Crimps and Prance
By Conner Cogwork.
Cheerilee is becoming frazzled after a long semester. But when a friend recommends a new dance club in Ponyville, she feels she's too old to partake in today's current hip scene... or is she?
I was never a fan of MLP untill about a month ago, but whenever I can, I like to respect the original source material. Mentions of a certain Gen 3.5 pony are made.
I’d also like to thank CSI Madmax, and her awesome art. One of her comics helped to inspire this particular piece of fiction, and the shipping within.
Without further ado, hope you bronies enjoy!
"Okay Class. Now, what did we go over today?"
The silence was deafening. Granted, the occasions where every little pony spoke up all at once with ten or so different subjects at the same time were much worse, but usually a silence like this meant that, the majority of the class either had not been paying attention, or were otherwise, afraid to draw attention to themselves. Not good either way, Cheerilee thought to herself, a smile on her face, even though her brow was beginning to bead with worry.
A hoof was raised. The teacher pounced. "Yes Sweetie Belle! You have the floor!"
All eyes turned to the white unicorn filly, who now proceeded to eep at the attention. She glanced furtively at her notes, before she began haltingly. "Th-the Tingling Dynasty has been around for around one..." another glance. "One-hundred years, where it was first founded on the Sunflower River. And though they... " her eyes flicked down again. "Though they were a r-rowdy bunch at first, they currently are at peace with Equestria, and have en... enjoyed a friendly re-la-shun-ship with the rest of the world."
Cheerilee beamed. "Excellent!" she cheered, before looking around at the rest of the young Fillies and Colts. "Does anypony else have anything to add?"
Another hoof went up. This time it was Snips, who looked uncomfortable trying to assemble words in his head. "They come from a long line-ee-age of wingless dragons." He managed to stammer out. Quietly, he added "Kinda like Spike.'
Suddenly a hubbub broke out amongst the room, as the mauve elder pony began to wring her hooves. Everypony knew who Spike was, being the only dragon in town after all. Now the young equines were rumoring that said dragon might be related to the Tingling Dynasty, a turn that Cheerilee had not foreseen. She took a breath to call out. "Everypony, could I get your attention plea-"
The schoolbell rang.
Any words she may have gotten out were drowned out by a bustle of younglings gathering their things and then hastily beating a speedy exit. Among the excited chatter, she could hear the words 'Spike', 'Library', 'Twilight', and 'Interview'.
"Remember!" she called out again at whoever was left. "We've got a paper due tomorrow! Three-hundred words on how Trade with Ryuna has helped them and Equestria become-!"
She stopped speaking, for she discovered that she was the only one left in the room. "...friends..."
"Hmmmn? Yes, BonBon?"
"You're not looking too good, pony."
Cheerilee was indeed, not feeling very cheerful. Her chin was resting on the sodashop table that she, Lyra, and BonBon were sharing. It was a weekly thing, to meet up at this ice cream parlor and chew the hay over oat smoothies and banana splits. It was a good way to brighten the week.
It wasn't working today, she groused, looking wearily at her untouched strawberry milkshake. Her eyes managed to focus on the cream-coated earth pony before she gave a half-hearted smile. "Does it show that badly?"
"The kids running you ragged again?" Lyra asked, taking occasional sips from her own mint smoothie. "I thought you'd managed to pin the troublemakers by now?"
Cheerilee scooted her head back and forth, a weak approximation at saying no. "It was my fault this time around. I went over the history of the Tingling Dynasty today. Now the whole class thinks that Twilight Sparkle's assistant is related to Ryuna's royal family."
BonBon goggled. "Spike? Hon, the dear is unique and all, but really. Just because he's a dragon and has no wings-"
"Is enough to get the majority of the children in Ponyville to follow him around wherever he goes." the purple pony interrupted. "My only hope is that Applebloom and her friends get to him first. At least they're allready friends with him." She further slumped in her seat as her eyes closed down. "Principal Pringle is definitely going to have my tail for this one."
"It wasn't your fault, hon." the green unicorn quipped, as she leaned forward. "Who can tell how a young filly's mind works nowadays."
There was a round of 'hmm's all around, before a shroud of silence descended on them. Cheerilee finally deigned to lift her head and take a sip from the sitting drink. The top of her shake had begun to melt away.
BonBon stamped a hoof on the table. "Cheerilee... you need a break."
A stare. "I though that was the point of these get-togethers."
"Not like this." the earth pony continued, placing her other hoof on the tabletop and rearing herself up. "What you need is an honest break. A vacation. You've been running yourself to the ground this past month, and I'm fairly certain that the schoolkids are only part of the problem."
The purple pony looked away, a stubborn look on her face. "It's not THAT bad." she murmured. "I mean yeah, on retrospect, if I had a clearer head on when I planned that lesson, I could have avoided the whole thing... I can't remember, were WE ever that easily mistaken when we were-"
This time Lyra spoke up. "You've been pining for the old days, haven’t you?"
There was no reply.
BonBon took the chance to dig into her saddlebag. "Y'know Cheery, there's this... new club that's opened up just last week, a couple of blocks from Sugarcube Corner."
There was still no verbal reply, but the haggard pony's ears did perk up. She was listening.
"It's a dance club, y'see. I've been meaning to go check it out with Lyra, and I happen to know that Vinyl Scratch DJs occasionally on Fridays." The cream pony emerged triumphant from her search, showing all around a small flyer with the white unicorn's sunglassed image and her stage name, DJ PON-3. "We could make it a date and go there together, and then spend the weekend doing something else fun!"
The unicorn nodded. "It'll be a nice break from the norm, something to get you re-energized!"
Cheeri turned her eyes down in contemplation, before raising her head back up with a sad smile. "Girls... that sounds lovely, it really does. But I can't just DROP things to go party like I did back in the 80s. On top of that, things have.... changed, you know? I don't know anything about today's dances, and that techno stuff that's so popular makes me cringe to listen to it."
"It's not THAT bad. Besides, you don't HAVE to dance." Lyra said, resting her elbows on the table, her head propped in her hooves. "Though you know how the song goes." This was followed by a smile.
The teacher cringed inwardly as BonBon broke into melody. "You can dance if you want to! We can leave your friends behind~"
“Okay okay!" came the outburst, a little more heated than she'd meant to deliver it. She was sitting up straight now, giving her buddies a glare at first, before softening it into another smile. "I appreciate what you're trying to do. I'll... I'll think on it, okay? I can't promise you anything, but If I think it's worth it, I'll try and come, alright?"
This got a nod from the other two equines. "That's good enough for me!" the curly-maned pony cheered, her eyes closed in a smile. "Now, who wants a stack of Hay-fries? On me!"
Cheerilee spent the rest of the day wandering Ponyville in something of a daze. She had detoured past Sugarcube Corner and found the club in question, a building done up a bit more fancifully than the rest of the woodworked shops set up around it. It had a number of neon lights bordering it's roof, and a sign out front consisted of a record and music note, leaving it's purpose quite clear.
She trudged on, not paying attention to the passing ponies around her. She was at war with herself. The part that said she was well too old and responsible, not to mention out-of-date, to be fooling around with the club scene anymore was battling with the part of her that wanted to toss her duties aside, find her hoof-warmers and neon bracelets, and go and boogie the night away.
I want to. she argued with herself. Dear Celestia I want to. But what... what will they all THINK?
She topped in her tracks as she nearly collided head-on with another pony, hauling a cart of apples, apple goods, and apple-related accessories. "Sorry ‘bout that." the stallion drawled. "Kinda' came outta nowhere."
"Oh no no." she apologized profusely, a blush on her cheeks. "It's my fault. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." She looked up...
…And paused as she looked the draft horse in the eyes. She froze as memories began to flood into her consciousness. She recognized... she KNEW this stallion. He wasn't wearing a bandanna, and his mane was cut shorter than when she had last seen him. But she knew it was him. And she found herself dually pleased as the red horse's face took on his own look of recognition.
"Big Apple Macintosh!" she found herself exclaiming.
"Cheerilee Daisy!" the farmboy exclaimed right back, a smile breaking over his face. "Long time no see, amiryte?"
"Oh you have no IDEA!" Cheeri waved a hoof at her long-lost friend. "Last I saw you was right before I had to leave for Canterlot University, for my teacher's degree!"
The brightness of Big Mac's smile turned down a few degrees as the memory resurfaced. "Yeah, ah remem'er." he replied. "Did that turn out okay?"
"Oh yes! Graduated with top marks, I have to say!" the purple pony gushed, now trotting to stand at Mac's side. She looked him up and down, noting the musculature that hadn't been there when she'd last laid eyes on him. Spotting the cart and it's contents, she switched the focus of the discussion. "And you? You stuck with the family business?"
"Eeeee-yup." was his response. This drew a grin out of her, glad to see at least one thing that hadn't changed.
"It can be hard work." he continued, as he began to pull at his payload again, Cheerilee falling into step beside him. "But ah can't see mahself doin' mucha anythin' else now. Ah'm th' top apple-bucker on Sweet Apple Acres, though mah sister is really th' one who runs it."
"Your sister?" Her brow furrowed as she tried to remember Mac's family. "Orange filly? Freckles, blonde hair?"
"That's Applejack." he confirmed with a warm smile. "Evr'y bit'a stubborn as Pappy was. She wears 'is hat nowadays, ev'r since he passed onta' greener pastures."
This got an "Awww" out of Cheerilee, though her mind was now working. "... do you have a relative named Applebloom?"
An eye diverted from the path ahead to focus on the teacher's own. "Why d'ya ask?"
"I'm teaching in Ponyville now. I've got a little firefly of a filly in my class named Applebloom. And she has a really strong country accent. So I'd wondered if..." she trailed off, looking at the stallion expectedly.
He nodded. "Applebloom's mah an' Applejack's li'l sister."
She nodded in return, though inside, she was berating herself. She had been teaching Mac's youngest sibling, and she hadn't even known. A good teacher always made certain of the families behind each filly in their classroom, and here, she'd dropped the ball.
"How long you been back in Ponyville, Cheeri?" Big Mac asked.
She blanched, but quickly recovered. "It's been... probably a year or so. I spent some time teaching in Canterlot after graduating, before I decided to move back here."
The draft horse nodded. "So you're sayin'... though Ponyville's not a big'a town as Fillydelphia or San Franesco... we've all managed ta' miss findin' each other again fer a 'year or so'?"
The question wasn't armed with any sort of malice. It was perfectly innocent, and Mac looked at her with curiosity. So why did it make her heart sting as the words entered her ears?
"I... I didn't know if you'd still be around." she said shyly, eyes cast downwards. "I seem to recall you having some big plans of your own way-back when."
He chuckled, a slight nicker in his voice. "Ah tried it too, after ya'll left. Turns out, bein' a show-pony's a lot harder than it looks. Comparativ'ly speakin', Applebuckin's MUCH safer."
She managed to let loose her own giggle, before letting her eyes roam over the stallion's form. "I must admit, applebucking's been REAL good to you. I don't suppose you've settled down with some nice filly by now, have you?"
She faltered in her steps. Before she could recover, Big Mac quick-fired another question at her. "An' you?"
"Ah... I've not really... had time to look for a..." the rest of the words died on her lips. Mercifully, her friend simply nodded his head.
They walked together in silence for a bit. What was originally a warm exchange, had quickly devolved into a shroud of awkwardness. Cheerilee found herself ransacking her mind for yet another topic to broach, hopefully one that the both of them could discuss without much embarrassment. However, she still found herself cringing as the only subject still present on her mind left her mouth.
"Um... have you seen that... new club that's opened up?"
He let an eye focus on her again, but gave no other sign of interest.
"Some of my friends told me about it earlier today. It's been... well, ages since I last stepped into one. Still, I was thinking of... well, checking it out. Do you think... maybe if...?"
There was a heavy sigh as the draft horse clopped to a stop. He turned his head back to the purple pony, and gave her a smile, though his posture radiated sadness. "Cheeri, it's been 'bout fifteen years since ah last hit th' dance floor mahself. Ah'm thankful fer th' invite, but... heh, ah'm afraid this farmboy's gotten all th' moves he once had, bucked outta him."
The filly was crestfallen. She wasn't sure what she had been expecting him to say, but it certainly wasn't that. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized that it had been fifteen years since she'd left Ponyville for Canterlot... implying that Mac had stopped dancing the day she left his life.
"O-oh..." was all she managed to get out. "I.... sorry, I didn't know... well..." she bunched up her brows as she steeled herself to compile the sentence she wanted to say. It was so much easier when her audience consisted of schoolfillies instead of adults. "Still. Do you want to, y'know... hang out sometime? Maybe I could visit you on the farm?"
Big Mac's body language brightened "Ah don't think ah'd mind that." he drawled. "Though ah'll bet Applebloom an' her friends might be b'sides themselves t'find their teacher visitin' her house."
Relieved, if not totally sated, Cheerilee returned the smile.
The hubbub of the ponies around them increased as the two entered the Ponyville Market proper. "Here's mah stop." the red stallion stated, as he shrugged the harness off his shoulders. "Just sellin' apples t'day. Applejack should be by here inna bit. Wanna stick around?"
She bit her lip. "Oh... oh I'd love to. But I've still got tomorrow's lesson plan to finalize. Not to mention some... other fiascos..." she had decided that the less her old friend knew of her current blunders, the better. "I'll definitely come by the farm though. Saturday all right?"
"Saturday's fine, Cheeri." he replied, distributing pies on an erected cartflap. He turned towards her and favored the filly with a grin the likes of which brought more fond memories back to her mind. "See you then, Prancing Queen?"
She blushed heavily at the title. It was one she was familiar with, but had not heard in a very long time. "S-sure thing! See you soon, Big Apple!"
She quickly turned and trotted away, not certain she wanted to see his own reaction to the pet-name. One good turn deserves another, she thought to herself with some satisfaction. However, the meeting had done nothing to quell the struggle inside her. If anything, it seemed to magnify.
Big Mac simply watched as that bright pink tail faded into the crowd. Shaking his head to himself, he let his mind wander to the maybes and might-have-beens of his past, And the present. She's here now and she wants to hang out again... but have we gotten too used to our ways, to really feel anything like we used to again?
He blanched as another memory came across, this one rather recent. He scanned the crowd to spot her, but she had disappeared.
"Consarn it." he muttered. "Shoulda' asked her if she knew anything about Applebloom hidin' Spike out in th' old Treehouse."
The roads outside Ponyville were clear and light, and there was only a slight presence of clouds in the area. It was an ideal place, Cheerilee thought, to get some fresh air in order to clear her head.
It was the last place she'd suspected to find music on the breeze.
It was the voice of somepony. Perplexed, the teacher looked back and forth, trying to locate the source of the melody. She could tell the owner was a filly, and if she listened closely, she could make out a few of the lyrics.
"-taaaaake ooooon meeeeeee, ah-take-on-me~"
Her eyes widened. Yet another song that had come from her past to haunt her. Was she just imagining the whole thing? She didn't THINK she was, she hadn't suffered any hallucinations yet. And as she kept her ears perked, she could tell the source was getting closer. From behind a nearby hill.
"-Taaaaaaake meeeeeeee oooooooon, ah-take-on-me~"
Carefully she scaled the hill, keeping her body low. She could hear the sounds of grass being scuffled now, like if somepony was... dancing, she realized. Slowly and surely, she raised her head up and over the hill's crest, spotting the owner of the voice.
"Iiiiiiiii'll beeeeeeee goooooooone~" sang the rainbow-maned, blue-coated filly on the other side of the ground. For a second, Cheerilee's eyes swam. The way the hair flowed about, it looked similar to the long luxurious curls of a familiar friend of her past. She tried to spot the golden necklace this pony should have been wearing. Any moment now, she expected the pony to turn about and spot her with those perpetually mascara'd eyes, and go 'Dahling! It's been so long!'
But then reality took hold again. The mane of that filly on the hill was cut short and untamed. She was moving with an energy and jerky motion that would have looked unsightly on her memory. On top of that, she was no Earth-Pony, but a Pegasus, the wings twitching to the beat inside the dancer's head.
"In a, DAAAAAaaAAAAAaaAAAAAAY~!!"
The purple equine cringed as the voice broke under that note. It was a common occurrence with this song, she mused.
"Oops... hehe, sorry about that. Didn't know I had an audience."
Cheeri looked up again. The Pegasus was looking at her now, showing off another similarity with her memory. Dark rose-colored eyes, filled with laughter.
"Oh... I should be the one apologizing." the mare replied, abandoning her hiding spot and trotting over to the performer. "But when I heard that song, I had to investigate. You don't hear that particular song around these parts anymore."
The blue one shrugged. "Dunno why, it's a good song."
There was a second or two of staring, before the teacher let loose the question in her mind. "Have I seen you before? You look rather familiar."
At this, the rainbow-maned filly grinned and jumped into the air, hovering in place. "You haven’t heard of my awesomeness? We-he-hell, lemme introduce myself! I'm Rainbow Dash, Ponyville's fastest, best, and, if I may say so, coolest pegasus around!"
Cheerilee stood her ground as she absorbed the name. On top of everything else that was striking her about this girl, the name stroke a particularly strong chord. "That can't be right."
Dash's face went blank. "What?"
"I-I mean, your name. I knew a Rainbow Dash who looked just like you, but she wasn't-"
There was a pause as the teacher's own face took on a blank look, which was followed by a look of realization, which was then followed by a gaze of open shock, with a smile on her lips. Rainbow Dash herself, when she saw the look on Cheeri's face, dropped to the ground and swallowed, wondering if the purple one was going to say what she thought she was.
"I KNOW who you are!" Cheerilee exclaimed, her tone of voice now taking on a familiar tone, which only served to make the weather pegasus brace herself, a strained look on her face.
"You're Dee-Jay, aren't you?!"
"UGH." was the response Rainbow Dash gave, as she rolled her eyes and looked away, firing back her own question. Actually, less of a question, and more like an accusation. "You're one of Mom's old friends, aren't you?"
There was a giggle as Cheeri tried to compose herself. "Yeah, I am. Rainbow Dash Senior and I used to do almost everything together. Clubbing, dating, roller-skating-"
"Yeah-yeah." the younger one waved a hoof. "School-friend fillies. Mom used to tell me a lot about your group."
There was a sigh as Dash raised her head back up and gave the teacher a recalcitrant smile. "Sorry about that. I just... thought I'd managed to leave the nickname behind. One of the reasons why I left Cloudsdale, everypony there who wasn't calling me Rainbow Crash, was calling me RDJ. Dee-Jay. Rainbow Dash Junior." A shake of the mane. "Gets on the nerves after a while."
"Oh believe me dearie, I know." the purple one said, remembering her own experience of being called 'Brace Face'. "I'll do my best to hold my tongue. Though you know, I'm still going to think of your mother whenever I use your name."
A nod, before a hoofing at the ground for a change in conversation direction. "So... which one of her friends then? I know she told me a lot about 'Big Apple', and 'Cheeri'-"
"Cheerilee Daisy." she finished, giving her a smile and holding out a hoof. "I actually had you and your mom visit me once in Canterlot, but you were just a newborn foal at the time. Barely learned how to trot."
Rainbow Dash blushed at the idea of herself being so young once, but took the hoof and shook it anyways. "I was still trying though, right?"
"Oh that you were. And you couldn't keep your wings still either." Cheerilee found herself giggling at the memory, before taking a step back and sizing up the proud filly standing in front of her now. "But now look at you. Were you the one who did the Sonic Rainboom? I remember hearing about it, but I never got the details."
The Pegasus preened. "Yeah that was me. At the time, it was rather... rushed, I guess. But I pulled it off without breaking a sweat!"
There was a clapping of hooves together. "Your mother must have been very proud. I know I would have been."
Dash looked down, another blush appearing. "She... she was. Mom was never the athletic type, but she always supported me. She kept insisting on making a new outfit for me for the occasion, even after I told her NOT to. I swear, if she ever met Rarity, Ponyville would be neck-high in dresses in ten seconds flat."
"That certainly sounds like your mother!" the purple pony giggled, before her face went into a thoughtful expression. "Rarity... isn't she Sweetie Belle's older sister?"
"That's right. You know Sweetie Belle?"
"I'm a teacher at the school she goes to. I know almost all the younger fillies and colts in town, and most of their families... mostly..." Thoughts of Applebloom and Big Mac crossed her mind.
"Makes sense. But yeah, if you know how my mom is like, then you have a good idea of how Rarity is like too. Dresses, makeup, hairstyling, blech." She paused to roll her eyes. "About the only thing we both agree on is music."
"Music?" There was a perking of the ears. She HAD overheard the filly singing an 80s classic earlier. "I wouldn't have pegged you as a fan of the stuff that played while your mother and I were still clubbing."
"Are you kidding?!" Rainbow said as she reared down in front of Cheeri. "I grew up on the stuff! Mom had all these records she kept, y'see, and some of the stuff, you can't HELP but love! I mean, I still love me some techno, and some of the other tunes that've come out lately, but if you wanna get me trottin', put me on some Mares in Hats!"
There was something of a pause, that allowed one final question to leave Cheerilee's lips. "Speaking of which... if I may ask... why were you dancing at the bottom of a hill?"
"Oh... yeah, hehe." Dash chuckled nervously, before launching into her explanation, which started with the words "Have you heard about the new nightclub that's opened near Sugarcube Corner?"
A very slight eye-twitch. "I... believe I have, actually. Are you... planning on...?"
"Oh I am SO going!" the Pegasus exclaimed, before reaching behind her to pull a flyer out of her tail. Upon closer inspection, it was identical to the one that BonBon had shown her earlier, complete with white unicorn DJ. "Scratch is setting up this totally awesome show that'll be going down this Friday. I thought I'd... y'know... practice a few of my moves for the floor, right?"
The teacher nodded, trying her best not to allow her inner turmoil to surface. "I see... have you... do you..." she found herself biting her lip, before she blurted out "Do you know what kind of music she'll be playing?"
The blue pony's eyes widened in slight surprise, but she answered without hesitation. "Scratch usually plays a lot of remixes. Y'know, reworked songs, with new beats. She likes to do a lot of the high-paced stuff though as well."
Cheerilee appeared to deflate, her eyes directing themselves to the grass at her hooves. "It makes sense." she replied, her voice now taking on an... Dash wasn't sure if she was hearing right... but she now sounded older. "Kids nowadays have a different tune to dance to. It happens every generation, I suppose. The New wave dance craze comes in, and the old kids just get.... old."
"H-hey," Rainbow Dash started, a hoof going halfway to her mouth. "It's not that bad. We can appreciate the classics too, y'know. Besides, you know how they say, 'you're only as old as you feel'?"
The earth pony favored her companion a small smile, though the quote was not having it's intended effect. Here she was, talking to the teenaged daughter of one of her old friends, who was planning on going to a techno party. How else was she supposed to feel but old, and past her due-date?
"Thanks D-... Rainbow Dash." she stammered. "I'm glad to have met you. I hope you have a good time at the party, I really do. If you see Lyra and BonBon there, tell them I said hi. And if you see your mother, tell her hi also."
She then got to her hooves and turned around to return to the trail, her body still sagging slightly. "I have to get going. Those lessons won't plan themselves. See you around?"
"Um, sure! Be seeing you!" Dash called back, hoof waving untill Cheerilee had trotted out of earshot. As she left however, the Pegasus proceeded to put a hoof to her chin in worry. Was this what a mid-life crisis looked like?
Cheerilee Daisy. She had finally gotten to meet one of her mom's old friends. She was nice enough, but a far cry from the raver that she remembered her mother describing. And yet... the way she had asked what Scratch played. She had sounded almost... hopeful.
The multihue-maned one remained in that pose for a minute more, before her eyebrows shot up. An idea had formed. But to make it work, she would need help.
She lifted off and sped back towards Ponyville, a smile on her face.
"Okay class, what did we learn today?"
This time, she was gratified that all the colts and fillies replied at the same time. "That Spike Is Not A Royal Dragon."
"That's right." Cheerilee replied, thankful that she had gotten that mess straightened out, with only minor scolding from Principal Pringle. "Spike may not have wings, but he's only a baby dragon. Noble Dragons will eventually gain their wings at age 20, after which, they will be compelled to begin collecting wealth. Thankfully, Spike is an upright standing citizen of Ponyville, and we're all glad to have him as part of our town."
There was a general wave of yays and uh-huhs and other noises of agreement. Applebloom in particular slumped back in her seat and sighed in relief. No more sneaking apples to the clubhouse, finally, she thought to herself.
The teacher took a quick glance at the clock, and nodded, before continuing. "Next week, we have a project due. Over the weekend, I want you all to look up books on the life and times of famous dragons. Pick your favorite, and write me a three-hundred word essay paper about their life and adventures!"
The bell rang, and she smiled to the class. "Untill then, I hope you all enjoy your weekend! See you Monday!"
The hubbub increased, as schoolponies began to pack their things away, and discuss excitedly about their weekend events they had planned. Cheerilee hummed to herself as she organized her own papers, getting ready for a weekend of relative peace, when something odd happened.
"Umm... Miss Daisy?"
She turned towards the voice. It was Scootaloo, with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle standing not far behind her. The orange pegasus had an envelope in her mouth.
"Is... is this for me?" the purple pony asked. All three fillies nodded in reply. With a small amount of trepidation, Cheerilee took the mail from her student's mouth, and then placed it on her desk.
"We were asked to deliver that." Scootaloo piped up. "You should open it before tonight."
She gave them all even looks. "Who asked you to deliver this?"
"Can't tell you that." Appleboom replied, a smile on her face.
"It would ruin the surprise!" Sweetie Belle quipped, a giggle escaping from her lips.
Before she could interrogate them further, the crusaders had tossed their bags onto their backs, and galloped out of the classroom, giggling all the while. They were the last ones to depart, leaving Cheerilee the only pony left in the room.
She looked around. She couldn't help but be a tad suspicious. Not spotting anypony outside the windows, she walked back to her desk, scrutinizing the envelope. She stared at it for a minute or so, before letting out a sigh.
She picked the letter up with her teeth, held it to the desk with one hoof, and tore it open. She gave the paper a shake, releasing its contents.
Instead of a note, like she had been expecting, out tumbled a single object. A bright, thin, neon-blue bracelet.
The purple pony simply stared, her pupils having shrunk, her expression, unreadable. She kept her eyes locked on the object, her mind going a million miles a minute. And for what were like minutes, she stayed put, the significance of the bracelet not lost on her.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, her mind clicked on a decision. One that she'd been wrestling with for a long while now.
She leaned forward, picked up the bracelet, and held her right front hoof up, deftly slipping it on. She walked a few steps around her desk with it, getting used to the feeling. Then she proceeded to finish gathering up her papers, leaving the classroom with a bounce in her step that had not been there before.
It was Friday. She was going home.
And then she was going to see her friends.
The sun had begun to kiss the horizon as Celestia brought on the evening, preparing the night shift for her sister. Down in the streets of Ponyville, ponies were in the process of heading home from work, heading out to dine, heading to the hills for play... or in the case of a few individuals, heading to dance the night away.
"Do you see her anywhere?" Lyra asked, for what seemed to be, the fifth time. The green unicorn was decked out for the night, a black headset with a green butterfly wing mounted on one side was firmly affixed to her head. Her saddle was a grey cloth, with a schoolgirl's skirt motif.
BonBon took another look around the premises, her pigtailed mane bobbing behind her. She was dressed in bright blue, a pair of hoofless gloves attached to her forelimbs. Braided into her tail was at least one glow-stick. "I'm not seeing her. She must have decided not to show up."
The pair were standing outside the dance club's entrance. There was a steady stream of ponies heading inside, each one fully decked out for the floor. The party inside the building had allready started, if the thumping that they were feeling through their limbs gave any indication.
There was a sigh as Lyra lowered her head. "I knew it. She's too proud a pony to 'slip' back into old habits, I guess." she groused.
The earth pony sat next to her friend and nuzzled her. "Don't talk about it like that, hon. She DID say she had a lot to do with the school... she may be stuck grading assignments, for all we know."
"Besides," she said, giving off a smile. "We can't say we didn't try."
The mint filly sighed once more, before raising her head. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Let's go ahead and head in." She got to her hooves as she turned towards the entrance. "Hopefully, the party hasn't gone on TOO long, or else we'll be done dancing before we even-"
The call snapped both sets of heads in a single direction.
"Wait up, girls!" called out a purple earth pony, as she galloped at full speed towards the pair. She skidded to a stop right in front of them, panting for breath. As the dust clouds settled, the two took their time taking in the remarkable transformation their friend had undergone.
Her mane was a crimped pink frizz, decked out with clip-ons, and lightning-bolt earrings dangled from their perches. A checkerboard handkerchief was tied around her neck, signature buttons in place. The blue bracelet from earlier was now joined by a pair of yellow ones, and to round out her outfit, a deep pink hoof-warmer surrounded her right rear leg.
Cheerilee, older, wiser, and a few pounds heavier, nevertheless resembled her younger 80s photo flawlessly. "Am I late?" she panted out, looking back and forth between her friends.
"Um..." was the collective answer she got from the both of them, their eyes unable to break away from the teacher's getup.
She cringed at their gazes. "I'm gonna get laughed at in this, aren't I? It's the only outfit I really know, and I just... DECIDED a few hours ago, I didn't have the time or bits to go shopping for a new one-"
"Oh no, it's okay!" the two staring equines blurted out, catching Cheeri off-guard. Lyra flushed, and rubbed the back of her head. "Sorry about that. We just... haven't seen you wear that in a REALLY long time."
"Yeah." BonBon quipped. "You shouldn't look THAT out-of place, actually. Dance clubs attract all types, you know. B-besides, we're both really glad you made it!"
There was a strained smile, before it collapsed in a puff of breath. "If you say so. Let's... just go ahead and see what this place is about." As she trotted past the two of them and headed for the door, she added "Before I change my mind and think this was a really bad idea."
They nodded, and quickly followed.
Inside, the lights were dim and the strobes were flashing. The dance floor was lit with patterns of color arrays, and the thumping bass of Daft Pony was in the air. The dance pit itself was a writhing mess of colors, as ponies of every imaginable shape and size danced away to the beat. The floor surrounding the pit contained casual talkers and drinkers alike, multiple tables hugging the far walls. Over in one corner, a small but cozy drink-bar served up appletinis and screwdrivers. Raised up on a dias along one side of the dance pit, was a mixer's station, complete with white unicorn with a shock of blue for her mane. She was head-bobbing away, completely in control of the beat that issued from all around her.
As the trio stepped in, Cheerilee could sense her companions were allready jumping in place in time to the tune. She gave the techno beat a good listen. Decided it wasn't TOO bad. Anything that made her 'Work it Harder" was okay in her book.
The dance pit was full up with bodies, so there was no way to join that mass. Instead, the group remained up on the lounge floor, near the stairwell, as they proceeded to buck and sway to the beat. The purple filly only tripped once or twice, thankfully unnoticed, before her muscle memory kicked back in after years of disuse. It wasn't long before her tail was swaying just as smoothly as it once did, fifteen years ago.
The song ended, and there was a loud cheer as fans saluted DJ PON-3. Her ever-present rims on, the unicorn scanned the crowd, before locking eyes with the one that had sighted their target coming in. All the signal she needed, were a pair of fully extended wings.
She pulled out a new record, and mouthed to herself “Echoing Green' as she read its label. She placed it on the turntable, and as the pin went down, a new buzzing beat issued forth from the surround-sound.
A good number of the ponies, exhausted from the last song, made their way upstairs, leaving room in the pit. Lyra and BonBon began to push their friend down the steps.
"C'mon!" the mint unicorn urged, her horn lit in trying to drag the reluctant dancer's hooves. "Now's as good a time as any to get down there! Show them your stuff!"
"B-but, I don't HAVE any stuff!" Cheerilee cried out, valiantly resisting her companion's efforts. Dancing on the lounge floor had been fine with her, but there in the pit, in the center of it all, was another story. "What if they all laugh? I shouldn't have even come here, this isn't for me anymore!"
The music continued to build, a high-tempo drumbeat now introducing itself into the melody.
"Cheeri, you're panicking!" BonBon soothed, placing a hoof around the mauve one's shoulders. "Just relax girl, you're here to have FUN, remember? This is YOUR night. Take charge, and MAKE it yours!"
A snappy comeback was about to take to the air, but before she could speak, another voice sang forth from all around.
She saw the floor. Its center was empty.
She took a step.
She took another.
A step turned into a pose.
A spotlight flashed on. She didn't notice. She was in a trance.
She was dancing.
The song was one that she knew well indeed. Or rather, it was a cover of the same song. As the familiar beeping notes took to the air, she realized that the techno vibe that had permeated this day and age, suited this song immensely. She danced her way to the middle of the pit, the crowd parting for her as she worked. Lyra and BonBon were left at the foot of the stairs, their jaws agape. The spotlight was completely unexpected by everypony, shining down on a mare who looked like she had stepped right out of the 80s. And she tuned them all out, and began dancing in earnest, swaying her hips and shimmying her shoulders, as the first chorus came around.
"We can Dance if we want to.
We can leave your friends behind.
‘Cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance,
Well they're, no friends of mine.
We can go where we want to.
A place where they will never find.
And we can act like we come from out of this world,
Leave the real one far behind.
And we can DANCE!"
As the beeping returned, she felt the floor began to pound in time to the music. Somepony big was coming this way. The crowd was parting again, a shape working it's way towards her. As it broke free, she gasped.
Way more muscular than she remembered from the last time she saw him on the floor, nonetheless, he was wearing a blue bandanna around his forehead, brown mane cresting over the top and attempting to cover his smiling eyes. With every stomp-clop in time to the beat, the floor transmitted a tremor. The red stallion grinned at Cheerilee as he worked towards her, and extended a hoof, straw of hay dangling from his teeth.
She was as perplexed as a purple pony could be, but she gave Big Apple Macintosh a return grin as she took up position in front of him. Apparently, not ALL the dance moves had been bucked out of this farm-boy yet. They danced and sang together as the song came rolling back.
"We can go where we want to!
Night is young and so am I.
And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet,
Surprise'em with a victory cry!
We can act if we want to!
If we don't, nobody will.
And we can act real rude, and totally removed,
And I can act like an imbecile."
They began to hold hooves and swing each other about, eyes locked into each other's, as the main chorus came about.
"WE CAN DANCE! WE CAN DANCE!
Everything's outta control.
WE CAN DANCE! WE CAN DANCE!
We're doin' it pole-to-pole!
WE CAN DANCE! WE CAN DANCE!
Everypony lookit your prance.
WE CAN DANCE! WE CAN DANCE!
Everypony's takin' the Cha-HAAAaaaAAAANCE~!"
"Well it's a Safety Dance!" Big Mac sang out.
"WELL IT'S A SAFETY DANCE!" the crowd sang back.
"Well it's a Safety Dance!
WELL IT'S A SAFETY DANCE!"
The floor lit up in all its laser lightshow glory once more, and everypony that had been simply watching before, now took to their hooves and boogied. Lyra and BonBon had finally gotten past the initial shock, and were tearing it up with the rest of the dancers.
"We can dance if we want to!" Cheerilee sung out, as if the very notion of the phrase was an all-new concept to her. "We can DANCE if we WANT TO!" She wanted everypony around her to hear, her voice taking on an excited tone.
The tune dipped back low, and there was a flutter of wings as a new pony alighted itself in the clear spot with her and Big Mac. The stallion chuckled at the flashy entrance, but the teacher-come-dancer had to do a double-take at the newcomer
Rainbow Dash smirked as she struck a pose, her forelimbs decked out in glowing neon bracelets of every color, a black headband making her already-vibrant mane stand out even more, and a pair of glowsticks lashed to her hind legs. She busted out another pose in time with the vibrating base, before performing a break-dance spin that started on her front hooves, and ended with her doing a power-side on her hind limbs, in-between the two watching ponies. As she got to her hooves again, she sidled towards them and sang.
"S! A! F! E!"
Big Mac reached over and grabbed the pegasus by the shoulder, before doing much the same with Cheerilee, bringing them together as they sang out.
"T! Y! SAFETY! DANCE!"
The music slowed to a pregnant pause... before it blasted back out again, bringing everypony to their feet.
The rest of the song played out uninterrupted, as Cheerilee's heart sang in joy. For the moment, she was not old. She was not out-of-date. And as the tune ran down to it's conclusion, she realized, that she never HAD been in the first place. She was dancing with her friends, both old, AND new. And with them... it didn't matter.
There were cheers as the notes died out. Loud whoops and whistles were given, she realized, in her and her friend's direction. Lyra and BonBon trotted up to her, and after exchanging proud and silent hugs, led their friends off of the stage floor.
"You set this up, didn't you?" Cheerilee accused Rainbow Dash.
There was a wing shrug. "So what if I did? You looked like you needed it."
The purple one gave her an angry look, but it was quickly replaced by a grateful hug to the blue pony. "Thank you. Thank you SO much, Dee-Jay."
"Dee-Jay?" Lyra parroted, confused.
All five of them had retreated to one of the secluded corner booth-tables, each one sipping a drink. In the background, the party and it's music continued, the beat still pulsing through the foundations of the establishment. Big Mac could have sworn the place was liable to fall apart around their ears any second now.
Dash gave a glare to the green unicorn. "Hey. Only Cheerilee gets to call me that, okay? Don't go spreading it around either, or I swear..."
"Awww.” BonBon lamented. "How come Cheerilee only?"
"Special family friend privileges." the pegasus replied, her face in a haughty expression. It only held for a second, before she looked back over to the teacher, a smile on her face as she proceeded to explain.
"After you said goodbye on that hill, I flew over to Sweet Apple Acres to find Big Mac. Mom had told me about 'Big Apple', and I wasn't sure if they were one and the same. But, thankfully, my hunch proved right!"
"Eeee-Yup." the draft horse added, sitting on Cheeri's opposite side.
"Big Mac explained everything to me, and I told him about my meeting you... AND about my plan." She tilted her head to address the stallion. "I'm really glad you did too."
"As am I." Big Mac replied, shifting about in his seat. "Ah felt real sore 'bout turnin' you down earlier, an' when Dash told me her plan, ah knew this'd be mah chance t'turn it around."
"I asked Scratch to play a song of my choosing, when I wanted it." Rainbow continued. "Mac told me that Safety Dance was your favorite, so, there we go. She found a cover of it, that I thought would hit the sweet spot between today's beat, and the classic tunes. You have to admit, it sounded pretty sweet, didn't it?" she nudged the Earth Pony in the ribs.
"I-it did." Cheeri confessed. "I'm not usually a big fan of the techno stuff... but yeah, that WAS pretty sweet."
"The last thing to do, was to get you going. I gave the Cutie Mark Crusaders that letter with the bracelet. I figured that it would be enough to send you the message, that somepony was waiting for you here."
"I think the BIG thing here...” BonBon quipped. "... is that you got to relax, and have fun. Did you? You sure LOOKED like you were enjoying yourself, back there on the floor." She gave a smile. It was infectious, as all the other seated ponies began to wear their own, Lyra and Big Mac nodding with theirs.
The pony-on-the-spot blushed, eyes directed towards her drink. "Yeah... y'know what, yeah. I did." She looked back up, taking in her friend's faces. "I think... as a teacher... I've just learned a very important lesson."
"Oh? Do tell." Rainbow Dash grinned, taking a sip from her water. "I bet you'd do Twilight proud."
"I think I've learned... that it doesn't matter how old or 'out-of-date' you think your sense of dance and style is. As long as you're among your friends... the ones who REALLY care..." she gave them all a look of gratitude, beads appearing in the corner of her eyes. "They'll understand. When you're with them... you can dance if you want to, anytime!"
"Just don't leave us behind!" Lyra added, with a giggle.
There was a shared round of laughter, which lasted for a good minute or so. Long enough for Big Mac to lower his muzzle to Cheerilee's ear.
"So... are we still on fer Saturday?"
She looked back at him, her eyes wide. "Of course! I wouldn't back down now!"
He smiled at her, before he darted his eyes downwards "Ah have another question too..." he added, this time a blush appearing on his cheeks.
She found herself blushing as well, as she leaned in and nuzzled her old friend. "Next Friday? I'll be here. I promise."
He outright grinned at that. "Ah'm lookin' forward t'that, Prancing Queen." he replied, his voice riding on a high. A split-second later however, his face blanched. "Er, sorry, but that... wasn't th' question ah had."
"Well then, what was it, Big Apple?"
"You wouldn't happen t'know why Applebloom went 'n hid Spike in our old Treehouse yesterday, would yah?"