With A Little Help From My Friends
By Closer-To-The-Sun (Joseph Noblit)
The school bell rang and many of the ponies within the schoolhouse rushed out. The fillies and colts hurried to meet with their parents or siblings waiting outside for them. Amongst those waiting outside was Big Mac, there to pick up his youngest sister, Applebloom, and her friends. The red stallion looked at the small ponies flooding out of the schoolhouse, but could not find the noticeable pink bow that Applebloom always would wear. His eyes did, however, spy her two friends. He trotted over to meet with them.
“I’m tellin’ ya, Sweetie Belle, I don’t think Sapphire Shores was the answer to number three on that quiz,” the orange pegasus insisted.
“Are you sure, Scootaloo? I could have sworn that I wrote that in my notes….” the unicorn replied.
Scootaloo raised a hoof to her head, “I think you were daydreaming again.”
“Excuse me, girls,” Big Mac interrupted as he got closer to them.
The two ponies looked up at the stallion and greeted him.
“Hiya, Big Mac!” Sweetie Belle chimed.
“Hey. Uh, Applebloom is still inside the schoolhouse. I think Ms. Cheerilee wanted to talk to her about something,” the orange filly explained.
This caused Big Mac to tilt his head, “She’s still inside? Is she in some sort of trouble?”
Sweetie Belle shook her head, “I don’t think so.”
Big Mac’s curiousity got the better of him, “Wait fer me out here, ah’ll go get her.”
Scootaloo gave a salute to Big Mac as he trotted away, “Yes, sir!”
Big Mac made his way toward the schoolhouse. While he was almost positive that there was nothing to worry about, he couldn’t help think of the worst-case scenarios. Applebloom did have quite a knack for getting in to mischief, such as when she broke the barn door by roughhousing with Applejack, or when she and her friends accidentally set their clubhouse on fire, and of course the Hearts and Hooves incident that happened last year with Cheerilee.
Entering through the already open door, Big Mac lightly knocked on the door as he spoke, “Hello? Anypony here?”
Inside, he saw that the room was empty except for Applebloom and her teacher.
“There he is!” Applebloom loudly proclaimed as she pointed to her brother.
“Huh?” Big Mac was caught off guard.
“Ask him!” the little filly was loud and full of energy.
The red stallion was puzzled with what was going on, “Excuse me, Ms. Cheerilee, but what’s goin’ on here? Is Applebloom in trouble?”
Cheerilee finally spoke up, “Oh no no, she’s not in any trouble, Big Mac. Actually, she was telling me that you had something to ask me.”
Almost interrupting him, Applebloom blurted out, “He wants to know if you’d accompany him on Hearts an’ Hooves Day!”
A deafening silence fell within the room. The only sound was the squeaky floorboard underneath Applebloom’s hooves as she bounced in place, waiting eagerly.
Cheerilee’s face grew flushed at the thought. Her eyes darted anywhere in the classroom but to the Apple siblings in front of her.
As for the stallion, Big Mac was dumbfounded as he blushed. The thought had not even crossed his mind of doing anything for Hearts And Hooves Day, much less ask anypony on a date of sort. Though, he would be lying if he said that he didn’t find Cheerilee attractive. But after the mishap caused by the Cutie Mark Crusaders last year, he didn’t want to do anything of that sort.
“Is….ahem, is that true, Big Mac?” Cheerilee broke the stillness, still a bit bashful.
As he was about to reply, Applebloom interrupted yet again, “Of course he does! He’s jus’ really shy ‘bout askin’ ya!”
Cheerilee took a deep breath to regain her composure and normal demeanor, “Well, alright then, Big Mac, it’s a date. Let’s just hope the Cutie Mark Crusaders don’t make it a repeat of last time, okay?” She smiled to Big Mac.
The red stallion, who still had yet to say a word, nodded. He didn’t understand why he nodded, but nevertheless he did.
“Okay, we should be goin’ now. Bye, Ms. Cheerilee!” Applebloom waved before she started to push her brother towards the door and out of the classroom.
“Goodbye,” she returned, “I’ll see both of you tomorrow!”
Once outside, Big Mac and Applebloom started trotting to the two fillies who were waiting for them.
“What jus’ happened back in there?”
“I got ya a date fer Hearts an’ Hooves Day!”
“Why? What’d ya mean why? Don’t ya like Ms. Cheerilee?”
“Well, yes, but–“
“Then what’s wrong? I got ya a date!”
Big Mac paused for a moment before echoing, “I got a date.”
Part 1: Twilight Sparkle
“So then Applebloom butted in an’ now ya got yerself a date with Cheerilee?”
“That ‘bout sums it up, Applejack,” Big Mac nodded.
“Alright, ah can understand ya not wantin’ ta call it off, sparin’ Cheerilee’s feelins’ an’ all, but why in Celestia’s name are we goin’ to the library?” the orange mare asked as the location came into view.
“So ah can get some advice fer mah date,” Big Mac explained, “Ah don’t know the first thin’ ‘bout datin’.”
Applejack held back a chuckle, “An’ ya think ol’ Twilight will know somethin’?”
Big Mac ignored his sister’s comment as he knocked on the door, “Ah could use all the help ah can get.”
The door opened with the purple coated pony on the other side. “Hello, Applejack and Big Mac. What brings the two of you here?” she greeted them with a smile.
“Howdy, Twi. Mind if we come in? Big Mac here kinda needs some help,” Applejack said, tilting her hat down to greet her friend.
“Of course, please make yourself at home,” Twilight invited the Apple siblings in.
Once they were inside, Twilight closed the door and turned her attention to the earth ponies, “So what can I help you with?”
Big Mac raised his hoof, about to answer, but his sister cut him off, “To make a long story short, Big Mac here got himself a date fer Hearts an’ Hooves Day. However, he doesn’t know the first thin’ ‘bout datin’. He was wonderin’ if ya could help him out.”
The stallion looked at Applejack with a slightly annoyed look before nodding in agreement.
“Oh….um….” Twilight seemed a little flustered about being asked to help with such, “Well, I guess I could help you out with that, but just so you know, I’m not sure I’m the best pony to help you out.”
“Anythin’ ya can offer would be mighty kind,” Big Mac spoke.
Twilight placed a hoof under her chin as she thought, “Well, most of my information about dating come from books….”
“Come from books? Ya mean ya date the books?” Applejack raised an eyebrow.
Quickly, Twilight waved her front hooves, “No, no! Not like that! I mean, my knowledge about dating scenarios come from reading books. Such as novels and such.” She gave a nervous laugh, “It’s not like I date the books or anything, heh heh.”
“Well, what kind of knowledge do ya have from them books?” Big Mac asked.
“Well, most of the books that have stuff like that are mostly two-bit novels that are more or less written for mares. I don’t think that would be of any use to you, but you are welcome to look at them,” Twilight pointed to a wall shelf of books that seemed backed with the type of books.
Applejack trotted over to the wall of books to look through the titles. “Ah’m guessin’ these are all pretty much the same on the inside?” The mare grabbed one of the books and opened it. She gave a puzzled look as she read what was inside, almost as if it was written in some alien language.
The purple pony nodded, “Yeah, pretty much all of them have the same formula when it comes to plot structure and characters. I doubt they would be any help.”
Big Mac spoke up, “Do ya happen to have any advice yerself, by chance?”
“Well, if I were in your date’s horseshoes, I’d personally would like to have a chat about something that makes one think and possibly even debate. I do enjoy sharing thoughts about different books I’ve read with friends. But, that’s just my personal taste,” Twilight shared her opinion. “I actually think you should talk with Pinkie Pie, she could give you some excellent tips for conversation with your date.”
“Hmm, ah guess we could go ask Miss Pie fer some help,” the stallion said, “Thank ya fer your help, Miss Twilight.”
“My pleasure,” she smiled, “And I do hope your date goes well.”
As Big Mac started towards the door, Applejack followed behind until she was stopped by the sight of a book on the small table near the couch. “Hey, Twilight. What ‘bout this book here? Fifty Shades Of Hay, think it can help Big Mac out?”
At the mention of the book’s title, Twilight’s face turned bright red. With an awkward and embarrassed laugh, she started to push the siblings towards the door, “Haha, uh….heh look at the time! You should get on over and see Pinkie Pie before Sugarcube Corner gets busy with the midday rush! Come on, get on going!”
Before they knew it, Big Mac and Applejack were pushed outside of the library and Twilight closed the door on them. They exchanged puzzled glances to each other for conformation of what just happened.
"Hiya, Applejack and Big Mac! What can I get ya?” the bubbly pink pony asked as she saw her friends seated at a table. “How ‘bout a fresh muffin? They just came out of the oven! I should know, I almost burned myself!”
“Actually, Pinkie, we came to ask ya for some help,” Applejack spoke.
“Help? Like what kind of help? Help you fight off hunger, cause I’m super good at that! Or what about helping you around the farm, because I like helping with that! Or is it more serious, like fighting off King Sombra? Is King Sombra back?! Do we have to fight him off?!” The pink mare grew more and more excited with each statement.
“No, it’s not anythin’ like that, Pinkie Pie. Why do ya always jump to such crazy conclusions like that?” Applejack asked.
Pinkie simply shrugged, “I have a flair for the dramatic. Plus, it’s fun to act out!”
Not wanting to push that conversation any further, Applejack continued, “Anyway, Big Mac here is in need of some help. Ya see, he’s got himself a date fer Hearts an’ Hooves Day and we’re wonderin’ if-“
Pinkie interjected herself, cutting Applejack off, “Oh, a date! That’s superly-duperly great!”
A bit annoyed, Applejack tried to continued from where she was interrupted, “And we were wonderin’ if ya could help him out with some advice fer havin’ a good conversation with his date.”
“Oh, you need help with having a good date conversation? Then I’m the perfect pony for the job! I always love having a good chat with anypony, especially with it comes to….well, just about anything! Like, this one time with Fluttershy, we were talking about how Gummy helps out with the baking in the kitchen! This one time, he was, um, helping me make batter for scones, and told me to add more blueberries into the mix. And I was telling him that I already put in the recommended amount, but he kept insisting that I add more and you know what? He was right, they were better with twice the blueberries!”
During Pinkie Pie’s rambling, Applejack and Big Mac exchanged eye contact. Both seemed unsure what Pinkie Pie was getting at.
Pinkie Pie continued, “And those scones sold very well! But Gummy told me not to make those super blueberry scones everyday, because then they wouldn’t be as special! So we only make them on the third Thursday of the month, as per Gummy’s instructions!”
“You….talk to yer pet alligator?” Big Mac managed to ask during a brief window of time when Pinkie Pie was needing to breath in air.
“An’ ya can understand it?”
“Of course! I know how to speak alligator! How else would I be able to understand his really funny jokes!” Pinkie giggled. “Oh, lemme tell ya one of his best ones! What do you get when you cross a pegasus and a stick of butter?”
Applejack was starting to lose her patience with her pink friend, “As much as ah’m sure both Big Mac an’ ah would love to hear the punch line, we both-“
“A butterfly!” Pinkie blurted out at the top of her lungs with a wide smile.
“We both would are wondering if ya can help him out,” Applejack finished her statement.
“Hmm,” Pinkie thought for a moment, “when it comes to having a good conversation, just have fun! It’s important for both parties to be happy, cause when both parties are happy, it’s like one big happy party!”
“Alright, thanks fer yer input, Miss Pie,” Big Mac spoke with a small smile.
“Always happy to help! By the way, have you went to Rarity to ask for her help? I’m sure she would thrilled to help you, Big Mac!” Pinkie Pie said. “Now, as much as I would love to stay and keep talking, I need to get back to work, the lunch rush is about to come on in! Buh-bye!”
As quickly as she appeared, Pinkie Pie disappeared through the busy Sugarcube Corner.
“She has boundless energy,” Big Mac commented.
“That she does.”
Part Three: Rarity
Big Mac knocked on the door of the Carousel Boutique.
“Are ya sure that Miss Rarity will be able to help out?”
“If any of the gals knows anythin’ ‘bout datin’, it’s Rarity. She’s the a bit of a romantic at heart and….well, I think it kinda messes with how her brain works sometimes,” Applejack commented.
“Wait, are you sayin’ it’s a bad thing?” Big Mac looked at his sister.
“Ah didn’t say that,” Applejack paused before adding the final part with a smirk, “ah’m just implyin’ that it does.”
Not a moment after that statement, the door opened to reveal the white unicorn with a fanciful mane and tail. “Applejack! Big Mac! How are you two doing? Please, come in!”
As they entered, Applejack greeted her friend, “Howdy, Rarity. Ah know this sounds a bit strange, but Big Mac here has himself a date fer Hearts and Hooves Day, and-“
Rarity placed her hoof upon Applejack’s mouth, silencing the earth pony. “Oh, say no more! I know exactly what the two of you are here for: you want me to assist Big Mac with his big date?”
“How did ya know?” Big Mac was surprised with how direct the unicorn was.
“Darling, please, I’m an expert when it comes to these sort of things!” Rarity spoke with flair to her voice. “Quickly now, to the dressing room!”
“Come on out, Big Mac, let’s see how you look with your new wardrobe!” Rarity called out.
“Ah’m….not sure ‘bout this….” Big Mac spoke from behind the changing room door.
“Nonsense! We can’t make any progress without seeing how the attire looks on you.”
“He might have a point, Rarity. We didn’t come all the way over here just so he can play dress up,” Applejack added to the concern.
Rarity brushed the thought aside as she pushed up her red glasses that she wore for sewing, “A date is eighty percent appearance and elegance and twenty percent anything else. If Big Mac showed up to his date coated in dirt and with that brown yoke of his around his neck, why, you can expect that his date would see him as some sort of slob who doesn’t care for anything! Now, please, let us see how you look, dear!”
Hesitant, Big Mac trotted out from the changing room. Rarity’s eyes beamed as she saw her clothing on the stallion while Applejack simply tilted her head, as if it would help her comprehend what she was looking at.
“Oh, MARVELOUS! It looks absolutely stunning on you, darling!” the unicorn’s voice was loud and proud.
“What….What am ah lookin’ at right now?
Big Mac looked into the mirrors around him to assess his appearance, “Ah’m still not sure ‘bout this.”
The stallion was dressed in a forest green suit that included a jacket and pants. Upon the jacket, there was a shade of tan that seemed strategically placed to offset the green throughout. The white shirt that he had beneath the jacket had frills that seemed to bother Big Mac as he kept moving the shirt with his hoof.
“Nonsense! This suit practically screams you! It matches the shade of green in your eyes and the tan throughout adds a distinguished look to you, making you even more handsome!” Rarity looked into the mirror with Big Mac, listing out the positive features of the suit.
“Th-Thanks, but ah’m thinkin’ that this suit isn’t really fer me,” the stallion stated as he took of the jacket off and proceeded to the changing room to removed the rest of the suit.
“If you insist, darling, but I believe that it’s perfect for your wardrobe.”
“Do you have any advice fer him when he’s on the date itself? That’s the main issue that he’s got,” Applejack asked
Rarity answered without wasting a second, “If I were to give any suggestion to anypony going on a date is to be a polite gentlecolt and never shy away from compliments. Of course, that’s what I would like in a date, myself.” The unicorn lightly chuckled to herself.
Big Mac returned from taking the suit off, “Thanks fer yer hospitality, Miss Rarity, and fer the help.”
“But of course! I’m always here to help a friend in need. Would you like to see some more styles that I have just gotten? I could use a model with your bodytype, Applejack.”
“Uh, thanks, but no thanks. We should be goin’,” her response was quick as she and her brother hurried to the door.
Once outside, both Applejack and Big Mac took a sigh of relief as if they just avoided something that would have been devastating. After a few moments, Applejack spoke, “Ah’m sorry ‘bout that, Big Mac, ah’m so sorry. Ah had no idea she’d do somethin’ like that.”
Part Four: Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash
The two Apple siblings trotted toward a cottage on the outskirts of Ponyville. As they made their way, they saw a number of small animals along the way. This signaled that they were on the right track to the yellow pegasus’ home.
“If ah know Fluttershy, she should have some advice she would be happy to share with ya.”
“What kind of advice?” Big Mac asked.
“How should ah know? Ah ain’t Fluttershy, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. She’s always willing to give her two-bits fer jus’ ‘bout anythin’.” Applejack added.
As the two ponies neared the cottage, they saw Fluttershy outside of her home. She tending to the injuries to a few baby birds. “Now just be careful with your talon, we don’t want you to put your whole weight on it until it has healed properly,” she instructed one of the birds. The bird hopped around on one of its talons while the other had a makeshift splint on it. “Feel free to visit anytime you wish, my feathered friends.” With that smiling goodbye, the birds flew off.
Applejack and Big Mac watched the birds fly over their heads before they were greeted by the yellow pegasus. “Good afternoon, Applejack and Big Mac,” she spoke with a soft and warm demeanor.
“Howdy, Fluttershy,” the orange mare said. “Do ya got a minute, by chance?”
“Sure, what can I help you with?”
Applejack motioned to her brother, “It’s ‘bout Big Mac here. He has a date for Hearts an’ Hooves Day, but he doesn’t really know all that much when it comes ta datin’. We’re wonderin’ if ya could help us a bit.”
Fluttershy’s face was flushed, “Oh….um….I wouldn’t really know….uh, anything that could be of use for you, Big Mac. Um….perhaps I could help with….um….nevermind….”
Big Mac’s ears perked up, “What were ya gonna say?”
The yellow mare was a bit hesitant to share, “Well….it’s just something that I think would be nice if I were on a date with somepony. I really like ponies who have proper etiquette.”
Applejack looked confused, “Ed-a-wha?”
“Etiquette. It’s a code of behavior during social situations. Of course, it’s not just dealing with manners, but also dress, hygiene, courtesy, and so much more. I believe that anypony that conduct themselves with fine and proper etiquette show that they are willing to go above and beyond,” Fluttershy smiled as she commented. “Social graces do make everyday actions more pleasant.
A loud, crass voice chimed in, “Pfft, that sounds so dumb!”
The three ponies looked around for the source of the sound. Looking up, they found the voice was that of a cyan blue pegasus with a mane that had all the colors of the rainbow, and she was gliding down to the ground.
“You can’t be serious, right? I mean, what you described sounds so….lame!”
“Rainbow Dash, how long have ya been listening to us?” Applejack demanded an answer.
“I heard the whole thing. I was lounging up on that cloud trying to take a nap, but I couldn’t help but hear that Big Mac got himself a date,” Rainbow trotted next to the stallion, wrapping a limb around his neck. With a laugh, she continued, “Didn’t think that you were such a mare-killer! Whose the lucky gal?”
Big Mac blushed at Rainbow’s comments and question. This only caused her to laugh more.
“Seriously though, it ain’t about etiquette or whatever,” Rainbow started.
“But I really think manners make the pony,” Fluttershy interjected.
“Well, whatever help you soar, Fluttershy. But if you ask me, it’s all about the coolness factor!” The blue pegasus seemed to firmly believe what she spoke.
“Coolness?” Big Mac was puzzled.
“Coolness?” Applejack just stared in disbelief at Rainbow Dash.
“Totally! Like, if Big Mac acts all cool for his date, they would totally love it! I mean, think about it, mares love the tough stallion that’s all mysterious and what not. Just act cool and your date will be all over that!” Rainbow Dash instructed.
“Ah….don’t know ‘bout that….” Big Mac stated.
“Um….Rainbow Dash? That really doesn’t make sense,” Fluttershy added.
Rainbow turned her attention to her fellow pegasus, “How does that not make sense? If a stallion is really cool and mysterious, the mare will totally love it!”
“But….how does that make sense?” Fluttershy still was baffled at Rainbow’s logic.
“Being cool is so cool, that it doesn’t have to make sense, that’s how!”
As Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy continued their conversation, Applejack turned to her brother, “Well, not like ya asked my opinion, but stop worryin’ about being what ya think she wants an’ jus’ be yourself durin’ the date.”
“Really?” Big Mac asked.
“Yeah, sure. Ya got some good advice today….well, except what Rainbow said….but all of it means nothin’ if yer not bein’ yerself,” Applejack stated, “Ya don’t wanna start anythin’ on a lie, so just be who ya are.”
“Huh, thanks Applejack,” Big Mac paused for a moment, “But why didn’t ya say somethin’ like this earlier?”
Applejack shrugged, “Ya didn’t ask.”
Finale: The Date
The big day had arrived. It was the afternoon of Hearts and Hooves Day and Big Mac was nervously waiting for Cheerilee in the park. With all of the advice he had gotten within the past twenty four hours from Applejack and her friends, he still was not completely comfortable about the upcoming date.
He looked down at his attire. He had put on a nice black jacket. While he couldn’t bring himself to dress up in anything like Rarity had him do yesterday, he did feel that she was right that appearance was a factor, making him look more distinguished and proper. He also felt that it added to the coolness factor that Rainbow Dash had talked about, whatever that was. He still had no idea what she meant by that.
Looking up and taking a deep breath, he saw a familiar mare trot toward him. It was Cheerilee, who was wearing a simple red and white sundress. But what Big Mac took most note of was that she was also wearing a very timid smile on her face.
“Afternoon, Miss Cheerilee,” Big Mac greeted her with a warm smile.
With a nervous laugh, the mare replied, “Good afternoon to you too, Big Mac.”
Big Mac looked at Cheerilee and noticed that she seemed to put some extra effort into her appearance. Her mane was neatly braided in a very simple yet elegant weave, and her tail matched the same pattern.
“Ya look very lovely,” he complimented with a smile. He hadn’t seen Cheerilee in such a made up fashion, but he found it to enhance her natural beauty.
“Heh heh, thank you, Big Mac. You look very charming yourself,” she replied with a bashful demeanor.
Big Mac shared with the bashfulness. The two seemed to have an unspoken connection with awkwardness as silence fell between them. Both looked away from the other, but it was apparent they each had something on their mind.
The stallion managed to speak, “Um, Miss Cheerilee? Before anythin’ else happens, ah just wanna let ya know ah’m really nervous ‘bout this. An’ ah….ah’m not sure what ta do or how ta really act.”
This statement seemed to confuse the mare, “Huh? What do you mean?”
“Ah don’t wanna come off as some sort weird pony ta ya. Ah honestly ain’t sure what ta do on a date, so….sorry,” Big Mac elaborated.
Cheerilee was silent for a moment before chuckling, “That’s what you’re worried about? Big Mac, I don’t expect you to know everything about a date or anything. I just want you to be yourself and have a fun time.”
“I understand that after that whole fiasco, things are a little….odd between us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a fun time together, right? And this doesn’t have to be a date-date,” Cheerilee explained.
“What do ya mean?”
“Let’s just have fun together. It doesn’t have to be some big deal. Personally, I just want to spend time with you, well, because I like you,” the mare couldn’t help but be a little flustered at the comment, but she still had the same smile on her face, “You’re a really wonderful pony and a good friend.”
Big Mac paused for a moment, “So, this can jus’ be us bein’ friends?”
“Of course! That is, if it’s what you want.”
“Ah’d like that.”
“I would too,”
With the two ponies smiling at each other, Big Mac offered a front limb for Cheerilee to wrap one of hers around, which she did, and the two began to trot off to begin their evening.
In a soft voice, Cheerilee added one last statement, “Who knows, maybe the next time we can be more than just friends.”