… there's something I've been wanting to ask you for a while…"

"What is it, Fluttershy?" I asked.

She began rubbing her hooves together and looked a little embarrassed. "Well… first of all… has any pony asked you to the Grand Galloping Gala yet?"

I looked away, sadly, to the ground and answered. "No… I told you that no pony will ever want to go with me…"

"Don't you remember?" Fluttershy asked me.

I quickly turned back to face her. "What do you mean?"

"I said that I was sure that there's some pony that does."

"Fluttershy…?" I questioned her, a little confused.

"Alex…" She began as she rubbed her hooves bashfully, looking straight at me while blushing. "…will you… go to the Grand Galloping Gala with me…? As a date?"

My heart suddenly dropped, but in a good way. I felt an intense pleasure in my heart and it was blooming throughout my entire body. "Yes…" The word slipped out almost instantly as I just gazed at Fluttershy, breathless.

"Oh, Alex, I'm so happy to hear you say that!" She hugged me again as I sat, stunned. After a while, she pulled back, a little embarrassed. "Sorry…"

"It's okay…" I looked out the window and noticed how late it was getting. "I guess I should be heading home now…" I stood up from the couch and looked at Fluttershy. "…but thanks for asking me Fluttershy… I… I really appreciate it…"

"It's my pleasure, Alex…" Fluttershy responded, still having a little of a blushed expression. "I can't wait for the Grand Galloping Gala…"

"Me either…but I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Yes…" Fluttershy stood up and planted a kiss on my cheek. "Goodnight Alex."

"Goodnight…Fluttershy…" I walked outside the home, feeling strange.

As I headed towards my house, I couldn't help but feel disoriented. I almost tripped and bumped myself into things. Why was I acting like this?

When I finally reached my door, I opened it and let myself in, closing it after me. I walked carefully up the stairs and to my bed. After, I fell on top of it and turned around to face the ceiling. My heart was pounding almost furiously now as I held my hooves on it.

Fluttershy actually asked me to the Grand Galloping Gala… she actually was the one who wanted to go with me all along? I can't believe it… I feel… I feel…

I dozed off.

Over a Barrel

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Episode 21 – Over a Barrel

There was a knock at my front door. I suddenly woke up with a jolt and looked outside my window. It's still very dark… who would be knocking at my door at this time? There was another knock. I lazily removed myself from the bed and walked sleepily down the stairs with careful steps. When I reached the front door, I slowly opened it to see a wonderful surprise.

"Hi, Alex…" Her hooves were shyly dragging on the ground.

"Fluttershy…?" I tiredly asked. "What are you doing here so late? Are you okay? Is something wrong?"

"Oh…" Fluttershy blushed lightly. "Don't worry. I'm okay. Um… sorry for waking you up so early… it's just that Applejack told us to wake up because we're going on a train to Appleloosa…"

"What…?" I slowly asked, confused.

Fluttershy smiled. "Come on. I'll tell you on the way to the train."

As we embarked towards the train station, Fluttershy explained the whole situation for me.

"Applejack is going to take one of her apple trees to her cousin in Appleloosa, as a gift, you know?"

"I see…" I yawned sleepily.

Fluttershy giggled. "Don't worry; you can get all the sleep you want on the train."

When we arrived at the train station, Applejack had just finished loading up her tree in some luxurious part of the train.

"Hey there!" Applejack exclaimed as she noticed us. "Mighty early, huh, Alex?"

I just shrugged with sleepy eyes. I didn't have the energy to say anything back. We began boarding the train, which was going to be pulled by several large stallions. The train included several cars as we passed through each one of them. The lights were lit in the middle of each car as we walked through. Finally, we reached the car where we would be sleeping in. Every pony began settling in their own bed, but it looked as if they were too excited to get some sleep. Twilight noticed Applejack walking into another car after ours.

"Hey, Applejack, where are you going?" Twilight asked.

"Oh, I'm just going to make sure Bloomberg is nice and safe!"Applejack responded and walked into the other train car.

The train began moving slightly at first, but then it accelerated to a faster speed. I had climbed into the bed below Fluttershy and fell on it. It honestly felt so good to be in the warmth and comfort of the bed. Along with the bed, there was a window right next to me, which presented the fast movement outside. There were also small curtains to place in front of the window in case if there were any lights or things outside that were a bother. I left it as it was and closed my eyes, placing the covers over me.

"Bloomberg?" Rarity announced. "How is it that an apple tree gets the best private sleeper car, while we have to be cramped in the same car? I am going to seriously talk some sense into that pony!" Rarity began walking after Applejack into the other car.

All I wanted was some sleep…

After a while, Rarity came back into the car looking upset and placed curlers in her mane, including other accessories for her type of beauty sleep. She jumped on her bed and placed the blankets over her whole body. The other girls continued talking excitedly about their trip towards Appleloosa. I didn't really mind, however. Instead, I was resting peacefully, still hearing their voices.

I heard Spike groan. "Do you guys mind? I was up early fire-roasting those snacks you're all eating, and I'm pooped!"

"Uh, speaking of, some of these popcorn kernels didn't get popped." Rainbow Dash replied.

"Okay, fine..." A sudden burst of flame flashed near me, causing me to open my eyes to see Spike burn Rainbow Dash's entire popcorn bag, except for the one small kernel she was talking about. "Good Night!"

"Uhh... Maybe it's time we all got a little shut-eye. We've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow." Twilight suggested and switched the light in the lantern off.

"Awwww!" The girls groaned.

Soon, the entire car was filled with silence. I closed my eyes to finally get a long sleep, but Rainbow Dash's voice suddenly sounded.

"Psst! Pinkie Pie, you asleep yet?" She whispered.

"No, are you asleep yet?" Pinkie Pie answered.

Rainbow Dash walked over near me, bringing a lit candle to where Pinkie Pie's bed was. "If I was sleeping, how could I have asked you if you were asleep?"

"Oh yeah!" Pinkie Pie giggled.

"When we get to Appleloosa, you think we'll have to carry that heavy tree all the way from the train to the orchard?"

"What tree? You mean Bloomberg?"

"...No, Fluttershy." Rainbow Dash whispered with sarcasm.

"Fluttershy's not a tree, silly!"

"What's going on?" Twilight asked, breaking the whisper chain.

"Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy's a tree!" Pinkie Pie answered.

"I do not think she's a tree! I was just –

"Did you say she was a tree?"

"No. Well.. Yes. But not exactly –

"Ya know she's not a tree, right?"

"She's not a tree, Dashy!"

"I'd like to be a tree..." Fluttershy suddenly added in the conversation.

"Oh for pete's sake!" Spike's voice erupted, making me open my eyes again and look sleepily over to him. I could see his dark but small body grab a pillow and jump off the bed. He walked to the cart the apple tree was in and slammed the door shut.

"Well that was kind of huffy…" Twilight announced.

"Huffy the magic dragon!" Fluttershy added, happily.

They all began giggling until Rarity sat up from her bed. "Would you all be QUIET... NOOOOW!" Rarity screamed, presenting her face that was covered with a facial mask. She scared the girls, causing them to scream and immediately blow out the candle, rushing back into their beds.

I sighed and closed my eyes again.

I had received some sleep, but I woke up a while later. I sat up on the bed and looked around. I could hardly see, but it seemed that all the girls were sleeping. I looked back at my bed and stared at it for a moment. After, I turned to look out the window to observe the scenery flow by. It began raining outside as I started hearing the rain drops splash on the ground and on the window. That's good… the rain will help me relax and go to sleep… However, something suddenly came into the picture and caught my eye. It wasn't a good surprise…not at all…

I saw that dark pony again… the one that is like… a shadow… I stared at it as it stared back at me. The duration, what seemed like minutes, was actually just a few seconds as the train rushed by. I continued staring at the window, starting to feel a little fear draw over my heart. I placed my head closer towards the window, attempting to see if the shadow was still there. Suddenly, lightning flashed, covering the outside in a quick and blinding light. The instant the flash disappeared, the shadow reappeared, right outside the window. For those brief seconds, I could see it clearly. The dark pony wasn't any pony at all… its whole body was dark…black… and its eyes glowed with complete whiteness. I was immediately startled, releasing a gasp which caused me to fall off my bed. I landed with a loud thud sound, causing the other girls to wake up quickly and turn on the light.

"What's going on?" Twilight asked.

Fluttershy looked down and noticed me. "Alex!" She flew over to me. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah…" I answered, rubbing my head with my hoof.

"Alex, what happened to you?" Twilight questioned my position.

"Um…" I tried to answer. I didn't want to worry them, so I answered briefly. "Just fell out of my bed… that's all…"

The girls returned to their slumber. Fluttershy told me to be more careful before returning to her bed on top of mine. I climbed back on my bed and looked out the window. It's gone now… but why do I have this feeling that it still lingers?

I pulled the curtains on the window to where it separated me from the outside. I lay down on my bed and pulled my blankets over my body. I thought for a moment and finally closed my eyes.

I had suddenly fell out of bed once again, but it wasn't the same issue… something had bumped onto the train. The girls immediately rushed over to the window as Fluttershy noticed my condition and quickly helped me up.

"A buffalo stampede!" Twilight exclaimed.

"I just love their accessories!" Rarity commented as the girls continued their awing.

"They're getting awfully close to the train…" Twilight announced in a worried tone.

Fluttershy and I rushed over to another window to view the situation going on outside. We saw many buffalo running and they were slowly getting nearer towards the train. Suddenly, several of them threw themselves upon the train, almost taking us off the tracks. Their push caused the girls to be thrown across the car. Fluttershy had been thrown herself, but I caught her with my forelegs and attempted to prevent her from being harmed. The girls shouted and screamed as the train shook forcefully.

Pinkie Pie had somehow regained her balance easily and looked out the window. "Oooh, looky! Now they're doing TRICKS!"

Helping Fluttershy up, we rushed over to the window to begin seeing buffalo pile up on each other. This smaller buffalo ran towards the other buffalo, jumping on one and jumping on the other one that had piled up.

"Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Now do a back-flip!" Pinkie Pie wished. Instead, it jumped over to the top of the train. "Or... Just jump?"

We turned around and heard the noises of the footsteps above us head towards the car the tree was in.

"Hmm…Something tells me this isn't a circus act." Rainbow Dash flew outside to where she was most likely going to confront the animal.

I began running to the other car where the tree was in.

"Alex! Where are you going?" Fluttershy asked, worriedly.

"I need to get Spike! He's still asleep in there!" I responded and continued through the door.

I arrived to see Spike sleeping soundly, which was not such a huge surprise. I raced over to the bed the tree and Spike were in. "Spike! Wake up!" I exclaimed.

"Wha who huh?" He announced when he was startled awake. He looked at me. "Alex, what are you doing here?" He asked.

"Buffalo are surrounding the train for some reason. We have to get out of here, c'mon!"

Suddenly, the car stopped moving and began heading the other direction. We looked over to the window to see the train continue moving while we were being pushed away by the buffaloes surrounding the car.

"Heeeelp!" Spike cried out to the ponies who were staring at us in shock. "Heeeelp!" Spike cried again. Spike looked over to me, panicking. "Oh no! What are we going to do?" He quickly asked. "What are the buffaloes going to do when they find us? NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"Calm down Spike." I quickly responded. "The buffalo will hear us."

All of a sudden, the car stopped. The doors were thrown open revealing a horde of buffalo staring at me.

"Pony!" One of them exclaimed. They placed weight on the car to the angle where I fell out and landed in front of all of them. They formed a circle around me and looked at me very seriously. I could only look around with my eyes and analyze them. There was no way I could defend myself from all these huge buffalo… "Get him!" They ordered and began preparing to charge straight at me but Spike gave out a loud yell.

"STOP!" He presented himself from the car in front of all the buffaloes. The buffaloes immediately ceased and stared right at him in widened eyes. They instantly bowed in front of him, making both him and I very surprised at the scene. "…Uh… okay…? What's going on?"

"We honor dragons very much." One stated.

Spike formed a grin on his face. "Well then… My name is Spike!"

"What would you like us to do with the pony?" They asked Spike.

"Leave him alone, of course! He's with me!"

They backed off and gave me some room.

"What is your other wish, Spike?" They asked, continuing to bow.

"Hm…" Spike thought, tapping a finger on his chin.

Suddenly we heard a familiar voice from a distance. "Oh my gosh, so am I!" It sounded like Pinkie Pie's voice… The buffaloes heard this as well and immediately rushed over to where the noise came from.

"And the more of us there are out here, the more chances of us getting..." The buffaloes had all grouped around Rainbow Dash, who was holding Pinkie Pie. They noticed how all the buffaloes surrounded them and Rainbow Dash formed a worried expression on her face. "Caught." Rainbow Dash observed the crowd gathered around them. "Run, Pinkie, I'll hold 'em off. Save yourself!"

"Spike! Tell them to leave them alone!" I exclaimed at Spike after noticing the buffaloes grow angry.

"Don't worry, I've got this!" He replied and began running over to the buffaloes, just as they were about to charge. "Stop!" The buffaloes immediately stopped and looked behind them to see Spike coming their way. They made room for him to meet with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. "Dash, Pinkie... 'Sup? Hey, no worries I know those guys. They're cool."

"If you say so, Spike. Catch ya later, bro." One of them replied and led most of the buffaloes out of the area, leaving a few buffaloes, most likely to see that Spike is safe.

Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were confused and stunned. "Uh… What just happened?" Rainbow Dash asked.

Spike looked over to the remaining buffalo. "Hey, do you guys have like a place to crash? We're pretty worn out, and I'm STARVING!"

The buffaloes looked at each other and nodded. "Follow us, Spike. We shall lead you to our village."

"Great!" Spike replied and one of the buffaloes carried him as they began taking him to their village.

Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and I looked at each other and shrugged. We began following Spike.

Once we arrived at the village, the buffalo had already seated Spike near a fireplace. It seemed he had already had some time to spend there, way before we arrived, due to the buffalo carrying him, of course. Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and I looked around in the village. We met with Spike and took a seat near him around the fireplace.

"Well, tell us what happened already, Spike!" Rainbow Dash began.

"Oh, yeah!" Spike remembered and began explaining. "Well you see… after we were separated from you guys, the buffalo stopped and found us. They got Alex first, but…" He cleared his throat and brought out his chest. "I stopped them." I rolled my eyes. "Anyways, seems they took us by mistake.. And they feel awful about it, too, poor guys. Fortunately, they totally respect dragons, so they treat me like an honored guest." Spike snapped his fingers, having the buffaloes bring some green goop to us. "Still don't like ponies much, though... But you're with me, so it's cool."

Rainbow Dash sniffed the bowl and released a disgusted face. She pushed away the bowl and stood up. "Huh… Well, I still don't trust them. I say we turn tail and bail while we still –

Pinkie Pie was heard garbling up the mush in bowl. She literally contained her face in the bowl. She finished licking the contents in the bowl and removed her face. She had the mush all over her face and even mane. "Before we finish EATING? Are you loco in the coco?" The young buffalo we had seen earlier brought Spike some gemstones. "Can I please have more of that mushy stuff, whatever it was?"

"Certainly." The young buffalo answered. "And, Mr. Spike, you like gemstones, yes?"

"Turquoise. Mmm!" Spike began munching on the gems.

I looked over at Pinkie Pie who was trying to lick the mush off her face and mane. I sighed and pushed over my bowl to her. "Here… just take mine Pinkie Pie."

Her eyes glowed. "YUM! Thanks, Alex!" She began pummeling her face in the mush and throwing the food, with her tongue, down her throat.

Spike had finished the bowl of jewels and was licking the leftovers in the bowl. "Heh hah! This here is Little Strongheart, and these are my friends Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash." He introduced the young buffalo to us.

Rainbow Dash had turned over to Little Strongheart and instantly grew an aggressive expression. "You!"

"You!" Little Strongheart returned, but instead in a more surprised tone.

"That's it!" Rainbow Dash spoke out boldly. "We are outta here!" Rainbow Dash began leaving the area, but when she noticed that Pinkie Pie wasn't following, she grabbed her tail and began dragging her out. Little Strongheart noticed this and immediately rushed over to stop her.

"Wait! Please accept my apologies for what happened on the train, we didn't mean for anyone to be hurt."

"Yeah, right." Rainbow Dash turned away and began heading the other direction, but Little Strongheart ran in front of her.

"We only wanted the tree. The settler ponies have overtaken the land and have planted an orchard all over it! Because of their thoughtlessness, we can no longer run over our traditional stampeding grounds..."

"Huh?" They both questioned.

"I think it's time they met Chief Thunderhooves." Spike suggested.

Little Strongheart had brought the chief. Along with him, were other buffaloes. Little Strongheart had introduced us to him, and he began speaking to us, explaining the whole situation. "Hmmh. We have a long and winding stampeding trail, that we have run upon for many generations." He took a breath. "My father stampeded upon these grounds, And his father before him, And his father before him, And his father before him." The other buffaloes surrounding us in a circle began falling asleep and shaking their heads to stay awake. "And his father before him. And –

"I think they get the idea, Chief." Little Strongheart intervened.

"Hmph. It is a sacred tradition to run the path every year. But this year, these... Settler ponies, these..." He snorted angrily. "Appleloosians!" He snorted more aggressively. Little Strongheart noticed this and placed a hoof on his nose.

"They planted apple trees all over it without asking our permission." She finished.

"Well that's not very nice. Right, Rainbow Dash?" Pinkie Pie asked.

Rainbow Dash sat down and crossed her forelegs. "Hmph..."

"The ponies refused to move their trees, so we are stuck here, and it is not fair!"

"See Rainbow Dash?" Spike asked. "They had a good reason ta –

Rainbow Dash suddenly rose up in the air and landed with a shake, causing all the buffaloes to gasp. She had a very angry expression on her face. "Huh-ah... I'll say they had a good reason! C'mon. We have some apple-pickin' Appleloosians to talk to!"

"Wait." I announced, making them all look towards me. "I know it was wrong for them to settle without your permission… but… you can't just go and force them to take down their trees. They probably really needed the land to survive… you guys need to just negotiate on what to do…"

The chief stared coldly at me. "And what if you are just another one of them, pony? What if you're just trying to keep the land you stole from us!"

"I've never been to Appleloosa in my whole life! I just don't want anything to get worse because two wrongs don't make a right!"

The chief snorted. "We will do what we please, pony." The chief turned to Little Strongheart. "You will take them back to the town to explain why they must move the trees."

Little Strongheart bowed. "Of course, chief." She looked towards us. "Let's go." Little Strongheart, along with Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Spike, began walking towards the town.

I sighed and just followed them in silence.

Only a short distance away from the town, we spotted a group of five ponies on the road, running straight towards us. This frightened Little Strongheart and she jumped behind a rock to hide. The group of ponies immediately stopped before us in surprised expressions. After having some time to analyze them, I noticed it was actually Rarity, Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, and another pony!

"Hi guys!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Fluttershy immediately noticed me and reacted by hopping and tackling me to the ground, joyfully. "Alex! We're so glad you're safe!"

The other ponies ran over to Spike, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie, exclaiming in joy. "How did you escape from the buffalo?" Twilight asked.

"We didn't!" Pinkie Pie answered.

Little Strongheart hopped out from the rock and rubbed her hoof on the ground shyly.

"We promised the buffalo a chance to talk." Rainbow Dash added.

"Talk?" I intervened. "You mean demand?"

"No, it's not like that… we just want to talk…" Little Strongheart responded to my comment.

"Oh, yeah? 'Bout what?" Applejack questioned with a hint of aggression.

"We brought our new pal, Little Strongheart here, to explain to the Appleloosians why they should move the apple trees off buffalo land." Rainbow Dash replied.

"That information would be quite help –

"That's weird. 'cause my cousin, Braeburn, here, wants to explain to the buffalo why they should let the apple trees stay." Applejack interrupted the pony who tried to talk.

"That would be a useful thing to –

"The land is theirs! You planted the trees not knowing that. Honest mistake. Now, you just gotta move 'em, that's all." Rainbow Dash interrupted Little Strongheart.

"Well... Eheh..." Braeburn chuckled nervously.

"They busted their rumps here! An' now they're suppos't ta bust their rumps again, just 'cause some buffalo won't stampede someplace else?" Applejack defended.

"Plant the trees somewhere else!" Rainbow Dash continued to argue.

"Where? It's the only flatland around these parts!"

"The BUFFALO had it FIRST!"

"The settler ponies need it to LIVE!"

"Come ON Applejack!"

"That's enough!" I exclaimed as I stood up. "Each side has their own good reasons, but arguing is not the way to fix this issue!"

Pinkie Pie suddenly gasped. "Hey! I've got an idea! Get every buffalo and pony to come in town and I have a foolproof plan to bring them together!" Pinkie Pie rushed off, leaving us confused.

Nonetheless, we did as she asked and managed to gather all the ponies in the town and all the buffalo from the land towards a stage in the middle of the town. The entire crowd gathered around the stage and whispered with many questions on why they were there in the first place… especially with the buffalo. Suddenly, a piano started playing a song, catching all our attention towards the stage. Spike was playing the piano on the right hand of the stage while Pinkie Pie poked out her head from the closed curtains, grinning greatly. She turned her head towards Spike, waving over to him while he returned a thumbs up. …What was Pinkie Pie going to do now…?

Suddenly, the curtains shot open and revealed a closed clam in the middle of the stage. The clam slowly opened, revealing Pinkie Pie, who was lying down. She sat up and began singing.

"We may be divided

But of you all, I beg

To remember we're all hoofed

At the end of each leg…" A couple of ponies softly picked her up from the clam and placed her on the stage.

"No matter what the issue" She began bouncing around the stage.

"Come from wherever you please

All this fighting gets you nothing

But hoof and mouth disease

Arguing's not the way

Hey, come out and play!

It's a shiny, new day

So, what do you say?

You gotta share

You gotta care" Pinkie Pie danced on the stage as the rest of us could only stare in silence.

"It's the right thing to do

You gotta share

You gotta care

And there'll always be a way through" Pinkie Pie popped up between the sheriff of the town and Little Strongheart.

"Both our diets, I should mention

Are completely vegetarian" Pinkie Placed an apple in the mouth of Little Strongheart and the sheriff.

"We all eat hay and oats

Why be at each other's throat?

You gotta share

You gotta care

It's the right thing to do

And there'll always be a way

Thro-o-o-o-ugh!" Pinkie Pie finished.

The audience only returned silence. Spike's clapping was only heard. "All right, Pinkie Pie! That was FANTASTIC! What a great song! You're right on!"

The sheriff and the chief looked at each other for a moment and nodded. "It appears that Sheriff Silverstar and I have come to... An agreement."

"We have." The sheriff agreed, raising the hopes of the ponies as they smiled with open mouths.

"That was the worst performance we've ever seen..." The chief answered, disappointing and surprising Pinkie Pie.

"Teh... Abso-tively!"

"The time for action... Hmh... Is upon us!" The chief began with a threatening tone in his voice. "Our stampede will start at high noon tomorrow. And if the orchard is still there, we'll flatten IT! AND the whole town!"

"But, Chief!" Little Strongheart tried to reason.

"An' we Appleloosians say you'd better bring yer best, 'cause we'll be ready and waitin'." The sheriff counterattacked.

"But, Sheriff..." Braeburn walked towards the sheriff.

The buffalo and ponies went their separate ways to prepare for the fight that was to come.

"Oh... That wasn't the message of my song at all..." Pinkie Pie commented, sadly.

I looked over to Spike. "Spike, take Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie to the buffalo and see if you can prevent them from going on with this mess. The rest of us will talk with the sheriff and see if we can knock some sense into them."

"Got it!" Spike responded. "C'mon Pink!" Spike dragged Pinkie Pie by her tail while Rainbow Dash flew after them.

I looked over to Fluttershy, Applejack, Twilight, and Rarity. "C'mon let's get to the town quick!" They nodded and began following me.

When we arrived at the town, every pony was already boarding their windows, locking their doors, and creating barricades throughout the whole perimeter of the town.

"I want my kin ta have what they need to live... But a storm's a-brewin' here. And I don't like the look of it." Applejack commented.

"We've just got to talk some sense into them before somepony gets hurt." Twilight replied.

We attempted to try to talk the ponies of the town out of fighting, but they were stubborn as mules. Every time we tried to talk, they continued on climbing in their windows and shutting their doors. When we reached their orchards, there were bucking apples, but for defensive uses… Twilight tried to get one of them to stop and talk but all she received was an irritated look. "Why won't anypony be rational and reasonable?" She exclaimed.

We returned back in town where they had just finished barricading the perimeter of the town with wood and nails. I knew that that wouldn't stand a chance against the buffalo…

"Sheriff, if we could only –

Applejack tried to talk to the sheriff but he ignored her and kept moving. We turned over to the bakery to see ponies baking thousands of apple pies. Lastly, in the town square, they raised a flag with their emblem planted proudly on it. The ponies cheered and threw their hats upwards to the sky.

Fluttershy looked worriedly at me. "Alex, there must be something we can do to stop this!"

I lowered my head and closed my eyes. "The way things are going… it looks like the settlers have already made their decision…"

Noon came as fast as the settlers prepared themselves for the attack by the buffalo. Many of the buffalo gathered above a cliff and stared down at us. The settler ponies looked very frightened by the huge mob they formed. The clock was only a few minutes away from hitting twelve. Many ponies watched from the inside of their houses as carts full of apple pies made their way over to the perimeter.

"Come on!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed while she tapped her forehead with her hoof. "THINK. Think, think, think, think, think, think, think!"

The sound of a bell tolled, striking suspense in each of us. The bell continued ringing throughout the silence that filled the entire area. I could only observe as the settler ponies stared beyond the town at the horde of buffalo waiting at the cliff. The girls, including Braeburn, formed worried and frightened expressions as they could only wait to see when the buffalo will make their move. Braeburn took another look at the clock. It was noon.

As we waited for the buffalo to strike, I saw Little Strongheart place a hoof on the chief's face.

Rainbow Dash gasped as she observed what had just happened. "He's not gonna do it!"

So that was it? It was as if Little Strongheart had told him to think twice about what he is doing… without moving her lips at all… It was as if she told him to take another look at us and think if it's really the right thing he's doing… It's if—

"whaddaya say?

You got to share

You got to care

It's the right thing to do"

It was Pinkie Pie's voice! No! She's going to mess the entire thing up!

I quickly jumped over the perimeter and ran over to Pinkie Pie, who was in the middle of the tension, as she continued dancing. I could see the chief grow angry on the cliff.

"Pinkie Pie!" I shouted out to her.

"You got to share…" She continued singing. "You've got to care…"

"CHAAARGE!" The chief's voice erupted. In that second, they began stampeding towards us. Pinkie Pie could only stare, stunned.

I caught up to Pinkie Pie and pulled her away from the path of the stampede. From behind me, I could see the buffalo break through the wooden perimeter as if they were merely branches. I began racing back to the town.

"Ready... Aim... Fire!" The sheriff ordered and the ponies immediately began bombarding the buffalo with their apple pies. One by one, the buffalo were taken down by the pies. Some ponies inside their houses jumped out of their windows and climbed on top of the buffalo, riding them like bulls. Other buffalo charged straight towards the stacks of hay, either knocking the pony out of the hay or diving straight towards an anvil. One of the buffalo was hit in the face by an apple pie and crashed towards the town clock, cracking it and causing it to tumble down onto the road. The chief jumped out of the wreckage and snorted very aggressively. He spotted the sheriff, who was ducking and covering behind several hay stacks, throwing apple pies. The chief began charging towards the sheriff. The sheriff began getting another apple pie, but then he realized he had no more. The chief was reaching the sheriff by the second. The sheriff noticed this and took down his hat in respect as he awaited his defeat. The chief was almost at the sheriff. I had to stop this! I quickly spotted a spare apple pie on the ground. I hastily grabbed it and ran over to where the chief was heading straight towards the sheriff.

As soon as I saw the chief hop into the air to pummel at the sheriff, I quickly threw the pie at the chief's face. Just before he could get the sheriff, the pie came straight towards him. "Nooo!" He screamed and was pulverized by the pie. The sheriff noticed how he tumbled straight towards the ground. The chief lay there as his face was covered with an apple pie mess. The buffalo quickly came to his aid to see him defeated. One of the buffalo observed this and began crying as the pony next to him took her hat off in respect. Spike cried along as well as he hugged Twilight tightly. I instantly began feeling bad about what I did…

However, one of the pieces of the apple pie fell down towards his stuck out tongue. He closed his mouth and swallowed. He opened his eyes and quickly licked the pieces off his face. "Yum! Hey, I've got a much better idea!" He announced. "We... will allow the apple orchard to stay in exchange for a share of it's fruit, heh... Those... Delicious apple pies!"

The settlers cheered as they agreed to the negotiation between the buffalo.

I sighed in relief.

The settler ponies chopped down trees, creating a pathway for the buffalo to use for their stampeding. The ponies used the apples to bake the apple pies they gave out to the buffalo as they passed through the path.

"I'd rather eat turquoise any day of the week." Spike chomped on the bowl of gems he had. "Auhh...!"

"Bloomberg, this is yer special day. Mama's so proud of you!" Applejack announced as she had just finished planting her apple tree in a isolated spot away from the other trees.

The buffalo began roaming back to their village after they finally settled their differences between the settler ponies. Little Strongheart noticed Rainbow Dash and waved over to her.

"Dear, Princess Celestia..." Twilight began speaking near me as she observed the peaceful scene. "Friendship is a wondrous and powerful thing. Even the worst of enemies can become friends. You need understanding and compromise." Rainbow Dash, Little Strongheart, and even Applejack began racing through the road as the sun began setting. "You've got to share. You've got to care –

"HEY! That's what I said!" Pinkie Pie immediately intervened as she walked over to Twilight and I.

Twilight giggled. "Sorry Pinkie… but the way you put it, angered everypony else."

"Hmph!" Pinkie Pie turned her head away, upset.

"C'mon, everypony. It's time to go home." Twilight told us.

Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and I had climbed on the train that was to take us back home. Rainbow Dash had boarded a while after. She flew over to her bed and crashed on there, placing her forelegs behind her head and sighing, happily. As I looked out the window near my bed while placing my hoof under my cheek, I saw Applejack expressing her goodbyes to the town. I noticed how she hugged and waved to her cousin, Braeburn, goodbye. She did the same for the rest of her family that lived there and began walking towards the train to board as well. After seeing her do that, I could only feel depressed about the thought of…

I sighed. I pulled the curtain over the window and lay on my bed, covering myself with the blankets. A little while later, I heard Applejack reach our car, exhausted.

"Boy…that was some day, huh?" Applejack exclaimed as she planted herself on her bed. Every other pony agreed while I remained silent under the covers. She must have noticed my condition. "Is Alex asleep?" She asked, softly.

"I think so…" Twilight responded, whispering.

The girls lowered their voices as I lay under the covers. I wasn't asleep… not at all… I just remained quiet, almost feeling tears run down my face…

I guess I must have dozed off anyway because by the time I opened my eyes, there was only complete silence. I pulled the covers away from my face and sat up. I pulled the curtain on the window slightly to notice how outside was pitch black, except for the little separate stars that slightly lit the area. I could hear the soft sound of the train in motion, which was what I also felt as I lay in my bed. I looked around to the side of me to see the other girls soundly asleep. I sighed sadly and stared at my sheets as I could only see that image in my mind again…

"Alex…?" I heard Applejack's voice whisper beside me. I quickly turned to my right and noticed her holding a lit candle as she stared at me worriedly. "Is everything alright? I heard you sighing… like if you wanted to cry or something."

"Sorry…" I responded as I stared back at my sheets. "I didn't mean to wake you up… it's nothing…"

She remained quiet for a moment and then spoke to me again. "C'mon." She grabbed my hoof and lightly pulled me out of bed. "I want to show you something."

She led me towards the car which used to contain the tree, but now only had an empty bed. She lit a candle in the room and walked over to the bed. She sat down and patted the seat near her to motion for me to sit down next to her. Confused, I did and looked at her.

"What is it, Applejack?"

"Okay, Alex…" She responded as she still had her voice in a low volume. "What's going on? What is it that is always bringing you down? That is always making you sad? That is the reason why you never smile…?"

I turned to stare at the ground as I began feeling the emotions kick in, overwhelming me with sadness to the point where I actually wanted to cry. I couldn't bring up any words as Applejack stared at me with a concerned look. I could only just keep my mouth shut and shake my head lightly as I didn't know what to say.

I sighed heavily. "I don't know what to say…"

"Just tell me what the problem is." Applejack replied.

I thought for a moment, releasing words after, which were brief. "I don't know… I guess it was seeing you with your friends and family or something…"

"What do you mean, Alex? How does that make you sad?" She asked. I responded with silence as I looked away to the ground. After a while of thinking, she spoke again. "Alex… what about your friends and family…?"

I took a sting to the heart. "What about them…?" I answered coldly.

"Well… how are they doing? Like your friends. Are they okay?"

I jumped off the bed, angrily, and walked over to the corner. "How should I know?" I answered, raising my voice a little. "I mean… were they ever even my friends to begin with?"

"Alex…?" Applejack questioned, worriedly.

I suddenly punched the wall of the car, creating a loud smack and thud sound, which frightened Applejack. I took in a few deep breaths and walked back to the corner and sat down with my held hung low. Behind me, I could head soft hooves clatter on the floor of the car. They walked over to me and placed a hoof on my shoulder.

"Alex… you must have had some bad ponies in your life…but…remember…we're your friends… we're not like those other ponies…" Applejack tried to entreat me. I couldn't say anything but just continue breathing angrily, but in a more depressive way. "Look at me, sugarcube." I heard the soft tone she used for her words. I slowly turned around to see her. She looked at me, straight into my eyes. "Let me tell you something…" She pulled out something from her mane and began observing it as she spoke. "You see Alex… you are like an apple…ponies take bites of you until they reach the core…afterwards, they throw you away…leaving you to only gather dirt and dust…alone…but then come the ponies who really care about you…us... We pick you up and dust you off. After, we take the seeds from your core and plant them with tender, love, and care. With our friendship...you'll grow to be a big and strong tree…or pony in this case… and you'll have many more apples to share with everypony… the ones who care about you…" I could only continue staring at her as she described me in her own fashion… "Here, Alex." She showed me the object she had in her hoof. It was a seed… "This is the seed I saved from one of Bloomberg's apples. I was hoping I could plant it, so another tree would grow in our acres...but…" She grabbed my hoof and placed the seed on it. "You should have it… that way… as you see it grow… you can always remember what we talked about…okay…?"

I looked at the seed with careful eyes. I held it tightly in my hoof and looked at Applejack. "Okay…Thank you, Applejack… I… I really appreciate it…"

Applejack gave a warm smile. "You're welcome, Alex. If you ever need to talk to somepony, we're here for you…well… maybe Rainbow Dash or Pinkie Pie wouldn't be the best pony to talk to but… you understand, right?"

I nodded. Applejack hugged me… It felt almost like a motherly hug, even though she was possibly younger or around the same age as me. After a moment, she pulled away and looked at me. "C'mon you should get some shut-eye, now."

I nodded once again. She walked over to the lit candle and blew it out, keeping the other candle lit for us to be able to maneuver through the car.

When we reached the car where all the other ponies were sleeping in, Applejack slowly blew the candle and placed it on a counter.

"Good night, Alex…" She whispered to me.

"Night, Applejack…" I responded.

She began walking off, but then looked as if she remembered something. "Oh." She glanced over to me. "And try to smile now, okay?"

I could only return an unchanged expression. "Um…I can try…"

"It's better than nothing." Applejack waved and returned to her bed.

I climbed on my bed and turned to my side to where I could see the window. I carefully placed the seed in a safe spot and continued observing it for a moment, replaying what Applejack had told me… Soon, I fell asleep.

I awakened when I felt a light shake on my body. I turned around and saw Fluttershy, who was the one that was lightly shaking my body.

"We're home now, Alex…" Fluttershy smiled lightly.

I sat up from my bed and removed the covers. I grabbed the seed and lightly held it as I climbed out of bed. It was still dark out… probably very early in the morning. The other ponies stepped off from the train as Fluttershy and I followed them. They departed towards their homes as I walked Fluttershy home.

When we reached her door, we looked at each other.

"Sleep well, Fluttershy." I told her softly.

"Thank you, Alex…" She responded. "You too…"

She hugged me and walked inside her cottage, giving me a wave before she closed the door. I turned around and started the way towards home.

When I arrived at my door, I stopped before I entered. I looked at the side of the home and noticed an empty area. I thought for a moment and finally pulled out the seed. I dug a hole on the empty area beside my house until it was large enough to drop the seed in. I moved the dirt I had dug up and placed it back on the hole. I patted the hole with my hoofs until the dirt was securely tight above the seed. I walked over to the hose that was placed on the side of the house. It was still rolled up the way it came with the house. For the first time, I grabbed the hose and turned on the water. I moved the hose over to the spot where I planted the seed and began watering it for a few minutes. After, I shut the water and rolled it up nicely. I stared at the spot for a moment, making sure it was just right. Then, I turned towards my door and entered.

I walked over to the kitchen and turned on the sink. I placed my hooves under the cool water and washed them neatly. After, I dried them with a towel nearby and began ascending up the stairs toward my bed.

When I was snuggled and tucked in my bed. I thought about what Applejack had told me…maybe…maybe they are my true friends? Maybe the same outcome won't occur just like those other ponies in my past?

Maybe…

A Bird in the Hoof

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Episode 22 – A Bird in the Hoof

"Get out of my face! You make me sick!"

"But…I…"

"I said, GET OUT!"

"You heard mom. Go away you little creep."

"But… I didn't do anything…"

"Oh? And I suppose you're telling me that she broke it?"

"…"

"Of course it was him, mom. He always wrecks everything he sees! I don't even know why he had to be born! He was just a big mistake!"

I woke up, frightened, almost to death. I was breathing heavily. I noticed something in my eyes and on my cheeks. I placed my hoof near my eyes and felt it… It was water…tears… I was…crying…? I wiped my eyes and looked out the window. I noticed the sun shining outside, but it didn't help. I had that feeling after a bad dream. Everything feels very bizarre and awkward, as if you're still in the dream…but awake. I brushed off the blankets from me and stepped off my bed. I slowly walked to bathroom and looked in the mirror…A big mistake… I immediately turned on the cold water and splashed it all over my face. I even let the sink fill up with water and dunked my head in it. After a while, I pulled my head out and looked in the mirror again. I sighed. I turned off the water and watched as it went down the drain. I walked over to the towel and used it to dry the water from my face and mane.

Afterwards, I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. I sat down near the table and closed my eyes, trying to escape into myself. Suddenly, I heard a knock at my door. I sat up and walked over to the door to open it.

"Hey, Alex! Are you coming?"

"Twilight? What do you mean coming? To where?" I asked.

"You didn't forget, did you?"

"Forget what?"

Twilight sighed and smiled. "The big brunch for Princess Celestia at Sugarcube Corner."

"Oh…"

"Well, come on! We can't be late!" Twilight pulled me out of the house and began leading me to the location while walking by my side.

"Does Fluttershy know about this brunch?" I asked.

"Of course! She wouldn't miss it for the world! I'm sure she's already there."

We arrived at Sugarcube Corner to see two guards standing outside the cake shop in silence.

"Hello, I'm Twilight Sparkle." Twilight presented herself to the guards. "And this is my friend Alex. We're on the list."

"You may pass." They answered boldly.

Twilight and I walked through to see ponies celebrating the party. I saw Princess Celestia sitting at a long table. I looked around the party but I didn't see Fluttershy anywhere.

"What's wrong, Alex?" Twilight asked me as she noticed my head constantly looking around the place.

"I don't think Fluttershy is here yet… I'm going to wait outside for her." I responded.

"Okay, then. I hope she gets here real soon." Twilight began walking over to Princess Celestia to greet herself.

I turned around and walked out the building. I noticed how the guards were still there. They were perfectly still, not even moving an inch. They looked straight forward with bold eyes. Despite the mood they brought to the area, I took a seat outside and waited for Fluttershy.

After a while, Rainbow Dash poked her head out of the shop and hopped out. "So... what do I have to do to get to be one of the Princess's royal guards, anyway?" She asked them. They didn't answer but only continued looking forward. "Is the pay good?" She nudged one of them. They still didn't reply. "Hellooo!" She exclaimed in their ears. "Anybody home?" After noticing that they still hadn't move, Rainbow Dash looked at them straight in the eye and began making weird faces. She looked at their face to see if they had any effect. So far, there was none. However, she made me feel a little odd… She then stuck her tongue out and threw her head around. She observed their faces again. "Ooh, you're good." There was only silence. "Too good. I'm bored." She turned around and finally noticed me. "Oh, hey Alex!" She flew over to me. "What's up?"

"I'm just waiting for Fluttershy…"

"Oh, okay." She was silent for a moment. "So… I've kinda realized that I've never seen you smile or even laugh before. What's up with that?" She asked. I didn't want to answer or get involved in that question so I just released a shrug. "Hm…" She tapped her hoof on her chin. "I've got it!" She flew in front of me and looked at me, straight in the eyes. I returned a confused look with a raised eyebrow. She began making those weird faces in front of me, especially the one where she stuck out her tongue and turned her head from left to right. After, she had a wide smile on her face, hoping that I would form one too or at least chuckle or something, but all I returned was a confused look.

"Are you okay…?" I asked while having my head tilted a little.

She groaned. "I was trying to make you laugh or at least smile…"

"Oh… well, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon…"

"Aw! Why not?"

I shrugged again.

She sighed. "Fine… I'm going inside." She flew in a flash towards the inside of the shop.

After a moment, I saw something galloping towards my way. It was Fluttershy!

"Phew. Made it." She panted, not noticing me yet. She began walking towards the building but the guards suddenly spread their wings and stared at Fluttershy.

"Halt!"

"Who goes there?"

Fluttershy gulped and began backing off. "No one. Never mind. I'll go home."

"Wait!" I exclaimed, rushing towards Fluttershy. I stood by her side and looked at the guards. "It's alright, she's on the list."

The guards lowered their wings and allowed Fluttershy to walk in.

"Thanks, Alex." Fluttershy said as we walked in.

Twilight noticed us and ran over to us. "I'm so glad you could make it, Fluttershy. It wouldn't be the same without you."

We looked over at the party, where Spike had just finished cooking up some small pies with his fiery breath. Spike grabbed another tray and repeated the process. A pony walked by us. "How's everypony doing?" He asked us, however, answered before we could give an answer ourselves. "Good? Good."

"Anything else we can get for you, dearies...? Ooh, I-I mean, esteemed guests." We heard from the table Princess Celestia was sitting at.

"Everything is fine, Mr. and Mrs. Cake." Princess Celestia responded in a sweet tone.

"Sorry I'm late. I had to finish taking care of a patient first." Fluttershy explained to us as we walked over to the table.

"Oh, you and your Tender Loving Care of little animals. I just know Princess Celestia is gonna love that about you. I mean, I hope she will... I mean, of course she will!" Twilight replied nervously, even twitching as she spoke.

"Wow, Twilight. I thought I was the only one who got nervous at social gatherings."

"Oh, it's not that. I just want the princess to approve of my friends. "

"But she's met us all before."

"And read about you in my letters. But besides Alex, this is the first time she's spent any real time with you. I want everypony to make a good impression."

"You don't need to be so nervous Twilight. Princess Celestia will like everypony. She isn't strict on those kinds of things…" I added in on the conversation.

"Yes, Twilight. I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Besides, it's just a casual get-together, right?" Fluttershy responded.

"Don't touch me! Watch the dress! Careful, you're gonna spill that on me!" We heard Rarity from across the room. She was wearing a very fancy dress to a casual party… As ponies walked by her with drinks or food, she immediately freaked out. Mrs. Cake stopped by and offered her one of the apple cupcakes in a platter. "Oh, oh, that looks delicious. What is it?" Rarity lifted her hoof to get one, then instantly took it back. "Oh, does it stain? Keep it away from me!" She cowered in the room, looking around frightened for any dangers to her dress.

"Or... perhaps not that casual." Fluttershy added.

"Uh... which is the salad and which is the appetizer again?" Applejack questioned near us as she sat next to a table, cautiously looking at the food. "And which am I supposed to eat first?" She began to open her mouth to different kinds of food, but then stopped herself because she wasn't sure of which one to eat. "Oh, never mind. I'm not hungry."

I walked up to her and looked over at the food. "Just eat whichever you want to first, Applejack. I'm sure the Princess doesn't mind if you don't eat the food in a 'fancy way'. It's just a casual party, remember?"

Applejack sighed in relief. "You're right, Alex. I shouldn't worry about this fancy eating." Applejack replied and began eating the first thing she saw.

As I began walking back towards Fluttershy and Twilight, I saw Pinkie Pie suddenly bounce into my path and all over the party. "Woohoo! Cookies, candies and pies, oh my!" She stuffed her face in a pie. "Oooh!" She spotted the chocolate fountain on one of the tables. "Chocolate Fountainy goodness!" She literally stuck her head in the fountain, covering it with chocolate. She pulled out her head as the chocolate began hardening. Once it did, she broke through it and ate all the pieces. She rushed over to the table Princess Celestia was at. Princess Celestia was just about to eat one of the apple cupcakes when Pinkie Pie appeared right in front of her. "You gonna eat that?" However, she didn't give Princess Celestia time to answer before chomping on the cupcake, making loud noises as she chewed openly in front of the Princess. Despite Pinkie Pie's manners, she still smiled warmly. Mrs. Cake gasped widely and rushed over to Pinkie Pie to remove her from the table. "Hey!" Mr. Cake came towards the table and placed a new plate of tea and a cupcake.

"A thousand pardons, Your Majesty." He apologized.

"That's quite all right, thank you." Princess Celestia responded.

Princess Celestia picked up the new cupcake with her magic and took a bite of it. Afterwards, she took a sip of the tea. She placed the teacup back on the small plate.

"Empty teacup at 4 o'clock!" Mrs. Cake suddenly alerted.

"Uh, I see it, honey bun!" Mr. Cake replied, rushing over to refill her teacup.

"Oh, um... thank you." The Princess thanked.

"Not at all, Your Highness."

The Princess took another sip of her tea, bringing Mrs. Cake to immediately refill it again.

"Thank you again."

"Oh, but of course, Your Majesty."

She took another sip. They refilled it again. She took a sip. They refilled it. After, she looked at them each, a little playfully, and made a slurp sound, but didn't drink the tea. They poured more tea in the cup, but it actually overflowed outside the cup. "Gotcha!" The Cakes smiled nervously.

"Oh..." Twilight sunk underneath the table in a worried tone.

The Princess looked over at Fluttershy, who I was with near the table. "And what about you, dear? Fluttershy, is it?" She asked.

"Me?" Fluttershy questioned, surprisingly. "Oh yes, Your Highness."

Princess Celestia returned a look towards me that stated, "So, this was the special pony you were talking about?" I could only return a nervous and slightly embarrassed expression. The Princess continued talking with Fluttershy. "I understand from Twilight Sparkle's letters that you enjoy tending to the needs of woodland creatures."

"Yes, I love to take care of animals." Fluttershy responded, happily.

"As do I. As Princess, I care deeply about all creatures, great and small." We heard a sudden cough in a bird cage near Princess Celestia, surprising us but the Princess. "Nothing means more to me than the well-being of all my subjects." The bird began to furiously cough. After, it presented itself when it flew up and stood in the middle of the cage as its head tilted to the side. "Ah, Philomeena, my pet. You're awake. Do say hello to our gracious hosts." The bird only returned more sickly coughs.

"Oh... my." Fluttershy pulled back with a disturbed expression on her face.

"She is quite a sight, isn't she?" The Princess asked.

"I... I... I've never seen anything like it." Fluttershy replied as she continued to observe the bird cough.

"How about you, Alex? How are you doing?" The Princess asked me.

"Well… I've been doing alright I guess…" I remembered about that frightening shadow I've seen for a couple of times now. "Actually… there's been something that—

One of the royal guards came over to our table and began whispering to the Princess.

"Really? Well, if I must... I'm sorry, everypony. I'm afraid I have to cut the party short." Twilight suddenly spat out the tea she was drinking but immediately covered her mouth with her hoof. "The mayor has requested an audience with me. Royal duty calls. Thank you for a wonderful time. It's been a joy getting to know you all better." Before she left, she apologized to me, but she told me that I could tell her the next time I saw her. Then, she began walking gracefully out the door as the ponies awed in her presence.

Afterwards, Mr. and Mrs. Cake began cleaning up the party. Pinkie Pie performed a cartwheel, hyper, out the door, bumping into the other ponies.

"Stay right where you are." Rarity warned as she trotted slowly out the door. "All I want is a clear path to the exit. NOBODY MOVE and my dress won't get hurt! Stay back! Back, I say!"

Applejack walked out the door, even carrying some more dishes on her nose.

Twilight sighed. "Well, Alex, I don't know for sure how things went with the princess, but at least no big disasters happened."

"Yeah…" I replied. "Don't worry so much about it. I'm sure the Princess thinks everypony is great."

"Hm. You're right! She likes our friends. I'm sure everything is alright!"

I nodded. "Guess we better head out…" I looked around for Fluttershy, but I couldn't find her. "Hey, did you see where Fluttershy went?" I asked.

"Hm. I don't think so… she just… vanished." Twilight responded.

I continued to look around. "Maybe she just went home and I didn't see her…" I paused for a moment and looked at Twilight. "I'm going to go check if she's home. I'll see you later, okay Twilight?"

She nodded and I left the building, walking towards Fluttershy's cottage.

When I arrived, I noticed that her door was open. I slowly walked in, closing the door after me. I looked around the house for Fluttershy. "Fluttershy?" I called her name softly.

"There." I heard her voice.

I walked over to where I heard her and noticed her standing near a bed. "Fluttershy?"

She turned around quickly, frightened, but released a breath when she noticed it was just me. "Oh, hey Alex."

"Why did you leave the party so soon?" I asked, walking towards her.

She didn't say anything but just contained an embarrassed expression on her face.

"Fluttershy?" I asked. Then, my eyes wandered to the bed. I saw an odd-looking bird lying on there with covers over it. It eyes were big and it had this look as if it didn't even know what was going on. After a moment of observing it, I realized it was Princess Celestia's bird. "Fluttershy? What is Princess Celestia's pet doing here?"

Fluttershy stood silent for a moment. "…I couldn't leave her all alone while she was really sick. I had to take care of her."

"Did you get Princess Celestia's permission?" I asked.

Fluttershy looked at the floor. "No…"

"We have to return her, Fluttershy. Princess Celestia will be worried if she finds her pet missing!"

"Can I please hold on to her for just a little while? Look at her." She pointed to the bird, who was hacking and coughing. "I only want to make her feel better. Besides, we still have time until Princess Celestia is done with her royal duties…"

I thought for a moment and then finally sighed. "Alright…but just a while longer, okay?"

Fluttershy smiled brightly. "Don't worry! It'll only take a little while!" Fluttershy picked up a thermometer from the shelf nearby with her teeth and placed it in Philomeena's beak. After a second, she began burning up and the thermometer was at the highest point. Fluttershy gasped and quickly removed the blankets. She placed an ice pack on Philomeena's bare head. Philomeena began cooling down. The thermometer now dropped to the lowest point and Philomeena began shivering fiercely. Fluttershy gasped again and removed the ice pack, placing the blanket over her again. The thermometer immediately filled up again and Philomeena was burning up. Fluttershy removed the blanket and placed on the ice pack again, which made the bird shiver once again. Fluttershy removed the ice pack and placed the blanket, only to repeat the process over and over for several times. This caused the thermometer to repeatedly move up and down until it finally broke. "This is far worse than I thought. What you need is some medicine. Stat!" Philomeena released another fierce hack, causing Fluttershy to flinch back.

Fluttershy walked over to one of her cabinets and searched through them for a while. After, she pulled out a huge pill and placed it on a plate. She brought it over to Philomeena and presented it before her. "Here you go, Philomeena. This will fix you right up." Philomeena moved her head towards it and sniffed it, but then she stuck her tongue out in disgust. "Doctor Fluttershy expected that." Fluttershy responded as she sat on one of her chairs. Fluttershy grabbed a big bag of food and poured it all over the pill. Philomeena stuck her tongue out but licked the food instead. After a moment of silence, she instantly began pecking at the food, devouring everything. "Always works." She released a sly grin towards me. However, she lost the grin when she noticed that the pill was still lying on the plate. "Uh... Almost always." Philomeena released another cough. Fluttershy thought for a moment, and then gained an idea. "Alex, I'm going to go make some soup for Philomeena, mind if you watch her?" She asked.

"Um… sure…" I responded, feeling a little uncomfortable around the bird.

Fluttershy walked towards the kitchen as I stayed behind with the bird. I looked over at Philomeena and noticed how she just stared at me. I returned another stare, leaving us both to just stare at each other for a while. This bird looked really…creepy…

Fluttershy walked into the room a little while later with a bowl of soup. She placed it on the ground near Philomeena and slightly blew on it. "There's nothing like home-made soup to cure what ails you." She pushed the bowl over to Philomeena. The bird looked at the soup for a moment and then pulled back with wings crossed…well bare wings. "Come on now. You're not gonna get better if you don't cooperate." Fluttershy lowered her head towards the bowl of soup and took a sip. "Mmm... See? It's delicious. Good and good for you." The bird still refused to consume the soup. Fluttershy then grabbed the soup with her hooves and tried to playfully get Philomeena to eat it. "Here comes the choo-choo train. Chugga-chugga, chugga-chugga, whoo-whoo!" Honestly, she released sounds that I couldn't help but think were adorable. Despite the effort Fluttershy was placing, Philomeena still refused to eat the soup. Philomeena turned her head away each time Fluttershy tried to show her the bowl of soup until she finally reached her limit and spun around, causing her to fall onto the soup. "Oh dear. Don't worry, Philomeena. I know what'll make you feel better. Wait right here. I have just the thing." Fluttershy trotted away as Philomeena gave another hack in the bowl of soup.

Meanwhile, while Fluttershy was preparing her other idea, I couldn't help but think to myself. How much longer does Fluttershy think she could take? We have no idea when Princess Celestia will return from her business. What if she just got back and is looking for her bird right now? I started feeling a little bad inside as I started worrying what might happen. Okay… I'll just give her a little while longer… maybe she can fix this bird up a bit before we take it back? Besides… if it's too late by the time we take the bird back, I'll take the blame for Fluttershy…

After a moment, Fluttershy came back with another bird on her hoof. "Look, Philomeena. I brought a fellow feathered friend by to cheer you up. Hummingway here was sick once too, but he let me help him and got better in no time. Didn't you, boy?" The hummingbird released an agreed chirp. "Say hello to your new friend Philomeena." The hummingbird flew gently towards Philomeena and rubbed his head on hers. "Aw, look. I think he likes you." The hummingbird flew back to Fluttershy. Fluttershy and her hummingbird flew in the air. Fluttershy began singing several notes, leaving the hummingbird to complete the song. "Your turn now, Philomeena. Go ahead. You can do it." Fluttershy flew towards the bird, repeating the notes she sang for the hummingbird, however, Philomeena returned a look which seemed as if she was to spit something out. After a moment, Philomeena coughed out food which landed on Fluttershy's face. "Um... good try?" She removed the food from her face.

Fluttershy had gone into the bathroom to wash her face. When she returned, she motioned me to bring Philomeena towards the bathroom. Flinching a little, I grabbed Philomeena and brought her over to the bathroom. Fluttershy had wrapped a towel on Philomeena's head and one on her waist. "I know what'll clear up that tickle in your throat. A humidifier." She turned it on and took a deep breath. Refreshing. How's that feeling now for you, Philomeena? Better?"

The room was engulfed in steam. Fluttershy observed Philomeena as she began taking a deep breath. Fluttershy gazed at her excitedly, waiting for her to exhale just fine. Philomeena coughed instead, removing Fluttershy's grin. "Oh..." A few of Philomeena's feathers sprung out. "That's okay. I know lots of other ways to take care of you. Don't worry. You're gonna get better. How about..."

She had set up candles and aroma sticks near the fireplace and sat Philomeena comfortably in a cushion. "Aromatherapy?" Philomeena took in a breath and sneezed afterwards, having more feathers spring from her.

Next, Fluttershy filled her tub with warm water and placed the bird in there. "Warm bath?" Instead, Philomeena sucked up all the water and looked really swollen.

"Uh…" I gave a confused look. "How's that even possible…?"

Fluttershy sighed. She looked through her cabinets and found some cream. "Ointment?" She squeezed some of it on Philomeena's head, but it only caused her to grow pimples on her entire body.

Fluttershy immediately grabbed her and moved her to the living room. She placed on a doctor's scope on her head. "Scalpel." She asked.

I looked around, confusingly. "Um…"

"On the table." She responded. I looked for a scalpel on the table. When I did, I carefully grabbed it and gave it to her. She began using it in order to do something for Philomeena. "Surgical tape." She asked for again, in a more nervous tone. I found the tape on the table as well, giving it to her. "Feathers." I gave her the bowl of feathers. After working for a few seconds, she moved back and presented Philomeena, who was taped with feathers…

Philomeena gave another cough and her head fell to the ground. "Oh, Philomeena. I thought it would be easy to nurse you back to health, but I've tried everything I know. And look at you. You're worse than ever."

"Fluttershy, we should take the bird back now. Princess Celestia will take care of her if she's really in bad shape…" I said.

Fluttershy looked at Philomeena and released a moan. "Oooh…ok…let's go…"

Suddenly, we heard a knock on the door. Fluttershy quickly moved to the door and listened, yet the door burst open, having Twilight walk in to greet her. "Hi, Fluttershy! I just wanted to drop by and say thank you so very much for making such a good impression on the princess today..." She noticed the bird and gasped loudly. "What is Celestia's pet doing here?"

"I couldn't leave the poor thing there. She needed my help." Fluttershy reasoned.

"Oh no. NonononononoNO! This is bad." Twilight placed her hoof to her eye.

"How could I just walk away and not do anything?"

"But... but... she doesn't belong to you!"

"I had to do something."

"Without telling anypony? Without asking permission?"

"But…"

I stepped in between them and held my hooves out. "Alright, girls, calm down. We were just going to return her pet. Let's just stop this arguing and return it before it's too late."

Fluttershy sighed. "You're right. Okay, let's..." Philomeena gave a hack. "...go."

Twilight quickly grabbed the bird and placed it in a basket, which she then placed on Fluttershy. "Alex is right, if we hurry, we can put her back before anypony even realizes she's missing." Twilight ran to the door and opened it to only gasp at what laid beyond the door.

Two guards stood there, looking very seriously at us. Twilight could only return a nervous look as she bit her lips.

"We were told we could find Twilight Sparkle here." The first guard answered.

"We regret to inform you, miss, that the royal pet has gone missing." The second guard added.

"Really? You don't say!" Twilight responded nervously.

Philomeena coughed in the basket, loudly enough for all of us to hear. Twilight quickly rushed over to Fluttershy and began making fake coughs. Twilight kicked Fluttershy in order for her to join her too. Fluttershy realized this and they both coughed excessively as I only stared at them with an awkward look. The royal guards gave the same.

"Bleh. It's that dry night air." Twilight replied in a raspy voice.

"But it's daytime." Fluttershy innocently corrected.

"Well... day air's even drier. You guards better be on your way if you're gonna find the princess's missing pet." Twilight pushed the guards outside the house. "Philomeena, was it? Thank you ever so much for keeping me in the loop. BYE!" Twilight slammed the door shut as she panted hastily. She looked out the window and noticed the guards were leaving the area. "Phew..." She noticed Fluttershy begin heading out the door. "What are you doing?"

"Going to return Philomeena, remember?"

"We can't now!"

"Why not?"

"You have no idea what the princess is gonna do if she finds you're the one who took her pet, do you?"

"Do you?"

"Well... no. But it can't be anything good. She might banish you from Equestria. Or throw you in a dungeon. Or banish you and then throw you in a dungeon in the place that she banishes you to!"

"You really think the princess would do that?" Fluttershy began heading out the door again.

"Okay. Granted that probably won't happen, but do you wanna take any chances?"

Fluttershy stopped and looked back at Twilight. "All that really matters to me is that poor little Philomeena here gets well." Philomeena stuck her head out of the basket and coughed.

"That's very noble of you. I'll write to you when you're banished. Unless I'm banished to somewhere there's no post office. Then you'll have to write to me. Deal?"

"Twilight, stop with this banishing nonsense." I finally joined the conversation. "The Princess would never do that. I'm sure if we just explained what happened she would understand."

Twilight sighed. "Yeah you're right… I'm just overreacting…" She paused for a moment. "C'mon Fluttershy, let's take Philomeena back."

"Okay, but can you help me give Philomeena the rest of the soup? Poor thing hasn't eaten all day…" Fluttershy asked.

"What? This soup over here?" She took a sniff of it. "Smells delicious."

"I made it for Philomeena." Fluttershy explained. "But she wouldn't eat it."

"Oh, she'll eat it, all right." Twilight grabbed the bowl with her magic and looked over to the basket with an aggressive expression on her face. She opened the basket and looked at Philomeena evilly.

"Twilight, don't—

I tried to warn her but as soon as Twilight presented the bowl of soup in front of Philomeena, along with the face she had, Philomeena instantly grew frightened and jumped out of the basket screaming.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Twilight asked as Philomeena fled out of the house.

"No! Philomeena! Come back!" Fluttershy cried out.

I groaned and began running after Philomeena with Twilight and Fluttershy trailing behind me. Philomeena ran towards a tree. As soon as we caught up to her, she began running around the tree, leading us in circles. I stopped and waited for Philomeena to run into my hooves, but she jumped up into the tree and looked down upon us. I tried to jumping and climbing to get her off. It worked, but she jumped over us and continued running.

Further into the park, we lost her and passed by a bench with something sitting on there, reading a newspaper. Fluttershy and Twilight stopped by to ask for the direction of Philomeena. The thing lowered the newspaper, revealing itself. As Twilight and Fluttershy made motions indicating Philomeena, I could only stare at it suspiciously as it looked very familiar. It shrugged and raised its newspaper to read it again. I suddenly grabbed the newspaper and threw it to the side. After, I grabbed the mustache and pulled it off very easily. It was actually Philomeena in disguise. She screamed in surprise and jumped on top of my head. After, she quickly jumped off and began fleeing again, causing us to run after her.

As we ran through town, we saw the couple of guards looking for the royal pet. We couldn't let them know without having Philomeena, so we had to run quietly past them. Philomeena led us to several empty houses. She fled into one, making us follow her. Somehow, she weirdly came out of other houses and eventually led us to what Applejack would call "a wild goose chase". Twilight and Fluttershy bumped into each other after a few seconds. I helped them up and motioned them to keep going.

While we were looking for Philomeena, Rainbow Dash suddenly appeared next to us.

"What are you three doing? Are you having a race? Oh, can I play? 1 2 3 GO!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed without any of us giving an answer.

We continued running until we caught up with Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. Fluttershy had picked up Pinkie Pie, who was chewing on something. "Excuse me!" Fluttershy said as she looked for Philomeena.

"Hi!" Pinkie Pie responded cheerfully, spitting out a few pieces of food.

Twilight grabbed Rarity. "Beg your pardon!" She picked her up and looked beneath at the ground.

"Put me down!" Rarity ordered. Twilight placed her down afterwards.

"What in tarnation?" Applejack exclaimed.

"Sorry, but we've gotta find..."

"The princess's pet bird!" The couple of guards interrupted Fluttershy's explanation.

We looked up to see Philomeena sitting on top of the fountain we were next to. She rarely had any specks of feathers on her now…

"Philomeena, come down from there! You'll hurt yourself!" Fluttershy worriedly commanded.

Philomeena's last feather was separated from her body. She dramatically made an exaggerated death rattle until she finally let her body drop lifelessly on top of the fountain while she stuck her tongue out. For a few seconds, there was this highly awkward moment that seemed to last for minutes. She suddenly began making those dramatic motions again until her body fell off the fountain.

"I'll catch you!" Fluttershy exclaimed as she ran over to where Philomeena was dropping towards the ground.

I began running after Fluttershy. Fluttershy continued running and dove towards Philomeena as she dropped. Suddenly, Philomeena literally burst into flames as she dropped towards Fluttershy. Fluttershy gasped as she saw the ashes of Philomeena fall lightly on her hooves. Every other pony gasped heavily as they saw Philomeena's ashes. I caught up to Fluttershy as she could only stare at the ashes, shocked. As the ashes slipped through her hooves, she started tearing up and biting her lower lip. She began crying and whimpering. I slowly walked up to her and placed my front hoof on her. "Fluttershy…" I spoke softly.

"What is going on here?" A voice suddenly asked in a demanding tone. We quickly looked behind us to see it was Princess Celestia. We all bowed, except for Fluttershy who remained sitting very sadly. Princess Celestia looked over to Twilight. "Twilight?" She questioned, causing Twilight to quit her bow.

"Yes, Your Majesty…" She responded in a depressive tone. "There's been a terrible accident."

"It's all my fault." Fluttershy presented herself to the Princess.

"No, Princess. Fluttershy didn't know any better. It was my fault." Twilight intervened.

"I'm the one who did it."

"But you were only trying to help."

"Some help I was."

"Will ya let me do this? She'll go easier on me."

"But it's my fault!"

"No, it's my fault!"

"Stop!" I suddenly exclaimed and interrupted the argument. I walked towards the front of Fluttershy and Twilight and presented myself in front of the Princess, looking at her boldly. "Princess Celestia… if you are going to punish some pony… let that pony be me…"

Princess Celestia could only stare at me with concerned yet serious eyes.

"Alex, no!" Fluttershy rushed over to me. She placed her hoof on mine and looked at Princess Celestia. "Princess Celestia, I'm the one who took your pet bird. I really was only trying to help the poor little thing. Then I was gonna bring it back to you, honest." Princess Celestia walked over to the burnt ashes. "So, if you wanna banish me and then throw me in a dungeon in the place that you banish me to, then that's what I deserve."

"Fluttershy…" I said weakly.

Princess Celestia looked over at Fluttershy then at the ashes. She lowered her head and remained quiet for a moment.

"Oh, stop fooling around, Philomeena. You're scaring everypony." She suddenly spoke. The ashes moved and shot upwards towards the sky. Everypony gasped. The ashes spun midair and formed something magnificent, causing every pony to awe in its appearance.

"I don't understand!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "What is that thing? What happened to Philomeena?"

It flew and landed on Princess Celestia's foreleg. "This is Philomeena. She's quite a sight, as I said. But nothing unusual for a phoenix. Isn't that right, Philomeena?"

Philomeena released a proud answer, no longer the naked bird she was a few minutes ago, but a majestic creature instead.

"A... A phoenix?" Fluttershy questioned.

"A phoenix is a majestic and magical bird." Princess Celestia explained. "While it appears healthy and happy most of the time…" The phoenix rose from Princess Celestia's foreleg and began flying in the air. "…every so often it must renew itself by shedding all of its feathers and bursting into flame." She lowered her head towards us and whispered. "Rather melodramatic, if you ask me." She pulled away. "It then rises from the ashes, fresh as a daisy. All just a normal part of the life cycle of a phoenix. I'm afraid, mischievous little Philomeena here took the occasion to have a little fun with you, Fluttershy." Philomeena lowered her head in embarrassment. "Say you're sorry, young lady."

Philomeena made an "I'm sorry" sound.

"So... aren't you gonna banish me? Or throw me in a dungeon? Or banish me and then throw me in a dungeon in the place that you banish me to?"

"Of course not, my little pony! Where on Earth would you get such an idea?"

Fluttershy looked over at Twilight, who was staring towards the ground, nervously. "I guess I have some imagination."

"Fluttershy really did do everything she could to try to take care of Philomeena for you." Twilight added.

"And I do appreciate that your heart was in the right place, child. But all you had to do was ask me and I could have told you Philomeena was a phoenix and saved you all this trouble."

"I know. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. Next time I'll ask before taking matters into my own hooves."

Twilight made an expression where she looked as if she just remembered something. "Should I write you a letter about that lesson, Princess?" Twilight asked.

"No, that's quite all right. I think I can remember." She responded as she looked at Philomeena standing on her back.

As the royal guards brought over Philomeena's cage, Philomeena rose in the air and flew, giving Fluttershy one of her feathers, which landed softly on her ear. Fluttershy looked back at her and smiled. "It's beautiful. Thank you, Philomeena. No hard feelings."

Rainbow Dash looked at the guards for a moment and flew up to Philomeena. She whispered something to the phoenix. Philomeena nodded and flew to the top of the cage between the guards. She spread her wings and began tickling their noses with the tip of her feathers. After a few seconds, they began snickering and soon laughing out loud. Philomeena flew over to Rainbow Dash and tapped her wings with Rainbow Dash's hooves. "Yeah!" She laughed with Philomeena.

Twilight, Princess Celestia, Fluttershy, and I looked at them. Soon everypony was laughing except me in the area. I felt awkward as I was the only one who didn't laugh.

After the laughter died down, Princess Celestia looked over to me. "Alex, there was something you wanted to tell me?"

I remembered how I wanted to tell her about the shadow that has been following me around at random times… but I suddenly lost the urge to do so. "Never mind about that… it's not important."

Princess Celestia returned a slightly concerned look. "Well then… I should get back to Canterlot." She looked over to Philomeena. "Come on, Philomeena. It's time to go home."

Philomeena gave a squawk and waved to Rainbow Dash. She returned to her birdcage and waved all of us goodbye. The royal guards had also brought a carriage to take Princess Celestia back to Canterlot. The Princess gave us one last wave and smile before she left.

Everypony sighed happily.

"Princess Celestia's pet is so cool! I want one of those!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

Twilight gave a slight chuckle. "Heh. Good luck finding one of those!"

"Oh yeah?" Rainbow Dash responded in a competitive tone. Suddenly, she flew away at top speed, most likely spending the rest of the day trying to find one…

After everypony left, I walked with Fluttershy towards her cottage. She invited me for tea, leading me towards the living room as she poured tea in a cup in front of me.

"Thank you…" I replied, feeling a little…down… as I watched the steam rise from the cup.

"Hey, Alex…" I heard Fluttershy as I carefully picked up the tea to take a sip.

"Huh?" I questioned as I moved my eyes from the tea to Fluttershy's face.

"At the Gala…" She began speaking, a little embarrassed. "I was wondering if you don't mind going to the garden… you see… I really want to see all the cute little animals there… and be around them…"

"I don't mind Fluttershy." I replied, and then took a sip from the tea. It was still a little hot. The tea was really sweet…but at times it could be really hot… I placed the teacup back on the table.

"Oh, wonderful!" Fluttershy instantly rushed over to me and hugged me. "It'll be the best night ever!" Fluttershy noticed as she held me tightly in her arms. She pulled away, embarrassingly. "Sorry… Are you sure it's okay? I mean… we don't have to…"

"Fluttershy… I don't care where we go. I'm okay as long as you're smiling. You want to go to the garden? That's alright if it makes you smile. I really don't mind…" My voice lowered a little to near a soft pitch. "…as long as we're together…"

I looked at Fluttershy. She was presenting a very soft smile. She gently wrapped her arms around me, causing me to feel a little red in my cheeks. "You're such a sweet pony…" She spoke softly.

"You really mean that…?" I asked quietly…

"Mmhm." She answered. "I don't see why there aren't a million ponies around you…"

My eyes formed a sadden expression. "…that's exactly why…" I muttered very softly.

Fluttershy pulled away while keeping her hooves on my shoulders. "Hm?" She asked, concerned.

"Oh. I mean…uh…nothing." I nervously responded. "It's nothing."

"Alex?" She asked, almost in a worried tone.

"Um, thanks for the tea, Fluttershy. It was great, but I think I should head home now. It's pretty late. I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Um…okay…" Fluttershy replied a little saddened. "I'll see you, Alex."

"Goodnight, Fluttershy."

"Goodnight…"

I walked out the door and lightly closed it behind me. As I walked away from the house, I couldn't help but feel so bad about leaving like that. I thought about just turning around and explaining everything but… I couldn't… I just couldn't…

Almost at my house, something suddenly dropped in front of me, frightening me a bit.

"Hi, Alex!"

It was Rainbow Dash.

"Uh…hey…?" I responded uneasily.

"How ya doing?" She asked.

I remained silent for a moment. "Um… I don't know…" I paused. "What are you doing out here so late?"

"Well, you know…just flying around and stuff. Actually…I've been looking for you. I noticed you were walking home from Fluttershy's. What's up with that?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, slightly nervous.

"Well, do you like her or something?"

I started feeling a lot more nervous inside me…not this again…

"I don't know…"

"…well…I've seen you two together most of the time. You know… you two would make a really cute couple." Rainbow Dash giggled jokingly. I could only remain silent, looking away embarrassingly. "…well anyway, I've just wanted to give you something."

"Give me something? For what?"

"For being a good friend and all."

"Really?" I asked, surprised.

"Yeah!" She lifted up her hooves and grabbed something from her neck. After she removed it, she moved it towards me. "Here."

I analyzed the object. It was colored with a rainbow. "A whistle?" I asked.

"Yeah, you know! Whenever you're in trouble, just blow it and I'll be right there to help ya!"

"Thanks, Rainbow Dash… but I don't think I ne—

"Okay, okay. Fine, Mr. Tough-hooves. But even if you need someone to try to make you laugh or smile…" She stuck her tongue out, playfully. "You count on me!"

I thought about it and slowly took the whistle. I observed it for a moment, analyzing its rainbow finish. "Thanks, Rainbow Dash…"

"No problem, Alex! I really owe you so much, especially after you stood up for me the day I was competing in the Best Young Flyer's competition, so you deserve the same. Anyways, I better let you get some sleep. You look a little tired."

"Yeah… I guess so…"

"Alright then, catch you later!" Rainbow Dash sped off.

After she left, I continued to look at the whistle for a moment more. Afterwards, I entered my house and climbed up the stairs. I carefully placed the whistle on the counter in front of the bed. I walked over to the bed and sat down. I don't think I'll need to use it…but…maybe if I ever do need her…

I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes.

The Cutie Mark Chronicles

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Episode 23 – The Cutie Mark Chronicles

I opened my eyes to see daylight. Everything was silent. I rubbed the back of my head with my hoof and climbed out of bed. I looked out the window for a moment, thinking about going to see Fluttershy. I made my decision and began walking out the front door.

As I was walking through the path surrounded by trees towards Fluttershy's cottage, I suddenly began hearing screaming. I quickly looked up to see something tumbling down towards me. After, three fillies crashed on top me from the trees, sticky with tree sap.

"See anything?" One of them said.

"Tree sap and pine needles, but no cutie mark." Another replied.

I lifted my head from the ground to realize it was Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle.

"Girls, what are you doing?" I asked, very concerned about them.

"Oh, Alex! I didn't see you there!" Applebloom responded.

The three of them released their weight on me by jumping off.

"We're trying to earn our cutie marks!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

I pushed myself up and looked above me to see a rope spread across the sky. The middle of it was burnt off by the heat. I looked at their outfits to find out what they were doing. "Ziplining? Really? That's dangerous!"

"Well dangerous or not, we still didn't get our cutie marks…" Scootaloo replied.

"Plan B?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Scootaloo thought for a moment, holding a hoof to her chin. "Yeah. You know where we can find a cannon at this hour?" Scootaloo asked, giving a determined but frightening look on her face. The other girls returned faces filled with fear. I sent a scolding look towards Scootaloo. She noticed this and lowered her head, throwing her helmet across the trees. "It's no use! No matter what we try, we always end up without our cutie marks. And, surprisingly often, covered in tree sap."

"Maybe we should do something less dangerous?" Sweetie Belle offered as I walked over to the helmet to pick it back up. "Like pillow testing. Or flower sniffing."

Applebloom had slid a couple of buckets filled with water and a washing rag towards Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. Applebloom washed her hooves and used the rag to clean herself as the other fillies followed. "This town is full of ponies who have their cutie marks. Why don't we ask them how they did it?"

"That's a great safe idea." Sweetie Belle agreed.

My heart began filling with fear when I heard Applebloom say that. I really hoped they didn't ask me…

"Yeah! And we can start with the coolest pony in Ponyville." Scootaloo began.

I gave a sigh of relief.

"Alex!" Sweetie Belle and Applebloom suggested, striking fear into me again.

Scootaloo gave them an irritated expression on her face, leaving me to calm down once again.

The two fillies offered their sisters next.

"Applejack!"

"Rarity!"

"Come on, guys, I said 'cool'! You know who I'm talking about." Scootaloo began racing through the trees with her wings while staying on the ground. "She's fast. She's tough. She's not afraid of anything!"

"Pinkie Pie?" They both asked.

"No! The greatest flyer ever to come out of Cloudsdale!" Scootaloo dropped another hint.

"Fluttershy?"

"No! Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo gave up.

"Oh! Yeah, that makes much more sense." Applebloom realized.

"Of course!" Sweetie Belle added.

"Let's do it. Let's find out how Rainbow Dash found her cutie mark!" Scootaloo held out her hooves.

"YEAH!" Applebloom and Sweetie Belle placed their hooves on Scootaloo to only get themselves stuck with the tree sap Scootaloo still had.

"Aah! Uuh!" They tried to break themselves free but couldn't, causing them to groan.

I walked over to them, bringing the bucket filled with water along with me. I poured water on their hooves and slowly pulled them away from each other.

I brought the three buckets to each of them. "Wash your hooves so you won't have any more tree sap."

"Thanks, Alex." Applebloom thanked as they washed their hooves.

After they finished, Scootaloo immediately exclaimed, "Cutie Mark Crusaders…AWAY!"

They began racing out of the area until I stopped them. "Hold on!" I called after them. They instantly stopped and looked towards me. "If you girls are going to be adventuring, at least let me watch over you three so you don't get hurt."

The three of them looked at each other.

Scootaloo sighed. "Okay…" She began racing over to her parked scooter with a wagon attached from behind. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle ran and jumped into the wagon, placing on the helmets that were lying inside. Scootaloo jumped on her scooter but then realized something. "Wait. Where's my helmet?" She asked. I walked up to her and gave her the helmet she had thrown earlier. She looked at me and smiled, taking the helmet. "Thanks, Alex." She placed on the helmet and began fluttering her wings. In a few seconds, she took off in the scooter.

I trailed behind them, but keeping a careful eye as well. They hadn't traveled much until they came to a sudden stop. I raced over to them to find out what was wrong. I realized they had stopped in front of a triplet of bunnies.

"Get back here, you thievin' varmints!" A familiar voice shouted.

"Thievin' what now?" Applebloom questioned.

Unexpectedly, Applejack jumped out from the bushes nearby. However, she was pouncing straight at me. Applejack realized this and ended up crashing on top of me.

"Alex!" She exclaimed.

"I'm alright…" I responded with a grunt.

She quickly removed herself from on top of me and helped me up. Meanwhile, Applebloom had taken a glance at Applejack's flank and her face filled with joy. "Hey sis! How'd you get your cutie mark?"

Applejack lifted up her eyes in confusion. "I never told you that story?" She asked.

"Hey! I thought we were gonna ask Rainbow Dash." Scootaloo intervened.

"We need all the help we can get." Applebloom reasoned.

"Ugh! Fine." Scootaloo surrendered.

"Why, shoot." Applejack began. "I was just a little filly. Even littler than y'all." Applejack sat down on the ground and brought me closer to hear her story. "I didn't want to spend my life at a muddy old apple farm. I wanted to live the sophisticated life, like my Aunt n' Uncle Orange. So I set out to try my luck in a big city. Manehattan! The most cosmopolitan city in all of Equestria. I knew I'd find out who I was meant to be in Manehattan. When I arrived at my Aunt and Uncle's, I knocked on their door. They let me in to the new life I was going to live!

'Aunt Orange! Uncle Orange! Thank y'all so much for lettin' me stay!' I told them as I walked in to their place.

'"Y'all". Ahahaha... Isn't she just the living end?' My Aunt said.

My Uncle chuckled. 'How quaint.'

'Don't worry. We'll have you acting like a true Manehattanite in no time.' My Aunt assured me. It sure went by faster than a sunrise when they taught me the ways of a Manehattanite! We were having a dinner party as we all sat down at a table with our guests.

'And how are you finding good old Manehattan?' One of the gentlestallions asked me at the table.

'Oh, it's simply divine.' I told him in a voice you wouldn't believe to be mine!

'Very well said, my dear.' My Aunt congratulated me.

'Although, I must admit the city noise took some getting used to. Where I'm from, nights are so quiet you seldom hear a peep until the roosters wake you.' My answer had frightened everypony, as if they had never seen or even heard a rooster before! As my Aunt began covering for me, I quickly grew nervous in my mind. What's he talking about? What do I say? I don't wanna look like a fool. That's what I was thinking until the food had finally arrived at our table.

'Thank goodness. Being a city pony's hard work. I'm so hungry I could eat a...' The top was taken off of the plate to only show a disappointed amount of food on it! I couldn't believe it! That night in my room, as I watched the sunrise, I could only wonder what my family back at Sweet Apple Acres was doing. 'Oh, I wonder what Granny Smith and Big Macintosh are up to. I bet they're applebuckin' their way through the Red Delicious trees. Oh, what I wouldn't give for just one bite...' I never felt so homesick in all my days as I did right then. Then all of a sudden, there was this loud explosion across the sky! It was amazin'! A rainbow pointin' right back to... home. In that moment, it all became clear. I knew right then just who I was supposed to be. That's when this here appeared." She pointed her eyes towards her cutie mark. "I've been happily workin' in the farm ever since." The triplet of bunnies came by once more to provoke Applejack as they blew their tongues while holding the apples they stole. "There they are! Get back here, ya thievin' varmints!" Applejack began racing after them.

"Aww… That was such a sweet story!" Sweetie Belle commented.

"Sweet? Try sappy."Scootaloo climbed on to her scooter and mocked a gag. "Come on! We've got to find Rainbow Dash and hear the cool way to get a cutie mark."

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle climbed into the wagon and Scootaloo sped off. I followed them for several more feet until I heard them scream. I quickly rushed over to them and noticed that Scootaloo had to suddenly brake once more, causing them to fly out of the ride. I ran up to them to make sure if they were alright.

"All right, little ones. This way. This way." I heard another familiar sweet voice. I looked to see Fluttershy directing several chicks across the road. Fluttershy noticed me and instantly grew a wide smile. "Alex!" She rushed over to me and hugged me, almost dropping me towards the ground.

"Hey, Fluttershy…" I responded as Fluttershy kept her forelegs around me.

"You really should be more careful." Fluttershy advised the girls behind me. "Somepony could get hurt. Why are you in such a hurry anyway?"

"We're trying to find Rainbow Dash, so we can hear how she earned her cutie mark." Scootaloo answered.

"Oh…" Fluttershy replied as she slowly pulled away from me. "…that would be interesting. You know, I wouldn't have gotten my cutie mark if it weren't for her."

Fluttershy surprised me a bit with her answer.

"Rainbow Dash? Really?" Scootaloo excitedly asked.

"Oh yes. It all started at Summer Flight Camp." Fluttershy began her story. "You'd never guess, but when I was little I was very shy. And a very weak flyer. When I was practicing my flying, I accidentally messed up and got myself tangled in one of the flags. These two other boys saw me and began making fun of me.

'Nice going, "Klutzershy"! They outta ground you permanently.' One of them, who was named Dumb-bell, laughed.

'HA! My baby brother can fly better than you!' His friend Hoops joined. It was the most humiliating moment of my life…"

As Fluttershy continued with her story, I could only grow a little angry inside of me, guessing that it might have been those boys who were messing with Rainbow Dash at the Best Young Flyer's competition.

"And then, out of nowhere... Rainbow Dash had flown to my side.

'Leave her alone!' She said.

'Ooh, what are you gonna do, "Rainbow Crash"?' Hoops told Rainbow Dash.

'Keep making fun of her and find out!' Rainbow Dash aggressively responded to him.

Eventually, Rainbow Dash got into a race against them. I was the pony who was starting the race. As soon as I waved that flag, they began flying at top speed, making me fall off the cloud I was standing on top of. I could see myself falling straight towards the ground. I thought that was the end of me since I could hardly fly…but then the most wonderful thing happened! All these butterflies caught me! I had never seen such beautiful creatures. Butterflies don't fly as high as my cloud home. And I've never been near the ground before.

' What is this place

filled with so many wonders?'" Fluttershy began singing a song.

"'Casting its spell

That I am now under

Squirrels in the trees

and the cute little bunnies

Birds flying free

and bees with their honey

Hooneeeeey!

Oooh, what a magical place

and I owe it all to the Pegasus race

If I knew the ground had so much up its sleeve

I'd have come here sooner, and never leave

Yes, I love everythiiiiiiiiiing!'" Fluttershy finished her song. She noticed me gazing at her after hearing her beautiful voice. She blushed for a moment and continued her story.

"Anyways… there was this large burst of rainbow in the sky, causing a very loud boom which scared all the animals. However, I walked over to each one of them and told them it was okay. Somehow, I had the ability to communicate with the animals on a different level."

"Wait, wait, wait. What happened to Rainbow Dash? What about the race?" Scootaloo instantly asked.

"Oh. Well, I wasn't there, so I don't really know what happened." Fluttershy responded as she lay down near several butterflies, which also referenced her cutie mark.

"Come on, Crusaders. We've gotta find her. Besides, I can't take any more singing." Scootaloo called out to Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, who climbed on into the cart.

"Maybe my sister knows where she is." Sweetie Bell offered. "Bye, Fluttershy!" She exclaimed as Scootaloo sped off with her scooter again.

"Bye, girls!" Fluttershy replied as they left. She looked over at me and smiled. "So, how are you doing, Alex?"

"I'm okay…" I paused for a moment and then remembered last night. "Listen, Fluttershy…I'm really sorry for how I left last night…I feel really bad about it."

"Oh, don't worry about it, Alex." Fluttershy gave me another quick hug. "I'm just glad you're doing alright."

"T-Thanks…" I responded with some nervousness in my voice. In the silence that followed, I realized that the girls had gone off without me, and I was significantly behind. I gasped slightly. "Sorry, Fluttershy, but I have to catch up to the girls. I don't want them to get hurt."

Fluttershy waved her hoof. "It's okay. Make sure they're alright. We can see each other later this afternoon at Sugarcube corner…if you have time…"

"Of course. I'll meet you right after I'm finished watching the girls. Later, Fluttershy…"

Fluttershy smiled and waved her hoof.

I turned around and began to immediately run towards where they rushed off.

Following the scooter imprints on the ground, it let me towards Rarity's shop. I opened the door to see Scootaloo, Applebloom, and Sweetie Belle being used for dresses.

"How did we get roped into this?" Scootaloo groaned. "Oh, we'll never hear Rainbow Dash's story."

"Are you girls still obsessing over your cutie marks?" Rarity asked.

"Of course! Most other fillies at school already have theirs." Sweetie Belle answered.

"Mmm, I know how you feel. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why I didn't have mine." Rarity noticed me walking towards them. "Oh, Alex! You're just in time to hear how I received my cutie mark!" She gestured towards her. "Come! Come! Sit down!" I walked over to them and sat down, beginning to hear the story of Rarity.

"Well, you see…" Rarity began. "I was making the costumes for a play when I was your girls' ages. It was for the same school you three are attending right now. The costumes consisted of a group of fruit, a dandellion, a cake, a stack of hay, and a flower. However, I felt as if they could have still been much more fabulous!

'Well done, Rarity. Your costumes are very nice.' My teacher congratulated me on my effort.

'Nice? They need to be spectacular! And the performance is tomorrow!' I said, wanting to do everything I can to improve my costumes.

The next day, I tried every trick I could think of, but nothing seemed to work. The costumes just weren't right. And the play opened that night. When I was at the point of doubting myself in being into fashion, my horn suddenly began glowing and moving me! I had no idea where my horn was taking me. But unicorn magic doesn't happen without a reason. I knew this had to do with my love of fashion and maybe even my cutie mark! I knew that this was... MY DESTINY! At first, I couldn't believe that my horn had led me to a mere humongous rock. It wasn't until an explosion of rainbow flew throughout the sky. It had split the rock in half revealing many gems! There were so many gems; I could hardly stare away from their beauty!

That night, at the play, I had coated the costumes with gems. Everypony in the audience was amazed at what an amazing job I had done! I looked at my flank and there it was! My cutie mark!"

"Ugh! These namby-pamby stories aren't getting us any closer to our cutie marks!" Scootaloo exclaimed. "They're all about finding who you really are and boring stuff like that."

I narrowed my eyes at Scootaloo's comment.

"Yes, Scootaloo, that's exactly..." Rarity tried to explain.

"Come on, girls! We need action! We need Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo pushed them out the door.

I looked over to Rarity. "Sorry about that Rarity… but you know Scootaloo…"

"Oh no worries, Alex." Rarity chuckled. "How about you? Did you like my story?" She asked.

"Um…yeah…it was nice…"

"Care to tell me how you got your cutie mark?" She asked, pointing her hoof at my flank.

I immediately grew shocked and tried to excuse myself out of the shop. "Um… sorry. I-I don't have time…I need to watch the girls. Uh…maybe…another time…uh…bye…"

I rushed out the door, only hearing Rarity respond, "Bye…" in a concerned and confused tone.

The next stop was outside at a table. I guess Twilight must have gotten the girls to come over to her while I was still at Rarity's. By the time I arrived there, Twilight was already telling her story to the girls. Scootaloo was the only one who looked bored as she sighed and threw her head on her hooves. Twilight noticed me and motioned me to come to the table. I followed and sat near the girls.

"As a young filly in Canterlot, I always wanted to go to the Summer Sun Celebration, where Princess Celestia raises the sun." Twilight spoke. "And I saw the most amazing, most wonderful thing I've ever seen. After seeing Princess Celestia's spectacular appearance, I poured myself into learning everything I could about magic. Thus, I spent every day and night reading through my books, learning many new things! My parents decided to enroll me in Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. It was a dream come true! Except for one thing... I had to pass an entrance exam! I had to hatch a baby dragon from an egg!

'Well, Miss Sparkle?' I could hear the voice of one of the examiners pressure me. I instantly grew nervous. I had no idea what to do! I could only sweat like crazy and try my best. I continued to try to pass it but I just couldn't get my magic to work!

'We don't have all day.' The examiner said, making me even more nervous!

I knew this was the most important day of my life, that my entire future would be affected by the outcome of this day and I was about to blow it!

After trying so much, I finally gave up. 'I'm sorry I wasted your time.' Was what I told the examiners as I could only feel so depressed at my failure…

All of a sudden, this explosion sounded from outside! It scared me so much that magic shot out from my horn and towards the egg! The egg broke, releasing a baby dragon. I screamed as I suddenly lost control of all my magic! I had no idea what was going on! I had never been more scared of anything in my life! It wasn't until the Princess placed her hoof on me. When I saw her, I instantly calmed down. All the bad magic I had caused was undone.

'Twilight Sparkle.' The Princess called my name.

I immediately grew afraid, apologizing greatly for the magic I had caused, but the Princess didn't scold me.

'You have a very special gift.' What was the Princess said instead. 'I don't think I've ever come across a unicorn with your raw abilities.'

'Huh?'

'But you need to learn to tame these abilities through focused study.'

'Huh?' I couldn't believe it.

'Twilight Sparkle, I'd like to make you my own personal protege here at the school.'

'HUH?' I exclaimed, almost believing that it was all a dream.

'Well?' The Princess asked me.

I looked over to my parents to see them exciting nodding for me to accept her offer. 'YES!' I screamed out.

'One other thing, Twilight.' The Princess included.

'More?' I felt my excitement fall, but the Princess pointed her hoof towards my flank revealing such an amazing gift. My cutie mark!

yesyesyesyes yesyesyesyes yesyesyesyes yesyesyesyes"

Twilight was hopping excitedly around us.

"Okay, okay." Applebloom responded, wanting Twilight to cease her celebrating.

"We're happy for you, Twilight." Sweetie Belle added.

"Yeah, thrilled. Let's get out of here while we still can." Scootaloo, along with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, had walked away from the scene as I could only continue to stare at Twilight hop excitedly around the table screaming out "yes". I sighed and looked around and noticed how Twilight had attracted a crowd.

"...yesyes, YEEEES!" She screamed.

I moved in front of her and placed my hooves on her, calming her down. "Calm down, Twilight. Everypony is looking at you…" I told her softly. She lost her grin and stopped bouncing. She looked around to notice the crowd around us.

"Are you okay?" One of the passerbys asked.

Twilight giggled nervously. "Um... yes."

The crowd separated back into their own paths.

"Well… I better go catch up with the girls…" I told Twilight.

"Oh, can I come with you?" Twilight asked.

"Uh… sure, I guess."

"Great!"

As I began walking, looking for where the girls went, Twilight walked alongside me.

"So, what are the girls doing anyway?" Twilight asked.

"They're trying to find Rainbow Dash, so she can tell them how she got her cutie mark. However, they keep bumping into every other pony besides her."

"Rainbow Dash?" A voice exclaimed near us. We looked to our side to see Pinkie Pie bouncing. "If I was her, I'd be at Sugarcube Corner. Of course, if I was anypony, I'd be at Sugarcube Corner. Hey! I have an idea! Wanna go to Sugarcube Corner?"

"Uh…sure?" I replied, remembering that I would meet Fluttershy there anyway… she was probably there… along with the girls…maybe…

"YAY! Come with me and I'll tell you how I got my cutie mark!"

Twilight and I looked at each other and shrugged. As we walked with Pinkie Pie, she began telling us her story. "My sisters and I were raised on a rock farm outside of Ponyville. We spent our days working the fields. There was no talking. There was no smiling." She sighed. "There were only rocks. We were in the south field, preparing to rotate the rocks to the east field when all of a sudden... BOOM!" She shouted. "This huge rainbow exploded in the sky! When I saw it, I was so happy! I never felt joy like that before. It felt so good. I just wanted to keep smiling forever. And I wanted everyone I knew to smile too, but rainbows don't come along that often. I wondered, how else could I create some smiles? I spent that whole night and morning making a huge party for my family! When the sun rose up, I looked out the shed where the party was going to be at.

'Mom! I need you and dad and the sisters to come in. Quick!' I screamed out to my parents, excitedly.

When they came in, I shouted to them, 'Surprise! You like it? It's called... a party!'I made a huge grin! After seeing them tremble with fear, I lost my smile. 'Oh. You don't like it.' I continued to see them shake, seeing all the party stuff I did. Suddenly, they smiled like never before! 'You like it! I'm so happy!'

And that's how Equestria was made." Pinkie finished oddly.

Twilight and I remained silent until I finally broke it. "…what?" I questioned.

"Wait a minute… I heard an explosion too!" Twilight spoke.

"Look! We're here!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, forgetting about Twilight's comment and pointing to the cake shop. "Maybe on the way home I can tell you the story of how I got my cutie mark. It's a gem!" She walked towards the inside of the shop.

I looked over at Twilight with a confused expression on my face.

"Aah. Typical Pinkie." She giggled.

Twilight and I walked in to see Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy inside. Twilight went over to them while I walked over to Fluttershy, who was sitting on the stairs.

"Fluttershy." I greeted her.

"Alex! You made it!" She answered cheerfully.

"Of course…"

"Where are the girls?" She asked.

"Um… to be honest… I lost them…"

"Oh, don't worry! I'm sure they're on their way over here right now! Especially since Rainbow Dash is here."

Fluttershy was right as we heard an exclamation towards the door.

"Rainbow Dash! You're here!" Scootaloo exclaimed out loud.

"I hear you're looking for my cutie mark story?" Rainbow Dash answered as she walked over to the three little girls.

Scootaloo sighed. "You have no idea what I've been through today to hear that story." She immediately sat down to hear it.

Rainbow Dash gave them a grin and began her story. "It all happened during the race at Flight Camp, where I stood alone against all odds to defend Fluttershy's honor. As soon as the flag flashed, I began with an amazing burst of speed! I've never flown like THAT before. That freedom was unlike anything I've ever felt. The speed, the adrenaline, the wind in my mane... I liked it A LOT. Turns out the only thing I liked more than flying fast... was winning! Most ponies thought that the Sonic Rainboom was just an old mare's tail. But that day... The day I discovered racing... I proved that the legends were true. I made the impossible happen! And that, little ones, is how you earn a cutie mark."

"Wooooow..." was all the Cutie Mark Crusaders could reply with.

"Wait a second!" Fluttershy spoke up. "I heard that explosion. And I saw the rainbow too. Rainbow Dash, if you hadn't scared the animals, I never would have learned I could communicate with them and gotten my cutie mark."

"I heard that boom! And right afterwards there was this amazing rainbow that taught me to smile." Pinkie Pie added.

"When I got my cutie mark, I saw a rainbow that pointed me home." Applejack included. "I bet it was your sonic rainboom!"

"There was an explosion I could never explain when I got my cutie mark!" Rarity now exclaimed as well.

"This is uncanny! If that explosion didn't happen when it did, I would have blown my entrance exam. Rainbow Dash, I think you helped me earn my cutie mark too!" Twilight brought up.

"We all owe our cutie marks to you!" Pinkie Pie had tackled Rainbow Dash playfully to the ground.

"Do you realize what this means? All of us had a special connection before we even met." Fluttershy said happily.

"We've been BFFs forever and we didn't even know it!"

"Come here, y'all!" Applejack exclaimed and pulled all of us in for a group hug as they all presented, "AWWW!"

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle repeated the same thing until Scootaloo interrupted. "Ewwww... Gimme a break. Come on, Crusaders! Maybe we just need to try zip-lining again."

They began heading out the door as the girls continued the group hug until they suddenly became silent.

"Wait a minute…" Applejack said. "What about, Alex?"

They all pulled apart and looked at me. My heart started racing as I began feeling sweat form on my head.

"Yeah, Alex!" Pinkie Pie announced cheerfully. "Did you see the rainbow too? Did you?"

"I…uh…I…" I could hardly speak. I was so nervous that I could only switch my eyes toward each one of them. I remembered clearly…everything that happened when I got my mark… I did… I heard the rainbow explode… it was what changed me… what brought the trapped vigor in my heart to come out and stand up for itself… to all those kids… "Y-yeah…" I nervously replied.

"Well, come on! Tell us!" Rainbow Dash encouraged.

While I still felt their eyes stare at me, wanting to hear my story, I began feeling as if I was suffocating. I could hardly breathe as I was very nervous. My whole body was shaking…shivering… Their eyes changed into worried ones as they mostly likely noticed that something was not right with me.

"…Alex?" Twilight asked, walking slowly towards me.

I could only back away slowly, feeling horribly claustrophobic. "I…I… I need some air!" I immediately rushed out the door and planted myself towards an open spot...a spot where no pony was at and where I can breathe in fresh air. I fell to the ground, breathing so deeply that I almost felt as if I was about to faint. I was still shaking like crazy… but I could feel the nervousness inside me slowly pass away. I placed my forelegs around my head and shut myself away from the town for a moment.

"Alex…" I heard a soft and sweet voice, sedating most of myself back to normal.

I pulled my head away from my forelegs and looked at the pony who called my name. "Fluttershy?" I weakly asked.

"What happened, Alex? Why did you run away like that?" Fluttershy asked, very worriedly.

"I…I can't…I can't do it…"

"You can't do what…?"

"My story… I can't relive it…"

"…What do you mean…?"

I remained silent for a moment. Afterwards, I sighed and looked over to Fluttershy. "I'm sorry, but I can't tell anypony how I got my mark…"

"Oh…okay…" Fluttershy lowered her head. "What about you? Are you alright?"

I took another deep breath and stood up, walking towards Fluttershy. "…I'm fine now…"

"Thank goodness…" Fluttershy gave a sigh of relief and hugged me warmly. "You scared all of us badly."

"Sorry…" I apologized.

"Come on." Fluttershy pulled away. "Let's return to our friends."

I slightly nodded. "…Alright."

We returned to the inside of the shop where all the ponies were waiting worriedly.

"I'm sorry everypony…" I apologized. "…for scaring you. It's just that… right now… I can't tell my story… at least for right now… and before any of you ask why… it's just that…" I sighed. "It's too much to deal with…"

"Aw, we're sorry that we asked you…" Applejack apologized.

"Yeah… we just wanted to know so bad…" Pinkie Pie added.

"But, if you're uncomfortable of expressing your story…" Rarity said. "We understand…"

"We can wait until you're ready." Twilight finished.

"Thanks, girls…" I thanked.

"Until then…" Twilight began as she used her magic to bring a letter and pen. "Dear Princess Celestia, Today I learned something amazing. Everypony everywhere has a special magical connection with her friends, maybe even before she's met them. If you're feeling lonely and you're still searching for your true friends, just look up in the sky. Who knows? Maybe you and your future best friends are all looking at the same rainbow."

After, Twilight rolled up the letter and looked outside the window. Everypony followed, except Pinkie Pie, who ran into the kitchen. A moment later, she came back out with a tray of cupcakes. "Hey everypony! I've got cupcakes!"

Everypony looked back at smiled. They each grabbed a cupcake off the tray and began enjoying the treat, together.

"Aren't you going to grab one?" Fluttershy asked me, presenting the cupcake.

"Um… no thanks…" I replied, rubbing the back of my head with my hoof. "Actually, I think I'm going to head off to bed now…"

"Why? Is something wrong?" Fluttershy quickly questioned.

"No… no… I'm just really tired… that's all…"

"Oh…okay…"

"I can stay to walk you home if you want, though…"

"No, it's okay. I can go home by myself. I don't want to keep you if you're really tired…"

"Alright… well I'll see you later. Okay, Fluttershy?"

"Mmk…"

We walked towards the outside of the shop and noticed the stars above us. We actually spent some time looking at them. After a moment, we looked back at each other.

"Goodnight, Alex." Fluttershy said, and moved her head towards the side of me, planting a kiss on my cheek.

"Goodnight, Fluttershy." I responded. Before she turned to walk back inside, I surprised her by giving her a hug. This instantly brought a smile onto her face. When I pulled away, she was blushing and her eyes drifted away from me. Soon, she brought them back to me and hugged me once more. After, she gave me a wave with her hoof. I returned the wave and she began returning to the shop as I walked towards my home.

When I arrived back home, I threw myself on the bed. I thought about what happened at the cake shop…

What if I did tell them the story… how would they react? Would they laugh or make fun of me? No…they wouldn't do that… I mean… would they? They don't seem like the ponies to something horrible like that… but still… there's still that fear of experiencing it all over again… experiencing that fateful day at the playground which transformed me into something more…

Owl's Well That Ends Well

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Episode 24 – Owl's Well That Ends Well

A rapid, yet gentle knocking at my door woke me up. I looked out the window and noticed how the sky was a light orange color. I supposed it was early morning or sunrise. I got off from the bed and walked down the stairs to the front door. After opening it, I saw Fluttershy with a beautiful smile on her face.

"Hi, Alex." She greeted.

"Hey, Fluttershy…you're up early…" I responded.

"Early…?" She looked around. "It's almost evening."

"What?" My eyes widened in shock. I looked behind her towards the sky to check the sky again. Then I realized that it was actually sunset instead of sunrise. I placed my hoof on my face and sighed. "Sorry… my mistake…"

Fluttershy giggled. "Have you been asleep this whole time?" She asked.

"Yeah… I guess so…"

"No wonder I hadn't seen you around town. I was worried you might have been sick or something."

"Well, I'm alright… so what's up? You seem excited."

"I am! Guess what's going to happen tonight!"

I thought about it for a moment. Afterwards, I shrugged. "I have no idea."

"A meteor shower!" She cheerfully answered.

"Meteor shower?" I questioned.

"It only happens once out of every hundred years, so we're really lucky to see it for ourselves."

"That sounds…well…great. And you said tonight?"

"Mmhm, which is in a couple of hours. You're coming, right? It would definitely not be the same without you."

I thought how watching the meteor shower would be with Fluttershy. As soon as that thought came into mind, my heart instantly began feeling great and warm. "Of course, Fluttershy."

"Yay! I'm so happy!" Fluttershy replied, happily, although softly. "Is there anything you want to bring with you?" She asked.

I thought for a moment. "Not really…"

"Then, let's go!" She grabbed my hoof and lightly pulled me out of my home. After, we began walking towards the area where everypony, especially us, were going to gather for the meteor shower.

Fluttershy had hummed softly as we arrived at the spot. There were already several ponies around the area, talking excitedly about the show. We saw Rainbow Dash and Rarity as we walked upwards the hill. On each side, Applejack and Rarity were coming with their little sisters while Scootaloo was glued to Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash turned around and spotted us. She grew a wide grin and flew over to us.

"Hey, guys. How's it hanging? Come to watch the meteor shower?" She asked.

"Yes!" Fluttershy responded. "I bet it's going to be so amazing."

Beside us, Spike suddenly appeared and began setting up a picnic blanket, along with a bowl of fruit and punch. Rainbow Dash lowered her head and grabbed an apple with her teeth. She took a bite and gulped. "Wow, Twilight! You're lucky to have such a rad assistant. I wish I had someone to do whatever I told them."

Scootaloo had walked over to us and bounced up and down. "Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! Me! I'll do whatever you want, Rainbow Dash!"

"Oh yeah, pipsqueak?" Rainbow Dash looked over to her slyly. "How about taking out the trash?" She tossed the remainder of the apple in front of Scootaloo.

"Yes ma'am!" Scootaloo exclaimed and picked up the apple with her teeth, running off.

Rarity walked over to us with Sweetie Belle as Scootaloo ran away. "Do we have Spike to thank again for this amazing spread? Isn't he simply amazing?" Rarity faced Spike which led all the other ponies to give their attention to him.

"Oh, come on." Spike responded, bashfully. There was a pause. Spike looked at us a little irritated. "I said come on."

Pinkie Pie immediately began nudging Spike on his head. "Little Spikey-wikey! Who knew that big ferocious dragon started off so cutesy wootsy?"

"Spike, you are such a little star that I had to make a little bow tie for you." Rarity presented a big tie, which was studded in gems. She placed the tie on Spike using her magic.

"Gosh. You guys are embarrassing me." Spike replied. "Stop it." There was another pause. "Twilight and Alex, your turn." He pointed as us.

I gave him an inexpressive look as I narrowed my eyes at him. He must have understood my silence, so he quickly shifted his eyes toward Twilight.

"Spike, that's enough." Twilight answered clearly but nicely.

"All right. That's enough."

"Hey, everypony!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed. "The show is starting!"

The girls immediately rushed over to the front while Applebloom stood on her sister's back, and Sweetie Belle climbed on to her sister's back. Fluttershy and I looked at each other for a moment and moved over to the front as well. We took a seat together and began observing the sky. As soon as the meteor shower began, everypony already released awes as each spec of light fell down in the sky. As the awes continued, I had received an unexpected surprise. Fluttershy laid her head gently on my shoulder. I was startled for a moment until I turned my head around to look at her. She was happily observing the night sky as I saw the reflection of light in her eyes. My eyes motioned to understanding ones and I slowly turned my head back towards the sky to continue watching the amazing show.

I felt so peaceful… I felt really… warm inside… especially as Fluttershy kept her head on my shoulder. I really felt amazing when she did that… I'm not sure why… but maybe it's because I feel as if I'm protecting her? I shrugged mentally and allowed Fluttershy to continue resting her head on my shoulder as the meteors continued to shower all over Equestria. However, despite the amazing mood Fluttershy and the shower placed me in, I couldn't help but wonder if they were watching it too… I wondered if they even noticed I was gone or even cared…? I sighed, mentally. Probably not…

After the shower finished, the girls and I gathered in the picnic Spike had set up and began having treats on there. Pinkie Pie was happily munching on one of the chocolate cookies, leaving many crumbs on her mouth. Fluttershy dipped her head in the cookie bowl and lightly grabbed a cookie with her teeth. As Fluttershy began munching on the other cookie, Pinkie Pie pressed her hoof towards the bowl, causing the rest of the cookies inside to jump up and fall straight towards her mouth.

"Mmm. Wow! These cookies are deeleesh!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"Spike made them. Speaking of, Spike, can you bring us some punch?" There wasn't an answer. Pinkie Pie and Twilight looked around with a questionable expression. "Spike?" Twilight called again.

We heard an echoed snore near us. We turned our heads to see Spike's head in the punch bowl as he snored loudly, soundly asleep.

"Ooh, poor little thing." Rarity announced.

"Aww... He's worked himself to the bone." Twilight added.

"And now the punch has been... spiked!" Pinkie Pie joked, causing the other girls to laugh happily.

After their moment of laughter, Twilight sighed happily and walked over to Spike to pick him up. "Well, I better get him home and put him in bed. It was fun watching the meteor shower with you guys!"

The girls exclaimed "Bye!" to Twilight and everypony as they departed back towards their homes.

I began walking Fluttershy towards her cottage, safely. When we neared her home, I began feeling cool breezes press against my body.

"Thanks for bringing me to the meteor shower, Fluttershy…" I told her at her door. "I thought it was amazing…"

"Me too…" Fluttershy responded softly and sweetly. "Tonight was so fun being with you and the other ponies."

I nodded. "Well… I guess I better head home now…"

Suddenly, a huge gust of wind blew at us, covering my body in coldness and making it shiver afterwards.

"It's so cold…" Fluttershy announced, shivering herself as well. "Are you sure you can make it home?"

"Yeah… I'll be fine…" I answered.

Another large cold wind blew through our manes.

"Come inside, you're staying here for tonight." Fluttershy told me.

I walked inside as she held the door open. After, she securely closed them and I could already feel the warmth of the cottage… It felt great.

"Fluttershy, are you sure?" I asked.

Fluttershy formed a light smile. "We've been over this, remember? Besides, I don't want you to get sick…"

"Thanks, Fluttershy…"

"Have a seat on the sofa; I'll go make us some nice and warm tea." She said as she began walking towards the kitchen.

"That sounds great, Thank you." I responded as I sat myself on the sofa.

Moments later, Fluttershy returned with a tray of a kettle of tea with steam pouring from it, and two teacups besides it. Fluttershy carefully placed the tray on the table and poured tea into both of the teacups. After, she sat herself next to me and grabbed her teacup. I did the same, lightly blowing on the tea and taking a sip of it. I felt as the liquid warmed my tongue and traveled through my entire body, warming up every part of it.

"How is it?" Fluttershy asked me.

"It's amazing, thank you."

After we finished the tea, Fluttershy placed the tray back in the kitchen and grabbed several sheets, placing them on the couch.

"There you go… all toasty and warm." Fluttershy commented as she aligned the pillow and blankets perfectly.

"Thank you again, Fluttershy… I really appreciate all this…"

"Anytime, Alex…" Fluttershy smiled. "Is there anything else you need?" She asked.

"No, I'm fine. Thank you…"

"Well, I'll be in my room if you need anything… I'll see you in the morning."

"Okay…Goodnight…"

"Goodnight." Fluttershy smiled once more and began walking up the stairs towards her room, shutting the light off after her.

I slowly and carefully tucked myself inside the blankets. I felt really warm as I lay my head on the pillow. As I closed my eyes, I could still hear the sounds of the wind blowing outside.

When I awakened, I felt much warmer. I opened my eyes and noticed how I was looking at the back of the couch. I was about to stretch until I suddenly felt movement near me, causing me to remain still for a moment. I slowly turned around to see another body near me. After noticing the color of the body and mane…I realized it was…Fluttershy…

Not in a bad way but…what was she doing here…? I was surprised…but it felt…nice…to have her here with me…

Her back was facing me, so her front was facing outwards from the couch. I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to move because I thought it might wake her up. I remained still for a moment, but then I noticed how she didn't have anything covering her…poor thing… I grabbed my half of the blankets and lightly placed them over her. Afterwards, I lay back down and thought I could probably sleep a little longer until she woke up.

However, I thought about Fluttershy instead… She was so nice to let me stay… not only does she let me stay; she makes sure I'm comfortable enough. For some reason, she even allowed herself to be uncovered while I had the blankets… I wanted to express my gratitude so much to her… but a simple "thank you" wasn't enough…

Fluttershy began moving slightly. Then, she slowly sat up and turned her head towards me. She realized that I was awake and this caused her to be startled.

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to wake you up…" She announced while her cheeks were slightly red.

"No, it's okay… I was already awake…" I responded as she began looking at the sheets while she rubbed her left foreleg with her hoof, shyly. "I don't mean this in a bad way…but… why did you come sleep here?"

Fluttershy began looking a little embarrassed. "Well… my room got really chilly…" She continued to rub her foreleg. "…and I was really cold… so I came down here and it was warmer than upstairs… I thought it might have been alright to sleep here…but maybe I should have asked you… I'm sorry…"

"Don't be." I instantly sat up and placed a hoof on her shoulder. "I would have been alright with it… I mean… you're so nice to let me stay here because you don't want something to happen to me from the weather… you shouldn't even have to ask me… I wish I could somehow thank you for all this."

Fluttershy grew a light smile. "You don't have to… it's enough being with you." She suddenly widened her eyes in shock after saying those words, and she turned around in embarrassment as her cheeks blushed.

I didn't really understand why she did that… but her words did make me feel a little warmer and better inside… I moved to the edge of the couch and sat by her as she continued to look away, embarrassingly.

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

Fluttershy rubbed her hoofs. "N…no…"

"Are you sure?"

After a moment, Fluttershy turned her head towards me and smiled. "I'm fine, really." She sat up from the couch and held out her hoof towards me. "Come on; let's go see what the others are doing." I grabbed her hoof, allowing her to help me up. We made the blankets neatly and placed them on top of the couch.

Fluttershy and I began walking out of the cottage and towards the town.

"So did you have a nice sleep?" Fluttershy asked me.

"Yeah… thanks to you." I replied, still wanting to somehow express my gratitude with more than a "thank you".

Fluttershy smiled lightly.

We had spotted Twilight, along with Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack, having a conversation near her home. We walked towards them as they had just finished sharing a laugh with each other.

"Hey!" Twilight greeted us. "I have to introduce Owloysius to you both!"

"Owloysius…?" I questioned with a confused expression on my face.

"Yeah! See?" She turned her back towards us, presenting a furry little creature.

"Oh, what a fantastical, fluffelicious feathery little friend!" Pinkie Pie commented. "I'm... HOOked!"

Everypony laughed.

"He's just wonderful." Fluttershy added.

"'He's just wonderful.'" We heard a mocking voice above us, causing us to turn our heads toward it. There, up on a tree, we saw Spike lying down on a branch reading a book. He noticed us stare at him. "Uh, yes. Wonderful. He's quite... the charmer." Spike ended with an irritated tone to his comment.

"And Owloysius is just such a star I just had to make this little bow for you." Rarity pulled out another bow studded with gems and placed it on the owl. It looked just like the bow that Rarity had given Spike the night before. The owl looked down to observe the bow for a second, and then looked back at Rarity with no significant change in his expression.

Spike had seen that and immediately filled his face with redness that he stormed back into the library and slammed the door shut.

"What's he all saddle sore about?" Applejack asked.

"He's probably just jealous of Owloysius." Rainbow Dash answered.

"Maybe Spike feels threatened or worried that Owloysius will replace him?" Fluttershy offered a suggestion. I turned to believe her because she did have a lot of experience and knowledge with animals…

"Replace him? Hah! That's crazy! Spike knows he can't be replaced." Twilight responded with confidence. "Well it's been fun talking with you guys, but I have to finish some work."

"Bye Twilight!" The ponies waved goodbye to her as she walked back inside the home with her owl.

"Hm…so what do y'all want to do next?" Applejack asked.

Pinkie Pie placed a hoof to her chin and thought for a moment. After, she threw it up to the air and answered. "Oooh!Oooh! Let's have some yummy treats over at Sugarcube Corner!"

"Pinkie Pie, is Sugarcube Corner all you think about?" Rarity asked.

"Well, duh! It's my favorite place in the whole wide world!" She hopped cheerfully and waved her forelegs to follow her. "C'mon guys! To Sugarcube Corner!" Pinkie Pie ran off as the rest of the girls looked at each other and giggled.

Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack walked in front of us as they giggled and talked happily to each other. However, I walked with Fluttershy, feeling a little uneasy about Spike's behavior. Fluttershy noticed my silence and looked at me with a questionable expression. "Is something bothering you, Alex?"

"Um… It's just the way Spike's acting… He seems really upset about the whole 'Owloysius' thing." I answered.

"Oh. I know what you mean… I think he just feels like Twilight's owl is going to replace him, but Twilight said that he knows he can't be replaced so… I'm pretty sure he'll get over it after having some time to think about it." Fluttershy released a warm smile afterwards.

"Hm…" I still couldn't help but feel a bad feeling about it.

We arrived at Sugarcube Corner where Pinkie Pie was already baking batches of cupcakes and sweet treats. The girls and I sat down at one of the tables.

"Oh, can you believe it?" Rarity began exclaiming. "The Gala is so close!" She gave a sigh of happiness. "I can't wait to meet the Prince. I'm sure he'll be everything I've dreamed of!"

"And I can't wait to make all the money from selling my apple treats so I can do a heap of fixin' for Sweet Apple Acres! And if I have any bits left over, I can use it for something for us." Applejack shared the excitement as well and winked at us.

"Impressing the wonderbolts is all I dream about!" Rainbow Dash added. "Imagine me! With the wonderbolts! I can already see it now!"

"Didn't you already impress the wonderbolts at the Best Young Flyers' Competition?" I replied. "You saved not only Rarity, but them as well, and did the sonic rainboom. I don't think anypony can pass that."

Rainbow Dash blushed slightly. "Hehe, yeah. But getting into the wonderbolts is hard since it's an elite team of acrobatic ponies and all…"

"Well… whatever you have to do… I'm sure you'll make the team if you really put your mind to it. It seems the sonic rainboom would have been an instant approval."

"Heh, thanks… What about you guys?" Rainbow Dash directed towards Fluttershy and me. "What are you ponies planning on doing at the Gala?"

Fluttershy and I looked at each other for a moment, and then back at the girls awaiting our answer. "Actually, we're—

Fluttershy and I stopped ourselves when we realized we were speaking at the same time. We looked at each other, which led to Fluttershy to begin blushing and looking slightly away.

"So?" The girls asked excitedly, feeling as if the words we were about to speak were really important.

Fluttershy looked as if I should tell them the news, so I turned to face the girls. "Um, we were planning on going to the Gala together…"

Every one of the girls, even Pinkie Pie, who was at the counter in the kitchen baking treats, gasped loudly.

"You mean… as a date…?" Rarity questioned in the silence.

"Um…" I looked over to Fluttershy, who was blushing even more to the point where she would definitely be unable to answer the question. "…yeah…"

There was a long awkward pause as the girls just stared at us with widened eyes. Suddenly, they all cheered about it.

"Oh, I bet you two are going to look so cute together at the Gala!" Rarity exclaimed.

"Um…" I felt a little uncomfortable about the situation. It's wasn't because I was going with Fluttershy… it's just that… this whole "date" thing was a bit of a problem for me. I really had no idea what a date was supposed to be… like I didn't know what you were supposed to do or act or anything… I'm just hoping Fluttershy understands and maybe she would be able to direct me through it…

"Here you go!" Pinkie Pie dropped the tray of cupcakes in front of us and returned to the kitchen to bake something else.

The girls were about to question or bring up something else about Fluttershy and I going to the Gala together, but Applejack immediately interrupted them when she realized something.

"Wait, y'all!" She exclaimed. She looked over to Pinkie Pie, who was busy placing something else in the oven. She waved her hoof in a motion to bring our heads closer to her at the table. Once our heads were close enough, she looked at us with almost worried eyes. "What about Pinkie Pie's birthday…?" She whispered.

"Birthday? Oh dear, I almost forgot!" Rarity exclaimed, but in a whispered tone so Pinkie Pie wouldn't hear.

"Yeah!" Rainbow Dash added. "Her birthday is before the Gala. We have to throw her a surprise party before worrying about the Gala!"

Pinkie Pie had walked over to the table to place some plates with pieces of cake. "Watcha guys talking about?" She asked.

"Uh…" Applejack tried to answer. "We were talkin' 'bout…"

"About…how much we love parties!" Rainbow Dash answered, most likely with the first thing that came to her mind, as Rarity smiled nervously at Pinkie Pie.

"Yes, parties!" Rarity emphasized.

"Oh really?" Pinkie Pie asked excitedly. "What kind of parties?"

The girls looked at each other confusingly for a moment.

"…uh…regular parties?" Rainbow Dash guessed at the question.

"Awesome! Regular parties are classic!" Pinkie Pie responded with a gleeful cheer.

"PINKIE PIE!" We heard a voice outside.

Pinkie Pie looked back and walked over to the door. "Oh, hiya, Spike!"

The girls gave sighs of relief.

"Pinkie Pie, I need a quill! Do you have one?" Spike asked.

"I swore I had one here somewhere." Pinkie Pie began searching through the drawers and cabinets. "Ah, here it is! A quince!" She threw it outside towards Spike.

"Not a quince." Spike kicked the quince and continued his pursuit for a quill. "A quill!"

"Right. A quail?" She threw out a quail, which brought me to think why in Equestria would she have a quail? "A quilt!" She threw out a quilt, covering Spike's body. "A quesadilla?" She also threw the piece of food out the door, causing Spike to sigh in frustration. "Aha! A quiche!" She threw out the other piece of food, pronouncing the name phonetically.

"Not a quiche." Spike pronounced correctly. "A quill!"

"Nope. Sorry. All outta quills." Pinkie Pie finally got right.

Spike sighed again. "Shoot." He grabbed a piece of the quiche and took a bite of it. "Well, thanks for your help Pinkie, I need to hurry up and find a quill for Twilight."

"Okay, bye!" Pinkie Pie walked back towards us as Spike ran off. "Well, everypony… dig in!" Pinkie Pie began munching on the cupcakes and cake as we ate our own pieces.

"You know…" Fluttershy spoke. "Since today's such a pretty sunny day. We could have a tea party outside my cottage."

"Oh, that sounds splendid!" Rarity exclaimed. "I'll go freshen up." Rarity began leaving the shop and returning to her own place.

Every other pony agreed and began departing.

However, before they left, Pinkie Pie looked over at the remaining treats and called over to them. "Hey, don't you ponies want the rest of these delicious cupcakes?" She asked. When the other girls politely declined, Pinkie Pie responded happily. "Well, more for me!" She grabbed all the cupcakes and stuffed them in her mouth, giggling afterwards.

Fluttershy and I walked out the shop.

"Are you coming with me?" Fluttershy asked.

"Sure, I'll help you set up." I responded, walking us to Fluttershy's cottage.

"That's sweet… Thank you."

"Anything to help you…"

Fluttershy presented another soft, sweet, and shy smile.

When we arrived, Fluttershy began making the tea while I grabbed a few blankets and placed them lightly on the soft grass outside. I could hear many of Fluttershy's pets speak. Birds chirped, chickens clucked, mice squeaked… well many of the animals seemed to be having a good day outside. I've got to admit… it was a nice day to be outside… being with friends… I grabbed several pillows and carefully and neatly placed them around the area the tea party was to be.

Fluttershy walked out of the cottage with a tray of a tea kettle in the middle and several teacups around it. She carefully placed the tray on the blanket and looked at me. "Great job on setting the blankets, Alex."

"Thank you, Fluttershy…"

We heard hooves plant on the ground as they walked. We turned around to see Applejack walk over to us while Rainbow Dash flew and Pinkie Pie bounced positively toward us.

"Hello, girls." Fluttershy greeted them. "Have a seat over here; I'll pour some tea for you all in a minute."

"Sure thing, Fluttershy!" Applejack replied.

"I brought some cookies too!" Pinkie Pie added as she bounced toward the pillow.

After, we saw Rarity walking towards us with a familiar companion by her side.

"Hello, Rarity. I see you brought Opal with you?" Fluttershy commented.

"Of course, Opal wouldn't miss this for the world!" Rarity responded, to which her cat hissed at afterwards. Rarity didn't seem to notice this reaction as she walked over to the blanket with tea and her pet walked with rather more pride on the way.

Finally, we saw Twilight arrive at the party… but she had a disappointed look on her face…

"Hello, Twilight." Fluttershy looked around Twilight but only noticed Owloysius on her back. "Where's Spike?" She asked.

"He's at home…" Twilight responded in an almost gloomily voice. "I'm very disappointed in him."

Fluttershy returned a light gasp. "Why?"

"I was on my way back towards home to bring him to the tea party after Rainbow Dash told me about it, but when I opened the door, I saw something that truly depressed me. He tried to deliberately set up Owloysius with some pathetic attempt…" She sighed. "He let his jealousy get the best of him…"

"Oh no… I'm sorry to hear that…" Fluttershy responded as we walked with Twilight to the blanket.

"It's alright… hopefully he has the time to think about what he's done. Hopefully, he'll learn how to get over his jealously of Owloysius."

"I hope so too." Fluttershy grabbed the tea and began to pour it in several different teacups. Afterwards, she passed one to everypony, including me.

As everypony began talking about different things, I could only stay silent and think back on Spike's behavior. He is really upset about Owloysius's position… what if after seeing Twilight's reaction to his "pathetic attempt" totally breaks him? What if it causes him to do something he will regret later on?

"Alex, is something on your mind?" Fluttershy had broken me out of the trance I was currently in.

"Huh?" I asked.

"Is something on your mind?" Fluttershy repeated.

"Oh… uh…" I finished the tea in the teacup and lightly placed it back on the tray. "I need to go check up on something really quick… I'll be back in a while. Okay, Fluttershy?"

"Oh, okay, Alex. I'll see you in a while then."

I nodded and stood up. Afterwards, I began walking back into town.

I walked quickly over to Twilight's home. I knocked on the door and called out. "Spike?" There was no answer. I slowly opened the door and walked inside. The library was in total silence. I looked around and called out for Spike again, but received no answer. There was no baby dragon working in the home. I knew that every time Spike was alone at the home, he would always have something to do as Twilight's assistant, but this time… there was nothing…

"Oh no…" I whispered to myself.

I quickly ran out the door and looked around. I took a seat to quickly think about where he would go.

C'mon, think… if you'd run away, you would go to a…

I received an immediate answer which led me to begin running straight towards the Everfree Forest.

I continued running, not stopping at any cost, to find the baby dragon before anything horrible occurred. I searched through the forest for a specific spot Spike might have hidden away to. All of a sudden, it began raining, drenching my mane. But I didn't stop.

I continuously looked around the forest for any signs of Spike. I suddenly heard a loud and fierce roar nearby. I looked for where it came from and noticed a cave nearby. I immediately began sprinting towards that location, hoping I wasn't too late.

When I entered the cave, I quickly looked around and noticed an emerald-colored and huge dragon corner a baby dragon towards a dead end of a wall. Spike! Without hesitation, I galloped toward the dragon as its head moved closer to Spike. Right before it could burn Spike to a crisp, I charged towards the dragon and kicked it on its nose. Its head was pushed away and it began to grab its nose with its hands as I jumped over to the front of Spike.

"Leave him alone!" I ordered in a bold tone.

"Alex!" I heard Spike from behind me.

However, the green dragon roared fiercely at us and was about to swipe its deathly sharp tail at us but something inside me struck, causing a blinding light to emerge. The dragon was actually pushed back by some, but not as much as when Gilda had tried to attack me.

"Spike! Now's your chance! Run!" I commanded Spike.

He began running as the dragon's attention was turned towards me now, as I was its worst threat. The dragon took a swipe at me with its claws but I quickly ducked and ran under the dragon. It noticed this and tried to swing its tail at me, blindly. However, I quickly jumped and grabbed hold onto the tail. It quickly turned around, trying to spot its target. It knew that I was holding on to its tail, but it couldn't find me. After, it began trying to shake me off by shaking its tail wildly.

Eventually, I lost the strength significantly when I had to hold on to such a brute dragon's tail, so it threw me against the rocky wall, almost like when I was trying to save Rarity from those diamond dogs, but this time I didn't pass out. I was struggling, trying to push myself up from the ground, but the dragon had quickly regained its balance and walked towards me, very aggressively and ticked off.

I could hardly move as I began dealing with the pain of the impact. The dragon was preparing to do its attack at me. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it out of this one… I felt as it was all over until I heard a sudden noise.

"Uhoo!"

An owl had flown over to the dragon and attacked its face, distracting it. It was Owloysius! Afterwards, the dragon had tried to attack the owl with its sharp tail, but Owloysius had swiftly dodged each attempt. Owloysius created a smart move by having the dragon attack its own face with its own tail, severely hurting the dragon.

"Alex! Over here!" I heard Twilight's voice call for me. I looked over at the cave entrance and noticed Twilight there, waving for me. With all my strength and energy, I pushed myself up and began running towards Twilight. Owloysius had been distracting the dragon as I made my escape. When I reached up to Twilight, Spike was on her back. "C'mon!" She exclaimed. Owloysius flew out of the cave and began following us as we ran out of the area. We could feel the extreme heat the dragon created when it blew fire behind us.

We continued sprinting, but the dragon wasn't going to let us get away as easy as that. It was heavily sprinting behind us as well.

"It's too dark! I can't see!" Twilight exclaimed.

Owloysius had flown to the front of us and began directing us through the dark path. However, my body was too weak to be able to jump successfully over a log Twilight had jumped over. I had almost made it, but my remaining energy preventing me to do so, causing one my hooves to be caught by the log and fall. Twilight continued running as the dragon must have silenced my fall. I was panting heavily as I turned around to face the dragon. There was no time to get up and start over. I was too drained out now. The dragon had stopped and roared in frustration as it lost Twilight and the others. Eventually, the dragon spotted me as I could only feel myself at lost. It raised its claw to strike me while I could only place my foreleg in front of me and flinch, waiting for my defeat.

Suddenly, another bright light emerged. My eyes continued to remain closed as I breathed heavily. Am I… Am I…?

I slowly opened my eyes and noticed something different… I was in a different place… I looked around. There was no dragon in sight. I released a deep exhale and fell to the ground, panting.

"Alex!" I heard a shout of my name not too far away. I turned around and heard the call again. I slowly pushed myself up and began limping my way towards the voice. Slowly managing to walk through several trees, I came upon an open spot. There lay Twilight on the ground, sobbing quietly as Spike tried to comfort her. Owloysius could only stand on a tree branch with his eyes closed solemnly.

I continued limping towards her, releasing light grunts with each step. Twilight must have heard this because she immediately looked up and noticed me walking towards them.

"Alex!" She exclaimed and instantly began running towards me. She threw her arms around me for a hug, almost pushing me towards the ground because of my weak body.

"Easy, Twilight…" I replied, drained of energy.

"What happened? Where were you?" Twilight asked me in a worried tone.

"I don't know… I was too weak to go on and the dragon had caught up to me… but suddenly this light emerged and when I opened my eyes… I was somewhere else…"

"Are you hurt?" She pulled away and asked.

"I don't think so… I'm just in some pain."

Twilight placed her horn on me and did a spell. Afterwards, I felt a little better. I was at least able to walk.

"It's a light painkiller. It won't get rid of all the pain, but at least it will take some of it out."

"Thank you…"

Twilight had carried Spike as Owloysius and I walked towards Twilight's home.

When we arrived, I lay on the floor to try to rest a little while Twilight was questioning Spike.

"Spike. We were so worried about you. I was so worried about you. Why did you run away?"

"I thought you didn't need me anymore. And that you didn't love me anymore."

"Spike… Sure, I was disappointed, but you are my number one assistant! And friend. And you always will be. It's just that sometimes I need some help at night. I can't ask you to stay up late. You're a baby dragon and you need your rest. Owls are nocturnal. So I asked Owloysius to help. But not to take your place. No one could ever replace you, Spike. Not even when you are being a jealous numbskull." Twilight began returning to her happy self.

"I'm sorry, Twilight." Spike hugged Twilight. "I never should have been so jealous."

"And I'm sorry too, Spike. I should have been more sensitive."

"And Owloysius..." Spike walked over to Owloysius, who was sitting on top of a stand nearby. "I know now that you weren't out to take my job. Forgive me?"

"Hoo?" He answered.

"Me. Forgive me, Spike." Spike repeated.

"Hoo!" He repeated the answer as well.

Spike looked over to Twilight and shrugged.

Twilight giggled. "He forgives you, Spike."

"Hey! How did you guys know where I was?" Spike asked.

"It was your ketchup covered feet. Owloysius discovered your footprints and we followed them all the way to the cave." Twilight answered.

"Oh yeah, the ketchup. It looked pretty real though, didn't it?" Twilight returned an annoyed stare, causing Spike to chuckle nervously.

"I know Princess Celestia will wanna read about what happened today..." Twilight said as she walked over to the table with an empty scroll on it. Spike ran over to the table and grabbed the quill to begin the letter.

"I'm ready when you are." He answered.

Twilight opened her mouth to begin the letter, but instead she closed it when she realized something else. "Hey, Spike. Why don't you write to Princess Celestia? And tell her what you've learned?"

"Really? Why, that's a big responsibility!"

"I know. But nothing my number one assistant can't handle."

Spike smiled and began writing the letter. "Dear Princess Celestia, this is Spike, writing to you about my adventures. This week I've learned that being jealous and telling lies gets you nowhere in friendship. I also learned that there's plenty of love for every friend to share. So from here on out, I promise, that I, Spike, will..."

His head had suddenly dropped towards the letter as he began snoring loudly.

"Oh, Spike." Twilight announced.

"Hoo?" Owloysius replied.

"Who? Spike! You kno... Oooooh..." Twilight realized. She began giggling as she took Spike to bed.

I had stood up and walked over to Owloysius as he stared at me, though, not as creepy as Philomeena did, but in a friendly way. I looked towards him and spoke. "Thanks for saving me by the way Owloysius…"

"Hoo."

"Yeah…"

Twilight had walked back in the room moments later.

"Hey, Alex…" She spoke as she walked over to me.

"Oh, hey, Twilight." I replied.

"Thanks, for saving Spike… we'd probably be too late if it wasn't for you."

"Don't worry about it…"

Twilight released a smiled. "There's just one thing I'm wondering about…"

"What is it?" I asked.

"How did you know where Spike was?"

I looked away sadly and answered. "…Let's just say…it's something I've learned from the past…"

Twilight knew she could have easily questioned about my answer, but she somehow also knew that I didn't really want to talk about it. "Pull out your hoof." She said. I pulled out my hoof and she pulled out something with her magic and placed it on my hoof. It was a star that was neatly decorated as a light chain held it. "It's a good luck charm."

"A good luck charm?" I questioned as I held it up and observed it.

"Yup. I made it with magic for you a while back… I figured now is probably a good time to give it to you… you know… since you're my best friend and all…" I turned my head towards her. "And I don't just mean my best friend…" She continued. "I mean like… my best of best friends." She giggled.

"Really…?"

"Mmhm."

"Thanks, Twilight… I really appreciate it… I mean truly…"

"You're welcome, Alex…" She replied while giving a warm smile. "You deserve it."

I gave a light nod and held it in my hoof. "Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow. It's late and I need to rest up after what had just happened…"

Twilight chuckled and gave me understanding eyes. "Of course… take care, Alex."

"You too…" I replied as I began heading out the door. "Good night…" I opened the door and closed it lightly behind me.

I walked over to my home to drop off Twilight's good luck charm. I walked up the stairs towards my room and walked over to my shelf. I placed the good luck charm carefully near the trophy and medal from the Running of the Leaves. After observing the charm in its place for a moment, I turned around and walked back downstairs, walking out the front door.

I headed towards Fluttershy's cottage.

When I arrived, I noticed the lights were still on. I knocked on the door. She opened them to see me.

"Oh, Alex! Where have you been? I was so worried you weren't going to come back."

"It's a long story… I'll tell you inside."

"Of course, come inside."

When I walked inside, she noticed how I walked differently than I usually did.

"Are you hurt, Alex?" She asked.

"How'd you know?"

"The way you're slightly limping…" She grabbed my hoof and led me toward the couch. She helped me lay down and covered me with blankets. I felt a lot better and comfortable.

"Thank you, Fluttershy."

"You're welcome." She took a seat near me. "Now, what happened to you?" She asked.

"Well…" I began explaining to her what happened. I told her how I had to excuse myself from the tea party because I felt a bad feeling about Spike. I told her how after realizing he had ran away from Twilight's home; I had raced through the Everfree forest to find him. I also told her what happened with the dragon and how Twilight and Owloysius came to save me. I told her basically everything that happened. At the end, Fluttershy had placed both her hooves on her mouth in shock. "Oh my goodness… I'm so glad you're alright." She embraced me but then pulled back suddenly. "Oh, I'm sorry! I'm not hurting you, am I?"

"No, it's alright. Twilight did a spell on me that lightly relieved the pain."

"Oh, good." She continued embracing me. "You're such a brave pony… I'll stay here all night with you, if you want…"

"You don't have to stay up, I'll be fine. We should both get some sleep."

Fluttershy smiled. "Okay…" She pulled away. "Well, I'll stay in my room this time so you can get some rest… it's not that chilly tonight anyway. Just remember to call me if you need anything…"

"I know… Goodnight, Fluttershy."

"Goodnight, Alex." She began walking towards her room, shutting the light after her.

I was really exhausted from the adventure of today, so I didn't really bother thinking too much. Instead, I closed my eyes and waited for my appointment with sleep.

Party of One

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Episode 25 – Party of One

I peacefully woke up and looked around. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. My body felt much better. I think all the pain was gone… I heard some noise behind me. I turned my head to see Fluttershy tending to the birds in the cages. I turned my body around to step off the couch and fold the blankets.

"Are you feeling better?" Fluttershy asked me.

"Much better, thanks."

Fluttershy released a smile, but then was startled a bit when a sudden knock sounded on the door. We both walked towards the door and opened it. Pinkie Pie was there, looking very tired as she blew a festival horn and began singing weakly.

"This is your singing telegram

I hope it finds you well

You're invited to a party

'cause we think you're really swell

Gummy's turning one year old

So help us celebrate

The cake will be delicious

The festivities first-rate

There will be games and dancing

Bob for apples, cut a rug

And when the party's over

We'll gather 'round for a group hug

No need to bring a gift

Being there will be enough

Birthdays mean having fun with friends

Not getting lots of stuff

It won't be the same without you

So we hope that you say yes

So, please, oh please R.S.V.P

And come, and be our guest "

Afterwards, she fell to the floor, bringing down her pet Gummy, who was on her back, with her.

"Oh, my. Pinkie Pie, are you alright?" Fluttershy asked as I grabbed Pinkie Pie's hoof and pulled her up.

"Just…great." Pinkie replied in a raspy voice. She gave a weak smile and turned around to head back towards town. "See you…there…"

"A party…" Fluttershy turned to me. "That sounds like fun. Want to go?"

"Sure… but…um…"

"What is it?"

I thought for a moment and then shook my head. "Nothing. Never mind. Let's get going."

Fluttershy and I began walking towards Sugarcube Corner.

Once we arrived, Pinkie Pie greeted us, now fully restored in energy, and led us to the second floor of the cake shop, which was where she stayed. The room was filled with festivities, cake, punch, and decorations. Twilight and the other girls had made it a little earlier than we did.

Pinkie Pie ran off to dance with Twilight. Beyond them, lay a wide bucket filled with water and apples. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were dunking their heads in to bob for apples. Rarity had spotted Fluttershy with me and called her over.

Before leaving, Fluttershy looked at me. "Remember. It's a party with friends. Enjoy it!" Fluttershy released a warm smile to me and began walking over to Rarity to talk with her.

I looked around the party. I took a deep breath. With friends…just with friends… Fluttershy's right… but still… what do I do besides look?

I took another deep breath and started my attempt by walking over to Applejack and Rainbow Dash.

Applejack had just dunked her head in the bucket of water and brought it back up with an apple in her mouth. She threw it up in the air and caught it with her mouth and began chewing, giving Rainbow Dash a competitive look.

"Nice one!" Rainbow Dash commented. "Now, let me show you how it's really done."

Rainbow Dash was about to dunk her head in, but Pinkie Pie had come over to see what we were up to. "Hiya!"

"Hey, Pinkie Pie!" Rainbow Dash responded.

"Howdy!" Applejack added.

Pinkie Pie released a light squeal. "Just wanted to tell you how happy I am that you can make it to Gummy's party!"

"Are you kiddin'? Ah wouldn't have missed it for the world."

"Me neither. When Pinkie Pie throws a party, I am there!" Rainbow Dash threw her head in the water and pulled out an apple as well. "Ta-da!" She exclaimed as she held the apple in her teeth.

"Aw! It's just a boring old apple. Don't worry, there are plenty of other surprises in there!" Pinkie Pie assured.

Rainbow Dash immediately spat out the apple in her mouth which hit Applejack in the cheek. However, Applejack ignored the hit and managed to share the excitement with Rainbow Dash about the surprises. "What kind of surprises?"

"I can't tell you that, silly. Then it wouldn't be a surprise." Pinkie Pie began walking away, leaving Rainbow Dash and Applejack wanting to find out.

They both stared at the water for a moment and then dunked both their heads in unison. When Applejack brought up her head, she had a green apple in her mouth. However, the green apple was attached to the bucket by a spring, bringing Applejack's face forcefully back into the water. When Rainbow Dash pulled her head out, Gummy was clinging onto her face with his mouth. Applejack had noticed this when she had pulled her head back out and began giggling. Rainbow Dash swung her head to throw Gummy off her face. She turned towards me.

"Why don't you try, Alex?"

After witnessing the kind of "surprises" Pinkie Pie had in store for them, I flinched back and responded. "Uh…no thanks, I'm okay… I think I'll just get some punch."

"Suit yourself." They continued to dunk their heads back into the bucket anyway.

I walked over to the table with a bowl of punch and several glass cups. Pinkie Pie had walked by me to refill Rarity's chalice with more punch.

"This punch is simply divine. Is this the same recipe you used for your 'Spring Has Sprung' party?" Rarity asked.

"Nope! Something new." Pinkie Pie answered as Rarity continued to drink the punch with a straw. We noticed something inside the punch bowl. Gummy lay inside, motionless, as it stared back at Rarity with huge eyes. Rarity noticed this and widened her eyes. She spat out the punch she was drinking straight at Pinkie Pie's cheerful face. "It's Gummy's favorite." Pinkie Pie continued to reply, despite the punch that was dripping from her face. Rarity looked over to Twilight, who returned a worried and confused look. Rarity turned back to Pinkie Pie who remained smiling. Rarity gave a nervous smile and continued to drink some more punch, hesitantly. "Ooh, this is my jam!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed when a new song began playing and she immediately ran from the area.

Rarity had held the punch in her cheeks and instantly spat out the punch in a nearby plant when Pinkie Pie was out of her sight. After seeing that sight… I wasn't really in the mood for punch anymore…

I turned to look at the dance floor where Pinkie Pie had rushed towards to. Twilight and Fluttershy were now dancing happily as Pinkie Pie joined them.

"Having fun?" Pinkie Pie asked as they continued to dance in conversation.

"A blast!" Twilight answered.

"You always throw the best parties, Pinkie Pie." Fluttershy added.

"They're always the best parties 'cause my best friends are always there!" Pinkie Pie began dancing, accidentally bumping Twilight and Fluttershy out of the area. I had caught Fluttershy before she hit the wall. The two ponies were dizzy but regained their coordination quickly. "C'mon, everypony! Gummy wants to dance!" Fluttershy pulled me towards the circle the ponies had made around Gummy. She began dancing along with the other ponies around Gummy, but I stood there, confused and unknowing what to do. "Go, Gummy! It's your birthday! Go, Gummy! It's your birthday!"

I spent the rest of the time of the party trying to look as if I was enjoying myself like Fluttershy said… but I really had no clue of what to do. Most of the time, I excused myself to the outside, but I didn't stay out for long because I didn't want to worry any of them. I could have survived the party easily if I had known what I could have done. In my mind, I continued repeating what Fluttershy told me a thousand times… Enjoy it… It's a party with friends… Enjoy it… but all I did was stress over the idea instead of getting loose and having fun…

"Hey, Alex."

I was startled. I was standing near the punch bowl with a hoof to my cheek as I stared downwards, thinking about all the things having to with the party. Fluttershy had walked over to me with concerned eyes.

"Oh, hey, Fluttershy…"

"Is something the matter? You look like you're not having fun…"

"I'm just tired…"

"Tired…? But…you've just been walking around the party… I haven't seen you have any fun…"

I remained silent; I didn't know what to say.

"It's okay. I'm doing fine." I responded with whatever I could manage to think of. I looked out the window and noticed the moon was out. "Actually… I'm a little sleepy. I think I'll head to bed." I began walking towards the door as Fluttershy followed me.

When we were outside, I looked over to her. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"

She nodded, but then she realized something. "Oh!" She moved her head closer to mine and whispered to me. "It's Pinkie Pie's birthday tomorrow, so we're planning to have a surprise party for her at Applejack's barn that afternoon." She slightly pulled away. "Do you think you could help us?"

I nodded. "Yeah…I'll help you girls. Until then… Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Fluttershy hugged me and turned back to the building, glancing back to wave.

I returned a slight wave and headed towards my home.

When I arrived, I lightly placed myself on my bed and closed my eyes. I wasn't really that sleepy… but I just didn't want to keep Fluttershy worrying about me…especially when I don't have anything to say… Regardless, I sighed and tried to see if I could sleep anyway.

I woke up due to a loud knock at my front door. I sleepily crawled out of bed and walked sluggishly towards the front door. When I opened it, I saw Pinkie Pie bouncing excitedly.

"Here's your invitation!" She lowered her head towards me, presenting a basket of invitations. I grabbed one with my teeth and opened the letter to read the contents inside. You're invited to "Gummy's After-Birthday" party. This afternoon at 3 o'clock. Pinkie Pie continued to bounce up and down, very excitedly. "All our bestest friends are invited, and there's gonna be dancing, and games, and cake, and ice-cream, and punch!"

I remembered how Fluttershy told me that they were going to set up Pinkie Pie's birthday party for this afternoon… I can't tell Pinkie Pie that I'll be able to go…

"Oh…sorry, Pinkie Pie. I won't be able to make it…"

"Aw. Why not?" She ceased her bouncing.

"I… I think I'm getting sick." I made a few fake coughs.

"Aw. I understand, it's okay! I'll still be able to invite the girls! I hope you get better!"

"Bye." I waved as she trailed off, bouncing with her basket of invitations. I sighed and entered back home.

Behind the door, I sat and thought about what I had to do. Fluttershy told me the party was going to be at Applejack's barn… so they must be there setting up everything right now. I guess I should start heading over there right now. I hope Pinkie Pie doesn't see me, but even if she does… I'll just tell her that I'm getting medicine…

I opened my door slightly and poked my head out, looking around. Pinkie Pie was out of sight, so I walked out the door and began walking towards Applejack's barn.

I had no trouble on the way over there. I guess Pinkie Pie was too busy asking the other girls. I had reached the barn and looked in to see Applejack carry some materials across different places in the barn.

"Hey, Applejack…" I called.

She was almost startled but then released a relieving breath. "Oh, hey Alex. I was worried Pinkie Pie might have come and seen this…"

"Well, you have to be careful… she came by my house this morning to invite me to another party for Gummy…"

"Another party? For when?"

"The same time for her birthday party…"

"Oh, shoot. We're going to have some trouble then…um…" Applejack thought for a moment, placing a hoof to her chin. "Do you mind watching the place really quick, Alex? I gotta bring in a whole bunch of apples."

"Ok, sure. No problem."

"Thanks." She began racing out the barn while I stayed behind.

I looked around the barn to see decorations being set up. There were a few streamers across the ceiling, but there were still more to be placed. The tables were up and covered with some decorative cloth, but they were empty for the moment.

Soon, I heard some noise outside. I saw Applejack bringing in several carts of a bunch of apples towards the barn. Before she reached the entrance, something suddenly popped out of the hay, surprising Applejack.

"Huh? Oh, hi, Pinkie Pie!" Applejack announced, a little nervous. "What brings you 'round these parts?"

Fortunately, Pinkie Pie didn't notice me.

"Who's ready to shake their hoof-thang?"Applejack noticed the basket on top of Pinkie Pie's head and grabbed one of the invitations, but she didn't read it as she already knew what it was. "It's an invitation to 'Gummy's After-Birthday' party this afternoon. There's gonna be dancing, and games, and cake, and ice-cream, and punch!"

"Uh, well, ah… ah… uh… ah don't think I can make it 'cause… uh… ah have to… uh… uh, you know what? Ah… uh… pick apples! Yup, apples! 'Cause that's what we do! With the… apples. We… uh… pick 'em!" Applejack then threw out a nervous grin.

Pinkie Pie began staring at her weirdly, which caused Applejack to widen her nervous grin even more. Pinkie Pie narrowed her eye towards Applejack in a suspicious matter as Applejack could only return a nervous chuckle and gulp. Pinkie Pie increased the threat towards her stare even further until all of sudden, she responded in a cheerful voice. "Okey dokey lokey! A party is still a party, even if there are only three guests." Pinkie Pie walked off, allowing Applejack and I to sigh in relief.

"Boy, that was a close one…" Applejack commented as she brought the apples into the barn.

"Yeah…"

Applejack began unloading the apples until we heard another sound. It was Twilight.

"Hey, Twilight. Pinkie Pie didn't see you, did she?" Applejack asked.

Twilight sighed. "No, I had to hide from her while she was walking back from here. Did she give you an invitation to her party too?"

"Uh-huh. I had to make an excuse about picking apples…"

"I told her that I was behind in my studying…" Twilight looked over to me. "What about you, Alex?"

"I told her that I thought I was getting sick." I answered.

"Oh, that's good one." Twilight shook her head. "Anyways, so what are we going to do now?"

"We have to wait for Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity to get here. Hopefully they don't run into a problem with Pinkie Pie. I'm sure Pinkie Pie is going to feel weird with no one attending her party, but we can't let her know that we are throwing one for her."

"What about the cake for her at the Sugarcube Corner?"

"Hmm… okay." Applejack turned towards me. "Alex, do you think you can help Twilight and the others watch out for Pinkie Pie while they're bringing the cake?"

I nodded. "Sure."

"Great." She looked back at Twilight. "Alright, Twilight. You and Alex head on the way towards Sugarcube Corner to get the cake. When Rarity gets over here, I'll tell her to meet you on the way, got it?"

Twilight nodded. "Yep!" Twilight looked at me. "Come on, Alex! Let's go get Pinkie Pie's cake!" Twilight began galloping towards our location as I followed her.

Once we neared the building, Twilight placed a hoof in front of me to stop me.

"We have to be careful now because the chances of Pinkie Pie being here are very high." Twilight whispered to me.

I nodded and we began walking quickly but softly towards the building.

Once we were inside, Twilight rang the bell at the counter while I looked for any Pinkie Pie activity.

"Ooh!" Mrs. Cake exclaimed when she spotted us. "You must be here for…"

"Shh!" Twilight immediately shushed. "Is Pinkie Pie around?"

"Oh, I don't think so."

"Good. I don't want her to know anything about this."

"Yes, of course. I'll be right back."

As Mrs. Cake left to receive the cake, I continued looking around. Mrs. Cake thought Pinkie Pie wasn't here… but she loves this place… she'd most likely be here at anytime. When I thought I might be able to take a break from looking around, I heard something dangling above Twilight. I quickly looked and saw a tin can hanging by a string. Twilight was unaware of the object above her head. I jumped on top of the counter and lightly grabbed the tin can without pulling it.

"What are you doing…?" Twilight asked with a confused look.

I placed my teeth on the string and cut it, able to bring the can with me. I jumped off the counter and showed Twilight.

"Look…"

Twilight placed her hooves on her mouth. "Oh my gosh… do you think…?"

I shook my head lightly. "I don't know… but we better hurry just to be sure…"

Mrs. Cake had come back and placed the cake on the counter. "There you go."

"Thanks, and remember, not a word to Pinkie Pie." She grabbed the box the cake was in. "C'mon, Alex. Let's hurry."

We began carefully walking outside Sugarcube Corner as Twilight held the box on her back.

Suddenly, we heard some noise behind us, causing us to quickly turn around, but all we saw was an apple stand. After a moment of carefully looking around and listening, we slowly turned back while I kept my eyes behind me. Soon enough, I turned my head forward and noticed Twilight was taking the cake to Rarity's shop.

Once there, Twilight rang the doorbell. Rarity opened the door and looked around. After, she moved over to Twilight. "She didn't see you at the sweet shop, did she?" She asked.

"I don't think so…" Twilight responded.

"Oh, good. I'd hate for her to ruin everything."

"Me too." Twilight looked to me. "Okay, Alex. Watch over her, alright?"

I nodded. Twilight slipped the box towards the ground, where Rarity walked in front of it and grabbed it with her tail. "Come now, Alex." She whispered as she began tiptoeing towards the next target location. I stayed right behind her, walking carefully and keeping an eye out for Pinkie Pie.

In the center of different houses, we met up with Fluttershy. As they continued on with the package delivering, I looked around behind me.

"Have you seen her?" Rarity asked.

"Not since this morning." Fluttershy replied.

"Me neither. Can you believe she was planning on throwing an after-birthday party today?"

I had suddenly spotted an odd looking stack of hay that had not been there a second earlier. I narrowed my eyes at it and continued observing it for a moment as Rarity and Fluttershy continued talking.

"I'm just glad I was able to come up with an excuse for why I couldn't be there."

"Me too! This is obviously going to be so much better."

"As long as we keep her from finding out about it, it will."

Rarity dropped the box and whispered to Fluttershy. "See you later!"

Fluttershy grabbed the box with her teeth and began walking towards the way where the odd looking stack of hay stood, but I placed my hoof in front of her to prevent her from walking any further.

"…let's go the other way around…" I whispered and led Fluttershy the way Rarity went through but traveled the slightly longer way towards the barn.

"What was wrong with the other way, Alex…?" Fluttershy whispered to me.

"I just didn't trust it…" I responded briefly.

A little while later, we met up with Applejack who was standing outside the barn. She walked over to us while suspiciously looking around. "Do you got the cake?" She asked. Fluttershy nodded and presented the cake she was holding with her mouth. "Alright. Quick, go inside and help the others get the things ready." We nodded and walked into the barn. We saw the others continuing to set the decorations, food, drinks, and other party necessities as Fluttershy and I walked over to the table to place the cake on there.

"Thanks a lot for helping us, Alex." Fluttershy told me.

"You're welcome…" I replied.

"Hey…" We heard Twilight call us. "Do you think you two could help me finish hanging these streamers?"

"Sure." Fluttershy responded.

However, before we could lift one hoof, Rainbow Dash had suddenly dashed into the barn with Applejack running after her and slamming the door shut. There were several bangs on the barn door. "I know you're IN THERE!" We heard Pinkie Pie yell outside the barn.

Applejack looked at us and placed a hoof to her mouth to make sure we kept quiet. She slightly opened the door and looked out. "Oh! Howdy, pardn'r!"

"Mind if I… take a look inside the barn?" Pinkie Pie responded in an irritated tone.

Applejack took a quick glance at us. "No! Uh, I mean, yes, I mean… you can't come in here!"

"Rainbow Dash just went in there."

"Oh, well, she was just bringin' in some… supplies! Yup, supplies for the… renovation! Fixin' up the whole thing, top to bottom… uh, lots of construction goin' on in there right now!" Applejack had looked back towards us, giving all of us a hint to imitate construction work.

"You heard her! Construction!" Rainbow Dash whispered loudly.

All of the ponies began making construction sounds while I could not help but look at them awkwardly. Applejack continued to keep Pinkie Pie from finding out as she purposely blocked the way from Pinkie Pie seeing anything. Pinkie Pie began trying to force her head inside the barn as Applejack tried to fight back. Pinkie Pie was eventually going to beat her at it, so Applejack had no choice but to shut the barn door right on her face. Pinkie Pie managed to free herself and pull her head out.

"Yup! Construction! That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it." Applejack released a nervous laugh. Applejack could only continue grinning very nervously as sweat slowly poured from her face. There was a long silence and eventually Pinkie Pie had given up.

"Okey… dokey… lokey…" Pinkie Pie responded in a very suspicious tone and then we heard her footsteps walk away.

Just as Applejack was about to release a relieved sigh, Pinkie Pie suddenly pressed her face against hers and gave her a suspicious stare while Applejack could only release another nervous grin. Afterwards, Pinkie Pie finally left and Applejack was able to complete her relieved sigh. The girls looked out the barn door and followed in her example.

"Okay, that was too close!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

"It's alright…" Applejack answered. "We're almost done." She looked around the barn. "We just need to finish hanging those streamers… we have the music… the punch bowl is filled with punch… hmm…" She tapped her hoof on her chin while continuing to look around. "Oh! And we could use some more balloons; you know how Pinkie Pie loves her balloons."

Every pony nodded and giggled.

Fluttershy and I helped Twilight place the remaining streamers. I grabbed the rest of the streamers and took them to Fluttershy, who flew over to the ceiling and securely placed them on there. Placing the streamers took several minutes, but it wasn't too long.

As we finished placing the streamers, Rarity and Rainbow Dash had gone out to bring the remaining balloons and fill them up. When the girls finished decorating the place with balloons, Applejack noticed this and smiled. "Well, looks like we're finished, ponies!"

Everypony cheered.

"Hmm… Alex, how about you go and bring Pinkie Pie over here? You're the only one guaranteed not to spill the beans." Applejack suggested that I brought Pinkie Pie.

"Um… okay, I guess…" I responded as I began walking out the barn.

Before I exited the barn, I could hear Applejack exclaim over to the other ponies, "Okay, everypony! Find your hiding places!"

When I reached the slightly opened door, the entire area behind me grew dark. I glanced back one more time and closed the door behind me as I exited.

I had arrived over to Sugarcube corner, which also took several minutes coming all the way from Applejack's barn. I opened the door and walked in, letting it close behind me. I walked to the counter and rang the bell. Mrs. Cake had walked from the kitchen towards the counter to see me.

"Oh, hello, dear. What can I do for you?"

"Is Pinkie Pie here?" I asked.

"I believe so. I've been hearing her talk from upstairs. It's strange though, the baby dragon she brought had left a while ago, eating gems, so I'm not sure if she has other company with her."

"What do you mean?" I questioned her comment, slightly confused.

"Well, it sounds like she has company upstairs, but I only saw her bring in a baby dragon, who left not too long ago.

A baby dragon…? Spike?

"Um… well I'll check up on her. I'm taking her back to the barn for her birthday party."

"Oh, sounds delightful! Well you ponies have fun!" Mrs. Cake began walking back towards the kitchen.

"Thanks…"

I began walking up the stairs towards Pinkie Pie's room. Mrs. Cake thinks she has company upstairs… why is that…? All of the other girls are at the barn waiting for Pinkie Pie… and why would she bring Spike anyway?

All these questions were going through my mind until I suddenly began hearing the voices Mrs. Cake was talking about. I finished climbing up the stairs to Pinkie Pie's room to find an odd surprise.

"Thank you all so much for coming! It means so much to Gummy." Pinkie Pie exclaimed near a table which was filled with a giant cake.

Something was different about Pinkie Pie… her hair wasn't as filled up or crazy as it usually is… It was all hanging down from her face, including her tail. That wasn't the only strangest thing… there were balloons, confetti, and streamers everywhere. Gummy was sitting down at the end of the table wearing a party hat… but he wasn't the only one… there was a sack of flour, a pile of rocks, a clump of lint, and a bucket of turnips sitting near the table, all wearing party hats. I could only stare at the whole scene in almost shocking disbelief.

Pinkie Pie rushed over to the bucket of turnips and began nudging it to make it look as if it was talking while she voiced for it. "Could I have some more punch?"She spoke in a deeper tone.

"Well, of course you can have some more punch, Mr. Turnip." Pinkie Pie quickly grabbed a chalice filled with punch and placed it near the bucket of turnips, suddenly twitching after.

Pinkie Pie walked over to the pile of rocks and placed her foreleg around it, beginning to voice for it as well with a deep voice. "This is one great party! You've really outdone yourself!"

"Why, thank you, Rocky." Pinkie Pie replied.

She leaned over to the clump of lint and began voicing for it too, enabling me to see her eyes cross away from each other in a creepy way. "I'm having a delightful time as well." Pinkie Pie spoke for the lint in a high pitched snooty voice.

"I'm so glad Sir Lintsalot." Pinkie Pie's face twitched once again.

Pinkie Pie walked over to the sack of flour and placed her hooves around it, moving it around to make it look as if it was talking again. "Might I tro'ble you for another slice of cake?" Pinkie Pie voiced in a very high pitched and French accent.

"Anything for you, Madame LeFlour." Pinkie Pie grabbed the plate with a slice of cake and moved it over to the sack of flour.

Witnessing this scene actually caused my eye to begin twitching as if she had passed her twitches over to me. I couldn't believe what Pinkie Pie was doing… Has she gone…insane...?

She slipped under the table and moved her hoof across to the pile of rocks to begin her deep voice. "I'm just glad none of them PONIES showed up."

Pinkie Pie pulled herself up from under the table and responded to herself. "Oh, they're not so bad." She began staring up at the ceiling as her eyes rolled away from each other and grew smaller.

To be honest… Pinkie Pie was truly starting to frighten me now as she continued to voice for the inanimate objects.

"Not so bad? Please! They're a buncha losers!" Rocky's voice stated.

Pinkie Pie returned a lifeless stare, but then shook out of it and replied to the pile of rocks. "Oh, c'mon now. 'Losers' might be a little strong, don'cha think?"

"After the way they treated you? I say 'losers' isn't strong enough." The clump of lint's voice sounded.

"Well, it was pretty rude…"

"Pretty rude? It was downright deeespicable!" The sack of flour's voice added.

"It was, wasn't it?" Pinkie Pie's voice assured, sounding irritated now.

"If I were you, I wouldn't speak to them ever again." The bucket's voice suggested.

"You know what? I'm not gonna speak to them ever again. And I'm not gonna invite them to another party as long as I live! They don't deserve to be invited to my parties." Pinkie Pie's face twitched again. "Not after the way they've been acting."

Pinkie Pie continued moving the objects as she voiced for them. "Deeespicable!"

"Such losers!"

"Yes, zat's right."

"Well done."

"Yeah!"

"You show 'em!"

Alright… I've had enough of this creepy scene…

"Pinkie Pie?" I called as I stepped towards the table.

"Who could that be?" She questioned as she snapped out her trance.

"Hey Pinkie Pie…" I began speaking to her as I continued walking towards the table. "I know how the other girls haven't been able to attend your party because they've been really busy… so I thought we could hang out? I've been feeling better…"

"Yeah, you have, haven't you?" Pinkie Pie responded through clenched teeth.

"Yeah…" My eyes couldn't stop glancing over at the inanimate objects as they now creeped me out for some reason. "So why don't we go to Sweet Apple Acres?"

"No thanks." Pinkie Pie declined as she walked over to the sack of flour. "I'm spending time with my real friends. Isn't that right, Madame LeFlour?"

"Oui! Zat iz correct, madame!" She resumed her odd face and voiced for the sack of flour.

"Uh…Pinkie Pie…?"

"Another slice of cake, Sir Lintsalot?" She asked the clump of lint.

"I'd love one." Pinkie Pie voiced the lint as Gummy bounced past me on a balloon.

I sighed and began feeling irritated. "Okay, Pinkie Pie. Why don't you stop being… creepy… and we'll go over to Applejack's and—

Pinkie Pie suddenly cut off my sentence by sliding over the bucket of turnips towards me and voicing it. "She's not going anywhere."

"I most certainly am not." Pinkie Pie agreed. "I'm having a wonderful time right here."

I threw the bucket of turnips away from me with my left foreleg, feeling a lot angrier. "Pinkie Pie, that's enough. You need to get out of here."

From under the table, Pinkie Pie slid the stool holding the pile of rocks in front of me. "You heard the lady! She ain't goin' nowheres, chump!"

I instantly threw the pile of rocks away from me with both hooves now, feeling almost enraged now. "Pinkie Pie!"

"No!"

I pulled her out from under the table. "Come on! We need to go!"

"I said, NO!" She responded like a very stubborn child.

I tried pushing her from behind, but she wouldn't budge. "You…need…to…come…with…me!"

"No… I… DON'T!" She raised her back legs, causing me to fall underneath her as she sat on top of my head. I pulled myself out with enough force, causing me to sit down afterwards. I sighed heavily and closed my eyes. I thought for a moment and suddenly recieved an idea.

I stood up and looked at Pinkie Pie. "Okay, Pinkie Pie. If you want to stay here, then fine! Stay here!" I began storming down the stairs while Pinkie Pie remained sitting above.

After, I calmed myself down and rang the bell at the counter. Mrs. Cake came out and saw me again.

"Oh, hello. Did you find Pinkie Pie?"

"Yeah…" I responded, remembering the awkward and creepy scene. "Um… do you think you can help me with something?"

"Of course, dear. What do you need?"

"Do you happen to have any candy I can use for Pinkie Pie's birthday?"

"Why, of course! We have a huge sack of candy that we weren't planning on using. We we're actually going to throw it out, but if you could use it, be my guest!"

"That would be great. Thanks."

Mrs. Cake walked towards the kitchen for a moment and came back out with a large sack of candy. She placed it on the counter. "Here you go, dearie. Is there anything else you need?"

"No, thank you, Mrs. Cake. This is all I need."

"Alright, then. Have fun!" Mrs. Cake responded as she walked back into the kitchen.

I grabbed the sack of candy with my teeth and placed it on the floor. I sighed and looked at the sack. This is going to be a LONG walk…

I opened the sack, revealing the many pieces of candy in there. I grabbed a handful and placed it them in a line heading towards Pinkie Pie's room. When I was at the top of the stairs, I poked my head upwards to see Pinkie Pie continue to remain seated as she kept the fierce look on her face while her eyes remained closed. I felt the remaining piece of candy in my hoof and threw it at her. I quickly ducked and began heading down the stairs.

"OW! What the hay?" There was a pause. "Is this… CANDY?" I heard her begin to chew noisily for a moment and gulp. "Aw, phooey. Now I want more!"

I was at the door of the sweet shop when I saw Pinkie Pie poke her head from the stairs and look around until she noticed the candy I lined up for her, starting at the top of the stairs. "Oooh! A piece of candy!" She lowered her head and ate the piece of candy. "Ooh! A piece of candy!" She repeated when she spotted the piece of candy on the next stair.

I nodded and walked out the door, placing pieces of candy with each step.

"Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy!" Pinkie Pie continued to repeat as she ate each piece of candy off the floor all while Gummy was riding on back of her.

This continued all the way towards Applejack's barn as I finished the remaining pieces of candy in the sack. I shook the sack, feeling only the emptiness in it and threw it away. I could hear Pinkie Pie catching up to the barn as she continued to eat the pieces of candy. "Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy! Ooh! A piece of candy!"

She spotted the last piece of candy that was in front of me. "Ooh! A piece of candy!" She finished it and swallowed. Afterwards, she looked around and presented a surprised yet angry expression. "Hey! Where am I?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes. I opened the doors to reveal the darkness in the barn.

"Surprise!" The girls screamed out in unison, happily.

Pinkie Pie widened her eyes as I pushed her towards the girls.

After, she returned an irritated and angry look.

"I really thought she'd be more excited…" Fluttershy whispered to the others.

"Excited? EXCITED? Why would I be excited to attend my own farewell party?" She asked, angrily.

"Farewell party?" Twilight questioned.

"Yes! You don't like me anymore, so you decided to kick me out of the group and throw a great, big party to celebrate! A 'Farewell to Pinkie Pie' party!" Pinkie Pie answered.

"Why in the world would you think we didn't like you anymore, sugarcube?" Applejack asked with concerned eyes.

"Why? Why? WHY? Because you've been lying to me and avoiding me all day, that's why!" She expressed her anger as she answered.

"Uh, yeah! Because we wanted your party to be a surprise." Rainbow Dash explained.

"We've been planning this party for such a long time. We had to make excuses for why we couldn't attend Gummy's party, so that we could get everything ready for yours." Rarity added as she played with a yellow balloon.

"If this is a farewell party, why does the cake I picked up from Sugarcube Corner say, 'Happy Birthday, Pinkie Pie?'" Twilight presented the cake on the table.

Pinkie Pie slowly looked around the room, noticing all the decorations and effort we had placed for her. Suddenly, her hair inflated back to its original self and she smiled happily once again. "Because it's my birthday! Ooh, how could I have forgotten my own birthday?" Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she pulled all of us for a group hug. The girls, including me, returned sighs of relief. Pinkie Pie released her grip on us and began bouncing around the barn. "And you like me so much, you decided to throw me a surprise party!"

"That's what we've been trying to tell you, darling." Rarity replied to Pinkie Pie as she smiled.

"You ponies are the best friends ever!" Pinkie Pie grinned, but then lowered her head and frowned. "How could I have ever doubted you?"

"It's okay, Pinkie Pie. It could have happened to any of us." Twilight responded as she walked over to Pinkie Pie.

"All right, girls! Enough of this gab." Applejack exclaimed as she turned on the music. "Let's party!"

As so… the party started. However, before everypony began partying, they walked Pinkie Pie over to the table with the cake. They had several candles on there, which all of them were lit.

"Okay, Pinkie Pie. Make a wish and blow the candles!" Applejack exclaimed.

Pinkie Pie thought for a moment as she placed her hoof under her chin. Afterwards, she thought of something as she glanced back at me. Finally, she blew the candles which led everypony to cheer.

"What did you wish for Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked.

"Well...I'm not supposed to tell...but..." She grinned and began to speak. "I wished for Alex to smile very soon!"

"Huh?" I quickly responded, surprised.

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie walked over to me. "See?" She pulled out a cupcake. "I made this for you back at Sugarcube Corner! I was hoping it'd help you to smile." I slowly grabbed the cupcake and observed it. It had Pinkie Pie on the top who was pointing at me. At the bottom, it stated: I want YOU to smile!

"I don't know what to say, Pinkie Pie..."

"Just say you'll smile!" Pinkie Pie released a wide grin, but then lowered her head for something else. "Also... I'm really sorry about how I was acting when you came to get me at Sugarcube Corner... Forgive me?"

I wasn't really angry at how she was acting... it was just mostly... I sighed mentally. I instantly accepted her apology.

"Of course, Pinkie Pie. You don't have to worry about it."

"YAY!" She exclaimed out loud and hugged me super tight for a moment. After, she let me breathe and looked out to everypony. "Okay, everypony! Time to PARRR-TAAY!"

Applejack and Fluttershy were bouncing a pink balloon to each other while Gummy stood in the middle trying to grab it with his gums. Rainbow Dash had gone over to the cake and grabbed a slice, taking a bite of it. Rarity was by the music as she was dancing to it.

"Dear Princess Celestia…" I heard Twilight's voice behind me. "…I am writing to you from the most delightful party. I'm not only having a great time with my friends, but also was given the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about friendship. Always expect the best from your friends, and never assume the worst. Rest assured that a good friend always has your best interests at heart. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."

My face saddened at that thought… Always expect the best from your friends…? And never assume the worst…? I lowered my head and looked away. That's what got me in this condition in the first place…

After a moment of closing my eyes and struggling to keep my emotions from spilling out, I noticed how Spike had spotted Rarity dancing. He quickly rushed over to her and began dancing as if he was trying to impress her. However, the second Spike began dancing, Rarity noticed how Twilight placed her hooves on Pinkie Pie, forming some sort of line, and walked away from Spike. Rarity placed her hooves on Twilight and added herself to the line as Spike finally realized how she had left. Fluttershy noticed this too and flew over to the end of the line, placing her hooves on Rarity. Rainbow Dash lifted her head from the cake and followed Fluttershy's example. Applejack had just finished bouncing the pink balloon when she noticed the line. She quickly ran over to join it. Each of the girls continued to follow each other as Pinkie Pie was in the lead.

"You girls wouldn't mind if we celebrated Gummy's after-birthday party too, would you? His party was cut short, and he's pretty upset about it." Pinkie Pie asked as she continued to walk to the music.

The other girls released comments agreeing to the subject.

"Yeah, why not? Let's have a party for Gummy." Twilight accepted and giggled. She noticed me standing to the side and waved over to me. "C'mon, Alex! Join the fun!"

I thought for a moment and started feeling a little better. You know what? Maybe I should join them… I mean… they are my real friends… right…? They won't mind if I join them… they won't… I nodded and formed a determined look on my face.

I lifted my right hoof to take my first step towards them, but all of a sudden, something strange began happening. The music in the barn began fading away. All the laughter of the girls faded away. Things seemed to be getting blurry and worst of all… there was something wrong with my right hoof. I turned my head to look at my right hoof and notice how my hoof began shaking…trembling… My hoof was the only thing in my body to begin shaking uncontrollably. I heard and felt my heart begin pounding as I began to breathe heavily. What is…what is…happening to me…?

"Alex…?" I heard faint voice.

I looked up and noticed the girls continue to walk in a line. My eyes cleared up and everything returned to normal, all except for my shaking hoof. I could see the concern in their eyes as they looked towards me.

"I…uh…I gotta go." I responded a bit weakly and began running out the barn. After leaving the barn, I planted myself against the outside of the barn and lay myself against the wall. The sky was dark. I pulled up my hoof and noticed how it was still shaking. My head started to hurt a little. I had no idea what was going on, and I was really starting to become afraid.

After a moment, I saw Fluttershy fly out of the barn doors and look around. She spotted me and quickly flew over to me. "Alex, what's going on? Are you okay?" She quickly asked.

I immediately placed my left hoof over my right to prevent Fluttershy from seeing it. "Um… my…my head just hurts a little."

"Oh no. Do you want me to get you something for that?"

"Um, no… it's alright… I think I'll just go home and sleep it off."

"Are you sure…?"

"Yeah…"

"Okay… Goodnight, Alex." Fluttershy embraced me, which seemed to ease the shaking a little.

"Goodnight, Fluttershy…" Fluttershy pulled away after a moment. She waved and flew slowly back towards the barn.

I sighed and began walking home.

When I reached home, I opened the door and entered, closing the door behind me. I turned to the kitchen and pulled out the cupcake Pinkie Pie had given me. I observed it once more and then placed it in the fridge. After, I walked up the stairs and sat on my bed.

What was all that about? What had just happened? What…was that…? I looked at my hoof. It wasn't shaking anymore. The pain in my head was gone. Basically, everything was back to normal. I had never experienced that before… I think…

I lay down in my bed and pulled the covers over me.

What if it happens again…? Especially…at the Gala?

The Best Night Ever

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Episode 26 – The Best Night Ever

I opened my eyes and felt different. I remembered… for some reason… I remembered right away that today was the day… The Grand Galloping Gala… My date with Fluttershy… will it go well…? I removed myself from bed and walked to the bathroom. I turned on the shower and climbed into the tub. I rinsed myself for a while until I got out again and shook myself dry. I looked in the mirror and observed myself. Was she really right…? Or can I somehow prove her wrong…?

I snapped out of my thoughts and walked out the bathroom. I wonder if the girls are already getting ready for the Gala… I walked down the stairs and out the front door. I began walking through town, thinking about going to Fluttershy's to see what she was going to do, but several ponies caught my attention when I passed by Rarity's shop.

"Ahh! I... can't... believe... the Grand... Galloping... Gala... is... tonight!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed joyfully while she excitedly continued to bounce on a trampoline.

Twilight was by her, trying to read one of her books but was unable to, due to Pinkie Pie disruptive behavior. "Pinkie! Please stop shouting, I'm trying to concentrate." Twilight called out to Pinkie Pie, who was still having fun on her trampoline.

Rarity walked out her shop when she noticed Pinkie Pie bouncing on the trampoline. "Pinkie Pie!" Rarity scolded as she quickly walked over to her. "Stop that right now. It's time to prepare for the Gala and I refuse to let you put on your new dress if you're all sweaty." Pinkie Pie immediately ceased her bouncing and gave Rarity a slightly annoyed look. After, she jumped off the trampoline, obeying Rarity's command. Rarity sighed in relief and spotted me near them. "Oh, Alex! There you are, dear! Quickly, I must get you in your new tux right away!" Rarity began grabbing my hoof and was about to take me into her shop but Twilight stopped her.

"Hold on, Rarity… there's just something I want to try first…" Twilight announced while still keeping her eyes on the book.

Pinkie Pie looked at Twilight with a confused expression on her face, then at Spike, then back at Twilight. "What's Twilight doing?" Pinkie Pie whispered to Spike, most likely to prevent any distractions towards Twilight.

"She's got an awesome magic spell she's been working on for the Gala." Spike answered.

"Where are the others?" Rarity asked in slight frustration as she walked over to Pinkie Pie and Spike. "It's getting late."

"Hold your horses, girl. We're here." Applejack called out as she walked with Fluttershy towards us while Rainbow Dash flew.

Fluttershy saw me and presented a bright, yet slightly shy, smile towards me.

"Perfect!" Twilight closed her book and lifted her head. "I'm ready."

"For what?" Rainbow Dash asked excitedly.

"All right, Spike." Twilight announced to Spike, who was bringing over an apple and then delicately placed it on the grass in front of Twilight.

"An apple!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed out loud. "Are we having pie?"

"Shh!" Spike quickly shushed. "Watch!"

Twilight concentrated herself and soon, a light glow emerged on her horn. The apple began slightly levitating and instantly began shifting into something new. Suddenly, it expanded into a large and magnificent carriage. The girls formed a collective of awes and amazement.

"Thanks. But that's just the start." Twilight walked over to Fluttershy. "Fluttershy, did you bring your friends?"

"Yes." She answered, happily. Four mice appeared from her mane. Fluttershy lowered her head to allow the mice to descend towards the ground. "Will they be safe, Twilight?"

"You have my word." Twilight responded confidently. She focused on the four mice that stood in the ground below and worked her magic to instantly create the mice into stallions… well almost… Instead, their heads still had their mouse features, such as their ears, noses, and teeth…even their tails… "Ta-da!" Twilight presented. There was another collective from the girls, but instead, they returned surprised and slightly confused expressions as the mouse stallions squeaked. "Neat, huh? And don't worry. They'll be mice again at midnight."

"Opalescence, no!" We heard Fluttershy suddenly cry out. Opalescence had been sneaking around the bush. When she spotted the mice, she quickly pounced at them with her sharp nails. The cat scared the mouse stallions and caused them run away while the one that Opal hung on to kicked her off and followed the others.

"Wait! Come back!" Twilight called after them, but they were too frightened to come back. She looked back at us, worried. "Those horses were supposed to pull our carriage. How will we get to the Gala?"

The girls remained silent for a moment until they turned towards me. I confusingly switched my eyes towards each of them. "What?" I questioned.

Rarity cleared her throat. "Ahem. Alex. Would you so kindly pull our carriage to the Gala?" Rarity released a wide grin as she fluttered her eyelashes.

"Um, sure. I guess…" I replied.

"But pulling the carriage with ALL of us in it is would be difficult for Alex, and he's supposed to be enjoying the Gala with us too, you know?" Twilight commented.

Rarity returned an annoyed look and responded with a dramatic mock. "What ever shall we do?" She glanced over to Twilight with another annoyed expression and walked away, heading towards the group of colts hanging by and talking. Rarity walked up to a couple of colts and began talking to them. "Uh... ahem. Excuse me. Uh, would you boys mind pulling our carriage to the Gala?" Afterwards, Rarity grinned at them as they could only return nervous-looking smiles.

They had attached the carriage to themselves and brought it over to the girls and me. "Oh. Yeah. Right…" Twilight presented an embarrassed smile.

"Well, you gentlecolts wait right here. We'll be out in a moment." Rarity told the colts who were going to help me bring the girls' carriage. "Well, come along then!" Rarity told us. "We don't have much time before the Gala begins!"

Rarity led us towards where we were to prepare ourselves for the Grand Galloping Gala. Rarity spoke to Spike and me as she had the girls enter a room. "You boys wait right here, okay?" Rarity looked towards me. "I'll be out as quick as I can to fix you up in your tux."

"Okay…" I replied.

Rarity nodded with a smile on her face and walked into what looked to be a dressing room.

Outside the door, Spike and I waited while we heard the sounds of dryers inside. Soon enough, Spike grew very impatient and began banging on the door for the girls to let him in as I leaned on the wall near him.

"Come on, you guys. Let me in!" Spike exclaimed.

"Sure thing, Spike." Rainbow Dash's voice responded from inside.

Suddenly, Rarity intervened. "Heavens no! We're getting dressed."

"Dressed? Uh, beg your pardon, Rarity, but, uh... we don't normally wear clothes." Applejack added.

Rarity sighed irritably and opened the door. "I'm sorry, Spike. Some of us do have standards."

"I still can't believe we're gonna be at Canterlot tonight." Spike walked in as he excitedly talked about the plans for the event. "Our home town, Twilight! And the best part is that we all get to hang out together all night long!"

The door remained open for me to walk inside, but I continued leaning by the doorway.

"Uh... I-I don't know, Spike." Rainbow Dash responded with a worried tone to her voice. She was laying on one of the chairs with a towel wrapped on her head.

"We'll just have to see." Rarity added as she just finished placing on one of her eyelashes from her makeup accessories.

I saw Applejack wearing a towel on her head as well. She was scrubbing Fluttershy's front right hoof as Fluttershy returned a light smile. However, Fluttershy transformed that smile into a slightly disgusted look when Applejack spat on her hoof. "We're gonna be a mite busy."

"Busy having fun!" Pinkie Pie joined as she just finished using the dryer. Her hair was straight and long like it was during that little…episode…, but it suddenly inflated again.

"Oh… Okay…" Spike replied with a depressive tone, placing his hands on his face.

"Don't worry, Spike. We'll all get to spend some time together." Twilight assured as she placed on the powder with a brush.

"Great!" Spike exclaimed and began running out of the room. "I know just what we're going to do!"

Once he left, the girls continued to get ready as Rarity finished placing on her dress and walked over to me. "Come on, Alex. Let's get you into that new tux!" She glanced over to the girls. "You girls finish getting ready while I work with Alex!" Afterwards, she grabbed my hoof and began leading me to another one of the dressing rooms.

The dressing room was empty except for a few different stands of clothes. Rarity walked me over to one of them which contained my tux. She pulled out each piece of clothing and gave them to me one by one. "Here, put them on."

I did so, with some struggles, but Rarity was able to help me with them. When I had finally placed them on in the correct order and fashion, Rarity observed me with glowing eyes as her mouth was agape with excitement. She walked around me, analyzing how it fitted me. She moved to the front of me and looked at me, observing the tux in front. She continued to lightly fix me up in the front. "You look smashing." She commented with a soft happiness in her voice. "I'm positively sure Fluttershy will be so happy to see you wearing this at the Gala…"

"Thanks, Rarity…"

After Rarity finished with the slight touch ups, she stepped back a few feet and looked at me. "My, my, Alex. You really are such a handsome young star. I almost feel jealous that you're going to Gala with Fluttershy, instead of me." Rarity giggled. I began to feel a little red as I slightly looked away in silence. Rarity noticed this. "Oh, Alex. I'm just playing around with you. Besides, I was hoping to find the Prince at the Gala." Rarity walked up to me and dusted my shoulders a bit. "There! We should get going to the Gala. We don't want to be late!"

I nodded and Rarity led me out of the room and the building.

When we were out, we saw the carriage filled up with excited shadows. It was already nighttime.

"Well, we're ready to go when you are." Rarity told me, forming a smile. Afterwards, she opened the carriage door and jumped inside, closing it after her. I thought about how I could probably get something for Fluttershy at the Gala, so right before leaving, I quickly rushed over to my house and placed several bits of my savings in my tuxedo pockets. Right when I arrived back at the carriage, I walked up to the front and began strapping myself in to start moving the carriage while Spike sat behind us in the coach's seat wearing a tuxedo as well, with a big red bow tie.

As I finished getting ready, Spike commented on how I looked. "Wow, you look great, Alex!"

"Thanks…" was all I could really reply with.

The couple of other colts and I began walking, pulling the carriage towards our next destination: Canterlot.

Spike began talking to the girls in the carriage as he sat behind us with the reins with him. "Oh, tonight's going to be so great! You wanna know why? Cause I planned out my insider's tour of Canterlot. I've gotta show Rarity the crown jewels. And Applejack the Princess's golden apple tree. And Pinkie, we gotta go to my favorite doughnut shop." Spike looked over to the heart shaped window where the girls sat inside speaking to each other. However, the girls didn't seem to be too interested in Spike's plans. Nonetheless, Spike remained excited. "Then let's get moving! Hyah!" Spike slapped us with the reins he had.

The colts instantly reacted by stopped, which also caused me to stop. "Excuse me!" One of them exclaimed, angrily.

"Um... I..." Spike tried to respond to them, nervously.

"If you weren't friends with our neighbor Rarity..." The other one added, shaking his hoof. "Hmph!"

"Easy, guys…" I stated.

The two of them began walking again, however, looked back at Spike coldly. Spike wiped the sweat off his forehead and released a breath in relief. We continued on our way to Canterlot as we passed a waterfall on a bridge.

When we arrived at Canterlot, we saw many ponies outside, gathered in groups and talking. As I began to release my strap, Spike excitedly bounced off the seat he was in and landed by the door. He quickly opened it and jumped off, bowing. As I finished removing myself from the strap, I heard footsteps near me. I turned my head to see all the girls in their dresses, looking absolutely amazing…especially Fluttershy… Spike had reacted for me.

"Wow! You all look... amazing!"

Fluttershy noticed me and rushed over to me, softly excited.

"Fluttershy… you look so…beautiful…" I could hardly express as I remained in awe at her.

Fluttershy blushed as she looked at me while rubbing her hoofs shyly. "Thank you…"

Fluttershy and I walked over to Twilight and the others who were all standing very excitedly in front of the entrance to the Grand Galloping Gala. "I can't believe we're finally here. With all that we've imagined, the reality of this night is sure to make this... The Best Night Ever!"

"At the Gala (at the Gala)," Twilight began singing joyfully as everypony joined her.

"At the Gala, in the garden

I'm going to see them all!" Fluttershy had flown over to me softly, looking at me with such delicate and calm eyes as she sang so sweetly and amazing.

"All the creatures, I'll befriend them at the Gala! (at the Gala!)

All the birdies, and the critters

They will love me big and small!

We'll become good friends forever

Right here at the Gala!" Fluttershy and I began walking towards the gates as she looked back to me after she was finished singing.

"All our dreams will come true right here at the Gala, at the Gala!" Everypony that followed from behind us joined in harmony.

Applejack began walking in front us, introducing her voice to the song.

"At the Gala (it's amazing!), I will sell them (better hurry!)

All my appletastic treats! (yummy, yummy!)

Hungry ponies (they'll be snacking!), they will buy them (bring your money!)

Caramel apples, apple sweets! (gimme some!)

And I'll earn a lot of money for the Apple family!"

"All our dreams and our hopes from now until hereafter

All that we've been wishing for will happen at the Gala, at the Gala!" Several large stallions introduced Rarity, who began her turn.

"At the Gala, all the royals

They will meet fair Rarity

They will see I'm just as regal at the Gala! (at the Gala)

I will find him, my Prince Charming,

And how gallant he will be,

He will treat me like a lady, tonight at the Gala!"

"This is what we've waited for, to have the best night ever!

Each of us will live our dreams, tonight at the Gala, at the Gala!"

Horns sounded throughout the area, introducing the wonderbolts as Rainbow Dash began singing.

"Been dreaming, I've been waiting

To fly with those brave ponies

The Wonderbolts, their daring tricks

Spinning 'round and having kicks

Perform for crowds of thousands They'll shower us with diamonds

The Wonderbolts will see me right here at the Gala!"

"All we've longed for, all we've dreamed, our happy ever after!

Finally will all come true, right here at the Grand Gala, at the Gala!"

I saw Pinkie Pie excitedly bouncing so high above the crowd as she could not wait to enter the Gala.

"I am here at the Grand Gala, for it is the best party

But the one thing it was missing was a pony named Pinkie

For I am the best at parties, all the ponies will agree

Ponies playing, ponies dancing, with me at the Grand Gala!"

"Happiness and laughter at the Gala, at the Gala!"

I saw Princess Celestia rise above us graciously as I stood near Twilight, observing the sky.

"At the Gala (at the Gala), with the Princess (with the Princess)

Is where I'm going to be (she will be)

We will talk all about magic and what I've learned and seen (she will see)

It is going to be so special as she takes time just for me!"

Everypony was singing in unison as they marched towards the entrance of the Gala.

"This will be the best night ever!

Into the Gala we must go, we're ready now, we're all aglow

Into the Gala, let's go in and have the best night ever

Into the Gala, now's the time, we're ready and we look divine."

"Into the Gala, meet new friends" Fluttershy sang as she grabbed my hoof with hers and pulled me towards where Twilight was marching.

"Into the Gala, sell some apples" Applejack joined with us.

"Into the Gala, find my prince" Rarity added herself next to Twilight.

"Prove I'm great!" Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie both sang as they joined us as well.

"as a Wonderbolt is" Rainbow Dash added to her verse.

After, the girls stated their reasons for being so excited at the Gala.

Fluttershy: "To meet!"

Applejack: "To sell!"

Rarity: "To find!"

Rainbow Dash: "To prove!"

Pinkie Pie: "To woop!"

Twilight Sparkle: "To talk!"

"Into the Gala," They all sang. "Into the Gala!

And we'll have the best night ever!

At the Gala!"

We had finally entered the Gala.

"Yeah! This is gonna be the best night ever." Spike exclaimed, excitedly. "You know why? Cause we're all gonna spend time at the Gala to—

Before I could hear Spike finish his sentence, Fluttershy quickly grabbed my hoof and fled me out of there.

She took me towards the garden where she instantly began observing over many things so excitedly, but in a calm way. Something had caught her eye, which she walked over to. When I walked to her, seeing what it was… it was a rose that she was attracted to.

"Oh, my… it's so… it's so pretty." She commented. I thought for a moment, but something inside me had lowered my head to the rose. I grabbed it with my teeth and placed it in Fluttershy's mane, where she had all the other flowers decorating her mane. When I pulled my head back to see Fluttershy's face, she began blushing almost intensely. She held her hooves to her mouth as if she couldn't believe what I had done. "Alex… that's… that's so sweet of you…"

"…Really…?" I asked.

"Yes, really…" She answered as we stared into each other's eyes for a long moment until something had flown between us. Fluttershy turned her head back to analyze it. "Oh my! A meadowlark!" She exclaimed softly. She began following it as I walked behind her.

When we reached between a couple of trees, we heard whistling which caused Fluttershy to gasp happily and look at me. "I think she's calling to me. It's exactly what I wished for!" She began humming out to the bird. Then she held out her ear with a hoof on it to hear if the bird responded back. There was more whistling. "Let's go, Alex!" Fluttershy grabbed my hoof and began to excitedly take me towards where the whistling was heard.

Fluttershy continued humming to call out the bird. When the whistling was very nearby, she immediately began running towards it. "My little meadowlark is right around this bend!" However, she stopped suddenly with a shocked expression on her face. When I caught up with her, I turned towards what she was looking at to find out it was actually an old pony, raking leaves, that was whistling. "Was that you?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yep! I love whistlin' while I work." He replied happily and continued whistling.

"Oh! Yes... Well... Excuse me." Fluttershy responded as she slowly began walking away, looking highly disappointed and gloomy. I was about to comfort her until we suddenly heard more animals sounds, which brought Fluttershy's spirits up again. "Oh! I see a toco toucan! And a spider monkey! And, oh! Is that a wallaroo?" Fluttershy immediately flew towards them, but they all ran away from her. "Oh, Fluttershy. You're such a loudmouth…"

I walked up to her and carefully brought her down from flying, looking at her. "Fluttershy, they've never seen you before. You may have a sweet and innocent face, but you have to show them that you're okay to be around with, do you understand?"

"Yes…I think so…"

"Alright… how about I go get us some punch… will that make you feel better?"

"Yes, that would be lovely… thank you."

"Alright, stay here… I'll be back."

"Okay."

I walked through the gardens to the area where punch was being served outside of the dancing hall.

I suddenly heard a sigh. "This ain't what I expected at all…"

I turned my head to see Applejack who was leaning on her cart of apple treats looking very disappointed and down. I walked over to her to see what was wrong.

"Hey, Applejack… what's wrong?" I asked.

She sighed again. "I've only made ONE sale for the entire time I've been here…"

I looked at her as she rested her head very gloomily. I thought for a moment and then brought out several bits that I had in my tuxedo pocket. "Here." I stated, surprising her when I dropped the bits in front of her. "I'll have a couple drinks of apple juice, a couple of apple fritters, a couple of regular apples, and… a couple of those apple fries."

"Alex…are you serious…?" Applejack asked, still shocked.

"Yes…what's wrong with it?"

"It's just that…you're my friend… and I can just cover you for the food…"

"And I'm your friend, and I can help you with your fundraising for your family. So… please accept my money."

Applejack's eyes formed into sweet and understanding ones. "Thank ya so kindly, Alex…. You're such a great friend…"

"No problem. Friends help friends, right?"

"Yes…they do…" Applejack filled the food I requested into a bag and placed it in front of her, removing the bits and placing them into where she was keeping the money. "I can't thank you enough, Alex. I really hope you have a great time with your date with Fluttershy…you really deserve it…"

"Thanks… Applejack. I hope you sell as much as you can."

As I grabbed the bag with my teeth, Applejack could only send me a sweet and warm smile.

I started my way back towards the garden.

I arrived in the same spot where I left Fluttershy, actually feeling a bit positive about being with Fluttershy.

"Hey, Fluttershy…" I spoke as I walked towards the garden. "…I brought some things for us to eat. I thought we could have a picnic right he—

I dropped the bag of food from my teeth as I saw Fluttershy continuing to chase animals, but they had all continued to run away from her. "This isn't what I wished for…" She muttered softy. When Fluttershy didn't see any more animals, she spotted me and began walking over to me, panting.

"I'm sorry, Alex… what was it you were saying…?" She asked.

"…I was just saying that I thought we could—

"A bunny!" Fluttershy suddenly exclaimed, cutting me off and running towards the bunny that had appeared, which ran towards a hole in the tree after seeing Fluttershy.

As Fluttershy continued to look through the hole and around it, I could only sadly sit down and look away, feeling as if my only piece of being positive had suddenly disappeared. "This isn't a date…" I mumbled depressingly, feeling as if everything was over. However, I shook my head lightly and thought to myself. No… I've got to try… this is my night with Fluttershy… my date with Fluttershy… I have to… I have to make this the best night ever!

During my thoughts, Fluttershy had vanished. I looked around but found no trace of her.

"Fluttershy?" I called but received no answer. I stood up and looked around for her, bringing the bag of food with me until I heard some noises nearby. When I turned at a part in the garden, I managed to find Fluttershy doing something. I was about to talk to her but then I noticed she was doing something very strange now. She had just finished placing a carrot below a box that was held up by a twig. The twig had a rope attached to it… It's a trap!

"I just have to be more bold, like Twilight says." Fluttershy muttered as she brought the end of the rope to where I was. "I'm so sorry to have scared you, my friends!" Fluttershy said out loud. "But I'm leaving now, so you can all come out!" Fluttershy quickly hid behind a rose bush and waited for an animal to enter her trap.

"Fluttershy, listen." I tried to tell her while she was waiting. "You need to—

Something had suddenly eaten the carrot Fluttershy had placed as we heard the crunch. Fluttershy quickly pulled the rope, causing the box to fall. "Gotcha!" Fluttershy exclaimed and quickly began walking over to retrieve the prisoner. "It's okay. I promise not to hurt you. I just wanna be your... friend?"

Fluttershy was shocked as she saw that old whistling pony again eating the carrot she had left. "Mmm... Sounds good to me." He replied as he finished eating the carrot.

Fluttershy returned an angry look and began walking away as if I wasn't even there. I could only close my eyes in sadness and walk away as well, keeping the food on my back. I didn't follow Fluttershy that time. Instead, I went to the dancing hall to see if I could come up with anything to save the night. But so far, nothing had appeared in my mind.

As I was walking through the dance hall, I began hearing two voices, causing me to look up. "Miss Rarity! Stop!"

"Oh. Prince Blueblood! How chivalrous." It was Rarity and another stallion, whom I was guessing to be the Prince. He had prevented Rarity from stepping on a puddle.

"One would hate to slip." He added.

"Yes. 'One' certainly would."

"One's cloak should take care of the problem."

"Oh, of course it will."

They both stared at each other for a moment. I assumed Rarity was guessing that the Prince would sacrifice his cloak, but he wasn't doing anything. Rarity lost her smile and lowered her head in annoyance, she grabbed her cloak and threw it over the puddle, but I suddenly grabbed it and prevented it from being soaked.

Rarity eyes were widened when she was surprised to see me. "Alex?" She questioned.

"What's wrong with you?" I asked the Prince as I held Rarity's cloak on my hoof. "She's a lady and this is how you're treating her?" I started placing the cloak back on Rarity. "She's the most generous pony you'll ever meet. So you have to give her every bit of respect you have."

"Alex…" Rarity answered in shock as I finished placing the cloak on her.

"Sorry, Rarity… I don't really have a "cloak" I can place down on the spill, so I can pretty much only walk you around it…" I grabbed her hoof and gently walked her around it. Afterwards, I let go and looked at her. "Well… I guess I should be going now…" I began walking away as I could feel the "Prince" feel a little angry with what I just did.

After a moment of more walking, I spotted Pinkie Pie who held her head on a table where she sat by herself, almost like Applejack… I walked over to her.

"Pinkie Pie… is something the matter…?" I asked.

"Yes…" She answered gloomily. "This party is totally not what I thought it would be…"

"How so?"

"Well… you know… it's not… super happy… like any of my parties…"

I sighed as I tried to think of an answer to that question. "Sorry… I don't really know what to say…but you're good at making parties right? Well, why don't you see if you can 'liven' up the place?"

Pinkie Pie immediately gasped and pulled her head up. "You're totally right, Alex! Thanks!" She gave me a quick hug and rushed off to start her party plan. I sighed and just decided I should get back to Fluttershy and maybe… just maybe… I can somehow save our night…

"C'mon everypony! I know what will make you shake those groove-thangs!" I heard Pinkie Pie from the microphone onstage as I exited the dance hall.

I passed by where Princess Celestia and Twilight were together, shaking hooves of other ponies, when Pinkie Pie began singing.

"You reach your right hoof in

You reach your right hoof out

You reach your right hoof in"

One pony grabbed Twilight's hoof and shook it very… strongly…

"And you shake it all about

You do the Pony Pokey meeting lots of folks with clout

That's what I'm talking about"

I began heading towards the exit to the garden.

"You step your left hoof in

You pull it right back out

You step your left hoof in

But you better help him out

You do the Pony Pokey but should find a different route

That's what it's all about"

Nearing the entrance towards the garden, I saw Rainbow Dash with a couple of wonderbolts. She was in front of a table. She was whistling but then kicked her back leg towards the table, causing the bowl of water with a straw to fly up in the air.

"You kick your back left in

You pull your back left out

You reach your back left in"

Rainbow Dash caught the bowl with her leg.

"Just be brave and have no doubt

You do the Pony Pokey feeling like you're gonna pout "

She had impressed the couple of wonderbolts behind her, but suddenly another group of people grabbed them and took them to take a picture.

"That's what I'm singing about"

Rainbow Dash returned an annoyed expression.

I was now at the door to the garden, but I spotted two familiar ponies again. It was the Prince and Rarity.

"You tilt your head in" The Prince motioned for Rarity to open the door with his head.

"You tilt your head out" Rarity tried to challenge this by doing the same thing.

"You tilt your head in" The Prince saw this and now shook his head more stubbornly.

"Then you shake it all about" Rarity shook her head more fiercely as the Prince was now upsetting her very much. The Prince saw this and looked away as a stubborn child. Rarity now grew angry and was about to open the door, but seeing this made me really angry now. Instead, I barged through them and slammed open the door, possibly leaving it open enough to go through without holding the door.

"You do the Pony Pokey even though your date's a lout

You're better off without"

I was now at the garden to see even worse things.

"You stomp your whole self in" Fluttershy threw herself to a triplet of ducks who managed to fly away before she caught them.

"You stomp your whole self out" Fluttershy then threw herself to a bunny that ran away in time.

"You stomp your whole self in

And you stomp yourself about" Fluttershy ran over to a couple of squirrels, but when they ran away from her, she began pounding the ground with her hoofs in rage. Her hair was not even delicate as it used to be anymore… I looked around me. I saw animals hiding in the trees and bushes. They were absolutely frightened as they trembled tremendously in the trees, even holding their young ones with them.

"You do the Pony Pokey and you give a little shout—

"COME OUT!" Fluttershy screamed and continued waving her hooves in anger as I heard Pinkie Pie sing inside. I could only stare motionless.

"That's what I'm talking about

You do the Pony Pokey

You do the Pony Pokey

You do the Pony Pokey

And that's what it's all about

Yeah!"

Her song had ended but Fluttershy's rage didn't. I could only stare in disbelief as she continued to try to trap animals. This isn't Fluttershy… this isn't Fluttershy! This isn't the Fluttershy I know! How could have she changed so significantly? What happened to the Fluttershy I know? …I miss that Fluttershy… so dearly… I don't know this Fluttershy… I don't… I don't… It's like if the Fluttershy I knew was replaced by the complete opposite… I don't like this Fluttershy… I'd do anything to have the old Fluttershy back… anything… this is not the Fluttershy that I truly—

"I'll catch you yet, my pretties." Fluttershy spoke across me as she stood in front of a net she made to trap animals. She looked at all the animals hiding as her eye continuously twitched. "Oh yes. As soon as one of you little birds or monkeys or bears touches this net... you'll be MINE! MINE!" Fluttershy began laughing… no… cackling… so frightening that I couldn't believe that it was her voice… I couldn't believe it… I just wanted it all to be just another nightmare… Fortunately, she lost her balance and fell into the net. "Whoa!" The net trapped her and had her hanging on a branch. At least the anger ended for the moment… A bunny had hopped below her under the net as she could only just see it and sigh.

I had walked up to the net and looked up at her. She noticed and called out to me. "Oh, Alex… um… do you think you can cut me down?"

I had a bit of an angry and depressive expression on my face. "If I cut you down, will you stop acting like this?"

"Um…" Her eyes moved left to right. "Yes."

I sighed. It wouldn't matter anyway… I couldn't just leave her there. I walked over to the rope and clenched it with my teeth. After, I cut the rope, but quickly grabbed it with my hooves so Fluttershy wouldn't fall. I slowly released it as Fluttershy was lowered carefully towards the ground. When she was set on top of the grass, I walked over to her and tore the net.

When she was free, she slowly stood up and shook her head, even rubbing it a bit. She looked at me and then lowered her head after noticing my expression and possibly the way she's been acting. "I'm sorry, Alex… I didn't mean to do any of this… It's just…it's just…" She sighed. "There's something I need to tell you…" She began rubbing her foreleg. "I…" She paused. "I…uh…" She paused again, causing me to be concerned about what she was trying to tell me. "You see… I… I really… I really l—

She had suddenly stopped and stared at something as if she had been hypnotized.

"Fluttershy…?"

She began speaking in broken sentences. "The… the… animals. They… they're hugging each other… I... want to… no… I need to… join them."

I immediately placed my hooves on her. "Fluttershy. No. Don't go after them. Snap out of it!"

"I…I…I… have to… I need to!" She instantly ran off and charged toward the animals.

"Fluttershy! WAIT!" I cried out to her.

She instantly alerted the animals and caused them to run away while I could only try to run after her to stop her. All the running and stomping caused the ground to actually shake. Then, I realized that they were headed towards the inside of the dancing hall. No!

"Fluttershy!" I called after her but it was too late.

The animals burst through the door while Fluttershy could only remain there panting. "You're... going to LOVE ME!" She screamed out loud, causing the entire dance hall to transform into complete chaos. All the animals Fluttershy had scared into the dancing hall were running wildly inside. All the ponies were freaking out and running along with them as well. Some ponies even had some of the animals on them. I could only stare… unable to believe that what I thought that could have been the perfect night was actually the worst one…

All of a sudden, a whistle broke me out of my trance. I looked to see where it had come from. It was Twilight, who whistled us to get out of here as fast as we can. All of the ponies realized this and began to run out of here. I was the last one to reach the staircase. Before descending down the stairs, I glanced once more toward all the destruction that had been caused. After, I turned back, saddened, and continued my way out of the building.

All the ponies ended their fleeing at a doughnut shop. I slowly and sadly walked in after they did.

"Twilight Sparkle! Ha, ha. Long time no see." The person who ran the shop spoke.

"Hey, how was the Gala? How was your best night ever?" Spike immediately asked Twilight, running over to her. The girls had gathered around a table while they explained briefly what happened. "That sounds like the worst night ever!"

"It was!" The girls exclaimed in unison and began laughing after that. I could only look away… and remain quiet.

"I just hope Princess Celestia isn't upset with us for ruining the Gala…" Twilight hoped.

"That was the best Grand Galloping Gala ever!" Princess Celestia had walked in the doughnut shop, unexpectedly.

"Princess Celestia?" The girls cried out her name in surprise.

"Pardon me, Princess, but tonight was just awful." Twilight noted.

"Oh, Twilight. The Grand Galloping Gala is always awful." Princess Celestia responded in a cheerful tone.

"It is?"

"That is why I was thrilled you were all attending. I was hoping you could liven things up a bit. And while the evening may not have gone as you planned, I'm sure you'll agree that in the end it didn't turn out so bad for this group of friends."

I scoffed mentally.

"You're right, Princess. Friends have a way of making even the worst of times into something pretty great."

"Yeah! Hanging out with friends!" Rainbow Dash added.

"Talking!" Fluttershy added as well.

"Laughing!" Pinkie Pie held her hooves out.

"You mean doing exactly what I wanted to do the whole time?" Spike boasted.

"Yes, Spike. You were right." Twilight responded.

"As horrible as our night was..." Applejack began.

"...being together here has made it all better." Rarity completed the sentence.

"In fact, it's made it..." Pinkie Pie set up.

"...the best night ever!" Every girl exclaimed.

Once more, they all shared a laugh. I had enough…

I immediately sat up and began walking out the doughnut shop, but Rarity called after me. "Alex? Where are you going?" She asked.

Honestly, I didn't want to answer…but I didn't want anypony to worry, so I made an excuse. "I… I just feel like having a fresh breeze…" After, I exited the shop. I sat down outside and stared at the moon. I felt really angry… but… it wasn't because of how the Grand Galloping Gala ended… it was Fluttershy. She made me feel really sad…because… she was a completely different pony… I just couldn't believe it… and I still can't… It all feels like a nightmare… and I actually wish it was one…

"What is wrong, Alex?" Princess Celestia's voice startled me, but I didn't look back. "Are you not having fun with your friends?"

I remained silent for a moment, but then finally replied. "I don't know… I sure don't feel good inside so… I must not be…"

"Why is that?" She lowered her head closer to mine with concerned eyes.

I sighed and took a deep breath. "I saw somepony turn into something I thought I'd never see her as in my life…"

"Let me guess… Fluttershy?"

I sighed again. "…You know me well…"

"I've known you ever since you were little, Alex. Of course, I would know you well and that is why I'm telling you that you need to tell her how you feel."

I slowly looked back at her. "…what?"

Princess Celestia returned a warm smile. "Come with me." She led me back into the doughnut shop. "Sorry, everypony. Everything is alright; we just wanted to talk before you all had to leave."

Everypony understood and began getting ready to leave back to Ponyville.

"But, Princess Celestia… why did you…?"

Princess Celestia placed a hoof on me and smiled. Then, she moved her head closer to mine and whispered. "Trust me." I looked at her face and slowly nodded. "Go now then… You should get back home. It's been wonderful having you here, truly."

"Thanks… Princess…"

"Goodnight, Alex."

"Goodnight, Princess."

She waved as the girls and I walked back to the carriage. I strapped myself to pull the carriage along with the other couple of colts who were going to help. I looked back at Princess Celestia and noticed how she continued to send me a heartwarming smile. I waved and turned the carriage around to begin going back.

Princess Celestia had destroyed the little bit of anger I had left… but there was still sadness in me. A lot of sadness…

I pulled the carriage in silence as I heard the girls talk to each other in the carriage.

When we arrived back in Ponyville, it must have been really late. Spike jumped off the carriage to open the door for the girls as I removed myself from the strap. The colts did the same and then they walked over to Rarity.

"There you go, Rarity. Anything else we can do for you?" They asked.

"No, thank you, boys. You've done quite enough." Rarity replied.

"Okay. You have a goodnight, Rarity." They began walking away.

"Yes, Goodnight." Rarity then walked over to me and smiled. "And thank you, Alex."

"No problem…"

"Not just for pulling our carriage, but for showing me how a true Prince is supposed to be."

"Huh?" I turned towards her in surprise.

"Before we arrived at the Gala, I thought the Prince was to be such a…well…charming Prince. But he was actually such a… rude… stallion. It was you who was the true gentlecolt. I don't see why you aren't the Prince." She giggled, jokingly.

"Wow, thanks, Rarity…" I slightly looked away as I could only keep thinking on how Fluttershy was a completely different pony…

Rarity noticed my behavior and pushed her head towards me in concern. "Is something wrong?"

"Um…" I responded without moving my head. "I'm just tired…you know…?"

"Of course… I should let you go to sleep before I keep on rambling about the Gala." She giggled again. "Um, go ahead and keep the suit at your home. I can probably come by tomorrow or some other time to wash it and make it good as new."

"Okay, thanks, Rarity."

She smiled and nodded. "Goodnight, Alex."

"Goodnight…"

Afterwards, I turned home and began walking.

When I entered the house, I closed the door behind me and walked over to the kitchen. I still had the food I wanted to share with Fluttershy… I sadly placed it on the table and sat down. I closed my eyes as I felt tears begin to form in my eyes. I placed my forelegs on the table and lay my head on them in depression.

Suddenly, a knock sounded at my door. I quickly lifted my head and looked towards the door. I wiped my eyes with my hooves and then walked to the door. I opened it to see Fluttershy. She was looking at the ground, a bit sadly as well.

"Hi, Alex…"

"Fluttershy, what is it…?"

"Can we talk…?"

"Um, sure…"

"Bring the bag of food you got at the Gala."

"Um…okay…" I walked towards the kitchen, grabbing the bag with my teeth and walked back to the door.

Fluttershy grabbed my hoof and led me out of the house. She continued holding on to my hoof as she walked me over to her cottage in silence.

When we arrived, I could only feel confused.

"Fluttershy… what are we…"

She hugged me and pointed towards a blanket outside of her cottage. "Our date's not over yet."

"Huh…?"

She pulled me towards the blanket and sat down. I sat down as well, placing the bag of food on the blanket.

"Listen, Alex… I'm so sorry I ruined everything at the Gala… it was supposed to be the best night ever… but I was so selfish to forget about our date… I was too obsessed with making friends with the animals that… I guess I just lost control of myself…"

I looked at her and sighed. "I just missed you so much Fluttershy…" Fluttershy's head immediately lifted up after she heard me say this. "You were a completely different pony… like… if I had lost the old Fluttershy forever… you weren't you… and that made me…really sad…"

She quickly moved over to me and embraced me. "I'm really sorry, Alex! I really am!" She slowly pulled away. "I can understand if you never want to see me again…"

"No…" I shook my head. "I do want to see you… I just don't want to see you when you're not you… I want to see the real you."

"Oh, Alex… then would you mind if we finished our date the right way? It's the least I can do…"

"Of course not… as long as you're you, Fluttershy."

"I promise!" She embraced me once again.

We began eating the apple treats from Applejack as we sat on the blanket under the moon. The treats were surprisingly still very warm… I felt better… After Fluttershy and I got all that out of the way, I wasn't as sad anymore. I began seeing the Fluttershy I missed for so long, which began to remove the sadness away from me.

After we finished the food and apple juice, Fluttershy looked towards me. "There's still something I want to do before this night ends…"

"What is it?" I asked.

She didn't answer but stood up and held her hoof out towards me. I grabbed it and she began walking me away from the blanket. She stopped when we were in an open grass area. She let go of my hand and walked over to a branch where several birds sat upon. She whispered to them and they nodded their heads happily afterwards. As Fluttershy began walking towards me, the birds began singing a slow song.

"Fluttershy, what are we…?" I tried to say.

She grabbed my forelegs and placed my left one on her shoulder while she placed my right one on her waist. After, she wrapped her forelegs around my neck and held on to me as she began moving. I unknowingly followed.

"We're having our dance." She responded softly.

"I… I don't really know how to dance…"

"That's okay… I'll help you. Just relax and follow my movements…" I calmed myself down and did so. It actually wasn't that hard to follow. I continued to follow her movements, softly. "There you go…" She announced very softly, sounding sleepy. "You're doing great…" She rested her head on my shoulder. "There's something I want to give you…after we finish our dance…"

Something she wants to give me…?

We continued to dance under the moonlight, still in our formal attire. As I continued dancing with Fluttershy, I couldn't help but feel really warm in my heart. It felt great… really great… I didn't want it to stop.

Finally, the birds finished singing, causing me to stop my movements. I looked at Fluttershy and saw that she still hadn't pulled away from me.

"Fluttershy?" I softly called to her.

She didn't answer.

I lightly lifted her to notice her eyes were closed and she was breathing softly. My eyes formed into understanding ones. She had fallen asleep…

I lifted her from me and placed her on my back. I carefully carried her to her cottage and walked inside. Then, I walked up the stairs to her room and opened the door. I turned on the light and walked towards the bed. I lightly placed her on there as she continued to breathe softly, soundly asleep. I was about to walk back, but then I noticed she was holding something in her hooves. I leaned closer to her to grab the object from her hooves.

When I softly and carefully grabbed the item, I noticed it was a hoof-crafted heart… It was made with many things from nature… This must have been the gift Fluttershy wanted to give to me… I continued to analyze the heart, feeling something even more special occur in my mine.

I looked at Fluttershy with caring eyes. "Fluttershy, you're so… amazing…" I softly muttered. I thought I should get out of her home, but there was something I was struggling to do before I left. I continued thinking if I should really do it, but I finally shook my head and prevented my negative thoughts from intriguing between Fluttershy and me. I leaned my head over to Fluttershy's and slowly kissed her on her cheek.

I pulled away and continued looking at her. "Goodnight, Fluttershy…" I grabbed the covers and pulled them over her. After, I began leaving the room, turning the lights off after me. I turned all the lights off in the home and walked out. I began heading home feeling so much warmth in my heart than ever before…

When I arrived, I entered my home and walked upstairs to my room. I spent some time taking off the tux and placing it somewhere neatly. After, I carefully placed Fluttershy's gift on the nightstand near the bed. I lightly lay myself on my bed and continued looking at the heart.

Everything bad that happened at the Gala seemed to vanish when I spent the rest of the night with Fluttershy. I slowly closed my eyes and began to think.

Maybe this was the best night ever…

Return of Harmony : Part One

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Episode 27 – Return of Harmony Part One

I opened my eyes and sat up. I looked out the window to notice the bright sunny day outside. I stepped off the bed and began to head downstairs. It looks like a nice day outside… maybe I can meet up with the girls for something…?

I opened the front door and walked out. I was instantly welcomed by a cool and gentle breeze that flowed through my mane. It felt really nice... so nice as if I had been rejuvenated by the energy of the wind...

I continued walking through town, observing the events occurring outside. Everypony seemed to be having a good time. There were ponies selling different kinds of things in their stands. There were ponies talking to each other and laughing. All of them had at least one thing in common...a smile.

While I was distracted by my surroundings, I bumped into something, almost causing me to fall back. I shook my head and turned it to the front of me to see what I bumped into. It was a pony. After analyzing the pony for a moment, I found out that it was actually Ms. Cheerilee.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Ms. Cheerilee. I didn't see you there." I held out my hoof to pick her up from her sitting position after I had bumped into her.

She grabbed my hoof and allowed me to pull her up and she responded back to me. "Oh, that's quite alright... Actually, I'm very glad that I bumped into you. I was hoping you that you might be able to assist me with something."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well, I'm taking the children on a field trip to the Canterlot sculpture garden! Although, I was hoping if you could help me by watching over them and making sure one of them don't wander off or get in trouble."

"Oh, um. Sure, I could help you with that."

"Really? Thank you!" She exclaimed. "Come on, we are just about to head over there now."

Ms. Cheerilee led me to the schoolhouse where all the children were talking to each other while they were at their desks.

"Settle down! Settle down!" Ms. Cheerilee calmly told the students to cease their excitement as she walked to the front of the class. "I have some great news!" Ms. Cheerilee announced when she arrived to her teaching position. "This is Alex." She introduced me. "He will be helping me on our field trip today, so every one of you be on your best behavior, understand?"

"Yes, Ms. Cheerilee…" The students obediently stated in unison.

"Great! Now I want every one of you to form an orderly single file line and exit the classroom in a calm matter, do you kids understand?"

"Yes, Ms. Cheerilee…" The students repeated their answer.

The children did so and Ms. Cheerilee began leading them out of the school house. When we were outside and began heading on our way towards the field trip location, Ms. Cheerilee allowed them to separate a bit, but stick close enough to where we could keep an eye on them.

Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle moved over to me while we continued to walk.

"Soo…" Applebloom began. "I heard you took Fluttershy to the Grand Galloping Gala, am I right?" She released a sly grin.

I looked at them with slightly nervous eyes. "Yeah… why does it seem to interest you so much?"

"Well…it's just that you had a date with her…so…" Applebloom instantly began bouncing excitedly in front of me. "Is she your girlfriend now? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

"What?" I asked, feeling a little embarrassed. "No…"

"But you went on a date with her. Doesn't that make you both a couple?"

"…Not really…well…I don't think so…"

"Well, if you're not with her yet, then you should totally ask her to be your girlfriend!" Sweetie Belle joined in on the conversation.

"Bleeeeh!" Scootaloo stuck her tongue out in disgust. "Will you guys please stop talking about this? We're finally going on a field trip and I don't want to get sick on it!"

I agreed with Scootaloo, but only because I didn't want to keep talking about…the whole thing with…Fluttershy… I mean…not that it's bad or anything… it's…just…

I sighed.

"Aw…fine." The other girls surrendered and we continued walking towards the Canterlot Sculpture garden.

When we arrived, we saw a lot of white-colored sculptures fill the garden. Besides us, there was an area that looked to be some maze. I didn't have a single clue on why it was there unless it was used for entertainment purposes…

"I want to start our field trip here in the world-famous Canterlot sculpture garden." Ms. Cheerilee announced to the kids. She turned her head to one of them. "That one over there represents 'Friendship'." Applebloom stopped to see the sculpture. I stopped as well to observe it. The sculpture depicted three ponies above each other. The three of them were smiling brightly, almost looking as if they were laughing… Scootaloo had bumped into Applebloom, which caused Sweetie Belle to bump into Scootaloo. They were disoriented for a moment, but when they regained their balance, they looked at each other angrily. Ms. Cheerilee continued speaking, which caused the three little ponies to catch up with the group. "Alright my little ponies, this one represents 'Victory'." She led us to another statue portraying a pony standing proudly with a flag in her hooves. There were a couple of stars by her side as she smiled.

"How cool would it be to have that for a cutie mark?" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"Cool, if you were actually victoryful at somethin'." Applebloom replied as she rolled her eyes.

"That's not a word!" Sweetie Belle argued while Scootaloo returned an angry look at Applebloom. However, Scootaloo changed her expression to a slightly annoyed one when she heard Sweetie Belle.

"What are you, a dictionary?" Scootaloo directed at Sweetie Belle.

"Girls!" Ms. Cheerilee scolded, causing the girls to immediately catch up with the group once again. I sighed and caught up with them as well. "Now this is a really interesting statue. What do you notice about it?" Ms. Cheerilee pointed to another statue…but it wasn't like the others…

I looked up to the statue… and it instantly brought a chill to pass through me. It was standing up, looking as if it was laughing. I could only stare at it motionless as the girls brought up the description of it.

"It's got an eagle claw." Applebloom threw out.

"And a lion paw!" Scootaloo added.

"And a snake tail!" Sweetie Belle excitedly threw her forelegs around.

All the girls seemed happy, despite the eerie mood the statue placed.

"This creature is called a draconequus." Ms. Cheerilee added on to the description. "He has the head of a pony and a body made up of all sorts of things. What do you suppose that represents?"

As I continued to stare at the statue, my right hoof immediately began shaking. I pulled it up and looked up at it. No…not again…

"Confusion!"

"Evil!"

"Chaos!"

I heard the girls answer from behind me, but my hoof kept my attention straight towards it.

"It's not chaos, you dodo!" Sweetie Belle argued to Scootaloo.

"Don't call me things I don't know the meaning of, and it is too chaos!" Scootaloo counterattacked.

"Is not!"

"You're both wrong!" Applebloom intervened.

They began fighting over the answer but my eyes were glued on to my hoof. Suddenly, something else caught my attention. A darkened spot had emerged on the statue, but vanished as quickly as it appeared. I gave a light and quiet gasp after I saw it.

"Actually, in a way, you're all right." Ms. Cheerilee answered, instantly bringing the fighting to an end. "This statue represents 'Discord'…" Another chill invaded me. "…which means a lack of harmony between ponies. In fact, you three have demonstrated discord so well, that you're each going to write me an essay explaining it." The rest of the group laughed. "Now let's go, and I don't want any more fighting." Ms. Cheerilee continued walking, bringing the group with her.

However, I stayed behind with my trembling hoof. I was about to look at the statue once again, but Ms. Cheerilee startled me when she called my name. "Alex? Are you coming?"

I looked over to her to find her looking at me, a little concerned.

"Oh…um…" I walked over to her, trying to hide my shaking hoof as much as possible. "Actually, Ms. Cheerilee… I… I don't feel too well… I think I should go home…"

"Oh, no. What's wrong? Do you have a headache? Or does your stomach hurt?" She asked, a little more concerned.

"Um… not really… I just really don't feel good."

"Oh… then by all means, go ahead and return home. You should get some rest, or maybe you could go visit the doctor."

"Thanks, Ms. Cheerilee… are you sure you can go on without me?"

"Of course, don't worry about it. You just worry on getting home. I'll be fine." Ms. Cheerilee returned a smile, just like one the flowers had on her cutie mark.

"Okay… I guess I'll see you some other time, then?"

"Yes. Yes. You should get going before you feel worse."

"Okay…bye…" I turned around and began walking out of the sculpture garden.

After reaching a certain distance from Canterlot, as I was heading back towards Ponyville, I stopped and looked at my hoof again. It had stopped shaking. I sighed in relief and continued walking towards Ponyville. Why did I react like that when I saw the statue…? Discord…

When I arrived at Ponyville, I still had this weird feeling I hate where I feel like there's absolutely no pony around me. I decided to go to Sweet Apple Acres. Maybe seeing my friends will take this feeling off me…

I saw Applejack picking corn from a field of corn and placing them on her cart neatly above each other when I walked into Sweet Apple Acres. I felt a little better when I saw her, so I began walking towards her. She spotted me and smiled. "Howdy, Alex!" She exclaimed.

"Hey, Applejack…" I responded, reaching up to her.

She observed my face. "Somethin' troubling you?"

"Well, a little. I think I just needed to get out…maybe breathe in the air here?"

Applejack was about to ask me something else, but Rainbow Dash suddenly zoomed above us. "Hey, I didn't tell you to go anywhere!"

A storm of pink clouds followed behind her. Brown drops fell upon us. I observed it for a moment. Is this… chocolate milk…?

"Rainbow Dash, what's going on with this rain?" Applejack shook her head. "I mean chocolate milk?" Applejack shook her head again. "I mean chocolate milk rain?" Applejack asked very worriedly.

"There's crazy weather all over Equestria! Cloudsdale is getting soaked by a major cola storm right now!" Rainbow Dash responded, worrying as well. As Rainbow Dash continued to explain the situation, I began hearing popping noises near me, which revealed the corn field around us transforming into popcorn. How in the…? "But don't worry. I'm not leaving you until I get control of Ponyville!" Rainbow Dash left when the corn in front of us suddenly began popping and bombarding us with popcorn.

"Why would you wanna stop this?" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, bouncing over the popcorn filled area. She stuck her tongue out and slurped the chocolate milk that splashed on her.

I grabbed Applejack and pulled her out from the pile of popcorn. We saw Rarity walking towards us, wearing a purple stylish raincoat while she had a fashionable saddle that held an umbrella over her. "Ahem." Rarity cleared her throat. "I heard about your troubles, Applejack, and I came to see if there's anything I can do without getting wet. Or dirty. Or out from under my umbrella…"

Suddenly we heard more awkward noises near us. The apples on the trees grew much more weight that they actually caused the trees to lean helplessly to the side. Squirrels jumped on the apples and began eating them all.

Applejack spotted Fluttershy near one of the trees with a familiar bunny. "Fluttershy! Do somethin'!"

"Now, Angel…" Fluttershy began to softly entreat the bunny. "…you really shouldn't–

The bunny's legs suddenly transformed into very long ones and made him about ten feet taller. "No! It's not possible!" More of Fluttershy's bunnies began running through the trees with the same appearance. "I must be seeing things!"

We saw Twilight and Spike walk over to all us. Twilight contained a very surprised look on her face as she stared at all the unusual things happen everywhere. She held her hoof up and spoke while keeping her eyes in her book. "Don't worry everypony. I've learned a new spell that'll fix everything." She knelt down and began casting magic with her horn. A bright pink color shot from her horn and engulfed everything in light, blinding us for a moment. She recovered from her flinch and looked to observe if her magic had any effect. Unfortunately, it didn't. Long-legged bunnies continued to run around through the chocolate milk rain as the corn field popped. "My fail-safe spell... failed. What do we do?"

"Uh, give up?" Spike suggested.

Rarity walked over to them and surprisingly placed her saddle umbrella on Twilight. "Spike, Twilight will come up with something."

"Hmm…" Twilight thought for a moment. "…time for plan B. Rainbow, can you corral all those clouds in one corner of the sky?" She asked Rainbow Dash who was still struggling with a candy cotton cloud as she contained many pieces of it on her face. She quickly shook it off her and saluted towards Twilight.

Rainbow Dash began flying to catch all the loose cotton candy clouds in the sky. Under one, Pinkie Pie was lying on the ground, happily holding her mouth open for the chocolate milk until Rainbow Dash removed it. She lifted her head up, still having her tongue out and grinning.

"Applejack…" Twilight called as Rainbow Dash continued to bring all the cotton candy clouds closer to each other. "I need you to bring those high-strung storm clouds down to Earth."

Applejack grabbed a lasso and began twirling it around. She threw it out to the clouds as Rainbow Dash removed herself from being near them. Applejack tightened the rope, causing the clouds to cease dripping chocolate milk. Yet again, Pinkie Pie was under them, chugging the milk down her throat until she noticed that it had stopped. "Hey! What happened?"

Nonetheless, Applejack slowly brought the cotton candy clouds down to the ground as they lightly leaked chocolate milk. Twilight was whispering loudly to Fluttershy, although I wasn't able to make out the words. Fluttershy's eyes opened as she looked at the animals around her. "Oh dear. I hope none of the animals see these delicious chocolate-filled cotton candy clouds. I'd hate to have to share them." Fluttershy purposely exaggerated her sentence.

"You and me both, sister!" Pinkie Pie, who was munching loudly on the cotton candy clouds that lay on the ground, exclaimed. However, all the animals immediately ran towards the cotton candy clouds and began chomping down on them. "Hey!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed when the animals pushed her away.

"And when y'all are done with that, feel free to have some popcorn for dessert!" Applejack announced towards the hungry animals.

"You see, Spike?" Twilight said. "You should never give up. There's nothing we can't overcome if we all work together." Spike burped unexpectedly, revealing a letter. Twilight picked up the letter with her magic and read it. She immediately gasped afterwards, concerning us all. "Come on ponies. Princess Celestia wants to see us all in Canterlot immediately!"

All of us began running towards Canterlot, being my second time today, and headed towards Princess Celestia without question.

We rushed through the doors to see Princess Celestia finish her pacing. "Princess Celestia, we came as fast as we could!" Twilight announced as we ran inside.

"Thank you, Twilight. Thank you all." Princess Celestia replied in a serious manner. She no longer had the heartwarming smile. Instead, it was replaced by a serious frown with a worried tone. She stood on top of the stairs as we stopped at the bottom.

"Is this about the weather?" Twilight asked very quickly. "And the animals' weird behavior? What's happening out there? Why isn't my magic working? Is there–

Princess Celestia had raised her hoof, immediately ceasing Twilight's questions. "Follow me."

She led us into a very long hallway, heading us towards the large door at the end of it. As we walked with her, we could see stain-glassed windows depicting the history of Equestria. "I've called you here for a matter of great importance." Princess Celestia announced seriously. "It seems an old foe of mine, someone I thought I had defeated long ago, has returned. His name... is Discord." Fear instantly instilled upon my heart once again, even causing it to pound a little harder. This made me stop and place my hoof on my chest. I heard Fluttershy suddenly shriek. I turned my head to see her hide behind Twilight as Princess Celestia continued speaking. "Discord is the mischievous spirit of disharmony. Before my sister and I stood up to him, he ruled Equestria in an eternal state of unrest and unhappiness. Luna and I saw how miserable life was for Earth ponies, Pegasi, and unicorns alike, so after discovering the Elements of Harmony, we combined our powers and rose up against him, turning him to stone."

"All right, Princess!" Rainbow Dash cheered, but Princess Celestia continued walking us in an unaffected manner.

"I thought the spell we cast would keep him contained forever but since Luna and I are no longer connected to the elements, the spell has been broken."

"No longer connected?" Twilight questioned.

Princess Celestia finished leading us towards the room and stopped in front of it. "This is Canterlot Tower, where the Elements are kept inside since all of you recovered them." She formed a determined and serious expression on her face. "I need you to wield the Elements of Harmony once again and stop Discord before he thrusts all of Equestria into eternal chaos."

"But why us? Why don't you—

"Hey, look!" Pinkie Pie interrupted. "We're famous!" Pinkie Pie pointed towards one of the stain-glassed windows which displayed us defeating Nightmare Moon. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack were depicted on the left side while Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie were on the right. I was on the middle. We were all using our elements to defeat Nightmare Moon, who was encased in a bubble on the top.

"You seven showed the full potential of the elements by harnessing the magic of your friendship to beat a mighty foe. Although Luna and I once wielded the elements, it is you who now control their power, and it is you who must defeat Discord!"

The girls looked at each other, worriedly, for a moment. However, Twilight formed a bold look as she responded to Princess Celestia. "Princess Celestia, you can count on—

"Hold on a second!" Pinkie Pie cut off Twilight once again, raising her hoof up in the air. "Eternal chaos comes with chocolate rain, you guys. Chocolate rain!"

Twilight looked over to Princess Celestia and smiled. "Don't listen to her, Princess. We'd be honored to use the Elements of Harmony again."

Princess Celestia nodded and turned around to the door. She lowered her head and inserted her horn in the lock of the door, releasing magic and unlocking the door. The door released a bright light blue glow and opened, revealing a decorative chest which presented gems as well.

"Ooh." Rarity gazed in awe. "You can keep the Elements. I'll take that case!"

"Have no fear, ponies." Princess Celestia encouraged us. "I have total confidence that you will be able to defeat Discord…" Princess Celestia moved the chest towards us and opened it. "…with these!"

There was nothing in the chest, causing the girls, even me, to gasp. Princess Celestia suddenly dropped the case in shock as she flinched back in horror. The sound of the chest landing on the ground with no items in it created a very eerie thud that echoed throughout the halls.

The halls remained silent as the ponies slowly walked up to the case. "The elements…They're gone!" Twilight announced as she continued to stare at the empty chest.

Princess Celestia immediately began pacing worriedly near us. "That chamber is protected by a powerful spell that only I can break! This doesn't make sense!"

Suddenly, laughter echoed throughout the halls, causing me to gasp lightly and feel my heart start to pound. "Make sense? Oh, what fun is there in making sense?"

"Discord... Show yourself!" Princess Celestia commanded.

That…was Discord…?

He responded with a chuckle. I looked at my right hoof. It began shaking, uncontrollably… just like this morning… "Did you miss me, Celestia?" We looked around the halls to try to find out where the voice was coming from but he appeared in one of the stain-glassed windows instead. "I missed you. It's quite lonely being encased in stone…" He spoke as he moved throughout the other windows. "…but you wouldn't know that, would you, because I don't turn ponies into stone." He knocked on Fluttershy's portrait in the window that portrayed us with our elements.

"Enough! What have you done with the rest of the Elements of Harmony?" Princess Celestia ordered.

"'Rest'? Oh… of course…" He slid slyly over to the window I stood near. "Alex… the one who bears the element of a pure heart…" Chills began invading my body. I quickly sat down and placed my left hoof over my right. "…an element I cannot physically take, can I? But who says, I can't take it in another way?" Though, he couldn't physically touch me, he still managed to strike more fear into me, somehow. I felt as if I began having trouble breathing. Discord slid back into another window. "About your other elements? Oh, I just borrowed them for a teensy little while." He snapped his fingers and caused the elements in the window to disappear.

"You'll never get away with this, Discord!" Princess Celestia answered boldly.

"Oh, I'd forgotten how grim you can be, Celestia." Discord laid back casually as he seemed unaffected by the threat. "It's really quite boring."

"Hey! Nopony insults the Princess!" Rainbow Dash immediately flew over to the window in an aggressive way. Discord vanished from the window, leaving Rainbow Dash to smash herself into it. He reappeared when Rainbow Dash pulled herself off from the window.

"Oh, you must be Rainbow Dash, famed for her loyalty, the Element of Harmony you represent."

"That's right! I'll always be loyal to the Princess!" Rainbow Dash assured.

Discord disappeared from the window. "We'll see about that…"

"I can't believe we're wasting our time talking to a tacky window." Rarity commented.

"The beautiful Rarity, representing the element of generosity, if I'm not mistaken?" Discord responded, reappearing on the window Rarity was in front of.

My breathing became worse. I began breathing heavily now, feeling as if all the air in the room was beginning to be sucked out. The shaking of my hoof became fiercer as I could only try to keep my composure.

"So you know who we are, big deal." Applejack walked over to Rarity, sounding irritated.

Discord enlarged himself on the window. "Oh, I know much more than that, honest Applejack."

"You seem to know our strengths, too?" Twilight questioned.

"Yes, Twilight Sparkle, and yours is the most powerful and elusive element, magic. Fluttershy's is kindness and Pinkie Pie's is a personal favorite of mine - laughter."

Pinkie Pie couldn't stop snickering for some reason, catching Twilight's attention. "Pinkie!"

Pinkie Pie began laughing out loud. "He's standing on your head!" She pointed towards the window, presenting Discord dancing on top of Twilight, immaturely.

"Stop stalling, Discord!" Princess Celestia exclaimed, shutting Pinkie Pie's laughter. "What have you done with the rest of the Elements of Harmony?"

"Oh, so boring, Celestia." He stopped his dancing. "Really? Fine, I'll tell you, but I'll only tell you my way." He vanished from the window and presented himself from window to window as he spoke... "To retrieve your missing elements just make sense of this change of events. Twists and turns are my master plan. Then find the elements back where you began." He then switched to the window over to me. "You better hurry too, your precious little 'hero', doesn't look too good here!" He laughed as he alerted the other ponies of my current state. I was struggling so much to breathe in air, that I couldn't even speak. My hoof continued shaking, my heart was pounding, my eyes were closed as they were straining, and I didn't know what to do.

"Alex!" Fluttershy announced my name as she raced over to me.

Finally, Discord released one last laugh and vanished for the time being. I felt Fluttershy caress me as she tried to somehow help me. Fortunately, my symptoms began fading away. I was now able to breathe and my hoof stopped shaking. My heart returned to its normal rate as I opened my eyes and looked at Fluttershy. She kept her eyes locked on to me. "I'm…I'm okay…" I announced, panting a little.

"No! We've got to stop him before he does any more harm to Alex!" Applejack exclaimed after noticing what happened to me. "What do you reckon he meant? Twists and turns and ending back where we started?"

"Twists and turns..." Twilight responded as she walked over to the window. "…twists and turns... twists and turns! That's it! I bet Discord hid the elements in the palace labyrinth!"

Princess Celestia nodded. "Good luck, my little ponies. The fate of Equestria is in your hooves."

"Thanks, Princess. We won't let you down." Twilight replied and looked over to me. "Alex… you stay here…"

"What…?" I answered, shocked.

"After what just happened to you, I can't let you come with us."

"No…!" I slowly stood up, struggling a bit. "I'm coming with you girls!"

"But…"

"Let him come with you." Princess Celestia told Twilight. "He will be alright. As long as you all are together, you'll be victorious."

Twilight sighed, but soon nodded. "Okay, Princess." Twilight looked over to me. "Come on then, Alex."

I nodded and was about to run, but Fluttershy kept her hooves on me. "Are you sure you'll be okay, Alex…?" She asked, very concerned.

"Yeah… I'm okay. Let's go…"

She slowly nodded with hesitation.

We commenced our pursuit for the rest of the Elements of Harmony.

The girls gasped when they reached the palace labyrinth. It was the maze I saw earlier in the morning… The entrance contained several flags on the front.

"W-We have to go in there?" Fluttershy asked, worried.

"Nope!" Rainbow Dash stepped forward. "Dopey Discord forgot about these babies!" She presented her wings and began flying upwards, over the labyrinth. "I'll just do a quick flyover and we'll have the Elements in no time." Suddenly, her wings vanished into thin air, causing her to land harshly in front of us. "My wings!"

Fluttershy screamed as her wings disappeared as well.

After, Twilight's and Rarity's magic horns were removed. "Your horn! My horn! Ahhh!" They screamed to each other."

A green ball of light formed in front of us and revealed Discord's true form. He laughed as lightning flashed and thunder boomed around him. I thought I would receive the symptoms like I did back with Princess Celestia… but I didn't… "You–You should see the looks on your faces. Priceless!" He laughed once again, a lot less terrifying now.

"Give us our wings and horns back!" Twilight demanded.

"You'll get them back in good time. I simply took them to ensure there's no cheating. You see, this is the first rule of our game: no flying, and no magic." He explained as he slid around us, ensuring we understood clearly.

"The first rule?" Rainbow Dash asked, a little confused.

"The second rule is everypony has to play or the game is over, and I win. Good luck, everypony!" He laughed once more and vanished.

"Never fear, ponies. We have each other!" Twilight ensured to keep us motivated.

"Yeah!" Rainbow Dash confidently agreed. "Like Twilight said, there's nothing we can't overcome if we all stick together!"

"All right, let's do this!" Twilight announced as we all stood at the entrance to the labyrinth. Twilight stood at my far right with Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy in order. I stood right by Fluttershy.

Everypony stomped their hoof forward and cheered loudly. "Together!"

Suddenly, walls of shrubs appeared to Twilight's right and immediately began separating each of us in the labyrinth, causing the girls to scream.

"Stay calm!" Twilight exclaimed. "Everypony head to the middle as fast as you can, and we'll regroup there!"

Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie responded to Twilight's command.

"Moving out!"

"See you in the center."

"Yee-haw!"

"See you guys there!"

However, I could hear Fluttershy panicking on the other side of the wall. "What's that? Who's there? GIRLS!"

"Fluttershy, it's alright!" I tried to calm her down. "Just calm down… and listen to my voice."

Fluttershy began taking deep breaths and finally spoke calmly. "Okay, Alex…"

"I'm sorry I can't be with you… but just head to the middle like Twilight said and we'll all be together again. Okay?"

Fluttershy took another deep breath. "Okay, Alex… I'll see you all in the middle…"

"That's it. Now, go on ahead. The faster we start, the sooner we can regroup."

"Okay!" Fluttershy answered and I could her galloping on her way.

I nodded and began sprinting my way through the maze.

I continued running until I felt fatigue fall upon me. I lightly slowed to a trot and then to a walk as I panted. After a moment of catching my breath, I heard a howl. It wasn't any kind of howl… it was… I looked at my mark. A wolf's howl…

I began walking towards the origins of the howl, but as I walked, the scenery slowly changed. When I entered the part of the maze that the howl originated from, my surroundings were now dark. It was dark with a star-filled sky. There was a large full moon above me. I looked around, confused on how the setting transformed to what it was.

"…what happened…?" I asked myself, softly.

I spotted a pond near a tree. I slowly walked over to it and looked at the water. I saw my reflection.

"Sad, isn't it?" I heard a sudden voice behind me.

I quickly turned around and spotted a wolf sitting as it stared at me. "What the…what are you talking about…?" I asked.

"Isn't it sad to be the outcast, Alex? Isn't it sad to have no friends? No pony to care about you?"

"What…?" I questioned with slight fright. I shook my head and returned a serious look. "I know that's you Discord! Don't play any games!"

The wolf laughed. "You are smart, Alex… you ARE smart. But in all seriousness, with intelligence like yours, how can't you see that no pony really cares about you?"

"No pony cares about me…?" I began to look away sadly, but then stopped myself and continued my serious expression. "No! The girls do! They're my friends!"

"HAH!" The wolf released another laugh. "OH REALLY?" The wolf continued laughing. "Oh, please. Don't make me laugh; you're going to kill me!" I didn't say anything but continued glaring at the wolf. Discord, the wolf, finally stopped laughing and sighed happily. He noticed my expression and then sighed with a frown. "You think they're actually you're friends? They only act like your 'friends' because they pity you for what you are!"

"…what…?"

"Don't you see, Alex? All this time, they've been using you for their own personal needs. Tell me, Alex. Since the first day you met them, why have you still not managed to smile?"

"Well, I…" I couldn't answer that question.

"Well, if they were your REAL friends, you surely would have smiled by now!"

"T…that's not true… I don't believe you…"

"Please, Alex! Turn around! Take a good look at yourself!"

I slowly turned and looked at the pond water. The wolf slowly walked towards me and stopped at my side, observing my reflection in the water as well. "Tell me, do you see anything about you that's happy?" I didn't answer but just continued to stare at my reflection… A big mistake… "You know… you and I aren't so different… we're both lone wolves… destined to be alone forever…"

"No…" I responded.

He looked at me with intrigued eyes. "Don't believe me? Then you must not believe yourself!" He pointed towards the water. "Take a good look at the water, Alex! Oh? What is that on your flank? Tell me, Alex. Please. I'm not sure if what I see is true. C'mon, tell me. What is on your flank?"

I analyzed it…

"A lone wolf…" I answered, solemnly.

"Oh, gosh! A lone wolf! Wow!"

"But…but…my friends…"

He now sighed in annoyance. "Alex! That's your cutie mark! A lone wolf! You're destined to be a lone wolf! You're special talent is being alone! You aren't meant to have 'friends', you are to be alone!"

He did make a point... That was my mark. A lone wolf... alone...

"I…I…"

"Still don't believe me?" He sighed. "I wished I'd never have to do this but… take another good look in the water."

I did and something strange occurred in the pond. It formed ripples to where I saw an image in the water now… I saw myself walking away from Twilight under a dark sky. Wait a minute… this seems familiar… this is… this is the night of the party when I first met the girls!

Twilight sighed and walked back to the party. She met up with Applejack who just finished eating some cake.

"Oh, hey, Twilight. What happened to the new fella?" Applejack asked.

"Eh, he went home I guess." Twilight responded, sounding a little annoyed.

"Oh, well." Applejack replied, cheerfully. " So, what you gonna have him do for you, Twilight?"

"What?"

"What are you going to have him do? I'll see about having him do my applebucking for me…maybe…I'm not sure yet."

"We just met him. We can't just go up to him and ask him for all these 'favors' "

"Yeah, of course! We just gotta pretend that we're his friends. We'll start slow and move up on from there. Got it?"

"Sounds like a plan. I like it!"

Applejack chuckled. "Yeah… C'mon, let's go tell the other ponies."

Twilight nodded as she smiled and followed Applejack to somewhere else. The image slowly faded away as I could only stare in great disbelief.

How…how…how could they do that…?

Discord sensed my emotions. "Oh I'm so sorry Alex… but it's the way it's meant to be. You see, even I am a far better friend than they are! I showed you how they really lied to you, how they laughed at you behind your back, how they really weren't generous or kind to you. They were never loyal to you. Thus, they aren't real friends, which then loses the magic of everything you thought was real. So how about it, Alex? Still think they're your friends?"

I lowered my head, feeling my hair cover my closed eyes as I felt immediate darkness surround my heart. I remained silent for a moment.

"They're not my friends…" I answered coldly.

I instantly saw myself transform into a grayish color… but I didn't care.

"Spendid!" The surroundings reverted back to its originality. The wolf vanished and out released Discord's true self. "Now that you know the truth… I know a perfect way to get back at those ponies!" I didn't say anything but stare at the ground as my mane continued to hang over my eyes. "How about you join me in ruling Equestria in pure chaos, Alex? We can get rid of those ponies once and for all! And when other ponies see how powerful you stand, no pony will ever want to mess with you again!" He teleported to me and brought out his claw. "Do we have a deal?" Instead of responding, I walked by him, shoving his claw out of the way with my shoulder. He chuckled. "Don't worry about it… you can decide later…"

After that, he vanished, leaving me by myself as I reached the other side. An exit formed, revealing Twilight passing by. She suddenly stopped to see that the exit had been uncovered. She looked in and saw me.

"Alex!" She rushed over to me. "I'm so glad you're okay! Something is going on with our friends. They're acting very weird, and I don't know what to do. I was hoping you could—

"What? Help you?" I answered in an irritated tone, cutting off her sentence. I scoffed. "Yeah, you would like that, wouldn't you?"

"Alex…?" She noticed how I was different. However, I walked past her, continuing with the coldness that surrounded me.

When I walked out of the area, I saw all the others. They were shaded with gray too. Twilight continued walking, but Rarity noticed her as she stood next to a huge boulder. "Twilight!" Rarity called after Twilight. Twilight looked back and sighed annoyingly. Twilight walked over to the boulder and picked it up. She continued walking as Rarity walked by her side, proudly.

As Twilight walked, with the boulder on her back, I could see how much she was having trouble with it. Instead, I turned my head angrily to the front of me and didn't bother asking to help her. She just wants to make herself noticeable… they all do…

"Must... find... Rainbow Dash." Twilight grunted through each breath. "As a team... we're unstoppable. Rainbow Dash won't let us down."

"Well, looky there." Applejack suddenly announced, no longer having that cheerful and warm tone to her voice… or was it actually the same, but instead, it's the voice I now hear after finding out the truth? "Rainbow Dash is flying away. She's abandonin' us."

"Now I know that's a lie." Twilight responded and removed the boulder from her back. After we noticed Rainbow Dash fly away from us and towards the sky, Twilight gasped. "How can it be?"

Suddenly the whole maze dissolved towards the ground and left us in a wide, open, and bare crater.

"Well, well, well. Somepony broke the 'no wings, no magic' rule." Discord announced, appearing before us. He returned Twilight's and Rarity's horn, giving Fluttershy her wings as well. "Game's over, my little ponies. You didn't find your precious elements." He began taking out an umbrella. "Looks like we might be due for a big old storm of chaos!" He opened the umbrella upside down. After, he began laughing evilly as thunder cracked and lightning flashed in the sky. Twilight returned a worried expression as her mouth was agape in shock.

As Discord continued laughing under the fierce sky, I could only remain seated and turn my head away in sadness…not caring about anything anymore…

To be continued…

Return of Harmony : Part Two

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Episode 28 – Return of Harmony Part 2

Discord fell to his side, continuing to laugh while I could only open my eyes slightly to look at him.

"And what are you laughing at?" Pinkie Pie announced angrily at him.

"Ho, you ponies are just the most fun I've had in eons." Discord responded while wiping a tear from his eye as he finished laughing.

"Well, quit it!" Pinkie Pie screamed at Discord, who managed to keep his grin. "You better think before you laugh at the Pink..." Pinkie Pie looked back for a moment to think. "…ie Pie!"

"Oh, yeah?" Fluttershy questioned with no longer a delicate tone. "Well ha, ha." She purposely laughed.

Pinkie Pie darted towards her. "Quit it!" She replied with anger.

"No. Ha, ha." Fluttershy continued to conjure more anger in Pinkie Pie on purpose.

"QUIT IT!"

"No. Ha ha-ha ha ha."

While Fluttershy continued to tick off Pinkie Pie, I heard Applejack from the side of me.

"Uh...Rarity? This here diamond of yours?" She placed her hooves on the boulder. "Twilight said we should split it six ways since we, uh, found it together."

"HI-YAH!" Rarity immediately flew over to Applejack and kicked her away from the boulder. "Try it, punk. He's mine. All mine! Ya! Ya! Ya!" She continued to frighten away Applejack as Twilight tried to stop them.

"Why are you all acting like this?" Twilight questioned. She rushed over to Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy who remained in their argument. "We need to stick together!"

Discord laughed. "It's just too entertaining." He announced as he sat on a couch, eating popcorn.

"Stop it, Discord. You're not playing fair." Twilight confronted him.

"I'm not playing fair?" Discord asked, placing his paw to his chest and sitting up from his seat. "Perhaps we haven't met. I'm Discord, spirit of chaos and disharmony. Hello?"

"How are we supposed to find the Elements of Harmony when you took away the labyrinth before we could get to the end?"

"Oh, wait, did you...?" Discord laughed with a few wheezes. "How funny! You thought the Elements were in the labyrinth? Why don't I jog your memory?" He cleared his throat. "'Twists and turns are my master plan. Then find the Elements back where you began.' I never said they were in the labyrinth."

"But...but…"

"Keep trying, Twilight Sparkle. Maybe the magic of friendship can help you." Discord mocked as he talked. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some chaos to wreak." He snapped his fingers and disappeared.

Thunder boomed and lightning flashed, revealing the pink clouds once again as they poured down chocolate milk. I observed upwards, but then slowly returned my eyes back towards the ground, sadly.

"Chocolate milk? I hate chocolate milk!" I heard Pinkie Pie exclaim.

Twilight released a frustrated grunt. "Think, Twilight, think!" I noticed Rarity begin to walk with her boulder beside me as Twilight continued talking. 'Find the Elements back where you began.' Back where you began."

Applejack bounced on top of it, alerting Rarity. "Don't touch my gem!"

Fluttershy flew over to the boulder and purposely placed her hoof on it. "I'm touching your gem, Rarity. Ha, ha."

"What 'chu laughin' at?" Pinkie Pie yelled.

I noticed that they all were different as they were shaded gray as well. Unless… after finding out their true intentions, is this the way I hear them now? Their real forms? I sighed sadly. The thought of that made my emotions even worse…

"Ugh. I just want to go home..." Twilight expressed until suddenly she figured out something. "Wait a minute...home! 'Back where you began!' The Elements must be in Ponyville! Come on, ponies!" Twilight directed at us as she began walking. I turned my head towards the others as they walked past me, continuing to complain and argue. I only looked at them with depressed eyes. There's nothing else I can do here… I guess I could just have them lead me back to Ponyville… then I'll leave them forever.

"I'm certain this is what Discord's riddle really meant." Twilight announced cheerfully as we arrived back at Ponyville. "If we get back to the library, I have a book that I just know could give us a clue." All of a sudden, a stampede of long-legged bunnies came out of nowhere and ran over Twilight. "Ah!" She held out a hoof for help, but I looked away and ignored it.

"Good boy, Angel! Mama's so proud." Fluttershy commented, cruelly.

The sun had immediately raced down, revealing night.

"Wow, I can see so much better now." Applejack said, sounding a little sarcastic, as I felt something weird below me. I looked and found out that soap had just magically appeared beneath us. Applejack began walking but eventually slipped through Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, causing them to fall. "Whoa! I meant to do that."

Twilight had soon got up by herself, but just fell down as she slipped on the soap as well. "Wah! Ahh!" The sun had risen once again, revealing the path. "Discord's turned our dirt roads into soap!"

Discord traveled past us as if he had not a single problem with the new road. "Beautiful, isn't it?" Afterwards, he presented the town in its current state. "This is the new and improved Ponyville, and these are only my first of changes."

Pinkie Pie began following Discord's example as she mastered through the soap. She noticed Twilight notice her and responded. "This may look like fun, but it's not." Pinkie Pie contained the straight and angry expression on her face.

"Ugh!" Twilight groaned.

Discord placed his paw around Twilight and raised her. "Picture it: The chaos capital of the world."

The sun had lowered again.

Twilight narrowed her eyes. "I can't picture anything. It's too dark."

Discord released her and she splashed on the soap.

"Well, wait a few minutes and you'll see it in the beautiful light of day. Or not." Discord jumped into a hop and disappeared.

"Ponyville, the chaos capital of the world? Not if I have anything to say about it." Twilight answered to herself as she remained motivated.

"Don't worry, you won't." Fluttershy laughed in a delinquent way as she slid past Twilight.

Twilight sighed in frustration.

Eventually, Twilight led us towards her house. "Okay, we're here. Everypony please, please, please just go inside, please?"

"I absolutely refuse." Applejack lied, walking into the house and turning into an even darker shade of gray.

"With pleasure." Fluttershy flew by and stomped on her flowers first before going inside. She turned into a darker shade as well.

"I hate libraries!" Pinkie Pie shouted as she walked in, changing her appearance as well.

Twilight moaned and noticed Rarity trying to move her boulder. She walked over to her. "Pleeeease, we've gotta hurry!"

"Forget it, Twilight." Rarity replied. "I know what you're up to. The second I go in, you'll have your little minion Spike come and take Tom!" She placed both her hooves on the boulder.

"Tom?" Twilight questioned in a unbelievable tone.

"Well, it's not going to work." Thus, Rarity turned into a darker shade as she continued fascinating over her boulder.

"You're not going in without him, are you?"

"Mm-mm." Rarity grunted through closed lips.

Twilight looked over to me. "Alex, will you please talk some sense into her?"

I gave her a cold stare and turned my head away as I began walking towards the library.

Twilight instantly picked up the boulder. "Fine!" She began walking towards the house, grunting with each step.

Ignoring Twilight's struggles, I arrived inside the library. I saw Fluttershy pick up a bucket full of water and flew over to a sleeping Spike. She immediately turned over the bucket and drenched him in cold water, frightening Spike awake. "Ah! Brrr! What did you do that for, Fluttershy?"

Fluttershy returned an evil and seductive expression. "'Cause you just looked so peaceful."

"I...uh..." Spike responded as he squeezed his tail. "…huh?"

A crashed suddenly occurred beside me.

"Careful, Twilight!" Rarity exclaimed as Twilight observed the mess she caused. "You'll ruin his beautiful finish."

"Oh, for the love of... " Twilight replied.

"Twilight, what's going on?" Spike immediately asked. "Why does everybody look so...gray?" He pointed at us.

"Don't ask." Twilight picked up Spike. "I need you to help me find something."

"Hey, Twilight, what's soaking wet and clueless?" Fluttershy asked with the same expression as she held on to the bucket.

"Fluttershy, I've had just about enough…" Fluttershy suddenly poured the water all over Twilight.

"Your face!" She threw the bucket on Twilight's face after, creating a large bang sound.

"What's happened to everypony?" Spike worriedly asked. He ran over to me and began pleading as he held my right foreleg. "Alex, you have to help them, please!"

I pulled away my foreleg and gave him a cold stare as well. "Get away from me…"

He returned a sad look as he walked back over to Twilight.

"Ugh. No time to explain." Twilight announced as she began reading through her book. "We've got to find the reference guide to the Elements of Harmony before somepony does something she'll regret." She muttered under her breath as she stared back at the others with an irritated face.

"The Elements of Harmony?" Spike asked and then brightened his face. "Oh, I know exactly where that book is." He climbed up a ladder and reached out for a book. "Found it!" He exclaimed as he pulled it out.

Fluttershy immediately threw a scroll at Spike, causing him to release the grip on the book and make it fall into her hooves. "Hah!"

"Fluttershy, you better give me that book!" Twilight warned.

"Keep away!" Fluttershy replied in a sing-song voice as she threw the book over to Applejack.

Applejack caught the book on her nose and began balancing it.

"Hey!" Twilight shouted. "Applejack, give me that book!"

"I don't have any book." Applejack answered and threw it over to Pinkie Pie, who bounced it over to Fluttershy.

"Pinkie!" Twilight scolded. "You guys! Stop it right now!" Twilight continued to chase after the book but failed.

I turned around and sat down, closing my eyes.

"Alex, you have to help me! Please!" Twilight pleaded.

However, I didn't answer as I lowered my head even more.

About the third time Fluttershy was about to catch the book, Spike pushed her away instead. The book slid over to Twilight. She was about to grab it but Rarity lifted it with her magic and ran away with it. "Mine!"

"Hey, do you even know what you just stole?"

"No, but if you want it, I want it."

Twilight, now furious, released a long and strained groan. "Give me that book!" She screamed and ran after Rarity. However, Fluttershy lowered her hooves to grab Rarity and lift her off the floor, leaving Twilight to crash into the boulder. "Where is she…?" She recovered, shaking her head. "Where's Rarity?" She asked.

"Beats me." Applejack spoke in a spoiled tone.

"Lies!" Twilight exclaimed and dove at Pinkie Pie and Applejack, beginning a fight. As they fought over the book, I could only remain out of it, feeling depressed and sighing.

Finally, Twilight jumped out of the mess with the book in her hooves.

"Get back! All of you!" She warned as she noticed Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie crawling towards her. Spike presented himself in front of Twilight, swinging a scroll around to try to prevent the others from getting nearer. "This is my book. And I'm going to READ IT!" Twilight opened the book and looked inside. She gasped. "The Elements!" I turned my head to face the book. They were there. All the necklaces and Twilight's tiara lay in the huge hole in the book. "They were here all along!"

"This is great!" Spike ran over to Twilight. "Now you guys can defeat Discord and put everything back to normal!"

"See ponies? We did it! We found the Elements of Harmony! Together!" Twilight announced to us as Spike held the book in hands. However, Applejack leaned on an object in her usual cowboy pose. Fluttershy was purposely annoying Pinkie Pie by flipping her hair around as Pinkie Pie sat in front of the boulder annoyed, which Rarity was polishing with a pink rag. Twilight noticed this and walked over to the girls. "You don't even care, do you?"

"No!" They all exclaimed in unison as I remained silent.

Twilight sighed. "I never thought it would happen. My friends... have turned into complete JERKS!" Unwilling, she began placing the elements on the girls. "Necklace! Necklace! Necklace! Necklace! And big crown thingy!" She placed the tiara on herself. "Come on everypony, let's go!" She began walking out the door.

Spike ran by her side. "But Twilight, aren't you missing somepony?"

"Nope." Twilight stopped. "We've got the liar, the grump, the hoarder, the brute, and…" Twilight halted herself when she looked at me as I looked away, sadly. She sighed sadly as well. "That just about covers it…"

"But what about Rainbow Dash?" Spike asked.

Twilight thought for a moment. "Congratulations Spike, you're the new Rainbow Dash." She placed the necklace on him. "Now let's go!" She began running out the library again.

"Me? B-b-but what if she finds out I've been impersonating her?" He moaned. "That won't end well."

"Too bad, you're Rainbow Dash. Now let's go defeat Discord so we don't ever have to talk to each other again!"

"Yeah! Woo-hoo!" All of them but Rarity cheered as they galloped out the library. Rarity was still pushing her giant boulder out the room.

I slowly sat up and began waking gloomily out of the area. "Whatever…"

Before I exited, Twilight noticed Rarity with her boulder again and ran back inside. "Move!" She shouted to Rarity and picked up the boulder with her magic. "Look out, here comes Tom!" She warned and threw the boulder out the window.

"Well, well, well, I see you've found the Elements of Harmony." I heard Discord when I was outside. "How terrifying!"

"Discord! I've figured out your lame riddle." Twilight responded aggressively. "You're in for it now!"

"I certainly am. You've clearly out-dueled me, and now it's time to meet my fate." He placed on red sunglasses. "I'm prepared to be defeated now, ladies. Fire when ready." He created a red target on himself.

"Formation, now!" Twilight shouted angrily, standing next to me.

"Eh." The others replied, not caring.

"Rainbow Dash, get over here!" Twilight called Spike who was hiding behind a boulder. He ran over to us. "All right, let's get this over with."

The girls and Twilight began their attack as they focused the elements on Discord. Twilight began rising up in the air as she opened her eyes, revealing total whiteness. The girls followed her, activating their elements. Spike and I remained on the ground. I felt… absolutely nothing… I didn't care… I didn't care at all. Discord lowered his sunglasses in surprised as he witnessed the bright light emerge.

Just about as the elements looked as if they were going to work, the bright light suddenly disappeared and they all fell towards the ground.

"What's going on?" Twilight questioned.

"Mine's workin'." Applejack replied. "There must be somethin' wrong with yours." She pointed towards Twilight.

"I HATE the Elements of Harmony!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

"Hmph!" Fluttershy threw her necklace away from her. "Garbage."

Rarity immediately rushed over to Fluttershy's necklace when it landed on the floor. "MINE!"

"Sorry, Twilight." Spike apologized as he placed the necklace back on the ground besides Twilight. "I guess I'd better get back upstairs and clean up the library. Good luck with all this- Fluttershy had lowered herself near Spike and placed her tail on the ground as Spike was running. He tripped and landed on the floor. "whoa!"

"Oops." She spoke mockingly. "Sorry, Rainbow Crash." She chuckled afterwards.

"Bravo, ponies, bravo!" Discord clapped his hands as he walked over to us. "Harmony in Equestria is officially dead. Discord rules, Celestia drools." Twilight released a growl as Discord slipped on away on the soap, continuing to laugh. "I await your decision, Alex!"

"What…? Decision? What's he talking about, Alex?" Twilight asked me, but I didn't turn around to respond.

"It's your fault it didn't work." Pinkie Pie announced, interrupting the moment.

"Who are you talking to?" Twilight asked.

"Any of you! ALL OF YOU! I'm outta here!" She bounced angrily out of the area.

"I better go, too. I've got new better friends waiting for me at the farm." Applejack walked out.

Rarity was too busy dragging the boulder away from us.

"Yeah! I'm sick of you losers." Fluttershy flew away.

"FINE! Leave! See if I care! I don't need you guys either! With friends like you, who needs...enemies..." She lowered her head.

I began walking away without saying a word, tired of all the things that happened. I just wanted to go home and lie on my bed, forever.

"Wait!" Twilight exclaimed. I glanced back with a slightly angry expression on my face. I analyzed Twilight's face. She looked very worried. "Alex… don't leave me here by myself… you're my best friend…please…" She looked as if she wanted to cry.

Suddenly, I felt like I wanted to go back to her… as if I wanted to apologize for everything that's happened. I felt like I wanted to just comfort her as she returned a worried and gloomy look towards me. I thought for a moment but then I remembered what Discord told me and showed me in the pond. I'm not letting any pony use me ever again… I turned my head away coldly and began walking away from Twilight. Behind me, I could feel her aura change and even hear a teardrop splash on the ground. As I walked, I noticed my body turn into an even darker shade of gray.

I entered my house and walked up the stairs. Before going to bed, I walked into the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and observed my gray self.

She's right… I AM just a big mistake…why else would no pony want me? My parents didn't want me. My sister didn't want me. Kids at the school didn't want me! I immediately felt enraged, so I filled the sink with ice cold water and forced my head in there. After a moment, I slowly lifted my head. Water was dripping from my face and mane. I was back to being depressed. I let the water flow down the sink and walked over to my bed. I lay myself on there and closed my eyes.

Back to step one… and this has been like what…? The twentieth time? Not only did I experience the same outcome again, I can never go outside again. I came here to get a fresh start, and this happens again? You've got to be kidding me! I released my anger by hitting the pillow. I released a breath and calmed down again.

Discord's right… I'll never have any friends… I'll always be alone… forever… That's what I'll do… I'll stay here… in my bed… and never come out ever again… Maybe everypony will be happy again? Maybe I'll be gone and they won't have to worry about me again? They'll all be happy… because I can never escape to anywhere without feeling the pain all over again…

A tear slipped out of my eye, and I eventually fell asleep.

When I awoke, I heard loud and rapid knockings on my door. I slowly sat up and walked downstairs to the door. I sadly opened it and saw them… the girls…

"What do you want?" I asked in a very irritated tone.

"Alex." Twilight answered. "We're here to fight for our friendship!"

Twilight, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash all stood there, smiling. They weren't gray any more…

However, I returned an angry look. "I don't want any of you here! You've done enough damage! Now leave!"

Twilight sighed. "I'm sorry, Alex. But I have to do this…for our friendship…" She looked over to the girls. "Hold him down girls!"

"What?" I responded and was suddenly pushed down by Applejack and Rainbow Dash who held my forelegs on the floor. Pinkie Pie and Rarity held my back legs down. "What are you doing?" I exclaimed, struggling to free myself. "Let me go!" I demanded as Twilight began walking on top of me.

"Don't worry, Alex… we'll get you to your normal self…" She lowered her horn towards me and began using magic as I continued struggling.

Suddenly, memories came back. The memories that I've been wanting to escape for so long. I saw it all again… I relived it all again. The laughter. The cold shoulders. The pointed hooves! The beatings! The using! The loneliness!

"GET OFF ME!" I screamed, forcefully pushing off Twilight with my back legs I had freed. After, I pulled my forelegs away and immediately stood up. I quickly backed away, stumbling into things.

"Alex!" Twilight exclaimed in fright as they all had their hoofs to their mouths in shock.

I was panting heavily. "I've told you all to LEAVE ME ALONE!" I began feeling tears pour down my face. "Why can't you do that? I've been through enough pain! But YOU all had to replay it in my mind AGAIN! JUST. LEAVE. ME. ALONE!" I continued panting heavily as tears fell from my face.

There was a long silence as all the ponies stared at me, highly shocked.

"But… Alex…" Twilight said, moving her hoof in front of her and taking a step forward to touch me, but I quickly took another step back, knocking things off the wall and counter that was behind me.

"NO! Get away from me! All of you! I don't want to see any of you ever again! So, just leave me alone!"

There was another long silence.

"But, Alex…" Applejack now tried to take a step towards me, but Twilight quickly placed her hoof in front of her to stop her.

"No…" Twilight spoke.

"Twilight!" Applejack argued.

Twilight shook her head solemnly. "There's nothing we can do…"

"What? No! There's something we can do!"

Twilight sighed and shook her head again. "Let's just get out of here before we hurt him even more…"

I continued panting as I stared at them. Both sweat and tears fell from my face, and I was bleeding inside…

I knew Applejack wanted to do something, but she took a look at me and noticed the horrible condition I was in. She lowered her head and slowly began walking away. Twilight at the others began walking away sadly as well. There was one pony left at the door… It was Fluttershy… She continued staring at me with teary eyes. We stared at each other for a moment until a tear finally fell out of her eye, causing her to close them and walk away as well.

As soon as they left, I immediately slammed the door shut and planted myself on it. As I sat down behind the door, I looked at my hooves. They were shaking… my whole body was shaking… but it was the usual shakes… They were shaking from fear and sadness, even anger. I was so angry I wanted to grab anything I could find and throw it against the wall and break it.

I stood up and quickly walked over to the wall near the staircase. I instantly grabbed the empty photo frame and lifted my forelegs to throw it against the floor. However, I immediately stopped. My anger began slipping away and I let my forelegs drop back down. I sighed and let the photo frame slip through my hoof.

I walked sadly up the stairs and towards my bed. I lay myself on there once again and closed my eyes. I felt immediately darkness not only surround my heart, but around me as well. I felt as if the little bit of light that was left was dimming.

There it is again… that same feeling of loneliness again. Why am I still here? What purpose do I have here but by miserable? …It's a question I can't answer…

Just about when I felt that total darkness was going to engulf me, I removed my head from the pillow and looked up. I saw the medal and trophy from the Running of the Leaves. I stared at it for a moment but then grew angry and quickly forced my head back under the pillow.

However, my mind calmed down and my head slipped out of the pillow again. My eyes drifted towards the trophy and became locked onto it. After a moment, I slowly walked out of bed and towards the trophy. I grabbed the trophy and analyzed it. On the bottom, it displayed: Running of the Leaves. First Place. I continued observing it, along with the medal.

After I was finished looking at them, I placed them back on the shelf, but then something else caught my eye… a neatly decorated gold star that was hung by a chain. I slowly grabbed it and sat on my bed. The good luck charm…the good luck charm Twilight gave me…

"Pull out your hoof. It's a good luck charm."

"A good luck charm?"

"Yup. I made it with magic for you a while back… I figured now is probably a good time to give it to you… you know… since you're my best friend and all… and I don't just mean my best friend… I mean like… my best of best friends…"

Best of best friends… That's what she told me… That I was her best of best friends… She didn't say it without meaning. I felt that meaning… I felt the heart behind her words when she gave me the good luck charm… and that's it. She gave me something… not only expressed words… but gave me a good luck charm as well!

No pony that used me would have given me anything so magical…

I placed the good luck charm back and noticed the next thing. The gem Rarity gave me… I grabbed it and sat back on my bed.

"There's something I wanted to give you…"

"What is it?"

"Here."

"Really, Rarity? For me?"

"Like I said, you deserve it. You know… there aren't many ponies like you anymore…"

I continued observing the gem…the gem that Rarity most likely had only one of and instead of using it for her dress, she gave it to me. The gem… it is one of kind…wait… is that why she gave it to me…? She told me that there weren't many ponies like me anymore… did that mean… When she gave me the gem that could have instantly made her famous in Equestria, did that mean that she thought I was unique? Just like the gem…? One a kind…

No pony that used me would have been so generous to give me a unique item that represents me…

I carefully placed the gem back and sat on my bed. Afterwards, I turned my head to see the counter in front of the bed. I noticed it…the whistle…the whistle Rainbow Dash had given me. I sat up and walked over to the counter. I grabbed it and sat down on the floor. I analyzed its shiny rainbow color.

"…well anyway, I've just wanted to give you something."

"Give me something? For what?"

"For being a good friend and all."

"Really?"

"Yeah! Here."

"A whistle?"

"Yeah, you know! Whenever you're in trouble, just blow it and I'll be right there to help ya!"

"Thanks, Rainbow Dash… but I don't think I ne—

"Okay, okay. Fine, Mr. Tough-hooves. But even if you need someone to try to make you laugh or smile… You can count on me!"

"Thanks, Rainbow Dash…"

Rainbow Dash gave me this… in case I ever needed someone… even if it was just to make me smile… She spent the time to actually go to me and give me a whistle to call her whenever I needed her… She told me that she'll be right there to help me… at first; I couldn't really believe it, but…

No pony that used me would have proved herself to be so loyal to actually make a calling for me whenever I needed to reach her…

I placed the whistle back on the counter.

Then, it reminded me of something else…

I walked down the stairs towards the kitchen and opened the fridge.

It's still there…

I grabbed the cupcake and closed the refrigerator door. I took it to the table nearby and sat myself. I continued analyzing the cupcake…the cupcake that Pinkie Pie gave me because… she wanted me to smile…

I looked at the top of the cupcake which presented Pinkie Pie pointing at me, stating: I want YOU to smile! The cupcake was still in great and basically new condition… and Pinkie Pie… spent her birthday wish on me…

"Okay, Pinkie Pie. Make a wish and blow the candles!"

"What did you wish for Pinkie Pie?"

"Well…I'm not supposed to tell...but… I wished for Alex to smile very soon!"

"Huh?"

"Yep! See? I made this for you back at Sugarcube Corner! I was hoping it'd help you to smile."

"I don't know what to say, Pinkie Pie…"

"Just say you'll smile!"

Pinkie Pie… to go through so much to just to attempt to make me smile…to make a cupcake and use her annual birthday wish on me… She saw how all her friends smiled except me… and she wanted to change that in any way she could…

No pony that used me would have done so much… just to try to bring laughter into my life…

I continued observing the cupcake for a moment more and then placed it back in the fridge. I turned around and looked outside the window. I saw all the mess Discord had piled up in Ponyville… but something amazing caught my eye and kept me from looking at it… It was the apple tree I had planted with the seed Applejack gave me. The apple tree wasn't majorly grown… but I could see it begin to spread out and slowly grow a piece at a time…

"Look at me, Sugarcube. Let me tell you something… You see Alex… you are like an apple… ponies take bites of you until they reach the core…afterwards, they throw you away… leaving you to only gather dirt and dust…alone…but then come the ponies who really care about you…us… We pick you up and dust you off. After, we take the seeds from your core and plant them with tender, love, and care. With our friendship…you'll grow to be a big and strong tree…or pony in this case… and you'll have many more apples to share with everypony… the ones who care about you… Here, Alex. This is the seed I saved from one of Bloomberg's apples. I was hoping I could plant it, so another tree would grow in our acres…but… You should have it… that way… as you see it grow… you can always remember what we talked about…okay…?"

And I did… I did remember…the way Applejack had talked to me… so sensitive and considerate…caring…compassionate… She was very truthful with me…so… she does care… she can't lie… she wouldn't…not even if it was to use somepony for a personal need… not her…

No pony that used me would have been so honest with me…

I remembered the most special pony to me. I quickly walked up the stairs and over to the bed. I lay down on it and gazed up at the ceiling. After, I turned to my side and noticed the gift on the nightstand. I grabbed it and observed as well… The heart that Fluttershy gave me on the night we had spent together in harmony…

"There's still something I want to do before this night ends…"

"What is it? …Fluttershy, what are we…?"

"We're having our dance."

"I…I don't really know how to dance…"

"That's okay... I'll help you. Just relax and follow my movements… There you go… You're doing great… There's something I want to give you… after we finish our dance…"

She didn't get to tell me why she had made that for me because she fell asleep as I held her… I remembered carrying her to her room and putting her to bed. Before I left… I accepted her gift and gave her a kiss goodnight on her cheek. I had never done that before… nor did I ever think of doing it… it just… happened… my heart… it told me to do that… and when I did… it felt amazing and wonderful… Fluttershy's the pony who's shown me so much affection and caring. She's the pony I have true special feelings for. Whenever I'm around her… I feel so warm and excited on the inside as my heart pumps rapidly when I'm with her at such a time. My heart wants to do something that my head is too afraid to actually comply with…

No pony that used me would have been so kind to me…

Not only was she kind… but she made me feel very special… something that I could not explain or identify… it was just a great feeling that I truly adored… just like I truly adored Fluttershy…

I immediately felt change… a good change. I looked at my body and my color was fully restored. I was no longer gray and dull. I was me. The real me. I carefully placed the hoof-crafted heart back on the nightstand and got off from bed. I quickly walked downstairs and out the door.

I knew what I had to do.

"I'll tell you what we've learned Discord." I heard Twilight's voice as I neared the objective. I saw the girls confront Discord as he kept that goofy smile on his face. I remained hidden behind the giant house of cards. "We've learned that friendship isn't always easy. But there's no doubt it's worth fighting for."

"Ugh, gag. Fine, go ahead, try and use your little Elements. Friend me." He mocked. "Just make it quick. I'm missing some excellent chaos here."

"All right, ladies, let's show him what friendship can do!" Twilight exclaimed as the six of them stood their ground and began releasing their elements. Discord yawned in boredom. Soon, all the girls began shooting light out from the elements. Discord kept his smile as the elements merely missed him, or actually touched him, but didn't do anything.

After a moment, the girls finished, panting. Discord remained at his seat.

"Well, I appreciate the effort girls, but I really must get back to all the chaos that's waiting for me… you know… that kind of stuff…"

Twilight sighed sadly. "It didn't work…"

"Duh!" Discord replied. "Did you actually think it would work without the seventh element, young ladies? It doesn't work like that… it's like eating… hay and oats without a mouth to chew. It doesn't work like that. Well… actually… you know what? I could probably fit that in with my schedule."

"It's no use, Twilight… we can't do this… not without Alex…" Applejack told Twilight.

"But he told us he never wants to see us again… After what we had done to him, I couldn't possibly risk anymore pain towards him."

"I just miss him so much Twilight…"

"Me too…"

Everypony agreed, causing Discord to gag. "Listen, if you ponies aren't going get rid of yourselves and this whole… friendship and love fest… then I'm going to have to do it myself!"

Discord raised his claw, which began glowing. All the girls suddenly began moving towards him by force. When I saw all six of them held up in front of Discord, struggling to be freed, I realized it was time to step in…

"Stop!" I shouted, walking out of the card house and bringing it down with me.

"Oh ho ho! Why here comes your precious little 'hero' now!" Discord responded as he continued holding the girls hostage. "Tell me, Alex. Have you made your decision?"

"Yes." I answered briefly.

"And is that decision the one where you choose to rule alongside me as we make Equestria into eternal chaos?" Discord asked, grinning.

I looked over at the girls. They returned looks combined with struggle and worries. They didn't know what I was going to do; especially on how I reacted the last time I saw them… I looked back at Discord who was awaiting my answer. After a moment of silence, I answered. "Yes…"

"Wonderful!" Discord replied cheerfully.

The six girls gasped loudly.

"No, Alex…" Twilight slipped out.

Discord used his force to grab and place me near him on his throne. "So, Alex… what do you suppose we shall do to these ponies?"

The sent worried eyes as I looked at them, responding to Discord. "Actually, I have something in mind for them. But first… there's something I want to give you for showing me the truth…"

"Oh, really? What is it?" He asked excitedly.

"Close your eyes and stick out your claw."

"Oh, boy! Oh, boy!" Discord began hopping excitedly in his chair.

"Now, lower your head towards me and I'll give you the gift."

"Okie, Dokie!" He did so.

I took a good look at his head. I actually didn't have any gift he was expecting.

Suddenly, I kicked his head with full force, immediately causing him to drop the girls. "WHAT THE?"

"That's what you get for lying about my friends!" I exclaimed and jumped down to meet the girls. "Are you all alright?" I asked.

"We're better now that you're here…" Twilight answered as all the ponies returned smiles.

"You little brat!" Discord announced angrily. "I show you what your 'friends' really are, and this is how you pay me?"

"Well, Discord… I'll admit. You DID show me the truth. But it wasn't the way you expected. You wanted me to abandon them so you could get rid of them, because without the seventh element… there are no Elements of Harmony that can defeat you. Instead, you brought me to discover the truth for myself when I thought about all the things they've done for me…" I looked at them as they smiled with great compassion. "They've done things no pony has ever done for me before…which make them…my friends…"

"Grrr!" Discord growled. "I've had just about enough of this!" Discord began preparing a big storm of chaos towards us, but I instantly summoned something within my heart to prevent him from doing so, causing another blinding light. "What?"

"C'mon, girls." I looked at them seriously. "Let's get rid of this fool."

Everypony began the strength of the Elements of Harmony. Each of the girls' necklaces glowed as they summoned the power of their cutie marks. They began shooting at Discord. This time, they nearly hit him, causing him to freak out. "No." Discord released. I looked at Twilight and nodded. She nodded back with a grin and activated her element. Her eyes glowed white. The girls and I began levitating. They awaited my final move. I looked at Discord as he stared back at us, frightened. I closed my eyes and opened my heart, finishing Discord once at for all. For the first time, my color completely joined with the girls' rainbow as it blasted from us. The rainbow shot towards the sky and turned back down to attack Discord. "NO!" As he was encased inside the rainbow, his body immediately began forming into stone.

The rainbow surrounded the area and burst, creating a light that blinded the entire town. Once we landed safely back on our feet, I could see the other girls smiling as we noticed everything was back to normal. Discord's statue landed roughly on the ground. I took a step forward and observed it. He was not laughing anymore, but now he presented an image of fright as the Elements of Harmony won the battle.

Suddenly, I was tackled by many ponies behind me. All the girls had hugged me so forcefully that they threw me to the grass along with them.

"Alex, I'm so glad you came back!" Twilight exclaimed.

"We sure are. We missed you so much, Sugarcube!" Applejack added.

"Really…?" I responded and narrowed my eyes.

The girls had released their grip on me and stood up. They analyzed my face.

"Well, you still look sad…" Rarity noticed.

I sighed. Discord may have been wrong about my friends wanting to use me… but… he was right about my mark. It was a lone wolf… does that mean I'll still lose them, somehow?

"Alex?" Rainbow Dash asked, taking a step forward to me.

I sat up from lying down on my back and looked at them. "Well… you see… it's just…"

A ball of light formed, and Princess Celestia appeared.

"Princess Celestia!" The girls cried out in surprise and bowed. I stood up and bowed along with them.

"You ponies did it!" Princess Celestia exclaimed joyfully.. "I knew all of you would be victorious!"

"Nothing can defeat true friendship, Princess." Twilight gave a wide smile.

Princess returned a heartwarming smile to all of us. "This calls for a celebration."

Princess Celestia called all the ponies in Ponyville and Canterlot to gather in the royal hall. When it was time for us to walk in, we opened the doors and did so. We saw the Princess standing at the end of the hall with Spike along her side. As we walked towards her, we could see all the ponies looking at us, happily.

When we reached Princess Celestia, she formed a grin that narrowed her eyes. Applejack returned the same expression. Twilight nodded and looked over to Spike, who was waving shyly at her. Twilight shot another bashful expression and looked back to Princess Celestia.

"We are gathered here today to once again honor the heroism of these seven friends who stood up to the villain Discord and saved Equestria from eternal chaos." Princess Celestia announced, proudly.

Everypony behind us cheered loudly. Princess Celestia then opened a curtain nearby with her magic, revealing another stain-glassed window. The window depicted Discord being defeated by all seven of us. I could only narrow my eyes at the window and slightly look away.

However, the girls looked back at the ponies who continued cheering as confetti rained down upon us. They returned gleeful smiles… but I remained the same…

After the ceremony, Princess Celestia held a party in the honor of us. Pinkie Pie was over at the buffet, eating to her heart's desires… being her usual self… Twilight was with the Princess, talking about all sorts of things. Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash were at a table, laughing and talking.

I knew I was supposed to be having a good time… especially after we defeated Discord… but I couldn't shake the feeling off me. I continued to remember what Discord told me. I was a lone wolf… destined to be alone forever… I would have believed it to be another one of Discord's lies, but my mark was planted firmly on my flank. I… I couldn't look away and ignore it…

As I continued to stare at the girls have fun, I could only think if it was time… If I'm going to leave their lives at one point in my life, then I might as well do it now… that way… I don't have to see their tearful faces…

I turned around and walked out of the party, as well as the building. Once I was outside, I began walking towards Ponyville. On the way, I could feel a light drop of water splash on my face.

When I arrived, I didn't go back to my home. I walked over to my true home. The place where I took shelter when I first arrived here.

I saw the cave. I walked over to it and observed it for a moment. In the middle of my analysis, it began to rain. I looked upwards the sky to see the drops of water rain down from lightly to heavily. After, I looked back at the cave and sighed. I tried to take shelter under there but it's been a long time since I have. The cave seemed a little smaller than before, but that's because I had grown since then.

Nonetheless, I managed to crawl under the top of the cave and remain lying down. I placed my hooves in front of me and rested my head on them. I could only feel more and more saddened as I stared out into the rain. I was a pretty far distance away from any houses. There were only trees that surrounded the cave and me. I couldn't stop thinking about the girls, but on the contrary, I couldn't stop thinking about my mark.

It's for the best… I wouldn't want them to grow too attached to me to where they would never be able to get over me. I might as well leave soon before it's too late… It's just the way it has to be… my mark proves it…

I sighed and closed my eyes, back where I started when I was young.

I opened my eyes some time later. It was still raining heavily. I crawled out of my cave and sat in front of it, leaning against a part of the wall. I just couldn't stop thinking about them… about everything we've been through… did it really have to end? I feel so alone that ever before… but I just have to adapt to it again…

I sat there, outside, leaving myself to be drenched out in the rain. I felt tears form in my eyes and fall down my face, but I wasn't so sure if they actually were tears because they mixed with the rain anyway. I guess I'll just remain here forever. I can't go out to anypony again. I can't see the girls again. If I do, I'll just be hurting them more…

"Alex…!" I heard a sudden faint call for my name. "Alex!" The voice sounded really worried. I pulled up my head and looked around me. I didn't see anypony. Who was calling me…? "Alex!" I heard the call again, much closer. All of sudden, a pony flew by me, but she had seen me before she past me. "Alex!" she called me name, racing towards me. "Alex, what are you doing out here? We've been looking everywhere for you!"

"Fluttershy, no!" I immediately began crawling back to my cave but Fluttershy prevented me to do so by placing her hooves against me and holding me gently on the wall.

"Alex, what's wrong? Why are you here? Why are you acting like this?"

"I can't let you girls find me, Fluttershy. You should just go and never come back."

"But…why…?" Fluttershy asked, starting to form tears in her eyes.

"Fluttershy…" I was hurt to see her form tears. I looked away and answered. "Fluttershy…please… I'll just hurt you more if you don't leave…"

"Alex…" She remained and landed on the ground, sitting down. "You need to tell me…why are you like this…? I want to help you…so much…"

I didn't answer as I continued looking away. Maybe if I tell her the truth, she'll go away? She has to… I can't hurt her anymore…

I shook my head lightly. "What if he's right…?" I spoke softly.

"What…?" Fluttershy asked.

I turned my head towards her. "What if he's right, Fluttershy?"

"Who? Right about what?" Fluttershy quickly questioned.

"Discord! He told me that I was destined to be forever alone! And it wasn't a lie! Look!" I showed her my mark. "That's the proof, right there! A lone wolf… that's what I am… There is no expression on the wolf… he is just…blank… I should have known there would be no chance of killing this loneliness permanently…that's the way it's been for my whole life… ever since I was born…"

"Alex…" Fluttershy could only reply.

I turned my head away and began to feel the emotions stream down my face.

"It all started when I was very little. As far as I could remember, I had a pitiful life. I had what was supposed to be a 'family'… a mom, a dad, and a sister who was older than me. They didn't like me. They didn't even want me in the first place. We had a home in Fillydelphia. However, most of the time, my family was never home. My parents had always gone out for some reason, and my sister always left the house with her friends to go somewhere. I remained home alone. When they were home, they always made me feel like…like…garbage… whenever they found an excuse; they would beat me, leaving bruises and other painful memories… That's the reason I always preferred it for them not to be there… I remember one day when they were home… We had this vase. It was beautiful. I didn't know how they got it, but… it was just amazing. Every time I had passed it, I couldn't help but stare at it for a moment. One day, my sister was walking out of her room, getting ready to go out with her friends again. She saw me staring at the vase, so she purposely walked up to me and began her torturing…

'Move!'

I slowly moved out of her way, but she just pushed me anyway. She had knocked me onto the counter which the vase stood on. My impact caused the vase to wobble and fall to its doom. We both heard that piercing shriek of the vase as it cracked open and broke on the floor. I still remember how the scene looked… the vase was pure white on the inside as its pieces were shattered everywhere on the floor.

'See what you did?'

I could only remain silent in shock as I stared at the horrible scene. My parents immediately came out after they heard the crash. They ran over to us and asked what happened.

'This loser broke your priceless vase, mom!'

I could see my mom stare at me with deadly eyes. I could only stare back, frightened of what was to come. Finally, my mom released steam and shouted at me.

'Get out of my face! You make me sick!'

'But…I…'

'I said, GET OUT!'

'You heard mom. Go away you little creep.'

'But… I didn't do anything…'

'Oh? And I suppose you're telling me that she broke it?'

I couldn't say anything…

'Of course it was him, mom. He always wrecks everything he sees! I don't even know why he had to be born! He was just a big mistake!'

At that moment, my father sent me angry eyes as well and dragged me out of there. He took me to another room and… well… you know what happens after…

That night, I slept outside in the rain. I could only remain beside the house as I cried myself to sleep while continuing to feel the soreness throughout my whole body. It was still better than being in there…

As if things weren't already bad enough at home, I had to live with the same thing at school. All the ponies there teased me, humiliated me, bullied me, all just for laughs and feelings of triumph. There were several times where ponies walked up to me and pretended to my friend. Naïve at the time, I agreed. However, I still felt a little uneasy about the agreement. I knew I should have declined… but…"

I sighed.

"…I guess I still had a small light of hope in me… Well they did it. They either took me for granted by assisting or doing something for them and throwing me away, or purposely sabotaging and deceiving me for the enjoyment of other classmates. I couldn't do anything but slowly walk out of there, holding back tears.

Soon, that fateful day came… Unfortunately, I remember like it was yesterday… The classroom was noisy as all the kids talked to each other and laughed. I was fortunate enough to receive some peace as I sat in the way back of the classroom with my desk isolated from the others. The teacher wasn't in the classroom yet, so I began drawing on my paper. I began drawing about what it might feel to have friends and be happy… but nothing ever came to mind. So instead, it turned to just another sad picture of the loneliness I felt.

Not all the ponies in the school hated me, though… there was one pony; the teacher. From the time I spent at school, I never missed a day or behaved disrespectfully. She noticed this and felt something different for me. Especially after receiving enough bad treatment when I was in the playground, I entered the classroom instead to have some time for myself… The teacher would stay in there to read or grade papers, and she noticed how I would enter the classroom and remain quiet as I waited for recess to be over. I could tell she thought I was special… I was a student who always did his work and never disrespected anyone. But she didn't know the real truth about me on that day…

When the teacher finally entered the classroom, she told all the students to settle down. After a moment, they finally quieted down and listened to what the teacher had to announce.

'Okay, my little ponies. Hopefully you all have been writing those essays I assigned you about what friendship really means?'

I remained quiet. I didn't do the essay. Not that I didn't want to… but that I couldn't. I could only wait while the teacher began looking throughout the room for somepony to pick to read their essay.

'Why don't we start off with a great student?'

The teacher had looked over to me.

'Alex, why don't you start us off with your essay, hm?'

She released a gentle smile. I didn't know what to do… After a moment of hesitating and silence, I slowly got up from the desk and began walking towards the front of the classroom. I could feel all their seductive eyes lay on me as I walked. They had something planned… I just knew it…

When I reached the front of the class, the teacher noticed how I came empty-handed.

'Alex, where's your essay…?'

I remained silent for a moment.

'I don't have one…'

'Why not…?'

I couldn't answer that question… to tell her that...

'Because he doesn't have any friends!'

One pony yelled out and all of them followed by laughing.

'Settle down! Settle down!'

The teacher tried to quiet the students, but they all remained laughing at me. I could only feel tears begin to form in my eyes. I grunted and ran out of the classroom, humiliated yet again. I ran out of the schoolhouse and towards the playground. There, I crawled under a slide and hid in silence as I released the tears that I held inside.

As if the day couldn't get any worse, the school bell rang, frightening me. There was no escape now…

Several of the ponies walked to the playground and eventually found me.

'Look it's what's-his-face!'

They pulled me out from the slide and threw me against the sand.

'C'mon, you dumb pony! Do something!'

They began kicking sand at me and laughing as I could only lay there and take it. I didn't know what to do; I could feel every bit of myself breaking as they continued to hurt me. Everything was a stab to the heart. When I was about to break, something strange happened. A rainbow exploded in the sky, sending the colors straight over us. When I heard that explosion, something in my heart unlocked.

'That's it!'

I confronted them, standing up and recovering from the sand.

'I don't need any of you ponies! You all are just a waste of my time! Go ahead and mock me! Go ahead, laugh at me and make my life miserable! You can't change who I am! I won't let any of you have the pleasure in doing that! I don't need any of you!'

They looked at each other and simply ignored it.

'So you think you're so tough, loser? We'll show you who's tough!'

They all began to charge at me with beatings ready, but a bright light suddenly shined and blinded us all. I didn't know what happened, it just did. After the light vanished, all the kids were on the floor, groaning and moaning in pain. I stepped back in fear and finally ran away.

I didn't return home that afternoon. I continued running away from the town. I didn't know where I was going, but I just ran, endlessly.

Soon, I had felt so tired. I hadn't eaten anything and I was exhausted. I saw this cave nearby and took shelter in it. With my stomach grumbling and my body weak, I fell asleep.

I woke up to another light… there I saw… the Princess…

'What's such a darling and cute pony doing here all by himself?'

I began crawling further into my cave, afraid.

'It's okay… I'm not going to bite…'

She smiled at me and sat down. She held out an apple that she had in front of her.

'Are you hungry…?'

She placed the apple in front of the cave. I slowly crawled out and grabbed it, biting into it. After I was finished, I looked up to her.

'Why are you wasting your time with nothing…?'

'Nothing? What do you mean?'

'I mean me. I'm nothing.'

'Why, you certainly are not! What's your name…?'

I hesitated for a moment.

'…Alex…'

Princess Celestia released a warm smile.

'That's an amazing name…Why are you out here all alone? Where are you parents…?'

'Far away…'

'Why…?'

'Because no pony wants me…'

'That's not true.'

She held out a hoof to me. I grabbed it and she helped me up.

'Come on.'

She had taken me to eat and help me out a bit. After, when it was getting dark, she told me that she couldn't bring me with her to Canterlot because of her royal duties. So, she managed to get a new house, just for me. She apologized once again for not being able to take me, but she hoped I would be okay. Before she left, she wished to see me again some time. Afterwards, she waved goodbye to me and left. I could only stare at her as she walked away. Before I slept that night in my new home, in a comfortable bed, I noticed that something had changed about me. I had looked at my flank and noticed something there that wasn't there before… my mark… a lone wolf.

I had guessed I received it after fighting back at the kids in the playground...

I grew older in that home. I had basically already learned how to take care of myself the hard way, so it was actually easier to live alone. I had told myself that I never wanted to see anypony ever again. I never left the house, unless I absolutely needed to. If I did, I avoided everypony and quickly did my business, so I could return to my house as quick as possible. I spent my birthdays alone, as well as all the holidays. It was just like how it was back in Fillydelphia, except my parents or the other ponies weren't there. It was so much better to no longer feel as much pain, but I still felt very lonely. I didn't dare talk to any pony because I didn't want to risk the same from happening again. I spent every day sleeping or staring at nothing…especially me… I even took some chances in trying to improve myself... It wasn't until Princess Celestia invited me to that 'Summer Sun Celebration' because she wanted to see me. I couldn't decline it because she had done so much for me. Well… it was that day that I met you girls as well…

…So you see Fluttershy? I'm meant to be alone. I can't be with you girls any further because the more time I spend with each of you, the more it's going to hurt for all of us when I lose you…so please, Fluttershy… just go… and leave me here by myself so I can be alone and hurt no pony anymore…"

I turned my head to the side and continued my quiet weeping. All of a sudden, I felt a pair of hooves gently caress my face. They lightly turned my face to the front. I looked at Fluttershy. Tears were streaming from her face as well. She looked intently into my eyes as I could only gaze at her back. She slowly moved her face towards me. Suddenly, she pushed her face forward, pressing her lips against mine. Her eyes were closed as she passionately kissed me. My eyes were widened in shock as I could not believe what Fluttershy was doing. I continued staring at Fluttershy in shock, but then… my eyes began surrendering to the power of the kiss. I slowly closed my eyes and accepted the kiss, feeling the warm softness of her lips.

After a moment, she pulled away slowly. Her cheeks were blooming intensely as they were reddened far more than I had ever seen in my life.

"I'm sorry…for what has happened to you, Alex…" Fluttershy apologized. "…but we're your friends. We will never leave you alone, and we will always be there for you…and maybe…" She began looking away as she rubbed her hooves shyly. "…maybe…I…can…be your..." She paused for a moment. "…girlfriend…" I couldn't believe what she told me… I could only stare in awe as she looked away shyly. She noticed my expression and frowned. "Oh…um… I understand…it's okay…I shouldn't have ever asked you… I mean… who would want a pony like m—

I suddenly interrupted her by grabbing her face with my hooves and pressing my lips against hers, repeating the passionate kiss she gave to me. She had the exact same reaction as me, widening her eyes in shock, but soon closing them in pleasure.

After I pulled away, I looked at her with soft eyes. She noticed them and smiled lightly.

"Is that a yes…?" She asked.

I nodded. "I believe you… and I really care about you…"

She embraced me tightly. "So does that mean you'll come back to us…?"

I nodded again. "Of course."

"Oh thank you! I'm so glad!" Fluttershy continued to embrace me tightly as I wrapped my hooves around her and accepted it.

It had stopped raining… the clouds removed themselves and revealed a sunny day. Fluttershy and I stood up and began walking home.

"You know, Alex…" Fluttershy spoke as we walked, holding each others hooves. "If I've learned anything about loving animals… your mark doesn't necessarily mean that you are meant to be alone forever… it may be a symbol of your independence… on how you don't need to depend on any other ponies, especially the ones who didn't love you. Wolves are also protective of their family, and are loyal to do anything for them… and from what I've seen from all the time we have spent together… that is you, Alex. Your special talent isn't being alone… it's about being strong, independent, and protecting the ones you love."

It did make sense… and from what Fluttershy has shown me… I believed her… automatically and without question. "You're right, Fluttershy…you're so right…but I had been blinded by my dark past that I couldn't see that… you girls are my true friends, and that's why I had been so willing to protect you all from any dangers. You girls are my family… and I…love… each one of you…" I had expressed a word I have never done so in my entire life.

"Oh, Alex." Fluttershy smiled and embraced me again.

When we arrived in town, we spotted the other girls there, tired.

"I wonder if Fluttershy found Alex yet…I'm really worried." Twilight expressed to the girls.

"She has." I answered, immediately causing their heads to turn at us.

They dashed towards us, worried sick. "Alex, we were so worried about you! Are you okay?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah…I am now…"

The rest of the girls returned warm smiles as they knew I was okay. Just before the girls were going to ask me more questions, we heard a voice running towards us.

"Guys!" Spike shouted as he ran towards us.

"What is it, Spike?" Twilight asked.

"Princess Celestia wants me to send a picture of you all!"

"Really?" Twilight questioned, intrigued. She looked back at us. "How about it ponies? Ready for a picture?" She smiled.

"Yeah!" Everypony agreed.

Spike pulled out a camera and was ready to aim it.

Twilight sat in the middle as Rainbow Dash flew slightly above her, placing her hooves on her and looking valiant. Applejack stood to the right of Twilight as she presented a small laughter while closing one eye, happily. Rarity sat to the left of Twilight while giving a warm smile as Pinkie Pie placed her right hoof on her head and waved with her left. She was smiling brightly. Fluttershy lay down on the grass on the bottom of them all. She looked over to me and sent me inviting eyes. I joined them and sat down next to Fluttershy. All of them looked towards the camera as Spike began aiming it.

Usually, I wouldn't have joined so quickly and willingly to be with the girls with something like this… but I changed… I was no longer uncomfortable… because I knew I was with the ponies I loved most. I was with true friends.

"Okay, guys. Get ready to smile!" Spike announced as he prepared his camera.

As I looked at all the girls surrounding me, I felt an intense love coming back from them. As I felt their wonderful presence around me, knowing that they ARE my true friends, I did something that even surprised me. For the first time in my life, I did something so amazing that it felt great to express it with my best friends…and girlfriend…

I smiled.

Lesson Zero

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After the photo, everypony immediately discovered what had just happened. They all looked at me, breathless and silent.

"What…?" I asked.

"Oh…my…gosh…" Pinkie Pie began. "YOU SMILED!" Everypony immediately let out screams of happiness and tackled me towards the floor. "MY BIRTHDAY WISH CAME TRUE! I'M SO HAPPY!" Pinkie Pie screamed.

"Alright, alright, calm down…" I responded, managing to form a light smile again. "It's because I'm with true friends… and…" I looked at Fluttershy. "…should we tell them the news?" Fluttershy blushed lightly and nodded. I looked back at all the girls who were awaiting my answer. "Fluttershy and I… are a couple."

The girls released their weight off me.

"A couple…?" Rarity questioned, seriously.

"Uh…yes…?" I answered, a bit worried that the rest of the girls might have had some problem with it.

The girls looked at each other for a moment in silence. Finally, they screamed in joy.

"That's fantastic!" Rarity exclaimed.

"It's about time." Applejack added with a smile.

"We knew you both would make a great couple. We couldn't wait until the day you finally saw it." Twilight explained.

I smiled with a slight blush. "Heh…yeah…" Then I looked over to Fluttershy who returned a beautiful smile.

In order to make up for the whole mess that happened, all of us decided to spend some time together at the café.

"So, where did you go, Alex?" Twilight asked as we waited for our pizza. "When we couldn't find you anywhere in the ceremony, we grew really worried about you and we all separated to find you!"

"Well… I went to my first home in Ponyville…" I answered.

"First home?" Rarity questioned, confused.

I sighed, although not depressingly. "I guess I should tell all of you the story, huh? After all, you all are my friends and you should know…" I told them every bit of it, just like I had done with Fluttershy. But this time, I didn't feel sad. I felt comfortable sharing this information with them. "…I never tried to make friends because I thought the same thing would just happen again…so…" I fiddled around with the utensils on the table.

Everypony returned surprised and saddened looks. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Alex." Rarity replied in a compassionate tone. "I never would have known something so…horrible… would have happened to you…"

"Hey, it's okay. As long as I have all of you, it doesn't matter anymore. I can leave it all behind me." I released a warm smile at all of them, but removed it when I thought of the apology I wanted to give them. "…and I'm sorry about how I treated you girls when Discord was messing with Ponyville… it's just that he corrupted my mind into thinking that you girls weren't really my friends, and that you were just using me…but, I know all that was a lie now. I'm really sorry… especially to you, Twilight." I looked towards her. "I was a real jerk to you… I walked away from you when you needed me the most and ignored you the whole time… Can you ever forgive me?"

She looked at me and returned a soft smile while closing her eyes. She opened them and held out her forelegs. I analyzed her pose for a moment and realized what she wanted. I regained my smile and accepted her friendly hug that indicated everything was well.

Soon, every one of the girls saw the chance to make it more meaningful. They all closed in to turn it into an amazing group hug. After a moment of connection and releases of aw, we pulled away, smelling the pizza come.

A large, hay topping pizza was planted on the table in front of us. Each of us grabbed a slice. Rainbow held hers up in the middle of the table and gave a powerful and bold smile. "To friendship!"

"To friendship!" Everypony, including me, exclaimed and began eating our dinner.

After having a fantastic evening with my friends, I told them I would truly enjoy meeting them tomorrow. They all suggested a picnic and I quickly and heartily agreed. They left to go home for tonight while I finally walked Fluttershy home again. This time, we held hooves while we walked in the peaceful and beautiful night environment.

"Alex…" Fluttershy began. "I'm so glad that you're finally happy… it makes me…so happy."

"That's great… you know… I can't believe I missed out on all this happiness… it feels so wonderful… it's like…" I stopped, causing Fluttershy to stop as well. "Wait…"

"What is it?" Fluttershy asked with a concerned look on her face.

"That was it…" I presented, amazed. "That was one of the feelings I couldn't explain… happiness!" I looked at her. "I didn't know what it was before you girls showed me! The feeling I felt deep down…but didn't know how to express it…"

"That's wonderful, Alex." Fluttershy released a delicate smile.

Fluttershy invited me into her cottage so we could talk with each other more.

Fluttershy brought tea and joined me on the couch.

"Although… there's still one feeling I'm not too sure of…" I announced as I grabbed the cup that Fluttershy filled with tea and took a sip.

"What is it?" Fluttershy asked, taking a sip from her cup as well.

"There's this feeling I have for you…" I looked at her. "A really special feeling that makes my heart feel so warm inside. It makes me feel like I always want to be with you… It's a feeling I can't quite describe… but all I know… it's amazing…"

Fluttershy slightly looked away and blushed. "…love…?"

I didn't say anything for a moment. I thought. Love? Love… I loved all the girls, but the kind of love I felt for Fluttershy was so much more…passionate and tender…love… "Fluttershy, what kind of love do you mean?"

Fluttershy's cheeks grew even redder as she answered shyly. "…well, when two ponies really like each other and love being with each other whenever, wherever… it's called love… like you'd want to do anything you can to make that special pony happy…and you're always comfortable around that pony… Especially, being with that pony makes you feel really good inside… like there's nothing better that can happen than being with that special somepony…"

I thought again. Was that it? Did I love Fluttershy? I loved being with her so much… and I do want to do anything to keep her happy… especially if she is saddened by something… But I've felt this feeling when Fluttershy and I first began talking to each other… Hm…were these the feelings that Princess Celestia wanted me to find out for myself when I spoke with her that evening? Now that I think about it…

I looked towards Fluttershy, whose cheeks were still reddened a little as she slightly turned away. She noticed me look at her and turned her head to see me. I slowly pushed my head towards her and kissed her gently. She quickly accepted this kiss and closed her eyes. After a few seconds, I pulled away, causing both of us to open our eyes again.

"I guess I must have loved you since the first sight…" I began. "I started feeling these feelings since the first time I saw you… but I never knew what they were…" I paused for a moment, staring at the floor. "…I love you, Fluttershy."

"Alex…" Fluttershy answered, keeping her flushed cheeks and holding her hooves to her mouth. "…I…I love you too!"

She immediately embraced me and kissed me gently, but passionately. I accepted her gift by wrapping my forelegs around her and closing my eyes. After, we slightly pulled away and looked at each other, blushing. I managed to release a small smile. She returned the same expression when she saw me.

"I never knew love felt this good…" I told her.

"Me either…after all…you're the only pony that I've had such strong feelings for…"

"Really…?"

"Mhm." She nodded. "When I was young, I was always teased and stuff…so…" She slightly moved her eyes from me.

"Hm… I guess we both have had the same experiences…"

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, looking back to me.

"We were both teased and bullied by ponies when we were young…"

"But you had it way worse, Alex."

I shrugged. "Well…whatever's the case… we will always have each other…right…?"

She smiled and nodded. "Of course."

I returned another light smile and hugged her again.

After spending a little while longer with Fluttershy, I walked towards the door as she followed me. I turned around and looked at her. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, of course. Until then… I can't wait."

I lightly nodded. "Ok, goodnight Fluttershy… I love you."

She smiled and slightly blushed. "Goodnight, Alex. I love you too."

We both traded a small and quick kiss before I walked out the door and headed home.

When I entered and walked upstairs, I threw myself on the bed and looked at the ceiling. I could hardly sleep… My feelings for Fluttershy kept me awake. In some way, I am excited to see how life is now going to be with my friends and my love for Fluttershy. My heart is just so warm. It feels so good and it makes me so happy…

I closed my eyes and began my way to dreamland, hopefully meeting Fluttershy there as well.

I awoke once again, fully awake. The reason for my full attentiveness was because I was too excited to see Fluttershy, especially at our picnic later on in the day. I walked down the stairs, in a quick but happy pace, and out the front door.

I walked through town, seeing everypony outside. They were all smiling as they joyfully hung around others. I joined them by bringing a smile upon my face as well.

"How are we doing Spike?" I heard Twilight's voice nearby.

"Let's see... "I turned my head to see Spike dragging a long scroll as he talked to Twilight. "We've already dropped off your cape at the cleaners, returned the blackboard you borrowed from Cheerilee, ordered new parchment and quills from the stationary shop..."

"Hmm..." Twilight placed a hoof to her chin. "Seems like we just placed an order for those a few days ago."

Spike lowered his eyelids halfway and looked behind him to observe the long scroll that trailed behind them. "Can't imagine why we go through so many of them." He responded with a hint of sarcasm.

"Sounds like we're ahead of schedule." Twilight replied as I walked towards them.

"Hey, Twilight. Spike." I announced, keeping the smile on my face. "How are you two?"

"Hey, Alex!" Twilight greeted cheerfully. "We're doing great, thank you! How about you?"

"I'm fine. I can't wait for our picnic later on today."

"Neither can we!" Twilight observed my face for a moment. "You know… it feels different seeing you smile now…"

"Is that bad…?" I asked, losing the sign of happiness and replacing it with a worried look.

"No, no! Of course not! It's just… The girls and I were used to never seeing you smile before. But I'm really glad you smile now. It's amazing." Twilight returned a smile. "You just keep up with the smiling, okay?"

I formed a light grin again. "Okay."

Twilight nodded, happily, and looked towards Spike. "What's next?"

"Cupcakes!" Spike exclaimed, throwing his arms out, joyfully.

"Excellent!" Twilight replied and looked over to me. "Alex, care to join us?"

"Sure." I began following them, by their side, to where they were headed.

We arrived at Sugarcube Corner and walked through the door. Twilight walked over to the counter and rang the bell.

"Hello, Twilight." Mrs. Cake greeted as she walked out of the kitchen to attend to her. "Are you here for your cupcakes?"

"Yes, mam!" Twilight answered, cheerfully.

Mrs. Cake walked into the kitchen and brought back a white rectangular box. She placed it on the counter and opened it. Twilight, Spike and I moved our heads closer to look inside. While Spike was drooling over the sight of the delicious pink frosted cupcakes, Twilight formed a sort of confused look on her face.

"Uh, I only ordered twelve." Twilight announced.

"Oh, I know, dear," Mrs. Cake answered as she continued to bring out more sweets from the kitchen and place them in boxes to return to the kitchen again. "…but I had an extra. So I thought I'd make it a baker's dozen."

Spike was now trying to lift himself up from the floor to grab one of the cupcakes, but I lightly pulled him away with my hooves and kept him near me. "Take it easy, Spike." I told him with a warm expression.

"Oh, that was very thoughtful of you." Twilight responded. "It's just some of the icing from the extra cupcake is getting all over the one next to it." Twilight pointed to the cupcake with her hoof and pushed the box forward to Mrs. Cake. "See?"

Mrs. Cake looked in the box, causing to look inside to see what Twilight was talking about. We observed it for a moment, but I didn't notice much difference.

"Ohh... sure..." Mrs. Cake answered, uneasily.

"It's just that I'm planning on sharing these at a picnic later and I don't want anypony to feel like somepony else is getting more icing."

"Oh, no... of course not."

"Not to worry…" Twilight grabbed a kitchen utensil from the back with her magic. "I'll just move some of this one to…"

When I saw Twilight about to scoop up a large part of the top of the cupcake, I immediately placed my hooves on her. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Twilight." I announced, stopping her.

"Hm?" She questioned.

"You don't have to do anything. They're fine."

"But…"

"They're…fine… Twilight." I kept the smile as I looked towards her. "Nopony is going to fight about a cupcake having a little more frosting than the other one. Besides…" I looked over to the cupcakes. "There's no significant change, and I honestly can't tell any difference between them so…" I looked back at Twilight. "They're fine the way they are."

Twilight sighed, but happily. "Okay, Alex…" She chuckled a little and placed the utensil back in the back. "I guess we should get going then."

"Twilight, can I please have one?" Spike asked, pleading on his knees while holding his hands together.

"No, Spike. You wouldn't want to spoil your appetite. You'll just have to wait until the picnic." Twilight replied.

"Aww!"

"Okay, time to tackle the next item on our list." Twilight said, placing the box of cupcakes on her back and beginning to walk out the door. I waved goodbye to Mrs. Cake and followed Twilight out the door.

When we were outside, Twilight looked over to me. "Alright, Alex… Spike and I just have to finish some stuff at home and we'll meet you all at the picnic, okay?"

"Gotcha. I'll see you at the picnic then."

She nodded and smiled, giving a wave before leaving towards her home.

I turned around and began heading towards Fluttershy's house, but then I thought of a fantastic idea.

I had returned home to receive a saddle bag with several bits inside. When I arrived at the market area, I looked around for the flower stand. I spotted a pony with a creamy-colored coat. Her mane consisted of a hot pink and Burgundy color and her eyes were lime green. Her cutie mark contained a rose. I walked happily to the stall, ready to purchase flowers for Fluttershy.

However, there was a pony in front of me talking to the pony selling the flowers. The shopkeeper seemed to be getting frustrated a bit.

"I told you already… I only sell flowers."

"Aw…" The pony in front of me responded with a saddened tone. Her coat was of a bluish-gray color, and her mane was blonde or light yellow. When I saw her eyes, I could see they were yellow-lime or amber. I noticed that her cutie mark contained bubbles… "Are you sure you don't sell muffins here?"

The shopkeeper sighed. "Yes… I'm sure… ONLY flowers."

The pony in front of me lowered her head, sadly, and turned around to walk back. As she walked past me, I could see that her eyes were crossed and staring at the ground. I formed a confused expression. Um…okay…

"I'm sorry about that." The shopkeeper apologized to me. "Would you like to purchase some flowers?"

I looked at her and smiled. "Yes, please. What are your specials?"

"Oh!" She formed a slightly excited expression and pulled out several clusters of flowers. "These were picked just this morning!"

I looked over them, but there one was that caught my eyes. My eyes were attracted to one of the groups that contained a variety of different flowers, such as roses, lilies, and daises. "I'll take that one." I pointed.

"Great!" The shopkeeper smiled. "That'll be three bits!" I opened my saddlebag, pulled out three bits, and placed them on the counter. "Thank you!" She thanked as I grabbed the bouquet of flowers with my teeth. I nodded and placed them in my saddle bag. I turned around and began trotting happily towards Fluttershy's cottage but something startled me as I noticed it in my way. I stopped to notice the same pony, who was in front of me a while ago, was in front of me once again but facing me, sending a smile with her crossed eyes.

"Um…" I slipped out as I saw her.

She continued looking at me in awkward silence. Finally, she spoke. "Hi!"

I looked around, a little uneasily. "Uh…hi?"

"I'm Ditsy Doo, but ponies like to call me Derpy."

"I see…"

"What's your name?" She asked while her eyes still remained crossed. It seemed as if that was her normal expression.

"Um, Alex."

"That's a nice name!"

"Thanks…"

There was a pause.

"Alex, can you help me?" She asked.

"Um, sure. What do you need?"

"I want a muffin, but I can't find a muffin stand."

"Why don't you just go to Sugarcube Corner?"

She pulled her head back, slightly confused. "Sugarcube Corner?"

"You've never been there before?"

She placed a hoof to her chin and thought for a moment. She sucked her in lips, making them look as if she tasted something very sour, and scrunched her nose. After, she returned to her smile. "I don't know."

I thought for a while as well. I guess I could spare some time into helping her… "I suppose I can take you there."

"Really? Thanks, Alex!" She exclaimed.

"Yup... C'mon, let's go."

I walked her over to Sugarcube Corner.

"There you go. Just go in there and ask for muffins, they should have plenty of different kinds." I instructed her from the outside.

"Wooow. Thank you so much, Alex!" She thanked.

"You're welcome…um…Derpy?" I answered, unknowing how to call her by her nickname. "Anyways, I have to meet with somepony, so I guess I'll see you later?"

"Okay! See you soon, Alex!"

I managed to form a light smile and wave as I walked away. As I headed towards Fluttershy's cottage, I could only think about that pony. She's a pony that seems a little… clumsy… but she doesn't seem like such a bad pony…

However, on the way, I heard Twilight nearby once again. "You've got this, Twilight. You still have plenty of time to get that letter to Princess Celestia! Has to be somepony who needs the help of a good friend!"

"Hey, Twilight." I greeted, walking towards her.

"Oh hey, Alex!" Twilight responded. "Do you need help? Do you have a problem or issue on your hooves right now?"

"Um… I don't think so…"

"Oh…" Twilight replied, a little disappointed. She noticed the saddlebag on my back. "What's with the saddle bag?"

"Oh, this?" I questioned, looking at the bag as well. "I'm carrying flowers I bought for Fluttershy."

"Aww." Twilight released. "That's so cute, sweet, and nice. I'm sure you'll make her whole day!"

"Heh, thanks…"

Suddenly, we heard a loud scream coming from Rarity's shop.

"Rarity!" Twilight announced.

We heard another frightening and very loud scream as we rushed over to her shop. We forced open the door and ran inside.

"Rarity, what's wrong?" I quickly asked, spotting Rarity weeping on top of a platform.

"Why me-e-e-e-e-ee..." She sobbed and then gasped. "WHYYYY? Why? Why-y? And of all the worst things that could happen, this is THE. WORST. POSSIBLE. THING!"

I returned a very concerned and worried look as I rushed over to her. However, Twilight looked as if she saw this as more of an opportunity instead.

"What's happened? Are you alright?" Twilight asked.

"I've lost my diamond encrusted purple ribbon!" Rarity responded. "I have searched HIGH, and I have searched LOW. Low and high! High and low! But