by "The Enduring Man-Child"
All standard disclaimers apply.
Thanks to rye dot bread for the beta.
"It's morning! Hooray!" The bright blue eyes, happy pink face, and cotton candy mane showed none of the reluctance to get up with which so many ponies greeted their alarm clocks. This pony was always happy to begin a new day, but especially when Wednesday rolled around. For you see, Wednesday was her mid-week day off from work.
Not that Pinkie Pie minded working in the least, of course. In fact, quite the contrary. She loved her job and her bosses, who were more like adoptive parents really. But on Wednesdays she could visit her friends, play a few harmless pranks, throw a party, or just enjoy being idle. All she had to do, aside from morning hygiene rituals, was feed Gummy ("Now you behave today until Momma gets back!" she told him) and enjoy her breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Cake. Then with best wishes for the day exchanged, she bounced happily out the door.
Most days off Pinkie would just let things happen spontaneously—her friends referred to this as her "randomness"—but today she had something special planned. Today she was going to visit Fluttershy. As childlike and irresponsible as she could sometimes be, she was very protective of the shy pegasus. Maybe she needed cheering up, or maybe someone was being a big Meanie McMeaniepants to her. If so, she would put an end to it! Besides, as much as she loved the bustle and crowds of downtown Ponyville, everypony occasionally needed to see the green grass and hear the birdsong of the countryside. Yes, Fluttershy's rustic cottage on the edge of the forbidding Everfree Forest was just what Pinkie needed today!
Suddenly her bouncing and her ever present song of "la-lala-lala-lala!" came to an abrupt halt. At first it was just a feeling. Then she heard something. It was hard to make out and she had no idea what it was but it didn't sound good. She couldn't even tell where it was coming from. Somehow it seemed to be nearby and far away at the same time, and it seemed to come from everywhere. As the sound became louder she looked into the sky.
It was the time when late spring melds into summer—not yet the Summer Sun Festival, but it was just around the corner. The sky was mostly a clear blue but almost directly overhead was a small white fluffy cloud. She could now tell that the noises were coming from atop it, and they seemed to be growing more desperate by the minute. Furthermore she could now see that hooves were kicking at the edges, causing little whirls of cloud to break off and dissipate. Was there some sort of fight going on up there? Funny, the cloud didn't seem big enough to hold two pegasi.
The cries now became so ghoulish that they frightened her. She wanted to make it stop, to run away—anything! But for some reason it was as if her hooves were rooted to the ground. She couldn't move. Finally she saw the face of none other than Rainbow Dash appear over the edge. It wasn't a pleasant sight. It was as if she were in some kind of agony. Pinkie wished more than ever that she had her balloons or her flying velocipede with her so she could go up and help.
"Rainbow!" Pinkie called up to her, "are you alright?"
That seemed to help. Rainbow suddenly stopped her unearthly cries and looked down at Pinkie. But when she did her eyes went wide with horror and she scrambled away as if terrified. Unfortunately there was now little room to scramble to, with the result that she fell over the opposite edge of the cloud and would have hit the ground like a rock had she not been near enough a tree that its limbs, rough as they were, took most of the momentum out of her fall before she finally landed roughly at the base of its trunk.
"DASHIE!" Pinkie screamed as she ran towards where her friend now lay on the ground. Rainbow didn't seem to be hurt too badly. She shook her head and peered up at Pinkie. And then her face assumed a look of such unspeakable horror that it could scarcely be described. She kicked as though trying with all her might to get away, though the tree directly at her back prevented her from going anywhere. But it was what she screamed that hurt worst of all.
"GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU PSYCHO! DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Pinkie Pie's heart broke in two. Her fluffy mane and tail at once flattened with a sound not unlike air being released from a tire and a tear fell from her eye. She backed away slowly, though she took the time to say "Rainbow, please wake up" very softly before turning to leave, her plan to visit Fluttershy forgotten.
Rainbow Dash was very confused. She shook her head as the remnants of the horrible dream dissipated to find herself on the ground somewhere in the Equestrian countryside, underneath a tree, and very sore. Then she saw the very unusual site of an absolutely miserable and dejected Pinkie Pie, her mane flat and lifeless, and—something she had never seen before—crying mournfully as she walked away. She recalled her nap on the cloud and put two and two together. "Pinkie Pie, wait! Please...please don't go!"
Pinkie stopped. "Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yes. Yes, I'm sure. Please...ow!" Dash had tried to stand so she could catch up to her but apparently her body wasn't quite ready yet for that much movement. Her own pain forgotten at the sound of Rainbow's cry, Pinkie was at her side in an instant.
"Pinkie, I'm sorry! I didn't mean any of that. I'd never talk to you that way, honest!"
Pinkie nodded her head sadly. "I know, Rainbow. I know. And I'm sorry too."
"But you didn't do anything!"
Pinkie was uncharacteristically silent for a moment. "You had a nightmare—didn't you?"
"Um...yeah. An awful one, too!"
"And I was in it...wasn't I?"
Rainbow Dash was suddenly struck with more guilt than she had ever felt in her life. Why had she had such an awful dream about her happy and innocent friend who had never done her any harm? It didn't make any sense at all!
"Please answer me, Rainbow. You had a nightmare...and it was about me, wasn't it?" And the look she gave her, though it did not carry any blame, nevertheless was one that would brook no dishonesty, now matter how well-intentioned.
Now Rainbow Dash was the one desperately trying to retain her stoic "coolness" and not shed tears of her own. "I didn't mean to!"
"I know," Pinkie said quietly. Then after a moment she continued, "so what did I do this time? Did I make a bazillion balloons appear and burst and cover you with whipped cream while you were in the library and nopony could see me except you? Did I wish you out into the cornfield? Did I gas all of Ponyville with some kind of poison that made everypony die hideous deaths with ghastly grins on their faces? Did I bake you in a giant pie? Rise out of the ocean as a giant Pinkie head all tentacley- and suction cuppy and bring about the Pinkocalypse? Or was it the one where I come out of the mirror and put your soul in a bottle? That one sounds like a lulu."
"Pinkie...you're saying other ponies have had nightmares about you?"
She nodded. "It doesn't happen all the time. But occasionally somepony will..." Her words ceased as a fresh tear came down her cheek.
"Oh Pinkie!" Dash literally didn't know what to say. Instead she placed her forehoof on Pinkie's, nuzzled her, and let her cry for a while, hoping her actions would convey comfort in a way no words could.
"I know I'm not super smart like Twilight, but I kinda know why it happens," she said. "Rainbow, I actually scare some ponies! They see me all hyper and happy and partying and they think...they think there must be something bad deep down inside me. There's not, really—I don't know why people just can't accept me for who I am—but sometimes..."
There was no need to go on. Rainbow Dash was no scholar of Dr. Karl Kolt's theories of equine archetypes, but although she couldn't put it in words she understood the general idea. The evil clown. The sinister child. The menacing toy. She knew that there were ponies who wrote horror stories along those lines, though she'd never read any. They just weren't her thing. But she had never thought that such dark fantasies could hurt people in real life. But now she understood that they could.
"Pinkie, I don't know what to say. I've never thought about you that way once in my entire life. And I haven't been mad at you, or afraid of you, or even annoyed with you lately. Although I gotta admit that I'm sometimes intimidated by your Strange, Inexplicable, Pinkie Pie Powers."
"Oh Dashie!" At last some of the awful sadness seemed to be leaving her voice. "My 'Strange, Inexplicable, Pinkie Pie Powers' only exist to make ponies happy. They'll never hurt anypony."
"Okay, I believe you," Rainbow said, "but all the same, I'd hate to get you mad at me..." She stopped suddenly as Pinkie put a hoof to her lips.
"No, Dashie. Don't you understand? My Powers will never hurt anypony! They can't! Not ever! It doesn't matter if I'm mad at them or not!"
"Really?" Rainbow asked.
Pinkie Pie nodded.
"Well, they still make me feel...inadequate sometimes. I mean, I may be the fastest and coolest flier in all Equestria, but I can't do the amazing things you do. I mean, like be in two places at once! Wow! Is that awesome or what?"
"Rainbow Dash, if there's anyone in Equestria who shouldn't feel inadequate because of my Powers, it's you. I wasn't born with them, you know. I got them from you."
"You did?" Rainbow couldn't believe her ears.
"I noticed them about the time I got my cutie mark," Pinkie explained. And since it can't have simply come from that, I have to believe that your Sonic Rainboom singled me out for something special, just like it did with Twilight's super-duper magic. That's some serious mojo you got there, Dashie. You know, Twilight may be the 'Sixth Element,' but you're the one who brought us together, and I think somehow you're the glue that holds us all together. Really."
Ordinarily the slightest praise would go directly to the brash tomcolt's head and start her bragging to the skies. But this time she only felt honored...and strangely humble.
"Pinkie, I'm sorry you've had to endure this. You say it doesn't happen often, right?"
"No, not often," Pinkie answered, "but just one time would have been too many. So far the foals don't seem affected—maybe they accept me more than grown ponies do—and so far as I know you're the first of our friends." Here Rainbow felt guilty again. "I hope with all my heart that Fluttershy never has a dream like that about me. If she did, I don't think I could ever so much as look at myself in the mirror again. And oh, my poor bronies!"
Rainbow quirked an eyebrow. "Bronies?"
"Um...never mind!" Pinkie said. She paused for a moment, then added, "so...do you want me to go into Ponyville and send the nurse out here?"
Dash smirked. "Nah. I'm fine."
"I don't know. That looks like a nasty bruise," Pinkie said, looking at Dash's swelled head—well, thanks to her tumble, swelled even more than usual.
Dash touched the said area and winced. "It'll be all right. We're not far from Fluttershy's cottage. She'll be able to fix me up in no time."
"Well, I was on my way there when all this started," Pinkie Pie observed. Can you make it there on your own? I'll go back into Ponyville. I'm sure you'll want to see as little of me as possible for a while."
Rainbow Dash reached up and took Pinkie's head, forcing her gaze. "No," she said. "Please don't go, Pinkie. Please come with me. There's nopony I'd rather spend my time with than you."
A glimmer of light came back into Pinkie's sad eyes. "Really? But what about that awful dream? I know neither of us was to blame, but...don't you feel just a little bit uncomfortable around me right now?"
"Pinkie, did you have a dream last night?" she asked her.
"I don't think so. At least I don't remember having one," she said.
"I once heard that ponies actually dream every night," Rainbow told her, "but they usually don't remember them. And just like your dream from last night, that awful nightmare I had a while ago is fading fast. I'm not just saying that!" she added, seeing that Pinkie was about to object. "I remember that I had an awful dream, and that you were in it—and I'm still terribly sorry, by the way—and I know that the 'you' in the dream did something horrible and scary, but I can't even remember what it was now. And even if I did, that wouldn't have anything to do with you. But anyway, by tomorrow I won't even remember I had that nightmare at all."
"R-really?" she asked.
"Dreams fade, Pinkie. They fade fast and then they're gone."
"Those other ponies sure seemed to remember them," Pinkie observed sadly.
"Yeah, but I bet they described them to you right after waking up. Now you're stuck with awful memories they probably don't even have anymore. Trust me, Pinkie, when you're the one to have a dream it fades. And mine's fading fast. But you know what's still there?" And Rainbow made certain to look directly into Pinkie's eyes, giving her the most sincere look she could muster—not an easy task for a pony who didn't go for "mushy stuff," but surprisingly easy in this case. "My friendship for you is still there. That will never fade. And the fact that I could never be afraid of you—not ever! And the fact that I...I trust you, Pinkie Pie. I trust you with my life. No silly nightmare could ever change that."
Slowly the down-turned corners of Pinkie's mouth reversed themselves, and Dash thought for just a moment she could see the reflection of a rainbow in her eyes—that first rainbow she had ever seen which had affected her so much. And then...
Suddenly the flat mane was replaced with what looked like cotton candy, and the straight, lifeless tail flared outwards as though full of static electricity. She shed a few more tears—of joy this time—and the two friends made their way together to Fluttershy's cottage.
Rainbow Dash never had another Pinkie nightmare. And, just as she'd said, the one she did have was forgotten the next day, leaving not even a memory. Because after all...dreams fade.
A brief word about this fic: this was not written primarily in response to "Cupcakes" the fan fic (hey, a fan fic is a fan fic), or even to "Cupcakes" the Internet meme (Internet memes are silly and fun). It was written because it seemed to the author that the topic of the fic and the meme were becoming too attached to Pinkie Pie herself. It's getting to where you can't watch a fan made video about her without reading comments about how sinister and crazy and dangerous she is and how she's just about to snap. The scene in "Party of One" is usually invoked, but that scene was pure unadulterated laughs with absolutely no hint of danger whatsoever. I know it's silly to feel protective towards a cartoon character, but she doesn't deserve to be treated like this. I have no wish to interfere in the artistic freedom of other fans (and couldn't if I did), but I do hope that writers will take just a moment to think before they ingrain this idea any deeper. I'm afraid that without some love for Pinkie her "dangerous, evil" persona is going to become every bit as much "fanon" as Derpy or Doctor Whooves. This is just my little effort in her defense. I hope other bronies will join me.