• Published 18th Feb 2013
  • 10,561 Views, 587 Comments

I Am Not the Actor - cleverpun

After one of Pinkie's clones wins the paint-watching test, she slowly finds that "being yourself" is never as simple as it sounds. Especially when everypony has a different idea about who you are, and who you should be.

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5. How Many Friends

5. How Many Friends

Pinkie skipped out of her house. It was such a beautiful day. Twilight and Fluttershy had left to go do something, but that was okay. Her friends were so amazing; naturally they would be in high demand. Besides, Pinkie had things to do too; she had to say “hello” to every pony in Ponyville. It was just one of the many fun parts of being Pinkie Pie.

As she bounced down the street she saw her first new friends: a teal unicorn and an off-white earth pony.

“Hi, girls!”

“Oh, hello, Pinkie.” The unicorn didn’t sound very happy.

“What’s the matter? You don’t sound very happy. Did you skip breakfast or something?”

“No, it’s, uhm…”

The earth pony nudged her friend. “Lyra, what are you doing?” she whispered. “Stop talking to it.”

“Who’s ‘it?’” Pinkie glanced around. “You two sound sad. Is there something I can do to help? I was gonna say ‘hello’ to every pony in town, but you know I always have time to help my friends!”

Lyra looked to the side. “It’s nothing. We’re just late for…something.”

“Oh, okay! Have fun at your appointment, Lyra, and…uhm, what was your name again?”

But the ponies had already left. They were arguing about something; they must not have heard her.

Pinkie shrugged and continued skipping. Then she saw her next new friend. They weren’t having a good day either. Neither was her fourth friend. Or her fifth.

Then she saw one of her old friends.

“Hi, Rarity! What’re you up to?”

Rarity looked up from the bread she had been examining. “Oh, uhm, hello, Pinkie. Just buying some groceries.” She hastily handed some bits to the pony behind the counter and settled the loaf of bread into her bags. “How are you doing today?”

“Great!” Pinkie punctuated the word with an upward pronk. “I was saying hello to everypony in town, but none of them want to talk to me.”

Rarity started walking towards a different stall and Pinkie hopped after her.

“Do you know why everypony is so grumpy today? Did something happen?”

“Well, honestly I wouldn’t know.” Rarity kept her eyes on the road ahead. The streets were mostly empty this early in the day.

“Really?” Pinkie frowned. “But you’re so smart, you’ve gotta know something!”

“Sorry, Pinkie, but I really have to finish up my shopping.” Rarity ground to a halt as Pinkie appeared right in front of her face.

“You’re sure you don’t know what’s wrong? You’re acting just like everypony else.”

Rarity’s eyes flicked to the side. “Well, Pinkie, sometimes it’s hard to notice how something is different.”

“What do you mean?”

Rarity reluctantly made eye contact with Pinkie. “I mean, sometimes little changes can make ponies just as, er, ‘grumpy’ as big changes can.”

Pinkie scratched her head. “But wouldn’t the little ones be easier to fix?”

“Well, as I said, often the smaller things are harder to notice.”

Pinkie giggled. “But then why would they bother anypony at all? Shouldn’t they just ignore them?”

“Well, some ponies certainly can, but it’s not always that simple.”

Pinkie cocked her head. “Why not?”

“They build up, all those little things.” Rarity glanced at her saddlebags. “It’s like the stitches on clothing. If just one thread comes loose it’s often not a concern.” She looked back at Pinkie. “But if a dozen do then the entire piece feels different. It might be too loose in certain spots, or too tight in others, and you can’t tell exactly what is wrong, you just know that something is. And some ponies don’t react to that very well.”

Pinkie nodded. “Ohhhh, okay, I see what you mean. So you think a bunch of little things changed and that’s making everypony upset?”

Rarity looked away. “Perhaps.”

“Well, I’ll just have to keep an extra-careful, super-attentive eye on everything while I say hello to everypony! Maybe I’ll be able to help un-grumpify everyone!” Pinkie beamed. “Thanks a lot, Rarity!” She took a step in no particular direction. “I’ll let you get back to your shopping. Be sure to tell me if you notice any of those little differences!”

Pinkie bounced off, humming an unfamiliar tune. Another talk with somepony, another new friend with an important appointment. Pinkie shrugged and skipped off again, still humming.

She didn’t notice Rarity watching her. She didn’t notice Rarity sigh, wipe her eyes, and walk off, either.

Twilight stared at her book. It was still on the title page, same as it had been for the last hour. A glance at her parchment showed it was still completely blank, save her name scrawled unevenly across the top. She closed her eyes, and the test flashed through her mind again. Especially the end. Pinkie had gotten so excited when Twilight declared her the winner. So happy about…

Twilight’s eyes snapped open. She knew it wasn’t healthy to dwell on it; all the books said so. Despite all the assurances it wasn’t her fault, it just wouldn’t leave her mind. The simple fact was that they had no Pinkie Pie anymore, just some imposter who wanted to replace her. All the clone’s attempts to be Pinkie Pie only rubbed salt in the wound.

Twilight suddenly looked up, her eyes wide.

“That’s it,” she whispered to herself. It wasn’t a very good plan. Twilight knew that. Even as she said the words she felt ashamed of herself. That wouldn’t matter if it worked, though. Anything would be better than wallowing in her own failure like this.

Twilight grabbed her bag and stuffed a few select books in it, then set off for Sugarcube Corner. When she opened the library door, however, Rarity was standing in her way.

“Sorry to barge in on you like this, Twilight. I was just talking to…” Suddenly Rarity noticed Twilight’s bag. “Oh, sorry, were you heading somewhere?”

“Oh, nowhere important.”

Rarity sighed. “You’re a terrible liar, Twilight.”

“Really, it’s nothing. What did you need?”

“Oh, well, I know I’ve been trying to stay calm about it, and I know you haven’t gotten over it yet, but I just saw Pinkie downtown and had to talk to somepony.”

“Why? What happened?”

Rarity gave her the gist of it, then sighed loudly. “I know I shouldn’t expect anypony to just accept it. I certainly haven’t. But, well...” Rarity leaned closer to Twilight. “I think Pinkie may be making it worse.”

“Making what worse?”

“You know, adjusting to all of this. Accepting the...situation.”

Twilight smiled. “Don’t worry, Rarity. I was actually just about to go fix that very problem.”

Rarity frowned. “I do not like the sound of that.”

“Trust me, Rarity, it’ll work. I haven’t planned it all the way through yet, but I’m certain it will work.”

“Dare I ask the nature of this plan?”

Twilight’s smile widened. “I’m going to help her be Pinkie, of course.”

Rarity shook her head. “I should have known better than to try and confide in you. You’re taking this harder than any of us.”

“Of course I am! But it’s going to be okay now. Like I said, I have a plan.”

“Twilight, you cannot fix grief with plans!” Rarity leaned forward. “It simply doesn’t work that way.”

“Ha, that’s what you think!”

Rarity put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “Twilight, please, listen. I know you’re not taking this well. Nopony is. Nopony can. Nopony should. But being reckless will only make things that much worse.”

“I’m not being reckless. I made flowcharts, I weighed every option, I planned out everything.” Twilight tapped her head, pushing Rarity’s hoof away in the process. “It’s allll up here. I just haven’t written them down yet. I’ll show you when I get back, then you’ll see that this will work. But right now I have to go.”

“Twilight, listen to me. I know whatever you’re planning seems like a good idea, but just slow down and think about it for a second. You can’t be impulsive about these sorts of things.”

“Get out of the way, Rarity.”

Twilight stepped towards the door, but Rarity planted a hoof in front of her.

“I am not moving until you listen to some sense.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes, and with a loud pop and a flash of purple of magic, she vanished.

Rarity didn’t have to guess where she had gone. She sighed loudly and fluffed her mane. “Well, perhaps it’s good I went to her, after all. Damage control is better when it’s timely.” Rarity started toward Sugarcube Corner at a brisk, though still ladylike, pace.

“I don’t get it, Goomi. I was friendly to everypony all morning, and none of them wanted to talk to me.”

The alligator slowly opened one eye, then closed it again. The rest of his body remained curled up and immobile.

Pinkie laughed. “Guess you’re right. I have the whole afternoon to keep trying!”

Pinkie grabbed one of her cupcakecookiebrowniecrumpets and popped it into her mouth. Mmm, chewy.

There was a knock at her door and Pinkie’s eyes lit up. In no time at all she had zipped over and opened it.

“Hi, Twilight! I’m so glad to see you!”

“Hi, Pinkie. May I come in?”

“Of course, of course! What’s up?”

“Well, I was thinking… After eating your…food, earlier, I think it might be good if I gave you some baking lessons!” Twilight was not good at faking cheer.

Pinkie giggled. “Oh, Twilight. I already know how to bake! I’m Pinkie Pie, remember? That’s what I do!”

Twilight knew Pinkie would say that. She had planned out all her answers just in case, and number eleven was already leaving her mouth before Pinkie had even finished. “But that’s just it, Pinkie! You could always be better at being…yourself.” She faltered on the last word, but Pinkie didn’t notice. “Why do you think I read so many books? It’s all so I can be a better Twilight.” Twilight really was a terrible liar.

Pinkie pondered for a moment. “Wellllllll…I guess that makes sense. But do you even know how to bake?”

“Of course. P—I mean, a friend of mine taught me how. She was one of the best.” Twilight trotted into the kitchen, pulling out the cookbooks she had brought.

Pinkie shrugged and bounced after her. No harm in humoring Twilight. Besides, baking with one of her best friends was sure to be lots of fun.