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Bittersweet

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Part One

Diabetes is a terrible thing.

Rainbow Dash slammed through Pinkie Pie’s window, knocking the cookie from her friend’s mouth. “Pinkie! You can’t! You know what the doctors said! Just one more binge could kill you!”

Pinkie looked up at her friend, smiling with tears in her eyes as she gave a weak laugh. “It’s… it’s okay, Rainbow Dash. I’m… I’m not afraid.” Rainbow Dash settled down to the floor, blinking at a crunching noise beneath her hooves. She looked down, a look of horror spreading over her face at all the crumbs. “And… it’s… not like one cookie would make much difference now anyways.”

“Pinkie! Wh… what have you done!” Rainbow Dash sped to turn the room apart, looking for that needle thing the doctors gave Pinkie.

“I already used that yesterday. I… It was torture Rainbow Dash… terrible. Haha… can you imagine it? What if you suddenly weren’t able to fly anymore? What if Applejack suddenly became lame? Haha… ha… I couldn’t help myself Rainbow… I… haha…”

“It’s going to be okay, Pinkie! You’re gonna be okay. We’ll get you to the doctor. They can fix this. We can make you better.”

Pinkie looked at the floor, mane hiding her eyes, laughs starting to sound more like sobs. “Can… can you do me a favor, Dash? …can… can you hold me a bit? I… I keep laughing… but… it’s not working as well as it used to… haha… ha… ha…”

Rainbow Dash took a hold of Pinkie Pie. “Don’t worry Pinkie Pie, I’ll get you to the doctor as fast as I can, just—just stop talking okay! Save your strength, please!”

“Aha… ha…” Pinkie Pie let out a weak cough. “Hey… Rainbow Dash…? I… I…” -- It was truly a beautiful day for a party.

They’d spared no expense this time, all the beautiful decorations covering the event. They’d held it outside, of course, and a surprising amount of people had come out for it. Dash could even see the balloons from here. Pinkie Pie always had the best parties, and this was no exception.

Dash usually sped into Pinkie Pie’s parties with great enthusiasm, ready to play pranks on whatever unsuspecting pony that happened to walk into them. However, today was different. Instead of gliding excitedly towards the partygrounds, Dash proceeded with a slow trot. A tight knot wound itself in Rainbow Dash’s stomach, making Dash feel slightly sick as she made her way towards the party.

“Thanks for coming, Dash!” Pinkie said, trotting alongside her friend as soon as she saw her. “I know you didn’t want to come, which is kinda weird since you always loved to come to my parties, ready to play a prank on somepony, like the hot sauce in the punch prank! I always loved that one, it’s always so funny, and you’re always so funny Rainbow Dash! Even when you’re kinda a grump like right now, which is fine since anypony can be grumpy sometimes, except for me, because if I was a grump I wouldn’t be able to throw these super-duper fantastic fantabulishous parties all the time! And look!” Pinkie said, bouncing in her step. “You got all dressed up!”

Rainbow Dash laughed to herself. She didn’t like to get dressed up, it wasn’t her kind of thing. But today, she’d done it for Pinkie. “Yeah, well… I guess it’s the least I can do for you.”

Pinkie just smiled at her in response. But very suddenly, her expression changed to one of worry. “… listen, Dash… There’s something I need you to do for me.”

“Sure thing Pinkie!” Dash said as they stopped in place, surprised at Pinkie’s uncharacteristically mellow response. “What do you need? I’ll get it done super quick!”

“You need to forgive yourself for what happened the other day.” Pinkie tilted her neck down so that she could look up at Dash, smiling at her sadly. “Dash… you’ve always been my bestest best best friend, and I know you tried your hardest. So… no more frownie frown face, okay?”

“Pinkie Pie…” Dash just laughed again in response, shaking her head from side to side in disbelief. “You are so… random.”

“Yeah yup yuh-huh!” Pinkie said, still smiling. “So you’ll try? For me?”

“Yeah, yeah… fine.” Was the only thing Dash could muster, smiling back, if only so it would shut her up.

Unable to think of anything else they could say to each other, they simply stood there for awhile, sharing a moment together. But before too long it was interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming up behind them. Embarrassed to be caught in such a way, Dash lifted her head back up, smiling at her best friend Pinkie Pie. “So… aren’t you going to go get started?”

“On what?” Twilight Sparkle’s voice asked, from somewhere close behind her.

“On the party!” Dash turned around, grinning.” Y’know, chowing down, singing songs, playing pranks, bouncing around making sure everyone’s having a good time. The whole routine!”

For a moment, Twilight looked at Dash with concern. “… where do you think we are?”

Dash’s smile faded as she looked at the purple pony. The way her mane was combed so neat today. The way she was all dressed up in formal wear, just like Dash was. Slowly, Rainbow Dash turned around to look at the party. At all the people who had gathered there today. The beautiful decorations, all centered around the casket, with the three balloons tied to one of its handles.

It was truly a beautiful day for a party. Only one thing was missing.

Pinkie Pie was gone. -- Rainbow Dash was lounging around on a cloud, blankly staring into space. The funeral ended sometime ago, and Dash fled the scene before anypony could see her cry. After all, she was Rainbow Dash, the toughest, fastest flier in Equestria, and if other ponies saw her cry it would destroy her reputation! Rainbow Dash did what she could to hold back her tears during the funeral, but she was unable to stand it when they lowered Pinkie’s casket into the ground, causing her to hideaway in this cloud ever since.

“You’re so stupid Rainbow Dash…” the pony said, muttering to herself. “You’re Pinkie Pie’s best friend, you should’ve caught her sickness before it got so bad…”

With all the sweets Pinkie Pie ate on a regular basis, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anypony that she contracted diabetes. Ponies usually could handle their sugar, and it seemed that Pinkie Pie quickly burned through all the sugar with her randomness. Pinkie and sweets together just seemed normal, just like Twilight Sparkle with her books or Fluttershy with her animals. Nopony thought they needed to stage an intervention for Pinkie, and it was that mindset that caused this tragedy to happen.

By the time Rainbow Dash and the other ponies found out Pinkie had diabetes, it was already too late to heal the disease with magic. Pinkie had long past the point where she could be easily cured, hiding her illness the entire time to not make anypony worry about her.

Rainbow Dash shook the thoughts of Pinkie out of her head. What’s the point in worrying over what happened in the past anyways? What happens, happens, right? It just totally wasn’t in her style to dwell on the past, she was Rainbow Dash! Speeding forward into the Wonderbolts and into the future! Not letting anything or anypony slow her down!

Giving this pep-talk to herself, Rainbow Dash sped out of her cloud to do some exercises. If she spent all day moping around, her spot in the Wonderbolts would disappear! Dash flew up into the air over Equestria, reached her peak height, and then performed a nosedive straight to the ground.

“C’mon Rainbow Dash… just like always, show Equestria who’s the greatest flier around here!” She prepared her wings to maneuver around the clouds to spin them around, when suddenly, the image of Pinkie Pie’s frail smile came back into her mind.

“I keep laughing… but… it’s not working as well as it used to…”

Dash shook her head to get rid of the voice in her head, but by the time she did she plunged headfirst into the cloud, breaking her momentum. Rainbow Dash tumbled clumsily out of the cloud and roughly planted her face into another cloud right below her. And another. And another. Before she knew it, she already hit the ground.

“Argh… what’s wrong with me?” Dash muttered, throwing herself back into the sky. “If I can’t pull of a simple maneuver like that, I’ll never get into the Wonderbolts!” Frenetically, Rainbow Dash flew through the skies again, attempting to skillfully weave around a row of clouds.

“Can… can you do me a favor, Dash? …can… can you hold me a bit?”

Rainbow Dash repeated her previous maneuver, crashing through a series of clouds before painfully landing back on the ground.

“AAARGH! Why can’t I do this!?” Rainbow Dash cried out angrily. “Alright, one more time!!”

She sped back up in the air, even higher than she did previously, the harsh wind stinging her eyes. She was going to do it. She was going to perform a sonic rainboom. As soon as she hit the highest a pony could possibly go, she dived right down towards Equestria. Rainbow Dash sped as fast as she could, pushing her wings to the absolute limit until she could feel the sound barrier giving way to her speed.

“Hey… Rainbow Dash… I… I…”

The sound barrier suddenly ricocheted Rainbow Dash away from the ground, launching her straight into a faraway cloud with its force.

“DARN IT!” Rainbow Dash hoofed angrily at the clouds she landed on. “Why can’t I do my normal tricks?! Why can’t I do a sonic rainboom anymore?! Why… why…”

A steady stream of rain started falling down from the cloud she was on.

“Why did the party have to end, Pinkie Pie?”

Part Two

It’s already been a week since the funeral, and life in Ponyville had seemingly gone back to normal. Derpy Hooves delivered the mail every day, Bon-Bon and Lyra could be seen chatting in front of the bakery, and all in all everything seemed perfectly fine. However, if somepony looked closer at the scene, they would notice less spring in Derpy’s step, a more hushed conversation from Bon-Bon and Lyra, and a much more solemn atmosphere overall. The loss of Ponyville’s party pony struck deep in the hearts of everypony in Ponyville, even in the ponies that barely came in contact with Pinkie Pie. But it was the ponies closest to Pinkie Pie that felt the most loss…

“Where’s that cotton-pickin’ stripey-maned pegasus?! Ah thought there was s’posed to be a rainstorm t’day! Mah crops need waterin’!” Applejack stormed down the street in town, stopping each pony as she passed. “Y’all seen Rainbow Dash ‘round here? How ‘bout you over there? You three? No?” She stamped her hoof in frustration, moving over toward the Library. “Twilight! Spike? Either o’ y’all home?”

The door opened and a tired looking purple unicorn stepped out. “Applejack? What’s up?”

“Ya seen Rainbow Dash? It was s’posed to rain t’day, and ah ain’t even seen a drop!”

Twilight sighed, shaking her head. “…I haven’t seen her since… you know. She’s seemed a bit… distracted since then.” Applejack’s expression softened. “I’ll go talk to Fluttershy, AJ. She can go check on Rainbow Dash, and it’ll give her something to do. She was pretty broken up, but is taking it well. I guess her time with animals has shown her how to deal with such things…”

Applejack nodded. “Thanks, sugarcube. Listen… ah… gotta go back to the farm. Ah’ve got lots o’ waterin’ to do, so ah’ll see ya ‘round, right?” Twilight nodded, waving a hoof as Applejack wandered off. On her way back, the farm pony paused to look at Mr. and Mrs. Cake’s bakery, black ribbon hanging across the door. With a sigh, Applejack shook her head and continued home.

As soon as Applejack left her sight, Twilight Sparkle sighed and stepped back into the library to stick a bookmark inside the book she had been reading. Ever since the funeral, Twilight shut herself off from the rest of pony society, occupying her mind with studying textbooks. It’s already been a week since the funeral, but Twilight could still picture the funeral as if it only happened a couple hours ago.

“How many more books are you going to read until you go outside, Twilight?” Spike asked as he picked up some of the stray books Twilight left strewn across the floor. “I know it’s tough, but you gotta lighten up a little, y’know? It’s already been a week after all, and Princess Celestia wouldn’t want to see her favorite student moping around.”

“Spike! I…” Twilight stopped herself before she said anything venomous to Spike. Because he was a dragon, albeit a baby one, he was built with tougher stuff than the average everyday pony. Besides… he wouldn’t throw away his dragon pride to openly mope around like Twilight Sparkle and the other ponies.

Twilight sighed. “Yeah… you’re right Spike. But you have to understand that these things take time to get over, and not everypony can be as tough as you.”

“Well… Princess Celestia didn’t send you to Ponyville to hide away all day. You should be outside with your friends!”

“Yeah… I guess.” Twilight magically inserted a bookmark onto the page she was on, and then promptly shut it closed. “I was going to head out right now anyways to see how Fluttershy’s doing, so you clean up all this mess, okay Spike?”

Spike grumbled. “Yeah, yeah…” Twilight let off a small giggle. It was good to see some normalcy despite the somber atmosphere that hung about the Library. Twilight Sparkle took a deep breath before going off on her way towards Fluttershy’s house. -- “C’mon… git down ya stupid apple!” Applejack yelled, repeatedly smacking the apple tree with her hind hooves. “Why ya gotta be so darn stubborn?!”

“You’ve been workin’ awful hard the past few days, AJ. Shouldn’t you take it a bit easier?” asked Big Mac, switching the piece of hay he was chewing on to the other side of his mouth. “Won’t do anypony no good to burn yerself out.”

“Who asked you, anyways?!” snapped Applejack, finally knocking down that single apple. “Ah’m just fine! Now where’s that waterin’ can? Ah’ve got work t’do! Get outta mah way!” She stomped off, barely missing bumping into Applebloom. “Somepony’s got ta make sure this farm keeps goin’!”

“Big Mac? What’s wrong with sis?” Applebloom asked timidly. “She’s yellin’ all the time these days…”

Big Mac gently patted the young filly’s head with one of his hooves. “Nothin’ to worry yer little head about, she’s just got a lot on her mind.”

“Does it have anything ta do with Pinkie Pie’s vacation the other day?”

Big Mac smiled nervously. He told Applebloom that Pinkie Pie was just going on a vacation a while, not wanting Applebloom to deal with the harsh reality of death just yet. He chewed slowly on his piece of hay, debating whether to tell Applebloom the truth or not, when finally…

“Eeeyup. AJ’s just kinda worried ‘bout Pinkie Pie. Ah’m sure she’ll be back to her normal self in no time. Now why don’t you go play with yer friends a while and let AJ work?”

Applebloom nodded and trotted away to go play with the other Cutie Mark Crusaders. As Big Mac saw her off, his heart tightened at the thought of breaking the news to a little filly like Applebloom. He knew he couldn’t hide the truth from her forever, but once he started lying about Pinkie Pie, it became harder and harder to bring himself to tell Applebloom the truth.

Big Mac sighed. “It can’t be helped ah guess. Ah’ll just have ta find the right moment to tell l’il Applebloom…” -- Twilight Sparkle took her time trotting over to Fluttershy’s house, taking in the fresh air of Ponyville. It has been a while since she last stepped out of the library, and the fresh air did improve her mood just a bit. Although the large black ribbon tied around the Cake’s bakery painfully reminded Twilight of Pinkie’s absence.

“The greetings is to the muffins!” Everypony’s favorite mailpony suddenly came crashing down in front of Twilight Sparkle, causing Twilight to recoil in surprise. “The muffin stuck on tree falls down to the grass!

“Oh, uhm… hi, Derpy…” Twilight said nervously. She didn’t really interact with Derpy Hooves that much, considering Spike handled most of her mail. But she did know that Derpy was a really kind mailpony with an unfortunate disability and a strange manner of speaking. Not that those things ever got in the way of her job of course, Derpy was as diligent as a mailpony could get.

“Salutations is to the muffins! The sun and moon fly away many, but rainy sprinkles hail down on sparkles!”

“Uh… sure Derpy.” Twilight could never really make heads or tails of what this mailpony was saying, and it gave her a headache to even try. “Listen Derpy, I’d love to chat with you for a moment, but I really have to go someplace, so if you have something important to say—”

“Important is the rainy skies! Fly away sprinkles with the sun and moon! Party over, but heart goes on! Muffins to the good feelings!”

“Party… are you talking about Pi-Pinkie Pie?” It’s been so long since she said Pinkie’s name that Twilight stumbled over her words.

Derpy nodded enthusiastically in response. “Sprinkles fly away, but sugar still in heart! Good feelings to the muffins!” Derpy reached into her mailbag and pulled out a muffin. “Farewell to the sprinkles with sun and moon, but helium stay with the muffins!” She placed the muffin in Twilight’s hooves and flew away as suddenly as she came. “Salutations is to the muffins!”

Twilight Sparkle had absolutely no idea what just happened, but looking at the blueberry muffin in her hooves… she thought Derpy just tried to comfort her. Tears welled up in Twilight’s eyes, thinking about how Derpy comforted her regardless of the fact that they barely talked to each other. “She’s… a really kind mailpony.” Twilight said to herself as she nibbled on her muffin.

“There you are darling!” called a familiar, sophisticated voice. “You’re just the pony I was looking for! Uh… is that a muffin you’re holding there in your hoof?”

Wiping the tears from her eyes, Twilight Sparkle turned around and smiled meekly at Rarity. “Uhm… yeah.” Twilight quickly downed the rest of the blueberry muffin Derpy handed her. “What’s going on, Rarity?”

“Well, I do believe I’ve found a way to clear up all this dreadful dreariness around here. Of course, it would take a fashion genius such as moi to come up with such an elegant way to cheer everypony up.”

That’s great to hear, Rarity!” Twilight perked up, looking hopeful. “What’s the idea?”

Looking at one of her hooves, Rarity let out a slight laugh. “It’s laughably simple, really. I can barely even take credit for this thing. Who is the best at cheering other ponies up, I asked myself? Oh how I thought on this. And the answer came to me as I was looking to a shipment of fabrics I had obtained! Who is more cheerful than Pinkie Pie, I said to myself.”

Twilight’s smile drooped slightly. “… but Rarity… Pinkie is—”

“Yesyesyes,” Rarity interrupted, “But what if you could fix that? Come now, Twilight Sparkle, I’m willing to pay anything you might want, and I’ll go get you anything you need to do so.

“Rarity? …what are you saying?”

Letting out another haughty laugh, Rarity looked Twilight in the eyes. “It’s simple, really darling. I’d like for you to bring Pinkie back to us.”

Twilight’s smile faded to nothingness as she shook her head.

Rarity’s smile cracked just a bit. “C-come now, Twilight Sparkle… Let us not be selfish here. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. You’re the most powerful pony in Ponyville after all. Surely with your magic you’d be able to—”

Twilight cut her off. “I’m sorry Rarity… but… it’s not possible. I may be good with magic, but even magic has its limits. I’d like to see Pinkie again as much as the next pony, but…”

“Well, what about Princess Celestia? You’re on good terms with her, darling, surely you can write a letter to her and—”

Another shake of Twilight’s head. “If it were possible, don’t you think I would have tried that already? Do you know how many ponies try to ask Celestia to bring somepony back? Even with how powerful she is… it’s beyond her ability. As much as it breaks my heart to say this… ponies should be left to rest.”

Rarity shook her head, then huffed and tossed her mane out of her eyes. “Hmph! Well, now we see who Pinkie’s real friends are, hm?”

“Rarity, I—”

“No, no, it’s fine! Keep your little secrets, Twilight Sparkle. You may have given up, but I’m certain there is a way. I just have to find it. And if you won’t help, I’ll just have to find a way myself. Good day!” Turning and lifting her nose to the air, Rarity trotted away.

Twilight Sparkle looked after the purple and white unicorn, debating whether to follow her or not. Shaking her head and wiping the tears forming in her eyes, she refrained from following the other unicorn. Bringing back the dead was something everypony thinks of doing one day, but given enough time, they’ll realize it’s best to let sleeping ponies lie. Rarity just needs some time to accept the fact is all.

Twilight Sparkle let out a sad sigh and continued on her way to Fluttershy’s. Hopefully she won’t be too depressed… -- “That Twilight Sparkle,” Rarity said to herself in a huff, “I can’t believe she didn’t even consider my idea. Honestly, you’d think a pony like her would do anything to help out one of her friends…” Rarity sighed. “…maybe I was asking too much of her. After all, Twilight Sparkle’s really is the type who would do anything to help out one of her friends. The dearie probably wasn’t lying about not knowing a spell to revive Pinkie. But still! I can’t believe she wouldn’t even try to look up a spell for that!”

Rarity hoofed at the ground in frustration. Pinkie Pie’s absence had an abnormal effect on Rarity’s business. Rarity always complained that Pinkie Pie kept her from getting any work done, and that without Pinkie around her business would go ten times more smoothly. But… there was just something… off when Pinkie wasn’t around to interrupt her hard work. Every piece Rarity tried to design since her funeral was absolute tripe! A lack of inspiration, a lack of motivation, Rarity just didn’t know what was causing her creativity to run dry!

“Ahh, it’s just so frustrating having something missing from somepony’s life!” Rarity lamented to herself. “Oh, woe is me, woe is Ponyville now that Pinkie’s departed! But no worries, Rarity’s on the case, she’ll find a way to bring normalcy back into little ol’ Ponyville!”

She said that, but honestly she had no idea where to even start. She was sure Twilight Sparkle would have the answer to Ponyville’s problem. She always seemed to have it after all!

Rarity continued wandering aimlessly around Ponyville, pondering whatever in the world she’s supposed to do next. “I haven’t seen Sweetie Belle in a while…” Rarity said to herself, “Oh, I do hope she’s not too distraught over these recent happenings. Oh well, I’m sure everything will go back to normal as soon as I bring back Pinkie Pie, oh yesyesyes!” Suddenly, another dash of inspiration hit Rarity as soon as she thought of Sweetie Belle.

“Sweetie Belle… the Cutie Mark Crusaders… Applebloom… that’s it!! Zecora! I’m sure that zebra has a trick or two to bring Pinkie Pie back! I’m sure of it!!”

Rarity pranced excitedly towards the Everfree Forest, but as soon as she reached its outskirts, her wave of enthusiasm deteriorated. “Oh… it sure is drabby in there… maybe I should bring somepony else to assist me… oh!” Rarity smacked her front hooves together. “Rainbow Dash! She’ll escort me through the Everfree Forest! And there’s absolutely positively no way she’ll refuse! But… where is that pony anyways? I haven’t seen her since the funeral…”

Rarity hoofed at the ground again, pondering over where to find Rainbow Dash. But little did Rarity and the other ponies know, Rainbow Dash was dealing with problems of her own…

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