Friendship is Magic; Love is Confusing
Part 1 of 2
Twilight Sparkle gave a long sigh as she sat peering over a tall stack of books in her library home one day. She was bored. She had absolutely nothing planned and none of her usual books were keeping her attention. To make it even worse, Spike was off to Canterlot for a couple days again, so there wasn't even anyone to talk to. Not very long ago she would have relished the solitude as a chance to get some serious reading done, but after coming to Ponyville and making so many great friends now it just felt kind of lonely.
Still, she was sure she could find at least some book to keep her interested. There just had to be something. If the usual stuff wasn't working, maybe she just needed to look at something different, something she hadn't read before? This was a library after all; there were still a lot of books she had never read on a lot of topics she still didn't know anything about. Moving languidly to her shelves, Twilight stared blankly ahead for a moment.
"Hmm..." she started, as she stared at the books. A lot of them looked pretty familiar. She pulled a couple out, only to recognize them by their titles as things she had already read. Eventually, she reached the end of a particular shelf. There, resting almost hidden between two taller, thicker books was a fairly thin book she could say with certainty that she didn't recognize at all. With her magic, she very slowly pulled it out from the shelf.
Her eyes found the title on the front. She read it aloud, "The Secrets of Dating: A Young Mare's Guide to Romance."
The unicorn frowned and pushed the book back a little, intent on just leaving it there. A growing curiosity suddenly then hit her. This was certainly a subject she knew literally nothing about. Unsure of what she was doing, she forced a weak smile before letting out a prolonged sigh. Quietly she then opened the book's front cover and began to read the text slowly.
"Romance is an important part of any young mare's life. This book serves as the ultimate guide to romance, telling you everything you could ever want to know about making sure that first date and all those after it go absolutely perfectly," Twilight read aloud with little enthusiasm.
Though unconvinced upon first reading them, after looking over the words a second time they started to make the pony think. She had never been on a date before; she couldn't even remember being asked on one. If this book was right and it was such an important part of a young mare's life, was she missing out on something? Maybe this really was something worth investigating? Twilight was not a romantic like Rarity or Spike; she had never even really given the idea of romance all that much thought. She'd go so far as to admit she lacked a fundamental understanding of it. That said, she was all for trying new things. That's what her time in Ponyville was for, after all. A good experiment would be the perfect thing to keep away the boredom anyway.
She began to read the first chapter of the book entitled "Finding a Date". The text described certain qualities a young mare should look for in a potential date, how to approach somepony for a date and how to respond when one is asked on a date. Since she hadn't been approached yet, Twilight doubted somepony would just suddenly ask her now. If she was really going to do this, she would have to find somepony to ask herself. After considering it just a moment more, the unicorn decided to leave her library, eager to get the experiment started.
By the time she was outside, it hit her that she had absolutely no idea where to even start. Various ponies were passing by outside the library; Twilight looked desperately from face to face. She had been in Ponyville for a number of seasons now, but she was still a relative newcomer. Though most of these faces were at least familiar to her, she really didn't know a lot of these ponies very well.
The book seemed to be written from the perspective that the one being asked was already an acquaintance of some sort, but Twilight wasn't sure most of these ponies qualified as even that. For several moments she stood outside her door, pondering who to ask. Surely she knew some nice stallions who would be willing to go out with her. She began to think on just that subject, but the number of names that came to mind were quite few.
"Well... there's Big Macintosh..." Twilight muttered. "But I really don't know him too well... a-and..." She hung her head and sighed. "This is going to be awkward..."
The number of male options really was small. Aside from Spike, obviously, there just weren't many males in Ponyville Twilight was especially close to. Applejack's older brother really was probably the best bet, and even with him she could hardly remember a single really worthwhile conversation they had shared. Wouldn't it be weird then to approach him? Twilight wasn't really sure. She'd consider it, but surely there had to be other options somewhere.
She looked around some more, her eyes going from face to face, hoping to see something she was missing. Pretty much all she was seeing was other mares. She hadn't ever noticed it too much, but the Ponyville population really wasn't very evenly split between the sexes. Twilight gave an even longer sigh than before and rolled her eyes. If she wanted to conduct a proper experiment, she was going to need a lot more options than she was seeing.
"This would sure be easier if it didn't have to be a stallion..." she said under her breath as she shook her head all but in defeat.
It was then, that out of the corner of her eyes she caught sight of two somewhat familiar faces. Two young mares, an earth pony with a cream coat and blue and pink mane and a unicorn with a mild green coat and pale blue mane, were walking by in stride with each other. They seemed to trot almost too close to one another, and pleasant smiles graced both their faces. Seeing them look so happy together like that, a certain idea crossed Twilight's mind.
"Maybe..." Twilight started as she observed closely. "Maybe it doesn't have to be a stallion after all..." She nodded rigidly. "I'll consult the guide!"
The unicorn excitedly went back inside and grabbed the dating guide. Quickly she skimmed through the first chapter once more. It did seem to be written with a stallion in mind from the pronouns used, but it didn't say as much in specific terms. Twilight wasn't entirely sure, but she figured it could still work. Maybe. If not, she'd just make it work. One must be adaptable when conducting an experiment, after all. To further ensure her success, she decided she'd just take the guide with her this time as a reference.
Leaving her home for a second time, Twilight began to walk slowly down the street. As she did this, she brought the book before her and began to glance it over once again. She still wasn't sure who to ask, even if it not necessarily having to be a stallion opened up a lot more options. She read the section on qualities to look for in a partner, intent on finding some sort of clue. "A mare should look for somepony strong and dependable; somepony she knows she'll always be able to count on when things get tough," it said. Twilight nodded as she considered just who she knew who qualified.
"Hey, Twilight! Whatcha up to?" a familiar voice suddenly called to her from behind and above. Twilight turned her head. When she found Rainbow Dash hovering in the air there, she offered her a warm smile.
"Hi Rainbow Dash," she said. "I was just...." Trailing off, the unicorn looked down and read the line in her book again. Her eyes lit up. Dash was perfect! There was really no pony more dependable than her. She shut the book forcefully and nodded several times. "I was just looking for you, actually!"
"Oh?" Dash started, smirking. "Something only the best young flier in all of Equestria can handle? Go ahead and hit me with it, Twilight!"
Twilight glanced at her book again. The text read, "the best way to ask somepony out is to just be direct and ask them. You're not going to get anywhere if you're too shy." Twilight nodded. She could do this!
"Whatcha read--" Dash started, flying in closer. Twilight quickly slammed the book shut and hid it behind her, blushing from embarrassment as she did so
"Rainbow Dash," she said, giving a sudden bold nod. "I want you to go on a date with me!"
Dash stopped in her tracks. She stared at the unicorn for a long while, a dumb look on her face. She was silent for a moment, then she just started laughing. She laughed uncontrollably until there were tears in her eyes from laughing too hard. Twilight just stared at her, wondering just what she had done wrong.
"So..." she started awkwardly, forcing a smile. "Is that a yes?"
"Bahahahahaha! Twilight...." Dash continued to laugh madly. "That has to be the funniest thing I've ever heard...."
"Umm... yeah..." said Twilight, pulling out the book. She looked for a section about how to respond when your prospective partner laughs uncontrollably in your face, but she wasn't finding anything.
"The Secrets of--" Dash began to read the title of the book. Her incessant laughter reached a new peak. "Twilight, you nerd... this is just too much..."
"Hey! I'm being serious here," Twilight spoke desperately, feeling humiliated. "Do you want to go out with me or not?"
Dash laughed some more. "This is too good! Tell me this is some sort of prank? Who put you up to this? Pinkie Pie?"
"Nopony put me up to this, Dash! I just want to try it..." said Twilight as she began madly skimming the book some more. "I mean... it sounds fun..." She gave her own forced laugh.
"So let me get this straight," Dash's eyes went wide. "You randomly started reading some book about dating, decided to wander around Ponynville following it blindly, ran into me and just decided it would be a good idea to ask me on a date?"
"Yeah, pretty much," the unicorn said, nodding quietly. "Why?"
Dash exploded with laughter again. Through her giggling, she spoke, "And you don't see how ridiculous that is?"
"N-no..." the other pony started. "The book said somepony like you--"
"'The book said'--!" Dash laughed hard some more. "This really is just too much... I mean... I knew you could be clueless, but this"
"Look, Dash can you tell me just what's wrong with it or not?" demanded Twilight, now frustrated.
Dash snickered uncontrollably. "Give me a moment..." she barely managed to get out.
The pegasus pony then began to laugh madly once more. She laughed and laughed and Twilight's embarrassed blush only grew and grew. Finally, she had had enough being laughed at. Whatever answers Dash might have weren't worth waiting through this for.
"Uh... well, forget I asked, Dash. I'll just go ask somepony else then," Twilight said with considerable awkwardness. Without another word, the unicorn then bolted away as quick as she could, feeling somewhat humiliated and defeated, still hearing laughter in the distance.
When she was sure Dash was far away and not coming after her, Twilight brought the book to her face again and gave a heavy sigh of relief. Something had obviously gone fundamentally wrong. Twilight wasn't sure what exactly. Dash probably just wasn't the right sort of pony to ask after all. That didn't mean this experiment was over; she just needed to try again. She was positive she would find a partner to experience this dating concept with if she kept looking.
She started to peruse the book intently once more. Returning to the sections on qualities she should be looking for, she read, "consider your future with this pony. If possible, he should be somepony who is hard working and reliable. Honest, down to earth personalities, though maybe not as immediately alluring in the beginning are often more ideal if you're looking for something long ter--"
Twilight's reading was interrupted suddenly as she ran forcefully into something. She fell backwards, her book falling on the ground. A number of small, hard objects then fell on top of her head one after the other, leaving her dizzy.
"Umm... Twilight..." a very familiar voice spoke to her from nearby. "I'm thinkin' it really ain't so great an idea to be readin' and walkin' at the same time..."
"Oh... Applejack," Twilight started after shaking her head rapidly to regain her senses. As she became more aware, she realized it was Applejack's sales stall she had walked right into. Apples were piled high in a basket beside the pony, some of which had fallen off and landed on Twilight's head at the impact. The sweet smell of apples and apple pastries filled the air. "Ah... yeah..." She gave an awkward laugh. "I'm sorry, Applejack... I was just..."
"Ah, it's fine, Twilight. I know how you get with those there books," Applejack said with a warm chuckle. "Ya just gotta keep at least one eye on the road or there's sure to be trouble."
"I'll keep that in mind," said Twilight with a hint of embarrassment. "Thanks!"
"Ain't no problem at all!" Applejack returned the smile. "Care to buy an apple?" she added, waving a hoof toward what she was selling proudly.
It was at this moment that it hit Twilight. She remembered what she had just read. "Hard working", "reliable", "down to earth"? The book was clearly describing Applejack this time! It was perfect!
"Yes!" Twilight cheered, feeling like she had finally gotten somewhere.
"Great. That'll be two bits," Applejack started, picking up a rather plump red apple from her basket.
"N-no, that... wasn't what I meant...," Twilight spoke, blushing awkwardly as she was offered the fruit. "I'm sorry."
"You don't want an apple then?" Applejack asked, looking quite confused now.
"Er... well... not really..." Twilight muttered, now feeling kind of bad.
"Then what was all that about?" Applejack tilted her head slightly as she stared at the unicorn curiously.
"Applejack," Twilight started suddenly in a strong voice, ready to get to the point. "Will you go on a date with me?"
Applejack blinked repeatedly then took a step backward. She narrowed her eyes and stared at the other pony, looking utterly confused. "Beg your pardon?"
"Will you go on a date with me?" Twilight repeated, much less firmly than before.
"I thought that's what you said..." Applejack said, irritation appearing clearly on her face.
"Well...?" Twilight started, gulping.
"Er... Twilight..." Applejack gave an awkward, forced laugh. "What the hay are you askin' that for...?"
Twilight looked away from her friend and then downward. Her eyes met the book on the ground. Applejack's eyes followed her to it. She frowned in clear disapproval at what she saw.
"A Young Mare's Guide to..." she read from the cover in near disgust. "Listen here, Twilight. It's about time you learned somethin' important!" Applejack's voice grew increasingly intense.
"Um... yeah?" asked Twilight, forcing her own awkward laugh and smile, a little scared to see her friend becoming angry with her.
"Your books are just dandy for learnin' about some things," the hard working pony started with some harshness in her tone. "There are just some things you can't be learnin' from no book."
"But this book seems pretty informative," Twilight countered with a nod. It was well written and Twilight was pretty sure she had already learned a lot from it.
"Twilight, you dang silly pony..." Applejack said like it should be entirely obvious, shaking her head as she did. "This just ain't how you do it right!"
Twilight was hopelessly confused. At least Applejack wasn't laughing in her face. She wasn't doing it right? She was doing what the book said. All indications were that she was conducting this experiment properly. Yet this was the second pony who was questioning her methods. Just where could she possibly be going wrong?
"How do I do it right then?!" Twilight demanded, desperate for an answer.
"Twilight, I really shouldn't even have to answer that question," Applejack responded with a small groan.
"It's something obvious then?" Twilight asked, looking up as she considered it. The only thing that came to mind was the stallion variable. Maybe it wasn't something she could be flexible on after all? Twilight nodded. That had to be it. "Oh, I think I understand."
"Do ya?" Applejack gave a short, unconvinced chuckle. "Somehow I reckon you don't..."
"No, I got it," said Twilight nodding once more. "So, Applejack... you wouldn't happen to know where Big Macintosh is?"
"B-Big Macintosh?" Applejack started in disbelief. "What the hay does my brother have to do with any of this?"
"That's my problem, right? I shouldn't be asking another mare," said Twilight, confident it was the correct answer.
"That ain't it at all, Twilight!" Applejack started, stomping her hooves. "You're entitled to date whoever you darn well please. Ain't nopony worth his salt gonna judge you on something like that!"
"Really?" The unicorn was surprised yet pleased to hear this. "That's great then." She then looked down. "But what am I doing wrong?"
"Darn near everything," Applejack remarked, rolling her eyes. "Just hang this one up before you embarrass yourself any further, Twilight. Trust me, you'll be thankin' me in the end."
"I guess that's a no to the date, then?" Twilight started, opening her eyes a little wider.
Applejack gave a long sigh. "Did you hear what I just said?!" she asked, frustrated.
"Fine... I got it. I'll just be leaving then..." said Twilight with a nervous laugh, grabbing her book and slipping off. Applejack glared after her, all the while shaking her head.
Still completely lost as to what she was doing wrong, Twilight trotted quickly away from Applejack's store. The earth pony had told her to give up, but Twilight Sparkle was not a pony who liked to quit mid-experiment. No, that was unreasonable. She'd just try somepony else. She'd get the proper response out of someone, she was sure. That's how experiments worked.
Eager to keep things moving, the unicorn opened the book and began to read a little more from it. "You want to look for somepony who can connect to you emotionally. A little sensitivity and kindness can go a long way." Twilight nodded and lowered her book. She blinked quickly. Fluttershy was right in front of her, playing with a small cat, a smile on her face. Twilight smiled. What a wonderful coincidence! This time, the book was clearly talking about the very pony who had appeared right in front of her.
"Hey, Fluttershy," said Twilight as she approached the meek pegasus. Fluttershy glanced at her. "What's up?"
"Oh, hi Twilight," the pegasus pony said in a soft voice. "I was just playing with this little guy." She giggled sweetly and smiled at the cat. "I'm watching over him for his owner."
"I see," said Twilight, nodding. There really was nopony more kind and sensitive than this one. "That's really great!"
"So what about you, Twilight?" asked Fluttershy, tilting her head in curiosity as she stared at Twilight.
Twilight thought about how exactly she should ask Fluttershy to go on a date with her. It seemed a little harder to just come out with it than it had been with the other two. The book had said to be direct when asking, but Twilight knew she was going to have to be a little softer with this pony. She looked down and coughed.
"Um...." She spoke in a low, reserved voice. "There's something I'd like to ask you, Fluttershy..."
"Yes, Twilight?" Fluttershy started, nodding very softly.
"W-well... er..." Twilight stuttered, wondering if she should even say it. Just as she was about to back away, her resolve suddenly kicked in and she stepped forward. "Will you go on a date with me?"
Fluttershy's face seemed to instantly pale in shock. Her whole body shook noticeably a little and then she made some high, indistinguishable sounds. Twilight wondered then if perhaps she hadn't made a mistake. She took a step back, looked at the ground and then at the other pony, not sure what to make of this reaction.
"I... er...." Twilight started with an uneasy laugh, having no clue what to say. Flutttershy said almost nothing for about a minute. Twilight began to wonder if she had broken her somehow.
"I'm very flattered that you feel that way about me, Twilight... " Fluttershy finally managed to stiffly reply in a very quiet, very strained voice, her face reddened by a deep blush. "But I'm just not sure I can think about you like that...."
"Oh..." said Twilight with a sigh. "Alright then. Guess I'll go ask somepony else."
"Ask somepony else?" Fluttershy started, clearly confused by these words, looking a little panicked.
"Yeah," Twilight replied, pulling her book out and opening it. "I'm sure I'll find somepony who will say yes..."
"Oh...!" Fluttershy exclaimed as she stared at the dating guide book Twilight was reading. "Umm... Twilight..."
"Yeah?" Twilight responded.
"That's not how you..." Fluttershy's voice was quiet from the start, but it trailed off to impossibly high squeaks that Twilight couldn't make out. "You see, when you ask a pony out on a date you're supposed to..." the unicorn strained herself to hear what the other was saying, but she could still only pick up so much. "And if you don't.... then it just doesn't work."
"I'm sorry, Fluttershy," said Twilight. "I didn't quite get all of that.
"Oh, well I was just saying how you can't ask a pony on a..." Twilight frowned. Fluttershy was speaking much too softly again. "You see, romance is... If you don't.... then it's just not going to work."
"Could you maybe speak a little louder?" Twilight asked with a forced grin, sorry to have to make the request.
Fluttershy spoke entirely in inaudible squeaks this time, her face becoming entirely red as she did. Twilight stared at her for several moments, not sure how to respond. She desperately wanted answers, but trying to force them out of Fluttershy didn't feel like the right solution.
"Okay, Fluttershy. I think I understand now," Twilight lied, still forcing a smile. "Thanks for the help."
"Umm... are you sure you got it?" Fluttershy asked, looking Twilight in the eye, seemingly unconvinced.
"Yeah, thanks!" Twilight nodded. "Sorry to trouble you."
"Umm... it's quite alright, Twilight," Fluttershy meekly replied, still looking remarkably uneasy. "I'm just glad I could help you."
"Y-yeah... help. You were certainly that, Fluttershy," said Twilight with a clueless smile as she began to walk away slowly. "So... umm... see ya later, I guess."
"You too, Twilight," Fluttershy called back, some awkwardness still in her voice, waving her hoof at her friend.
As she walked away from yet another good friend, Twilight gave a long sigh. Another attempt to find a date had ended strangely. Twilight tried to piece together the few words she had been able to pick up out of what Fluttershy had said, but she just couldn't make any sense of them. Just what was she doing wrong? She was just following what the book said. Was there something important she was missing? Applejack had said it didn't matter, but maybe the part about them being a stallion was important after all?
Sighing in defeat, she decided she would try just one more time. If it failed this time, she would hang this experiment up and do a little more research. That settled in her head, she started to read her book again. Once more, she consulted the section about qualities to look for in a date, eager to find out who she should ask next: "It's always a plus if the pony your after is a real romantic. A little charm can go a really long way. Likewise, no young mare should ever be ashamed to let simple style and good looks sway her decisions."
Twilight nodded. This section undoubtably pointed to Rarity! Her next target decided, Twilight began to trot quickly ahead in the direction of Carousel Boutique. It didn't take very long before the familiar dress shop was in Twilight's sights. She approached it readily and knocked at the door. After a few moments, it swung open. Rarity appeared, greeting her fellow unicorn with an inviting smile.
"Ah, Twilight, do please come in," she said in a warm voice.
"Thanks," said Twilight as she walked through the door, Rarity closing it behind her. "I hope I'm not disturbing anything."
"No, no. Don't worry about that. Work is light today. I have more than enough time for a visit from a friend," Rarity replied with a simple shaker of her head.
"Great!" Twilight smiled.
"Now then." Rarity gave a steady nod. "What can I do for you today, Twilight?" she asked, looking quite eager. "You want to order a dress?" With almost too excitement in her eyes she then added, "Or maybe you just want another makeover!"
"I... uh... no, that's not it today," said Twilight, blushing and backing away quickly. Rarity could be a little much sometimes.
"Oh?" said Rarity, tilting her head. "That really is too bad." The stylish unicorn gave a short sigh. "So what did you come to me for today?"
"Well... actually..." Twilight started, feeling a little nervous. There was something a little more intimidating about asking out Rarity for some reason. "There was something I wanted to ask you, Rarity," she struggled to add, her voice quivering with uncertainty.
"Go on," Rarity urged, nodding her head.
"Would you go on a date with me?" Twilight asked, finally finding her courage.
Rarity's eyes widened in surprise. Unlike the others, she was hardly stunned though. She hardly missed a beat before starting to speak. "My word, Twilight... I do question why you might suddenly propose such a thing?"
"Well... I just wanted to try it..." said Twilight giving a nod. She then raised the dating book to where Rarity could see it. "This book says it's important..."
Rarity examined the book and quickly shook her head in disdain. "Twilight, I must say this rubbish is simply beneath you."
"What?" said Twilight, surprised by this reaction. "That book is really no good then?" She hung her head. "That must be why all the others reacted so strangely."
"The others?" Rarity started, fear appearing suddenly in her eyes. "Please tell me you didn't ask all of our other friends on dates too, Twilight?"
"I did." Twilight nodded. "I asked Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy."
Rarity shook her head and frowned deeply. "And how did that go?" she asked, rolling her eyes, looking as if she already knew the answer.
"Dash laughed at me, AJ was kind of frustrated, and Fluttershy... she just seemed really shocked and awkward about it all..." said Twilight, forcing a grin as she recalled the peculiar reactions.
"As they all should have, Twilight. This really is quite ridiculous," Rarity said, shaking her head yet again.
"Is that book so wrong?" Twilight protested, still incredibly confused.
"Some of the things written it are probably pretty good, I'd have to read it myself to find out," said Rarity evenly. "But you see, Twilight, that's really not the point. It's the very idea of this book that's the problem."
"What do you mean?" Twilight asked, desperate for an answer.
"It just doesn't work like that, Twilight. Romance is not something a pony should need a guide for. It's something that needn't be studied and analyzed. It's something that just happens..." Rarity explained in a low, effortless voice.
"Ah... I understand..." Twilight said, laughing awkwardly. In truth, she was more confused than ever.
"Do you? Something tells me you don't understand it at all..." said Rarity, actually sounding kind of troubled. "That you would ask out your friends based solely on what some book says.... It really does seem to say you don't know what romance even is."
"But that's why I wanted to find out!" Twilight declared, nodding. "It's just like when we had that sleepover with Applejack. New experiences can never be a bad thing. And the best way to understand something is to try it for yourself."
"There are some key differences between this and that, Twilight," said Rarity, shaking her head. "This kind of dating isn't just some activity you do to have fun. It's rooted in love."
"Love?" Twilight questioned, not entirely sure she was following what the other unicorn was saying
"Yes, Twilight," said Rarity. "To put it simply, a pony would have to be completely crazy to agree to go on a date with you without love being there."
"Oh..." said Twilight, trying to think up a solution. Her eyes lit up as a thought hit her. If love was what was needed, all she needed to do was fall in love. It was that--
"And don't think you can just suddenly force yourself to fall in love, Twilight. It doesn't work like that," Rarity started suddenly, as if she had read the other unicorn's mind. "It's just not something that can be forced."
"Alright then..." said Twilight, hanging her head in defeat. "Guess I've taken this as far as I possibly can..." She gave a long sigh. "Thanks for cluing me in, Rarity..."
"It was my pleasure, Twilight. I'd hate for my friend to stay so misguided." Rarity flipped her hair proudly.
"I guess I should probably leave you to your work then," Twilight said, giving a weak smirk as she started to back away.
"Nonsense! Please, Twilight, stay as long as you please!" Rarity insisted. "I really do have a dress that I think you would look just perfect in!"
"I'd really love to...." Twilight glanced upward as she backed up even more. "But... uh... I just remembered I have stuff to do. Lots of serious stuff."
"Oh? Stuff?" Rarity said, showing curiosity at the nondescript word.
"Yep. Stuff!" said Twilight with several successive nods. "Important stuff..."
"You don't truly have a thing to do today, do you Twilight?" Rarity asked, seeing right through the other pony's act. Twilight gave an awkward laugh and blushed profusely.
"Er... I do... I do...." Twilight tried desperately to think of something. Eventually she gave the first excuse that popped into her head. As it was, her mind went to the one close friend she hadn't seen that day. "I promised Pinkie Pie that I'd spend time with her today."
"Oh, is that so?" said Rarity, looking as if she didn't completely buy it. "Well, if you must then.... Carry on."
"See ya later, Rarity," said Twilight as she turned to leave.
"Yes. Do come again, Twilight," Rarity said with a nod to her. Twilight hurried out the door.
She gave a sigh of relief, knowing she had just narrowly escaped an endless dress up session. As much as she valued Rarity's company, and as much as she genuinely really liked the dresses Rarity would have her wear, she wasn't in the mood for that today, especially not after embarrassing herself in front of Rarity and everypony else. Besides, even after hearing what she had from the other unicorn, curiosity still had its hold on her. Perhaps more than before even, she wanted desperately to understand romance and dating.
Twilight began to consider her next course of action. She'd return home to find more and better resources. She hated not understanding something. Her library surely had many books to consult. She'd be able to unravel the bigger picture in no time, starting with finding out just how to fall in love.
Collecting her dating book and her confidence, she stepped away from Carousel Boutique. She didn't manage but three steps from the door, when from out of virtually nowhere, something very pink hopped spontaneously into her path.
"Hi, Twilight!" cheered Pinkie Pie, her eyes illuminated with excitement as she jumped up and down next to the other pony.
"Oh... hey, Pinkie..." said Twilight, smiling at the pony.
"I'm all ready," said Pinkie with an overly enthusiastic nod.
"Ready?" Twilight questioned, completely confused. "Ready for what?"
"Hanging out with you," Pinkie Pie eagerly answered. "Like you told Rarity!"
Twilight was stunned. "Pinkie... you heard that?" she started with a gasp. "You were eavesdropping...."
"Nope!" Pinkie replied firmly, still wearing a grin.
"Then how did you know?" asked Twilight, even more confused than before.
"My back left hoof tapped seven times, then I sneezed twice," said Pinkie in an explanatory voice, like this made everything completely clear.
"What does that mean?" asked Twilight, rolling her eyes a little.
"Duh! It means Twilight Sparkle said she would spend time with me, silly," Pinkie said, laughing at the unicorn. "Everypony knows that!"
Twilight just stared at her odd friend for a while unsure what to even think, much less say. She had given up trying to question things like this when it came to this pony. "Um... okay... Pinkie..."
"So what are we going to do first, Twilight?" asked the earth pony eagerly, her smile becoming even wider.
"Er... well... I was going to do some research..." said Twilight dismissively, hoping her friend would take the hint.
"That sounds boring," said Pinkie jumping suddenly toward Twilight. "I think we should play a game instead!"
"Pinkie... I really don't--" Twilight started in a low voice, backing up.
"Quick! Guess what I'm thinking about, Twilight!" Pinkie cut the other pony off to shout, her body becoming rigid as she looked Twilight in the eye.
"Uh... cupcakes," the unicorn guessed, rolling her eyes and giving a reluctant sigh.
"Nope!" Pinkie called out immediately
"Balloons?" said Twilight, glancing at her friend's cutie mark for inspiration.
"Nope!" the other pony repeated, shaking her head repeatedly.
"That's not it either!"
"Pinkie... I really don't--" Twilight started, now entirely fed up with the game.
"I'll give you one hint," said Pinkie, nodding as she continued to smile happily. "It's a pony!"
"Fluttershy?" said Twilight reluctantly, giving a heavy sigh.
"Rainbow Dash? Applejack? Rarity?" said Twilight in quick succession.
"No, no and no," answered Pinkie Pie, just as quickly.
"Mr. or Mrs. Cake?" Twilight next guessed, thinking about the other ponies Pinkie knew.
"Not right," chimed Pinkie Pie.
"Princess Celestia?" Twilight guessed next, thinking now about ponies that she knew.
"Nope!" the pink pony called out once more.
"I give up!" said Twilight, tired of guessing. "Who are you thinking about?"
Pinkie tilted her head slightly and smiled. After a moment of thought, she simply said, "I forgot."
"Pinkie, that's--!" Twilight started, showing signs of anger.
"That was fun!" Pinkie Pie suddenly shouted out. "What do you want to do now, Twilight...?"
Twilight shook her head, honestly hoping her friend would just slow down for a second. "What I want to do is--"
"Oh! Oh! I know," said Pinkie bouncing up and down.
"Yes, Pinkie Pie...?" Twilight asked, giving a long, frustrated sigh.
"We should go see what Rainbow Dash is doing!" said Pinkie, nodding several times.
Twilight smiled deviously. If she could dump Pinkie off on somepony else, she'd be free to go do her research. "Okay, Pinkie," she said. "Let's go find her..."
"Goodie! Rainbow Dash is always fun," said Pinkie Pie with one of her brightest smiles yet. "Of course you're really fun too, Twilight."
"Thanks," the unicorn said, suddenly feeling a little sorry about what she had just thought. Pinkie could be a little annoying sometimes, but Twilight really did value her as a friend.
Still, Twilight had started this experiment and she was committed to seeing it through. She was going to uncover the mysteries of this world of dating and romance she couldn't seem to penetrate, no matter what it took. She couldn't let Pinkie Pie get in the way of that. To get a head start, she began to read the dating book again as she walked. Rarity said this book wouldn't help her, but Twilight was positive at least some of its contents might prove helpful.
"Whatcha reading?" Pinkie Pie excitedly questioned, her head popping up between Twilight and the book.
"A book," said Twilight with an amused roll of her eyes.
Pinkie giggled. "You're funny, Twilight. Of course it's a book!" Pinkie examined the pages. "What book is it?"
"It's about dates," said Twilight in a low voice, kind of ashamed to be admitting it.
"Oh!" said Pinkie, nodding excitedly. "I've had those before. They're kind of tasty."
Twilight stared at her friend for a moment completely confused. Then slowly, she figured out in her head what Pinkie was getting at. "No, Pinkie. I don't mean that kind of date..."
"You don't?" Pinkie twisted her head almost too much, clearly surprised. "Then what?" she demanded.
"I mean like... you know... when..." Twilight suddenly became very embarrassed. She didn't understand why. This was Pinkie Pie she was talking to after all. "When two ponies go out together..."
"Oh! That kind of date!" Pinkie Pie started, her eyes becoming wide. "Why you reading about that, Twilight?"
"I'm just curious..." Twilight admitted with a blush. "I don't know anything about this sort of thing... and when there's something I don't know about... I kind of like to figure it out."
"I see, I see!" Pinkie said with several exuberant nods. "I think that's really cool!"
"You do?" Twilight asked, a little surprised.
"Yep, yep!" Pinkie Pie continued nodding. "Say, Twilight, have I ever told you the story of the time I threw that absolutely amazing anniversary party for Mr. and Mrs. Cake?"
"No, you haven't," Twilight shook her head, actually interested in hearing a story which might relate to the subject of romance.
"Well...." Pinkie started, taking a deep breath. "You see, I really, really love Mr. and Mrs. Cake since they let me stay at Sugarcube Corner and watch out for me and give me all the yummy, scrumptious, super-tasty cakes and sweets I could ever, ever want. So one time I wanted to do something super extra special, you know, to pay them back. So I was like, 'what can I do?' And then I was like, 'I don't know. What should I do?' Then suddenly it hit me! I'd throw them the most super exciting fun party ever and it would be awesome!" Pinkie spoke a mile a minute, leaving Twilight momentarily stunned.
"I see... so..." Twilight finally managed, completely unsure where the story was going.
"So, I wanted the party to be a surprise since surprise parties are super, super fun. And I wanted it to be for a special occasion, so I waited and I remembered they were having their anniversary and so I decided to throw the party the day after that since I was sure they probably wanted to be alone actually on their anniversary since that just seems right, but on the day after I was sure they'd be happy to have a party so I decided that would be when I scheduled the party, so I scheduled the party," Pinkie bounced and smiled as she continued her story. "And then I made a whole bunch of cakes and cupcakes and other sweet stuff in secret while they weren't around and hid them for the party, and I was really proud of it all and I was sure this was going to be the best party ever!"
"Yeah, so what happened?" Twilight asked, by now used to the impossible rate at which words were spilling from the excitable earth pony's mouth.
"I invited everyone. I invited Rarity and Rainbow Dash and Applejack and Big Macintosh and Granny Smith and Cheerilee and Flower Wishes and Caramel and Mr. Breezy and Ditzy Doo and the Mayor and lots and lots of other ponies. So then when the party came, it was like everypony in Ponyville was there! Of course this wasn't true since someponies couldn't make it, but I understood since sometimes not everypony can make it and it still felt like everypony was there at the party except the ones that weren't, but I'm sure you know what I mean. And so we all surprised Mr. and Mrs. Cake and they were both really, really happy and surprised that I had prepared such a totally super awesome party all by myself. But then something happened..."
"Yes?" Twilight questioned, still waiting for the pay off.
"I accidentally tripped and dropped a whole tray of cupcakes," said Pinkie, giving a little jump, her expression becoming intense. "They fell on the floor, but I decided to eat them all anyways since they still looked good to me."
"Okay...." Twilight started, tilting her head, confused. "Then what?"
"We all had a super fun time and everypony was really happy," Pinkie said, her voice finally slowing down.
"Alright..." Twilight spoke. "What does any of that have to do with dating or romance?"
"Not really anything," said Pinkie, stopping to think. "Weren't you listening? It was about me throwing a super awesome party!"
"I see...." Twilight gave a weak laugh. "Then why did you tell me it?"
"Because you said you hadn't heard it before, you silly filly," said Pinkie giddily, giggling as she did.
Twilight just stared at her, deeply confused and alarmed. Then she started to laugh. Wasn't she used to this by now? This was just how Pinkie Pie was. "You sure are a crazy pony, Pinkie Pie..."
Pinkie Pie just continued to giggle happily and smile at her friend. Twilight's eyes suddenly widened. Rarity's words returned to her: "To put it simply, a pony would have to be completely crazy to agree to go on a date with you without love being there." Maybe this would work then? Surely firsthand experience was still the best way for her to figure this dating thing out. With a certifiably crazy pony like Pinkie Pie, it just might work.
She glanced back in her book. There weren't any passages about hyperactivity, sweets obsession, compulsive party-throwing and general insanity being good qualities to look for in a potential date. There was a single line mentioning that a good sense of humor could be important, but that was the only thing she saw that said Pinkie Pie to her. Twilight shook her head and stowed the book away. Regardless of all that, this might just be her one and only chance. She had to take it.
"Pinkie Pie," said Twilight suddenly, stepping forward.
"Yeah?" Pinkie started, smiling and turning toward Twilight.
"Would you go on a date with me?" Twilight asked, completely unafraid.
Pinkie looked taken aback for a moment. Then her eyes lit up. She smiled wider than Twilight had ever seen. "Oh my Celestia, yes, yes, yes! I'd really, really like that a whole bunch!"
"Really?" Twilight started, a little surprised.
"Yep, yep! It makes me super happy that you'd ask me, Twilight," said Pinkie with a healthy bounce, actually blushing a little.
"Well... alright then," said Twilight, smiling, glad to finally be getting somewhere. "Let's meet up tonight."
"Okay!" said Pinkie Pie eagerly.
"Awesome. See you then, Pinkie...." Twilight began to walk away.
"Bye, Twilight! This is going to be fun..." responded the earth pony, still looking deeply excited as they parted.
Twilight began to trot back home. She'd use the time before her date with Pinkie to read a little more. She still didn't know very much about dating. She had only read the first chapter of her dating book and wasn't even very sure what you did on a date. By the time the sun set that day, she'd be an expert.
Scarcely an hour later, inside her library, Twlight put down The Secrets of Dating, having read it in its entirety. She stared ahead blankly, unsure of what she had just read. The last few chapters had been about certain... activities... ponies were supposed to do after they had dated for a while.
Twilight wasn't sure what to think about this. It confused her. Sure, she had heard about such things before; she wasn't that sheltered. Yet to read about it being described in such terms... and as such an integral part of the dating process... she just wasn't sure what to think. It did say these things weren't supposed to happen ideally on the first date, but just the thought of doing such things with Pinkie Pie made her feel very funny.
This was just an experiment though. She was only taking this so far, just to increase her understanding of the subject. Then again... this was definitely a part of it she had absolutely no experience with. Pinkie Pie had seemed legitimately excited too. Twilight didn't know how far the pink pony wanted to take this. She didn't know how far she wanted to take this. She didn't know anything.
A little scared, Twilight rested her head on her desk. She didn't feel like reading anymore. She wondered if she really had made a terrible mistake. She sighed as she briefly considered canceling the date. Her thoughts then turned to the brightness of Pinkie Pie's smile.
"No... I started this," said Twilight to herself. "I'll see it through... no matter where it leads..."
That decided, Twilight glanced at her clock. In just a few hours she supposed she'd finally have her answers. That was if the anxiety didn't kill her first.