It was a quiet evening. March 31. Twilight Sparkle checked her almanac. Nothing exciting was going to happen in the sky tonight, and that was just as well. It was overcast and besides, she didn't think she could stay up until sunset, much less midnight.
She turned the lights off and pulled the covers aside when she heard a thumping noise from downstairs.
"Spike? Is that you? Are you back yet?"
*thump* *thump* *thump*
It grew louder. And rhythmic. She went downstairs and turned the lights on - nobody there. The sound was coming from outside the house. The streets were empty outside. Only one shop had its lights on, the noise getting louder with every step closer.
She opened the door to Sugarcube Corner, finally hearing the treble part of the dance music
Pinkie Pie answered the door. "Hey, Twilight! Glad you could make it! The party's just starting!"
Twilight looked in - the bakery had been decked out once more. Balloons. Streamers. Banners.
"Come on in! We've got an ice sculpture in the back room, and I was just about to light the fire sculpture. This is going to be the best party ever!"
Twilight looked away, "This looks like a lot of fun, if you like parties and loud music and fire. I was planning on having an early night in"
"Don't worry. Things usually die down around nine."
"Wait a minute, Pinkie. Nine? You expect this crowd to be all partied out in half an hour?"
Pinkie Pie shook her head. "No, silly. Nine AM. Dance til the break of dawn! And then four more hours for good luck!"
"C'mon! I bet when you were younger, you'd be up all night reading. It's like that, only with flashing lights, loud music, and lots of friends! I bet you still have it in you if you just - "
"Pinkie Pie, I was up all night reading last night. I need to get some sleep tonight. I hate to be a party pooper but could you please tone it down a little?" Twilight Sparkle tried to motion with her hooves to indicate an amount of toning down.
"Well, I could wrap the party up early but - "
"No. No no no no no. That simply can't be done". Rarity walked between the two of them. "We can't let such a fabulous party end just because a few people get tired. Not your famous April Foal's Day party. Walk with me, Twilight. Let's go somewhere...quieter and I'll tell you all about April Foal's Day".
Rarity led Twilight Sparkle in front of the Carousel Boutique. Rainbow Dash and Applejack were already there. Twilight shook her head. "Explain this to me one more time. You guys are plotting against Pinkie Pie?"
"Not plotting, exactly".
"Let me put it this way. Remember last week how you said keeping Pinkie Pie out of trouble was a full-time job and we all laughed?", Rainbow Dash said.
"I got third shift."
Applejack sat down next to Twilight Sparkle. "Trust me. It's easier this way."
"April Foal's Day."
"April Foal's Day?", asked Twilight Sparkle.
"You didn't have that back in Canterlot?", Rainbow Dash asked.
"Yes, tell us", Rarity said. "I must make a note - I wouldn't want to appear provincial."
"Well, yeah. We have it. Little fillies tell each other that the moon is made of cheese or that clouds are just floating masses of water vapor. Ridiculous things like that. But you've all outgrown that kind of silliness.", Twilight Sparkle paused for a moment. "Haven't you?"
Rarity hesitated a moment. "Pinkie Pie is a...special case."
"Also, she hasn't outgrown it.", Applejack said.
"Before we started this, she painted the entire town gray and tried to convince everyone they were in an old movie.", Rarity said.
"And before that, she - ", Applejack leaned over and whispered something in Twilight Sparkle's ear.
"Zombie bunnies?", Twilight Sparkle exclaimed, more curious than shocked. "Wait, did I just hear a small, quiet whimper from a cottage three miles out of town?"
"Twilight? Please don't mention the Z.B. word ever again.", Rarity said, "Let's just say there's a reason why Fluttershy isn't helping us tonight."
"And it gets even worse! The year before that, she got me with a spring-loaded feedbag!"
Everyone looked at Rainbow Dash. Her wings bristled defensively.
"What? It hit me on right on the nose! It hurt!"
"Anyhow", Rarity continued, "we decided that the best thing to do was keep her busy all day, today and tomorrow. We don't know what she's up to. She got a freezer a month ago and filled it with ice, but it's so hard knowing if that's normal for Pinkie Pie or not. She's like a mystery, wrapped in ribbon, inside a shiny box, covered in wrapping paper.
Sweetie Belle and I had her over for a tea party this morning. Mr. Cake kept her baking the treats for tonight until the party started. Rainbow Dash is keeping an eye on her during the all-night dance."
"Then around sunrise, I tag in Applejack who keeps her busy until noon. From there, we wing it."
Twilight Sparkle was confused. "No pranks at all? I thought it was kinda funny when she - "
"Not today. On April Foal's Day she has no sense of restraint. You know how wereponies turn into bloodthirsty monsters when there's a full moon? She's like that, except it's once a year instead of once a month, pranks instead of biting, and - "
"I get your point, Dash."
Applejack smiled proudly. "That's why all of us have to do our best to keep her out of trouble, no matter what. Because friends look out for friends!"
"So...who's watching her now?". Twilight Sparkle looked around. Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack looked nervously at each other for a moment then ran back to the party.
Things kept quiet - apart from the backbeat of the dance music carrying across time - for the next few hours. Twilight Sparkle lit a candle, read a quiet book, and hoped for sleep. She finished a chapter, blew the candle out, and heard a tapping at her window.
She opened it. "Yes, Rainbow Dash?"
"She sent me out to get ice."
"I wanted to get an outside opinion on it. Maybe she's just trying to get rid of me for a couple minutes. Or maybe the ice is for a really awesome prank. Or maybe the prank involves me questioning whether or not getting ice is part of the prank. Or maybe if I get the ice, the next person who needs ice won't be able to get enough and -"
"You might be overthinking it. How much ice did she have?"
"Some. Not a lot, but she had some." Rainbow Dash tried to motion with her hooves to indicate an amount of ice.
"Maybe she just needed more ".
"Yeah, I guess." Rainbow Dash hovered sullenly, trying to decide what to do.
"So...who's watching her now?"
Twilight Sparkle looked around, and Rainbow Dash had vanished.
Twilight Sparkle tossed and turned. The music had died down hours ago. The distinct voices of the morning crowd - with their talk of itching powder and egg powder and such - had been joined and all she could hear was an indistinct hubbub. She felt her body relax. She settled into her bed and -
"I'm coming!", she shouted downstairs.
Applejack was at the door. "Hey, Sugarcube. Sorry to drop by unannounced, but I need a favor. Could you keep an eye on Pinkie Pie for a little while? Please?"
"I had four hours sleep over the last two days, Applejack. Can't someone else - "
"Apple Bloom and Scootaloo WERE scheduled to watch her. Then she talked them into putting salt into everyone's sugarbowls."
The young pony peeked out from behind her big sister's legs "Pinkie Pie made it sound like we'd be doing everypony a favor and you always told us to listen to your friends. Can't we get another chance? Please?"
"That's the same hangdog expression I used to try on Big Macintosh when I was your age, little girl", Applejack scowled. "It didn't work on him neither." Applejack's expression softened. "It's a big job we asked of you and I'm proud that you two managed to hold out for thirty minutes - "
"Thirty-SIX minutes", interjected Apple Bloom
"- but we have a rule. When Pinkie Pie starts making sense, it's time for somepony else to watch her."
Apple Bloom hung her head, "All right."
"C'mon, Apple Bloom", Scootaloo said, peering out from Applejack's other side. "And what if we got cutie marks for restraining Pinkie Pie? Can you imagine having to explain that to everypony for the rest of your life?"
Applejack nodded to Twilight Sparkle "I'd do it myself, but I just finished six hours, and I don't know much more I can take. Just keep an eye on her. If she suggests anything that sounds dangerous or fun, stop her."
"Kinda like how you do with Spike", Apple Bloom added.
"I don't do that to Spike." Twilight Sparkle paused for a moment. "Okay...maybe a little but it's for his own good."
"So...who's watching her now?"
Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo looked at each other nervously for a moment, then ran in different directions.
"Great", Twilight Sparkle said to herself, "She could be anywhere by now, doing anything. If I were ten different hyperactive balls of pink fluff, where would I be right now? It's past lunchtime, so I'd probably - "
"Hey, Twilight! What's up?", Pinkie Pie chirped. "How about you take a step outside and talk to me."
Twilight cautiously stepped out of the library. "What did you want?"
"Oh, I just remembered. Could you go in and get a book for me?"
"Any book in particular? We've got a lot of them."
"Oh, any book will be fine."
"Certainly, Pinkie. That doesn't sound at all suspicious, especially on April Foal's Day". Twilight didn't move.
Pinkie Pie leapt past Twilight into the library and grabbed a book of humorous rhymes. "I'll have it back in a month".
"Since you're here, could you help me with something? Spike's birthday is coming up soon and I need to figure out what to do for him."
"Sure. What does he like?"
Twilight Sparkle got as far as "Well, he sure likes Rari-" before Pinkie Pie placed a hoof to her mouth.
"Ahem. You promised not to tell anyone."
"You were there. He told you too, remember?"
"I'm not at liberty to divulge that information."
"Ok. He happens to like a certain unicorn whom I shall not name, and - "
"Ooh - is it Rarity?", Pinkie interjected.
"Look, I've never planned a birthday party before. Can you please help me?"
"Sure - but do we have to plan it today?". Pinkie pulled away from the table.
"I was really hoping we could. He's away on business. I want it to be a surprise."
Pinkie Pie grinned. "Just get a pencil and paper. I'll wait right here."
Twilight Sparkle ran into the library as quickly as she could, levitating a pencil and a sheet of paper to her while she kept one eye on the pink pony. They went back to Sugarcube Corner and talked for a while, about Spike, about parties and about how to best combine the two. After several discarded ideas, like making a sleeping bag out of a pile of coins or gem-encrusted cake, they decided that rock candy would be a good compromise and set up a few jars of sugar water. Once they got a few sunny days, it'd crystallize. Hopefully he'd appreciate the texture, at least. Twilight Sparkle thought about what she'd need to do to keep Spike from finding out about this. She felt glad that she got this done, and her assistant would get a -
Wait. How was she going to keep an eye on Pinkie Pie now? She needed an excuse, and fast. Maybe if she asked for help baking? Or cataloging books? But all the books were in the right order. Maybe if she said that Dewey Decimal System had been changed or -
"Aaand I think that's a party! How about I walk you home?", Pinkie said.
Or Pinkie Pie could volunteer.
"This is going to be an awesome party! Not as cool as last night's party, but maybe we could do that fire sculpture again since he didn't get a chance to see it this time. I don't like to repeat myself, but I think this one has potential. And here we are!" Pinkie Pie motioned for Twilight Sparkle to enter first.
"Come in, Pinkie Pie. I really think we should, umm..." Twilight struggled to think of plausible.
"Ooh, a game board! Let's play something!"
Twilight Sparkle thought about the last game of chess. Pinkie Pie made 'poing' sounds when she moved the pieces. She called the knights 'horsies'. She called all the pieces 'horsies', too. And so far she had won twice, and the other game had been close. It was odd that Pinkie Pie insist that the loser run three laps around building, but no more odd than usual. It kept her occupied, at least.
She finished her first time around the building when the clock chimed midnight. She looked around - nothing. Then she waited five minutes, just in case Pinkie had managed to "adjust" the town clock.
"Finally. It's April second. We're safe."
She stepped in front of the library's entrance and heard a quiet metallic click. She was flung through the air and landed in a nearby bush. Shaking herself off, she heard a giggle. She looked to her left - nobody there. She looked to her right - the town was empty. She looked back to her left and was face to face with Pinkie Pie.
"Pinkie Pie! What - How - Why?"
"But I was with you the whole day!"
"Oh, right. I set that one up three days ago."
"But I've been in and out of the library a dozen times since then."
"Well, yeah. I froze the trigger solid so it wouldn't go off until all the ice it melted away. It was supposed to happen yesterday, except it melted slowly because it was overcast. I specifically asked for clear skies around here. The weather bureau must be slipping", Pinkie shook her head, "I was so close, too. I've pranked everyone else in town. I just had one more to go until I was the queen of April Foal's Day."
"So you weren't planning a big prank on the rest of the town?"
"Nah. I got them last year or the year before that."
A flat white square slowly floated down to Pinkie Pie's feet.
Twilight Sparkle looked at it. "A letter?"
Pinkie Pie looked down to read the address. "My letter to weather management?"
"Returned for insufficient postage. Pinkie Pie, you need to put a stamp on it to - "
"But I did! I even double-checked this time. I -"
A smaller square fluttered down and landed in the upper right corner of the envelope.
Pinkie Pie looked up. The town's mailpony hovered above them, grinning. "Happy April Foal's Day, Pinkie!"
Pinkie Pie shook a forehoof at her. "You...you counter-pranked me! I had this whole thing planned out. I even had Apple Bloom double-check the math on the spring. Do you know how hard it is to find out Twilight's weight without her knowing?! I was this close to having a perfect record!"
Pinkie beamed at the mailmare. "And that was totally awesome!"
"C'mon, Twilight. I've got to come up with something even better even if it takes me all year to plan it. And you're the thinky thinkerpants who's going to help me."
"...wait. Pinkie Pie? You're asking me to help me prank myself?"
"We'll figure out the details later."