"Like an Unexpected Song"
by Donny's Boy
Synopsis: She never expected to see that golden chariot flying over Ponyville. She never expected just how much her life would change. She never expected Twilight Sparkle … and Twilight Sparkle most certainly never expected Pinkie Pie.
"Now, no matter where I am,
No matter what I do,
I see your face appearing
Like an unexpected song-
An unexpected song
That only we are hearing."
-"Unexpected Song," Song & Dance
When Pinkie Pie awoke on the Sunday that was to change her life forever, she realized two things simultaneously. Firstly, she realized that the previous evening's party had been the biggest, loudest, and most spectacular party that she had ever thrown. Secondly, she realized that now that the party was over and Sugarcube Corner lie silent and still, she'd never felt more miserable in her entire life.
The party itself had gone fine. The parties always went fine. Ponies came and talked and laughed and ate and drank. They danced to the thumping bass of the deejay's turntables, and they played all of the various party games that had been shoved into every corner of the room. And then, at the end of the night, when the punch was all gone and the deejay had packed up her equipment, everyone had left en masse.
Just like they always did.
Pinkie swallowed a sigh as she trotted downstairs to where the remains of last night's party lay strewn across the entire first floor of the bakery. Walking around the room with heavy hooves, she began stuffing ripped streamers into a trash bag while reflecting on how and why everything had gone so wrong, yet again.
She'd chatted with a few ponies, of course, but they'd all given her that look. They'd given her the look, and they'd tried to get away as quickly as they could while still maintaining some pretense of politeness. The main exception was the unicorn seamstress from across the way, who spoke to Pinkie at great length about her spring line of fashion and the latest gossip from Canterlot. Pinkie liked the unicorn and liked hearing about gossip, but all too soon the seamstress had excused herself to go talk to the mayor.
There was also the earth pony farmer from just outside of town, who'd looked Pinkie straight in the eye and said, "No offense, sugar cube, but I'm only here 'cause my brother's sweet on that pegasus animal wrangler and heard she'd be at this here shindig." Pinkie had said that was okay and that it was good to see her there, no matter why she'd came, but the other earth pony had just shrugged in response.
On the bright side, that one pegasus from the weather team had come to Pinkie's party - the one who always had a near-permanent grin, the one with the warm, rich laugh that came from deep in the belly. The pegasus with the beautiful, multi-colored mane.
The name of the pegasus with the infectious grin and amazing laugh was Rainbow Dash - Pinkie had asked around town. But every time Pinkie had tried to sneak up to Rainbow Dash to introduce herself and strike up a conversation, the other pony had zipped off somewhere else. It was uncanny. Almost as though the sneaky pegasus was trying to avoid her on purpose for some silly reason.
Finally, the sigh that Pinkie Pie had been holding in all morning escaped her lips, just as she finished filling up the trash bag with leftover party decorations and tied it off. At least everypony had enjoyed themselves. That was the important thing, after all, and it did make her genuinely happy to watch everyone having a good time. She just wished that some of the ponies who came to her parties would stay afterwards for a little while. Just to talk. To get to know her better.
To be her friends.
After casting one last glance around the bakery to ensure it would be in tip-top shape for when the Cakes would open on Monday, Pinkie began dragging the trash bag out the front door. She hadn't taken but three steps, however, when she was distracted by the sight of a gleaming golden chariot streaking across the sky. How odd. There weren't many chariots that came to Ponyville and certainly not chariots that were golden.
Quickly she tossed the trash bag into the garbage bin and then cantered off in the direction she'd seen the chariot flying. Her hooves moved almost of their own accord. There was something about that chariot - something important. She wasn't sure just how she knew that, but she did … and she wasn't a pony accustomed to second-guessing what she knew.
In fact, it wouldn't be incorrect to say that Pinkie Pie was a mare on a mission. Deftly she wove her way through the already-crowded town square, throwing out smiles and greetings left and right as she did, while never losing sight of the chariot that had landed ahead. When she finally reached her goal, the chariot was just taking off again, but in its place were left behind a unicorn and small dragon.
And Pinkie Pie knew, with the same certainty that she knew that chocolate cake was the very best thing in the entire world, that this unicorn and this dragon were important. Were special.
She knew that, come hell or high water, she was going to become friends with these two newcomers. She was going to introduce herself to them before anyone in town could talk to them, and she was not going to scare them off like all the others, and she was going to throw them the biggest and very best party she'd ever thrown, and …
And they were going to be her friends.
They just had to.
That's what Rainbow Dash had told her, had told all of them, as they waited quietly in the darkened library. The air was hot and thick, as dozens of ponies squeezed together in the cramped confines of the library's main room, but Pinkie Pie didn't mind. With the claustrophobic density came two wonderful, amazing things. First, it brought Rainbow Dash - who was pressed against her, so close that she could feel every beat of the pegasus' heart and every impatient rustling of the pegasus' wings. And with Rainbow Dash came the name of that purple unicorn she'd met earlier in the day.
The unicorn who was named Twilight Sparkle.
It was a nice name, mused Pinkie. A friendly-sounding name.
And even though it was pitch black and no one would be able to see, Pinkie Pie grinned.
The natives of Ponyville had unerring instincts as to which of the visitors to their little hamlet would be simple passers-by and which would prove to be permanent immigrants. That braggart unicorn magician, for instance, had immediately been pegged as a mere flash-in-the-pan entertainment. Those two brothers with the cider machine had been similarly dismissed by the town's populace-though, of course, their cider was greatly appreciated while it had been available. Many came through Ponyville, and many left through Ponyville. Not many stayed, however.
But that little pink filly with the bouncy gait and near-permanent smile? As soon as she'd hopped into town, Ponyville recognized immediately that she would never, ever leave. So too with the shy yellow pegasus who appeared on the outskirts of the village not too long after - and, several months later, the pegasus' brash young friend, who proudly and loudly declared to all and sundry that one day she'd be a Wonderbolt.
And the day that a stressed-out, Canterlot-born purple unicorn landed in their midst, the Ponyville residents knew - knew as surely as they knew the Apple family would run out of cider during cider season, yet again - that this purple unicorn wasn't ever going to leave. They knew she was meant to stay in Ponyville, despite all of her protestations that she was only in town for the Summer Sun Celebration preparations.
They knew all this because the natives of Ponyville could spot one of their own from a mile away. It was easy. As different as all of the town's citizens were from one another, as varied as their races and occupations and personalities, they all shared one very important trait in common. They were all crazy as crazy could be.
And Twilight Sparkle? Twilight Sparkle was one crazy pony. She just didn't seem to realize it. Which, really, when one thought about it, kind of just made her all the crazier.
Crazy enough that, when Twilight decided she was going to set out into the Everfree Forest to find the mythical artefacts that she claimed were the only things that could stop the ponification of the All Darkness herself … five near-strangers followed her, without hesitation and without question. Because a pony that crazy can't help but draw craziness to her, like a moth is drawn to a flame.
Those five crazy ponies followed her, and those five crazy ponies fought for her.
Those five near-strangers followed her and, by the time they'd returned, victorious and unharmed, those five near-strangers weren't strangers anymore.
Twilight Sparkle didn't understand. And if there was anything that Twilight Sparkle hated, she hated not understanding.
As the party at Sugarcube Corner rolled merrily onward, despite the fact that the griffon guest of honor had departed in a huff, Twilight stood in a corner and gazed out at all of the gathered ponies with a thoughtful frown. Fluttershy and Rarity were by the refreshments table, chatting and smiling, while nearby Applejack was plowing through the apple fritters at a mildly alarming rate. And far across the room were Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, playing a game of Pin the Tail on the Pony, the excitable pink earth mare bouncing around the laughing and blindfolded pegasus.
Pinkie's eyes, which usually bounced around as much as the rest of her did, were laser focused on Rainbow as Rainbow Dash stumbled forward, a pretend tail held between her teeth. The smile on Pinkie's face was larger than any that Twilight could remember seeing before - and, given that it was Pinkie who was smiling, that was quite a feat indeed.
Pinkie was happy. Perfectly, wonderfully happy.
And Twilight didn't understand.
"It's okay, Twilight," Pinkie had told her, just minutes before. "Even you can't be a super smart smarty smart-pants all the time."
Twilight had been wrong, so terribly, awfully wrong. The kind of wrong that she wasn't used to being. The kind of wrong that she hadn't been in … in years, really. Because Twilight Sparkle took great pains to never be that level of wrong, as though she could banish all those countless memories of disappointed eyes and exasperated sighs through being perfect in the here and now. She never quite could, but it helped. If only a little.
Twilight took a sip of the glass of punch she held in her magical grasp and tried to ignore how sickly sweet it tasted on her tongue. Pinkie's punches were always just a little too sweet.
But despite how wrong Twilight had been, Pinkie Pie hadn't looked at her in disappointment, and Pinkie Pie hadn't sighed in that awful and familiar way. Pinkie had simply smiled, one of those easy, breezy smiles of hers. It was such a surprise, such an unexpected relief, that Twilight wasn't even all that annoyed at the insulting implication that she wasn't always "super smart."
That blessed sense of relief, though, didn't change the fact that still she didn't understand. But she wanted to. She wanted to understand.
And, perhaps, just perhaps, she would.
It was days like these that Lyra Heartstrings cherished the most - perfect blue sky, warm breeze against her back, Bon Bon cuddled up against her side. With a contented sigh, she allowed her eyes to slide shut as she leaned back against the park bench. Happiness and perfection reigned, for the briefest shining moment.
Then Bon Bon jabbed her in the ribs while whispering, in an excited tone, "Lyra! Lyra, look at that!'
Lyra did as she was told and opened her eyes. Immediately she frowned. Pinkie Pie was some distance away, over by the school house, rolling on the ground and singing to herself. That wasn't anything out of the ordinary, though, and honestly didn't even qualify as strange by Pinkie standards. She felt confused as to why Bon Bon would want to point it out. Then, she spotted a rustling bush.
"Um." Lyra scratched her head with a hoof. "Is Twilight Sparkle wearing a pith helmet?"
"She absolutely is," replied Bon Bon, still speaking in that excited tone. Dreamily she sighed. "Don't you think that's so romantic?"
Lyra did not, in fact, think it was romantic. But the last time she'd admitted that, when asked a similar question by the earth pony beside her, she'd had to sleep on the couch for a week. So Lyra decided a little white lie was called for. "Sure! Sure thing, Bon. Pith helmets are totally romantic."
Bon Bon gave her a look. "I didn't mean the pith helmet itself. I meant the whole … you know! Caring so deeply about figuring out what makes Pinkie Pie tick that she'd play anthropologist." Smiling, she nuzzled her fillyfriend. "It's just like the time you practically moved into Sugarcube Corner after you bribed Mrs. Cake into teaching you how to make truffles. You remember? Because you wanted to impress me?"
The unicorn blushed. "I can neither confirm nor deny that allegation."
"Anyways," said Bon Bon, rolling her eyes, "I think it's sweet that Twilight wants to learn everything there is to know about the object of her affections."
"I dunno, Bon. Are you sure she's not just weirded out by Pinkie's future-sensing abilities? I mean, Twilight hasn't lived here as long as most of the rest of us. She probably just isn't used to Pinkie's … Pinkieness… yet."
That seemed to stymie the earth pony's enthusiasm for a few moments. But then Bon Bon leaned forward, all excitement returning, her eyes shining and bright. "No, Lyra. It's not just that." She pointed.
Lyra followed the outstretched hoof with her eyes and saw a now helmet-less Twilight yelling at Pinkie Pie, her muzzle just inches away from Pinkie's.
"That kind of passion doesn't come from simple scientific curiosity." Bon Bon's voice practically oozed smugness. "That is the kind of passion that only comes from romantic love."
Lyra couldn't argue with impeccable logic such as that. And even if she could, she knew better than to try. So instead she just leaned back and allowed her eyes to flutter shut once again. "If you say so, Bon. Hope it works out for those two crazy kids."
For just the briefest second, Pinkie Pie froze when she heard the voice. When she heard that voice on the breeze, warm and familiar, yet ringing out in a way it never had before:
The time has come to welcome spring
And all things warm and green …
Twilight Sparkle … was singing.
Pinkie shouldn't have been surprised. Lots of ponies sang, after all, and practically no pony sang more than Pinkie Pie herself. It shouldn't have been surprising to hear Twilight doing so, too. And yet, for some reason, it was.
But it's also time to say goodbye.
It's winter we must clean …
Perhaps it was simply that Pinkie hadn't heard Twilight sing before - but no, no, that wasn't it. Almost immediately Pinkie realized that couldn't be the answer. She'd never heard Applejack or Rainbow Dash sing before today, either, but she hadn't reacted to their voices the way that she was reacting to Twilight's.
Not that Dash and Applejack didn't have perfectly lovely singing voices - they totally, totally did - but they weren't singing like Twilight was singing. There wasn't that same lilt to the words, that same tremulous emotion.
How can I help? I'm new, you see.
What does everypony do?
How do I fit in without magic?
I haven't got a clue ...
Though Pinkie was still skating in lazy circles around the frozen lake, scoring the ice as she went along, she couldn't tear her gaze away from Twilight. The unicorn was wandering uneasily among the various teams of ponies, her eyes darting left and right, a smile stretched wide and taut across her face.
Pinkie Pie knew that look. She knew it far better than she wished she did.
Frowning, she skated over to the edge of the lake and hopped off the ice. She wrestled with her skates for a few moments before she was able to pull them off and, after setting them to the side, she went trotting after Twilight.
Now that I know what they all do,
I have to find my place
And help with all of my heart.
Tough task ahead I face …
Twilight sounded so uncertain. So unsure.
Pinkie couldn't remember ever hearing Twilight sound unsure. At least, not as unsure as she sounded right now. The frown never left the pink pony's face as she weaved her way through the crowds, hot on Twilight's heels. As she cantered along, her ears gave the occasional twitch, straining to hear every note that Twilight was singing.
Finally, Twilight passed through the main clusters of ponies and began climbing a small hill. At the top, the unicorn paused. She looked out at the land before and below her, her eyes far off, distant, troubled.
Pinkie stopped at the bottom of the hill. Some invisible force kept her from venturing closer, kept her from following her friend any further. Instead, she stood silently and watched. She watched, unseen and unnoticed, as Twilight sang out to the idyllic countryside that surrounded Ponyville.
It was then that Pinkie realized just how young Twilight looked - how young Twilight in actuality was. The dauntless unicorn had led them through so many things, over so many obstacles, that it was easy to forget, sometimes. Easy to forget that Twilight was just about the same age that Pinkie was. That Twilight maybe didn't have all the answers, despite all her books, just like Pinkie didn't. That Twilight might sometimes feel a little lost and a little alone, just like-
Pinkie gently shook her head and continued listening.
How will I do without my magic,
Help the earth pony way?
I wanna belong, so I must
Do my best today …
As the last note of Twilight's song slowly faded into the chill air, Pinkie Pie knew that she should turn around, should walk away, should head back to the lake. And she would. Soon. In just a minute. But before she could make her legs obey her brain's commands to get moving, Twilight was walking back down the hill, her breath showing in the air as little puffs of white. Pinkie smiled as Twilight drew near, but she could feel the smile shake and tremble at the edges.
She didn't know why it should. There was no reason why it should, really. But smiles were silly and unpredictable that way. Sometimes.
Twilight tilted her head, once she was in speaking range, and her brow crinkled ever so slightly. "Is everything all right, Pinkie Pie?"
"I just didn't know," Pinkie blurted out in reply, almost immediately regretting that she hadn't simply said that everything was fine. "I didn't know that you … "
"What?" In an instant Twilight's eyes, which had looked so soft and so helpless when she'd been singing, turned as hard as the ice on the lake. "That I what, Pinkie?"
Still wielding her trusty smile, Pinkie Pie gave a shrug. "I didn't know that you … that you could sing."