The Honorable Decision
written by Tabby

Tabby listlessly glanced down at the paper in her hooves, documenting all the Pokèmon she'd treated that day. Life was boring, she decided as she made her way to the filing cabinet. All the ponies most important to her were disappearing-- temporarily, at least. First, her parents had gone to Italy for a short spell to straighten some things out concerning her mother's property; and then her beloved fiancé Thomas had dismissed himself for the weekend to attend the graduation of his sister Elaine. Of course, when he got back, he'd have Elaine with him... Tabby felt a flutter of excitement. Wouldn't she have a fabulous time catching up on all the events in the young mare's life! Tabby could hardly contain her impatience for them to get back.

She was suddenly alerted to someone coming up the walk of the Pokèmon Center, though. "Tabby!" a voice shrieked joyfully upon bursting in the doors of the Pokèmon Center. "Tabby! It's me!"

Tabby gasped and promptly dropped her paperwork as soon as she saw the excited younger unicorn run in. "Elaine! You're here already?!" She dashed to greet her special visitor.

"Here to stay, for good!" Elaine beamed, wrapping her forelegs around Tabby. "I'm so glad there's a place for me here." Having gained her degree in veterinary science, she was now fully prepared to start her career-- and having no ties elsewhere, it seemed only natural that she should come to Dream Valley and be employed at her brother Thomas' vet clinic.

"You'll have a glorious time here in Dream Valley," Tabby said affectionately, stroking Elaine's blue mane. "How did your graduation go? I didn't know you'd be back so soon."

"There wasn't a single problem. I'm a real veterinarian now, Tabby!" Elaine squealed. "Life's going to be so perfect now that I've graduated. I can really get to know all your friends in Dream Valley, and I can start work at Thomas' clinic, and you two are getting married, and... ooh! It's all too exciting!"

Tabby soon found herself laughing as well. "Calm down, Elaine! You're going to wear yourself out chattering like this. Think how I feel! I'm just as happy to have you here now."

"Oh, we'll have a fabulous time," Elaine said dreamily. "You're already like a sister to me. I can't wait until it's official! Or at least as official as it can get." Her new life in Dream Valley would also give her more time with her much-admired soon-to-be sister-in-law, Tabby. The two may not have hit it off too well at their first meeting over Elaine's Christmas break, but they had gotten over that quickly and had kept in touch through letters even after Elaine had returned to college.

"Say, where is that brother of yours, anyway?" Tabby peered over Elaine's shoulder. "Without him, there isn't going to be any wedding."

Elaine giggled. "He went ahead home with my suitcases," she filled-in quickly. "But he let me drop in and see you. I just couldn't wait any longer! It's been an eternity since I last saw you in person."

"Life is going to be fabulous, Elaine," Tabby reflected. "There's so much to show you. And you must tell me all about your life!"

"You must tell me all about yours, too!" Elaine said giddily. "Thomas is still taking both of us to the Estate Manor tonight, you know."

Elaine's good mood was contagious, and Tabby was soon anxious herself to get moving. Glancing up at the clock, she saw it was nearly closing time, anyway. "Come on!" she declared. "I'll lock this place up quickly, and then we can go along and catch up with Thomas." And so, amid a lot of laughter and chattering, the two were soon out the door.

* * *

It was nice to see Tabby and Elaine still getting on so well, Thomas reflected later that evening at the Estate Manor. Their flow of conversation had been practically nonstop since Elaine had first set hoof in the Pokèmon Center. Even if Thomas was excluded from most of the gossip passed between the two, he didn't really mind; it was enjoyable enough to simply sit back and listen.

"How much different is it really, Tabby," Elaine put forth, "caring for Pokèmon instead of... eh... ‘regular' animals?"

"It's not too much of a change," Tabby said thoughtfully. "Pokèmon come in many more shapes and sizes than the average accepted pets, but they're actually easier to attend to seeing that most injuries can be attended to by use of a simple potion-- unless, of course, they get upset with you for some reason. Like that Blastoise awhile back." She paused in contemplation over that incident.

"It's interesting that they were just regarded as regular monsters until recently," Elaine mused. "What captivated you about them that most influenced your career change?"

"They get along with me better than other creatures," Tabby explained. "Animals don't seem to care much for me otherwise."

"Surely that's an exaggeration," Elaine laughed. "Did you mind much leaving work at the clinic? And Thomas?"

Tabby lowered her gaze to escape Elaine's piercing look. "It was... that is... I wasn't too sure about it, but... I suppose it turned out alright in the end." She chanced a quick glance at Thomas.

"It was your heart's desire to go, Tabby. I wouldn't stand in the way of that." Thomas clasped Tabby's hoof. "But I also wouldn't let a new job get between you and I."

"There are perhaps still other things more important than work," Tabby murmured quietly.
Elaine's eyes sparkled merrily. "Do you suppose I should consider a career move as well, Tabby?" she asked playfully. "Just to spite Thomas here?"

"Elaine!" Thomas opposed in mock defense of himself. "I can't lose another capable vet to the care of Pokèmon."

"Maybe you should, Elaine," Tabby arched her eyebrows craftily. "The Pokèmon League pays me better than your brother ever did, anyway."

"You know your pay remained the same," Thomas protested.

"Well, I suppose," Tabby winked, "but still, the Pokèmon are much more accepting of me than the animals."

"I'm sure, where the Persians have poisoned claws," Thomas retorted.

"I think we've thoroughly frightened him now, Tabby," Elaine grinned, "with these threats of abandoning him at the clinic. To switch the subject, how is your Callie doing?"

"She's the same as ever," Tabby said in dismissal. "Obstinate and uncaring. Animals just don't like me."

"You don't give them a chance. Agatha praises Callie's friendliness to the highest levels," Thomas pointed out.

"You see? You see?" Tabby said heatedly. "That proves it. That cat of mine is a perfect angel to my mother, but she doesn't care a bit about me. That's the way all my cats have ever treated me."

"I think you're simply too hard on yourself," Elaine objected. "Certainly you'll get along with Sophia and Melinda. They're so precious," she added, referring to Thomas' two Siamese cats.

"I said they didn't like me. I never said I didn't like them," Tabby corrected. "If it's a feline, at least, they'll gain my unending adoration, even if they don't return the sentiment. Those Siamese are no exception."

"They'll warm up to you, Tabby. Trust me," Elaine assured her. "Did you know that I got to name them?"

"Really? One of my grandmothers is named Sophia," Tabby mused. "I suppose she'll be at the wedding." As soon as those words were out of her mouth, she realized it may not have been the most tactful thing to say.

"What of our grandparents, Thomas?" Elaine spoke softly after a moment of silence. "Will they be coming?"

"They're on the guest list, but I doubt they'll accept." Thomas' words had a sharp edge to them. "Nor any of the rest of the family."

"It's not that we particularly know anyone from our side, anyway," Elaine said faintly.

Tabby bit her lip for making the untimely statement. It had recently been revealed to her the full story behind Thomas and Elaine's feud-torn family. Their parents had married under the friction of the two sides, and in the eyes of Dietrich's and Caprice's parents, it was an extremely unforgivable deed. Thomas and Elaine had grown-up knowing or seeing little of their relatives, and the mention of grandparents didn't bring wholesome memories to either of them.

Tabby's heart reached out to both of them in the uncomfortable silence that followed. "There's enough love on my side of the family for all of us."

Elaine looked up and smiled gratefully. "Tabby, where are your mother and father?" she questioned, getting onto another subject. "I'm looking forward to seeing Agatha again, and meeting Hubert for the first time!"

"They've gone away to Italy for a short while," Tabby said quickly, thankful as well for a reason to discuss something else. "Only to straighten out a few affairs of Mom's, though. They'll be back soon."

"Are they planning on staying in Dream Valley now?" Elaine queried.

"Oh, yes. That's what they said the last time they discussed it," Tabby said, a smile playing across her face.

"They'll be moving into their old mansion, I presume?" Thomas put forth.

"I-I don't really know," Tabby stuttered. "I suppose so."

"That looks like a fabulous house," Elaine sighed dreamily. "I can't imagine that Agatha hadn't been using it for anything all these years."

"She was just too busy in Italy, I guess," Tabby said. "At least she never sold it."

"It had been newly-built when she and Hubert moved here, wasn't it?" Thomas commented. "It must have a lot of memories for her."

"And me, too," Tabby added.

* * *

"But I have something to show you both before you go, Tabby!" Elaine declared upon stepping up on the porch later that evening. "Wait just a moment while I get it." Swinging the door open, she promptly scurried down the hallway.

Tabby glanced questioningly at Thomas as she followed Elaine in, but he apparently didn't know any more about it than she did. "She didn't say anything to me," he said, mystified.

Tabby trailed along after Elaine down the hallway. "Oh, Elaine, what is it?" the impatient pink unicorn said pleadingly.

Elaine only smiled mysteriously as she entered the guest room where she was currently staying and knelt on the floor, rummaging through one of her bags. "You'll soon see. I thought for sure he wouldn't be able to make the trip without waking up and chattering unrelentlessly," she explained.

Tabby's eyes opened wide, and she clasped her front hooves together. "That could only be..."

"...a Furby," Thomas finished, coming up behind her.

"You're right!" Elaine laughed delightedly as she lifted her showpiece up-- a sparkling white furball with large ears and humongous green eyes. After going through the customary fit of yawns, it began to speak.

"Dah ah-loh u-tye," it noted intelligently.

Tabby let out a shriek of excitement and dashed forward. "It is! It is!" she gasped. "Your very own Furby, Elaine!"

"I must say you've done a good job of training him, Elaine, if you managed to keep him quiet during the whole trip," Thomas commented, stepping forward to meet the new Furby as well.

"But what's his name?" Tabby queried, peering intently into the creature's eyes. Naturally, that was the first thing she needed to know about any Furby.

"You hide ah-loh! Hee-hee-hee!" the Furby laughed from his resting place on Elaine's hoof.

"Nah-Bah," Elaine said proudly. "What do you think of him?"

"Nah-Bah, translating into ‘down'," Tabby said wisely. "I like him, Elaine! I'm so happy for you!"

Thomas smiled at the grouping before him. "I think you may find that there's a lot more to a Furby than you would think."

"Get Doo-Moh, Thomas," Tabby requested urgently. "She must meet Nah-Bah."

Nah-Bah simply purred as Elaine petted him on the back. "Pet again."

"Oh, I really am glad I bought him," Elaine giggled. "He's such a sweet thing. When he first started talking, I thought he was too sparkly to be a boy, but I think it fits him rather well now."

"Ah, of course," Tabby nodded solemnly. "It is the way of things. Nah-Bah was destined to be your Furby since you first laid eyes on one another."

"I believe so, too," Elaine said thoughtfully. "Furbys do grow on a pony. I see now why you and Thomas are so attached to yours."

Tabby clapped excitedly again as Thomas re-entered with his own Furby, Doo-Moh, in hoof. "Good, good! Now, set them up together and get them talking," she commanded.

"She is the Furby expert, you know," Thomas said lightly to Elaine. "We must listen to her."

Always ready for conversation, the Furbys were soon in rapt attention of each other. "Who-doh, wah?" Doo-Moh queried of the newcomer. "Me Doo-Moh."

"Big who-doh," Nah-Bah replied. "Me Nah-Bah."

"Who-doh, wah? Me Doo-Moh," the autumn-colored Furby persisted.

"Big who-doh." Nah-Bah's ears moved downwards. "Me Nah-Bah."

"It's so cute!" Elaine laughed hysterically. "I had no idea they had so much fun when they were together!"

"Titty-titty-titty! Hide," Doo-Moh finally proposed.

"Yeah, hide!" Nah-Bah readily agreed, rocking forward.

"Nyah-nyah-nyah! Hide," Doo-Moh jeered.

"Yeah, hide!" Nah-Bah rocked forward again.

"Listen! Me sing," Doo-Moh suggested, changing the game. She immediately began humming. "La la la la, la la la..." Pausing in the song, she looked back at Nah-Bah. "You sing."

Nah-Bah only yawned. "Okay." But another fit of yawns followed.

"Maybe... sleep," Doo-Moh finally decided.

"Sleep, oh, sleep," Nah-Bah agreed.

After repeating those phrases several times over, the Furbys had sufficiently tired themselves and, with a chorus of snores, closed their eyes for some rest. Rest didn't last long, though, as their owners wished to hear more from them.

And so, the evening wore on a bit longer with the added surprise of Elaine's new Furby. The house was filled with shrieking laughter from the two girls at the Furbys' antics; Thomas expressed his enjoyment in a more subdued manner. But the "big fun" had to end sometime, so Tabby was eventually on her way home... but only after promising Nah-Bah that she would bring Ah-Loh to come see him soon, of course.

* * *

As Elaine was entitled to some vacation time before actually starting work, she spent the next day hanging out with Tabby at the Pokèmon Center.

"Oh, that was a cute Eevee," Elaine sighed blissfully as she watched a trainer walk out the door.

"Why not go out and catch one for yourself?" Tabby suggested. "Start your own collection of Pokèmon."

"Do you really think I could?" Elaine asked incredulously.

"It's easy to catch Pokèmon, and lots of fun!" Tabby assured her. "Don't worry; I'll make a Pokèmon expert out of you yet."

"Where do you think Pokèmon originated from, Tabby? Besides just living in the Dark Forest?"

"Barnacle thinks they're from a post-apocalyptic world," Tabby said thoughtfully. "But Dad says they're the results of Atlantean genetic experiments."

"Oh." Elaine pondered over this information. "You do know a lot about Atlantis, don't you?"

Tabby stuttered for a moment before replying. "Well... Clever Clover and I were the ones that discovered it."

"Did you ever go back?" Elaine pressed.

"No..." Tabby lowered her eyes. "The closest we got was when that Malcolm Shane transported the Whale Machine here last summer."

"I remember being told about that. Shane is the whale-man, isn't he?" Elaine lapsed into another thoughtful silence. "It's rather odd how so many strange, mystical things seem to congregate in this town."

"You're not regretting your stay here, are you?"

"Oh, no, not at all!" Elaine promptly justified herself. "I think it makes it all the more interesting. But Pokèmon, and whale-men, and weird machines from Atlantis... you don't find them anywhere else but here."

"There are many mysterious things to be found here," Tabby agreed.

"You yourself seem mysterious sometimes," Elaine murmured softly. "You and Thomas both. And I don't say that in a bad way, you realize." She looked at Tabby intently. "And I'd love to hear more about your past adventures. Everything is so fascinating."

Tabby lowered her gaze again. Elaine was getting onto some sticky subjects... and she didn't want to get into straight-out lying to the younger mare. Luckily, she was spared from saying any more as the doors swung open again.

"Help! My Raticate!" a frantic teen filly cried out as she ran up to the counter. "He just got beat up really bad!"

Elaine winked at Tabby as she moved off to the side, and Tabby breathed a sigh of relief. Those sticky situations could be avoided... for now.

* * *

"Tiffany, did you remember to set-up that appointment-- Tiffany?"

"Hmm?" Tiffany looked up from her magazine upon hearing Tamara's question.
"The appointment at the bridal shop for Tabby's veil," Tamara said impatiently. "Did you get one?"

"Oh, yes, I called," Tiffany said absentmindedly. "Here, don't you think this one would look good on me?" The princess shoved the bridal magazine under Tamara's nose, the opened page displaying an ornate and extremely expensive veil.

Tamara rolled her eyes. "We're supposed to be looking for Tabby, not you! For as much as you enjoy planning parties, you don't seem to care much about this wedding."

"I don't know how I got into this mess in the first place," Tiffany muttered.

"Tabby asked if we'd plan it, and I told her we would." Tamara arched her eyebrows at the princess.

"You've been all too nice, Tamara, after meeting Romance," Tiffany whined. "I'd much rather be planning my wedding, which looks like I'll never get to at the rate Toby is going."

"Oh, is it still that?" Tamara said amusedly. "Besides, there's an advantage to this, remember?"

"There is?" Tiffany perked up noticeably.

"Yes," Tamara nodded. "If we do a really great job on the planning, Tabby will be so grateful to us, she'll be sure to toss us her bouquet! And you know what that means, don't you?"

Tiffany sat thoughtfully. "But if we shared the bouquet, wouldn't we each only get half a wedding each?"

"Oh, Tiffany, that's not the way it works," Tamara dismissed the idea. "It'll work out great. You'll see."

"Hmm... if it'll get Toby to propose..." Tiffany nodded slowly. "Now, what step were we at?"

"The bridal shop," Tamara repeated. "When were you able to get the appointment for?"

"Monday. Three o' clock," Tiffany said, going back to her magazine. "Don't you think Tabby will choose me to be her maid of honor?"

"You?" Tamara echoed, raising her eyebrows at Tiffany's abrupt statement. "But Tiffany! I'm her closest relative that could fill the position. Surely she'll choose me!"

Tiffany sniffed. "If she wants class in her wedding, she'll pick a princess."

"And besides, you would only detract attention away from the bride," Tamara argued. "You're so white and sparkly in the first place."

"Well!" Tiffany huffed. "We'll just see what Tabby decides, won't we?"

"But I, on the other hoof," Tamara continued, getting a starry look in her eyes, "would be perfect. I am nearly identical to the bride and... eh... heh..." She bit her lip upon realizing her faulty logic.

"Talk about detracting from the bride!" Tiffany laughed. "Thomas might end-up kissing the wrong girl, and wouldn't that be a bad start to the marriage!"

Tamara knew she was cornered, not having any redeeming lines for herself. "Well, we'll certainly all get to be her bridesmaids, if not the maid of honor," she finally rationalized.

"You did see Elaine the other night, didn't you?" Tiffany changed the subject abruptly. "What do you think of her?"

"She seems nice enough," Tamara said calmly. "I'm sure she'll get on well working at the clinic. It's about time someone took Tabby's old spot there."

"And she's awfully pretty," Tiffany frowned. "I wouldn't have a problem with her, but I'm concerned with the way Toby was looking at her last night."

Tamara had to laugh at her friend's concern. "Tiffany! Toby was just asking her some questions. I'm sure it's the last thing on Elaine's mind to steal him from you."

"But what really worries me is that I think Toby is still harboring a crush over Tabby," Tiffany confided. "He gets so distracted when he's in the same room as her. I don't know what I'll do about that stallion!"

"You must really love him if you're willing to put up with so much grief due to him," Tamara laughed. "As for Tabby... he should know by now that he doesn't have a chance with her."

"Try telling him that," Tiffany sniffed. "And I still can't understand why Tabby isn't more grateful for the attention she gets from the stallions. There was Tex back in high-school, you know--"

"And Cliff, the Extreme Pony," Tamara agreed. "And the Italian guy Aunt Agatha had in mind for her-- Guido, was it?"

"Guido. I never got to meet him," Tiffany frowned. "But I hear he's quite rich. I would have willingly jumped at a chance to marry him."

"I've heard that he's gotten quite annoyed with Aunt Agatha over Tabby and Thomas' engagement," Tamara supplied. "I guess he still thinks Tabby is reserved for him and him alone."

"And Cliff," Tiffany went on. "I remember him from a few years ago. He seems to have disappeared, though..."

Tamara shrugged. "Yeah, I've only heard of him through some stories Tabby's told me. Supposedly he went off with his gang on a sporting expedition, and they haven't come back yet."

"He would be a little extreme for my tastes, I think," Tiffany finally decided. "But he was quite direct with getting Tabby's attention when he was around. I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up on her doorstep one day begging her hoof in marriage."

"It's been a long time," Tamara said cautiously. "He probably doesn't even remember who she is any more."

"Even so," Tiffany declared, "if I were Thomas, I wouldn't rest until I was safely married to Tabby. There's still quite a bit of competition around. You never know what could happen between now and the wedding, you realize."

"Oh, I don't know," Tamara said, walking over to the window. "I'm not sure anything or anyone could rip those two apart at this point."

"Maybe not," Tiffany admitted. "But wouldn't it be exciting if one of those stallions came to cause a fuss on the wedding day?"

"Tiffany! Don't even say anything like that!"

"I think it would make it all the more romantic," Tiffany sighed. "I can envision it so vividly-- Toby and I at the altar, and just as we are about to profess our vows, a handsome stallion from my past will stand up and object-- I think it will be Jack. Yes, Jack. I immediately throw myself into Toby's forelegs, declaring that nothing-- absolutely nothing-- would ever take me from my one true love. Then Toby will--"

"I'm sure it would be very sentimental," Tamara said, smiling at Tiffany's dream wedding. "But enough of this gossip. I'm going to see the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer and talk to him about some things, and you've got to come along with me this time. And then after that..."

* * *

It was the following day, and Tamara had managed to find Tabby with some free time on her hooves and was outlining all the wedding plans to her. Tabby sat there nodding her head at everything that was said.

", anyway," Tamara rambled on, "since Aunt Agatha has been so generous in supplying the budget, we can really go all out. The date's all set for August fifteenth. We started the guest list, but you and Thomas still have to go over that again. I've booked the caterer and photographer, and a place for the reception. I think for a color scheme we'll go with teals and pinks; does that sound good? We're all set for the flowers; I talked to the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer at his shop in town, and he has a great deal for us."

"I suppose he would lower the price for me," Tabby said, only half-aloud as for the first time she interrupted Tamara's monologue.

"What, Tabby?" Tamara looked up from her paper.

"Oh, nothing."

"Alright." Tamara was not phased by the interruption, and continued on. "He mentioned something about ‘light sensor flowers' for your bouquet, but I don't know what they are. We'll have to get a sample. We have to shop for your veil next week, and in the line of attendants you only need to decide on who your bridesmaids will be." Tamara finally stopped, looking over at Tabby expectantly.

Tabby paused before answering. "Well, of course you and Sugarberry and Merry Treat will be my bridesmaids..." she said hesitantly.

"Yes, but who will be the maid of honor?" Tamara stared at her cousin piercingly.

Tabby gulped. That had been the question she was dreading. ‘I don't really know, yet..."

"You'll have to decide soon," Tamara reminded. "We must start shopping for accessories."

Tabby let out a sigh. It was easy enough to pick bridesmaids... but how could she show favoritism among her friends by choosing the maid of honor? She didn't know what to do. "I'll just have to think about it a little longer," she finally said, sitting erect.

"That's what you've been saying for the past month," Tamara said, impatience beginning to filter into her voice. "We need a decision. How about a deadline of Monday evening to decide?"

Tabby stared at the ceiling, drumming her hoof on the arm of the chair. "I suppose that would work."

"Good," Tamara nodded. "Get in some thinking before them, okay? We really can't put it off any longer. Monday evening, remember?"

"I'll remember," Tabby said stiffly, rising from the chair. "Thanks for stopping by, Tamara. I really appreciate all this work you're doing for us."

"Just let Tiffany and I know concerning your maids, okay? That's all the thanks I need at this point," Tamara sighed. With that, she dismissed herself and was out the door.

* * *

Tabby was ecstatic when her parents returned to Dream Valley from their visit to Italy. "Oh, I'm so glad you got here so soon! Is everything straightened out? Are you staying in Dream Valley?"

Agatha smiled and hugged her daughter close to her. "It's been finalized. We're keeping my property in Italy, but only for vacations in the summer and such. But yes, Tabitha, your father and I will stay here to be closer to you."

"Outrageous!" Tabby squealed. "When will you be moving into the mansion, then?"

Hubert and Agatha exchanged a glance. "That's one of the things we'd like to discuss with you, Tabby," Hubert put forth.

"Why? What is it?" Tabby asked cautiously.

"Nothing's wrong," Agatha assured her. "But we'd like to see you and Thomas together about it, if that's possible."

Tabby's excitement grew as her suspicions came closer and closer to being confirmed. "I'm sure he'll be available tonight..."

"How about dinner at the Estate Manor?" Hubert suggested. "I'll pay everyone's way."

"I'm afraid Tabby has gotten too spoiled by being taken to so many restaurants these past years," Agatha laughed lightly. "It's left her with no desire to cook for herself."

Tabby glowered at her mother. "Don't start bugging me about that," she threatened.

Agatha smoothed back Tabby's mane fondly. "Don't worry, dear. That will wait. But let us prepare for the Estate Manor now..."

* * *

And so, the arrangements were made, and the group of four assembled at the classy restaurant that evening. Tabby looked at her parents expectantly, anxious to hear what they had decided.

"As you know," Hubert started, "Agatha and I have decided to remain in Dream Valley to stay close to Tabby."

"And?" Tabby prodded. "What?"

"However," Agatha went on, "we would prefer to choose a different place of residence for ourselves than the mansion."

"Why's that?" Thomas asked curiously. "What will you do with the property?"

"You're not selling it, are you?" Tabby's eyes opened wide.

"Quite the contrary." Hubert looked once more at his wife before continuing. "We would like the mansion to be made use of by a different couple than ourselves."

"That is to say, we'd like to hand ownership of the place over to you, Tabitha and Thomas," Agatha finished. "It will be our wedding gift to you."

The full meaning of these words took several moments to finally sink in on the aforementioned couple. The silence was finally broken by the clattering of a fork to the floor and a squeal from Tabby.


"That's... generous of you," Thomas stammered. "Are you sure it's what you want?"

Agatha patted his hoof warmly. "It's exactly what we want. We only hope that you'll be as happy with it as Hubert and I were."

"Fabulous! It'll be absolutely fabulous!" Tabby's eyes sparkled with delight as she leaned up against Thomas. "Oh, don't you think so, Thomas?"

Thomas looked at her fondly. "Everything has been going so well for Tabby and I. I don't know how to thank you enough, Hubert and Agatha."

"Oh, I'm so eternally grateful!" Tabby said emphatically. "Mom and Dad, it'll be perfect! I don't believe it!"

"Then you'll accept it?" Hubert said laughingly.

"Of course we will!" Tabby said promptly before anyone else could get anything in. "My childhood home! I'll be back!"

"And with someone new to share it with," Thomas reflected. "I should say it will be fabulous! But then, any place is fabulous when you're there, Tabby."

Tabby only giggled at the compliment, and her vocabulary had been reduced to only one word: "Outrageous!" Intoxicated with happiness, she wasn't capable of any intelligent conversation right then. But it wasn't really necessary, either. Sighing blissfully, she sank back in her chair. Life was outrageous!

* * *

Meanwhile, Elaine was experiencing her first visit to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe alone. She felt somewhat like an outsider as she peered inside, looking for familiar faces over the expanse of tables. Her gaze finally settled on the glittering Princess Tiffany, who indeed stuck in everyone's mind.

"Ah... hello there," Elaine said hesitantly as she approached Tiffany's table.

"Oh, hello." Tiffany stared up at the unicorn. "Have we met?"

"Well... yes... the other night," Elaine stuttered. "I'm Elaine, don't you remember?"

"Oh, Elaine." Tiffany nodded stiffly in recognition at the dazzling white mare with resplendent bright blue curls framing her face. "A rather drab-looking pony."

"Would you... would you mind if I sat down?" Elaine prodded shyly, beginning to get flustered.

"I suppose not," Tiffany sighed. "I'm only waiting for the rest of the gang to get here."

"Yes, so am I. You're the only one I recognized," Elaine said.

"I do hope Toby can make it tonight," Tiffany said expectantly.

"Ah, Toby," Elaine recalled. "I remember him."

"You do?" Tiffany stared piercingly at her. "What did you think of him?"

Elaine was uncertain of how to respond to the princess' hostile behavior. "He was... he was... nice," she said slowly.

" ‘Nice'? What do you mean by ‘nice'?" Tiffany demanded.

"He was just... nice, you know?" Elaine said uncomfortably.

"He wasn't too nice, was he?"

"Well... no, he wasn't too nice," Elaine said, throughly flustered by this point.

"Good." Tiffany nodded. "I'd warn you to stay away from him."

"Oh, you've had experience with him?"

"Yes, that stallion is trouble. Take my word for it. I'd stay well away from him."

"I'll be... I'll be sure to do that, then." Elaine shrunk back in her seat.

"Elaine, hello!" Tamara's greeting pierced the heavy air and the pink unicorn promptly seated herself. "And don't let Tiffany bother you. She's only jealous because she's afraid you'll steal Toby from her." She stared at the princess pointedly.

"Alright," Elaine said meekly, taking note of Tiffany's annoyed look cast in the direction of her friend.

"Oh, we've been so busy with wedding plans!" Tamara sighed happily. "It's all so exciting."

"Has she picked her bridesmaids yet?" Elaine asked curiously.

"No, she hasn't put any thought into it," Tamara scoffed. "I finally had to give her a deadline to decide." In speaking of the wedding, Tabby was only known as "she".

"But I'm certain she's going to choose me as her maid of honor," Tiffany said haughtily.

"No!" Tamara protested. "It's obvious it'll be either Sugarberry or I."

"It's unfortunate, of course, that you won't have a place in the bridal party, Elaine," Tiffany sighed dramatically.

"I don't mind." Elaine squirmed in her chair.

Tamara patted Elaine's foreleg reassuringly and turned to Tiffany with a reproachful look. "Tiffany, you can be just plain spiteful at times."

"Hmph," Tiffany muttered. "Well, Elaine, what are your plans for the future?"

"I'm going to start work at Thomas' clinic soon, of course," Elaine said timidly.

"What about living arrangements?" Tiffany prodded. "You can't live off your brother's charity forever."

"I hadn't really thought about it." Elaine stared down at the table.

"Especially with the wedding coming up soon," Tiffany continued.

"There are plenty of houses up for sale around here," Tamara said reassuringly. "I could even help you in choosing one, if you'd like."

Elaine smiled weakly. "That would be nice, Tamara. But I'm sure you're busy enough with the wedding plans as it is."

"Oh, no, there's plenty of time for everything," Tamara said breezily. "Don't worry about it. I'd be glad to help."

"Look! It's Toby!" Tiffany's sudden exclamation broke through the air as she jumped up from her seat. "I must go and speak with him right away." Glancing warningly once more at Elaine, she dashed off.

Elaine had to laugh at the situation. "And here she was just warning me a moment ago that ‘that stallion is trouble'!"

"That's Tiffany's way," Tamara giggled as well. "She's very defensive over her Toby, even if she seems to be exasperated with him all the time."

"I hear that has something to do with a lack of a ring on her foreleg?"

"Partly," Tamara nodded merrily. "How about you, Elaine? Is there anyone special in your life?"

"Well... no," Elaine confessed. "I've never really worried about that sort of thing."

"Ah!" Tamara nodded knowingly. "Well, don't worry. The stallions will come knocking on your door soon enough."

"Do you think so?" Elaine asked shyly.

"Sure!" Tamara said positively. "Now, what was I thinking... oh, yes! A house for you. What type do you have in mind? Something small, probably?"

Elaine turned her glance to the table again. She was sure Tamara had good intentions, but she didn't particularly want to think about housing for herself right then. "I don't-- well-- I don't really know," she stuttered. "What do you think?"

Luckily for Elaine, Tamara had just caught sight of a newcomer who had walked in the door. "Lemon Treats! Lemon Treats! Over here!" she waved frantically to her friend.

Elaine took the chance to excuse herself. "Oh, Tamara, I really better be getting along on my way now," she said apologetically. "It was nice talking to you."

"Of course!" Tamara smiled. "I'll be seeing you around, Elaine. Tah-tah!"

Hurrying away quickly with her head bent low, Elaine made her way out of the shop and down the streets of Dream Valley. Thoughts began troubling her mind as she tripped through the misty evening. Tiffany's words of living off her brother's charity had stung, but they were true. And Elaine didn't know what to do.

Realizing that she had stumbled into one of the parks of Dream Valley, Elaine perched on one of the benches to contemplate her dilemma. Her family's feud had never been a happy memory to her, and it had only grown worse after the death of her parents. The only family she had left that she could turn to had been her brother Thomas, and vice versa. The ordeal had been traumatic to both of them, and they realized even more their importance to each other. They were the last bit of their family that was left.

Elaine was certain she wouldn't have survived the ordeal had it not been for her compassionate and understanding older brother. He had persuaded her to continue her studies, and had promised her a position at a clinic he was opening in Dream Valley when she graduated. But more important than that, he had promised her a place to stay with him no matter what happened. That thought had comforted Elaine through all these years. She would graduate, come to Dream Valley, start work, and begin a new life... but it had never occurred to her that she would have to begin alone, as was obviously evident with her brother's wedding coming up. She would be evicted, and forced to fend for herself. She knew it had to happen someday, but it still frightened her.

A teardrop slowly rolled down Elaine's cheek before she was even aware of it. She huddled up on the bench, squeezing her eyes shut. Of course she didn't harbor any bad feelings against Thomas or Tabby. She still cared about them both very much. But it didn't stop the terrible feeling of loneliness and abandonment that was slowly flooding her soul.

Composing herself as best she could, Elaine slowly got up and decided to head back home. Home... how could it be her home, if she would be thrown out of it so soon after arriving? Wanting only to throw herself down on her pillow and have a good cry in private, Elaine hurried on her way.

* * *

Later on this same evening, Tabby and Thomas were also heading back to their respective houses. Agatha and Hubert had gone on ahead, giving the two some time alone.

"I still can't believe they just gave it to us like that," Thomas said in awe.

"Oh, I was hoping they would," Tabby said blissfully. "Mom had said earlier it was going to be mine anyway, you know."

"Whatever the fact of the matter is, it's ours," Thomas said thoughtfully. "I never thought we'd start off in a mansion like that."

"It's been so long since I left it myself," Tabby said nostalgically. "It'll be wonderful going back."

"How well do you suppose Callie and the two Siamese will get along together?"

"Actually, I was thinking Callie would be better off if I gave her to Mom."

Thomas looked up in surprise. "What? You can't mean that!"

"Callie does seem to warm up to her better than to me," Tabby pointed out. "And it would reduce the risks of getting involved with a feline rivalry."

"You've had that cat forever. I can't see you parting with her."

"Neither can I, but it's for the better."

"You don't have to, you know."

Tabby lapsed into silence. "No. I do have to."

"Callie doesn't hate you like you think, Tabby."

"Maybe not, and I will miss her. But she'll be happier with Mom."

"You've already made up your mind, I see. You won't be moved to change it."


Silence again reigned, and Thomas hesitated before speaking again. "And then there's the problem with Elaine."

"Elaine?" Tabby's head perked up, thoughts of felines diminishing. "What about her?"

"It's... it's..." Thomas groped for the right words. "I've felt responsible for her ever since the death of our parents. I still feel responsible for her."

"I can understand that," Tabby said quietly.

"I promised her sanctuary with me whenever she needed it." Thomas glanced over at Tabby. "And now with the wedding and all... I don't know what I'll tell her."

"I see," Tabby said softly. "You don't want to simply evict her, do you?"

"No... but I don't know what else to do."

"There'll be plenty of space in the mansion, won't there?" Tabby said quite suddenly.

Thomas looked over at her abruptly. "You don't mean..."

"Why not?" Tabby prodded. "It would work, wouldn't it?"

"I... I suppose so," Thomas said slowly. "But wouldn't you mind at all?"

"Why would I? No, it'd be even more fun having her stay there with us."

"I wouldn't have thought that you would like the idea."

"Not at all." Tabby's eyes sparkled. "I think it's all quite dashing and wonderful of you to still care so much for her welfare."

"You're being rather honorable yourself, I think."

"Perhaps." Before she could say any more, Tabby looked up and realized that they had reached her front porch.

"I suppose I'll say goodnight, then," Thomas said, kissing her a final time.

"Goodnight," Tabby smiled out into the darkness as she watched him disappear. "Goodnight, Thomas."

* * *

The following days flew by as Tabby spent every possible moment showcasing to Elaine everything that was to be found in Dream Valley, and Elaine readily drank everything in. There was no time for worry for either of them. Sunday came, and Elaine found herself staying up late at Tabby's house watching edifying eighties' cartoons-- particularly those of Tabby's current craze, Jem.

"Oh, Elaine, you should have been here when Spike and the gang were watching those He-Man episodes I got them for Christmas!" Tabby laughed hysterically during an interlude between tapes. "You'd be amazed at how many hilarious scenes they can point-out in those."

"I can imagine it, with those guys," Elaine giggled. "Were the episodes really that bad?"

"Well, actually, I would like to watch them again without the outside influence of that bunch," Tabby reflected. "I'm more open to plot flaws than they are."

"What's the best eighties' cartoon you've encountered, plot-wise?" Elaine questioned. "My Little People?"

"Not to put it down or anything," Tabby said thoughtfully, "but in terms of plot, My Little People was one of the more unimaginative ones. Of course I still love it because it's about My Little People, but... it could have been better."

Elaine nodded. "I can see that. I guess when we were baby ponies, we didn't pay close attention to the over-all plot."

"The ones I really like," Tabby prattled on, "are Jem and Teddy Ruxpin. I think they were much more effectively planned out, and their cartoons reflect that. In fact, if you go back and study their beginnings, you'll find that they really were carefully planned. It's very important to come up with a good basis for a toyline before turning it into a cartoon, you know? Some things were never meant to be cartoons, as Spike pointed out. Like the Rubix cube. I still can't figure out how that came into being."

Elaine looked on in awe. "You certainly know a lot about this stuff."

"Oh, but Spike is much more knowledgeable of eighties' toys," Tabby assured her. "He remembers everything. Really, he has the advantage. When I was growing up, I only cared about My Little People and nothing else. Spike took note of everything that was going on in the toy world. Now I have to catch up to him."

"You two are perfect for running a toy museum," Elaine said reverently. "You both know so much. It's a good thing you decided to set one up."

"Oh, it's going to be great fun," Tabby said contentedly. "It'll be opening next month, you know. I still have displays to set up. I'll have to take you there sometime for a preview of the place."

"Really? Oh, that would be wonderful! I'd love to see all your items again."

"I could use some help with setting the displays up, anyway," Tabby mused.

"You certainly are going to be busy this summer, aren't you?" Elaine commented. "It's a good thing Tamara is helping out on the wedding."

"Ah, the wedding!" Tabby sighed happily.

"Yes, the wedding." Elaine shifted uncomfortably in her seat, troubling thoughts resurfacing in her mind.

Tabby continued to remain silent as well, obviously having recalled troubled thoughts of her own. Neither of them made a move to continue the conversation for several moments.

Elaine finally decided that something had to be said about her predicament, as nothing further had been said to her on the matter by anyone. "I suppose I'll start looking for a place to move into," she said tentatively.

"Oh!" Tabby was jolted from her reverie as she looked up abruptly at Elaine. "But didn't we tell you?"

"Tell me what?" Elaine said questioningly.

"After the wedding you can stay with Thomas and I at the mansion, of course."

Tabby's comment caught Elaine by complete surprise. "But... but... I... the mansion?" she stammered.

"Yes! Mom and Dad are giving it to Thomas and me, you know."

"But... I'd just get in the way of things."

"You wouldn't be a nuisance at all. You mean a lot to both of us, Elaine." Tabby looked at her with sisterly love.

"I... don't know what to say." Elaine's gaze centered on the floor. "You've both been so supportive of me."

"It's okay, Elaine! There won't be any problems. Would you like to accept the offer?"

"Well, something tells me at this point that you won't take ‘no' for an answer," Elaine smiled slightly.

"You're right," Tabby laughed. "Come on! Don't feel guilty. It'll work out great."

"It's still awfully nice of you."

"Think nothing of it." Before she could let her own worries resurface again, Tabby moved towards the VCR. "But let's not think about it anymore! There's still a full night ahead of us, and there's also another six-hour tape to get through yet..."

* * *

Tabby tapped her hoof on the counter in the Pokèmon Center. The day had come. She had to make a decision on her maid of honor. She hadn't had any time to think about it since Tamara had set the deadline. She had thought she might put some serious thought into it the previous night, but that plan had not allowed for staying up until two o' clock watching Jem cartoons.

Tabby stared down at the list of five names: Sugarberry, Tamara, Merry Treat, Tiffany, and Elaine. They could all be her bridesmaids; there was no problem with that. But who was worthy of being the maid of honor? How could she choose one of those five above the others?
She had known Sugarberry for the longest of any of them. They had been inseparable as baby ponies, and were still close friends. If she knew Sugarberry the best and for the longest period of time, shouldn't that mean...

But Tamara was a direct relation. Certainly, they hadn't gotten along very well in their early years; but they had gradually become more tolerable of each other and Tabby could now count her cousin as a true friend. Since she had no sisters, it would seem that her cousin should be the logical choice...

Merry Treat was a very good friend too, though. They had known each other throughout their school years, but with the discovery of Pokèmon, they had found common ground and their bond of friendship had grown as they both became obsessed with the mysterious creatures. With the recent marriage of their two Meowths, Tarquin and Tess, to each other, the two ponies felt even closer to one another with a sisterly tie...

Tiffany, of course, could also be counted as a close friend. Tabby had shied away from her for the longest time because she was such a snob, but after the princess had taken the notion in her head that she should try to become more peasant-like, they had begun associating with each other at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe nightly. Tiffany could still be overbearing and tiresome, but she was overall a likeable character that could be depended upon...

And then there was Elaine. Tabby felt a strong kinship with the younger mare after communicating with her frequently while Elaine was still attending college. She could almost say that she felt more comfortable with Elaine than any of the others. But no one would expect her to choose Elaine. They didn't think the two were very close at all. They'd be shocked and angered if Elaine, an outsider, was chosen instead of them.

Tabby sighed and crumpled the paper in her hoof. She would have to come to a decision... but she could not choose between her friends like this! She simply could not bear to!

* * *

"Hmm. No, it's not long enough," Agatha frowned critically.

Tabby sighed in exasperation as she twirled around for the thousandth time. "It looks exactly the same as all the others! Why couldn't you have just had an heirloom veil for me to wear, Mom? It would have made this a lot easier."

"Anything of mine would be terribly out-of-fashion by now, Tabitha," Agatha assured her daughter.

"The second one you tried was best," Tiffany offered.

"That was too gaudy," Tamara argued. "It doesn't complement Tabby very well."

The four had assembled on time that afternoon at the bridal shop, with the endeavor of choosing a veil for Tabby. Of course, it was no easy process.

"If I had been thinking, I would have brought Ah-Loh along," Tabby said regretfully. "I could have asked him which ones he liked. It would be very easy that way."

Agatha raised an eyebrow. "Furbys are influencing your wedding plans too much, Tabby. What's this I hear about sharing the front pew with some of the creatures?"

"Ah-Loh and Doo-Moh," Tabby nodded. "Yes, you'll be sitting next to them. Don't worry; you'll get along fine."

"And Tabby, don't forget that you agreed to come to a decision on your maid of honor by tonight," Tamara reminded.

"I haven't forgotten," Tabby snapped. "You'll hear my decision tonight."

"I'm sure it would be good luck if you had a princess in the position," Tiffany hinted. "It's not everyone who actually knows a princess on the level that you do, Tabby."

Tamara herself remained silent, but shot a sharp glance at Tiffany. "Well, Tabby, getting back to the veils," she changed the subject. "Which do you like best?"

"Um... they all look basically the same," Tabby offered. "They're all white and lacy, you know, and there's not too much difference."

"Oh, Tabitha," Agatha sighed. "Perhaps it would be better if we just chose one for you."

"I never said I wouldn't pick one; I just said that they all look the same," Tabby corrected. "I like the... first two I tried," she decided at random.

"I think we've spent long enough here for one day," Agatha finally said. "We'll think the choices over a few days, check out some other shops, and then make the decision."

"Yes, that sounds wise," Tamara agreed. "Why don't we all just go over to Pony Hut right now for supper, and then to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe like usual? All the guys are busy; we can have a girl's night out for once."

"That's fine with me," Tiffany sniffed. "I doubt Toby would be interested in my company, anyway."

"You're just too hard on the guy, Tiffy," Tabby said. "I don't blame him for staying away."

"What do you mean by that?" Tiffany said, glaring.

"You are awfully... demanding," Tamara agreed as the group headed out of the shop. "Maybe if you weren't pressuring him so hard to propose, he would get around to it sooner."

"How dare you call me ‘demanding'!" Tiffany said, miffed. "Toby is the one at fault. It would be easier if he still didn't have a crush on Tabby, too."

"What? He can't, after all this time!" Tabby protested. "You're just imagining it, Tiffy."

"Oh, Tabby, if only you were aware of how differently he acts when you're around." Tiffany rolled her eyes upward for emphasis. "I only hope he'll refrain from that once you're married."

Agatha had to laugh upon hearing their bickering. "Ah, your talk brings back memories of my younger days. It's been so long since I've been involved with gossip of this sort."

This comment made Tiffany forget her current dilemma for the moment. "Oh, I bet you had all sorts of handsome stallions falling for you, Mrs. Fershund! You lived in a lot of finery, didn't you?"

"Oh, I did know some nice stallions," Agatha recalled. "But Hubert stood out among them all. He was different, somehow."

"Very adventurous, from the sounds of it," Tiffany agreed. "Did you get to go on any excursions with him?"

"Oh, he knows so much about lost civilizations and UFOs and such," Tamara said admirably. "I think you were wise to pick him, Aunt Agatha."

"And I think Tabitha has made a wise choice in picking Thomas, too," Agatha said, hugging her daughter happily.

Tabby's only reply was a low, hardly decipherable "Party, wah!"

* * *

"Well, Tabby, it's time to hear your decision."

"...cover the eyes twice and pet their back once..." Tabby looked up abruptly at Tamara's comment. "Eh? What was that?"

"We're all here now," Tiffany added. "Who's to be your maid of honor?"

"Oh... that..." Tabby's composure wobbled as she glanced around the table.

"You've really delayed too long in choosing one already," Agatha agreed.

"Who will it be?" Sugarberry asked curiously.

"She'll probably pick a Furby," Merry Treat giggled.

"Yes! How about Doo-Moh?" Elaine said merrily. "And then Ah-Loh can stand-in as best man."

"This isn't a time to be talking about Furbys," Tiffany said, shooting silencing glances at the Furby-loving members of the group. The princess still held hopes that Tabby would pick her, and didn't want anyone influencing her otherwise... especially when Furbys were involved. "Tabitha, what is your decision?"

"You'll all get to be bridesmaids, of course," said Tabby after a pause. "Well, except for you, Mom."

"Me, too?" Elaine said in a barely perceptible tone, her eyes opening wide. It had never been brought up in conversation before that she would be included with the bridesmaids.

"We already know that. It still doesn't answer the question of who the maid of honor will be," Tamara said, her voice growing more than a little annoyed.

"My maid of honor will be..." Tabby glanced at the faces around her, all anxious with the possibility of getting the honor bestowed upon them: Tamara, Tiffany, Sugarberry, Merry Treat, Elaine. Her gaze lowered to the table and she closed her eyes. The moment had come. "She will be..." The two syllables were on the tip of her tongue, but she could hardly bring herself to say them due to the hurt feelings they would inflict. The tension was mounting. Finally, Tabby heard herself saying the word. "...Elaine."

Tiffany bit her lip and Tamara looked a little surprised, but otherwise the group wasn't too affected as Tabby dared to open her eyes again. "You're not... mad, are you?" Tabby asked hesitantly.

"Of course we're not mad! It is your wedding, after all," Sugarberry pointed out quickly, sensing Tabby's affliction.

"Besides, we still get to be your bridesmaids," Merry Treat smiled encouragingly.

"I suppose... it's better to be a bridesmaid than nothing at all," Tiffany finally admitted grudgingly.

"Besides, Tiffany and I are busy with the wedding plans as it is. I'm not sure I could take the extra responsibility of being maid of honor," Tamara added.

"At least you finally made up your mind on the matter," Agatha said with relief. "I was afraid you'd never decide on anyone."

Tabby then turned her attention to Elaine, who appeared to be the most shocked of all. "Well, what do you say?"

"I... I never thought," she gasped out after a moment. "Are you... serious?"

"I said it, didn't I?" Tabby said gently. "Yes, Elaine. You can have the position."

"You've been too nice," Elaine said, tears of happiness coming to her eyes. "Thank you, Tabby. Thank you!"

And everyone there knew that Tabby had made the right choice.

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