Sweet Apple Acres Barn
"And then your eyes blink out," raved Pinkie Pie, "one by one by one! Blink, Blink, Blink! Like candle flames—imploding candle flames! And if someone else touches you—"
"Pinkie!" interrupted Twilight, catching the manic storyteller in mid-gesture with her forelegs angled dramatically. "You do realize that ponies only have two eyes?"
Pinkie Pie paused, her confidence lost. She poked her eyes in turn, as if internally counting One, two…and searched around her face as if looking for more. "Huh! You're right, Twilight! But what difference does it make?"
Twilight was now standing. "It means, Pinkie, that your eyes can't blink out one by one by one! Because that's at least three eyes!"
"B'sides," Applejack chimed in from the hay-strewn floor, "ain't eyes for blinkin' in th' first place? T'ain't nothin' scary about blinkin' eyes."
It was evident Pinkie had been thrown off her game, but she struggled to regain control of the sleepover. "Well, if you did have more than two eyes—like if you were a spider or something—they would still all blink out! But they wouldn't blink like ordinary eyes—they'd blink like imploding candles, weren't you listening? FOOOSH! FOOOSH! Every time it happens, you see that much less!" She waved her forelegs wildly in what might have been an effort to simulate obstruction of vision. "And what's more…if anyone touches so much as a drop of your blood, or your mucus, or any other icky bits…THEN THEY CATCH IT TOO!"
"Gracious!" cried Rarity, more from disgust than fear.
"And then," continued Pinkie, acting out her words, "you're wandering around aimlessly…no idea where you're going…and you run SMACK into a wall!" To her credit, she really did manage to make her collision with the barn wall and subsequent collapse look accidental. "And you start to bleeeeed…and somepony else comes by and says, 'Hey! How're you doing? Need a hoof?' But you blather 'NOOOOooo, NNNnnoooOOOO!'"
"Holy horsefeathers," swore Applejack.
"But your nose is all full of snot," continued Pinkie, "so they don't understand you! And the kindly stranger says, 'Oh, it's okay! Let me just wipe those tears away!' And they reach out with a hankey…" She somehow managed to ominously reach out toward herself. "And then…before you can stop them…"
The assembled ponies gaped in suspense.
"…THEY CATCH IT TOO!" Pinkie's eyes flashed into green spirals for a split second as she gesticulated and flipped madly along the barn's expanse, legs flopping everywhere.
"No!" shouted Rarity. "It's too horrible!"
"That's awful, Pinkie!" exclaimed Twilight. "But what is this terrible disease called?"
Pinkie froze in a contorted position and gazed at Twilight. "I don't know!" she retorted. "If anyone so much as TELLS you the name of the disease…YOU CATCH IT!" The crazed earth pony then resumed her erratic flip-flopping until she was sprawled against a stack of barrels of apple whiskey, ears and feet twitching. "And that's my scary story!" she finished in a chipper tone, leaping back to a normal posture. "Someone else's turn!"
The lengthy astonished silence was broken by Twilight. "Wow, Pinkie! What a story!"
"Pinkie, I do believe you outdone yerself this time," declared Applejack. "You got me twitchin' in boots ah ain't even wearin'. Why, if I get one wink o' sleep tonight, I'll be surprised."
"Sleepovers aren't for sleeping, silly!" retorted the pink pony. "I thought everypony knew that!"
"It's true," said Twilight sheepishly, levitating her book to the appropriate page. "They cover that in chapter 1."
The sole male occupant of the barn, who had remained silent through Pinkie's fearsome account, now spoke up in his characteristic drawl. "Well, no one seems to've told Rainbow over there. Do ah detect a hint of snorin'?"
They all turned to Rainbow Dash, sprawled halfway off a wool blanket in the corner, who did, indeed, seem to be audibly snoring.
Pinkie gasped. "Oh my gosh, she's so cute when she's sleeping! Look, her feathers are rustling!"
"Yep, she's snoozin', all right," said Applejack. "Wonder why that might be."
"Seems somepony gave her a mite too much to drink," suggested Big Mac.
Applejack smiled innocently to her brother. "That girl talks quite a big talk, but in the end, she's a lightweight."
"I imagine she has to maintain a slender frame," suggested Rarity, "or she wouldn't be able to excel in the sky."
"Well that may be," Applejack replied, "but even so, y'wouldn't expect two ciders'd do her in."
Big Mac craned his neck and sniffed. "Do ah smell whiskey?"
"…And some whiskey," admitted Applejack, looking embarrassed.
Twilight made a check mark in her book, noting that scary story time seemed to be over with. "Well, Applejack, at times you do seem inordinately fond of…how should I put it? The joys of imbibement? The pleasures of the flesh?"
"Pleasures o' the flesh? Twilight, you really oughtta know what you're talkin' about before you start gettin' poetic. Heck, maybe I just like havin' something ah can beat Rainbow at squarely, hooves down. That filly can whip me in a lot o'things, but drinkin' sure ain't one of 'em."
"Heh! So I've gathered." Twilight's horn shimmered as she extracted a jug of apple whiskey from among the barrels Pinkie had collapsed next to. "Speaking of whiskey, would anyone like some?"
"Ooh! Ooh!" cried Pinkie, standing up tall and following the jug with her nose.
"Now hooold on!" yelled Applejack, moving in. "Twilight, do not let Pinkie near that jug!"
"Oh?" asked the unicorn. "Why not?"
Applejack struck a cautionary pose before Twilight. "Because that filly is not safe with alcohol in 'er. She's like a live explosive."
"Oh, come on!" protested Pinkie, leaping for the jug as Twilight repeatedly hoisted it out of reach. "I'm not that needlessly destructive!"
"Needlessly enough," Rarity seconded, gently wresting the jug from Twilight's telekinetic grasp and securing it with her own. "You can stick with sparkling cider, can't you, Pinkie?"
Pinkie looked ready to grumble, but Big Mac cut her off. "Ah could go with a dram'r two, ah reckon."
"Sure thing, Big Mac," said Twilight, taking the jug back from Rarity and filling a small shotglass for the large red stallion. He gave her a nod and inhaled its contents in one breath.
"Now Mac's one who can hold'is likker," remarked his sister.
"Indeed," agreed Rarity.
"You can't keep that jug from me forever!" chimed Pinkie, her eyes on the prize.
Big Mac met her eye coolly. "Well, maybe ah should jus' finish it off, then. Jus' to be on the safe side."
"A wise idea," said Twilight sagely, refilling his glass. "Between the four of us, we should be able to take care of it."
"Anythin' for the safety o' my property," agreed Applejack, fetching a cup for herself.
Pinkie, however, was not taking her treatment well. She wore a pout on her face and sat down, treating the assembled ponies to a stern "Hmmph!"
"Oh, Pinkie," said Twilight. "Don't frown!"
"Why shouldn't I?" she demanded. "You're singling me out!"
Twilight glowered. "Fine," she admitted. "You're right. Your behavior is your own responsibility, and it isn't fair of us to single you out."
"It may be her responsibility, but it's my barn!" cried Applejack.
"But she's frowning!" countered Twilight.
"Let her frown! Ah'm fine with her frownin'. So long as she isn't crashin' through rafters and diggin' up load-bearin' posts."
Twilight relinquished the jug to Applejack's custody. "Fine. Your barn, your call."
Visibly relieved, the apple farmer helped herself, but paused when she caught a glimpse of Pinkie. The poor thing really was frowning—she was even making an art of it.
"Aw, c'mon, Pinkie! You've gotta remember what happened last time!"
"I don't gotta if I don't wanna," replied a petulant Pinkie Pie.
Rarity stepped forward, sensing that a resolution was called for. "Pinkie, darling?"
The white unicorn set her elegant little etched cup aside. "Would it help if they were to refuse me any whiskey, as well?"
"Uhh," said Applejack.
"Oh! Sure it would!" said Pinkie, suddenly bright again. "Then we can be no-whiskey buddies! You and me!"
Twilight was caught by surprise. "I was about to offer you some wine, actually, Rarity…"
"Well, yes." The librarian shrugged. "It's what available, and you take what you can get."
"And yet!" Rarity drew up her head with pride, having firmly made up her mind. "In the interest of fairness, I must be adamant that no alcohol, whether whiskey, cider or wine, must be allowed to touch my lips. You must deny it to me, no matter what I say!"
"No matter what you say, huh?" egged Applejack. "Even if we're talkin' about my ten-year Stayman-Orin blend?"
Hearing the vintage gave Rarity pause, but she nodded curtly. "Even so."
"Rarity, I'm impressed!" said Twilight. "That's very big of you!"
"It may be big of her," put in Pinkie Pie, but it doesn't count unless she asks!" She snuggled up to Rarity then with tremendous, vulnerable eyes. "Go on. Ask them!"
Rarity blinked in surprise at the face before her. "Erm…a little personal space, dear?"
Pinkie backed down. "And make it good!"
Rarity took a deep breath. "As you say. Twilight, darling?"
Twilight sat, a bit confused. "Yes, Rarity?"
Rarity turned to the librarian, her indigo curls draped adorably about her face. "Might I trouble you on this fine evening for a drop of libation?"
Twilight only blinked. Applejack clucked her tongue. "I think you asked her too nice, Rarity. She's gonna have trouble sayin' no to that."
Indeed, Twilight was struggling internally. "But Rarity, you said we shouldn't give you any!"
"Well, but just a few drops can't hurt, can they? Just enough to wet my lips?" Her voice was coquettish, yet prim. She sat with a quiet smile while Twilight's face warred between sternness and affection and Pinkie watched in fascination.
"Don't give in, Twilight!" cried Applejack.
That was enough to swing the balance. "I'm afraid not, Rarity," she eventually declared. "Neither you nor Pinkie Pie may have any wine."
"Hooray!" cried Pinkie.
Rarity tossed her mane, giving Twilight an affronted look. "Excuse me?"
Twilight cowered, surprised. "Uh…Rarity? I thought you wanted me to—"
"What offence have I committed, Twilight Sparkle, that I may no longer be the judge of what I may or may not wish to consume?"
"Uh…" Twilight groped for an excuse. "It…wouldn't go with your coat!" At this, Pinkie let out a laugh.
"With my coat?" Rarity retorted. "Why of course it would, Twilight, dear! Apple wine is amber, and amber goes excellently with white! Or is there some other reason you wish to deprive me?" She advanced on the purple unicorn. "Have I wronged you somehow? Engaged in faux pas?"
"Nope! She sure hasn't!" chirped Pinkie Pie.
Twilight cowered further, taking several steps back. "Uh, n-no, Rarity! You're as charming and well-mannered as always!"
"Theeennn?" asked Rarity, batting her eyelashes aggressively.
"Might I please have just a little wine?"
Twilight stood her ground with trepidation. "No! No, you can't!"
"But WWWHHYYYYYYY?" Rarity erupted, unleashing a powerful whine.
"Ohhh, boy," muttered Applejack. "We're in for it now."
"B—because!" cried Twilight, stumbling back. "Because! You made me promise not to give you any!"
"But I waaaaant some wine! I'm thiiirsty, and I need a little something to loosen my inhibitions!"
"No, Rarity! You can't have any!"
"But WHy wHY WhY WHY why wHy Why whY WHYYYY NOOOOTT?" She punctuated her moans by stamping like an insipid child. Twilight looked just about ready to break to pieces.
"Hold fast, Twilight!" called Applejack.
"Just a liiiiittlle siiip is all I waahhhhnnt," Rarity continued, contorting her spine to match the lifts and falls in her voice.
This was enough to break the librarian down. "Here you go!" she shouted, levitating a bottle of wine from her panniers and holding it out. "Please, please, take some! Just STOP!"
"Aw, Twilight!" reprimanded Applejack.
Rarity took the bottle with her own magic and stood straight. "Hah! Too weak, Ms. Sparkle."
Twilight lay cringing on the floor. "I had no choice!"
"You promised me you would not accede to my demands!"
"But you broke out the whining! You're just too powerful, Rarity!"
Rarity, sighed, settling down. "Well, yes. I suppose I did."
"She sure did!" shouted Pinkie. "It's like Fluttershy and her stare! N NE CAN RESIST THE POWER!"
Everyone took a moment to regard Pinkie and the transient spirals in her eyes with a certain astonishment.
"Eh, ah shoulda safeguarded the stuff mahself," remarked Applejack. "Now, Rarity…may ah please have it back, before Pinkie gets a hold of it?"
Rarity uncorked the bottle and sniffed its contents. "Certainly," she replied, passing it easily to Applejack. "Not to my taste."
"What? HEY!" cried Pinkie.
"Thankya," replied their host, tucking the bottle safely into a saddlebag behind her.
"You realize," said Rarity, "that I'm going to have to ask for it again?"
"Otherwise, Pinkie will quite rightly feel singled out," the beautician reminded the farmer.
"That's true!" cried Pinkie, doing a mid-air spin.
"Oh no," groaned Twilight.
"Oh yes!" replied Pinkie.
Applejack facehoofed. "Fiiine. But let's go outside for this, Rarity." She looked to the others. "I s'pose y'all wanna watch?"
"Eeeeeyup," said Big Mac with a deep nod.
"Naturally they'll wish to watch," said Rarity. "And who would we be to deny them a front row seat? This will be a battle of the titans."
"That's right!" agreed Twilight. "Rarity's whining versus AJ's…um…stubbornness. Er, no offense meant."
Applejack shot Twilight a momentary withering glare. "Right. Everyone outside." She stuffed the jug of whiskey into her bag with the wine bottle, then went for the doors and kicked them open, tramping into the cool night air. Everyone else followed, leaving Rainbow to snooze alone.
"You can do it, Rarity!" shouted Pinkie. "Whine your heart out!"
"Y'ain't got no chance, Rarity!" yelled her opponent from atop a hay bale, the precious saddlebags now on her back. "I've had so much applewhine in my day, ah'm whineproof!"
"That's right!" cheered Twilight! "You can do it! Resist her charms!"
"Well, I can't rightly resist what I ain't seen none of," smirked Applejack.
"Excuse me? Oh, it…is…on!" declared Rarity.
And so it was.
"Applejack! Don't you know what happens to a mare's coat when she is denied the refreshment she requires?"
"No earthly clue."
Rarity shook her mane, somehow rendering it bristly and spiky. "Believe me: you do not want to find out."
"Stop shakin' your locks in mah face, Rarity! You ain't gonna intimidate me!"
"Oh, no? And when was the last time you went on a date?"
"I got a date with the earth every springtime an' every harvest. The land don't care what I look like."
"And yet others do! Can you really say no to a face like this?"
Applejack gulped. "Maybe not, but I can get behind this apple tree and say no to it! I'm hopin' some of the 'no' carries through."
"This is better than theater!" whispered Pinkie to Twilight, offering popcorn gleaned from who knows where.
"But surely, darling, you realize that at least the pursuit of fairness must be at the heart of any just society!"
"Mah granny used to tell me that if life were fair, the skeeters'd sit still so as we could take a turn bitin' them."
"Goodness! A.J., who in Equestria would want to bite a mosquito?"
"Mah point exactly. You don't wanna live in a fair world, Rarity. It'd be disgusting."
"You never give me what I want! Not for my birthday…not for the Summer Sun Celebration…not even for my graduation from fashion school!"
"But y'all didn't ask for graduation gifts!"
"It was implied!"
"You kiddin' me, Rarity? The card said, 'No Gifts Please—The joy of this occasion is enough!'"
"Enough for you to ignore the previous sentence and shower me in gifts! Face it, Applejack—you owe me!"
"Ah owe you a hearty buckin', that's what ah owe you!"
"Well at least you admit that you do owe m—YAAAHHhhh!"
"Jussst Giive me the WIIIIIIIINNNNE, Aaaayy Jaaayyyy! And it can AllLLllL be OooooOOooo00OOoovvverrrrr."
Applejack winced, her forehooves in her ears. "YOU'LL NEVER BREAK ME! No matter HOW dung-pitchin' repugnant you make that voice o' yours! If I can put up with mah relatives singin', I can put up with this!"
"~-WhY dO yOu TrEaT mE sO mEeEEeeEEEEeEeEeeeeeEaannn, AAAAAYYY JAAAYYYY?-~"
"No! NOO! That is IT!" Applejack leapt from her haybale, fiercely sweating, and landed before Rarity with burning green eyes. "Listen up and listen GOOD! NO means NO, Rarity…and for the very last time…THE ANSWER…IS…NOOO!"
The intensity of Applejack's holler actually blew the hat right from her head, at which everyone guffawed…including Rarity.
"Oh, Applejack," said the white unicorn, stifling her laughter. "If that's how you feel, whyever didn't you just say so? If you insist that I must abstain tonight, then that's how it shall be."
Her orange adversary was taken aback. "What? Really?"
Rarity settled herself placidly on her belly. "Really. You win! As much as I may deserve the pleasure of mild intoxication, I have been driven to the cliffs and defeated! Congratulations, Applejack. Woe, woe is me, for tonight I shall remain…dry." With that, she hung her head.
"All right!" shouted Applejack, grabbing her hat up and hurling it high.
"HOORAY!" shouted Pinkie Pie, trotting over to hug Rarity. "Rarity and I have been DOUBLED out! NOT singled!"
"I…I thought you were rooting for Rarity," objected Twilight.
"I was rooting for both of them! If Rarity'd won, I would've kept complaining about not getting any whiskey! But now, I get to be Rarity's teetotal friend! Rarity, you and me? We're TEETOTALLY AWESOME!"
Rarity graciously returned Pinkie's nuzzle, at which Twilight melted into a sympathetic "Awwww!"
"Well, ah confess, " said Applejack, "that is adorable."
"Eeeeyup," concurred her brother, helping himself to the Stayman-Orin blend.
"Teetotally adorable," agreed Twilight. "In any case…I bow to the two masters."
So as if they'd just borne witness to a grand sporting event, Twilight, Big Mac and Pinkie lined up to bow in turn to Applejack and Rarity. They were favored with knowing nods and tosses of the mane, respectively.
"I feel like I should check one of the boxes in my book," said Twilight, "but I've got no idea which one!"
"Oh, just pick one at random and check it," said Pinkie, standing up bouncily. "So now that that's done, what do we do next?"
The others exchanged uncertain glances. "Well," said Twilight, "according to Chapter 5, we could—"
"Ooh! Ooh! I know!" interrupted Pinkie. "Who wants to smoke some ganja?"
T H E ~ E N D