• Published 24th Apr 2012
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Ponies on Bronies - Ravenmane



Shenanigans return to a familiar house that sits on a hill overlooking the Everfree Forest

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5 - Foreign Studies

The clock tower hasn’t been too difficult to maintain actually. The quirks and general mechanics were actually very similar to my own clock, just… well… bigger. I just have to remember to get up at the crack of dawn and work on it until nearly noon. Wednesday’s different however. I get out early to visit Cheerilee’s class and try to come off as awesome just as much as peaceful and composed. I’ve been preparing for this since Twilight and I got on the train out of Canterlot.

“Ahm’ sure you’ll be nice enough to get a nice view,” said Applebloom while I fiddled with a stubborn cog. She’s been visiting since Sunday, making sure I can keep my attitude in line. Part of me knows she has an ulterior motive, I know those three fillies well enough; show wise at least, to know she has some other reason to be here.

“I know Applebloom,” I replied. “Three eighth’s wrench please.” I held out my hand and she tossed me the wrench in question. I had to shut the clock down today and do some general maintenance. Where I’m working, hanging around like this, I couldn’t bring everything with me. It’s thanks to Applebloom that I’m able to get things like this done. If the clock was running there would be nothing safe about what I was doing, if something was caught somewhere and I couldn’t see if that was the case from the ground or a gangway.

I leaned out from my workplace in the mechanism. “How about you pass me the oilcan?”

“My, what’s wrong in there?” Question or not Applebloom passed the can along when I lowered myself down enough.

“Not sure just yet, but something’s clogging in here so I had to stop the clock while I’m making repairs and giving it the once over.”

“Could it be a bat or somethin’?”

“I don’t think a bat could do a lot of damage to something this big, but I still have the parts on the other side of the rafters to get to.”

“Climbin’ around a clock sounds cool enough to impress someponies Alex.” She leaned over, keeping me in sight as much as possible. “Ahm’ saying you’ll be fine, just don’t let Diamond Tiara get on yet nerves.”

“Someponies,” I flat out hit a gear with all my strength and, to my surprise, it jostled into place. “Someponies need to stop jumping to conclusions,” I started to make my way up and around to other parts, “while others need to get over themselves.” I poked my head out from high above her. “Got it?”

“Land sakes,” she said as she found my greasy face, “you sure are high up. What if you slip?”

“I’m gonna be in a whole lot of pain. There’s plenty of stuff in my way before the floor. It’s also, why I keep myself tied to something, so I don’t fall that far. Let’s see,” I checked the part I was working on, “I’ll send down some rope and I’ll need the mallet ready for me when I come down.” She gave me a salute and went to fetch the mallet while I fastened my line securely for my descent.

“Ere it ish,” she said once I got close.

“Thank you,” I said as I took the mallet. I could honestly see a unicorn doing most of this as long as they have the eye for detail that Rarity has, without her obsessive cleanliness of course. From what I could see so far was that parts just weren’t in place anymore. I think the mayor just couldn’t afford to pay both a unicorn and a pegasus for the job.

“Hey there Applebloom,” came a spunky voice after I went back to work. “Think you’re going to get some sort of mechanic cutie mark?”

Hearing ‘mechanic’ and ‘cutie mark’ was enough for me to poke my head out again. My eye twitched as I saw the small orange pegasus. Scootaloo, I thought. Now where’s Sweetie Belle?

“Ahm, just helpin’ Alex do his job. He’s gotta get the clock workin’ so he can come to our class tomorrow. Just don’t touch anything Scootaloo, that’s a long drop since he doesn’t have wings.”

I still didn’t see the third member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders anywhere and that made me really nervous. Over the previous week, I never saw two of them without the third close by. “I’m going to finish this part up here Applebloom, then I’ll come down and we can give it a try.” I didn’t manage to hear if she replied once I went back to it. Everything aside, there were a few gears that were falling out of place so far. As I went down the mechanism, I double-checked my work. Everything was back in place and ready for a test run.

Once my feet were back on the stable floor I saw Sweetie Belle staring up at me. “Woah,” she said with excitement mixed in with her cross glance, “you’re a real mess. You’re not going to show up to class like that are you?” In the absence of her sister, she seemed to take after Rarity sometimes.

“I hope not Sweetie Belle,” I gave one good tug on the rope and it fell to the ground. As I went to set the mechanism back into motion we were joined by Applebloom, carrying my toolbox on her back, and Scootaloo, who had my oilcan balanced precariously on her head. “I doubt you girls will get your cutie marks helping me, unless they’re about getting messy. If that’s the case I would suggest tree sap. It’s probably a lot easier to clean out than grease and oil.”

Applebloom tilted her head around to the mechanism, looking for some sign of it not working. “Ahm ready Alex.”

“Alright,” I said cautiously. I had the clock operating twice today, but not for long. The first time was before Applebloom showed up and we had it running for a few minutes about an hour later. Gradually everything began moving again, bringing a grin to both Applebloom’s face and mine. “I’ll have to stop it now, but it looks like everything’s set. I’ve got about an hour until I can start it properly.” I grabbed the oilcan off Scootaloo’s head and brought it into my workroom, placing it with all of the tools I had on me and the large coil of rope I used.

If something seriously wrong happens, this job’s going to be disastrous. I don’t want to be working on it when something like that happens. Could always be worse, it could’ve been some crazy steampunk stylized clock.

~~~~~

I returned the next day and everything was perfect. “Let’s see breakfast, check; hair, check; clock not broken?” I looked around checking everything about the mechanism, “check.”

“Steamy make-out session in your office,” asked a voice behind me.

I slowly cranked my head around to see a purple hued parchment hovering in place. “Twilight,” I asked nervously. “Can this wait Twilight? I have to go to the school in a few hours.”

“And I have to get it checked off,” she replied with a purr.

On one hoof, I have a few hours and I know she can get testy when it comes to what she wants. On the other hoof, I have somewhere to go and I want to look presentable. Now, on the other, other hoof… wait other other, I don’t have four legs!

I gulped hard and tried to back up, only to find myself against the wall. “Twilight, how long can I have before it’s the only thing left?”

She was slowly approaching, and I could only imagine what kind of smirk was on her face. “It’s the-”

“Hey,” roared Rainbow Dash as she flew in through a hatch on one of the clock’s faces. “Get your hooves off him! We had a deal!”

“Run along to your clouds Rainbow,” the unicorn snapped, “he was together with me back in Canterlot.”

“No she wasn’t,” I objected nervously.

“Good,” added the daredevil with a smirk. “Don’t forget, I told him first Twilight.”

~~~~~

I was returned to the waking world in an instant, as my face met the floor. After assessing the lump on my head, I realized it isn’t even morning yet. The sun won’t be rising for another hour or two, but I’m wide-awake now.

Nervously I made my way into the bathroom and stare at my reflection, and saw that it wasn’t too bad. “Well, that was creepy,” I told my reflection.

Naturally,” I could swear it responded.

I left to go and start a pot of coffee. I’ve had little moments like that since Canterlot. On Sunday I spent about an hour at my mirror, swearing it answered my every question. Then there were the dreams. Each dream like that felt real enough, but I always woke up right before she, for lack of better words, pounced.

With the aroma of coffee wafting through my nostrils words floated through my ears. The dreams were always about Twilight, one of her checklists, and interrupting my work. The first two nights it was just “let’s go on a date,” Monday night it was just “sneak a kiss at work,” but last night, the most recent, was far past that. I wouldn’t have minded if Monday night actually finished itself though. “Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,” I said before adding a sugar cube to my coffee. “Any day of the weekend would be a nice day for a date. I’ll have to ask Rainbow about the weather for the weekend.”

The Weather Channel on my TV, which seemed to get the Weather Channel exclusively, showed the weather for Canterlot, Manehattan, Las Pegasus, Fillydelphia, and oddly enough Cloudsdale. Is Ponyville not worthy of these silly looking felt weather markers? Checking the weather on my computer proved useless as well, showing Earth’s weather just defeated the purpose.

It was still part of my routine to check my computer for things. My horoscope for a cheap laugh, my overflowing inbox of hate mail, the daily weather, and any missed news. Strangely enough, I got the Manehattan Times, the Canterlot Post, and Equestria Today on my computer after I set up a new e-mail address. I also got the Foal Free Press but I flagged it as spam so I never had to deal with it. After scanning the papers, and humoring myself with the Foal Free Press for once, I found one particular article in the Canterlot Post.

Humans Exist!
Lyra Heartstrings, resident of Ponyville, has been proved correct about her formerly outlandish theories about humans. Miss Heartstrings, who refused to comment, is rumored to be close to Alexander, human resident of Ponyville. Alexander was unavailable for comment, but he was seen by Wing Sheer, a soldier of the Canterlot city guard. “I saw the human at the train station conversing with Shining Armor before he departed for Ponyville.” See page 4 for more.

“I don’t know if Twilight’s seen this yet,” I took a sip of my coffee, “could be trouble.”

A pot of coffee, a cold shower, a second pot, and I was still groggy, but at least I wasn’t irritable. I dressed calmly, packing a change of clothes in case I had to get messy. With a yawn, I locked the door behind me and went to work, praying the loud workings of the clock would wake me further.

*****

After making a few adjustments on the clock, the usual complications, I saw Twilight coming up the stairs. I was up on one of the gangplanks working but she teleported up to me. “Have you seen the Canterlot Post today?”

“Yeah, is something going to happen to your brother because of that?”

“I don’t think so, but at least nopony’s talked to the press. I had Spike send a letter to Princess Celestia regarding the guard that was quoted in the article.”

I checked over one particular part of the mechanism, part that often proved itself to be a chore. “I’m just happy Lyra’s not talking. Not too pleased with that they were implying though.”

“You’re not the only one,” Twilight leaned up against me, using my body as support to stay on her hind legs. “Rainbow and I agree,” she stared into my eyes, “you’re too good for Lyra.” Her eyes were like giant violet pools I could just dive into and lose myself forever.

I smiled as I snapped out of my daze and gave her a quick kiss. “What’s the weather like over the weekend? I was thinking we might go on a date sometime.”

“While you’re being a nice guy in school I’ll find out. If it’s raining we could just stay inside for our date.” Twilight’s face was flushed just from saying it.

I gave her a warm smile. “Just you and me,” I paused and ran my hand down her spine. “All alone under the rain,” I knew I was getting a little red myself but I loved how embarrassed she was.

“Shouldn’t we um, shouldn’t we slow our relationship down a little,” she said in a fluster. “Or at least could you see if you and Rainbow have more common ground?”

“You’re just filling in the blanks on your own Twilight. But,” I tried to maintain my composure, “I’ve been having dreams of you coming here. Interrupting my work and desiring my undivided attention. Moments just like now.”

She just absentmindedly nodded, “I’ll check on the weather. Just… just try and relax when you sleep for the time being, okay Alex?”

“I’ll try and keep the more steamy romantic dreams out of my head. The nice ones, like a tender kiss, I can live with.”

Twilight pulled away from me, her face filled with shock. “They get steamier than that?”

“Entering with a one entry checklist and purring enticingly. At least that time Dash barged in and threw a fit that got you to back off.”

Twilight just gave me a vacant nod. “I think I’ll need to lie down a little before I look for Rainbow Dash.”

I gave her a smirk. “At least until you’re less red than lavender?”

She gave me a nervous look. “Is it really bad?”

“You could pass for a light bulb Twilight.”

Twilight withdrew from my sight, off to a different part of the clock tower to calm down unless she slipped past me. After a few more hours, it was time for me to wash up and get redressed to meet Cheerilee’s class.

*****

“Now calm down my little ponies,” said Cheerilee warmly to her class. “Today we get to meet Alex; he’s been in town for nearly two weeks and let’s help him feel welcome.”

That was my cue to duck through the doorway and meet the class. Applebloom and her friends gave me a wave, which lifted my spirits a bit. “Hello everypony,” I said as relaxed as I could. “Just as Miss Cheerilee said, my name is Alex and I’m staying here in Ponyville.”

I heard a scoff from the front row from little miss prissy herself. “So this is the human in town?”

“I understand your father was a little disappointed that he couldn’t sell me anything Diamond Tiara,” I said in a very calm and even tone, “but that doesn’t give you the right to act immature.” Her rebuttal seemed to stick in her mouth as I gave her a gentle smile.

“How about you tell the class a little about yourself Alex,” suggested Cheerilee.

“Oh yeah,” said Featherweight excitedly, “so, what do you do Alex?”

My eyes were immediately drawn to the sound of his voice. In the name of Equestria, I thought, that colt needs some food ASAP. “I maintain the clock tower. Not a lot of ponies may think much of the job, but I wonder what your lives would be like if you had no way to tell time. You’d rely on the sun and the moon to tell you more than if it was day or night. Was it afternoon? Did I oversleep? I work my hardest to make sure everypony doesn’t worry about questions like that.”

I caught Sweetie Belle’s hoof in the air next. “Um, Alex I was wondering if humans have cutie marks.”

I sighed and gave her an empathic look. “No we don’t, humans have to figure out what they’re good at and often times that changes as they get older. We have to adapt a lot faster than any of you has to. Our world changes quickly and often we have to be able to change with it.” I knew somepony would ask that question and thanks to the Crusaders coaching, I was able to answer it without a problem. I was even happier that Sweetie was willing to ask the question, she asked the most out of all three of them.

“Well, if things change so much how long are humans in school?”

“When you’re young it seems like you’ll be in school forever, but when you finish your mandatory schooling and if you head to a trade school or college it doesn’t seem like it was that long anymore. When I went to college, my time there seemed to go by so fast, but I also had things to take care of. My parents were really ill and I spent a lot of time taking care of them and that slowed down my time in college. Regardless of what your job is you have to keep up with how things are changing or you’ll get left behind.”

“Is there anything cool about your job?”

My ear perked at the question, but I was surprised that it wasn’t Scootaloo who asked. Scootaloo looked furious that somepony beat her to her question, glaring intently at the colt who said it. “I don’t recommend a lot of the things I do while I repair the clock, so I’d rather avoid mentioning them. I don’t want somepony to imitate what I have to do to get my job done. What I have to do is make sure the clock faces are all working and clean the outsides of them. I have to do all of that every day and since I’m not a unicorn I can’t use magic and I’m not a pegasus so I can’t fly either. It’s hard work, but I’m getting really good at it.”

I continued to talk to the class for a few hours about various things. It seemed to be random at least as far as who was asking a question, let alone the topic. Diamond Tiara didn’t seem to forget that quip and chose to keep her mouth shut for the rest of my time there.

“Alright everyone, it’s time I get back to work.” My words were met with plenty of disappointed groans and sad faces. “Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m leaving Equestria or anything. I just have other things to do today, but feel free to come and see me sometime if you’d like. I’d just like it if you let me sleep in on the weekends when I have time off.”

“Thank you for coming by Alex,” said Cheerilee warmly.

“Always a pleasure,” I said before cranking my head down again so I didn’t end up with a lump on my head from the door frame.