MY FIRST PARTY
Chapter 2: Return
MLP:FiM Fan Fiction
By: Scy Storm
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Sorry for the wait, everypony! Writing is a slow process for me, given my full time job and frequent creative blocks. Plus, this is a pretty long chapter. ;) Hope you enjoy.
"So that's the whole story... We're leaving tomorrow."
Twilight Sparkle rubbed her hoof across her chin, staring up at the ceiling of her library in thought. Rainbow Dash stared back at her silently, letting her process the entire story she had just heard. "It's hard to believe that Pinkie Pie of all ponies could get that sad," Twilight finally spoke.
"Yeah, I know... I'm really glad I snapped her out of it. Now we just need to hunt down her family so this doesn't happen again."
"I'm a little confused though, Rainbow. Didn't she once say she lived on a rock farm outside Ponyville?"
Dash chuckled softly and rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. "Well, you know Pinkie Pie. When she said 'outside Ponyville,' she didn't actually mean right outside..."
Twilight couldn't help but laugh a little. "I should have guessed. Where is it?"
"It's just outside Maresburg. I've never been there, but apparently it's a day's away by train."
The librarian nodded, though a curious look remained in her eyes. "So, you think you could be gone a week or two? I'm not sure if the one and only Rainbow Dash can survive being on a rock farm for that long."
Rainbow grinned with fake amusement. "Ha, ha, ha... The reason is her sisters. We think they grew up and moved away, so we need to find out where they are, then take more train rides."
"Are you sure you two can afford that?"
"We pooled our bits, and the Cakes helped out a little. I don't think we need very much, but it's fine."
Twilight nodded in reply, a smile curling across her face. She took a few steps forward and gave her friend an affectionate nuzzle. "It's very sweet of you to do this for her, Rainbow."
Dash felt her cheeks redden, the pegasus curling her face away from her friend's nuzzle, embarrassed. "Y-Yeah, whatever... She said she didn't want to be alone."
"I know you would have gone with her even if she didn't say that."
Rainbow smirked and forced an incredulous chuckle. Of course Twilight would be able to read her like a book. "A-Anyway, I've already told the other girls. I guess everything is set now."
Twilight nodded, still smiling. "I'm sure we'll all be there to see you two off."
Dash nodded in return, about to speak again, before both girls are surprised by a loud voice. "DASHIIIIE~!"
The front door of the library flew open, followed closely by a bouncing pink pony, two overstuffed saddlebags rattling with her movements. "Pinkie? What the hay is it?" Dash asked.
"You're done telling the girls, right? Well come on, silly filly, we gotta get ready to go! See, look, I got all the stuff I need!"
Rainbow looked at the absolutely packed saddlebags, wondering briefly what could possibly be in them. Wait, scratch that, she didn't want to know. How was she even bouncing with that much weight on her back? The pegasus groaned and pressed her hoof to her forehead. "Pinkie, we're not leaving until tomorrow, and I don't think we need all of that stuff..."
"But we're going on an ADVENTURE, Dashie! We need all sorts of stuff for an adventure! Haven't you ever been on an adventure before?" Pinkie ranted, apparently forgetting their various trips in the past.
Dash sighed audibly, taking a passing glance back at Twilight. The librarian was simply smiling and holding back her laughter with one hoof. Rainbow then walked forward, pressing her head against Pinkie as she did, forcibly pushing her out of the library. "Come on, Pinkie, we'll get ready together so I can limit the damage..."
"Oooh! Yay! Together! ... Wait, why would there be any damage?" Pinkie wondered out loud while sliding across the ground from Dash's pushing.
Twilight waited for Dash to clear the door before closing it with her magic, finally letting out a quick giggle and returning to her studies.
"Argh! I'm so bored!"
Rainbow paced back and forth across the floor of the train car, grumbling in annoyance. She was starting to get angry at herself for making Pinkie leave all that stuff back in Ponyville. Maybe there was something interesting among it all. She turned her gaze to the pink pony in question, who was lying on one of the beds and staring out the window of the moving train. She seemed mesmerized. "Oooh~!"
Dash stared at her. How long had she been laying there again? The pegasus couldn't recall. After a few moments of staring, she scooted up next to the earthmare, looking out the window. "What's got you so excited, Pinks?"
Pinkie giggled in reply. "Everything moves so fast! It's neeaaat."
Dash blinked a few times, staring at the moving scenery outside in confusion. Was it really enamoring Pinkie that much? How random could she get? "It's nothing special, Pinkie. You should try flying as fast as I do. Same thing."
"Oh Dashie, you silly filly! I don't have wings!"
The pegasus didn't even want to think up an answer to that comment. It would just hurt her head. She simply sighed and dropped her chin on her front hooves, staring out the window at the zipping scenery. The bed underneath her bounced slightly with the excited movements of her marefriend. Sometimes she really wished she could have just a little, tiny bit of Pinkie's personality. That little part that helped the pink pony find such joy in mundane things. Maybe her days would be a little more fun that way.
Dash raised her head off her hooves when a thought then came to her head. It was a question she had been meaning to ask the earthmare. "Hey, Pinkie? How did you ever manage to survive that rock farm?"
For the first time in quite a while, Pinkie turned her head from the window, looking at the pegasus with her usual everlasting smile plastered on her face. "Survive? I wasn't in any danger, silly! Always have to be careful with rocks! They're not snowballs, you know."
Rainbow groaned and turned her eyes back to the pink mare. "I mean... How did you manage? It sounds so... boring! Plus all that stuff about no talking or laughter, or... fun."
Against all odds, Pinkie's smile faded. She turned her eyes downward, away from Dash's gaze. "Oh. Yeah, that stuff."
Dash felt her heart sink. "D-Don't get upset, Pinkie, I didn't mean to... Ugh! I'm sorry!"
Pinkie shook her head and looked back up at the pegasus, a softer smile appearing on her face. "It's okay, Dashie. I'm not going to go all depressed on you again, really. It was actually kind of easy to manage there, at least before I got my cutie mark."
Rainbow nodded, though she still felt a little unsettled by Pinkie's subdued speech. It was always weird to her to see the Princess of Random suddenly talk with a hint of seriousness. This happened to be a sensitive subject, however. "It didn't sound to me like you enjoyed it even before then, Pinks."
Pinkie sighed softly, leaning her face on a hoof, her eyes turning upward as if she were losing herself in thought. "The no talking and no laughter stuff was a rule when we were working, which was a lot of the time. We... didn't really talk much in the house though, unless it was just me and my sisters in our room. We were always afraid of annoying Mom and Dad too much. It was a lot easier when Granny Pie was still alive."
Dash lowered her ears at the mention of Pinkie's grandmother, mainly due to the knowledge of her no longer being around. She didn't know much about her, other than she taught Pinkie that famous little song of hers. "She was a lot nicer?"
"Nicer? I guess. She wanted to make sure we stayed happy after all the hard work, you know? She also home schooled us. Once she was gone, my mother filled the void, but it just wasn't the same. Mom was nice too, but sometimes she took after Dad, is all..."
Rainbow listened closely, eager to learn, holding back her feelings about Pinkie's demeanor. Home schooled? She didn't know about that detail. She didn't think it was important enough to ask about, though. "Granny Pie sounded great."
Pinkie smiled from her thoughts, offering Dash a gentle nod in response. "She was great. She's the one who taught us how to ice skate when winter came along. Also baking."
"Baking? I thought you learned that from Mr. and Mrs. Cake."
Pinkie shook her head with a grin, her trademark cheer seeming to return, if only for a moment. "Nope! I learned it from Granny and Mom. I even baked the treats for my first party. They just... weren't all that amazing. I definitely got better thanks to the Cakes!"
Dash couldn't help but smile, nodding in understanding. She found herself wishing she had talked to Pinkie more about these things before. It surprised her just how little she knew about her marefriend's past. Perhaps this whole journey was going to change all of that. While thinking of what to say next, however, she saw Pinkie's smile fade, a shiver going down the pink mare's spine. Dash immediately got concerned. Did she say too much? "Pinkie, if you want to stop talking about it, that's okay..."
Pinkie glanced out the window once more. "No, it's just... I'm really nervous, Dashie. I've... actually been trying to get my mind off it by watching the scenery, but I can't. Every bit this train moves, we're closer to my parents..."
The pegasus stared quietly at Pinkie for a moment, before reaching over with a hoof, stroking it through her bouncy mane. Pinkie closed her eyes gently and stopped shivering, her smile slowly returning. Dash's own smile started to return as well. "Just relax, Pinks. Everything will be okay. I promised you that."
The earthmare inhaled deeply, before releasing a pleasant sigh and nodding quietly in response. Dash chuckled under her own breath, slipping her hoof back down and looking out the window. The two were quiet for a few moments as the pegasus noted the sky beginning to show an orange glow. Had that much time really passed? She had always felt time went by slower when she was bored. "Well, maybe we should just turn in early. I bet by the time we wake up, we'll be there," Dash suggested.
Pinkie remained quiet for a moment, before suddenly snapping her eyes open with a loud gasp. "Ooh! Cuddles!"
Dash flinched from the sudden reaction. "Er? What?"
Pinkie turned to the pegasus with a wide grin, bouncing on the bed a little again. "Cuddles, Dashie! How long has it been since we slept all cuddly-wuddly together?"
A silly grin crept across Dash's face. So random... "Uh, a long time, I think, but..." she turned her attention to the bed below them, "... I dunno, these beds are kind of small. I'm not sure it'd work."
"I can solve that!"
Dash yelped in surprise when she was suddenly lifted off the bed by the surprising strength of the pink pony, nearly hitting her head on the bunk just above. The earthmare flopped the confused pegasus onto her back, before belly-flopping right on top of her, knocking the air out of Dash's lungs. Pinkie then squeezed her front hooves at the cyan pony's sides, rubbing her nose into her multicolored mane. Dash squirmed a little to get comfortable under the sudden presence, her face heating up in embarrassment. "Oof... Dang, Pinkie, I think you need to lay off the cupcakes for a while."
A sharp gasp pierced the air of the train car, Pinkie raising her head and staring down at the pegasus with a look of shock. "Rainbow Dash! Did you just call me FAT?!"
Rainbow stared into those wide blue eyes and grinned widely, prodding at Pinkie's midsection with a hoof as if to test her words. "I wouldn't say faaaat... but at least chubby."
Pinkie gasped again, pushing her hooves down onto Dash's chest, pinning her down staring daggers down at her. "You take that back!"
Dash grinned even wider, wiggling and prodding at her again even harder. "Oh yeah? What're you gonna do about it, Piggy Pie?"
A look of absolute horror crossed Pinkie's face, quickly returning back to one of anger. Then, a wide, almost menacing grin went over her face as her hooves pushed down harder. "What am I gonna do?! I'm gonna eat you, too!"
In an instant, Pinkie shoved her face downward, nipping her teeth onto one of Dash's ears and tugging hard. Dash gasped, and began to giggle uncontrollably, otherwise attempting to feign being in pain. "No, noooo! Not that! Anything but that!"
Pinkie growled in an animalistic manner, nibbling the pegasus' ear while she tugged it about. "Grrr, Piggy Pie hungry!" she mumbled out through her teeth.
Dash's face lit up even more, squirming uncontrollably from the 'torture,' unable to stop her giggles. "Mercy, mercy! Have mercy on me!"
"Then you take it baaack!" Pinkie spoke again, before gently chomping on almost the entire ear.
Rainbow practically squeaked, squirming even harder the earthmare's hooves. "Hehehe, I give, I GIVE! I take it back!!"
Pinkie grinned widely, finally letting go of the pegasus' ear as Dash began to pant, her body trying to calm down. She was given little time to recover before Pinkie suddenly pressed their muzzles into a firm kiss, her hooves slipping off of Dash's chest, relieving the pressure she had put there before. Dash's eyes went wide for a brief moment, before she fluttered them closed, submitting to the earthmare's forceful embrace and wiggling her hooves around her pink form. Pinkie's chest rumbled, the pink mare keeping up the kiss for a few moments before abruptly breaking it, slipping her hooves around the cyan pony and nuzzling hard into her neck. "Cuuuuddlllllles..." she mumbled out in a drunkenly happy tone of voice.
Dash panted into the open air, her head leaning back instinctively when her neck was nuzzled. She stared up at the wooden bottom of the bed above her and released a blissful sigh, tightening her hug on the cuddly earthpony. This was much better than pacing around, and it had the side effect of keeping Pinkie in high spirits. Why hadn't she just thought of this before? Priorities next time, Dashie. Should get us both through this easier.
Sand. Sand and rocks. Mostly the sand. That's about all Rainbow Dash could think of as she gazed upon the township of Maresburg. The entire modest settler town appeared to reside on a single main road, houses flanking both sides of it, stretching out a fair bit toward the mountain range in the distance. All of the houses were simple wooden structures of a... classical design, something like that? Where had she seen something like it before? Oh, that's right. "Are you sure we didn't take the train to Appleloosa again?" she asked the pink pony walking next to her.
Pinkie let out a snorting giggle. "Of course not, silly! No pushy yellow stallions pushing us around this time."
"I keep expecting him to pop up any second now..."
It did look remarkably similar. Then again, Pinkie did say this was a settler town. Long before she was born, some settler ponies made a caravan and formed the town to do some mining in the nearby mountain range, hoping to strike it rich. The ones that found enough riches simply moved away to bigger places. The others gathered enough resources to live a comfortable life, and a simple community banded together and continued to modestly thrive, even as the two visitors walked through. "I can't imagine living in a desert like this," Rainbow commented, voicing her inner thoughts.
"Well... Some just don't have a choice, Dashie. We're pretty far away from the bigger towns."
Various ponies walked the road of the modest town, and almost all of them glanced toward the visitors strolling through. Dash figured everypony in the small town must know each other, and outsiders weren't very common. Curiously, some of the stares appeared to be ones of outright shock. Dash felt a little unsettled, but ignored it to try and keep up her conversation. "Didn't you say once that you didn't have magic items when you grew up? Or like, any kind of electricity?"
"Yep! My parents were against it. They would say that real earth ponies didn't need all those fancy things to live an honest life. It saved money too, I guess."
Dash grimaced. "I'm surprised you didn't leave earlier than you did..."
Pinkie frowned, glancing down at the ground. Rainbow caught it, entering a minor state of panic and attempting to apologize before Pinkie's voice halted her. "It wasn't too bad, Dashie. Really. You know those weren't my reasons for... leaving."
The pink pony began to quiver, her walking pace getting slower. Dash leaned over, bumping Pinkie's shoulder with her nose. "Don't fail on me now, kid. We're too close now."
Pinkie took a breath, regaining her composure. She turned her head back to Dash and gave one of her trademark smiles. "Pinkamena Diane Pie, correct?" there came a sudden voice.
Both of the mares gasped audibly and turned in the direction of the voice. On the porch of a nearby house, there sat a brown earthpony stallion with a black mane, reclined in a rocking chair, hindlegs dangling off the front. A golden, five-pointed star adorned the flank that the mares could see. His face was partially obscured by his wide-brimmed cowpony hat until he raised his head to look at the two, calm azure eyes focusing on Pinkie. The girls could see he was fairly aged by the wrinkles on his face. Pinkie suddenly felt a little uncomfortable. "Do I know you?" she asked with a headtilt.
"Likely not. You weren't seen in town much. But, I certainly know you. We only ever had one darling little pink filly who ran away from home."
Pinkie recoiled slightly and looked away. Dash raised an eyeridge as she stared down the older pony. "So are you the Maresburg sheriff or something?" the pegasus asked.
"Retired now, actually. I was still good ol' Sheriff Buck all them years ago when your friend there skedaddled out of town. I did my best to track her down, but, no luck. Never thought I'd see her again, that's for sure."
Pinkie raised her head again, regarding the ex-sheriff with a look of surprise. "You tried to find me?"
"'Course I did. Your parents were rather worried about ya. I felt terrible about never succeedin'."
Pinkie continued to stare in slight shock, her eyes shifting over to the cyan pegasus at her side. Rainbow glanced over at her at nearly the same moment, and slowly smiled a knowing smile. Pinkie seemed to understand, a gentle smile creeping over her face as well. The old pony nearby lowered his head once more, his features once again hidden by the hat he wore. "They're still there," he spoke, ending the spell of silence.
The two mares glanced his direction once more. "What? You mean...?" Pinkie asked.
He nodded a slow nod. "Right where you left them. I'm sure they got a lot to say to you. Don't waste anymore time with me, ya hear?"
The girls didn't need to be told twice. They looked at each other once more, Pinkie's eyes seeming to cycle through various emotions; fear, hope, sadness, and perhaps a little excitement. Dash replied silently with a warm smile. New knowledge had dawned on them, but true confirmation was required. Without another word to the ex-sheriff, the two continued their trek through the rest of the small town, silently pondering what they'd do when the moment happened.
It didn't take long to reach the end of the town. Dash could see the farm sitting in the distance, flanking the nearby hills. One lonely house with one lonely silo, surrounded by a fairly empty field of desert. It was just like Pinkie described it in her stories, aside from the rock amount. For what was apparently a rock farm, there didn't actually seem to be a lot of them. Then again, the concept of a rock farm was completely lost on Dash. She had asked Pinkie about it, but Pinkie never had a straight answer for why her parents made her move rocks around. She would ask again, but it wasn't the time for that.
Dash took passing glances at the pink pony, watching her begin to quiver harder the farther they got from the town, ever closer to her childhood home. Her emotions were gathering. It was as if her body still wanted her to run away, to hide from what was necessary, like she did for so long. Rainbow couldn't remain quiet anymore. "You holding up, Pinks?"
Pinkie stopped walking, surprising the pegasus. She took a deep breath and exhaled, turning to look at the cyan pony with desperate eyes. "I'm still nervous, Dashie. I know I shouldn't be after what the sheriff said, but..."
Rainbow smiled a sweet smile, placing one hoof against Pinkie's leg. "I'm here for you. Okay? I promise it'll be okay. Just like I said before we came here."
Pinkie forced a small smile, and simply nodded. The two resumed walking the remaining distance to the house, Pinkie soon finding herself sitting right in front of the door. She turned and looked over her shoulder one last time at Rainbow, who was waiting several feet away, not wanting to get in the way of what was to come. With much reservation and a shaky hoof, Pinkie clopped a few times upon the door's surface. Then, she waited. A few simple moments felt like agony, the world around the two visitors feeling all too quiet.
A gentle clicking noise broke the silence, the door opening up, and a loud gasp tearing through the air. There stood an elder, pale gray earthpony, a fair degree smaller in size than her visitor. Her turquoise mane was tied into a top bun, and the image of three rocks adorned her flank. Small, golden eyeglasses were draped on the end of her snout, situated in front of bright blue eyes that were as wide as eyes could be. She stared with utter disbelief at the pink pony sitting before her, mouth agape, lower jaw quivering. "P...Pinkamena?" she finally spoke, her voice almost too quiet to understand.
For the first time in so many years, Pinkie laid eyes on her mother. Any desire her body had to run away was gone; it was too late to do so. She stared, her body unable to move aside from a gentle quivering. She tried to force a smile, but it just wouldn't come out. "H-Hi Mom..." she replied, also at a near whisper.
The gray pony took a few steps forward, eyes staring directly into her daughter's own. She shakily raised her forehooves, placing them on Pinkie's shoulders. Immediately, fresh tears slid down her face. She stuttered out another gasp and bit her lower lip, before leaning herself forward, her forelegs wrapping as tight as she could muster around the pink pony, her face buried into her neck. "My... My baby! You're here, y-you're ALIVE!!"
Pinkie officially lost it. She wrapped her own forelegs around her dam, consciously being careful about the elder pony's age. She pressed her nose to her mother's head, tears freely streaming down her face. "Mommyyyy! I'm so sorry, I'm so SORRY!! I love you and I don't hate you and I'm sorry for running away and... and...." she rambled, her voice trailing off into sobs.
Roxy gently rocked her daughter back and forth in their embrace, feeling Pinkie's chest heaving. She tried her best to keep some semblance of composure as her poor daughter released years of pent-up emotion. "My darling Pinkamena... I m-missed you so much..." she spoke, her voice barely audible.
"Oohhh I missed you, I missed you!! I'm such a terrible, horrible pony, please forgive me, Mommy!"
Roxy raised one of her hooves up, stroking it through her daughter's mane. "Shhh... Don't say that, dear, it's okay..."
Pinkie tried to come up with every reason why it wasn't okay, but she couldn't. She was with her mother again, the old mare trying what she could to comfort her, even with her own state of emotion. Then, there came a heavy clopping noise. Pinkie gasped and raised her head, looking inside her childhood home. There, she saw her father, having just come down the stairs at the sound of the commotion. Dash managed to get a look at him. He was large brown earthpony with a gray mane and sideburns, a pickaxe adorning his flank. He stood at the foot of the stairs, his face in shock at what he was seeing. Slowly, he began to walk forward.
Roxy heard him coming, and hesitantly slipped out of the hug with her daughter, moving to the side and out of the way. Clyde stopped only a few feet from Pinkie, the two staring at each other in silence. She was apprehensive and fearful, despite what just happened with her mother. His face remained entirely unreadable aside from his shock, until slowly but surely, his eyes began to water, his lower jaw quivering. That's exactly what Pinkie needed to see. "D-Daddy!!" she screamed, practically leaping forward.
The pink pony latched onto her sire and buried her face into his neck, sobbing all over again. "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!! I love you Daddy, I love you and I don't hate you, I didn't mean it, I promise I didn't mean it!!"
Clyde reached up with one hoof, stroking it over her mane slowly and firmly. Pinkie immediately stopped rambling, and saw fit to just cry away the rest of her pent-up emotions into her estranged sire. Clyde said nothing; he simply held her close, eyes watery, a slow smile crossing his muzzle.
Rainbow Dash slid a hoof across her cheeks, smiling tenderly. This is what she had said would happen. It was what she promised. Though really, she had convinced herself as much as she did Pinkie. Everything just might work out after all. "Who might you be, young lady?"
Dash gasped, glancing toward Pinkie's mother, who was adjusting the glasses on her nose. "O-Oh, I'm Rainbow Dash. I'm Pinkie's... friend. I came with her here."
Roxy brandished a tissue to use on her face, looking at the pegasus in confusion. "Whatever for?"
"I convinced her to do this, and... she didn't want to be alone." Rainbow suddenly felt very awkward. She turned to leave and extended her wings. "L-Look, I'll just come back later, okay?"
"Wait! Don't leave, please."
Rainbow halted herself and turned back to the earthpony, who was smiling warmly. "Please stay. If you helped bring my daughter back to me, then the very least I can offer you is my hospitality."
Dash was happy to hear that, since she didn't actually want to leave Pinkie, but the whole situation still felt awkward. She trotted up to the door, eyes on the father and daughter still holding each other inside. "Are... you sure?"
Roxy nodded as she slid the tissue over her cheeks. "Quite sure, my dear. Come inside."
Finally convinced, Rainbow walked into the quaint home, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the moment. With a happy sigh, Roxy closed the front door.
"Then Rainbow Dash got all fed up and zipped in there and kicked the dragon riiiiight in the face, full speed! He was sooooooo mad!"
Dash nearly spit out her drink. "Jeez, Pinks, did you have to mention that part?"
Pinkie regarded the pegasus with a confused look. "What? You always brag about it to everypony!"
Rainbow looked away. "Well... Y-Yeah. This is kind of weird, though..."
Roxy gently laughed at the display before her. "Well, you two certainly live an exciting life, don't you?"
Pinkie turned to her mother and nodded rapidly with a grin on her face. Dash merely shrugged, and made no verbal comment. Pinkie had spent the last... however long it had been, sharing as many stories as she could in a random order with her listening parents. Dash forgot to take count of how many breaths Pinkie had taken during the entire spiel. It couldn't have been very many, by her estimation. Most of the stories were parties she had held, both before and after she was friends with Dash. Plus, of course, the more exciting stories like defeating Nightmare Moon, the Grand Galloping Gala, and the dragon in the mountain. Dash wasn't even sure if Roxy Pie was believing those particular stories. "We should toooooootally go on more adventures. I mean this is sort of an adventure we're on right now, but the other girls aren't here so it's not a SUPER adventure or anything! We should plan another adventure when we're back in Ponyville, Dashie!" Pinkie rambled.
"Sure, sounds great, Pinks..." Dash said, dismissively.
For what must have been the thousandth time, Dash glanced around the main floor of the home. It couldn't have been more... quaint? That may be what Rarity would say. A few couches, one of which she and Pinkie sat on. Her father sat on a large comforter chair. Some tables and dressers aligned the walls, with various family knickknacks sitting atop of them. Roxy herself stood in the kitchen area, having previously prepared tea that the group had been drinking during Pinkie's non-stop storytelling. It was also indeed true that not a single magical or electric light source existed in the house. Instead, various candle lamps were attached to the walls, a few of them lit to provide some extra light. Dash quietly wondered once more how Pinkie survived her youth. She then mentally chastised herself for the thought. "I wish this place was even close to that exciting, girls. Maresburg can be simply dreadful at times, but it's fine for an old soul like me," Roxy mused.
"You're not thaaaat old, Mom!"
"You flatter me, dear. The point is, I'm not a young filly with a life to live anymore. Not that I ever went around fighting dragons, mind you."
Dash felt herself blushing, and immediately hated it. "H-How long have you been here doing rock farming anyway?" she asked, trying to change the subject.
Roxy turned her eyes to the ceiling in thought, as she was cleaning up her implements on the kitchen counter. "Hmm... I'm afraid I don't have an accurate number for you. Granted, I never did much of the farming here. I did appraise the rocks themselves, as well as any gemstones we recovered. That's my talent, not the physical work part."
Dash rubbed her hoof under her chin. "I... guess that makes sense. ... Hey, you know, what was the rock farming for, anyway? We have a friend who farms apples, but I've never heard of rock farming."
The pink mare nearby gasped a little bit. "You're right, Dashie! Not even me or my sisters knew what the hay we were doing," she noted.
Roxy thought quietly for a moment, before turning her head to look at her husband. "I think your father would be best at explaining that."
The two fillies turned their attention to the stallion sitting in the chair across the room, staring at the wall. It was then that Dash realized Pinkie's father had been eerily silent the entire time they'd been at the home. He never even spoke to Pinkie when she was still crying earlier. Roxy likely knew already, hence her diversion. Clyde turned his glance away from the wall when he realized all the attention was suddenly focused on him. He glanced briefly at both curious girls, before turning his gaze back to the wall. "That's not important. Not anymore," he spoke.
Dash was taken aback a bit by his voice. His tone was deep, yet tender, going against his large and somewhat grizzled appearance. He also sounded... very sorrowful. Pinkie bounced just slightly on the couch next to Dashie, unfazed by the tone of her father's voice. "Aww, come on! Tell us! We're soooo curious!"
"Clyde dear, go ahead." Roxy spoke.
The elder stallion glanced at his wife for a moment, before silently giving in, adjusting his seated position slightly. "We were farming the rocks for gemstones."
Pinkie and Dash looked at each other in confusion, quickly turning their attention back to him. "Huh? Then why were we moving them around the field all the time?" Pinkie asked.
Clyde shifted again. He seemed rather uncomfortable to be speaking on the subject. "I followed my father's belief that regular shifting of the rocks promoted better growth of the gemstones within them. To him, it varied depending on the season and conditions of given days."
Dash tilted her head. "That... sounds weird. Was it magic?"
Pinkie perked up. "Ooh! Is that kinda like how Mom would make you move the furniture to different places? Are there gems growing in the cushions?!" she asked, slipping off the couch and shoving her head underneath one of said cushions.
Roxy only laughed, an embarrassed blush crossing her face. "No, dear, that... was something unrelated."
A deep sigh sounded from her husband, the elder stallion's head hanging. "It wasn't magic. It was foolish and never actually worked. Any gemstones we got from those rocks were created at their own rate, and were probably like that years before we broke up the rocks. I worked my girls so hard for nothing."
A silence came over the room. Dash suddenly felt very uncomfortable. Is that why Clyde had been quiet this whole time? There came a gentle clopping of hooves on the floor, as Pinkie strolled over to her father, standing in front of his chair. Clyde raised his head up, staring at his daughter sadly. Pinkie herself had a look on her face showing a mixture of sadness and concern. "Why have you been so quiet, Daddy?" she asked, tenderly.
Just like Dash, she had noticed how quiet her father had been the entire day. Clyde stared at her for a moment, before leaning back in his chair and looking away. "Just... a lot of thinking."
He closed his eyes. "About how much I don't deserve this."
A slight gasp was heard from the elder mare in the kitchen area. "Clyde dear, don't say such things."
"It's true, Roxanne. I was a terrible father. You were there, you saw everything."
"Don't take all the blame in this. I wasn't the best mother myself, you know."
Clyde opened his eyes to turn his gaze toward his wife. "That was only because of me. I exerted my will even when you wanted me to let off. Instead of understanding what my girls were going through, I remained stubborn and angry, sticking to a hopeless family tradition. I hardly deserved the love of my youngest two daughters, I certainly don't deserve the love of my eldest!"
His eyes widened a bit when he felt a soft nuzzling on his hoof. He looked downward to see Pinkie gently nuzzling it, pulling her face away and looking up at him again once she had his attention. Her eyes shone with sadness. "Why don't you deserve it?" she asked, softly.
The stallion's face quivered slightly at the look on her face. He sighed softly, and looked away from her once more. "I drove you away from me. Never in my life would I have expected one of my daughters to run away from me. One of my own kin would rather risk her life out in the unknown world than spend another minute with me. It... It ruined me, Pinkamena."
She leaned her face against his hoof in a gentle nuzzle again. He flinched slightly, but otherwise ignored it and continued. "We tried to find out where you went, but we and the Maresburg sheriff could only do so much. My entire world came down on me. I felt I would never see you again. Later, I... felt that was best. Your life was terrible here. Now, here you are in front of me, with all your stories about your experiences. Is that why you say you still love me, Pinkamena? Because I freed you?"
Pinkie suddenly hopped her forehooves onto his chair, surprising the stallion with a nuzzle across his nose. He looked at her again. She stared at him with watery eyes, a smile adorning her face despite her demeanor otherwise. "No. I love you because you're my father. You put me in this world and I did a terrible thing by making you feel like this. You deserved to know I was still alive, and that I still loved you. So did Mom."
Clyde stared into her eyes, silent for a time. Eventually, gentle tears fell from his eyes and slid down his cheeks. "I... I love you too, Pinkamena. You've grown into such a beautiful young lady. I... I wish I could have seen it happen."
Pinkie sniffled, leaning her face forward and rubbing cheeks with her sire. "I'm sorry I took this long, Daddy..."
"You've done enough apologizing. You don't need to be sorry. As for me... there's not enough apologies I can give to you for how I was."
"I forgive you, Daddy. I promise! I don't want you to be sad anymore."
Their faces pulled away from each other. "You may forgive me, but it will be a while before I can forgive myself..."
Roxy suddenly spoke up. "Clyde, dearest. You should focus on the brighter side of this whole mess."
Pinkie slipped off of her father's lap, as her mother walked closer to the two of them, smiling warmly. "What's that, Mom?"
"It's true that our separation was a very sad event, but you did go on to live a much happier life because of it. The other thing, however, is you helped your sisters get a better life."
Pinkie blinked a few times, then gasped loudly. "Omigosh, my sisters! I've been so caught up in you guys that I forgot about them!"
Rainbow Dash, who had been quiet during this whole event, decided to speak up finally, if only to relieve her awkwardness of being stuck as a spectator. "I guess they're not here anymore, right?"
Roxy shook her head. "No, they're not. Clyde, why don't you tell them?"
The stallion nodded, straightening his posture. "After Pinkamena ran away, we were crushed. When we couldn't find her, we were crushed even more. I took some time to re-evaluate my whole life and how I had been acting. Once I saw all the errors of my ways, I resolved to make life better for the two daughters I had left. One of the first things we did was let them go to the school in town."
"Ooh, the school? As in, not homeschooling?" Pinkie asked.
Clyde nodded. "I believed the only education you needed was from us, on all the necessary subjects, as well as the rock farming business. I came to realize, however, that rock farming wasn't the life for such beautiful girls as my daughters. We were never able to have a son for me to raise in my image, so I forced the life on the three of you. It was wrong of me. You had instead found your calling in the world, Pinkamena, so I decided to let your sisters go out and discover their own, while getting a real education and making whatever friends they could."
Pinkie sat on the floor in front of him, staring and listening to his story with utmost interest. "Did it work? Did they get their cutie marks and all that?"
"Oh yes they did, eventually. They found their place in this world, and they even continued to help me farm, against my better wishes. I did not overwork them. Eventually, I realized how pointless this rock farming was, and I stopped doing it. Instead, I went out to do some real mining in the mountains. I didn't earn the mark on my flank by pushing rocks around a field."
"I told him he was wasting his time. Those mountains had been stripped bare long ago by Maresburg settlers. Oh how wrong I was," Roxy spoke.
Clyde nodded once. "I stumbled upon a hay of a gemstone cache. Biggest I'd ever seen. I mined them out myself, and sold them on the market to anypony who wanted them. Lots of fancy places came calling. Eventually, I mined all of the good rocks we still had outside, then sold off those gems. I made enough money for us to retire, and to help out this town we live in. Most of all, however, I was able to give my daughters the money they needed to move away and make a life for themselves. That's what happened to your sisters, Pinkamena."
Pinkie seemed a little stunned. "I... I caused all that?"
Her mother gently hugged her from behind. "Yes, dear. I know you feel terrible for leaving all of us, but perhaps... everything turned out better because of it. You and your sisters are living great lives now, and we couldn't be happier for you."
Pinkie smiled gently at the new revelation, though her smile faded a bit as she looked upon her father. "Daddy... Life seems to be a lot better now, for all of us. I'm here now, and I love you... Can you please try to forgive yourself? Pretty please?"
Clyde stared at his eldest daughter. For the first time since they first arrived, Pinkie and Dash saw a gentle smile curl across his face. "I'll do my best, Pinkamena."
The pink mare smiled brightly, slipping forward to hug her sire tenderly. "That's all I ask..."
The stallion gently returned her hug, holding her close for several moments. Roxy and Dash observed the proceedings with bright smiles. Dash herself felt so happy that she got Pinkie this far. The entire day possibly couldn't have gone any better. The two separated from their hug after a few moments, and Roxy spoke up. "I should probably start on dinner, eventually... But first, I still have a lot of treat ingredients hanging around here I haven't used in quite a while. Would you like to show me some of your new baking skills, Pinkamena, while I work?"
Pinkie gasped widely and zipped past her mother into the kitchen, a chef's hat having materialized on her head through unknown means. "Would I EVER!"
Her parents were taken aback by her sudden transformation to Party Pony Pinkie. Dash wasn't in the least bit phased. Roxy finally just laughed, and walked to her daughter's side. "Let's try not to make too much of a mess, okay?"
Dash laughed aloud. "Good luck with that..."
The cyan pegasus shifted under her covers. Energy begin to fill her muscles. She groaned gently, not wanting it, wanting instead to keep sleeping. Finally, she raised her head up, eyes trying to adjust to the darkness around her. She had nothing to relight the candle on the lamp, of course. Her attention naturally turned to the window. The very start of Celestia's sun was beginning to show, the faintest of orange light spilling into the room, which happened to be Pinkie's childhood bedroom. She gently groaned again. What the hay... Why are you getting up this early, body? I'm on work leave...
She sighed, turning her eyes to the pink mare curled up next to her. Although she wasn't very visible, Dash was able to see the serene look on her face as she slept peacefully, and like a rock, as was normal. A warm smile curled across the pegasus' face. She leaned her head down and planted a long kiss on her marefriend's cheek, before slipping out of the covers. She landed to all fours on the floor and stretched, a few of her joints gently cracking and loosening. Well, can't get back to sleep. Might as well make the best of it.
She decided immediately that downstairs was likely too dark. She went to the window instead, manipulating it open, and slipping outside. The morning air was very cool, possibly a little too chilly for most ponies, but not for a pegasus like her. She handled sky high cold temperatures all the time. To her, this was a perfect morning. She gently fluttered down to the ground in front of the Pie family home, keeping her eyes trained on the coming sunrise. Been a while since I watched one of these. I really need to get Pinkie up early one day so we can watch one together.
"You're up early."
Dash nearly leaped out of her coat. She turned around to see Clyde Pie looking at her, seated on a wooden bench near the front door of his home, a sprig of wheat hanging out of his lips. A wide-brimmed black hat also adorned his head, which he was not wearing in the house the previous day. The pegasus smiled awkwardly. "Err... Yeah, heheh. I have to wake up early for my job on some days. Sometimes I just can't avoid it..."
Clyde merely nodded, and then gestured toward the bench. "Good morning, then. Come have a seat. I wouldn't mind the company."
Rainbow Dash hesitated, but ultimately nodded and trotted toward her father-in-law of sorts, hopping up on the bench and sitting down. Both ponies turned their attention toward the rising sun, which was beginning to come over the horizon and enter the sky. "Why are you up this early?" Dash asked.
"Force of habit, much like you. I'm retired now, of course, but old habits die hard."
Dash nodded in response, the two going quiet again for a time, just watching the celestial body slowly rise into the atmosphere. After a few moments, Clyde spoke again. "I don't think I properly thanked you for helping my daughter return here."
The pegasus smiled and rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. "It's... no problem. Really. She asked me to do it."
Clyde nodded, unseen to the mare. "You two seem rather close."
Dash flinched ever so slightly. "Well we've known each other a few years or so now, heheh. She's one of my best friends. I'd do anything for my friends."
The elder stallion turned his gaze slightly to the mare at his side, regarding her in silence. Dash didn't look, but she could tell he was staring. The situation was beginning to get very awkward. "I get the feeling there's more to it than that," Clyde finally spoke.
Yep, definitely very awkward. Dash tried her best not to shake. "W-What do you mean? I don't know what you're insinuating, but I don't like it," Dash stated, unconvincingly.
To her surprise, a chuckle sounded from the stallion. "Relax, Rainbow. I already know."
Dash's eyes went wide, and she slowly turned to look at the stallion, meeting eyes with him. "Y... You know?"
He slowly nodded. "I figured it out."
Rainbow continued to regard him with shock. "You... figured it out? How did you figure it out?"
"Pinkie spoke rather fondly of you several times. I saw how you reacted to all of it, even though you tried your best to hide it. You also have those little nicknames for each other. And... the fact that you shared a bed was a rather large hint as well," Clyde explained, his face curling into a smile at his last observation.
Dash's face went red, and she looked away from the stallion. Pinkie had decided to hide their relationship until later, so it was a surprise the cover was blown so easily, and thoroughly. "You're... uh, good."
A deep, gentle chuckle sounded out of the earthpony. "There's no need to be embarrassed, Rainbow, or scared, for that matter."
The pegasus managed to look over at him again. "So... You're okay with it?"
Clyde's eyes were focused on the sunrise again. He was quiet for a moment, his wheat spring shifting position in his teeth. "I can't say I understand it very much, but I'm long past the point in my life where I'd have reacted poorly to such news. My daughter is a mystery to me now, but I'm learning more about the kind of mare she's become. This is just another part of that."
"That's... really great to hear, Mr. Pie."
Clyde closed his eyes softly. "I said the other day that Pinkamena running from me... It ruined me. However, thinking about it more deeply, I find it's a bit more than that. It ruined me, but that served to make me a better pony."
Dash slowly nodded, her awkwardness starting to lift as a gentle smile began to curl. "She... didn't want to say anything. Yet. I don't know when she intended for it."
The stallion opened his eyes again. "I can keep it to myself for now. She can tell us when she feels she's ready. It warms my heart to know she's happy with somepony, no matter who that pony is."
The pegasus nodded again, although she looked at him with a curious stare. "Well... Why are you telling me all of this then?"
Clyde's gaze turned back to the pegasus. Slowly, a warm, caring smile curled across his face. "I wanted to say... Take care of her, Rainbow Dash. I can tell by your presence here that you're very important to her, perhaps even an emotional pillar for her to lean on. You're important to her, and that makes you important to myself and my family. I couldn't ask for a better kind of pony to take care of my little girl."
Dash stared at him, her eyes threatening to mist up. A determined smile came across her muzzle. "Y-Yes sir. You can count on me."
Clyde nodded silently, the two turning their gazes back to the sunrise once more. They remained in silence for the rest of Celestia's sunrise, the pegasus never letting her smile go away as she bathed in the soothing rays. She became more determined than ever to see Pinkie through the end of this family journey, and perhaps bring the whole family closer together as a whole. Yet deep down, Dash knew she and Pinkie had more to learn about each other, as well. The hard part is over with, Pinkie. I'll be there to take out the rest of those little demons inside you. I promise.
TO BE CONTINUED...
MLP:FiM and all Characters/Locations Copyright © Hasbro & Lauren Faust
Characters/Locations used without permission