• Published 22nd Jan 2013
  • 9,609 Views, 250 Comments

Fancy Mathematics - Ten Speed



There's more to the soft spoken apple farmer, Big Macintosh than most would suspect. With a gentle nudge from his sister, he lands himself in a relationship with the one pony who could understand his love of mathematics; Twilight Sparkle.

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Counting Apples

One Does Not Simply Count to Apple

The glowing orb of the sun crested the horizon, beaming down on the still and quiet that enveloped the Sweet Apple Acres farmstead. The moon retreated in kind, giving way to the new dawn. As the sun peeked through a dirty window of the farmhouse, its gentle warmth found the sleeping form of the crimson stallion inside, welcoming him into the waking world. Stirring from his sleep, Big Macintosh lifted his head, cloudy and still half asleep. He had lapsed into the dream world while working at the ancient cedar desk that decorated his bedroom, amongst the clutter of various writing materials.

With a deep yawn he began to rub the sleep from his emerald eyes, only to be greeted with a soggy hoof. With a frown, Big Mac withdrew to inspect the offending appendage, finding that he had drooled on it during the night. Thankfully, the papers he had been working on weren't subjected to the same fate. He wiped the saliva into his coat as he turned to look out the window on the apple orchard that stretched endlessly into the sun. He had been admiring the amber rays filtering through it, watching as the dust particles danced in the glorious orange glow when a familiar voice called out to him.

“Hey, Mac! Ya awake yet?”

Big Macintosh turned his attention to the door but didn't respond. The door creaked with age as it slowly opened, and a freckled orange mare under a worn and faded brown stetson poked her head in.

“Mornin' big brother.”

“Mornin' sis.”

“Ya gonna make it down for breakfast? Yer in for a treat this mornin'. Apple Bloom and I are makin' pancakes!” Applejack paused for a moment. “We'll hope they turn out better than her cupcakes,” she grinned sheepishly. “Well s'pose I oughta get back to her, make sure she's keepin' outa trouble.”

“Thanks AJ, I'll be down.” With that Applejack turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. The sound of her hoofsteps could be heard as she descended the stairs, followed by an exclamation of what she found upon reaching the kitchen.

“What in tarnation!? Apple Bloom, how did...? Pull that off the stove and fetch some water!”

Big Mac smiled to himself at Applejack's proclamation, recalling when told of his youngest sister's failed attempt at baking cupcakes with Pinkie Pie.

Arching his back, he stood from the chair, working out the stiffness from sleeping in it. Satisfied that he'd worked out the kinks, he made his way to the corner near the door. Dipping down, he donned the yoke he had dropped unceremoniously on the floor the night before. As it slid into place, resting on his withers, he shot a final glance towards the work that lay on his desk. He would come back to it later.

…........................................................................

“Sorry 'bout the vittles... they might be a bit crispier than ya'd like,” Applejack said with sincere apology as Big Mac entered the kitchen.

His eyes settle on the nearly black pancakes, stacked on a platter in the center of the antique table. “Eeyup,” he answered with a faint grin.

“i'm sorry, i didn't mean to burn em.”

“Oh, don't worry yer pretty lil' head none, sugarcube. It'll all be fine,” AJ said comforting her little sister before turning back to Big Macintosh. “We salvaged what we could and threw the rest away. Hope ya don't mind.”

“Nnnope.”

The three siblings took their seats and divided the stack of crispy pancakes between them, leaving enough for Granny Smith who would be down eventually. They gave a short blessing for the abundant crop of apples they had harvested that year, and prayed for the same next applebuck season before digging into their meal. In a ceremony that had been practiced hundreds of times, dishes with butter, syrup, honey, and cream were being passed from one end of the table to the other as needed. The usual conversation took place; Apple Bloom talking about school, her friends, and asking when she'll get her cutie mark. Meanwhile Applejack talked about the farm, the apples, the harvest, sales, and goings on in town, all the while trying to reassure Apple Bloom she would get her cutie mark when the time was right. Big Mac only added his trademark “Eeyup” or “Nnnope” when necessary and said very little otherwise.

At the point Granny Smith had joined, breakfast had wound down into idle conversation. Once she had finished, Applejack rose from her seat and began to clear the table.

“C'mon Apple Bloom, yer gonna help me with the dishes.”

“But Applejack! Why do we gotta do the dishes when we cooked?” The little yellow filly protested.

“Cuz it ain't fair to Big Mac or Granny to have to when we burnt it.”

“But...”

“No buts, now c'mon I'm helpin' ya,” Applejack interrupted refusing to give in.

“OK...” replied the dejected filly. The pink bow tied up in her scarlet mane flopped sadly about as she jumped down from her seat at the table.

Big Mac rubbed a hoof on the top of her head, offering a gentle smile and a wink as she passed by. Apple Bloom perked up, returning a toothy grin of her own before bounding over to her big sister who was drawing a sink of soapy water.

Granny Smith had already made her way from the table to the living room in search of her rocking chair. Big Mac figured it was as good a time as any to make his departure as well, making a slow deliberate walk back to his room upstairs. He was going to take a rare day off. They had just finished the apple harvest a few days prior, and the family wouldn't be gearing up for cider season for another couple of days. With nothing else to do he set to finish what he had been working on the previous night, before falling asleep.

As he made his way into his room, he closed the door and took a seat once again at the rustic desk. A litany of mathematical equations and formula laid sprawled out before him. Though many merely thought of him as a stallion of few words, incredible strength, and unwavering work ethic, though they were correct, he was also a quiet genius. Aside from immediate family no one knew of it with the exception of two ponies: Cheerilee and Pinkie Pie.

….................................................................

Cheerilee had learned of his hidden passion in the brief time they had dated. After Apple Bloom and her friends had attempted to pair the two of them for Hearts and Hooves Day. Though he enjoyed her company, and admittedly thought she was a very beautiful and intelligent mare, they differed greatly in interests. She was passionate about teaching, and her kindness could rival that of Fluttershy's, but she had always struggled to put up with his silence, as she had always been a, well... cheery and talkative pony. It didn't help that there was always an awkwardness about dating his sister's teacher, or that their courtship began by being duped with a love poison. After a few short weeks, though they enjoyed each others company, it was mutually agreed to be merely friends.


Pinkie Pie finding out was purely by accident. She had come out to the farm to help AJ bake pies to sell in town. His belief was that they must have taken a break, or were waiting for pies to come out of the oven because, without warning, Pinkie had burst into his room like a force of nature. A miniature pink tornado, bouncing off the four walls and ceiling, oohing and ahhing at the drawings and schematics he had pinned up before crowding him at his desk.

“What's that!” Pinkie exclaimed with barely controlled excitement, ignoring Big Mac's annoyed look, or the fact that she had intruded into his room.

“It's a flyin' machine,” he answered plainly.

“Oh, wowie wow wow! That is soooooo neat!”

“Eeyup.”

“How does it work? Is it magic? No wait! Powered by sugar? Cupcakes!?”

“Nnnope.”

“Is it a pony powered, pedal driven, propeller where you have to pedal really, really, really, really fast to turn the drive shaft, which turns the propeller, which causes the air over the top to speed up, which decreases air pressure giving it lift from the denser air beneath it?”

Dumbfounded, Big Mac had to take a moment to process what she had erratically spit out in the longest run on sentence he had ever heard - surprisingly all in one breath - before shaking his head and picking his jaw up off the floor.

“Eeeeyup,” he finally replied, still befuddled.

“Cool! Can you make one!?” The gleaming wall of white pearls she wore in her smile was almost blinding.

“Reckon so, 'cept I ain't got no materials...”

Before he could finish Pinkie had zipped out in a pink blur and returned with a mountain of supplies, dropping them on the floor.

“Here you go!” she chirruped.

The normally stoic stallion lost his composure again. Some how that fuchsia mare with the cotton candy mane seemed not to just simply bend the laws of physics, but out right disregard and break them.

“Thanks!” Pinkie said, overly jubilant, as she once again dashed out of the room. Before Big Mac could protest.

Furrowing his brow, he eyed the heap of lumber and metal now sitting in the middle of his bedroom floor. With a sigh he began to move the debris into the barn, figuring he'd get a start on it the following evening.

Big Mac spent weeks toiling over the project, burning the midnight oil after a full day of working the apple orchard. Applejack would come fuss at him every night about him being up so late, and not letting anypony help him. Normally he would gladly accept the help from his sister, but not with this. Not with one of his inventions, where perfection was so vitally important. Every measurement had to be exact, every piece manufactured flawlessly, weight and balance paramount.

After laboring so tirelessly on the flying contraption, Big Mac was putting the finishing on it when Pinkie, who had been absent through the entire process, bounced through the barn door that had been left ajar.

“Wow! That is absotively, posilutely the most terrificle thing I have ever seen!”

The blood rushed to Big Mac's cheeks at hearing the compliment, taking in his work with modesty only an Apple could muster.

“It's still missing something though...” Pinkie Pie said putting a hoof to her chin, appearing to be in deep thought. “I know!”

From nowhere, she had produced a can of paint and a paintbrush, and set upon the machine in flurry of pink. When she finally came to a stop, there was little resemblance between the the flying machine he had built and the candy striped craft before him. To him, it appeared that not only was it candy colored, but every part of it had been replaced with an assortment of different candies. Once again, his stoic figure faltered.

Throwing herself around Big Mac's withers and embracing him in a surprising, lung crushing hug, any indignation that had began to flare washed away. He was never the type to get too riled or upset, and besides, it was just Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie.

“Thanks!” Pinkie called out, brimming over with excitement as she boarded her newly remodeled flying machine. As she turned the pedals with frenzied vigor, she took to the air throwing Big Mac a box containing an assortment of cupcakes as she exited the barn. “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Occasionally, Pinkie would stop by the farm to see if Big Mac had come up with anything new, sometimes offering her own ideas. When she would want something made, he would do what he does best - listen. There were some requests he would oblige, and others he would refuse. When he would accept, somehow beyond all reason or logic, she would always manage to produce the supplies that would be required. The only condition he ever put on her for his time and effort was that she Pinkie Promise to never tell anypony he made any of the gizmos she received, or about his intelligence. He preferred it that way.

Her latest idea had been a stern “Nnnope!” As the bubbly earth pony had requested a monumentally large slingshot that could reach Canterlot from Ponyville, for quick travel. Even going so far as to try to convince him that a swimming pool filled with cake frosting could provide a sufficiently soft landing. Not only was it a bad idea, it was downright reckless. Try as he might, he couldn't make her understand the laws of aerodynamics and gravity. Eventually though, he convinced her to relent on her quest for a giant slingshot. He couldn't imagine what went on inside that bubble gum brain of hers, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

Big Mac let a heavy sigh escape his lungs, smiling at the memory before returning to the scratch paper where he'd been attempting to solve a particularly stubborn equation. It was getting on towards evening, and he was letting his supper settle as he looked out on the dusky sky from his bedroom window. The ghostly silhouette of the moon plumed from the tops of the apple trees. Tendrils of shadow and decaying light melded together in a serene tapestry sprawling out across the farm. The sounds of crickets chirping and the last few song birds singing their farewell to the sun filled the air with a soothing melody.

That was why he loved it there, why he was a farmer, why he loved his sisters and granny. That was why he chose to be simple and quiet. “If yer always hurryin' and yammerin' on like a foal, yer gonna miss all of this,” he thought to himself.

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts.

“Mind if I come in?”

“Nnnope.”

Applejack opened the door and her freckled features underneath that faded brown stetson poked through.

“Mind if I sit down?”

“Nnnope.”

AJ took the invitation and made her way to the edge of Big Mac's bed, flattening the wrinkles out of the patchwork quilt she had helped her Granny make before taking a seat. The springs groaned under the stress. Looking to her brother with her big green eyes she spoke.

“Mac... I wanna 'pologize.”

“What the hay for?” he asked, not bothering to conceal his curiosity.

“I know I heckled ya at supper this evenin', and I feel plumb rotten 'bout it. I know I tease ya 'bout yer fancy mathematics but...”

“AJ.”

“Yeah?” she said looking up to find the same warm, loving, brotherly smile in his emerald eyes that he always wore when they talked like this.

“I know ya don't mean nothin' by it.”

“I know, but I 'spose I'm afraid of hurtin' yer feelin's 'cause it's somethin' ya really care 'bout. Almost as much as taking care of this farm. I guess to be honest, it's a 'lil intimidatin'. You being so smart and all, but yer so modest and quiet 'bout it. I reckon while I'm bein' honest, I really do admire that 'bout you. I'll never understand half of what's goin' on inside that big hard head a yer's.” AJ smiled at her brother through glossy eyes as she chuckled.

“AJ. You know as well as any pony. When ya start listenin' to ponies makin' fun of ya, you give up what makes ya special. Besides yer my lil sister, I know ya would never be mean to anypony. I love ya, ain't nothin' ever gonna change that.”

Big Mac seldom said more than a couple words at a time. For him to speak full sentences, everypony knew to listen up, especially family. Practically leaping from the bed, AJ threw herself around her brothers withers in a patented, bone crushing, eye popping hug that only Applejack could deliver.

“Thank ya Mac! I love ya too...” she said, releasing him from her viselike embrace. “But I still worry about ya.”

Her gaze was now past him, and locked onto the Smarty Pants doll that belonged to her friend Twilight Sparkle. He'd acquired it the day Twilight enchanted it. It sat upright, slightly disheveled on top of a stack of papers, flopped over to one side. His eyes followed hers, but he already knew what she was looking at. He let out a sigh before speaking.

“Ya don't need to be worryin' yer silly head over things like that.”

“Mac, I've known ya all my life. You were never one for dolls. I know there are other reasons you've held onto that thing, I ain't a foal.”

Big Mac snorted with a sheepish smile but remained silent.

“Mac... I can tell ya like her, but yer letting me bein' her friend muddle the issue. Ya should just go talk to her. And I know ya both well enough to know y'all would never do nothin' that would hurt each other, or our friends and family. Hay, every mare in town practically swoons for ya. You could have anypony ya wanted, but she's special to ya. Takin' that doll back would be a good excuse to talk to her.”

Applejack's concern turned into a tender smile. Big Mac knew his sister was right. He had been secretly smitten with the purple unicorn shortly after she had come to Ponyville. He also knew the sun would long burn out before his sister would drop the subject. Right stubborn that one.

“Alright, I'll go.”

“It's a beautiful evenin' ya know. Nice night fer a walk...” AJ's hint was about as subtle as a coyote in a hen house.

“Eeyup.”

The silence that followed was only broken by the sound of crickets playing their song in the gentle autumn breeze.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac repeated getting up from his seat and moving towards the door.

“You two have got to be the smartest ponies this side of Canterlot. Now try n' tell me that that doesn't add up 'Mr. Fancy Mathematics'.” Applejack giggled, giving her brother a wink before grabbing Smarty Pants from its perch and tossing the doll onto her brother's back. Big Mac let a smirk find his lips before replying.

“Eeyup.”

The duo made their way down the stairs and to the front door before exchanging farewells.

“Ya look as nervous as Rarity's cat Opal in a room full of rockin' chairs.”

“Eeyup.”

“Don't worry Mac, I'm sure everything'll turn out just fine. Just let her know how ya feel.” Applejack said, giving her brother an encouraging hug and a smile.

Big Mac had never been one to do this sort of thing, but AJ had backed him into a corner. Grudgingly, he knew that he would feel better once he'd gotten it off his chest.

“Now go on, get outa here!” she said, prodding him through the front door. Once outside, he made his slow, deliberate march across the farm yard, towards the gate. He breathed deeply letting the clean, cool night air calm his nerves as he closed his eyes.

“Good luck Big Macintosh,” his sister's silhouette called from the doorway. She was smiling through her watery emerald eyes, unbeknownst to him.

Stopping to turn his head back towards the farm house, he replied in kind, a smile of his own creeping across his face. “Thank ya sis.” At that, the door closed with a familiar clink as the latch fell into place. Big Mac was once again headed for the gate marking the boundary between the farm yard and the road into Ponyville.

…........................................................

As Big Mac walked along the road, he took in all beauty the night had to offer in its infancy. The gentle serenade of the crickets played for the lightning bugs that danced in the night air as they would glow and extinguish in harmony. The silver light of the moon illuminated his burgundy coat and saffron mane as they ruffled in the gentle breeze. A canopy of stars, dazzling and bejeweled, twinkled together with all the things of the earth in a grand symphony.

He had all but forgotten how nervous he had been when he began his journey, allowing himself to be swept away in the tranquility of the perfect night. It wasn't until he had reached the row of houses that marked the edge of town that his anxiety returned. He steeled himself, knowing he had come too far to falter in his cause now. And being an Apple, once his mind was set on something, there was no stopping until it was finished.

Making his way through town, he passed the market. Stall vendors' carts, long since closed, lined both sides of the street making for a silent procession. Windows to most of the buildings were devoid of light, telling him most of the residents of the sleepy town had already gone to bed. With the town asleep, he was left to go unnoticed under the dim, yellow glow of the street lights. As he approached his destination, a solitary candle shone in the window of the library, indicating that Twilight was still awake, and most likely studying.

Now he felt nervous, doubly so, like a jack rabbit in a pit full of rattlesnakes. A lump had lodged itself in his throat, forcing him to stretch out his neck to gulp it down as he made his final approach. He'd had knocks at his bedroom door all day, and now it was his turn to knock. He pulled Smarty Pants from his back and held the doll gingerly in his teeth.

- Knock. Knock -

“Hello?” a confused voice answered from inside the library. He remained silent. The rhythmic beat of hoofsteps could be heard from within before falling into the quiet of the night. The door cracked open, and a purple unicorn peeked around the corner. Her violet eyes wondering who would be visiting at such an hour.

“Big Macintosh? Why are you out so late? What brings you here, is something wrong?

“E'enin' 'iss S'arkle.” Big Mac replied, the toy in his mouth muffling his speech.

“You found Smarty Pants! I thought I lost her! I couldn't find her after... well... you know...” she trailed off, drawing circles in the ground with her hoof as she recalled the near riot she had caused over the doll. “You came all the way into town to bring her back to me?”

“Eeyup.”

“Thank you!” Twilight exclaimed as she lunged forward, planting a firm kiss on Big Mac's cheek. She immediately recoiled in horror at what she had unconsciously done.

The embarrassment felt by both parties made itself known as their cheeks flushed and began to burn a rosy red. For a moment all they could manage were nervous glances, searching for anything to divert the subject. It was Twilight who broke the awkward silence.

“Well thank you again Big Mac! Good night!” she blurted out slamming the door shut. Her hoofsteps could be heard as she ran across the floor in an attempt to escape.

Big Mac just spoke a quiet “Eeyup” to himself before turning to begin the long walk home. He would have plenty of time to sort his thoughts on the events that had unfolded.

Maybe I'll come back tomorrow.

“Big Macintosh?”

He had only made it a few steps before he was stopped dead in his tracks. Turning back around, he found Twilight standing in the doorway, shifting nervously from side to side while her mane drifted listlessly in the soothing breeze. The silvered light of the moon highlighted her face, forging her features in a deep contrast of indigos and violets. To Big Mac she was simply stunning. Once she was certain she had his attention she continued.

“Would you like to come visit again tomorrow night? There's supposed to be a comet if you would like to watch it with me.”

“Eeyup.”

Another rush of blood filled their cheeks as they blushed and exchanged an affectionate smile.

“Goodnight Big Mac.” Twilight bid her farewell, slowly closing the door as she watched him.

Once again Big Mac turned to head for home as he breathed deep, letting the sweet night air fill his lungs. He smiled to himself, again left to his own thoughts.

Eeyup, reckon I'll come back tomorrow.

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