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The Melting Pot:

Day One

Spike groaned in dismay. “How long do we have to be gone, again?”

        “Celestia said we’d be in Canterlot for a few days,” replied Twilight, tying (and retying, for the fifth time after realizing yet another book she realized that she might want to read on the trip) the straps on her saddlebags, “She told me that the senior students at the School for Gifted Unicorns are planning to do a study on the Elements of Harmony, and she wants all of us there to help.”

        “But a week? Just studying the same thing? In summer?”

        “Well, you know how the students at the school are. They don’t ever stop studying, and they never just want to scratch the surface of something; they want every possible detail.”

        “Please. Put me in front of ‘em, I’ll tell them the entire story in less time than it takes to down a bowl of rubies. And you’ve seen how fast I eat rubies, Twilight. Speaking of which, what snacks did you pack?”

        She laughed, opening the door. “Don’t make yourself hungry just yet, Spike. Even on chariot, it’s a long ride to Canterlot. Now hurry up and grab your things, I’m sure the others are already at the square.”

        He groaned once more, grabbing his knapsack (which contained nothing more than a toothbrush, a blanket, and one of the only picturebooks he could find in the library). “This week’s gonna stink,” he muttered.

        For him, it most certainly would (in the interest of Spike’s dignity and privacy, I cannot disclose exactly what transpired for him. I can, however, reveal that one memorable incident involved an orange, a handful of beans, and trying to explain the entire thing in less time than it takes to down a bowl of rubies). In Ponyville, however, these upcoming few days would be some of its most eventful in years. Maybe not in the same vein as the group’s adventures, always being on a collision course with wackiness. But if I were to call these next few days boring, I’d be lying.

        And what better place to begin than with donuts?

Lyra and Bon-Bon had been lounging on their usual park bench, polishing off a box of everypony’s favorite halo-shaped pastries. The chatted about the usual minutiae of topics: how Lyra’s compositions were coming along, upcoming parties and events that nopony could miss, how in Celestia’s name that Pinkie Pie defied the laws of physics on a regular basis...

        As if she’d taken her name being spoken as a cue, Pinkie Pie immediately came bouncing past the duo with her omnipresent energy. Unusually, she was carrying two bulging saddlebags.

        “Hi Lyra! Hi Bon-bon! Isn’t it a beautiful morning?” It was, but Pinkie Pie continued before Lyra and Bon-Bon could say so. “Sorry to bother you guys, I’m just so spectacularly super-de-duper happy this morning since I’m getting to go to Canterlot! Isn’t that just terrific?” It wasn’t, but again, she didn’t give Lyra and Bon-Bon a chance to say so. “Well, anyways, I stopped to tell you something...oh, right! I still think you two are an adorable couple! Well, bye!” And as soon as that last syllable left her mouth, she was gone.

        Bon-Bon blinked, then laughed. “Oh, I swear, that pony doesn’t know when-”

        Maybe it was the beautiful morning. Maybe it was just hearing Pinkie Pie’s monologue. Maybe it was the half-dozen donuts resting in Lyra’s stomach giving her an unprecedented sugar rush. Maybe it was all three, as if it mattered one way or the other.

        Whatever caused it, Lyra thrust her head forward and planted her lips over Bon-Bon’s. It was a moment she’d fantasized about for a few years now, but never expected to come true. As she pulled away, she wished that it hadn’t.

        “Bon-Bon,” she gasped, her cheeks flushing as the reality of what she had done dawned on her, “I...I don’”

        Aptly deciding that she was only serving to make the already awkward situation even worse, Lyra threw her hooves to the ground and ran, leaving Bon-Bon in a stunned silence. On her way to nowhere in particular (as long as it was away from Bon-Bon), she bolted past one specific red stallion with a wrinkled blue certificate tucked in his yoke.

        “Wonder what her rush is,” he thought aloud. Forgetting about it, he continued on his route to the The Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa.

        For the first time in his life, Big Mac was having to think twice about something. When Applejack had given him the certificate (in truth, she had been discarding it after she’d received it from Rarity), he decided that he’d make use of it. After all, he’d rarely ever had a day off, and he’d heard how relaxing a spa treatment could be. Actually going through with it, though...that was another story entirely.

        In the fifteen minute walk, he’d come up with a cartload of reasons as to why this would not end well for him. Each reason usually related back to some scenario that would end up with him looking like the biggest foal in Ponyville. It was an unusual feeling, since...well, what can you do to embarrass yourself when all you do is plow and buck all day?

        Still, something made him walk through the spa door and up to the blue earth pony at the front desk.

        “‘Scuse me,” he said, catching the mare’s attention, “Ah have this here card...”

        He pulled the crinkled blue paper out from his yoke and set it on the counter, his gut doing a gymnastics routine that’d put a gold medalist to shame. Lotus Petal pulled it towards her and examined it, more than a little mystified. She certainly wasn’t going to complain about having Ponyville’s best-looking stallion in her and her sisters’ spa, but she had full right to wonder what he was doing there. Still, the last thing she wanted to do was start out by interrogating a client. The certificate was good, after all.

        “Alright, then, Mister Macintosh, just put this on follow me,” she said, handing him a robe from behind the desk and leading him down a hallway. “Flower,” she said as she passed by her blue-maned sister, “Can you cover the front for me while I tend to our client?”

        “Uh, sure thing, Petal,” she replied, glancing at Big Mac in confusion. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.

        “You must forgive us,” said Flower as she led him to the saunas, “It’s not often we get stallions in here.”

        “Ah’m not surprised,” he admitted, “It’s just my sister didn’t want the card, and ah fig’red, ‘might as well get some use out of it.’”

        “I’m glad curiosity got the best of you,” said Petal, giving a soft chuckle. She opened a door, letting Big Mac walk inside. “We’ll start with the sauna, if that’s alright.”

        “Fine with me,” he replied as he took a seat inside, “Ain’t my spa.”

        Flower’s smile grew as she steamed up the sauna. This afternoon was certainly going to be an interesting experience for the both of them.

        Three and a half soothing hours later, Big Macintosh walked out of The Luxury Lotus Beauty and Health Spa feeling better than he had in...well, a damn sight longer than he could remember. There were some odd glances in his direction as he left, but he’d hardly noticed. His mind had already drifted to the thought of coming back for another treatment - and soon.

        Returning to Sweet Apple Acres, he could hear Caramel bucking apples off in the distance. Big Mac considered going to help him out...but why go straight back to work after such a relaxing morning?

        Meanwhile, Caramel was earning every single one of his bits for this week, and then some. With Applejack gone, and Big Mac taking the day off, Caramel had to cover an entire day’s worth of bucking all by his lonesome. He knew that this was a part of his job description when he’d offered to work at Sweet Apple Acres, but that didn’t make it any easier. Or any more enjoyable.

        “Lazy jerks,” he muttered as he bucked another tree. “If they just wanted my help, I’d be cool with it, but instead, they want me to do the entire friggin’ day’s work on my own! I can’t even remember the last time I bucked half this many apples.” Another basket filled up as he continued his rantings. “I’ve seen already enough apples to last a lifetime - no, a dozen. I swear, when I’m done today, I’m going to be avoiding these things like the pla-”


        Caramel found himself lying on a bed of clouds, with somepony gently nuzzling his side.

        “C’mon, Caramel,” came a soft but happy voice.

        He opened his eyes, then winced as the sun stung them. Had he fallen asleep? And how was he not falling through the clouds?

        These concerns dissipated when he looked up and saw her.

        “About time, sleepyhead,” she said, giggling. She stretched her lavender wings, then nudged Caramel’s cheek with her hoof. “C’mon, no going back to bed. You need to move.”

        “Five more minutes,” he murmured, smirking.

        “No, you’re getting up, and you’re gonna like it!” she ordered, laughing as she pulled him upright.

        He laughed along with her, reveling the kind of euphoria a pony can only feel as part of a pair.

        “One of these mornings...”

        “Oh, no, Caramel. Not once, not ever.”

        He laughed, then said it: “I love you, Cloudkicker.”

        “I love you, too,” she said, leaning her face towards his.


        Caramel bolted upright, his face dripping wet. The following thoughts passed through his head, respectively, in mere seconds:

        What the hay? Where’d she go? Where’s the cloud? Where am I? Why does my head hurt? ...Owwww....

        His vision still somewhat blurry, both from the near-concussion he’d just sustained and from the water dripping into his eyes, he put a hoof to his head.

        “Are you alright?” came a gentle, calming voice.

        Caramel paused, then wiped the water from his eyes and looked at the lavender pegasus pony in front of him.

        “Cloudkicker? What’re you...?”

        “I was clearing the clouds over here, when I heard something crack. I looked, and there you were: out cold with snapped tree branch over your head.”

        “Well, how’d...?”

        At this point, Caramel noticed the knocked-over bucket beside Cloudkicker, some water still dripping out onto the grass.


        She giggled. “Sorry. You weren’t waking up, and I didn’t know what else to do. You want me to get Nurse Redheart?”

        “No, I’ll be fine,” he said. “I thought Rainbow Dash usually cleared the clouds over here?”

        “She does, but she’s gone for the week, so I’ve got to cover for her.”

        Caramel grunted. “Same thing with me and AJ. I’ve got to buck all her apples for the week.”


        “Yeah. If there’s one thing worse than your boss, it’s your boss on vacation.”

        Cloudkicker snorted a laugh, then took a look at the sky. “I think I’m actually done for the morning. Want to grab lunch?”

        Caramel’s heart skipped a beat.

        “Sure, why not?” he said, smiling as he got up.

        Together, the two ponies walked to the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen. As they entered, they passed by an outdoor table with three sister ponies, gossiping as they waited for their lunch.

        “So how was he?” asked Lotus Blossom eagerly, thirsty for any juicy details.

        “He was such a gentleman,” replied Lotus Petal, the smile on her face stretching to its limit, “And certainly much more interesting to talk with than most of our other clients.”

        “Like how?” asked Lotus Flower.

        “Well, for starters, it wasn’t the same old tired topics. I would never say it to their faces, but I get tired of how our clients always talk to us about the exact same things. ‘Ugh, have you ever felt this stressed?’ ‘So-and-so is just the most handsome stallion.’ ‘You could cut the tension between Applejack and Rarity with a knife.’ I love our clients, but it gets too old, too fast. Big Macintosh was a breath of fresh air for me.”

        “Do you think he’ll come again?” asked Lotus Blossom.

        “I sure hope so - I’d absolutely adore having him as a client again.”

        Blossom and Flower looked at each other, grinning. They then turned back to their sister, eerily resembling reflections in a mirror. Their mirth was lost on Petal.

        “What is it?”

        “If I didn’t know any better,” teased Flower, “I’d say our little sister has taken a specific liking to our most recent client.”

        With that comment, Petal’s cheeks flushed immediately. “I-It’s not like that! He’s just...interesting, is all.”

        “Whatever keeps your skin smooth,” said Blossom, her grin having only grown wider.

        “S-shut up!" retorted Petal, her cheeks now matching their color of her mane. She looked around, desperate for something to change the subject to. She sighed in relief as she saw somepony coming to their table with a tray of sunflower sandwiches.

        “Looks like our food is here,” she told her sisters. Thank Celestia, she mentally added.

        The waiter pony put the sandwiches on the spa ponies’ table, then turned to head back into the deli. Doing so, he bumped into a light grey pegasus pony.

        “Sorry,” he said.

        “No probability!” replied Ditzy Doo. She walked onward, oblivious to the waiter pony’s mystified stare. After a busy morning and subsequently filling herself with muffins from Sugarcube Corner, she had deliveries to make, dammit. First, though, she’d have to return home to retrieve her mailbag, then to the Ponyville Post Office for the mail. While doing so, her mind drifted to the end of that busy morning.

        “N-now, Dinky, I-I want y-you to be a g-good f-f-filly,” stuttered Ditzy Doo, struggling to find the right words.


        “And r-remember to b-brush y-your teeth, and d-don’t st-stay up t-too late...”


        “And d-don’t t-talk to st-strangers, or-or g-go anywhere wi-without aunt L-lizzie Doo...”

        “MOM. For Celestia’s sake, you’ve told me all this a dozen times, and I’m only going to Manehattan for a few days!”

        “I kn-know, b-but...”

        Ditzy swept Dinky up and gave her an Ursa Major hug, tears in her eyes.

        “I j-just love my l-little muffin s-so much!”

        Dinky smiled, hugging her mother back.

        “I love you, too, mom. I’ll write you in a couple days, I promise.”

        There was a knock at the door.

        “I think that’s aunt Lizzie, mom.”


        She let Dinky back down, and walked with her to the door.

        “H-hey, Lizzie,” she said as she opened the door, “Th-thanks f-for doing this, Dinky’s b-been so exc-cited.”

        “It’s no problem, Ditzy. And no need to worry, I’ll look after her like she was my own!” She turned to the eager little unicorn beside Ditzy. “Are you ready?”

        “Sure am!” Dinky jumped with joy, then turned back to her mother, standing up on her tip-hooves to kiss her cheek. “Love you, mom!”

        Ditzy stood at the door as she saw them both walk away. She smiled, barely holding back the worried tears resting behind her eyes.

        The memory slipped to the back of her mind as she came up upon her house and opened the door, picking up the trusty mailbag that always rested beside it. After picking up a plethora of letters and packages from the Post Office, she went straight to the first house on today’s list.

        “Thanks, Ditzy,” said Bon-Bon, putting the letters on a nearby table. “How’s your day been?”

        “Astronomical!” Ditzy replied, putting a hoof in the air.

        “That’s great,” replied Bon-Bon with a laugh, “Say, you haven’t seen Lyra today, have you?”

        Ditzy shook her head. “Why?”

        “Well, something really...awkward happened this morning, and I need to talk to her.”

        “Did you tripod her herring?”

        “Yeah, I tried her house, but she wasn’t there. Which reminds me...” Bon-Bon walked to the back of her house, then returned. “Could you give this to her when you get to her house?”

        “Sure thimble!”

        “Thanks, Ditzy. Say hi to Dinky for me!”

        Ditzy cringed at the last statement, but not noticeably. She nodded and flew away, eager to continue her deliveries.

        She went on to the next stop on her list, Quills and Sofas.

        “Spectral divination!” proclaimed Ditzy, handing Davenport a boxful of quills.

        “Ah, finally!” he said, relieved, “I swear, I’m always running out of these things! I have no idea why...say, you need a sofa?”

        Ditzy shook her head.

        “You sure?”

        Ditzy nodded.

        “Dang it, nopony ever wants to buy a sofa...” he walked back into his shop, grumbling.

        Ditzy kept flying, onto her next stop. She had two houses before Lyra’s, Carousel Boutique and Fluttershy’s Cottage. They were both quick enough, since all she had to do was slip the letters under the doors.

        She knocked on Lyra’s door as she arrived. “Anypony hum?”

        There was a moment’s pause before the door opened, and Lyra stepped outside, looking unusually timid.

        “Hi, Ditzy. How are you?”

        “Phantasmal! You?”

        “Fine, thanks. What do you have for me?”

        Ditzy immediately pulled out a hoof-ful of letters, Bon-Bon’s at the top. Lyra flinched when she saw it.

        “Something rank?”

        “What? Oh, no, it’s fine. Thanks, Ditzy.”

        “You’re well-done!”

        Lyra walked back inside, closing the door behind her. She set Bon-Bon’s letter down, then opened the other two. One was a notification from Blues’ Music Shoppe, letting Lyra know that the new lyres were in. The other was from Berry Punch, asking if Lyra could start Ruby’s music lessons this week (she could).

        Having put those two away, Lyra turned to Bon-Bon’s letter, staring at it. A minute passed. Two. She opened then envelope, slowly, using her magic. She then slipped the letter out, levitating it in the air to read it.


        We need to talk, but I understand if you still need to recover from this morning. My house tomorrow night? If I’m not there when you are, the key will be in the plant beside my door.

        - Bon-Bon

        Lyra set the note back down, her eyes staying forward. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved, horrified, or nervous. Possibly all of the above.

        Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that she’d missed lunch. She decided to rectify the situation, heading out the door to the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen. Walking inside, she passed by a pegasus and earth pony on their way out, deep in conversation.

        “...And so then Pinkie said, ‘Oatmeal, are you crazy?’”

        Cloud Kicker laughed once again, Caramel having told her story after hilarious story. “Ah, Pinkie Pie...I swear, it’s like that pony never runs out of energy.”

        “Tell me something I don’t know,” he replied, softly laughing.

        “Did you know that you’re really funny?”

        “You think so?”

        “Caramel, I can’t remember the last time anypony made me laugh that hard. When you told me that joke about Ms. Cheerilee and Big Mac’s plow, I thought my ribs were going to crack.”

        “Really? I thought that was one of my weaker jokes.”

        “Oh, stop,” she said, giving him a playful nudge, “Say, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, erm...


        “Are you...seeing anypony?

        Caramel’s heart skipped a beat, once again, as that question registered.

        “I mean, if you are, it’s fine, I’m just...”



        “No, I’m not seeing anypony,” he said again, grinning.

        “Would you like to?” asked Cloudkicker, her heart racing.

        Caramel’s grin grew wider. “I’d be a foal to say no.”

        Cloudkicker giggled. “Breakfast tomorrow? Sugarcube Corner?”

        “Sure, nine?”


        They parted ways, each one hardly believing their luck. Caramel walked back to Sweet Apple Acres, still having a hayload of apples to buck by sundown. Walking to the trees, he passed by Big Macintosh, sitting outside the barn, looking even more relaxed than he usually did.

        “Enjoying your day off?” asked Caramel. The question was completely sincere; he was in too good a mood to even contemplate being mad at Big Mac.


        “Speaking of which, where did you go this morning?”

        “Tried somethin’ new.”

        “And what was this new thing?”

        “A lil’ somethin’ ah like t’call mah business.”

        Caramel shrugged. If it was anypony else, he might have pressed the matter. But Big Mac wasn’t exactly known for being an easily-persuaded stallion. He dropped it and kept walking.

        Big Mac looked back out over the fields of apple trees, glad that that the moment was peaceful again. At least, it was for two more seconds before Applebloom hug-tackled her brother from behind.

        “Hey, big brother!” she joyfully exclaimed.

        “Applebloom,” he laughed, “Is there a reason y’all felt it nec’sary to give your older brother here a heart attack?”

        “Well, fer starters,  ah ain’t got nothin’ else to do!”

        “Nothin’? What about your crusader friends?”

        “Scootaloo’s been at Junior Flight camp for the summer...”

        “An’ what about Rarity’s lil’ sister?”

        “Uh, y’know how Applejack and her friends all went to Canterlot?”


        “Well, Sweetie Belle told me that Rarity couldn’t find anypony to filly-sit, so she had to go with her. So ah’m bored.

        “You don’t have some other friends y’all could be playin’ with?”

        “Yeah, Big Mac, that’s why ah’m here tellin’ you how bored ah am!”

        Big Mac stifled a laugh. Applejack always got annoyed with Applebloom’s lip, but he adored it. Mostly because it reminded him of his colthood, talking back to Granny Smith time and time again. The only difference was that Applebloom wasn’t walking away with a stinging rump.

        “Well, what d’you want me to do about it?”

        Applebloom shrugged. “Ah don’t know.”

        “Hm...what do all y’all crusaders usually end up doin’?”

        “Y’mean when we’re not trying to find our special talents?”


        “We usually just end up foalin’ around, playin’ games.”

        “Like what?”

        “Well, one thing we’ve been doin’ a lot lately is hide ‘n’ seek...”

        “Alright, then,” said Big Mac, standing up, “D’you wanna hide or seek first?”

        “What?” asked Applebloom, sure she heard Big Mac wrong.

        “Ah said,” he replied patiently, “D’you wanna hide or seek first?”

        Applebloom leapt with filly-ish joy, then ran off into the fields. “I bet you’ll never find me! An’ remember to count to one hundred applebuckers!”

        Big Mac smiled. “One applebucker, two applebuckers, three applebuckers...”

        He was up to about sixty-eight applebuckers when Ditzy Doo came with the last delivery of the day.

        “Good aft bow!” exclaimed Ditzy.

        “Howdy, Ditzy,” replied Big Macintosh, the count continuing in his head. Seventy-two applebuckers, seventy-three applebuckers...

        “Got a spender derivation!” she said, pulling a package out of her mailbag (nopony was ever quite sure how she fit so many packages into one bag; on that point, nopony ever cared, either, as long as they got their mail).

        “Is that fertilizer we’ve been needin’?” Eighty-one applebuckers, eighty-two applebuckers...

        Ditzy nodded.

        “Thanks,” he said, “Would ya mind puttin’ it up at the house fer me to take in later?”

        “No progression!”

        “Thank ya very much. How’s Dinky?”

        Ditzy cringed, then recovered. “Spectrometer!”

        Big Mac noticed the cringe. “Is there somethin’ wrong?”

        Ditzy’s smile faded. “N-no, nothing’s wr-wrong...”

        “Are ya shore?”

        “S-sure as I c-can be!” Ditzy’s facade was crumbling fast.

        Big Mac shrugged. “Alright, I’ll take yer word for it.” Ninety-eight applebuckers, ninety-nine applebuckers...

        Ditzy nodded. “Well, see you aloud!”

        “Eeyup.” One hundred applebuckers. Ready or not, here ah come.

        Ditzy flew away, leaving Big Mac as he bolted into the apple fields. She set the package at the Sweet Apple Acres house, like was requested, then flew straight home. She walked inside, setting the mailbag beside the door and retrieving her own letters. There were only two; one was her paycheck for the last week, the other was a coupon for muffins from Mr. and Mrs. Cake. She set them on the hallway table for later, then went upstairs.

        One relaxing nap and two hours later, Ditzy came back down with a notebook strapped around one of her legs and grabbed both letters off of the table. She’d cash the check on her way to Sugarcube Corner for some dinner-muffins, she decided, then relax at the park. It certainly wasn’t a bad way to spend the remaining daylight.

        Sitting on the bench, having recently enjoyed some spectacular oatmeal and carrot muffins, she turned to one of the few remaining blank pages in her notebook. She used her teeth to remove the pencil from the binding, and began drawing some light curves on the page. She’d decided what to draw hours ago.

        An hour passed. Two. The sun had begun to set over Ponyville before Ditzy was satisfied with her work. She began her walk home, intent on making it before dark. Returning home, she passed by Sweet Apple Acres, hearing playful whinnying off in the distance.

        “Ah can’t believe ya found me again!” laughed Applebloom as Big Mac helped her out of the tree.

        “Ain’t that hard,” replied Big Macintosh, a small grin on his face, “Ah just have to think, ‘where would ah hide?’, and there y’all are.”



        “Well, it’s yer turn to hide! One applebucker, two applebuckers...”

        “Actually,” interrupted Big Mac, looking at the red-stained clouds, “Ah reckon it’s about time we got back to the house. Y’all should be gettin’ t’bed soon.”

        “What, already?” whined Applebloom, the smile on her face gone with the wind.


        “But, b-but...”

        “C’mon,” he said, trotting ahead.

        Applebloom sighed, then followed. “Fine.”

They walked together to the house, the first few minutes being silent.

        “Big Mac?”


        “Would ya mind tellin’ me a story when we get back?”

        Big Mac gave his sister a quizzical look.

        “Well, Applejack always tells me a story before ah go to bed, an’ she’s not here, an’ I figure you at least know a few stories, an’...”

        “Applebloom, yer gonna wear me out, here.”


        “And shore.”


        “Y’all heard me. If you brush yer teeth and jump straight into bed, ah’ll tell you one of mah stories.”

        Hearing that, Applebloom went from a trot to a full-speed gallop, speeding far ahead of her brother. By the time Big Mac got there and put up the fertilizer, she’d already brushed, had a drink of water, and tucked herself in.

        “So what story are ya gonna tell me?”

        Big Mac took a seat by the side of her bed, remembering old stories that he’d been told as a colt.

        “Alright,” he began, “Many years ago, long before you, me, or even Granny Smith...”

        “...And so the he returned home to his beautiful wife and his adorable lil’ filly, and never parted with them again for the rest of his days. Th’ end.”

        “Wow,” said a weary Applebloom, “That was...zzzZZZZzzz....”

        Big Macintosh smiled, and gave his sleeping sister a soft nuzzle.

        “Sweet dreams, sis.”

        Getting up, he took a look at the night sky outside Applebloom’s window, his mind drifting towards the many other ponies in Ponyville, who were all likely getting ready to sleep by now. With that thought, he moseyed over to his own room and fell on his bed, ready for some shuteye.

        Beneath Luna’s magnificent night, most of the ponies in Ponyville sleeping soundly. Two ponies had fallen into blissful, love-filled dreams, both looking forward to seeing each other the next morning. Two others were sleeping after a surprisingly fun afternoon together, one of them having an equally great morning as well. And another was asleep with quiet hopes of seeing one special client again very, very soon. Two others had fallen asleep, thinking of each other and still not sure what the hell had happened.

        And in one quiet house, a certain mailpony had cried herself to sleep, a picture of her little muffin wrinkled in her hooves.

The Melting Pot:

Day Two

        Cloudkicker stopped and doubled over, tears in her eyes as she shrieked from laughter. “And you’re telling me he never noticed the switch?”

        Caramel shook his head, taking a bite of his Ursa Claw. “Not once, though I spent the next week worrying that he’d buck down my door and beat the living crap out of me.”

        “Oh, Celestia...” she shook her head, still giggling softly as she walked. “And I thought Pinkie and Dash pulled some crazy pranks...”

        “They certainly have,” agreed Caramel, “They’re just not as gifted storytellers.”

        Cloudkicker snorted a laugh. “I guess not.”

        They walked in silence for a few minutes, simply enjoying each others’ company. Caramel then caught sight of a familiar red stallion.

        “Hey, Big Mac!” he greeted.

        “G’morning, Caramel,” he replied, “Out with the ladyfriend?”

        Caramel nodded. “As a matter of fact, I am.”

        Big Mac turned to the pegasus. “Cloudkicker, right?”


        “Well, Cloudkicker, ah can’t say you made a bad choice with Caramel, here.”

        At that comment, Caramel’s face lit up with a smug grin.

        “Can’t say you made a great choice, neither,” added Big Mac, smirking, “But not a bad one.”
        Caramel’s prideful smile was quickly replaced by embarrassed blushing.

        “I think he’ll be fine for me,” replied Cloudkicker, giggling.

        “Suit yerself. Enjoy yer morning.”

“You, too,” replied Caramel, his face still red.

        Big Mac passed them and continued on his way, hoping he could make it back to Sweet Apple Acres before Applebloom woke up. He felt guilty about not being able to play with her today, but -

        That train of thought derailed as he smacked into a blue mare in the doorway of Sugarcube Corner.

        “Oh, my apol-” Lotus Petal froze. Oh, by Luna’s shining stars...

        “It’s alright,” he said, picking up the bag she dropped and holding it to her. “Ah should’ve been payin’ attention, anyways. Good t’see you again, Petal.”

        He remembers my name! Well, of course he does, we spent three and a half hours talking yesterday...wait, what the hay are you doing? Say something, you foal!

        “G-good to see you, too!” she blurted nervously, taking her bag. Something else! “So, what brings you here?” He’s getting breakfast, you dumb twit!

        “Ah’m gettin’ somethin’ for my lil’ sis,” he said calmly, “You?”

        “G-getting me and sisters some breakfast,” she replied, her heart ready to burst from nerves alone. “Say, when do you think you’ll come to the spa for another appointment?”

“Ah hadn’t thought about it,” he lied, “Probl’y sometime soon. Why?”

        “Just wondering,” she lied in response, “I hope you don’t mind me asking.”

        “No problem at all. Have a good day.”

        “You, too.”

        Lotus Petal trotted away, her heartbeat still keeping a rather allegro tempo. Calm down, she thought, That could have gone worse. A lot worse.

        Walking back to Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa, she passed by a sea-green unicorn trying (and failing) to clear her head with a quiet walk.

        To make the point with a sledgehammer, Lyra had been obsessing about her meeting with Bon-Bon. She’d thought of myriad things to say, had endless scenarios play in her head - and nothing had come out pleasant for her. She had begun to wonder if the best course of action would be to just stay home tonight and work on her compositions.

        That, of course, was not an option. She loved Bon-Bon far too much to just shrug her off like some frivolous appointment. Still, she looked to tonight with a stark sense of terror and dread, and nothing was helping her to forget it.

        “Something wrong, Lyra?”

        Lyra turned, seeing a lavender pegasus pony trotting up to her. She managed a weak smile. “No, it’s okay, Cloudkicker. What goes on?”

        “Just finished my breakfast date with Caramel.”

         “Since when did you start going out with Caramel?” asked Lyra in disbelief.

        “Since yesterday. He’s actually a pretty fun stallion to be around.”

        “I personally can’t see much past that mullet of his,” laughed Lyra.

        Cloudkicker chuckled, giving Lyra a playful nudge. “I admit, his mane is not my favorite thing about him. But it’s hard to care about it when he’s just so...” Cloudkicker paused, thinking of a word that would do Caramel justice. “...Fun.

        “How so?”

        “Well, for starters, he’s got some of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard.”


        “Yeah, want to hear one?”


        “Okay, so there are these two colts talking at school. The one says to his friend, ‘I know this great way to make some bits off of your folks. It’ll sound weird, but trust me: all you have to do is go up to one of them and say that you know the whole truth.’

        “Now, the other one’s a bit skeptical, but decides to give it a shot. He gets home later that day, seeing his dad relaxing on the couch. Doing what his friend told him, he looks up at his dad and says, ‘I know the whole truth.’ The dad looks around, gives the colt fifty bits, and says, ‘Please don’t tell your mother.’ Pleasantly surprised, he sees his mother a little while later while she’s starting to make dinner. Again, he looks up at her and says, ‘I know the whole truth.’ She looks around, gives him fifty bits, and says, ‘Please don’t tell your father.’

“Pleased at his profit for the day, he’s resting out on the front porch when he sees the mailpony coming up to his house. He thinks, ‘You know what? Just for fun, I’ll try it on the him.’ So the mailpony gets up to the house, and the colt looks up at him and says, ‘I know the whole truth.’”

Cloudkicker began to giggle as she neared the punchline.

“And?” asked Lyra expectantly.

“Well, the mailpony drops his bag, stretches out his arms, and...” She giggled a little harder.


“And he says, ‘Then come give your dad a big ol’ hug!’” Cloudkicker let loose a bout of laughter only matched by the ones she made around Caramel.

        Lyra blinked, a smirk beginning to itch at the side of her mouth. A second later, she joined Cloudkicker, howling and guffawing harder than she had in weeks. Months, even.

        “That’s...” she said, breathless and teary-eyed from laughing so hard, “That’s just awful!”

        “I know, but...” Cloudkicker chuckled quietly, getting her breath back, “It’s hilarious. And that’s just one of the jokes he’s told me.”

        “Oh, Celestia, I’m afraid to hear the others,” replied Lyra, wiping her eyes, “I might tear something if I have to laugh that hard again...”

        “That’s what I thought, too. I still do, actually” added Cloudkicker, chuckling.

        “Well, it sounds like he’s keeping you entertained.”

        “Yeah, no problems on that front.”

        “Any on the others?”

        “No. Well, except for the mullet, but...”

        Lyra snorted. “If that’s the only problem, then I’d say you’ve got yourself a winner, so far.”

        “Yes, I do. Well, I’ve gotta get going. I’ll see you around, Lyra.”

        “Seeya, Cloudkicker. Thanks for the joke, I needed it.”

        “Anytime. Take care.”

        “You, too.”

        Cloudkicker trotted away from Lyra, humming happily. Other than when she’d first seen that cloud and sun appear on her flank, she couldn’t remember a time in her life where she was happier. And anypony could easily guess who was responsible.

        That pony, currently, was out earning his bits for the day, having an interesting conversation about his second favorite thing in Equestria.

        “What do you mean it’s ridiculous?” asked Caramel indignantly as he bucked another basketful of apples.

        “Ah mean that it’s ridiculous,” replied Big Mac as he did the same, “Face it, Caramel, that style was cheesy since before Granny Smith was called ‘Granny.’ And she’s been goin’ by that name for a long time.”

        “Cheesy, shmeasy. Until somepony takes direct offense at my manecut, I’m keeping it the way it is.”

        “Ah’d be willin’ t’bet that Rarity’s had nightmares about that thang.”

        Caramel smirked. “Touche, Mac...speaking of Rarity, what’s with her and your sister?”


        “Don’t play dumb. The way they always act around each other, their incessant flirting...and those camping trips haven’t exactly gone unnoticed, either.”

        “Ignorance is bliss, mah friend.”

        “I suppose so.” A few minutes passed, the silence only broken by their applebucking. Then Caramel began to chuckle.

        “What’s so funny?”

        “Just was looks like you’re the only shot at continuing the Ponyville Apple Clan.”

        Big Mac gave a quiet laugh. “Yer forgetting about Applebloom.”

        “Well, her, too. But she’s got a few years before she needs to worry about what happens when a mare and a stallion love each other very much.”

        “Good thang, too. Ah ain’t lookin’ forward to that talk.”

“I don’t blame you,” replied Caramel, laughing. Another few minutes passed. “Say, out of the mares in Ponyville, who’d be your pick for the future Mrs. Big Macintosh?”

        Big Mac paused in mid-buck. “Ah’m not sure. The only mares ah know on a personal basis are Applejack’s friends, an’ none of them really catch mah eye.”

        Caramel stared at Big Mac skeptically. “Five good-lookin’ mares, and none of them interest you?”


        “Not a single one?”


        “You’re kidding me.”


        “And those are the only five mares you know?”

        “Yeah - wait, no. Ah’ve gotten to know one of the Lotus sisters a bit.”

“The Lotus mean those spa ponies?”


        “Which one?”

        “Lotus Petal.”

        “That’s not helpful.”

        “Blue one, pink mane.”

        “Oh, her. She doesn’t strike your fancy?”

        Big Mac hesitated. “Ah didn’t say that.”

        “Then how come you’re not walking up to her with a bundle of flowers and asking her to dinner?”

        Big Mac froze. “Good question.” He turned, trotting away.

        “Hey, where are you going?”

        “Taking care a’something.”

        “And you expect me to keep bucking while you’re gone, don’t you?”


        Caramel sighed as Big Mac disappeared through the trees. “Make me do all the friggin’ work,” he muttered. Looking off as he mumbled angrily to himself, he saw a familiar gray pegasus pony arriving at the Sweet Apples Acres homestead.

        At the house, Ditzy began knocking on the door. “Anypony chrome?”

        There was silence. Then, after a few moments, there was more silence. Ditzy bent down to put the letters under the door just as it opened to show a little pale filly on the other side.

        Applebloom’s hopeful smile quickly faded to a disappointed frown. “Oh, hey, Ditzy.”

        “Hi, Applebloom!” replied Ditzy exuberantly, “Is Big Mac honed?”

        “Naw, he’s been buckin’ all day.”

        “Tranny Smith?”

        “Nappin’. What’ve ya got fer us?”

        Ditzy gave Applebloom a hoof-ful of letters, which she placed beside the door. It was at about that point that Ditzy noticed Applebloom’s gloomy expression.

        “Why so doubt?”


        “You short?”

        “Yeah, ah’m sure. Seeya, Ditzy.” Without waiting for a response, Applebloom walked back inside. Ditzy was left to continue her deliveries, which she did with her usual wall-eyed enthusiasm.

        Mid-flight, she checked her list. Sweet Apple Acres was covered, now it was onto Blues’ Music Shoppe.

        “Spinster delivery!” she exclaimed as she walked through the door.

        “Hey, Ditzy!” greeted Blues, leaning over the front counter, “What’ve ya got for me today?”

        “These,” replied Ditzy, dropping a few letters in front of him, “And you’ve got some new insurgents waiting for you at the post orifice.”

        “Thanks,” he said as he scooped up the letters, “I’ll make sure to pick ‘em up later. Maybe one of these days, you can bring Dinky in to try something out.”

        Ditzy winced slightly, then nodded. “I just mitt. Out of curtness, what would you recompense?”

        Blues shrugged. “Hard to say. The best thing is to just show her around and see what she likes.”

        Ditzy nodded. “I will, then. Bye, Blues.”

        “Seeya, Ditzy.”

        Ditzy left Blues with his instruments, once again taking a look at her list. Her face lit up as she read what was singularly her favorite stop in Ponyville: Sugarcube Corner.

        “Special distillery!” she exclaimed as she practically galloped  in.

        “Oh, thank you, dearie!” Mrs. Cake took the mail from Ditzy, setting it behind the counter to look through later.

        Ditzy, meanwhile, had begun sniffing at the air, catching a deliciously familiar aroma. “Muuuufiiins...” she said longingly, her mouth already watering.

        Mrs. Cake laughed, smiling warmly. “Yes, indeed! Just made a fresh batch. I bet a hard-working mailpony like you would love one.”

        Ditzy nodded excitedly.

        “Alright, just one sec!” Mrs. Cake disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a full, steaming tray of muffins. Ditzy was almost drooling.

        “Go ahead! Have one!” urged Mrs. Cake, “And don’t worry about the bits - this one’s on me!”

        Ditzy hardly needed any persuasion. She snatched up the biggest, most amazing-looking muffin out of the batch and took a huge chomp right out the side. “Thanks!” she said around a mouthful of what tasted like fresh blueberries, processed flour, and a tinge of lemon zest.

        “Don’t mention it, dearie! Say hi to that little filly of yours for me!”

        Ditzy was too enamored to wince, instead uttering a muffled farewell before bolting out the door. She gleefully flew from Sugarcube Corner, too focused on the muffin-y deliciousness in her hooves to notice the red earth pony coming up the same path.

        Big Mac took Ditzy’s hit full in the chest, bending to it much like a cinderblock wall might bend to a light garden breeze.

        “You alright?”

        Ditzy took a look at her muffin. Slightly mashed, but still edible. She looked back up at Big Mac, nodding.

        “You shore?”

        She double-checked the muffin, and nodded again.

        “Okay, then. Ah’ll seeya, Ditzy.” He passed by the once again happily wall-eyed mailpony and continued onto Floral Fantasies.

        Getting there, he’d purposely taken the scenic route for two reasons. The first was that the thought of making Caramel do more work made him smile inwardly. The second was he wanted to think through what he’d say to Lotus Petal.

        Say, Petal, ah was wonderin’...Naw. Hey, Petal, what’re ya...naw. Say, baby, how would you like to....wait, what?

        Suffice to say, he hadn’t thought of anything good. He was still pondering when he walked up to the Roseluck at the front desk.

        “Afternoon,” he said simply.

        “Good afternoon, and welcome to Floral Fantasies! How can I help to brighten your day with some botanical masterpieces?”

        Big Mac shifted the wheat in his mouth uncomfortably. She seemed like a particularly wordy pony - a mildly annoying trait.

        “Can ah get a dozen red roses, please?”

        “Ooh, is this for that special somepony?”

        No, it’s for a buckin’ hobo. Whaddaya think? “Eeyup.”

        “Alright then! Don’t go anywhere, and I’ll be right back with the flowers!” She disappeared out the back door, leaving Big Mac at the front desk.

        Y’know, Petal, ah’d really love to...naw. Hey, if you’re not doin’ anything later, ah wouldn’t mind...naw. If ah said you had beautiful flanks, would you...seriously, the hay are these coming from?

        Roseluck trotted back in moments later, carrying an already-wrapped bundle of twelve divine-looking roses. She set it on the counter, opening up the register.

        “There you are - a bouquet fit for Princess Celestia herself! That’ll be forty bits, please!”

        Big Mac nearly inhaled his wheat sprig. Forty buckin’ bits?! Resisting the urge to grumble, he lazily counted out the bits and pushed them to Roseluck.

        “Thank you! Come again if you ever have any other botanical needs!”

        Naw, ah’ll just set fire to my bits and save some buckin’ time. Keeping his rather agreeable thoughts to himself, he nodded, gently taking the flowers in his mouth and trotting outside. One thang left to do.

        He trotted into Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa, expecting to see Lotus Petal at the front desk. Instead was her purple-maned sister, lazily reading a magazine. She hadn’t even noticed him walk in. Big Mac nervously trotted up, setting the roses nearby and clearing his throat.

        “‘Scuse me.”

        Blossom’s head flicked up. A small smirk edged at the corner of her mouth when she saw the flowers. “Well, if it isn’t our newest client! What are the roses for?” As if I didn’t already know.

        “Erm...” Macintosh’s cheeks suddenly turned very warm. “They’re for yer sister. Lotus Petal, ah mean. Speakin’ a’ which, where is she?”

        “Hay if I know; today’s her day off.”

        Big Mac nearly bit his wheat sprig in two. “No idea where she might be?”

        Lotus Blossom shook her head. “Not one.”

        “Oh,” Big Mac looked down dejectedly.

        “Of course,” continued Blossom, “I could just give these to her when she gets back.”

        Big Mac looked back up, smiling softly. “Ah’d really appreciate that.” He picked up the roses and set them behind the front desk. “Thanks.”

        “Don’t mention it.”

        Blossom was kind enough to wait until Big Macintosh trotted out the door to start giggling uncontrollably.

        Oh, it’s just so cute!

        She turned back to her magazine, still giggling. Half an hour and four beauty-related articles later, she heard the bell above the door jingle. She looked up.

        “Special dilapidation!”

        “Hi, Ditzy! Just set it over there, please.”

        Ditzy nodded, putting the mail where Blossom requested.

        “How was your morning?” asked the latter.

        “Good. Yours?”

        “Nothing spectacular. How’s that adorable filly of yours?”

        Ditzy’s eye twitched involuntarily. “Posthumously nebulous!”

        “Fantastic. Well, don’t let me keep you! Bye, Ditzy!”

        “Bye. Have a good dane!”

        Ditzy flew out of the spa, looking at her mailbag. She smiled, seeing that she only had a hoof-ful of letters left. The first of her last stops was Twilight’s library. After the letters were under the door, she made her way to Berry Punch’s house.

        “Afternoon, Ditzy! How’s your - excuse me,” she turned back to the house and raised her voice, “RUBY! CORONET! Quit banging around! One of you is going to fall and give yourself an aneurysm!”

        “But, mom! We’re playing tag!” shouted one of the fillies from the back, “How can you expect us to play without - hey, no fair! I was talking to mom!”

        Berry Punch nickered, facing Ditzy. “I’m sorry, they can be a little difficult sometimes. Anyways, how’s your -”


        “Uh-oh...” came two filly voices in unison.

        “Oh, Goddess,” sighed Berry Punch, “I’m sorry Ditzy, we’ll have to talk some other time.”

        “No promenade!” assured Ditzy with her usual derpy exuberance.

        Berry Punch nodded, shutting the door as she trotted back inside. Ditzy flew away, onto her last stop before home.

        She knocked. “Anypony there?” she asked, knocking again. After a few seconds’ wait, it opened.

        “Sorry, Ditzy,” apologized Cloudkicker, “I was in the kitchen.”

        “It’s fine,” replied Ditzy, giving Cloudkicker her mail, “What were you raking?”

        “Oh, I was thinking of surprising my new coltfriend with some cookies tomorrow. But...” Cloudkicker grimaced slightly, turning to the kitchen. It looked as if an I.E.D. consisting of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and chocolate had been detonated from the open fridge and oven. Twice.


        “Yeah,” replied Cloudkicker, giving a soft laugh, “Turns out I’m not much of a Mrs. Cake.”

        Ditzy shrugged. “Oh, who’s the lusty stallion?”

        Cloudkicker barely resisted the very strong urge to burst out laughing. “Caramel. You know him, right?”

        Ditzy nodded. “He lurks for the apple famine, right?”

        “Yeah, that’s him.”

        “Well, good lunch, you two!”

        “Thanks. Bye, Ditzy.”

        Cloudkicker set the mail to the side, closing the door behind her. She stared down the kitchen with a furiously determined look on her face, as if she was trying to intimidate it into compliance.

        “Okay, then,” she muttered, “Let’s try this one more time...”

        Several times later, Cloudkicker trotted out of Sugarcube Corner with a bag of cookies in her mouth, wondering why the hay she hadn’t done this in the first place. It was so much more convenient, and what was Caramel going to care if they were homemade or not? Plus, she still hadn’t gotten all the flour out of her mane. Trotting along, she passed by a cyan earth pony on her way home for a quick nap.

        Lotus Petal stepped inside the Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa, making her way to the stairs before Lotus Blossom stopped her at the front desk.

        “Hey, sis,” said Blossom with a teasing smirk, “Big Macintosh came by earlier...”

        Petal’s heartbeat picked up speed. “And?” she asked, trying to keep from blushing.

        Still smiling, Lotus Blossom pulled the roses out and set them in front of her sister. “Courtesy of the stallion of your dreams.”

        Her jaw went slack. “Blossom, if you’re pulling my leg...”

        “You think I’m that cruel?” she laughed, shaking her head, “I promise, it’s the real thi-”

        Blossom suddenly found the life (and air) being squeezed out of her by an absolutely ecstatic Lotus Petal.

        “Uh, Petal?” she gasped, “You’”

        “What? Oh, sorry,” Petal sheepishly released her sister, “I’m sorry, I’s, buck it, he likes me!”

        “Yep,” said Blossom hoarsely. Good Goddess, since when has she been that strong? “So, what now?”

        Petal thought for a moment, which turned out to be a useless endeavor. “I don’t know.”

        What would she do without me? She’d die alone, that’s what. “Well, I’d suggest asking him to dinner.”

        “Oh, right,” replied Petal, feeling more than a little stupid, “Should I go now?”

        “Hrm...nah, wait until tomorrow. Give yourself some time to think over how you’ll ask him.”

        “Alright. Now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the afternoon from the comfort of my bed.”

        “And maybe fantasize about your dream stallion?”

        Petal laughed, shaking her head. “Shut up.”

        Petal came back down the stairs a few hours later, yawning.

        “Good nap?” asked Blossom, not looking up from her magazine.

        “Good nap. I’m gonna make a dinner run to the deli, you want anything?”

        “Just get me and Flower the usual, thanks.”

        “Alright, I’ll be back in a bit.”

        “Take your time.”

        Petal trotted out from the spa and to the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen. Walking inside, she passed by an all-too-familiar pegasus on her way to the park with a specially-made muffin sandwich.

        Ditzy flew straight to her favorite park bench, setting her food down as she retrieved her notebook and pencil. She continued the drawing from yesterday, occasionally dropping the pencil to steal a bite of her sandwich.

        “Finally,” came a thickly-accented voice from nearby, “About bloody time I found you!”

        Ditzy excitedly looked up. “Whooves!” She jumped up, nuzzling the light-brown earth pony’s cheek. “W-when did you g-get b-back?”

        “Just earlier today, love,” he replied, laughing, “You know how business is.” He spotted her notebook. “What were you drawing?”

        She picked it up, showing it to him.

        “Wow,” he said, dumbfounded, “That’s great. That reminds me, how is Dinky?”

        Ditzy set the notebook back down, her eyes and mouth angling in sorrow. “W-well...”

        “What? What happened?” asked Whooves, with as much concern as if Dinky was his own, “Did something happen? Is she sick? Hurt?”

        “No, n-nothing like that,” assured Ditzy, “She’s j-just in M-manehattan.”

        “Manehattan? Why there?”

        “My s-sister, L-lizzie Doo, in-invited her,” explained Ditzy, “And Dinky r-really w-wanted to go.”

        “I see. Well, cheer up, love!” said Whooves, putting a comforting hoof to Ditzy’s face, “Tell you what: we’ll go home, spend some time catching up. I’ll tell you all about my trip, maybe over a nice bottle of wine, and some...” He put his mouth to her ear and whispered seductively. “...Muffins?”

        Ditzy’s face lit up. “I w-would love that.”

        He nuzzled her cheek. “I thought so. Come on, then.”

        Together, the two ponies walked to Sugarcube Corner. On their way, they passed by a navy-and-pink maned earth pony with a bag of sandwiches in her mouth and what felt like a rock in her gut.

        Bon-Bon could have compared her meeting with Lyra to a dentist’s appointment; it was something she hardly looked forward to, it had a chance of being very painful, and she very well might end up wondering if it was worth the time.

        She’d never been quite sure of her feelings for Lyra. She was a beautiful unicorn, that was about as arguable as the ground beneath her hooves. But the same sort of thing could be said about other ponies, like Cloudkicker, or the Lotus Sisters, or Big Macintosh, or...

        Come to think of it, Ponyville was a town full of good-lookin’ ponies, though Lyra was certainly high up in the looks department. But that wasn’t the only thing that Bon-Bon had to take into account. She and Lyra had been friends for so long, it was hard to think of them as anything else; but they were so close, moving it up a step shouldn’t be that difficult. Then again...

        Bon-Bon whinnied softly to herself. This was only serving to make things even more confusing for her, if that was possible.

        I guess tonight decides it, she thought, Make or break.

        She arrived at her house, opening the door. She looked inside, seeing a mint-green unicorn sitting in a chair on the other side of the living room, looking about as comfortable as a Manehattanite in one of the frontier towns.

        “I see you came early,” observed Bon-Bon, setting the sandwiches on the coffee table.

        “Y-yeah,” replied Lyra somewhat timidly, “I didn’t have anything else to do, so I figured, y’know, ‘what the hay?’” She laughed nervously.

        Bon-Bon smiled awkwardly, sitting across from Lyra. “You hungry? I got some sandwiches from the deli, if you want one.”

        Lyra shook her head. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine.”

        “Suit yourself. How was your day?”

        Lyra shrugged. “Not too bad, but not anything unusual. You?”

        “Nothing that special, either.”

        They sat in silence for a moment, each one avoiding the other’s gaze. Finally, Bon-Bon shattered the silence with the efficiency of a nuclear bomb.

        “Lyra, what exactly happened yesterday morning?”

        The unicorn seemed to shrink back into her chair, looking at her twiddling hooves. “I...I don’t really know,” she lied. She knew perfectly what happened, and remembered each detail perfectly. From what they’d been discussing to Pinkie Pie’s excessively long monologue to the sugary taste on Bon-Bon’s lips.

        “Lyra,” replied Bon-Bon, leaning forward, “Please just answer me.”

        Lyra sighed, gathering a last bit of courage to look Bon-Bon in the face. “Alright, Bon-Bon. I...” Tell her the truth. Tell her you love her. Tell her you can’t picture life without her. “I...”


        “I...” Tell her. “...I like you,” she confessed quietly. You coward.

        Bon-Bon leaned back again. She’d prepared herself for Lyra’s admission, but she might as well have had braced for collision with a cement truck.

        “But if you don’t like me,” continued Lyra hastily, “I...I guess it’s fine. We just go back to being friends, right?” Lyra smiled weakly, pleadingly.

        Bon-Bon had no idea why, but that last part had felt...painful. This next equally so, which made her wonder all the more why she was saying it. “Yeah...yeah, I guess that’s it, we’re back to friends. Like nothing ever happened, right?” She smiled with Lyra.

        “Yeah...nothing.” The word rung in Lyra’s mind like a fire alarm. Still, she kept up the charade, even managing a fake laugh.

        “Well, then, I guess we should call it a night?” suggested Bon-Bon, still feeling somewhat pained.

        “I guess,” agreed Lyra, still mentally bucking herself.

        “Lunch tomorrow?”

        “Sure, why not? Seeya, Bon-Bon.”

        “Take care, Lyra.”

        Bon-Bon watched Lyra trot out the door. She waited until it closed, then turned back to where Lyra was sitting. There she sat for a minute, doing nothing but staring, blinking, and breathing.

        Finally, the facade crumbled, and the dam burst. At first, Bon-Bon found herself silently sobbing. Within minutes, she found herself face-first on her coffee table, drenching it in more tears than she’d shed over her whole lifetime.

        Tonight, some inhabitants of Ponyville slept more comfortably than the night previous. One had fallen asleep fantasizing about how she would ask the most handsome stallion in Ponyville to dinner. Two others had comfortably fallen asleep together, the one having helped the other forget her worries almost completely. Another even had fallen asleep with the simple anticipation of surprising her coltfriend tomorrow with something sweet.

        Some ponies, however, slept even less comfortably. One spent much of the night simply staring at the ceiling, his mind swimming in uncertainty. Two had cried themselves to sleep with tears that seemed to glisten with regret. And one filly had gone to bed with a bitter feeling of loneliness, wishing to relive yesterday afternoon.

Well, since I have some free space here, I’m going to get some quick apologies out of the way. I’ll start with the obvious: I’m sorry that this took so damn long (or at least longer than I’d hoped). It was a mixture of previous commitments, school, and my own laziness. Considering, though, that school is now officially out for me, Day Three will take a much shorter time, God-willing.

Which brings me to the second, less obvious thing to apologize for: remember how I kept hinting that this would cover a week without the mane six? Well, if you look back at Day One, you might noticed that I changed some of the dialogue about how long everyone would be gone. So, to make it clear, instead of seven chapters, it’s being shortened to four. Why? Well, the main reason is that I don’t think I can make this story last that long without killing it. Let’s face it, how many more Derpy malapropisms and mail-routes do you think I have left in me? Or, more importantly, how many more do you think you can stand before it starts getting old? So, instead of trying to stretch each of these stories out for five more days, I’m calling this the halfway point (not counting a potential epilogue, of course). This, of course, does not mean that I will, in any way, compromise the quality of the story ( least not intentionally).

That’s it for me, folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far, and that you’ll be sticking around for the rest.

- Katalus Talrius

The Melting Pot

Day Three


        Mrs. Cake looked up, her attention having been focused on making the front counter spotless. “Oh, hello, dearie! Back from your trip so soon?”

        “Only you could consider it ‘so soon,’” laughed Whooves as he trotted to the front counter, “I’m sorry, were you doing something?”

        “Oh, don’t worry about it,” she assured, “We usually don’t get customers this early. What can I getcha?”

        “You wouldn’t happen to have any banana-chocolate-chip muffins, would you?”

        “Well...” Mrs. Cake checked behind the counter and the display. “Not right now, but I can have some ready in a jiff!”

        “I would really appreciate it if you did, thanks.”

        Mrs. Cake turned and poked her head into the kitchen. “Honey bunches? I need a batch of banana-chocolate-chip muffins, please!”

        “Sure thing, sugar plum!” replied Mr. Cake, already reaching for the necessary ingredients.

Mrs. Cake turned back to Whooves, her omnipresent motherly smile stretching on her face. “It’ll be a little while, dearie. You need a seat?”

        “No, thank you.”

        “Are you sure?”

        Whooves nodded. “How’s business been for you two?”

        “Fantastic, thanks for asking!”

        “No problem.” Whooves took a look around the bakery. “Say, isn’t Pinkie Pie usually up around now?”

        “Oh, she’s on vacation.”

        “Well, looks like you’re managing without her.”

        Mrs. Cake chuckled. “Only barely. She does a lot around here: cleaning, cooking, selling...I can’t think of anything she doesn’t do.”

        “Well, you pay her for something, right?”

        Mrs. Cake nodded, smiling. There were a few minutes of quiet. “How are things with Ditzy?”

        “They couldn’t be better, to be honest.”

        “That’s wonderful.” Another bout of silence. “How long have you two been together, again?”

        “Three and a half years,” he replied proudly.

        “That long already? I remember the first time you two came here together.”

        Our first date, thought Whooves dreamily. “How are those muffins coming along?”

        Mrs. Cake turned to the kitchen. “Dear?”

        “Just a few more minutes, honey!”

        Whooves nodded, looking around the bakery. Finally, Mr. Cake came out with a closed paper bag, setting it on the counter.

        “There you are. Will four be good?”

        “Four is perfect,” assured Whooves, “How much do I owe you?”

        “Eight bits, please.”

        Whooves set the coins on the counter.

        “Thank you,” said Mrs. Cake as she put them in the register, “Come again!”

        “I will, thanks!” Whooves grabbed the paper bag, trotting out into the street.

        The sun had barely begun to rise over Ponyville, the newborn daylight painting the sky a deep amber color. It was a sight to behold, even with only four ponies awake to see it. That fourth, currently, was sadly looking at the beautiful skyline through her bedroom window.

        If one thing could be said of the Apple Clan, it’s that they have a magnificent taste in headgear. If two, it’s that they have buck-ass hats and that every single pony to bear the Apple Clan name has routinely gotten up at sunrise, even the colts and fillies.

        Currently, it was Applebloom’s only solace, and it was fading fast. She’d progressed beyond mere boredom, and tread into the badly-lit ground that was loneliness. Her only friends and sister were out of town, and the one other pony that she could play with was too busy to do anything but tell her a bedtime story and bring her breakfast treats from Sugarcube Corner, as if that -

        Knock knock.

        Speak of the devil.

        Big Macintosh trotted into the room, setting a paper bag down on the bed. “Morning sis,” he said, “Ah got yer favorite.” Applebloom was silent. She didn’t even turn around. “Apple fritters,” he added, as if she would have forgotten her favorite pastry in all of Equestria.

        He sighed. “Look, Applebloom, ah...” Big Mac stopped as he found Applebloom hanging on his shoulders, her hooves around his neck.

        “Please, big brother?” she pleaded, “Just today? Can we play some more?”

        Big Mac sighed again. “You asked that yesterday...” He gently pushed her down. “And the answer is still, no.”

        “Puh-leeeeze?” Her eyes widened into that damned cute stare that would make a Manticore’s heart melt. “Can’t ya just make Caramel do all the work again?”

        Big Mac smiled slightly, suppressing a chuckle. “As much as ah’d like to, ah can’t. It ain’t fair to make him do everything twice in the same week.”

        “But...but...” Applebloom looked as if she was seconds away from crying.

        “Ah’m sorry, Applebloom.” Big Mac uncomfortably shifted his hooves for a second, then smiled again. “Tell ya what: when ah get back tonight, ah’ll tell you two stories.”

        Applebloom cocked her head to one side with one eyebrow raised, considering her brother’s offer.

        “And,” he continued, deciding that it couldn’t hurt to sweeten the deal a bit, “Ah’ll get you some more apple fritters as a bedtime snack.”

        Applebloom stayed silent for a second. “Yah promise?”


        Applebloom jumped and hugged her brother again, squeezing him like an extra-stuffed teddy bear. “Thanks, Big Mac.”

        He smiled lovingly. “Anytime, sis. Ah’ll seeya tonight.”

        “Seeya.” She dropped down from Big Mac’s shoulders. “Don’t ferget!”

        “Ah won’t,” he assured.

        He trotted from the room, through the house, and all the way to the orchards. He’d been applebucking for close to an hour and a half before a familiar mullet-maned earth pony arrived.

        “Morning, Big Mac.”


        Caramel began his applebucking when he took a second look at Big Macintosh. “You okay, Mac? You look like you slept on a bed of nails with a chain-link blanket.”

        As if to punctuate Caramel’s point, Big Mac gave a long and deep yawn. It’s true that he hadn’t slept as well as he’d have liked to last night - he’d been thinking too much about Petal and the flowers (forty grannybuckin’ bits...).

        “Don’t worry about it.”

        “You sure? I could go on a coffee run, if you need it.”

        “Naw, I’ll be fine.” A moment passed as he reconsidered. “Actually...” He pulled a few bits out of his yoke, tossing them to Caramel. “Cream, no sugar.”

        Caramel nodded, galloping back towards Ponyville. On his way to Sugarcube Corner, he bumped into a familiar light-eyed earth pony.

        “Oh, sorry,” he said quickly.

        “Huh, wha? Oh, no, it’s...zzzZZZ...” Bon-Bon, still standing, had put her head down and begun to snore.

        “Uh, Bon-Bon?” Caramel nudged her, taking note of the rings around her eyes.

        “zzzZZZZzzzz...” Boy, she really was out of it.

        “Bon-Bon,” he said a little more sharply, nudging her a little harder.

        “SNRK-huh, hoobastank!” she exclaimed, her head bolting up.

        “Erm, sorry?”

        “Oh, nothing.” Bon-Bon rapidly shook her head as she felt herself drifting off again. “Sorry, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night.”

        “You, too, huh?” asked Caramel, smirking slightly.


        “Mac’s pretty wiped, too. I’m actually on a coffee run for him right now.


        “Because I’m that generous.”

        Bon-Bon gave a quiet, tired hiccup of a laugh. “No, I mean, why’s he tired?”

        “I didn’t ask. What about you, what kept you up?”

        Bon-Bon considered her answer carefully. “Something happened with me and Lyra last night.”

        “What? You two have a fight?”

        “Not really, just...something happened.”

        Caramel raised an eyebrow. He had an instinct as to what nature this ‘something’ pertained to, which is exactly why he decided to end this conversation.

        “Well, I’ve gotta get going. Seeya, Bon-Bon.”

        “Seeya.” She trotted past Caramel, yawning as she fought off another bout of fatigue.

        She wasn’t exactly sure what had driven her to get out of bed this morning. Come to think of it, she didn’t remember getting up at all. What she did remember, with the utmost clarity, was Lyra. Goddess, the look in her eyes...

        Bon-Bon still wasn’t sure how she was able to shrug Lyra off like that, or why she then agreed to lunch today. If I wanted to do something painful, I’d prefer to just stick myself with a scalpel.

        Bon-Bon violently shook her head again, even lightly clopping herself in the face. Goddess, I need to get some sleep. I’d rather not pass out in the middle of...


        Bon-Bon lay undisturbed in the middle of the street for a few minutes before she felt somepony’s hoof lightly digging into her side.

        “Hey, you alright?”

        “SNRK!” Bon-Bon’s eyes broke open and she jumped to her hooves. “Fine, fine, just fine!”

        Lightning Bolt took a tentative step back. “Um...”

        Bon-Bon shook her head again. “Sorry, Bolt.” She shifted her hooves uncomfortably. “So,’s weather control been?”

        “Good, I guess.”

        “Yeah...” There was a distinct and unmistakeably awkward silence. “Later.” Without waiting for a response, she trotted off and away from the blue-maned pegasus.

        That was...interesting, she thought. Shrugging, she jumped back into the air and flew onto her intended destination.

        Lightning Bolt knocked on Cloudkicker’s door. “Hello?” Nothing. She knocked again, harder. “Hel-lo!” A second helping of nothing. Rolling her eyes, she turned around. “Hey, Cloudkicker!” She bucked the door as hard as she could without putting her hooves straight through it. Inside, she heard a yelp accompanied by heavy thumping and the crash of something that sounded fairly expensive. A minute later, a sheepish Cloudkicker opened the door.

        “What’s up, Bolt?”

        “Just got word in from the Mayor,” said Lightning Bolt, her voice cleanly soaked through with exasperation, “She wants a storm set up for tomorrow.”

        “Seriously?” asked Cloudkicker incredulously, “And she tells us this the day before?”

        “Hey, I don’t like it any more than you do. But, then again, we don’t get paid to like it.”

        “Well, what’s the plan?”

        “Considering the short notice, we’re all meeting up at the east end of Ponyville at about noon to start setting up.”

        “That soon?”

        “Yeah. Why, you got plans?”

        “Actually, I do.”

        Lightning Bolt nickered in frustration.

        “I can make it, though,” added Cloudkicker quickly, “I just might be a little late. Is that okay?”

        “I guess,” replied Lightning Bolt with a tinge of reluctant resignation, “Just be there as soon as you’re done with...whatever it is you’re doing.”

        “I will,” she assured, “Take care.”

        “You, too.”

        Cloudkicker shut the door, galloping back to her room. Picking the now-cracked clock off the floor, she checked the time.

        Crap. If she was going to spend any time with Caramel, she would have to leave now. She dropped the clock, cringing as she heard it crack again. I’ll deal with it later.

        She bolted into her kitchen, pulling the bag of cookies out of the fridge. Immediately regaining her momentum, she turned and galloped out of the house, hastily closing the door behind her before taking off and flying full-speed to Sweet Apple Acres. Below, a certain pink-maned earth pony trotting in the same direction witnessed the lavender-colored streak in the sky.

        Wonder what her rush is. Forgetting about it, Lotus Petal kept on her way, her heart beating a speed metal drum solo from a thorough mixture of nerves and excitement.

        She’d thoroughly thought through (say that five times fast) what she’d say to Big Macintosh. She’d start by thanking him for the flowers, then stick around for a little chit-chat. From there, she’d innocently mention how interested she was in going to that little restaurant that just opened near the square. With that, she’d ask Big Mac if he might like to join her there sometime? Maybe this weekend? Around six-ish?

        It was, overall, a good plan. A good one, not a great one, but you can’t expect much from a pony who threw up on the first colt to ever confess his love for her (a story for another time, sadly. It’s quite a tale).

        Lotus Petal approached the front door of the Apple family homestead, knocking. She stood patiently for a few moments before it opened, a rose-maned filly on the other side looking a trifle confused.

        “Uh, can ah help you?”

        “Hi, erm...” Lotus Petal found herself having to resist an oddly strong urge to squeal and give this filly an Ursa hug (a temptation anypony who can appreciate cuteness would be forced to combat). “Is Big Macintosh here?”

        Applebloom shook her head.

        “Oh...well, where is he?”


        “Where is he working?”

        Applebloom stretched a hoof out in the general direction of the Sweet Apple Acres orchards. “Somewhere out there.”

        Petal’s jaw loosened a bit. “Uh, thanks...”

        “Ayup. Have a nice day.”

        “You, too...”

        Applebloom closed the door, leaving Petal in awe at the sheer distance before her. She then smiled weakly, laughing.

        “No biggie,” she assured herself as she began trotting into the orchard, “Just a detail...”

        Half an hour later, Lotus Petal was wondering how in a thousand burning hay bales she could have let this ‘detail’ slip her mind. She was beginning to get why this place was called Sweet Apple Acres.

        A place this big, I’ll be lucky to find him by...hey, a hill!

        She started up the closest side, figuring that this halfway-decent vantage point might help find Big Mac. Reaching the top, she looked around. Nothing obvious. She trotted to the opposite edge, stretching out her neck and squinting to make sure that she hadn’t missed him among the foliage.

        That, as if turned out, may have been a bad idea. A really bad idea. An idea of Pinkie Pie-grade bad ideas.

        The ground beneath Lotus Petal’s front hooves suddenly crumbled to bits. Considering her lack of pegasus DNA, she could do nothing to stop herself as she felt gravity take over and pull her down the hill. She scraped over rocks and smacked against trees as she tumbled head over hooves down an absurdly long and painful fall. The entire time, amidst her exclamations of pain, one thought ran though her mind:

How long is this damn hill?!

Reaching the bottom, she spat out a mouthful of what she hoped to be mud, and looked at her coat. It was a mess, with masses of twigs, weeds, and mosses stuck in her fur. Through the fine layer of dirt that could be seen (and felt) all throughout, there was a multitude of stinging nicks in her skin, some of which had smeared an unseemly crimson in her coat.

        Goddess, please don’t let this get any worse...

        Already making plans to get home and take a long, steaming hot bath, she turned back towards Ponyville.

        ...Of course.

        Standing before her were two wide-eyed earth ponies and one even-wider-eyed pegasus around an open bag of cookies.

        “I, uh, I’m, eh...” stammered Petal, quivering slightly. She felt her eyes getting watery. Oh, no, don’t do this...

        Suddenly, one of the earth ponies began laughing, like this was one of the funniest things he’d ever seen in his life.


        Caramel kept up a steady stream of guffaws, stomping his hoof on the ground from pure elation. Cloudkicker reluctantly joined in, giving a few stifled giggles.

        Don’, hay.

        Petal drooped her head, softly whimpering as tears began to escape her closed eyelids.

        Big Mac trotted over, his usual bored expression belying his concern. “Hey, are you-” He was cut off by a sharp wail as Lotus Petal pushed past him and the other two ponies, vanishing through the legions of apple trees.

        She carried on like this all the way out of Sweet Apple Acres and to Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa. On her way, she passed by the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen, where, outside, two old friends were having lunch.

        “Hey, wasn’t that Lotus Petal?” Lyra pointed out.

        “Huh? Uh, yeah, I think it was.” Bon-Bon, still running off of a bare amount of sleep, hadn’t even noticed anypony going by.

        Lyra bit her lip, looking at the table. It had been close to a half hour their sandwiches were almost completely finished, and they’d said no more than ten sentences to each other the entire time. Last night had cut a wound that seemed to be bleeding silence.

        Lyra still hadn’t forgiven herself for watering down her confession. I like you? That weak, tired old line? The silence was becoming as bearable as a burlap sack filled with dark matter. Just start talking about something. Anything. It’s not like you could make it worse...

        “Y’wanna hear a joke?”

        “Hrm? Sure, go ahead...” Bon-Bon was having to force her glassy eyes open; it was the least she could do for Lyra.

        “Well, there are these two colts talking during school - or was it after? No, during. Anyways, they’re talking during school, and he says - I mean, the one colt says to his friend, ‘Hey, if you want to make some cash off your folks, just say...’ What was it?” You suck at this. “Oh, right, ‘Just tell one of them that you know the whole truth’, Bon-Bon?”

        “ZZZzzz - Huh, what? I’m sorry, what was that?” Keep awake, Bon-Bon.

        “Nothing,” replied Lyra, blushing as she sunk a little further into her seat. “Hey, are you alright? You seem out of it.”

        “Huh? No - I mean, yeah, I’m alright.” Bon-Bon attempted a reassuring smile. It came off more as an unconvincing smirk.

        “Are you sure? I mean, if you need to go home-”

        “No, no,” interrupted Bon-Bon, “I’ll survive. So, you write any more music lately?”

        “A little,” replied Lyra, shrugging, “But you know me; I’ve never been the fastest composer.”

        Bon-Bon nodded, her eyelids feeling heavier by the second. “I guess. So how’s...zzZZZZzz...”

        Lyra cocked her head to one side. “Eh, Bon-Bon?”


        Lyra looked around, then gave Bon-Bon a soft kick.

        “SNRK! I didn’t - oh...” It was Bon-Bon’s turn to blush and sink into her chair. “S-sorry...”

        “It’s fine.” A moment of silence passed between them. “Bon-Bon?”


        “Well...I think we should call it a day and get you home. You need some rest.”

        “What? No, I told you, I feel...” Her head began to droop. Lyra clopped her hooves on the table, snapping Bon-Bon back awake.

        “It’s not up for debate. Come on.” Lyra set some bits on the table, getting up and pulling Bon-Bon out of her seat.

        Bon-Bon seemed to remember resisting, but when she’d re-focused, she was trotting alongside Lyra, on what seemed like the path home. In her state, though, a walk through a dragon’s lair would have seemed like the path home. Arriving, they saw a familiar gray pegasus slipping some letters under the door.

        “Oh, hey, Ditzy!” said Lyra, waving.

        Ditzy turned, a wall-eyed smile on her face. “Hi, you troop! How have you binged?”

        “Bon-Bon’s a little under the weather, here...”

        “I told you, I’m...zzzzZZZZ...”

        “I thought so.” Lyra laughed, turning back to Ditzy. “Have you already delivered my mail?”

        Ditzy nodded.

“Alright, thanks. Take care, Ditzy. Say ‘hi’ to Dinky for me!”

        For the first time in two days, the mention of her daughter didn’t make Ditzy flinch, or even dampen her spirits. In fact, her smile seemed to grow even broader at her little muffin’s name.

        “I will!” she assured, “Have a sensual day!” She flew past the two ponies (of whom one’s face had turned a sharp magenta), even more eager to finish her deliveries today than she was yesterday, or any other day.

        Arriving at the first of her last stops, she stepped inside.

        “Welcome to Floral Fantasies, how may I - oh, hello, Ditzy!”

        “Special derogatory!” Ditzy trotted up to the front counter, setting down a large box of seed packets.

        “Oh, finally!” Roseluck practically snatched the box up. “Thanks, Ditzy. Say, a little birdie tells me that beau of yours is back in town?”

        Ditzy nodded exuberantly.

        “Well, send him my regards! And to that filly of yours, too!”

        Ditzy’s smile grew as she nodded again. She trotted from the flower shop, checking her list. The end was tantalizingly close, but not there just yet. There was one stop left: Ace’s Workout Center and Sporting Goods.

        Trotting inside, she was immediately hit the the scent of sweat and old gym clothes. Not too far away, she could see Ace leaning over a barbell set, flirting with three giggling mares. He spotted Ditzy out of the corner of his eye.

        “Excuse me, ladies,” he said smoothly, “I have to get my mail.” Winking, he added, “Don’t you go anywhere.”

        They giggled some more, their eyes following Ace as he trotted over to the mailpony. “Good afternoon, Ditzy.” He took his letters and set them to the side. “Anything for me at the ol’ post office?”

        Ditzy nodded.

        “Excellent. Say, you haven’t my racket anywhere around Ponyville, have you?”

        “I don’t shrink so.”

        “Cobalt blue? Specially contoured grip? Silver-engraved nameplate on the bottom?”

        Ditzy shook her head.

        “Well, I don’t think anypony would have taken it...”

        On the other side of Ponyville, a blank-flanked filly sneezed.

        “...So let me know if you find it.”

        “I will. Take pear!”

        She trotted back out, glad to be breathing clean, perspiration-free air. Without wasting another second, she bolted back home.

        Ditzy busted through the front door, not bothering to close it. She then galloped into the dining room, turning the mailbag up over the table.

        “Well,” said a chuckling Whooves as he trotted in, “Looks like somepony came home happy!”

        He couldn’t tell if she just didn’t hear him or was too engrossed in whatever she was doing to stop and respond. The bag fell to the side as a hoof-ful of letters fell on the table, and Ditzy began sifting through them.

        “What are you looking for, love?”

        She didn’t respond. Instead, she stopped, then looked through the letters again.


        “I-it’s not h-here,” she said, her voice wavering.

        “What isn’t?” he asked with an unmistakable air of concern.

        “Dinky’s l-letter,” replied Ditzy, her eyes becoming watery, “She said t-that she’d wr-write...”

        Whooves wanted to say, Is that it? He almost did. But he had to remind himself, She’s just being Ditzy. And Ditzy’s a worried mum who’s protective of Dinky. Bloody hell, she has a right to be; she had to raise the filly by herself for the longest time.

        “Hey,” he said quietly, softly nuzzling her cheek, “Cheer up, love.”

        Ditzy sniffed back some tears.

        “Maybe it’s stuck in the post,” continued Whooves with a reassuring tone, putting a hoof around her shoulders, “Or maybe it just slipped her mind...”

        Ditzy sniffed again, a few tears spilling down her cheeks. Whooves winced as he realized his verbal blunder.

        “I didn’t mean it like that. You know her, Ditzy; she wouldn’t tell you she’d write and then just forget it completely.”

        Ditzy smiled tearfully, looking up at Whooves. “Th-thank you.”

        “No problem, love.” He gave her a soft nuzzle on the nose.

        Ditzy returned the nuzzle, then yawned. “I th-think I’ll go t-take a nap.”

        “Alright. Is it okay if I go for a walk?”

        Ditzy nodded, standing up and trotting with Whooves into the hallway as they each went an opposite direction. Halfway up the stairs, she stopped and turned. “I l-love you.”

        Whooves froze in the front doorway, then turned and smiled at Ditzy. “I love you, too.”

        They stayed like that for a second, each one lovingly smiling at the other. Finally, Whooves turned and trotted out, shutting the front door behind him. Stepping outside, he had to brace himself against a very sudden and very lavender gust of wind.

        Cloudkicker was silently berating herself. How could I have lost track of time like that?! Goddess, Lightning Bolt is going to be pissed...

        She could see the gathering of pegasi not too far away; maybe she could slip in unnoticed?

        Yeah, and maybe I’ll spurt a unicorn’s horn...

        She flew up and landed at the side, pretending not to hear a few light giggles among the others.

        “...And thank you for volunteering, Cloudkicker.”

        Cloudkicker’s head snapped to Lightning Bolt. “Um, what, now?”

        “Well, I just got finished telling everypony else how we still need one more storm manager for tomorrow...”

        Oh, no...

        “...And there you are. Okay, everypony, get to it.”

        Cloudkicker grumbled, stamping her hoof. She considered asking Lightning Bolt if there was anything, anything else for her to do besides flying around in the rain and lightning.

She decided against it; neither kvetching about her current task nor begging for another was going to change Lightning Bolt’s mind. And nothing short of all the gold in Canterlot or a death threat would get any other pegasus to trade jobs with her.

        She nickered in frustration. On the bright side, she’d have the rest of the day to herself. Maybe cram in a little more time with Caramel?

        At that last thought, her stomach rumbled. Less from hunger, more from a lack of anything not crunchy and chocolatey. If she wanted to make it to tomorrow, she’d need something a bit more substantial than those cookies.

        She once again took to flight, making a beeline for the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen. Trotting inside, she failed to notice the three earth ponies sitting outside, almost the exact same position they were a little more than two days ago.

        Lotus Petal sat there with her two sisters, solemnly looking at her still-untouched sandwich. She’d cleaned up considerably from earlier, but if one looked closely, you could notice two lines of dark, flattened fur on her face, right below her eyes.

        “...It couldn’t have been that bad,” said Flower, shoving a verbal combat knife through the cumbersome silence.

        “Trust me. It was awful.” Petal put her face in her hooves. “I never felt like such a foal...”

        “Not even when you-” began Flower. A sharp glare from Blossom cut her off. “Nevermind.”

        “What Flower was trying to say,” said Blossom, glowering at her once again before turning to Petal, “Is that it’s not the end of the world. There’s always next time.”

        “What next time?” asked Petal hopelessly, “Like I’m going back there again...”

        “Why wouldn’t you?”

        “Why do you think?!” she snapped. She felt a sting of guilt as Blossom retreated into her chair slightly. “I’m sorry...but really, why would I go back? Just to make myself look like an idiot, again?” She slumped into her seat, giving a defeated sigh. “Forget about it.”

        “Are you sure about that?” asked Flower.

        Petal laughed feebly. “Not really. Still, I’m not going back there anytime soon.”

        Blossom shrugged. “I suppose there’s nothing we can do to talk you into it?”

        Petal shook her head.

        “Alright.” Silence. “Are you even going to eat that sandwich?”

        Petal looked at it. “Not right now. I’ll take it home.” She signaled to a waiter. “You two go on ahead, I’ll catch up.”

        They nodded, each one dropping some bits on the table before trotting off back to the spa. Outside, they could see a see-green unicorn waiting.

        “Oh, hello, Lyra!” Blossom unlocked the door, letting her and Flower in first. “Sorry if you’ve been waiting a while, we were taking lunch.”

        “It’s fine,” assured Lyra, “I’m here for my massage?”

        “Certainly. This way, please!” Blossom led Lyra to the massage tables. “Pick a table, I’ll be with you in a moment.”

        Lyra set herself on the nearest one. Not a minute later, Blossom returned and began the massage.

        “So, how’s your week been?” asked the spa pony conversationally.

        “Well...” Lyra chose her words carefully. “Not terrible, I suppose.”

        “Hrm? Did something happen to you?”

        “No, no. and Bon-Bon hit awkward patch.”

        “Oh.” Blossom was well aware of how Lyra felt of Bon-Bon; they’d talked about it almost every time she came in. In fact, she’d been the only pony in Ponyville that Lyra felt comfortable telling, and her faith was well-placed. What was said between the two ponies stayed between the two ponies. “What happened? Did you two fight? I mean, I don’t mean to pry...”

        “No, no, you’re fine.” Lyra stayed quiet for a moment, pondering how she was to put this. “Well, two days ago, we were in the park together...and, um...”


        “And, well, I’m not sure why, exactly, but I...erm...”

        Blossom patiently waited for Lyra to finish.

        “I...I kissed her.”

        Blossom froze. “And then?” she asked eagerly, putting her hooves back in motion.

        “Well, what could I do? I ran.

        Blossom smirked, barely containing a laugh. Celestia, that sounds like something Petal would do. She and Lyra stayed quiet for a few minutes before she asked, “Have you two talked since then?”

        “What? Oh, oh, yeah, we did.”

        “How did it go?”

        “Awkwardly.” She was silent for a moment. “You want to know what we said, don’t you?”

        “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” But it’d be more fun if you did.

        “Well, we met at her house. We tried some chit-chat, but she cut to the chase and asked me what the hay happened.”

        “So what’d you say?”

        “I lied, at first, but she didn’t buy it.”

        “And so I told her that I liked her.”

        Blossom inhaled through her bit lip. “Her response?”

        “Well, we agreed to let things go back to normal.” Blossom could hear the disappointment in Lyra’s voice.

        “How’s that working out?”

        “Not too well; she was so tired today at lunch, I could barely talk to her.”

        “What got her so worn-down?”

        “Can’t say, seeing as I didn’t ask.”

        They were quiet for a few minutes. “I’m sorry,” said Blossom consolingly.

        “Don’t be,” replied Lyra, “I made my own stupid mistake.”

        Luna, now she’s sounding like Petal. “I wouldn’t call it stupid...”

        “I would. But at least I tried, right?”

        “Right,” agreed Blossom, “Anything else interesting?”

        An hour later, Lyra trotted from Luxury Lotus Health and Beauty Spa feeling infinitely better than she did trotting in. Getting home, she opted to take a shortcut through the park. Along the way, she encountered a pegasus and an earth pony sitting together on one of the benches.

She almost said ‘hi’ before noticing the depressed look Cloudkicker was bearing. She kept quiet, leaving the two to focus on each other.

Caramel put a hoof around Cloudkicker’s shoulders. “So she just shoved the job on you?”

Cloudkicker nodded. “It sucks. Being a storm manager is like...what’s the worst job Big Mac ever gives you on Sweet Apple Acres?”

“Applebucking,” he said with a straight face.

She looked at him, then laughed. “I guess it was a pretty stupid question. But you get my point.”

“Yeah.” He was quiet for a moment. “What do you have to do as a storm manager, anyways?”

“Basically? I have to fly around for most of tomorrow, with nothing but a pair of goggles, just watching the storm to make sure it’s going as planned.”

“You don’t get to wear a raincoat?”

“No, they tend to mess with our flight patterns; they can slow us down, or get caught on something, or...”

“I think I get it,” he interrupted, “When do you get to rest?”

“Not until the job’s done, and that’s usually not ‘till late afternoon. At earliest.” She looked at the sun. “I think I should get home and start getting ready. Seeya, Caramel.” She nuzzled his cheek, then flew off.

Dumbly, he sat there for a few minutes. Then, out of nowhere, a smile broke out on his face, a smile absolutely dripping with smugness. He got up, making note of a few stops he’d have to make before getting back to the farm...

        Big Mac yawned, looking up at the sound of approaching hooves. “Was that break long enough for ya?”

“As a matter of fact, it was. How’d you hold up without me?”

“Well enough,” he lied. He was wearing out. “What were ya doin’?”

Caramel smirked as he began bucking again. “A little something I like to call my business.”

Big Mac chuckled. “Turnabout’s fair play, ah s’pose.”

“That’s what I believe. Anyways, is there anything else that needs to get done before tomorrow? What, with the storm and all...”

“Naw,” replied Big Mac, “Lightnin’ Bolt told me it ain’t gon’ be too windy, so we don’t needta worry about trees fallin’ over.”

        “I guess so.” A few minutes passed. “I’m not quite sure how, but that reminds me: what was that with...oh, what’s her name?”

        “Lotus Petal, an’ what about her?”

        “You act like that’s not an obvious question, Mac. What was with her being here earlier?”

        “Ah don’t know.” Big Mac hoped that he wasn’t blushing.

        Caramel stopped his bucking, smiling with one eyebrow raised. “Oh, I see...”

        “Shut up.”

        “She came around hoping for a bite of Big Macintosh, didn’t she?” he continued mockingly.

        Big Mac raised an eyebrow in return. “That don’t even make sense.”

        “Eh, maybe not. But what’s important is...” Caramel continued bucking. “You must’ve done something to get her interested.”

        “Ah don’t know what yer talkin’ about.”

        “So you decided to take my advice yesterday? Bring her some flowers? Maybe lay down the charm a little?”

        “Y’know what?” Big Macintosh bucked one more basketful of apples. “Let’s call it a day.” He quickly trotted past Caramel.

        “Let me know if I’m in the wedding party! I don’t look half bad in a tux.”

        Big Macintosh pretended to not hear Caramel’s last remark, and that he didn’t just have that conversation. He kept trying to pretend this the entire way home. He wasn’t having much luck.

        Big Mac groaned as he hit his mattress. Today was draining, to say the least. And everything from his lack of sleep yesterday to Lotus Petal’s embarrassing spectacle to that last conversation with Caramel certainly didn’t serve to better his mood. All he wanted to do now was stay still, close his eyes, and...

        “Big brother?” came a small, sweet voice from his doorway.

        Horse apples.

        “Aren’t ya gonna read me those stories? And where are the apple fritters?”

        “Applebloom, ah’m tired, ah’ll do that for ya tomorrah.” He kept his gaze on the opposite wall, a perfect 180 degrees from his sister.

        “B-but...” The voice began to quiver slightly. “You said you wouldn’t ferget...”

        “Ah’m sorry.” He wasn’t actually that sorry, but by the goddess, he just wanted to sleep.

        “B-but...” Applebloom’s voice became shakier. “You promised that you’d read me two stories, an’-an’ that you’d bring me some-”


        She yelped in fright.

At first glance, all you’d probably notice of Big Mac was his change of position to look directly at Applebloom. If one were to take a second look, however, you might see slight differences in his general appearance: his muscles were tensed slightly, his wheat sprig seemed set even more concretely between his teeth, and his half-drooped eyes had angled slightly.

        “Today’s not been mah best day; ah’m tired, an’ ah feel like dirt.” His voice was hardly raised, but each syllable carried a blatant tone of furious irritation. “The last thing ah feel like doin’ right now is reading stories or gettin’ apple fritters. So, please, go to bed, and just shut. Up.

        Applebloom’s eyes began to sting. “B-but...”

        “Now.” Without another word, Big Macintosh turned back towards the opposite wall.

        Applebloom stood there for several moments, crushed. Finally, silent tears streaking down her face, she turned and sullenly trotted to her room. She climbed into her bed, tucking herself in.

“G-good night,” she murmured tearfully.

        When Luna brought her moon and stars in their fully glory above Ponyville, some ponies were already sleeping peacefully. Two had once again fallen asleep in the blissful peace of each other’s company, though one still had one worry hanging at the back of her mind. Another pony had gone to bed with a simple feeling of contentment at having a well laid-out plan for tomorrow. Another still had passed out several hours ago from pure exhaustion.

        Others were asleep, but far from peacefully. One pony had gone to bed still feeling unbearably embarrassed. Another had unhappily gone to bed, grumbling as she set her cracked alarm clock for early the next morning. One small filly had smeared her pillow with tears as she tried to fall asleep without her promised stories and treats.

Meanwhile, a few rooms over, her brother was tossing and turning as his conscience forcefully invaded his dreams.

The Melting Pot


        Long enough after our favorite ponies had returned to throw a positively massive party...

        (Which is, to say, about forty-eight hours)

The celebration was in full swing, and Pinkie Pie, as expected, was absolutely enraptured. As per her usual habits, she had been bolting about and checking with all the guests, making sure that everypony was drinking, eating, talking, dancing, or, if nothing else, simply enjoying themselves.

        After doing this a much longer time than anypony else possibly could have without collapsing (and possibly going into overexertion-induced cardiac arrest), Pinkie stopped by the drink table and poured herself some punch. Her tongue was starting to feel the eensiest-bit dry.

        Applejack laughed as she trotted over. “Pinkie Pie, ah don’t understand how you haven’t worn yerself out yet.” She reached for the punch ladle, then paused. “Berry Punch hasn’t been here, has she?”

        Pinkie shrugged, her mouth full of the fruit-flavored fluid. Applejack stood for a second before filling one of the cups. “Eh, ah’ll risk it.” She sipped, experimentally swishing it around her mouth for a few seconds.

        “So how’s it taste? Like cherries? Blueberries? Kumquats?”

        Applejack swallowed. “It tastes fine, Pinkie. Hey, you seen Big Macintosh anywhere?”

        “He was talking with one of the spa sisters, earlier...which one, which- oh, yeah, it was Lotus Petal! And Rarity, too!”

        Applejack raised a rather skeptical eyebrow. “You’re sure it was him?”

        “I’m one-hundred and twenty percent sure, or my Gummy isn’t cute, green, and toothless! Unless...” Pinkie Pie gasped. “You don’t suppose Big Macintosh has an evil twin, do you?” Her expression seamlessly changed from one of mixed horror to excitement, and she began bouncing. “What’s his name? Can we meet him? I’ve always wanted to meet an evil twin!”

        “Pinkie,” said Applejack calmly, the slightest hint of a smile wrinkling her cheeks, “Mah brother don’t have an evil twin.”

        “Are you sure?”

        “Ah’m sure, but if it makes you feel better, ah’ll ask him about it.”

        “Sounds good to me! Anyways, I have to get back to party maintenance!”

        “Alright, ah’ll - party maint’nance?”

        “Yeah! Ponies at a party are like gears in a machine: if they aren’t happy and meshing together, then it breaks, explodes, and kills everypony with fire!”

        Applejack, mildly terrified, blinked. In the space of that blink, Pinkie Pie had already disappeared back into the crowd.

        “She’s just bein’ Pinkie Pie,” she murmured, chuckling. She then began to trot and found herself, for some indiscernible reason, thinking about cupcakes.

        “So, tell me, Big Macintosh,” said Rarity casually, “How was your first spa treatment?”

        “It wasn’t half-bad,” he said, half-smiling. He playfully nudged the pink-maned mare beside him. “‘Course, ah think Petal here enjoyed it more than me.” She turned a light shade of pink before nudging him back, smiling.

        Rarity nodded, smiling herself. “The first treatment is often one of the best; I remember coming out of mine feeling like a whole new mare. Not that I haven’t every time after, of course.” She gave a wistful sigh. “And you said you used a gift certificate?”

        “Eeyup. Ah think it was one you gave to Applejack, but she didn’t want it.”

        “Ugh.” Rarity rolled her eyes. “Somehow, I’m not surprised. I mean, your sister looks fine enough on her own, but with how much she works? A spa treatment for her is leaving the status of ‘luxury’ and into the realm of ‘necessity.’ No offense, of course.”

        “None taken; ah don’t disagree.”

        Rarity nodded, then stood. “I’ll be right back; I’m in need of some more refreshment. Is there anything I can get you two?”

        “Naw, thanks.”


        “Nothing for me, thank you.”

        “Alright, I’ll be right back.” Rarity turned and trotted towards the drink table. En route, she bumped into a certain blonde-maned earth pony. “Oh, hello, Applejack!”

        “Hey, Rarity. You seen mah brother anywhere?”

        “Indeed, I have. In fact, I was just having the most wonderful conversation with him and Lotus Petal. Oh, they are just so cute together!”

        “Okay, tha- together?

        “Why, he hasn’t told you?”

        “No,” replied Applejack, shrugging, “He hasn’t.”

        “You aren’t mad?” asked Rarity incredulously, “You’ve been back for two days, you think that would be plenty enough time to tell his own sister.”

        “Well, ah don’t talk to ‘im about who ah spend mah time with-”

        “Because that’s private!” hissed Rarity.

        Applejack rolled her eyes. “C’mon, now, yer bein’ a lil’ dramatic.”

        Rarity raised an eyebrow.

        “Oh, right, what am ah thinkin’? Anyways, ah’m gonna go talk with Big Mac. Ah’ll see you back over there, ah guess. Speakin’ o’ which, where’d you come from?”

        Rarity pointed a hoof. “Straight that way, near the wall.”

        “Thankya kindly.”

        “Most welcome.”

        Rarity trotted past Applejack, making it about five steps before she was intercepted by a pink earth pony who looked awfully more giddy than usual.

        Pinkie Pie was currently performing some hybrid between dancing and hopping. “Rarity, there’s something you have to see!”

        “Um, alright, where is-”

        Pinkie Pie wrapped a hoof around Rarity’s neck and pointed. “There!

        Rarity quizzically cocked her head to one side. “Is that Spike wearing a lampshade?”

        “No, not that!” She pointed her hoof again, this time with much more exuberance. “That!”

        “Wha- oh.” She found herself speechless at the mint-green unicorn and cream-colored earth pony nuzzling each other’s necks across the room.

        “I know!” cried Pinkie, taking her hoof off Rarity and resuming her happy bounce-dance, “Isn’t just utterly-butterly fantastic! I mean, they were always meant for each other, they should have started dating years ago!”

        “...Come to think of it,” replied Rarity, smiling lightly, “You’re absolutely ri-”

        “Well, love to stay and chat, but I’ve gotta run! Maintenance, party, fiery explosions, you know how it goes!” With that, she seemed to morph into a pink streak, and was instantly halfway across the party.

        Rarity blinked, then chuckled to herself reassuringly. “Just being Pinkie, I suppose.” She paused. “All of a sudden, I’m in the mood for cupcakes.”

        Pinkie stood by the door, shouting various farewells as ponies trotted out the door into the dark Ponyville streets. One in particular was laughing brightly, having just heard a particularly hysterical joke involving Mr. Cake and a rusty spatula.

        “Caramel,” said Cloudkicker, smiling, “The day you run out of jokes to tell is gonna be a sad one.”

        He returned the smile. “Probably because, by odd coincidence, that’ll be the day I die.”

        Cloudkicker giggled. Whimsically, she looked up. “It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”

        Caramel looked up, as well. He blinked, and was, quite honestly, unimpressed. Nothing seemed that spectacular, nothing he hadn’t seen every night when he stared out his bedroom window trying to get to sleep. There weren’t any comets, or meteorites, or deadly Ursa Majors/Minors to be seen, awed at, or, in the latter case, feared.

        But Cloudkicker could certainly see something beautiful. And Caramel had to admit, as unbelievably trite as it would sound, that he loved her for it; he saw the humor in things, she saw the warmth.

        “Yeah,” he lied, “It is.” He looked back at Cloudkicker, and smiled. And then, immediately wondering where along his train of thought he decided to say this out loud, he said, “I love you.”

        Cloudkicker turned her head back to Caramel. “Pardon?”

        Caramel opened his mouth to say something and realized, for the first time in years, that he could think of absolutely nothing to say. His mind was suddenly devoid of all quips, wisecracks, or even a single bad cover-up. In the absence of anything substantial to put out, his mouth went on autopilot, spewing a series of mumbles and half-finished sentences. “Erm...well,’s kinda...sort of like a...uh...” And so on, and so on.

        Then, to Caramel’s surprise, Cloudkicker began to chuckle. She then stepped closer, muttering something under her breath before pressing her lips to his. At the time, Caramel couldn’t tell what it’d been, but on his own life would swear later that it sounded awfully like, “Took you long enough to say it.”

        Applejack smiled at the two ponies as she passed by, then turned to the red stallion trotting beside her. “So they-”

        “Eeyup,” replied Big Macintosh.

        “Well, looks like Caramel’s gonna have something keepin’ ‘im busy on his days off.”

        “Eeyup.” They were quiet for a few moments, the only sounds emanating from their hooves against the ground and Applebloom lightly snoring on Big Mac’s back. Finally, Mac broke the silence. “What’d ya think of her?”

        “Huh?” The question caught Applejack off her guard.

        “Of Petal. Ah’m int’rested in yer opinion.”

        “She’s...” Applejack thought of the best way to phrase it. “She ain’t quite what ah expected.”

        “What’d you expect?”

        “Honestly? Just a purty face.”


        “Well, she was still a purty face. But she weren’t quite as...” She stopped herself from saying ‘ditzy.’ “...Empty-headed as ah thought she’d be.” She paused, then lightly nudged her brother, smiling. “You’ve got yerself a good one, Big Mac.”

        He returned the smile. “Thanks, sis.”

        “No problem.”

        The night was quiet again for a few minutes before Big Macintosh heard Applebloom whispering something.

        “Hey, Big Mac?”

        He turned his head. He couldn’t tell if she was asleep or not; come to think of it, though, it didn’t matter. “Yeah, Applebloom?” he asked quietly.

        She was silent for a few seconds. “You know yer not the worst big brother in Equestria, right?”

        Big Macintosh smiled. “Thanks, Applebloom.” Then, feeling slightly awkward, he added, “Love ya, lil’ sis.”

        “Love ya, big brother.”

        Big Macintosh turned back around, seeing a rather jolly smile on Applejack’s face. She gave him a light love-tap on the shoulder. “You go soft while ah was away?”

        Big Mac gave a soft and quite uncharacteristic chuckle. “Shut up.”

        Together, the three Apple siblings passed by a quiet house near their orchard where, inside, another sleepy filly was being put to bed.

        Ditzy set down the storybook, pulling the sheets up and over Dinky’s body. “G-goodnight, m-muffin.” She leaned over, softly nuzzling her daughter’s cheek.

        “G’night, mom,” replied a cutely grinning Dinky. She saw Ditzy turn and trot to the door. “Hey, mom?”

        Ditzy snapped around. “W-what is it?”

        “Well, I was you think I can go to Manehattan, again? Next year, maybe?”

        Ditzy stood for a second, then smiled lovingly, trotting back over to Dinky and nuzzling her cheek once again. “Of c-course, Dinky.”

        “Are you sure, mom? I mean, I know you were worried about me, and-”

        “D-don’t w-worry about it, m-muffin. If y-you want to g-go a-again, y-you can.”

        Dinky smiled, then pulled her hooves out from under her covers and wrapped them around Ditzy’s neck. “Thanks, mom.”

        Ditzy did them same. “Y-you’re w-welcome.”

        They broke the embrace, and Ditzy trotted towards the door. Dinky rolled herself back up under the covers, closing her eyes. “I love you, mom.”

        Ditzy turned, blinking away a tear. “I l-love y-you, too, m-muffin.” And she flicked the light switch, trotting down the hallway to her own bed, curling up beside Whooves.

        Sleepily, he turned over, nuzzling Ditzy’s nose adoringly. “Good night, love.”

        She smiled, closing her eyes as she returned the nuzzle. “G-good n-night.”


        Pinkie Pie flicked on her lantern, giggling as she removed the curtain from her wall, revealing the carefully drawn pictures of everypony in Ponyville’s cutie marks, thumbtacks jammed through their centers and into a bulletin board. All of the thumbtacks had small lengths of string wrapped around them, a few hanging limp from their bases. But most of them had two ends, one cutie mark to another cutie mark.

        Pinkie Pie, still giggling like an effeminate mad scientist, grabbed a nearby permanent marker, using it to darken some of the strings.

        Oh, I can’t believe it worked so well! she thought as she ran the marker over one of the strings, its ends found on a lyre and three candies. Three couples in four days... She darkened another, its own ends being found on three blue horseshoes and a cloud and sun. And I didn’t even have to be here the whole time! And one more, connecting a half of a green apple and a light pink flower.

She took a step back, setting down the marker and admiring her hoofiwork. It’s amazing what a pony can do just the morning before. She then looked up and down the board, staring at some of the limp strings. Now, she thought, Who’s next?

After a few moments of thought, an adoring yet oddly mischievous smile drew across her face. She trotted towards the picture of a quill and sofa, grabbing the string tied to its thumbtack and pulling it up and across the board, wrapping it around the thumbtack stuck straight in the middle of a four-bladed fan. She then put the curtain back over the board, bouncing onto her bed and grabbing a notebook off her nightstand. As she scribbled down various plots and flowcharts, she hummed to herself:

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

Fellow bronies of EquestriaDaily, allow me to thank each and every one of you. Thanks for clicking on that funny-looking story post, for reading beyond the first few words of Day One, for reading every Day to the end, but most of all: thanks for loving it so damn much.

Now, I know that at least one of you, at this point, is wondering exactly when I’ll put my fingers back to the keyboard and crank out another MLP story. Honest answer? Not a clue. But believe me, you’ll see me again. Now, what will you see? Again, not a clue. But I’ve got some ideas in the grind; I’ve got murderous earth ponies (just a pawn living their pawn life...), cute (and crack) shippings, cooky crossovers (ponies and six-shooters, anypony?), and the like. If you want to see specific details, I recommend dropping by my DeviantArt page, KatalusTalrius (you can get there rather easily with those handy-dandy DA links), and skimming my journals. And maybe, while you’re there, you could give me a watch. Um, I mean, if that’s okay.

Anyways, my Great-and-Powerful ego aside, I thank you all again. It’s been a blast, EQD, one heck of a ride. With any luck, I’ll be seeing you again soon, with something else you’ll enjoy. But while I’m gone, keep up the lovin’, bronies; if not for me, then for somepony else.


        -Katalus Talrius.

The Melting Pot

Day Four

From the instant he woke up, Big Mac decided that he felt like pure and unadulterated hell. His eyelids were like steel shutters, his joints sore from ceaselessly shifting positions. Even the walk to Sugarcube Corner felt like The Running of the Leaves, and the rain seemed to be adding a nasty insult to a rather grievous injury.

        “Three apple fritters, please,” he said blandly.

“Of course, dearie!” Mrs. Cake reached behind the counter, sliding some pastries from the display into a brown paper bag. Setting it in front of the red stallion, a concerned look dawned on her face. “Are you feeling alright, Big Mac? You look a little out of it, if you don’t mind me saying...”

Mrs. Cake was putting it lightly. In the past two days, Big Macintosh had gotten a maximum of six, maybe eight hours of sleep, and it showed: he was slouching noticeably, his eyes were glazed over, even his wheat sprig was a breeze away from slipping out of his mouth.

“Ah’m fine,” he lied, “What do ah owe ya, again?”

“Six bits, please!”

The coins clinked onto the counter.

“Thank you, come again!”

“Ah plan on it,” he said, placing the bag underneath his raincoat and stepping outside.

Nearing the Sweet Apple Acres homestead, it crossed his mind that these wouldn’t even begin to smooth things over with Applebloom.

Won’t hurt, neither. Ah hope. He whinnied in frustration. What the hay were you thinkin’, ya idyit? You promised her somethin’ so buckin’ simple...fer Luna’s sake, she was cryin’ at the end...

        The hay?

        He slowed his pace, squinting. Not too far ahead, he spied a miniscule silhouette against the trees. Naw, that couldn’t be... “Applebloom?”

        The shape in front of him stopped, then turned a perfect ninety degrees and darted into the orchard. Thought so. He set the wheat sprig firmly between his teeth, then broke into a heavy gallop.

        Big Macintosh wasn’t the swiftest stallion to bear the Apple family name, but he was most certainly faster than a filly the size of an apple basket. The chase took mere seconds.

        Applebloom struggled against the hoof pressing her raincoat to the mud. “Lemme go!

        Big Mac sighed. “Applebloom, ah dunno what the hay you were thinkin’ goin’ out alone in a storm, but let’s just-”

        “Ah said, lemme go!” she repeated, seething.

        “Ain’t happ’nin’, sis. Now, let’s-”

        “AH HATE YOU!” she squealed, jerking away as she tried again to loosen her raincoat, “YOU’RE TH’ WORST BIG BROTHER IN EQUESTRIA AN’ WHEN APPLEJACK GETS BACK AH’M GONNA HEY, PUT ME DOWN!

        Like a mother Manticore handling its cub, Big Mac had grabbed the nape of Applebloom’s hood in his mouth and lifted her up. Applebloom continued to thrash like an epileptic mule, furiously attempting to get away from the big brother that had broken his promise of fritters and stories.

        “Let’s go home,” said Big Mac, his voice muffled around the thick layer of plastic in his teeth.

        “PUT ME DOWN!” she cried again, throwing her hooves about her, “AH HATE YOU, AN’ AH WANNA GET DOWN!

        Big Macintosh turned back towards the Sweet Apple Acres homestead, giving a long, sad sigh as he began to trot. Behind him, lost in the mud when it slipped from his coat, there was a rumbled paper bag.

        Applebloom grew still as they neared the door. It wasn’t that she’d cooled down, but her incessant struggling and rage filled speech (of which she meant every word) had drained her considerably. She turned her head up to look at her brother, expecting his expression to be identical to last night’s. Instead, he looked as he usually did: bored, eyes half-shut as if nothing around him was even remotely interesting (which was often the case). But there was something different, something odd, something just out of her grasp...

        She didn’t care. She wanted away from him, out of the house, and, most of all, down. Finally, after what felt like much too long, she was in her room. Big Mac dropped her on her bed, took a step back, and, for the third time this morning, sighed.

        “Applebloom, ah...”

        “Git out,” she hissed, crossing her hooves.

Git out!” she screamed, throwing the first object she got in her hooves at Big Mac.

        The pillow bounced off his muzzle. He moved his tongue to shift his wheat sprig before realizing that it was gone. Maybe he dropped it picking her up? Like it mattered. “Fine,” he said, defeated, “Ah’ll go. But before ah do, ah’ve got...” He felt around in his raincoat. Aw, buck it...not that, too...

        “Got what?” Her voice was venomously skeptical.

        “Nothin’. Nevermind.” Maybe ah could go an’...naw, she’d just run off, again.

        “Then go ahead and git out!

        He complied, ducking from another pillow as he left and shut the door after him. He turned, trotted down the hall, and froze just before entering his own room.

        Big Macintosh swore that he could hear sobbing through the wall. Part of him wanted to turn around, go back, dodge whatever it was she’d throw at him, and tell her that he was sorry, she was still his littlest sister, and that he loved her and wouldn’t trade her for all the bits in Equestria. He almost did.

        Instead, he trotted into his room and set his raincoat on the door. He then looked through his window, the rain beating its irregular tempo on the glass, and he hated himself.

While hating himself, his mind drifted towards other matters. Such as a specific pink-maned earth pony who was currently sipping a severely under-sugared and stone cold cup of coffee.

        Flower smiled obliviously. “So what do you think, Petal?”

        Lotus Petal considered suppressing her gag reflex and telling her cyan-maned sister that it was an absolutely heavenly cup of coffee and that she’d absolutely love a second helping.

The thought was entertained for close to a half-second before she leaned over and spat the vile brew down the sink.

        “No good?”

        Petal righted herself, coughing and wiping her mouth.

        “I’ll take that as a ‘no.’”

        Petal nodded, wondering for how long the taste would be burned onto her tongue.

        “Well, I’ll get some from Sugarcube Corner, then,” she said, shrugging, “It’s my turn, anyways.” She trotted to the door. “The usual?”

        “Yeah, thanks.”



        They trotted towards each other, meeting about midway between the door and the bakery front counter.

        “It’s so good to see you!” enthused Lotus Flower, pulling her hood back.

        “Even better to see you!” replied Roseluck with an equal level of joy, “By Celestia’s sunrise, when was the last time I clapped eyes on that gorgeous mane of yours?”

        “At least a month,” said Flower, smiling, “How’s the shop been?”

        “Positively magnificent. And the spa?”

        “Great, thank you for asking. How are Daisy and Lily?”

        “They’re being their usual quaint selves,” replied Roseluck with a mocking eyeroll, “And Petal and Blossom?”

        “Blossom’s fine, but Petal...” Flower glanced around, paranoid that somepony might be eavesdropping.


        Flower motioned for Roseluck to lean in, which she did. “Promise not to tell anypony?” whispered Flower.

        “Of course not,” lied Roseluck.

“Well, you know Big Macintosh? Applejack’s older brother?”

        “Of course I do. Why, he bought some roses from the shop two days ago. What about him?”

        “Do you know who those roses were for?” continued Flower, grinning.

        “He didn’t say. So who-” Roseluck stopped, and her eyes widened. “Ohhhhh...”

        Flower nodded. “Yeah, her.”

        Roseluck squealed softly. “Oh, that’s so adorable! What’s Petal doing about it?”

        Flower slowly rolled her eyes as she searched for the best way to phrase her response. “She’s...she’s working with it.”

        “She’s being an awkward spaz, isn’t she?”

        Flower stifled a laugh, then nodded. “Of course. And remember: you didn’t hear any of this from me!”

        “Of course not.” Roseluck resumed her usual volume level. “We must do lunch sometime soon, Flower.”

        “I’ll find some time in my schedule,” she replied, also dropping the whisper, “Take care, Roseluck.”

        “You, too!”

        Trotting back into Floral Fantasies, Roseluck was greeted by a mullet-maned earth pony leaning on the wall, humming to himself.

        “Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” she apologized as she hung up her raincoat, “I was busy getting breakfast. Anyways, how can I help you to brighten somepony’s day?”

        “Well, can I get a...dozen? Yeah, a dozen flowers, please.”

        “What kind of flowers?” asked Roseluck as she trotted behind the front desk, “Roses? Lilies? Chrysanthemums?”

        He thought for a moment. Did she make that last one up? He then thought some more. “Get me...get me something bright, something happy.”

        “Nothing in particular?”

        “Nope, anything bright and happy would be dandy.”

        “Well, give me a moment, and I’ll be back with the brightest and happiest looking flowers I can find!” She disappeared through the back door.

        Caramel looked around. “Not afraid to stretch things out, now is she?” he muttered. With that said, he continued his song from earlier.

        A few verses later, Roseluck trotted back in with a dazzling array of twelve stunning yellow irises. “Will this do?”

        “It’ll do perfectly,” he assured, “How much do I owe you?”

        “Thirty bits, please!”

        Silly me, I should’ve known that they’d be made of gold. A little deflated, Caramel counted out thirty bits and slid them across the counter. Roseluck pushed the bouquet over to him. “Thanks,” he said, sliding the flowers in his jacket.

        “It’s no problem at all,” she replied, “Come again if you ever have any other botanical needs!”

        Caramel stepped outside, shielding the flowers from the rain. As he trotted away from Floral Fantasies, he bumped into a certain mint green unicorn and the irises dropped.

        Lyra started, stopping the bouquet just before it hit the mud. She then floated it back up and in front of Caramel. “Sorry, I should have-”

        “No, no, my fault.” He took the flowers, sliding them back in his jacket a tad more securely. “I was thinking about other things.”

        “Like Cloudkicker?” asked Lyra with a teasing smile.

        Caramel blinked, then looked back to Lyra. “Did I say Cloudkick- dang.”

        Lyra giggled. “She told me a few days ago. I think it’s great you two are dating!”

        “Funny, so do we.”

        Lyra giggled again. “Well, tell her I said ‘hi.’ Speaking of which, where is she?”

        “For your answer, please look up.”

        Lyra did so. “I don’t follow...”

“Yeah, I don’t really, either. Apparently, though, she’s gotta be outside all of today to keep an eye on the storm.”

        Lyra looked back to Caramel. “Why?”

        “Beats me, I’m not a weather pony.” He glanced at the pack on Lyra’s flank. “Going somewhere?”

        “Actually, I am. In fact, I should probably get on my way.”

“Well, it’s been nice talking to you.”

“Same to you.” Lyra trotted away from Caramel, subtly picking up her pace. After a few minutes, she found herself at Berry Punch’s house. She knocked, and was let in almost immediately.

“Hey, Mrs. Punch, sorry I’m late,” apologized Lyra as she trotted in and hung her coat on the wall, “I was just-”

        “Oh, no, it’s absolutely fine! Now, go on, Ruby’s already waiting for you.”

        Lyra nodded, trotting down the familiar hallway. “Hello, Ruby!” she greeted as she turned the corner into the living room.

        “Hi, Ms. Lyra,” replied the carnation colored filly, sitting with a lyre in her hooves.

        “How’s your week been? Have you been practicing?” Lyra began to set up, pulling a chair beside Ruby and unfolding her music stand.

        “Yes, and Mommy and Coronet keep telling me how good it sounds!”

        Lyra smiled as she pulled out a music book and her own instrument. “I’m sure it sounds wonderful.” She turned to the latest dog-eared page in the book. “Let’s play, and remember to keep in tempo! One, two, three, four and...”

        Lyra checked the clock. “I think that’s enough for today, Ruby. Alright, I want you to practice what we did on pages thirty-five and thirty-six, and keep working on your scales. I’ll see you next week.”

        “Bye-bye, Ms. Lyra!”

        Lyra grinned as she trotted towards the front door, putting on her raincoat before she stepped out. Trotting home, she stopped and grabbed a sandwich from the Sunflower Sammich Delicatessen, munching on it as she went (shielding it from the rain, of course). She trotted to and entered her house, resting on the couch for a few minutes before somepony knocked.

        She set her sandwich down and answered the door. “Oh, hi, Ditzy!”

        “Hello!” She handed Lyra a hoof-ful of letters.

        “Thanks, Ditzy. Are you flying alright in this weather?”

        Ditzy nodded.

        “Good to hear.” She paused. “Say, Ditzy, you haven’t been to Bon-Bon’s house yet, have you?”

        Ditzy shook her head.

        “Well, can you wait here for a minute? I have something for her.”

        Ditzy nodded.

        “Okay, I’ll be right back!” She turned and galloped to her room. She began tearing her desk drawers open, sifting through broken quills, worn-down pencils, and old composition paper she’d never used. Where did I...there!

        Opening the bottom most right drawer, she found the unsealed envelope she’d placed there the night before. Levitating it to eye level, she slid out the note inside and smiled.

        It wasn’t very poetic; Lyra’s writing skills had always been confined to musical areas. But one way or another it got out everything she should have told Bon-Bon that night.

        Letter in hoof, she galloped back to the front door, hoping that Ditzy hadn’t left. Her faith was justified.

        “Ditzy, do you...” She took a second to breathe from her galloping. “Do you think you can get this to Bon-Bon for me?”

        Ditzy nodded. “You can mount on me!”

        “Thanks. Take care, Ditzy.”

        “You, toe!”

        Ditzy turned and flew onto her next stop, bracing against the downpour. Even with a raincoat, the rain slithered through the smallest gaps in her hood and wing-sleeves, slowly soaking through her fur. It was unpleasant, sure, but she’d been through worse as mailpony.

        She landed in front of the next house and knocked. It was quickly answered by a light gray earth pony that bore an oddly striking resemblance to Whooves.

        “Good morning, Ditzy!” he exclaimed with a joyful energy, “Or is it afternoon? I can’t tell, my clock’s broken.”

        “Oh, when’d it bake?”

        “Three years ago. What’ve you got for me?”

        Ditzy reached into her bag and gave him a hoof-ful of letters, which he happily turned and dropped on the floor behind him. “Thanks, Ditzy, I’ll make sure to read ‘em later. Anyways, I heard Whooves was back in town?”

        Ditzy nodded. “I’ll troll him you say ‘hi.’”

        “Uh, actually, could you make it, ‘hi, you still owe Lucky a sno-cone?’”

        Ditzy blinked, then hesitantly nodded.

        “Super. Anyways, I better take a look at this mail. Have a good one, Ditzy!”

        “Tame to you!”

        Ditzy turned, quickly checking her list. She read off the next name, and put the paper away before the rain left so much as a single streak. She took off, blinking raindrops out of her eyes as she made her way to the next house.

        Ditzy knocked, standing patiently for a few moments before the door was opened by a well known, spiky-maned unicorn.

        “Special debauchery!”

        “Wow, thanks, Ditzy!” Vinyl Scratch handled the package like a relic, softly setting it on the hallway table. “I’ve been waiting weeks for these records. Thanks, again, Ditzy, thanks a whole load.”

        “You’re wanton!”

        Ditzy turned and checked her list again. A single raindrop managed to land on it before she could put it away.

        She jumped into the air and flew to her next destination, knocking as she landed at the door. A minute passed, and she knocked again. As she raised her hoof for the third time, she was finally answered by a rather bleary-eyed earth pony.

        “Oh, hi, Ditzy.” Ms. Cheerilee yawned, rubbing her eyes with a hoof as she took her mail with the other. “Sorry to keep you waiting, I just had a late night with some friends.”

        “What were you stewing?”

        The trashcan of empty bottles in the kitchen crossed her mind. “Oh, nothing exciting. Take care, Ditzy!”

        “Bye!” As she readied to leave, Ditzy, once again, took out her list.

        She sighed, letting a few drops splatter on the paper. Home seemed a dreadfully long way away, and home was the only place where she could read Dinky’s letter. Of course, that was assuming Dinky had written. If she hadn’t...

        Ditzy shook her head. My muffin wouldn’t forget.

        Would she?

        After what felt like centuries later, Ditzy trotted into her house, water dripping from both the inside and outside of her raincoat. She hung it up and galloped to the dining room table. Like yesterday, she turned up her mailbag and spread its remaining contents over the table. It was larger than it should have been; she must have forgotten some letters in her rush to get home.

        Undaunted, she sifted through the whole mess. Whooves trotted in seconds later, silently looking over her shoulder. She stopped.

        “Did you find it, love?” he whispered in her ear.

        His answer was soft sniffling as Ditzy’s head sank to the table, tears streaming from her eyes. He softly nuzzled her cheek. “I’m sorry.”

        Ditzy didn’t reply. Whooves stood there, listening to her cry as he nuzzled her damp cheek. After a heartbreaking few minutes, she spoke.

        “I m-miss h-her.”

        “I know. And she’ll be back tomorrow, right?” Whooves put up a smile in an attempt to comfort her.

        “R-right,” agreed Ditzy, “B-but...she s-said she’d-”

        Somepony knocked. Whooves looked up.

        “I’ll get it.” He trotted to the door, opening it to find an absolutely soaking wet earth pony with a plastic bag containing a small envelope clutched in his teeth.

        Lucky chucked the bag inside, right next to Whooves. “Good to see you, Whooves! You owe me a sno-cone. And Ditzy accidentally gave me this letter, I thought she might want it.”

        Whooves slid the letter out of its protective bag, turning it over. On the front, he could see the words:

        To Ditzy Doo in Ponyville, from Dinky Doo in Manehattan.

        Whooves smiled and looked up. “Lucky, for what you just did, I’ll buy you a bloody sno-cone machine. And why in Celestia’s name aren’t you wearing a raincoat?”

        “Well, I was just about to go outside when I thought that this would be the perfect time to take a walk and a shower all at the same time!” Without taking a breath, he continued: “Were you serious about that sno-cone machine?”

        Whooves thought for a moment. “Eh, why not? I owe you more than one. Seeya, Lucky, and thanks.”

        “Seeya, you’re welcome, and don’t forget about the-!”


        “-Machine.” Lucky shrugged, did a turn on one hoof and began trotting through the rain, whistling a miserably out of tune melody as he began daydreaming about his future sno-cone machine. He was so absorbed in his rainbow and pina colada flavored fantasies, he failed to notice the rose-maned filly not too far away.

How the hay is he so happy? wondered Applebloom, Ah’ve got a raincoat, and ah’m-


        She jumped. Aw, it’s just thunder, ya chicken. It’s like that filly in Big Mac’s story said, ya can’t- She stopped herself. No. Ah don’t wanna think about anything from mah lyin’, no-good, story-and-fritter-fergettin’ big broth-

        She yelped as her back hooves slipped in a particularly slick bit of mud, and screamed as one bent in a painfully wrong direction. The scream traveled up and through the window of a nearby building, startling the cyan earth pony inside.

        What the hay was that?

        Lotus Petal looked outside. The thickly falling rain and the darkness of the cloud cover made it nigh impossible to see anything further than a few yards away. Horse apples.

        A moment later, the lightning flashed, and with the brief moment of illumination, Petal managed to spy what appeared to be a fallen filly in the mud. Oh, dear...

        She grabbed her raincoat and set some towels on the waiting room couch. Putting her hood up, she galloped outside. Let’s see, where was...there she is.

        She trotted over, nudging the filly’s side. Applebloom recoiled from Petal’s touch, pain lancing up her side.

        “Are you alright, sweetie?” asked Petal gently.

        Applebloom turned her head and looked up, shaking her head. Petal, quietly noting that this filly seemed awfully familiar, continued: “Do you want me to get you out of the rain?”

        Ain’t like ah got many options. “Ayup.”

        Big Macintosh jerked awake, a loud rapping echoing through the house. He groaned, swinging himself out of bed and trotting to the door. He opened it, and felt his jaw drop a little.

        “I think this is yours,” said Petal with an awkward smile, gesturing to the filly beside her.

        Big Macintosh turned to his sister. Applebloom looked absolutely miserable, with a thin layer of mud caked on her belly and bandages wrapped over her back right leg. She stared intently at the ground, avoiding her brother’s gaze. Big Mac turned back to Petal, smiling slightly.

        “Thanks. C’mon in.” He stepped to the side. “You, too, sis.”

        Applebloom trotted in after Petal, limping on her back hoof. She was still making every effort not to look at her brother.

        “Make yerself at home.” He motioned to the living room. “Lemme just get mah sis to her room.”

        Petal nodded, her cheeks turning the lightest shade of pink. Big Macintosh turned, nudging his sister up the stairs. “Go on.”

        Applebloom took off her raincoat and left it on the bottom step as she trotted. Big Mac followed her all the way to her room, letting her open the door.

The first thing Big Mac noticed was the open window, rain dripping through and soaking everything nearby. The second was the bedsheet hanging out the same window, one end hastily wrapped around a bedpost. The scene was almost comically clichéd.

        Applebloom pulled herself onto her bed, turning and hanging her head. Big Mac sighed. Ah wish ah had my wheat about now. “Applebloom, ah’m sorry.”

        She crossed her hooves, stubbornly refusing to look up.

        “Ah really am. You shouldn’t’ve tried t’run away like that, but you had a right to be angry with me. Ah shouldn’t a’ said what ah did.” He paused. “Whatcha think, sis? Can ya fergive me?”

        Applebloom kept her gaze downwards.


        She still didn’t say anything, and the silence was becoming agonizing. Finally, she looked up, smiling. “Gimme those fritters and tell me those stories, and we’ll call it even.”

        Big Macintosh blinked, then began laughing softly. “That’s a deal, sis. First ah gotta go talk to Petal, then ah’ll get you those fritters and tell you as many stories as you want.”

        “Petal? The mare that got me here, y’mean?”


        Applebloom cocked her head to one side. “What’re y’all gonna do, kiss?”

        Big Mac’s heart skipped a beat at the thought. “No.”

        She shrugged. “Alright. Promise you’ll be back with those fritters?”

        He nodded as he turned and trotted to the stairs. “Ah promise.”

        Petal looked up at the sound of the creaking staircase. Okay, he’s coming back down. Just stay calm, act natural, don’t be a spaz...

        “Thanks for bringin’ her back.” Big Macintosh took a seat next to Lotus Petal, the usual lazy grin on his face.

        “Oh, it was no trouble.” Petal smiled. No blushing, no stuttering...maybe this’ll go well.

        “Either way, ah appreciate it.” He paused. “Anything ah can do for you? Ah s’pose ah owe ya, now.”

        She shook her head. “No, you don’t have-” Wait. “Actually...”


        “I was thinking, maybe...” She took a deep breath, her cheeks beginning to flush. “...Maybe you’d take me to dinner?”

        Her eyes shot down as she finished the question, afraid of the response.

        “Ah’d like nothin’ better,” said Big Mac without an iota of hesitation.

        Petal blinked, then looked back at Big Macintosh. Her cheeks flushed a deep fuchsia and an ear-to-ear smile broke out on her face. “Seven, tomorrow night?”

        He nodded. “Shore. Anyplace ya wanna go?”

        “Well, there was this one place I was thinking of, but then there’s that new restaurant in the square...”

        “Well, we can talk about it tomorrah. After what ah’ve had goin’ on, ah could use a spa day.”

        Petal smiled. “Then I guess I’ll see you, then.”

        “Eeyup.” He got up. “Here, lemme walk you back to the spa. Ah’ve gotta be someplace anyways.”

        She stood with him, grabbing her raincoat as he opened the door for her. Such a gentlecolt!

        Big Macintosh trotted out from Sugarcube Corner, a brown paper bag tucked securely in his raincoat. On his way home, he passed by a cream-colored earth pony who, in an attempt to calm herself, closed her eyes began breathing slowly, deeply...

        ...Aw, hay, that’s not helping, she thought. Maybe I, Bon-Bon, you’re not backing out of this one.

        She kept trotting, each step making her even less certain about what she would do. It’s been two days. It’s not like she’d still be interested.

        But there’s no harm in trying, right?

        Except maybe losing your friendship completely.

        It’s falling apart as it is.

        Her mind continued to wrestle with itself all the way up to Lyra’s door. She knocked, and it opened almost immediately. She never answers it this quickly.

        “Hi, Bon-Bon!” Lyra seemed ecstatic, yet oddly unsurprised to find Bon-Bon there. “Want to come in?”

        “Yes, thank you.” Bon-Bon trotted in, hanging her raincoat on the wall. She followed Lyra, who looked to have something of a spring in her step.

        “So, what brought you over?” Lyra took a seat on her couch, smiling. Bon-Bon did the same, not smiling.

        “Well, first, I wanted to say thanks for getting me home yesterday.” She snorted a laugh. “And sorry for ruining our lunch.”

        Lyra scoffed. “Please, you ruined it? Did you even hear me when I was trying to make that joke?”

        Bon-Bon chuckled, and Lyra joined in. For the first time since that morning three days ago, things felt almost normal between them. It made Bon-Bon wonder if what she came here to do would be worth the risk of screwing it all up again.

        It is.


        Do it.


        Just do it.


        “And second...” Bon-Bon sighed. “Lyra, I...”

        Bon-Bon paused as Lyra turned sharply. Her eyes were wide, but they didn’t look worried or fearful. They seemed almost...hopeful? “Yeah?”

        “Lyra...I was thinking yesterday about everything you said. And I decided something.”

        Both their hearts began to race; one with anticipation, one with nervousness.

        “I decided that I don’t want things to go back to normal.”

        Lyra’s heart skipped a beat, and for one terrifying second, she thought she was going to scream. Bon-Bon, meanwhile, smiled softly.

        “Because I decided something else, too. I decided...” She chuckled. “I like you, too, Lyra.”

        Lyra blinked. She then threw herself onto Bon-Bon, wrapping her in a hug with force equal to most mechanical vices. Finally, seconds before Bon-Bon would have most likely fainted from oxygen deprivation, Lyra let go with a beaming smile covering her face.

        “Then how about our first real date?” She jumped up, speed-trotting to the door and grabbing her raincoat. “Sugarcube Corner? I’ll buy.” Bon-Bon, wheezing but smiling, nodded as she followed the mint green unicorn. Lyra opened the door, gleefully trotting beside Bon-Bon.

        “So what’d you think when you read my letter?” she asked.

        Bon-Bon shot Lyra a quizzical look. “What letter?”

        Lyra froze in mid-trot.

Bon-Bon stopped beside her. “Why?” she asked, “What was mmph!

        For the second time this week, Lyra found herself spontaneously locking her lips to a shocked Bon-Bon. The sight was enough to turn the head of a certain lavender pegasus flying past on her way home after a long day.

        “That’s...” muttered Cloudkicker, smiling inwardly, “Actually unsurprising.”

        She flew to her door, trotting in and tossing her goggles to the side. Glad to be home.

        After a hot shower and a thorough drying off, Cloudkicker trotted to her living room, gladly setting herself on a couch that had never felt more comfortable before that moment. She closed her eyes, giving a contented sigh.

        Now that’s all over with, she though, I can just kick back, relax, and-

        Her eyes shot open as somepony knocked. Or not.

        She sighed, sliding off the couch and trotting to the door. Opening it, a bouquet of the twelve brightest flowers she’d ever laid eyes on was pushed in her direction.

        “For you,” came the muffled voice behind them.

        Cloudkicker smiled. “This is a surprise.”

        “Wouldn’t be as fun if it wasn’t. Can I come in?”

        “Make yourself at home. Here, let me put these in something.” She took the flowers, stepping aside as Caramel entered. She trotted into the kitchen as he trotted into the living room, taking a seat on the couch. He took the saddlebag off his flank, setting it on the coffee table. He looked around inquisitively.

        Really nice house, he thought. He smirked. Sure make my place look like a pile of-

        CRASH. “I’m alright!”

        “Need any help?”

        “No, I-” CRASH. “Yes.”

        Caramel chuckled, jumping off the couch and moving to the kitchen.

        Ten minutes and a pile of shattered glass later, they trotted back into the living room together. Cloudkicker glanced at the saddlebag on the previously vacant coffee table. “What’s in there?”

        Caramel smiled. “Well, I figured after a miserable day, you’d want to relax a bit. I figured I’d help.” He unbuckled the top, sliding out a still warm tray of iced brownies and a carefully-selected assortment of DVD’s.

        Cloudkicker blinked, then turned to Caramel.

        “And you say?” he asked teasingly.

        Cloudkicker’s reply consisted of jumping on top of a wide-eyed Caramel and nearly smothering him with a very long and very wet kiss. Finally, she pulled off of him, smiling. “Thank you.”

        Caramel grinned smugly. “You’re welcome.”

        For the first time in four days, Luna was able to bring about her night over a rather serene and happy Ponyville.

        One pony was still up, quietly reading out loud to his sister as she merrily munched away on a bag of apple fritters. Another pony had fallen asleep after being relentlessly interrogated by her sisters as to every detail of what had happened. Another had fallen asleep in her lover’s hooves, quietly crying tears of joy with a carefully written letter beside her. Two ponies had fallen asleep thinking of one another, each one happy at the new development between them.

        And two ponies had lovingly fallen asleep on each other’s shoulders as the television before them painted them in rich, fluorescent light.

        Katalus, here, with the latest scoop: I ain’t done just yet. I promised you four days, yes, but I seem to remember also mentioning the possibility of an epilogue. I’m going to turn that ‘possibility’ into a ‘certainty,’ and give you all a little dessert.

        Now, this’ll be at least another week, seeing as I’m heading somewhere for a bit o’ vacation. But don’t you worry; I’ll be writing the entire time I’m gone. Or most of it, at the least. And as soon as I get back, I’ll type up what I have for you bronies of EquestriaDaily and DeviantArt to see.

        Anyways, hope you enjoyed Day Four, and I hope you enjoy the epilogue when it’s up. It’s been a great time writing this, and I hope to finish it off in style.

        Oh, and before I forget: credit where credit is due. The similarities between Lucky in this story and Lucky in ChickenVortex’s fantastic story ‘Getting Lucky’ are no coincidence. So, credit for that character idea goes straight to ChickenVortex.

        And if you’re reading this, ChickenVortex, I hope you find the homage flattering (or at least bearable). If you don’t, please don’t hit me. Or feed me a poisoned sno-cone.

-Katalus Talrius