• Published 10th Jun 2014
  • 5,863 Views, 500 Comments

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sweetie Belle - Distaff Pope



It's Sweetie Belle's first day at Equestria's newest academy, and she plans on making it the best year ever. However enemies old and new emerge, while Sweetie struggles with the fear that her old friends are pulling away from her.

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4. Time After Time (Part 2)

“Can I ask you something?” Life Bloom said as I carried a snorkel, unicycle, and various other instruments of fun to the clubhouse.

“Sure, but can you help me carry my fun bag?” I asked as her horn lit up to take off some of the weight on my back. “I have a lot to do with my friends today, and I don’t want to miss a second of it.”

“That’s actually part of my question,” she said as we walked through the apple grove. “During the last few… I don’t know if you could really say months have gone by in this loop, but for the sake of convenience, let’s say you can. During the last few months, you’ve had an almost monomaniacal obsession with planning and executing fun activities with the rest of the Crusaders. I’m wondering why.”

I sighed and told her the same thing I told Scootaloo a few months ago. “An understandable concern,” Life Bloom said, nodding her head as we walked. “I left behind my friends in Fillydelphia for a better chance at learning about biology. While I still love my old friends and plan to visit them when I’m home, my cutie mark changed things. Now I’m a thousand miles away from home, making new friends, and currently reliving the same day over and over again. You and Scootaloo will almost certainly remain friends, but even if you get your cutie mark first, your relationship with your friends will change.”

“That’s what I was worried about,” I said, taking a moment to lower my fun bag and lean against a nearby apple tree. The bag was almost as big as me, and carrying it to the clubhouse was pretty tiring. “Once we get our cutie marks, everything is going to change and I won’t see my friends as much and–”

“You aren’t listening,” Life Bloom said irritably. “Yes, things will change, but that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even though I’ve only been here for a week... or several months depending on how you judge things, I already find myself caring for you and the rest of the Crusaders. I didn’t lose a set of friends, I gained another. Now consider your Crusaders, for several years, you had drifted along in equilibrium, with change coming slowly if at all, then you persuaded your friends to join the Academy, and in the span of a week that equilibrium changed.”

Life Bloom pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “I apologize, I fear I’m not being properly concise, and my attempt to remedy the situation involves the use of metaphor, so I apologize doubly. The thing I find endlessly fascinating about life, and one of the reasons I am so invested in its study, is because of its ability to change and adapt. While we ponies have curtailed that trait with our domestication of the world, in places like the Everfree where life is still wild and untamed, those organisms that fail to modify themselves or develop new strategies are consumed, and in that way they find the change they dreaded. Is this even a little clear or am I just talking to myself?”

“I think so,” I said nodding while stretching out my sore muscles. “You’re saying I should make the most of the time I have now before something eats me.”

She thunked her head against a nearby tree. “That is… not completely inaccurate, although it misses the main point of my argument.” Life Bloom was acting like I was dumb for not understanding her, but she just admitted my friends would change and our relationship would change. She had even admitted the same thing had happened to her, so why was she trying to phrase this like a good thing?

“Is it so bad that I want to actually spend some time with my friends before they leave?” I asked, ears perking up. “I just want to create a bunch of fun memories with them while I have the chance.”

“That is fine,” Life Bloom said, nodding her head. “But perhaps it would be better to create memories when your friends can actually remember them. Or will you enjoy reminding them of events that they believe never happened.”

I frowned at her. “That… I hadn’t thought of that before. I just… I want to do stuff with them before things change too much.”

“And you can do that. After we leave the loop, I’ll even help you plan fun outings with your friends. Not that I’m particularly good at such things, but I believe a gesture of goodwill is generally–”

She was cut off as I wrapped my forelegs around her. “You’re right! I’ve been thinking about me this whole time, what I should be thinking about is other ponies and how I can make them happy. A good friend wouldn’t just have fun that nopony else can remember, they’d work on planning as much fun stuff as possible that everypony can enjoy.” I bounced in a circle around Life Bloom. “Ooh! Maybe I can try learning how to sing or plan out everypony’s perfect day… I know! I can make sure our last loop is absolutely perfect!”

I ran off towards the clubhouse, leaving Life Bloom behind with my fun bag. “Don’t you want to take this bag with you?” she shouted.

“No time,” I said, looking back at her and smiling. “I’ve got the perfect day to plan!”

***

“Hey, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, if you could do anything today, what would you do?” I asked as I ran into the clubhouse.

“I don’t know,” Apple Bloom said, tapping her chin. “I’m pretty happy with today, I've got y'all with me, and I was just looking forward to spending the day with you girls.”

“Hey!” Socket yelled from under the clubhouse.

“And Socket,” she added.

“Okay, so Apple Bloom just wants us to spend some time together, that’s pretty easy,” I said, talking to myself. “Scootaloo, what about you?”

“Something cool and daring and death-defying,” she said, smiling. “What if we scaled the Canterhorn?”

“That’s… we could do that,” I said, “but I was kind of hoping it would be something we could do today. Maybe we could just set up an obstacle course for you to scooter through.”

“Yeah! With a burning loop to jump through! And lions!”

“We can… definitely do something like that,” I said, smiling at her as I tried to think of what cool stuff she’d like that was actually possible, maybe I could convince Socket to help with the designing. Still, I could definitely make an obstacle course for her, and if I set a hula-hoop on fire…

“I’d just like to sing a song with you. Well, you sing, and me play the piano, but if you weren’t asking me that question then–” Melody said before I interrupted her.

“Of course we can do that,” I said, feeling bad that I’d forgotten she was in the room. It’s not that I didn’t like her, I like her a lot, it’s just that she’s so quiet that I sometimes kind of forget she’s there until she finally decides to speak up. I gave her my super-happy smile. “Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were telling me the other day that I should really try singing some more, so this is a good opportunity, right? Besides, if I was going to sing with anypony, I’d sing with you.”

“Really?” she asked, her eyes lighting up at that. “That… it means a lot to me.”

“It’s no big deal,” I said, sitting down in the clubhouse. “You’re a great musician, of course I’d want to sing with you.”

“Oh,” she said, her smile suddenly disappearing as she looked back at the floor, “that’s… thank you for the compliment.”

Alright, I thought, Apple Bloom wants a day with her friends, Scootaloo wants to do something cool, Socket probably just wants to get his mana engine working, and Melody wants to play with me. I don’t know what Life Bloom wants, but she already knows what my plan is kind of since we’re looping together. That just leaves…

***

“Rarity!” I said, bursting into my big sister's inspiration room as several rolls of cloth she was working with flew up into the air. My sister turned and glared at me.

“Yes, Sweetie Belle? What could be so urgent that you needed to disturb me while working?” Oops. I was so excited about giving her a perfect day, I kind of forgot her "don't bug me while I'm working" rule, although it wasn’t like this loop would count anyways.

“I was just wondering what your perfect day would be,” I said, sitting next to the door. My sister’s annoyance disappeared as soon as she had a chance to talk about what she liked.

“Hmm, my perfect day,” she said, tapping her chin, “I suppose it would start with breakfast in bed, perhaps some Prench toast with a dash of cinnamon, a fruit medley, and a glass of orange juice. Normally, I would prefer coffee, but in my ideal day, I’d be able to sleep in, and so, no coffee would be required. After breakfast, I would leisurely read through the paper, perhaps enjoying the company of one of my friends – probably not Pinkie, though, as my main hope would be to enjoy the sounds of silence, and Pinkie is antithetical to the idea of silence. Applejack would do nicely, hearing about her work on the farm is strangely captivating.”

I tried not to groan, she’d been talking forever and we still hadn’t reached noon of her perfect day. This was going to take way more work than the rest of my friends combined. “After that relaxing morning, I would naturally go to the spa.” Of course the spa was involved. This was my sister, it would be weirder if it wasn’t. “I’d order the ultra-deluxe package and spend the next several hours in the lap of luxury and comfort. After that, I’d love to take in one of the orchestra’s concerts, possibly with a special somepony.”

“But the orchestra isn’t playing today,” I said, frowning. “That doesn’t help me at all.”

“What do you mean, Sweetie Belle?” she asked, tilting her head. “You asked me to describe my ideal day, and I did. I didn’t know that this ‘perfect day’ had to be today. After all, it is almost sundown.”

“That’s the whole point,” I said, “I want to make today perfect for you, but I can’t just make the orchestra play tonight no matter what I do… I guess another performance would be okay but…” My ears perked up. “I think I have an idea, I’ll talk to you later Rarity.” There was a weird cry as I ran out of the room, like my big sister tried to say several things at once, followed by the sound of her head banging against her desk. She did that a lot when I was around for some reason. It didn’t matter though because I had a plan on how to get the bestest day ever for everypony, and the first things I had to do were learn how to actually cook and figure out just how long it would be until we could actually get out of the time loop.

***

“I haven’t found anything, Sweetie Belle,” Twilight said, frowning at me as the mana engine started to hum. We only had a few more minutes until it exploded and I was kind of hoping she’d figured out some way to break the loop. “Like I said, I’ve been taking some time off to read through the archives and it’s just been so exciting. The things I’ve learned about magical theory are just…”

She stopped and frowned at me. “If you want, I can start focusing more heavily on how to end the loops, but I must say I’m looking forward to reading through the next section of the archives, it focuses on how pre-tribal Equestrian history, very fun stuff.”

“I’m sure it is,” I said, “and I don’t want to find a way out just this instant, but I really want to give my friends and Rarity a nice day on the last loop, but to do that I need to know when the last loop is.”

“And how long do you think it will take to prepare everything?” Twilight asked, concern in her voice as the engines humming got louder. My other friends were checking out something in the clubhouse while we whispered beneath it. Even if they overheard us, it wouldn’t matter too much in about five minutes.

“Well, I have to learn how to cook, and if I’m going to be performing with Melody, I should probably practice singing and–”

“You’re going to learn how to cook?” Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow. I nodded at her.

“In that case, I think I have plenty of time to finish my reading. Life Bloom, how are you holding up?”

“Most of the tests I wished to conduct are now concluded; however, assisting Sweetie Belle is proving to be an interesting endeavor. Besides, interactions with Pinkie Pie are opening up future avenues of research,” Life Bloom said, pushing a stray hair behind her ear.

“I would… caution against that,” Twilight said. “I spent some time trying to ‘study’ Pinkie Pie when I first moved here and…” She shuddered. “It’s not something I would recommend, At this point it’s just easier and safer not to question her strange unexplained powers.”

“But I thought you were in favor of scientific inquiry,” Life Bloom said, frowning as the first cracks in the mana engine appeared. Was it just me or was it happening like… a teensy bit earlier than it used to? Maybe I should tell Twilight about that during some future loop, I thought as the engine exploded in another burst of white light, sending me back to the second Rarity knocked on my door. If I was going to get her perfect day right, I’d have to figure out how to wake up before her. Luckily, I had plenty of time to do so.

***

“Hey girls, how can I help you?” Pinkie asked as I walked into Sugarcube Corner.

“I’d like to learn how to cook,” I said, Life Bloom moving to stand behind me. “Nothing fancy, just… I’d like to be able to cook something kind of good.”

“Can do!” Pinkie said, giving me her usual smile. “Today’s kind of busy, so let’s start your training tomorrow.”

“Uhmm… actually, it’s kind of important that I get started today,” I said, my eyes darting down to the counter. “I’d be happy to come by after the shop has closed if you want.”

Pinkie “hmmmed” for a few seconds. “So, you want to learn how to cook and it’s important you start today… You’re stuck in a time loop aren’t you?”

“What?!” Life Bloom and I both yelled.

“Or a time whorl, whatever you call it. You know, the thing where you relive the same day over and over and over and over and over again.”

“I know what a time loop is,” Life Bloom said, grumbling. “I was mostly confused by how you could so quickly deduce that we were stuck in one.”

Pinkie laughed and patted Life Bloom on the head. “It’s simple, silly filly. Right before the shop opened this morning I got a rumbly-tummy blinky-eye poofy-mane Pinkie Sense combo, and that means that–”

“Don’t ask,” I said before Life Bloom could ask her question about the Pinkie Sense. “It’s… none of us really understand it.”

“Right,” Pinkie said, nodding her head as customers began to pile up behind us. “Anyways, that means that someone in Ponyville did a time spell, but I just figured Twilight was behind it again, so I wasn’t that bothered. But then, you came in here wanting to learn how to cook and said it was urgent, so I thought ‘Why would it be so urgent that she has to start today?’ and I remembered the time spell and thought ‘I bet they’re stuck in a groundhog loop and this is where they do the big self-improvement thing to become a better pony before the finale, and that’s why Sweetie wants to learn how to cook’. Am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Or am I right?”

“No… you’re… definitely right,” I said, slowly nodding my head. “So can you help me learn how to cook?”

“Sure!” Pinkie said. “I’d be happy too, and since you’re stuck in a loop, that means I can take time off from work to teach you how to cook.” She scratched her mane. “If this loop keeps resetting, then that should mean I can take the rest of the day off without anything bad happening, so step into my kitchen and let’s see what you’ve got. Ooh! I bet you’re going to be a great cook.” She stopped bouncing towards the kitchen for a second and turned to look at me. “Oh! And tomorrow when you come and visit, the password is ‘orange banana.’ It will let me know you are stuck in a time loop.”

“She actually planned for this?” Life Bloom said, shaking her head as we walked into the kitchen. “It… how?” I tried not to think too much about it and instead tried to think about how I was going to become the best cook ever.

***

The building was on fire and I wasn’t sure how it was my fault. I get that my cooking is kind of bad, but I wasn’t even using the oven. I was just mixing the cupcake batter and the bowl caught on fire. Now all of Sugarcube Corner was burning. It was… How was this even possible? “Okay,” Pinkie said, “next loop, tell me to bring a fire extinguisher.” She pinched my cheek. “Don’t worry Sweetie, with enough time you’ll be a great chef, and lucky for you, you have plenty of time.” Pinkie pulled a fire extinguisher out of her mane and bounced back into the blaze. “Tralalalala!”

Life Bloom looked at me. “Remind me next loop to question you about just how you could make dough spontaneously combust. Right now, there are far too many other impossible things for me to process.”

I nodded. Tomorrow would have to be better. It’s not like I could get any worse at cooking.

***

A deep voice speaking in the voice of a thousand tongues came from the rift that had suddenly opened from above my mixing bowl. The whole house shook as several tentacles and an eye came out of the portal. “This is… patently impossible,” Life Bloom said as the portal continued to grow. “How can anypony be so bad at cooking that they–”

“Uhmm… girls, maybe we should continue this conversation later. Or somewhere without a giant portal monster in it,” Pinkie said, looking at the thing coming out of the portal. “Maybe next loop, you should tell me to select all of the ingredients out beforehoof.”

“For eight-thousand years, we slumbered. Now, all of Equestria shall tremble,” a hundred voices sang in unison.

***

“Well,” Life Bloom said, looking at the blob crawling around on the kitchen cabinet, “I suppose spontaneous biogenesis is… better than opening a portal to the underworld. It still violates several known physical laws, though.”

“Feed me,” the cookie monster squeaked, oozing towards us.

“Oh my gosh,” Pinkie said, wrapping her forehooves around the squishy thing. “It’s so cute and blobby and…” She took a bite out of it, causing it to call for help. “Tasty! Mhmmm! This is the best living dough blob I’ve ever tasted.” Pinkie opened her mouth and the bit of dough crawled back to the rest of the blob struggling in her hooves. “You should totally make this for your sister, she’ll love it.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, taking a step back from Pinkie.

Life Bloom turned to me while Pinkie “played” with the cookie monster. “I believe it would be for the best if we took some time off from the cooking experiment.”

I nodded at her while the cookie dough blob wrapped itself around Pinkie. “That might be good.”

***

I sat in my room, trying to think of what I could do when I wasn’t practicing cooking. I’d been practicing it for almost a month, and I still wasn’t that much better at it. Maybe taking a few days off for fun would be good. What were some things I could… Ooh! I could try and set Scootaloo and Socket up, that might be fun. If they didn’t make a good couple, it would all just reset tomorrow, so really it was better for everypony. I nodded to myself as I put on my saddlebags and headed off to the treehouse.

The cooking isn’t even the hardest part about Rarity’s breakfast in bed, I thought, trying to plan out the perfect day as I walked to the clubhouse. If I want to get it fixed for her before she wakes up, I have to wake up earlier, and even though Life Bloom says the loop starts at 8:18, I can never wake up before 11:30, even if I try to. I suppose I can ask Life Bloom or Twilight to wake me up when the loop starts, but they’ll still have to get into my house without waking up Rarity. Maybe Twilight can teleport into my room, but Twilight says most unicorns would wake up if there's a lot of magic cast around them. Would her teleporting cause Rarity to wake up?

I sighed. Why did this have to be so hard? I had all the time in the universe, but I still couldn’t figure out how to make today perfect for my sister without doing something perfect. Everything else seemed easy in comparison.

“Sweetie, we have a problem,” Twilight said when I reached the clubhouse. “The rest of your friends are off getting something for me in town… I have some bad news.”

“What is it?” I asked, looking between her and the mana engine. “Ooh! Does it have something to do with the engine blowing up earlier than it used to?”

Twilight blinked and looked between me and Life Bloom. “You… knew? How did you know? I just started investigating my hunch a week ago! If you knew the loops were getting shorter, why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well… I didn’t know know, I just thought a few weeks ago that maybe I had a bit less time than I remembered,” I said as she stared at me. “I thought I was imagining things again, so I didn’t say anything.”

“I’m… I’m assuming this revelation will change our plans on how to proceed,” Life Bloom said, nervously fidgeting with her black glasses. I think it was the first time I’d actually seen her nervous about something, although some of those times I thought she was confused by something could’ve been nerves. Maybe she was confused and nervous when I opened that portal to another dimension.

“Yes… I mean, no,” Twilight said, pacing around the mana engine. “It obviously changes my plans, but the two of you can do what you want while I try to fix the time loop. I just wanted to let you know… Oh, Rarity is going to kill me if she finds out about this. Of course, if she finds out about this, then that means I got us out of the time loop, which means she will have no reason to kill me because I saved her sister and stopped time from collapsing in on itself.” She took a deep breath. “If I could use the elements, I could try pointing them at the engine and see if that worked, but…”

She kept talking to herself as she paced in circles. “So,” Life Bloom said, turning from Twilight to me, “what do you plan on doing now that our time loop is no longer infinite? I would assume this alters your plans in some way.”

“Not really,” I said, “I mean, if Twilight needs my help with something, I’m going to help, but until then, I have to do something.”

“And what is that something? Are you going back to baking?” Life Bloom asked, trotting up to the clubhouse. “Because if so, I might need to take a few days off to contemplate something saner, such as the drawings of M.P. Escher.”

“M.P. who?” I asked, following her up the clubhouse ramp. Twilight was still pacing below us. “And nope! I’m taking a few days off from baking to try to get Socket and Scootaloo to go out.”

Life Bloom froze immediately. “Why would you do that? Even if you succeeded, their relationship would end by the next loop.”

“Not if I set it up so they get together on the final loop. Rarity has her perfect day, Melody performs with me, Apple Bloom spends time with us, and Scootaloo and Socket–”

“Ooh! What about me?” Socket asked bounding up the stairs with the rest of my friends following behind him.

“Yeah, Sweetie, what were you about to say about Socket and me?” Scootaloo said, following behind him and glaring at me.

I smiled at her. The absolute best thing about time loops was that I could be completely honest with my friends and not have to worry about Scootaloo throwing stuff at me. “I was saying what a cute couple you are going to be.” I ducked as a stuffed animal flew through where my head was a second earlier. Scootaloo and Socket were both blushing and they looked absolutely adorable.

“I told you to drop that,” Scootaloo said, getting upset. “Why do you think that everypony needs to be in a relationship to be happy? I mean, yes, I like Socket, he’s totally cool, and if I wanted to date a colt, I’d date him, but I don’t want to date a colt right now.”

“What about Apple Bloom?” I asked, smiling at Scootaloo while she looked absolutely horrified. “I mean, if you prefer fillies, you and Apple Bloom would be kind of cute. Not as cute as you and Socket, but still pretty cute.”

Everypony in the room stared at me, and for a moment, the only thing we could hear was Twilight talking to herself in the background. Scootaloo gritted her teeth. “That’s not what I meant. I don’t want to date either Apple Bloom or Socket or anypony else you want to set me up with. Do you understand?”

“Why not?” I asked, frowning at her. “There has to be somepony out there you like, we’re practically teenagers now, and teenagers date and have crushes.”

“Then what about you?” Scootaloo asked, still glaring at me. “You want to set us up with everypony else, but you never seem even a little interested in anypony. How would you like it if I tried to set you up with Melody?”

“That would be silly because she’s just a friend, right Melody?” I said, looking to her She made a small nod to agree with me.

“Of course, Sweetie Belle,” Melody said softly, looking down at the ground. “Whatever you want.”

“See!” I said. “So setting us up would just be dumb, there’s no chemistry there. But you and Socket, you two have chemistry.”

“Actually,” Socket said, “I’m not particularly interested in Scootaloo either. No, if I had to date, it would definitely be Life Bloom.”

“What?” I squeaked. “But you two hardly spend any time together. You’d make a terrible couple.”

Socket flicked his wings in irritation. “You don’t know that, yeah we don’t spend much time together, but she has this cool smart-girl-in-glasses vibe, and with her skill in biology and mine in engineering we could create some really cool stuff.”

“That’s what I mean,” I said, getting upset with Socket for his clearly wrong taste in women (not that Life Bloom was bad, she was just bad for him). “You and Scootaloo both like cool stuff, you’d make a great couple.”

“Certainly a better couple than me and Socket,” Life Bloom said. “Besides, my interest don’t run in his direction, I’d much prefer dating Apple Bloom as I believe our similar interests lead to the greatest likelihood of a happy relationship, and I find her rustic demeanor charming.”

“Thank you,” I said. “You and Apple Bloom make a good couple. The smart city mare and the earnest hard-working farm girl, you two would be so adorable.”

“Well, maybe," Apple Bloom said, "but I’m way more interested in Socket than I am Life Bloom. No offense, LB, it’s just… Socket is funny and you’re always so serious all the time. And, he’s super hard-working.”

I groaned. “Do you realize how terrible this is? We have a love triangle and nopony likes the pony who likes them. Even if I get one of you to like the pony who likes you, that still leaves somepony out. Scootaloo, Melody, do you have a crush on anypony in this room?”

After a minute, they both said no. I think maybe Melody might’ve been lying, but I’d still have to figure out who she had a crush on, and that would take time away from planning Rarity’s perfect day, and now I actually had to worry about time.

Life Bloom gave a sigh. “I’d like to be alone for the remainder of the day. I will speak with you about this tomorrow, Sweetie Belle.” She turned and headed out towards the door.

A moment later Apple Bloom ran out after her friend, “Life Bloom, wait, I like ya just fine, I just… we only met a week ago, and just because I don’t like like you, doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You’re one o’ my best friends, I just don’ feel romantically for ya.”

“Uhmm… I should probably go check on the engine,” Socket said, frowning as he shuffled out of the clubhouse. “Good talk, though.”

“I… I think I should go,” Melody said, getting up on her hooves to follow him. “Uhmm… I might not see you girls for the next few days, I just want to spend a bit of time by myself.”

“Good job, Sweetie,” Scootaloo said, her wings buzzing, “now all our friends are upset with each other because you just can’t leave well enough alone. I get that you like imagining ponies as couples and stuff, but you… stop playing matchmaker. If you want to set anypony up on a date, set yourself up.”

“And who would I do that with?” I asked. “Nopony has a crush on me.”

Scootaloo laughed and turned towards the door. “Wow, if you think that, you’re worse at matchmaking than I thought, and I think you are really bad at matchmaking.” She left the clubhouse, leaving me alone to try and figure out how I could fix this during the next few loops. Apologizing to Life Bloom would probably be a really good start though.

***

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” I said, sitting next to Life Bloom. “I didn’t want anything bad to happen.”

She sighed. “I’m aware of your intentions, what I’m not sure of is why you insist on pairing your friends with each other.”

“Because I want them to be happy,” I said. It really wasn’t that hard to understand, ponies in love were happy, and I wanted my friends to be as happy as possible. That meant making them fall in love. “All I want is for my friends to be happy and love each other.”

“And so you try to make sure we’re all in a relationship,” Life Bloom said, nodding her head. “I can see the reasoning behind your actions, even if it’s erroneous.”

I tilted my head. “Er-ro-ne-ous?”

Life Bloom shook her head. “Wrong. What happiness did you create yesterday? Everypony left that clubhouse with hurt feelings and they entered with none. Your desire to pair your friends might have been detrimental to your friendship with them if we weren’t stuck in a time loop. Instead, only the two of us are aware of the convoluted love triangle that runs in the group of our friends. A love triangle that I apparently am a point in.” She frowned and when she talked again there was a bit of actual sadness in her voice. “I suppose it’s my own fault for growing infatuated with Apple Bloom after only a few months.”

“A few months?” I asked. “But you only really knew each other for a week.”

“I am aware, during some of the earlier loops, I tried to spend time with Apple Bloom, and I suppose it was there I first became aware of my infatuation.” Life Bloom was… I really liked her, but I didn’t understand her half the time, and my friends thought I was a dictionary. “Seeing her forget everything we discussed the day prior over and over was… unpleasant, so I decided to spend time with a pony who would actually remember me.” She turned and gave me a smile. “I’m glad I did, you’ve proven more interesting than I originally imagined.” Life Bloom laughed for the first time in… I think it was ever, actually. I didn’t even think she could laugh. “Even if your cooking makes me doubt my sanity.”

“Ooh! Want to do a bit more cooking practice today. Maybe if we’re lucky, I won’t destroy the town.”

***

“Congratulations,” Life Bloom said, looking at the burnt tray of muffins after I dragged her from the clubhouse to Sugarcube Corner to look at what I’d done, “you’ve managed to make food that isn’t impossibly bad. Just normally bad.”

“Thanks!” I said, taking a bite of the blackened muffin. It tasted like ash. “It… I think it might take a while before I can make food that is really good.”

“You’ll get there, Sweetie,” Pinkie said. “We all were pretty rough cooks our first few times. How many loops have you been practicing?”

“Two entire months,” Life Bloom said, sniffing one of the muffins before throwing it in the trash. “One of which was spent with me questioning my sanity due to a combination of your and her reality-bending antics. Seeing her fix muffins that look like something a pony could conceivably cook is something of a triumph. I’m actually glad Sweetie pulled me away from the clubhouse to show this.” She took another sniff of my muffins. “These were supposed to be muffins, correct?”

I nodded. “Yep! It’s so cool, I wanted to make muffins and I made muffins and the town isn’t on fire. Do you think I can get good at cooking before we get out of here.”

“Well, based on Twilight’s estimates of decay, we still have plenty of time in the loop. She is trying to run scans that would normally take three weeks to complete, but the constant interruptions means she is having to find a way to condense a three-week scan into one day, meaning I’d estimate we have at least a few more months looping. So… possibly.”

Twilight had already told me all that stuff, but I didn’t want to embarrass Life Bloom, so I just nodded at her and smiled. “That’s really good to know, thanks for telling me, so… since we’re going to be here a bit longer, what do you want to do?”

She shrugged and took a seat next to the cooking table where my muffins sat. “I plan on spending time with you when I’m not running experiments. Truthfully, at this point, the novelty of infinitely repeating the same day is wearing off, especially since we now have an expiration date.”

“You know what you should do?” I asked, feeling my voice squeak. “You should get to learn more about Apple Bloom. You still like her right?”

Life Bloom nodded and I heard Pinkie make a loud squeaking noise. “So you should totally go after her, or at the very least try to learn more about her so you can figure out if you really like her or just… like the idea of liking her,” I said. That sounded right, I remember Rarity telling me about how she was so in love with the idea of marrying a prince that she didn’t notice who Prince Blueblood actually was.

‘That sounds… like a good idea. Perhaps I could inquire more about her likes and dislikes and try to divine just what she sees in Socket,” she said, nodding her head and absent-mindedly taking a nibble of my muffin. A second later she was gagging into a nearby garbage bin. “Why?!” she asked. “Why did I think… I wasn’t thinking. It’s the only reasonable explanation.” There was another gag. “No, I was thinking, just not about my immediate surroundings. Instead, I was thinking about theoretical dates with Apple Bloom.”

“Ooh! Any good ideas?” I asked, the thought of them dating making me jump in the air. “Tell me! I can help you plan your first date.”

“Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?” she asked. “Right now Apple Bloom doesn’t harbor any romantic feelings towards me, and more importantly, we don’t know if she’s a fillyfooler or not.”

“Is that the word for mares who like other mares?” I asked, sitting back down. “Because I thought it was just like… a preference. You know, like how I prefer milkshakes, but I also like cupcakes.”

“Heretic! Pinkie screamed, suddenly popping up in front of me. “And to think, I taught you the secret of making muffins. Well, I know somepony who won’t be getting a cupcake for her birthday.”

“But I still like cupcakes, I just prefer milkshakes,” I said, taking a step away from my cooking teacher. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Oh, I know what you meant,” Pinkie said, pacing around me in a circle. “That’s why you’ll be getting a complimentary birthday milkshake instead of a cupcake. Or… at least you will if you tell me this after you get out of the loop. Otherwise, cupcakes it is.”

I smiled at her. “Thanks, Pinkie, I thought you were mad at me.”

She laughed hysterically and was soon giggling in a ball on the floor. “Me? Mad?” she said between laughs. “Never! Well, unless you were a big Nasty McNasterson or broke a Pinkie Promise. But because you prefer milkshakes to cupcakes? That would just be silly.”

“Of course,” Life Bloom said, sighing and tapping the side of her glasses. “To answer your earlier statement, yes Apple Bloom’s ‘tastes’ in this particular issue matter. To compound things, my readings on juvenile psychology and romance indicate that any false step in my relationship with Apple Bloom could leave lasting psychological scars for both parties. I don’t want that to happen.” I stared at her in confusion, hoping she would explain some more. “When I… first noticed my romantic feelings, I did some reading on the subject matter to properly understand myself.”

“I was actually more confused about just what you meant about… anything. What does all that have to do with figuring out what Apple Bloom wants in a pony?” Life Bloom was…. she was a really good friend, but if I spent too long talking to her, I started feeling like I had a really bad ice cream headache.

“Everything! I have to first ascertain if she could even consider the possibility of dating a filly, and then figure out what I can do to make myself seem like a more viable mate in her estimation.” Her pupils got a bit smaller and a hair popped out of place. Apparently she and Twilight both freaked out in the same way.

“Can I give you a teensy bit of advice,” I said, hoping to calm her down. She nodded at me. “Well, when we had the big fight at the clubhouse a few dozen loops ago, she said you were serious all the time, and she liked that Socket was… well, he isn’t funny exactly, but he’s way more…” I tried to think of the right word. “Accessible. When I’m talking with you, a part of me keeps feeling like I’m talking with a doctor, and nopony wants to date a doctor.”

“The doctors I have known are generally happily married. Certainly, it seems implausible that nopony would want to date a doctor; by most societal metrics, they are very successful.”

“Yeah, okay,” I said, barely understanding what she had said, “but most doctors can stop acting like doctors when they aren’t working. They’re casual and friendly like everypony else. You don’t do that, though, you’re always acting like the world is some sort of experiment and you have to take notes. So maybe you should try being just a teensy bit more casual. Don’t change yourself, just let her see you with your mane down.”

She slowly nodded. “An interesting hypothes– idea. Still, I’m not sure how to go about acting informally. My parents spent quite a bit of time teaching me proper scientific protocol.”

“Do you want me to teach you how to act casually?” I asked. “I think we still have enough time.”

“That would be… Thank you, Sweetie Belle.”

“It’s no problem,” I said. “I think we still have plenty of time left, and if I can learn how to cook, then you can definitely learn how to be more relaxed. The first thing is–” I stopped talking as I realized Pinkie was still staring at us.

“Ooh! This is going to be so fun,” she said, “I’m totally rooting for you, Life Bloom. Can I help? Please?”

“Uhmm… sure,” I said, glancing down at the floor and feeling really confused. Pinkie knew pretty much everything there was to know about making friends, but she could also be… a little out there.

“First thing is, you do need to relax, at least a little. You shouldn’t start acting like me, because I’m not you so you shouldn’t be like me, you need to be you… It’s like Tavi. She came to Ponyville as Octavia, and now practically nopony calls her that. She’s still her, but she knows how to unwind and be at least a little teeny bit fun when she’s out with other ponies. Like last week, we had this big party, and she actually showed up and had a kind of good time. When she first moved here, she would’ve never done that,” Pinkie said, talking at a pretty slow pace for her (still really fast). “Am I making any sense?”

Life Bloom nodded. “I think so… Be me, but relaxed. My problem is, how I can actually do that. Thinking in non-clinical terms is difficult for me.”

Pinkie tapped her chin. “Maybe we shouldn’t focus on that, first… You want to get Apple Bloom to like you, so maybe you should figure out what she likes and try doing that with her. Tavi didn’t get to be all casual by just deciding to be casual, she got there by getting to know other ponies and spending time with them.” She winked at Life Bloom. “Do it enough, and the casual kind of rubs off on you.” Huh, Pinkie was pretty much saying everything I planned on saying.

“That actually makes a degree of sense,” Life Bloom eventually said. “And spending more time with Apple Bloom in the loop will allow me to assess our compatability.”

“Just don’t think of this as an experiment,” Pinkie and I both said. Was she reading my mind? I gave her a worried glance, but she just had her usual happy smile on her face.

Pinkie patted Life Bloom. “You’ll do great, and if you need any help, just ask Sweetie Belle. Even though it might not seem like it, we think a lot alike.”

“I do!?” I asked, totally shocked. Pinkie was the craziest pony in town, and I… okay, I could be a little odd at times, but I wasn’t that crazy, was I?

“Sure,” she said, giggling. “You’re spending the time loop trying to make your friends happy, and that’s the same thing I’d do. You could do pretty much anything and what was your first thought? To have as much fun with your friends as possible. That’s totally Grade-A Pinkie Pie behavior. The only way it could be even Pinkier is if you threw a party, but parties totally aren’t you, Sweetie Belle. We both want to make ponies happy, we just have different ways of doing it.”

“And what’s my way?” I asked. It was kind of… Pinkie made a good point, I just never thought I was like her. If I was like anypony, it would have to be my big sister. We both liked art stuff and… we had other stuff in common too.

“Perrr-forrrr-ming,” she said, laughing. “Singing and acting on stage is absolutely one of the best ways to make lots of ponies happy. Just don’t do sad songs or plays, I don’t like those.”

“I didn’t plan on it,” I said, “I never watch sad plays, I like happy musicals.”

“Me too!” Pinkie said, giving another snort of laughter. “See, Life Bloom, if you have a question, just ask Sweetie Belle and she will pretty much tell you the same thing I would tell you. Ooh! I wonder if you could ever use the Element of Laughter.” She paused and tapped her chin. “No, you’d need five friends who each have a connection to one of the elements, and what are the odds of that?” There was another round of laughing from her, while Life Bloom and I glanced at each other.

“Well,” Life Bloom said, nodding her head, “thank you for the advice, and if I require any more, I will talk with Sweetie Belle. Our talks are always interesting.”

“Happy to help,” she said, bouncing up and down. “I’m sure I’ll see you all again for the big final loop… Ooh, it’s so exciting I can hardly wait.”

“But… you won’t remember this loop when the final loop happens,” I said, frowning as I headed out of the bakery.

“Oh, right,” she said, stopping her bouncing. “Well, I’m sure I’ll love it anyways, I mean, it’s the final loop, just the thought of it’s so exciting I don’t know what to do with myself. Eee! I can’t wait.”

“Neither can I,” Life Bloom muttered as we left the bakery.

“So,” I said as we trotted towards the clubhouse, “do you really think I’m like her? I mean, I don’t think I’m that out there.”

“Out of our group of six friends, you are certainly the most eccentric and the most concerned with their happiness. Your first thought when you realized we were stuck in a time loop was to have as much fun with your friends as possible, and you then moved on to trying to give them the best day ever. From my understanding of Pinkie Pie, that fits with what she would do.”

I laughed. “Hey, we do have six friends, do you think there’s any chance the rest of them have an element?”

She shook her head. “Not likely, considering neither of us are particularly magically talented. Perhaps if I was some magical prodigy like Twilight Sparkle, the comparison would work, but I’ve never been particularly adept at the arcane arts.”

“You’re right, we would need another unicorn, because you’re definitely more an Honesty than a Magic,” I said as we walked to the exit of town.

“Really?” Life Bloom asked, tilting her head. “What makes you think that?”

“You said you didn’t think I was a good actress,” I said. “That seems pretty honest to me, and… thanks for telling me that, by the way. It wasn’t fun to hear, but I definitely think it helped me. Maybe my singing lessons in the loop will go better than my attempts at acting…” I thought of the first play I wrote. “I don’t think it can go worse.”

Life Bloom gave me a teeny-tiny smile. That was progress, right? “I’m glad to hear that, and yes, honesty should be a virtue for any aspiring scientist. If we don’t accurately report our findings, the whole scientific process will break down.”

“Well, that’s something you have in common with Apple Bloom. Her big sister’s the Element of Honesty, and she loves her big sister.”

Life Bloom used her magic to adjust her glasses. “Really? That connection is certainly interesting, and the romantic in me says that this connection has the feeling of destiny to it.”

I stopped and wrinkled my forehead, trying to make sure I’d heard her write. “Wait, did you say there’s a romantic in you?”

She turned back to face me and gave me a nod. “Indeed, I generally try to avoid letting her out as such thinking is antithetical to scientific impartiality, but… yes, I do find myself working to counter my belief that things were meant to be.”

“That’s great!” I said, suddenly beaming. “You should let that side of you out more often. I get that it’s bad when you’re doing sciencey stuff, but is it that bad to let it out when you’re with friends?”

“Perhaps not,” she said, her teeny-tiny smile returning. “It would be nice to speak figuratively once in a while and discuss a few matters of the heart.”

“Ooh! I bet Apple Bloom will really like that,” I said as we left Ponyville’s outskirts.

She laughed. “I hope you’re right, Sweetie Belle.”

Author's Note:

Two chapters in two days. To answer your questions, Chapter 3 was written in bulk and is now being split up so you don't have a 26,000 word monster chapter to deal with (although I don't plan on breaking up Chapter 4 which is 16,000 words). Anyways, hope you enjoy and comments are always fun to read through.

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