Soon, Rarity stood before the front door of Button Stitch's notions shop. The "closed" sign was hanging in the window at an angle, and she peered over it into the shop, her sapphire blue eyes trying to focus past the bright reflections from outside and see what was going on in the darkened interior.
From what she could see, it looked like a tornado had blown through the little store, with shelves and bins toppled and every little bit of merchandise scattered and piled on the floor among a veritable birds nest of unspooled thread and ribbons.
At the center of it all, the huddled form of an earth pony mare sat with her back to the window, her brown mane unbound and tangled, her tail unbraided and in disarray. Her shoulders shook, and Rarity could hear her whimpering.
The elegant unicorn tentatively reached up with a hoof and rapped on the window, her brow furrowing with concern. "Button Stitch! Button dear, are you all right?"
She shook her head and pursed her lips, chiding herself. It was a stupid question, she clearly wasn't.
The trembling shopkeeper let out a strangled yelp and fell forward on her belly, clapping her fore hooves over her head and shouting out in a shaky voice. "Closed! The shop is! It's closed. Come back later!"
Rarity hiked her tail and rapped harder. "Button, let me in this instant!"
The beige mare's response edged on hysteria. "No! Go away! It's not time to open the store anymore!"
The unicorn huffed and cast about her. She briefly considered tossing a stone through the window, hefting a likely specimen from the path beside her with her magic before deciding against it and letting it thud back on the ground. No good could come from further traumatizing the shop's hysterical proprietress.
After a moment's more thought, she plucked a hairpin from her mane, floated it toward the lock, and began to work it in the keyhole. She was rewarded after a couple of minutes fiddling with a click, and the door edged open.
After carefully replacing the hairpin, she shoved the door open with her snout, sweeping a half circle in the scattered merchandise on the floor. She walked cautiously up to the prostrate mare and gently nudged her with a hoof. "Button, darling. I... I want to help you if I can. What happened here?"
The beige mare surged up from the floor with a wail, and for the second time that morning Rarity found herself bowled over and pinned to the ground by a sobbing, shivering pony. She let out a sigh, ignoring the blunt tipped pinking shears that were jabbing her haunch beneath her, and let the shopkeeper pour out her tears onto her alabaster shoulder.
Presently, when the distraught mare's crying had subsided somewhat, Rarity helped her to a sitting position and looked her in the eyes. "Now, Button dear, please. Tell me what's going on."
The earth pony started to tear up again. "I... I don't know what's going on, M-miss Rarity. I honestly don't." She averted her gaze, sniffling. "I... I keep... t-time keeps slipping on me, throwing off my schedule, and... and strange things happen... like... like this."
She gestured at the shambles of her shop. "It... it wasn't like this when I came in this morning. I was running exactly five minutes late, which is... is acceptable considering the week I've been having I... I s-suppose. There... there were no customers so I decided to run an inventory check to... to help settle my nerves."
She let out a shudder and her pupils shrank at the memory. "When I looked in my button stocks I found over three fourths of them were mysteriously m-missing, and the rest were m-m-m-mixed up." She started to rock back and forth on her haunches. "So I tried to put what there was of them in their proper receptacles and the last thing I remember clearly was separating the white ones from the not-white ones and getting ready to separate the glossy ones from the shiny ones when... and now... now th-this."
She gave a jerky shrug and gestured to the shop around them with wide hooves before hugging herself with a haunted look on her face. Button looked over at the concerned unicorn with puffy, tear reddened eyes and spoke in a tiny, lost voice. "What... what keeps happening to me, Miss R-rarity? I... I woke up yesterday sitting on an apple in my kitchen s-sink, l-like I was trying to hatch it or something. This morning I had flecks of pink and white paint all over my coat, and I was hanging upside down in my broom closet."
Rarity edged closer to her, laid a hoof across the earth pony's shoulders, and gave her a squeeze. "I don't know, my dear. I think I should take you to see my friend Twilight Sparkle right away. Can you stand?"
The shopkeeper gave a tentative nod and climbed shakily to her hooves with the dressmaker's help. She gazed morosely around her as Rarity led her out the door and into the bright sun outside, pausing as the unicorn drew the door shut behind them.
As Rarity used her magic to straighten the "Closed" sign through the glass of the window, Button cast a tearful backward gaze at her little shop, her lower lip quivering. She let out a small sob. "I... I don't know when I'll get to turn that sign back around... if... if ever."
The white unicorn came up beside her and gave her a gentle nudge and an encouraging smile. "Don't worry a bit, darling. We can clean it up. Twilight Sparkle is the most organized mare I know. Between her and I and yourself we'll get everything put back in its proper place. Spit spot. You'll see."
They set out across the town square at a slow pace, with Button Stitch brightening slightly at the thought. "Y-yes, that would be most w-welcome. You're very kind, Miss Rarity. I... I wish I had more customers like you."
Rarity spoke softly as she guided her along. "I'd rather you thought of of me as your friend, Button dear."
A tear started to roll down the disheveled mare's cheek. "I... I've never really had many... well, any to be precise... No time, you see. Too hard to make schedules meet up properly..."
The elegant unicorn chuckled. "You sound just like Twilight did when I first met her. I think the two of you would get along famously."
Button gave her a fragile smile. "Well, if she can help me put my shop back in order, then I'll be eternally grateful."
As they walked a way in silence, the shopkeeper's brow furrowed in hazy concentration as she started turning the process of reorganizing her store over in her head. "We could start by separating merchandise by broad varieties, between tools like needles and scissors and consumables like thread and ribbon, and then from there go on to further subdivide and categorize until we've got everything separated. Once we've done an initial appraisal of everything's condition I'll know if I need to place any restock orders. I'll need to find my most recent catalogues so that I can cross reference descriptions with supply numbers. "
Rarity softly cleared her throat, suppressing an urge to roll her eyes as she cast her companion a genteel smile. "Sounds... sounds fascinating, darling."
The beige earth pony was just warming up, obviously taking great comfort in making her plans. "Yes, actually, this will be quite the organizational challenge. It will be almost like an adventure! Oh! We can use a percentage of the drawers for sorting, and then gradually reduce the number of sorting versus storage until everything is properly organized. I'll need to order fresh labels from the stationary store, and maybe then we can bagel the shampoo."
The pale unicorn arched an eyebrow and cocked an ear. "I beg your pardon?"
Button looked at her with her eyes going slightly askew. "I said we could alphabetize the tap dance after we trout mask replica."
Rarity came to a stop, her brow furrowing. "Would... Would you care to please repeat that again, Button dear?"
The beige mare looked back at her with a mildly irritated look on her face, made unnerving by her eyes rotating to stare in opposite directions. "I tally hoopa flangle ding ding parpletrouser, zoot hambididdle fortmango tibblefrackly, my good Super Atragon."
The unicorn let out a gasp as the earth pony's eyes started spinning faster and faster, the amber fading to livid purple. The effect made Rarity queasy and she had to look away. She found her attention dragged towards some uncanny movement on the shopkeeper's flank, where the cutie mark had begun to shimmer and crawl.
The holes faded from the button as the black thread seemed to be pulled into it, looping in curves across the blank white circle in the fashion of the stitches on a baseball. The eye of the needle filled in and flattened into a slotted head, as the point grew thicker and a spiral ridge arose, turning it into the image of a screw.
The earth pony's rump seemed to swell up as if it were being inflated, and floated into the air with her hind legs dangling beneath. Rarity gazed in horror as dusty pink spots broke out across her companion's beige pelt, growing, shifting, and flowing together like raindrops on a tilting glass, until one color had supplanted the other. A wash of florescent purple flowed along each follicle of the disheveled brown mane and tail, causing the hairs to curl and writhe with a life of their own. Swirls and twirls of white surged out along the boiling tangle in random whirls.
With considerable effort Rarity held her ground and forced herself to take a step forward, calling to the transformed pony in a tiny, shocked voice. "B-b-button Stitch?"
The bizarre apparition that had taken the place of the plain shopkeeper looked in her general direction with wildly spiraling purple eyes. It produced a bright yellow and green propeller beanie from somewhere and tipped it to Rarity before setting it on its head. "Gadji beri bimba, Turpleton poi."
With that, the caricature of a pony started to drift upward like a foal's balloon, honking like a goose as the alabaster unicorn and a stunned crowd of midday market goers gazed upward with eyes wide and jaws dropped.
A reedy, terrified voice cried out from among the transfixed ponies. It sounded like Lily. "It's Discord! He's come back! Oh, the horror! The HORROR!"
Like a lit match dropping onto a haystack and setting it alight, the cry caused panic to blossom in the town square, and suddenly ponies were screaming and rearing and stampeding in every direction.
Rarity brought a hoof to her face with a heavy sigh and hung her head in exasperation. "Ughhh."
Her attention was jerked skyward by the sound of Rainbow Dash's frantic voice echoing over the villiage's rooftops. "LOOK OUT!"
The alabaster unicorn mare's pupils shrank to pinpricks as she watched the rainbow pegasus plow into the floating pinkish ponyoid at full speed. They hung intertwined in the air for a second, before a sound like a huge, drawn out raspberry being blown issued forth and they took off in a wildly looping and circling trajectory across the breadth of the wide open sky over Ponyville.
The panicked crowd stopped in its tracks and silence reigned on the ground as every eye was turned toward the heavens, watching with a mixture of horror and amazement. The twirling flight of the pegasus and ponyform organism arced upward to a tiny point high over the outskirts of town as the raspberry noise abruptly stopped. A beat later the speck plummeted over one of the many lakes dotting the bucolic landscape surrounding the pony settlement.
A cry went up from the crowd. Lily again. "The Elements of Harmony have defeated Discord with their magic rainbow beam! Yay!" The milling herd of ponies kicked up their hooves and gave a heartfelt cheer, with hats and horseshoes flying into the air overhead.
Rarity opened her mouth then closed it again, an arch expression settling on her face. She looked around and spotted a dumbfounded Applejack standing next to her apple cart, staring in the direction that Rainbow Dash and the creature that had been Button Stitch had vanished.
Ears laid back, the unicorn walked over with a slouching gait and nudged the earth pony farmer with her horn, jerking her head toward the outskirts of town. "Come on. Lets go get them..."
A few minutes later the muscular orange earth pony had fished the wayward mares out of the lake and brought them onto shore. Rarity stood nearby with a mildly indignant expression on her face and Applejack's cowpony hat hanging off the tip of her horn.
Rainbow Dash kicked and coughed and squirmed and struggled, her feathers in disarray and her mane slicked down to her forehead and neck, as the farm mare gripped her rainbow tail in her teeth and dragged her friend along behind her. Button Stitch had reverted to normal, and sprawled limp and unconscious over Applejack's back, her sodden brown tail trailing down between her dangling rear legs as lake water dribbled out of her mouth and nostrils on the other side.
Rainbow got unsteadily to her hooves and shook herself off, holding her dripping wings away from her body with her back arched like a soaked cat. She shook her head to clear it, and called out in a shaken voice to Applejack and Rarity as the farm mare applied CPR to the half drowned shopkeeper. "What the everlovin' hay just happened? Did I just run into a weather balloon or something?"
Rarity traded a look with Applejack, who pursed her lips uncomfortably and shrugged. "Thats... uh... that's as good an explanation as anythin' right now, I reckon... Honestly I'm havin' trouble believin' what I just saw, and it happened in broad daylight right smack dab over th' town square."
The white unicorn flicked the farm pony's hat into her freckled face and rolled her eyes. "Lets get going to the library, ladies. Twilight does explanations better than any of us."
She looked down at the insensate form of Button Stitch, who laid like a ragdoll on her side with her tongue lolling out of her mouth and her eyes rolled back in her head. "And I have a feeling this one is going to be a doozy."
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.