“Thank you kindly, Mrs. Cake,” Applejack said, her voice muffled slightly by the pastry-bearing paper bag in her mouth. She turned her head to place the pastry in her saddlebags, then faced the proprietress of Sugarcube Corner once again and added, “I’m certain Pinkie will appreciate it like always.”
“Oh, no need to thank me every time, dear,” Mrs. Cake replied hesitantly, shuffling her hooves behind the counter. “Um, Applejack… you and the other girls are still trying to get Pinkie to move from her spot, right? It’s just, I know it’s important to her, but it’s just not healthy.”
Applejack shook her head, a small sad smile on her face. “There ain’t a day that goes by without at least one of us tryin’ to get Pinkie to move, offerin’ to take her place on the watch, but I suppose, in the end, she’s just more stubborn than any of us.” She chuckled despite herself. “Never thought I’d say that, knowin’ both myself and Rainbow Dash, but there it is.”
Mrs. Cake nodded in understanding. “Then tell her that I’ll be by to visit tomorrow, if you’d please.”
“I’ll make sure to tell her, Mrs. Cake. See you later!”
Applejack waved and walked out of the Sugarcube Corner, thinking that Pinkie’s cupcake would follow up the veggie pot pie she had in her other saddlebag quite nicely. At least it wasn’t the same take-out pizza Rainbow Dash resorted to every time it was her turn to bring Pinkie her meal. Taking in for a moment the beautiful sunset that Celestia had blessed them with this evening, Applejack then began to make the familiar trip to where Ponyville’s library had once stood.
The sky had darkened enough by the time Applejack reached the blown-open tree that she could see the faint purple glow emitted by the portal. It still hurt to look at the strange tear in reality, even after all this time she’d had to get used to it; then again, could a pony really get used to something so strange? Applejack focused instead of the pink tent pitched in front of the portal; knocking on the plank that had once been part of the library’s doorframe, she said, “Hey, Pinkie, I’ve got your dinner here if you’d like.”
“Oh, wow!” Pinkie’s head shot out of the tent almost instantly, peering back at the food-bearing farmmare with a hungry look in her eyes. “I’d forgotten it was your night!” In a flash, Pinkie was right in Applejack’s face, glancing back at the portal for a second before she turned to her friend and gave an exaggerated sniff. “Mmm, veggie pot pie! Your nights are the ones I really look forward to most, AJ!”
Applejack smiled at the compliment. “Well, that’s mighty kind of you to say, Pinkie…” The smile became a smirk. “…and it’ll be mighty kind of me not to pass that on to the others.” Noticing Pinkie looking back at the portal yet again, Applejack stepped past her friend so that she could keep her eyes on the tear more easily. “C’mon, let’s dig in; smellin’ this for the last hour has built up quite an appetite.”
Pinkie and Applejack ended up sitting close by the portal – a little too close for Applejack’s tastes – eating the veggie pot pie in relative silence. Relative for Pinkie Pie, at least. It was only after Applejack had presented Pinkie’s dessert to her that she dared to speak her piece. “Mrs. Cake told me to tell you that she’ll be by tomorrow.”
“Awesome!” Pinkie exclaimed, her mouth full of cupcake. “I miss seeing her and Mr. Cake and Pound and Pumpkin every day!”
Applejack hesitated for a moment before she started saying, “You know, Pinkie, you could see them every day, see all of us every day, if you’d just let us take a tu—”
“No!” Pinkie exclaimed, the intensity of her answer only diminished slightly by her last bite of cupcake. Swallowing hastily, the pink pony brought a hoof to the glowing star necklace around her neck, as she always did when this subject was broached. “I told you a hundred times, I am not moving from this spot until Twilight returns!”
“But sugarcube, what if— what if—” For all that it was how she honestly felt, Applejack could not manage to bring herself to voice her question, but Pinkie got the gist of it from the few words she had managed to get out.
Pinkie lifted up her necklace, staring down at it rather than look at Applejack. “It’s still glowing, which means that Twilight’s love for me still burn brightly. I have to stay here, AJ, or the bond that Twilight forged, the one that would let us find each other no matter how far apart we became, it might fail, and then… and then Twilight would never find her way back…” She put her hoof down in anger. “So I’m not moving from here until Twilight is back, even if it takes a hundred years!”
At some point, Pinkie’s tears had begun to fall, and Applejack moved quickly to give her friend a hug. “I’m sorry, Pinkie, I truly am. I care about Twilight, but I care about you as well, and I don’t want to see you hurt yourself.” She pushed herself away to look in Pinkie’s damp eyes, and smiled sincerely. “I promise I won’t ask you to leave again, and I’ll try to get the others to do the same. What I will ask is whether I can join you on your vigil night.”
Pinkie sniffled and wiped her remaining tears from her eyes. “I would love that, AJ. In fact, I think I have Twilight’s sleepover book in my tent somewhere!”
As Pinkie turned to rummage through her tent, Applejack’s face went pale. “All the books that were lost when the accident happened,” she muttered, “and that one survived? Sweet merciful Celestia…”
Twilight will make it back! I know it! Pinkie’s love will show her the way! But this was really great. I loved the way you eased into the explanation of what Pinkie was up to, and the little details about her vigil and why she couldn’t let other ponies sit in for her. And Applejack’s dinner being the most yummy and the one that Pinkie looks forward to the most makes sense and is a great detail. And of course the ending was great. Well done!