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Rose-Tinted                                                This is a beginning.

By Chistery                                                This is not the end.

Pinkie Pie huffed to herself, “Ridiculous …”

And really it was.  The Grand Galloping Gala - a party of enormous proportion with thousands of ponies in the castle grounds and the surrounding hills, a network of stars and celebrities and great lighting and outdoor areas and fine marble dance halls - had no streamers.  No balloons.  No pin-the-tail-on-the-pony, or the lesser pin-the-scales-on-the-dragon.  Hardly any large cakes!

This wasn’t a party; it was a bunch of fancy dresses and stallions in tuxedos and tiny flutes of champagne.  Pinkie was starting to chomp at the bit for some sarsaparilla.  The thin brittle smiles she saw plastered on the neuveau riche of Canterlot was starting to chap her cupcakes.

She hovered close to the buffet bar in the main hall.  The outdoor areas only had some light finger sandwiches and hors d'œuvre, but here at least in the main hall there were some real cupcakes.  Careful not to get frosting on candy-themed gloves, the irony escaped Pinkie.

The smallest tasty crumbs did not.

She chased cupcake after cupcake, guzzling punch, never feeling full.  Pinkie felt a little alone without a good array of banners and streamers.

So stood the Party Pony of Ponyville in “the greatest party ever,” a staggeringly quiet vision in pink and candyfloss.  If her pillbox hat had any decency it would droop in sympathy with her situation.  Instead it stayed pert and proud.

It did not help that once or twice the rose filly was asked “Oh, what is this you’re serving tonight?” - her polite reply being the cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches on the far end were great, though the lobster rococo was a little rich.  (And intended for the dragons in attendance …)

Darting her eyes about the room, she caught glimpses of Applejack’s hat, the very tip of Twilight Sparkle’s cowl.  If she listened very carefully above the rabble, she could very nearly make out where Fluttershy stood; the crowd in that direction was very politely waiting for her to stutter out where she found that Rarity Original.

They all had their parts to play.  She supposed if she couldn’t be a party planner, she could help the help and … direct others to the crescent rolls.

“Heya, Pinkie Pie,” came a rounded giggle at her side.  Pinkie started, eyes darting to see -

A slim blue figure.  Looking from gold-shorn legs up, Pinkie took in a fine three-gem broach and a long flowing dress of a thousand colors with cloud-magic trim.  Two lightning-bolt earrings hung at equal measures from from a rakish grin.  A permed rainbow mane fell easily over smoky rose eyes -

Pinkie gasped, “D-Dash?”

“Lady Prism Radiance Windemere Silverhoof by name,” the bluebird trilled haughtily, batting her eyes. Leaning a little too close, a stage-whispered “But you can call me Dash,” eked out before breaking into a snicker and a lip-glossed smile.

The energy was infectious; Pinkie began to rock on her hooves.  She caught a whiff of bubbly above the orange blossom perfume the filly was wearing, the smell of rain … “H-have you been drinkin- enjoying yourself?”

“Yeah!  I’m … I’m feeling good, you know?  No need to prove myself, see, everyone already thinks I'm awesome with the dress - everyone’s friendly …” she gestured with a robin’s egg wing, taking in the whole of the room.  Dash’s face tilted, smiling and conspiratorial, “The pink blush they’re serving on the other end of the hall is great. You should try some ...”

The rising giggle in her voice reminded Pinkie of all the parties back in Ponyville.  Back there Dash’s laugh was a little more hoarse, ragged, open, but it echoed the fun Pinkie wanted ...

“I don’t know, Dash, I’m having a- a superrific great good time without it-” Pinkie protested lamely.

“Come on, it'll be fun! It reminded me of you,” Dash bubbled, rolling sweet as sarsaparilla down Pinkie’s ear.  The blue filly was getting a little close, perspective now blush-wine colored … “It’s like soda, kind of.  Light and bubbly and pink … and sweet.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Pinkie bit off quickly.  She thought should feel uneasy and all-too-sober, yet she only felt nervous and a little hot under the lace collar.  Knowing the difference made it worse.

Pinkie could hardly smell the cupcakes over Dash’s perfume; it was like a citrus grove after a clean rain - a pony tipsy and laughing and happy and right there and full of adventure.

“Just … Just try it,” Dash pleaded.  There was a just-us-friends crinkle in those pink eyes, a wrinkling of that cute nose, "Please?"

The pinkest pony in all the land bit her lip.  Turning her eye to a sad tray of finger sandwiches and her several empty punch glasses, she bravely stammered, “O-okay.”


Pinkie Pie found herself not dragged, but gently shepherded across the floor. They passed many gentlecolts and ponies of a certain age, fillies of tender nature, many ponies of a certain class or status - pulled along by a bright bolt of color in a sea of tuxes.  Hoof to hoof it must have looked ridiculous.  A giant pink cake of a pony bustled along by a rainbow cloud with bells on?

Only at the Gala -

“Here, the table’s just up ahead,” Dash threw over her shoulder and long flowing mane, "You will FLIP."

Pinkie’s eyes went wide.  This table had been crowded, so crowded she hadn’t bothered.  Now she knew why.  Silver service trays were loaded down with champagne, ales, meads, shiraz, lemon wedges, and -

“PEANUTS,” whispered the walking pink cake.  Pinkie Pie sidled up against the table, attempting to surreptitiously grasp a hoofful of sweet salty honey caked goodness.  Her mouth watered.  Rainbow Dash was looking the other way; just a few wouldn’t ruin her appetite for fun.

Hoof nearly there, hovering over the crystal bowl, a clipped and polished blue hoof touched hers gently.  A shudder ran up bubblegum skin.

“Don’t eat those,” came the voice again, chiding and a little low, “You’ll ruin your palate.”

Pinkie turned to find Dash holding a flute of pink fizzing … something.  

“Is that-”

“Just try it.  I tell you, you’ll like it,” Dash insisted.  Her breath smelled of strawberries, now that Pinkie had time to take it in.  A blue hoof held out a quietly fizzing glass.

Pinkie took it with some trepidation, remembering the last time she’d tried alcohol. It had been bad mead on the far end of town when Big Mac heard she was coming of age.  She’d been sick for hours and could hardly stand malt powder for weeks.  But now her friend - her very good friend - was trying to show her a good time.  It was a gift.

What could it hurt?  Pinkie liked bubbly things.  She was one. The frilly pink filly closed her eyes, hoping.

“Okay, here goes-” and the rim found its home on her lips, tipping back it touched tongue.  It was clear and crisp.  It wasn’t dark or sickly sweet like sarsaparilla; it tasted like very clear barley tea at Fall Festival.  It tasted like Strawberry Cordial on Winter Wrap Up Day.  There was something sharp involved, like lemons or a crisp kiwi.  The bubbles packed a punch; she could feel it in her nose and couldn’t help but giggle.

It wasn’t cupcakes.  It was better.

“That’s … that’s nice!”  Pinkie Pie laughed, feeling a warm flush in her face.  Her eyes opened again, to see a proud and relieved expression wash over Dash.

“Like strawberries?” the blue slip of a pony mused.  She reached for another glass from the silver service, noticing Pinkie was going through that glass rather quickly.

“Yeah, like strawberries!”

“The color suits you,” Dash murmured to herself, taking the empty flute away, replacing it with a full one.  It was so nice to see Pinkie try new things.

The blushing pony took another sip, enjoying the warm feeling coming from such a fizzy-cold drink. “You know Dash, I wasn’t … I wasn’t having a very good time.”

Dash stopped sipping from her own glass.  “You, not having a good time?  What a laugh!”

“Yeah, well, I had a good enough time,” a gulp, “until Twilight told me all about formal decorum, whatever that is” the angry pink pony swigged down the bitterness and gained steam, “and rules and the proper way to waltz and talk and breathe and eat cake-”  Pinkie snapped with an exasperated flourish on cake, “Is this really how they party here in Canterlot?”

The rainbow filly nodded wistfully.  She briefly considered her own run-ins with rule mongering and what it’d done to Pinkie Pie’s spirits, but didn’t want to scowl. She decided to drawl “Biggest party in all of Equestria …” which came out a touch darkly.

Pinkie barreled on, “It’s a party but it’s not my party.  I like making big big super spectacular awesome parties with balloons and friends and lots of dancing.  I don’t see any of that,” she finished a little more smoothly.  The filly dangled the statement as low-bearing fruit, as if to hope for the sudden appearance of a marching band and a plate of hot sandwiches with au jus and emergency rations of streamers.

She balanced on her other front hoof, looking like a homesick filly in a schoolyard.  The too-big dress aided the impression.  “I mean … I guess it’d be fun for a big bunch of rich ponies.”

Dash startled.  Pinkie was the queen of “giggle at the ghosties.”  This reservation and anxiety wasn’t her.

The weather pony scrambled to think of something positive to say, and posited after some pause, “You’re right.  This isn’t a party.  It’s a dumb rich guy convention!  I used to go to all these things so much I never knew what a party was until …”  the rainbow-themed filly stopped, reaching for the right thing to say.  Suddenly she remembered the first time meeting Pinkie, tiny bits of icing in her hair and all. Emboldened by the memory, she finished with a flourish, “‘-- ’til I came to your shop and you put up a banner and just … gave me a cake!”

Pinkie laughed high and pure.  Dash sipped, victorious.

“You remember how angry Mrs. Cake was?  I had to work so hard to make up for it!”  Another gulp.  The point of drinking the wine wasn’t the same as first blush; The taste was still there, but Pinkie most savored the light airy sensation creeping through her limbs.  She felt light on her heels, and now Rainbow was here with her.  Visions of invisible ink and spring-loaded potato chips floated in her mind among the suds.

Dash sipped quietly, smile not leaving her face - remembering very clearly of paying Mrs. Cake under the table to cover the party costs.  She’d have Words with her back in Ponyville. At least Pinkie was a little more cheerful-

“But you were worth it, Rainbow Dash,” Pinkie cheered.

Unbidden, blue wings burst full-form away from their lace moorings.  Dash very quickly finished the glass in hand, praying no one had noticed.


The conversation kept rolling.  Topics were sparkling, like the shandies and wine spritzers that appeared at their elbow by sorcery.  They touched on cider and the nice sun Canterlot had enjoyed that afternoon and the stars and all the things Applejack wanted to do in the Big City.  Dash mentioned her family in a certain way, a little testily.  Pinkie hoped to visit her cousin second removed down at the bake shop.  Subjects came to include the smaller and more intimate, eventually turning to swizzle sticks on the table, the funny look on Hoity Toity’s face when rejected by a young stud on the far end of the hall …

The candles began to dim; a glimmering kind of magic.  A twilight descended in the hall.  Couples were slow-dance-trotting, others were whispering sweet nothings in the proper ear.  An old couple of mares on one corner were laughing, sharing a table-service cheesecake.  Dash could just barely make out the sparkle of a matching set of diamond rings.

Many empty flute glasses littered the out-of-the-way table; they held just the faintest leavings of blueberry and peach and strawberry. Both ponies had settled into an easy comfort.  Rainbow Dash hazarded throwing a hoof over Pinkie’s shoulders, enjoying the light and fitful giggles from her friend.

Dash settled into a lean into Pinkie, feeling cozy against pink curves and candy-themed lace.  The smell of pink bubblegum had mixed with all those wonderful sweet drinks.  In the candlelight, a pink face, tipsy, grinning from ear to ear, gorgeous …

Pinkie smiled, raising the latest full glass to the candle, then to Dash’s eyes, and back down - “That’s funny,” the cake maker hiccuped, “Your eyes are strawberry wine-colored.  I always called them just silly old pink.  I like pink.  I am pink, I have a pink in my think …” as she trailed off into breathy singsong.

Dash gave her friend, her very good friend, her very dear and sweet and wonderful-smelling and and funny friend, an appraising look.  Her mind bubbled and boiled, a fire stoked beneath a bucket of fine wine and heady perfume.  She drained the nearest half-flute of bubbly, tasting something like pears through the haze.

“Ssssso Pinkie.  You have a stallion back home?  I never see you with anypony,” Dash managed.  Not slurring was a special trick; she reckoned the Sonic Rainboom was easy by comparison.  The wild-maned pony didn’t much know where this train of conversation was going, but then again she never was one to think ahead.

“I date and all, but no, I mean there was one stallion who asked me a while ago to go out but I didn’t want to go to the buffet, I’d had enough that day and -” the sentence lapsed into laughter.  It was a wonderful ringing sound.

“Ever been kissed?”  Dash not-slurred; it was a small miracle she became terrified after asking.  Her heart leapt into her throat somewhere near her broach, pounding blood away into her face.  Blue wings quivered like an orchestra set to play.

The half-second pause and the quick sideways glance of those clear blue eyes felt like forever.

“Y-yeah, but not very well,” the pink pony said a little quietly.  Strawberry was her color; with the flush she looked very much like a crimson berry.

“So, uh, um …” The bold voice faltered, “You want to?”

A blur of pink - and suddenly Dash tasted bubblegum and warmth.  Dash was surprised, then relieved, then simply there.  She was there with the girl from those afternoon daydreams, that one behind the counter with the nice smile and cute laugh.  The one from the cake shop, the first pony in Ponyville to greet her with those little icing flecks in her hair -

It tasted wonderful and warm.  She tasted like strawberry wine.  Dash found her hooves wrapped around Pinkie as well as she could, holding her just so.  There were nibbles and long slow circles along her back, scritches in her wings-

It wasn’t cupcakes.  It was better.

Pinkie broke away, slowly, biting her lip, “I do like that.  It’s like strawberries.”

Dash threw caution to the wind, gaze darting to the exit.  Eight glasses of wine fueled her courage now.  It was getting late.  The worst the famished bubbly-pink-girl-full-of-bubbly could say was “no” ...

“You want to feel like strawberries …?”

Rose Tinted III: Feeling Keenly Pinkie                        This is a sequel.

By: Chistery; Partially edited by PurpleTinker                This is not the end.

The room was several shades too dark.

Pinkie was disappointed; on the previous night, the room had been perfectly bright without the lights on.  Now Luna's high moon was overcast by high gray clouds.  What little light came from the moon was thin and milky-gray, casting her many cupcakes and cookies in strange charcoal tones.

Even her radiant pink coat was dun and plain in the bakery window’s light.  Everything felt cold and gray, despite the springtime warmth creeping in from outside.  It felt wrong.

The Weather Team must have scheduled an overcast night.  Usually, Pinkie would maintain a calendar for planning her days, with weather plans annotated by colorful icons and stickers.  A terrible awful storm would be represented by a frowny face sticker, a sunshiny day by the image of 5 cupcakes.  Since returning from the Gala, there weren’t any stickers.  She hadn't been to the Weather Station to check the schedule …

Pinkie’s face folded.  Her cheeks hurt a little; they ached from the new and strange demands of frowning.

Her frown softened considerably when she thought of her secret.

She hazarded turning on a single lamp in the corner.  She hopped very quietly to the cherrywood end table and pulled a thimble-ended cord.  Her ears twitched at the quiet ring-ring in the deep quiet of the bakery.  The glasswork rose to brightness, casting comforting yellow light into the room.  A floral pattern in the ironwork danced over the walls, the occasional chair, the punch bowl left out the night before.  Her coat at once returned to a proper shade of bubblegum pink.  The unease Pinkie had felt in the half-cast moonlight disappeared, and yet the strange tingle in her hooves wouldn’t go away, nor the unpleasant stiffness in her ears.

Pinkie darted into the kitchen, bouncing a little more self-consciously than usual.  She felt like a bubblegum-pink criminal darting about in the deep blue-black of the kitchen at night. She didn’t know quite why.  All day she had worked diligently making vanilla bean cupcakes for Mr. and Mrs. Cake.  She was allowed to work after-hours, and after-after-hours.  She wasn’t doing anything wrong.  Keeping secrets wasn’t wrong.  And yet this felt … secretive.

Her nerves quieted as she began her ritual.  From a tucked-away utensil bin, the pink pony extracted an oversized soup ladle.  Spinning it about, a fine silvery chain unwound from the handle.  When it had fully unbound, Pinkie pulled away the tinkling thread and felt a sliver of a key in her hoof.  She felt particularly clever about this hiding place; the Cakes didn’t serve soup.  Naturally, it meant nopony would ever bother using a soup ladle in the “fully-stocked” kitchen.

She rounded in on the company icebox.  Opening the door, a tiny bulb woke hazily, revealing a jumble of white milk jugs, egg cartons, simple syrup, and half-used icing containers. She set about parting the sea of boxes and glass jars.  First, she set aside several packages of finished icing. Then, hunkering up to her foreknees in boxes of ice cream in the freezer section, her hooves grasped the edges of a box.  She pulled it out into the warmth of the room, making certain not to let its frigid cold bite at her softer skin.

Closing the icebox door as an afterthought, the room again fell to darkness.  The filly half-bounced back to the main parlor, box in the crook of her foreleg.  The light was still casting cheer against the gloom of the night.  Despite the cold radiating from the box, she felt warmer now.  Pinkie’s bounce grew with every bound towards the little side-table.  Rocking idly on her rear hooves, she gingerly placed the tiny chest in the sunny pool of light.

Pinkie hurriedly scraped away frost from the keyhole with the tip of her key. Satisfied, she plunged the silver key into the gnarled lock, quietly singing to herself “I have a pink in my think~ …  She turned the key and very gently pulled back the black lid, taking care not to leave frost on the royal blue satin lining.

The gold necklace with three wonderful green jewels cast a beautiful cheerful glow, magnifying and strengthening that of the lamp’s little bulb.  Teasing at the golden chainwork, the tiny ting-tink noises rang clear in her perked ears.  She didn’t have the companion rainbow dress or rose-colored eyes to complete the set, but to Pinkie it was still beautiful.

        The box still smelled faintly of orange blossoms and strawberry wine.

Pinkie broke into a smile.  Her cheeks didn’t complain at all.


Rarity had a knack for many things.  There was her fashion, poise, and etiquette, which many ponies recognized and lauded her for.  Yet scarce few understood or appreciated her use of foundation cream.

To her mind, this was a terrible pity.  Not a soul in Ponyville understood the work true beauty required.  No stallion with a straight back and rippling muscles would appreciate in the slightest the work it took to frame and tress her long purple curls just so.  No “salt of the earth” laborer would ever know the keen artistry needed for precisely the right glow in her cheeks.

Her level of expertise had its benefits.  Even in the dead of a Thursday night, she was a vision of beauty, poise, and class.  Her violet tresses were indeed just so.  Though Rarity expected no suitors in the dead of night, she had applied just the proper makeup for a pale moonlight stroll and just so happened to be wearing her favorite perfume from Trottingham.

Proper appearance to the contrary, this was not her habit.  9 PM was more than past her beauty-sleep bedtime.  Being alive at two in the morning would cost her dearly; she could feel it.  There was a certain numbness in her hooves that came with sleep deprivation, and it had begun to creep into her hock.  Yet she couldn’t sleep.  She had tossed and turned and whined to Opal, tried drinking tea at her fine oak table with the little doilies, attempted to light some aromatherapy candles in her sitting room, read light romance novellas - but sleep flatly refused to happen.

Something had been bothering her since an appointment that afternoon with Pinkie.  The content of the assignment wasn’t what troubled her; it was a simple task - darning a tear in a Gala dress sock.  Nor was the trouble found in the tiny rip in the dainty blue-and-white satin, though it had called for precise repair.  To any passersby it was a dull assignment from a close friend.  It was even picturesque; Pinkie always brought color and liveliness to the boutique, and her customer’s features had been just so.  Yet with her keen eye, she’d noticed a paleness in Pinkie’s rosy cheeks.  There was a certain hallowness in her laughter.  To any other pony it was “only a small thing” - but in Rarity’s opinion there were very few truly “small things.”  

This was the latest of several observations made by the exacting dressmaker.  Pinkie’s smile had been a little tight at Twilight’s “clean up a fashion disaster of a home and study hovel” party (or so Rarity liked to think of it).  When Rarity stopped by the Sugar Cube to pick up a box of cupcakes, Pinkie’s eyes had the slightest impression of puffy eyelids.  Her pink friend made a good show of bouncing through the town square on Market Day, yet she wasn’t carrying herself as proudly as … well, Pinkie.  Rarity distinctly recalled taking Pinkie’s measurements; a quarter-inch droop was very troubling.

Staring at the ceiling in bed, Rarity took stock of her recent encounters with Pinkie.  She could only surmise Pinkie had been perfectly normal (well, normal for Pinkie!) before the Gala. All these telling signs had begun upon their return to Ponyville. That something had happened at the Gala unbeknownst to “the finest socialite in Equestria... pardon, in Ponyville” only made sleeping harder.  Pondering over this, she chewed her lip until she would very nearly need lip balm in the morning.

Then it struck her.  The night of the Gala she’d been in similar straits, staring at the ceiling, wondering why oh why a certain Prince Unicorn just hadn’t been interested in her “in that way.”  Despite her hopes for a long and romantic evening, she’d spent most of the night stewing and chewing and fussing away until the early morning.  Her sulking- no, her repose had been broken by … things she heard from a few doors down.  She recognized a voice.  It was frustrating to hear Dash having a good time, but it was like getting angry at a rolling tide.  Rarity had almost settled into sleep when:

“OH, DASH, YES!” resonated rather clearly through several interceding walls with a sing-song trill.  It was something in the range of alto-soprano.  It carried a bubbly cheer she’d heard carrying all too many tuneless songs before.  Pinkie.

Two friends having “fun”?  Together?  In earshot of her, poring over her broken Gala dreams?  That was just cruel.  That night Rarity barely slept, and she woke with a scowl still on her face.  It put her in quite a Mood.

At breakfast Rarity had been unkind.  In fact she’d been rather catty.

And so now in her bed in Poyville, fresh guilt gnawed at her.  It felt like the worst kind of burdock in her fetlocks; it stuck and hurt and refused to leave.  Resigned to the fact she wasn’t going to sleep, she’d gone walking.

As she had repeated to herself many times during her circuit around the city square, Rarity was not by nature a nosy pony.  She would meddle into the thick of things, and she was definitely concerned with the inner lives of her friends, but to nose one’s way into the privacy of others was just not done in noble circles.  It wasn’t her place to know, and it certainly was not her place to find out.

Yet at 2 AM the brilliant-white pony was “taking a midnight constitutional” (isn’t the night air just lovely?) and thought it was her place to know and perhaps it was her place to find out.  Naturally, two in the morning was the least likely time to resolve the problem-- and banish her guilt.  But no, everypony else was at home in their beds, asleep and untroubled.  The dark cobbles, the stray cry of a night bird - nothing told her how to ease the tight shame catching in her throat.

Rarity kicked a chunk of loose cobble near the city fountain in frustration.  It skittered a fair turn down a side-street.  Her eyes followed the path it took over the cobbles.  She winced more than a little at its destination - Sugar Cube Corner.

... Just my luck, Rarity thought,  making ready to turn and resume staring at her ceiling.

At half-turn, something shone in the corner of an eye.  A dim light had flared up in the high clear window of the bakery.  Hoping it wasn’t exhaustion creeping in, Rarity stood stock still for some while, feeling rather sheepish.  She felt so silly, breath very quiet, knees locked.  Her gaze froze to the window in the warm night.

The light remained steady but low.  It wasn’t a hallucination; a hallucination would have been more colorful.  Had Rarity not been looking, the dark yellow lustre from deep inside the bakery would have gone unnoticed; there wasn’t a hint of yellow light onto the cobblestone or reflecting on the opposite shop’s wall.  Rarity crept toward the shop window warily.

It was queer to see Sugar Cube Corner in half-light.  During normal evening hours the parlor would blare out light; on most nights Rarity would reckon it a gaudy cupcake done up in incandescents.  At the very least a set of bright white lamps would be lit for applying icing late or cleaning up after hours.  With everything cast in half-tones and the suggestion of cakes and brownie platters, the whole bakery was dark, delicate, intimate.  It was like a single candle glowing a forest glen, if the glen were populated by cookies and cakes.

Rarity peered in and saw the most curious sight …


        Pinkie thought keeping her own secret felt strange, but for once Pinkie didn’t want anypony to laugh.  She took up the necklace - no, broach, Rarity would say - gingerly from its protective case.  It felt cold but solid, like a very small anchor.  Throwing a weak shadow against the far wall, she began to dance, one two three, one two three, on her back hooves, holding her hooves as if taking an dance partner-

        Several days ago and a world away, in the hotel elevator, down the hall, she and Dash had barely contained themselves, which is to say they hadn’t.  Once they’d made it to the tidy cozy comfort of Dash’s stateroom, they decided to perform their own private Gala.  Uncorking a small champagne for fun, drawing pulls of melon flavored bubbly, they laughed and stole fruit-flavored kisses.  They sashayed hoof-and-hoof, darting about the junior suite, two wonderful women in sync.  Pinkie half-murmured a song, barely carried by Dash’s mumbling --

        “Iiii feel like strawberries / and faeries / and butterflies / because you’re nice / and so am I,”  Pinkie sang small to the empty bakery, hoofs and humming making a rum-pa-pa one-two-three cadence.  There’d been more swaying in the original performance, and it was hard to waltz with no partner.  Yet if she closed her eyes and thought if very very hard, she could nearly hear that laugh and see those wet ruby-red lips and feel those rose tinted eyes.  If she clasped the gold chain just right and moved with her memory, she could smell the wine.  There was the faintest whiff of honeydew and bright bubbles.

        Pinkie’s dance made a hazy circle about the parlor, her shadow making turns and steps and pirouettes on the walls.  Bumping into a table, her eyes opened to a funhouse reflection of a pink pony in the stainless-steel end of a cabinet.  She giggled, and made a few funny faces - but stopped when she noticed the golden smear of light in the reflection.  The moon must have broken through the clouds; the moonlight on the golden broach cast a strange shimmer.  Pink hooves rose of their own volition, taking both ends around her neck, fastening the clasp.  She remembered quite a different mirror ...

“Hey, Pinkie,” Dash whispered huskily behind the pink baking pony, “Whatchadoin’?”

        “Just taking all my hair pins out, you silly willy billy filly!”  Pinkie laughed, pulling out yet another, “I don’t want to sleep with pins in, or I’ll be a pin-cushion!  Because I’ve got a cushion in my tushin’!”

        Pinkie leaned toward the mirror to pinpoint a particularly stubborn pin in her top-mane. It hid somewhere in her frizzly hair, the silly little thing.  It was so much harder to work the fine tip of her hoof with the bubbly warmth all over and in her.  It didn’t help her mind buzzed with the smell of Dash’s orange blossom perfume and strawberry breath.  She barely registered Dash sidling in further, leaning over Pinkie’s back. The humming pink pony didn’t notice the weight about her neck until she heard the click of a clasp.

The pink pony looked down and gasped at the gilded jewels, “D-dash, this is beautiful!”

“Sssssh, I know.  I want you to have it,” Dash insisted, whispering in her ear. Her rose-tinted eyes caught Pinkie’s in the mirror as she eased her forelegs around Pinkie’s sides, warm and gentle.  Something about the way it felt inside made Pinkie forget all about the pin.

“Dash, I’ll just ruin it or lose it like a silly willy filly-

“You won’t lose it.  It won’t lose you.  I won’t-” Dash stopped, puzzling out her words, finally declaring, “You’re … you’re special, Pinkie Pie.” The words trickled down Pinkie’s ear, down and down to her heart, glowing and mixing with the strange airy feeling from all the wine.  Pinkie’s face nearly hurt from smiling.

Dash whispered huskily, “Now how about you only wear that … ”

        Pinkie Pie smiled broadly.  It came out a warped in places in the silvery reflection.  She’d begun to teeter at the knees, and finally resigned to standing on all fours, rocking lightly on her heels.  If her head held just right, like she’d done in the hotel room, and breathed in just so, like she’d gasped in awe of Dash’s gift and the words … Pinkie could feel Dash.  Pinkie could catch a glimpse of blue pegasus wrapped up in a smiling mess of kisses, her heat, rainbow hair falling on a pink face, a blue hoof’s touch.

        But she could only hold her breath for so long.  Dash wasn’t interested; talking with the rakish filly was the same as always.  She’d asked about “playing pranks” like good buddies.  She’d asked to walk to Twilight’s together.  The blue flier had come by around lunch, as if to go grab a plate of hayfries and milkshakes.  In an even tone.  With a benign, smiling face.  At arm’s length.  It was like old times.  Good platonic friends.  Fun parties.  Lots and lots of cakes and adventures and streamers and flying competitions.

        Those were all good things.  Pinkie just … didn’t want to do “bestest best super best friends” things with Dash just yet.  She’d feigned excuses as brightly as she could, but they never came out right.  The memories and feelings were too fresh, like a cookie right out of the oven.

        Pinkie gave the reflection - and herself - a half-smile.  If Dash wanted it to be like old times, that was okay.  Old times were good; new old times would be wonderful and swell and everyone would go back to feeling just swell.  Soon enough her eyes wouldn’t hurt when she glimpsed a certain rainbow streak over the town.  Pinkie would be able to laugh from-the-belly-laughs at jokes with her friends.  The strange heaviness in her limbs would go away.  She wouldn’t feel overlooked by a certain pair of rose-colored eyes.

        Her limbs felt a little lighter thinking of the parties to come.  She was good with parties.  She bounced just a smidge, feeling the cold of the broach creeping through her coat.  It wasn’t very heavy; its gentle beat against her chest on the up-stroke of her bounce was very reassuring.  She felt centered in a way.  It was cold clear confidence.

        Pinkie walked - not hopped - back to the end table.  She unclasped the necklace, feeling the strange cold still on her neck.  Depositing the keepsake back in its proper place, she thought, I can’t have Dash.  That’s okay.

        She sealed up the box behind a box of Brussels sprouts in the freezer, deciding to keep it more hidden than ever.  That’s okay.

        Pulling at the lamp cord, Pinkie couldn’t help but smile.  It felt brittle.

        At least for a little while, I was special.

        The room went dark.