"You see, it all comes down to reliability."
"Reliability." A chipper, analytical voice was just audible over the singing of birds, the wind whistling through grass and trees, and the playing of several small ponies. While those ponies enjoyed the spring day, however, a white unicorn filly was deep in thought--and thus, in her element.
"The best part about numbers is that once you put them together and perform the necessary operations, you never have to wonder about whether the answer you get is wrong now, or will be wrong in the future." The lecturing filly scribbled numbers and symbols in a notebook as she spoke, then laid the book out on a wooden yard table for three of her other classmates to see. "Unless, you know, you screwed up the operations to begin with. So, uh, let's not do that."
She chuckled. Nopony else did. It was all right. They were busy deciphering her notes, after all. Once she saw them nod their heads, she asked, "Things make more sense now?"
They nodded some more, this time while looking at her.
"Great! So now, you can build on whatever we've got for the next stretch of the problem. But I'll leave that to you. 'Cause I need to get home and study, too!"
"Wait! So soon? But you're actually being kind of helpful," said a cream-colored unicorn with a pink mane. "Can't you stay with us? We're all going to get together at Moondancer's house to study tonight."
The white unicorn shook her head. "Yeah, sorry. I just study better alone. It's nothing personal. Having other ponies around just really distracts me. Don't worry, though. I have full faith in you being able to ace this sucker!"
"Whatever, Batch." Another unicorn, this one blue, sighed. "Guess there's no convincing you."
"'Fraid not." Batch shrugged, and turned to leave. "Gotta go. Good luck!" She took a step, then stopped, looked back, and gave a happy grin. "Oh, and thanks for using the nickname! I really appreciate it."
The cream-colored unicorn giggled. "You've only been asking the whole class to for weeks. Is it really such a big deal for you?"
Batch looked away for a second. "Y-yeah. I just don't like hearing my normal name too much." She ran a hoof over her blue mane and adjusted her spectacles. "Anyway, I've got to go. Huge test to study for, right?" She waved.
"Right. So long!" The other ponies waved back, and when she was out of earshot:
"Can you believe her?"
"I know she's super-smart, but there's a reason I always see her sitting alone at lunch."
"Let's face it. She's obviously just more interested in grades than friends."
As Batch trotted down the dirt road towards home, she took one last look back at her school's grounds.
An overhead sign, which read "Princess Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns," could be seen, now small in the distance.
"Unison: Spectacles and Shades"
A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfiction
Part 1: "Together, From A Distance"
by Bookish Delight, 2012-2013
All characters and referred properties belong to Hasbro.
Batch always took the same path home, passing by the same houses, the same stores, and often the same ponies. She knew them, and they knew her, and honestly, she was comfortable with that. Routine was good. Routine made life easier to plan for--and did she ever have plans.
Today, however, her routine homeward commute was disrupted by a terrible noise assaulting her from a small distance away. After holding her ears long enough to get used to it, she walked towards its source: a small house, still on her path, but--as she would find out later--situated exactly halfway between school and her home.
The closer Batch approached the house on that first day, the more it hurt her ears. She heard nothing but clacking and chaos, yet it did nothing but further pique her curiosity. Once in front of the house, she looked in through its open window.
Inside, she saw another unicorn filly who looked around her age, whose face was scrunched in concentration. The keys of the piano she sat in front of were telekinetically pressed almost at random, as she struggled to get them under her control. Mounted on the piano's stand was a lesson book, wide open. Several more were neatly stacked on the ground beside her as well.
Batch pitied her. Her own parents had tried giving her piano lessons less than a year ago. They never took, and as far as Batch was concerned, that instrument was pure torture. All those keys, making it easy to get lost? No labels of any kind? No predictability to be found unless you were attempting to play the simplest of scales? Not to mention those pedals messing with the sounds even more! It just wasn't for her.
She shook her head and continued her walk home, doing her best to will the noise out of her mind.
She might have succeeded, had the noise not repeated itself every afternoon hence. It mildly annoyed Batch, but not enough for her to deviate from routine and find a new trail. Quite the opposite--she still would check back in every so often.
The third day was the same story as the first, except this time she could actually feel the filly's frustration with each haphazard key press. The eighth day was particularly bad, ending with the filly bashing her head against the keys, repeatedly, while groaning.
The fifteenth day, for some reason, wasn't as bad, and Batch was compelled to find out why. The sheer fact that this girl was still going with this mystified and impressed her.
Looking in this time, she could see the unicorn playing in a more reserved manner. She used slower key presses, and whenever she messed up, she would glance at the page of her lesson book, retrace her steps, then play the last few measures over again.
Batch stood at the window,, watching the filly practice and improve before her eyes. As she witnessed the phenomenon, she couldn't help cheering for the budding musician in her mind.
Come on. You can do it.
On the thirtieth day, Batch was walking home as usual, when she was frozen solid in her tracks by an unexpected, but glorious melody.
She double-checked all of her senses. It still came from the same piano, within the same teal-colored, shingled house. Looking inside, she could still see the same unicorn girl, close to her age, sky-blue with a white mane and tail, pressing notes through the use of magic from her horn. The familiar smell of freshly-baked cookies--chocolate chip, it was always chocolate chip--that she caught every so often wafted to her nose.
Everything was the same as it ever was. So how was this happening? How were the notes being played so fast? How were they being played this well?
The lesson books which the girl had been so frustrated over earlier showed clear signs of having been shoved to the floor in a heap. All those texts, carefully constructed to tell her how to get music right and correct, and she wasn't paying heed to a single one.
Yet she still sounded wonderful.
The song finished, and Batch rushed to the door. She knocked furiously until it was opened-
Batch quickly removed her hoof from head of the unicorn who was now standing in the doorway. "Oh, gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh, I'm so sorry!"
The unicorn rubbed her head. "No, it's okay. Um... can I help you?"
"Hi! Yeah, um, okay. I know you've never seen me before. But I've been watching you a lot."
The girl stepped back, a disturbed look on her face.
Batch slapped her forehead. "Right. That came out wrong. What I meant was, I hear you practicing a lot 'cause your house is on the way to mine going home after school. Not something I could help."
The unicorn relaxed. "Oh. Okay." She then froze. "Wait a minute. How long have you been hearing me practice?" Her voice was meek and reserved, and her face apprehensive.
"Um, a month now." Batch chuckled nervously. "It was definitely a learning process."
The unicorn's face fell, and she reached for the door. "I'm sorry I put you through all that, then."
"Wait, wait!" Batch held it open. "You sounded awesome just now! What you were just playing, I... I was really into it. And I loved watching you learn, especially 'cause I never could. I'm not much of a music person, but from what I'm hearing, you could really go places with your kind of talent!"
The unicorn hesitated. "R-really?"
Batch flashed the biggest grin she was able. "Really really."
"Thanks." The unicorn smiled back. "I've never had an audience before. I'm glad somepony actually likes what I'm doing." She hesitated, looking past Batch for a few seconds, then opened the door all the way. "You, uh, wanna come in?"
"Really?" Batch slowly trotted inside, the carpeting tickling her hooves slightly as she looked around the spacious living room. It was decorated with all sorts of things--plants, vases, family pictures, and even a crystal unicorn in one corner. "I mean, is this okay? Is anypony else around?" She cocked her head to the side. "For that matter, how come I never see you going to or from school?"
"I'm home-schooled. My tutor's left already, though."
"She doesn't help with the piano lessons?"
"I didn't ask for lessons. This is more of a hobby of mine. I just needed something to do outside of studying all the time. And my parents don't ever get home until evening." She looked at Batch. "You're the first pony I've ever seen care about what I'm trying to do here."
Batch's expression sobered. "Gosh, I'm sorry."
The unicorn's smile persisted. "Don't be. I'm glad you're here. I know you think I'm 'awesome,' but I know I still need a lot of practice, and I'm not sure I can do it alone. So instead of passing by my house every day, why not just come inside?"
Batch's face lit up. "Sure, I'd love to--wait." She paused. "Are you asking to be friends?"
The unicorn thought it over. "I guess so. Not used to it?"
Batch put a hoof behind her head with a sheepish chuckle. "I do a lot of that 'studying' that you said you wanted to get away from."
"I know the feeling." The unicorn looked away. "I-I don't have much friendship experience either."
Batch stepped forward, and took hold of her new friend's hoof. "I guess we'll both be learning what it's like together, then."
"Mm-hmm. We should probably start with our names, though." She looked back at Batch. "I'm Melody. Magical Melody. And you?"
Silence followed as Batch took a few seconds to make a very important decision. She closed her eyes and sighed. "Match. Binary Match."
Melody's look became quizzical. "That sounded like it hurt to say."
Batch shrugged. "Let's just say I've always had, uh, mixed feelings about my name."
"Really? I like it."
"Yeah, I know, it's totally not-" Binary did a double-take towards Melody. "Wh-what?"
"I said, 'I like it'. A lot, actually. How'd you end up with it?"
"You really wanna know?"
Magical Melody nodded with more energy than Binary ever would have expected.
"Wow. Okay, then. Well, Pop's a mathematician. He made sure it rubbed off." She snickered and rolled her eyes. "Fortunately, the math I don't hate. I still have my full collection of number blocks and everything."
Melody was positively beaming now. "Makes sense to me. My parents just gave me my name because they said my cries sounded like singing on the day I was born. Before I started practicing the piano, I tried singing. It didn't work out." Her smile disappeared, and she looked towards the ground. "Your name sounds like you're actually good at something."
Binary pushed Melody's chin up. "Whoa, hey, do not sell yourself short. Simple equation: if you hadn't been living up to your name just now, would we be friends?"
Melody took a few seconds to mull it over--then her smile returned. She stepped forward and wrapped Binary in a hug. "Thank you. That's the nicest thing anypony's ever said to me."
Binary hugged back, a warm feeling washing over her. In the moment, she decided she was willing to give this concept of "friendship" exactly one chance.