Minuette stared across the table into the stallion's cerulean eyes, losing herself in them. They seemed immeasurably deep, lit only by pinpricks of light dancing from the reflection of the candles adorning the dinner table. She had never felt a connection with another pony so deep, so absolutely primal, as if they were not two, but one soul, divided and scattered long ago and only now seeing their completion in the other.
As she felt him reach across the table to lay his hoof over hers, she shivered, a rush of warmth to her face signalling a blush not of embarrassment, but simply the overwhelming emotion of the moment. Her lips moved involuntarily, drifting from a parted declaration of wonder to a bashful smile.
She wanted to look away, to let her eyes rest on something else – his flowing mane, or rugged chin, or to somehow stare a hole through the table to get a glimpse of that irresponsibly hot flank that she knew he was hiding. But his eyes were so magnetizing that she found herself helpless before their allure.
She had to force herself to keep breathing, and her heart rushed in her chest. This, this was the moment that she had spent a million lifetimes waiting for, the perfect culmination of the perfect date with the perfect stallion. This would be the dawn of a new, better era, one of fulfillment and happiness and a whole lot of vigorous bedroom activities that would need properly tasteful euphemisms.
She could see it all in his eyes. She exhaled softly, a single sigh of perfect contentment, as she reached over to touch his other hoof as well. She knew what she had to say. She had practiced it often enough in the mirror on lonely nights, albeit at times impaired by copious consumption of wine and overindulgence in tawdry romance novels. Only three words, but they would make the depth of her affection known, crystallizing this moment into the flawless apex of passion.
She took a deep breath, not wanting the experience to end, even as she trembled in anticipation. Then she spoke.
Minuette turned to stare at the harsh voice echoing from beside the table. In an instant the spell was broken, the mood totally shattered, the imaginary roses and stars and angelic chorus immediately snuffed out. Minuette would have mourned the loss of her perfect moment, had she not been overwhelmed by trying to process what had replaced it.
A turquoise pegasus stood next to her, face twisted into a scowl and wings quivering. Minuette mutely looked back at the stallion across the table, seeing Caramel’s eyes suddenly stretch wide as his mouth twisted into a guilty half-grin.
“Oh, uh, hi Sassaflash,” Caramel said. He pulled his hooves back and twitched slightly as he ran one through his mane. “Hey, I can explain, I swear!”
Minuette could only stare, unable to do anything but wait for the explanation to come. Judging from the silence and her challenging glare, Sassaflash felt similarly. Caramel had to have seen the dangerously thin ice he was on, but it seemed his response was to take up tap-dancing.
“Um... uh...” Caramel’s teeth clicked together rapidly as his eyes flash back and forth. “She’s my sister!”
“What.” Minuette’s voice came out flatly, before her brain even got a chance to weigh in on the matter.
Sassaflash shook her head softly, a bitter grin on her face. “You are pathetic, you know that? I can’t believe I dated you for three months.”
“Baby! Don’t be that way! You—” Caramel abruptly broke off, eyes narrowed as he carefully studied Minuette, then Sassaflash. A long moment passed as he sized up the two mares, tapping his chin before nodding once to himself. In a decisive flash of movement, he reached out to squeeze Sassaflash’s hoof in between his own. “You are the only one for me, babe!”
Minuette’s mouth dropped open. Caramel’s eyes flicked back to hers, and he gave a momentary stare that somehow conveyed an intense message: Just go with it pleeeeease.
“The same restaurant, Caramel.” Sassaflash’s eyes burned with righteous anger. “You couldn’t even pick somewhere different. That’s insulting. If I hadn’t shown up early to check our reservations...”
“It was a one-time thing! She means nothing to me!” Caramel’s voice had entirely shifted from the suave rumble of a few minutes prior. Now his desperate pleading had the pitch of pitiful whine.
“WHAT.” Minuette’s brain had caught up with the situation. Yes, that still seemed to be the appropriate response.
It was then that a third mare trotted up to the table, an earth pony with a curly orange mane and a triplet of carrots as a cutie mark.
“Caramel? You’re still here? I think my brush fell out of my saddlebags on our date earlier and I was just coming back to see if somepony had... found... it...” Her eyes grew large as she took in the scene, the rapidly unravelling Caramel still holding onto the hoof of a furious Sassaflash while Minuette stared in amazement.
Caramel dropped Sassaflash’s hoof like it was made of fire and flailed his hooves wildly. “Goldie! W-w-what are you doing here?”
The look of surprise on the mare’s face melted away, replaced by fiery eyes and clenched teeth. “Y-you! I—!” She paused to collect herself and a dangerously cheerful smile spread across her face. “Caramel, sweetie, I know we’ve been talking about taking our relationship to the next level, and I’ve come to a decision.” At her words, Caramel’s face lit up, disregarding the icy current lurking under the surface.
“I’m breaking up with you,” Golden Harvest said.
The mare turned to another nearby table where two ponies were watching the scene with great interest. She seized a half-full glass of water and flung its contents right into Caramel’s face. As he sputtered and coughed, she stuck her tongue out as one final send-off and marched away.
Caramel pulled his napkin to his face, wiping off the water and taking a moment to recover. Satisfied, he crumpled the cloth into a ball to lightly toss on the table, having regained his composure and a roguish smile. “Okay, well, Sassa—”
The pegasus had taken the opportunity to dump another glass of cold water over his head. She trotted out, her nose raised high in the air.
Minuette wordlessly hoofed Caramel her own napkin, and he once again wiped at his muzzle, patting at his wet mane for good measure. He swallowed and looked up, his eyes brightening as he saw Minuette still seated before him.
“So,” she said coolly. “Three ponies. Someone has been busy.”
Caramel’s smile wavered between artificial remorse and a surprisingly proud smirk. “Well... So, I may have stretched the truth a little bit when I said I wasn’t seeing anypony. But hey, I have some good news!”
“Go on,” Minuette said. A thin field of magic began glowing around her horn, and a nearby waiter found the weight on his back suddenly lessened.
“Well, baby, I’m single now!” Caramel grinned widely as one eyebrow arched confidently.
Minuette found that to be the appropriate time to dump the entire pitcher of water she had levitated above his head. No wonder the other girls had done similarly. It was surprisingly satisfying.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, you are.”
And then she rewound time.
Minuette chose to go all the way back to that morning, to the blissful warm moment between sleep and consciousness. She loved that fleeting feeling, before the crushing disappointments of reality caught up yet again.
It always had to end though. Time can only stand still for so long. She would know, after all.
Opening her eyes to the sunlight shining through the window, Minuette sighed deeply and rubbed her face with her hooves. She had been so close. She was so sure that this time it had been real, that she had finally found romance.
She had been trying for so long, after all – in a manner of speaking. The chronology got... hazy. Her memory only went back so far, but she never could quite tell if that was because nothing had happened before, or because everything had happened before. It all depended on how you defined ‘before’, and dwelling on it too long tended to give her headaches.
No, Minuette was a pony who lived in the moment. She had to be, by definition. But her particular moment, the entirety of the past several years, had been colored by an unmistakable desire for something more.
Being a physical manifestation of a metaphorical concept had certain benefits, yes, but it didn’t keep a pony from being lonely.
Of course, when it came to Caramel, better to be disappointed now, rather than after she had invested her heart and soul into a relationship doomed from the start. But maybe a bad relationship was better than nothing at all?
Minuette bonked herself in the head with a hoof. Best not to think that way. She was going to find perfection. She would settle for nothing less than the best.
Rolling over, she flopped out of bed and stretched. A deep yawn came unbidden as she weaved her way in between the junk littering her bedroom floor. There was her hairbrush, sticking out of a pile of dirty blankets and socks, but she decided not to bother with her mane quite yet. She would make the time when she needed it.
As Minuette trotted into the kitchen, her stomach rumbled, providing a reminder that she hadn’t eaten since... well, later that night, but that hardly counted. Her horn flared with magic, and a box of cornflakes and bowl floated from a nearby cabinet, soon joined by a jug of milk from the fridge.
She sniffed the milk out of habit, despite already knowing the truth. It was ever so slightly spoiled. That was easy enough to sort out with a localized field of time inversion. With a satisfied grin, she poured newly fresh milk onto her cornflakes and floated a spoonful of the crunchy cereal up to her mouth.
Delicious. But cornflakes alone weren’t enough to keep her mind from wandering, drawn naturally to the disastrous events that had happened... were going to... well, that would have had been going to happen in another eight or so hours. That was the thing with time wankery, it played havoc with proper tense and sentence construction.
It didn’t matter to Minuette. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. She had promised herself that today was going to be the day – no matter what. After all, she had the holy grail of romance, the solution to all her problems. The Little Black Book.
Rarity’s Little Black Book, to be precise. The fashionista was an old and treasured friend, the companion for many afternoon teas of discussing the finer points of properly passionate literature and stallions and grand plans for the future. After all, at times it seemed like they were the only two straight single mares in Ponyville.
That, of course, had abruptly changed. Rarity ceded allegiance to both ‘straight’ and ‘single’ in one fell swoop when she fell head over heels for that farmpony. It had come completely out of left field, and Minuette couldn’t help but feel shocked and betrayed. But Rarity was ever the paragon of generosity and a consummate friend, even as she moved on with her life. While she left Minuette behind figuratively, she made sure to literally leave behind her most treasured possession.
That was the Little Black Book. Contact information for every available bachelor in Ponyville. Granted, they weren’t all winners – Caramel had made that crystal clear. But of all the many, many stallions in town, there had to be the one. Minuette just had to keep at it until she found him.
She levitated the Little Black Book over and opened it to a random page. Yes, she would keep trying. After all, she had all the time in the world. She was all the time in the world. She would keep trying stallions until she found her perfect match. When the sun sat today, Minuette d’Journée Millénaire would have a coltfriend.
How hard could it be?
Eight minutes and forty-four seconds late. And he entered the restaurant still slick with sweat and smelling of dirt and apples. Not even fresh apples in an earthy bouquet. Nope. It was more like a symphony of dirt, mud, and manure, with the slightest whiff of what miiight be fruit, like cologne on a pig.
Which, come to think of it – he also smelled like pigs.
Minuette held back a shudder, instead forcing a big smile. It wouldn’t do to be too judgmental. Who knew what hidden depths a new suitor might have? She would have to look on the bright side. At least Big Mac was... well, big. Certainly not hard on the eyes. That slight sheen of sweat and the way his muscles rippled under his fur as he awkwardly grabbed at his glass of water...
Yes, Minuette could work with this.
He succeeded in lifting the glass to his face right as the waiter appeared next to them.
“Madame, Monsieur, have you decided on a selection, or would you like more time?”
Caught off guard by the question, Big Mac twitched, almost sending his drink tumbling to the floor. After a tense moment of the glass bouncing in his hooves he caught it once again, but as his hooves pressed together to hold it steady, Minuette heard a single distinctive crack of breaking glass.
The waiter heard it too, given the look of horror that flashed across his face. Only for a moment, of course. Minuette had chosen a rather nice restaurant, and they were nothing if not professional.
Minuette quickly jumped in. “I’ll have the spinach and watercress salad, please.” She smiled sweetly at the waiter, eyes flashing with apology and a tinge of pleading.
The waiter picked up on it well enough. “Very good, madame. And for monsieur?”
Big Mac pointed at something on the menu with one large hoof. The waiter craned his neck to look at what the big stallion had specified. “The tarte à la pomme? For the main course?”
Big Mac nodded slowly.
“Very well. We will have those out for you in just a moment.” The waiter paused to glance at the glass in front of Mac. It had a distinctive crack running down one side and a spreading wet spot on the tablecloth beneath it. “Ahem. Allow me to refill your glass.” With a glow of magic, the broken vessel lifted and floated away as the waiter left.
Minuette grinned sheepishly, in a spirit of kindred embarrassment, up until she noticed that Big Mac didn’t seem to be particularly embarrassed. He was placidly staring off into the distance. Irked, Minuette cleared her throat as she gave him a meaningful look.
Big Mac blinked languidly. His head inclined to the side ever so slightly as he actually looked at his date for the night, but his lips remained closed. Minuette coughed again, in a slightly higher pitch.
Big Mac smiled gently and reached over to nudge her own water glass closer to her hoof.
Minuette could feel an eye twitch start.
No. Nope. Nuh-uh. She had to stay positive. What was it that they said about the strong, silent type? That underneath the rugged exterior they had the souls of poets? She just had to dig deeper, get past that initial layer of dirt. And then the layer of more thickly packed dirt underneath. There was a diamond under there... somewhere. Nothing good ever comes easy.
Minuette floated the glass up to take a slight sip of water. Placing it down again, she smiled flirtatiously.
“So, Big McIntosh. Oh, may I call you Big Mac?”
Big Mac’s eyes drifted up as he carefully considered the question. A few seconds passed, then a few more. Minuette was about ready to repeat the question a second time when he finally did speak up.
That was progress. Of a sort. A start! Soon they would be conversing like soulmates, once she could crack the shell.
“I hear you work at Sweet Apple Acres? What a lovely place that is.” Minuette’s voice was soft and appreciative. A little bit of flattery about his home and life’s work – that would do the job.
Big Mac looked right into Minuette’s eyes. She blushed slightly and averted her eyes, but as a surreptitious glance a moment later proved, he still stared right at her. That was promising, if she knew her body language. Surely, now he would—
Her eye definitely twitched that time. Okay, well... Now he had doubled his contribution to the conversation! In a disappointingly literal sense, granted, but... Maybe it was Minuette’s fault. Maybe these questions were just dead-ends to begin with. She needed to throw him something he could work with. Yes!
“Oh, you must have ever so many interesting stories from working on the farm.”
Mac raised one hoof. With glacial slowness, he rubbed his chin. His eyes gradually misted over, apparently deep in thought. His face didn’t leave anything to the imagination, slowly shifting from a frown, to a soft smile, to a grim line as he painstakingly shuffled through a catalog of treasured memories. Suddenly his eyes lit up again, as a grin caused the corners of his mouth to turn up. Big Mac’s hoof slowly fell, eventually resting on the table again.
Minuette leaned forward, attentive and supporting, without appearing clingy or desperate. She looked deep within his eyes as his lips parted.
The strangled sound that escaped from Minuette’s throat was somewhere between an unhappy cat and a drowning duck.
She managed to start rewinding time before the pain from slamming her head against the table kicked in.
Four minutes and fifty-three seconds late. At least he had put some thought into his appearance, if the bowtie was any indication. Not too bad of a looker, either. Grey coat and yellow mane was a tad on the plain side, but he strode in with a remarkable amount of swagger, and she did like a stallion with confidence.
“I apologize for my tardiness. I hope you were not waiting long?”
And he talked. Thank Celestia.
“Oh, not at all, Mister—”
“Please,” he smoothly interrupted. “Just Hugh.”
He seated himself, neatly unfolding the napkin into his lap and raising one hoof in a casual gesture to signal the waiter. “Garçon,” he called out. “The lady will have the Arlequin du Potager en Aigre-Doux and I will, of course, have the usual. And could we also get a bottle of your finest Alicante Bouschet?”
Minuette raised an eyebrow.
“Oh, I hope I have not been too forward,” he said with a sly smile. “I have frequented this establishment on several prior occasions and I think you will find the fare to be delightful. And the wine is a magnificent red. You will love it, or I else do not know my grapes.”
“How very cultured!” Minuette said, smiling. This was indeed an unexpected change – night and day compared to her last suitor. Even if it was technically the same night of the same day.
“Oui! I spent some time in Prance one summer when I was still in University. Beautiful country!” Hugh sighed wistfully. “Ah to be young again. But vacation stories are all so dreadfully boring. I am much more interested in learning about the lovely mare who has deigned to grace me with her presence.”
Minuette giggled coquettishly and fiddled with her mane. “Oh, do stop, you flatterer.” A glance revealed the stallion still smiling confidently, evading arrogance only by dint of being so naturally charming.
“Flattery implies untruth, and if anything I am understating the vision of beauty before me. Tell me, dear, what do you do? Other than brighten up any room you enter?” He rested his chin on his hooves, leaning over the table in position of rapt attention.
“Me? Why, I...” What was it again? Minuette momentarily froze, being so distracted by the suave stallion that she had to dredge through her memory to pull up her dusty old cover story. “I’m a dentist.”
“Aha, a lady that can truly bring a smile to any face. Do you own your own practice, then?”
Minuette bit her lip, but deciding it didn’t particularly matter, she nodded. “Not much of one, I’m afraid, but I make do.”
Hugh leaned back as his eyebrows raised, genuinely impressed – or else particularly good at faking it. “So self-evidently beautiful, well-educated enough to be a dentist, and a successful small business owner? My dear, I simply cannot believe that you have not been already snatched up by some dashing stallion.”
The grin on Minuette’s face froze, looking momentarily forced. “Eheh. Yes. Quite.” She shook her head slightly. “I believe I could say the same about you. That is... you, er, aren’t already involved with several other ponies on the side, are you?”
Hugh’s mouth opened in shock. “Why of course not! The very idea! What sort of self-respecting pony would dare to be so uncouth?”
“I could name one,” Minuette muttered, too soft for Hugh to hear.
“To be honest, my dear...” Hugh’s eyes flickered from side to side, determining their privacy. “And strictly between you and me, I have not had much luck with the fairer sex. I fear that I must come on too strong.”
“You? No!” Minuette protested, raising one hoof. “Confidence is nothing to be ashamed of, and you have been the perfect gentlepony.” Her eyes turned a particularly sultry look upon the stallion. “In fact, I’ll have you know many mares find such self-assurance to be particularly attractive.”
One eyebrow gracefully arced on Hugh’s face, a flirtatious smirk suddenly appearing. “Is that so? Well, you should know that—”
The waiter suddenly returned, interrupting their conversation to wheel in a tray. He presented a bottle of wine to Hugh, uncorking it once the stallion had nodded assent and pouring a glass of deep red liquid for each of the two ponies. Minuette clapped her hooves together, the fragrant fluid already looking absolutely delectable.
With a deep bow, the waiter used his magic to float two covered plates to the table. Minuette oohed appreciatively as her meal was revealed, a medley of vegetables tastefully arranged under a light yellow sauce.
“This looks lovely, Hugh,” she said, smiling at him. “I can’t wa— Uh.”
She had noticed his own meal. The removal of the lid had revealed a deep bowl filled with bright red jelly. A few specks of tiny seeds could be seen floating in the gelatinous mass, and it wiggled ever-so-slightly from its previous movement.
“Their strawberry is simply divine,” Hugh said happily. “Texture, flavor, top marks across the board.” He reached up to undo his bow tie. “Dear, could I possibly impose upon you to hold this for me?”
Minuette nodded mutely as he passed her the bow tie. She peered down at the bowl in confusion, then back up at Hugh.
He gazed at her, giving her a warm and friendly grin, with a wink that indicated the slightest edge of sauciness. Minuette forced a faltering smile back for the suave, self-assured stallion.
Then he slammed his face down into the bowl of jelly, the whole restaurant echoing with the tremendous squelching sound.
Tiny flecks of red splattered everywhere, some splashing to make a horrible contrast against Minuette’s blue coat. Her mouth formed a rictus of horror as she watched, unable to look away. Hugh’s tongue bulged out as he rolled his head around in the dish, spreading red jelly over every inch of his muzzle and a significant part of his mane as well.
“oh dear sweet celestia it’s so goooood,” Hugh moaned, his breathy voice indicating an enjoyment of the experience that was positively obscene. A mare over at the table next to them held her hoof over her foal’s eyes and quickly shuffled him out of the room, glaring at the both of them.
Minuette’s eye began twitching furiously.
She could rewind time, but she had the sinking feeling that she could never ever ever unsee that.
Twenty-three minutes and fifteen seconds late. Minuette had just about decided to give up and rewind early, chalking this one up as a loss, but the thought of telling off the rude stallion was too good to give up. It had been dreadfully boring, the only event of note being the arrival of an alicorn for the dinner seating. The other patrons had broken into excited whispers, but Minuette wasn’t fazed by wannabe royals. She would have known if it was Celestia herself, and she didn’t care about some scrawny purple mare.
Instead, she had focused her attentions on plotting an indignant response for her rude date, idly keeping an eye on the restaurant’s entrance. When a bizarrely dressed pony had stumbled in, pushing past the alarmed maitre d’, she knew immediately that it was her date. Of course.
He had shown up wearing a bulky trenchcoat that covered most of his body – his lumpy, oddly-shaped body. Even though the restaurant was quite dim, he sported a pair of dark sunglasses, in part explaining why he seemed to be careening through the restaurant, crashing from one table to another as he made his way to her. And on his face was a dark, bristly mass of hair that could only charitably be called a moustache.
Minuette shuddered. Eeurgh. Moustaches.
Somehow, he managed to end up in the right spot, and collapsed into the seat opposite her. The righteous wrath she had been brewing up for the last twenty-four minutes and thirty-three seconds, now, had melted away as Minuette tried to process the creature in front of her.
She squeezed her eyes shut as she fervently hoped that she had simply started to hallucinate out of boredom, but when they opened again nothing had changed. “Mister Nip Nail?” she finally asked.
Minuette frowned. “That’s the pony I was to meet.”
The other pony’s chubby cheeks flushed. “Oh! Yeah! That’s me, alright!”
It was at this point that Minuette noticed that while Nip Nail’s face was decidedly teal in hue, the gangly hoof protruding from his trench coat was a golden amber. He also seemed to possess a noticeable bulge under the trenchcoat in the neck region.
“Gee! You sure are pretty!” Nip said, with unrestrained awe.
“Heeeey, I want to see tooo,” his neck drawled, in an entirely different voice.
Minuette’s gaze flickered from the the other pony’s head to his ‘neck’. Images of policeponies and child protective service workers suddenly flashed into her mind.
“Nope!” she said as she started rewinding time.
Minuette was quite surprised to find her date already there when she arrived at the stroke of seven. She narrowed her eyes at the grey-coated stallion twiddling his hooves over at the appropriate table and turned to the maitre d’ at the restaurant’s entrance. “Er. How long has he been here?”
The maitre d’ smoothed his moustache. “The gentlepony has been present for the past half-hour. We arranged for his seating ten minutes ago, as we do not care to have loiterers in the lobby.”
Minuette grimaced slightly. “Oh, okay. Um. Thanks?” Sure, he was wasting his own time instead of hers, but it still bugged her. Did no stallion in this town have the common sense to show up for a seven o’clock date at, you know, seven?
The maitre d’ silently inclined his head, and Minuette trotted over to the table as she composed her expression into a coy smile. Lucky Clover immediately sprang up and pulled her chair out for her. He was a ball of energy, alright, but at least a polite one.
“Why thank you,” she said in a breathy voice. She immediately slipped into her best half-lidded gaze as she looked across the candlelit table. Maybe if they could just get started on the right hoof...
“No problem!” Lucky’s response was chirpy and bright, and Minuette suppressed a sigh. “I have to say, I love that necklace. It complements your mane so well! Where did you find it?”
Minuette blinked in surprise, before a proud grin broke through her artificial flirtatiousness. She reached up to touch the silver chain. “There’s a great little jewelry shop in Canterlot that I frequent. They have some very unique pieces sometimes.”
“Oh, you’ll have to tell me all the details!” Lucky rubbed his hooves together. “I have to admit, I splurged on a suit from the Carousel Boutique after seeing it just screaming my name in the display. But I can’t find a proper tie pin. Something flashy but not gaudy, you know?”
“I’m surprised to see you taking such care in your appearance,” Minuette said, with a half-smile.
Lucky raised a hoof to his chest in a mock dramatic huff. “What sort of pony doesn’t take interest in fashion? Not one I would care to associate with, that’s for sure.”
He opened his mouth as if to continue, but the waiter had arrived and looked between the two of them expectantly.
“I’ll have the, er, Arlequin du...” Minuette’s face turned green for a moment. Nope. She thought she could do it, but a certain image was still seared into the back of her eyelids. “Actually, let’s just stick with the spinach and watercress salad.”
Lucky didn’t seem to notice, as his muzzle was buried in the menu. “I’ll have... actually, the same will be fine.” He winked at Minuette. “Need to watch my figure.”
The waiter bowed his head and trotted onwards.
Minuette smiled bashfully at Lucky, who seemed to be staring in her direction a little more fiercely than previously. His eyes definitely seemed stuck on—
Wait. On something beyond her left flank. Her eyes blazed as her smile melted away. Was he eyeing some tramp at another table? When she had been putting on her very best come-hither act? These stallions, couldn’t they spend five minutes without staring at...
As she turned to look behind her, all she saw was the rump of the waiter as he cantered off. She found herself staring as well, watching the waiter’s tail swish as his toned muscles made their way across the room and into the kitchen. She had not been paying enough attention to the serving staff because hoo boy.
She shook her head slightly and turned to her date, seeing him still glancing wistfully at the swinging door that lead to the kitchen.
Minuette fought the urge to facehoof and thought it through logically. She was probably overthinking things. She was being ridiculous.
She should probably make sure.
“Lucky, dear. Tell me, have you been in many relationships with other mares?”
Minuette’s question caught him off guard. Lucky furrowed his brow. “Well. Yes, of course. But it’s never worked out in the long-term. I just haven’t found a mare with that spark, you know?”
Minuette nodded slowly.
“I’m still great pals with all my old exes. Just last week I had the most delightful evening with Cheerilee, watching movies in our PJs, and then staying up late to talk and drink cocoa.” He blinked. “Oh, but us. I think we have a real connection here.”
“Yes. Right.” Minuette waved a hoof frantically to flag down another waiter. “You, bring me a bottle of wine. No, make that two.”
“I don’t normally drink that much,” Lucky said with a frown.
“Who said they were for you?” Minuette replied.
Both bottles of wine were completely dry. Minuette sighed and planted her muzzle firmly face-down on the tablecloth. Slightly worried, Lucky’s murmuring voice paused, but Minuette’s hoof rose and twirled impatiently.
“Well, as I was saying, of course all of us colts showered together after hoofball practices. That’s just the way things were done.”
“Mmph. Tell me, Lucky. How do you feel about... musicals?”
Stars shone in the stallion’s eyes. “Oh, they are simply fabulous. How did you know? I recently happened to catch Joseph and the Amazing Techneighcolor Dreamcoat while I was visiting Manehattan last year, and—”
Minuette rolled her head up and gazed at Lucky with baleful bloodshot eyes. “You are deliberately screwing with me, aren’t you?”
Lucky furrowed his brow in confusion. “Are you sure you’re okay? I think you may have had a bit too much to drink.”
“I’m fine,” Minuette grumbled. “I am not nearly drunk enough right now. Back to you. I want you to do me a favor, ‘kay?”
“Okay...?” Lucky said tentatively.
“Visualize the most attractive, perfect mare for you. Let me know when you’re ready.”
Lucky closed his eyes and hummed softly. “Okay, I suppose.”
Minuette lifted one of the wine bottles and shook it, hoping in vain for some drops she had overlooked. “Now describe her.”
Lucky frowned as he concentrated hard. “Okay. She. Hm. She has a mane. And it’s... long. Ish?”
Minuette waved a hoof. “Whatever, fine. Now visualize the sort of stallion that you think mares are attracted to.”
A smile crept onto Lucky’s face. “Sure. So, he’s tall, but solidly built. Strong jawline and defined muscles, but not freakish or anything. Just toned. His fetlocks are a little on the shaggy side, and his mane is short but flowing, like it’s been tousled by the wind. He would spend a lot of time outdoors, you know? And of course, he has a particularly large—”
“That’s enough!” Minuette said.
“I was just going to say horn.” Lucky opened his eyes and shrugged. “There’s something about unicorns, you know?”
“Now think about the difference between your two images. This doesn’t.... suggest anything to you?”
Lucky tilted his head to the side and bit his lip. Minuette watched him levelly.
Minuette’s face hit the table with a resounding thud. “Lucky. Please don’t take this the wrong way. Have you ever thought that maybe mares just aren’t for you?”
“I think everypony deserves a chance at love.” Lucky’s voice was disapproving and a little sad.
“That’s not what I meant.” Minuette sighed deeply. “Have you ever thought about stallions instead?”
“What?” Lucky blinked. “I think about stallions all the time. It’s not like I don’t have any guy friends.”
Minuette suppressed the urge to bang her head on the table. “No. Romantically thought. About stallions. Have you ever thought about dating a stallion, Lucky.”
“A-are you saying that... that you think I’m a colt-cuddler?”
Minuette looked up at him with her eyes narrowed. “Yes. Yes, that is exactly the thing that I am saying.”
Lucky’s mouth hung open as he stared at her. Anger flashed into his eyes, but dissipated as quickly as it had arrived. Minuette was half expecting that. What she wasn’t expecting was him bursting into tears.
“Oh Celestia, it’s true! I’ve tried to deny it for so long, but it’s tru-u-u-u-e!” In a flash he was around the table and Minuette found a sobbing stallion clutching her in a tight embrace.
“Uh. There there.” Minuette awkwardly patted at Lucky’s back. “It’s going to be okay.”
He released her and pawed at his wet face. “I should have accepted this so long ago. All the signs were there!” Minuette rolled her eyes, as he sniffled pitifully. “Thank you so much, Minuette.”
She offered him her napkin, as she tried to surreptitiously wipe the tears off her own coat. “Yeah. No problem.”
He looked up to her with earnest gratefulness. “Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I thought it would work with us.”
Minuette frowned. “What?”
He shrugged. “Well, you sort of look stallion-ish yourself.”
Minuette felt her hooves tense against the table. “What.”
Lucky was at least smart enough to pick up on the sudden change in atmosphere. Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart enough to keep quiet.
“Oh, I mean it as a compliment! It’s just your horn is particularly... prominent. Not very mare-ly. There’s a lot of stallions out there that’d kill for a horn like that.”
It was probably the two bottles of wine that spurred Minuette to flip the whole dinner table at that point, sending plates and cups flying everywhere with the crash of shattering glass.
Lucky could damn well find enlightenment on his own.
Minuette surveyed the destruction as her eye twitched. The restaurant staff and patrons just stared, except for a purple unicorn that Minuette could see dashing forward out of the corner of her eye.
At least the act of destruction was nicely cathartic. As Minuette began to rewind, she made a note to remember that for the next inevitably depressing date.
Minuette groaned once she found herself back in her bed. Sure, she wasn’t drunk anymore, but alcohol had a tendency to mess with a pony, even when time shenanigans were involved. Going from inebriation to abrupt sobriety was not particularly pleasant. The benefits of bypassing the worst of the hangover were still worthwhile, but it took a moment for the room to stop spinning.
She stretched out in bed, trying to gather up fresh resolve. She would go back to the Little Black Book. She would find another date. And it would suck, again. Aaargh. It was hard to keep her spirits up when the list of names continually dwindled and yet the dates got worse and worse. Somehow.
She let out another groan.
Then with the crackle of eldritch electricity and the acrid stench of temporal magic, a purple pony appeared above her bed, crying out in surprise as she fell the short distance to land right on top of Minuette.
“Aaaah!” Minuette shouted.
“Aaaaaah!” Twilight Sparkle shouted back. “Wait! You!” She realized she was speaking directly at Minuette’s tail and she spun around, blushing. “You!”
Minuette squirmed. Even though her vision was no longer dominated by Twilight’s own hindquarters, the other pony was straddled right over her in the bed, meaning their bodies were uncomfortably close and their muzzles a scant distance away. “Me! What? Who are you!”
Twilight Sparkle took a deep breath. “My name is Princess Twilight Sparkle, and I am here because—”
With another crackling surge of magical electricity that lit up the room but harmlessly danced across Minuette’s coat, the intruding pony abruptly vanished again.
Minuette blinked. She slowly turned her head from side to side, making sure the room was completely empty. The only sign that the strange interruption hadn’t been a hallucination was the lingering smell and her even-more-rumpled-than-usual bedsheets.
Minuette bit her lip. “Well. That was wei—”
With another crackle the pony materialized in the air again, this time flaring out wings to turn in midair and land right on top of Minuette again, face to face.
“Where was I?” she said. “Right. My name is Princess Twilight Sparkle, and I am here because I have traced a large amount of unnatural temporal distortion occurring today and I believe you to be the source. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Minuette glared. “I say you need to get out of my bed. Now!”
Twilight looked up in surprise, noticing her surroundings for the first time. Undeterred, she frowned down at Minuette again. “Sorry, but this takes precedence! You don’t understand how touchy time-travel can be. The smallest change and you could set off a whole chain of— Oh, drat!”
The ball of eldritch lightning zapped her away once again, leading Minuette to breathe a sigh of relief. Not to be caught unaware a third time, she hastily rolled out of bed and trotted over to the other side of the room, where she waited patiently.
It wasn’t a long wait before the flaring electricity of the time spell brought Twilight back, where she seemed very surprised to be standing in a bed that was now empty. She was even more surprised when a pink fuzzy house-slipper bounced off her head.
“Go away!” Minuette yelled, as she canvassed a pile of dirty clothing for another appropriate improvised projectile.
“What?!” Twilight drew herself up and flared her wings out. “I am a Princess. I am trying to protect Ponyville, nay, the entire time-space continuum!”
An empty water bottle, that would do the trick. Unfortunately, Twilight was paying enough attention to avoid it. “I don’t need your help,” Minuette said. “I don’t need the help of any princess, least of all a princess of creepy privacy invasion!”
Twilight gasped. “How dare you! I am the Princess of Science!”
Minuette paused, hoof frozen mid-throw. “What? That’s not even a real thing.”
“Is too! Science forms the entire basis for the order and structure of the universe!”
Minuette grinned wickedly. “Uh huh. And I bet you raise the science every day, right? Ten bits says Celestia just told you that ‘cause she couldn’t figure out anything else for you to do.”
Twilight’s eyes started glowing alarmingly. “I’ll have you know that— Oh, horseapples! There has got to be a better—”
With a zap, she vanished a third time.
Minuette waited. And then waited some more.
After several minutes had passed with no angry purple alicorns invading the sanctity of her bedroom, she shrugged and went to get breakfast.
Cornflakes: check. Bowl: check. Spoon: check. Milk: check.
Impatient knocking at the door: check?
Minuette had experienced this morning often enough to have everything down to a tidy routine, but there never had been anypony at her door before. To be fair, she had never had an alicorn in her bedroom before, either.
She suspiciously trotted to the door and opened it to see her fears confirmed. Twilight Sparkle was standing outside.
“Uhm. Hi,” she said. “So, a version of me from the future just appeared in the library and told me—”
“Sorry, not interested,” Minuette interrupted, closing the door and locking it for good measure. She was already halfway across the room when she heard the characteristic pop of teleportation magic being used. She sighed as she kept trotting.
“I’m very sorry for the bother, but it was something about runaway time magic and being extremely important. And then future-me said some not very nice things, but it looked like I had had a long day, so I assume it was mostly stress talking.”
Minuette sniffed at the milk out of habit, her nose wrinkling up at the sour smell. A little of the standard fiddling to freshen it up and—
“Whoa! Did you just...” Minuette turned to see Twilight’s eyes as wide as saucers.
“Look, Princess, I know what I’m doing, and I’m not hurting anything, okay?” She used her magic to load her bowl up with cornflakes and milk.
“H-how...” Twilight shook her head, stifling a look of wonder and going back to a tone of professionalism. “Okay, well, that still shouldn’t make enough of a chronological metamorphic signature to indicate true problems. There were— will be bigger changes going on, at least according to, well, future-me.”
Minuette shrugged, crunching away at her cereal. “I’ve got it under control. I need to get something taken care of today, and it’s taking more tries than originally anticipated.”
“More tries?” Twilight repeated, aghast. “There is a reason the space time continuum does not come with an ‘oops’ button! What could possibly be so important that it’s worth risking annihilation of all that was and ever will be?” Twilight tried to sound authoritative, but a strong note of curiosity clearly came across.
“None of your business,” Minuette promptly replied. Unfortunately, her eyes betrayed her, taking that opportunity to glance at the Little Black Book still sitting on the kitchen table.
Twilight raised a hoof to her mouth. “Is that...? But Rarity is...” She sharply glanced at Minuette, causing her to shift uncomfortably. “No. You’re doing all this for—”
Minuette brought one hoof down against the table. “Hey! I am sick and tired of being single. I deserve a little happiness too, alright?”
Twilight raised an eyebrow. “And exactly how many times have you struck out already?”
“Wh-wh-what?” Minuette sputtered. “It’s this town! There’s not a single stallion in this town that’s not insane or horrible or insanely horrible. Or into-other-stallions, I guess.”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “There are dozens of perfectly agreeable bachelorponies in Ponyville. Maybe you just have unattainable standards.”
“Oh, and how exactly would you know?” Minuette countered.
The blush on Twilight’s face showed that her verbal jab had struck the target. “I’ve been on lots of dates, thank you very much! Even if you don’t count impromptu conversations at mixed-gender social gatherings—”
“Oh, I totally don’t,” Minuette said.
“—Even then, I’ve still been on...” Twilight froze with one hoof in the air. She swallowed. “Lots of dates. I’ve just decided that with all my duties as a Princess I’d be happier being alone right now!”
Minuette grinned. “Okay, then you wouldn’t mind setting me up.”
Twilight tilted her head. “What?”
“Set me up. If you know all these nice eligible ponies that you don’t have time for, it shouldn’t be that hard to introduce me to one, right?”
Twilight awkwardly shuffled from one hoof to another. “R-right.”
“If you find me the perfect date...” Minuette paused, the last several tonights flashing through her mind. “Heck, if you can find me a date that’s halfway decent, then I won’t need to mess around with the timestream anymore. And both our problems are solved.”
“Fine! No problem, not at all!” Twilight said haughtily. Her eyes narrowed. “Don’t bother wearing socks because they’ll be knocked off.” With a flare of magenta color, her horn released a crackle of magic and she disappeared in a pop of purple electricity.
A sly smirk crept across Minuette’s face. Either Twilight would come through with a decent stallion, or it’d be a spectacular failure to rub the fussy alicorn’s nose in. Yes. Yes, today was finally looking up.
Twilight materialized outside of Minuette’s door, and she hurriedly began trotting down the path back to the library.
Okay, she had slightly exaggerated her experience with dating – but it’s not like she hadn’t studied the subject extensively! A direct challenge had come as a surprise, but Twilight Sparkle wasn’t going to back down to some crazy unicorn.
She had plenty of time to prepare for tonight, and the knowledge and capabilities to orchestrate a wonderful evening. Sure, her notes were all neatly constructed and organized so that she might provide a suitor with the appropriate instructions to give her a perfect night, but they would be applicable to another mare as well. She would just need the proper stallion, but that’s okay because she knew lots of—
Oh wait. No she didn’t. She didn’t know any stallions.
Twilight stopped right in the middle of the path.