• Published 1st Oct 2018
  • 989 Views, 48 Comments

Mac to the Future - Maran



Thanks to Dr. Discord's time machine, Big Mac becomes stranded in the year 1993.

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Mac on Track

Big Mac slept on Dr. Discord's couch that night, and the next day he talked on the phone with his mother. He was nervous about his part in the plan, but he wanted to follow through with it. And so when his mom called a meeting for everyone who was involved with the scheme, he brought Dr. Discord with him. They gathered in the mall food court, which had the advantage of being neutral ground.

“Okay,” said Pear Butter as the motley group sat down at a table with their hamburgers and club sandwiches, “now that we're all here, let's go through the introductions. I'm Pear Butter, this is Chiffon Swirl, and this is Cookie Crumbles.” She gestured toward the two curvy teenage girls whom Big Mac recognized as the future Mrs. Cake and the future mother of Rarity, respectively.

“We're in a band called Pear Jam,” Chiffon swirled the straw of her milkshake. “I'm the drummer,” she added with a modest smile.

“Y'all are in a band? I never knew that,” said Big Mac. Applejack took after their mother more than she realized.

“Oh yeah, sure. Pear Butter's the guitarist, and I play the keytar.” Cookie Crumbles pantomimed pressing keys. “I don't give a flying fart if it's not cool anymore – I'm gonna keep playin' it till it's back in style.”

Big Mac wondered if Chiffon Swirl was destined to have a daughter who would become a drummer. Or perhaps Mrs. Cake would never have children, and Pinkie Pie was her spiritual successor.

“Good for you, Cookie.” Bright Mac nodded in approval. “I don't care what's in style either – otherwise I'd never wear a cowboy hat in Califoalnia.”

“You should've been here a hundred years ago, dude,” said Burnt Oak. “Why, you'd fit right in.”

Smiling softly, Pear Butter and held her hand toward Bright Mac. “This here is my . . . very good friend, Bright Mac.” She swept her arm along, tipping her soda and nearly spilling it. “And his friend, Burnt Oak.”

“Good to see y'all again.” Burnt Oak raised his sarsaparilla and tipped his hat.

“And this is McBiggen, who my pa hit with his car,” continued his mother, gesturing carefully at Big Mac. “And you must be his friend, Dr. Discord,” she finished as she pivoted toward the older man. As Dr. Discord had not yet become a teacher at Canterlot High, this was their first time meeting.

The man bowed his head with exaggerated humility. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Bright Mac tilted his head. “How old are you?”

“Let's just say I'm in my twenties and leave it at that.”

“How do you two know each other?” asked Chiffon before chomping on her cheeseburger.

“He's an old friend of the family,” Big Mac said smoothly.

“So, Pear Butter, would you mind tellin' us about this plan of yours?” Burnt Oak leaned his elbow on the table. “No one has told me what it is yet.”

“We're gonna try to end the feud between my family and Bright Mac's,” explained Pear Butter. “My pa and Bright's parents will be chaperones at the Fall Formal.”

“As will I,” Dr. Discord cut in. “Principal Faust is my foster sister, so it's not weird,” he added, picking the toothpick out of his sandwich and throwing it on the floor.

Frowning, Big Mac muttered, “It's only weird if you don't dance, Doc.”

Dr. Discord folded his arms. “My sister already made that abundantly clear, believe me.”

“That's fine and dandy,” said Burnt Oak, “but where do the rest of us come in?”

“I'm gettin' to that,” answered Pear Butter. “So, McBiggen and I are goin' to the dance together as a couple. I'll play a set with Pear Jam and then we'll take a break. I'll go over to McBiggen and we'll get within sight of my pa. We'll start arguin', I'll say somethin' insulting about his mother . . . Why are you two laughin'?”

Big Mac and Dr. Discord were both shaking with mirth.

“Oh, Pear Butter,” said Dr. Discord with a grin, “if you knew anything about McBiggen's mother, you'd understand.”

Pear Butter shook her head. “There's a lot of things about McBiggen that I don't understand.”

“Someday you will,” Dr. Discord replied with a wink.

Big Mac stepped on his friend's foot under the table, and Dr. Discord grunted and bit into his sandwich.

“Maybe you could, like, argue about something else,” suggested Chiffon. “Like which fruit is the second best.”

“Totally. It doesn't matter what we argue about as long as it gets heated. Then McBiggen shoves me and I fall to the ground. Dr. Discord, you'll keep my pa from comin' to my rescue so that Bright can come and punch McBiggen in the face.”

Burnt Oak leaned toward her, raising his eyebrows. “Does it have to be so violent?”

“It's not violent. It's extreme!” Pear Butter held up both hands with only her pointer and pinky fingers raised.

Everyone stared at her.

“What?” she asked, lowering her hands as she glanced around. “It's the Nineties. Everything's extreme these days. Besides, it's just actin'. No one's gonna get hurt.”

“This extreme thing isn't really us, though,” said Bright. “Won't your pa notice you actin' out of character?”

“That's why McBiggen has to be the one to start it, hon. My pa doesn't know what's normal behavior for him.” She took a sip of her soda. “Now, Oak, your job will be to keep any of our classmates from interferin'. Bright Mac has to be the one to defend me, so my pa will see what a wonderful guy he is,” she finished, reaching across the table to hold Bright's hand.

“It's a good plan, Buttercup,” said Bright. “There's one problem, though. If your pa finds out we pulled a fast one on him, he'll kill me. That's if my ma don't kill me first.”

“What about your dad?” asked Cookie Crumbles, brushing bits of food off her red shirt.

Bright snorted. “My pa only cares 'cause my ma cares.”

“Well, I for one don't see what could possibly go wrong with this plan,” said Dr. Discord. “I have complete faith in you, Pear Butter.”

She released Bright's hand and shrugged, glancing around the table. “Hey, if anyone has any better ideas, I'm open to suggestions. But we've gotta do somethin', 'cause I'm sick and tired of this feud, and I know Bright is too.”

Chiffon put her cerulean hand on Pear Butter's shoulder. “I know how hard this has been for you and Bright Mac. And if I ever find Mr. Right, I'd do anything to be with him. Is there anything I can do to help besides play in the band?”

Pear Butter smiled at her. “You can help Burnt Oak keep everyone else out of our way.”

Burnt Oak frowned. “I hate that your families are feudin' – we all do. But Bright has a point. If y'all get caught in a lie, it could make things much worse.”

“But that's what makes it exciting!” Dr. Discord waved his arm. “Extreme, even! Besides, no risk, no reward!”

It seemed to Big Mac that this was easy for Dr. Discord to say when it wasn't his life on the line. Still, even if this plan failed, maybe his parents could elope. Perhaps that was what they did in the original timeline. It made Big Mac all the more frustrated that no one had ever told him how his parents got together, because it would be much easier to figure out how to make it happen again. Still, he buried his doubts and gave a grim smile.

“Eyup,” he said, nodding at Dr. Discord.

“Well now, how about this,” said Bright, spreading his hands, “we do a practice run, and if we all feel comfortable with it, then we agree to go through with it at the dance.”

“Agreed.” Dr. Discord stretched out his arm and put his hand in the center of the table. “Well? Aren't we having a moment of amity in which we put our hands one on top of the other?”

The teens smiled and, one by one, put their various pastel-skinned hands on top of the doctor's.


On the night of the Fall Formal, Big Mac and Dr. Discord loitered on the front steps of Canterlot High. Big Mac's mind went back to the last Fall Formal he'd experienced. It felt like a lifetime ago. He hadn't been able to get a date, so he'd arrived in his regular clothes just so he could keep an eye on his sisters, not that he ended up having any influence. Vice Principal Luna had taken one look at his tattered jeans and threatened to send him home to change, until he pointed out that she was wearing her standard outfit, too.

And then, of course, the whole she-demon brainwashing event had occurred.

For this night, however, Dr. Discord had bought appropriate attire for Big Mac, saying that he could pay him back later, making Big Mac wonder how much of this his friend would remember in 25 years. His outfit was presentable, but not fancy: mint green dress shirt, dark red necktie, charcoal gray slacks, and black loafers. Dr. Discord, meanwhile, stood out in his orange zoot suit and wide-brimmed fedora.

“I predict that these are going to come back in style any day now.” The tall man straightened his purple bowtie. “And as soon as that happens, I'm putting this suit back in the closet. I don't like to blend in with the crowd.”

“I reckon you won't have to worry about puttin' it away,” said Big Mac. “I don't think you'll ever have to worry about blendin' in with the crowd, either.”

“I suppose not.” Dr. Discord glanced down at Big Mac. “Is your cell phone charged?”

Big Mac covertly checked the device. “Eyup. Thanks for rigging up a plug to fit the port, by the way.”

“Are you kidding? It was the only way I could keep playing with it,” said his friend.

The corners of Big Mac's mouth quirked up. “You can't even text or use the browser. I don't know how you're gettin' so much entertainment out of it.”

“I don't know either, but there's something comforting about staring at a screen. Perhaps future psychologists will study the way computers affect our mental functions.” He straightened his hat. “By the way, how is Sister Two doing?”

Big Mac viewed the photo. Apple Bloom made a full appearance, but Applejack's hat was missing.

“Put that away,” hissed Dr. Discord. “Someone's coming.”

Hastily, Big Mac slid his phone into his back pocket.

A now-familiar silver sedan pulled up to the curb. The passenger door opened, and Big Mac trotted over to meet his mother. She wore a bright blue satin dress and a matching jacket. The neckline was a little too low cut for Big Mac's comfort, but at least the ruffled hem went down to her knees.

“McBiggen!” She wrapped her arms around him, and he returned the embrace. “Good to see you, hon!”

“You too.” He gazed down at the family sedan. “Y'all didn't wanna take a limo?”

She stared at him like he'd turned into Dr. Discord. “Only preps take limos to school dances.”

Big Mac could only shrug. It made sense that hiring a limousine wasn't expected before social media existed. Besides, this was his mother – she'd never liked making a big spectacle.

She walked around to the trunk and got out her guitar case. “Help me set up for the performance?”

“Eyup.”

With a wave, Grand Pear said, “I'll see you in a bit. I just gotta find a place to park.”

Big Mac and his mom waved at him as he drove off. Then she angled her head to peer at the school. “Where'd Dr. Discord go?”

“Probably inside somewhere.” Big Mac shrugged. “Can't be that hard to find a six and a half foot man in a zoot suit.”

His ma giggled and took his hand. “A zoot suit? Seriously? This I gotta see.”


Thirty minutes later, Pear Jam was on stage performing one of the greatest hits of the decade.

But I would walk five hundred miles and I would walk five hundred more just to be the girl who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door.

Chuckling to himself, Big Mac watched from the side of the dance floor. He had never seen his mother quite like this, playing her guitar while singing such a goofy song. She and her friends appeared to be enjoying themselves, especially when they got to the “da lat da da's.”

“Bright McIntosh! Don't you listen to that Siren song, boy!”

Big Mac spun around to see Granny Smith. Her hair was styled in a flattering bob that framed her fairly smooth face, and she was dressed in a short-sleeved burgundy gown. Next to her was a brown-skinned man about her age, with green eyes and brick red hair that was starting to turn white at the temples.

Granny started when she saw Big Mac's face. “Oh, I thought you was my son! You look just like him from the back.”

“Damn tootin',” said her husband. “You look like him from the front, too, except your hair and skin tone are different.”

Nodding in agreement, Granny said, “Sorry about the mixup.” She put her hand on her husband's arm and turned to leave.

“Wait!” Big Mac couldn't pass up the chance to talk with Grandpa Apple Core, who had died before Apple Bloom was born. Who knew when he'd have another opportunity?

His grandparents stared at him in confusion.

“Uh . . .” He rubbed his palms on his slacks. “Y'all are the owners of Sweet Apple Acres, right?”

Granny beamed. “Sure as sugar. Do you know our son, Bright Mac?”

“Eyup.”

“Well, if you see him, tell him not to pay any attention to that Pear's Siren song.”

Grandpa put his arm around her shoulders. “Darlin', these kids are here to have fun, not yell at our son.”

“I ain't askin' no one to yell.” Granny wagged her finger at him. “I'm just askin' this nice young man to correct our son.”

“The entire school don't need to worry about that,” countered Grandpa Core. “This is our problem, and we'll deal with it.”

“Uh, actually . . .” Big Mac took a deep breath and went a bit farther off script. “I'm Pear Butter's date tonight.”

His grandparents gawped at him. “Oh,” said his grandpa. “Well now, this could be a good thing! We raised Bright to be a gentleman, and he wouldn't chase after a girl if she was with another boy.”

Granny pursed her lips. “We also raised him to listen to his elders, and he never does that.”

“Well . . .” Grandpa frowned. “Well, yeah, but that's different. He's a teenager – of course he ain't gonna listen to us. But you know Bright. Do you really think he'd go for a girl who liked someone else?”

“No, I suppose not.” A grin gradually stretched across her face. “Well, it's been very nice talkin' with you, uh, what's your name?”

“McBiggen.”

“McBiggen, thank you, and good luck. You're gonna need it with that Siren.” Her amber eyes flicked toward the stage before landing back on Big Mac.

He wondered if he should feel insulted that Granny Smith had compared his mother to a mind-controlling monster, but he decided to let it slide.

As his grandparents strolled to another part of the gym, the song came to an end. Big Mac focused his attention on the stage, where his mom put her hand on the microphone.

“We're gonna slow it down for one more song before we take a little break,” she announced.

“It had better not be another country song!” boomed Iron Will.

Cookie Crumbles flipped her indigo hair. “Whatever. We only played one country song, and my keytar pulled it off really well, you know.”

“Mr. Will, stop heckling the band,” called Principal Faust over the crowd of students. “I'm sure Pear Jam will take requests if you ask nicely.”

“Eyup, we'll be takin' requests in fifteen, twenty minutes,” said Pear Butter. “But first, grab your sweetie and head out onto the dance floor.”

She picked the mic off the stand as Cookie began to play her keytar.

Look into my eyes – you will see what you mean to me. Search your heart, search your soul, and when you find me there you'll search no more.

Big Mac inhaled and exhaled, knowing it would soon be showtime. Gazing around the room, he noted the positions of all the key players. His dad was leaning against the front of the stage, staring up in adoration at his mom. Burnt Oak had initiated a conversation with Granny Smith and Grandpa Core. He kept gesturing in the opposite direction of the band, seemingly trying to divert their attention from Bright Mac. Dr. Discord was chatting with Principal Faust. The only person who remained unaccounted for was Grand Pear. Big Mac hadn't seen him since he'd driven his car out of the drop off circle. He walked the perimeter of the gym until he discovered his grandfather in front of the refreshment table.

“Hey there, McBiggen.” His grandpa gestured vaguely toward the stage. “Pear Butter has the voice of an angel, doesn't she? Takes after my side of the family,” he said with a proud smile.

“Eyup,” agreed Big Mac, taking Grand Pear at his word for the last part.

“How's your hands?”

Big Mac held up his palms to show his grandfather.

“They look much better. Glad you didn't get hurt too badly,” said Grand Pear.

At that moment, an idea struck Big Mac like a bolt. He realized that if he threatened Grand Pear and Bright Mac came to his defense, it would make an even better impression than if Bright defended Pear Butter. That way, Grand Pear would have no reason to accuse Bright of merely trying to get with Pear Butter. But Big Mac didn't know if his parents would clue into his improvised strategy. If his dad stood there baffled and let Grand Pear fend for himself, Big Mac could back off and then try his mom's plan, but it might not be as effective. On the other hand, in his O and O campaigns, he would plan an epic story that the players would derail, and often the game turned out better for it – or at least more fun for the players. Besides, his mother did say that she was open to better ideas, although she most likely would have preferred for Big Mac to consult her first.

You know it's true, everything I do, I do it for you.

There was polite applause as his mother sang the final note.

Big Mac made his decision. “Well, Mr. Pear, now that you mention it, my neck ain't feelin' so hot.”

Grand Pear had turned his back to him, taking Big Mac's silent stretch to mean that the conversation had ended.

He whirled around to stare at him, his forehead creased. “Really? You sure about that? You didn't even hit your neck or head or anywhere near it.”

“Nope. But it could be that the force of the impact messed up my joints.”

His grandpa narrowed his brown eyes. “What are you implying, son?”

As a recording of “Jump Around” by Pain's House began playing over the speakers, Big Mac replied, “I'm implyin' that I should've called the police right after you ran me over, like Pear Butter said.” He stepped closer until he was a foot away from Grand Pear while subtly glancing around to see if Bright Mac was watching. His dad was standing next to the stage while his mom gestured toward him.

“You said it was fine!” said Grand Pear, refusing to back down. “You said it could've been worse!”

Big Mac raised his voice. “I said it could've been worse, but it could've been a lot better too. My friend had to drive me to the emergency room to get stitches, and the chiropractor told me it'll be at least three months before my back is right again! I could sue you for the cost of my medical bills and pain and suffering!”

Big Mac read the room. A few people were eyeing them, including Granny Smith and Grandpa Core. But it wasn't enough. He had to use more words at a louder volume.

“You said your parents were rich!” Grand Pear jabbed a finger toward him. “Why would they care so much about an ER bill? Either you were lyin' then or you're lyin' now!”

His grandfather had him there.

Big Mac thought quickly. “Actually, my father is a lawyer,” he said with as much bravado as he could muster. “He makes a livin' takin' people like you to court.”

“What do you mean, people like me?” Grand Pear got up in his face as much as possible for a shorter man.

“I mean reckless hicks who are too damn ignorant to follow traffic laws.” Big Mac was getting a bit personal here. He would've been tempted to smack anyone who talked that way to Granny Smith.

“Hey!” Bright Mac stepped toward them. “You leave him alone. He didn't do nothin' wrong.”

Grand Pear's jaw dropped. “Are you talking about me or him?” he asked, pointing to Big Mac.

“I'm talkin' to this punk right here,” said Bright, pointing at Big Mac.

“You stay out of this!” Big Mac gave him a light shove, if only so some people weren't disappointed that things didn't get extreme.

“No,” said Bright Mac. “I've known Mr. Pear for years, and he's a good man. Even if you think he did somethin' wrong, you need to talk to him with respect, instead of insultin' him in front of all these people.” He stretched out his arm to indicate the crowd.

“You think I'm a good man?” asked Grand Pear, still in shock.

Big Mac knew that his dad was as bad at lying as Applejack was, and he could tell that Bright Mac's words were genuine.

“I do,” answered Bright Mac. “I know you hate my ma, but that don't make you evil. Truth is, I think the reason you and my ma don't get along is 'cause you're too much alike.”

Granny Smith squawked in protest.

Grand Pear was instantly on his guard once more. “You think I'm a good man because I'm like her? You're crazy, boy!”

Big Mac thought he heard the sound of a forehead being slapped. It was likely Dr. Discord, but he couldn't be sure. In any case, Big Mac had to make his grandfather hate him the most at this moment.

“Uh, well, I'll bet this guy's mother is a better driver than you are, old man!” He folded his arms triumphantly over his chest. “I mean, she'd have to be!” There, that ought to push his buttons.

“She is not!” Grand Pear clenched his fists. “Why, she ran into my mailbox ten years ago! Probably did it on purpose, too.”

“Well, at least she didn't hit a person, so she's still better than you!” yelled Big Mac.

“You look fine to me, chief,” said Bright Mac, narrowing his eyes. “Why don't you quit your bellyachin' and man up?”

“I said stay out of this!”

Bright Mac got in his face, eye to eye with him – the same height. “Or what?”

Big Mac shoved him harder this time, forcing him to stumble back a step.

“All right, break it up, you two! Miss Swirl, please get out of my way,” said Principal Faust.

“What do you mean 'you two'? McBiggen's doin' all the shovin'! Wait, what am I saying?” asked Grand Pear, scratching his head.

The principal gently pushed Chiffon aside and positioned herself between the two boys, facing Bright Mac. “In that case, Mr. McIntosh, I'll let you off with a warning.”

Big Mac had a mental lapse. “Who, me?”

“No.” Principal Faust looked askance at him. “Your name is McBiggen, isn't it?”

“Eyup,” he said quickly. “That's my name, all right.”

This time, Big Mac was sure Dr. Discord slapped his forehead.

“Right,” said the principal, sounding uncertain. “I expect to see you in my office first thing Monday morning, Mr. McBiggen.”

The joke was on her – there was no way Big Mac was going to stay in 1993 until Monday. “Eyup,” he said with his best poker face.

“Now, are both of you going to behave yourselves?”

“I will if he will.” Bright nodded toward Big Mac.

“Eyup,” agreed Big Mac.

“Good.” She turned and regarded Grand Pear. “Now, Mr. Pear, I trust you'll keep your promise to be civil to Ms. Smith and Mr. Core?”

“Absolutely.” He nodded. “I guess they're not the worst.”

Granny Smith's eyes were wider than Big Mac had ever seen them. “You really mean it?”

Grand Pear thought for a moment, lowering his eyebrows. “Yeah. Reckon so.” He pointed at Big Mac. “He's the worst. Oh! And you can forget about dating my daughter,” he added as an afterthought.

“Fine.” Big Mac narrowed his eyes. “I never wanna see either of you again unless it's in court!” He stomped toward the doors for dramatic effect, struggling not to glance back. He wanted to see what happened, but he felt that things would go better between his parents' families if he disappeared for awhile. Maybe he would wait a few minutes before attempting to sneak back inside. But first, he checked on the sibling photo. Both of his sisters were whole, and Applejack was still missing her hat, and was currently holding a bushel of pears.

For the first time, Big Mac felt the impact of his actions. He wasn't simply preserving the timeline and his sisters. He was changing history . . . At least until someone changed the time stream again. Was anything truly permanent anymore?

“Dude!”

Big Mac jumped, fumbling with his phone and almost dropping it. Hiding his phone as best as he could, he turned to see Burnt Oak stepping out of the doorway behind him.

“What are you lookin' at your pager for, McBiggen?” asked Burnt Oak.

“I'm, uh, waitin' to hear from my family.”

“Well, come on, you're missin' all the excitement. They're about to announce the Fall Formal Princess.”

“What about Grand Pear and Gran–Ms. Smith?” asked Big Mac.

“I don't think they'll be best pals any time soon, but at least they're finally on speaking terms. I reckon that's the best we could've hoped for.” He gave him a sincere smile. “You got creative with Pear Butter's plan, but I expect everything still worked out okay. Shoot, you even kept my friend from gettin' in trouble with the principal. I respect that.”

Big Mac peered at Burnt Oak as if seeing him for the first time. “We should keep in touch in the future.”

Burnt Oak lifted his eyebrows. “Why? You goin' back where you came from?”

“Eyup.”

“Well, look us up the next time you're in town, ya hear?”

“Eyup.”

The shorter teen opened the door to the gym, and they saw Dr. Discord standing on stage in front of the drumset and behind the microphone.

“May I have the envelope, please?” he asked. Principal Faust sauntered across the stage, envelope in hand.

As Big Mac and Burnt Oak slunk alongside the bleachers, Big Mac caught sight of his grandparents and parents in front of the stage, as well as Chiffon and Cookie. Pear Butter and Bright Mac stood with their arms around each other, while Granny Smith, Apple Core, and Grand Pear engaged in a whispered conversation.

Taking the envelope, Dr. Discord extracted a slip of paper. “Oh, my! This is fantastic! The winner of the Fall Formal crown is . . . me!” He threw his fedora into the crowd and took the crown out of its box. The crown differed from the one that was used while Big Mac attended CHS. This one had three points and a single purple rhinestone in front. Dr. Discord set the crown on his head, and some of the students laughed, while others applauded uncertainly.

“Psych!” shouted Dr. Discord. “The real winner is . . . Chiffon Swirl!”

Louder applause resounded through the room as Chiffon climbed the stairs to the stage.

“Congratulations!” He lifted the crown off his head and placed it on Chiffon's pink curls. “I bestow this noble crown about thee, my worthy successor.”

The crowd laughed.

“Give your princess another round of applause!” The students clapped, and Chiffon reached for the mic in Dr. Discord's hand.

“I believe your new princess would like to make a royal proclamation,” he said, handing the microphone to Chiffon.

“Thank you, everyone,” she said, beaming from ear to ear. “Are you ready to party!?”

Yeah!” cheered the teens.

“All right!” She grabbed her drumsticks and held them above her head. “Come on up, Pear Jam!”

Cookie Crumbles ascended the steps to the stage, while Pear Butter grabbed Bright Mac's hand and followed her. Bright kissed her hand, and Pear Butter grinned at him, her teal eyes shining.

“Bright McIntosh!” Granny Smith actually shook her fist. “No hanky panky!”

“That much we can agree on,” said Grand Pear with a nod. “We said that you could sing one song together, and that's it!”

“Lighten up, it's just a kiss on the hand,” said Apple Core.

“No one asked you, Core.” Granny Smith swatted his arm.

“Yeah, no one asked you,” said Grand Pear.

Pear Butter took the mic from Chiffon, who moved back behind the drumset. “We're gonna sing a song that's near and dear to my heart.”

Cupping his hands around his mouth, Apple Core yelled, “Free Bird!”

Pear Butter sighed. “As you all should know, 'Free Bird' is on the banned list, along with other nine-minute songs. And anyway, we're not takin' requests yet.” Letting go of Bright Mac's hand, she grabbed her guitar and began to pick out some notes. Chiffon and Cookie softly played their instruments.

It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart. Without saying a word, you can light up the dark.

Apple Core held out his hand to Granny Smith. She took a fleeting glance at the stage before taking his hand and swaying to the music.

“Well, looks like our work here is done.” Burnt Oak touched the brim of his hat.

Big Mac frowned in thought. “Nope, there's one more thing I need to do. I gotta find Dr. Discord.” Keeping close to the bleachers, Big Mac made his way toward his old friend, who stood to the left of the stage with the principal.

“There you are, McBiggen,” said Dr. Discord. “Are you ready to go?”

“Eyup.”

Dr. Discord placed his hand on Big Mac's shoulder, and the two of them headed toward the doors. After they entered the hallway, Dr. Discord said, “It seemed like the plan went sideways for a minute, but overall, I think it went reasonably well. I had no idea you were so nefarious!”

Big Mac quirked an eyebrow.

“You wielded the law as a weapon,” his friend clarified with a shudder. “In my opinion, laws were meant to be warped beyond recognition. It’s one of the reasons I became a physicist, in fact.”

“To see how far you could push the laws of physics,” said Big Mac.

“Totally, as the kids say.” Dr. Discord put his arm around Big Mac’s shoulders. “I don't suppose I could go on the time traveling bus with you, just to take a quick peek at the future,” he said with a hopeful smile.

Big Mac considered this. “I don't know if the universe is ready for two Dr. Discords at the same time. Besides, someone would have to give you a ride back.”

Dr. Discord's expression hardened into a shrewd stare. “It almost sounds like you're just looking for an excuse not to take me with you.”

Big Mac opened his mouth to object, but Dr. Discord kept talking.

“No, it's all right, I understand. I am a bit much for most people to deal with for a long period of time. I just thought . . .” He withdrew from Big Mac, hunching his shoulders. “Well, I've never had a real friend before, besides Laurie, and she's more like my sister. And then you arrived with your handheld computer and my time travel machine, and you showed me what my Flux Capacitor can do. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's going to be hard waiting for you to be born so I can talk to you about everything that's happened.”

Sighing, Big Mac brushed his hand through his hair. “I was wrong about you, Doc.”

Dr. Discord straightened his back and raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“In the future, I said I was always the one givin’ you things without gettin’ anything back, but here you barely know me and you gave me a lot. You let me stay in your home, and you showed me how to use the time machine, and you helped my parents’ families get along. My sisters and I might have faded out of existence if it wasn’t for you. So, thanks.” He took a deep breath. Sometimes he felt exhausted when he talked too much, but perhaps it was all in his head.
“You’re welcome,” said Dr. Discord with a smile. “I mean, you were bleeding when you came to my house, and you didn’t have anyone else you could confide in. It just felt like . . .” He shrugged. “Well, it felt good to assist you. And the cool toys were a bonus,” he added with wink.

Big Mac returned the smile. “You’re a good friend, and I know you’ll make other friends besides me. I reckon you've already got a decent start with some of the folks here.” He opened the door and nodded toward Pear Butter, Bright Mac, Chiffon, and Cookie.

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me. There's a truth in your eyes saying you'll never leave me.

Stroking his beard, Dr. Discord commented, “I suppose they have put up with me longer than most. And Chiffon took my fake winner announcement very well,” he added with a chuckle.

“Eyup. But Doc, there's somethin' I gotta warn you about.”

Dr. Discord sobered. “Oh? What's that?”

“In the summer of 2008, there's gonna be a wildfire in Canterlot.”

“It's Califoalnia,” said Dr. Discord with a shrug. “I could have predicted that.”

“This one's gonna be a disaster. And it's gonna burn through Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Oh.” Dr. Discord's eyes darted to Bright Mac. “I see.”

“The farm will recover, but . . .” Big Mac watched his parents. “My folks will die savin’ Apple Bloom from the flames.”

Dr. Discord frowned. “Not while I'm around.”

Big Mac turned from his parents to gaze at his friend. Then he pulled him into a hug and thumped his back.

Eyes wide, Dr. Discord said, “Normally I don't mind invading personal space, but I'm not much of a hugger.”

“I know. Neither am I.”

“Hmm.” His friend awkwardly patted Big Mac's back. “Well, let's get you home.”


After Dr. Discord said his goodbyes to everyone at the dance, he drove Big Mac to his home, where the tour bus waited in his driveway. Dr. Discord handed his decoding chart to Big Mac before they climbed inside the bus.

“Let's get you all set up, first.” Dr. Discord pressed the arrow keys on the console. “Do you want to go back to, say, a minute after you left your time?”

“Eyup.”

Dr. Discord toggled the letters in the top row.

BA-BA-CABI ABDB:FE

“That looks right. Now, you drive the bus to the mall this time, and I'll follow you in my car. I want to watch the bus spark and disappear.”


Before long, Big Mac was in the empty mall parking lot once more, revving the bus engine. This time he observed that the shield of blue light appeared when the vehicle was traveling at less than 90 miles per hour. It looked like 88 miles per hour, to be precise. He peeked out of the driver's side window and waved at Dr. Discord, who waved back, beaming. Then, with a crack, the windows glazed over with ice, and Big Mac pushed the brake pedal. He shifted the bus in park before opening the bus door.

“What the hay just happened!?” shouted Iron Will. He was still holding the goat under his arm, but he no longer had the radio control.

“You sent me back in time,” Big Mac said honestly.

Coach Iron Will gave Dr. Discord an incredulous stare. “That's what your experiment was?”

The physics teacher coughed. “I tried to tell you when you had the controller, but you wouldn't listen,” he said, his voice raspier than normal.

“Well, why didn't you tell Iron Will before you took Chompy?”

“Because you wouldn't have listened then, either.”

“So you thought it was okay to send him back in time without Iron Will's permission!?” asked the coach, flailing his free arm to the side.

“Actually, I sent him a minute into the future. Big Mac went to the past,” explained Dr. Discord. “Do you still have the video, Big Mac?”

“Eyup.” Big Mac walked toward the coach and pulled his phone out of his pocket. After starting the video, he held out the device so Iron Will could see the screen. The coach watched the video, is expression fluctuating between surprise and anger.

“Now you know everything that happened to your goat,” said Dr. Discord after the video ended. “And Big Mac, you just came from November 8, 1993, correct?”

“Eyup.”

Dr. Discord leaned toward him and said, in a low voice, “What do you remember? How many parents do you have?”

“Right now?” Big Mac’s brow creased. “I'm not sure. Two, I hope, unless they're in the ground.”

“If you're not sure, that means you're probably still in the Flux bubble,” said Dr. Discord, lowering his voice to a mutter. “The bubble will lose strength the longer you stay in the flow of the time stream. If I were you, I'd write down everything that happened before you traveled through time. That way you'll have a record of the way things used to be.”

Big Mac gaped at him. “You mean my memories are gonna be erased, like what's-her-name did to Sunset?”

“Not erased. Replaced.” Dr. Discord rubbed his chin. “Of course, I could be mistaken, and you'll retain the memories of the original timeline for your entire life, and your memories up until this point in time won't match those of your loved ones.” A smile began to stretch across his face. “Won't it be exciting to find out?”


It was 2:30 when Big Mac rolled home. After a three nights of crashing on Dr. Discord's couch, it would be nice to sleep in his own bed. But would it be the same bed in the same Sweet Apple Acres? The old pick-up truck was unaltered – it even had the distinctive smell of old fast food and moisture from leaving the windows open during too many downpours. The drive from the mall to the farm had also looked identical in the dark. The farmhouse was unchanged on the outside, and as Big Mac opened the kitchen door, he switched on the light and took in his surroundings. It was the kitchen he'd always known, but on the counter sat a fruit bowl filled with apples and pears. It couldn't have been more perfect if his mother had left a calling card. He picked up a yellow pear and took a bite. It was sweeter than a honeycrisp apple, and incredibly juicy. Still munching the pear, he wandered into the living room.

And then he heard the stairs creak as someone descended them. Judging by the mass and cadence, he thought it might have been Applejack, but then he heard the voice.

“Junior? What are you doin' up?”

Big Mac paused mid-bite. Only one person was ever allowed to call him Junior. He craned his neck to peer up the staircase.

And there was his ma, looking the way he remembered from his childhood, albeit with deeper crows' feet around her eyes. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.

“What's wrong?” she asked, squeezing him tightly. “I heard the truck – it woke me up. What were you doin' out so late on a school night?”

“Where's Pa?” he asked suddenly.

“He's still asleep in bed. You know I've always been a lighter sleeper than him.”

“Good,” he said with a relieved smile as a light feeling unfolded in his chest. Dr. Discord had done it. His parents had survived the fire.

Withdrawing from the embrace, his mom searched his face, her expression more worried than angry. “I know you're eighteen, but you're still in school, and livin' in our house rent free. You can't just sneak out at two am with no consequences.”

Big Mac chuckled. “Eyup.” It was difficult to decide how much he should tell her about what he'd been up to. She probably didn’t need to know that she had once thought of him as boyfriend material. He wished he didn't know that. And if he told her that he went back in time to 1993, she would surely figure out that he was McBiggen. The best course of action was to keep her guessing.

She sighed. “If you don't wanna tell me now, fine, but we're gonna talk about this tomorrow.”

“Eyup,” he said reluctantly. He reasoned that if he got his entire family talking about it in the morning, they would draw their own conclusions that would be far less crazy than what actually transpired. And he would let them think they were correct. It wasn't an ideal plan, but it was all he could think of at the moment.

His mother patted his shoulder. “Go to bed, son.”

Big Mac took a big bite of the pear. After chewing some, he said, “I wanna finish this pear first.” He swallowed. “This is really good.”

“You act like you've never eaten a pear before,” she said with a laugh.

Frowning, Big Mac swallowed the mouthful of fruit. “I feel like I haven't,” he said vaguely.

“That's ridiculous. It's like sayin' you feel like you haven't drunk water.”

“Eyup,” he agreed. “It is ridiculous.” But it was still true.

Author's Note:

If you look closely, Apple Core is seen in the flashbacks in “A Perfect Pear.” I thought he was the best choice for Bright Mac's father, since he has a similar mane and tail and similar eyes.

And I really do love young Granny Smith's bob, which is why younger human Granny Smith has the same hairstyle.

I like Bryan Adams better than I realized – I referenced “Heaven” for Celestia's Little Shop of Horrors, and now “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You.” Other Nineties songs referenced in this fanfic are “She's in Love With the Boy” by Trisha Yearwood, “(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles” by the Proclaimers, “Jump Around” by House of Pain, and “When You Say Nothing at All” by Keith Whitley. Ironically, no Pearl Jam songs were sung.

Endings are always the hardest part of a story for me to write. I do have an epilogue planned, but it would put this fanfic over 20,000 words. So I'm going to wait to upload the epilogue after the contest winners are announced. Even though I'm marking the story complete, please add it to your tracking if you want to read the epilogue. For now, though, I hope this is a satisfying conclusion.