Part 6 - Arrivals
As the group of mares and their accompanying dragon made their way across the broad, cobblestone expanse of the town square, they began to take note of a steady stream of ponies converging on Sugarcube Corner with looks of excitement on their faces. The majority seemed to be fillies and colts.
Twilight cocked a curious eyebrow. "Huh. Looks like a party. I wonder what the occasion is."
Spike flared his wings expectantly and licked his lips. "Maybe they're giving away free samples."
Apple Bloom shook her head. "That ain't likely. Sugarcube Corner hasn't done a giveaway in a long time. Not since ol' A.J. "helped" with the..." She fell silent as her elder sister shot her a glare.
Applejack let out a snort of annoyance, then pursed her lips thoughtfully as they approached the milling herd of ponies surrounding the sweet shop. "A party ain't too likely either, seein' as they're short hoofed with Pinkie bein' set t' have her foal any day now."
At this Rarity chimed in. "Well, my dears, since they are short hoofed with that sort of crowd at their door, perhaps we should go and see if we can be of assistance."
Applejack surveyed the scene before them with a rueful look. "I dunno how we're even gonna get to th' front door with this mess o' pony folk in the way."
A gentle voice accompanied by the flapping of wings sounded out overhead. "Oh my goodness, what's all this commotion about?"
They all looked up to see Fluttershy hovering overhead with her foals in tow, her eldest filly Windfall dutifully keeping her fledgling twin siblings Blossom and Bud in a loose formation with their mother.
The butter colored mare touched down gently, and stood with flared wings as her younger children landed on her back.The tiny pegasi nestled in like cygnets riding on a swan as their mother enveloped them in her soft yellow plumage, while her firstborn landed on the cobblestones beside her. The peach colored filly was well behaved, and been raised with the old pegasus foals' discipline of following a parent's lead at being grounded or airborne, but the natural curiosity of a young pony caused her to crane her neck and stand on the tips of her dainty hooves to see what was going on.
Windfall's dilemma was quickly relieved, as Applejack walked over, planted a kiss on the little filly's cheek, and then bent down to let her climb up on her own muscular back. A look of fond nostalgia washed over Apple Bloom's face, as she sidled up to her sister's side and leaned in to nuzzle her niece as well.
Meanwhile, Fluttershy cast a curious look to her friends. "Does anypony know what's going on? Windy's got a play date with Tootsie today, and Pinkie didn't say anything about there being a big event at the shop."
Rarity gave her a helpless shrug. "Your guess is as good as ours, darling."
The butter colored pegasus got a steady gleam in her aquamarine eyes as she stepped forward. "Well, I suppose we'll all just have to go and see, won't we?" She gave a nod to her sisters in law, who fell into step beside her after exchanging a knowing glance.
Fluttershy approached the edge of the crowd and cleared her throat, speaking in a calm, measured tone. "Excuse me, everypony, but my daughter would like visit her friend Tootsie Pie, who lives upstairs at this shop. Could you all please step aside and let us through?"
What happened next caught Twilight and Spike completely off guard, as to a pony the boisterous mob fell silent and shuffled to either side, forming a broad aisle leading right up to the doorway of Sugarcube Corner. The gentle voiced pegasus trotted forward with Applejack and Apple Bloom at her sides, exchanging warm greetings and thanks and nods of acknowledgment with ponies in the crowd as they passed.
The lavender unicorn felt her jaw being gently pushed closed by Rarity, and turned to boggle at the elegant fashion designer. "Wh-what? How? Did she just..."
The alabaster mare let out a chuckle as she turned and nudged Spike's jaw closed as well. "Everypony in Ponyville knows better than to get in Fluttershy's way where her children are concerned. Now come along, my dears. We'd best keep up with the group or we'll get left behind."
As they approached the door, the group of old friends exchanged quizzical glances as they saw the brightly painted "Closed" sign hanging in the window.
Applejack called out to one of the young pegasi hovering overhead. "Hey kid! What's goin' on in there that's got you youngun's all head up about a closed candy shop."
The gangly teenaged colt tossed his mane and rolled his eyes. "Only that a couple of the Wonderbolts are in there, duh!"
At this Windfall flared her tiny wings and braced her little hooves on her aunt's back. She cast a gaze like emerald tipped arrows from her suddenly piercing green eyes, her rosy pink tail lashing behind her. "Hey! You be nice when you talk to my Auntie Applejack!"
The colt lost a bit of altitude and all of his attitude as he met her stare. He tore his widened eyes away with difficulty and bobbed his head apologetically to Applejack. "Uh... Sorry... ma'am."
The farm pony let out a chuckle as she reached up and doffed her hat, setting it atop Windfall's head where it promptly fell down over the little filly's eyes. "Think nothin' of it, sonny. Just try t' be more polite in the future. If'n ya ask them Wonderbolts nice like I bet they'd be happy to sign y'all an autograph later on."
The colt gave another halting midair bow and fluttered hastily away as Windfall finally managed to push her aunt's cowpony hat up over her face and cast a glare at the retreating teenager, looking for all the world like an angry little mushroom.
Applejack turned and smiled to her friends and relations. "Y'all hear that, everypony? I reckon we got ourselves a reunion on our hooves."
Apple Bloom nodded back to her sister with a grin and reached up to knock on the door. She hastily pulled her hoof back as a fierce pink face with blazing blue eyes appeared at the window, accompanied by a voice like the screech of an enraged griffon. "FOR THE LAST TIME I SAID WE'RE CL ooh!"
Before the mares, foals, and dragon on the doorstep even knew what had happened they found themselves whisked inside in a whirl of streamers and confetti. The voice that had snarled at them moments before was suddenly as bright and bubbly as a squeaky toy full of helium, as its owner made surprisingly high hops into the air for a pregnant mare of her girth. "Dashie! Look! It's the rest of the girls!"
Rainbow Dash was bouncingTootsie Pie on her back, the stuffed doll of her in her Wonderbolts costume still clamped tightly in the little filly's mouth. The chocolate and pink foal fluttered her tiny wings and held on to her heroine's neck, giggling with boundless glee.
A look of pure joy spread across the chromatic maned pegasus' face as she saw all of her old friends enter. "Hey guys! Come on in and join the party! I've got a friend I'd like to introduce you all to."
She stood beside a table laden with all manner of fresh sweets and baked goods, which Soarin was digging into with considerable relish. He looked up sheepishly at the band of mares that had entered and gave them a tentative smile and a wave after self consciously wiping the crumbs off of his snout.
Caramel and Pound Cake occupied the other chairs around the festive spread, with the young pegasus colt looking with eyes wide in admiration at the two stunt flyers while the earth pony stallion kept a wary watch on his wife's giddy antics. He took his daughter from Dash and sat the pouting filly on his own shoulders as the rainbow maned pegasus went to greet her old friends.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Cake family busied themselves behind the counter in preparation for when the little private gathering wrapped up and they could throw their doors open to the celebrity seeking crowd outside. Pumpkin stood at Mr. Cake's side, her blue eyes narrowed in concentration behind her thick glasses as she levitated rows of cupcakes into the display case from a tray her father held in his teeth. A look of pride glowed on the lanky stallion's face as he watched his daughter work her magic.
Pinkie Pie kept hopping higher and higher, her voice a gale of merry laughter as the reunited Elements of Harmony and their children stepped forward to embrace one another. "Everypony's here! I'm so happy right now I could just... ooh..."
A befuddled look washed across Caramel's face as the little filly perched on his shoulders suddenly started vibrating from the tip of her frizzy pink tail to the end of her dainty brown snout. He looked up at his buzzing daughter. "Uh... you okay up there Toots?"
The Rainbow Dash doll bounced off of his face as it shook loose from her chattering teeth, and Tootsie intoned in a warbling voice as she stared past the gathering of mares toward her mother. "M-m-m-m-mama?"
The tan stallion's head whipped back around and he saw his wife standing with her legs askew and her pupils like pinpricks in the wide, white expanse of her eyes. It looked as if somepony had accidentally kicked a bucket over on the tiles beneath her.
The happy chatter of greetings and catching up fell silent like a fire smothered by a blanket as Pinkie Pie's tremulous voice sounded in the sudden stillness. "Um... guys. I really hate to be a party pooper, but I think I need to go to the hospital... right... now..."
High on the ramparts of Canterlot Castle, Princess Celestia paused in her stately procession from the royal orrery where she had been recording the sun's morning progress to the dining hall for her midday repast. An explosion of dust rising over the distant hamlet of Ponyville in the sweeping green valley below had caught her eye, and she perked up one of her elegantly tapering ears to hear the faintest echo of a far off tumult carried on the warm breeze rustling up the mountainside.
She watched with a bemused look on her face as the dust cloud blazed a trail through the center of the village, shaking the tiny buildings as it passed before slamming into one of the larger structures on the outskirts of town. That would probably be Ponyville General, if her memory served her, which it did quite well for something she'd been using for millennia.
The sun princess chuckled to herself as the distant dust cloud faded over the lush springtime hills and quaint cottages far below. "Well... I expect I'll be getting an interesting letter from Ponyville today."
With that she continued on her way, her timeless thoughts turning to the fresh daffodils she would soon be enjoying in her salad.
The atmosphere in the waiting room of Ponyville General's maternity ward was a bit more subdued than the cheery environs of Sugarcube Corner, but no less convivial to the battered and disheveled group of old friends who had commandeered the row of threadbare couches next to the windows.
Outside, Fluttershy sat on the lawn among the dandelions, watching Windfall and Tootsie play kites in the late afternoon sun while her younger children slept peacefully nestled up to her sides beneath her soft wings. The little chocolate brown and pink filly's constant vibrations were making it hard for her to maintain the proper stability to win at the old pegasus foals' game, but Windfall was cutting her even more slack than usual, and the concentration required to float as long as possible without flapping her wings helped Tootsie keep her mind on something besides worrying about her mama.
Rainbow Dash leaned on the back of the couch watching from inside with a grin on her face. "Heh, look at the hang time those little squirts are getting. I never had the patience for playin' kites when I was a filly."
Applejack adjusted her hat to keep the sun out of her eyes. "Well, Tootsie ain't much fer holdin' still neither, even though she swears she's a champ at any game that catches her interest. Luckily Windy's got enough patience for both of 'em." A glimmer of pride flashed across her freckled face. "Takes after her Pa that way."
The cyan pegasus nodded, and then turned her attention to the sky blue stallion who sat slouched at the edge of the group. "Speaking of bein' patient, how're ya holdin' up over there, Soarin'? I'm sorry your first day in Ponyville has been mostly spent in a hospital waiting room."
Soarin shrugged, tracing a circle on the cushion beneath him with a fore hoof. "Oh, I'm fine, Dash. I'm just along for the ride anyway, so I don't really mind."
Applejack gave the blue pegasus an encouraging smile. "Why don't ya tell us a bit more about yourself, Mister Soarin? Y'all have been listenin' to us chatterin' on all afternoon about apple trees and nieces and nephews..."
Apple Bloom chimed in. "And odd jobs and fixin' roofs." She cast a rueful look across Ponyville in the direction of Sugarcube Corner. "And fixin' front doors, and flower stands, and hospital reception areas, for that matter."
Twilight gave him a smile as she smoothed the scales on a dozing Spike's head. "And magical research and teenage dragons who like to play super heroes." Spike let out a soft snore and burbled something about Thunderpony in his sleep.
Rarity added her two bits in a vivacious tone belied by her slightly frazzled mane. "And opera costumes and the Spring fashion season."
Dash cast a searching look at her friends. "Not to mention this big project you guys have goin' that you're being so cagey about."
Twilight and Rarity shared a glance as the lavender unicorn responded, carefully patting out a patch of upholstery next to Spike's head that had begun to smolder. "Well, we just think you'd rather see it in action than hear all the boring technical stuff, and we have a few things to work out before it's ready."
Applejack gave a snort. "More than a few."
Rarity rolled her eyes and lifted her snout in the air. "Now's not the time to go into that, darling." She turned and cast Soarin and expectant smile as her sapphire eyes glittered. "Mister Soarin, please do go on. You were going to regale us with tales of your own exploits as a Wonderbolt, no doubt."
The blue pegasus hung his head as his wings drooped. "I'm not a Wonderbolt anymore. I'm just a back bencher who finally fell off the back of the bench. Ten years ago I mighta been somethin', but now I'm just a fat, washed up has been with no place to go but down."
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Dash spoke up, reaching out a hoof to lay on her former teammate's slumping shoulder. "Aw... C'mon, Soarin. Don't..."
She trailed off as Applejack got to her hooves and strode past the others to stand glaring at the sniffling blue pegasus with hard, apple green eyes. "Well I expected t' hear foals cryin' in th' maternity ward, but not a full grown stallion. Anypony would be washed up after blubberin' all over themselves like that."
Rainbow Dash bolted upright with angrily flaring wings, her maroon eyes burning with indignation. "Hey, back off, AJ! Don't buck a guy when he's down!"
The farm pony lashed her tail. "I ain't got no pity for self pity, Rainbow, and that's all I'm hearin' from this sorry galoot."
She turned her head to look Soarin in the eyes. "When ya hit the ground, ya get up and get at it again. My Granny's down t' one hip, deaf as a post, and she ain't got a natural born tooth in her head, and she's still got more spunk in her than mister 'back bencher' here." The startled blue stallion could only blink in shock as he met her gaze.
Rainbow Dash stepped up to butt heads with her old friend and ground her teeth in a fierce snarl. "You are seriously ticking me off, Applejack! Like Gilda levels of ticked off. Nopony treats my team mates that way! Not even my b-best friends."
The blonde earth pony shoved back, her hat crumpling against the snarling mare's rainbow maned forehead. "Well maybe he needs to hear some straight talk rather'n gettin' a pat on the head whenever he sets t' whinin' about how unfair life is."
The cyan pegasus bristled. "I'm gonna give you a pat on the head with all four hooves if you don't step off."
They drew back, startled, as a harsh edged voice called out to them from the archway. "And I'm gonna get a two by four and anesthetize the both of you if you don't pipe down. There are newborn foals sleeping right next door."
They all turned to see a seething Nurse Redheart standing there with an implacable frown on her face. Once satisfied that they were going to be quiet by the sheepish looks on everypony's faces, she continued on her rounds, rolling her eyes heavenward as she lashed her grey streaked pink tail and muttered to herself. "I swear to Celestia. Every time with this bunch..."
Applejack spun on her hooves and headed out the door, her snout raised in disdain and her ears levered back against her head. "I done spoke my peace. Now if y'all will excuse me I'm gonna see if Fluttershy needs a hoof with the foals."
Dash launched into the air, her legs tense beneath her. "We're not through here, Applejack. Don't you dare just walk away on me!" With that she flew after her receding friend, her increasingly frustrated calls for the earth pony mare's attention echoing down the hall.
The remainder of the group sat in stunned silence, with Apple Bloom, Rarity, and Twilight exchanging dismayed glances.
Spike stirred on his couch and lifted his head, blinking his slitted green eyes and smacking his lips drowsily. "What was everypony yelling about just now?"
Twilight could only blink at him. "I... I don't know..." The young dragon let out a grunt and settled back to sleep.
Rarity cast a nervous look over to Soarin, who sat with his green eyes wide and his jaw dropped. She moved over to sit beside him, speaking in a solicitous tone as she laid an alabaster colored hoof on his shoulder. "I'm ever so sorry about all that, darling. All I can say is that we've all had a rather stressful time of it lately and Applejack, well, she..."
The elegant unicorn's dulcet voice trailed off as she watched a tiny heart pop into existence over the pegasus stallion's head and float like a miniscule red balloon between the tips of his ears. Her sapphire eyes widened as she watched it bob in place.
Soarin's voice came out low and breathless. "She... she's amazing!"
Rarity drew back and raised a hoof to her muzzle. "Oh dear..."
She turned at the sound of Twilight's voice, to see the lavender unicorn gazing out the window with her hooves on the back of the couch. She pointed one at the scene outside. "Oh dear is right, Rarity! Look!"
The alabaster mare spun in her seat to see Applejack stomping out onto the lawn to join Fluttershy, with Rainbow Dash hovering close on her heels. After a few terse words with the butter colored pegasus, the two angry mares squared off and started yelling in one another's faces.
A look of dismay washed across Fluttershy's gentle features, as on either side of her the twins squirmed and awoke, their wails adding to the cacophony of raised voices. Meanwhile, Windfall and Tootsie drifted down to the ground from their latest game of kites, and stood huddled with wide, fearful eyes as the adult mares stood raging at one another.
Rarity crouched down behind the back of the couch as she watched Fluttershy spring to her feet, her ears laid back and her tail hiked. The fashion designer whispered nervously to Twilight. "Here it comes..."
Fluttershy's forceful voice echoed across the lawn. "STOP it! You're UPSETTING the CHILDREN!"
Dash and Applejack rounded on her with anger etched on their faces. This was blasted away along with all the color in their coats and manes and all the bone and sinew in their bodies when they met the pegasus mother's devastating glare, leaving them pale, quivering jellies blubbering in one another's terrified embrace on the blackened grass beneath them.
At least, that was how it seemed to Twilight before she averted her eyes and ducked down beside Rarity, meeting the alabaster unicorn's rueful gaze with a wince. "Ooh. Both barrels..."
After a few moments, Rarity murmured to Twilight. "Do you think it's safe to look again?"
The pair of unicorns gave each other a resolute nod, and dared a glance over the back of the couch out the windows. They both smiled in relief and let out a fond sigh as they saw the butter colored pegasus had pulled the other two mares into a tender, tearful group hug, which was soon joined by the foals and fillies who sought comfort and reassurance.
Twilight cocked an eyebrow as everypony sharing the embrace suddenly stiffened with surprise and drew back from a tiny pink and chocolate brown blur in their midst. Tootsie Pie's little body vibrated faster and faster, becoming a smudge of color with a pair of deep blue, swirling eyes, before erupting into a series of bizarre contortions that floated her several hooves into the air. Just as suddenly she snapped back into the dumbstruck form of a pegasus filly and bounced to a stop on the soft turf beneath her.
Without further ado she shot across the lawn like a comet with a shrill squeal. "Mama!"
Rarity and Twilight looked back over their shoulders at the sound of somepony clearing their throat in the doorway. There they saw Nurse Redheart standing with a much more genial expression on her face. "Excuse me, but I thought you'd like to know that Mrs. Pie has just delivered a beautiful little filly. She asked me to tell you that everypony's invited to a little "Welcome to the World" party for her daughter in her room." She cast a concerned look down the hall then leaned in with a pleading look. "Please try to keep it down, okay?"
She winced as Tootsie tore past behind her at near supersonic speed, a pink and chocolate brown blur screeching like a siren.
Rarity favored the beleaguered nurse with a sympathetic smile. "We'll try, darling. We'll try."
Soon afterward the circle of old friends had assembled around a hospital bed, where an exhausted Pinkie lay clad in a hospital gown and cradling a tiny, winged bundle to her breast with a smile of deep rooted joy on her face. Caramel sat at her side and gazed with a father's love at his newborn filly. He was still arrayed in scrubs, mane cap, and booties, having forgotten to take them off after leaving the delivery room. Tootsie laid across her mother's blanketed lap, her frizzy little tail waving pensively as she stared in fascination at her brand new baby sister.
All around them, their beloved friends looked on with fond smiles and happy tears in their eyes, partaking of the punch and birthday cake that had somehow materialized at the foot of the bed when nopony was looking. A low, sweet murmur of voices filled the inexplicably streamer adorned room with reminisce and hopes for the future.
Tootsie shifted, stretching her little wings, and looked up to her mother with a curious tilt of her head. "So when's Puddin' gonna learn to fly?"
Pinkie's ears dipped slightly, and she hugged her newborn foal a bit tighter to herself. "Oh, it'll be a little while, sugar dot. She just got here, ya know? Too soon to take off again just yet. Too soon..." She gave her elder daughter a smile that didn't quite light up her limpid blue eyes. "She'll be flying soon enough, though. Don't worry."
The little chocolate brown pegasus gave a shake of her frizzy pink tail. "I can't wait. I wanna play with my little sister and teach her all kinds of games and show her all the cool places I know about and bounce on clouds and go on adventures with her and chase birds and play dragon tag with Windfall and her brother and sister and teach her three card monte and..." She stopped as Pinkie gently laid a hoof on her little muzzle.
The pink mare let out a tired sigh. "You will, sweet pea." She stroked a thin lock of tan hair back from her newborn's broad, mellow pink forehead. "You will... sooner than you'd think..."
Twilight and Rarity were near enough to overhear this exchange, and shared a meaningful glance as the lavender scholar surreptitiously nudged her soon to be partner. She spoke into the alabaster designer's upraised ear. "And that, my dear colleague, is what our flying harness is for."
Rarity discreetly dabbed the corner of her eye with a colorful party napkin, and gave her fellow unicorn a determined nod. Twilight let out a small sigh as she looked over at Spike, who rustled his leathery wings with pleasure as he downed a third slice of cake.
The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.