• Published 9th Mar 2022
  • 416 Views, 29 Comments

Satin Morning - daOtterGuy

Rarity, an overworked historical seamstress at a time travel agency, meets wackadoodle slang slinging Flash Sentry

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Keep it simple, stupid or what it is more commonly shortened to: KISS. An important phrase for any creative work. Though extravagance is beautiful in theory, in practice it tends to look gaudy and unappealing.

Once upon a time, I thought that every design needed all manner of buttons, ribbons, and the like, but I thankfully learned that simple is what really brings out the inner beauty of the wearer. Not clothing drowned in enough add-ons to be confused for a barnyard bargains sale on art supplies.

Now, if only my dearest clients could smarten up and learn that lesson as well, I could be much happier with my occupation of choice.

Of course, that would mean that they would be self aware enough to realize the crimes of fashion they commit and that could never happen. Frankly, I’m lucky that I even did.

When I was confronted with my problems of excess, I just simply didn’t understand. During my time at Manehattan U, I was, to put it lightly, a diva. Diva meant that I knew fabulous and fabulous to me meant enough sewn on tassels to derive a second dress from.

My professors of course disagreed, as they should, but failed to give me proper advice to correct it, as they should have. All my feedback could be summarized as too busy, too gaudy, and too last season — a rather cutting remark for a pony who prided themselves on being a trendsetter not a trend doer.

Every design I presented was rejected for subpar quality. Each rejection simply compounded my rage, made worse by the lack of guidance towards addressing the core problem.

Thankfully, my professor in historical fashion — Dr. Hemline was the definitive voice on period clothing and a gem amongst pompous fakes — recommended to me to read about an era of fashion that was defined by simplicity.

The Victorian Era; named after Her Majesty Princess Swift Victory, the then Queen of the Unicorns some hundreds of years before the unification of ponykind.

She was aptly named for her ferocity in battle and genius stratagem that had felled many a wannabe conqueror.

Her secret to victory lay in simplicity. She would strip down her plans to their most basic components after initially thinking of them, then, using the various fragments, weaved and built upon the strategy in such a way to adapt to the ever changing circumstances of the battlefield.

Any soldier could easily understand the final plan and move forward with clear instructions. This clarity allowed any army grunt to change tactics within their individual unit instead of following a rigid structure.

Famously easy to follow, vicious in execution.

This simplification extended to the manner of dress worn by ponies under Queen Victory’s reign. Swift Victory abhorred the overdressed, bold designs of previous eras and led the charge in designing what would be the predecessor to modern chic fashion.

Frills, ribbons, and tassels were shorn off in favour of cleaner silhouettes. Trends favoured functionality over extravagance. Style had a focus on dignity and grace. An emphasis on poise and the natural beauty of a pony’s form. Excessive became conservative, which only cemented itself amongst the populace as an economic downturn reared its ugly head late in the Queen’s reign.

By the time of Swift Victory’s passing and the reign of her daughter newly crowned Queen Tactical Advantage, mares dressed in one piece dresses with a single ribbon for colour, and stallions in one piece suits over a plain coloured shirt.

Inspiration struck me as I looked over these designs. Though a bit too simplified for my own tastes, the graceful lines and shapes of that era’s fashion inspired my then new line of modern wear that earned me the top spot in my class for the semester. As a thank you gift, I had sent Dr. Hemline a bouquet of white lilies, her favourite.

From then on, I employed simplification to all my designs. Broke down my initial musings into simple shapes and added in complication upon the basic components as I worked.

And, as all things are wont to do, this approach began to spill over into other aspects of my life.

Specifically, my dating life.

Fabulous I may be, a dating casanova I am not. Despite my best efforts, my longest relationship had been two months and that was before I began to occasionally present myself as a stallion.

Misfortune bred frustration until, finally, I re-evaluated my process and decided that I needed to strip down my efforts to its basic components and build them up into a cutthroat stratagem that would guarantee the pony of my dreams.

Thus the Four Rules of Dating were born.

Or FROD for short.

The first rule was to find interest. There needed to be a spark, some unexplainable quality that would draw me to a potential partner.

A tangible je ne sais quoi.

Flash Sentry had already met this quality. His quirky speech, his well meaning demeanor, and the adorable tilt of his head had all but swept me off my hooves and well into the realm of romanticization.

Normally, that would be enough for the average pony. But this is for me and I require more.

Or at least for Flash to get through my other three rules.

The next of which was probing for chemistry. All lasting relationships are built on a foundation of shared interest and friendship. Flash was charming, sure, but I needed to know who he was.

What was the everyday Flash like? Would I want to spend a lazy afternoon with him, simply enjoying his presence? Could we be friends outside of a romantic entanglement?

If the answer was no, then I hardly felt it worth the effort to begin dating him knowing that our romance would be fleeting at best. I had no way of knowing where this flight of fancy would take me, whether it be love, friendship, or disappointment.

But the spark was lit.

Now, I just needed to step back and find out just what kind of pony had managed to ignite it.

Rarity sorted through the stack of papers containing the various designs she had on file from several late night inspirations. Her workroom was mercifully clean with everything back in its proper place after a rather extensive reorganizing as Curio thus making it much easier to go through.

She scoffed at the stack and set them aside. Though it was some of hers, or rather Curio’s, best work, with the given timeline, she knew it would be better to just work with what already hung on the racks.

Several garments lay on a table nearby, a curated selection to be fitted for the stallion due to show up in a few short minutes.

Taking a nearby brush off her work desk in her hoof — her magic was still burnt out even after a good night’s sleep — she started to pull out the nonexistent knots in her curled mane. Despite the pointlessness of the action, it did well to calm the thrum of nervous energy that coursed through her.

A new acquaintance was about to trot through the door and she had to look her best to make the perfect first impression as her feminine self.

To say nothing of the fact that said acquaintance was very cute.

Heat rushed into Rarity’s cheeks as she thought over the events of yesterday. It had been a long while since she had felt any interest towards another pony let alone had it seemingly reciprocated in any way.

At least, that’s what she told herself. The eagerness could be attributed to loneliness instead of attraction and his kindness to politeness. It wouldn’t have been the first time Rarity had misread another’s intentions, but she couldn't help but hope for something to be there.

“Hey, what’s buzzin’ cousin? Everything’s looking much less like antsville with the cleanup.”

Rarity placed the brush back down and turned to see Flash trot into the room wearing the same jacket as yesterday.

“I’m happy to hear that as I did end up spending the majority of my evening having to get it done, but the job is done,” Rarity said in the clipped tones of her feminine accent.

“Yeah, looks banger, uh…” he tilted his head in thought before perking back up, “Rarity!”

Smiling, Rarity threw the nearby pile of clothing onto her back and stood up from her seat. “I see you were paying attention yesterday.”

“How could I not?” Flash gave a brilliant grin. “It was killer driller, and I definitely don’t want to bug out and mess it up, ya know?”

“Which means?” Rarity asked.

“The best, and that I don’t want to do something wrong since I enjoyed our conversation yesterday.” His cheeks flushed as he scratched the back of his neck with a wing. “Sorry, I’ll try to reel in the slang.”

Rarity tittered lightly. “As I said yesterday, I enjoy it. Feel free to continue to use it, just be prepared to translate sometimes.”

“I can dig it. So,” Flash trotted further in with a dopey grin on his face. “Are we dressing me to the nines today?”

“If you mean trying on several ensembles, then yes we are.” Rarity gestured towards the raised platform in the center of the room. “If you could remove your jacket, and step onto there, please?”

Shucking off his jacket, Flash did as he was asked and stepped up onto the podium. He stood comfortably with his undershirt still on and wings at his sides. Rarity began to circle him taking rough measurements in her mind as she noted he seemed completely at ease.

She also made a point to block out the rather tantalizing sight of his undershirt stretching tightly over his large shoulders and how it plastered itself to his thick breast.

“So, we twitchin’ or this just a total wipeout?”

Pausing in her movements, Rarity attempted to parse the sentence before saying, “Apologies, but I have no idea what you mean.”

“Well, you were given’ me eyes and I was wondering if that was a good thing or—”

“Oh, darling, no! I was just getting a rough idea of your sizes. I have some garments picked out, but I’d rather not pack you in them tighter than… than…” Rarity threw her hooves up in the air searching for the appropriate word.

“Canned sardines?”

“Yes, those, thank you.” Rarity grabbed one of the outfits off of her back and noticed an uncomfortable expression settle on Flash’s face. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, definitely, I’m supermurgitroid. Ready and raring to go. Not like some kinda schlub.” Rarity quirked an eyebrow in question as Flash tapped his hooves together nervously. “I mean…” he gulped, “I guess I kind of feel like a dress up dolly getting played with by their skirt with how you’ve been circling me.”

“By their… ? Ah!” Rarity perked in place as she got the context. “You feel like you’re being played with?”

“A bit, yeah,” Flash admitted, “Nothing that would tick me off, but definitely makes me feel like I’m floating in boiling water.”

“I assure you, Flash, that I’m not playing you. This is just part of the process.” She shrugged helplessly. “Unfortunately, as you so aptly put, it does amount to playing a lot of dress up.”

“Aiight, that’s keen.” Disappointment marred Flash’s features. “Guess, that’s all this is then. Work.”

“Now, now, darling, I wouldn’t say that’s entirely the case.”

“It isn’t?” Flash’s ears perked.

“I do like to chatter as I work, and I see no reason we couldn’t have some friendly conversation while I do so. Potentially, even get to know each a bit better.”

“That would be tubular, Rarity.”

“Quite, but that doesn’t mean we can entirely slack off. Now,” Rarity said as she waved a hoof, “I’ll need you to remove your shirt.”

“Y-you need me to—” Flash’s eyes widened in panic. “Do I really have to?”

“Yes, I can’t have anything affect my measurements or observations and that means only fur.” She furrowed her brow. “Though, your uncomfortableness with the request confounds me as modern trends due lend closer to au natural as it were.”

“Sorry, I just ain’t boss without my threads. You sure I can’t leave them on?” Flash asked with a slight whine in his tone.

Sighing with a bemused smile on her face, Rarity said, “I don’t normally cave to such demands, but fine, you may keep your shirt on.”

As Flash gave her a thankful grin, Rarity grabbed a flat top hat and pinstripe suit jacket from the garment pile. She held them out to him. “Now, while you try this on, I remember you mentioning that you were headed to the ragtime era next?”

“That, and both the Rock and Disco a few weeks after, but I want to get a replacement for my current gotos as things got a bit screwy with some jazzed ankle biters and bubblegum,” Flash said as he put on the proffered clothing.

“Dare I ask for details?” Rarity grabbed a measuring tape from the edge of the platform and threw one end over Flash’s neck.

“You heard of disco era gum?” Flash said as he adjusted his jacket with his wings.

“Yes, in fact. The infamous glitter gum by horsa borsa.” She pulled the ends of the tape measure together and mentally noted the measurement. “Quite a few ruined pieces sent my way due to that abominable brand.”

Flash nodded. “That’s the one. Those fart knockers shot me with a bunch of wads and then me and my fat head tried to take it off.” He snorted. “Tore the thing to shreds.”

“That explains what happened to one, but what does that have to do with the other?” She took the tape off and wrapped it around his withers and barrel.

“Was in such a tizzy, I ended up throwing it in with my other luggage without looking. Got a rude awakening on the flipside when I opened it up and found the two outfits stuck together.”

“Goodness, that is quite the bad run of luck.” Rarity took back her tape measure and did a quick once over of the jacket. She noted that it was too tight along the breast and loose along the chest. “Some good news, though, this jacket should work for you after some adjustments.”

“Ain’t that just gangbusters. What needs changing?”

“Needs some tightening in the chest and loosening along the front.” Rarity clicked her tongue. “Now that I’m looking at it again, I could probably make it more angular to fit your frame better and change out the hat ribbon for something that would better compliment your coat.”

“Sweet, good to hear. Was getting worried that I was getting a bit wide in the barrel. Glad to hear I’m still keeping it lean.”

“Bit of an understatement, darling. Even the most devout of our agents don’t have these kinds of measurements. I suppose you would be a… oh, what’s the word?” Rarity tapped her chin in thought. “Gym rat?”

“Righto. I’m on missions often, so the food I eat lacks a lot of the junk we put in it now. Plus the slickers I tend to be around, tend to enjoy a visit to the smelter’s house. When you’re built like I am, you get a lot of invites just for the sake of seeing how I measure up against them.”

“Seems like it's working out well for you then.” Rarity grabbed a striped button down shirt with matching ascot. “If you could switch out your current attire for this one and let me know how it feels?”

Changing clothes, Flash frowned as he settled into the new shirt. “Feels loose.”

“That’s the rock era style, and apologies I should have been more specific. I mean how does it feel emotionally? Are you comfortable in it.”

“Not really. The shirt feels stiff, which makes me feel like one of the hawks and I hate those warmongers,” Flash said, nearly spitting the last word in distaste.

“A bad fit then. Any suggestions to help guide my search for a replacement?”

“Anything gorovy on the racks? Something the doves might wear?”

“Doves?” Rarity furrowed her brow in confusion. “I am unfamiliar with sucha group.”

“Peace lovers. The slang term for the pegasi that protested the militarization of Cloudsdale,” Flash explained.

“Oh, them! Yes, I’m sure I have something more suited to that style.” Rarity hopped off the platform and trotted to a nearby rack. As she sorted through various pieces of clothing, she asked, “So, if the doves were protesters, I presume the hawks were… ?”

“The pegasi spearheading the push to turn Cloudsdale into an independent militant state,” Flash snarled, “Bunch of scuzzbuckets that lied their way into power and tricked the ponies into supporting a separist movement.”

“For the benefit of their leader, correct?” Flash nodded. “Ah, yes, I can’t say I’m too fond of that period with all the rather disingenuous subterfuge. Though, I do wonder, why the doves? There were plenty of neutral parties to associate with and keep out of the main conflict.”

“Nah, the fence sitters were a bunch of squares and too far removed for me to be able to complete my missions properly. ‘Sides that, they had the best jam sessions. Love visiting that era and bustin’ out the guitar.”

“You play an instrument?” Rarity looked over a jacket then shook her head as she continued to go through the rack.

“Yep. Mainly play rock, folk, and jazz. Great genres to be into considering the time periods I tend to get sent to. How about you? Play anything?”

“Not really, though…” Rarity paused as she mulled over her response. Deciding to take the chance, she said, “when I feel… masculine… I do like to pick up a trumpet and belt out a few notes.”

“Nifty.” Flash fluttered his wings excitedly. “I always appreciate a fellow musician, no matter the experience.” He lapsed into silence as he shuffled awkwardly in place. “So, I was wondering… no, never mind, it’s none of my business.”

“What’s none of your business?” Rarity asked, already expecting the answer.

Flash bit his lip nervously. “Tons of ponies probably ask you all the time.”

“You’d be surprised how few actually do. Aha!” Rarity reached in and pulled out a loose circle patterned jacket. “This will do.”

As she trotted back towards him, Flash looked at her in discomfort as he asked, “is it really okay to ask, though? I don’t want to overstep.”

“For you, yes. You’ve been much more understanding than others, so I really don’t mind.” She held out the new outfit towards him. “Now, try this on, please.”

With practiced ease, Flash changed into the new clothes and whistled in appreciation. “Swanky. Makes me feel right in with the boys.” He frowned before asking, “So, why are you a guy sometimes?” He grimaced. “Sorry, I mean, why do you…” he waved his wing in a circular motion searching for the right words, “feel like a stallion sometimes?”

Giving him a bemused smile, Rarity answered, “I would attribute it to a type of yearning.”

“Yearning?” Flash scrunched up his face. “Wouldn’t that mean you want to be a stallion full time?”

“Not quite.” Rarity took a few quick mental notes on the jacket for future adjustments. “I’m rather attached to my feminine side, I just feel a need to tap into my masculine one at times. Try and recapture the moment when I was a stallion.”

“Wait, then you changed yourself into a mare?” Flash asked, confusion marring his features.

“No, it’s—” Rarity took a deep breath. “Let me start over. Do you know what time anomalies are?”

“Discrepancies in the present caused by time travelers meddling with events in the past,” Flash recited, “we learn about that when we get hired on.”

“Correct, and one of those meddlers happened to be my little sister Sweetie Belle. A few seasons past, for some unknown reason, she had gotten this idea into her head that a big brother would be better than a sister.” Rarity sighed. “Unluckily for me, she managed to get a hoof on the simplified time traveling spell.”

“Wait, your little sister traveled back in time and changed your gender?!” Flash exclaimed.

“Through a rather foalish method that even Twilight herself cannot comprehend how it even worked.” Rarity rolled her eyes. “For about two months, I was, in fact, a stallion through and through.”

“How does that even work? Wouldn’t you be unaware of the change?”

Rarity furrowed her brow in puzzlement. “Did they not teach you about the repository system?”

Flash hung his head with a look of shame across his face. It was similar to a foal getting caught with their hoof in the cookie jar. “They did, but it kind of went over my head.”

“No worries, I admittedly never really understood until it became very relevant to my current predicament.” Rarity gave him an encouraging smile that managed to perk him back up. “To simplify, the Princesses casted spell that force changes to the main timeline to be branched off and contained within a repository. This doesn’t stop the change from occurring, but does it make it obvious when an anomaly occurs so that agents may be sent to fix the disruption.”

“So, in your case, the gender change happened, but reverted once agents managed to fix the issue?”

“Exactly so.”

“Righto.” Flash nodded. “So, that’s where your yearning comes from?”

“It does. I was relieved to be a mare again, but I ended up getting… urges over time.” Rarity sighed. “There were just days where how I presented myself felt… wrong, so, on a whim, I decided to present like a stallion for a day. All of a sudden those urges vanished just like that.” She punctuated the statement with the stop of her hoof. “I had thought perhaps I wanted to be a stallion on a more permanent basis, but that wasn’t the case. I wanted the best of both, not just one.”

“So, you present as a stallion on the days you can’t stand being a mare.” Flash said thoughtfully. “And you use the name Curio to feel closer to how you were back when you were a stallion.”

Rarity flashed a wide grin. “That is absolutely the case.” A frown then settled on her face. “Of course, this has led to some… strained relationships. Not many understand or even want to. It’s made me feel very—”

“Misplaced?” Flash said quietly.

Rarity hummed to herself. “Yes, misplaced. That does encapsulate the feeling quite well. By the way, I believe I have everything I need for this piece, so could you give me back the jacket, Flash?”

Lapsing into silence as he quietly hooved over the jacket, Flash furrowed his brow in deep thought. Respecting the need for silence, Rarity sorted through the nearby garments and eventually pulled out a brightly coloured jersey from the pile. She offered it to him.

Throwing on the jersey, Flash grunted, “I get it.”

“Get what?” Rarity asked as she scanned over the outfit for any changes she would need to make.

“That… misplaced feeling.” Flash took a deep breath. “You know, I regret not taking my dad’s advice when I joined Botts.”

“Oh? And what was that?”

“Always be good enough that they won’t fire you, but bad enough they never ask you for more.”

She stared back at Flash with an incredulous look as her entire thought process derailed. “That is a rather… interesting piece of advice.”

“It sounds bunk, but I’m living the consequences of not following it.” Flash sighed wearily. “Did you know that come Sunday, this will have been the longest stretch of time I’ve been in present day?”

“I— what?” Rarity raised both her eyebrows in shock. “That can’t be right.”

Flash smirked. “Five days is the longest I’ve been around since I got hired. Being the top agent for a bunch of time periods no one goes to, means I’m drowning in missions. You know how it feels to be overworked, right?”

“I… am familiar,” Rarity answered as heer mind went back over the weeks of overtime she had recently done.

Nodding, Flash continued, “I spend so little time… here,” He gestured with his wings in a wide arc, “that I don’t have any connections anymore. Any friends I had before… moved on.” Flash hung his head. “And I can’t really fix that since I’m never around.”

Rarity placed a hoof gently on Flash’s shoulder who returned the gesture with a small smile. “I suppose that would be hard, but surely, there’s family out there for you to visit?”

“They all live in Vanhoover, and that’s too far away for a quick visit. The only relationships I seem to have are in the past.” Flash snorted derisively. “I have scores of friends across several disconnected decades, but I can’t so much as manage to consistently say hi to someone in modern day.”

“If there’s a silver lining, at least you have somepony to go back to even if it's in the past.” Flash looked at Rarity with a confused expression. “As I said earlier, darling. Embracing Curio has not been kind to my rather diminutive social circle.”

“That’s so bunk,” Flash said angrily. “I think it’s so rad that you have that side to you, but no one would even give you a chance. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with somepony that could be the hottest dame at the ball then the best stud amongst the bros?”

“Oh, I can, can I?” Rarity gave a lecherous grin.

Flash’s fur puffed up as he stood ramrod straight with red colouring his cheeks. “I-I mean you are very attractive,” Flash flustered, “er, I mean that you’re super nice and cool to hang around? Not to say that you aren’t attractive, because you are, but—”

A tinkling of bells cascaded out as Rarity laughed. “It’s fine, Flash. Thank you for the compliment.”

“Y-you’re welcome, Rarity,” Flash replied, face still flushed.

“Now that my attractiveness has been settled,” Flash tensed up as Rarity giggled again, “it seems this will do as your third piece meaning we are done.”

“Oh, we are?” Flash said with a disappointed lilt to his voice.

“We are, however, if you would like, I could always use some company as I adjust the fittings.”

His eyes lighting up in excitement, Flash’s tail wagged behind him as he exclaimed, “that sounds neato, I’d be real jazzed to stay with you longer.” He leaned back and rubbed a wing nervously along his neck. “I mean, only if you don’t mind my company.”

“I’d be delighted for you to stay longer.” Rarity radiated a dazzling smile. “If you don’t mind, could you gather up the clothes we chose?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Flash gave a mock salute as he hurried to do as he was asked.

Rarity pointedly turned away trotted towards her sewing machine so as to avoid the rather enticing view of Flash’s muscular flanks as he set about his task. She bit her lip as she felt herself get heated over the thought of what she might witness if she just turned around.

It was becoming a problem as her physical attraction had been increasing exponentially over the course of their conversation. He understood her, on a level she hadn’t expected. It had been refreshing to meet a kindred soul such as he, another involuntary loner.

That he was a treat for the eyes certainly helped with that.

As she stared down at her sewing station, she took a moment to organize her thoughts. Possibility was at the forefront of her mind, and a dangerous hope within it.

Sheer willpower was the only thing keeping her from diving head first into the fray. She couldn’t indulge yet, for she still needed more time before she acted on her feelings. She had to be sure. She had to know whether the expended effort was worth it.

“Here, Rarity.” Flash placed the requested garments onto the side table nearby, a beaming smile on his face. “Just like you asked.”

She allowed her thoughts to slip away. Something to be dealt with when she was alone that night. For now, she had work to do and a wonderful conversation partner for the next few hours.

“Thank you, Flash.” She flicked on the machine. It hummed to life to the tune of a comforting whirring. “Let’s start with the jersey.”