• Published 18th Feb 2013
  • 10,074 Views, 586 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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7. Help Me Sleep at Night

7. Help Me Sleep at Night

Fluttershy stared at the massive sheet of parchment for a moment longer, then finally gave up and turned it ninety degrees. Another turn, and then a third did nothing to make Twilight’s microscopic writing any clearer. The mathematical equations and diagrams only made it worse.

Twilight leaned forward expectantly. “Well? What do you think?” Her voice had a conspiratorial tone.

“Uhm, well, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what I’m looking at.”

Twilight sighed. “I should’ve known you wouldn’t want to help. And obviously Rarity won’t want to…”

“Well, no. Sorry, what I meant was, I can’t read your writing.”

Twilight rubbed her neck. “Heh, yeah, I suppose I did rush a bit. And the calculus might not’ve been strictly necessary.”

Fluttershy turned it again, and then simply let it flop onto her coffee table. “So…what is it?”

Twilight smiled. “A training regimen.”

“And who are we training, and at what, exactly?”

“Pinkie, of course.”



“Well, uhm, it looks like you put a lot of effort into it and everything…”

“Oh, of course I did! I planned out everything! Every skill, every area, every possible thing. If we use this, then after a while she’ll be just like the real Pinkie Pie!”


“Don’t give me that look, Fluttershy. Rarity gave me the same one. This will work.”

“I didn’t say it wouldn’t work, Twilight, but—”

“‘But’ what?”

“Well, uhm, I’m sure it could work, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”

“And why not?”

“She’s a pony too, Twilight.”

Twilight chuckled. Fluttershy nervously followed suit.

“But that’s why it’s so perfect!” Twilight leaned forward excitedly. “She wants to be Pinkie Pie, and that’s exactly what I’m going to help her do. Be Pinkie Pie. I’m giving that imposter exactly what she wants.”

“It just seems so…manipulative and, uhm, well, a little…selfish,” Fluttershy squeaked.

Twilight planted her hooves on the coffee table. Fluttershy instinctively sunk backward into her couch.

“So what if it’s selfish! Everypony will be happier this way!” Twilight leaned forward, and Fluttershy pushed herself a few more inches into the cushions. “You keep pretending to like her, but the rest of the town hates her. I know, Rarity said so. This is for the best. This will work. Everything can just go…go back to normal. I have to fix it! I have to fix my mistake somehow!”


“You don’t…you don’t understand, Fluttershy.” Twilight fell backward onto the couch, turning her head to the side. “I haven't slept since it happened. Every time I try I see it again. And every time I see her it’s the same way.” She tucked her legs against her chest. “I know nopony in town likes her, for the same reason, but they don’t have to deal with the guilt. Nonstop guilt.” She fell sideways into the cushions, her voice started to crack. “And I can’t deny it. I can’t argue with it. It’s all my fault. All my fault…” Tears finally overcame her words, and Twilight scrunched her eyes shut, knowing full well the memory was going to be there waiting for her. It seemed slightly preferable to watching Fluttershy judge her.

Suddenly Twilight felt a warm body pressing against hers. She felt feathers wrapped around her back, and a hoof gently wiping tears off her face. Her eyes snapped open and she saw Fluttershy hugging her, though the rest of her body remained a fetal ball.

“Shh…it’ll be okay, Twilight.”

The platitude only caused a fresh wave of tears. “Yes, obviously.” Twilight managed to force out some sarcasm.

“No, it will.” Fluttershy stroked Twilight’s mane as gently as possible. “Because… I’m going to help you, with your…idea.”

Rainbow Dash opened one eye. Something felt off. She leaned over the edge of her cloud on instinct, curious about what had disturbed her nap.

Pinkie was talking to somepony. She was as chipper as ever, but after only a few sentences the other pony left in a huff. Pinkie scratched her head, shrugged, and started to hop off towards the next one.

“Pinkie Pie? What’re you doing?”

Pinkie’s eyes darted around and she finally looked up. “Oh, hi, Rainbow Dash! I was just saying ‘hello’ to every pony in Ponyville! Something bad must’ve happened, though; Everypony is in a really bad mood today. Do you have any idea why?”

“I, uh, couldn’t say…”

“Oh, well, I’m sure if it’s important somepony will tell me eventually! I’ll let you get back to your nap!” Pinkie skipped a few feet forward, and quickly encountered another potential friend. This one simply ignored her and continued walking. Pinkie called after them, but they continued ignoring her until finally they were out of sight.

“Uhm, Pinkie…?”

“Yeah?” Pinkie eagerly spun back around.

“How many ponies have you talked to today?”


“And, uhm, how many of them said more than three sentences to you?”

“Two! One of them said about three sentences, but technically they were addressing their friend not me, but I did learn the friend’s name as a result, so I guess that might count! Why?”

Rainbow rubbed the back of her neck nervously, and finally flew off her cloud and landed near Pinkie. “Well, uhm, do you…want to do…something?”

“Like what?”

“Well, we could go get lunch. I’m starving. Being as awesome as I am does burn up a lot of calories.”

“Sleeping burns calories?”

“I was power napping.”

“Ohhhhhh, okay, that makes sense. But don’t you have to finish power napping then?”

Rainbow smiled. Her teeth weren't quite level. “What, can’t I have a late lunch with my friend?”

Pinkie’s eyes lit up. “Of course we can!” She flung herself around Rainbow.

“Yeah, yeah, okay, don’t get all sappy on me. You’re paying, after all.”

Fluttershy continued staring at the dense diagram, but it failed to get any more comprehensible. Perhaps flying and reading it at the same time wasn’t helping, but she doubted that was the only problem.

“I don’t know, Twilight. This still seems a little…convoluted.”

“It’ll be fine. Trust me.”

“Couldn’t you just use magic or something to make her a better baker?”

“No. I can’t use magic.”

“Why not?”

“You wouldn’t understand…”

Fluttershy leaned in closer to Twilight. “Wouldn’t I?” The two of them stopped.

Twilight took a deep breath. “I just… I just can’t, okay? Magic is what caused this whole problem in the first place. Using more of it will just make things worse.”

“That wasn’t your fault, Twilight. You did everything you could.”

Twilight turned her head away. “No, I didn’t. I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“Twilight, wait. I’m sorry, I’m listening. What do you mean?”

Twilight glanced at Fluttershy, then took a deep breath. “The spell to send the Pinkies back, it was attuned to one location, not to who it was used on. So, it would send things to the same spot regardless of who they were. If I had taken the time to study it more carefully, to actually think about its construction, I might’ve been able to make it discriminate between the real Pinkie Pie and the fake ones.”

“It was new magic. You couldn’t have known, Twilight. Maybe you still don't.”

Twilight snorted derisively. “Oh, but I knew enough to prevent the targets from returning via magic, didn’t I? If I had spent that much effort on studying the spell, taken a few days or weeks or months to restructure it, I wouldn’t have…” Twilight shook her head. “Some Element of Magic I am. I got careless on the important parts and my safeguards made things worse. I’m such a…a shortsighted, careless idiot.”

“You didn’t—”

“Didn’t what? Didn’t what?

Fluttershy was silent.

“Exactly. Don’t pretend this isn’t my fault, because it is. And I’m going to fix it, and I’m not going to make things worse with magic this time. Never again.” Twilight spun around and continued walking. Fluttershy hesitated briefly and then floated after her.

Rainbow Dash never, ever admitted when she made a mistake. At least not out loud. As she watched Pinkie examining their table’s salt shaker with a naïve curiosity, however, she was sorely tempted to reconsider that policy. Thankfully Pinkie put it down before the desire became too potent.

“Uhm, Pinkie? You might want to look at your menu, not the napkin holder.”

Pinkie’s hoof paused in mid-air and took a sharp turn away from the center of the table.

“Right, sorry. I just love how everything matches everything else. This place looks great!”

The diner was not a bastion of fashion, but it did have a pleasant, simple aesthetic. The booth they were seated in was comfortably plain and clean. There were a few other patrons scattered about, but even when it was full the place never felt crowded.

“Yeah, I like it here too. Not too fancy, not too trashy. Helps me think. And helps me eat.” Dash smiled.

Both mares began to peruse their menus. Dash knew most of the items on it, so she didn’t give it her full attention. Instead, she focused on an argument in the corner of her eye. Several of the waitstaff were frowning and gesturing at their table, though none of their words were loud enough to carry over.

“This menu is terrible!”

Dash looked up. “Sorry, what?”

“What's wrong with this menu? There's no cupcakes or cake or candy or anything on it!”

“You could order something else.”

Pinkie gasped. “You mean there’s food besides cupcakes!?” She failed to notice the sudden stares she received.

Sounds like Pinkie, Rainbow mused. “Uhm, yeah. Most of it is pretty good. Some of it has a lot of calories, though.”

“Oh, okay!” Pinkie scanned her menu, and then closed it and let it flop onto the table. “Alright, I picked something! Where do we go to make it?”

It occurred to Rainbow that she had never been to a restaurant with Pinkie, or even seen her in a restaurant. Unless that donut shop counted, and it probably did not. “No, see, you wait and they make it for you,” Rainbow explained.

Pinkie frowned. “Well, that doesn’t sound very fun.”

“Well, while you wait you get to talk to one of the awesomest ponies in Equestria.” Dash rubbed a hoof on her chest and grinned smugly. The posture lasted mere moments before she returned to her menu, suddenly aware she hadn’t chosen anything yet.

Pinkie’s frown immediately bounced back into a smile. “Oh, ok! What do you want to talk about? Parties? Cookies? Pets?”

“Uhm, why don’t you tell me about your day?”

“Oh, okay! Well, first Twilight came over to tell me that everypony decided to let me stay. I knew my new friends would never ever make a mistake about such an important investigation, so it wasn’t really a surprise, but it was still nice to hear! And then I went out to say ‘hi’ to everypony in town. Pony number one, Lyra, was a teal unicorn, and pony number two was a cream earth pony. They were in kind of a rush, so I didn’t get to talk to them very long, but they seemed really nice. I guess being late can make some ponies cranky, though. Then pony number three…”

Pinkie made it through eleven ponies before the waitress arrived to take their orders. She didn’t speak to Pinkie, or even make eye contact with her. Pinkie told her order to Dash, who then relayed it to the waitress. She scribbled their orders down and left, with as few words as possible.

Dash snorted. “Rude.”

“What? Why?”

“She didn’t even look at you.”

“Oh, you noticed that too? She must know I’ve never been to a restaurant before. Guess it’s pretty obvious I’m new here. I bet she didn’t want to make me uncomfortable or put me on the spot, so she just talked to you.” Pinkie smiled. “That was really thoughtful of her.”

“Uhm, sure… I guess…”

“So, where was I? Oh, right, and then I talked to pony number twelve. She was a purple pegasus. Hehe, ‘purple pegasus.’ She must’ve had somewhere important to be too, because when I tried to talk to her she just flew off. I guess everypony in town is working on something together, since they’re all so busy. And then there was pony number thirteen…”

“So then I say,” Rainbow leaned in slightly, pausing just long enough, “Rainbow Dash? More like Rainbow Flash!

Pinkie and Rainbow both laughed for a solid minute. A number of the other patrons shot them dirty looks, but neither pony noticed.

Pinkie wiped her eyes. “I didn’t really understand the last part, but that was a great story Rainbow Dash!”

Rainbow was saved from responding by the waitress dropping off their check.

“Ooh, I got this!” Pinkie snatched up the piece of paper, contemplated it for a moment, and then started rummaging in her bag.

“It’s ok, Pinkie, you don’t have to,” Rainbow said.

“But you said it was my treat, and I’m a Pinkie Pie of my word!”

“But I said that, not you.” Dash glanced to the side. “Besides, I was joking, mostly.”

“Don’t worry, Rainbow Dash, I want to!” Pinkie finally pulled her face out of her bag, a coin purse in her teeth. “Now, the gold ones are worth more than the silver ones, right? Or is it the other way around? Or are they worth the same? That would be kinda silly, though.”

Pinkie rubbed her chin contemplatively, and Rainbow took the opportunity to grab the check from her.

“Hey, I was using that!”

“Don’t sweat it, Pinkie. This one’s on me.”

“But I want to pay. That’s what friends do, right? Buy lunch for each other?”

Dash plopped some bits on the table. “But I’m your friend too, aren’t I?” She double-checked to make sure there was no tip, then turned to Pinkie. “You can buy the next one, deal?”

“You mean we get to do this again?

“Well, yeah, if you want.”

Pinkie answered with a hug, although she had to end it prematurely because of the table digging into her stomach.

The two of them gathered their bags, though only one of them noticed the other diners staring at them as they left.

“So, when do you wanna do this again? Tomorrow? Or the next day? Or the day after that? Or the day after that? Or—”

“Whoa, easy, Pinkie. There’s no rush, right?”

“Yeah, sorry, I guess not. We can hang out any time, there’s no rush at all.” Pinkie smiled.

“Ehr, yeah. Anyway, I have to go, it was, uhm, fun hanging out.” Rainbow glanced to the side. “I’ll…talk to you later?”

“You bet! Bye bye, Rainbow Dash!”

Both of them headed off to their respective houses. Pinkie bounced, Rainbow flew. Neither of them noticed the blotches of pink and purple in a nearby bush, or the glint of binoculars being put away.