Chapter Six: Deepening Intrigues

Pinkie Pie laid face down on her bed, reading one of her birthday journals. She was stroking Gummy’s rough back as she poured over Rainbow Dash’s entry. She was having a bit of difficulty deciding what to get or do for Rainbow; as it turned out, Rainbow was rather simple. Sleep, apple cider, flying, joining the Wonderbolts, Daring Do books, and a pretty girlfriend with a pink mane seemed to be what all of Rainbow’s hopes and desires consisted of.

Pinkie sighed. “Oh, Gummy,” she said, “What could I ever give her? I can’t get her into the Wonderbolts, and she can probably get the other things all by herself…”

Pinkie had found that planning a date with Rainbow was surprisingly difficult. She might have taken Rainbow to an amusement park, except that she couldn’t think of any attraction that would be satisfactorily enjoyable for a blindingly fast daredevil. She might have asked Rainbow to a picnic, except that Rainbow quickly grew bored or fell asleep whenever she had to sit still for too long. She could throw a party for her, but that would rather defeat the purpose of spending time alone with her.

Pinkie groaned and flopped backwards onto her pillows, holding the journal over her chest. “It’s no use, Gummy,” she said. “I can’t think of anything.”

Pinkie laid motionlessly over her mattress and blankets for several minutes, breathing slowly with her eyes closed. Wondering, wondering, but still coming up with no answers.

Eventually she opened up her eyes, held the journal over her face, and looked back at Rainbow’s entry. “Maybe I can give her one of these…” Pinkie muttered. Of course Rainbow either had all of the listed items or could effortlessly get them, but some of the items such as apple cider could still be palatable as gifts; after all, Pinkie always appreciated a free gift of sweets or food, and why wouldn’t Rainbow?

Still, the idea of a date solely based around apple cider seemed a bit underwhelming, so Pinkie considered the other items as well. Her attention was again drawn to the Daring Do Books bullet point. She considered it for a moment, then sighed. Rainbow had all of the books already, and only a select few ponies knew where the reclusive A.K. Yearling lived, so arranging for Rainbow to visit her was out of the question.

Then another idea occurred to Pinkie. She got up, closed her journal, and left it on her bed as she went to her bookshelf. She picked up the latest Daring volume, Daring Do and the Philosopher’s Stone. She opened the cover and checked the publication date. “Daring Do and the Philosopher’s Stone, First edition published May 1, 1002.”

Pinkie returned the book to the shelf as she hummed thoughtfully to herself. Daring Do installments tended to be published every six months, and this one had been published four months ago. The next one should be announced and begin printing soon, so it should be theoretically be possible to get ahold of one before its official release.

Pinkie’s eyes narrowed. But how could she get ahold of one? She didn’t want to steal one, of course, but even if she did it would still be ridiculously difficult. Getting it legitimately might be next to impossible.

Her eyes widened with inspiration. She’d go ask Twilight; she knew everything about Daring, and if there was a way to get ahold of one of the copies before its release Twilight almost certainly knew about it.

After that, further inspiration came rapidly to Pinkie. She opened her journal back up and looked inside. Joining the Wonderbolts. Pinkie grinned; though she couldn’t get Rainbow a position in their ranks, she knew that Rainbow always loved watching them. She could provide Rainbow that, if nothing else. At that moment she decided to take Rainbow to see a Wonderbolts flight show from first-class seats.

Pinkie soon also decided that she would take Rainbow to a fine restaurant with the finest sparkling cider and book her a room in a nice hotel where she could sleep like a foal.

At last, Pinkie decided upon how the date she’d ask Rainbow on would commence: she would take Rainbow on the train to Canterlot, they’d go to a fine restaurant Pinkie booked, then they’d go to the Wonderbolts show, then Pinkie would give Rainbow the Daring book, and then they would sleep in deluxe suites in one of Canterlot’s best hotels. Assuming Rainbow wanted to fly a little while they were there and she and Pinkie ended up together, Pinkie would be able to give Rainbow nearly everything she wanted in one night.

Pinkie smiled and laughed euphorically. This was going to be the most amazing, spectacular, funnerific, unbelievably romantic date ever.

Then Pinkie remembered two things: first, this date was turning out to sound incredibly expensive, and second, there was the very real possibility of Rainbow saying no.

The latter fact made Pinkie’s heart sink. Her ears drooped and she lowered her head. “What if she does say no?” she said softly to herself.

She shook her head. “If she says no, we’ll just go back to being friends.” She smiled. “And I’ll have a whole lot of money!”

She giggled to herself, then raised a brow in puzzlement. “Seriously though, how will I get the money?”

After thinking about it for a moment without producing an answer, she shrugged. “I can figure that out later,” she said. “First, I have to figure out how much all this is going to cost.” With that in mind, she found a piece of scratch paper and wrote a list:

*The next Daring Do book
*First-class Wonderbolts show tickets
*Restaurant reservation
*Hotel Rooms

She wrote at the end: *Train tickets: 20 bits. This was because she already knew that a round trip for the both of them to Canterlot and back would cost that much. She wrote Total: at the bottom, then set out to search for the rest of the prices.

She first went to the Golden Oak Library to visit Twilight. When Twilight greeted her at the door, Pinkie said, “Is there any way I can get a copy of the next Daring Do before its release date?”

Twilight looked up, thinking. “Well, the publisher holds a raffle before every release where they give out ten signed copies for free. You could enter for that. If you loose (which you probably will), you’ll almost definitely be able to buy one; there’s always a pony who turns around and auctions it off when they get it. You’d be better off waiting, though; those copies always sell for five hundred bits at least.”

Pinkie nodded. “What’s the most they sell for?”

Twilight’s eyes widened with surprise. “Really? You want one that badly?”

Pinkie nodded. “Uh-huh. How much is the most they sell for?”

Twilight was silent for a moment. “Is this for Rainbow Dash?”

Pinkie gasped. “How did you know?!”

Twilight smirked and looked to the side. “Lucky guess.”

Pinkie started bouncing. “Come on, how much? How much?”

Twilight sighed and shook her head. “Well, the most I see it going for is probably about three thousand bits.”

“Okay! When’s the next raffle?”

“… October fifteenth, at Inkblot’s flagship bookstore in Canterlot.”

Pinkie grinned. “Okie-dokie! Thanks, Twilight!”

Twilight gaped astonishedly at Pinkie as she began bouncing away. “Pinkie!” she called.

Pinkie darted back. “Yes, Twilight?”

“You’re really willing to pay three thousand bits to get one?!”

Pinkie nodded cheerfully. “Mm-hmm! Well, if I can get three thousand bits, that is!”

She began bouncing away again. “See ya, Twilight!”

As Pinkie hummed and hopped down the road, Twilight rubbed her forehead and gazed with a stunned frown at the ground. “She really is in love with Rainbow Dash…” she muttered.

After Pinkie had found a traveling catalogue in the market and determined the prices of the rest of her items, she returned home and added them together to produce the resulting total of five thousand, six hundred thirty bits. She then calculated how much her savings would be if she didn’t spend any of her surplus salary until October fifteenth, which came down to about a thousand five hundred bits: half of what she would need to bid for the book.

Pinkie groaned anxiously and scratched her mane. “I’ll need more,” she said. “Maybe I should ask for a raise from the Cakes?”

Pinkie shook her head. “No. They’re about to have a baby; they’re gonna need everything they have.”

Pinkie lowered her face nearer to the paper. “So how do I get those other thousand five hundred bits?”

Pinkie ran downstairs. “Mrs. Cake!” she called. “Mrs. Cake!”

Mrs. Cake, who was giving change to a customer, turned to her. “Yes?”

“Mrs. Cake, can I go sell cakes in Canterlot for about a month?”

Mrs. Cake’s eyes widened. “What?”

“See, I need three thousand bits to get a present for Rainbow Dash, but I’ll only have a thousand five hundred when the next Daring Do raffle happens. I need another thousand five hundred, but I can’t get that in time with my regular pay, so I want to go to Canterlot and sell cakes there for a month! I’ll give you a percentage of the profits, if you like; just please let me do it!”

Mrs. Cake blinked for a few moments. “Exactly what present do you want to give Rainbow that would cost three thousand bits?”

“The next Daring Do book, silly!” Pinkie giggled. “Weren’t you listening when I said I need it by the time the next Daring raffle happens?”

Mrs. Cake gaped at Pinkie in astonishment. “…Don’t the Daring Do books cost about twenty bits?”

Pinkie nodded. “Mm-hmm! But I want to get this one early, and Twilight said I could get one for three thousand bits!”

She started bouncing. “So can I go? Huh? Huh?”

Mrs. Cake stared at Pinkie for a moment. “…Uh… How do you plan to sell the cakes, Pinkie?”

“I’ll offer free samples in Canterlot’s market! If somepony tastes one and likes it, I’ll offer to bake them a whole cake!”

“Where are you going to live?”

“I’ll rent an apartment! I’ll stay in one with a kitchen so I can bake the cakes!”

Mrs. Cake gazed at Pinkie for a while before smiling. “Alright. This present sounds like it might be a little too opulent, but if you really want to you can go to Canterlot.”

Pinkie cheered excitedly. “Yay! How much should I bring back?”

After thinking for a moment, Mrs. Cake replied, “Forty percent.”

Pinkie gasped. “Forty percent? I get to keep most of it?”

Mrs. Cake nodded. “Consider it a bonus. You sound like you’ll need as much as you can.”

Pinkie hugged Mrs. Cake. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she cried.

* * *

Scootaloo zipped along the roads on her scooter, expertly weaving through the buildings and pedestrian ponies. Riding always helped her relax and think.

She was trying to think of how to go about wooing Rainbow Dash. She had first decided that she would have to ask Rainbow out as soon as possible, but then only grow more forward very gradually; though this was urgent, she couldn’t be hasty, as this was very risky. It would be very dangerous for Rainbow to become Scootaloo’s girlfriend, so Scootaloo would have to gradually ease her into the idea of it. She’d have to start gently, so as she made her intentions clearer Rainbow would remain comfortable enough that she wouldn’t panic and run away.

Scootaloo initially worried that this would give her rivals too much time to make a proper move on Rainbow before she did, but then she realized another advantage her plan would provide her: if she was able to coax Rainbow into beginning to desire her, it would decrease the chances of Rainbow indulging the others’ plays for her affection. It wouldn’t completely negate the chances, of course, and they would only be reduced slightly at first, but still. Scootaloo was proud of the elegance of her plan; the longer she was able to enact it, the greater the odds were of it succeeding.

With that said, Scootaloo still had to decide what her first move would be. Firstly, she had to be sure that whatever the date was, Rainbow couldn’t know it was a date; that meant it had to be very casual and have a plausible, non-romantic excuse. As Scootaloo thought about it, she came up with the perfect answer: she would ask Rainbow to walk and talk with her about Cloudsdale. It was brilliant; she could excuse it as simply bonding with someone else like her (especially since this was true), but not only that- it would give her more opportunity to learn about Rainbow.

With that decided, Scootaloo wondered how she should go about asking Rainbow. Of course, she knew she’d have to do it as casually as possible; if she was too formal, Rainbow (and, more importantly, the others) could be clued in that she intended it to be a date. But before she planned out what she would say, she had to decide: would she ask Rainbow alone, or around the others? Both had the risk of making things go wrong; if she asked in front of all the rest of them and wasn’t completely composed and perfectly hiding her emotions, the others might be clued in. On the other hoof, asking Rainbow while they were alone could make Rainbow prematurely suspicious, and if that happened she might become too guarded to let Scootaloo in.

Eventually, Scootaloo decided on doing it in front of Rainbow’s friends; she needed Rainbow to be relaxed, and at least Rarity was probably aware of her crush on Rainbow. She could probably get away with most or all of them knowing, so long as they were convinced that Rainbow wouldn’t do anything about it.

Scootaloo exhaled deeply. She began planning and practicing her speech; everything depended on it going flawlessly. She’d also have to have complete control over herself; if she let anything slip or show, everything could fall apart.

As Scootaloo was pretending to casually suggest to Rainbow the idea of talking about their histories in Ms. Snowpeak’s orphanage, her eye was caught by the real Rainbow, who was following a happily bouncing Pinkie along with Rarity, Sweetie Belle, and Fluttershy down the road. She rode up to them and said, “Hey, guys! What’s up?”

Sweetie turned to her. “Oh, hi, Scootaloo! Pinkie’s going to Canterlot for a month, and she wanted to invite us to a little going-away party at Sugarcube Corner!”

Scootaloo wanted to grin; Pinkie being out of the way for a month was more than enough time to gat a sufficient start on Rainbow. However, she made a mildly sorrowful expression. “Really? What’s she going for?”

Pinkie grinned. “I need to earn some money for a SURPRISE!”

“Okay. So where are you guys going?”

Sweetie Belle replied, “We’re going to ask Apple Bloom to come!”

Scootaloo raised a brow. “Aren’t you asking Applejack, too?”

Rarity groaned. “Applejack probably won’t want to come.”

“Why not?”

“Because she thinks being gay is unnatural,” Rainbow growled.

Scootaloo gasped. “R-really?”

“Yes,” Fluttershy said sadly.

Scootaloo’s heart sank. Her wings ceased beating and she allowed her scooter to stop, placing her hoof on the ground. “But… I’m gay. What does she think about that? Is she okay with me being friends with Apple Bloom?”

“I don’t think Applejack knows, dear,” Rarity said. “It might be best if you keep that to yourself for now. I don’t think you should have to, of course, but Applejack’s a bit high-strung as it is. There’s some chance that she won’t let Apple Bloom come.”

They continued traveling in silence, during which Scootaloo stared with shock at the ground as she rode along. Did Apple Bloom tell Applejack about her? Would Applejack not want to be her friend anymore? Would Applejack not let Apple Bloom be her friend anymore?

In what seemed to be no time they arrived at the Apple house. Before Rarity knocked she said to the others, “Be polite, and don’t pick a fight with Applejack no matter what she says. We don’t want things to get any more tense.”

Rarity sighed, and knocked upon the door. She put on a polite smile as Applejack answered it. “Hello, Applejack,” she said.

Applejack frowned at her. “Rarity.”

Rarity cleared her throat. “Pinkie Pie is going to Canterlot tomorrow, and she is throwing a little party at Sugar Cube Corner. We came to invite Apple Bloom, but of course if you want to go-”

“Ah don’t,” Applejack replied bluntly. “Ah’ll go get Apple Bloom.”

She walked back in, they heard her call to her sister, and soon they saw Apple Bloom gallop out of the house. As she excitedly ran to join the other Crusaders, Applejack poked her head out. “Bring her back by eight, ya hear?”

Rarity nodded. “I shall.”

Applejack sniffed. “Goodbye.”

She closed the door, then they all began walking back down the road.

Once they retrieved Twilight and Spike, they went to Sugar Cube Corner and the party began. There were minimal decorations, though the Cakes surprised Pinkie with a three-layer strawberry cake with the words We’ll Miss You, Pinkie written elegantly in white frosting over the top.

Everyone spent a good deal of time talking to Pinkie and wishing her luck on her trip. They spoke of the plays in Canterlot, and the high fashion there, and the delectable food, but eventually the topic came to the alternative sexualities most of them had.

Pinkie was, of course, shocked to learn that Scootaloo was a fillyfooler too. “You are, Scootaloo?! That’s great! Hey, does anypony else notice that most of us are gay? I mean, what are the odds of that?”

“Actually, it’s not too improbable,” Twilight interjected. “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Fluttershy added, “That’s actually the reason Rainbow and I are friends, and why we moved to Ponyville. Pegasi don’t tend to like gay ponies, so we were sort of pushed together and then out of Cloudsdale.”

“Same here,” Scootaloo said. “The other Pegasi were awful to me, too. Hearing about you and Rainbow is actually what inspired me to come here, Fluttershy.”

Scootaloo smiled. Now was the perfect time. She turned to Rainbow. “Say, Rainbow, do you think we could maybe talk about that sometime? It’s so awesome to know that there’s someone else who knows what it’s like.”

Rainbow looked down at Scootaloo. There was enormous enthusiasm in her eyes, and Rainbow could see that Scootaloo wanted to talk to her about it alone. This made sense, Rainbow thought; this was something about Scootaloo nopony else would probably be able to understand the way she did.

Rainbow smirked. “Sure, squirt,” she said, mussing up Scootaloo’s mane. “How about you and I get some ice cream tomorrow, and I’ll tell you what life was like for me and you can tell me what life was like for you.”

Scootaloo grinned enormously, closing her eyes. “It’ll be just like having a big sister!” she said ecstatically.

The rest of their friends giggled or went, “Aww,” and Rainbow blushed while making a small smile. She laughed and messed up Scootaloo’s mane again.

Scootaloo hummed merrily to herself as she rode back to her tent that evening. Everything was going splendidly.

She blushed and sighed euphorically. It was a stroke of genius to declare that Rainbow would be like her sister; not only should it stave off any suspicion the others might have had of romantic feelings between them, but Scootaloo had also been wishing to say those words to Rainbow for an unbearably long time.

Perhaps it came from being a runaway, but Scootaloo was filled with a particular thrill by the idea of doing dangerous or forbidden things. It was why she still lived in a tent in an alley, why she precariously weaved on her scooter through high traffic, and why she was filled with adrenaline whenever she secretly read her porn.

She, of course, would have loved Rainbow no matter what, but everything that kept Scootaloo from her only made her want Rainbow more; they were both girls, which was a bit edgy. Even better, Rainbow was a teenager, and so a romance with her would be even more rebellious and secretive.

Both of these things made her desire for Rainbow ever more powerful. Scootaloo only wished that Rainbow were her big sister, so that the danger and intrigue of it all would be as potent as it could possibly be. Incest had always been enormously exciting to her; the erotica and magazines that were, aside from her Rainbow poster, Scootaloo’s most-used items were publications dedicated to secret, forbidden romances between cousins, sisters, or mothers and their daughters. Scootaloo got a similar kick out of teacher-student romances (which, of course, was a large part of the reason Scootaloo also wanted Rainbow to be her mentor so badly).

Scootaloo was absolutely blissful. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too long before she would hear Rainbow whisper the words student, little sister, and most of all lover to her.

* * *

Apple Bloom had a lot on her mind.

Sweetie Belle telling her about fillyfoolers had kept her thinking nonstop for the last few days. It was utterly alien and baffling an idea to her- that Stallions could be with other Stallions, and that Mares could be with other Mares, in the same way that Mares were with Stallions.

And yet, it was also- simultaneously, surprisingly- perfectly natural to her, as well.

Apple Bloom had never noticed it before. She had had crushes on colts, yes, but when she looked back at it she had felt every bit as much admiration for her pretty filly classmates as her cute colt ones. She was able to say, without hesitation, that Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were very cute, and so were their teacher Ms. Cheerilee and all of Applejack’s friends.

Perhaps it was due purely to an assumption that fillies only pursued colts, but Apple Bloom had never considered the idea that she might like fillies, too.

Was that even possible, to like fillies and colts?

Apple Bloom shivered. And what if she did like fillies? According to Sweetie Belle, it could be dangerous to be a fillyfooler. What did that mean? Would the other kids hate her? Would they hurt her? Of course, she knew that Scootaloo and Sweetie wouldn’t, but still…

Apple Bloom was brimming with anxiety her entire trip back home. She had so many questions. Was she a fillyfooler? Did she like colts, too? Maybe she didn’t like either? What would happen if she told anypony? What would Ms. Cheerilee do? What would the other kids do?

As Apple Bloom approached Sweet Apple Acres, she smiled with realization. “Oh yeah,” she said. “Ah can ask Applejack!”

Apple Bloom began galloping back to her home. She had decided; she would ask Applejack about all these things. She knew that Applejack would understand and know what to do.

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