• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 518 Views, 19 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Working Over Time - meanderingNekomata



Minuette and Limestone Pie are bound by the Choosing Stone.

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Not a Morning Pony

Morning, for Minuette, came with all the grace of a piano falling from the second story of a Manehattan townhouse. Celestia’s plaything was shining directly in her face, she had a persistent soreness in her back which nearly made her consider contacting a chiropractor, and her mouth felt dry as a desert, reminding her that she hadn’t had anything to drink before bed last night. That settled it, she definitely wasn’t recommending this place on Cloud B&B. Well, to be fair she hadn’t had breakfast yet, but she didn’t exactly expect fine dining here. Or dining at all, for that matter. She hadn’t exactly planned on staying the night and doubted they would want to take the time from their busy schedule to play host to an uninvited guest.

She groaned, rolling out of bed. This would definitely take some getting used to if she ever ended up moving out here. Outside of Pinkie Pie, what did the Pie family have against comfortable living conditions? Maybe she could get a nicer futon shipped out. She shook her head, definitely getting ahead of herself with that one. Well, they did say when two mares got together, they could be married and sharing a home before the month was out. She’d always taken that stereotype with a grain of salt, but maybe with the right mare…

“Nope, slow down, that’s a dangerous way to think of all this.” She said to the empty room. “Ugh, I really need coffee.”

Minuette absentmindedly equipped her saddlebags and camera before stumbling out into the hall, stifling a yawn as she did. Making her way to the dining room, a fragrance caught her attention. It smelled like… waffles? That was odd. She was expecting something more rock-oriented. Sure enough, when she reached the room in question, the Pies sat around a table with plates of waffles, toast, hashbrowns, and glasses of water. Already surprised to see her admittedly presumptuous assumptions dashed, her jaw almost hit the floor when she noticed the extra plate at the table. This was a problem.

She hadn’t even bothered to join them for dinner, she just ate the ready-made meal from she bought from a convenience store in Canterlot before she came. Had they made her dinner last night too? That was just great. Her first impression on Limestone’s parents was as the mare who snubbed their dinner invitation. And come to think of it, Limestone had invited her. She just thought she’d be imposing by accepting. That, and she didn’t think she was in any shape to meet the family of her potential marefriend after all that had happened last night. Life just wasn’t fair sometimes.

She sighed quietly to herself before applying her brightest smile and trotting over to the table. “Good morning! Thank you all sooo much for letting me stay the night, and you even made me a plate for breakfast! Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t even bother introducing myself. I’m Minuette, photographer for the Canterlot Times!” Was that too much energy? Maybe she ought to dial it back a bit. She knew they were Pinkie’s family but nopony really needed more than one Pinkie.

Breathe, Minuette, breathe. You’re doing fine, just gotta make it through breakfast, then you can get that second photo of the Choosing Stone, ask Limestone to walk you to the train station and… uh, play the rest by ear I guess.

Igneous chewed, and chewed, and chewed, and finally swallowed a bite of his waffle with the aid of a sip from his water glass. The entire room was silent for the duration, like they were waiting for him to speak. Minuette was frozen on the spot, the atmosphere seemed so tense that a single wrong word or move could prove disastrous. Finally, he spoke:

“We are pleased to have you here, Minuette. I am called Igneous Rock.” He nodded to the severe mare in the seat to his right, then turned back to stare Minuette dead in the eyes. “This is my betrothed, Cloudy Quartz. It is my understanding that you have already made the acquaintance of our daughters, Limestone and Marble. Do not misunderstand the generosity shown to you by our family. As with all who seek lodging here, we expect diligent labor in return for food, shelter, and respite. We trust that you understand our position.”

He’d spoken slowly, yet deliberately, like every word he said was chosen specifically to convey the exact meaning he intended to get across. His expression and tone said what his words failed to account for. He was not joking, nor was he threatening her if she didn’t go along with what he wanted; but if she didn’t oblige, she didn’t expect to be allowed to stay there again. More than that, there was a note of expectation in his voice which made her feel as though he would be disappointed if she denied him. And, she reminded herself, this may be her future father-in-law. A potential future-father-in-law who just offered me a chance to prove myself to him. Limestone too. She found herself nodding a little too vigorously before she even finished the thought.

“Yes! I mean, cool! I mean, yeah, I uh, I understand.” she looked away as her face colored at the thought of how overeager she’d sounded. Minuette snuck a glance at Limestone to find the mare struggling to contain a chuckle.

He nodded once. “For a single night’s stay, you are to spend four hours in the field. Once breakfast is done, our daughters will show you to your tasks.” With that, the family returned to eating mostly in silence.

She looked down to her waffle, which had already cooled a bit waiting for her to arrive and had only continued to do so as she’d neglected it in favor of the stallion before her. Waffles were one of her favorite breakfast foods. As she bit into it, she wondered what it would be like to have a dad.

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Limestone was unsurprised by the development, albeit a bit regretful she hadn’t warned Minuette the night before. Still, that reaction was priceless. She hadn’t seen anypony respond to her father like that since the last time Pinkie was around, and she was family! The closest she’d seen aside from that was a few years ago when Trixie had come and stayed for nearly a year. That mare never was very good at rock farming, no matter how much she insisted otherwise.

Now it was just her and Minuette heading for the gem caves since Marble had opted to give them some alone time, claiming she had a thing to do over in some vague direction she’d pointed to when Minuette had pressed her. Then she ran off in said direction and hid not so stealthily behind one of several boulders they’d be breaking down at some point before sending the components off to be made into kitchen counters, bridges, statues, floor tiles, and office buildings, among other things.

As they trotted off to the caves, Limestone reminisced, telling Minuette about how amazed she’d been when she’d learned all the things that their farm contributed to. The idea that all across Equestria; now even beyond its borders, anywhere a creature looked, they may see Pie family rocks, crystals, and gems built into structures of all kinds, molded into tools, formed into cement for roads and sidewalks, woven into dresses, and adorning accessories made her proud of the work she did every day. When she realized how much she’d been talking, she glanced over at Minuette sheepishly. Since when was she this chatty? Somehow, talking to her like this had just felt so natural, almost like they’d been friends for years.

The mare seemed impressed, easing nerves Limestone hadn’t been aware she’d been having. Taking the silence as an invitation to respond, Minuette asked, “So, how did you get your cutie mark?”

“Oh, this?” asked Limestone, pointing to the mark adorning her flank and grinning slightly at the blush the move elicited from the blue pony. “I discovered a method of creating artificial limestone. One year, a huge order came down from Manehattan. We weren’t as big then as we are now and without that, we wouldn’t have been able to fill the order without putting a huge strain on our workers and resources. There were still other outstanding orders we would need to fill for the following months. All this was happening at a time when I wanted to find my place on the farm, some sort of legacy I could pass on as all my ancestors had before me. When the order came in and I saw how devastated Ma and Pa were about it, I just knew that it was my moment. I figured that if rocks could be broken down into different components, we could use things like sand, dirt, pebbles, and gravel which had once been part of larger rock formations, and stick them back together with the right adhesive to reconstruct the limestone we needed. In the process, I found out it’s much easier to reconstruct the limestone to fit a desired mold or design than to chisel it from existing stone. These days, artificial stone has become a popular cheap alternative to actual stone for construction companies since we get to cut out the middle pony in favor of pre-cut molds. As a result, real stone has gone up in price a bit where it could be more easily substituted for the alternative, with aristocratic ponies putting so much stock in their need to have things which are genuine or real, especially if it’s more expensive. Suits us just fine though, we make a tidy profit on their need to make some aspect of their lives appear genuine to their peers.”

Limestone had heard enough about nobility growing up to have an unfavorable view on most of them. City ponies too, but less so, at least city ponies didn’t go around acting like they were better than everypony else. More often than not, they worked hard and cared about the important things. The only exception she made was for her mother, who had become disillusioned with the noble lifestyle, never treated anypony like they were beneath her, and took the time to understand life on the farm. It was only thanks to her that Limestone was even able to consider the possibility of redeeming qualities in some few members of any group which referred to themselves as noble or part of the elite.

“Yeah, I guess so…” Minuette said with a far off look in her eye.

They were nearing the caves just west of the northern fields when it happened. Limestone had been about to respond, but she spotted a pink speck from the corner of her eye which turned immediately into a pink blur when she turned to look at it. “Oh, shit. No, no no no no!” Almost immediately, she realized something. It was moving in their direction. That could only mean one thing. She knew.

“What!? What is it?” asked Minuette, startled by the sudden reaction.

“Might want to move about a couple hooves to the right.” Limestone replied, getting into position to buck.

The blue mare obeyed and moments later watched as a precisely timed buck from Limestone’s rear hooves impacted the pink mass with a force which propelled Pinkie Pie several feet into the air and sent her sliding a good distance across the hard stone and gravel before jolting up and pouncing on her sister like a rabid dog.

“Limestone! Limestone! Limestone! I knew it! I know the feel of that buck anywhere! So who’s the special pony!? I can’t believe you finally went to the Choosing Stone! ImeanIwassosureyou’dbethelastponytowannaknowwhoyourspecialsomeponywas,butwowwhatasurprise!!!”

“Pinkie.” Limestone grumbled.

“Isn’t that just sooooo crazy!?” Pinkie put a hoof to her chin. “I was even planning to come out here myself to see who mine was again, I feel like I couldn’t see last time cuz they didn’t have their cutie mark and you know I figured out a while ago that the way the Choosing Stone works is a lot like how the Friendship Map in Twilight’s old castle -and it still feels super weird talking about a castle like its an old house- except instead of sending you off to far off destinations to solve friendship problems, it tells you the pony you’re destined to be with forever.”

“Pinkie!” Limestone groaned.

“Y’know, it’s kind of the perfect time for it. Twilight’s Princess of Equestria now, Maud has Mudbriar, Fluttershy and Discord have a thing going on, Lyra and Bonbon are finally married, you’ve found some mystery pony who I apparently know somehow, and…” At that moment, Pinkie’s left ear twitched twice, followed by her right. Her head turned to face the patch of ground where Minuette was now looking on, somewhere between horror and confusion. The party pony sucked in a huge breath. A pink hoof suddenly pointed her way, her smile growing wider than the blue mare had previously considered possible the moment the mare’s gasp ended, startling the blue pony from her gawking. “Minuette!? You’re Limestone’s special somepony!?”

PINKAMENA DIANE PIE!!!” Limestone growled, finally wrenching herself from her sister’s grasp.

“Yeeees Limestone?” Pinkie finally replied with a grin so smug Limestone would deem it illegal if that weren’t such a dumb Pinkie Pie idea. At the same time though, she had no idea what to say now that the worst sister who could’ve possibly found out about this, knew about it. In all the time Limestone knew Pinkie, she had never been able to keep a secret on purpose, especially if it was as important as this. Ma and Pa would know by morning and would be looking into matching wedding gowns and local venues.

“Limestone?” Pinkie asked, waving a hoof in her sister’s face.

Limestone blinked. Hard. No. This was not happening. She felt trapped, the walls were closing in and there was nothing anypony could do about it. Fear and rage coalesced within her and before she knew what she was doing, she had slugged Pinkie across the face.

She was about to go for another swing when Minuette finally came to her senses and stepped between them. “Lime, calm down. Please, let’s all just talk about this. No need to start doing and saying things we can’t take back, okay.” The mare shot Pinkie a look. “That means you too. You’re getting an explanation, but only if you can keep all this between us for now. We’re still figuring things out ourselves and having everypony in Equestria know that we’re… together?” she chanced a glance back at Limestone who sighed and shrugged. There was a slight smile on that face though and Minuette was a camera pony. She had an eye for detail. Looking back to Pinkie, she continued, “So, I need you to Pinkie Pie Promise me you will not breathe a word of this to anypony, especially your parents. Got that, Pinkie?”

The once elated sister’s smile dimmed a bit before Limestone chimed in. “Marble knows, she uh, saw us, so if you want to talk to her about it that’s fine, I guess. Maud is like a steel trap about these things, so you can tell her as long as you let her know it’s a secret.”

Minuette took a second with that one, then nodded, adding, “And I’m not going to be able to keep this from Lyra, Lemon Hearts, Moondancer, and Twinkleshine back home, they’re my besties and I need somepony to unload on aside from your hot sister here. I mean, no, I can’t keep taking that back, it’s like ingrained on my psyche at this point. Can you blame me, she’s fuckin’ rugged!” Limestone turned away at that, but it wasn’t hard for anypony to tell she was turning several shades of red. “Point is, they’re all loyal. None of them will tell. Oh, and Bonbon will probably hear about it from Lyra, but she’s like Maud with these things, steel trap. Something about her work, according to Lyra, but what making candy has to do with keeping secrets is anypony’s guess. Anyway, you don’t have to keep it entirely to yourself if you absolutely need somepony to talk to besides us.”

Pinkie sighed. “You two drive a hard bargain. Okay, I, Pinkamena Diane Pie” she winked at Limestone, who groaned, eliciting a laugh from the pink pony. “swear not to tell anypony about your relationship aside from MaudMarbleLyraSweetieDropsLemonHeartsMoondancerTwinkleshineandGummy cross my hooves and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” She finished up the motions and seemed to finally realize where they were. “Soooo, casanova,” she nudged her sister, “you taking Minny here on a date to the mines? I know they’re pretty beautiful this time of year.”

Limestone applied hoof to face. Pinkie’s face. “No, Pinkie, she’s paying for using Maud’s room last night. She was here late and missed the last train.”

“Oh! You’re gonna teach her how to mine crystals and gems!? Can I come?”

Minuette chimed in, “I thought you said you left this place cuz you were tired of rock farming.”

Pinkie waved a hoof at that. “Nah, just not enough ponies to plan parties for out here. Rock farming’s in our blood. Like, you know how Applebloom doesn’t exactly have an apple cutie mark, but she still helps AJ on their farm when she can? It’s kind of like that but since I’m in Ponyville now, so I don’t help out as much as I used to. Trust me, if Rockville were as full of ponies as Canterlot or Ponyville and most of my friends lived here and Mr. and Ms. Cake had a bakery here and the sky wasn’t so gosh darned gray most of the time, you’d see me here muuuuuuch more often...”

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It was past noon by the time the three mares finally left the gem caves and headed for the homestead with carts full of some of the more mature crystals and gems they’d gathered. It was interesting to learn how they utilized the water cycle and regulated temperature within the caves to control their growth. It made Minuette feel almost like the crystals themselves were alive. Between the unofficial tour, taking pictures of the breathtaking views of precious stones, and learning firsthoof how to harvest them, she’d had a surprising amount of fun.

“...And then I touched the Stone and asked my question. Then, all of a sudden our cutie marks were flying off and the thing was talking in our heads, telling us that we’d totally fall for each other and there was nothing we could do about it. And there we are, haven’t known each other for a full day, suddenly told we’re meant for each other and you can guess how that went cuz I’m not going into details. Oh, and I got a picture of our cutie marks all swirling around the top. That about covers it, sounds like something out of a trashy romance fic doesn’t it?” Minuette finished, gauging the Pinkie’s reaction.

“I wouldn’t go thaaat far, wouldn’t wanna hurt the author’s feelings. I’m sure she’s working reeeally hard on this.” she said, winking somewhere beyond Minuette.

“I don’t always understand those weird metaphors, Pink, but I think that almost sounds kind of sweet. Like you’re saying we may not be the perfect couple, but the fact that we were chosen for each other means that fate is working hard to make sure we get a happy ending or something. It is nice to think that we’re probably not gonna end up heartbroken, or dead, or kept apart by feuding noble families who won’t see reason until we kill ourselves over some big misunderstanding.” Minuette draped a hoof over her forehead dramatically.

Pinkie laughed. “Yeah, Poneo and Jewelette isn’t my favorite love story either. I only went cuz Rarity insisted it was the best classic tragic romance of our time, but I kept getting mad at the characters for not just running away together. And where’s the happy ending!? All good romance has to have a happy ending!”

“Right? How about you, Limestone? You’ve been quiet for a bit. Got any favorite plays or musicals?” Minuette asked, giving her a look of encouragement.

“We went to see the Hearthswarming Eve one in Canterlot when I was a filly, A Hearthswarming Tale, I think. That was… not so bad.” Limestone slumped a bit.

“Did something happen?”

“I uh… better get going!” said Pinkie, voice strained and fake smile plastered on her face. She seemed to have deflated a bit at this subject. “Gotta go ask the Stone about my special somepony and get back to Gummy! Probably not a good idea for me to stick around with this big ol’ secret of yours. Besides, three’s a crowd and all that. Hope the date goes well!” The pink pony became a pink blur in the distance once more, stopping only for a moment at the homestead to deposit her cart.

Turning back to Limestone, Minuette noticed the pony’s expression had shifted somewhat. She’d gone stiff, and her eyes tracing the trajectory of her sister. She looked frustrated about something. “Limestone?” she asked.

“Huh, what? Th-this isn’t, I’m not...” the gray mare responded, suddenly jolting back into motion. A hoof flew to her face as if by reflex. Then she went still again, intentionally this time. Her right hoof fell back to her side as she took in a breath and slowly released it. And with that, the calm, collected, and in-control Limestone had returned. “Okay, what I meant to say was please ignore Pinkie. This isn’t a date, it's not good to just throw that word around. I can do better than this. Just because the Choosing Stone paired us together, doesn’t mean I can slack off and just call anything we do together a date. I guess I just want you to know that if I’m going to take you out, I’m going to take it seriously.”

Minuette felt her chest heat up at that. She hadn’t known the mare could be such a romantic. Once again, she vomited her response before her mind entirely registered what was happening. “Is that an invitation?” What was that?! This isn’t the time or place for a line like that! Please, for the love of Celestia, tell me I wasn’t making half-lidded sex eyes at her when I said it.

It was during this self-recriminating train of thought that Limestone made her response. And she had to exert physical effort to avoid cringing at herself when she realized she’d missed it and would have to ask her to repeat herself. “Come again?”

“I said, would next Friday work? I’d do something sooner, but there’s some big fashion event starting up in a few days, so we’ll be busy filling gem orders on until it’s over.”

“Oh, yes! Definitely! I mean, I think I can make that work.”

The rest of the day was a blur. She got another picture of the Choosing Stone, though it was decidedly less glamorous in the light of day than when it was lit by the cool light of the moon. When they reached the station she settled for a hug, deciding she’d rather not push too much, especially with a date already planned. Or in the works. There was really no way of knowing how much of this Limestone had already thought through, after all.

Minuette leaned into the seat cushion and stared out on the barren landscape as it passed by. The seat next to her was as empty as the landscape that passed before her. This was gonna be a long trip.

Author's Note:

Hey, it's later in the day, but I made my personal deadline. I ran into a lot of writer's block on this one, so much so that I'm still kinda nervous about releasing it as is, but then if I keep thinking like that I may never release another chapter. Anyway, hope you like it. Til next time. :derpytongue2: