• Published 28th Apr 2017
  • 1,295 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.

  • ...

Safety in Reserve

In retrospect, perhaps Rarity should have confirmed that Macintosh was interested before talking to Twilight.

It's not as if it was an unreasonable assumption, though. Twilight was not, perhaps, classically beautiful (although the notion slithered frantically away as soon as it came, unwelcome, to Rarity's mind) but she certainly had her own sort of enthusiastic bookish charm that was rather appealing, and on more than a purely aesthetic level.

Plus, there was the issue of the castle to consider. Curves and batting eyelashes were all very well and good—very well and good, as far as Rarity was concerned—but it is a truth universally acknowledged that there is nothing sexier than a mare with real estate.

And yet, one can't argue with tastes, I suppose, Rarity thought, trying (and failing) to resist the temptation to stare down the stallion. "Macintosh, what exactly do you mean when you say 'I don't know'?"

"I'm not sure it needs explainin'," he responded, leaning on the plow.

Rarity sighed. It was one of those hazy, listless summer days that somehow managed to produce an inordinate amount of glare despite lacking any actual sunlight, and standing out in the middle of a field had never been Rarity's idea of a good time. "Twilight would appreciate your company tomorrow evening. This seems to me like a fairly straightforward proposition."

Macintosh just looked at her.

"It's a date," she said.

He shook his head. "Nope. It's a fake date."

"Well," Rarity said, producing something that was close enough to a giggle for her purposes, "fake date or no, you will at least be alone with a rather attractive librarian..."

The look again.

"What I mean to say," Rarity said, "is that, um—"

"I got it."

Rarity paused for a moment. "How to put this... you do like mares, yes?"

"Sure. My sister's one."

And now it was Rarity's turn to stare back.




A moment of silence passed, mainly for Rarity to recompose herself.

"Please?" she asked.

“No can do.”

Rarity pouted, and it was only mostly a calculated gesture. “I would dearly appreciate it.”

“I’m not doin’ it,” Mac said.

Rarity approached Mac, just a little too close for comfort—his comfort, mostly, although it was really a bit too close for either of them; she had to look up at Mac at a downright precipitous angle, and Mac seemed faintly alarmed. Well, no matter. “Is there an ‘unless’?” she asked. “There’s always an unless, you know.”

“Not much of one,” Mac intoned. “Unless she’s gonna talk to me herself.”

“She’s trying to sleep,” Spike explained, his arms crossed. “I can’t let you in.”

Rarity sighed. “It’s three in the afternoon, Spike, darling. You’re not serious?”

She could afford to wait, of course. The boutique was going through its usual summertime lull, which left her with a great deal of time to stare at the ceiling and contemplate life. So getting out and about was hardly a chore, but...

“Dead,” Spike said.

Clearly she hadn’t been paying enough attention. “Hm?”

“I’m dead serious,” Spike sighed. “Look, Twilight’s gonna go crazy if she doesn’t get some sleep.”

“Oh. Shall I come back tomorrow?”

“Don’t bother.” The voice was practically sepulchral, and much the same could be said about its owner. Twilight’s eyes were sunken, her mane in utter disarray, and she looked as if she might fall onto the floor at the slightest touch. “I never could sleep during the day.”

“Oh dear,” Rarity said, very quietly.

Twilight blinked. “I feel worse than I look. Or, umm... which is the...” She stared down at the polished floor for a moment. “Okay, no, I look exactly as bad as I feel.”

“You’re quite sure you shouldn’t be sleeping?”

Twilight’s jaw opened slightly. “Oh, I don’t think that that’s necess... um...”

“Twilight. Bed. Now,” Spike said, and directed a scaly finger towards the bedroom. “So what’s up?”

“I suppose Twilight hasn’t been in quite the proper state of mind to explain that."

Spike shook his head.

"So," Rarity said, drawing out the word with a bit of a lilt. She didn't elaborate.

"I know Mac is involved. Somehow."

“Well, not exactly.”

Spike gave her an expectant sort of look.

Rarity grimaced. “I suppose you’re already familiar with the other Twilights’, ah... motivations.”

“Yeah,” Spike said, rolling his eyes.

“How to put this...” Rarity said, pacing. “They haven’t... done anything to her, have they?”

Spike’s face went blank for a moment, then he started suddenly. “What? Oh. No. No no no. Nothing like that. She’s still pretty spooked, though.”

“With reason.”

Spike nodded. “So what’s your plan?”

“As it happens, I was hoping to discuss that with Twilight—”

“—which you can’t do until she’s gotten some sleep.”

“Of course, darling. I was hoping to convince our guests that Twilight is unavailable by having her and Mr Apple go on a date or two.”

“And this is going to make them stop because...”

“And I suppose you have a better plan?” Rarity demanded.

“I assumed you were going to have him beat them up or something.”

“I said a better plan, which requires that it at least be possible. I cannot so much as imagine him laying a hoof on Twilight...” Rarity frowned. “Which I suppose is the problem, come to think of it. I can’t persuade him to go on a date with her.”

Spike pondered that for a second, stroking his chin. “Well, Mac’s a complicated guy.”

Rarity stared.

“Hidden depths. Or something,” Spike explained, shrugging. “Look, if you want to get this figured out, you should go talk to Applejack about it.”

The Apple residence’s kitchen was the sort of place that the phrase “rustic charm” had been invented for. Not in its euphemistic sense, mind you—the half-contained sneering that, well, you could hardly expect anything better out here in the sticks. No, it was tidy (to a point), clean, and though the aesthetic (surely this room alone accounted for an actual majority of the apple-themed decorations in the country) grated on Rarity, she was willing to accept that as a genuine difference of taste.

Especially considering the circumstances.

“Can I get ya a drink or anythin’?” Applejack asked. “Apple juice? Cider? Hard cider?”

“Water would be lovely, thank you,” Rarity said.

Applejack directed a stare at her for a moment, then relented. “Your loss.” She turned to the sink and began filling a glass. “So, I hear you’re lookin’ to talk to me about Mac.”

“How did you hear this?” Rarity asked.

“Spike dropped by.”

“But he didn’t tell you what it was about?”

“Oh, that he did.”

“So...” Rarity said.

“You’re not the only one who knows ‘bout Twilight’s predicament,” Applejack said. “She talked to me first, I think.”

“Oh,” Rarity said. “I suppose your advice...”

“I told her to not pay them any mind, figured they’d get the hint and leave off propositionin’ her,” Applejack said. “Guess not.”


“Yup. So now you’re anglin’ to get my brother involved in this, and I’d like to know why exactly that is.”

Rarity fidgeted. “Right. So...”

Applejack looked at her expectantly.

“I thought that perhaps if Twilight’s... counterparts... noticed that she was already involved with somebody, they might, well, lose interest.”

“And so you decided to get Mac to go on a fake date with her.”

Rarity sighed. “Fake date indeed. He told you all about this already, didn’t he?”

“Enough of it,” Applejack said. “Oh. Your water.” She turned off the faucet and handed the glass to Rarity.

“Thank you,” Rarity said.

“Don’t mention it.” It had the force of a command. Neither one said anything. Rarity sipped at her water. Applejack studiously avoided looking at her. After a minute, Rarity set down the glass.

“What you gotta understand...” Applejack said. “Mac...” She hesitated.

“I’m told he’s a ‘complicated guy’.”

Applejack nodded. “Well, sure. But I don’t know that this is so complicated. Mac never did date much.”

“That’s difficult to imagine,” Rarity said.

“You just aren’t thinkin’ it through. Anyway, the thing with Cheerilee—”

Rarity pulled a face.

“Right. Nothin’ against her, but it shook him up good. So he’s a little, uh, sensitive to anything like this that looks like it might not be for real. And this business—look, Rarity, I’m sure as I am of anythin’ that he feels bad ‘bout it, but this might be askin’ too much. That’s all this is.”

“So you want me to drop the plan,” Rarity said.

Applejack pondered that for a moment. “Mac’s a grown stallion, an’ he can make his own decisions. If you can talk him into it, I ain’t gonna say a thing. Anyhow, he likes Twilight just fine. If he wants to help, he wants to help. Nothin’ more to it.”

It had taken well over an hour to find Mac, an hour of tramping through the orchards and flirting despairingly with the idea of simply bellowing his name in the hopes that he’d hear, and what’s more, respond to her.

She had made her way to the far northwestern corner of the property, where the earth tilted up into the first modest foothills of the Unicorn Range. It wasn’t precisely neglected, but this far from the farmstead, the orchard had grown a little ragged — seedlings sprouting up without rhyme or reason, a couple dead branches to every tree, overripe apples lying on the ground. She stepped on one, and swore loudly — then took a rueful glance around the grove. It was late in the afternoon: the sunlight was already reddening and the trees casting long shadows across the leaf-strewn ground.

There was a rustling noise somewhere to Rarity’s left. Her head snapped in that direction. “Who’s there?” she demanded, her voice more than a little on edge. “Is that you, Mac?”


“Oh, thank goodness,” Rarity said.

Mac stepped out from behind a tree. “Miss Rarity,” he said, nodding slightly. “Out a little far, ain’t ya?”

“I could say the same to you.”

“I like it out here. Can’t imagine you feel the same.”

There was no disputing the point. “Not as such, no,” Rarity said, and sighed.

Mac pondered that for a moment. “I’d hate for you to have wasted a trip...”

Rarity raised a hoof. “Actually, I was hoping I could convince you to—”

“Fake date. Got it. Answer’s still nope.” And with that, he turned around and marched back into the shadows. After a moment, Rarity pursed her lips and pursued.

Mac walked in what looked like a straight line to his destination, as if the trees could simply be expected to get out of his way, whereas Rarity could have sworn that every errant root was trying to trip her. “I suppose you come here with some frequency, then?” she asked.



Mac stopped walking, suddenly.

“Are we there already?”

“Nope, lost.” Mac heaved a sigh. “‘’spect we’ll be dead by mornin’.”

“I see.”

Mac traced a shape in the air with a hoof. “Food for the apples. Circle of life.”

“A philosopher.”

Mac ignored her, and started walking again. Rarity sighed, and followed.

“It’s not fake, you know.”

Mac stirred. “Huh?”

“The date. It’s not fake.”

“Are you tellin’ me that Twilight does...” Mac casted around for the right words. “Well, that she does like me?” He pulled a face, briefly.

He thinks he sounds like a colt, Rarity thought, with a pang of sympathy. “I suppose you’re asking whether she has any particular romantic interest in you. No, not as far as I know.”

“Well then,” Mac said.

“Nonetheless, the date is real,” Rarity insisted.

“Way I see it, Miss Rarity, date ain’t real unless that goes both ways. Far as I can see, it don’t go either way.”

“But I never said it was a real date, merely that it was real.” Rarity said, sidling up next to him. “Everything is a real something, you know.”

“And what is this somethin’?” Mac asked.

“It would be a real act of kindness for a friend who needs your help,” Rarity said.

Mac picked up his pace, avoiding Rarity’s gaze. “Come on, let’s get ya back to town while there’s light out.”

“That’s not an answer,” Rarity said.

Mac sighed. “Answer’s yes.”

Comments ( 5 )

Twilight was not, perhaps, classically beautiful

Overwhelmingly beautiful in a modern way will just have to suffice I guess.

Awwwww, poor Mac XD Getting suckered into these things. Something tells me he's going to suffer for it, somehow.

Geez Mac, you're such a pushover. :rainbowlaugh:

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