The next thing Ditzy remembered was waking suddenly. She would have immediately taken the opportunity to pass the whole incident off as a dream, had she not looked up to see Autumn Breeze standing over her.
"Hi." Said Breeze bluntly. "You passed out, so I put you on the couch. I'll give you a second to collect yourself, in case coming to grips with your situation makes you faint again."
He chuckled a bit, but Ditzy hardly heard him; her head was positively swimming with thoughts as everything Dr. Candyfloss had said and done began to make sense. Dr. Candyfloss was glad to hear I wasn't separated from my husband... she thought, ...because that would mean that there had been poor choices of romantic partner made. He wouldn't hire a matchmaker that had failed to match herself up!
One after another, the rest of Candyfloss's mannerisms began to make sense. And personality is more important than delivery skills since I'm not going to be delivering anything at all! And Dr. Candyfloss's cutie mark... it's Cupid's bow and arrow... and...
Shaking herself from her fast-paced reverie, Ditzy finally sat up, looking overwhelmed and somewhat miserable. Breeze still looked concerned as he looked over her.
"Are you gonna be okay?" the male pegasus asked. "I guess that news was kind of a shock. I'll get you a glass of water, and then you can feel free to bombard me with any questions you may have. I'm sure some have arisen in your mind by now."
He was right in that respect; Ditzy was overflowing with new concerns, as well as a nagging feeling that she had wound up in way over her head this time. The grey pegasus took the glass that Breeze offered and quickly downed the water. Her head feeling a little clearer, she turned to look at Breeze, who was smiling a little awkwardly.
"So..." Ditzy finally found her voice. "I guess the first thing I need to know is
now what? Can I just go down to Dr. Candyfloss right now and quit?"
"I doubt it," Breeze responded. "You signed the contract, right? That means you're on the job for one year, and then you renew or quit."
"But, surely if it's a mistake, he can reconsider!" Ditzy countered. "I mean, this isn't what I thought I signed up for! I even told Dr. Candyfloss I was a mailmare before this!"
"You did?" Breeze looked intrigued. "Well, it's not like I haven't been telling him that one of these days a mailpony was going to apply by accident. That must mean he hired you on purpose, even knowing that you had no idea what was going on!"
"What?" Ditzy replied incredulously. "I knew he was desperate for new employees, but not to the point of hiring completely inexperienced mares that aren't even aware what they're applying for!"
"No, it's not that," said Breeze calmly. "Listen Ditzy. Candyfloss may not be the best boss ever, but he's unparalleled in the shipping business
and yes, I mean the new definition of shipping," he added quickly, countering the question Ditzy was about to ask. "Anyway, he would never do something like this without a reason. If he hired you on such bizarre circumstances, then he sees something in you that he thinks will make you a valuable member or our team."
Ditzy looked skeptical. "What else do you know about Dr. Candyfloss?"
"Quite a bit, actually," Breeze chuckled. "First of all, he's not a doctor, he just likes the sound of adding a title to his name. I tend to remind him of that pretty often, since it drives him crazy." Breeze punctuated his sentence with a chuckle. "Anyway, he was born into a family who owns a candy company in Fillydelphia, but he never really liked the candy business. He was an introverted little colt, not talking to many other ponies, and always keeping notes in a secret notebook of his. Then one day, so he tells me, he put those notes he took to good use, dropped a few choice tidbits of information to a few choice ponies, and by the end of the day, half the employees at the factory were paired up with a significant other. And thus, Candyfloss got his matchmaking Cutie Mark."
"But my special talent isn't matchmaking!" Ditzy responded. "My cutie mark has nothing to do with it!"
"Neither does mine," said Breeze calmly, showing off his cutie mark, a maple leaf. "I'm actually part of the fall weather team. I'm usually in charge of getting any leaves off the trees that the Running of the Leaves doesn't take care of. But, during the other nine months of the year, I need something to do, and here I am."
"Then... you're good at your job here?" Ditzy asked, before realizing the negative implication she had made. "I mean, uh, even though it's not your special talent?"
"Actually, yeah," Breeze answered. "I applied here on purpose, matchmaking is sort of a secondary talent of mine. Very few ponies have it as their special talent, but plenty can do it almost as well on the side."
He looked at Ditzy for a moment, as if trying to see some obscure detail. "Even if you've never tried to ship two ponies together before, you might have the talent for it hidden in there somewhere. And Candyfloss can see it; I think he can see it in everypony who has it. If he hired you, even while knowing that you have no experience, then something about you is signaling to him that you're the pony for the job."
" Ditzy didn't know what to say. She couldn't think of another argument. Instead, she said something entirely different.
I should just give it a try then?"
"That's the spirit!" Breeze smiled broadly. "You never know until you've given it a go, right?"
" Ditzy looked a little worried still. "Can you at least give me a better idea of what I need to do?"
"Sure, it's not as hard as it sounds," Breeze replied. "See, the pony looking to win the heart of their crush sometimes is unsure how to go about doing it. So they call this company, and Candyfloss sends whoever he deems to be the best employee for the job out to help. And don't think he doesn't already have a specific type of job in mind for you. He does. He's always a step ahead somehow."
Ditzy just gulped.
"Anyway, one of us goes to meet this lovestruck pony," Breeze continued. "And find out who the object of their affection is. Then comes the fun part. We're tasked with finding a discrete way to get the other pony interested in our client, to whatever extent the client asks, be it a simple, casual date, or something way more complicated. A price is agreed on beforehand, which is different for everypony; we bargain with the client until we both agree on a price, and if we succeed in the matchmaking, the client pays."
"And if we fail?" Ditzy asked.
"That's up to the client. Some are friendly and will give a fraction of the pay for the attempt. Others won't turn over a single bit if they're dissatisfied. In that way, it can be a tough business. And 10% of your pay goes to Candyfloss so he can keep this run-down place from crumbling in on us."
"Alright, that all makes sense," Ditzy responded. "But you still didn't tell me how to go about the matchmaking."
Breeze grinned mischievously. "That's because that part is different every time. Get creative. And don't get too worked up about it; if you have a talent for this stuff, it will usually work out, surprising as that may sound."
Ditzy didn't really believe him, and he seemed to pick up on that. "Really, don't worry," he said gently. "Try it once or twice and see for yourself."
A loud screech filled the room. Ditzy flinched from the sound, but Breeze didn't so much as bat an eyelash. "You get used to that," he said dully. "It's the intercom."
The grating sound was replaced by the breathy voice of Candyfloss. "Paging miss Ditzy Doo. Please report to my office for your first assignment."
Ditzy shot a panicked look at Breeze, who just smiled and shrugged. "Good luck," he chuckled, as Ditzy slowly exited the room.
Ditzy stared at the address on the little paper. It was the only resource she was given. There was no way to know who the client was, or what kind of job they had in mind. Ditzy was instructed to just go to the address and see for herself.
However, she wasn't totally in the dark. Ditzy had realized that there was one advantage to being a mailmare before taking this job; she was already familiar with a fair number of mailing addresses around Equestria. For instance, she recognized the one she was given today as the address of the Ponyville library.
Ditzy's heart pounded as she landed in front of the large tree that contained the library. It was finally time to start her first assignment, and she still didn't feel ready. She hesitated for a few moments.
"For Dinky," the pegasus repeated to herself again and again. "I have to do this. I need the money to support Dinky. I can do it." She raised a hoof and rapped on the door.
The door opened, but curiously nopony was on the other side. As far as Ditzy knew, Ponyville library did not have an automatic door. "Hello?" she asked hesitantly, peering into the library's semi-dark interior.
"Right here," came a male voice. Ditzy looked down and locked eyes with a small purple dragon.
"Oh! Hi Spike!" Ditzy greeted. "How are you?" The pegasus was relieved to see Spike; Twilight Sparkle was usually busy studying or out with her friends, and so Ditzy was used to delivering the mail to the unicorn's little dragon assistant.
"I'm fine, actually," Spike replied. "What's up, Ditzy? Is there a delivery for Twilight or something?"
"No," Ditzy replied. "It's something totally different, actually. I, uh
I'm supposed to respond to a call that came from this location, directed to Equestria Speedy Shipping Services
Spike gasped, grabbed Ditzy's mane and yanked her inside, and slammed the door.
"I contacted them this morning," the young dragon whispered. "But I didn't know you worked there. How long has that been going on?"
"Since this morning," Ditzy said dryly.
"Oh," Spike pondered this for a second. "Well, are you any good?"
"I have no idea," Ditzy continued in the same cynical tone.
There was a long pause as Spike thought about this. "Good enough," he said finally. "I guess I have your first assignment then." He leaned in to speak softly to the pegasus. "You see, I've noticed that word is starting to get around in Ponyville that I like Rarity, and I
"You like Rarity!?" Ditzy cried loudly, likely alerting half the neighborhood.
"Shush!" Spike scolded. "It's supposed to still be a secret!"
"Sorry," Ditzy mumbled, covering her mouth. "Continue."
"Anyway," Spike went on. "Word seems to be getting around, and so lately I've been getting desperate to find a way to clue Rarity in to how I feel before she finds out herself through
extenuating circumstances. I think that would just complicate things."
" Ditzy started. "What do you want me to do, then?"
"It doesn't have to be anything big," Spike mumbled, looking down in mild embarrassment. "Just
see if you can get her to go to dinner with me or something. Or anything else; it doesn't have to be dinner. I just want some way for the two of us to get together without Twilight and all her other friends, so Rarity can at least get to know me better, and
well, I'll try to handle things from there."
"Well, I can try to manage that," Ditzy said. "Do you have a price in mind?"
"Well, I don't have any bits," Spike responded. "But I do have a bunch of gems. I was going to eat them, but you can take them if you help me out. I'd gladly give up all the gems in the world for Rarity
Spike trailed off into a happy daydream. Ditzy considered the assignment. "So, all I have to do is get Rarity to go on what is more or less a date with you?"
"I guess, if you want to word it like that," Spike mumbled, blushing profusely.
"Well, alright, Spike, you've got yourself a deal." The pegasus chirped. "I'll go talk to Rarity and see what I can do. No guarantees, though."
"Thanks! And good luck!" Spike called as the Ditzy flew off to Carousel Boutique.
Rarity hummed contently as she carefully united two pieces of fabric, a part of a dazzling new design she had envisioned that morning. Her work was suddenly interrupted by the sound of something heavy slamming into her front door.
"Good heavens, what was that?" the unicorn asked herself out loud. "Honestly, if this has something to do with Sweetie Belle and her friends again
Rarity used magic to yank open the door, and gasped with surprise at the sight of a grey pegasus, sprawled on the ground and clutching her snout.
"Owwww," Ditzy groaned. "Stupid depth perception! I could have sworn I had a few more feet until I reached that door."
"Dear, are you okay?" Rarity asked sympathetically. "Do step inside; I'll get you some ice for that bump."
Rarity disappeared into another room as Ditzy wandered in to the boutique. The grey pegasus found herself surrounded by pony mannequins, each clad in a fabulous, flashy, work-in-progress dress of Rarity's. However, she hardly noticed her glamorous surroundings; she was too busy racking her brain for the best way to get Rarity to do what Spike wanted, as well as rubbing her sore nose.
"Here we are, darling," Rarity sang, returning with a bag of ice, which was quickly tied around Ditzy's snout. "Now, why did you drop by today, dear?"
I wanted to
I was thinking of purchasing a
dress?" Ditzy stammered, fumbling to come up with an excuse for her arrival.
Rarity's eyes lit up. "Oh, of course! Please, come with me, I have an absolutely fabulous new collection I've recently finished, tailor-made just for pegasi. I'm sure we can have you looking simply stunning!"
Rarity paused, frowning slightly. "Of course, they haven't been adjusted yet, I've been unable to get them modeled. Fluttershy is out of town this week, and Rainbow Dash flat-out refused
" Suddenly, a look of excitement washed over Rarity's features. "My dear, I know I hardly know you, but how would you like to model for me today?"
"Sure!" Ditzy answered, excited at the chance. Plus, she thought, It'll give me more time to figure out how to get what Spike wants from her.
"Marvelous!" Rarity cried. "Just stand up on the stage between the mirrors and I'll bring in the dresses!"
"Okay, think," Ditzy whispered to herself as she waited for her hostess to return. "How can I turn the topic to Spike?" The pegasus felt her stomach begin to knot in worry. "What if I can't do it? If I can't make such a minor thing happen, I guess I have no place in the pony shipping business."
Ditzy recalled what her new co-worker Breeze had said to her. If Candyfloss hired you, even while knowing that you have no experience, then something about you is signaling to him that you're the pony for the job.
Ditzy stamped her hoof in frustration. "Candyfloss might be wrong," she grumbled. "I'm a lousy mailmare, and I might turn out to be just as lousy a matchmaker."
"Here we are!" Rarity mused as she reappeared, rolling out a rack containing at least a dozen dresses. "Let's get started."
Over the next hour, Ditzy allowed herself to be Rarity's model, waiting patiently while the unicorn made tiny adjustments to the pieces and fawned over the pegasus' appearance in them.
"So, what do you think of this one, miss
" Rarity faltered. "Pardon me, I know you're the mailmare, but I don't believe I know your name."
"Ditzy Doo," the pegasus replied. "And this dress is beautiful!"
The pegasus admired the garment that was undoubtedly her favorite dress of the bunch. It was a somewhat frilly yellow piece that went nicely with her mane and eyes. Rarity seemed to agree; she was practically faint with glee at the sight of her fashion genius looking so perfect on somepony.
Ditzy was hesitant to remove the dress as she marveled at its beauty. If there's one thing this unicorn can do better then anyone else, it's fashion, she thought.
Wait. Fashion. That was the key. That was her opening to strike.
"So," Ditzy tried to sound casual as she removed the dress and prepared to model the next one. "Do you only make clothing for ponies?"
Rarity looked somewhat confused. "For the most part," she answered. "There aren't exactly a lot of intelligent species besides ponies in the area, but I suppose now and again a whip up something special for a visiting creature from another part of Equestria. But, why do you ask?"
"Well," Ditzy tried to look nonchalant, which was usually easy to accomplish; it's hard to look too focused when one's eyes face different directions. "I was talking to Twilight Sparkle's dragon friend Spike, and he expressed an interest in getting a suit from somewhere, you know, to go with that top hat of his and the magic moustache
Rarity began to laugh. "Oh, Spike! He's such a charming little dragon! Why didn't he just come to me in the first place? I could definitely make a little formal jacket or something for him!"
"Awesome," the pegasus responded. "After we're done here, I'll go find him and let him know. I think he's not busy today, since Twilight's off somewhere."
Rarity was beaming at the prospect of creating a tiny suit for the dragon. "Never mind the modeling, go find him now! I'll get the dresses put away, and be ready when he gets here!"
"Rarity's going to what?"
"I know it's not exactly what you were after
" Ditzy said. "But it was the only way I could turn the topic of conversation to you without it seeming suspicious."
Spike just gawked. Ditzy shifted her weight uncomfortably.
not really what you wanted, huh? Sorry, I gave it a shot and
"This is the greatest thing EVER!" Spike cried suddenly, leaping up and pulling Ditzy into a hug. "I couldn't possibly ask for a better situation! Now I get to spend time with Rarity, and she gets to do what she does best at the same time! It'll make conversation so much easier than if we'd wound up just getting dinner."
Spike literally had tears of joy in his eyes. "Ditzy, how can I ever repay you?"
Ditzy smirked. "Well, the price we agreed on earlier would be a good start."
Spike blushed. "Oh, yeah. I almost forgot." The dragon produced an ornate box, which contained about a dozen large gemstones. "I'm not sure of the current prices on some of these," Spike said. "But I bet you could get about two-hundred bits for them."
Ditzy gratefully accepted the marvelous gems; "Two hundred bits? That's like a week's pay at Cloudsdale Mail and Freight!"
"Ah, it's nothing," Spike said. "It's barely enough thanks for what you did for me."
The little dragon skipped around the library as he finished up his chores and shined his scales, and then he and Ditzy proceeded back to Carousel Boutique.
Ditzy watched discretely through an upper window as Rarity trotted around, taking measurements and displaying various sample cloth scraps to Spike. The dragon was beaming the whole time, and he and Rarity seemed to be engaged in a hearty conversation after only a few minutes.
As the pegasus clutched the box of gems to her chest, the reality of it all finally sunk in. Her very first assignment, and she had succeeded! In fact, she'd gone above and beyond what her client had asked for without even trying. Ditzy flew home, already rehearsing her announcement of her grand achievement in her head for when she would tell Breeze about it tomorrow morning.