• Published 26th Mar 2012
  • 13,099 Views, 251 Comments

Two Kinds of Complications - GentlemanJ



Rarity wants a date. Sweetie Belle wants a brother. Lucky Graves just wants a day without headaches.

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

With a quick glance in both directions, Scootaloo dashed across the square and dove into the cover of the bush, a cardboard box carefully tucked under one arm.

“Yo, Sweetie Belle,” she whispered as she settled in next to her friend. “Did I miss anything?”

“Oh, hey, Scoot,” the fluffy one replied, still watching the two persons of interest at the café. “No, they’ve just been talking the whole time.”

“Well, what about?” the tomboy inquired. “Did they mention anything about their hobbies or anything that we could chalk up as interests?”

“Not yet. They’ve just been talking about caves and tunnels and stuff.” Scootaloo just gave her friend an odd look.

“Why are they talking about dirt all day?”

“Beats me,” Sweetie Belle shrugged. “I guess grownups are just weird like that.” Just then, the bush rustled once more and Apple Bloom’s pink-bowed head popped up next to them.

“Hey girls,” she whispered. “Anythin' happen yet?”

“Nope,” Scootaloo replied with a shake of the head. “How about you?”

“Found all the stuff we need,” she grinned. “It was right difficult, gettin’ it all from the farm without Big Mac catchin’ on, but don’t worry; it’s all there.”

“Where’s there?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“In your backyard: nobody’s home, and I figured we’d be able to get them there pretty easy.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Sweetie Belle nodded.

“Anyways, what about you, Scoot?” Apple Bloom asked. “Did you get any circle-y things we could use for the second part?”

“Got ‘em right here,” the tomboy grinned as she opened up the box. “Check ‘em out.”

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle peered into the box, then looked up at Scootaloo with funny expressions, as if unsure what to say.

“Uh, Scoot?” Apple Bloom began.

“Those are donuts,” Sweetie Belle finished.

“Yeah, isn’t it perfect?” Scootaloo beamed. “They’re all circles, and they’re all really similar, so there’s no issue with the rules, and plus, it only cost me like, two bits for the box!”

“… I guess it could work?” Sweetie Belle shrugged.

“Maybe,” Apple Bloom slowly agreed. “I just figured that if we’re gettin’ someone to join a new family, all the stuff should be more, you know… special.”

“Special? Oh please,” Scootaloo dismissed with a loud raspberry. “It’s not like they’re getting married or something.”

“That’s true,” Apple Bloom smiled, “could you imagine that? Rarity getting’ married to the marshal?”

“No way,” Sweetie Belle giggled. “She’d be all like, ‘Ew, you simply must find a more sanitary line of work.’ Brothers don’t have to be all squeaky clean, do they, Apple Bloom?”

“Not in the slightest,” she agreed with a nod of her pink-bowed head. “Big Mac makes more of a mess than me and Applejack put together.” All three of them got a good laugh out of this.

“Anyways, we gotta get these donuts to them for the big switch,” Scootaloo said. Apple Bloom nodded in agreement.

“Okay, Crusaders, let’s get part two of Operation: Get Sweetie Belle a Big Brother goin'!”

*****

“Surely you jest, Graves,” Rarity gaped after finishing a bite of salad. “You mean to tell me that there are whole mountains that simply float in the sky?”

“Stones bigger than the library tree,” Graves affirmed as he set down his sandwich. “Where do you think Cloudsdale came from?”

“The floating city? I’d always assumed it was from complex magical weaves keeping it afloat.”

“Most people do,” Graves nodded. “But it’s actually the city itself, made entirely of sky stone: hard as granite, but lighter than air.”

“And you mean to tell me that they’re all just floating in the air like so many balloons?” Rarity asked with an incredulous smile.

“Not all, of course,” Graves countered. “Obviously, some are stuck in the ground.”

Rarity chuckled at the quip and the light, musical sound of her laugh brought a small grin to the marshal’s face. He liked it when she laughed.

“Graves, had I known you were such a treasure trove of stories, I would have invited you out a long time ago,” Rarity grinned. “The places you’ve been, the things you’ve seen… it’s simply amazing!”

“Glad you like it,” the marshal replied with a tug of his broad-brimmed hat. “But still, I’m a bit surprised.”

“Surprised?” Rarity asked with a touch of surprise herself. “But why?”

“Honestly? I thought you only liked fashion. Never would have picked you as the world traveling type.”

Rarity looked at him for a moment, her expression oddly unreadable, and Graves shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Perhaps he’d gone too far with that last comment. Fortunately, the young lady merely laughed and took a sip of lemonade, her demeanor unruffled by his rather blunt opinion.

“It is true, I do adore fashion and just about everything related to it,” she said with a knowing smile. “But there’s more to it than just the clothes and apparel. You see–”

“–Hiya, Rarity!”

“–Hey, Mister Graves!”

“–Yo, wassup?”

The two diners almost fell out of their seats as Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo suddenly popped up beside their table, all three grinning like Pinkie Pie after a sarsaparilla binge.

“Sw-Sweetie Belle,” Rarity gasped, right hand over her heart, “what are you doing here?”

“Nothing much,” the little girl beamed. “We just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d drop in and say hi.”

“Is that right?” the young lady asked with a dubious eye.

“Yup,” Sweetie Belle replied with an all too innocent smile. “And look! What’s that, Scootaloo?”

“This?” the purple hair girl asked as she pulled out the cardboard box. “Why, only a box of the finest donuts from Sugar Cube corners, is all.”

“Baked fresh this mornin’ and ready for eatin’,” Apple Bloom grinned as she opened the box and gestured like a game show host. “Want one?”

“Er… no thanks,” the violet-haired girl replied with a hesitant smile. “I just ate.”

“How about you, Graves?” Scootaloo asked, showing him the box, “Anything catch your eye?”

“I’m good, thanks,” Graves replied with equal hesitance.

“Aw, come on,” Sweetie Belle pouted. “You’re not really gonna just turn down a Sugar Cube Corners donut are you?”

“They’re really good,” Scootaloo called out, bringing the box closer and waving it below the dining couple’s noses.

Graves looked over at Rarity. From her expression, she was just as clueless as he as to what was going on. But whatever the case, it was just a few little girls with baked goods: it wouldn’t hurt to humor them a bit, right?

“Since you insist,” Graves said slowly, “I’ll have that chocolate one.”

“Great!” Scootaloo said as she jumped back just before Graves could actually get the pastry.

“And what about you, Rarity?” Apple Bloom asked. “It ain’t polite to just turn down a gift, is it?”

“No, I suppose it isn’t,” the older girl sighed with a defeated smile. “Since you’re offering, I guess a French curler wouldn’t hurt.”

“Great!” Sweetie Belle beamed. And with that, she handed each of them the wrong donut.

“Um…”

“… Huh.”

Rarity glanced at the chocolate donut on her plate.Graves looked at the curler on his. Both looked at the three girls, but all they did was stand there smiling as if eagerly awaiting something. More confused than ever, Graves looked back over to Rarity. She just shrugged.

“Well, um… here you are,” Graves said, holding his plate out to Rarity.

“Right, and here is yours,” she replied, reciprocating with her own.

As soon as the plates traded hands, the three little girls gave synchronized squeals of delight. Quickly closing the box, they ran off as fast as their little feet could carry them, whispering and giggling about something or another that made absolutely no sense.

Graves and Rarity could only stare at each other in silent confusion. What the hay had that all been about?

*****

“That was certainly… odd,” Rarity commented absent-mindedly. From the look on her face, odd was probably an exceedingly generous description.

“And how,” Graves agreed as he pushed the plate away. It wasn’t that he distrusted the girls, per se, but after that decidedly suspicious encounter, he was less than eager to actually eat the proffered pastry.

“Well anyways, as I was saying…” The young lady began to speak, but paused for a moment. “Dear me, it seems like I’ve plum forgotten what I had in mind.”

“Is that bad?”

“Well, not particularly, but I feel like it was something rather important.”

“Was it about the places we talked about?” the marshal prompted. Rarity pondered it, but the comment didn’t seem to help jog her memory.

“Ah well, I’m sure it wasn’t anything too pressing,” she said lightly. “What I do remember thinking, is that it’s simply amazing how you’ve been able to travel to so many exotic locales. And so young too: why, you couldn’t possibly be much older than Big Macintosh.”

“Perk of being a marshal, I guess,” Graves shrugged as he took a sip of coffee.

“In that case, maybe I should join the marshals as well.”

The young marshal sputtered into his cup. Rarity coolly raised an eyebrow at him.

“Oh? You don’t think I could do it?”

“I’m sure you could,” Graves replied, his face too expressionless to be natural, “I just doubt you’d enjoy it: it ain’t exactly the… cleanest occupation.”

“So you don’t think I could handle it,” Rarity finished, folding her arms under her chest as she levelly eyed the marshal. “Well I’ll have you know that I’ve had plenty of chances to get my hands dirty.”

Now it was Graves’ turn to raise an eyebrow.

“What exactly do you count as ‘dirty’?” he asked with just a hint of incredulity. The young beauty leaned in with a confident smile.

“Does being kidnapped by a pack of diamond dogs and walking out on my own suffice?”

If the marshal had been skeptical before, he was doubly so now. And surprised too, as his wide silver eyes clearly expressed. Diamond dogs were a devilishly tricky bunch, and many a fine soldier had been humiliated by their fiendish antics.

“You? And diamond dogs? This I’ve got to hear.”

So Rarity – with great relish – told Graves all about it; how she’d been out gem hunting with Spike when she’d been kidnapped; how she’d confounded her captors into putting her in charge; and of course, how she’d whined and complained with such annoying fervor, that her kidnappers had set her free with several carts full of gems for the promised she’d ever to return.

All the through the story, the marshal’s eyes kept growing wider. By story’s end, it seemed his eyebrows had disappeared behind his long black bangs, and this pleased the young lady greatly.

“... Wow,” he finally said, still stunned and rather awed by his lunch partner’s tale. “That was… really quite impressive.”

“Why thank you,” Rarity replied, all smiles and good graces at the compliment, though her big, sapphire eyes held just a hint of a triumphant spark. “While I may be a lady, I do know how to handle myself in a sticky situation. Daresay even,” she continued with a playful smirk, “situations a marshal might encounter.”

“Oh?” Graves said, rising to the bait with an equally amused grin. “You think that makes you marshal material?”

“But of course,” she replied with exaggerated innocence. “I may not be as big or as strong as you, but I’m certainly more than clever enough to compensate, wouldn’t you agree?”

“So you fancy yourself a wit, do you Miss Rarity?” Graves chuckled. “In that case, just answer me one question."

“And what question is that, Master Graves?”

“What’s one thing you should always keep every time you give it away?”

Rarity blinked.

“Come again?”

“Come on, Miss Rarity,” the marshal grinned with almost boyish mischief. “If you’re clever enough for Equestria’s finest, a riddle like this should be easy.”

Rarity’s face quickly changed from surprise to playful interest as she pursed her lips in thought, contemplating the question. After only a few moments, she looked up with a victorious smile.

“Why, I do believe that would be a promise.”

“Very good,” Graves applauded. “Maybe you are as clever as you say.”

“Uh uh uh,” Rarity tutted, “You just asked me a question. Now it’s my turn.”

“Really?”

“Fair is fair, isn’t it?” she grinned.

“In that case,” the marshal replied with a flick of his hat, “ask away.”

“Alright, let’s see… Ooh, I know. What word has all twenty-six letters in it?”

“Simple. The alphabet.”

“Very good,” Rarity laughed as she returned the applause. “I guess you aren’t just a trigger-happy muscle-head, are you?”

“Perhaps not,” Graves replied with a small smirk. “Now tell me this: what’s kind of coat can you only put on when wet?”

“A raincoat.” The seamstress had answered that without hesitation. Graves just stared.

“What?” she asked. “It’s true; otherwise, it’d just be horribly tacky.”

“You know Rarity,” Graves quipped, “marshals don’t exactly prioritize fashion.”

“Well, they certainly should,” she bristled, a spark of her fashionista spirit flashing across her eyes. “But that’s a matter for another time. A coat that can only be put on when wet, you say? Put on… put on… In that case, it must be… a coat… of… … paint!”

“Not bad,” Graves nodded. “Not bad at all.”

“My turn again,” Rarity smiled. “No sooner spoken than broken. What is it?”

Graves pulled his hat low over his eyes and crossed his arms, his brow furrowed in concentration. It took him a bit longer, but he looked up, eyes twinkling with success.

“Silence.”

“Shoot!” Rarity said with a vexed snap of the fingers. “I thought I’d get you with that one.”

“Another one from me then,” Graves said, now leaning in, caught up in the game as well. “Two sisters are born to the same parents, on the same day of the same year, but they’re not twins. How is this possible?”

“… … I’ve got it. They must have been triplets.”

“That one didn’t take you long,” Graves frowned and Rarity laughed again.

“Underestimating me would be a mistake, Master Graves,” the young lady teased, “And now it’s my turn again: what word becomes shorter when lengthened?”

“You really fancy the word riddles, don’t you?” the marshal casually observed.

“A very wise woman once called words jewels of the mind and the only true measure of one’s intellect,” Rarity replied primly. “I believe that makes them a very apt subject for our little match wouldn’t you agree?”

“Maybe," Graves snorted, "if your ‘wise woman weren't a spoiled princess who started the Hibiscan War…”

Rarity froze as she stared straight at the marshal with disbelief plastered all over her face. For all intents and purposes, it seemed that she’d completely forgotten the riddle.

“What did you just say?” she asked.

The raven-haired soldier looked back at her, not really sure what she was talking about. Had he done something wrong? All he’d said was the truth: the wise woman she'd quoted really was a spoiled princess, and she really… had… had...

Oh, pony feathers.

“Uh… nothing,” he said, slowly leaning back in his seat, keeping his face perfectly neutral. “Didn’t say anything.”

“No, you definitely did,” Rarity pressed on. “You described the person I was quoting as a spoiled princess. One who started a war...”

“Sounds like a princess thing to say,” he offered, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. “Wild guess.”

“No, you even named a specific conflict,” Rarity murmured as she stroked her chin in thought.

“I’m a marshal,” he threw out weakly, “probably something I picked up.”

“Not unless it was from a book,” Rarity countered. “I know I’ve read it in something, something familiar…”

Please don’t say it,” Graves thought as panic started to mount.

“It’s so familiar…” she continued.

I’m begging you,”, he pleaded silently.

“It’s just on the tip of my tongue…”

In the name of Celestia and all that is holy, please! Just don’t…

“No,” she gasped in shock as the light bulb went off in her head. The astonishment, however, passed quickly because a big, excited smile had spread all across her face as she looked at Graves once again.

“Don’t tell me,” she began, her eyes sparkling with restrained laughter, “Graves, have you actually read Charming Quill’s The Lovely Romance of the Three Kingdoms?!”

At that moment, as soon as she spoke those works, the marshal felt something inside him – something that felt an awful lot like his manhood – just wither up and die.

**********