• Published 28th Apr 2017
  • 1,293 Views, 16 Comments

Counterparts - SpaceCommie

Twilight is being pestered by time-traveling clones of herself, all of whom are entirely too interested in her. It's up to Rarity to figure this out. Or try, anyways.

  • ...

My Idea of Good Company

"It's just that it’s kind of... awkward," Twilight said, staring past Rarity, past the everyday din and bustle of the cafe in its early afternoon rush. She didn't raise her voice past a near-whisper.

And while Twilight and Rarity were sitting down for what had seemed like a perfectly ordinary lunch get-together, there was more nervousness behind Twilight's eyes than Rarity had seen for a long time.

"If that's the case, dear," Rarity said, "why don't we go somewhere more... private for this discussion?"

"I can't," Twilight hissed in a low whisper.

Rarity was a bit taken aback, her mouth opening slightly, but she quickly regained her composure. "I understand completely, darling."

A lie, but a necessary one, at least at this point. "So," Rarity continued, "what seems to be troubling you?"

Twilight looked up towards the sky, her eyes not focused on anything in particular. It was a familiar expression; she was sorting through an array of possible options. No doubt wondering, at this point, how to explain her situation to Rarity.

"I wouldn't be bothering you about this if it weren't completely necessary," Twilight started.

"Naturally," Rarity said, with a practiced smile.

"And you're so good at... figuring this kind of thing out."

A slight falter in that practiced smile. Twilight was, despite a great deal of progress, still prone to the occasional social mishap, and addressing them usually called for a great deal of finesse and only somewhat less patience. "I'm listening, darling," Rarity said.

"What I'm wondering," Twilight said, deliberately, as if she had chosen these words beforehand, "is how exactly you tell someone you're not interested in them."

Rarity's mouth opened in a wide O, and quietly gasped. "Is this Caramel again, Twilight? I thought for sure he had gotten the hint, but perhaps--"

"No, it's not that," Twilight said, looking suddenly very tired. "It's sort of..."

There was a bright flash next to Rarity, a pop, a stench of ozone, and Twilight Sparkle stood next to her. But Twilight was still on the other side of the table, wasn't she? Yes, she was.

The not-Twilight, then, looked at Rarity and smiled nervously, then turned towards her opposite number. "Oh, hi Twilight!" the copy said brightly. "Listen, you’re not interested in having sex with me in the next few minutes, are you?"

Twilight lowered her head onto the table, face against the wood.

The copy looked mildly disappointed, a slight frown on her face. "Oh well, guess that's a no. It was nice seeing you, Rarity!"

Another flash, another pop, a fresh acrid scent, and the other Twilight was gone.

Rarity didn't say anything for a second, just looked at her friend across the little table. "I think you had better tell me the whole story."

Twilight groaned. "Yup."

“In private.”

Twilight sighed. “I guess so.”

"It started out as an investigation into the nature of causality," Twilight said, looking nervously around at the white-painted walls of Rarity's boutique, flinching when her gaze chanced across a mirror.

Rarity raised a hoof cautiously. "I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the concept..."

"Oh," Twilight said. "Okay. I've told you about when I was experimenting with time travel, right?"

Rarity smiled helplessly. "Only the broadest strokes, I'm afraid... and you were in no condition to give me a proper explanation."

Twilight mulled that over for a moment. "Fair enough," she said. "A version of myself from the future appeared, trying to warn me about something, and I decided that future Twilight must have been here to prevent some terrible disaster, and then I spent the next week or so freaking out.”

“Ah, that,” Rarity said. “I do have some vivid impressions of that particular episode.”

“And then to make sure past-Twilight had a headstart on trying to figure out what was going to happen, so that I would be able to stop it, I went back in time to tell her about all this, but it turned out that visit was the one that caused me to worry about everything in the first place.”

There was a pause that hung listlessly in the air, as if it had nothing better to do.

Twilight blinked. “Sorry, did that make sense?"

"More or less," Rarity said cautiously. "Well, that does sound like an experience. What does this have to do with... causality?"

"My time travel visit caused itself," Twilight said, eyes wide and serious. "The implications are spooky."

"Metaphysics were never my strong suit, dear," Rarity said. "Perhaps you could go through them with me?"

"Well, for one," Twilight said, leaning back comfortably in her chair, in her element for once, "it does beg the question of what exactly happened before the time travel."

"I'm afraid I don't follow."

"Okay, what if I had never gone back in time to warn myself?"

"I’m still not quite sure I follow you.”

"Well,” Twilight said, in a voice straining against tact, “if I had never done gone back in time to warn myself, I would have never gone back in time in the first place."

"I do understand that," Rarity said, raising an eyebrow. "You are not dealing with an unsubtle mind here."

Twilight's mouth opened. "Oh."

"Think nothing of it, darling. So you're wondering how the time travel caused itself, yes?"

"Exactly," Twilight said with a smile.

"Ah. Causality. Causes. A sensible enough word," Rarity said.

There was the familiar flash and pop of a teleportation in front of Twilight, as subtle as a rhinoceros.

"Hey there, Twi," a Twilight said. "There any chance you’re interested in a little—"

"No!" Twilight yelled.

The other Twilight popped out of existence, the smile on her face slipping away.

Rarity chuckled, a light cheerful noise. Twilight glared at her.

It took a second for Rarity to notice, but she stifled herself and met Twilight's glare with an apologetic half-smile. "I'm sorry, darling, but it is rather amusing from my own perspective."

Twilight sighed. "I started working on an altered spell that would give me more time after casting it. I figured I could run some experiments me and Spike designed and nail down this causality thing."

"I take it that's when this—" She waved vaguely. “Started.”


"This does sound troublesome," Rarity said, frowning.

"You don't know half of it."

"Undoubtedly. But, Twilight dear... why do you suppose your counterparts have such an, ah, interest in you?"

Twilight groaned. "I have no idea. It would help if I could pin down when they're from—you know, how far in the future. But they never stick around long enough for me to ask them!"

Rarity tapped her hoof on the table a couple of times. "Hmm. I do wonder... Twilight, why does there seem to be more than one of your counterparts?"

Twilight blinked. "Oh, right."

Rarity gave her an expectant look.

"I'm not entirely sure."

"Ah. That would make things far too convenient, wouldn't it?"

“Guess so,” Twilight said, and slumped onto the table.

Rarity frowned, reached over, and embraced her. “I’m sure we can sort this out, Twilight.”

It hadn’t been a lie at the time — truly, it hadn’t. Rarity had been sure she could sort it out. Eventually.

A day had passed and that faith was now flagging. Rarity sighed and stopped pacing across the (quite deserted) floor of the boutique. She had already sorted all the fabrics by material and color, named every one of the mannequins, and come up with an inspired, if probably impracticable plan to bribe the Weather Team into bringing winter a few months early. A girl has to protect her bottom line, she mused.

Well, she would come up with something, eventually. Surely.

An idea came to her — fully formed, as if it had been laid gently across her mind by the Muses themselves. She smiled.

The name came out as what could be called, uncharitably, a whine. "Macintosh?"

"I had supposed ," Rarity responded, "that you would want someone you'd already met before and liked."

"I'm not sure that 'liked' is the right word--"

"Were, um, impressed by, perhaps?"

“That’s not really the sort of thing that tends to correspond to successful long-term re...”

Rarity glared.

“What would be really impressive is if I could get him to say more than two words at any one...”

Redoubled glaring.

Twilight stared back. "It's not that I dislike him! It's just that—"

"It," Rarity said heavily, in a tone that was about one part reassurance to two parts exasperated menace, "will be fine, and you two will enjoy yourselves. In the meantime, if any of your erstwhile selves appears, you will make it clear that you are taken."

"How clear?"

"Use your imagination. And common sense, naturally. Needs must, my dear."

Twilight groaned. "Is there any chance he could just watch me reshelve books?"

"Twilight, really, does that sound like a plausible date to..." Rarity tapped her chin. "Hm. I don't suppose you could at least try to engage with him in the process?"

"So we're dropping the dinner date followed by a walk in the park?"

“Twilight, darling... are you quite sure you can’t manage to have a real date?”

Rarity hadn’t seen such an expression since she had mentioned the phrase “sugar-free cake” to Pinkie Pie.

“Can we please?” Twilight said quietly.

Rarity sighed. "If we must. You are aware that he will still bring you flowers, yes? I may even advise him to try to kiss you at some point."