Pinkie Pie was in the nursery pulling a blanket over the now sleeping Cake twins, “Sweet dreams little Cakes,” Pinkie said quietly before leaving them to take their nap.
At that moment, Mr. and Mrs. Cake had returned to a clean home once again. Pinkie Pie has proven just how responsible she is when she's foalsitting their children, “Once again, you've done a great job taking care of the twins for us,” Mr. Cake said.
“I'm sure that you must be tired after taking care of them. We know how much of a hoof full they can be,” Mrs. Cake added.
“It's not that bad! It takes allot more than a couple of foals to drain my energy!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed before remembering that the twins were taking a nap, “I'm just glad that they're potty trained now. No more changing stinky diapers.”
“We couldn't agree with you more,” Mrs. Cake agreed with a smile, “I assume that now you're off to see your friends again?”
“Well of course I am! After all, I consider all of Ponyville as my friends!” Pinkie said. Then she hopped out of Sugarcube Corner. As she was hopping down the road, she ran... or rather, hopped into Applejack, “Oh, hi Applejack! Whacha doin?”
“Well, ah was jus' on mah way ta Sugarcube Corner ta see if ya needed any o' mah help foalsittin' the twins,” Applejack said.
“Nope! I was able to handle them all my myself!” Pinkie Pie said, “Just like I did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the ti-”
“Ah get the message. You can handle them on yer own,” Applejack said, interrupting Pinkie's...list, “But ya don't have ta need the help in order to accept it. Havin' somepony there to help ya out helps ta lighten the load. I know first hoof that ya can handle the twins on yer own. An' besides, when have you ever turned down a chance to spend time with yer friends?”
“Oh, so you were just coming by to visit me?!” Pinkie Pie squealed.
“Well, that an' seein' how the twins're doin',” Applejack said, “Are they talk'n yet?”
“No! But they are potty trained now!” Pinkie exclaimed, “No more stinky diapers!”
“Ah guess ah also wanted to help foalsit because ah miss when Apple Bloom was a foal,” Applejack said with a subtle laugh, “Ah could do without the dirty dahpers though.”
“Well, if you miss having a foal around, then why not have one?” Pinkie asked, causing Applejack's jaw to drop, “Find yourself a stallion and then you can be a mommy! Just as long as you promise we'll still be friends afterwords.”
“A-Ah don' think ah'll be doin' anythin' like that fer a while,” Applejack said nervously, surprised that Pinkie would suggest something like that. Pinkie's bluntness however did not surprise her, “Maybe at some point ah'll find a stallion. But fer now, ah've got the family business ta worry 'bout. An' that'll take up allot o' time fer me ta be able ta take care of a lil foal. But no matter what, ah'll always be yer friend.”
“Well, I could always be your foalsitter!” Pinkie exclaimed.
As the two ponies talked about foals, Apple Bloom ran into them while on the way home to see Applejack, “Oh, hi...AJ! Ah was...jus' on mah way...ta see ya!” Apple Bloom said as she panted.
“Oh, really? What 'bout?” Applejack asked.
“Well, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo are spendin' the night at Twilight's. An' ah wanted ta ask ya if ah could spend the night too,” Apple Bloom said.
“It's a school night! Why would Rarity an' Scootaloo's parents let them spend the night?” Applejack questioned skeptically.
“It's fer Sweetie Belle. In order to cure her of her sleepin' problem, Twilight has to know what her nightmare is about. So she's gonna watch Sweetie Belle's dream while she's dreamin',” Apple Bloom explained.
“Well...alright. But be a good lil filly and obey anythin' Twilight tells ya,” Applejack said, “An' make sure ya get ta school on time.”
“Ah will! Thanks sis!” Apple Bloom said as she ran back down the road that she came from.
“So, what were we talkin' about?” Applejack asked as she returned to her previous conversation with Pinkie Pie.
Rarity was currently in the spa...no surprise there. Today was her day to spend a spa day with Fluttershy. Sweetie Belle staying at Twilight's was a good excuse to go while making sure somepony was watching her. However, Rarity was getting concerned. She had been waiting in the hot tub for nearly a half an hour. Fluttershy has been late before, but no more than maybe fifteen minutes. The only other time she didn't meet her without letting her know was when she was a model for Photo Finish.
Rarity knew that Fluttershy wasn't much of a 'spa pony'. But she also knew that she would never intentionally bale on her friends. So Rarity decided to put the spa treatment on hold and see if there was something wrong with her friend, “Can you be a dear and put my spa treatment on hold while I see where my friend is?” Rarity asked the spa worker.
“It will cost extra to hold your reservation,” the spa worker said.
“Thank you, deary,” Rarity said as she headed out to check on Fluttershy.
As she walked down the road to the edge of Ponyville, she noticed Applejack and Pinkie Pie talking. But she just passed them by...but Pinkie Pie wasn't going to let her pass them by that easily.
“Where are you going?” Pinkie Pie asked as she just appeared in front of Rarity's face seemingly out of nowhere.
“If you must know, I'm on my way to Fluttershy's to see if she's alright,” Rarity answered.
“Ta see if she's alright?” Applejack repeated, “Why wouldn' she be alright?”
“She didn't meet me at the spa today. And she would never intentionally bale on her friends. Not at least without letting us know the reason anyway,” Rarity said.
“Well, we're comin' too,” Applejack said, “If somethin' is wrong, ah'd like ta help in any way ah can.”
“Maybe all she needs is a PARTY!” Pinkie Pie shouted.
“You think the cure for everything is a party,” Rarity said.
As the trio headed up to Fluttershy's cottage, Rarity knocked on the door. But there was no answer. “Hey, do ya hear that?” Applejack asked. Pinkie and Rarity quieted down to hear what it was that Applejack heard.
“It sounds like...crying,” Rarity said, hearing a soft sobbing noise.
“Oh no! Is it Fluttershy who's crying?!” Pinkie exclaimed, “Who would DARE make Fluttershy cry?!”
“Let's just go see what's wrong first,” Rarity said. The trio then headed to the backyard. There they saw Fluttershy, who was indeed crying, “Fluttershy, what's the matter deary?”
Fluttershy's head shot up in surprise at the sound of Rarity's voice. She didn't want anypony to see her like this, let alone her friends, “R-Rarity?! What are you doing here?!”
“When you didn't arrive at the spa, I became concerned,” Rarity replied, “And it looks to me like that there's a reason to be concerned. Is something wrong, deary?”
“Are you afraid that your friends will find out what this meditation is for? Is that why you told nopony about it?” The dark alicorn's words echoed in Fluttershy's head.
“N-No, I'm fine,” Fluttershy said shakily, sniffling as she did so, “It was just...a bad memory. A memory I haven't thought about in a long time.” Although it wasn't the full truth, Fluttershy wasn't lying about what happened being a bad memory. But she still refused to let her friends know about her secret.
“Are ya sure it's nothin'?” Applejack questioned, “Do ya wanna talk 'bout it?”
“I-I'd rather not,” Fluttershy said.
“Are ya sure? Sometimes talkin' helps ta...”
“I SAID I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!!!” Fluttershy suddenly snapped in a rage. Surprised by her own reaction, she then ran back inside.
Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie were all stunned to say the least. It was one thing to be assertive. And Fluttershy being assertive was shocking in itself. But to be so aggressive...that just wasn't Fluttershy.
The three of them were just standing there, frozen in shock for several minutes before Pinkie Pie was able to snap herself out of it, “Was that Fluttershy?” Pinkie asked. Her voice managed to snap the other two back to reality.
“I...I don't know,” Rarity said, “But one thing is for certain. There is definitely something wrong.” Rarity then headed toward the cottage before being stopped by Applejack.
“Now hold on there, sugarcube,” Applejack said, “Ah wanna help Fluttershy jus' as much as you. But ah have a feelin' that we should give 'er some time 'lone ta cool down.”
Rarity hated the aspect of leaving Fluttershy in this condition. But when she saw in Applejack's eyes how serious she was, she had no choice but the trust her.
“I think Fluttershy's afraid of something,” Pinkie pointed out. But before the other two could ask what she meant, Pinkie was already gone.
Later, Pinkie noticed that the part of town she was in seemed empty. It may not have been the busiest part of Ponyville, but it was never barren like this...unless it was in the middle of the night when everypony's asleep.
“Hello?! Is anypony here?!” Pinkie called out, “Where is everypony?!”
“Ah, yes. The pink part pony, Pinkie Pie,” a dark voice said from behind Pinkie. The pink pony spun around to see a dark alicorn that was hidden by a magical aura. It was the same alicorn that had visited Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, “Or should I say Pinkamina Diane Pie?”
“H-How do you know that name?” Pinkie asked, fear beginning to spread through her, “And where is everypony?”
“Don't worry about them. They are all safe. I just wanted to make sure that our meeting was private...alone,” the alicorn said, “But then again, you're afraid to be alone, aren't you?”
“I-I don't know what you mean. I know how to concur my fears,” Pinkie said.
“I know that you know how to overcome your fears,” the alicorn said, “But what if you don't have the resources to do it? You're afraid to be alone. You're afraid because it will bring out the other side of you. Your bright and cheery side is Pinkie Pie. But when you feel alone, you become Pinkamina Diane Pie...your darker side.”
“No...You're wrong!” Pinkie said, her mane and tail begin to deflate slightly as her bright pink color began to dull, “I have my friends! I'm never alone!”
“Where are your friends now?” the alicorn asked, “The only ones here are me and you. But what will happen to you if I left?” The alicorn then suddenly disappeared, leaving Pinkie all alone. After he left, his voice spoke out, “You're like the yellow pegasus. You fear yourself, the part of you that represents a part of your past.”
Pinkie was trying not to let her fear of being alone get to her. But it was a lost cause as her mane and tail completely deflated and her coloration becoming dull and dark.
The dull pink pony lowered her head in sorrow, “My friends abandoned me?” Pinkamina asked rhetorically.
As Apple Bloom arrived at the library, she flopped down on the ground and panted as she knocked on the door. It was Dax who opened the door with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo behind her, “I...I can...I can...” Apple Bloom said before she just passed out.
“TWILIGHT, I THINK SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH APPLE BLOOM!!!” Dax called out in fear.
“What's wrong?!” Twilight asked as she ran to the door. Then her expression calmed down, “Oh, don't worry. Apple Bloom is just tired. She must've been running too much.”
“So does that mean that for now we let her take a little nap?” Spike asked.
“For now,” Twilight said as she used her magic to move Apple Bloom to the couch, “I won't be able to help Sweetie Belle until later. So until it's time to go to sleep, I have a few games you can play.” Twilight then brought out a few intellectual games for the cutie mark crusaders to play.
“Was there anypony who didn't see this coming?” Scootaloo asked. Dax reluctantly raised a hoof in response. “Well, if we're gonna play an intellectual game, we might as well play one that feels like we're having fun. Let's play Trivial Ponysuit.”
Sweetie Belle then got the said game and set it up.
“Ah hope ah made th' right choice in lett'n Apple Bloom spen' th' night at Twi's,” Applejack wondered, questioning her decision as she was heading back to the farm, “What 'n tarnation am ah worryin' 'bout? Twi's one o' th' most reliable friends ah have! An' if anypony'll get 'er ta school on time, it's Twi!”
“How certain are you of that though,” a dark voice said from behind Applejack. The apple farmer spun around to see who was there. But she found nopony. When she turned around to head back home however, she spotted a dark alicorn, most of his features hidden by a magical spell...and he was wearing Applejack's stetson hat, “Or rather, if you weren't certain of yourself, how willing would you be to admit it?”
“Who d' ya think you are?!” Applejack scowled, “An' what do ya think yer doin' with mah hat?!”
“That's right. You are quite protective of your hat, aren't you?” the alicorn asked, “Or should I say, your father's hat? The last gift that your father gave you before he passed away.”
“How'd ya know 'bout that?!” Applejack accused.
“I know about every pony's death that happens in Equestria,” the alicorn explained, “But that's not the point. You have pride in the Apple family and in yourself. Pride can be a good thing...sometimes. But pride can also cause one's downfall. But you already know about that, don't you?”
“Would ya get to th' point b'fore I buck ya from here to Manehatten?” Applejack said, her patients running thin.
“Fine. I also know that you connect your pride to this hat,” the alicorn said, motioning to the hat, “Your father gave you the hat while your mother told you to have pride in yourself and in your family. But before you were given this hat and connected your pride to it, what were you like?”
AJ's eyes shrunk as she realized what the alicorn was talking about. But she didn't want to admit it, “Ah...Ah don' know what yer...”
“Why are you even bothering trying to lie about it?” the alicorn asked, “You're the element of honesty after all. So unless Discord messed with your head again, it will be allot easier to just be honest with yourself.”
“Ah...Ah was...” AJ began.
“You don't have to tell me. I already know,” the alicorn said, “Just as long as your honest with yourself. But I that you're afraid to be without your father's hat...am I right?” The alicorn grinned before the stetson hat went up in black flames.
“Mah...mah...” the apple farmer stuttered, her eyes filling with tears of sorrow and fear.
“Don't worry about the hat. You'll find it in your room back home,” the alicorn said as he walked away, “The question is, how capable are you of getting home without the comfort of your father's gift with you?” The alicorn then vanished in a puff of black smoke.
“Ah...Ah can d-do this. It's jus' a hat after all,” Applejack tried to convince herself. But for some reason, everything around her seemed so much more intimidating to her. She then laid down on the ground in fear like a scared little filly, “Ah want mah mommy...”