• Published 3rd Dec 2018
  • 590 Views, 16 Comments

Cupid Mark Crusaders - Coyote de La Mancha



A while back, Applejack and Rarity had broken up and were plainly miserable about it. With their own summer plans unexpectedly cancelled, the CMC decided to save the day... and see if their cutie marks were in matchmaking. It could have gone worse.

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The High Art of Matchmaking

Curled on her side, the Princess of Night dozed tranquilly beneath the tree, its wide branches providing her ample shade from the unfamiliar sun. Her barrel and forelegs mostly covered by her wings, she seemed much younger than her aeons of experience and power would demand. In the distance, Luna’s marefriend could be heard, laughing as she played with Dash, Spike, and the CMC.

Now and then, a warm breeze gently wafted by, playing with Luna’s mane. Eventually, a stray leaf drifted down, landing on the monarch’s thigh. Her leg twitched slightly – twice, then once more – dislodging the intruder without waking the Mare of Dreams.

Still in slumber, Luna breathed in a huge, contented sigh. Then, smiling, she snuggled back into a deeper sleep, curling up beneath her wings.

From afar, at the cake table, Twilight studied her friend keenly. “How do you think she does it?”

Applejack paused only briefly in her quest for third helpings. “How does who do what?”

“Luna. I mean, when she got here she was all wrath and fury…”

“…an’ now she’s cute as a button?”

Twilight tilted her head, one ear going flat. “Well… yeah.”

Applejack shrugged. “Beats me. I’m jus’ glad she only uses her powers for good.” She considered for a moment before adding, “Well, that, an’ for sweets.”

“Well, sure, she is the guardian of dreams, so…” Twilight’s voice trailed off and she stared at Applejack suspiciously. “That… wasn’t what you were talking about.”

The farmer just shook her head. “Nope. But, just think. Why, if Sombra was half as cute as Luna is, why, he’d a been unstoppable.”

“It is a chilling thought,” Rarity deadpanned. “Even if the King of the Crystal Empire had only learned how to squee properly…”

“There woulda been no Crystal Resistance,” Applejack agreed.

“The Yaks would never have blockaded him from the North.”

“Equestria woulda fallen in a fortnight.”

Rarity’s eyes stared in horror as she reared up, “And in place of our fair princesses, we would have a king!”

Equally wide-eyed, Applejack joined her. “Not beautiful as the mornin’ and the night, but terrible an’ dark!”

“Unfair as the Sea,” Rarity went on, “and the Sun, and the Snow upon the Mountain!”

“Dreadful as the Storm an’ the Lightnin’!” Applejack added, putting an arm around Rarity’s shoulders.

“Stronger than the foundations of the world!” Rarity crowed, returning the embrace.

And then, gesturing grandly in unison, they both shouted, “All shall love him and despair!”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Right. Thanks, guys.”

Grinning, the marefriends went back to four hooves.

“We’re here for ya,” Applejack said.

Shortly afterwards, an out of breath but elated Sunrise detached herself from the continuing game among the apple trees and ran up to where the three of them sat.

“Hey,” she grinned. “Guess who just got made an honorary member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders!”

“Well, that ain’t a shock,” Applejack nodded with a smile. “Congratulations, Sunny. Here, have some cake.”

“Thanks!”

Rarity looked at her quizzically. “Only honorary?”

“Mmm,” Sunrise agreed through her mouthful. Swallowing, she went on, “I could have been a full member, but apparently they do quests and things to find their marks. Between my studies and everything else, I can’t really commit to…”

Her voice trailed off as she observed the amused looks before her.

“What?”

“Well, ‘quests and things’ might be kind of an understatement,” Twilight admitted.

“A tactful way of putting it,” Rarity added.

“Diplomatic, like,” Applejack agreed.

Sunset looked from one to the other, a wry smile beginning to form. “Okay,” she said, “what am I missing here?”

“Well, you have to understand, first and foremost, foals are given much more room to develop and play in our world than where you’re from,” Twilight said. “And, most often, if they have an interest, they’re encouraged to pursue it.”

Sunrise nodded. “Sure, different culture. I get that.”

“But the CMCs are, well… a bit high-spirited, even for foals,” Rarity said. “They put everything they have into everything they do. Which is an admirable trait, when focused with moderation…”

“Which ain’t a word they know the meanin’ of,” Applejack added.

“No,” Rarity sighed. “Not yet. Point of fact, there is no middle ground with them, so far as I can tell.”

Applejack shook her head, chuckling a little as she did. “Ain’t that the truth. An’ lemme tell you, we oughtta know that better’n anypony.”

* * * *

Over the next week, Applejack and Rarity found themselves meeting multiple times, despite their best intentions.

On Moonday, for example, Sweetie Belle happened over to the apple cart while Apple Bloom and Applejack were selling their wares. After a few minutes’ talk, inevitably, Apple Bloom asked her sister if she could go play for a while. Applejack started to say no, then stopped herself.

Well, why shouldn’t at least one of us enjoy this here day? she thought.

“Sure, go on, sugar cube,” she said. “Be back to give me a break ‘round noon, okay?”

“Uh-huh!” Both fillies said in unison. Then they zipped off to wherever.

Once they were both out of sight, Applejack let her face relax. Smiling so much was making her ache, and that was a fact. But she’d let on once how miserable life as for her, and her sister had gone off the deep end about it. Darned if that was going to happen again.

“Apples,” she sighed to the passing crowd. “Fresh apples, best ya can buy.”

It was a few minutes later that she heard the screams. There was no mistaking those voices.

“Apple Bloom!” While the rest of the ponies simply paused and stared at the alleyway where the noise had come from – some frowning, some uncertain, a very few taking a hesitant step towards the young voices – Applejack plowed her way through the wavering ponies in an eyeblink, knocking stallions and mares hither and yon.

“Sweetie Belle! Hang on, girls, I’m a-comin’!” Stars above, if anypony had hurt those fillies—

She reached the alley’s mouth just as another mare entered from the other side. In the middle of the alley, holding each other in fright, were the two foals. There was a shadow over them, cast by something on the rooftop. It was obscured by the brightness of the sun, whatever it was. But its shadow was immense, ears down in aggression, antlers splayed.

Both mares reached their young charges at about the same time. Applejack reared up to challenge the interloper, while behind her, Rarity straddled the two, head down, horn ablaze.

Whatever it was, it vanished over the other side of the roof, and was gone.

“Stay here!” Applejack yelled.

Rarity nodded, her horn still a corona of pale light. “Be careful. Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, stay with me.”

In an instant, Applejack was on the roof and over, peering in every direction from her vantage point. After a moment, she chuckled and leaped down again.

“It’s okay,” she smiled. “False alarm.”

Rarity frowned. “What…?”

“Jackalope,” Applejack explained. “Saw it scarperin’ off a ways away.”

Rarity’s eyebrows arched. “A… jackalope?”

Applejack nodded. “Don’t usually see ‘em this time a’year. Not in months with a ‘Y’ in ‘em. But when they do come outta the grass, they like high places.” She paused, considering. “Least, that’s what Granny always said. Never seen one before, myself. I hear they’re pretty scarce. Fluttershy’ll wanna know we saw one, come to think of it.” She smiled down at the foals. “An’ just what were you two gals playin’ in a dark alley by yourselves?”

The two looked down. “Sombra,” they said in unison.

The mares shared a knowing look.

“Well, perhaps you should play something a bit less dramatic,” Rarity suggested.

“’Kay,” they agreed.

The two foals trotted out from the alley together, leaving the mares alone.

For a time, neither of them spoke.

“So, um,” offered Applejack, examining the alleyway’s walls.

“Yes,” managed Rarity, looking first at the sky, then her hooves. “Well.”

Applejack sighed. “Yeah. Well.” Then she sighed again. “Guess I’d better get back.”

As she turned to go, she heard Rarity say, very quietly, “Good… goodbye.”

Applejack closed her eyes in pain as she made her way back to her apple cart.

“Yeah.”

* * * *

A short time later, the young pair met up with Scootaloo, bouncing all the way. The young pegasus was hidden in a treetop, several blocks away, telescope in hoof. After a few seconds, her fellow CMCs two had succeeded in scrambling up and into the branches with her.

“Well?” breathed Sweetie Belle.

But Scootaloo shook her head.

“They barely even talked. They just left. First Applejack, then Rarity.” She sighed. “And both as sad as ever.”

“Awwww!” both of her fellow CMCs exclaimed in unison as they sat.

“Dang it, I was so sure,” sighed Apple Bloom.

“It’s not our fault,” Sweetie Belle said, putting a hoof on Apple Bloom’s withers.

“But all the times Applejack’s been there for me…”

“Yeah,” Sweetie Belle agreed. “We should be able to be there for them.”

All three of the friends slumped down, bellies to the large branch that supported them, their chins on their forehooves.

“Well, we’d better return them antlers we borrowed,” Apple Bloom pointed out.

“Yeah, that stag wanted them back by nightfall,” Sweetie Belle agreed.

“Plus, now we owe Angel all our desserts for the next week,” added Scootaloo.

The foals all sighed in unison.

They stayed that way for several seconds. Then, Apple Bloom rose, more determined than ever.

“Well,” she said. “We can scratch savin’ folks from monsters off the list. What’s next?”

* * * *

The next day was Waterday.

Rainbow Dash peered at her younger friend skeptically. “Do you even know what you’re asking me to do?”

Scootaloo hesitated. “Um, well…”

Rainbow Dash waited.

Then, taking a deep breath, the foal closed her eyes and said very quickly, “I’m asking you to risk your already questionable reputation as a reliable weather pony by arranging an unscheduled and fierce thunderstorm centered in the marketplace at exactly one-fifteen today, which will undoubtedly be traced back to you by the weather bureau, with maybe severe consequences.”

“And the reason being…?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“You can’t tell me.”

Opening her eyes, Scootaloo nodded.

Rainbow sighed. “Right. And that’s because…?”

“It’s a secret,” Scootaloo said. “But it’s really, really important. I promise.”

“Uh-huh.” Dash gave her a knowing look. “Cutie marks?”

But the filly shook her head. “More important than that.”

Rainbow Dash’s eyebrows rose to her mane. Incredulous, she waited.

“And… we also kinda need Rarity and Applejack to end up in the same place in the rain.”

Pause.

“Alone.”

Pause.

Finally, Rainbow Dash spoke. “And you can’t tell me why.”

Scootaloo looked down. “Right.”

“And you can’t tell me where you’ll be while this is happening, or what you’ll be doing.”

“Right,” she said again. “I especially can’t tell you that.”

“But you can promise me it’s nothing dangerous. Like, at all,” Rainbow Dash reiterated. “You’re sure.”

“I’m sure. I promise. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

“And this absolutely needs to happen.”

Scootaloo nodded.

Face still grim, Rainbow Dash nodded as well. “Yeah, okay. Just so we understand each other.” Then she grinned, tousled Scootaloo’s mane, and took off into the sky.

Smiling, Scootaloo gazed after Dash’s diminishing form with a deep sigh. Blood or not, legal or not, you just couldn’t ask for a better sister than that.

* * * *

Caught in the middle of shopping, Rarity looked up at the sound of thunder, completely aghast. Wasn’t today supposed to be clear and sunny?

She heard the rainfall before she felt it, her trot breaking into a run. She would have brought a parasol if she’d known, or even suspected, that the weather would be…

Inwardly, she growled. Rainbow Dash and her ridiculous pranks. Of course.

Then, her face lit up despite the torrent. There. That was a likely looking shop. She galloped towards the sanctuary, its sign obscured by the increasing curtain of rain. She would be safe there--

FATHWAM!

The unicorn skidded to a halt a few feet away from the newly-formed crater, still smoking from the lightning strike.

Then again, perhaps not.

Casting about, she saw a hot dog stand and ran for its oversized umbrella as fast as she could traverse the quickly softening ground.

Her mane was certainly wet enough when she reached the hot dog stand, conveniently placed in the middle of the square. More lightning struck here and there, assorted ponies running and leaping about for shelter in various directions.

After a few moments, another pony slid into the shelter, panting somewhat from the run.

“Dangit, Rainbow Dash,” Applejack muttered. “One a’these days, she’s gonna go too far, gonna plant a hoof right in her…” Her voice trailed off as she looked up at Rarity.

Rarity, for her part, also stared.

Applejack quickly rose to her hooves, barrel and abdomen dripping with mud. “Um, hey,” she said quietly.

Rarity looked away, her voice a whisper. “Hello.”

Applejack looked away, as well. “I’m, um, I’m… right sorry about this.”

Rarity blinked. “What?”

Still facing the rain, Applejack went on, “I ain’t tryin’ ta crowd you up, honest. Soon as the way’s clear, I’ll skedaddle.”

“Applejack, no,” Rarity protested as she turned to face her. “Just because it’s a thunderstorm—Applejack, wait!”

But the earth pony had already started running again, head down, back into the rain, faster than Rarity could ever hope to match.

For a moment, Rarity only stared after her.

“But… that… that wasn’t what I meant…”

Then, after a few heartbeats, Rarity also started into the rain. She walked slowly, head down, ignoring the galloping ponies around her. The rain wasn’t so bad, really. True, it did ruin one’s coiffure and make it harder to see, not to mention what it could do to one’s coat if one should happen to fall.

But on the other hand, a proper storm obscured one from onlookers. Additionally, it allowed one to pretend that the wetness on one’s face was rain, and not tears at all.

And some days, that was truly a blessing.

* * * *

And so the week went. On Windsday, both mares received tickets to a concert from a secret admirer. Unknown to the two of them, of course, the seats were next to one another. But both mares gave their tickets to their sisters, insisting that they had too much work to catch up on to go. Dejected, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle gave the tickets to Pipsqueak. He gave them to his parents for an early Anniversary present.

“Oh, well,” sighed Apple Bloom.

“They’re still serving a noble cause, at least,” Scootaloo pointed out.

“True,” Sweetie Belle agreed. Then, rousing herself, “Well, on to the next.”

* * * *

Earthsday evening, the CMC volunteered as delivery foals for Pinkie Pie. Mysteriously, Applejack and Rarity’s deliveries from were somehow switched with one another, necessitating their interacting in order to get their own cupcakes.

Alas, neither mare felt up to going out-of-doors over a cupcake. Instead, each resignedly munched what she had been given, her sister looking on helplessly.

* * * *

By Fireday, desperation had begun to take hold. Maps were made, filled, scribbled over and discarded. Well into the night, the Cutie Mark Crusaders plotted, planned, and even schemed. Every detail, every minutia, was examined in agonizing detail.

There could be no failure this time. It would not be permitted.

No matter what the cost.