Many thanks for Author Laurence Brown for pre-reading. Seriously, go read his stuff.
Also, I don't own My Little Pony nor do I have any real rights to its characters... this being fan-fiction and all.
To you new readers, please be advised that the majority of this story (Chapters 1-5 and about 80% of chapter 6) was written prior to the advent of Season 2.
Though there were many words that could be used to describe such a scene, that was the one that most often came to mind. After all, the sun was nothing if not brilliant, and when dawning it seemed all the more so to the tired eyes pierced by its dazzling rays. Yet this was a dawn like any other. Steady, expected, and exactly on time. Whether that was the right time or not depended entirely upon who you asked—and when.
For example, at this moment, Twilight Sparkle was of the opinion that it was entirely the wrong time.
With a low groan she shifted in her bed, rolling around so as to face away from the radiant sun so that it would not assault her tired eyes. Under normal circumstances she would have been up an hour and half ago, but a long night of studying had prevented her from keeping her daily timetable, and she was several hours past due on her sleepy time.
The sun, however, was insistent that the day be started, and continued to fill her room in the upper story of the library with its luster and warmth. Twilight ignored the intrusive light. It was bearable as long as she wasn't facing it, and she was just as insistent that she recover those lost hours of sleep. It would have worked too, had the sun not found a very reflective surface on the other side of her room and managed to redirect itself.
Twilight groaned again and briefly contemplated closing the window curtain, but that would require getting out of bed, or at the very least concentrating enough to will her magic into play. She killed the thought, opting instead for the less involved action of pulling the covers over her head. In an instant the brightness was cut off, and she gained several more minutes of respite.
Light flooded into the room freely now, but Twilight was secure in her blanket fortress, confident that no amount of photons beating against her bedcovers would breach her crafty defenses; but the day had other weapons in its arsenal. As Twilight lay there, recovering from the momentary invasion, she realized that it was beginning to feel warm. Too warm. Uncomfortably warm. In desperation she stuck her muzzle out the side of her sheets, attempting to vent her hot, recycled breath without exposing her sensitive eyes, but the damage was done. There was no sense fighting it now, she had lost this battle. It was time to get up.
Curse the summer sun.
With one final groan she rose out of bed, tossing the covers off to one side as she rolled off the other. Landing on all fours she yawned once, stretched twice, and then slowly began to move. The first item on the list was making the bed, followed by a quick brushing of her mane to rid herself of her bed-hair. Next on her list was a drink of water, her mouth having become exceptionally dry over the course of the night, but as she tried to sort out the best course of action needed to obtain one, her groggy thoughts were viciously interrupted.
She only had enough time to turn around before Spike burst through the door to her room. Wasting no time he slammed the door shut behind him and braced himself against it, breathing heavily. Twilight was taken aback at the sudden entrance, but at least she was no longer tired.
"Spike? What's wrong?" she asked her assistant, whose wide eyes didn't seem capable of focusing on anything in particular.
"It's too early for me to be dealing with this, Twilight!" Spike said, his words coming out as fast as he could work them through his lips. "This isn't what I signed up for when I agreed to stay with you in Ponyville! She's crazy!"
"Whoa, Spike, calm down," Twilight said, slowly making her way towards the normally unflappable baby dragon. "Who's crazy? What's going on?"
"It's Pi—" was all he managed to get out before the door seemed to fling itself open violently, sending the hapless dragon into a bookshelf across the room.
From the other side of the door, a voice was clearly heard. "Spiiiiiike! Come back! I haven't finished telling you about the—" a bright pink visage poked through the doorway, only to visibly shift gears as it saw and recognized the other purple occupant of the room. "Hi Twilight!"
"Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked, trying to make sense of it all.
"The one and only!" the bright pink pony confirmed for her cheerfully.
"Thank Celestia for that," a talking pile of books across the room commented with a muffled voice. The pile shifted for a moment as a small purple hand managed to find its way to the surface, but it couldn't find the leverage to do much else. "Uh… a little help here?"
"Spike!" Twilight started, moving quickly to assist her assistant. Her horn began to glow and several of the books were hauled off the small form beneath them, "Are you ok?"
The small purple and green dragon slowly crawled out from underneath his temporary educational penitentiary and unsteadily got back to his feet. "I'm ok," he assured his friend, even as the room swam before his eyes.
Twilight was less than convinced, "You don't look so good."
"Well, the room's spinning," he confirmed for her, "and I'm gonna have a lump on my head the size of Celestia's Castle, but I'll survive... I think."
Back in the doorway, Pinkie Pie giggled. "Silly Spike, you shouldn't play under the bookshelves. Some of those look really heavy!"
"Yeah, thanks, I noticed," Spike said, not even trying to hide his sarcasm.
As usual, it had no effect, "You're welcome!"
Upon confirming Spike more or less intact, Twilight turned her attention to their unexpected guest. "So, Pinkie Pie, what brings you here so early in the morning?"
"Oh, well it's Mr. and Mrs. Cake's day off!" Pinkie said enthusiastically, referring to the caretakers of the local confectionery at which she worked and lived, "so I'm not allowed in the bakery today!"
Twilight was a little puzzled, "Wait… what?"
"Makes perfect sense to me," Spike said, rubbing the back of his head as he stepped gruffly past Pinkie Pie and out of the room. He could feel the aforementioned lump beginning to form, and it was just about as big as he'd thought. He gave a low growl. "Twilight, you deal with this. I'm going outside."
"Wait, Spike!" Twilight called as he walked out the door to her room. She followed him down the stairs, still trying to piece together what, exactly, was going on. "What about breakfast?"
"Breakfast was ready five minutes ago!" Spike shot over his shoulder just before exiting the library with an angry slam. Twilight was perplexed at his behavior, but then again, she'd been one perplexed pony from the moment she'd gotten out of bed today.
"Yeah, and it was good too!"
"Breakfast!" Pinkie Pie said without hesitation, hopping down the last few stairs. "It was good! Spike makes some mean daisy and vanilla waffles!"
Twilight shot a glance at the kitchen area. It was in complete disarray, as if a tornado had gone through it during the night. With a sigh she began to piece together what had happened; her first conclusion being that she was going to be going hungry this morning, and it was unlikely that Spike had been able to get anything to eat either. She made a mental note to take him out to lunch. Maybe she'd be able to buy a few small gems off Rarity as further compensation.
"Oh! Hey Twilight!" Pinkie Pie cut into her thoughts, "Maybe you can help me!"
Twilight turned to her bright pink earth pony friend. Under normal circumstances, she wouldn't have minded the company of the overtly excited partygoer, but Spike had been right about one thing: It was too early for this.
Nevertheless, she couldn't turn down a cry for help, no matter how insane it was likely to be.
"What do you need help with, Pinkie?"
"I'm looking for a book about parties!"
Oh, well, that didn't sound so bad, except…
"But— but you're Pinkie Pie! Equestria's self proclaimed authority on parties! What could you possibly learn from some book?"
Pinkie's expression became uncharacteristically stern for a moment, something that worried Twilight a little. "Well, after the Grand Galloping Gala," she began, "I realized that there was a type of party that I didn't know about! So I thought, 'maybe there are even more types of parties that I don't know about!'" Her stern expression disappeared quickly and her face brightened to her standard exaggerated glee, "So then I thought, 'I know, I'll ask my bestest best friend Twilight Sparkle! She such a super-smart-smarty-smart pants that she knows about everything!'" Now she alternated between the two as she spoke, switching rapidly between stern and excited with each new notion, "And then I thought, 'But wait, Twilight doesn't like to party all the time! Maybe she won't be able to help me!' but then I thought, 'But Twilight reads all the time! She has to know something I don't!' and then I thought, 'But she reads about boring things like science and magic!' and then I thought, 'But maybe she learned a few neat tricks!' and then I thought, 'but she doesn't like to show off, even if she can!' and then I thought 'but she's from Canterlot, she has to know something about the parties they have up there!' and then I thought—"
"Okay, okay…" Twilight interrupted before the other pony passed out on the floor for lack of inhalation, "I think I understand what you're searching for, Pinkie."
"Oh goodie!" Pinkie said, stamping her forehooves with joy. "I was worried I was going to have to explain the whole thing!"
"Come on," Twilight motioned for Pinkie to follow her as she walked over to the shelves of books that lined the library's walls, "I'll admit that everything I know about parties comes from you, but I'm sure we can find something in here, this is a library, after all."
"Okey-Dokey-Lokey!" Pinkie said as she followed her friend gleefully, excited at the idea of learning something new. Especially if it was about parties!
Spike stormed down the dusty main street of Ponyville, headed for the Town Square. From there… who knew? Spike certainly didn't, he just needed to blow off some steam. As if to prove the point, two small jets of steam shot out of his nostrils, along with a frustrated grunt. Today was the first time in a long while he had actually managed to get up before Twilight. Once he realized she was still asleep, he'd fully intended to surprise her by getting all the morning chores done before she woke, something he had actually managed to do for the most part. He was even putting the finishing touches on a special breakfast when that blasted pink pony had shown up and ruined everything!
The thought made him stop in his tracks and he tensed, letting all his frustration vent out a second time in the form of hot smoke shooting from every orifice he could manage. Several ponies paused to witness the spectacle, but quickly moved on.
Once he finished smoldering, he took another deep breath. This one he let out much more slowly in the form of a defeated sigh. He didn't like being angry, but after the disaster that Pinkie Pie had made of his plans he'd needed to get out of the library.
Not that he didn't like Pinkie either, he reminded himself. In fact, on most occasions he was more than willing to play party to her wild pony antics, and even he had to admit that she always threw one hay of a party. Just… why did she have to show up this morning, of all times?
A carriage rolled past and snapped him out of his musing, bringing to light the fact that he was still standing in the middle of the road. Looking around he spotted a nearby bench beneath a shady tree. With nothing better to do he walked over and plopped himself down on top of it in a huff.
He hadn't wanted to abandon Twilight like that. He absolutely hated it when either of them parted ways in anger, even if he hadn't been angry at her. He promised himself that he'd make it up to her, starting with cleaning the mess left in the kitchen… assuming she didn't get it done before he got back. He should probably apologize to Pinkie Pie too, though knowing her she probably hadn't even noticed his temper. That was one of the perks of having Pinkie Pie for a friend; she couldn't pass judgment if she wanted to.
Spike chuckled as a thought crossed his mind, Well, ok… maybe in extreme cases…
As he sat there sorting his thoughts and working up the courage to return to the library and face the consequences of his actions, a figure caught the edge of his peripheral vision. He didn't even have to look twice. In an instant all other thoughts were forcibly ejected from his head as the white unicorn crossing the street became the center of his attention.
It was Rarity, looking dazzling as ever as she pranced down the street at a quick pace, her mane and tail flowing wistfully with the slight breeze of the morning air. Every step with purpose, every hair in place, there was nothing that unicorn did that was not done to the utmost detail.
As she passed by she caught sight of Spike, and in a surprise twist for the small dragon, she instantly changed course and made a beeline towards him. Spike had a momentary panic attack. He gave himself a once over, making sure he looked as presentable as possible before she got close enough to notice any details.
Everything was a go as the unicorn made her final approach.
"Hello, Spike dear," she said in her usual singsong voice that sent Spike's heart racing, "How are you this morning?"
"Hi Rarity! I'm, uh…" Spike paused for just a moment as the morning's events coursed through his brain, "I'm great! Just… uh… running errands! Yeah! For… for Twilight!"
Rarity softly clicked her tongue as she slowly shook her head, making her velvet mane bounce lightly with the motion, "At such an early hour? That Twilight… I'm going to have to talk to her about overworking her assistants."
"Oh, it's not so bad," Spike said quickly. If Rarity talked to Twilight she'd learn about everything! That wouldn't be good. "I was up early this morning anyway, so I volunteered!"
Rarity offered the eager dragon a small smile, "And you are just such a sweetie for doing so."
Spike looked at the ground, suddenly feeling very embarrassed. "Aw, shucks..."
"Anyway, Spike, dear," Rarity continued, the look on her face turning a bit more serious, "You haven't happened to see Fluttershy lately, have you?"
Spike brought a finger up to his chin in thought, "Fluttershy?" He tried to remember anything over the last few days… any sign he might have seen of their pegasus friend. "No…" he said finally, "come to think of it, I haven't seen her since the night at the Gala last week."
Rarity's expression fell another notch, "Oh dear, that's what I was afraid of," she mused, almost to herself. "I haven't seen her since then either, and she didn't meet me at the spa yesterday. I was on my way to the meadow now to see if I could find her. I'm terribly worried."
Seeing Rarity upset sent Spike into instant 'comfort mode'. He didn't like to see so much worry on such a beautiful face.
"I'm sure she's ok," he tried to assure her. "She seemed fine at the donut shop. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time Fluttershy disappeared for a few days."
Rarity cast a sidelong glance, though it wasn't quite so downtrodden, "Yes, that is true," she agreed. "But still, she wasn't quite herself that night. I believe I will stop by her home regardless… just in case."
Spike eagerly hopped off the bench he was sitting on. "Do you want someone to come with you?"
Rarity hesitated for just a moment, "Er—no, thank you, Spike. I wouldn't want to interfere with your errands. Twilight might get worried."
Spike's eager expression quickly died as he recalled his initial deception, "Oh… yeah, my errands… right."
"Yes, now you'd best get on them," Rarity said, giving him a nudge. "Thank you so much for your help."
Without another word the unicorn moved off into the crowd, headed west towards Fluttershy's meadow. Spike watched her go until he was confident she was out of earshot.
"Stupid Spike," he berated himself, "that could have been your chance." He gave himself a light knock on the back of his head, only to release a startled yelp as he made contact with his earlier injury, which he then nursed gingerly. "Owwww…"
The bump reminded him once again why he was where he was. His anger having dissipated at the sight of his heart's desire, he decided it was a good a time as any to return to the library and apologize to Twilight.
Oh… and Pinkie too, if she was still there.
Pinkie Pie had her face buried in a book, and for once it wasn't because of Rainbow Dash crashing through a window.
"Letsee!" she said as eager as ever, "After-parties, anniversaries, baby showers, bachelorette parties… ooh! That sounds fun! Page thirty-tw—Hey!" She yelped when the book suddenly snapped shut, nearly catching her nose in the process.
"Here we are!" Twilight said quickly, handing Pinkie a volume she had picked up off a nearby shelf and levitating the book Pinkie had been looking at far across the room. "The Life and Times of the Ballroom Dance, I believe this is what you were looking for?"
"Ooh, ooh, lemme see! Lemme see!" Pinkie said, bouncing several times in her excitement. She quickly grabbed the book and nosed through it, seeming to absorb the information on each page through sheer osmosis.
As Pinkie Pie did her thing, Twilight turned back to the book she had found during her search, A Comprehensive History of the Grand Galloping Gala. In retrospect, she thought to herself, I should have looked this up a month ago. They were both too occupied in their reading to hear the main doors open softly, that is until Twilight heard a quiet whisper behind her.
Twilight turned to see Spike, speaking softly as Twilight always instructed him to whenever anyone else was reading in the library. He waved sheepishly at her, obviously upset with himself.
Twilight gave him a reassuring smile, "Hi Spike, feeling better?"
"A little, yeah. I just wanted to… you know, apologize for earlier."
Twilight moved to give him an affectionate nuzzle, "Don't worry about it." She cast a sidelong glance at their guest, "I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened."
Spike still looked a little upset, "You… want me to go get the kitchen cleaned?" he asked somewhat timidly.
Twilight was a little surprised. Spike absolutely hated cleaning the kitchen, so to hear him actually make such an offer was no small thing. She glanced over at their simple kitchen, only to wince at the state that it was in. "You know what, Spike? No… we'll tackle that one together later. Why don't you go pick up the books that fell off the shelves upstairs and once Pinkie leaves we'll go get something to eat, ok?"
Spike perked up visibly at this, equal parts glad that he wouldn't be knee deep in the mire on his own and the fact that the morning wasn't about to be a total loss. With an eager, "You got it!" he started towards the staircase, only to be intercepted by a large flying tome that quickly carried him into the nearest wall with a loud thud.
"Spike!" Twilight cried in alarm.
"Fooey," Pinkie Pie said, not even having looked at where the book had landed. "There's nothing in that book but fancy footsteps and ridiculous rules." She stuck out her tongue and blew a loud raspberry. "How can anyone call that a party!"
For the second time that morning, Twilight rushed to the aid of her beleaguered assistant. "Spike! Are you ok!"
Across the room, Pinkie suddenly became very tense as her tail began to twitch involuntarily. "Uh oh…"
"I'm ok, Twilight," Spike said, pushing over the book that had him pinned to the wall, but before he could get away a shelf overhead managed to dislodge itself, dumping a rather bulky looking chest towards the hapless dragon below. With a startled cry Spike cringed and covered his head, but was pleasantly surprised when the chest didn't make a lasting impression on his face. Looking up he saw that Twilight had managed to grab the large crate before impact using her magic, and had gently set it down beside the baby dragon.
"Whew, thanks Twilight," Spike said, wiping his forehead, only to get conked on the noggin by a glass snowglobe that had sat beside the chest on the shelf.
"Oops, sorry Spike," the purple unicorn apologized.
"My tail's twitching! My tail is twitching!" Pinkie exclaimed, rushing to her friend's side. "Oh, wait… it stopped."
Spike sat on the floor, rubbing his head at multiple points. "Pinkie," he said with a wince, "I think being around you is becoming hazardous to my health."
Twilight gave a sigh, not liking to be too stern with the energetic and innocent minded pony, but she had to put her hoof down at some point.
"Pinkie," she said firmly, "I'm going to have to ask you not to throw the books around like that. They're not exactly indestructible."
Pinkie's eyes went wide as she lowered her head and took a few steps back, "Oh, I'm so very sorry Twilight! I won't do it again."
"Pinkie Promise?" Twilight asked, wanting to settle this once and for all.
The earth pony had to think for a moment before vigorously shaking her head. "No. Pinkie Promises are only meant for the most important things."
Twilight sighed, "A regular promise then?"
With a look of frustrated amusement on her face, the purple unicorn turned back to the newest mess that had appeared on the library floor. As she reset the shelf and picked up the chest, Pinkie Pie shot to her side.
"Ooh, ooh, what's that!" the earth pony asked, gesturing wildly to the bulky box.
"That…" Twilight said, hoisting the box back onto the shelf, "is my treasure chest."