As Pinkie Pie approached Carousel Boutique, she couldn't help but feel a little disheartened. Everypony she greeted along the way either awkwardly smiled and waved back or looked at her strangely. Then she remembered no one knew she was her. With a small sigh, the white unicorn summoned her magic and opened the front door, the bell tinkling at her arrival. After entering the boutique and closing the door, Pinkie turned and was about to start looking around, when the door opened again, seemingly by itself. The unicorn looked back and noticed it still had an azure glow surrounding it.
"Oops," she said to herself and closed the door again, accidentally slamming it shut. She cringed at the loud bang it made, wondering what the ponies outside were thinking. She dispelled her magic and turned back to face the interior of the building.
"What was that? Who's there?" asked a voice from upstairs. A small white unicorn with a curly purple and light pink mane cantered down into the main room.
"Me!" said Pinkie, cheerily.
"Rarity! Why didn't you come home last night?"
"Sorry. I was having a sleepover at Twilight's. It was super-duper fun!" she replied with a large grin.
"It was what now?"
"Oh, eh... it was a delightful evening. Yes..." the unicorn amended with a more subdued smile.
"Are... you okay?"
"Uh-huh, of course. It's not like anything strange happened at the party," said Pinkie walking towards her 'sister'.
"Oh, hey, uh, so did you do your homework? I was supposed to ask you that. I mean, I was going to ask you that anyway."
"Yes, I did it. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Everything's fine! Come on, let's go make dresses!"
"You saying you want me to help?"
"Don't I always?"
"Then let's change that, huh?
Sweetie Belle's face brightened at the prospect, "Really? I'll do my best to help out, Rarity!"
"Good, 'cause I really use some help."
Rarity groaned inwardly as she bounced through Ponyville, trying to look like she was enjoying herself. The smile she had manufactured felt completely fake and she was sure it would frighten small children. Upon reaching Sugarcube Corner, she dropped the smile and entered, noting the number of ponies inside. As it was lunch time, several customers were present, explaining why the streets were a little emptier than usual.
"Pinkie! You're here!" said Mrs. Cake, catching sight of the pink pony, "Sorry, I know you're off today, but we need you in the kitchen."
Oh no. Already? thought Rarity.
"Sure thing!" she said as cheerily as possible and started making her way to the kitchen.
"Hold on a second," said Mrs. Cake as the pink pony passed her, "Could you bake these for me?" she asked, and swiftly placed a small, rolled up piece of paper into Rarity's mouth.
"Ohay," replied Rarity through the paper, and passed into the kitchen, pausing for a moment as the wave of cooking smells assaulted her nose. To her surprise, the pink pony discovered she could discern how many different scents there were.
Must be Pinkie's finely tuned nose...
"Oh, Pinkie! Good timing!" said Mr. Cake, closing an oven door, "I want to go check on Pound and Pumpkin. Could you watch this cake for me? Thanks!"
"Ohay..." said Rarity, frowning anxiously as the father of two exited the kitchen. She put the paper onto a tabletop and unrolled it.
10 fairy cakes
2 birthday cakes (1 blue icing, 1 pink icing)
"Oh... well, at least it's short," said Rarity and shrugged her saddlebags off in a corner out of the way, her back muscles thanking her. She opened the bag containing the cookbook she had borrowed from the library and took it out, scanning the contents page.
"Let's see... fairy cakes on page... ah!"
Placing the book on the table, she began collecting the ingredients needed. Not wanting to get anything wrong, she consulted the book several times during the mixture's preparation.
While she was stirring, Mr. Cake entered the kitchen again.
"...Yes. Fine," replied Rarity, then remembered she had to be more upbeat, "Finey-doody... doo!"
The older pony looked past her, "You with a cookbook? Ha! Now that's a sight. Problems?"
"No, no, I've got it. Just making the things on that list," she said, nodding at the paper.
Mr. Cake cantered over and looked at the book, "Fairy cakes? You already know how to make them."
"Oh... well... it doesn't hurt to check the instructions once in a while, just to be sure."
"Huh. I... I guess it doesn't. But it looks like you're missing something."
"What?" she asked, glancing at everything she had assembled.
"Don't you think you'll need a cake tin to pour the mixture into?"
"Ah. Yes. Of course. I knew that."
"It's not like you to forget something like that. Here, I'll get one for you."
"...Thank you," replied Rarity, and returned to stirring, hoping she would be able to bungle her way through the rest of the day.
"So..." said Pinkie, "How do we start?"
"You tell me," replied Sweetie Belle, "You're the dress maker."
"What, you haven't paid attention when I'm working?"
"You know I don't come here all the time. And when I do, you don't want me getting in your way when you're busy."
"Oh, uh, sorry. But I do want you in my way today. Or, not in my way, but in my way, and... helping me."
"Got it. I think..."
"Goody! I mean, splendid! Let's begin, shall we?"
Pinkie looked around and spotted a dress design on a large pad of paper.
"Oh, you're going to continue that?" asked Sweetie Belle, "Great! You think we can finish it today? I can't wait to see it!"
Woah, woah, woah, woah! This looks super important! thought Pinkie, I don't wanna mess up something Rarity's working on...
"Uh... maybe later," the unicorn replied to her 'sister', "Let's start off with something simple, like a... a..."
"A new cape for the Cutie Mark Crusaders?"
"Sure! That sounds fun!"
"Yay! Alright! Let's do it!"
"Okay! So, what should we use?"
"Let's keep it red! Yeah! And maybe something else so they look cool! Oh, and we'll need our emblem!" said Sweetie Belle, grinning and dancing from one pair of hooves to the other.
"Sounds good to me! Now, where does Ra... uh, where do I keep the red fabric, again?"
"Try behind you."
Pinkie looked over her shoulder, "Oh, that's right! Silly me!"
"Wow, Rarity, you're really happy and energetic today."
"It's the excitement of making something with my sister!"
The young unicorn giggled, "Okay, now I know something's wrong with you."
"I'm not that bad, am I?" asked Pinkie, setting a roll of soft red fabric on Rarity's work table.
"Um... sometimes. Not always. But let's get on with this!"
Pinkie wobbly floated a pair of scissors over, then stopped, the scissors open next to the fabric, "Wait, how big are these capes going to be?"
"I dunno... oh! I'll get my own cape and we can use that to help!"
Sweetie Belle ran upstairs and quickly returned with her cape on her back and three smaller objects in her mouth. She placed the three objects on the table, next to the sewing machine.
"What're those?" asked Pinkie.
"Patches with the Cutie Mark Crusaders emblem on them. No point having plain red capes — we're crusaders, after all!"
"Wow, you made these when you were upstairs?"
"Yeah, Rarity, I'm so good, I made three patches without a sewing machine or anything in, like, a minute," said Sweetie Belle, rolling her eyes.
"You are good! Did I teach you that? I can't remember..."
"Rarity, even you can't do that. Nopony can."
"Nopony except my sister!"
The filly simply sighed.
"Burning, burning, burning, burning!" cried Rarity, racing over to the oven that was beginning to emit smoke. Hastily, she opened the oven door and backed away, coughing at the smoke that flowed out.
"Ohhh..." she moaned, "Well, there go my fairy cakes..."
She put a hoof to her face. She had been so involved with the cupcake recipe, that she forgot about her other baking job.
"Come on now, Pinkie," said Mr. Cake, "Pay attention. We'll need to put more fairy cakes out soon."
"Sorry, sorry, I'll just... it won't happen again."
"Look, do you want me to bake them?"
Rarity sighed and nodded. She was about to say, "Would you, please?" then made her mouth work to instead say, "Yeah. Okay," feeling that was more in-line with the way Pinkie usually spoke.
This is not going well at all... thought Rarity, returning to the mixing bowl.
"Ooh! Ooh! How about green squares at the corners?" suggested Pinkie, beginning to forget about her act a little.
"Green squares? You sure?" asked Sweetie Belle.
"It'll look neat!"
The young unicorn's face scrunched in uncertainty.
"I know what I'm talking about. After all, who's the fashion designer here?" asked Pinkie, flicking her curls back with a hoof.
"Yeah, okay. Maybe once we add something to it, it'll look good."
"Like your emblem!"
Sweetie Belle visualised the cape in her mind's eye; the Cutie Mark Crusaders emblem on a red background, framed by green squares at each corner. She shook her head, I don't see this working...
"Alright..." said the filly.
Pinkie grinned and started cutting wobbly squares, which looked more like rectangles, from a roll of green fabric, and then proceeded to cut out the shape of the Cutie Mark Crusaders cape from the red fabric, the two unicorns having measured the size of Sweetie Belle's original earlier.
"Okay, where's the glue?" asked Pinkie.
"Glue? For what?"
"For sticking the squares on!" replied the older unicorn and unintentionally floated the 'squares' directly in front of Sweetie Belle's face.
"Okay, okay, I see them!" said the filly, pushing the soft shapes to the side, "But even I know you don't use glue. You stitch them on."
"Oh yeah. I mean, yeah! That was a... a test! That's it! I wanted to see if you knew."
"Everypony knows that."
The unicorn shifted uncomfortably, "...Yeah. Anyway, let's get stitchin'!"
Pinkie awkwardly cleared her throat, Gotta be less me and more Rarity...
"Come on, dear. Don't worry yourself. Now why don't you help me with this?"
The filly shrugged, "Okay."
It took longer than she expected, but Rarity managed to make decent enough cupcakes to sell, as well as the two birthday cakes — with a little help.
After the pink pony had put the confections on display under the glass counter, Mr. Cake called her back into the kitchen.
"Look, Pinkie, I don't know what's going on with you, today. You should have been able to blaze right through that list," he said in an almost fatherly tone.
"Sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me, either."
Only I know all too well; I'm another pony, that's what's wrong...
"Well, you're done now. Why don't you go and enjoy the rest of your day off?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. We can handle things here."
"Alright. Um... see you later!" said Rarity, and exited through the kitchen door, "Well, at least that's over," she said once outside, "I may as well see what Pinkie Pie is up to."
Keeping a smile on her way to Carousel Boutique was a task in itself, as almost every single pony she crossed greeted her, and she found herself using the same replies over and over again.
"Hello!", "Hi!", "Nice to see you!", "What's up?", "You, too!", "Thank you!"
Goodness, is this what Pinkie goes through every day? Well, there's certainly no question that she knows everypony in Ponyville...
Finally, to her great relief, she saw Carousel Boutique. Giving a half-hearted "Hello!" to three passing unicorns, she approached her shop and opened the door. But inside, there was nopony around.
"Hello?" she called, the word having lost all meaning to her at this point.
"Pinkie Pie!" a small voice shouted.
Rarity turned to see Sweetie Belle running towards her. The sound and sight of her sister made her genuinely smile for the first time that day.
"Hi, Sweetie Belle!"
"Pinkie, you gotta help me! I think my sister's gone crazy!"
The pink pony frowned, "What's she done?" she asked, fearing what Pinkie was up to.
Rarity followed her sister to the kitchen and her breath caught in her throat at the sight of herself standing on a table over the remains of a cake, mouth covered with chocolate. Her eyes bugged out and her jaw dropped to the floor. She rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn't seeing things.
"Hi! Want some cake?" asked Pinkie, smiling, completely oblivious to Rarity's horrified expression.
"Rarity, what's wrong with you?" asked Sweetie Belle, a quiver entering her voice.
The earth pony cleared her throat, "Oh Rarity, could I have a word with you for a moment?"
"Okay!" replied the unicorn, jumping off the table and following the pink pony out of the kitchen.
Rarity led Pinkie to a room off to the side. She turned to Sweetie Belle, "Just give me a minute. In the meantime why don't you go, uh... clean up that cake?" she said, smiling.
A worried expression on her young face, the filly nodded and walked back towards the kitchen. Rarity closed the door and spun to face Pinkie, the smile from both ponies' faces gone.
"Pinkie... what do you think you are doing?" she asked in a piercing whisper.
The unicorn thought for a moment, then, with a hopeful expression, answered, "...Having cake?"
"Having...!" Rarity stopped herself from shouting. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She looked at Pinkie again, more specifically, the chocolate around her mouth, and shook her head. Reaching back, she produced a tissue and wiped it away, "I do not, I repeat, I do not stand on tables and gorge myself on cakes. Nor do I go around grinning all day. I thought I made that clear this morning."
"Sorry. I forgot."
"Well, try to remem–" she stopped and looked at the tissue she had produced, now stained with chocolate, "Where did I get this?" she asked, regarding the soft cloth strangely.
"Um... I don't know..."
"How can you, of all ponies, not know?"
"I just don't know. If I need something, all I do is reach somewhere and get it."
"I'm not even going to bother. Some things are best left unknown," said Rarity, then fixed Pinkie with a stern gaze, "Unlike what you were doing. I'm glad I knew about that."
"Yeah. Sorry. I'll try to be more you-ish."
"If it makes you feel any better, things haven't exactly gone swimmingly for me, either."
"The Cakes asked me to do some baking — because they were extra busy, I suppose — and... I burned a batch."
"Ah, don't worry, you'll get it!"
"Thank you, Pinkie. Now then, what else have you been up to?" asked Rarity, almost afraid to know.
"Me and Sweetie Belle made a new cape for the Cutie Mark Crusaders!"
"Oh, a new cape? May I see it?"
"Sure!" said Pinkie, and walked back onto the shop floor, "Sweetie Belle doesn't like it that much, but I think it'll grow on her."
Smiling, although not too broadly, the unicorn picked up the cape in her mouth and presented it to Rarity, who gaped. Pinkie raised her eyebrows, asking for her friend's opinion.
"It's, uh... well... is this really it?" asked the earth pony.
"Uh-huh!" said Pinkie, accidentally dropping the cape. Sweetie Belle emerged from the kitchen as her 'sister' picked the cape back up.
"...Everything okay, Pinkie?" asked the filly.
"I guess so," said Rarity, "But this cape..."
"What do you think of it?"
"Um... nice. But green rectangles on the corners?"
"They're squares, silly," said Pinkie, dropping the cape again.
"So this is what you've been doing today?"
"Yeah. Until Rarity said she was hungry, and..."
"Oh, don't worry," said Rarity, pulling her young sister close, "She won't do it again. Will she?" she asked Pinkie, narrowing her eyes.
The unicorn, cape in mouth again, shook her head.
"Good. So, considering... Rarity... demolished that cake, why don't I make another one?"
I could use some more practice...
"Can I help?" asked Pinkie, clenching her teeth to keep from dropping the cape again.
Having seen the horrible design the unicorn had thought up for the cape, she was about to say 'No', but then remembered baking was Pinkie's forte.
"Yes. Yes, you can help. Just as long as you don't demolish this one."