A/N:

Hi everyone! Here's the conclusion to Donut Nights 3—I hope you enjoy it! And thank you all for reading and reviewing!

Donut Nights 3: Nightmare Night Canoodling

Epilogue:

The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Cool air had turned to nightly frosts, and rain showers to bright falling foliage, as Donut Joe cleaned off the counter in his shop one day at sunset a few weeks after Nightmare Night. He polished a spot until it showed his reflection under the lights and then glanced around at the currently closed bakery. "Hmm…I'm going to have to start putting up the Hearthswarming decorations soon—definitely by this weekend. Maybe Luna could help me with them. I'll ask her later when she comes by."

He turned to toss his dishtowel in the laundry bin when suddenly the bell over his shop door jingled (which was rather strange because he could have sworn he'd locked up five minutes ago). "Hey, who's…" He blinked as he turned around.

Discord stood by the still-closed shop door, his paw extended up to the bell which he had cheekily rung by flicking despite having teleported inside.

The chaos master gave him one of his mischievous grins and a little wave of his fingers. "Hello, donut pony. Fancy finding you here."

"Hey, Discord." Donut Joe sighed but smiled. "Were you looking for a snack or something? I've still got some éclairs left over from today."

"However tempting the offer, I'm afraid I'll have to pass," Discord replied as he approached the counter. "I'm due somewhere soon."

Donut Joe raised an eyebrow and smirked a little. "Hot date with Celestia?"

Discord cringed and pouted slightly as he sat on a stool. "We do not do 'hot dates'. Honestly, some of us have a little more class than to run around like giggling teenagers." He head held high. "We engage in our mutual powerful-beings-détente that just happens to involve fun shenanigans…and occasionally necking to make sure we're both still on the same page about finding each other slightly intriguing." He took on an aloof look. "But yes, I am planning to see Celestia in a bit if that's what you're asking."

Donut Joe just rolled his eyes, still smiling. "Well, anyway, if you've got somewhere to be soon, you must have an important reason for coming by here. Unless you were looking for Luna…"

"Actually…" Discord glanced down casually as he rested an elbow on the counter, "I specifically came here at dusk when I knew Luna wouldn't be around since she and Celestia are busy doing the whole 'lowering of the sun, raising of the moon' thing at the moment. You're the one I wanted to see." His eyes came back up to Donut Joe's.

Donut Joe finished stacking some clean plates and raised an eyebrow. "Me?" He scowled a little. "What about?"

Discord sighed and rolled his eyes. "Oh, why must you ponies be so defensive about me all the time? Really, only the girls and princesses just accept my presence without totally unnecessary drama or fear. What, oh what, do I have to do to prove myself to average ponies like you?" He flung an arm overhead dramatically and finished with a smirk.

"Discord, you don't have to 'prove' anything." Donut Joe smiled again as he used his magic to turn some clean coffee mugs upside down and set them at the far end of the counter. "Just keep being friendly; you're starting to get pretty good at it when you want to be." He smiled more. "And as for me, I'mnot afraid of you. If you're going to do something to me, you're going to do something to me, and if you're not, you're not. You're chaos—nopony can control that. Might as well just take what happens in stride and do my best. But you're a pretty good guy deep down, so I know you'd never hurt anypony." He now used his magic now to raise one of the mugs as well as a coffee pot. He filled the mug and magically moved it toward Discord. "Anyway, even if you don't have time for donuts, at least have some coffee? It's getting cold out."

Discord eyed the unicorn baker with interest as took the mug from him (after snapping a few lumps of sugar, a healthy dose of cream, and a squirt of chocolate syrup into it). "Thank you." He sipped. "You really are a curious and unique pony, Donut Joe. And I really have come to respect that about you."

"Thanks, Discord." Donut Joe nodded with a smile as he poured himself a mug too. "And after seeing how happy you're making Celestia lately and how happy that's making Luna, I've kind got some respect for you too."

The chaos master smiled a little as he lowered his mug. "Yes, well…if by making myself happy I can make other ponies happy too, might as well."

The baker pony smiled more and shook his head as he took another sip of coffee.

Discord was quiet for a moment. Then he sighed deeply, and the tone of his voice shifted. "So…little pony…I have something for you."

"An early Hearthswarming present?" Donut Joe lowered his mug with a half grin. "Discord, I didn't realize you cared."

Discord chuckled. "Now, now, don't joke… It's something you might find very valuable. You and Luna."

Donut Joe raised an eyebrow. "Discord, what are you talking about?"

The chaos master gazed forward dully. "You and Luna are happy together. And I like that for some reason. Strange, I know. Anyway, I want to…contribute something to your happiness. And maybe I want to thank you for the little push you gave Tia and I in our 'friendship'. But there are some things that are beyond even my power to help with. Like I can't change the fact that she's royalty and you're common, I can't change the fact that she's from a practically medieval era and you're from this one, or that she's destined to rule Equestria and you're destined to bake desserts for breakfast—a very chaotic talent of which I approve, by the way. And I can't change the fact that she's an alicorn and you're a unicorn. And, in case you've been getting any ideas based on a certain purple princess, neither can Celestia. She's not really in control of that sort of thing; she just helps facilitate. Fate, destiny, prophecy, heavens aligning, cat's in cradles and silver spoons—it's complicated." He snapped another sugar cube into his coffee and sipped.

Donut Joe sighed, ignoring his own steaming mug for the moment. "Discord," he began patiently, "I know you're trying to make a point. So is there any chance you could get there soon? I'm meeting Luna in a little bit."

Discord sighed as ell. "My point is, not only can I not fix those things but they don't need to be fixed anyway—you and Luna make your relationship thrive on your differences, and you've already found ways to overcome any obstacles through patience and understanding and friendship and love. It's astounding really. But…there is one thing you both know you can't just 'fix'…"

Donut Joe scowled slightly. "Discord, you brought that up once by accident—during Nightmare Night. And I'm trying really hard to keep liking you. Please don't bring it up again."

"I have to." Discord shrugged. "It's for your own good. I won't say it explicitly, but we both know that the biggest thing between you and Luna is the fact that…a thousand years is only part of a lifetime to her but a thousand years is about ten lifetimes to you."

Rather than getting angry and walking away like he had done during Nightmare Night at Discord's comment about lifespans, Donut Joe just closed his eyes and took a breath. "Luna and I have talked," he started. "And we decided not to let any limitations control how we think about our life together. That's why I don't want to talk about this, Discord; there's no point in wasting time worrying about what you can't change." He opened his eyes, frowning. "All right?"

The baker pony was almost surprised to see Discord frowning a little too.

"Yeah," the chaos master let out a breath, "I figured you two would have come to some kind of perfect inner peace about it. But…for those moments when you're ready to admit to yourself that it just isn't fair—because you love each other and you're good for each other and it really, really, really isn't fair—I have a temporary solution to give to you." He snapped; an aged looking scroll appeared floating in the air. "That is, if you're willing to accept the responsibility."

Donut Joe's eyes widened a little at the sight. He hesitated. "What is it?"

"A gift. It is almost Hearthswarming again, after all," Discord replied simply.

The baker pony's brow furrowed. "Can it hurt anypony?"

Discord rolled his eyes. "Oh really, what kind of question is that? Anything can hurt someone as long as it's used for hurting them. I could mush one of your éclairs into someone's face to temporarily blind them and take their bits…or I could just give them the éclair as a delightful snack. Luna used her magic for bad when she let Nightmare Moon take over but used it good when she returned to her usual self. This 'gift' is no different—it all depends on who uses it and what for. But you're a good pony, Joe, and you'd use it for a good thing." Discord used his magic to shove the scroll at Donut Joe. "Just take it and be happy, all right?" He sipped his coffee again. "And if it makes you feel any better, this plan is Celestia approved. And Twilight used this spell once without hurting anypony—though she did embarrass herself quite a bit." He smiled just a little.

Donut Joe, scroll in hoof now, eyed the chaos master with curiosity for a moment longer, then unfurled the scroll and started to read.

Discord explained. "It's a time travel spell by Starswirl the Bearded: some of the most advanced magic around. It lets you travel back in time one week. So a pony—or even a pair of ponies—can relive a week here or there, doing different things, making their experiences 'doubled' as a certain night princess might put it."

Donut Joe looked up to Discord with wide eyes.

Discord glanced away. "Just…practice first before you use it. Have Luna help you. And make sure you don't run into yourself in the past. And keep your actions small and personal. And don't try to ever expand the spell beyond going back a week—that's just ludicrous; ask Twilight's new little student Starlight. And don't say I never did you any favors."

There was silence between the two of them for the moment.

Donut Joe finally swallowed and spoke as he rolled up the scroll. "I…I'd have to talk about this with Luna first. I have to make sure she's okay with it."

Discord nodded. "Yes, I suspected you might." And then he raised an eyebrow as Donut Joe tucked the scroll under his hat and slowly came out from behind the counter and approached him.

The baker pony smiled and held out his hoof. "Thank you, Discord. You're a good friend."

The chaos master blinked. "Friends…you and I?"

Donut Joe nodded once.

Discord smiled a little to himself and gave a nod in return. "Yes, well…why not?" He reached out his paw and shook Joe's hoof. "And you're welcome."

The two guys shared a smile before finally releasing.

Donut Joe powered his horn and gestured to the back with his head. "Hey, I think I could go for an éclair. I know you've got to meet Celestia soon, but how about you join me anyway and have just a couple to go with that coffee—as long as you're here and everything. I promise they're good. And it's all on the house."

Discord grinned. "Hmm, I suppose I am getting a little peckish. And I suppose you really do make excellent donuts. And I suppose I really can't get enough sugar. And I suppose Tia can just pine for me for a little bit if necessary." He chuckled. "But do you have any hot sauce for them? Oh, never mind, I'll just snap up my own." His fingers snapped to make a red bottle appear in the air.

Donut Joe chuckled too as he went behind the counter again then magically floated the éclairs forward as well as a couple of plates. He set a place in front of each of them. "No, no hot sauce…at least not this time of year. But in the summer I do make a mean Chocolate Chili Mole Surprise Bear Claw. I'll set you up with a batch one of these days if you'd like."

Discord's grin picked up on one side as he poured hot sauce on his éclairs. "I knew there was a reason I liked you. You're the only pony around I'd consider worthy enough to date one of the formidable pony sisters, you know."

"You mean besides yourself?" Donut Joe grinned as he turned to face him again and magically freshened their coffees.

"I told you, Tia and I are not exactly dating. We're…experimenting."

"Does that mean you're still too stubborn to double date with Luna and I?"

"Well…" Discord shrugged as he snapped away the hot sauce bottle, "maybe we could work out something like that soon, all things considered. I mean, if you think seeing Celestia happy makes Luna happy, you have to see how seeing Luna happy makes Celestia happy."

Donut Joe chuckled. "The sisters do like spending time together. And you and I do pretty well at getting along. Between the four of us, I bet we could come up with something pretty fun for a date."

"And you'd keep the kissy faces between you and Luna to a minimum?" Discord raised an eyebrow, his look dry.

Donut Joe nodded. "You've got it." He smiled more to himself as he sipped his coffee. "Besides it's sweet seeing Luna and Celestia together, being all sisterly. They're so different but also so much alike."

Discord nodded, smiling a little again as he polished off an éclair. "Yeah. Like, they both have a sweet tooth: but Celestia's swears by cake and Luna's just plain addicted to your donuts."

"Yeah." Donut Joe chuckled, taking a bite of éclair for himself. "And they both love a good party, but Luna likes lots of formality and Celestia likes things to be spontaneous."

Discord grinned. "And they both get that same stubborn, stern pout when they're upset, but Luna follows it up with her Royal Canterlot Voice while Celestia just flicks her ears and paws the ground." He shook his head as he raised his mug for another sip of coffee.

Donut Joe drank some more coffee too and nodded. "And they're both really tall, but Luna's more pony size and Celestia's more, well…your size." He gestured to Discord with his hoof. "It's like you two match but in an unmatching way."

"So wrong that it's right." Discord smirked a little. Donut Joe raised an eyebrow: as soon as the chaos master noticed, he just chuckled. "Private joke."

"Hmm…" Donut Joe chuckled too as he took another bite of donut. "Oh, and Luna's made sure almost every pony in Equestria officially knows we're dating, but…"

Discord finished for him. "…But Celestia likes to keep our little fling a secret for fun. I never thought I'd see the day when the sun princess would sneak around about anything, by the way."

Donut Joe laughed again. "Yeah, and Luna really does love to make those announcements of hers about our progress to the ponies for the sake of formality. Have you ever seen her delivering one of those? It's very cute."

Discord finished a bite of éclair and chuckled. "And they're both passionate but…Luna is more out in the open about it, and Celestia's passion comes out in little surprising ways."

"Yeah." Donut Joe nodded. "Luna's so intense—it's great. Sometimes she just grabs me and picks me up because she's so excited or happy about something, and I don't even know what to say."

"Tia's accidentally knocked me down at least four times so far just by trying to hug me." Discord smirked. "I mean, I'm strong, but those alicorns—built like tanks underneath the pastel manes and pretty fur."

"Yeah, and speaking of manes, they've both got that crazy hair." Donut Joe shook his head. "At first I thought I'd never be able to make it past that mane to kiss Luna, but it just kind of envelops you without touching you…"

"…I know—it's a wonderfully odd experience." Discord's grin grew a little. "It's like being in this bubble of light and magic, and she just lets it surround you…"

"And then she giggles or sighs and looks at you with those beautiful eyes…"

"…And you don't understand how some stallion didn't carry her off into her sunset centuries ago…"

"…But all you know is you're glad you're the one she picked…"

"…And somehow something makes sense in the middle of everything not making sense, and it's not so bad after all…"

"Yeah…." "Yeah…"

The two of them had hazed eyes and utterly dreamy grins now. A moment passed…and then their eyes popped open wide. Another moment of silence went by.

Discord cleared his throat. "This whole conversation…never happened."

"Uh…" Donut Joe smiled a little sheepishly and shrugged, "what whole conversation? Last I remember I was just refilling our mugs and talking about donuts."

Discord sighed, his normal aloof smile returning, and raised his mug. "Good stallion."

Donut Joe raised his mug too. "You're an okay guy too, Discord."

They clinked mugs and drank some more.


Outside, the wind blew, making the warm-colored leaves on the few trees billow as the pony sisters walked side by side through the Canterlot streets at dusk.

"Sister," Luna tilted her head, "do you really think you'll find Discord at Joe's?"

Celestia sighed. "I have my suspicions. I told you, he was very particular about asking me exactly what time you and I would be doing the sunset and moonrise tonight and how long it would take, and he suggested that afterwards you should especially take some extra time to 'gussy yourself up' if you were planning to visit Joe this evening…"

"…Which he would never have the courage to suggest if he didn't have some reason for needing me away from Joe…" Luna finished with a grin. "I see." She considered. "I wonder what he could want with him."

Celestia's smile grew, her gaze all-knowing. "I suppose you'll just have to ask Joe about it later."

Luna raised an eyebrow. "Celestia, you know, don't you?"

"I only have more suspicions." Celestia shrugged with a sheepish grin. "But talk to Joe—you'll know everything for certain then."

Luna rolled her eyes to the side with a smile. "Very well, sister." She giggled. "So I take it you have plans with Discord this evening while Joe and I are having dinner and trying out new donut recipes?"

Celestia looked down shyly, though her smile remained. "I was going to start decorating my tower for Hearthswarming…and I thought Discord might like to join me."

Luna held back a chuckle. "You two act like teenagers, you know—all of the teasing each other and sneaking around and doing little activities together like foals on a first date and pretending you're not hopelessly smitten or at least undeniably attracted. Tis adorable."

"We're just two friends getting to know each other." The sun princess blushed lightly. "Though I doubt we could ever keep up with you and Joe as the leading couple in Equestrian society—mysterious yet renowned." Her smile warmed. "Everybody smiles when they see you two go by."

"I know." The princess of the night blushed, smiling warmly herself. "And Joe's taken to it so well…. It feels so nice to have him beside me during nightly functions."

"I know what you mean." Celestia nodded. "It feels nice to have Discord with me when I go out at night. He's very good at having fun, and he lets me have fun."

Luna smirked a little. "You two do stay out awfully late together, sometimes almost until sunrise—just how much 'fun' are you having?"

Celestia blinked and blushed but then smirked back at her sister. "I could ask you the same thing…or I could ask Joe when he trots down from your room after dawn sometimes for breakfast with us."

Luna blushed too, and then the sisters burst into giggles.

They rounded a corner now, which put them in view of Joe's shop…and sure enough, as they looked forward, through the glass windows they could see Donut Joe behind the counter and Discord seated at a stool, the two of them drinking coffee and chatting.

The pony sisters stopped, and their smiles brightened.

"I do think our paramours are getting along." Luna grinned. "You know what this means…"

"That maybe Discord will finally stop being so stubborn and come out on a double date?" Celestia smiled more.

Luna shrugged. "I was thinking more of a double wedding, but a date works as well."

Celestia blushed. "Luna…!" She started to head forward.

Luna giggled. "Sorry, I couldn't help myself." She raised an eyebrow. "But maybe Discord's aloofness really is waning. He still seems so stubborn about directly expressing his liking of you…"

Celestia's eyes hazed. "I know. But I sort of like his stubbornness. He puts on a little show to cover up how much he cares…and it's cute. And he does stop sometimes, when we're very alone…and it sort of makes me like him even more…if that makes any sense. Though this is Discord we're talking about." She gave a sheepish grin.

Luna grinned too. "You have very unusual tastes, sister. But…they make you happy, and Discord makes you happy. And I am very glad."

Celestia nodded. "Thank you, sister. I'm glad too, for all of us."

The pony sisters shared a smile as they finally approached the entrance to the Donut Shop. Then Luna used her magic to put a key into the shop door and Celestia used her magic to push the door open. They entered.


"Say, have you ever tried filling donuts with chocolate milk? Or cotton candy?" Discord held up an éclair and raised an eyebrow at Donut Joe over the counter.

Donut Joe shook his head with a smile as he observed another éclair. "No, but I like the idea. You and I should talk business sometime."

The guys shared a laugh.

Then the bell over the door rang, and in walked the pony sisters, smiling side by side.

"Luna!" Donut Joe's eyes brightened at the sight of the night princess. He quickly trotted out from behind the counter to come forward and give her a hug.

Luna giggled as she hugged him in return. "Hello, Joe."

He pulled back and then smiled and nodded to Celestia. "And Celestia, great to see you."

Celestia nodded. "Great to see you too, Joe."

"I swear you're stalking me, Tia."

Celestia looked over to see Discord giving her a slight grin from the counter.

She gave him a slight grin in return. "Maybe you've just gotten a little predictable."

"Oh, well now you're just being insulting." And yet the chaos master's little grin remained.

Celestia held back a laugh as she approached. "I just thought I'd come looking for you to see if you wanted to start our evening together early."

"Well…" Discord shrugged, glancing away with an aloof look, "I suppose I could be persuaded. I'm not terribly busy at the moment, after all. And Joe's got Luna now to distract him. And you're her and I'm here so…why not? Nice to know my presence is so desired." He almost smiled a little again. "So, how shall another raucous evening together begin? You mentioned something last weekend about needing help with Hearthswarming preparations—if you need gift ideas for me, I have a whole list prepared." He snapped up a ridiculously long scroll that filled the restaurant, laughed at his own joke, then snapped it away again.

Celestia smiled a little herself. "Actually we have a lot of work to do."

Discord blinked then sighed dramatically and rolled is eyes. "Work…?" he almost whined, crossing his arms over his chest. "Celestia, I thought the point of us hanging out was to relax and have fun."

"Oh, we always manage to have fun no matter what we're doing." Celestia waved him off with her hoof as she continued smiling. "But yes, I'm afraid preparing my tower for Hearthswarming really can be a lot of work…" She glanced to the side shyly. "There are wreaths to set up, garland to hang, trees to trim, ornaments to unpack, lights to string up…" At this point in her list, Discord was resting his chin in his hands and pouting as he slumped like a child being read a list of chores. She moved closer and her voice softened as she completed her list with its final item. "…And of course at the end there's mistletoe to hang…lots of it, I'm afraid. So much that you really need two people for it."

Discord blinked and sat up a little. He quickly resumed his aloof look though as he replied, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, "…Really?"

She nodded with a light blush, barely looking at him as she turned toward the door. "I'm afraid so." Her smile picked up a little on one side. "But if all that's too much work for you, then I guess we could do something else…"

In a flash, Discord teleported from the counter and appeared before her. He narrowed his eyes slightly with a small smile. "Well…if we get that head start you mentioned and work together 'in harmony' like you ponies like to do, I'm sure we can manage to spruce up that tower of yours just fine in no time…mistletoe and all. And with plenty of time left over to talk about presents for me…and maybe presents for you too. As long as your heart's set on it." He snapped: the shop door opened. He gestured forward. "Shall we then?"

Celestia blushed lightly and nodded, holding back a giggle. "Let's go, Discord." She glanced over her shoulder. "Have a fun evening, Luna, Joe."

Grinning, Luna and Joe nodded to her.

"Thank you, sister, and you as well."

"Bye, Celestia, Discord! And Discord…thanks."

Discord gave a nod to Donut Joe over his shoulder as Celestia walked past him. "Don't mention it." And then he turned to join his princess companion for the evening. "And you know, Tia," he started, "we could also finally finish our discussion of Hearthswarming history and our debate about Windegos that got interrupted last year." He resumed his aloof look, though a playful note came to his voice as he added, "We could even discuss 'hugs' as a means of preventing their presence…demonstrations and all."

Celestia laughed softly. "That book's still in my room. We could decorate in there last and then look at it together…"

"Great minds think alike."

The door closed on the sound of them sharing a warm chuckle which faded as they headed away from the shop and suddenly teleported off to the castle.

Luna and Donut Joe just watched them go with smiles.

"They're a couple of sweet kids." Donut Joe chuckled.

Luna laughed too and nodded. "Yes." She glanced to him. "Joe, what did you thank Discord for?"

Donut Joe blinked then smiled more. "It's a long story. Let's talk about it later. For now, it's been a long day, and I've missed you, Luna Baby." He moved closer, eyes hazed.

Luna's eyes hazed as well. "I've missed you too, Dearest Joe."

They came together and shared a tender, deep, lingering kiss.

As they pulled back, Donut Joe rested his forehead against Luna's. "How about we go in the back and practice some new recipes…for dinner and for donuts?"

Luna nodded and used her magic to change from her regalia and crown into a pale blue apron and a little pale blue hat. "Working together to make something wonderful for us both—thou art a most clever pony, Our Joe of the Donuts."

"And you're a dynamite lady, Luna Love." He chuckled as he pulled back to admire her. "And you look very cute as usual in your baker's outfit." He sighed and smiled more. "Last month, that first morning you ever helped greet customers at the shop dressed like this—it's one of my favorite memories."

Luna smiled and blushed. "The first night I ever came into your shop alone, so many moons ago, and you weren't afraid of me in the slightest—you just smiled and said how nice it was to have another princess eat your donuts and then poured me coffee and asked me about my evening—that's one of my favorite memories ever since I returned."

His green eyes glowed with warmth. "Happy I could give it to you. You deserve as many happy memories as you can get."

She gazed at him tenderly then came forward. "Come along then, Joe my Love. Let us begin another wonderful night together." Luna moved past him, glancing over her shoulder. "And though I'll have to leave for my duties later and so you can have some sleep, I'll return at moonset as usual to kiss you good morning…"

"And to cuddle until breakfast?" Donut Joe added with a blush as he followed after her.

Luna blushed more and nodded. "Great minds think alike." She winked.

The two shared a warm laugh as Donut Joe used his magic to open the kitchen door and they went through together.

Outside, a beautiful late autumn night descended upon the world; a peaceful time for unforgettable moments to be shared between Donut Joe and Luna and others couples throughout Equestria as another new year slowly approached.


A/N:

Well, that's all for now! I really hope you enjoyed how things went. I love writing these two, so there'll probably be a Donut Nights 4 in the works soon ^_^ I hope you guys enjoy it! Please review if you can, and thanks again for reading!

~Azure129