Itching eyes never lie, but that day Pinkie Pie stuck her hoof in the wrong one. It was, as she was about to learn, one of those very special anything-can-happen days, one of those days when the wake-up itch was in the wrong eye. She soon found the right one and gave it a vigorous rubbing, really digging her hoof in to get the itch out of there. Big brilliant blotches of pastel danced across her drunken vision as she sat up in bed and fluttered both her eyes at the room.
Somewhere in the mess of her tangled tail, under several layers of soft, warm blankets, something stirred from its rest and began poking about in earnest. Pinkie giggled as her little bed fellow nudged and napped playfully at her flank. She threw the blankets aside and pulled out the young alligator, holding it high and nuzzling its snout. "Time to wake, Gummy! My right eye is all itchy-twitchy today, and you know what that means!" The pink pony put on her widest, most toothy smile as she batted her bright blue eyes at the alligator. It looked at her and wagged its little green tail back and forth. "It's time to grab the day and shake it!" She shook the alligator gently. "To see what falls out!"
Outside the moon still cast its soft light upon the sleepy little village, but at Sugarcube Corner they had to be ready for the morning rush when everypony came to get their breakfast, and that meant getting up really early. Pinkie was always up first of all ponies. She jumped up in her bed and bounced, setting off on the large, springy mattress. With a leap and a "Weeee!" she landed elegantly upon the floor and threw open a window to the world.
"Gooood morning, Ponyville!" she exclaimed to the quiet village, scaring off a few birds who had been nesting out on the roof of the bakery. "And a happy Hearts and Hooves Day!" she added as her tummy made a low rumbling noise. The party pony giggled to herself and spun around, bounding off to the bathroom. "Today I think I'll make a cupcake, a cupcake with cherries and chocolate and little sugar hearts and …" she babbled joyously to herself as she turned on the water and poured in her favorite bubble bath.
Soon her body was submerged in the hot, sweetly scented water, with bubbles up to the tips of her ears, as she leaned back in the tub. She blew a little and sent a cloud of bubbles flying with a happy chortle. "Today is a great day. The very bestest day, in fact, because it's today!"
A high-pitched duet of wailing broke through the peace at the bakery.
Pinkie bounded down the hall, calling in sing-song voice. "I got it! I got it!" She opened a door and peeked inside at Pound and Pumpkin in their crib. "Aww, there there, auntie Pinkie Pie is here to wipe that frown from your faces." She trotted up to the crib and pulled up the two crying foals. "Let's get you two ready for your big day. You remember, don't you?" She smiled and put them down, tickling their tummies while she pulled out a pair of fresh diapers. "You get to spend all of today with your granny. Aren't you excited? Huh? Huh?" They giggled a little and the pink pony joined in. "Yeah, I know Mr. and Mrs. Cake are too. Now—" She changed the two foals with a skilled swiftness and bopped their noses. "Let's get you two some yummies in your tummies!"
Soon the two foals had been given their bottles and were sucking away blissfully while Pinkie waltzed around the kitchen, stirring bowls of batter and kneading dough to the tunes of her favorite baking songs. Before too long the lovely aroma of sweet bread and cakes would waft through the bakery and out into the streets of Ponyville, sure to tantalize every nose and raise the spirits of even the grumpiest of ponies.
"You're in a mighty fine mood today, deary," Mrs. Cake said with her usual warm smile as she came out into the kitchen and picked up the twins. "I sure wish I had your energy every morning."
Pinkie gave a lighthearted scoff. "Who could possibly sleep when a new day promises so many joys? That's just silly! If I could, I would never fourever sleep."
"I'm sure you wouldn't," the plump, rose-maned pony said, wanting to add that neither would anypony else. "I hope you have a fun day while we're out. Just remember to keep the place neat."
"You got it," Pinkie said with a salute. "Pinkie Responsibility Pie, remember?"
Mrs. Cake walked into the store with the twins and came back a moment later. "Oh, Pinkie, could you run down to the market and get some extra cherries? Those are always big on Hearts and Hooves Day, and I can't leave in case my mother shows up to get the twins, you know."
"Sure thing, Mrs. Cake!" Pinkie washed her hooves and trotted out the door with a tune on her lips and a purpose in mind.
Pinkie bounced happily down Stirrup Street on her way to the market to get the cherries for Mrs. Cake. It was still early, but the market was already alive with ponies setting up stalls and inspecting goods when she arrived. As Pinkie weaved her way across the market from stall to stall, she wondered what she might do tonight when she was on her own. Perhaps she could throw a Hearts and Hooves party and invite all her bestest friends! But … most of them already had plans for the day. She stopped at a stall and scratched her chin thoughtfully with a hoof.
A sweet mix of aromas played alluringly about her nose. She looked up at the elderly green earth pony smiling at her from behind a small sea of leaves. "Something tickling your nose today, Miss Pie? I have fresh spearmint and sage for you, plenty of my best basil, let's see … parsley and thyme too. Oh and you do so like it hot don't you? Maybe some garlic or peppers could tempt?"
"Mmm …" Pinkie sniffed at the many fresh leaves. "You know how to tempt me, Sweet Basil!" She ran a hoof through the fresh basil and looked at the assortment of peppers both fresh and dry hanging under the roof of the stall in large bundles. A sudden craving hit her as she considered all the things she could do with such spices. She licked her lips and looked around as she heard a shy voice nearby. A light pink mane and a yellow ear peeked above the crowd near the apple stands. "Oooh, Fluttershy!" Pinkie called as she trotted across the marketplace towards the pegasus.
Fluttershy turned with a mild look of fright. The pegasus almost always had a mild look of fright on her face. "Oh, um, good morning Pinkie." She shuffled her hooves a little.
Pinkie knew Fluttershy usually spent Hearts and Hooves day alone, like any other day. It made her so sad to think about and gave her the perfect idea. "Heya, Fluttershy! So I just got this idea, you know how it is, just out of nowhere right, totally unexpected then bam!" She jumped and wrapped a hoof around Fluttershy, gesturing at the market. "There I was when I thought to myself, 'Pinkie'— that's me of course—" She giggled. " 'Pinkie,' I said, 'pasta is the thing! Pasta is good!' "
Fluttershy looked at Pinkie in bewilderment. "Um, P… Pasta?"
Pinkie nodded enthusiastically. "Pasta, Fluttershy! You're speaking to Ponyville's premiere pastaphile. Why, I make the best pasta, you didn't know?" She gasped dramatically, as if the idea only just occurred to her this very instant. In truth it was of course old news in her head. "You totally should come over tonight. I'll cook you the juiciest, spiciest pasta you've ever tasted." She held up a hoof to her lips and made a kissing sound. "The very best! Pinkie Promise!"
"Y… you want me to come over for dinner?" Fluttershy asked uncertainly.
Pinkie nodded brightly, putting on her biggest, most irresistible smile with teeth from ear to ear and eyes the size of dinner plates. Or windmills. "Uh huh! Totally!"
Fluttershy considered her hooves very closely. "For, um, pasta?"
"Pasta!" Pinkie fluttered her big blue eyes. "The best you've ever had. I guarantee it!"
"Um … oh, um, alright. Sounds … wonderful, Pinkie. I … I look forward to it."
Pinkie bounced through the store. "Coming, coming!" She stopped, brushed a bit of flour off her coat, and opened the door. "Oh, hey Fluttershy! You're early." She looked at the yellow pegasus standing outside, looking like a frightened squirrel in a beautiful white and light green dress. Pinkie couldn't remember seeing the dress before. "Ooh, is that a new dress?"
Fluttershy looked away. "I, um, had Rarity make it. Well, she, um, insisted, really. Said I couldn't go out in an old dress. D… do you like it? I … I hope I didn't overdo it. Did I overdo it? Should I come back later? I'm sorry!"
"Why would you come back later, silly? You're here now." Pinkie gave her a hug and a peck on each cheek before leading her inside. "And you look great! Come on in." Fluttershy blushed and followed the pink pony. The main room had been shined up and a small table for two arranged in a corner near the kitchen with a view through the window to Ponyville outside. The table was decorated with fresh tulips and two elaborate origami anteaters—Fluttershy had never seen their like—holding a tall glass each. Fluttershy couldn't help but marvel at how Pinkie had managed to create such delicate things with her hooves.
"Wow, Pinkie, this is beautiful," Fluttershy said timidly.
Pinkie giggled. "Thanks! I knew you'd like it." She pulled out a pillow for Fluttershy to sit on and poured her a glass of deep red wine with a few small rose petals in it. "I'll be right back with you. Good pasta needs tender love and care or it'll get all sad and floppy, and I promised you the best pasta!" She grinned widely and bounded through to the kitchen, the doors swinging briefly before closing behind her.
Fluttershy sat down at the table and sniffed the flowers as she waited. Pinkie certainly had put in a lot of effort to make this a wonderful evening for her. Outside two ponies walked by, lost in each others' eyes. Fluttershy watched their lips and imagined the words as the mare said something. She sighed. If only she could speak those words herself.
A strange bubbling noise from the kitchen made her look up and listen. "Um, a… are you alright in there, Pinkie?" she called through the door.
"Absolutely, no problemo," Pinkie singsonged happily from the other side. "Don't you worry yourself, the pasta's in the pot and doing fine. I'll be with you uno momento!"
"Oh, um, if you say so," Fluttershy said and fidgeted with her glass of wine as she watched the couples walk by outside. More sounds emerged from the kitchen, causing Fluttershy to lean over to glean something through the swing doors. She was balancing on her pillow, stretching her neck to see, when sudden music nearly caused her to tip over on the floor with a yelp. She managed to right herself just as Pinkie burst out through the swing doors on her hind legs, a large steaming plate balanced on her head while her front hooves were busy managing the accordion.
Pinkie grinned and leaned down next to Fluttershy, letting the plate slip off her head and onto the middle of the table between their respective seats. Pasta and wheatballs had been arranged in a spicy tomato sauce in the center, circled by bread, grated cheese, vegetables and little porcelain bowls of various extra sauces and spices. The piquant scent wafted up from the plate and prickled Fluttershy's palate as Pinkie pranced around her playing and singing.
Pinkie finished with an impressive accordion solo and plopped down on the opposite side of the table, smiling while Fluttershy turned a light pink and looked down at her hooves. If only she could get those three little words over her lips. If only she could express herself freely, but where Pinkie seemingly had no restraints at all Fluttershy was always hopelessly tongue tied.
Pinkie looked at her expectantly from across the table. Fluttershy smiled and leaned over to take a sniff of the delightful aroma. "It smells delicious," she said and picked up one end of a pasta string, slurping it up. It made a small smack with its tail end and left a streak of red sauce on her nose. She squeaked and quickly licked it off with a rosy tint to her cheeks. "I … I'm sorry! P… please excuse me."
"Bene cosė, signorina Fluttershy! Con passione!" Pinkie giggled and gestured dramatically. "Pasta should be eaten with proper passion! You're doing fine," she said excitedly, bouncing lightly with anticipation on her pillow. "So how's it taste? Good? Great? Absolutely amazing and miraculously mouthwatering, oh mamma mia!?"
"Mmm … mm …" Fluttershy licked her lips and breathed in, the flow of air over her tongue leaving a pleasantly cool sensation. "Spicy," she whispered.
"Oh, that's nothing!" Pinkie grinned widely. "I made sure the main sauce should be mild enough for anypony. I wasn't really sure how much heat you could take. Is it too hot?"
Fluttershy smiled. "I … I like it. It's, um, pleasant."
Pinkie clapped her hooves in joy. "You do? You should try the other sauces then, if you like it hot. Oooh, and the cheese, don't forget the cheese. Pasta isn't complete without cheese." She looked expectantly at Fluttershy, waiting for her to try again.
"A… aren't you hungry?" Fluttershy asked a little timidly as she dipped a wheatball in one of the special sauces and sprinkled it generously with cheese.
"I'm starving! But I made it for you, Fluttershy, and I want to see what you think. I want to know if you like what I made," Pinkie said and leaned forward expectantly. "I couldn't possibly eat before I know that my guest likes the food, now could I?"
Fluttershy smiled and gulped down the tasty, saucy, cheesy ball of wheat. The sauces were so full of flavor she almost cried. A moment later she did cry, as the flavors burst into flames upon her lips and tongue. "Oh Pinkie!" she gasped. "So … so hot!"
"Me or the sauce?" Pinkie chortled.
"Pinkie!" Fluttershy gasped in shock and turned tomato red from top to toe.
"Sorry, sorry!" The pink pony giggled innocently. She couldn't help it. "So do you like it?"
Fluttershy nodded while panting, "It's, um, really, really … good! I … I love …" she managed to say over the heat. Two little words, only one little word to go, that last little word. She was so close, "… it." She sighed.
Pinkie's joy turned supernova. "Yay! I just knew you would! I'm so excited! You're a pretty tough pony, you know? That was some pretty hot stuff there." She giggled and slurped up a string of pasta. "Mmm … delicious!"
Fluttershy smiled and returned to the plate, the pepper burning pleasantly. She was licking her lips as her ears caught a new sound from the kitchen. She looked up at Pinkie on the other side of the table, then at the door to the kitchen behind the pink pony. "Um … did you hear something?"
"Hear what?" Pinkie giggled and turned her head to look at where Fluttershy was looking. "Probably just something outside, or a mouse," she said with a smile and offered Fluttershy a refill of her glass. "Don't worry, Fluttershy."
"I … I like mice," Fluttershy said with a nervous smile. She didn't think it sounded like a mouse, unless it was a mouse who knew how to cook. But maybe Pinkie was right.
"They sneak in sometimes," Pinkie said while sprinkling a little more cheese on the pasta, and took a small mouthful. "Mmm …" She slurped loudly. "… and steal all our candy," she said with her mouth full of pasta and spicy tomato sauce.
Fluttershy admired Pinkie's lack of manners and took a mouthful of her own, her eyes still on the kitchen door and her ears alert for more sounds. She leaned over the table as she sucked up the last strands of pasta. Her attention was so occupied by the kitchen that it took her a moment to realize that her nose had bumped into Pinkie's and their lips now met in the middle of the small table. Shocked, she squeaked and pulled away, feeling very much like she would love being a tiny mouse hiding in the woodwork.
Pinkie blinked a few times, then grinned. "Heh, whoops?"
Fluttershy cursed herself for pulling back. She wanted to grab Pinkie and do it right, to leave no doubts about her feelings. She tried to summon the courage to speak the words. It should come so naturally now, they were right there on her lips … and then the seconds took them away again until it seemed way too late.
The pink pony's right eye twitched a little and the smile looked a little bothered. "Sorry," she apologized as she rubbed her eye and a loud bubbling sound from the kitchen broke the moment entirely. "Um …" Pinkie glanced at the door. "I'll just go take a look, maybe I left the stove on." She smiled and got up. "Don't worry, I'll only be a moment."
Fluttershy's shoulders sagged as she watched Pinkie disappear into the kitchen. Only a moment, but the moment had been ruined. She had been too slow, the perfect opportunity had been staring her right in the face and she had shied away and been too afraid. Always so afraid.
There was another bubbling, gurgling sound, louder this time. Pinkie came cantering back out the door and shut it behind her, her face a noticeably paler palette of pink and her smile somewhat strained.
"Is everything alright?" Fluttershy asked nervously before pulling her hooves up to her mouth to prevent a gasp, or maybe a scream. A pool of vividly scarlet and strangely bubbling tomato sauce was quickly seeping out from under the door behind Pinkie, who looked down and gave an uncertain chuckle. But Fluttershy was more focused on the long macaroni tentacles waving in the air above the pony and looking like they were in a very grabby mood.
"P… P… Pinkie … be… behind you!" she cried.
Pinkie bit down hard on the noodly appendage wrapping around her. It snapped with the characteristic sound of a noodle being severed, which is to say a particularly inaudible sound. "Fluttershy," she said with a steely voice. "I need you with me. Are you with me?"
Fluttershy gave a squeak of terror as more macaroni tentacles reached through the door and felt about Pinkie's head and legs. Pinkie's eyes caught hers. "I …" Fluttershy's heart flittered about in her chest. "I am with you," she said.
"Good!" Pinkie said and dove for the table, grabbing a fork between her teeth. "Grab a fork, we're going in!" She waited for Fluttershy to grab the other fork with clattering teeth, then charged through the swing doors with a battle cry, which was more like a muffled roar. Fluttershy made her own attempt and crept through the door on trembling hooves.
Fluttershy could not say she had been prepared for the sight that met her in the kitchen. There was sauce everywhere; a great big mass of pasta growing in a sea of sauce overflowing with wheatballs rolling about like huge unblinking eyes. Pinkie was already up to her flank in hot sauce and pasta al dente, sinking her teeth and fork into the noodly guts of the monstrosity. Fluttershy watched Pinkie's slick coat in the bubbling bath of tomato and licking tentacles, and for a moment she felt all warm and distracted.
"Fluttershy, I need you here with me!"
Pinkie's call for help against the growing tide of macaroni mayhem tore the pegasus out of the brief stupor. She sank a heavy lump in her throat and charged with the fork held in front of her, right into the fray with Pinkie. She fought teeth and fork against the rising waves and lashing tentacles, trying to eat her way through, but it was hopeless. For every bite she managed, all the pasta seemed to double. "Where is it all coming from?" she cried as she struggled to keep her head above the noodles and sauce.
Pinkie's head burst through the surface and gasped for air. "Keep eating!"
"It's … it's too late," Fluttershy yelled. "I can't … keep up!"
"Fluttershy!" Pinkie cried and flailed desperately against the sauce as the top of Fluttershy's pink mane disappeared under the waves. "Noooooooooo!" Pinkie yelled as she was pressed against the roof of the kitchen by the growing masses beneath her. She took a final deep breath before the last air was swallowed up. There was a groaning noise as the pasta overflowed the bakery and pressed against the walls with increasing force. A brief moment of stillness ensued, then the walls gave up and burst under the pressure. Like a tsunami of tomato sauce and pasta the monstrous mass rose and fell over the sleepy village of Ponyville.
When she got up that morning, Fluttershy never imagined she should be drowning in pasta and tomato sauce in the evening. It was a depressing thought as she flailed wildly in the direction she thought was up. Little did it help as she was thrown around and about among giant wheatballs in the juicy currents. She was losing her last strength and silently seeing her life flashing before her eyes just as she felt a hoof grab her own and pull. She emerged into the fresh night air with a gasp.
"Hold on, Fluttershy! I got you!" Pinkie's voice said next to her ear as she felt the other pony wrap her hooves around her chest and pull her through the saucy waves. Fluttershy wiped her eyes of tomato juice and blinked at the moonlight as Pinkie dragged her out of the sea and onto gently rocking ground. "Welcome aboard the Sugar and Spice, miss Shy!"
Fluttershy looked around and blinked several times. They were sitting on what looked like the roof of the Sugarcube Corner, sailing upon the waves of pasta and sauce. Now and then a wheatball collided with the improvised vessel and made it rock, but the ship seemed stable. "Oh Pinkie, what are we going to do?" She looked out over the flooded lands. "Ponyville must be totally covered!" And, she thought, all of Equestria couldn't be far behind.
Pinkie swung herself up upon the small balcony around the muffin-shaped tower of the Corner and held a hoof up above her eyes as she scouted towards the distance. "We must find the Master Pasta! Find him, and challenge him to a duel!"
"The, um, Master Pasta?" Fluttershy looked up at the pink pony.
"There's always a Master Pasta!"
"Um … where are we headed?"
Pinkie grinned down at her. "Balltimare, Fluttershy! The legendary City of Hot Sauce on the great Tabasco River is where we're going, and where we must find the Master Pasta!"
The setting sun cast a crimson glow over the great pasta sea as the Sugar and Spice neared its destination. Pinkie narrowed her eyes as she gazed at the horizon and completed a small jig on the spot. "Land ho! Chin up, Fluttershy," she said and smiled at the pegasus next to her, "the City of Hot Sauce awaits us at last."
Fluttershy wasn't entirely sure how Pinkie steered the improvised vessel. Perhaps she didn't, perhaps it seemed it had a life and destiny of its own, and they were just along for the ride. She watched as it steered towards a looming shape in the distance, a giant wheatball rising out of the mist, cut through by a river of deep red sauce. Where the river met the sea could be seen the lights of a bustling city.
"Welcome to the Tabasco River and the city of Balltimare," Pinkie said as the ship drifted slowly into the busy harbor. The party pony breathed in the aromatic breeze wafting down from the wheaty mountains. "This is the land of spices, my dear Fluttershy."
The ship landed, and the two ponies jumped off the roof onto the soft ground. Fluttershy followed behind Pinkie, giving a low eek at all the pasta ponies watching them as they passed. Pinkie didn't seem to mind them. "Alright! If I know pasta, and I do," she began, "the Master Pasta should be somewhere around …" She stopped at the entrance to a wide street and looked up and down the shops and restaurants. "… here."
"Um, where?" Fluttershy wasn't sure where to even begin.
"Let's try one of the restaurants!" Pinkie said cheerfully, her optimism unbounded as always.
"Um …" Fluttershy began. Pinkie trotted down the wide avenue and inspected a menu sign on a wall. Fluttershy followed with her eyes fixed on the pasta ponies walking behind her. "Which one? There must be hundreds."
Pinkie muttered to herself as she inspected the menu. "Where the pasta is the firmest, the sauce the thickest, and the spices the hottest ones around." She sniffed the air. "Well this ain't the place," she stated certainly and trotted once around herself before continuing down the street while following her nose.
Fluttershy continued to eye the ponies around her. She was glad that Pinkie didn't stop them to ask for directions. She couldn't place her hoof on it, but they didn't seem like ponies who would help. She nearly walked into Pinkie as the pink pony made a sudden stop with an exclamation of "Aha!" She turned down a side alley and stopped in front of a small restaurant. "Gotcha!" She looked back at Fluttershy. "You with me? Things might get stringy in there."
Fluttershy nodded with a mildly sinking feeling in her chest. Pinkie gave her a brilliant smile before bursting through the door to the small establishment. Fluttershy flittered off behind her. The restaurant was a small, cozy place with a few tables and a lot of decor. A few of the tables were occupied and all eyes were now on them, or at least on Pinkie because Fluttershy had made a little eek and taken immediate cover behind the pink pony, tail between her legs.
"We've come for the Master Pasta!" Pinkie exclaimed to the room.
A tense silence filled the place. A small party of assorted pastas sat around a corner table, larger and set off from the other tables. They were now turning to regard them. All, at least, except for the big uncooked unicorn which looked rather immobile where it sat. But the rest were turning to regard them.
Pinkie strode up to the table with the kind of social ease and confidence that only the pink pony could muster. The pastas around the table got up halfway before a noodly hoof from somewhere in the back gestured for them to sit back down. "My friends, these ponies come to talk business, and are we not business pastas I ask?" said a little fat pasta pony as the others took their seats again with a few nods of agreement. The pasta pony turned to Pinkie and Fluttershy with open hooves. "Come, sit down, and tell old Rigatoni what he can do for you."
Pinkie gave the pasta father a good once-over. "Are you the Master Pasta?"
"Perhaps, perhaps. Who wants to know?" The pasta leaned back and considered them.
"I'm Pinkie Pie, and my friend Fluttershy and I have come to challenge you to a duel!" Fluttershy gave a little squeak behind Pinkie as she was mentioned.
A murmur and many meaningful glances were shared across the room. The Master Pasta smiled a light semolina smile at them. "You want to do that now? You want to do a match now?"
"Yeah!" Pinkie said with her hooves crossed. "If we win, you leave and take all your pasta and sauce with you. Got it?"
"If, um … if that's alright with you, that is …" Fluttershy hastened to add from behind her tail.
"Ah, I see … And what if I win?" The Master steepled his noodly hooves.
"Uh, you stay?" Pinkie's certainty deflated somewhat.
"Miss Pie," The Master Pasta spoke in a disappointed voice. "You come proposing business to me, and this is all you have to offer? You offer me what I already have, what is there in such a proposal for me? Ah … but so be it. In that case I get to set the rules. It is only fair, no?"
"I guess so," Pinkie turned it over a few times in her mind. "What do you propose then?"
The Master spread his spaghetti hooves and gestured around him. "Miss Pie, Miss Fluttershy, this is Balltimare, City of Hot Sauce. It can therefore only be proper that I should propose to you a contest not of brawn or wits but of taste! We shall sample the city's delicacies and culinary specialties until one side gives up. That's the Balltimare way!"
"That's it?!" Pinkie grinned. "Let's get ready to rumble, then!"
"Um, let's … not?"
"Ah … only one last detail," the pasta father said in a tone that didn't quite instill comfort. "The matter of what is to happen in case of a stalemate. Very important. In that distant eventuality, victory goes to the establishment … that is, me. Are we agreed?"
"Pinkie, um, are you sure about this?" Fluttershy whispered nervously as they sat down at the table with all the suspicious looking pasta ponies looking at them.
Pinkie gave Fluttershy an encouraging nudge. "You're a tough pony, Fluttershy. You just dive right in and show that sauce who's boss! For Equestria! For me, and for your friends!"
"But … I don't like the look of this, um, pasta guy."
Pinkie looked across the table at the grinning pasta boss wiggling his noodly brows at them. There was something about the way he looked at them, she couldn't quite put her hoof on it. Pinkie narrowed her eyes and scratched her chin. "Right …"
"You fillies ready?" The Master Pasta said under his grin. "Two against one, because I am in a generous mood. Wouldn't want you to think I am not playing fair."
"Bring it, noodle face!" Pinkie slammed her hoof on the table, causing Fluttershy to squeak again. "Show us what you got!"
"Favoloso!" He clapped his tentacle hooves twice, and a pair of waiters came trotting in, carrying two plates. The waiters placed one in front of the two ponies and the other in front of the Master. "We lay the ground with good old garlic bread," he said as the scent of garlic filled the room and nearly knocked them off their pillows.
"Oh … my!" Fluttershy stared tearily at the bread in front of her.
"Rea—" the Master Pasta began, and then the bread was gone. Pinkie licked her lips and let out a burp that could have wilted an apple orchard. "—dy?" There was a moment of silence before the pasta pony picked up his own bread and ate it ponderously. "Mmm, good, good. But there is no rush, miss Pie. We might as well enjoy the food as civilized beings, no?"
Next was horse radish hors d'oeuvres. Wine was served, and the battle began in earnest as Pinkie and Fluttershy dug in. Onions followed, cheese so cheesy it tried to flee, mustard, jalapeņo relish, stuffed chillies, all supplemented with plenty of wine and all the many sauces endemic to the city; from the classic Tabasco to the fiery Habanero sauce and the immensely spicy imported rainbow sauces.
Fluttershy's hooves trembled, and her eyes ran like rivers as she fought to get the last stuffed pepper into her mouth. Her mouth was already on flames, and her breath alone could have killed a bear. Even Pinkie was panting and looking as if flames could escape any moment.
"Come on, Fluttershy, just … just that last one," Pinkie said encouragingly.
From across the table, old Rigatoni watched them with a pleased smile as he leaned back with a little cough. "Ready to give up, young fillies?"
"No way!" Pinkie stuck out her tongue at the Master and turned back to her friend. "You can do it, Fluttershy! For your friends, for me!"
Fluttershy closed her mouth around the pepper dripping five different kinds of sauce at least and swallowed it whole with a defiant glare. Her head was swimming from the wine, her lips aflame with sauce, her hooves dripping and burning brightly red. Perhaps this was how dragons were born, she thought. Perhaps a roar was expected of her … she just might incinerate the pasta.
There were a few surprised mutterings around the room as all the spectators watched the ponies soldier on. It was quite impressive to watch. The don nodded and snapped his noodles. "Looks like we're on the last dish." The waiters returned with three small porcelain bowls, just fit for a hoof. The two ponies stared at the rainbow colored sauce as the waiters very carefully set it down in front of them, one for each.
"Pinkie, it's …" Fluttershy stammered.
"I know, Fluttershy …" Pinkie stared at the thin sauce. She couldn't be seeing things, the flame was bright and clear.
"Rainbow Dragon's Bile," the don explained. "A fine and rare liquor brewed from a mix of the six hottest peppers ever grown, fermented for twenty-one years and triple distilled. Only ten bottles have ever been made. It can really burn," he said with delight as he lifted his bowl with care to demonstrate. "You blow out the flame and down it in one go before it reignites. Ready, fillies? Or shall we simply conclude our business and declare the winner?"
Pinkie scowled and lifted her bowl. No pony, or pasta, should ever say she didn't like her sauce hot! With a blow that could kill, she extinguished the flame and swallowed the few drops of liquor. Everyone in the room watched in breathless silence as Pinkie's eyes widened a little by little until they were little red lakes of tears. "Piece …" she breathed, peeling the paint off a picture on the opposite wall, "… of cake!"
"Impressive," the don said, clearly not lying. "And your friend?"
Fluttershy reached out a shaking hoof for the little bowl of liquid fire. She paused as her hooves fumbled with the bowl. "I … I can't …" Pinkie reached out to steady her hooves. Together they lifted it ever so slowly. Fluttershy looked Pinkie in the eyes. "I … can't."
The room was silent. Pinkie looked down at the little bowl and sank a fiery lump in her throat. "No pasta … beats Pinkie!" A few gasps were heard from the room as she blew out the flame and downed the second bowl too. Pinkie swayed a little, eyes like waterfalls. Then she slammed the bowl on the table and turned to the don. "Hah!"
The Master smiled and clapped his tentacle hooves. "Superb, my young fillies. Absolutely superb." He lifted his drink again. "Cheers!" The rainbow fire disappeared in a gulp. The don breathed in and sat for a while before breathing back out a little cloud of smoke. He smiled apologetically at the two ponies. "But I am afraid … ah, but we have no more to offer. You've eaten every challenge, so … we have a stalemate you see. And that means I win."
Pinkie deflated despite the fires roaring inside her. "But … but … that's not fair!"
"Miss Pie, are you calling me dishonest? I am but an honest business pasta in good standing. You made the deal yourself. You chose the price, I chose the rules, remember? And you agreed to them, fair and square, but now you want to complain?"
Pinkie looked down at her hooves in defeat. Fluttershy was still watching the little bowl with her jaw hanging slightly. She sank and looked at Pinkie. It couldn't end like this, not after they had fought so hard, not after all that Pinkie had done. The pegasus looked at their sauce-covered hooves and faces. She licked a bit of sauce off her hoof and looked up at Pinkie again. Something within her burned, and it wasn't just the explosive mixture of chili and wine. She glared at the triumphantly smirking don across the table, then back at Pinkie.
Pinkie blinked as Fluttershy grabbed her and their lips met. The pink pony's eyes widened for a second before they both lost themselves in the kiss, lips of burning coal locked and tongues of white hot flames playing. It was the hottest kiss Pinkie had ever had, laced with fire and dripping passion. For the eternity of several seconds she was in a world of pure searing passion, her sauce-covered hooves pulling Fluttershy so close they almost melted together.
"Oh, ShyShy!" Pinkie gasped in surprise as Fluttershy licked the last drops of sauce off her lips and buried her muzzle in Pinkie's neck, licking off the little drops of sauces that had escaped and dripped down the pink pony's body. Her tongue left long burning streaks in its wake and left Pinkie as soft as a noodle in her hooves.
The room was utter breathless silence as the two ponies licked up every drop of sauce and finished in another kiss. Fluttershy opened one eye to stare at the don before breaking the kiss and fixing him in her gaze. "There! Any of your pastas wanna do that with you? No?" She turned her glance around at the room, every face suddenly doing their best to look inconspicuous. "No? Well then, I guess we win!"
Pinkie gaped. The whole room gaped as Fluttershy beamed and kissed Pinkie again.
"What a wonderful evening." Mrs. Cake sighed at the brilliant night sky.
Mr. Cake smiled and gave her a nuzzle. "Well deserved, honey bun!"
"It was very nice of you," Mrs. Cake said as the two stopped outside Sugarcube Corner and shared a brief kiss. "And we have the rest of the night left."
The amber-coated earth pony smiled and pushed the door open. The two stepped inside and stopped. Their eyes followed the edges of the room around, following the great seas of tomato sauce and pasta to where two very sauced up ponies lay, snuggled up by a table with several bottles of wine and even more sauces.
"Uh …" Mr. Cake stammered. "M… maybe …?"
"Yes." Mrs. Cake read his mind. "Yes, I think perhaps this is the wrong door."
"Yes, how silly of me," Mr. Cake echoed and pointed a hoof across the street to a small hotel. "I think perhaps we live at that place over there?"
They gave a quick nod at each other and hurried back out and across the street.