• 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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Imaginary Numbers

The Dawn broke as the long-familiar sphere of the sun peaked over the horizon. Announcing its presence, the sun extended its warming tendrils through the railing, gingerly caressing the sleeping figures on the balcony of the Ponyville library. Big Macintosh was roused awake, wincing as the morning light invaded his eyes. Once his sight had settled, he turned to Twilight, still swaddled in the blanket they had been sharing. A smile creased his lips at how adorable he thought she looked. Careful not to wake her, he graced her cheek with a soft kiss.

Shifting his gaze towards the town, he couldn't help but feel blessed. In his mind, he had been gifted a perfect evening, followed by a truly resplendent morning. Ponyville was cloaked in a blanket of cotton, completely hidden from view. Only the peaks of some of the taller buildings broke the ambiance. The crests of the low hanging cloud were painted in a inviting peach glow. Tufts of white fluff began to escape into the atmosphere as the sun continued to dissipate the chill brought on by the night.

Big Mac filled his lungs with the brisk morning air. He felt as though he could walk on those clouds. Turning back to the slumbering violet mare still huddled next him, he had just been considering waking her when he was halted. A sound he was well acquainted with soon invaded his ears. The faint whir of gears and the muffled chop of propeller blades stirred the hush of the otherwise placid morning. Mere seconds later, the fog in front of the library erupted in a pillar of swirling mist, trailing the unmistakable silhouette of a gyrocopter piloted by Pinkie Pie, who was visibly grinning from ear to ear.

“Good morniiiinnng!”

Big Mac tensed apprehensively, responding in whisper, “Pinkie Pie! What are ya doin' here? I thought we agreed, no parties.”

“I know! So I brought you-”

“Shhhhh. Can ya try n' keep it down, Pinkie?” he urged, flattening his ear and casting a sideways glance at the sleeping unicorn.

Craning her neck, Pinkie leaned forward, lowering her voice. “Oh sorry. I brought you both breakfast! I hope you like it!” she beamed in a barely audible susurration, reaching to retrieve a small package, decorated in ribbon and other frill and painstakingly tied to her contraption.

Taken aback and struck with sincere appreciation by the gesture, Big Mac retrieved the gift from the roseate mare and placed it on the ground before thanking her. “Thank ya Pinkie. It's mighty thoughtful of ya.”

“Of course Mr. Smarty Pants! That's what friends are for!” she chirped before censoring herself, and holding her breath when Twilight began to stir. Keeping a weary eye on the sleeping mare, she continued in a whisper, “I'll just leave you two alone now.”

Before Pinkie could make her exit however, Twilight woke from her blissful state with a contented yawn. That yawn immediately arresting in her throat as she opened her eyes. Shooting to her hooves and hovering in a panic, an undignified series of questions and exclamations sprung forth.

“Aahhh! Pinkie Pie!? Big Macintosh!? What are you doing here!?”

Not waiting for her audience to answer her rhetorical string of questions, she attempted to turn and run for the safety and privacy of the library. The blanket still draped across her fame conspired against her, tripping her up in in its bulk. Fueled purely by adrenaline, she managed to catch herself in a bubble, just inches away from hitting the deck before blinking away inside. The lock on the door clicking into place punctuated the awkwardness that hung in the air.

“Hmmmm, I wonder why Twilight was acting like that. Maybe she has really bad morning breath, and she doesn't want anypony to know about it,” Pinkie Pondered. Dismissing her muse, she turned back to her present company, “So, do you need a ride?”

Slack jawed and dumbstruck by the spectacle, Big Mac could only manage to stare vacantly at the now shuttered in depository. Puzzlement or confusion would have been laughably inadequate descriptions. Unable to put any rhyme or reason to his jumbled thoughts, he did at least manage to muster a reply to the pony tirelessly pedaling to keep airborne. “Eeyup.”

“Okie dokie lokie!”

Standing up and shuffling awkwardly towards the door, Big Mac retrieve his yoke. Thankfully, Twilight had it left outside instead of shutting it in with her. Having slid it into place around his neck, he paused before turning back around.

--Knock, knock--

No answer. That's what he was afraid of, but he had to at least make the effort. Sighing in resignation, he finally made his way back to Pinkie Pie, who had been patiently waiting for him.

“Ready?”

“Eeyup,” he said, casting one last glance behind him.

“Here, take this,” she said, throwing him a line that had been secured to the frame of her candy striped flying machine. As Big Mac ran the length of rope through his hooves to find the end, it was revealed to be a rather crude sling. After making the necessary adjustments to accommodate his larger size, and shoring up the excess he gave Pinkie a nod, signaling that he was ready.

Pedaling furiously to compensate for the extra weight, Pinkie descended through the haze that had been thinning and lifting above the town. Upon touching down, Big Mac stepped free of the cord, tying it off and expressing his gratitude.

“Thanks again Pinkie, 'preciate it.”

“Of course! That was fun! Anything else fun you want to do?”

“Nnope.”

“Alright then! Bye, Big Mac!” she smiled joyfully as she again increased the pace of her cycling.

Watching the fuchsia mare and her candied contraption disappear over the roofs of the houses, Big Mac couldn't help but be curious as to how she had the foresight to have a rope on hoof. He chalked it up to the mystery that was Pinkie Pie. By then, he had become more and more accustomed to her strange ways, no longer questioning her randomness. Few things were certain; harvesting, taxes, and Pinkie being predictably unpredictable. Finally, Big Mac turned to face the library he had just been evicted from, skeptically raising an eyebrow.

Picking a casual pace, he gathered his composure before reaching the door. As he knocked, he replayed the bizarre events that had stranded him on the balcony, and the even more bizarre behavior of the pony who had stranded him. What could only be described as the sound of pandemonium rang from inside. Books presumably being dropped to the floor, the clatter of pots and pans, furniture being toppled over, and breaking glass accompanied the two voices arguing over who would answer the door. When the din finally subsided, the door opened.

“Hey Big Mac, sup?” Spike greeted nonchalantly, leaning against the door frame.

“Is Twilight around?” He was beginning to wonder if he'd made a mistake by knocking.

“You sure you wanna talk her?” he asked thumbing over his shoulder. “She's acting kinda crazy right now.”

“Eeyup.”

“Hey Twilight, your coltfriend wants to talk to you!” the little purple dragon turned and shouted.

“Spike!” Twilight's tone held both admonishment and embarrassment in equal measure.

The diminutive assistant only offered Big Mac a shrug of the shoulders before waddling off inside. Spike's presence was quickly replaced by Twilight's as she poked her head through the entryway, barely wide enough for her to do so.

“Big Mac! Hi! So how are you?” She was almost manic in her demeanor, clearly out of her element.

“Is everythin' alright?” he asked, cocking a brow. Just past the seemingly deranged mare, Spike was pointing at his head with a stubby claw and drawing circles with it, while at the same time, crossing his eyes.

“Great! Just great!”

“Can we talk?”

“Sorry, I uhh... got lots to do today. Yep! That's it! Lot's of studying and... uh, studying. Could you come back tomorrow though?”

The door was abruptly shut in his face before he was able to answer, “...Eeyup.”

Well this ain't exactly what I wished for. He had attributed Twilight's reaction waking up to just being startled, but now he was just stupefied. Giving up, Big Mac resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to make any significant progress. Rather than hanging around the library, he turned to leave town. A damper had been placed over an otherwise seemingly wonderful morning.

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

He had been been walking down the road back to the farm in no particular hurry, kicking over both his thoughts and the gravel in the dust, when Applejack called out to him. Big Mac hadn't really expected to run into anypony, but wasn't surprised to see his sister pulling a cart loaded down with baked goods either. As they closed the distance between them, AJ's wagon rolled to a halt.

“Mornin' Mac!”

“Mornin'.”

Applejack was grinning wide enough to question her sanity. Her expression was bordering somewhere on the territory of innuendo and being pleased as punch in regards to her brother's date. She took a moment to wipe her forehead with her hat.

“Well ya never made it home last night, so I assume y'all must've had a nice evenin' stargazin'?”

“Eeyup,” he nodded.

“I'll wager the stars weren't the only thing ya were gazin' at,” AJ prodded as she waggled her eyebrows. Annoyed, Big Mac met her assertion with a scowl. “Lighten' up Big Macintosh, I'm just hasslin' ya a bit. Glad y'all had fun anyways,” she chuckled.

“Thanks AJ,” he replied, his glower replaced itself with a light smile.

“If yer headed back to the farm, chores are taken care of and I got Apple Bloom out the door on her way to school. Granny's at the house scrapbookin'. Other'n that, I reckon ya got another day off 'fore we gear up fer cider season.”

Before Big Mac could respond, his stomach gurgled in protest at the absence of any breakfast, and the aroma of the delectable apple treats wafting past his muzzle wasn't helping. Hindsight twenty-twenty, he really wished he hadn't forgotten the box that Pinkie had brought for him and Twilight. But that was probably still marooned on the balcony at the library.

“Y'all not have any breakfast this mornin'?” Applejack inquired.

“Nnope.” Big Mac answered, a little reluctant, knowing his sister was gonna lecture him.

“Why ya big hard head. What in tarnation we're y'all busy doin' that ya didn't eat nothin'?” she demanded halfheartedly.

“Reckon I got locked out is why.” he stated plainly.

“Wait, what? What do ya mean 'locked out'? Twi locked ya out?” she asked, her curiosity getting the best of her as she cocked her head to the side. “Why in the wide world of Equestria would she do a think like that? You didn't try any funny business did ya?”

Big Mac frowned at the accusation, “Nnope. And if I knew what happened, I reckon we wouldn't be havin' this conversation.”

Applejack's posture was soon a pairing of both sympathy and amusement, “I'll bet ya hooves to hindquarters, she came off her hinges when she seen she let a stallion stay the night.”

“Eeyup.” Big Mac sighed, rolling his eyes as his sister burst into a fit of laughter.

“Haha, ha, I'm sorry Mac. Kinda funny when ya think 'bout it though. I can swing by and talk to her 'fore I set up shop if ya want me to,” she snickered, trying and failing miserably to put a lid on her giggling.

“I'll be alright,” he chuckled.

“If yer sure. You Still oughta go talk to her.”

“Don't worry, I'll handle it.”

“Well, I reckon I oughta let ya go so ya can get on back to the farm. Ain't exactly the breakfast of champions, but take a pie with ya. Need to at least eat somethin',” Applejack offered, motioning to her cargo with a nod over her shoulder. “Ya take care Mac, and don't let what happened with Twi eat at ya too much.”

“Thank ya sis, I won't. Ya have a good day in town.”

“Thanks Mac, I will. I'll see ya tonight.”

After selecting the pie he wanted, they departed. Big Mac watched as the sturdy, old wagon lurched forward, and shrank into the distance under the charge of the orange farm pony. Once he was convinced he was more or less alone, he cast a sporadic glance in each direction before settling his sights on the pie he was holding, and digging in with voracious enthusiasm. If there was to be a silver lining, it was that he had somehow managed to make away with two of Applejack's pies in short order without any grief about it.

Having gorged himself on the sweet apple delicacy, he wiped the crumbs from his muzzle and tipped the remnants out onto the edge of the road. An offering to whatever critter happened to have the good fortune to find it. Renewed and rejuvenated with his belly full, Big Mac set a course for home.

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

The remainder of the journey back to Sweet Apple Acres was uneventful. The dull crunch of pebbles under his hooves being his only company. Big Mac ignored much of the scenery and critters that flit about as he continued to stew over Twilight's polar behavior. That's not to say he didn't stop and admire the orchard and the way the sun filtered down through the tree tops, but he couldn't help but feel distracted. Not that he was necessarily worrying, he was simply reflecting, analyzing.

Crossing the gate, he made his slow deliberate walk to the house. As he pushed the creaky old door to the farm house open, Granny Smith called out to him.

“Big Mac, is that you?”

He called back his token response as he shut the door behind him, “Eeyup.”

“Could A bother ya to fetch me mah glasses? Ah left 'em on the counter in the kitchen.”

Just as she'd said, the glasses were on the edge of the counter, and in danger of hitting the floor if somepony were to walk by and not notice them. Gripping them by the stem in his teeth, he wandered into the living room where Granny Smith was swaying to and fro in her rocking chair. She set down to old, dusty photo album she'd been flipping through to greet him as he walked in. Appreciatively, the wrinkled, old mare took the glasses, resting them on the bridge of her muzzle.

“So how was yer date there, Casanova?” she inquired as she made a few adjustments to the thick frames.

“It was fine,” he answered with a candid smile.

“Well that's dandy,” she smiled approvingly. “Was startin' to wonder when ya'd find yerself a marefriend. Ya ain't brought nopony 'round since ya were datin' that nice Miss Cheerilee. Makin' me wonder when one of ya'll are finally gonna give me some great gran'foals,” The last part she added, almost as an afterthought as she looked over the brim of her spectacles with her keen orange gaze.

This wasn't the first time Granny had mentioned Big Mac or Applejack settling down and starting a family. Most times she wasn't quite so subtle either. But regardless, they were practiced enough to take it with a grain of salt, no matter how persistent she was.

“AJ said ya've been doin' some scrapbookin' this mornin'?” he asked casually, changing the subject.

“Ya heard right. These darned ol' bones just don't let me get around like Ah used to. So Ah'm going through a few photo albums rather than tidyin' up 'round here. Ah could use a 'lil oil in these joints some days,” she said, rubbing her hip for emphasis.

“Reckon I can help with that,” Big Mac nodded.

“Nonsense,” Granny waved her hoof dismissively. “Applejack n' her friend did a fine enough job cleaning up. Just some spot cleanin' here n' there. Ah ain't in no hurry to get it done.”

“There anythin' else ya want done today, Granny?”

“Nothin' off the top of mah head. Ya can keep me company goin' through these pictures if'n ya'd like.”

Initially he had planned to tinker for a while in the barn, he had a “slinky” to make for Pinkie Pie after all, but it was hard to say no to Granny. She didn't want for much, and any time she could spend with her grandfoals meant the world to her. Big Mac had the utmost respect for his grandmother, and so without saying a word he obliged. Dutifully, he crossed the floor to lean over the back of her chair, hanging his head next to hers, just over her shoulder as she opened the aging binder. Granny reached up and cradled his chin for a moment as they settled on the page she had left off on.

“Now this brings back some memories.” In hindsight, he should have better prepared himself. "Ya just look so handsome in yer Pappy's suit.”

Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words, but for Big Mac, there were no words for those photographs. Tucked neatly into the pages were his high school pictures. One of the few times in his life he'd ever worn a suit; prom.

“Maybe yer gonna have a chance to wear that ol' tux again sooner than Ah'd have thought. Can't say Ah had ya pegged fer liking them fancy magic types, but she seems like a nice n' practical pony. Even if she is a bit high strung.”

Whatever tact or subtlety Granny Smith still possessed up to that point was thrown to the wind with reckless abandon. It became patently clear as to why she was going through the endless volumes of memories.

“Don't ya think yer readin' 'tween the lines a 'lil too much?” Big Mac questioned, tipping his head away and glancing at his grandmother out of the corner of his eye.

“Don't spit on my back n' tell me it's rainin'. Ah might be blind in one eye n' can't see out the other, but Ah can tell when yer twitterpated,” she rebuked as she met his look. “Now ya've had yer fair share of dates, but if'n Ah recall correctly, ya ain't been the one doin' any of the askin' on any of em.”

There was something to be said for the wizened green mare Her wit might not have been as keen as it once was, but she was still sharp as tack when she needed to be. Knowing his grandmother was right, Big Mac yielded any argument he might have had, and chose to remain silent as she continued.

“So Ah guess mah question is; when are ya gonna bring her 'round fer supper? Ah know she's come over to visit with Applejack, but ya can't tell if the wood is good just by lookin' at the paint. Ah wanna get to know the girl!”

“I don't know, I ain't given it much thought yet,” he shrugged in candor. In part, he wasn't even sure if he was even in a relationship after Twilight's episode waking up. And he didn't see the point in bringing that fact up until he knew for certain himself.

“Well soon as ya get it sorted out lemme know, n' Ah'll have Applejack help whip up somethin' special,” she said as she turned back to the album spread across her lap. “S'pose Ah'll let ya get on with yer day 'fore ya start getting' antsy.”

“Alright Granny.”

“Ya gonna be workin' out in the barn?”

“Eeyup,” he answered as he gently kissed her on the top of the head.

“Ah'll ring the supper bell fer ya then.”

As he made his way towards the door, he turned around to acknowledge her, “Thank ya Granny.”

A kind smile creased the wrinkles in Granny's face, his cue to excuse himself.

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

It had certainly been a day filled with awkward moments for the crimson farmer. And he was more than happy to spend some alone time, just putzing around the barn where he could just forget about things for a while. Most of Big Mac's day had been spent there doing just that, fine tuning the simple, toy spring for the ever entropic Pinkie Pie.

Fashioning a jig with which to coil the wire had been his first task. A simple block to clamp it to with a spool to coil around, guided by a die as he turned a spindle. It had taken a couple hours of fiddling before Big Mac was pleased with it enough to give it a test run. A few minor adjustments, increasing the tension, adding a small part here or there, and he was ready to get to work.

Though his jury-rigged apparatus did the trick, he still wasn't quite happy with the final product. That was one of his favorite parts though. Even after the time invested in the math, it wasn't until it had been implemented into a tangible application that there could be a true appreciation for it. Visualizing an object in the mind or on paper was one thing, but holding it in the hoof was quite another.

It worked, but it could be better. Big Macintosh figured he couldn't be done yet either, since there had been no hide nor hair of his capricious customer to signal its completion. He munched on the remains of the sandwich he'd made for lunch a few hours earlier. The bread was stale, but he didn't mind much, sitting back and contemplating what the slinky lacked.

As he stared at the modest coil of wire, the thought hit him. Swallowing the last bite of his lunch, he began rummaging through the dusty corners of the barn. They always kept extra wheels on hand, given the amount of farm equipment, carts, and wagons they had to maintain. Once he'd found two that were reasonably sturdy, he tacked them together in a way they could be used to flatten the wire.

With a length of the flattened band in hoof, Big Mac fed it into his makeshift jig one last time. Unclamping the newly fabricated slinky, he inspected it with as much diligence as he would any one of his projects. A smile of approval found it's way onto Big Mac's stern features before setting the silver coil down on his workbench. He had begun the process of moving his tools back into the loft of the barn when, as expected, he was visited by a torrent of dust and straw. Pinkie blew into the barn with the enthusiasm of a foal on Hearths Warming Day. The thought had occurred to him as he descended the ladder to meet his impromptu guest; he never thought he'd see the day, but fact was stranger than fiction, Pinkie had been the most normal pony he'd dealt with all day.

“Ooooohhhh, shiny!” The cotton candy mare was admiring the helical plaything, tilting her head as she took it in from different angles. Big Mac allowed a snort to escape, smirking as he approached Pinkie Pie who was already pouring the spring back and forth between her hooves.

“I take it you like it?”

“Are you kidding? This is the single most amazingly, spectacular thing ever invented! What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkety sound?” she began singing before pausing, perplexed. “Hmmmm, I'll have to work on that.”

He gave up trying to make sense of Pinkie a long time ago, though he had to admit, there was a certain allure to the crisp hissing sound of the sleek spiral cascading end over end. Several seconds of silence lapsed, save for the rhythmic hum of the slinky, as both were mesmerized by the toy.

“Well I'm glad ya like it Pinkie.”

“Yep!” she cheeped.

“Think I'm gonna get going though. Reckon Granny'll be ringing the supper bell any time now, and I oughta get washed up,” Big Mac nodded as he made for the door.

“Okie dokie,” the pink mare answered as she bounced after the shrewd apple farmer. She had only gone a few steps before skidding to a halt, “Wait!”

Big Mac turned around staring at her expectantly as she caught up.

“I forgot to tell you, I talked to Twilight today!” His spontaneous friend had his attention, and he waited patiently for what she had to say. “Well, more like I tried to talk to her. I wanted to tell her about Gummy's new trick. It's super fun, do you wanna hear it?”

“Pinkie. What did she say?” Big Mac asked, calm and deliberate.

“Oh right, Twilight! Well, she really seemed distracted. She actually ignored me mostly. Which you know, that's not very nice. You shouldn't ignore your friends. You should-”

“Pinkie. Can ya focus please?” he interrupted, trying to steer the conversation back towards relevance. Pinkie smiled bashfully before picking up where she had left off.

“Sorry. Anyways, she was acting really strange today, and she kept saying your name and something about how she had made a huge mistake.” A shrug was all the more she offered.

He had spent all day trying to dismiss and forget the blunder his morning had been. Pinkie's latest revelation did not bode well, flooding Big Macintosh with the confusion and doubt that had plagued him earlier that day.

“Is that all?”

“Yep.” She shrugged again. The slinky perched on top of her head would have made for a comical sight a moment before.

To Big Mac's credit, he managed to maintain his stoic outward appearance, hiding well the flurry of thoughts of what he could have done wrong. “I think I'm gonna head on in. Thank ya Pinkie.” Brooding, he once again turned towards the farm house.

“Have a goodnight Big Mac!” Pinkie offered cheerily as she bounded across the yard in the direction of town.

He appreciated the sentiment, but with the news he had just received, enjoying his evening was likely out of the question. Concluding he'd turn in early after supper, Big Mac couldn't help but wonder. Was Ah the mistake she was talkin' 'bout?

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