• Published 6th Sep 2011
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On a Cross and Arrow - Conner Cogwork



Twilight and her five friends are transported across dimensions to... Ponyville, Equestria? But not the same one they knew.

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Part 5: With a Finger Crossed.

On a Cross and Arrow

By Conner Cogwork

Twilight and her five friends are transported during a botched spell, across dimensions to... Ponyville, Equestria? But not the same one that they knew. Sitting on a bench is Harpsy and Babar. The Doctoress avoids apples from an aspiring Applebuck. And in a library across town, six stallions join their forces as they try to decipher the appearance of filly look-alikes of themselves around Ponyville!

Image credit to KtKat! Thanks SO much!

Part Five

With a Finger Crossed

----------------------------

There wasn't even a knock. The library door slammed open as a stallion groggily weaved his way inside. "DUSK!? Dusk, I gotta talk to you!"

"Rainbow?" came a voice behind a stack of books. A unicorn's head popped up from the mess of volumes. "Rainbow, what's uuuuAAAOOOH SWEET SOLARIS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!"

"It's not as bad as it looks." Blitz assured, woozily waving off the patch of dark purple that had encompassed half his face. "Seriously, I've handled worse."

"I sincerely doubt that! Get your flank over here, let me have a look at that. Didn't you even go to the clinic?"

"And risk being seen in public with a shiner like this?” He trotted over unsteadily, before collapsing onto his haunches. “C'mon brony, I got an image to keep up after all."

There was a clicking of the tongue as a first aid book was levitated over. "Sometimes, you're just as bad as Elusive."

"Hey! You take that back!" the colt demanded, shooting onto all four feet, before wobbling and falling flat back on his flank. "Ow..."

Dusk simply sighed as his horn lit up and he went to work, healing his friend to the best of his abilities. "So, what did happen, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Ugh, Dusk, I didn't believe you at first, but it turns out, you're right! There are weird ponies in Ponyville!"

The purple stallion's eyes widened, though he kept his concentration on the wound. "R-really? You saw one?"

"SAW one?! Dusk, she was IN MY HOUSE! Ooooh, that... that Filly-faker! When I get my hooves on her-!"

A look of confusion. "Wait, Filly-faker?"

"Yeah, Filly-faker! Freaky as all hay, Dusk! She was obviously a girl, but she looked Exactly Like Me! The coat, the mane, even my Cutie-mark! A-a-a-and don't even get me STARTED on her flying!" The pegasus was obviously still in a tizzy, his hooves waving in the air at his last sentence.

"Gack, Blitz, hold still." Dusk warned. "This is a complicated spell, if you keep moving like that, I'm gonna wind up giving you a third eye."

His patient quickly complied, and allowed the student to continue his work. At length, the unicorn resumed the discussion. "Her flying? I'd think you'd be able to catch her. Aren't you the fastest flyer in Equestria, after all?"

"You'd think." Blitz replied glumly. His rose eyes darted around the library to see if anypony else was present *which there wasn't, except for Spines snoozing on a biography of Queen Irontail,* before continuing. "But... I just, could not catch up to her. I always managed to get within like, three, four yard's distance from her, but she always managed to stay just out of reach! It doesn't make any sense, I mean, she was just a girl! I should've caught up to her easy!"

"There are tradeoffs to each gender, you know." the lavender colt supplied. "A pegasus stallion like you usually has more developed muscles, to account for the weight and drag that the male form usually has. But a mare's form is much more slender and aerodynamically shaped, so even if their wing muscles aren't as developed, they would still be able to keep up with the strongest stallion out there."

The blue pony found himself snorting. "I thought you didn't attend flight school."

"Well, you did, and yet this didn't occur to you. What does that say about how you spent your study time?"

There was a roll of the eyes, as he changed the subject. "Either way, next time I see her, I'm giving her a piece of my mind. Especially after the way she pulled a fast one on me!"

"A fast one on-?"

Suddenly, Dusk's complexion lightened, as the pieces were put together. A hoof went up to his face, as he tried to suppress the snicker that was forming. "Blitz... this bruise on your head... did she?"

"N-no! I-it was just an accident! Nothing major!" Rainbow blurted, trying his best to look casual, though the unicorn knew his body language well enough to know he was in denial.

"She did, didn't she?!" the magician finally guffawed. "She bucked you! You got bucked by a girl!"

Multihued-mane drooping, the stallion lowered his head. "Twice."

Dusk was tempted to fall to the floor and begin laughing in much the same manner Blitz had when they had first met. However, he managed to recover his chuckles, though the grin still remained. "Ooooh, I'm so sorry Blitz, that was terrible of me. I just... I never thought the day would come!"

"PLEASE don't tell the rest of the guys about this?" Rainbow pleaded, hooves in prayer form. "If Applejack hears word of it, he'll never let me live it down!"

The unicorn gave another chuckle, before he sighed and nodded. "I promise, Rainbow. I won't tell anyone."

A rose-red gaze. "Berry Bubble Swear?"

Another sigh and roll of the eyes, before the colt got to his haunches. "Cross my heart. Hope to fly. Stick a cupcake in my..." pause, close eyelid, THEN touch. "Eye."

Blitz relaxed after that, allowing Dusk to resume his healing spell. Already he could tell that there would still be a dark spot right above the eye after he finished, but something like that wouldn't take long to heal naturally. Again, he restarted the topic. "So... twice, you say? Like, one right after the other, or once-"

"Once, while I was chasing her." his patient clarified. "The second, right before I... well, right before I lost her."

Here, Dusk was surprised. "You lost her? How'd she manage to do that?"

"She... she performed... IT."

A raised eyebrow. "It?"

"My move, Dusk. My signature move!"

"Blitz... you don't mean...?"

A heavy nod. "She performed the Double Rainboom! By the time I'd recovered from the shockwave, she was long gone."

The medical tome that the unicorn had been holding, suddenly fell to the floor. Rainbow blinked as he felt his friend's magical energies release their hold on his head. He prodded the side of his face with a hoof, glad to see that the earlier throbbing and dizziness that was present before, was no longer there. He then redirected his attention to Dusk, just in time to see the look on his face shift from open-mouthed shock, to newfound determination.

"Thanks Blitz." he said, though his voice had a hollow tone to it. The purple stallion turned on the spot, and quickly trotted over to a nearby desk, a quill flying out of an inkpot as he began quickly scribbling on the piece of parchment there.

"Dusk?" The pegasus got to his feet carefully, testing for wooziness, before joining his friend. "What's going on, brony? You know something about these ponies, I can tell. Let's hear it."

The other pony was hesitant. "I'm... I'm not sure if the theory I have is sound, Blitz... but after what you've told me today, the evidence is overwhelming. I'm also not sure if you'll believe me..."

"Hey, don't be like that, Dusk. I trust you, y'know? Whatever you have to say, I'll listen."

He regarded his friend with a look of gratitude at those words. "Thanks, Blitz. Okay then." he turned back to the paper. "Tell me. What do you know about Alternate Dimensions?"

----------------------------

"Oh my. This simply won't do at all!"

A number of heads reared up at the words. They had come from a white unicorn mare, who was entering the HEDGE with a towel wrapped around both her mane and her tail, the wet condition of her fur due to the result of bathing in a nearby stream.

"What's up, Rarity?" Applejack asked, a half-eaten Macintosh in her hoof.

"This is!" the dressmaker cried, as a shampoo bottle flew out from her towel. A few squeezes produced whistling noises, signaling its empty state. "I've completely run out of my favored conditioner!"

Blue and orange ponies rolled their eyes. Twilight gave a flat, confused look. Fluttershy, ever sympathetic, went 'Awww.' Pinkie took the bottle into her own hooves and attempted to perform 'Equestria the Beautiful' with it.

"It's just soap, Rarity." Dash replied. "You can live a few days without it."

"Maybe you can." Blue eyes rolled at the pegasus. "But I assure you, most of us more refined types require more frequent upkeep than others! And simply because we've been secluding ourselves away in this... cozy little habitat-" she regarded their surroundings with an apologetic smile. "-does not mean I cannot look my best at all times."

Twilight groaned to herself, but gave a smile to her friend. "We know, Rarity, we know. I'm sorry about your soap, but just hang on for a while longer. I've almost restored my power. With luck, by the end of today, we'll be back home, and all of this will be behind us."

Applejack let out a whoosh of relief. " 'Bout goll-darn time too. T'day is our third day in this here world, ain't it? Ah'd kinda lost track o’ time."

There were murmurs of agreement all around. Rarity, though she wanted to believe that it would be as easy as it was said, still had the reservation in her heart that it wouldn't be. It doesn't hurt to prepare for the long-run. she thought to herself. Besides, there's still.... that OTHER matter...

The unicorn turned her eyes onto the student. "You're right of course. Sorry for my complaining, dears. But, uhm, just in case, Twilight, you wouldn't happen to know how to transform a pear into a bottle of hair conditioner, would you?"

Twilight sighed with a smile, but shook her head. "Normally, I wouldn't turn you down, but I need to keep as much energy as I can for the spell tonight. Sorry."

She got a nod in return. "That's quite alright, dearie. I suppose there's just no helping it." She trotted over to a corner where a mirror had been mounted on the wall, a brush levitating over as she removed the towel from her mane and began to groom it.

"I'll just have to go into town today."

She counted up to five seconds before the walls of the HEDGE reverberated with a unanimous "WHAAAAT??"

"Rarity!" Applejack thundered, skidding to a stop beside the mare. "Have y'all been awake th' past two days?! Ev'ry time one o’ us steps out thar, we wind up makin' a c’mmotion!"

"This is too much!" Twilight added, galloping up to her other side. "You're seriously going to risk our being discovered and found over a bottle of SHAMPOO??"

"Ladies, please!" Rarity soothed, her composure unruffled despite the heat directed at her. "I am no madmare, you're all well aware. There is a larger overlying reason as to why I must venture into the strange outdoors. Shampoo would just be a side-benefit."

"What in the hay are you talking about?!" Rainbow yelled, hovering with a frustrated expression. "We've had plenty of cases where you've gone over the deep end! What makes what you're planning on doing, any different?!"

"If you'll allow me to speak..." the white unicorn said patiently. "Then I'll tell you why." She then directed her gaze at the student, never halting with her brushstrokes. "Twilight, dear. I'm a bit surprised that even you think this trip is unnecessary."

"Rarity!" Twilight's expression was one of confusion and hurt. "Seriously, what are you going on about?"

"Can you recall for me, the separate items that you needed in order to activate the spell in the first place?"

In everypony's current state of mind, the question seemed like a non-sequiter. However, the magician humored her friend as she began to list the objects.

"A... a vessel of white, to hold the down."

They all looked at the table. The vase sat there, today's flower of choice being a maroon tulip.

"A feather of blue, to match the sky 'round."

Rainbow Dash preened at this, it had required one of her feathers the first time around.

"A stone of fire, from light which grows,"

Rarity levitated a ruby from her saddlepack, the surface gleaming flawlessly.

"And the essence of flower, for which the sun glows..."

Silence.

Looks of realization began to percolate on everypony's face. "Sunflower oil!" Applejack gushed. "We plum done fergot th' sunflower oil!"

Rarity did her best to refrain her smile from getting TOO smug, as Twilight gaped. "I'm sorry, dears." she apologized. "I-I thought you had all remembered. I couldn't help but notice that there wasn't any sunflower oil in the bags after Fluttershy and Applejack did their shopping trips. It is a key ingredient, isn't it?"

"It is..." the lavender pony spoke, an embarrassed blush on her cheeks. "I-I can't believe I didn't... and here I thought... I'm sorry I thought you were..."

There was a tisk, as a hug and nuzzle was exchanged. "Think nothing of it, dear. We've all been out of sorts. I don't blame you in the least for thinking I had become a crazy cat lady."

"Y'mean you're not?" Pinkie quipped.

"W-well, better to have found out sooner than later." Fluttershy spoke, directing attention towards herself. "Imagine if we had waited until tonight, and THEN found out."

Applejack let out a low whistle. "Yeah, that would'a been a right nasty s'prise. Count on Rarity t' notice somethin' like that in th' nick of time!" Her green eyes gave her friend a look of respect.

"Okay okay, so, now we know." Dash added, alighting on the floor once more. "So... I guess we pool bits again? I'm kinda running low over here myself."

"Rarity." The white unicorn turned towards Twilight at the mentioning of her name. "Since you were the one who brought it up, were you volunteering?"

"O-oh, well yes, I suppose I was."

"Any particular reason why it should be you, and not Applejack again?"

"Well dear, we're not doing a big shopping trip like we have done the past two days. All that I need to get is a bottle of Sunflower oil, and some shampoo. I have more than enough bits, so don't worry about pooling any money for me."

"Also," here, she leaned in to the purple pony. "Nothing against them, but I am no Rainbow Dash or Pinkie Pie. I am quite well and aware of the situation we are currently in. You can count on me to keep my 'cool' and to not create a scene, should something unforeseen crop up."

"Lastly," she then turned to look back at the farmer. "Not to slight against you, Applejack, but you don't know the exact kind and brand of conditioner that my coiffure requires." She got a good-natured eyeroll in response.

Twilight sat there in thought for a while, before she looked back up, her decision made. "Okay then... I'll let you do it. But we need to get you into a disguise, before you step foot into Ponyville."

Here, Rarity gleamed. "Oh you needn't worry about that too much, Twilight dear. I have JUST the thing!"

----------------------------

"Meet... Rarity Umbrelle!"

Nopony had any idea when she had obtained a sun-umbrella from. But it did match the red bow that she had affixed to her hair. Surprisingly, she wore nothing else... except for a blank flank.

"So, where did you learn this spell again?" Twilight asked, her eyes wide open as Rarity's horn glowed, the diamonds on the dressmaker's hindquarters slowly fading into obscurity.

"Well... you see, I was among the first of my friends in class, to gain my Cutie-mark." the unicorn began, her face a picture of concentration. "I admit, I was.... somewhat ostracized by my peers as a result at first. Eventually, I found a spell in a book, that temporarily removed a cutie-mark from view, for a few hours at a time. Armed with that, I would head into school, cast the spell, be able to commune with my friends, and then head back home."

"O-oh my," Fluttershy cooed, her own eyes also wide and watching, a look of worry across her face. "Were you picked on badly by the other colts and fillies?"

"Oh, there were a few words said here and there. You know how the youth are." Rarity waved it off. "Eventually, my friends began to gain their cutie-marks as well, and so I ceased usage of the spell. I even offered to teach it to a few of them. I never thought a scenario would arise, where I would need to use it once more."

"Ah hav'ta say sugarcube, up till t'day, ah'm kinda glad it never did too." Applejack added, an unsettled look in her eyes. "That's just... just plain creepy, if y'ask me."

"I think it's done." Twilight announced. "Congratulations Rarity, you are now a fully grown, adult blank flank."

The white mare looked back at her hindquarters, and nodded. "Not for long though. Fluttershy, if you'd be so kind, my makeup kit."

"How much stuff did you bring with you?" Dash asked, incredulous. "I've got no clue how you managed to make it all fit into those saddlebags in the first place!"

"Oh, just the bare essentials, nothing more." came the answer. She smiled as the timid pony returned with a black box in her mouth. Giving a nod, her horn lit as the case was levitated, then opened, a black mascara pencil floating out. Turning her head, she then concentrated as she began doodling on her own flanks, custom-making a pair of cutiemarks.

After a minute or so, she had one. It was a pair of opened umbrellas, both crossed and tilted perpendicular to each other, their red tops glowing as solid as the real thing.

"Rarity Umbrelle!" she announced grandly. "Maker of fine specialty umbrellas, custom-fashioned to fit everypony's unique individual needs!"

"Wooooow," Pinkie cooed, a hoof wavering as if to touch the mark. 'It looks so REAL~"

"I must admit, that is extraordinary!" Twilight added, her face beaming. "I would be hard-pressed to see you as anything but genuine."

The rest of the ponies gave their approval, as Rarity positively glowed from all the comments. "Thank you, thank you my dears!" she exhaled, picking up her umbrella and a small neckbag, strutting towards the exit. "I shan't be long, Twilight! You can trust me on this, I hope!"

"No, I trust you." the student answered, an honest smile on her face. "Just remember. we're all counting on you!"

"Better you than me, Rarity." Applejack cheered. "Go get'em!"

"Don't you worry, fillies!" the unicorn chimed back, as she slipped out between the bushes. "That's Exactly what I'm planning on doing.”

----------------------------

"Wow, whatta gal!" the party pony cheered, as she hopped back towards their rock table. "I totally forgot all about the sunny sunflower sun oil sunny stuff!"

"Me too." Twilight replied, turning away from the exit. "Once again she proves her knack for detail."

"If y'say so." Rainbow said, lazily laying on her back. "Personally, I think she was just getting tired of being cooped up in here with all of us."

"O-oh, well, that would make sense." Fluttershy mumbled. "I-I mean, I noticed that she had slept on the far end of the cave last night. Maybe it was my snoring."

"Hey, Fluttershy!" Pinkie spoke up. "Maybe if she's lucky, she'll run into Butterscotch today too!"

The thought made the yellow pegasus’s cheeks tint pink, a sight that the apple farmer couldn't help but chuckle over. "That'd be a nice s’prise, wouldn't it, sugarcube? Ah ain't th' romantic type usually, but ah still think th' two 'o you're cuter than two peas inna pod. An' ah know Rarity'd agree wit' me, should she see 'im!"

The orange pony continued trotting towards the table. "Ah mean, Rarity knows what all goes inta' a relationship anyways. Sometimes, it's th' opposites that attract, an' then other times, it means findin' yer own-"

She suddenly stopped, her hat falling off due to leftover forward momentum.

Everypony stared at Applejack, rather confused. "AJ? What, did you think of something?" Twilight asked, approaching her friend cautiously.

Rainbow thought she heard a creaking sound as the blonde slowly turned her head to face the unicorn, green eyes hollow and haunted. "Twi... ah can only think o' two stores in all o’ Ponyville that sell shampoo. And one o’ dem ain't open t'day."

There was silence that was shortly punctuated by a quiet "Oh! The Luxury Lotus Spa is closed on Sundays."

Twilight 's brows narrowed. "And the only other store that I can think of is Carousel Bou-"

It hit her.

She turned back to the HEDGE's entrance, eyes as wide as dinner plates. "RARITY!! WHY SHE-!! SHE DID THAT ON PURPOSE!!"

"Is she... is she REALLY?!" Dash exclaimed, her wings now beating in panic.

"She's goin' to th' Boutique tah meet her male self!!" Applejack cried out. "We gotta stop 'er!!"

Twilight was nearest, and thusly, was the first one out the exit. The rest of the mares were momentarily discombobulated by the shock, but they all got to their hooves and galloped towards the opening-

-right in time for the purple unicorn to bolt back inside, her eyes now achieving apoplectic levels of panic, as she furiously hissed "EVERYPONY, HEADS DOWN AND KEEP QUIET!"

"Quiet?!" Pinkie exclaimed. "But Twilight, I thought we were gonna go save Rarity from making a-"

A muzzle composed of pure magic materialized around the pink pony's mouth, effectively silencing her. The resultant quiet was enough to allow them to hear a faint rustling.

Somepony was outside.

"Twilight..." Fluttershy asked, almost inaudible. "Wh... wh-who is it?"

"It's... it's him."

Looks of confusion were traded for a few minutes... up until they heard a voice pipe up from outside.

"Okay, what're we doing here again, Dusk?" Spines asked.

"We're looking, that's what. Look, you remember what happened the other day with Butterscotch, right?"

"How could I forget? Seriously man, how cold can you get? Checking out a book and then claiming you don't have it?"

"That's besides the point, Spines. Think back. You remember hearing about the filly Butterscotch met later?"

"The one Blitz says is 'Scotch's girlfriend?"

"That's the one."

Twilight looked over at Fluttershy's face, the yellow pegasus' cheeks flushed red, tears beading in her eyes.

"I think the 'Butterscotch' that visited us in the library, and the mare he met later, are one and the same."

"Really? And what makes you think she'd be out here at the edge of the Everfree?"

"Because of the second sighting that Blitz told me about yesterday. You heard about the Double Rainboom, right?"

"Yeah, caused quite a commotion. Shouldn't Rainbow Blitz 'ave been proud of that?"

"He would have been, if it hadn't been for the fact that it was his doppelganger who did it, not him."

There was a scuffling sound. Twilight could imagine Spines nearly slipping off her friend's back. "Doppel- you mean, a twin?"

"Yeah, a twin or a clone. Blitz said they looked just like him, save for the fact that she was a filly. In his own words, a 'Filly-faker'."

Now Twilight heard a motion to her left. She looked up in time to see Applejack restraining Dash from flying straight out into the open, hooves blazing.

"Either way, he told me that the female 'Blitz' had headed off in the direction of the Everfree forest. I've already been out to Zircon's hut today, and he told me that he hadn't seen anything weird out there lately. So I'm assuming our doppelgangers are keeping base a little closer to home."

"Ahhh, I get'cha brony.” The dragoness could be imagined nodding her head. “So, it's a search party then, eh? Shouldn't you have called the rest of the gang?"

"I was tempted to, but decided against it. The LAST thing we need is for Berry to go and make this a REAL party." There was a stamp of hooves right outside the HEDGE's entrance, as the voice become loud and clear.

"No, I think we can do this. We should be able to find 'ourselves' out here. Or I'm not the Prized Student of Prince Solaris, Dusk Shine!"

Down in that burrow, the Prized Student of Princess Celestia, Twilight Sparkle, felt a knot begin to form in the pit of her stomach as her eyes darted over to a green-backed hardcover book.

I should have had Fluttershy return it the first day.

----------------------------

Rarity Umbrelle trotted through Ponyville with a skip and bounce in her step. She was a mare on a mission... even if she hadn't been fully honest with her friends on what that mission was.

Hearing the tales of the fillies one by one meeting their masculine halves had kindled an emotion that she'd not welcomed, but tolerated nonetheless. Jealousy. And after having heard and witnessed the apparent success of Fluttershy's crush, despite having not been looking in the first place, the story had filled her with yet another feeling. Hope.

Hope which she held onto as she saw the familiar spire of Carousel Boutique. Her heart a-titter, she quickly reviewed her mental checklist. She had gone ahead and purchased the bottle of Sunflower oil, which had gone without a hitch. She would meet with her 'better half', and see how compatible they really were. She had been admittedly put off by AJ and Dash's own stories, but she believed she knew her own self better than that.

Should they hit it off, she would ask a dress of him. And of course, a bottle of shampoo. Should they continue warming up, and should she really feel it, she would express her undying love towards him. And should that be met with joy in his eyes... oooh Rarity, you naughty filly for even thinking that!

Quickly, she checked her mane, and adjusted her umbrella. The faux Cutiemark was still in-place. She hoped she wouldn't get sweaty. Should that happen, it would surely run something awful.

Taking a deep breath, she then trotted up to the door, and daintily produced a few knocks on its frame.

"Cooooo-miiiing~" she heard a rich contralto sing from inside. Already, her knees felt weak.

The doorknob jangled, before the barrier pulled aside, allowing her to behold the mirror of her soul.

He was tall, just as she knew he'd be. His deep purple mane was cut short, but oh so stylishly so! His legs, though not superbly toned, were still of reasonable build, complimenting his distinguished torso and chin. But his flanks! Oh, his flanks! Her diamond cutie-marks looked absolutely superb, seated as they were upon such firm cheeks! She had to wrest her eyes away from them, and continue viewing her male self, taking in his nose, that horn *her inner schoolgirl squealed at its length,* and finally, finally, his deep, star-studded eyes, as blue as the ocean itself beneath a clear summer’s sky.

Eyes that were currently regarding her with about the same amount of fascination that she had been giving him.

The both of them coughed into their hooves at roughly the same time, before reaffirming their airs of grace. The stallion spoke first.

"Greetings, and welcome to Carousel Boutique. My name…” he paused for a dramatic beat, before continuing “-is Elusive. How may I be of service to you today, my lady?"

She was screaming to herself inside her own head. He said 'My Lady'!! You know you NEVER say 'My Good Sir' unless it's a customer you find really cute!!

"G-greetings, Sir Elusive." she began, her cultured tenor coming out in full force. "My name is Rarity Umbrelle. I have heard good word across Equestria of your fine works in the fields of clothing and design."

"Oh?” he replied, an excited, yet calmly hopeful edge to his voice. "And what is it that is said, on the streets of Equestria?"

She gave him a warm smile, eyes sparkling as she spoke. "That your suits and dresses are among some of the most amazing designs ever seen by pony eyes. That you put care and diligence into each and every one of your works, always doing your best, always asking your customers to trust in you, and them never leaving your shop disappointed."

She was essentially patting herself on the back, but what did she care? It was worth it to see the shine of adoration come forth from Elusive's eyes, before he stepped back and bowed his head. "Please step inside, my lady, so we may talk."

Head held high, and with a practiced sway in her step, she strutted in, hoping her feminine wiles really were having an effect on her masculine self. She was not disappointed, as she felt eyes upon her flanks.

The shop's interior was not that different from her home dimension's, honestly. She could see a few distinct changes... her personal projects postboard now contained more suits than dresses, which was to be expected. The 'men's' fabric pile was fuller than the 'girl's' pile. And over on a folded piece of blue fabric, snoozed a huge white ball of fluff.

"Do be careful of Alexanderite." She heard the stallion warn. "He doesn't take kindly to guests."

She chuckled, a merry sound to anypony who heard. "Oh dearie, I will. I have a cat of my own you know, and she's just about the same way."

"Oh-ho!" came the reply, as he trotted up next to her. "The joys of feline ownership. Or pains, rather, am I right?"

They both shared a hearty chuckle, before relaxing and taking each other in yet again. At length, Elusive spoke. "Can I get you anything to drink, Miss Umbrelle?"

"Hmmmm... a simple water with a lime twist will do." she said. His eyes perked up, apparently surprised at the serendipity that he just so happened to HAVE sliced limes in his kitchen. As he bowed and turned towards the back, she spoke up again.

"And Elusive, sir? Just call me 'Rarity'. I insist." She gave him a sweet smile.

He nodded, returning her smile. As he departed, both unicorns let their smiles slip into big goofy grins.

Upon his return, she had already checked out the shop more in-depth, again, finding nothing of particular surprise in the area. She had given thought to trying to pet the cat, but given Opal's tendencies in her world, she felt that she should take the warnings to heart and leave him be.

The drink was presented to her. Much to her surprise, it was much more than simple glass of water. Lime wedges were present, yes, but there was also a straw. As she sipped at it, a unique flavor enveloped her tongue, and a delightful smell filled her nose, a shot of something strong in the concoction. He had, in effect, mixed her favorite drink.

Her eyes shone in outright gratitude as she stared at him. He simply bowed his head with a smile. "Only the best, for my future... patrons..."

Oh Celestia he really IS feeling the same way about me! Butterflies abounded in her stomach, her heart singing at the rightness of it all.

For a moment more, they sat, simply enjoying each other's company, her sipping her drink, before she finally made her next move. "Right. Onto business."

"Right." he agreed, sitting up straight. "What may I help you with today, Rarity?"

"I'm looking for something simple. Not very large, not very complex. A saddle, more or less." she stated, her umbrella coming up and opening. "I had originally brought this umbrella as a template for you to work off of in terms of theme and design, but I should have realized that such a request would have been an outright insult to your abilities."

"Oh no, that's quite alright my dear." the white colt waved off the words. "I'm more than willing to follow a theme, if you so wish it. Solaris knows, I've done plenty of odd requests in my time!" He then leaned in, conspiratorially grinning. "I should tell you about the time I designed these absolutely horrid suits at the behest of my friends, when we went to the Grand Galloping Gala."

She leaned in as well, returning his grin. "Oh, I'd simply love to hear about it! Oh, for the Gala? I had heard you designed ensembles for it every year, but not that you had attended yourself!"

He sighed theatrically, a hoof going to his forehead. "Alas, I DID attend that trainwreck of a social gathering! I had gone there, on the hopes and dreams of high society and glamour... not to mention to gain the chance of meeting who I thought would be, my true love..." he tracked his eyes to the floor. "And it was supposed to be the best night ever. Oh Princess Bluebell..."

"Personally, I thought they deserved every ounce of cake they got."

She took another sip of her drink, before realizing that Elusive had fixed her with a wide-eyed look. Suddenly, a hot blush spread across her face as she realized her slip. "Uhm. I, aha... I-I must confess. I was at the Gala too, this year. I saw the cake."

Now it was the stallion's turn to blush, as he looked down. "Sorry you had to see such a shameful display."

"Not at all, my dear. She was a royal pain anyway."

"She was. You're right, she deserved every ounce of cake she got."

"I mean, honestly." She leaned forward, now on a roll. She could only guess at what events differed from her own at Canterlot, but she had a feeling her guesses were good ones. "There are such things at being gentlemanly, right? But I bet she simply took you for granted, didn't she?"

"She did. She barely acknowledged that I existed."

"What shamefulness, for a lady to act that way! A gentlecolt is there to offer his support, after all!"

"She turned her nose up at everything I did for her! Oh poor Applejack, I was so distraught when she spat out his fritters."

"Oh rest assured, if I ever had a stallion there to wait on me, I would have returned his every motion with the thankfulness and gratitude he so richly deserved!"

"I... I..." he stammered, his eyes glistening. "You really mean that, don't you, Miss Rarity?"

"With all my soul, Sir Elusive." she answered, her own eyes shimmering.

Once more, silence descended between the two. They didn't really notice the passage of time, caught up as they were in each other's eyes. It took the presence of a third in order to break the spell. A cat who was looking up at the stallion and was giving him a very solid and disappointed 'Meow.’

"Wh-wha? Oh, hello Alex. Awake, are you?" Elusive greeted his pet. "Ah right, it IS about feeding time for you, isn't it? Apologies Miss Rarity, but I must attend to my 'taskmaster' here." he gave the feline a wry grin. "It'll only take a moment, and it'll keep him out of our manes. When I come back, would you like to get started?"

"Oh most certainly, that would be wonderful. And don't worry, take your time!"

She smiled as owner and cat departed towards the back room. At least, she remained smiling up to the point where Alex paused, looked back at her, and then gave her a grin the likes of which she'd never seen.

Perhaps cats really were smarter than most ponies thought.

----------------------------

"Are you ready, Rarity?"

"I am, Elusive. Let us... begin."

Rarity found herself standing on a familiar stage, keeping her body perfectly still, as the tall white stallion levitated a tape measure, getting her widths and lengths, jotting down notes and looking over her form, before placing a line here and there on a piece of paper, a saddle-dress slowly taking form.

"I must say, my dear." Elusive stated, lifting up his gold-rimmed spectacles. "Your figure is one of the most marvelous I've ever laid eyes on! How do you do it?"

You're hot. Rarity translated in her head. That's exactly what I said that one day when I fitted Big Macintosh. And now I'm hearing it from the most handsome stallion in this dimension!

"Oh, it takes work." she sighed dramatically. "Most of my friends are usually of the opinion that I'm overly fussy about my appearance, but they have no IDEA of the trials and tribulations that I have to go to, in order to maintain this body!"

"Oh, you speak to the choir, my dear!" the unicorn colt bright a hoof to his forehead, a pencil levitating in the air. "Often, my friends tease me of being too 'girly' or 'Fru-fru' to even be called a stallion!"

A gasp. "The nerve!"

He chuckled as he turned back to her. "Ah, but do not be so quick to judge. I know they only tease, meaning nothing harmful by it. Well, there was the ONE time when Berry switched out every bolt of fabric I had in the boutique with pink lace, but I think he knows now to not pull anything like that again."

She found herself giggling, a sound that caught his ears and perked them. Soon, he began to chuckle alongside her, the sound of laughter filling the shop.

"Oooooh, Sir Elusive!" she cried out, once she had regained her breath. "You must lead such an interesting life!"

"Oh, it's been quite... FULL, indeed." he smirked, turning his attention back towards the drawing. "Oh, but enough about me. This is your time, my dear! Tell me, what do you do?"

"Well..." she licked her lips, her practiced spiel firmly within her head. "I'm from a somewhat-noble family in Fillydelphia, having struck out at the tender age of sixteen. As you saw, from my Cutiemark, I have something of a penchant for making umbrellas and weather-wear. I've my own shop. Not too much unlike yours actually," she found herself faltering for a second. "Where I take in custom orders, mainly from pegusai. My brand is not nearly as well-known as yours is, but I make enough to get by for now. One day, elements willing, I'll be able to take the fashion world by storm!"

"My, my." came the reply, a smile upon his face. "It certainly sounds like you've got a lot of work cut out for you."

"Oh, nothing I can't handle, I assure you." she waved off the comment.

"Indeed... also, Miss Rarity?"

"Hmmm?"

Elusive allowed his spectacles to slide down the bridge of his nose, a half-lidded gaze leveled at her. "It's awfully unbecoming for lovely young ladies like you to tell such bold-faced lies, don't you think?"

Her heart shot up her throat, eyes wide. How did he know?! What could have given it away?! What did she do-

She felt a moistness upon her forehead, and found her answer.

"Oh, dear." she sighed theatrically, her head lowering. "I should have known. Your legendary eye for detail has found me out."

The stallion chuckled, a dark black pencil flying through the air as he began to touch-up the spot on her fake cutie-marks, where the makeup had begun to run. "It's alright, my dear." he soothed, working quickly. "You should have used actual body paints, instead of makeup."

"You're..." she gave a sniffle. "You're not upset that I... lied to you?"

The unicorn colt shook his head, smile still in place. "Not at all, my dear. In fact, I'm rather in awe that you know the spell for Cutiemark-vanishment! Not even my friend Dusk knows of the spell, and he went to the Canterlot University for Gifted Unicorns!"

Rarity chuckled, before lowering her head, stepping off the stage. "Very well... yes, my talent is not in making umbrellas. Though I CAN make them, they're just, not my specialty. I just wasn't... sure how you'd like my true Cutie-mark, so I substituted for another."

"Miss Rarity..." He lifted a hoof in a placating gesture, before she turned away from him, her eyes cast downward.

"I apologize." she stated, before picking up her umbrella. "I shan't waste anymore of your ti-"

He was upon her in an instant. She suddenly found her hooves being held by his, as he looked imploringly into her eyes. Oh dear, may need to re-think that theory yet again Twilight, I feel like I'm about to explode! If not twice!

"Miss Rarity, please." he pleaded. "Don't let this secret eat away at you. Though you may not feel comfortable in showing your true cutiemark to me today, I want to let you know, that I in no way, think of you in any less a manner. You have been nothing, but a joy ever since you stepped into my shop. In fact, I dare say, this aura of mystery about you..." He leaned in, breath hot on her snout. "It makes you even more... alluring..."

"Sir Elusive..." she returned, before slipping out of his grasp. "Oh, Elusive! I-I've never met another stallion in all my years, who has been so kind and patient and understanding with me, as you have been today! You are a true gentlecolt, in the purest of words! And dare I even say..." she turned back to look at her male self. "The most ELIGIBLE Stallion in all of Equestria!"

"Oh Rarity!" he cried out, theatrics in full swing. "When I opened that door this morning... did your heart sing as mine did!?"

"Yes! And you, Elusive! Did your stomach fill with the dance of a dozen butterflies, the same as mine did when I laid eyes upon you!?"

"Yes! YES! Oh, it HAS to be!"

"It MUST be Destiny!!" Rarity found herself forgetting all else, as her heart ran away with itself.

"Oh RARITY!!"

"Oh ELUSIVE!!"

The two white ponies collided together there in the middle of the boutique floor, hooves wrapped tightly around each other, as they hugged and nuzzled each other passionately, tears of joy flowing from their eyes.

"My DEAREST!!"

"My LOVE!!"

"OH How I've LONGED for this MOMENT!!"

"ME TOO! FINALLY, my LIFE feels COMPLETE!!"

Awkwardly, their arms still bound to each other, the pair lifted themselves onto their hind hooves, before shuffling towards an open window, where the sun was streaming in. Placing themselves squarely in the beam of light, they looked out at the sun, pleading teary looks on their faces.

"PLEASE, PRINCE SOLARIS!!" Elusive cried out towards the sky. "PLEASE GRANT THIS COUPLE YOUR BLESSING IN LOVE!! MAY WE NEVER AGAIN FIND OURSELVES IN LONELINESS, AND BE BLESSED WITH THE ETERNAL BOND OF TRUE LOVE EVERLASTING!!"

"PLEASE, PRINCESS!!" Rarity cried out alongside. "PLEASE CELESTIA, PLEASE!!"

"Celestia?" He gave her a confused look.

"Oh, um, I mean, PLEASE SOLARIS, PLEASE!!"

Together, hoof-in-hoof, tears of rapture streaming down their faces, the two ivory unicorns stared towards the sun, awaiting an answer to their prayers of love and fortune...

... only to be foiled by a blue pegasus stallion nonchalantly scooting a cloud in front of the sun, blocking their light, before hopping on top of it for an evening nap.

"Well!" Rarity harrumphed. "That was rude."

Elusive took a more direct course of action however, stomping over to the window, opening it, and bellowing.

"RAINBOW BLITZ YOU MOVE THAT CLOUD OUT OF THE WAY RIGHT THIS INSTANT OR SO HELP ME SOLARIS, I’LL BLEACH THAT MISERABLE DISASTER YOU CALL A MANE IN YOUR SLEEP!!"

"Gah!" she heard a voice outside. Mercifully, the sunlight returned. "Okay okay, sheesh, what's the big deal? Interrupt your tanning?"

"I'm making a plea to the Prince!" the unicorn yelled back, hoof shaking in the air. "I need this Blitz, I need his blessing in love!"

"Love? What?" The voice was coming closer. "You find a girlfriend, 'Lucy?"

"It's ELUSIVE." came the reply. "And she's not just a girlfriend, she's my Soul Mate!! Destiny has finally rewarded me with my significant other! Not that YOU would know anything about matters of the heart!"

"Oh this I gotta see." the voice came even closer, as the white colt backed up, allowing the pegasus to slip inside to land. Rarity's eyes widened as her suspicions were confirmed, the rainbow mane eliminating any chances of doubt. This was Rainbow Dash's male self.

"So, who's the mystery ma-" Blitz's eyes met with Rarity's, and stopped. She could see the rose eyes shrink as he took her in, before switching his gaze over to his friend. He repeated the maneuver a number of times, Elusive looking at him with an expression of pure confusion.

"Good heavens Blitz, what are you doing?"

"Oh! Um, sorry." the colt shook his head, blinking a number of times. "It's just that... well, you two haven’t looked at each other in the mirror now, have you?"

"Rainbow, please." the unicorn rolled his eyes, before turning to the mare. "You'll have to forgive him, love. This is Rainbow Blitz, Ponyville's resident Weather-pony. Not the most cultured lot, but a good friend."

"O-ho, it's quite alright." she nervously chuckled in return. "Pleased to meet you, sir Blitz. I dare say, you rather remind me of a friend of mine."

"Hee-yeah," the blue pony chuckled, before squinting his eyes. "I BET I DO."

Oh, right. Rarity found her brain kicking itself. Dash DID mention something about him being AWARE of us.

"Blitz." Elusive spoke again, rather grandly this time. "This is the lady Rarity Umbrelle. Today, she walked into this shop, a simple customer. Today, she walks out, as my One True Love!"

"Oh, Elusive~" she found herself swooning at his words, taking comfort in them despite the predicament she found herself in.

Rainbow found his eyes rolling at the spectacle, earning a glare from his friend. "Blitz, I thought you'd be more tolerant than this!"

"I'm sorry!" the pegasus replied. "But from here, the two of you look... more like twin siblings to me! You're like, gender-swapped reflections of yourselves! It's actually pretty creepy! I mean, have you checked to see if you've even got the same cutie-marks?"

Rarity's heart skipped a beat at hearing the emphasis he put on the words 'genderswapped'. She would have sweated her fake cutie-mark right off again, had the stallion by her side not spoken up.

"Rainbow!" Elusive stated, a little shocked. "Rarity is a specialist in producing umbrellas and weather-protection gear! You can see it right there on her flank!"

Rarity shifted her body to the side, allowing the blue stallion a better view of her umbrellas. "As you can see, it is quite different from Elusive's cutiemark, and indeed, does not match up to his in any way, shape or form. Especially not function!"

"Indeed!" her other half stated grandly. "You couldn't get any two cutie marks as different if you tried!" He then directed an eye towards the white filly, and gave her a quick wink.

H-he's protecting me! She found her heart melting and fluttering all over again. He's helping me keep up my guise! Such a true gentlecolt!

"Riiiight..." Rainbow Blitz looked at the two unicorns, his gaze flickering between each one. White coats. Purple manes. Blue eyes. And they were holding hooves, which they hadn't been doing a second ago. That creepy tingle he was getting up and down his spine wasn't going away anytime soon. The cutiemark thing was a sham as far as he was concerned. He just knew that this 'Rarity' was one of them. One of the weird ponies.

But for now, he would play along. Actually, as he thought, playing along was exactly what he NEEDED to do, as a plan formed in his vibrant-maned head.

"Y'know... you're right." he stated, bowing his head towards the pair. "I'm awfully sorry for being... well, rude, and stuff. Didn't mean to get your tails in a knot. Just haven’t had a good week, y'know what I mean?"

Elusive let a smile come to his muzzle. "It's alright, Blitz, I understand. But you should learn how to better corral your words."

"I getcha." the pegasus waved a hoof at the unicorn. "All that aside. Hey. If you're happy, I'm happy. So, um... congrats to you two?"

Rarity found herself being hugged... and returning the hug... as the stallion of her dreams embraced her. "Thank you, Blitz. Thank you SO much." the two of them said in-stereo.

The speedster stallion did his best not to blanch at the resulting sound, before rearing up. "Y'know, come t' think of it, this is Such good news... how 'bout I go and find Dusk, and bring him over? I think he'd Love to get to know the future Miss Elusive, don't you think?"

"Oh Blitz, that's a WONDERFUL idea!" Elusive proclaimed, though the mare in his hooves found her stomach sinking. "Oh, I should probably fix us all dinner! How long do you think it'll be?"

"Eh, probably an hour to fifteen minutes, you can never tell with Dusk. If he's not at the library, he's doing Solaris-knows-what. Which Solaris probably does." A roll of the eyes. "But still, don't worry about it. Just keep 'er around till we get back, alright?"

"Oh, I most definitely will, you can count on that." He outright grinned as he gave Rarity another squeeze.

"Alrighty! I'll see you two lovebirds later then! Hasta La'coasta!" Rainbow Blitz saluted, before mounting his forehooves onto the window. However, before he took off, Rarity heard him add one more word under his breath.

"Filly-faker."

And with that, he launched himself back out the open window, leaving a trail of colors in his wake.

The couple finding themselves alone again, the male unicorn chuckled sadly to himself. "That's 'Hasta La'vista', Blitz." With a sigh, he looked back down, noticing his significant other's stillness. Gently, he cupped her cheek and turned her head to look at him.

"Rarity... are you alright, love? You're not in trouble with somepony, are you?"

The mare blinked, before she regained her composure. "Oh! Oh, no, no trouble at all. It's just that, well, I'll be honest. I didn't expect to stay here THAT long... I mean, this is all happening so fast..."

Elusive nodded, his eyes giving her a comforting gaze. "Yes, it is, isn't it? But I can't deny the red strings of fate, when they finally bring the one you love, straight to your door... Rarity?"

"Yes, my love?" She was lost inside his eyes once more, putty in his hooves.

"Will... will you stay with me, tonight? Have dinner with me? Meet my friends? I so, so much want them to get to know the mare I'm going to spend the rest of my life with... Will you?"

She tried to say no. Somewhere in the back of her mind, there was a purple unicorn, under a bush, crying out for her friend to stop what she was doing, to stop performing this ultimate act of narcissism and falling in love with herself, to come back so that they could all go home...

... but home had never felt like THIS.

"I..." her voice trembled. "I... I suppose I can... wait around, for a little while..."

Whatever else might have been said, was silenced by the motion of lips locking into a forbidden, interdimensional kiss.

----------------------------

To Be Continued...

ON THE NEXT CROSS AND ARROW

"Um... B-Big brother?"

The pair gasped as they were caught by surprise, a mad blush going over both their faces. "Oh, Silver! Sorry about that, we, um, we didn't see-"

"Elusive? Miss Rarity? Are you two in love?"

Out of the mouths of babes, it has been said. The pair of ponies stared blankly at him for a few seconds, before softening their gazes and looking back at one another. "Yes," Rarity began. "Your brother and I, are very much in love."

Now Silver's eyes grew wider, his green gaze locked on the mare. "M-Miss Rarity? D-does that mean... that you're going to become..."

"... my big sister?"

There it was. All of a sudden, she no longer saw a colt, but a filly sitting there, Sweetie Belle's face imploring at her. What do you choose, big sister? she asked. Whose heart are you going to break?

"I.... I...."

*knock knock*

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