"Where is it? Where is it!" Rainbow Dash shook her empty saddlebags upside-down again, but it still proved fruitless. The pegasus growled and stomped a hoof, the floor of her cloud castle answering with a peal of thunder. A Ponyvillian passing below squeaked and broke into a gallop.
Where could it be? Dash thought to herself. Where was the last place I saw it? It was...
She visualized the box, gift wrapped in shiny royal blue paper and a red bow on top. The pony running the store had demanded to wrap it up for her free of charge when she lied and said it was a gift. Afterwards he had passed the package over the counter and it went straight into a saddlebag.
Then there was the trip across the plains and hills and through the mountain pass and into the woods... And then she got back home, emptied out the bags, and the box was missing! But--
"Oh yeah!" Everypony had piled their saddlebags together the night before, on the way back to Ponyville. Just before breaking camp that morning Twilight had passed each of the bags back to her friends. Rarity had insisted she embroider cutie marks into everypony's accessories. Dash definitely had the right piece of luggage.
"The box must have fallen out and got stuffed into another bag." Dash's ears tilted back. "Now somepony has it. And they're gonna think it's a surprise present. Or worse... they'll find out it's mine!"
A streak of rainbow shot across the sky, on a collision course with the Ponyville library.
Rainbow Dash alighted on a high branch with her breath held, then let it back out as a silent phew at her perfect, stealthy landing. She peered through a window in time to see Spike whip out a scroll.
"With pleasure, Twilight!"
The purple unicorn closed her eyes and tilted her chin up. "Dear Princess Celestia, I am pleased to inform you that the difficulties in Trottingham have been resolved. The proclamations of pony pirates proved positive, however..."
Rainbow rolled her eyes. Gosh, she could be talking for hooouuurs. She stopped paying attention and scanned the library for Twilight's saddlebags. Ah-ha! They were lying across a table between a pile of books and the bust of somepony famous from Equestrian history that Dash had long forgotten.
But how'm I gonna get to them with Miss Walking Dictionary down there telling her life story?
"... situation was concluded in a positive manner for all involved. The Mayor of Trottingham was immensely grateful and wished me to pass along her thanks." By this point Twilight was pacing as she spoke. Half of Spike's tongue stuck out between his lips as he wrote, the quill a blur. "Also, I learned a valuable lesson about friendship in the process! When..."
Oh c'mon! Rainbow Dash glared at the bags, then mulled over ideas while tapping her chin with a hoof.
Too messy. Too noisy. Too... Her eyes widened, then tightened to slits as she grinned. Too perfect...
"Always your faithful stu--" A knock at the door caused Twilight Sparkle to pause mid-step and open one eye. "Always your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle," she finished in a rush, then stepped to open the library door wide. "Rainbow Dash? Is everything all right?"
The multicolored pegasus gasped for air, mane even more tousled than usual. "Twilight, I flew as fast as I could! I know you hate snakes, so I...."
Her voice trailed off as Twilight's eyes widened, and the unicorn's mane started to literally stand on end. "Snakes? What about snakes?" She looked over at Spike, who just shrugged and shook his head.
"I just heard! Fluttershy says a snake is missing or something, and somepony saw a snake crawl into your--"
There was a purple blur, then Rainbow Dash found herself on the ground with all four legs in the air, her eyes crossed. They focused upside-down on Twilight, who was hopping from hoof to hoof and looking at her library home in an all new, snake-infested light.
Spike stepped out through the door, blinking. "I didn't hear anything ab--"
"It's okay, Spike, I got this!" Dash saw her opportunity. She zipped past the dragon and snagged the door closed with her tail on the way by. "I ain't afraid of no snake!"
"Me neither..." Dash heard Spike grumble outside, but she was already on her way to the saddlebags.
That was perfect! I'm so awesome... Nooow, let's see. Not this. Nope. Nuh uh. The winged pony took each of the packages, books, and other various items out of the bags one at a time at first, but by the time she got to the second saddlebag she turned it upside-down over the table and sifted through everything that fell out.
It's not here!
"Did you find it?" Twilight called out in a tremulous voice, and guilt struck straight through Dash's desperation.
I can't leave her hanging like this... "Oh, I, uh, I found it! It's just a baby! Gimme one more minute!" She glanced over her shoulder and saw Spike was pulling himself up to look over the lower edge of a window, so she moved her body between him and the table.
She shoved all of Twilight's items back into the bags as fast as she could, heart thudding away in her chest, then let out a tense whoosh of air. Good, okay, just like I found it. She almost turned around to leave, then tensed. No snake!
Her eyes flicked left and right, then landed on a scroll tube. Perfect! She snatched it up and looked over her shoulder again to see Twilight had just mustered the courage to peek over the window sill with one eye. Spike was giving Dash a funny look, though...
The pegasus pony nudged and bumped the scroll tube against the table, out of sight of the two watching her, then raised it over her head with two hooves. "I got it!" She flew out the door as Spike turned the knob, her wings carrying her up into the sky. "I'm gonna go take care of this. Later, Twi!"
"Thank you so much, Rainbow!" Twilight called out, the grateful tone making the pegasus wince.
I'll make it up to her somehow. Probably. She ditched the scroll tube in the branches of another tree, then looked out over Ponyville. Hey, I can see Rarity's shop from here...
All of the windows of the Carousel Boutique were wide open to let the Summer breeze blow through. Dash stuck her head in through Rarity's second-floor bedroom window, glancing about. I'll check her saddlebags and be in and out in no time! So where-- Dash put her hoof to her face. Ohhh, right... Rarity had bought so much in Trottingham that she had purchased a cart and strapped the overflowing load of packages down with the saddlebags on top.
The pegasus did a quick circle of the boutique but the cart wasn't in sight. Worried about what she might find, Rainbow Dash hovered above a window and looked down into the room. There was the cart, parked just inside the door. Next to it was Rarity, her horn glowing as she levitated a half-dozen packages in the air, emptying them one by one.
"I just knew the 'Dread Pirate' Blackmane was a sophisticate as soon as I laid eyes on her!"
Dash's heart jumped into her throat and she almost fell to the ground, but after a bored, "Mrowr," from inside the pegasus started breathing again.
"Oh, Opal, you should have seen the worldly designs she had in her collection," Rarity continued, using her magic to pull a roll of seafoam green fabric from a bag and file it into an empty bin on her wall. "Every day her ensemble was a delight! Beautiful, yet powerful... just like a sea captain should be." The unicorn punctuated the sentence with a light stomp of her hoof. "Such an incredibly chic pony could never be so crass as to be 'evil.'"
She's at least a little evil, Rainbow Dash thought, remembering the hour she spent hanging in a fishing net on the pirate's ship.
Okay, so, how am I gonna pull this one off? She started concocting another evil scheme, then discarded it with a shake of the head. No more lying.
Dash puffed out her chest. Hey, I'm Rainbow Dash! I'm the bravest pony in all of Equestria! I'm going to march in there and search that cart and there's nothing Rarity can do to stop me!
The pegasus swooped around to the front of the boutique and gave three hard raps on the door. It swung open with Rarity still carrying items in the air around her.
"I'm sorry, but..." The white unicorn's busy expression changed into a smile mid-sentence. "Oh, it's you, Rainbow Dash!"
The bluster went out of Dash in an instant at the thought of explaining herself. She chuckled and forced a smile. "Heh heh, uh, hi Rarity..."
There was an awkward moment of silence before Rarity filled it. "Please, please come in!" she invited, stepping back to the cart and leaving the door open. "How can I help you? Anything for a friend, dear, even on a day off."
Rainbow closed the door behind her and looked at the cart, hoping to see her box sticking out somewhere. No such luck. "I lost something and I thought maybe it got mixed up in your stuff."
"I see, I see. Well, what does it look like?" Rarity's horn glowed brighter as she rapidly lifted unopened packages and lining them against a wall, giving a self-satisfied nod at the perfect symmetry of her stacking.
"Uh, it's a box, wrapped in blue paper. And..." Dash stopped, then sighed before finishing. "And there's a red bow on top."
Rarity gasped and paused with several boxes floating in mid-air. "A present! Ooh, what is it?"
"It's, um..." The pegasus squirmed in place. "It's a surprise?"
"For meee?" The white pony's eyes seemed to grow almost twice their normal size, and Dash swore they sparkled just a little.
"No! No, it's not for you." After a pause she added in a quick, "Sorry," at Rarity's exaggerated expression of disappointment.
"Then you simply must tell me what it is, and who it's for! I won't tell a soul, I swear." Rarity stepped closer to Rainbow Dash. "Pinkie Pie swear! Cross my heart and--"
"I really don't--" Dash backed away, ears tilted back, but Rarity kept closing in.
"--hope to fly, stick a--"
"Rarity, I--" The pegasus bumped into the wall behind her.
"--cupcake in my--"
Somepony knocked on the front door.
"Stay right there!" Rarity insisted in a hushed whisper, then trotted toward the door with a singsong, "Cooo-miiing!"
Rainbow Dash turned Rarity's empty saddlebags inside-out, just in case, and then started pulling boxes off the overladen cart. She let them scatter across the floor, shoving some up against the wall just to get them out of the way as she hefted more out.
"I'm so sorry, dear, but I'm closed for just one more day," Rarity said out the door. "Yes. Mm-hmm. Of course. Tomorrow, bright and early! Goodbye, darling!"
Where is it, where is it!? If she sees what's inside I'll never live it down... Uh oh, she's coming ba--
Rarity whirled to look at the tumbling crash. Her packages were piled on the floor beside the overturned cart, the last box landing atop the heap like a cherry on a sundae. A rainbow tail sticking out flicked once. Opal batted at the tail with a paw, making it twitch again.
"Oh no, Rainbow Dash! Are you all right?" The boxes began to glow and rose up into the air. The sitting pegasus took the chance to sift through the airborne pile with her front hooves. "You really should be more careful in the future, dear. You're just lucky I didn't purchase any fine glassware!" Rarity's voice was equal parts concern and chiding, but Dash wasn't paying much attention, finishing her search.
Not here either! "Uh, sorry about that, Rarity! I'm sure everything is still in one piece." Rainbow leapt to her hooves and spread her wings. "I gotta fly now, more places to check, y'know? See ya!" She shot out the nearest window.
"But you still haven't..."
Rarity's voice faded into the wind as the blue pegasus gained altitude. She landed on a cloud and wiped the back of a hoof across her forehead.
That was too close. No time to rest, though. Where to next? Dash looked across Ponyville, then nodded to herself and lifted off. Fluttershy should be a breeze!
"Thank you so much for helping me check on all the animals, Pinkie Pie," Fluttershy said as she poured the pink earth pony a cup of tea. They sat on thick purple pillows on either side of a wooden table just outside of Fluttershy's cottage near the edge of the Everfree Forest. "I was so worried about them while we were gone."
"No problemo! I had fun with the ferrets, and partied with the possums, and... What's a good S word?" Pinkie's face scrunched up for a few seconds, then she shrugged and beamed. "The skunks were nice, too. Plus, Gummy just loooves to hang out with Angel!"
"Oh, yes, they do get along so well. Angel is always in a good mood all day after Gummy visits. I wonder what they get up to..." Fluttershy's imagination took flight and she stared into space for several seconds, but then she remembered the tea. "Oh my, I'm sorry! Do you want two spoons of sugar or three?"
"Yes please!" Pinkie answered, holding out her cup with a big grin.
Rainbow Dash watched all this from the top of Fluttershy's roof, peeking over the side to see Pinkie motion for more sugar even after the fifth spoonful. Uh oh. Better get this over with before she goes into overdrive.
Dash dropped off the back of the cottage and hovered, looking in through the half-closed kitchen window. Pinkie's and Fluttershy's saddlebags were on the floor beside each other, still full. Yes! Two-for-one!
The window gave a short squeal as Dash slid it the rest of the way open. She froze in place, but an over-excited voice still carried over from the other side of the building. The rainbow pegasus was amazed to hear that it was Fluttershy's, not Pinkie's.
"--were so cute! I mean, I had heard about dolphins, but I'd never seen one! And there were so many, and so friendly!"
"Did you hear everypony GAAAASP when you jumped overboard?" Pinkie giggle-snorted. "And you said you were afraid of the ocean, you big kidder! What about the hugemongous octopuseses and thirteen-headed sharks and snaggle-toofed starfishies?"
Dash could hear the blush in Fluttershy's hushed response. "The... the dolphins would have saved me if I got into trouble..."
The dolphins were pretty cool, Dash admitted to herself as she ducked through the window. She stepped on the tips of her hooves, sneaking past and over some of Fluttershy's nocturnal animal friends snoozing in the darkened cottage. She paused and held her breath when a gerbil--or is that a hamster? Whatever--yawned and rolled over, but it didn't wake up.
She made quick work of opening the bags and exploring their contents, but again her search turned up empty of gift-wrapped boxes. What the hay! It better not be on the ground somewhere between here and Trottingham. She shook her head and re-stuffed the saddlebags.
Dash slipped back outside, and the window squeaked again as she closed it behind her. A little gasp made her whip around, then she blinked several times. "What..."
Angel Bunny was holding a twig in one paw and a set of reins in the other. He was riding on Gummy's back, who was frozen in the middle of rearing back like a pony about to charge. The reins went to a stick in Gummy's mouth that served as an improvised bit.
The two pets stared at Rainbow Dash. She stared back.
"Uh. I won't tell anypony if you don't?"
Angel and Gummy made eye contact with each other for a second, and then the bunny gave Dash a thumbs up. The alligator made a gurgling, chompy noise and tromped off toward the woods, Angel swinging the twig around like a sword from atop his scaly steed.
Okaaaay. I didn't even know rabbits had thumbs...
Dash shook her head and took off. Focus! Gotta find it. I should swing by the Apple farm... Doubt was starting to weigh on her, though, along with the image of her box stuck in a bush out in the wilderness somewhere.
The voices of three fillies caught Rainbow Dash's attention and she turned to aim for the fields near Sweet Apple Acres, ears perked.
"Tell us more, sis!" Apple Bloom urged, her friends nodding along. "What else do pirates say?!" They were resting under the branches of a large tree that dominated the field, Applejack standing and the three Cutie Mark Crusaders sitting on their haunches and looking up with greedily curious faces. Winona sat with them, tongue hanging out and tail flopping side to side.
"Lessee..." Applejack pursed her lips in thought for a moment, then grinned. "There was... Me hearties!"
"Me hearties!" Scootaloo shouted, shaking a hoof over her head with one eye closed.
"Heave ho!" Apple Bloom repeated, scooping up a nearby fallen branch with two hooves and tossing it backwards over her head.
"Um, batten down the hatches!"
"Batten down the hatches!" Sweetie Belle yelled to the sky with her eyes closed, though it was half drowned out by her giggling at the sound of the phrase.
Applejack leaned forward mock-glared. "Ye scurvy dogs!"
Winona barked, and all four of the ponies broke into laughter.
"More, more!" Scootaloo demanded, but Applejack shook her head.
"Ah've run drah, lil Scoot. Ah just can't remember--"
A burst of inspiration made Dash forget her problem for one blissful moment. She swooped in from above the tree, landing just a few feet away from Applejack. Stepping in close to the orange earth pony, the pegasus spread a scowl across her snout and whipped out her best pirate pony impression. "Ye slimy, hornswagglin' landlubber! I'll keelhaul ye and send ye to Pony Jones's locker!"
The three little fillies went, "Ooooh," in unison, their eyes wide.
Applejack blinked, then shook a hoof in Dash's face. "Well, shiver mah timbers!"
The Cutie Mark Crusaders lifted their hooves over their heads and cheered. Winona got caught up in the excitement and ran off barking.
"Git back here, ye hornlubberin' scurvdog!" Apple Bloom shouted, chasing the dog.
"That's not how it goes!" Scootaloo hopped up and ran after the two.
Sweetie Belle followed close behind, singing, "A pirate's life for me!"
Applejack smiled as the four of them played, keeping close watch. She still caught her friend's face out of the corner of her eye, and saw all trace of amusement drop away as Dash recalled her errand.
"AJ, did you already unpack your things? Did you find anything... strange?"
"Strange?" The earth pony glanced over, one eyebrow raised.
"Just, you know, not yours I guess." Rainbow kicked a hoof at the grass, avoiding eye contact.
"Nope, not a thing outta place. Didja lose somethin'?"
Dash sighed and nodded. At least nopony saw what it was, but...
"Ah'll help you look fer it if'n you want, right after Ah send the girls home."
"That's okay, Applejack. It's long gone by now." Dash looked down at the grass and kicked it again, harder. I'm too old to be buying stuff like that anyway. I'm not a filly anymore.
"Uh huh." The pegasus pony flapped her wings several times, gaining altitude at a fraction of her normal speed.
Applejack raised a hoof and opened her mouth, but wasn't sure what to say, so she just let out a friendly, "Seeya at Twi's tonight, then!"
Dash didn't reply, skirting over the field with her tail and head hanging, eyes closed. She wasn't in the mood for celebratory s'mores anymore, so she didn't intend to head over to Twilight's after dark like they'd all planned. I shouldn't have bought it in the first place...
"Miss Rainbow Dash!"
"Huh?" She opened her eyes and saw Sweetie Belle looking straight up at her.
"Do you have a secret admirer?"
"What?" Dash shook her head, clearing it. "What do you mean?"
"Well, we found a gift box in the bushes under your sky-house-thing, and--"
"You found it? You found it!
You found it." Rainbow's face changed expressions so fast it almost hurt. "You didn't open it, did you?!" she asked, swooping down almost to the ground.
"Nuh uh." Sweetie Belle swung her head side to side. "We shouted up to you but you weren't there, I guess. Apple Bloom said we should give it to Twilight Sparkle because you both live in town and she's a very responsible unicorn."
"Twilight has it? Twilight has it! Thanks, kid!"
Sweetie's mane rustled in the wind made by Rainbow Dash's sudden acceleration, and then she ran back to her friends with a hearty, "Yo ho ho!"
"I can't believe it, all this time it was just on the ground under my front door? I just... dropped it?! I'm such a doofus!" Rainbow Dash laughed at herself, her spirit soaring almost as high as her body as she crossed Ponyville's skies. She was pretty sure that Twilight was too polite to open up the box without permission, but she still wanted to wrap up the whole ordeal as quickly as possible, just in case; Twilight could be pretty naive sometimes.
The sun was setting by the time the pegasus knocked on the library's front door, still catching her breath from the rushed flight. The door swung open and Twilight's face appeared, then brightened.
"Rainbow Dash!" the purple pony gushed, pulling the pegasus inside and giving her a tight hug. "Oh, you didn't let me thank you properly!"
Dash squirmed free and chuckled, rubbing a hoof on the back of her head and looking away. "Uh, heh, yeah..." She thrived on everypony knowing she was awesome, but being thanked for something she didn't really do made the guilt of lying come rushing back. "It's no big deal, really. Hey, did--"
"No big deal?! It is a big deal!" Twilight shuddered all over. "I could never conduct research here if I thought there was a snake on the loose!"
"Okay, yeah, I'm glad I could help. Now, Sweetie Belle--"
"Hiding behind a bookshelf, or inside a rolled up scroll..." The unicorn's eyes had glassed over, nightmarish images flashing through her mind. "Or... under my sheets..."
Rainbow reached out and gave Twilight a firm shake with her front hooves. "Hey!"
Twilight shook her head and refocused on her friend. "Huh?"
"You're. Welcome." The pegasus paused to let that sink in, then moved on. "Sweetie Belle said she dropped something off here. A box with a bow on top?"
"Oh, the present! Is it yours?"
"Yeah. Uh, you didn't... open it, did you?"
Twilight shook her head quickly. "No, no, of course not. Even I know how rude that would be."
It felt like a load fell from Rainbow Dash's shoulders, tensions melting away. "Awesome. I'd like to take h-- it home. Before it's too late."
"Hello, everypony!" Rarity called out, stepping through the open library door as if summoned.
Dash closed her eyes, put a hoof to her face, and groaned.
"Rainbow Dash, you're here already?" The white unicorn had brought an impressive stack of chocolate bars along, levitating them onto a nearby table that already sported two huge bags of marshmallows. "I'm delighted I didn't decide to arrive fashionably late to this evening's affair. Did you ever find your little parcel?"
"Sweetie Belle found it," Twilight supplied helpfully. "She brought it here for safe keeping."
"Smart girl! And..." Rarity leaned in close to the pegasus and whispered, "It's not for Twilight, is it?"
"No," Dash answered, hoof still planted firmly on her face.
"Ooh, then you can't leave us in any more suspense! What did you buy? I didn't see you at any of the outlets or boutiques I visited, and I must have visited them all at least once."
"Ah'll say!" Applejack agreed, stepping through the door and shrugging out of saddlebags overflowing with graham cracker boxes. "Ah thought we'd have to stay in Trottin'ham an extra day or two before you had yer fill!"
Oh jeez, everypony's showing up! Dash gulped and looked around, but couldn't spot the box. "So, heh, Twilight, where's the box?"
Twilight opened her mouth to reply, but Applejack cut in. "You found it, Rainbow? Don't that beat all! You sure did look mighty--"
Rainbow cut her off with a quick, "Twilight-where-is-it?"
"It's just upstairs, next to Spike's bed. He's taking a nap. I'll go get it."
The pegasus reared back and spread her wings. "Nope, I got it!"
Her wings flapped once before a bright giggle pierced the room. Dash oomphed as a weight landed on her back and flattened her to the floor, knocking the wind out of her. A pink head leaned forward to peer eye to eye with her, upside-down. "Have you ever had tea with eleventy-one spoons of sugar, Dashity?" Pinkie Pie inquired, all smiles. "Me neither, but seventeen was almost as good, I'm sure! My tongue still hurts a lil but it was soooo worth it!"
"Pinkie Pie!" the pegasus wheezed, squirming to rise.
"Hey, who got me a present?" Spike asked as he came down the last step of the stairs. He had a box in his hands, wrapped in shiny blue paper, a torn ribbon dangling from the top. The room fell silent for one brief moment, all eyes on the dragon. Then everypony watched him rip open the paper across the top and reach for the lid.
"Wait! Don't!" Rainbow Dash squeaked, sending Pinkie Pie tumbling as she shot across the library in a fraction of a second and impacted with the shocked dragon. The box sailed straight up into the air and time seemed to slow down. A blue hoof reached out to try and catch it, but Dash had too much momentum, sliding along with Spike into the opposite wall.
The box spun three times and then landed right side up, the impact knocking the lid off and sending the lumpy pink and blue item inside tumbling to the floor. Everyone stared, including Rainbow Dash from her position on the floor. She felt herself blushing, and then blushing even more when she realized it.
Oh Celestia... It's all over now. When word gets around I'll be laughed right off the weather patrol. The Wonderbolts will never let me join, that's for sure.
"Is that... Wavedancer?" a timid voice called from just inside the door. Fluttershy had walked in on the chaotic scene, but she flew in close to look at the colorful shape on the floor. "It is!"
Lying there was a stuffed animal with the general body shape of a pony, but the flippers and tail of a fish rather than legs: a seapony. It had a vibrant blue mane, and the shape of a conch shell was sewn onto its flank in bright purple thread. Fluttershy scooped up the plush seapony and smiled wide.
"I begged my mom to tell me stories about Wavedancer every night for years," the yellow pegasus recounted.
"Me too!" Rarity cried, stepping up closer to see it. "I didn't even know they still made Wavedancer toys! I had every single outfit they sold for her, though in hindsight I don't know how in the world I thought a seapony would ever wear clothes."
"Ah should start tellin Apple Bloom all the old Wavedancer stories," Applejack decided aloud, smiling. "She'd love'em as much as Ah did, Ah reckon."
"The Official Wavedancer Fan Club Song was the most super-ultra-catchiest ever!" Pinkie tossed in as she zipped up close to the amassing ponies. "Shoo be doo, shoo shoo be doo!"
Rainbow Dash's jaw hung open as the four ponies crowded around her toy and took turns holding it.
"Call upon this sea pony..."
"Mama said she came from a long line'a kelp farmers..."
"She always defended anyone smaller and weaker than her..."
"She married Prince Nautilus and became Queen of the Oceans in a grand ceremony..."
"Helpful as can be pony..."
Rainbow Dash blinked several times. They weren't making fun of it at all. If anything, they were happy to see it! As she rose to her hooves Dash laughed under her breath. Instead of putting a gulf between her and her friends, the entire fiasco made her connection with them stronger. All this trouble, plus lying to the shop pony about it being a gift just so he wouldn't think I was buying it for myself... I really am a doofus.
"So... it's not for me?" Spike asked, though no one but Rainbow heard him.
"I'll get you something on our next trip," she replied, "Something way cooler."
"Thanks, Dash!" Spike took one more look at the group of yammering mares and then snuck around them toward the unmade s'mores.
Rainbow started to step forward, to join in the hero worship, but stopped. Twilight wasn't part of the group, standing aside and watching instead. There was a hint of a frown on her face, her ears halfway tilted back, and her eyes were flicking between each of her friends as if she was trying to follow along but really didn't understand.
"Twilight?" Rainbow Dash asked quietly.
"I... I've never heard of Wavedancer," the unicorn admitted.
"What?" The pegasus scoffed. "How could you not even..."
But then she trailed off as something clicked in her mind. She looked over at her four friends, who were still wrapped up in conversation with a Pinkie Pie serenade as background noise. The memory of her recent feelings, that they wouldn't understand, the worry that maybe this one difference between them was somehow important... It all swirled through her mind.
Plus, she owed Twilight for the lie. That settled it.
Rainbow Dash reared up and stomped with both front hooves. "All right, everypony, listen up!" And they did, Fluttershy nearly dropping the toy on the floor as she hopped at the sudden noise.
"Twilight missed out on Wavedancer as a filly. That's right, she's never even heard of our little seapony at all!"
The four fan-ponies gasped, and Twilight stood aghast at Rainbow Dash calling her out in front of them, mouth hanging open.
"Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to tell her every last Wavedancer story we know. We must show her how awesome..." She paused and looked at the other four ponies. "Uh, and stylish, and hard-working, and helpful, and... whatever-else... Wavedancer is! We'll convince her, all night if we have to!"
"All night?" Rarity asked.
"You mean..." Applejack started.
"That's right." Rainbow Dash leaned forward, voice taking a final swell for the dramatic. "Wavedancer. Themed. Sleepover."
The room was silent again for several seconds, and Dash was worried that she might have pushed her luck, but then Pinkie Pie cheered and everything was right again.
"I hope I have enough spare blankets and pillows around the boutique."
"Ah'll come help fetch'em, Rarity."
"Oh, my favorite was always Wavedancer Helps the Gurgly Whale."
"That's the one that ends with the Tidal Jubilee, right? Seapony games sound so fun! Pin the Fin on the Seapony!"
Twilight stepped up and laid a hoof on Dash's shoulder. "Wow, Rainbow, that was... That was very sweet of you. Thank you."
"Heh, I know, that was pretty cool, right? Anyway, don't worry about it, I owed you."
Rainbow waved a hoof in the air dismissively. "Don't worry about it. Paid in full!"
The pair walked over to the s'mores table, Fluttershy and Pinkie joining them, just as Spike finished slow-roasting a plateful of s'mores.
Twilight levitated one of the treats up to her mouth, then stopped to ask, "Oh, Fluttershy, did everything turn out all right with the lost baby sn--"
Dash shoved the floating s'more into Twilight's snout.
"Heh, uh, story time!" she declared, grinning a little too widely as Twilight tried to chew the sudden mouthful. "You're gonna love this one, Twilight. It's called, Wavedancer Versus the Creepy Kraken..."