• Published 7th Jun 2012
  • 6,043 Views, 104 Comments

Mistaken for Strangers - Evan MacIan

While expecting her first foal, Rarity finds her relationship with Big Mac tested.

  • ...

Metal Heart

Chapter 5

Metal Heart

Big Mac walked out towards the side of the barn, with the three Cutie Mark Crusaders trotting to keep up.

After a moment he broke the silence. “Now, Apple Bloom needs to be here. But y’all know ya don’t have to, right?”

“But we might get our cutie marks!” Sweetie Belle said.

Big Mac glanced down at the diminutive white unicorn. “Ya really think yer gonna get an applebuckin’ cutie mark?”

“Well, we won’t know until we try,” Scootaloo said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Big Mac raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

They rounded the barn and came upon the contraption the Apple family used to practice applebucking. It was a simple construction, just two stacked hay bales with wooden planks covering the outside. It was designed so that a young colt or filly could practice bucking against wood, while the hay bales provided enough give that they wouldn’t get injured before their bones had hardened.

“Alright,” Big Mac said. “Now the key here, is to let yer weight do the work. Don’t worry ‘bout being fast, jus’ lift yerself up an’ fall into it.”

To demonstrate, he reared up on his front legs and let himself fall against the boards, only snapping out his legs at the last second. He impacted the boards with a loud “THUNK.” The hay bales compressed against the barn wall, before springing
back as Big Mac released.

“Now Ah kind’a slowed down so y’all could see how Ah did it. Apple Bloom, why don’t ya give it a go?”

Apple Bloom lined herself up. Gritting her teeth, she lashed out with her rear hooves. They connected with a quiet “thunk.”

The boards didn’t noticeably move.

“Aw,” she said, disappointed.

“Now, that was pretty good,” Big Mac said. “Ya jus’ want to put more of yer weight into it.”

“Yeah, it was really good,” Sweetie Belle agreed.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said. “Not as good as mine’s gonna be, though.”

“Oh yeah?” Apple Bloom replied.

“Let’s hold the grandstandin’ ‘till afterwards,” Big Mac said. “Scoots, why don’t ya try?”

Scootaloo walked confidently up to the boards. She set herself up, and sticking her tongue out at Apple Bloom, kicked at the boards.


She looked grinning at Big Mac. “Who won?!”

“Yeah, me or Scootaloo?” Apple Bloom said.

“Well,” Big Mac said carefully, “Ah think it was a little too close to tell.” He didn’t add that it was too close to tell because neither kick had visibly moved the boards.

“Sweetie Belle, ya want to go next?”

“Okay,” she said, with some apprehension. Sweetie Belle faced away from the wall, and closing her eyes, thrust her hooves into the air. Unfortunately, she’d placed herself too far away. Her hooves failing to connect, she slammed down on her
stomach. “Oomph!”

Big Mac bit his lip to keep from giving a snort of laughter. “Ya alright there, sugarcube?”

“Yeah…” she said, picking herself up.

“Ya wanna try again?”

“No, somepony else can go,” she said quickly.

They practiced into the afternoon; Big Mac was even able to convince Sweetie Belle to try a few more times, though he was reasonably certain by the end of it that she wasn’t destined to get an applebucking cutie mark. Finally he decided to call it a day. The three fillies were tired and sweaty, though in good humor.

“C’mon,” Big Mac said, “Ah think y’all need to wash up.” He led them over to the pump, and filled up a bucket with water.

The three fillies leaned over the bucket and started to rinse themselves off.

Big Mac suddenly spotted and opportunity he couldn’t resist. With a large grin on his face, he grasped the pump handle in his mouth, and quickly pumped it up and down. The water shot out of the spout onto the three fillies below.

“Hey…” Scootaloo sputtered, “Cut it… out!”

This only caused Big Mac to pump harder, while laughing around the handle. Pretty soon the Crusaders started laughing themselves.

“Let’s get ‘im!” Apple Bloom shouted. She and Scootaloo wrapped themselves around Big Mac’s front legs.

Big Mac let himself be dragged to the ground by the two diminutive fillies.

Sweetie Belle meanwhile grabbed the bucket with her mouth and, with some difficulty, dragged it over to Big Mac.

“Oh no!” he yelled.

“REVENGE!” Sweetie Belle yelled, tipping it over Big Mac’s face.

The four rolled over on the grass, overcome with laughter.

Eventually their laughter died down. They found themselves content to lie there, beneath the warm sun and in the gentle western breeze.

“Boy,” Apple Bloom said, “it sure a nice day.”

The other two fillies nodded in agreement.

“Nice as the Green Pastures,” Big Mac murmured, using an old earth pony figure of speech.

“Hey, Big Mac,” Sweetie Belle said after a moment.

“Yeah, Sweetie?”

“What’re ‘the Green Pastures?’”

“Ya don’t know?” Apple Bloom said with some astonishment.

“I know!” Sweetie Belle replied defensively. “I just don’t know exactly.”

“Well why not?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Now, Apple Bloom,” Big Mac said, “It’s kinda more of a earth pony thing. Sweetie Belle, ya want me to explain it to ya and Scootaloo?”

“I know what it is,” Scootaloo cut in. “But, uh… you can go ahead and explain it. For Sweetie Belle.”

“Alright then,” Big Mac began, explaining it the way it had been explained to him when he was a colt. “Y’all know that Celestia raises the sun in the mornin' an’ brings it ’cross the sky. Then in the evenin’ she lowers it below the horizon.”

“Duh,” Scootaloo said. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Ah’m getting’ there,” Big Mac said. “Don’t go galloping off ‘fore your shoe’s nailed on. Anyway, like Ah was saying, when night comes, Celestia drops the sun outta the sky. But it ain’t really gone, it’s jus’ gone away. Well, it’s like that with ponies. When a pony gets old or hurt, an’ they die, they ain’t really gone. See, Celestia takes ’em away, to the Green Pastures.”

“An’ that’s where the sun goes at night,” Apple Bloom added. “So when our day ends, theirs begins.”

“Really?” asked Sweetie Belle.

“Eeyup,” Big Mac answered. “See, it’s kinda like a met’phor.”

“A what?” Apple Bloom asked. “Don’t talk fancy!”

“Ya know,” Big Mac answered, “when somethin’ mean two things at once. So when somepony dies, to us it seems like the sun’s setting. But for them, it’s like the sun’s rising all over again.”

The little fillies let out an “ooh,” awed by Big Mac’s wisdom.

Apple Bloom scooted a little closer to her brother. “An’ Ma an’ Pa are there waitin’ for us, right?” she said quietly to him.

“That’s right, sugarcube,” he answered.

He watched the clouds drift lazily across the sky. The sound of hooves clopping towards them reached his ears.

“Ooo, lemonade!” he heard Sweetie Belle say.

Big Mac rolled over, a grin on his face. It faded when he saw Applejack carrying out a clear pitcher of juice.

“That’s right, fresh squeezed juice!” AJ said setting down the pitcher. “Granny saw how hard y’all were workin’ so she
whipped some up an’ asked me to bring it out to y’all.” She saw Big Mac’s expression. “Well, it can’t be apple juice every time.”

“It ain’t that,” he replied. “Ah jus’ thought… aw, it don’t matter.”

“What’s wrong?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Nothin’ Apple Bloom,” Big Mac answered. “Come on, let’s have some lemonade.”


Rarity sat in the doctor’s office during one her regular appointments. They had already done the checkup (Filled with plenty of delightfully invasive questions), she had given a urine sample (How wonderfully ladylike), and now she was just waiting for Twilight and Nurse Redheart to return with her results (Taking extra long of course). It wasn’t really necessary for Twilight to be there, but Rarity felt better having her friend present. Besides, Twilight was now knowledgeable enough about pregnancy to be an honorary obstetrician.

Rarity shifted slightly. Examination tables seemed designed to prevent anyone from finding a comfortable position. She sighed impatiently, glancing at the ticking clock on the wall. It had been fifteen minutes since Twilight and Nurse Redheart had left with the urine sample. She didn’t know what was taking them so long; normally she only had to wait a few minutes.

Finally Twilight and Nurse Redheart entered the office. Rarity stood up, ready to leave, until she noticed the worried expression on Twilight’s face.

“What? What is it?” Rarity asked, trying to keep her voice steady.

“It’s probably nothing,” Twilight said quickly.

“Probably nothing? What’s probably nothing?!”

“All that happened,” Nurse Redheart said, “is that when we tested your urine sample we noticed an unusually high amount of protein in it. That, and when I took your blood pressure it was slightly high. Those could be signs of a problem, but it’s nothing definite.”

Rarity felt her heart start to pound in her chest. “I’ve… been under some stress lately,” she said. “Maybe that’s why my blood pressure was high?”

“Possibly,” Nurse Redheart replied. “A single high reading could simply be an anomaly.”

“What is the… what might be the problem?”

“Those are possible signs of preeclampsia,” Twilight answered. “It’s a form of hypertension that sometimes occurs in pregnant mares.”

“And if I do have that, what would that mean?” Rarity asked, dreading the answer.

“At this stage in the pregnancy…” Twilight couldn’t finish.

Nurse Redheart said, “You could lose the foal.”

Rarity slowly sank back on her haunches.

“But we don’t know that there’s a problem,” Twilight said quickly.

“What I’d like to do,” Nurse Redheart said, “is have you come back in a few hours, and we’ll check your blood pressure and protein levels again.”

Rarity silently nodded.

“I’ll go with you back to Sweet Apple Acres until tonight,” Twilight offered.

“Actually,” Rarity said, “I think I’d like to just stay at the library if that’s all right.”

“Of course,” Twilight answered.

Nurse Redheart gave Rarity a list of other symptoms of preeclampsia: headaches, swelling, sudden weight gain, blurred vision, stomach pains. She warned her to come back immediately if she experienced any of them.

Twilight and Rarity started walking back to the library.

“So,” Twilight started, “There sure has been a lot of rain lately.”

Rarity didn’t answer. Twilight glanced over at her. She was walking with her head lowered, oblivious to Twilight’s words.

“I guess it’s to make up for all the dry weather we’ve been having.”

Still no answer.

Twilight opened her mouth to speak, then stopped.

They walked in silence the rest of the way.

The two unicorns entered the library, where they were greeted by Twilight’s young dragon assistant.

“Hi, Twilight,” Spike said. “Oh, hey Rarity!”

Rarity gave him a halfhearted smile. “Hello, Spike.”

“Is something wrong?” he asked, seeing her expression.

“Oh no,” she reassured him. “Nothing at all.”

“How about I go make some tea?” Twilight suggested. “Non-caffeinated, of course.”

“Thank you, Twilight, that sounds lovely,” Rarity answered.

Spike looked at Rarity with a worried expression as Twilight went into the kitchen. “Is there anything I can get you?” he asked.

“Actually, Spike, there is something you can do,” she replied.

“Anything,” he said.

“I’m going back over to have another appointment in a little bit. I was hoping you could run over to the farm and ask Big Mac, ask him to…” Rarity stopped, and drew in a deep breath. “Just tell him I’ll be late getting back, and that there’s nothing to worry about, and he needn’t wait up. I’d be ever so grateful.”

“No problem,” Spike replied.

Rarity waited as Spike exited the library. Once the door had closed and she was sure he was a good distance from the library, she broke down.

Twilight hurried out of the kitchen at the sound of Rarity’s crying. She hurried over to her friend’s side and gave her a hug.

“Oh, Twilight,” Rarity sobbed, “it’s all falling apart!”


Author's notes:

The chapter title is taken from a song by Cat Power.