Twi Twi

Aug 17th, 2015
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  1. >You wake up shivering in the middle of the night.
  2. >You're cold, and it's snowing outside. You get up to get some blankets.
  4. >You are Twilight Sparkle, theoretical physicist.
  5. >...Or you wish you were. You're just a teenager girl who's still in highschool.
  6. >But you're on winter vacations right now, which means time for you to do fun stuff.
  7. >Like studying!
  8. >It's way more exciting when you're not forced to it. Not that you don't enjoy learning about other things.
  9. >But being pressed for time kinda sucks some of the fun out of it.
  10. >Of course, studying its not the only thing you do.
  11. >Your two-week break also meant time for you to build instruments and do experiments with these.
  12. >But sometimes you just got tired of all that. So much you couldn't keep focusing on anything, and there weren't many things you could use to distract yourself.
  13. >That happened too often for your liking. As such, school breaks were kinda boring. Still productive, though.
  14. >Last summer you built a Geiger counter!
  15. >You know how some people say bananas are radioactive? Well, it's true.
  16. >But background radiation gives a way major dose. More than anything you could find in your house.
  17. >Although that's a good thing you suppose. And sometimes, it gave you surprises...
  18. >Anyway, it's your first free day, so what are you gonna do?
  20. >First things first, you take a warm bath. It was getting really cold now, and there's nothing like beginning the day feeling clean.
  21. >Once you finished, you dry your hair and make it into a bun in front of the mirror. You didn't like to let it loose, as it got in the way.
  22. >You used to trim your hair short some years ago, until some of your classmates in your old school said you were a... lesbian, so to say, so you let it grow.
  23. >That wasn't the first thing they said though, nor the last. And maybe the hair had nothing to do with it. But you still kept it.
  24. >It also saves money that way. It's not like you were rich or anything.
  25. >Once you were dressed (with your pajamas) you go make yourself pancakes.
  26. >Your dad was already gone as he works almost all day, so you spent most of your free time alone.
  27. >Shining was going to come and stay for a few days though! Maybe you'll get to go out somewhere that wasn't the school.
  28. >You finish your breakfast quickly, and you carry your tea cup to your room while it cools down.
  29. >Sitting in front of your computer, you ask yourself once more: What are you gonna do?
  30. >You decide on something simple: building an accelerometer. You already did one in the past, but you used springs and improvised things and... it didn't came out really well.
  31. >So you began to investigate. No need to reinvent the wheel again.
  32. >It seems a piezoelectric one is your best bet. Using some crystal like quartz... don't clocks use that? Or Quartz was just the brand?
  33. >Piezoelectric materials, how do they work?
  34. >You get carried away with hyperlinks.
  36. >It's late now. You can see from your window the sun setting. Well, as much as you can see when clouds are in the way. It's getting dark, but it's not snowing.
  37. >You ate a simple lunch, yet you're still hungry. You throw yourself on your bed as you organize your ideas and stretch a little.
  38. >Where are you gonna get quartz from?
  39. >It says it's an abundant mineral, so you hope it's not too expensive. You couldn't just go and waste too much money.
  40. >Maybe from one of those crystal shops, although you don't like that idea too much. All the pseudoscience on those places makes you cringe.
  41. >You look out from the window for a few minutes, and look at the clouds. Are they cumulonumbus or nimbostratus?
  42. >They seem kind of flat, so you guess it's a nimbostratus. Which means there won't be a thunderstorm. Maybe.
  43. >You grab your Geiger counter and turn it on for a moment, only to provide some noise. You didn't have a radio, and neither did you feel like playing the music you've already heard too many times.
  44. >The noise with occasional spikes calmed you for a while, and you even felt a little sleepy. You were proud of this invention. It was the best thing you've done.
  45. "You're my only company Mr. Geiger."
  46. >The counter began to pick up something just after you said those words. Was it responding to your affection?
  47. >Are you radioactive now?
  48. >Of course not Twilight, that's ridiculous.
  49. >Was it lighting? Does lighting produce radiation?
  50. >Or maybe it was that... "thing" you picked up the other day?
  51. >The Geiger counter went crazy some nights ago when those weird lights appeared in the city, over the Canterlot High School.
  52. >They said those were some elaborate light shows, but simple spotlights can't produce radiation. And why would they get something as complex as that? Not even Crystal Prep had one.
  53. >The Geiger counter went almost silent again. It's not too late to investigate, your dad won't be coming home for a few hours.
  54. >You put on some normal clothes for the cold, grab your backpack, and go out. If you can detect it from here, it means it could be much stronger there. Maybe even enough to be lethal.
  56. >You leap on a bus en route towards CHS.
  57. >You sit at the end, turning off the Geiger counter not to call too much attention to yourself. Not that there is too much people on board.
  58. >After a long 20 minutes trip, you arrive somewhat close to the school.
  59. >You run all the way to the front.
  60. >Man, you sucked at running. Look, you're panting already.
  61. >But there is no one there. You take out the counter and turn it on.
  62. >It sounds louder than normal, but not as much as it did in your house. It picks up something when you get close to the statue, although you don't know if it's enough to be dangerous or not.
  63. >Did they make it with radioactive material? Someone was going to get in trouble if that was the case.
  64. >Still, you don't know where the big emission came from. There doesn't seem to be any light here. This is weird.
  65. >You look around once more, and you notice a girl with purple hair and a backpack looking through the glass doors of the school. She wasn't there when you got here.
  66. >And she was wearing a short skirt with this cold. Was she crazy?
  67. >And did she saw something?
  68. >You would have to talk to her.
  69. >Talk.
  70. >It's for science Twilight.
  71. >You take a big breath and walk towards her. You notice she's trying to open the doors.
  72. "H-Hey..." you say somewhat nervously.
  73. >She turns around.
  74. >And she's you.
  76. >You look at her for a long moment, trying to comprehend what's happening. You feel your brain locking down.
  77. >"Twilight?"
  78. >It knows your name.
  79. >You feel a freakout coming.
  80. >No.
  81. >It's just a glass pane.
  82. >You raise your hand and you touch her face.
  83. >It's warm. Feels like skin.
  84. >How can it feel like skin if it is a glass door?
  85. >You start touching her face with your other hand. Still doesn't feel like glass.
  86. >"What are you doing?" she says grabbing your hands.
  87. >You're freaking out now.
  89. >You're start to scream but she covers your mouth with her hand.
  90. >"Twilight, calm down!"
  91. >That's it. You're dying now. It's the radiation poisoning. Your brain is melting and decomposing as you hallucinate.
  92. >You scream some more, but Twilight tries to keep you quiet.
  93. >"Everything is fine Twilight! Calm down!"
  95. >"What?! Just calm down!"
  96. >She slaps you in the face hard enough that you fall to the floor, although she manages to catch you.
  97. >"Oh no. Sorry. Sorry!" she says as she helps you stand.
  98. >Man, that hurt like hell.
  99. >So your nerves must be working, right?
  100. >You're not dying.
  101. "I'm not... dying?"
  102. >"Of course you're not. Just... look, I can explain."
  103. >Oh, ok.
  104. >You calm yourself down, and look into her eyes.
  105. >You see yourself reflected.
  106. >You realize there are two of you.
  107. >You scream some more.
  109. >You're sitting on a bench now, PERFECTLY calm. She's explaining to you how she is a pony princess from another dimension, who came through a mirror from the statue because some burglar got into her castle and stole her magical crown.
  110. >Again.
  111. >"I don't know why Princess Celestia i-insist on keeping the mirror. Nothing good ever comes from it."
  112. >She starts to explain something about the magic of her crown and the consequences on her and your world, but you don't listen. You're suffering from some huge cognitive dissonance right now.
  113. >Is this real life?
  114. >You feel hungry. It must be.
  115. >"...So I need to come back to my world with the burglar and the crown. Twilight, I need your help here. I-I need to know if you saw anyone coming from the statue?"
  116. "N-No. I-I-I got here a-after it ha-happened."
  117. >You were really nervous talking to... yourself.
  118. >You felt that at any moment the universe was gonna break apart. Or at the least this galaxy.
  119. >That didn't have any scientific basis, but neither did all this.
  120. >You feel another freak out coming...
  121. >But it turns out to be just a sneeze.
  122. "A-Arent y-you... cold?" you say referring to her skirt and short sleeves. You noticed she was shivering while she talked.
  123. >"Y-yeah. Last time I came it was around summer I believe. B-But I just have to find the burglar and go back."
  124. >Pony-Twilight stood up looking around, although there wasn't much to see anymore. It was dark even though the street lights were on now. Still, she began to walk around the empty school, expecting to find something.
  125. >You followed her, watching from afar as she looked behind trash cans and bushes. Was she someone you could trust?
  126. >You try not think about the unreality of the situation. It just makes your head hurt.
  127. >And what is she going to do once she finds the burglar? Wouldn't it be dangerous? What if he's armed?
  128. >Pony-Twilight began to walk towards a dark alley.
  130. "W-Wait! D-Don't go th-there." you say as you catch up with her.
  131. >"What? Why not?"
  132. "I-It could be dangerous. There could be criminals."
  133. >"Well, I'm looking for a criminal..."
  134. "B-But you're just a girl! You could get killed... o-o-or worse"
  135. >You grab her arm.
  136. "Look, y-you're shivering. You could get h-h-hyp-o--" You have to pause and breath. Damn, this was hard.
  137. "Hypoth-thermia" Good enough.
  138. >Twilight looks at the alley, and gets away from it.
  139. >"I-I guess y-you're right. I won't be able to k-keep up like this."
  140. >She's shivering like crazy.
  141. >She walked towards the front of the school, until she was near the street.
  142. >"I-I should look for a place to stay. I'm sure Pinkie Pie will l-let me sleep at her house again."
  143. >Twilight looked around once more with her arms closed, and it seemed like she was going to walk, but didn't.
  144. >"Say, d-do you know where her house is?"
  145. "What house?" you ask confused.
  146. >"Pinkie Pi-- Oh..." she stopped "You don't know her, right?
  147. "No...? I-Is she a friend of yours?"
  148. >"Yeah, both here and in Equestria"
  149. >Oh, turns out everyone here has a double in Equestria.
  150. >Well that's not weird at all!
  151. >"Y-You don't know anyone? R-Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy? Sunset?"
  152. >You had never heard any of those names in your life.
  153. >Although you had heard the word 'rarity' used in a sentence once.
  154. >Well, of course. You've heard most names used in a sentence at least once.
  155. >Twilight looked around nervously. There were only a few people passing by, none that she knew it seems.
  156. >"C-Can I come with you?"
  158. >Uh... what.
  159. >What was your dad going to say if he saw two of you?
  160. >He would freak out of course! And your brother too! Everyone would freakout worse than you!
  161. "I-I'm sorry but, y-you can't" you say somewhat decisively.
  162. >"Please Twilight, I-I don't have where to go!"
  163. >How could you know that she isn't some kind of shapeshifting Terminator that will kill you on your sleep?
  164. >The logic part of your brain had long since shut itself down it seemed.
  165. "B-But my dad..."
  166. >"Listen, W-We have the same dad. His name is Night Light, right? I know if this was reversed he wouldn't have a problem."
  167. >Well, she knew his name.
  168. >But how is it supposed to be equivalent when her world has 'magic'? This stuff could be common.
  169. >And what are you supposed to do? How could you even know what to do?
  170. >You don't remember even a single movie where this happened.
  171. >You look at the time in your wristwatch. You still have like an hour before your dad comes home.
  172. "It's just for this night, right?"
  173. >She had mentioned something about the mirror closing tomorrow, and it would take thirty moons for it to open again. That is, about two years and three or four months, if you're right.
  174. "Look, you can stay for tonight, BUT you must hi-hide in... m-my room."
  175. >It was just one night. What could happen?
  176. >It didn't seem like she was a bad person. Although it was all very surreal. Maybe this is a dream?
  177. >You still feel hungry.
  178. >And Twilight is still shivering.
  179. >You took out your sweater and handed it to Twilight. She put it on quickly over her shirt with short sleeves. Now both of you will be cold, but not so much at least.
  180. >And now you can't help but notice that she was better endowed that you.
  181. >N-Not that those things mattered to you. You were a girl of science first of all.
  182. >Besides it was your fault for getting too caught up in your studies to remember to eat.
  183. >You wish you wouldn't have to waste your time eating.
  184. "L-Let's go. We have to get home before dad does..."
  186. >You both get on a bus towards your apartment.
  187. >Good thing that identical twins are a thing that happens.
  188. >Although Pony-Twilight acts like it's the first time she's gotten into a bus.
  189. >She said she has been here before, so she should know, right?
  190. >You guide her toward the end of the mostly empty bus, and sit close to the exit door. Some of the windows were open, letting the cold air get inside.
  191. >She doesn't ask to many questions along the ride, as she seemed interested in looking out the windows.
  192. >Once you arrive you get off the bus and enter your building quickly. You guide Twilight up the stairs to the third floor, and you get to the apartment 308.
  193. "Stand back, I have to see if there's someone inside."
  194. >You take your keys off your backpack, your hands feeling as if they were frozen.
  195. >Damn, it's hard to put the key like this.
  196. >But you manage somehow, and open the door. You peek inside, the living room being almost completely dark.
  197. >You signal Twilight to get in and you turn on the lights. Once she enters you close the door behind her, and throw the backpack on the couch.
  198. >When you turn to see Twilight, you see she's still shivering.
  199. >You turn on the electrical heater, and you both sit close to it. This was much better.
  200. "Well, this is where I live."
  201. >Twilight looked around the room. At the cream colored walls, the somewhat dirty brown couches, the small wooden table, the balcony...
  202. >"It's really cozy." said the pony princess with as smile. Does she really mean it or is she's trying not to be rude?
  203. >Because the place wasn't the most impressive apartment in the world. Neither it was an immense castle made of crystals.
  204. >But it was enough for you and your dad. The only place you where you could actually relax and feel well, to the point you got anxious if you stayed away for too long.
  205. >And because it was small, the apartment got warm quickly.
  206. "Are you hungry? I have some leftover food from lunch."
  208. >You only had the rice left. But it was something at least.
  209. >You and Twilight get into your room and begin to eat.
  210. >She eats like a horse. Not even a princessy one. You just don't know what to expect anymore.
  211. >She finishes first, even though you're supposed to be the hungry one here.
  212. >"Thank you, that was delicious." She says returning to you the (completely licked) plate.
  213. >Ew.
  214. "I-I just followed the instructions on the package. I'm sure it's nothing compared to the stuff they must make for you in your castle."
  215. >"Actually, it's just me and my assistant who live there. And except for my friends the place is mostly empty."
  216. "So, you have an entire castle all for yourself?"
  217. >"...Yes, you could say so."
  218. >You wish you could be the little pony.
  219. >You take the dishes to the kitchen once you finish.
  220. >Should you wash them now? They're going to pile up later.
  221. >'Maybe tomorrow.'
  222. >You go back to your room, and find Twilight sitting on your bed, playing with a simple lamp you made time ago when you began to build things.
  223. >You swear you can't get used to this weirdness.
  224. >Just smile Twilight. Or don't. Don't be creepy.
  225. "So, uhm. You will have to sleep here so my dad doesn't see you. You're a horse so I assume you won't have too much trouble sleeping on the floor, right?"
  226. >"I'm a pony, actually. An alicorn specifically, but yes, I have no problem. The first time I came here I even slept on a bed made of books!" she says with a smile.
  227. >That... sounds kind of painful. Your back hurts just imagining sleeping over the corner of a book. Or getting the corner of one between your ribs.
  228. >Wait, why did the magical interdimensional alicorn princess slept on a bed made of books in the first place?
  229. >And what is an 'alicorn' anyway? Didn't she meant an 'unicorn'?
  230. >And why beings from another dimension can speak english fluently?
  231. >You feel your logic section trying to turn itself on again.
  232. >But it stops when you hear the door opening.
  233. >Dad's here.
  235. >You order Twilight to hide below the bed. You pull the blankets to cover the side and turn on the computer. You some folders and pretend you're doing something important.
  236. >"Twilight, I'm home."
  237. >You hear him walk towards your room. He opens the door.
  238. "H-Hello dad" you say trying to greet him in the most normal way possible. Don't stutter now.
  239. >"How was your first free day? Did you make something already?"
  240. "Not yet. I'm planning though."
  241. >"That's great. Are you hungry? I bought some chinese food for the two of us."
  242. "I-I'm sorry dad, I got hungry so I already ate."
  243. >You were still a bit hungry to be honest.
  244. >But you didn't want to leave Twilight alone in your room.
  245. >"Oh, ok. I guess I'll leave it for you to eat tomorrow. Goodnight Twilight."
  246. >Your dad goes out of the room, closing the door.
  247. >Everything actually went fine. This is good.
  248. >But you quickly wonder, when was the last time you cleaned the floor below your bed?
  249. >Twilight crawls out desperately trying not to cough.
  250. >Oh goodness.
  251. >Luckily, you had a cup of tea laying around there.
  252. >It was cold now, but Twilight drinks it without complaining.
  253. >You wonder if they have tea in their world.
  254. "Sorry, sometimes I forget to clean down there" You say quietly as she finishes the drink.
  255. >"I-I-It's o--" she stops for a moment, and then breathes again. "okay."
  256. >You suppose letting her sleep below your bed isn't an option.
  257. >So you lock the door, just in case your father were to enter your room for any reason.
  258. >You take out the few blankets you have left, and make a small bed besides yours for Twilight.
  260. >As soon as it is ready, Twilight takes out her backpack and gets in, sweater included.
  261. "Don't you... want a pajama? I can lend you one if you want."
  262. >Lending a pajama to yourself would be the least weird thing of all day.
  263. >"It's alright. It's just one night."
  264. >Well, it's her loss if she wants to sleep with a skirt and a bowtie.
  265. >You on the other side will put something comfortable.
  266. >You took a pajama out and lay it on the bed. Then you undo your bun and let your hair free. Now you just have to get your clothes off.
  267. >Twilight is watching you silently.
  268. "Can't you... look elsewhere?" This got real awkward now.
  269. >"Oh, ok? Is it fine this way?" she says rolling to her side, facing away from you.
  270. "Yes." You quickly change your clothes and get into bed. She still isn't looking at you, so you have to tell her it's fine now.
  271. >For a princess, she seems pretty modest. She hasn't complained at all about anything.
  272. >Maybe that's why she's a princess?
  273. "Can I ask you a question?"
  274. >"Yes? What is it?"
  275. "If you're a princess, does that mean you have a prince?"
  276. >Twilight laughed quietly.
  277. >"No, I don't have a prince." Well, at least you asked.
  278. "And are 'our' parents the King and Queen?"
  279. >"No, there are no Kings or Queens in Equestria."
  280. >Well, you were a bit disappointed about that.
  281. >The titles there don't seem to make any sense.
  282. >You find nothing strange with everything that has happened until now, except for that.
  284. >Twilight told you some other things about her world, before you two went to sleep.
  285. >About how she was Princess Celestia student, and how she and her sister Princess Luna were in charge of raising and lowering the sun and the moon.
  286. >You just can't question these things anymore. This 'magic' seems to ignore everything about the laws of motion.
  287. >Newton must be rolling in his grave.
  288. >Oh, and Twilight was the Princess of Friendship.
  289. >You just can't help but laugh at the irony, because you don't have any friends.
  290. >Twilight doesn't take it too well, though. She insists that you should make some friends, because "people aren't meant to be alone."
  291. >Yet here you are, fine without any friends.
  292. >You didn't have the time to go partying all week with people you don't know or going out. Not that you wanted to, anyway. Even if you were to try, most people at Crystal Prep didn't seem to care for anyone except themselves. Which is good because no one there bothered you or called you names at least.
  293. >You're fine as you are, yet Twilight doesn't seem pleased with this.
  294. >You turn off the lamp and you both sleep.
  295. >Not for long, though.
  297. >You wake up somewhat later. You're being shaken.
  298. >"Twilight..."
  299. >What happened now?
  300. >Did you dreamt everything?
  301. >What time is it?
  302. "What do you want?" you say somewhat angrily. Was it much to ask for a little rest?
  303. >"I-I need to use the bathroom."
  304. >Ah, the tea of course. You just had to give her a diuretic.
  305. >You stretch and get up. You guide Twilight to the bathroom, making sure your dad isn't using it now.
  306. >It seems like she's shivering again.
  307. >Twilight goes into the bathroom, and after a long wait (1 minute and 3 seconds of you freezing your feet in the hallway to be exact) she comes out.
  308. "Were you feeling cold all along?"
  309. >"Y-Yeah. It's strange. A-As a pony cold climates weren't much of a problem."
  310. >You get back into your room, and look at her improvised bed. It's... really messy now. How did you expect her to sleep well with that?
  311. >You didn't have more blankets though.
  312. >You sigh.
  313. >Twilight tried to get into that mess of a bed again, but you stopped her.
  314. "Y-You know... You can sleep in my bed with me... if you want."
  315. >Twilight smiled and got into your bed close to the wall, and you followed.
  316. "T-Try to keep your distance. This is too weird."
  317. >As you got comfortable you felt her cold feet for a moment, even though you tried not to get too close. She should have told you earlier.
  318. >As you try to sleep again, you just have to wonder about the ridiculousness of everything once more.
  320. >You wake up once again, sweating in the middle of the night.
  321. >You're hot, and you're sleeping with yourself. You take out some of the blankets.
  324. >You wake up in the morning feeling sleepy.
  325. >The air feels cold.
  326. >You feel a breathing on your neck. A shiver goes down you spine, as you remember who you're sleeping with.
  327. >You turn around to find Twilight sleeping somewhat close to you.
  328. >And she's drooling on your bed.
  329. >Ew.
  330. >Should you wake her up? She only had this day left before the portal closed.
  331. >You start to shake her a little, but she doesn't seem to react.
  332. "Hey, wake up. You have to go."
  333. >After a bit more of shaking she mutters something under her breath and turns around, facing the wall. You get out of the bed and put on your glasses.
  334. "You don't have all day. Wake up already!"
  335. >"Just a few minutes more Spike," she says sinking within the blankets.
  336. >Did she just said 'Spike'?
  337. >Nevermind.
  338. "Hey, you're in the human world." You start shaking her a bit more. "And the portal closes today. Don't you want to go back already?"
  339. >After a few seconds, Twilight seems to respond at least.
  340. >She rubs her eyes and stretches before sitting on the bed.
  341. >Her hair is a mess.
  342. >Your's is too.
  343. "I'm gonna make breakfast. Do you like eggs?"
  344. >"Yes" she says with a sleepy smile.
  345. >You grab your hair tie and began to make your good old bun, as Twilight got up and put on the sweater you gave her.
  346. >She must have taken it out at some moment last night.
  347. >When you finish, you unlock your door and go to the kitchen, Twilight following you closely.
  348. >Your hear steps then.
  349. >"You're awake Twilight?" said your dad.
  351. >Twilight yelps as you quickly push her back into your room and close the door.
  352. >Your dad walks out from the kitchen, and you pretend to be making your bun.
  353. >"Are you ok? I heard a yelp."
  354. "W-What yelp? I-I didn't heard anything" you say in your most convincing tone possible. You felt for a moment as if your heart was going to burst out like an alien.
  355. >"Huh. Must have been the door that creaked" he says as he walks to the living. You stay in the hallway guarding the door. "So why are you so early? That's kind of strange coming from you."
  356. "Becaaauseee..." Think think think. "I read that the sunlight improves alertness." Which is technically true, even if you actually worked better at night.
  357. >"Oh that's interesting. I hope then we can eat breakfast tomorrow. I barely see you these days."
  358. >You heard him pick the apartment keys from the table.
  359. >"I'll be going now. Remember I left you the food in the freezer."
  360. "Ok..."
  361. >Bye sweetie."
  362. "Bye dad."
  363. >You sigh as soon as your dad gets out, and you open your bedroom door.
  364. "Sorry," you say smiling nervously. Twilight doesn't seem to be hurt though.
  365. >As you enter the kitchen, the front door opens again. You desperately try to push Twilight again to a space beside the refrigerator.
  366. >"Hey sweetie, I forgot to tell you. Shining is coming this afternoon, so you won't have to be alone for long."
  367. "T-Thanks dad."
  368. >Your dad closes the door once more, and after a few seconds you both sigh again.
  370. "Sorry about all that pushing," you say from the kitchen as you're frying two eggs.
  371. >Now with 100% less eggshells.
  372. >Meanwhile, Twilight was waiting at the living.
  373. >"It's ok, I understand."
  374. >Once the eggs were ready and the water boiling you carry everything to the table. You accidentally touch the kettle for split second, but luckily not enough to burn you.
  375. "Do you want tea or coffee?"
  376. >"Tea is fine."
  377. >You go back to the kitchen once more, and pick a tea bag for Twilight.
  378. >You, on the other hand, are still feeling sleepy. You get back to the table with a coffee can for you. Twilight began to eat immediately, more like a human this time, as you made yourself a strong coffee for the day ahead.
  379. >"Thank you. You didn't have to do all this."
  380. "Well, you're my guest I suppose."
  381. >As you blowed your coffee to cool it, you glasses steam up.
  382. >Every time.
  383. >You take them off to clean them quickly and put them back on. As Twilight comes into focus, you can't help but question everything you know for the nth time.
  384. >Looking at her is like looking at a Penrose triangle for too long. There's no way it can be real.
  385. >You wonder...
  386. "Uhm... Doesn't all of this feel... strange to you?"
  387. >"You mean, turning into a human? It's really weird to be honest. I always feel like I'm going to fall when I'm standing up, and I still mistake my reflection for someone else's. Also my back hurts sometimes."
  388. "I mean... talking and looking at me."
  389. >"Oh. Yeah. Kinda," she says carelessly.
  390. "Just 'kinda'?"
  391. >"Yep. Kinda."
  392. >Well, you're on your own then.
  393. >"I think maybe you worry too much about this. I mean, I once met my future self who tried to warn me about a disaster, and I ended up creating a stable time loop. But I wasn't that weirded out by her, really."
  394. >Oh. Ok.
  395. >Just the 'you just have to chill down' advice you always get.
  396. >You take a long sip of coffee.
  398. >Once you finished, Twilight went to your room to retrieve her backpack.
  399. >"Do you mind if I borrow the sweater and some pants for today? I'll come to give them back once I'm done."
  400. "Sure, no problem. Pick the ones you like."
  401. >Considering that she's you, that you slept with her, and that you're still alive, you think you can trust her with some of your clothes.
  402. >After a minute Twilight comes out of the room, dressing just like you would, down to a pair of pants that you actually thought lost.
  403. >And of course, if it wasn't for the loose hair and the lack of glasses, she would be indistinguishable from you.
  404. >That, and for her seemingly happier attitude.
  405. >"How do I look?"
  406. "You look good. Very inconspicuous."
  407. >"Excellent. I'll be going now so I can get over with this."
  408. >Twilight made her way to the front door, and grabbed the knob.
  409. >After this, you'll be alone once again, with time to regain that piece of mental sanity you lost in this whole ordeal.
  410. >"Thank your everything, really. I sincerely don't know what would I have done if I hadn't met you yesterday. I would have frozen to death or something worse."
  411. >She opens the door to go out, your normality now on the other side just about to get in, but she stays there for a moment, looking at nothing specific.
  412. >"Actually, I could just have gone through the portal and come back tomorrow instead of causing all that trouble. Don't know why I didn't think of that the other times."
  413. >
  414. >No. You can't deal with this.
  415. >Sorry. You just can't.
  416. >You have to sit back for a moment, while Twilight laughs to herself.
  417. >"This is just like when I forget I can teleport!"
  418. >You hit your head on the table.
  421. >"Hey, don't worry. It was fun. I think it was a good coincidence that you were there, doing whatever you were doing."
  422. >This is the price of science it seems.
  423. >"What were you doing there anyway? You live kind of far from the school and you were with this weird contraption."
  424. "It was a Geiger counter. I was investigating some radiation I picked up from the portal."
  425. >You kind of forgot about that. Was the statue, or more accurately the portal actually dangerous?
  426. >From somewhere, the idea comes to you that maybe Mr. Geiger was actually detecting the 'magic' from Equestria.
  427. >And worst of all, it made too much sense.
  428. >A wonderful, marvelous sense.
  429. "Uh, Twilight?" You think this was the first time you addressed her by her name. "How are you planing to find the crown, exactly?"
  430. >"I have no idea," she says still smiling. Good plan there. "I guess I'll have to wing it."
  431. "Oh, because, you see..."
  432. >Are you sure you want to get involved in this now? It could be...
  433. >You don't even know what to expect.
  434. >But no book or website will teach you about this. It may be the only chance in your life.
  435. "If your crown is magical, maybe I help you with my Geiger counter. That 'contraption' you saw yesterday."
  436. >You go to the couch where you left your backpack and show the counter to Twilight.
  437. "It's supposed to detect radiation, but I believe it may also detect... 'magic'. Somehow."
  438. >You turn it on, and the counter makes it's characteristic sound.
  439. "I-I made it myself in my spare time. D-Do you like it?"
  440. >Wait. No.
  441. >You shouldn't have said that.
  442. >What if she doesn't like it? You notice now it looks kind of ugly. It's badly painted.
  443. >You have to change the subject.
  444. "I..."
  445. >"I like it."
  446. >She's smiling at you.
  447. >YES.
  448. "Wait for me. I'll go pack some stuff and we'll go."
  449. >You hurriedly get to your room with your backpack and look around for all the stuff you have, plus some clothes. You were going to investigate now.
  450. >What could you possibly need for this?
  452. >You find yourself along with Twilight in front of CHS once more. The sky was overcast right now, with some cool breezes occasionally. It seems it hasn't snowed too much, but just in case, you brought a hoodie.
  453. >"There's no students here. Are they on vacations?"
  454. "Yep. You arrived just the first day. At least for my school."
  455. >As you turned on the Geiger counter, Twilight got close to the glass doors once more, and tried to peek inside.
  456. >"My friends would have been of much help in this. Oh well."
  457. >The counter stayed at a constant level now. It was either too far away or it wasn't too strong here.
  458. >You realize the counter is unidirectional. This is going to complicate matters.
  459. >I'll keep note of this for the future.
  460. "So, do we go around the school once more?"
  461. >You inspect quickly the surrounding area. As much as you can without breaking in at least. There was the occasional spike, but it didn't seem to correlate with any particular location.
  462. >You then try going around the blocks, inspecting the houses and alleys.
  463. >People look at you funny as you go with the machine, for some reason. You do your best to ignore the mostly constant staring.
  464. >You seem to pick up a slight increase going to the north, though. So you start heading in that direction. You're not even looking where you're going. Just focus on the sound, trying to perceive any difference.
  465. >If the target was moving, and it probably was, then keeping a map would be a waste of time anyway.
  466. >"Don't you have another one of these? We could cover a bigger area this way."
  467. "No, sorry."
  468. >It took you a week just to make this one. And quite some money.
  469. >5 bits for a helium balloon was downright extortion.
  470. >Granted, you could probably do it faster now that you had the experience, but still.
  471. >As you go around a corner, Twilight bumps into someone.
  472. >When you turn your head to look, you find a blue-haired guy holding her.
  474. >"Twilight?"
  475. >"Flash!" she steps backs quickly and smiles. "Hehe. H-How nice to meet you!"
  476. >What?
  477. >"How nice to meet YOU. I thought I'd never see you again!"
  478. >Who is this guy?
  479. >He's blushing like crazy.
  480. >And Twilight is too.
  481. "Do you... know him?"
  482. >Twilight suddenly seems to remember you were here.
  483. >"Oh, sorry. Flash, this is Tw-- I mean..." Oh, c'mon, invent something. "Uh..."
  484. "Moonlight Twinkle," you say quickly. You recall that was the name your father wanted to give you. Sort of.
  485. >"Yes. Moonlight, this is Flash Sentry. He's a... friend."
  486. >The guy extends his hand to you with a smile.
  487. >When you shake it, you notice his palms are sweaty.
  488. >Ew.
  489. >As soon as he looks at Twilight again, you clean your hand on your hoodie.
  490. >"You didn't told me you had a twin sister, Twilight."
  491. >"He-he, didn't I?"
  492. >"Not at all."
  493. >What's the deal between these two? Twilight is suddenly acting kind of weird.
  494. >"What are you two doing around here anyway? I thought you lived in another city."
  495. >"Oh, we were just... Eh..."
  496. "Running an errand."
  497. >"Yes. We have to get this thing to a lab."
  498. >"I see. Will you have some free time later? We could go eat at Sugarcube Corner or something."
  499. >"Of-"
  500. "Sorry, we'll be busy today" you say giving him a smile, trying to resume the search.
  501. >"Oh, but can I have your number then? So we can keep in contact at least."
  502. >"Yes, of course. Uh... Moonlight...?"
  503. >Sigh. She didn't have a phone of course.
  504. "I don't... have a cellphone, really."
  505. >To call who, anyway?
  506. >"Oh, man. What about a home phone?"
  507. "...What if you give us your number instead?"
  508. >You didn't want to have him calling you home everyday after this was over.
  509. >You take out a pencil from your backpack, although you can't find your notepad with all the stuff you're carrying.
  510. >Whatever. You write the number on your wrist. It was just to finish this quickly.
  511. >Once you're done Flash keeps going wherever he was going, and Twilight keeps looking back as you continue your search. Seriously, friendships are weird.
  513. "Who was he, anyway?"
  514. >"He's a friend from CHS. We met the first time I came."
  515. "I see. He seemed weird."
  516. >Although Twilight was weird too, you didn't know what to expect from a english-speaking equine. Maybe that's their normal behavior with males.
  517. >People keep staring at you as you walk with your counter on the street. It's kind of bothering you now.
  518. >Or maybe they're looking at the twins? That must be it. It's not a common occurrence.
  519. >Besides, it's not like it's detecting anything.
  520. >That is, until you pass in front of an alley.
  521. >The counter picks up something weak.
  522. "Uh oh."
  523. >You both get into the alley and quickly scan the area, looking for either the crown or the burglar.
  524. >There's no one here.
  525. >You began to scan the surroundings, pinpointing the source to a big trash container.
  526. >You're having doubts about this right now.
  527. >As you open it, the stench of who knows how many days of trash hits your nose, and you step back. How are you supposed to look for the crown here? And why would it be here?
  528. >"Is it there?"
  529. "I have no idea."
  530. >Twilight sighs.
  531. >"Ok then."
  532. "What are you--?"
  533. >Twilight tries to get atop the container, but you quickly grab her by the sweater and pull her down.
  534. "What are you doing? Do you know how dangerous is that? There are thousands of bacteria there! There's dirt, toilet paper, decomposing food..."
  535. >"But I have to look for the crown. I can wash the dirt away later."
  536. >Ugh. Why couldn't you be a normal mysophobic princess?
  537. >Twilight threw a few bags to the side as she searched. You approached with the counter and inspected them.
  538. >Each one seemed to be the source of radiation.
  539. >This is fishy.
  540. >You go around inspecting the wooden house adjacent to the trash container, and hold it against the window.
  541. >It's stronger there.
  542. >As you knock on the glass, you see the reflection of someone behind you.
  543. >You find yourself face to face with a cop.
  544. >You notice then that a crowd of people is looking scared at you from a distance, blocking the streets.
  546. >Some people had freaked out and called the police when they saw you inspecting a trash container with a Geiger counter.
  547. >Turns out a lady that was on radioisotope therapy lived on that house. Now a truck was taking away the trash and other officers were trying to calm the people down while you were reproached.
  548. >"Look kids, you can't go around wielding that thing in public. People are still uneasy due to the whole 'Canterlot Hospital accident' from a few months ago."
  549. >In which a caesium capsule was stolen from the abandoned hospital.
  550. >What was going to happen to you now?
  551. >This was just a minor thing, right? An accident. Nothing would happen to you.
  552. >"I'll have to talk with your parents and confiscate the machine at the very least. I don't know if this could fall into disturbing the peace. In the worst case your parents may even have to pay for the mobilization costs."
  553. "What? B-But we didn't mean--!"
  554. >"I'm sorry kid but that's how it is. I need to know your names now."
  555. "T-Twilight Sparkle"
  556. >This is great. You just had to screw it Twilight.
  557. >"And yours?"
  558. >"Aah... Moonlight Twinkle."
  559. >What would your dad say now?
  560. >He would be disappointed of you. Ashamed even.
  561. >What if he has to pay a fine? Where will he even get the money?
  562. >"What's your phone number?"
  563. >"Officer, please, just let me explain."
  564. >You get misty-eyed just thinking about what will happen. You slump against a wall, looking at your old shoes.
  565. >All due to wanting to play the field investigator.
  566. >You should have let Twilight fix her problem on her own. She would be gone by tomorrow.
  567. >"Hey, kid."
  568. >You raise your head, and see the officer and Twilight looking at you.
  569. >"Is it true you made that machine?"
  570. "Y-Yes, why?"
  571. >The cop approached you without changing his expression.
  573. >The officer took it from your hands and began to inspect it.
  574. >It didn't have the name of a manufacturing company. Neither it had any kind of display. It was just a box that made sounds and was painted with yellow paint you got from the school.
  575. >"My sister made the machine and we just wanted to test it. We didn't know something like this would happen."
  576. >The officer gave you the machine back and looked around, conflicted.
  577. >"Shoot. You must be very smart to be able to make a thing like this on your own."
  578. >The officer scratches his head for a moment.
  579. >"Look, you seem like a good girl. I'm not gonna take away the thing, but I will have to talk with your parents later, just to let them know to keep an eye on what you do. It's unlikely they'd prosecute you for this, anyway."
  580. "T-Thank you."
  581. >The officer asked for your home number and went back to his car.
  582. >"It was true when they said I was too bland with kids..." you hear him mutter.
  583. >You sigh.
  584. >That was too close.
  585. >"Are you ok?" asked you Twilight as she put a hand on your shoulder. You were shaking a bit.
  586. "Yes. It was just the scare."
  587. >You wipe a tear away and saved the Geiger counter on your backpack. It was heavy with all the stuff you carried.
  588. "I suppose I can't be of much help now."
  589. >"It's ok. We'll think of another way."
  590. >Twilight pulled your arm and began to walk away from this mess.
  591. >You only looked at your shoes as you walked, raising your head only occasionally.
  592. >People weren't looking at you now, at least.
  593. "Thank you Twilight."
  594. >"Oh, it was nothing, really."
  595. "You could have left me on my own. You'll be going later."
  596. >"Well, yes, but I wouldn't be the Princess of Friendship if I didn't help my friends. Besides, you've done so much for me."
  597. "I guess..."
  598. >'Friends'
  599. >Being friends with yourself sounds kind of sad in any other context.
  600. >Twilight let go of your arm once you got to a traffic light.
  602. >"So, I was feeling kind of hungry. We could stop to eat somewhere."
  603. >You looked at your wristwatch. It was about time for lunch.
  604. "I'd rather go back to my house, so I can drop the counter there."
  605. >You don't think you'll ever get to use that thing anymore after this.
  606. >When you arrive, you heat in the microwave the food your dad brought yesterday.
  607. >It was barely enough for you two, but you didn't have much time. You stayed in your room in case Shining got here.
  608. >You looked at the things you had made as you ate.
  609. >There was a baseball cap from your brother in which you had put a small fan on, for the summer. You had made this a long time ago when you moved here, but you never gave it to him.
  610. >And good thing you didn't, because the fan blocks the visual field.
  611. >There was a wheel you had made, because you thought you could actually reinvent it. It was a disaster.
  612. >You had a broken wind current measurer.
  613. >Your attempt at an accelerometer.
  614. >A simple electricity meter that got hot when used.
  615. >A blender that gets stuck.
  616. >And some kind of toaster.
  617. >The Geiger counter was one of the few things that worked as intended.
  618. >Once you finished eating, you put it away in your closet.
  619. >"Hey, don't worry too much about it. We'll think of a way to find the crown."
  620. "It's just I really wanted to use something I made. To understand how your magic worked, scientifically speaking."
  621. >"If it makes you feel not so bad, I can tell you that in my world we can't understand it either. I mean, we use it and have laws and all, but we don't know why it's there."
  622. "I suppose it's like gravity for us then."
  623. >Once Twilight finishes you leave the dirty plates in the kitchen. You still had to wash the accumulating mess.
  624. >Not enough time now.
  625. >As Twilight got ready to go, you found the notepad and wrote a message for Shining.
  626. [I went to the house of a friend. I'll be back at night.]
  627. >You tear off the page and leave it over the table.
  628. >Hope he believes that.
  630. >You find yourself with Twilight at the bus stop near CHS. Although the sky was overcast and there were still some cool breezes, it was at least slightly warmer than this morning.
  631. >Maybe the sun will come out soon. Or more correctly, appear.
  632. "What do you suggest now? We don't have any lead."
  633. >"None at all, but I think with a bit of logic we can find him."
  634. >Twilight seemed more calm than you though she should, considering she had only half of the day left to search.
  635. "How, exactly?"
  636. >"Well, I suppose the burglar would have likely been shocked when he got through the portal and looked at himself. I believe he would have run in any direction and stayed at a point where he felt safe."
  637. >You don't follow her.
  638. >That doesn't seem to help at all.
  639. "So what?"
  640. >"Fields of grass have the effect of reducing the levels of stress in ponies. So I predict that our burglar may have likely slept at a park. Or at the town outskirts depending on which direction he went."
  641. >That's... pretty speculative.
  642. >He could just as well have hid in that dark alley Twilight was going to check.
  643. >The grass part of the hypothesis was kinda clever though, so you accept the idea.
  644. "Do we check the Everfree park then?"
  645. >"Yes. Lead the way."
  646. >As if you knew your way around here.
  647. >You used to live around these parts when you were a child, but after a certain age you almost stopped coming out of your house.
  648. >Come to think about it, you were a lot more sociable when you were like 4 or 5.
  649. >After you moved with your dad to the apartment, the only time you came here was for a test to get into CHS, in case you weren't accepted at Crystal Prep.
  650. >Still, maybe you can navigate your way around here. You recall some particularly specific memories from your childhood from time to time.
  651. >You wonder how your old house must look now.
  653. >You walk around for a few minutes, trying to find your way.
  654. >Nothing rings a bell here. You don't even remember the street where you used to live.
  655. >You do find that 'Sugarcube Corner' place though.
  656. >And luckily the blue-haired guy wasn't there. Making up a convincing excuse would be harder now.
  657. "Say, do you at least know how the burglar looks?"
  658. >"He had yellowish fur and... dark mane I think. I saw it mostly as a blur in the darkness. It could have been a mare for all I know."
  659. >You have an interesting pony vocabulary, Twilight.
  660. "So no identifying characteristics?"
  661. >"Unfortunately no. I didn't even get to see it's cutie mark."
  662. >Err... What?
  663. "What is a 'cutie mark'?"
  664. >It sounds like something from a kid's show.
  665. >"A representation of a pony's destiny. It appears as a symbol on our flank when we discover our special talent. That which differentiates us from the other ponies."
  666. >Ok.
  667. "So you mean... if I'm good at science, will I have a science cutie mark? What would that look like? The cliché lab coat or chemistry set?"
  668. >You're not sure you could live with that.
  669. >"Probably something metaphorical. Mine, or ours should I say, is a big 6 pointed star with 5 smaller ones."
  670. "Like, the Jewish star?"
  671. >"I... don't know exactly what you mean. It was the one I had on my skirt yesterday. I'm sure you saw it."
  672. >You recall noticing a star. A rose-colored one.
  673. >You thought it looked cool.
  674. "So what does it mean?"
  675. >"It basically represents my talent at using magic."
  676. >After saying that, Twilight stopped walking for a moment.
  677. >"Or not? There isn't magic in this world... Sooo... either your cutie mark would be different, or my interpretation was wrong. Or you wouldn't have one."
  678. >Oh, that's reassuring. To be good at nothing.
  679. >How much would you earn working as a trashwoman?
  681. >You stood at a corner in front of the Everfree park, which you found thanks to Twilight asking someone for directions. You should have thought of that.
  682. >Your dad used to talk about how dangerous this place was. He got robbed three times when he was younger. Twice when he tried to take a shortcut, and then when he... met your mom.
  683. >He even has a scar on his arm to prove the first one.
  684. >But now it was just a family place where people came in the weekends.
  685. >Most of the trees and the grass were covered in snow though. Twilight hypothesis seemed a lot less plausible the more you looked.
  686. "I think if the burglar stayed here he would have froze last night."
  687. >"I was thinking the same thing. But maybe he's in some place where the snow didn't fell."
  688. "Wouldn't he be gone by now, anyway? In fact, I think he probably went back home when he woke up."
  689. >At least you'd want to go back home as soon as possible.
  690. >"Unlikely. I think he would expect there to be guards waiting for him back in the castle. And there are! If he had come back they would have left a sign outside the portal as I instructed."
  691. >Pony-Twilight seems to have a lot of foresight.
  692. >Half of the time at least.
  693. >You liked that.
  694. "What do you suggest we do then?"
  695. >"Look for a person that doesn't act normal. I'll check inside the park while you look in the surrounding area. We'll meet right here once we finish."
  696. >That's... not really the best of plans
  697. "What if he's moving or armed? Do I fight him?"
  698. >At most you know some Mortal Kombat.
  699. >"Just try to follow him until he stops. And don't try to confront him. Don't even let him see you or he'll probably run away. I'll take care of everything myself."
  700. >Oh well. At least you don't have to put yourself in danger.
  701. >Just follow him around without being noticed. Like a stalker.
  702. >Seems like this is the day you began to broke the law. What are you gonna end up doing tomorrow? Drug trafficking?
  703. >When you turn to Twilight, you see she has already crossed the street.
  705. >You put your hood over your bun as you began to walk. It was kind of uncomfortable, but you didn't have other way to hide it.
  706. >Letting it loose could help.
  707. >But you decide against it
  708. >You focus instead on the people around you. Looking for a guy or woman with yellowish skin and dark hair that behaved like the cross between a human and a pony.
  709. >Easier said than done.
  710. >All these people make the streets look like the canvas of an abstract artist.
  711. >Or whatever that art movement where the guy puts paint at random is called.
  712. >You see people with dark hair or with yellow skin, but no one with both.
  713. >There's even a punk with bright red hair and black skin walking around here.
  714. >You glance across the street to the park, and catch a glimpse of Twilight.
  715. >Or maybe someone else that's also purple. Man, this is hard.
  716. >A smell calls your attention though.
  717. >It is a particularly sweet one.
  718. >You turn around to find a bakery.
  719. >That lunch you ate was barely enough for you.
  720. >You press against the glass, and look at the pastries just for a moment.
  721. >You see chocolate cake, a simple pound cake, one with cherries.
  722. >Apple pie, berry pie.
  723. >Lemon pie.
  724. >When was the last time you ate a lemon pie? It seems like years.
  725. >You don't have money though. It'll have to be other day.
  726. >When you turn to keep searching, you saw her.
  727. >Almost as if she was put there for you to find.
  728. >You stay still and watch her from a distance. Yellow skin, dark hair, had a backpack, looked back every ten seconds.
  729. >Was this actually the burglar?
  730. >She walks to the crosswalk near a corner and goes into the park.
  731. >Would Twilight catch her? Or did she already check this area?
  732. >You cross the street and follow her anyway.
  734. >You go into the park with her, not following too close. She wore a simple grey coat with jeans, and a bright red knit cap.
  735. >She turned to look back quite a few times, but didn't seem to mind you specifically. She walked until she got to a bench and sat there, leaving the backpack by her side. You walk towards a lamppost and lean on it casually.
  736. >You must look real shady right now with your hoodie.
  737. >Is this what a drug trafficker looks like? Did you fall into the slippery slope of criminal activity?
  738. >It was a bad idea to get off your bed today.
  739. >The girl sat waiting and looking at the people passing, and occasionally, to the sky.
  740. >You're conflicted about wherever this is suspicious or not. She seems paranoid, but nothing else. Should you go look for Twilight and tell her? Or just wait for her to check this area?
  741. >That could take a while. The park seems to be huge. And what if she already came here?
  742. >You look once more at the girl, and notice she's looking at you.
  743. >Oh heavens.
  744. >Just stay in place Twilight. Don't move. Don't run. Act completely normal.
  745. >A few seconds pass, and she keeps staring.
  746. >This is really making your nervous. You try to look at something else, but you still feel watched.
  747. >Twilight said not to let it see you and you already blew it.
  748. >Maybe it would be better to get away and wait for Twilight than stay here.
  749. >Before you can even turn around, a blueish girl goes past your side running.
  750. >You watch the running girl until she gets to the bench and sits besides the other girl.
  751. >They kiss passionately.
  752. >Yep. Pretty sure that isn't the burglar.
  753. >You turn around and walk out. There went five minutes of your life.
  755. >It takes you a few more minutes to go around the park. Thirteen to be exact.
  756. >You stand near the corner where you and Twilight split off, waiting for her to come.
  757. >You manage to wait for about nine minutes before deciding to walk around the park once more. To be fair, it was kind of big, and Twilight was probably checking every bush there.
  758. >Or maybe she found the thief already?
  759. >You wonder if she would take him back to her world immediately, considering it was a criminal and could be dangerous to keep around.
  760. >Probably yes.
  761. >She might be in Equestria right now, in her castle.
  762. >It was unlikely, yet still possible.
  763. >You didn't care that much about being left wandering for a while here, you still had plenty of free time before going back to school.
  764. >But if that was the case, you would appreciate she had at least said goodbye.
  765. >You see people with all sorts of color combinations. You even see that black and red punk again.
  766. >But no signs of a yellow skinned and dark haired thief.
  767. >Everyone acts pretty normal. Not as if they came from a world of ponies.
  768. >You have to wonder though, how could ponies make tools to build things like castles without having any fingers?
  769. >Well, they do have magic. Although Twilight wasn't very specific about what they could do. Or about anything, really.
  770. >If she's still around you should ask her.
  771. >You get to the bakery once again, and find yourself looking at the pastries.
  772. >Then you look at yourself reflected in the glass.
  773. >You found the non-normal person!
  775. >You manage to go around the park again in twelve minutes.
  776. >And there are still no signs of Twilight.
  777. >Did she really went back to Equestria?
  778. >As much as you looked into the park you couldn't see her long purple hair.
  779. >She promised she would give back your clothes, though.
  780. >But what if she forgets?
  781. >Or if she gets lost?
  782. >Or if something happened to her?
  783. >You look all around trying to find her.
  784. >You notice people gathering around near the park, two blocks from you.
  785. >You can't see anything from here but you already feel uneasy.
  786. >Please let it be some street musician. Or anything else.
  787. >You get closer without crossing the street to get a better view.
  788. >You see Twilight...
  789. >Whelp, there go your expectations.
  790. >And she's trying to take a backpack from... the girl with the red knit cap.
  791. >You can't make this up.
  792. >You look at both sides of the street before crossing, and you spot a police car on the other street.
  793. >Nnnope.
  794. >You get through the forming crowd of people quickly and grab Twilight from the arm.
  795. >"Hey, what--?"
  796. >You pull her away from the girl, and Twilight drops the backpack. You get through the crowd once again with her asking what are you doing. You walk with your head low until you're far away from everything and everyone.
  797. "What were you even trying to do back there?"
  798. >"It was the thief! I found her and I had to take the crown somehow!"
  799. "But it wasn't the thief. Did you not see her girlfriend there?"
  800. >"Girl... friend?"
  801. "Yes, that blue girl by her side."
  802. >"Oh... I though she was just a random pedestrian."
  803. >Good heavens.
  804. "Can't you do this in a way that doesn't attract a crowd of people?
  805. >"S-Sorry. I felt so sure..."
  806. "It looked as if you were trying to steal from her. We can't get into more trouble."
  807. >"I'm sorry..."
  808. >Man, she got sad really fast.
  809. "Ugh... just be a bit more observant next time. I assume you didn't find anything of interest in the park, right?" you say trying to change the subject.
  810. >"Right."
  812. >You sat slouched on a bench with Twilight to rest for a while.
  813. >Your feet hurt, and you're a bit tired. You really should go out and walk more often. Or maybe walk from school instead of taking the bus.
  814. >Across the street, the two girls were looking daggers at you both. You watched them walk until they disappeared between the mass of people. Sheesh Twilight...
  815. "What do you suggest now? We haven't accomplished anything in all day."
  816. >And it was getting kind of late already.
  817. >"I don't know. I don't have any clue of what to do. We could go look at the town outskirts, but it would take too much time..."
  818. "Don't you have in your world something that you could use to track magic? Like my counter but not as conspicuous?"
  819. >"It would stop working as soon as I crossed the portal." she replies instantly.
  820. >Well. It was worth a shot at least.
  821. >"I don't know anymore. Let's go see if the guards got him."
  822. >You look at the sky as you stand up. At the thick cloud covering the city. You can't see the sun at all, but it would be setting within an hour, probably.
  823. >You walk with Twilight towards CHS, for like the fourth time this day. The school is as desolate as it has been all day.
  824. >And there's nothing out of place there.
  825. "Do we give up already?"
  826. >"No. I... Let's go to the outskirts. Maybe I can find the Apple farm and get help from Applejack."
  827. >The apple 'farm'?
  828. >The word 'orchard' would be more appropriate.
  829. >You don't feel like correcting her anyway. You follow her for a few blocks until the houses disappear.
  830. >You had never come to the outskirts. You didn't even know it was so close.
  831. >There's grass and trees and mountains covered in snow extending to the horizon, with the fresh and cold air blowing occasionally.
  832. >It's a beautiful sight.
  833. >Yet it's so big you don't even feel you have the energy to search here.
  834. >And neither does Twilight.
  835. >She looks around quickly, and takes a few steps forward.
  836. "What are you gonna do?"
  837. >"I'm gonna call him."
  839. >Twilight inhales deeply, and despite her small frame she manages to somehow project a voice that you're sure could be heard all across the mountains and your nightmares.
  841. >You cover your hears and get away from Twilight as she keeps shouting.
  843. >Twilight stays silent, and looks at the landscape waiting for the burglar to come out.
  844. >After a few seconds in which nothing happens, Twilight repeats what she said, somehow even louder.
  846. >Twilight bends over a bit as she coughs and tries to catch her breath. You ears were ringing from the sudden loudness.
  847. >Yet once again no one appears.
  848. "H-How...? What was that?"
  849. >"The voice?" she says weakly "It's the Traditional Canterlot Voice. I was... uf, trying to learn it since I'm a princess, a-and I thought it might be useful someday."
  850. >She pauses for a moment again. Man, she looks as if she had run a marathon.
  851. >"I'm not... very good at it yet. You should see when Princess Luna uses it with lighting! It's awe-inspiring."
  852. >'I'm not very good at it yet'
  853. >'When Princess Luna uses it'
  854. >'With lighting'
  855. >Why? In what kind of world do these ponies live in where the existence and use of this voice is justified?
  856. "D-Don't do that again."
  857. >Twilight gives you a tired smile, and turns to look to the landscape once again.
  858. >"It was worth a try."
  859. >Twilight sits in the grass for a moment to recover. Metal bands ain't got nothing on the pretty pony princess.
  860. >"Do you think he ignored me for not using the Royal We? I kinda forgot that part..."
  861. "I think he's either not here or got too scared to come out."
  862. >"O-Of course... Let's walk around for a moment."
  863. >You extend your hand and help Twilight stand up. You began to walk, Twilight supporting herself on your arm.
  865. >You walked with Twilight for a few minutes as she recovered, and the sun began to set. At one point you heard a sound, and Twilight let go of your arm to check behind some bushes. She didn't find anything, as expected.
  866. >Neither could you spot any apple orchard around here.
  867. >This was an area too big to comb throughly even if you were to have a whole day to do it. Only by some contrived coincidence would you be able to find the burglar.
  868. >"Let's go back."
  869. >You follow her until you are once again in front of the statue. You're pretty sure you could draw it from memory, if you drawed.
  870. >Strangely, Twilight doesn't seem very worried about the time.
  871. >After a few minutes the sun disappeared. It was the twilight of the day, with the clouds the same color as your hair. Guess you mom got something right when she picked your name.
  872. "What are you going to do now? There's no time left."
  873. >"No, but I expected something like this would happen. I have a backup plan."
  874. >Oh, how great.
  875. "And you made me get worried until now because...?"
  876. >"Because it involves keeping the portal open and... I don't know. You don't seem to take the existence of Equestria very well."
  877. >Well, she was kind of right at that. The first few times at least.
  878. >"In any case, I can take care of this myself from now on," she says grabbing both of your hands and smiling. "So thank you for everything."
  879. "Oh, it was nothing, really."
  880. >Twilight took off your sweater and gave it back to you, and began to unbutton her jeans.
  881. >W-Was she serious? There's people...
  882. >She pulled them down, revealing her white panties. Oh god she was serious.
  883. "S-Stop!" you say averting your gaze "J-Just... I'll come for them tomorrow or something"
  884. >"...If you say so," she pulled them back again confused, and accommodated them. "Goodbye Twilight. Try to make some friends."
  885. >She says it as if it was that easy.
  886. "Y-Yeah, bye..."
  887. >Twilight turned and quickly walked back to the portal, and slammed her face into the statue.
  889. "Oh heavens. Are you ok?"
  890. >You get close to Twilight, as she covers her face and kneels down in pain.
  891. "Does it hurt too much? What happened?" you say kneeling down too, and she suddenly opens her eyes
  892. >"Oh no."
  893. >She stands up immediately and begins to touch the statue.
  894. >"Nonononono this can't be happening..."
  895. >She went around touching every side, until she was back with you. She supported herself against the statue, completely scared, and grabbing her head with her hands.
  896. >Was the portal... closed?
  897. >Twilight began to mutter something to herself, and when you get a bit closer you notice she's bleeding.
  898. "Twilight, your nose..."
  899. >She stops briefly and wipes the blood to see it, but ignored it.
  900. >"I don't understand, I did the math with the days... a-and..."
  901. >She gasped.
  902. >"I forgot the leap year," she suddenly pulled you so close to her that you could feel her breathing on your face. "TWILIGHT I FORGOT THERE WAS A LEAP YEAR!"
  903. >You see a drop of blood forming over her lip, and you push her away before it can fall on you.
  904. >Seeing Twilight like this scared you a little.
  905. >Was this what you looked like when you are freaking out?
  906. "Does this mean--?"
  907. >"It means the portal closed yesterday. How could I have been so foolish?"
  908. "B-But you said you could keep the portal open. Can't you do that here?"
  909. >Twilight suddenly looked at you, and smiled.
  910. >"YES! I have to find Sunset and send a message to Spike!"
  911. >To... Spike? A message? What is she talking about?
  912. >"Do you still have Flash's number? Please tell me you do!"
  913. >You pull back your sleeve to check your wrist. It was kind of blurred, but maybe still intelligible under a better light.
  914. "I would have to go back home to call him."
  915. >"Please! This is the last favor I need. Once I contact her I promise I won't bother you anymore!"
  917. >The bleeding had stopped before Twilight got on the bus, but she still seemed very affected. She was shaking a lot on the way home.
  918. >But you could sympathize with her. Too many things made you feel anxious. Important tests, group activities...
  919. >Physical education was one of the worst, because it actually affected your grades. You always fear you wont be able to do exercises right, which makes you even more likely to fail at them and reenforce that feeling.
  920. >Twilight seemed to be much more mature and assertive than you, but maybe some things don't change that much across dimensions.
  921. >You get to the apartments and go up to your floor.
  922. >Twilight would have to hide outside, while you make the call.
  923. >Searching for your keys in your backpack, you remember your brother is home. How silly.
  924. >You knock on the door, and you can hear steps from the inside.
  925. >"Who is it?"
  926. "Shining, it's me."
  927. >Your brother opens the door immediately.
  928. "Hi Shi--"
  929. >"Twily!"
  930. >Before you can even say anything he pulls you in for a big hug, backpack and all. You're not even touching the ground as he squeezes you.
  931. >"Man, you don't know how much I missed you! It's been years since I last saw you!"
  932. >You can't breath.
  933. "More like 6 months, really..." you say barely getting the words out. He always does the same.
  934. >He drops you off and you inhale deeply.
  935. >"You were at a friend's house?"
  936. "Yeah..."
  937. >You get into the apartment, and find your dad got home earlier than usual.
  938. "Hi dad."
  939. >"Hi sweetie. Is that true you have a friend?" he asks you immediately.
  940. >Why is everyone so interested in your social life? They didn't even care about your grades this much.
  941. "Y-Yeah, I was."
  942. >Your brother kneels beside you and put his hand on your shoulder.
  943. >"I'm so proud of you Twily. You're growing so fast..."
  944. "Don't you think you're exaggerating? It's not a big deal."
  945. >"Coming from you it kind of is," says your dad as he sits on the couch.
  946. >"So tell me, who is your friend? Is it a... 'boy'?"
  947. >Good heavens Shining...
  949. "No, she's a girl I met on the school library. Her name is Moonl--" you stop and think of a less conspicuous name. What had Twilight said? "I mean, Sunset... uh, Shimmer," you make up after taking a quick look at the lights. Perfect.
  950. >"That's a nice name," says your dad.
  951. "Yeah, isn't it? Totally nice..."
  952. >"I suppose you'll get a boyfriend in due time. Unless you're into that girl of course, there'd be nothing wrong with that."
  953. >Goddammit Shining.
  954. "Can't we stop talking so much about me? Why did you get home so early dad?" you say changing the subject immediately.
  955. >"Oh, I just wanted to have some time to see my two little treasures and--"
  956. >"Hey, is that blood you've got there?" Shining asks pointing to a spot on your hoodie.
  957. >You look at it. Yes it is. Twilight and her bloody hands.
  958. "O-Of course not. I... uh, ate spaghetti at Sunset's house. Lotsa spaghetti, yeah."
  959. >"Oh, so you already ate?" asked your dad.
  960. "Yep."
  961. >You are starving right now.
  962. >"And I just had bought italian food for the three of us. Oh well."
  963. >"So how is she? Does she have a big sister?"
  964. "Shining! A-Aren't you going out with Cadence?"
  965. >"Hey, I'm just asking."
  966. >"Your sister's right Shining. I raised you to be a man of value, not some indecisive womanizer."
  967. >"You always turned to look at passing women when you walked with my mom on the street, though."
  968. >"Yeah, but... those were other times. It was different."
  969. >"No it wasn't."
  970. >"Do you want to starve this night?"
  971. >Shining rolled his eyes and went to the kitchen. At least your dad got him to shut up.
  972. >You walked towards your room.
  973. >"Dinner's gonna be ready in a moment, if you're still hungry."
  974. "Thanks dad."
  975. >You threw your backpack over your bed and checked your wrist.
  976. >958-6369
  977. >Or was it 6869?
  978. >You can't remember what Flash had said because you're were in a hurry.
  979. >You went back to the living and sat on the couch with the phone, while your dad and Shining were sitting for dinner.
  980. >You pick 958-6869, because you like multiples of 3.
  982. >After a few seconds, a man picks up.
  983. >"Hello?"
  984. "Hello. Is Flash there?"
  985. >"Yeah, wait a moment. Flash! A girl is asking for you! Again!"
  986. >You can hear steps in the distance, and then someone picks up the phone.
  987. >"Hello?"
  988. "Hey, Flash..."
  989. >"Twilight? Is that you? Wow, I didn't expect you would actually call me!"
  990. "No, I'm actually... not her." you say trying to avoid raising suspicion from your family.
  991. >"Oh, you're Moonlight?" he says kind of disappointed. That kinda hurts. "Sorry, you two sound very similar..."
  992. "Don't worry, I'm used to it."
  993. >"So, what can I do for you?"
  994. "Uh... Do you know where..." Great, how do you say this giving away something to your family? You should have planned this better in advance. "...where Sunset's friends live?"
  995. >"Sunset's friends? Uh, yeah, but I think they went hitchhiking with her yesterday. They'll be out of town for a week I think."
  996. >Oh heavens.
  997. >Twilight is going to die when she hears this.
  998. "I see... Well, thank you anyway." you say trying to hang up.
  999. >"Wait! It's Twilight there now? I'd like to talk with her."
  1000. "No, sorry."
  1001. >"T--"
  1002. >You hang up and push the phone away. What are you gonna do now?
  1003. >"So who is this 'Flash'? Is he another friend?" asks your dad as he eats. Not again...
  1004. "N-No. He's just a classmate..."
  1005. >Your brother grins widely and opens his mouth. You know what's coming now.
  1006. "No! I don't like him!" you say before he can speak.
  1007. >He looks at your dad and grins even more.
  1008. >"Who said anything about liking him?"
  1010. >You did that on purpose, didn't you?
  1011. >"Sweetie, it's ok if you feel attracted to a boy. It's part of growing up."
  1012. "I'm not attracted to him! We're not even friends!"
  1013. >Oh god you're blushing now.
  1014. >"Why did you called him anyway? You could have asked Sunset about her friends." asks your brother with his stupid grin.
  1015. "B-B-Because... Argh!"
  1016. >You rub your face with your hands and storm out the apartment.
  1017. >"Where are you going?"
  1018. "To sell drugs or whatever!"
  1019. >You close the apartment door and rub your face again.
  1020. >"Man, she must be crazy for him."
  1022. >You stand outside your apartment until the blushing passes. You're going to pay for this Shining Armor.
  1023. >At least he gave you an excuse to come out.
  1024. >You look for Twilight in the hallways, but she doesn't seem to be anywhere around here. You began to call her name.
  1025. >The door of the janitor door opens, and she comes out pushing some brooms and mops to the ground.
  1026. >"Did you asked him? What did he say?"
  1027. "He said Sunset went hitchhiking with some friends."
  1028. >Twilight looked at the ground and slumped against the wall.
  1029. >"This is a disaster... I-I don't know what to do. I can't stay here for a month."
  1030. >Just a month?
  1031. "Didn't you said it would be for thirty moons?"
  1032. >"Moon, day, it's the same thing. Moon is just used for long periods."
  1033. >Why? Where's the respect for the lunar cycle?
  1034. "Well, Flash said Sunset would be out for just a week though. It's not a big deal."
  1035. >"Twilight, I'm a princess. I can't stay away even for a week. I have too many duties..."
  1036. "Weren't there other princesses though? Can't they cover for you a few days?"
  1037. >"Yeah, but I can't dump all the work on them and... Well, I guess there's no use worrying now."
  1038. "Do you want to go sleep in my room? It's been a long day."
  1039. >"Yeah..."
  1040. >You go back to your apartment with Twilight, and press your ear against the door.
  1041. >Shining and your dad are talking about sports.
  1042. >You wait outside with Twilight for a few minutes, until you hear steps. A moment later the TV turns on.
  1043. >You knock on the door, and your dad opens it for you and goes back to the armchair.
  1044. >"You came back."
  1045. "Yeah. Sorry about that."
  1046. >"You know Twilight, Shining was just teasing you. If you felt bothered it's not because he hates you or..."
  1047. "I know dad, it's just... whatever. Where's Shining?"
  1048. >"He's going to take a shower."
  1049. >While your dad is facing away from you, you shove Twilight inside and she goes quickly to your room. You close the door behind you, and while you try to get to your room, your dad suddenly turns around.
  1050. >"Come here sweetie."
  1052. >You sit in the couch while your dad turns off the TV and sighs.
  1053. "Is everything ok?"
  1054. >"Yes but... You know, we haven't talked a lot in these years. Since... well, everything that happened."
  1055. >You think you know where this is going.
  1056. "Please let's not--"
  1057. >"Calm down. Just... let me finish first. I think we don't spend much time together and maybe... that could be bad for you, and..."
  1058. "I'm fine dad. We don't talk much but I don't..."
  1059. >"No Twilight. You don't understand."
  1060. "...Is this about mom? Because--"
  1061. >"No. It's not about... Ugh, how do I say it?... Listen sweetie. When we get in love with someone we get this impulse to--"
  1062. >Good heavens not this.
  1063. "Dad I'm not in love with anyone, I already told you."
  1064. >"I don't doubt that sweetie but I believe I haven't taught you about how babies--"
  1065. "I-I already know that from school and bi-biology books!"
  1066. >You can hear Shining laughing from the bathroom.
  1067. "Wh-What's so funny?!"
  1068. >"Shining, have some respect. Your sister is confused right now."
  1069. "I'm not confused!"
  1070. >I'm confused about WHY do these thing happen to me.
  1071. >"Twilight just listen. It's ok if you at some moment feel the urge to do some things with him..."
  1072. >Ok, that's it. You're out of here. You walk back to your room.
  1073. >"Twilight wait! At least you should know how to use protection!"
  1074. "Leave me alone dad!"
  1075. >You close your bedroom door and lock it.
  1076. >Just WHY.
  1077. >"Is everything ok? You look feverish." says Twilight already tucked into your bed.
  1078. "I-I'm fine. It's just my dad who suddenly wanted to talk about... the birds and the bees. Or whatever."
  1079. >"I see. I know it's not something comfortable to talk about, but if you want someone to explain--"
  1080. "Twilight. If you keep the subject I'm kicking you out of my house" you say resisting the urge of throwing yourself out the window. You take your pajamas, and look at Twilight for a moment.
  1081. >"Oh, sorry." she says turning around. You undo your bun and change, and get into the bed.
  1082. "Goodnight Twilight."
  1083. >"Goodnight."
  1085. >You had a weird dream last night.
  1086. >You dreamt about an infinite library, one that had every book that could possibly be written.
  1087. >And in your madness, you threw yourself down the tallest infinite shelf, wanting to escape it. But you could never reach the floor. You died in two days, and became dust in the air after a year.
  1088. >As you wake up confused, you can still hear J. L. Ponges laughing at you inside your head.
  1089. >And then you turn around, finding yourself face to face with yourself.
  1090. >Sometimes dreams aren't weird enough.
  1091. >It's morning already. You can see behind the curtains it's snowing again. The air is cold inside your room.
  1092. >You move your feet a little, and damn do they hurt by all the walking.
  1093. >Seriously, you should exercise more.
  1094. >You feel hungry, but you want to sleep some more. You get comfortable and close your eyes again.
  1095. >Then you feel Twilight moving and muttering something.
  1096. >She puts an arm over you.
  1097. >"Flash..."
  1098. >No.
  1099. >You get up and put some clothes over your pajamas. You grab your hair tie and your glasses from your nightstand.
  1100. >You take a look at Twilight sleeping on your bed before going out. You will have to somehow live with her and keep her in your room and sleep with her for a week without anyone noticing.
  1101. >This is going to suck.
  1102. >You get out of your room quietly, and go to the bathroom.
  1103. >You do the things that needed to be done, and then began to undress to take a shower.
  1104. >You get inside the bathtub, but you just stay there looking at the shower head.
  1105. >If Twilight will be living here, it'll mean an additional expense.
  1106. >It was already enough with Shining staying here for a few days. You didn't want to be more of a burden for your dad.
  1107. >You get out of the shower and get dressed again. You can live without showering as often, you hope.
  1108. >You make your bun and go to the kitchen. Your dad is already gone, and Shining seems to be sleeping.
  1110. >You make yourself a good tea and sit down to eat.
  1111. >Everything is peaceful for the first time in a day. It feels as if you were alone once again.
  1112. >You feel somewhat dirty though. You kinda needed that shower.
  1113. >You eat the toast while you wait for your tea to cool down. What are you going to do the rest of the day?
  1114. >You have an unfinished project. You want to build that accelerometer.
  1115. >But you still have to go out and get the materials.
  1116. >So maybe tomorrow.
  1117. >Maybe you should read a book?
  1118. >You hear steps coming from Shining's room, and he walks to the living. He's pretty well dressed. He doesn't look as if he had just gotten out of bed.
  1119. >Unlike you.
  1120. >"Morning Twi."
  1121. "Good morning. Do you want breakfast? I made toast."
  1122. >"Sorry, I already ate."
  1123. >Huh. That explains a few things.
  1124. >"I was wondering if you'd like to go out somewhere. I've heard the Canterlot Museum of Science has a really big Tesla coil and you can get inside this cage where lighting strikes you and you don't die."
  1125. >How reassuring.
  1126. "You mean a Faraday cage."
  1127. >"Yeah. Wanna go?"
  1128. >You wish. The Canterlot museum seemed pretty interesting, if a bit expensive. You always wanted to see the quantum mechanics section.
  1129. >The part about lighting doesn't attract you too much, really.
  1130. >On a school trip when you were a child you had an accident with a Van de Graaff generator.
  1131. >It wasn't really serious, but you were a crying mess afterwards. Your dad had to take you home.
  1132. >Good times indeed.
  1133. >Still, you woke up feeling tired.
  1134. >And you couldn't leave Twilight alone all day.
  1135. "Sorry, but no."
  1136. >"You have plans?"
  1137. "Yep. Being lazy aaaall day" you say laying on two chairs and stretching.
  1138. >"Heh, sounds great. I'll be visiting some friends then. See you later."
  1139. "See ya."
  1140. >Shining went out of the apartment, leaving you alone once more.
  1141. >Sweet silence.
  1142. >You sit back normally and finish your tea.
  1143. >You wonder if Twilight is going to wake up soon.
  1144. >You pour another cup of tea and carry it to your room along with some toast.
  1146. >Twilight wakes up when you push the door open.
  1147. >She yawns and stretches as you lay the breakfast on the nightstand.
  1148. "Feeling good? You were kinda sad yesterday."
  1149. >"Better I guess. Although these jeans are really uncomfortable."
  1150. >What.
  1151. "You're... not supposed to sleep with them, you know?. Nor with skirts or sweaters, really."
  1152. >"I know, it's just that everything feels colder as a human. I usually sleep naked."
  1153. >Ok... She's a pony, so in that context it's fine.
  1154. >But it still sounds weird.
  1155. "Next time just ask for a pajama."
  1156. >Twilight smiles at you and began to eat.
  1157. >Meanwhile you sat on your chair and turned on your computer.
  1158. >Although you're not sure of what are you gonna do. It was more of an habit.
  1159. >"It's that a magic box?" Twilight asks you with her mouth full. How royal.
  1160. "What box? You mean the computer?"
  1161. >"Yeah, that thing."
  1162. "I... guess? It doesn't use magic. It uses electricity and semiconductive materials, broadly speaking."
  1163. >"I saw one on my first day here. I thought it was pretty neat, although I could barely use it."
  1164. >Well, you don't blame her. Even with the 'desktop metaphor' some things weren't very intuitive.
  1165. >At what technological level is Equestria, anyway?
  1166. >They have princesses, so at first you thought they were at some kind medieval age.
  1167. >But there are still some countries with kings and queens, so that doesn't really tell you anything.
  1168. >She did seem kinda impressed by the first bus you boarded, though.
  1169. >So they must be in an age before the invention of the automobile.
  1170. >On the other hand they're horses, so maybe they don't have a pressing need to invent them.
  1171. >This is complicated.
  1172. >"I'm ready."
  1173. >You turn around in your chair, to find that Twilight has already finished her breakfast. That was quick.
  1174. "That's, uh, great. You've got breadcrumbs on your lips."
  1175. >Twilight cleaned herself with her tongue, and with her fists clenched she said once again.
  1176. >"Now I'm ready!"
  1177. "For what, exactly?"
  1178. >"To go look for the burglar."
  1179. >She smiles. You frown.
  1181. >Once again you get to the bus stop near CHS. It had stopped snowing just a few minutes ago, or maybe it was only snowing close to your home.
  1182. >You wish you could be at home.
  1183. >This is what you get for coming to investigate. 'Curiosity killed the cat' was a real warning after all.
  1184. >You could be finishing that accelerometer by now. You wouldn't have got in trouble with the law...
  1185. >Did that policeman called your dad in the end? Seems like he forgot.
  1186. >Although you would have preferred that instead of your dad talking with you about sexual protection.
  1187. >Or about anything sex-related.
  1188. >In any case, maybe this won't take long. Twilight had a good plan this time.
  1189. >"We look at homeless shelters."
  1190. >Which was better than looking, or screaming, at the town outskirts.
  1191. >There were three shelters relatively close to this area, and considering the weather, it's likely the burglar would have preferred to stay at one of them.
  1192. >If he found one, that is.
  1193. >You take out your notepad from your backpack, and look at the first one, which should be the closest.
  1194. >421 Mulberry Lane.
  1195. >Well, time to walk all day again.
  1196. >Twilight asks for some directions, and after 15 minutes of walking (your feet are killing you!) you find the street and the shelter.
  1197. >And it is... depressing. Not just because of the people, of which there were few, but for the place itself.
  1198. >Everything is a mess. Beds with the blankets strewn around, the grey concrete walls dirty with the dirt of shoes, the smell of people...
  1199. >Was that mold growing there on the corner?
  1200. >None of the people here matched Twilight's description at all.
  1201. >Twilight got close to one of the workers here, a blue guy with messy hair, and asked him about the thief, and in turn he began to ask his co-workers.
  1202. >None of them had seen anyone like that. But he said he's gonna ask the people who work at night and that we should come back tomorrow.
  1203. >Seems like I won't be resting anytime soon.
  1205. >The second one is at the King McCarthur street, which sounds oddly familiar.
  1206. >You walk with Twilight for what feels like an eternity (actually 23 minutes) until you reach the place.
  1207. >When you get inside you find it is... cleaner. Yeah. Not much of note there.
  1208. >You get the same answer as at the previous one though: come back tomorrow.
  1209. >This feels hopeless once again, yet Twilight is pretty optimistic and is sure we will find something somehow. You don't know where she gets her motivation from.
  1210. >The third shelter is at the Horseshoepin street, which is in exactly the opposite direction you came from.
  1211. >So you look for a bus stop. And in doing so you find your old school.
  1212. >This is the neighborhood where you lived!
  1213. >Best of all you still know where everything is.
  1214. >Things look mostly the same, except for the fact that the candy shop is closed, and that everything seems grayer.
  1215. >Not even the drawing of children playing with animals in the school wall had changed.
  1216. >You notice for the first time they're kinda creepy, though, with their big smiles and wide-open eyes.
  1217. >And the proportions are all off. Did they got actual children to draw that?
  1218. >You didn't care that much about the school, though. You barely remember anything good about it.
  1219. >You wanted to see your old house, where you lived half of your life.
  1220. >It doesn't even take you that long. You walk with Twilight for about 3 minutes and you're already there.
  1221. >And it's... jarring, to say the least. It used to be white, for once.
  1222. >Now it's some kind of strong mustard color that stands out too much. Feels like your eyes are gonna hurt if you stare at it for long.
  1223. >There's also this big dog in the garden, who's barking at Twilight for some reason. Maybe he doesn't like ponies.
  1224. >Fortunately the apple tree is still there. Those were some really sweet apples. Or maybe that's just the nostalgia.
  1225. >Structurally it hasn't changed, too.
  1226. >You recall the inside of the house for a moment, and then go to that bus stop.
  1228. >You certainly feel with more energy now.
  1229. >It helps that you cover most of the way to the shelter in bus.
  1230. >The place doesn't seem all that different from the previous one, but when you step inside, the first thing you see is a tall white girl with pink hair filing her nails.
  1231. >You recognize this girl. You've seen her at Crystal Prep as a student.
  1232. >You don't even know her name, but you always notice her because she's beautiful.
  1233. >What is she doing here?
  1234. >"Hello, do you work here?"
  1235. >"Yeah." She looks up at Twilight, and then at you for a moment. "Do I know you two?"
  1236. "I... think so?"
  1237. >"Yeah, I think I've seen you at Crystal Prep. I like your hair by the way. That rose and violet streak is pretty."
  1238. >Wow... You didn't expect that at all. You feel really flattered.
  1239. >"So, what can I help you with?" she says leaning with an arm against the wall, striking a pose.
  1240. >Damn she's beautiful. Focus Twilight, you're not into girls.
  1241. "I, uh..."
  1242. >"We're looking for a person. Black hair, yellow skin. Could be a man or a girl..."
  1243. >The girl thinks for a while, and then shrugs.
  1244. >"Sorry. I've been here all morning and I haven't seen anyone like that. Most people come here at night, though, so you might have more luck then."
  1245. >"Could you ask for us?"
  1246. >"Sure. No problem."
  1247. >The girl struck a different pose while still leaning on the wall. I-Is it getting hot in here?
  1248. >"Why are you looking for that person anyway?"
  1249. >"He... stole something from me."
  1250. >Lucky Twilight who doesn't find humans attractive.
  1251. >"I see. You might have trouble finding him then. By your description it sounds like he's very good at hiding." she says with a smile. You can't help but notice her perfectly white teeth with braces.
  1252. >"Wait, what description? The color?"
  1253. >She laughs politely, her face looking soft as silk and her smile lighting up the Earth. Is she an angel?
  1254. >"Exactly. It's called Chromology."
  1255. >You want to chromo her logy.
  1257. >"Uh, what is that?"
  1258. >"It's the study of the relationship between the colors of a person and its personality."
  1259. >"That doesn't sound very reliable to be honest."
  1260. >"It doesn't tell you everything of course. It's more of a general guide, like personality tests."
  1261. >The girl struck another sexy pose.
  1262. >"A yellow skin color is indicative of 'normalness' but also of 'energy' or 'the will to do something' depending on its saturation. An plain achromatic black hair likewise is inconspicuous and boring. It's hard to guess without knowing the exact hue, but I think it is a good approximation. If this person doesn't want to be found, you're going to have a hard time."
  1263. >The girl struck another pose, emphasizing even more her soft curves. You can't take your eyes off her.
  1264. >"I can try to guess your personalities too. The rose and violet streaks in your hair look very interesting."
  1265. >"Heh, uh, we'd love to," says Twilight somewhat uncomfortably "but we don't have much time."
  1266. >"I see. Good luck then. If you need to know your chromatic compatibility with someone, don't hesitate in asking."
  1267. >"Y-Yeah, thank you."
  1268. >Twilight grabbed your wrist and led you out of the shelter. It was snowing again. White snow pure as her skin.
  1269. >Why are we humans worthy of such beauty?
  1270. >Twilight let go of your hand once you reached a traffic light. You were still shaking a little.
  1271. >"Are you feeling well? Your hands are sweaty," she says wiping her hand in her pants.
  1272. "I-I'm just very confused right now."
  1273. >Your dad was right. Good heavens, why?
  1274. >"I know, right? All that mumbo-jumbo about people's colors and their personality doesn't have any scientific basis. But don't worry about it. Statistical analysis has already disproved the whole thing there in Equestria."
  1275. >You can't even remember what the girl was talking about.
  1276. >"So what time is it? Should we go back home for lunch?"
  1277. >You check your wristwatch. It's barely one o' clock.
  1278. "Yeah, let's go back, unless you have a better idea. You don't have any, right?"
  1279. >"Not for now."
  1280. >Oh finally.
  1282. >You get to the apartment and throw your backpack, and yourself, on the couch.
  1283. "My poor, poor feet..."
  1284. >"Do they hurt?"
  1285. "Yeah, due to all the walking yesterday."
  1286. >"Why didn't you tell me? We could have stayed here this morning."
  1287. >You don't even bother reacting to that.
  1288. "Say, do you like italian food?"
  1289. >"I have no idea what that is," says the interdimensional pony with a smile. It's kind of endearing when she does that.
  1290. >You stand up and go to the kitchen to heat up whatever food was leftover from yesterday.
  1291. >And there are... raviolis!
  1292. >You expected some kind of pasta but this is actually better.
  1293. >"Is it ok if I turn on the heater? It's cold in here."
  1294. "Sure, go ahead."
  1295. >You put the food in the microwave for two minutes and wait. You're thirsty. But well, the water is really cold.
  1296. >There's also a pile of dishes waiting for you to clean them up.
  1297. >But you're hungry now. You'll do it later.
  1298. >Once it's ready you carry everything to the table and you sit to eat with Twilight.
  1299. >She tries one, and she seems to like them.
  1300. >Fortunately there's plenty, so you won't be hungry today.
  1301. >The room gets warm pretty quickly, and Twilight takes off your sweater. She seems to like it.
  1302. >"Twilight."
  1303. "Yeah?"
  1304. >"Do you think there is a way we can go out with your counter without it being noticeable?"
  1305. >Uh...
  1306. "You want me to break the law again?"
  1307. >"Well, if you put that way... Yes."
  1308. >Forget about the drugs. With this girl you're going to end up bombing a building.
  1309. "I... suppose, yeah. Only the circuit inside and the tube are important. I could make it look like a boombox with a microphone if I wanted."
  1310. >And you could get into random rap battles on the street, or whatever.
  1311. >"Excellent. I want to have a backup plan just in case."
  1312. >Backup plans are good. They are always good.
  1313. >Now, if only you had something to put the circuit into.
  1314. >Maybe a cereal box, or a briefcase...
  1315. >Or, you know, just your backpack.
  1317. >Once you finish you carry the plates to the kitchen, leaving Twilight alone in the living room.
  1318. >The sink is full of dirty dishes.
  1319. >You can't run from them anymore. You have to face your destiny, or run out of clean plates to eat.
  1320. >You put on the rubber gloves and get the sponge and dish soap. You begin with the ones you just used and the ones from breakfast. Then the ones from yesterday.
  1321. >When was the last time you washed them? There was already a small pile the day you met Twilight.
  1322. >It would be nice to have a dishwasher that did these things for you.
  1323. >In a moment half of them are done. You're making progress!
  1324. >You're gonna work in the counter and then in the accelerometer after this. Twilight doesn't have any excuse to make you go out of your house this afternoon.
  1325. >You hope.
  1326. >You absentmindedly think of the things you are gonna do, and put a spoon under the faucet. You get splashed with water.
  1327. >Every time.
  1328. >You dry yourself as much as you can and keep washing. The plot thickens now. This is the part where the food is stuck to the plates.
  1329. >But they are powerless against your mighty scrubbing. Haha!
  1330. >Some of them resist, but it's futile in the end.
  1331. >Man, is it getting hot in here? You're sweating with all the clothes you have.
  1332. "Twilight, can you turn off the heater?"
  1333. >"Yeah."
  1334. >Keeping on your holy mission, you're face to face with the last plate.
  1335. >A bit of food seems resolved to stay stuck to the plate, so you take out the big guns. With your finger, you try to remove it.
  1336. >It's actually really stuck. Damn thing doesn't want to come off.
  1337. >You barely succeed, but there's a spot left.
  1338. >You take out a glove and try to remove it with your fingernail.
  1339. >Slowly it comes off...
  1340. >It's almost ready...
  1341. >"I'm home."
  1342. >You hear the front door opening. Shining is back.
  1343. >You turn off the water and get behind the refrigerator. You trust Twilight will be able to take care of this. She just has to pretend...
  1344. >"Uh... Why are you naked?"
  1345. >...Goddammit.
  1347. >"Because it's pretty warm in here."
  1348. >FOR GOODNESS SAKE TWILIGHT. What the heck are you doing?
  1349. >Is it ok for you to die right now? Would anyone actually miss you? Is life really worth this much misery?
  1350. >"Oooookay... I'll be... in my room, or something. Nice tattoo by the way."
  1351. >You hear Shining quickly walking to his room.
  1352. >As soon as he closes the door you go back to the living room. It began with public disorder, it ends with murder.
  1353. >You find her stretching in the middle of the room, completely careless. You grab her by the arm and cover her mouth while pulling her back to your room.
  1354. >You shove her inside and lock the door.
  1355. "Why in the world are you naked?!" you say whispering as loud as you can, trying not to look directly at her.
  1356. >"Th-The room was pretty warm, s-so I took them off."
  1357. >You rub your face so hard you almost feel you're gonna take it off somehow. You can't deal with this. You just can't.
  1358. >Dear Lord, WHY?
  1359. >"Hey, look. I had my cutie mark after all! See?" she says pointing at her butt, which has on both sides that rose six-pointed star she talked about.
  1360. >You're done with this. You should just throw yourself out the window and be done with this.
  1361. >"I don't get what's the problem. Did I do something wrong?"
  1362. >Yes. Of course. She doesn't know.
  1363. >Did she do this the first time she came to this world?
  1364. >You sit down in the bed for a moment. What was your brother going to think about this? What if he tells your dad? What if he gets angry about a tattoo you don't have?
  1365. >This is just the second day out of like six or seven.
  1366. >Twilight looks at you worriedly, expecting some sort of explanation while she's standing there naked.
  1367. >You give her a quick rundown about modesty and the use of clothes in our society, including undergarments in case she has any funny idea, and then you go back to the living to get her clothes.
  1368. >Dinner tonight is gonna be awkward.
  1370. >An hour has passed and Twilight is taking a nap in your bed, with her clothes on this time.
  1371. >You are on the floor taking apart the counter.
  1372. >And you must say, it's a mess inside. It looks as if you were high or something when you were putting it together.
  1373. >All the cables are the same red color and they are entangled. You have no idea where everything goes, and you're struggling to remember how this thing even worked.
  1374. >This is why you should make blueprints first and keep them for later.
  1375. >The pieces of circuits are screwed to the box, except for one that you just left loose for some reason. If you had turn the box upside-down at some moment, the thing would have fallen off.
  1376. >The same goes for the speaker.
  1377. >And why is there a light connected to the battery holder? Please don't tell me you forgot to take it off after verifying the electrical circuit worked.
  1378. >It's no wonder so many of your projects fail. You get so excited trying to finish them that you half-ass everything.
  1379. >This is very enlightening in a sense. Time does give you a new perspective on things.
  1380. >You had made a thing that worked, so maybe after all this time you finally got good at this.
  1381. >You pause for a moment and lay down on the floor to rest. Twilight is still sleeping, and hasn't muttered anything weird yet. You could take a nap too, as you're not in a hurry.
  1382. >On the other hand, you might have trouble sleeping at night.
  1383. >You breathe deeply and get up to turn on the computer. You're gonna check the websites you saw to try to make sense of that thing you did.
  1384. >Searching your History from six months ago, you open everything and began to read.
  1385. >Looking at the pictures and the circuit on the floor, it doesn't take you long to get it. How could you forget something so simple?
  1386. >The only issue now is making the tube less noticeable. Maybe you can paint it or something.
  1387. >Paint it like what, though? You push yourself along with the chair to pick the tube from the floor.
  1388. >You hear a soft crack.
  1390. >You stay still for a moment, just looking at the tube without believing what just happened.
  1391. >Slowly, you look down, and see that you crushed a part of the circuit with the wheel of your chair.
  1392. >Of course. You can see there's your problem.
  1393. >You move the chair back a little to look at the piece, then sit with your head resting on your hand. It's been split in two.
  1394. >You don't feel anything. You aren't even bothered...
  1395. >But how can you be so dumb?
  1396. >You stay like this for about a minute, and then you breathe deeply. You'll just look for a replacement of whatever that was and fix this thing.
  1397. >Just take something out from one of your other projects or look for some broken toy in the trash. You'll fix it in no time, surely.
  1398. >Ugh.
  1399. >You sigh and go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. You see there's a dirty plate in the sink, so Shining must have eaten already.
  1400. >You drink the water, and then go back to the room. You carefully pick all the things on the floor and save them somewhere where you or Twilight won't step on them. You should take a rest.
  1401. >You turn off the computer and sit on the bed, taking out your glasses and undoing your bun.
  1402. >Twilight is taking up most of the space, and she's sleeping with her mouth wide open. You push her a bit to make some space for you and then lay down by her side. You're gonna take a nap, forget this happened, and then try to fix this.
  1403. >It was your best invention. One of the few things you could be proud about.
  1404. >Twilight turns around and puts her arm over you like this morning, but you don't even care at this point.
  1405. >How can you be so dumb?
  1407. >You open your eyes sometime later. The room is dark and cold, and you feel horribly tired and groggy.
  1408. >You look at the time. You've slept for... about two hours? Good heavens.
  1409. >You sit on the bed and stretch, and then you take a look at Twilight. She's sleeping under the covers.
  1410. >Think about that for a moment. At some point she woke up, she covered herself, and then went back to sleep. For a total of three hours.
  1411. >Just let her be.
  1412. >You go to the bathroom and wash your face with (really) cold water. That seems to put you alert at least.
  1413. >You grab a bread from the kitchen and go back to your room. You put on your glasses, make your bun, and take out the disassembled counter. Let's try this again.
  1414. >You apparently broke the piece that produced the sound, the one connected directly to the speaker.
  1415. >It's... not THAT hard to replace.
  1416. >Yet, is it a good idea? Having it making noise as you walk on the street?
  1417. >Wouldn't it be better with headphones?
  1418. >Or what about using a light instead? Would it be better? Would it take too long?
  1419. >You don't know. Headphones it is.
  1420. >You take a bite out of the bread, putting your lips around it so the breadcrumbs don't fall over the circuit. You remember Shining had a really old MP3 player. Maybe he still has it.
  1421. >After the living scene though...
  1422. >No, don't think about that. It wasn't you after all.
  1423. >Except it was.
  1424. >You walk to his bedroom door expecting nothing. You can do this.
  1425. "Sh-Shining, are you there?" you say knocking on his door.
  1426. >"Yeah."
  1427. "Can I come in?"
  1428. >"Uh, sure."
  1429. >You breathe deeply and turn the knob. You step inside.
  1430. >The room is mostly untouched, with only his suitcase on the floor. Nothing special about it.
  1431. >He's in his bed looking at his cellphone, facing away from you.
  1432. "I-I was wondering if you still had that MP3 player. I need to take it apart for... something."
  1433. >"Uh... Sorry, I think I threw it away," he says without even turning to look at you.
  1434. "Oh, ok. Thank you." You turn around to go out.
  1435. >"Say, where did you got the tattoo?"
  1437. "Uh... What tattoo?"
  1438. >"The one you had..." he turns his head around to see you, and seems surprised. "Oh, you're clothed."
  1439. "Y-Yeah."
  1440. >"Yeah," he says looking away nervously.
  1441. >Awkwaaaard.
  1442. >"Well, I mean," He left his phone aside and sat on the bed. "I was thinking of tattoing Cadance name on my arm, a-and I wanted to know if it hurts too much or... Wait, was a guy looking at your butt for an hour to do the tattoo?"
  1443. "Wh-What? No! I mean..."
  1444. >"Sheesh Twily, you're still just a girl. An underage one. You can't--"
  1445. "It wasn't a tattoo! There wasn't..." Wait. If you deny it, will you have to show him your butt to prove it? "Uh, it was a sticker. Yeah."
  1446. >...You didn't think this at all.
  1447. >Shining looks at you confused.
  1448. >"Uh... you sure?"
  1449. "Y-Yeah! I put a sticker... in my butt."
  1450. >You realize your excuse is somehow more embarrassing than the act itself. What did you just do?
  1451. >"Is... that a new trend or something?"
  1452. "Uh, yes?" You're not sure what to say anymore.
  1453. >Shining looks at you with a confused expression.
  1454. >"Oh man, I can't believe I'm getting this old."
  1455. >Uh...
  1456. >"I always thought of myself as a young person, always in touch with the trends... Th-The other day mom was saying something about grandchildren. M-Maybe she was trying to tell me something? Oh man..."
  1457. "What... are we talking about now?"
  1458. >"And the other day Cadance and I were watching the Olympics and she said she liked the rings! How can I be so dumb? She's practically screaming it!"
  1459. "I think you're overblowing this."
  1460. >"But... Maybe it is time I... propose. Man, I-I hadn't even thought about this in all these years..."
  1461. >Shining threw himself back on his bed, and looked perplexed at the ceiling. It's like the awkwardness somehow got reversed in a second.
  1462. "Ok, I'll be... uh, in my room, if you need me."
  1463. >You close the door as you exit, and just stay there outside. Do you have any idea of what you just did?
  1464. >He's gonna marry Cadance now!
  1465. >It was about time already.
  1467. >Since you don't have anything to replace the sound circuit, you consider using a LCD display to show the number of events per second.
  1468. >Yet it turns out to be pretty hard. You can't just solder it to some cables and expect it to work.
  1469. >You hear the front door opening. Seems like your dad got home.
  1470. >Your best bet now is getting a circuit for the sound and making your own phone jack connector. Connect it to that instead of the speaker and put your computer headphones on that.
  1471. >This should be simple enough.
  1472. >"I think you should go eat."
  1473. "You think? Why?"
  1474. >"I'm just... saying."
  1475. >You're not hungrier than usual with the bread you ate. Why should--
  1476. >Oh, of course. You have to bring her food. She could have said that directly.
  1477. >You save everything once again and go eat. When was the last time you had dinner with your dad? You think it was... about...
  1478. >You can't remember.
  1479. >What a great daughter you are!
  1480. >You see there are some bags in the table, and they smell like... something good. Yeah. You have no idea what that is.
  1481. >"Hi sweetie. Did you go to the museum?" asks your dad, sitting in the couch.
  1482. "Not really. I wanted to stay at home today. To work in some projects."
  1483. >"I see. Well, as long as you're not selling drugs or joining gangs... Say, was that thing you said yesterday about drugs a joke so I wouldn't get suspicious later?"
  1484. "D-Dad!"
  1485. >"I'm just asking. You spent most of the day alone after all."
  1486. "Well, I-I'm not a drug dealer! I-It was an inside joke."
  1487. >That only you knew.
  1488. >That's sad.
  1489. >"Huh. Ok. Do you want to eat?"
  1491. >You sit with your dad and Shining at the table. Turns out he brought japanese food!
  1492. >This is just like in your animes!
  1493. >You begin to eat the onigiris immediately. Gosh this is sooo good.
  1494. >There's sushi and tempura and soy sauce...
  1495. >"Is something bothering you Shining? Your sister is almost choking at the speed she eats and you're barely eating."
  1496. "If you're not gonna eat that you can give it to me," you say with your mouth full. Why have manners when you're living the dream?
  1497. >"Nah, it's nothing... I'm just thinking about my future, that's all."
  1498. >Seems like you broke him.
  1499. >Well, you can't say you regret this turn of events. He's gonna marry Cadence after all.
  1500. >"Just 'nothing'? That sounds like everything. Are you having doubts about your career?"
  1501. >"No, it's just... Well, I was thinking it's time I propose to Cadance."
  1502. >"What? But you're so young!"
  1503. >What?!
  1504. >You start to make gestures towards your dad so he doesn't ruin this, and you accidentally begin to choke.
  1505. "It's ok, I'm fine," you say erratically breathing. Gosh. You grab a glass of water and drink it, but you're still coughing.
  1506. >"Eh, I mean. I still think of you as my little boy. But if you seriously think it is the right moment to form a family, then I suppose I can't stop you."
  1507. >"I'm just not sure yet, but I guess that if we've been dating for so long marriage wouldn't make any difference, right?"
  1508. >"Uh... Well, yeah... kind of. Funny thing is you don't know how annoying can a person be until you live with it. Not that I'm saying it won't work but... Well, you and Cadance get along better than I ever did with your mom, so there's that too... I guess I'm just biased in that aspect. So what I say is, you'll never know until you're there."
  1509. >"I guess..."
  1510. >Shining ate some of the sushi while he seemed to think about it. Meanwhile you were holding the impulse to eat everything. Twilight needs to eat, too.
  1511. >"Dad?"
  1512. >"Yeah?"
  1513. >"Do you ever regret marrying my mom?"
  1515. >Your dad swallowed and looked straight at him for a moment.
  1516. >This got kind of uncomfortable. Maybe you should go back to your room.
  1517. >"Well, I regret many things Shining."
  1518. >"Sorry about this. Forget I--"
  1519. >"No it's alright. I think it's better for you to know this."
  1520. >Your dad accommodated in his chair.
  1521. >"I admit I did some awful things on my side, and made a lot of mistakes. Who knows? Maybe we could still be living together as a family and we wouldn't have caused you two all this pain."
  1522. >Your dad looked at the light in the ceiling and sighed, then looked at Shining once again.
  1523. >"But I don't regret ever marrying your mom."
  1524. >"Because you loved her?"
  1525. >"W-Well, uh... yeah, at some point I did, and maybe I still do. But even more than that, I got the smartest girl and the strongest boy a father could ever hope for, and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world. You make me proud you know?"
  1526. >You tear up a little.
  1527. >Keep calm Twilight, you're not one to--
  1528. >"I love you daaad!"
  1529. >Shining hugged your dad and bawled crocodile tears on his shoulder, in the loudest and most undignifying way possible. Screw it, you stand up and hug him too.
  1530. >"C'mon, that wasn't meant to make you cry..." he says putting his arm around you. "Seriously Shining, you're covering me with your mucus."
  1531. >"I don't caaare!" said Shining pressing even more against his shoulder. And he was supposed to be the strong one.
  1532. >You went back to your seat and rubbed your eyes a little. There, you're fine.
  1533. >Shining on the other hand had to clean himself with the napkins
  1534. >"Thank you dad. I'll think about this for a few days." He finished his meal quickly and went back to his room, leaving you with your dad alone.
  1535. "I'll be going to my room too. Goodnight dad."
  1536. >"Goodnight sweetie."
  1537. >You put some sushi for Twilight in your plate and go back to your room.
  1539. >"You have some really good food here in your world. I don't think I've ever tasted something like this."
  1540. "Yeah. Other cultures always seem to make the best foods."
  1541. >You're doing the phone jack with a clip and some other things you cannibalized from the old accelerometer.
  1542. >It's not like you'll ever need it.
  1543. >The circuit seems good so far, with no obvious problems or difficulties. This is fun.
  1544. "Did you get bored while you were here? You don't seem the type to touch and play with other people's stuff."
  1545. >And you aren't, either. It's like, if you were the same person or something.
  1546. >"A little. I just laid down on the bed and thought of home."
  1547. >You hear her throw herself back.
  1548. >"I really miss Spike."
  1549. "You had a dog too?"
  1550. >"A dog? Uh, no. He's a baby dragon."
  1551. >You almost break a piece of the phone jack when hearing this. You leave your tools aside and rub your face.
  1552. >You expect surprises from her yet this still happens. It just never ends.
  1553. "So, does he breathe fire and fly?" you say turning around to face Twilight.
  1554. >"Well, he doesn't fly. Yet. But he can speak and indeed, breathe fire."
  1555. "And what does he say?"
  1556. >"Normal... stuff? He has the cognitive ability of a pony or a human. He's more of a little brother for me."
  1557. "That sounds pretty cool."
  1558. >You'd love to have someone to talk to.
  1559. >"Yeah. Sometimes he's the one who has to take care of me. Celestia knows where I'd be without him. Probably dead or something."
  1560. >'Probably dead'.
  1561. >Ok.
  1562. >Just keep working Twilight.
  1563. >"So... you had a dog?"
  1564. "Yeah, I used to."
  1565. >You and Twilight stay in silence for a moment, the only sound being of the computer fan and some cars passing by.
  1566. >You know what's coming.
  1567. >"Is... Is he well?"
  1568. "He got hit by a car years ago, before we moved here."
  1569. >How many years have passed? Seven already?
  1570. >It still hurts when you remember him.
  1571. >"Sorry, I..." she says in a low voice. You turn to see she's sitting in the bed, tearing up.
  1572. >What is happening? Is this the National Crying Day?
  1574. "Hey, c'mon. This was years ago. And your Spike must be well in your world, you had friends that could take care of him, didn't you?"
  1575. >"Yeah..."
  1576. "Then what's the problem?"
  1577. >"H-He's a dragon..." she says wiping her tears.
  1578. >Well that sounds racist.
  1579. "So what?"
  1580. >"H-He will l-live much longer th-than... Than me..."
  1581. "Oh... Well, we all die someday, so it's statistically very likely, that we will survive people and people will survive us. That's just how it is."
  1582. >And there was nothing to do about it. Yet.
  1583. >You didn't like to think about death, because you always thought too much about it. You were scared of it when you were a child.
  1584. >You had deduced then that your dad and Shining would more likely die before you did. The two closest persons in your life would be gone someday, and you'd be truly alone.
  1585. >See? This is why you don't think about it.
  1586. >"I know, b-but... Do you remember when you were a baby?"
  1587. "Obviously not. Why?"
  1588. >"Because... I a-always wonder. Will Spike still remember me a th-thousand years after I'm gone? W-Will I be just some purple smudge in his memory after a lifetime?"
  1589. >Oh man.
  1590. "Of course he will remember you. If he has the cognitive ability of a normal pony, then he can form persistent memories already. He won't forget you."
  1591. >"You th-think so?" she asks looking at your eyes.
  1592. "Assuming a dragon's brain works in the same way as ours, yeah. The strongest impressions make the strongest memories."
  1593. >"I guess... I need to use the bathroom."
  1594. >Twilight walks out of the room, leaving you alone with the circuit.
  1595. >The only thing missing is for you to start crying too.
  1596. >You solder some pieces and... it looks ready!
  1597. >You plug your headphones in the jack and then take them out, although with some effort. It seems to work well regardless.
  1598. >Now the only thing you need is to replace the circuit you broke and put this together.
  1599. >"Twily? What happened? Why are you crying?"
  1600. >...Goddammit.
  1602. >"I-It's nothing. I was just... eh, reading a sad story. And it was very sad."
  1603. >"You sure?"
  1604. >"Yep. Very sad."
  1605. >"If you say so... You seem to have changed a lot now that you have friends. You weren't one to cry for anything. Neither one to follow... trends."
  1606. >"Yeah, I guess... Uh, I'll go finish my reading. Goodnight."
  1607. >"Goodnight Twily. Oh, and by the way, you look good with your hair loose."
  1608. >"Thank you."
  1609. >Twilight gets into your room and closes the door behind her with a tense expression.
  1610. >Just like yours.
  1611. >"Were threading on very thin ice with this," she whispers.
  1612. "Yeah. We should be more careful."
  1613. >You take out a pajama for Twilight and then clean up the mess you did, trying not to look at her as she changes.
  1614. >As if you didn't know every inch of her body now.
  1615. >That sounds wrong.
  1616. >You get into bed with Twilight and turn off the light.
  1617. >Only in your dreams you can find peace from the nonsense that is your life.
  1618. >"An interesting irony if you ask me," says a voice all of the sudden.
  1619. "Go away Ponges. You're not welcome in my dreams."
  1620. >"But who's to say you're not in my dream dreaming about me?"
  1621. "There are no dreams that are inside of dreams."
  1622. >"You clever girl. Yet you'll see--"
  1623. >"Twilight, are you awake?" a voice whispers.
  1624. >You snap back to reality. Man, you were THIS close to falling asleep.
  1625. "Yes. What do you want?"
  1626. >"I can't sleep."
  1627. >You sigh. You swim upwards just to sink back to reality like a brick on the sea.
  1628. "Wanna talk about something?"
  1629. --------------
  1630. >You are Fleur dis Lee.
  1631. >And you're in big trouble.
  1632. >"Maybe we should get the black dresses dear."
  1633. "But they are so... boring. We're not going to a funeral."
  1634. >If you were going to a party, you had to cause an impression.
  1635. >And a dress you had already used wasn't an option.
  1636. >"We are closing in 5 minutes, madam."
  1637. >"There's no time dear. Pick anything and lets go."
  1638. >Such is your life.
  1639. >You look quickly between the dresses until you find a violet one. You can't go wrong with violet.
  1640. >Your mom pays for it and you go to the car immediately.
  1641. >As your dad accelerates, you catch a glimpse of a yellowish person running on the street.
  1642. >When you turn to look, it's gone.
  1643. >Was that black hair?
  1644. >Hm...
  1646. >"You saw him?"
  1647. >"Yes, I think I did" says a certain white girl with violet hair sitting on a chair with her long, long legs crossed.
  1648. >Goodness.
  1649. >"Near the Crystal Boutique a few blocks from here. I must say I couldn't take a good look at him, but I've heard a grocery store was robbed around that time. Maybe that's who you're looking for."
  1650. >She leaned on the arm of the chair and uncrossed her legs. She was wearing pants and yet...
  1651. >Stop it Twilight. This is wrong. You like men. Big burly masculine men. You love them!
  1652. >You force yourself to take your eyes off the girl, and looked intensely at the crotch of a guy who worked there. Yeah, that's much better.
  1653. >...
  1654. >What are you doing?
  1655. >No.
  1656. >He's looking at you. WHY.
  1657. >You turn away from him blushing. Why do these things happen? What were you even thinking?
  1658. >"Twilight are you ok? You look feverish again."
  1659. "It's nothing! I'm fine!"
  1660. >"Do you want a glass of water?" asks the girl standing up.
  1661. "N-No thanks." You feel you're blushing even more.
  1662. >You take off your scarf and sit in a chair.
  1663. >"If you're sick you should tell me. I can do this on my own."
  1664. "I-I'm fine."
  1665. >"Is it contagious at least? 'Cause if we've been sleep--"
  1666. "I said I'm fine, which means I'm not sick and--" a glass enters your visual field suddenly, and see the girl smiling at you by your side.
  1667. >It feels as if all your problems suddenly went away.
  1668. "Th-Thank you."
  1669. >You grab the glass and drink the water. You swear it tastes better.
  1670. >This is going too far. You don't even find girls attractive.
  1671. >She must be a man in disguise. Yeah. That must be it.
  1672. >What are you gonna do when you go back to school and have to see her everyday?
  1673. >Maybe you can track her movements so you can avoid her.
  1674. >"I suppose we should be going now. Thanks for your help, uh..."
  1675. >"Fleur." She strikes another pose. You can't handle more of this. You stand up and grab Twilight from the arm.
  1676. "Thankyouforthewaterbye"
  1677. >You'll pretend this never happened and you'll be fine. FINE.
  1679. >"At least we've got a lead."
  1680. "W-We're not sure of that. It could be a coincidence, don't you remember the park incident?"
  1681. >"Yeah, but this is totally different."
  1682. "Sure it is," you say sarcastically.
  1683. >Twilight guided the way towards the robbed store. The air outside felt just as cold as yesterday, if not more.
  1684. >You could be at your computer, in your pajama and covering yourself with a blanket, sipping a cup of warm tea while you learned about nuclear physics in your room all alone.
  1685. >Instead you were freezing your poor nose here. Although you admit it felt good to come out once in a while, you wish it wasn't this cold.
  1686. >"Here's the Crytal Boutique."
  1687. >You look to your side to find what is maybe the fanciest-looking store you've ever seen.
  1688. >There are mannequins posing with some very beautiful dresses behind the glass. Everything here must be expensive as hell.
  1689. >You wonder how would you look in one of those.
  1690. >You walk past the boutique until you arrive at the grocery store.
  1691. >It doesn't look robbed.
  1692. "So what are we gonna do here? Look for clues like detectives?"
  1693. >"I was thinking of talking with whoever runs this place, but I suppose that's a good idea too."
  1694. "I was joking Twilight. Let's do this quickly."
  1695. >You get inside the store and ask for the boss. A minute later a chubby man comes to greet you.
  1696. >"I was told you two knew something about the person who robbed us last night. Is that true?"
  1697. >"We think so."
  1698. >"Well I hope you do. The police said there wasn't enough evidence to find the culprit."
  1699. "Aren't there any cameras?"
  1700. >"Yeah, but the burglar isn't recognizable in any of them. That's why I said there wasn't evidence."
  1701. >Well that's weird.
  1702. "Can we see them?"
  1703. >The guy turns around and leads you to the security room. Another guy there is looking at the screens mounted on the wall.
  1704. >"Hey, Watchy Eye. Show these girls the footage from the robbery."
  1705. >The guy pressed some buttons and all the footage was rewound to yesterday at 23:53.
  1707. >The video began to play, and after a few seconds of nothing happening, something falls from the ceiling, and a person climbs down from one of the shelves.
  1708. >Was that him? The recording was in black and white, but he seemed to have a light-colored skin.
  1709. >It also seemed to be a man by the lack of hair.
  1710. >The burglar jumped to the floor and landed on all fours, and began to walk like a... pony.
  1711. >Yeah. It must be him.
  1712. >His face couldn't be seen clearly because he was looking down at almost all moments. He stood up at one point and began to take things from the shelves, and put them on a bag he carried on his back.
  1713. >"So, do you know him?"
  1714. >"Not at all. That's why we're looking for him."
  1715. >"Well, I must say in all these years I had never seen a person walking like this." said the security guard. "It complicates identification a lot"
  1716. >"Can't you, like, enlarge the image?" asked Twilight.
  1717. >"What do you think this is, girl? CSI?" said the boss, and made a gesture to the guard to zoom in.
  1718. >The guy paused the video and enlarged a frame. It was blurry as heck.
  1719. >"There you have it. The police said it was unlikely the footage will be of any use. Unless the guy walks like this all the time, it's hopeless."
  1720. >The video resumed at normal size, and at 0:01 am the burglar climbed the shelf from where he came from and got out by the ceiling.
  1721. >That was fast.
  1722. "Could you tell us exactly what he stole?"
  1723. >"Just food. Cereal, some fruits, milk... I bet it was one of those crazy homeless people from the shelter. Lazy fucks. He should have at least robed the boutique so they could identify him by his clothes... Anyway, I have paperwork to do so if you two can't be of any help I'll have to ask you to leave."
  1724. >You look at Twilight and then walk to the exit with her.
  1725. >It was so warm inside...
  1726. "So what now?"
  1727. >"I... don't know. If the police manages to catch him, they'll likely confiscate the crown. It'll be lost forever."
  1728. >Damn.
  1730. >You go to a little shop near the Everfree park where you used buy toys sometimes, before moving.
  1731. >It hasn't changed at all.
  1732. >You ask for a teddy bear that made sounds, and you buy the cheapest one. 100% cotton and made in Taiwan.
  1733. >Once outside, you give the bear to Twilight while you take off your backpack. She plays with it a bit and then presses its tummy.
  1734. >[I love you!]
  1735. >She gasps.
  1736. >"Ohmygosh Twilight did you hear that?!"
  1737. "What?"
  1738. >"The bear! It said it loves me!"
  1739. >Uuuh...
  1740. "Yeah. It's a recording." you say opening your backpack.
  1741. >"I know, but it's so cute!"
  1742. "That's great. Put it here."
  1743. >"I-I want to carry it..."
  1744. "Its just a toy for goodness sake, he's doesn't love you. Now put it here."
  1745. >"No!"
  1746. >You try to grab the bear but Twilight puts a hand on your face and keeps it out of your reach.
  1747. "Ok! Ok! Keep it!" You fix your glasses and put on your backpack, while Twilight squeezes the toy. This girl...
  1748. >[I love you!]
  1749. >[I love you!]
  1750. >[I love you!]
  1751. >You wonder if slipping on a frozen puddle and breaking your neck would kill you quickly.
  1752. >Fortunately she stops pressing it after a minute, although she still carries it and throws it into the air occasionally.
  1753. >When she said she was a princess you expected a more serious person.
  1754. >Or maybe it's you who are too serious. People sometimes say it, but you never thought of yourself that way. That is, not as 'too'. You've always felt fine as you are.
  1755. >People also say people are perfect just as they are. That's some interesting doublethink at work there.
  1756. >You pass by Sugarcube corner, and you hear tapping in the glass.
  1757. >"Twilight!" says a muffled voice.
  1758. >You turn to see that blue-haired guy waving his arms at you. Or at Twilight, specifically.
  1759. >"Hey, Flash is in there."
  1760. "Uh, yeah. Hi..." you say waving your hand at him. "Let's keep going."
  1761. >"We could go inside for a minute" she says grabbing your hand and trying to pull you, but you stay in place.
  1762. "I'd like to go home."
  1764. >"We can eat something inside. It must be warm in there, too."
  1765. >You sigh. When she puts it that way...
  1766. >You follow Twilight, and you're hit with a wall of warm air and the smell of chocolate when you open the door.
  1767. >It feels so good...
  1768. >You walk with her to the table where Flash and two other guys are sitting.
  1769. >"Hi--"
  1770. >"Flash! Look!"
  1771. >She puts the teddy bear to his face and squeezes it. It makes that horrible noise again.
  1772. >"Isn't it cute? I think it is!"
  1773. >"Uh... yeah. It's very cute" he says weirded out.
  1774. >Poor guy.
  1775. >You grab an empty chair from one of the tables to sit down with them, and notice there isn't a line at the counter.
  1776. >Well, you have enough money left, so you go and get two cups of hot chocolate and carry them to the table.
  1777. "Here" you say giving Twilight her cup.
  1778. >"Thank you!"
  1779. >She smiles and presses the teddy bear against your face once you sit.
  1780. >[I love you!]
  1781. "...Please don't do that again."
  1782. >You hear the guy with sunglasses whisper something to the other big guy, but you don't quite get it. Something about Pi.
  1783. >"So guys, this is Twilight and her twin sister Moonlight. Girls, these are Ringo and Brawly."
  1784. >Hey, he remembered your made-up name.
  1785. >The two guys say hi, and you wave your hand and hide behind your cup. You blow on it to cool it and your glasses steam up.
  1786. >Every time.
  1787. >"So what are you two doing here? Running more errands?" he says while you clean up your glasses.
  1788. >"No, we were... taking a walk. Yup. We were going back home now."
  1789. >"I see. Do you think you'll have some free time later?"
  1790. >"Sorry, we'll be busy these days. But if we have some time we'll let you know."
  1791. >"Oh, well, I hope you do."
  1792. >The big guy whispered something to Flash, and he seemed to get nervous.
  1793. >They turn around and begin to argue about something, but once again you can't hear them.
  1794. >Twilight is looking at her cup with the teddy bear on her lap, and she doesn't seem to be paying attention.
  1795. >Flash turns around.
  1796. >"Uh... Twilight? I made a song for you."
  1798. >"A song? For me?"
  1799. >"Y-Yeah. Wanna hear it?"
  1800. >"Yes! Please!"
  1801. >Man, they must be really good friends.
  1802. >Flash turned around again and took out an acoustic guitar. You hadn't seen that when you got here.
  1803. >He strummed it, and then he seemed to be trying to remember something.
  1804. >His hands were shaking a lot.
  1805. >"Sorry, it's the cold."
  1806. "It's pretty warm in here" you say in a low voice. Flash just laughed nervously.
  1807. >"Ok so here it is."
  1808. >He cleared his throat, and then began to play the strings in sequence.
  1809. >Sounds alright so far.
  1810. >He stops with a long chord and then strums the guitar.
  1811. >"Twilight, light of my life, fire of my loins..."
  1812. >Uh?
  1813. >Is that reference to what I think it is?
  1814. >That's kinda creepy.
  1815. >He goes on with the song, which is about... Twilight. Somehow. The lyrics are kinda bland, to be honest.
  1816. >He also messes up the rhythm at one point.
  1817. >After two verses and two refrains he strums the guitar loudly, and plays a solo.
  1818. >He seems to make a lot of mistakes at that part. He's sweating, and everyone is looking at him.
  1819. >He does that thing when the pitch goes up at the last refrain and finishes.
  1820. >Everyone here is quiet, and the only sound coming is from the TV.
  1821. >[...You know, I'm very popular. I'm a nice girl. I'm leading in all the polls, the ones that matter. I'm huge. HUGE...]
  1822. >You look at Twilight, to see her blushing and with a big smile.
  1823. >"I-It was amazing! No one had ever made a song for me!"
  1824. >"W-Well, n-now there is one!"
  1825. >Now he's blushing too.
  1826. >"That part with the 'nananananana' was great! What did you think of it, Moonlight?" asked Twilight.
  1827. >You react half a second later, because you keep forgetting that's your name now.
  1828. "Oh, uh. It was... nice...?"
  1829. >"I-I know i-it's not perfect. It's still a work in progress..."
  1830. >"I keep telling him he should do the solo in the melodic scale and change the ending, but he doesn't listen" says the sunglasses guy.
  1831. >"Sh-Shut up. It'll be much better in the album."
  1832. >Al... bum?
  1834. >"You're gonna do an album?"
  1835. >"Yeah, we've been recording it these days. We just need a few more songs and then we'll release it. Wanna hear what we have?"
  1836. >He takes out his cellphone, and after pressing some buttons a track begins to play. A really, really loud one.
  1837. >You don't like this one at all. But Twilight somehow does.
  1838. >You drink your hot chocolate quickly, and as soon as it finishes you excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. At least there the sound will be muffled.
  1839. >It's kinda dark in here though. The light doesn't work.
  1840. >But at least it doesn't smell that bad.
  1841. >You take out your backpack and look for a roll of paper. Please tell me you brought a roll.
  1842. >Oh yeah, here it is.
  1843. >After finishing your business, you go wash your hands, and Twilight gets in with a big grin on her face.
  1844. >"Isn't he the best?"
  1845. "Depends on what music you like."
  1846. >"I mean him. He wrote a song, for me!"
  1847. "I know Twilight, I was there too. You two seem to be very good friends."
  1848. >You wonder how it feels to have a friend so close that makes songs for you.
  1849. >"I-I guess... C-Can I tell you a secret?"
  1850. "Ok...?"
  1851. >Twilight leans in to whisper in your ear.
  1852. >"I like him."
  1853. >What
  1854. "Sorry, what did you say?"
  1855. >"I-I like him."
  1856. "As in... like him, like him?
  1857. >She nods blushing.
  1858. >Oh my goodness...
  1859. "B-But you said you were friends."
  1860. >"Y-Yeah... but he's such a gentleman..."
  1861. "You're a pony!"
  1862. >"But I-I'm a human now, so it's ok, r-right? Th-There's no problem..."
  1863. >You see a girl that was entering the bathroom look strangely at you, and then goes out. Good heavens.
  1864. >This is what happens when you turn a horse princess into a teenager full of hormones.
  1865. >Not that you were much different, but still.
  1866. >Twilight got close to the mirror and looked at herself.
  1867. >"I guess you're right though. It is weird that I feel this way about him. Besides, what kind of human would get in love with a horse?"
  1868. >Man, she got really depressed in a moment.
  1869. >What's with you making people question their lives?
  1870. >"Let's go home."
  1872. >You come out of the bathroom with Twilight and go to the table.
  1873. "We have to go now."
  1874. >"So soon?" asks Flash concerned.
  1875. "Yeah, sorry."
  1876. >You grab the teddy bear from the chair and walk to the door with Twilight.
  1877. >"Bye Flash," she says looking back at him.
  1878. >"Bye. I'll see you later, right?"
  1879. >"Maybe."
  1880. >You get through the door, and stop outside when the cold air hits you. You could have stayed a little longer.
  1881. >In any case, you'll keep note of this location for later. That hot chocolate was good.
  1882. >Twilight takes the teddy bear from your hands, and you put on your scarf.
  1883. "Ok. So the plan is, we go home to eat, I finish the counter in a minute, and then we go back to search for the burglar in the area near the store. We catch him somehow and then..."
  1884. >"Wait for Sunset to come back."
  1885. "Yeah. Then I just have to hide you from my family in my room for the rest of the week. Sounds easy enough."
  1886. >Sure.
  1887. >You walk around the corner, and see Flash and his friends through the glass. They wave at you, and you wave back smiling until you leave their field of vision.
  1888. "I'm wondering, though. What are we going to do with the burglar?"
  1889. >"Uh... That's an excellent question. I'm a princess so he will have to answer to me."
  1890. "Yeah, but I mean--"
  1891. >You bump into someone in front of an alley.
  1892. >You stumble back a bit, your glasses almost falling off. You manage to catch them in time, and put them back.
  1893. >"God damn it!"
  1894. >There's coffee on the floor.
  1895. >You raise your head, to find a big green man covered in hot coffee.
  1896. >"This was my favorite hoodie! Can't you look where you're going?" he says looking angrily at you.
  1897. "Pardon me, I-I wasn't looking..."
  1898. >A pale orange and a red guy come out from the alley.
  1899. >"Hey, what happened?"
  1900. >The guy takes out the hoodie and takes a look at it.
  1901. >"Just look at what you did. Are you fucking blind or something?"
  1902. >"Hey, it was an accident! Why don't YOU look where you're going!" says Twilight walking up to him.
  1903. >And she looks insignificant by his side.
  1905. >"I looked, and it's not my fault your idiot friend walks sticking to the wall. I suppose one of you is gonna pay for the coffee."
  1906. "Yes I'll--"
  1907. >"Not until you apologize."
  1908. >"Are you serious? I lost my coffee!"
  1909. >"But you don't have to be such a jerk about it."
  1910. >"I'm not a jerk. I just want my fucking coffee back."
  1911. "I-It's fine, I'll..."
  1912. >You get your hand in your pocket.
  1913. >It's empty.
  1914. >You check the other pocket, but it's the same.
  1915. "I have no money..."
  1916. >"Well, ain't that just convenient?"
  1917. "I-I'm sorry--"
  1918. >"No. Don't be sorry. This jerk should be sorry to you."
  1919. >"What? I already said it's not my fault."
  1920. >"But you were very rude to my sister. If you aren't going to apologize then we're going. Let's go."
  1921. >Twilight grabs your hand and tries to pull you away.
  1922. >"Wait, stop."
  1923. >The red guy steps in front of you and blocks your path. You are forced to walk back, and the three guys encircle you.
  1924. >Oh dear. They are gonna do something to you, aren't they?
  1925. >"Look. Ok, I'm sorry for being mean," he says in a forced tone. "I just want my coffee back, that's all."
  1926. >"Well, that's a start," says Twilight confidently, even though you can feel her hand shaking.
  1927. >Or maybe you're shaking more than you thought.
  1928. >"Ok, uh..." he says scratching his head. "So you seriously don't have any money?"
  1929. >"Hey! Leave them alone you ruffians!"
  1930. >You turn to look at Flash who's running angrily towards the guys.
  1931. >"Huh."
  1932. >Flash jumps into the air towards the orange guy, but he moves aside and Flash falls to the floor.
  1933. >"Is this guy serious?"
  1934. >"Girls, run! I'll distract them!" he says trying to stand up, but the orange guy puts his foot over Flash's back and keeps him on the floor. "Let me go so I can kick your ass! Twilight, get away!"
  1935. >"Uh." the green guy turns to look at you, and get uncomfortably close. "Damn, I'm fucking blind. Do I know you? I remember a Twilight from somewhere. I think you are... Shining's sister?"
  1936. "Uh, Yes! Yes I am!" you say smiling nervously.
  1937. >Anything so you can go.
  1939. >"Yeah, I remember you... You're Purple Flea! Man, it's been years. I don't know if you remember me but I was Shining's friend in highschool. I went to his house a few times," he says with a smile.
  1940. "Yeah, I think I do..."
  1941. >You don't.
  1942. >You vaguely recall being called Purple Flea, and it didn't feel very nice.
  1943. >"Uh, well, it doesn't matter. How that old dawg doing? Haven't seen him in a while."
  1944. "Shining? He's... well."
  1945. >"I see..." he says, and then looks at Twilight. "You said that's your sister? I thought Shining only had one."
  1946. >"Can we go Anon? I can't keep this guy forever like this," interrupts the orange guy still keeping Flash pinned to the floor.
  1947. >"Ok. Uhm, sorry if I scared you Twilight and... sister. I just don't like people walking over me. Mango, Tomato, let's go."
  1948. >The orange guy leaves Flash alone, and the three of them go walking towards Sugarcube Corner.
  1949. >"Tell Shining he owes me a coffee," says the green guy before turning at the corner.
  1950. >You're confused.
  1951. >What did just happened?
  1952. >"Yeah! Run away you ruffians! And don't you ever come back!" screams Flash while he gets up and cleans the dust off his clothes. "Hey, are you alright?"
  1953. >"Yes. We're fine..." says Twilight letting go of your hand.
  1954. >You can still feel your heart beating. For a moment you were very scared.
  1955. >"What was the deal with those guys? Did they tried to rob you?"
  1956. >"Uh... No, they were some... friends, who we didn't know about. It's alright," says Twilight smiling.
  1957. >"I can walk you to your home if you want."
  1958. >"No, we're good. We..." she turns to look at you. "We have to go. Bye!"
  1959. >Twilight grabs your hand once again and walks away with you, leaving Flash alone before he can say something.
  1960. >She pulls you along for a while, until you get to a traffic light. Then she closes her eyes and breathes deeply, and then stares at the red light. Although you've relaxed your hand, she still holds onto it.
  1961. >"That was... scary."
  1962. "Yes... Yes it was."
  1964. >"You remember we were talking about the thief, right? I'll be honest, I... I hadn't thought too much about him... I used to have magic in my world, it's my special talent after all, but after this... You see I'm defenseless here. And what I'm doing may be dangerous."
  1965. >Twilight squeezed your hand.
  1966. >"I mean, most likely nothing will happen when we find the burglar. He has no way to go back to Equestria without cooperating after all. Maybe a talk in the Canterlot voice will suffice... but still, I think I should do this alone."
  1967. "You mean, go with the counter and find him yourself?"
  1968. >"Yes... I-It's funny, every time I've faced a threat alone to keep my friends from danger I've been almost killed... Yet common sense says that is the only reasonable thing to do."
  1969. >Yes, it's common sense.
  1970. >You can see what she means. When you go out with her, you're under her responsibility. She's a princess, she knows this.
  1971. >Yet she's a only a normal girl here, just like you. And even if she's brave and can stand up against someone, there's only so far that can take her.
  1972. >The other traffic lights changed to yellow.
  1973. >"So once the counter is done I want you to stay at home. And if I don't come back for any reason, you should forget this happened."
  1974. >The light changed to green, but Twilight crossed the street still holding onto your hand.
  1975. "What do you mean by forget?"
  1976. >"That we've met. I don't mean to say I will be hurt or something. After all if he cooperates, and it's likely that'll happen, it would be unreasonable to take him to your home. It's likely I'll never come back then, so you should go on with your life and don't look back."
  1977. >She let go of your hand once you were on the other side, and you walked with her to the bus stop.
  1978. >Her words left a heavy feeling in your heart.
  1979. >Yet she was right. Logically, and thinking from her position, it was the best thing to do.
  1980. >And if it is, then why does it feel wrong?
  1981. >You stay quiet. You don't complain.
  1982. >You take the bus back home.
  1984. >You walked up to the third floor, and stood in front of the door. Shining is likely going to be inside.
  1985. "Ok, like I taught you this morning."
  1986. >Twilight took out a hairtie from her pocket, and tried to make a bun like yours.
  1987. >It ends up tilted to the right.
  1988. >"My hair hurts."
  1989. "Ok, pay attention."
  1990. >You undid your bun and shook your head to let your hair completely loose.
  1991. "You stretch the hairtie with your fingers, and with the other hand you grab your hair."
  1992. >"Uh huh" she says imitating you.
  1993. "Then you do this, and it's done!" you say lowering your head for her to see. A perfectly done Twilight-bun.
  1994. >Invented and patented by you.
  1995. >"I..."
  1996. >You sigh.
  1997. "I'll do it."
  1998. >She turns around and you grab her hair.
  1999. "Didn't you ever use a hairtie in Equestria?"
  2000. >"My hair was never a bother."
  2001. "Well, for me it has always been."
  2002. >"Why don't you cut it, then?"
  2003. "Because... There, it's done."
  2004. >Now she only needs glasses and to lose some weight, and she would be exactly like you.
  2005. >With your keys you unlock the door, and push it up slightly as you open it to avoid making noise. You take a peek inside the apartment.
  2006. >Shining is watching TV, facing away from the door. Perfect.
  2007. >You shove Twilight inside, and she walks to your room.
  2008. >"Hi Twily."
  2009. >"Hi."
  2010. >You faintly hear your bedroom door creaking over the sound of the TV. You wait a few seconds, and then get inside, closing the door behind you.
  2011. >Shining turns to look at you, confused, and then looks at the hallway connecting to your room.
  2012. >"Uh..."
  2013. >You stare at him and raise an eyebrow, trying to maintain a serious expression.
  2014. >"Nothing."
  2015. >He keeps watching TV. You chuckle, and then go to your room and close the door behind you.
  2016. >You look at Twilight, and you both giggle in silence. This was exciting.
  2017. >Twilight lets her hair loose while you leave your backpack on the floor, and then you throw yourself on the bed and raise your barefoot feet in the air. It feels good to be on your room.
  2018. >"Do you think he'll suspect something?"
  2020. "He would believe in ghosts before thinking there are two of us."
  2021. >You move your feet in the air a little and then stand up again. As much as you'd like to rest you don't have all day.
  2022. >You go to the kitchen to get some food. Seems like Shining cooked something, and it doesn't seem burned.
  2023. >You get two plates and also grab a small knife before going back to your room.
  2024. >You sit down on the floor with Twilight and gobble down your food quickly.
  2025. >"You should slow down."
  2026. "I'm fine. I always eat like this when I'm hurried."
  2027. >In a few minutes you're done, and you leave your plate aside while Twilight is still eating. You take out the disassembled counter from your closet, and lay the pieces in front of you.
  2028. "Where's the teddy bear?"
  2029. >Twilight hands you the bear. You notice it has a little coffee stain somehow. Maybe a stray drop or something.
  2030. >"What are you gonna do with it?"
  2031. "Fix the counter."
  2032. >You take out the knife from your pocket and stab the bear.
  2033. >Twilight's eyes go wide.
  2034. >Putting your fingers inside the hole you rip the bear open and begin to take out the cotton inside. Where's the damn circuit?
  2035. >You leave the balls of cotton around you as you empty the bear. You shove your hand inside, and your fingers stumble on something made of plastic.
  2036. >[I love you!]
  2037. >There it is.
  2038. >You hope Shining didn't hear that.
  2039. >You pull the thing to take a look at it. It's a little green box with a button. It has a cable attached to it, possibly leading to the batteries. You try pulling it out but it seems stuck, so you get your hand inside the bear again and follow the cable until you find the battery case, and take out the whole thing together.
  2040. "Perfect."
  2041. >You look around to find yourself surrounded in cotton. You grab a handful of it and try to put it inside the bear again, with limited success.
  2042. >You stomp it with your foot to compress it.
  2043. >That's better.
  2044. "Here. Sorry about this."
  2045. >You give the bear back to Twilight, who looks at it dumbfounded.
  2047. >She presses its tummy, and a bit of cotton falls out the bear.
  2048. >"Th-Thanks."
  2049. >You take out the batteries and disassemble the circuit, then with your tools you do some electronic wizardry for 15 minutes, aaand...
  2050. >It's done!
  2051. >You put the counter together, turn it on and plug your headphones in. It makes that characteristic spiky sound you just love to hear.
  2052. >Well, it comes only from the right speaker, but what's important is that it works.
  2053. "See? I told you I could do it. It's ready to go."
  2054. >You press the tube against Twilight's stomach, and the noise picks up in intensity.
  2055. "Hehe, you're radioactive. I'll get cancer if I keep sleeping with you," you say jokingly.
  2056. >Twilight gives you an disapproving glare while she keeps holding the bear to her chest. Seems like she doesn't like your humor.
  2057. >No one does.
  2058. "Sorry. Shall we go?"
  2059. >"You remember what we talked about, right?"
  2060. >The thief.
  2061. "Yes, but you said he would likely cooperate."
  2062. >"I don't know that."
  2063. "But it's dangerous for you too." You're likely just as worried about her as she is about you. "And if we are two then the chances of being attacked are reduced considerably. It's statistically proven."
  2064. >You're not even sure if that's true, but it must be.
  2065. >Twilight grabs you from the shoulders and pulls you close.
  2066. >Uncomfortably so.
  2067. >"Look at me. I want you to promise that if anything happens you will run away. Go look for help if you can, but promise me you will take care of yourself first, ok?"
  2068. "Y-Yes, sure," you say almost avoiding her gaze.
  2069. >"Pinkie promise it."
  2070. "What?"
  2071. >"Pinkie promise. I really mean this."
  2072. >Is she serious? You're not a kid anymore.
  2073. >Whatever. You take her hand off your shoulder and entwine her pinkie finger with yours.
  2074. "I promise."
  2075. >"Uh..." She looks at her pinkie confused, but she seems to accept it.
  2076. >You stand up and help Twilight with the bun once again. Once that's done you save the counter in your backpack, leaving the tube hanging outside, and then you put on your shoes.
  2077. >Here we go again.
  2079. >You manage to sneak out of the apartment without problems, as Shining seemed to be in his room. You walk down the stairs and once outside, you take a bus towards the store.
  2080. >You sit with your backpack in your hands, and close your eyes for a moment. You're tired. So much you could fall asleep right here.
  2081. >Still, rest will come later, hopefully.
  2082. >It takes you maybe half a second to come up with a plan. That wasn't hard at all, because honestly, there wasn't much to plan about.
  2083. >Your thoughts focus on Twilight instead. She's sitting by your side, with her hands in her lap, looking out the window absently.
  2084. >And you keep looking at her.
  2085. >You're conflicted.
  2086. >Here's a strange thought. You're exhausted. Not only physically, but mentally too.
  2087. >You have been with Twilight for two days, in which she mostly hasn't left your side for long. You haven't had any time alone for yourself, to take a break and do something you want to do. And that tires you. People tire you just by being around you.
  2088. >You'd like to get this over with and walk into your house normally and take a hot shower and go to sleep warmly in your bed and open your eyes late in the morning full of energy to do whatever comes to your mind.
  2089. >Yet the funny thing is that you don't want that.
  2090. >You have something now that you've been missing. A feeling of company. That there's someone else in your house with you and that will always surprise you no matter how much time you spend together.
  2091. >Like when you used to live with Shining, and your dad didn't work all day and Spike was alive and your mom... was there, too.
  2092. >Now you are gonna be alone again, who knows for how long this time. Making friends is not for you, and yet...
  2093. "Twilight."
  2094. >"Uhm?" she says turning to look at you, but you only look back with your mouth open. What can you say now? Getting the crown is more important that your selfish desires.
  2095. >"Yes?"
  2096. "Uh, forget it."
  2097. >Twilight looked back at the window. Whatever will be, it will be.
  2099. >It takes you about 10 minutes in the bus and another 2 of walking to get to the store. You put on your headphones and turn on the counter, and it makes its cool noise. You've heard it so many times you can detect any anomaly in it.
  2100. >And right now, it was a bit higher in pitch, even when accounting for the extra radiation from Twilight.
  2101. "I think he's close, or at least closer than when we looked for him. We will walk in a spiral pattern leading away from the store, which will ensure we cover every street and alley until we detect something."
  2102. >"That sounds like a good plan."
  2103. "Yeah, uh... so let's get going."
  2104. >You take the first step and walk with Twilight, hoping whoever you find won't be dangerous.
  2105. >In just a moment the first block with the store is covered. The ones surrounding it take a bit longer. Then the ones surrounding those take much longer. You can see where this is going.
  2106. >"I think this is gonna take too long."
  2107. >When you hear your alternate you telling you that, you know it must be true.
  2108. >And with these thick clouds, it was surely gonna get dark earlier than usual.
  2109. "Have a little patience, I just need to hear a small difference."
  2110. >And it seems to be really small. So much you can't notice the change.
  2111. >Maybe if you run back and forth a few times you will notice it?
  2112. >"Hey, maybe it would work better from up there?" she says pointing to a restaurant three stories high. "Or it doesn't work like that?"
  2113. >Well, forget that. THIS is a much better plan.
  2114. >You get inside and go up the stairs to the upper floor. The sound jumps in pitch instantly here, why didn't you think of this?
  2115. >You go around the room opening the windows and sticking the tube outside. A cold breeze gets in, but fortunately no one complains directly.
  2116. >At a window near a corner, towards the north-east, the sound spikes up the most.
  2117. >Jackpot.
  2118. >Without saying anything Twilight walks down quickly to the first floor, and as soon as she's outside, she breaks into a sprint.
  2120. >You run with Twilight on the streets, the sound gaining intensity every time you take a turn at a corner.
  2121. >Your feet are burning and you're already sweating due to your poor condition, but the target is so close now you have to keep going. At any moment it seems like you will have the thief, and most importantly the crown in front of you, waiting for Twilight to take it back.
  2122. >And then what? What will she do?
  2123. >What will you do?
  2124. >You wanted to believe that you would be fine, that she would be fine, but when she took the threat so seriously you can't help but be scared. Anxious.
  2125. >But she won't stop now, so neither could you. Even if you're afraid, you keep pushing forward.
  2126. >And forward.
  2127. >Until the sound jumps again in pitch in front of an alley.
  2128. >You stop when you pass it, and Twilight turns to look when she notices you're not following. You make a gesture, and you both stand in front of the alley, panting.
  2129. >It comes from here, or maybe from across the street considering it seems to be empty. Regardless, it can't escape now. There isn't many people outside due to the cold, so he can't blend into a crowd.
  2130. >You both stare at the alley for a few moments while you recover a bit of energy, and then you look at her.
  2131. >She puts her hand in your shoulder but she doesn't say anything. She walks in front of you and stands in the alley.
  2132. >"Is anyone here?"
  2133. >You both wait for a short moment, and then hear some rustling.
  2134. >A figure peeks from behind a trash container. It has a lot of clothing and a scarf covers half of its face.
  2135. >But it is a woman with clear yellow skin and blue eyes.
  2136. >The figure stands up suddenly, and Twilight takes a step back out of fear, only for the girl to turn away instead and run. Twilight immediately follows her, and you start to run again.
  2137. >You come out to the other street and try to catch up with them, but the backpack and your lack of exercise keep you way behind.
  2138. >Still, you push yourself to keep going.
  2140. >After a few blocks your feet aren't able to carry you anymore, you manage somehow to lean against a wall before you collapse and fall to the floor. You are barely able to get enough oxygen, and your heart is beating so hard you can feel it pushing against your chest.
  2141. >"//...we expect a minimum temperature of -10°C this Friday, which would make it the lowest temperature...//"
  2142. >You rest for a few seconds before you glance down the street, to see them getting to the end of it not too far away from here. They are going to the town outskirts.
  2143. >They can't go farther than that. Maybe you can catch up with them there.
  2144. >You manage to gather the will and the strength to stand up somehow, and you walk at a slow pace with your head held low. Your legs are shaking. The cold air freezes your throat with every breath you're forced to take.
  2145. >For a moment, everything in your peripheral vision turns dark, and then it goes back to normal. You find yourself at the edge of the town, in front of what seems like an old textile factory.
  2146. >And Twilight is here, supporting herself at the entrance with a fence, panting.
  2147. >She pushes herself to stand up, and looks briefly back at you and then at the factory. She walks towards the ominous building and stops halfway there.
  2148. >"Whoever you are stop hiding so we can talk," she says attempting to do the Royal Canterlot Voice, without much success but still pretty loud. "Complying is the only way you'll be able to go back to Equestria."
  2149. >She waits a few seconds for an answer, or for any indication that the thief had heard her, but there is none. Nothing but the noise of the wind.
  2150. >"If you don't come then I'll go for you."
  2151. >No answer.
  2152. >She enters the factory, and disappears from your field of vision, as if she had never been here.
  2154. >Leaving the backpack aside you sit on the floor, resting your head on your knees. The counter and the cold wind break the silence at first, but then they become part of it.
  2155. >A minute passes, maybe ten, in which nothing happens at all and your legs keep burning. You have to curl up due to the cold, and glance up expecting to see Twilight walking back, with or without the crown and the thief.
  2156. >The waiting is worrying you, yet you try to stay calm and have patience. Who knows what's going on there. All you can do is wait, wait, breathe.
  2157. >Maybe they're talking. You haven't seen anyone coming out of there. Neither have you hear any kind of noise. It's probably going to take quite a bit of time to convince the thief give the crown back.
  2158. >But so it would be to drag Twilight away.
  2159. >The anxiousness is killing you. You could go look for help but if nothing has happened it would only complicate matters. And Twilight would be angry if you even tried to get near the factory.
  2160. >Being alone had never felt so bad, so foreboding, so...
  2161. >You look up to the factory, and take a short breath.
  2162. >Twilight screams.
  2163. >You stand up immediately in fear and stumble down due to your tired legs. The sounds echoes for a while, and though you stand back up you can't move your feet. You can't run to the building. You promised with your pinkie...
  2164. >You would only get yourself in danger too.
  2165. >But the pressing need to go help Twilight tries to push you forward at the same time, and you just stay still, indecisive.
  2166. >You glance at the town. You take a step backwards and run there, your feet feeling heavy as if they were made out of steel. The fatigue comes back quickly, and too soon you're in the same state as when you came out of the alley.
  2167. >You run through the streets but there's no one outside now. The sky is getting dark, and you go through two blocks before spotting an open shop.
  2168. >You make a last effort to run to the door, and when you're almost there your legs bend by themselves and you stumble to the floor.
  2170. >You instinctively try to catch yourself when you fall, but you still hit your head on the pavement. You're left on floor helplessly gasping for air. Your right leg is cramped, and it hurts to the point you can't even curl up due to pain.
  2171. >You slowly force your eyes open, to find your glasses are bent and cracked while they're still on your face. Your hands were scrapped due to the fall, and a burning sensation is building up on them.
  2172. >You raise your head. You're just a few feet from the store, but you're unable to get up. You try with all your might but you leg is not responding to you anymore.
  2173. >You try to crawl on the floor with your arms instead. You have to somehow get off the middle of the street.
  2174. >You hear a door opening, and when you look up you see the owner of the store approaching you. You try to push the words out but you can barely breathe.
  2175. "The police."
  2176. >The man tries to help you stand up, but you push him away. You feel you're gonna puke.
  2177. "My sister... Call... the police."
  2178. >After hesitating for a moment the man runs back into the store. You rest your head on the pavement until he comes out again. He drags you inside leaves you to rest against a counter. He hands you a bottle of water and you drink it only stopping when your body forces you to gasp for more air.
  2179. >You let your head fall back and your eyes to close, but Twilight keeps popping back into your mind. They are going to ask a lot of questions when they get there.
  2180. >You can barely notice the place where you are. You only know that it's already dark outside and that the streetlights are still off. You pull yourself with the counter and manage to stand on your left leg. Even if you have to jump the way there, you have to get back.
  2181. >Although the man tries to stop you at first, he leaves someone else at the store and helps you walk back to the factory. Once you get to the dirt road you hear sirens on the distance, and at the fence bright red lights illuminate the building.
  2183. >You stop at the fence door to rest. Two cars pull close to you and from them four policemen come out.
  2184. >You try to explain the situation, and although you stutter and some words stumble with each other they understand what you meant to say. After a brief exchange three of them venture into the factory with flashlights, the fourth staying to watch over you.
  2185. >You get yourself to the other side of the fence, and reach for the backpack you left when you ran away.
  2186. >Inside the factory you can see the lights and the sillouettes of the policemen inspecting every area in the factory. The cop looking after you communicates with them through a walkie-talkie, and one of them reports quietly about hearing something on the third floor.
  2187. >You feel a big pressure on your chest. A deep feeling of dread. You left Twilight alone with a criminal for who knows how long.
  2188. >You hug the backpack tightly, and press the right speaker of the headphones to your ear for a few seconds. Your hand is far from steady, but the noise you hear is normal. The thief isn't here anymore.
  2189. >"Found the girl. I'm carrying her out."
  2190. >You feel relieved for a moment, then tense up again. What did he meant by 'carrying'? You turn to look at the cop, and he's staring straight ahead to the entrance without any apparent expression. You wait for a few seconds, without ever taking your eyes off the front door.
  2191. >A flashlight lights the entrance from the inside. You try to deduct anything you can from the movement. Is she walking with the cop? Is the cop carrying her on his arms?
  2192. >She said to forget about her if anything happened, but how can she expect you to forget the closest thing you've had to a friend in years?
  2193. >Sometimes you could go for days without uttering a single word to anyone.
  2194. >And the fear of losing a pet again has kept you away from any kind of company.
  2195. >You know she has to leave but even if it was for a day, you'd...
  2196. >You see a sillouete walking out the door.
  2197. >And then you can see Twilight.
  2199. >You stand up to run the last few feet. She is walking with help of the cop, and she smiles when she sees you.
  2200. >But her smile turns into a frown when you get close. So does yours. You stop at inches from her to look at her state, but you take another step and pull her into a hug. She wraps her arms around you.
  2201. >She's covered in bruises and her upper lip was inflammed and bleeding. She's also limping on her right feet, kind of like a mirror image of you.
  2202. >The cop leaves her, and you end up supporting each other to stay standing.
  2203. >"Hey" she says after a few seconds.
  2204. "Hey."
  2205. >You pull away from her while still keeping your hands on her shoulders.
  2206. >"Are you ok? What happened to you?"
  2207. "What happened to YOU. You... Did she do this? Did she hit you?"
  2208. >"No I... I couldn't even find her. I went running down a flight of stairs and fell down at the end."
  2209. >You chuckle. All this worry just for...
  2210. >You should have run inside the factory. Even if logically you acted correctly.
  2211. >Even if it was what she would have liked.
  2212. >"We would like you and your sister to answer some questions while our men look for this thief" interrupts the cop who brought Twilight out. She nods with her head, and wraps an arm around your shoulders to walk to the car.
  2213. "What happened to your leg?"
  2214. >"I twisted my ankle a bit."
  2215. "But are you ok? Does it hurt too much?"
  2216. >"Nah, it's not serious. I'll be fine tomorrow, surely" she says smiling.
  2217. >You don't know if that's true or if she's saying it to avoid being taken to an hospital.
  2218. >Regardless of what it is, it seems to have worked in convincing the cop.
  2219. >The cop opens the back door and you help Twilight sit with her feet out the car. The cop gives you a bit of water for you to drink, and then takes out a notepad and a pencil. He sternly looks at Twilight, and then at you.
  2220. "What happened?"
  2222. >Although the man from the store is also questioned, you and 'Moonlight' manage to play down the severity of the incident.
  2223. >When asked about her age, she lies so they don't try to call your dad.
  2224. >Lying to the cops. You two keep disregarding the law everywhere you go.
  2225. >Or who knows, maybe she's saying the truth. She was mature enough to lead... something. A kingdom you suppose.
  2226. >After the other cops come back from the (unsuccesful) search, they offer you a ride back home. You refuse, to avoid any chance they could see Shining or your dad. Unfortunately, this means you will have to go back on your own.
  2227. >You walk back into the town with the store owner, apologizing for all the trouble along the way, and then look for a bus stop together with Twilight. The cramp in your leg has passed, although it is still a bit shaky. It's 7:43pm according to your clock, maybe you can get home before your dad does. Or maybe not.
  2228. >Going back the way you came from, or where you think you came from, you find a badly illuminated bus stop. You leave Twilight resting on a seat, and take a look at the big map behind you. There are no direct routes leading to your home from here. You definitively won't get there early enough.
  2229. >How are you gonna get Twilight into the house then?
  2230. "Look at me" you say taking off your backpack. You take out the roll of paper and get close to Twilight. "Say 'Ow' if it hurts."
  2231. >You try to clean the blood on her lip. Twilight visibly flinches, but doesn't complain. You throw the paper to a trash bin and kneel down in front of her.
  2232. "Can I see your foot?"
  2233. >Twilight rolls up her pant and takes off her shoe with some difficulty. Her foot doesn't seem swollen or damaged in any way. Seems like she was saying the truth after all.
  2234. >"So how is it?"
  2235. "It's hopeless. We'll have to amputate everything down your neck."
  2236. >Twilight smiles for half a second, and points with her head to an approaching bus. You help her stand up and get inside when it arrives.
  2238. >All the people in the bus look at you, or more specifically at Twilight, as soon as you enter. You sit at the front row and put on your hood, as if somehow that would get the staring to stop. It feels like it though, and for you that's good enough.
  2239. "We will stay at home tomorrow," you whisper leaning in close to her. "Ok?"
  2240. >"Ok."
  2241. "No more walking, no more looking for the thief. Just a day for us to rest."
  2242. >"Ok."
  2243. "Ok..."
  2244. >A hooded person whispering how things will be better to a beated girl on a bus. This is a whole new level of shadiness you've reached. When will it stop?
  2245. >You have to admit to yourself that, in a very twisted sense, this is kind of excting. Getting out of the house and all that, for something that's isn't school related.
  2246. >But you're exhausted now, and you notice for the first time you desperately need a bathroom. At least that keeps you from nodding off in the bus. The last thing you need is to get lost and arrive even later to your house.
  2247. >Damn, what are you gonna do once you get there?
  2248. >It takes you about 12 minutes to arrive to the next bus stop, which you find is surrounded by a lot of people, and they all turn to look at Twilight when you get off. It's unnerving. Very unnerving.
  2249. >They make space for you to sit with Twilight, so you end up in the middle of this mass of people.
  2250. >You look down at your shoes, and keep your eyes there only raising your head when a bus approaches. Twilight whispers a joke about you developing a hunch, and you smile more out of courtesy than anything else. You look up to see the bus approaching finally.
  2251. >You arrive to the apartments at about 8:32pm. You go inside, and slowly walk up the stairs with Twilight. It takes forever, and the whole way you fear your dad will arrive late and find you here. Fortunately, that doesn't happen. You arrive to the front door without any problems, except for your suffering bladder.
  2252. >Now what?
  2253. >How do you get Twilight inside?
  2255. >You search for your keys in your backpack. As unpleasant as it is, Twilight will have to wait outside for who knows how long. There's no other way to hide her from Shining and your dad.
  2256. >Or maybe there's no need to? Would it really be a problem if they knew?
  2257. >Beyond the initial shock, they would surely come to accept it after a while, just like you did. And if you could deal with it, then they surely could too.
  2258. >But on the other hand, they might get involved into this out of a desire to help or protect her, just like you did. And then that could lead to problems like this one.
  2259. >You could always tell them to stay away, but you know how that worked with you, of all people.
  2260. >And there's the fact you can't present her like this.
  2261. >"Is there a problem?" asks Twilight after a moment, snapping you out of your line of thought. You look down to see you already have the key inside the keyhole.
  2262. "No, sorry."
  2263. >You turn the key and open the door almost silently. The sound of a TV greets you. You peek inside to see Shining laying on the couch, watching some basketball game.
  2264. >You scan the room looking for your dad, but he isn't anywhere. In fact, his coat isn't on any of the chairs where he usually leaves it, nor there is any bag with food on the table.
  2265. "New plan" you whisper. "Try to walk into my room like you did today. Can you do that?"
  2266. >"Yes..."
  2267. "Ok, be quick" you say getting out of the way.
  2268. >Twilight walks limping inside the apartment, and Shining apparently doesn't hear her once again.
  2269. >He shuffles on the couch, and your heart almost skips a beat, but in the end he keeps watching the TV. Twilight looks back at you with a nervous expression and then keeps walking. After all that's happened, these things still get you.
  2270. >Twilight gets to the hallway leading to your room, and you sigh. It's done. You put a foot inside your house. You really need to go--
  2271. >"Twilight!" you hear from the kitchen.
  2272. >You close the door almost breaking it, and cover your mouth with your hand.
  2274. >"Oh heavens what happened to you?"
  2275. >You slump against the door still understanding what's going on right now. You hear running inside the apartment, and your dad speaks in a worried tone that you had never heard before.
  2276. >"What happened to you, sweetie? Where are your glasses?"
  2277. >You hear some heavy steps leading away from you, and your dad and Shining say something you can't understand. What have you just done?
  2278. >A door opens inside, and you hear the water faucet loud and clear.
  2279. >"Twilight, Twilight! Where you attacked? Did someone do this to you?" you hear your brother over all the noise. You don't hear Twilight's answer, but whatever it is it doesn't help.
  2280. >You don't think anything could help now.
  2281. >"Does your ankle hurt? Do you want to go to the hospital?"
  2282. >You hear more steps towards the door. You quickly move out of the way and hide at the turn of a hallway. You wait with your eyes closed for the door to open, but nothing occurs then. After two minutes of waiting, the door is still closed, but you still can't bring yourself to even look back at it.
  2283. >You screwed up. You can't think of anything else except of how you screwed up, you should have gone in first and...
  2284. >And have Twilight wait outside in her condition? It wasn't serious, but...
  2285. >Even she would have preferred that over this.
  2286. >You don't have the courage to walk back there, but you guess it would be futile anyway. There's no point if all you can do is stand outside until everyone's sleeping.
  2287. >Neither there is any point in standing here, where other people might see you.
  2288. >You hide in the janitor room where Twilight was the other day. It's supposed to be locked but apparently the janitor doesn't care, or he knows everybody thinks it's locked at all times, it's the same in the end.
  2289. >How long will it take your dad to be assured Twilight is fine and then go to sleep? An hour? Two hours? Will he sleep at all?
  2290. >With your bladder begging you for a bathroom, anything beyond five minutes is too much.
  2292. >About an hour of sitting and freezing among the mops goes by, and it's been a torture due to boredom, tiredness, and the need of a bathroom.
  2293. >You can't take this anymore. You'd rather walk into your house and let your family know everything than stay here any longer.
  2294. >You push the door open, letting the light of the hallway in. It hurts your eyes, but you crawl off the room and stretch your legs once you're outside. You might as well have slept there.
  2295. >You walk back to your apartment, and crouch down in front of the door to look through the gap on the floor. It's dark inside. Probably everyone is sleeping now, or trying to.
  2296. >You pull out your key from your pocket and open the door, letting it creak. There's a nice smell still lingering inside the house, apparently more of that thing Shining cooked today. If you didn't have the desperate need to pee, you might feel some hunger.
  2297. >The air inside is also a bit warmer. You close the door behind you and quietly walk to the bathroom.
  2298. >Once you're there you let everything 'go', and then you look at yourself in the mirror. Compared to Twilight, you look almost perfect. The only thing that says something happened to you are your broken glasses, your still dusty clothes, and your hands.
  2299. >There was a small bruise left in your forehead due to the fall, but your bangs cover it perfectly so it's not something to worry about. If anything, seeing you instead of Twilight tomorrow will make dad and Shining feel better, if only a bit.
  2300. >You really feel bad about having done this to them, though. You'll be extra-loving tomorrow to make up for it.
  2301. >You take off your clothes and get into the shower. Even though your eyes are almost closing by themselves now, you're all dirty and sticky due to the sweating, and you've gone for far too long without a bath.
  2302. >Seriously, it itches.
  2303. >You turn on the hot water and let it fall over you.
  2305. >This is sooo good. It's as if you had taken a weight off your shoulders.
  2306. >Your hands and your feet, specially the fingers, slowly warm up with the water, and soon the whole room is filled with steam. This feels kind of like a sauna.
  2307. >Not that you've ever gone to one, but you imagine it's something like this.
  2308. >You turn around to let the water hit the back of your head, and shake it a bit to get your hair completely wet. The mild humidity of the air makes breathing muggily pleasant without being drowning.
  2309. >This is precisely what you needed.
  2310. >You stay like this for about a minute, almost nodding off at one point. It's good to be alone for once.
  2311. >You quickly scrub every inch of your body with soap. Wash your hair, turn around a few times, scrub a little more around the armpits and the neck, and then you get out of the shower. Even with all the steam the room is cold, so you dry yourself quickly and wrap yourself in a big towel.
  2312. >Five minutes of drying your hair with another towel (the drier would make noise) and you guess it's good enough, in part because you're freezing here. You grab all your stuff and go into your room.
  2313. >You turn on the lights, to find Twilight was already sleeping with her clothes still on. She was probably even more tired than you are right now. After all she was the one who fell down the stairs.
  2314. >"Hmm..."
  2315. >Twilight covers her eyes with her arm, while you grab your pajamas from your bed and let the towel fall to the floor. As if you cared about whenever she was looking or not anymore. At this point not even you can keep your eyes open.
  2317. >You finish dressing and get into the bed. You curl up and sink into the covers as far as you can while still being able to breathe. This is the apotheosis of comfortability. This is what you deserve.
  2318. >Then you sniff the air and open your eyes again. It smells of you. You thought you had showered well.
  2319. >Wait.
  2320. >That's not you.
  2321. "Twilight?" you whisper from under the covers, but there's no answer.
  2322. >You extend your neck a bit.
  2323. "Twilight."
  2324. >"Hmm...?"
  2325. "You smell."
  2326. >"Uh...?"
  2327. "You smell of sweat."
  2328. >A moment passes, and then you feel Twilight shifting a bit.
  2329. >"Right..."
  2330. >She tries to get up, but ends up falling back to the bed.
  2331. >"I'm too tired to get up."
  2332. >You sigh. Well, so where you.
  2333. >Even though smelling your own smell bothers you deeply on a subconscious level, you'll have to let it pass.
  2334. >You sink back and try to get comfortable once again. Geting used to your 'fragrance' will take a while. Might as well talk a bit.
  2335. "Twilight."
  2336. >"Hm?"
  2337. "How... was my dad? When he saw you..."
  2338. >"...Worried. Scared. Same as your brother," she answers slurring the words.
  2339. >Damn.
  2340. "Did they ask too many questions?"
  2341. >"All of them... I just told them the truth."
  2342. "What do you mean by 'the truth'? Did you tell them everything?"
  2343. >"Just... that I tripped and fell down the stairs. I'd rather not lie, specially to our family."
  2344. >'Not lie.' Huh.
  2345. >Well, you don't really have many qualms about lying.
  2346. >In fact, you did it a lot on a time when you tried to make friends. 'Be yourself' never worked, so you tried pretending about your tastes, likings, hobbies...
  2347. >It never worked either. When you tried to make some talk, it always ended awkwardly and with the other person walking away to do something that wasn't boring.
  2348. >Maybe you didn't pretend good enough? Was it something else you've been missing?
  2350. >Maybe you weren't meant to have friends, which made sense. You didn't have all the time in the world, so keeping interpersonal relationships would take time away from your studies, from becoming who you want to be.
  2351. >Yet you still find yourself turning to look at other people when they laughed together or talked or held hands...
  2352. >Uh, so why where you thinking about this again?
  2353. >You pull down the covers a bit to look at Twilight. She fell asleep while you were recounting your most intimate secrets to some imaginary friend of yours.
  2354. >You were probably being a bother anyway. You should sleep too.
  2355. >Although you still feel a little cold. You wonder if you could... scoot a bit closer? Is it normal for friends to sleep that close?
  2356. >Uh, you don't think friends really sleep together in the first place.
  2357. >You can warm yourself anyway. You turn to look away from her and now you finally FINALLY fall asleep too.
  2358. >Sweet dreams, Twilight. You deserve it.
  2359. >
  2360. >You wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy.
  2361. >Sorry, you had to. Damn pop songs.
  2362. >It's really cold. Man, they weren't exaggerating with the historic low temperature. And it's just thursday.
  2363. >You're still a bit tired by the way. Maybe you needed a couple of hours more of sleep.
  2364. >It's a brand new day though. You can't waste it away in your bed like in your bad days. You stretch your body and rub your eyes, then you turn to look at Twilight.
  2365. >You're alone in your bed.
  2366. >You rub your eyes a bit more and then look again. She's gone. Her side of the bed looks untouched.
  2367. >Your heart feels as if it was being squeezed.
  2368. >Was it... all a dream?
  2370. [It originally said 'THE END' here but obviously that doesn't work in the middle of the document. Pretend to be outraged.]
  2372. >You slap yourself on the forehead. Your bruise is still there and it HURTS.
  2374. "Owww..."
  2375. >You went overboard with that.
  2376. >But it's fine. It wasn't a dream after all. Even if with all the weird stuff that happened it should have.
  2377. >So where is she?
  2378. >You put on your still broken glasses and when you get off the bed you almost fall to the floor. Your legs hurt as if you had run a marathon.
  2379. >You kinda did though.
  2380. >This isn't going to be a good day, is it?
  2381. >And do you really need to get up? She probably went to the bathroom, or maybe she's making breakfast, like you did for her...
  2382. >Yet you still feel compelled to search and you find she isn't here. She isn't anywhere in the house.
  2383. >The only thing you find of her are the clothes she used near the shower.
  2384. >Her original clothes aren't even in your room. She went away. She really went away for good.
  2385. >Well... That's fine, you suppose. She had to go someday.
  2386. >Maybe you were too pushy with the 'going with you anyway' thing and she ran away so you wouldn't follow. After the whole ordeal with exhausting yourself and then scaring your dad and Shining, it's likely that was the case.
  2387. >She said she would stay at home today though, but you guess it's ok. You're not hurt at all.
  2388. >Just disappointed.
  2389. >You go to your room to put on a jacket and in the kitchen you warm a bit of water for yourself. You stand close to the stove, trying to catch every photon in the infrared range to keep yourself warm. You've gone for too long without doing anything productive. It's time to catch up with your own studies.
  2390. >Man, you had forgotten about the accelerometer. You'll have to work extra-fast to have it ready before your vacations end.
  2391. >About the time the kettle boils you hear Shining walking out of his room.
  2392. >You pour the hot water on a mug, and just at that moment Shining walks into the kitchen.
  2393. >You turn to look at him. He has his hair all over his eyes, but moves it aside to have a clear view of you.
  2394. >You force a smile for him.
  2395. "Hi."
  2397. >"Hi Twily. How do you feel?"
  2398. "Uh, fine..."
  2399. >Shining kneels a bit to get on your level and takes a good look at you upper lip.
  2400. >"Heh, it's as if nothing had happened to you. How's your foot?"
  2401. "He's fine, too."
  2402. >You stomp on the ground a few times to show him how well you are. Your foot was fine, it's your leg the one that's suffering.
  2403. >Shining seemed convinced though. He stood up properly and pulled you into a hug.
  2404. >"Please don't do that again."
  2405. "I-It was just an accident. It's hard for me not to be... clumsy."
  2406. >You weren't.
  2407. >"Yeah, uh..."
  2408. >He pulled away.
  2409. >"Look, I know you're a big girl now and you can do whatever you want and all that, but, uh... you could have at least told us where you were going yesterday. I just heard you go out and then you come back late and you were bleeding..."
  2410. >He taped on your shoulders with his fingers.
  2411. >"So... yeah. Remember we also care about you."
  2412. >Before he could get away you hugged him again, and he returned the gesture.
  2413. "I'll try."
  2414. >"You better do. You're my little sister, and you'll be little for me even when you're sixty four."
  2415. >Assuming you manage to get to that age.
  2416. >You let him go and search on the cabinets for coffee, while he went to the fridge to look for eggs.
  2417. >Although you were a bit better now, you still feel let down by Twilight leaving. Add to that the fact your body still feels heavy, and your legs hurt, and...
  2418. >You have to catch up in a day with everything you didn't do in three.
  2419. >You prepare for yourself a strong coffee, and then you do something you only do on few occasions. You take a bottle of Ponka-Cola and pour a bit of it in your coffee.
  2420. >It tastes horrible. This concoction can kill the living, but it will however raise the dead and everything in between.
  2421. >And today you fall in that between.
  2422. "Do you want some coffee?"
  2423. >"Uh... yeah."
  2424. >You prepared another cup for Shining while he was making fried eggs.
  2425. "Do you want some help?"
  2426. >"I'm not sure... I don't like my eggs with the shell included."
  2428. "Th-That only happened once. You don't have to remind me everytime."
  2429. >Shining just laughs. It really was just once!
  2430. >Well, maybe twice, but it wasn't intentional. It was a labour of love.
  2431. >In the end you just let him do it alone.
  2432. >You carry the cups to the table, and sit down to wait for him.
  2433. >When was the last time you had breakfast with anyone?
  2434. >...Yesterday.
  2435. >But before Twilight came, you can't even remember. Likely the last time Shining was here.
  2436. >Just now you notice how lonely you've been.
  2437. >That's sad.
  2438. >As soon as Shining brings the pan to the table you begin to eat everything there is. Gosh you're so hungry.
  2439. >You hadn't eaten a thing since lunch yesterday. It feels like something that happened so long ago...
  2440. >Meanwhile Shining just takes a small bite out of his bread.
  2441. >Once you've calmed down a bit, you look at the unholy brew you have prepared in front of you, bubbling due to the soda.
  2442. >You've done this, Twilight. Close your eyes, hold your breath and...
  2443. >You drink it, resisting the need to spit that thing out of your mouth.
  2444. >Yuck.
  2445. >When you're done you take a breath and put some bread in your mouth to pass the taste.
  2446. >You must have made a face because Shining was looking at you again.
  2447. >"Uh... So are you ok?"
  2448. "Y-Yes, I'm fine..."
  2449. >For now at least.
  2450. >Last time you did this for a report you were feeling great until you suddenly weren't and then you fell asleep over your desk.
  2451. >It was worth it.
  2452. >You idly munch on the bread after the taste is gone, looking at nowhere in particular. So what now?
  2453. >What were you doing before Twilight appeared out of nowhere?
  2454. >You had these plans for an accelerometer.
  2455. >And nothing else.
  2456. >Not that it would be hard to finish that thing. It's just something to pass the time in your free week.
  2457. >You only need some quartz, and a display, and cables, and some time, and...
  2458. >Wait.
  2459. >Why do this?
  2460. >You look at the piece of bread you're holding as if it held the answer to something.
  2461. >You just remembered magic exists.
  2463. >You had stopped thinking about it with all the fuzz about the crown and the burglar.
  2464. >In part because you've never seen it directly.
  2465. >In fact, if Twilight wasn't... you, then you wouldn't have believed it existed.
  2466. >And even then, if you hadn't detected anything with the counter, you would have thought more likely that she was a long lost mad twin sister.
  2467. >That would have made for an interesting conversation with your dad.
  2468. >But you have access to a phenomena unknown to presumably anyone up until now.
  2469. >One which if Twilight is to be trusted can laugh in the face of physics and bend every law to fulfill any purpose.
  2470. >So why bother with a toy when you can take advantage of what you have?
  2471. >You already know it's radioactive. You already know how to and where to look for it.
  2472. >And maybe then you could see it at work.
  2473. >Maybe you could go to Equestria...
  2474. >Although that would be just a bonus.
  2475. >Besides... you would turn into a horse, and you would lose your fingers.
  2476. >You're not sure you could handle something like that. Would it hurt? Having all your nerves rearranged?
  2477. >Or do you get a new body? Where would your old body go then?
  2478. >Where would your old brain go?
  2479. >Would you still be 'you' regardless of how it works? Would you fundamentally change due to having the new brain of a pony?
  2480. >Would the new you be someone who just happens to share your memories?
  2481. >Would the old you stay away somewhere? Or would you die? Would it be like dying?
  2482. >You don't want to die.
  2483. >Even if for the few people you know it would be the same...
  2484. >Does Twilight know this? Has she thought about it? Does she have an answer?
  2485. >If she has then she wouldn't willingly go through the portal...
  2486. >But she had to keep the balance between the worlds.
  2487. >Is that what it means to be a princess? Is the common good more important than your own life?
  2488. >Would anyone even know? Would the old her be ultimately replaced and forgotten?
  2489. >You don't want to be replaced and forgotten.
  2490. >You see a hand waving in front of you.
  2492. >"Hey, watcha thinking about?"
  2493. "I, uh..."
  2494. >What do you say? That you were thinking about dying?
  2495. >How do you properly enunciate in a sentence your whole train of thought?
  2496. >And that's not even getting into how to explain why would...
  2497. >"Hm?"
  2498. >Oh, you're doing it again.
  2499. "Nothing."
  2500. >Yeah. Nothing. No need to confuse him.
  2501. >"Ok? Well, I was," he says with a smug expression. "What do you think about going out?"
  2502. "Today?"
  2503. >"Yeah, after finishing breakfast."
  2504. >But the coffee... and your plans...
  2505. "Uh..."
  2506. >You look at Shining who seems to be awaiting for a positive answer.
  2507. >He's not going to stay at home for much longer. You can drink another coffee tomorrow.
  2508. "Ok. Where are we going?"
  2509. >Shining grins.
  2510. >"I don't know... A jewelry shop, maybe?"
  2511. >A jewelry shop? Now that's kind of disappointing.
  2512. >You expected he would offer taking you to a museum, or maybe to some amusement park.
  2513. >Why would you want to see rings and...?
  2514. >Oh.
  2515. >OH.
  2516. "Does that have something to do with..." Shining grins even more. "...Cadence?"
  2517. >Please say yes, please say yes...
  2518. >"...yes," he says with the tiniest of smiles.
  2519. >Omigoshomigoshmigosh...
  2520. >It's finally happening!
  2521. >AAAAH
  2522. >OOOOH
  2523. >You feel like you're gonna explode. You...
  2524. >Remain collected Twilight. Remain. Collected.
  2525. "I... It was about time, really."
  2526. >You can barely keep a smile from forming. This is so exciting!
  2527. >"Yeah, I figured. I haven't actually told her yet, but say, would you want to be the maid of honour?"
  2528. >That's it. You're gonna die.
  2529. >In a good way though.
  2530. "I-I'd be honored!"
  2531. >This could still be a dream, you know? This is too good to be true.
  2532. >You could still be in your bed, with or without Twilight, and...
  2533. >And...
  2534. >There's a knock on the door.
  2536. >You turn to face it, as if doubting what you just had heard.
  2537. >And then it comes again.
  2538. >'Knock knock knock knock knock'
  2539. >Oh dear.
  2540. >Just as you heard Shining's chair grinding against the floor, you stand up to your feet.
  2541. "I'll go!"
  2542. >You take two skips to the door before Shining can say anything. This has to be Twilight.
  2543. >What in the world was she doing outside?
  2544. >You open the door slightly, blocking the entrance with your body so that Shining can't see who's outside.
  2545. >...A mailwoman.
  2546. >"Package for Shining Armor."
  2547. >What.
  2548. >"Hey, that's mine."
  2549. >Shining walks up to the door and moves you aside to sign some papers.
  2550. >This was really unexpected.
  2551. >You take a look at the mysterious cardboard box, and you notice the mailwoman is looking at you, or at least you think she is.
  2552. >You remember you're on your pajamas.
  2553. >And with your hair as a total mess.
  2554. >This is embarrasing.
  2555. >You go back inside and zip up your jacket, while Shining gives back the papers and receives whatever it is he ordered.
  2556. >You turn around once the door closes. Shining is holding the box, and it has something written on it.
  2557. >You have to know this.
  2558. "What is it?"
  2559. >"Nothing."
  2560. >You scoot closer but Shining turns to block your sight. Why can't he let you get into his private life?
  2561. >You try to take a peek by his side but he turns around again.
  2562. >So you kneel down a bit and get in front of him between his arms.
  2563. >"Hey!"
  2564. >You can't see a thing without your glasses.
  2565. "Cost..."
  2566. >A hand suddenly reaches down to your stomach.
  2567. >Uh oh.
  2568. >Shining tickles you, and you bend down laughing uncontrollably, unable to get away from him. You try to cover your stomach with your hands but he keeps tickling you until you're on the floor barely able to breathe.
  2569. >This isn't fair.
  2570. >You try to say some words while he goes into his room but not even you can hear what you say.
  2571. >You lay down for a moment to recover. Shining comes back empty handed and with a stupid grin on his face.
  2573. "So seriously, what was it?"
  2574. >"There are things that are not meant to be known Twilight."
  2575. >Fine.
  2576. >You didn't care anyway.
  2577. >It was only for the mystery.
  2578. >Shining sits back to finish his breakfast, and you do the same to wait for him.
  2579. "So how are you going to propose?"
  2580. >"I'm not sure yet... But I was thinking of borrowing an amplifier and getting together with some friends to play a song--"
  2581. "No"
  2582. >"What? But I--"
  2583. "No."
  2584. >"But--"
  2585. "No, Shining, no."
  2586. >That can only end badly.
  2587. >"Well, fine. What would you do instead?"
  2588. "If I had a boyfriend, I would like if--"
  2589. >"If he would give you a box with a book for your birthday and then when you open it you find a bookmark and a small ring in between the pages?"
  2590. >What.
  2591. "No! I... Y-Yes, I would actually love that now that you say it."
  2592. >But it will probably never happen.
  2593. >Not that you feel too bad about it.
  2594. >Just before Shining can say anything there's another knock on the door.
  2595. "Did you ordered something else?"
  2596. >"No."
  2597. >You stand up again and walk to the door, this time a bit more cautiously.
  2598. >Who could it be now?
  2599. >You open the door slightly once again, to find a woman asking for donations for a... homeless shelter, of all places.
  2600. >The only thing missing would be for Fleur to be the one asking.
  2601. >You try not to think too much about her. At nights specially.
  2602. >Shining comes near and gives the woman a few coins he had in his pockets. She thanks him and you close the door.
  2603. >You don't expect Twilight will be coming back again.
  2604. >Unless she suddenly changed her mind, but she isn't the type to do something without thinking it thrice.
  2605. >Or at least, you assume she isn't.
  2606. >"So. Cadence. What would she like?"
  2607. "Uhm... a rock band I guess?"
  2608. >"But that's--"
  2609. "No Shining. A real band."
  2610. >Shining sits for a moment, looking at nowhere in particular while he thinks.
  2611. >"What about mariachis?"
  2612. >Mariachis? For the turning point of his and Cadence's life?
  2613. >Does Shining think life is a joke?
  2614. "I think we're gonna need more time..."
  2615. >Knock.
  2616. >Knock.
  2618. >Is this real?
  2619. >Just what are the chances? When was the last time so many people knocked on that door?
  2620. >"Don't worry, I'll go."
  2621. >Ignoring Shining's words, you stand up and take two long steps to the door, in the slim chance that's Twilight.
  2622. >Hey, it could be. Maybe she went out to buy something for breakfast.
  2623. >Sure.
  2624. >Just forget it, she's not coming back.
  2625. >Making sure you're sort of presentable, you open the door slowly, and peek outside.
  2626. >...It's the mailwoman.
  2627. >"I'm sorry, could you call your dad again? I kind of mixed up these papers..."
  2628. >Oh goodness.
  2629. >You look back at Shining stiffing a laugh. He doesn't look amused at all.
  2630. >Still, he doesn't complain, and comes to sign the papers. The mailwoman double-checks everything is right and then goes away, almost forgetting her pencil.
  2631. >Shining closes the door with a sigh, rubs his face for a moment, and then quietly goes back to sitting.
  2632. >C'mon. He doesn't look THAT old.
  2633. >"You should get dressed so we can go out soon."
  2634. >Hm. Well, should you?
  2635. >What if...
  2636. >You just said to yourself to forget it, but the idea of Shining opening the door to find 'you' outside still puts you on edge, unlikely as it is.
  2637. >Or is it not that unlikely?
  2638. >You stand still for about two seconds thinking, and then start moving your legs without having really made a decision. Just do it and get over it. Left foot, right foot, left foot...
  2639. >Right foot.
  2640. >You'll dress quickly so you can go back to watching the door. Yes.
  2641. >You walk through the little hallway, pass in front of the kitchen, open the door, get on the floor, and open your closet.
  2642. >There aren't many colorful things to put on. In fact, almost everything is either grey or blue. You're really unfashionable.
  2643. >It's a good thing all the schools you've gone to require the use of an uniform. What are you gonna do once you get into university?
  2644. >People won't care, right?
  2645. >Your eyes wander down for just a second while you consider your options, and take notice of something.
  2647. >A slight feeling of anxiety and worry washes over you as you kneel down to look.
  2648. >The counter is gone.
  2649. >Yes. You have to find her. You can't just let her go alone.
  2650. >You need to come up with a plan.
  2651. >Your thoughts quickly race for a solution, but the sound of the plates falling on the sink snaps you back.
  2652. >You already told Shining you were going out with him. Why does this have to be now?
  2653. >It's not that you don't want to go, but still...
  2654. >Whatever. You grab the first thing in your closet and begin to dress. You'll help Shining choose a ring and be back as soon as possible to come up with something.
  2655. >Or think it up on the way.
  2656. >On goes the shirt, the pants, the sweater, the glasses,
  2657. >Should you put on another sweater?
  2658. >Probably.
  2659. >You grab your hairtie from the nightstand and begin to make your bun. You have a bit of trouble as your hands seem to be shaking a little.
  2660. >That's weird, you're not nervous.
  2661. >Maybe it's the caffeine?
  2662. >Is it already taking effect? So soon?
  2663. >This isn't going to be pretty.
  2664. >You go into the bathroom to wash or rather scrub your teeth, because coffee and carbonated drinks do awful things to them, and then go out to the living to wait for Shining in the couch.
  2665. >You haven't gone out and you already want to be back and free to work.
  2666. >"Ready to go?"
  2667. "Yeah."
  2668. >You follow Shining out of the apartment and down the stairs to the parking lot. Amidst the few cars that were there, is a little one that seems taken straight out of the 70's.
  2669. >Yup, that's Shining's car.
  2670. >He always had a thing for oldish things. No wonder he feels old now too.
  2671. >You get into the car along with Shining and put on the seatbelt. Shining starts the engine and after a bit of shaking and jumping it's on. He drives out of the parking while the music player begins to play the end of some Queen song.
  2672. >Or at least, you think it's from Queen.
  2673. >As soon as you get out to the road, it's over along with the tape.
  2674. >"Put something nice, would ya?" he says, opening a little box full of cassettes.
  2676. >You shuffle through each one of them reading the labels, most having a vague name like a genre or a band followed by a number.
  2677. "Uh... so what do the numbers mean?"
  2678. >"Well, there's only so many songs you can fit in one tape, you know?"
  2679. >Uh, of course.
  2680. "Wouldn't using your phone be better, then?"
  2681. >"Yeah, but I like my tapes more."
  2682. >Shining stops in front of a red traffic light and begins to look for a tape.
  2683. >"I recorded most of these when I was a kid and had only a radio to entertain myself. I would record anything I thought was good and later re-record it to other tapes to make playlists, so I'm kinda attached to them. Also, remasters these days suck."
  2684. >The light turns to green before Shining can find what he was looking for, so he accelerates.
  2685. >"Anyway, that was around the time you were born. In fact, I made a mixtape for you the very same day mom arrived with you to the house."
  2686. >Wait, what?
  2687. "Really?"
  2688. >"Yeah. Why do you think you like Abba so much? The first track was 'Slipping Through My Fingers.'"
  2689. >Wow...
  2690. >That's like... wow.
  2691. "Do you have it here? I want to listen to it," you say inspecting the tapes once more.
  2692. >"Uh, well, it's not there."
  2693. "Hm? Why not?"
  2694. >"Let's just say you liked it a lot... and then you learned to walk and pick up things. You destroyed like half of my collection."
  2695. >Oh, sheesh...
  2696. "Uh..."
  2697. >"I arrived from school one day and you were in my room swinging the tapes around," says Shining with a grin. "I was mad at you for like a month."
  2698. >You can't even remember doing any of that.
  2699. >You barely remember seeing any tapes at your old house.
  2700. >Although after what you did, you suppose that makes sense.
  2701. >"Anyway, it was full of sappy songs so you're not missing anything great."
  2702. >If you say so...
  2703. >You look once again through the tapes, and just pick up one at random.
  2704. >'Rock 4'
  2705. "Is this one ok?"
  2706. >"Of course it is. Only top tier music here, sis."
  2707. >You insert the tape into the player, and then set it to rewind.
  2708. >And rewind...
  2709. >And rewind some more.
  2711. >You go through the streets blasting your 70's rock music all over the place.
  2712. >Worst of all, you have to stop Shining from turning it even louder.
  2713. >It's not exactly your cup of tea, but you can't complain either. Your thoughts are more focused on what to do with Twilight.
  2714. >"We don't need no, eh-du-cah-tiooon..."
  2715. >What you could complain about though, is about Shining's singing.
  2716. >It lasts forever. The songs lasts forever. The trip lasts forever.
  2717. >Did 4 minutes always feel like 8? 16 like 32? 32 like...
  2718. >You're here.
  2719. >Shining somehow parks the car on an impossibly tight space, and as soon as you put a foot outside, the world hits all your senses.
  2720. >You overdid the caffeine brew.
  2721. >Oh heavens, this feels bad. Why are there so many cars, and birds, and snow and sunlight and feet walking and people...
  2722. >Oh dear, why is all the people looking at you?
  2723. >"Hey, let's go," says Shining at a few feet of distance. You turn towards him and try to walk normally.
  2724. >W-Why is everyone staring?
  2725. >You crash with someone.
  2726. "Pardon me!"
  2727. >Why can't you look where you're walking? You want to be threatened again?
  2728. >Oh god you're also walking with a slump.
  2729. >You try to walk with your head held high, but you feel like you're gonna lose your balance and fall back and, and...
  2730. >"Is everything alright?" asks your brother who's suddenly walking by your side.
  2731. "Y-Yeah."
  2732. >"Ok... Dad said there was a jewelry shop around here, which is where he bought mom's ring."
  2733. >Shining's talking calms you for a moment, until you see all the people staring back at you when you pass besides them.
  2734. >What are you supposed to do? Stare back when they pass? Do you stare at the eyes or at the ground? Where do you keep your eyes? What do you do, why didn't you bring sunglasses?
  2735. >"I'm sure you'll know what Cadance will like the most."
  2736. "Y-Yeah, we're like sisters..."
  2737. >Oh dear, what if something happened to Twilight?
  2738. >What if--?
  2739. >No, stop it. This is the caffeine messing with you.
  2740. >Right?
  2742. >You arrive with Shining to a fancy shop with letters so cursive you can't even read what they say.
  2743. >Once you step inside is like your problems disappear. It's so quiet and warm and mostly devoid of people...
  2744. >Although the cashier is looking at you...
  2745. >Nothing to worry about, that's normal, you just got in, he's looking at Shining too, everything is fine.
  2746. >You just have to keep doing that. Think logically.
  2747. >See? You feel better already.
  2748. >You go with Shining to take a look at the rings, and while you keep taking note of the pretty designs, Shining looks at the price tags.
  2749. >"I didn't expect these things to be so expensive."
  2750. >He briefly looked around, and then pointed to a simple gold one.
  2751. >"I like that one."
  2752. "The cheapest one?"
  2753. >"Yeah. Isn't minimalism what's in these days?" he says trying to justify his choice. You roll your eyes, your anxiety now in check, and walk around him to see the ones with jewels.
  2754. "I think Cadance would like gems, judging by the amount of things made out of glass that she has in her house. This one with a diamond should be fine."
  2755. >Shining made a face as if he was being stabbed upon seeing the tag.
  2756. >"I don't think I could afford that... ever."
  2757. "C'mon, this is a once in a lifetime event. You can't just give her a... an onion ring or something like that," you say looking down at the ring again, causing your glasses to fall slightly.
  2758. >It's really pretty.
  2759. >Who knows how deep into the Earth had a random rock made out of carbon to get for it to crystallize into this diamond, before being carried to the surface by magma.
  2760. >It's also amazing this is the same stuff the graphite in your pencils, carbon nanotubes, and most organic life are made of.
  2761. >Carbon is truly the best element.
  2762. >It's atomic number is also a multiple of 3. It's just perfect in every way.
  2763. >"Well I sure wish I could do that..."
  2764. "Besides, the wedding isn't going to be cheap either," you state matter of factly, pushing back your glasses before they fall over the counter.
  2766. >"Oh right, there's that too..."
  2767. >Shining scratched his head with a doubting expression.
  2768. >For a moment, you expect him to change his mind on all this. Although you want to go back home, you don't want to get old before he and Cadance get married. You want to see the wedding someday.
  2769. >"I guess I'll have to work extra hard then. And look for something cheaper."
  2770. >YES.
  2771. >Shining glances at the rings one last time and then looks outside.
  2772. >"There's another store near here. Maybe we should go take a look there."
  2773. "Ok."
  2774. >You follow him outside and instinctively try to hide your face under a scarf, which you don't have.
  2775. >At least now you're not almost freaking out.
  2776. >That's good. That's good...
  2777. >Just ignore the rest of the world.
  2778. >The people who look at you when they pass by your side.
  2779. >The ones who stare back when you're looking.
  2780. >The homeless people almost pleading for you to give them a coin.
  2781. >The cracks in the pavement so as to not to walk awkwardly and call attention to yourself trying to avoid them for some deeply ingrained reason.
  2782. >And the people selling fake rings.
  2783. >You never experienced any of these things inside your room when you were high on caffeine.
  2784. >Oh god a bird is approaching
  2785. >Please don't crap on me, not now.
  2786. >DON'T.
  2787. >It sits on the branch of a tree.
  2788. >You walk under keeping an eye on it, and collide with Shining who had stopped.
  2789. >"Hey, are you alright? You've been really vigilant today. You're also shaking."
  2790. "Shaking? I'm not shaking," you say... well, trying not to shake. Of course he doesn't believe it.
  2791. >You hope he just lets you be.
  2792. >"Twilight, are you scared?"
  2793. >What?
  2794. "W-Why do you think that? I'm not scared."
  2795. >"Sis, just... tell me truth. Did someone did something to you yesterday?"
  2796. >Oh...
  2797. >You don't like where this is going.
  2799. "I just drank... coffee with Ponka-Cola. That's all. I think it was too much for me."
  2800. >"C'mon Twilight, that's ridiculous. Even I do that sometimes and I never get like that."
  2801. "But it's true! This has nothing to do with yesterday."
  2802. >Shining looks at you obviously not believing a word you say.
  2803. "I'm serious. I just fell down some stairs."
  2804. >"Outside Sunset's apartment? Why didn't she help you get home if you had sprained your ankle?"
  2805. >Sunset? Who's...?
  2806. >Oh, right.
  2807. "I just... well... didn't want to bother her."
  2808. >Lame excuse.
  2809. >Shining puts his hand on your shoulder, and taps with his fingers while he looks inside the jewelry shop.
  2810. >He sighs.
  2811. >"We can talk later, but if it was important you should really tell us, Twily. We're not going to be mad or anything."
  2812. >But you already told him.
  2813. >"And don't be so nervous. Nothing's gonna happen to you."
  2814. >Such are the contrivances of your life.
  2815. >You follow Shining into the (pretty warm once again) store.
  2816. >It looks pretty much like the other. In fact, you swear the rings are the same.
  2817. >That doesn't stop Shining from checking the tags again, though.
  2818. >Why can't he just look at the pretty gems?
  2819. >You do it even though the stares are making you uncomfortable, including the ones from the cameras pointing at you right now, maybe recording everything to pass that data to the NIA for perpetual storage in a file referring to everything you do.
  2820. >But just look to those colors, at the subtle refractions and little rainbows contained inside every diamond.
  2821. >How could anyone not want something like that?
  2822. >Even the counter glass looks full of details.
  2823. >And your hand looks amazing today, too.
  2824. >"Are you really sure Cadance needs one with a gem?"
  2825. >Well, does she?
  2826. >Do you know her well enough to make a proper judgment on her likings?
  2827. >Is a good ring and only a good ring completely and by all means necessary for the integrity of the new lives they will lead?
  2828. >Does she deserve a gift that possess such beauty?
  2829. "Yes, of course she does."
  2830. >Shining scratches his head.
  2831. >"You sure?"
  2832. "Absolutely."
  2833. >Cadance is pretty cool. She deserves it.
  2835. >Shining asks a few questions to the people working there, while you read a poster on diamond cuts, clarity, and color.
  2836. >Oh, and carat, apparently. There are many C's.
  2837. >There's also people working there in plain view with diamonds so small you can't see them.
  2838. >Although your eyesight isn't perfect, so maybe it has to do with that.
  2839. >It would seem very easy for them to sneak out with one. How do they control them? Do they have a diamond detector on the door? Do diamond detectors exist?
  2840. >You could... you know, just ask, but what if they get suspicious?
  2841. >"Are you ready?" asks Shining all of the sudden.
  2842. "Hm? For what?"
  2843. >"For this Sunday night when... just joking. Do you wanna go home or do you wanna walk around a bit?"
  2844. "Let's go for walk."
  2845. >How long could it take, anyway? Not much you hope.
  2846. >You go out with him, walking... somewhere. You hope he knows how to get back later.
  2847. "So did you like anything?"
  2848. >"Yeah, just one with a small diamond. It's... expensive still. I don't think I'll be able to afford it for a few months, so..."
  2849. >Your eyes catch something of a dark blue hair in front of a shop ahead, between the sea of people.
  2850. >You get startled for a second. C'mon, it can't be her, could it?
  2851. >You keep staring while Shining keeps talking, and you draw closer.
  2852. >You're beginning to have doubts. The hair looks just the same from here.
  2853. >You extend your neck to the side to get a better view, and notice there's no rose streak.
  2854. >So it's just a normal girl with some guy, who is buying ice cream with this cold.
  2855. >You don't understand some people.
  2856. >"... And then there's the wedding, and... Watcha looking at?"
  2857. >Shining leans to your side, supporting himself on your shoulder.
  2858. "Nothing."
  2859. >"Do you want some ice cream?"
  2860. "No."
  2861. >"Which flavor?"
  2862. "I don't want ice cream."
  2863. >"Mint you say?"
  2864. "Shining!"
  2865. >You hit him lightly with your elbow, and he steps away.
  2866. >"Sheesh. You're worse than Cadence when she gets angry."
  2867. "Yeah, I see why she'd do that."
  2868. >Mint is the worst flavor ever.
  2870. >You look again at the pair as you walk past the shop, and Shining does too.
  2871. >Though he doesn't say anything at first, he still seems to get some strange idea from it.
  2872. >"So seriously now, do you like someone in your class?"
  2873. "What? Why are you asking that?"
  2874. >"Just curious."
  2875. "Well, no, I don't."
  2876. >"Not ever?"
  2877. "No... Ok, yes, I used to like someone, but he wasn't in my class technically. He was a... teacher."
  2878. >Shining raises a brow.
  2879. >"Really? Let me guess, it was the physics one."
  2880. "Nope. The art one, Mr. Chiciro."
  2881. >"Chiciro? Oh yeah, I think remember him... Kind of funny how he walked. What did you saw in him?"
  2882. "I don't know, I just did."
  2883. >"Well, I once... Hey, look at that."
  2884. >Shining points to some guy with a little stand between some trees, which is full of cheap rings.
  2885. >Oh dear.
  2886. >"Now this looks much better."
  2887. "You can't be serious."
  2888. >As you stand in front of them you can see the difference between these and the ones at the store.
  2889. >They look just like colored glass, lacking the intricate refractions..
  2890. >The gold looks too goldy.
  2891. >And everything seems to have been touched hundreds of times.
  2892. >"Hey Twily, what do you think of this one?" he says taking a ring that has some sort of cyan crystal heart on it.
  2893. "I don't think she'd like it. Trust me, I know her."
  2894. >"You think so? How much does it cost?" he asks the guy.
  2895. >"25 bits."
  2896. >"Seems like a good deal in my opinion."
  2897. "Shining, you can't give her the first thing you find laying on the street."
  2898. >You suddenly remember the person selling these is right here.
  2899. >Wow, you're amazing. Can't you be more rude to people?
  2900. >"I guess you're right..." he says with some disappointment, and puts the ring back on the stand. "I'll think about it. Let's go."
  2901. >He begins to walk once again, and you follow as he turns his head to take a last look at the ring.
  2902. >You push him forwards so he stops with those silly ideas.
  2903. >And seriously, that heart looked too much like something for a kid. Cadance definitively wouldn't like it.
  2905. >"Here."
  2906. "Ooh, nice."
  2907. >You take a french fry and dip it in a bit of ketchup before eating it.
  2908. >This is so good. You hadn't eaten these in a long time.
  2909. >And they're pretty warm to boot.
  2910. >Shining sits with you to eat. There's a poorly made snowman sitting across the bench, which you find pretty funny to look at because it has a stupid face. There are also children throwing snowballs around.
  2911. >Shining takes a fry and dips it a lot in what appears to be hot sauce.
  2912. >He eats it confidently, but as the seconds pass you realize he... didn't thought this well.
  2913. "Hey, are you ok?"
  2914. >"Y-Yes! I'm fine!" he says, tears streaming down his face. "I'm a grown man now. This is nothing for me."
  2915. >Then he begins to cough when he tries to take another fry. Maybe you should get worried.
  2916. >But since you're his sister, you laugh at him first and then pat him in the back.
  2917. "Are you ok now?"
  2918. >"Yes, th-thanks," he practically whispers.
  2919. >You take a fry and dip it in a bit of the hot sauce to see what's the fuzz is all about.
  2920. >Uhm, wow, this explains everything.
  2921. >What did he even expect would happen?
  2922. >You keep eating and leave half of the fries for when he's able to eat again.
  2923. >So while you wait you sit back and enjoy the scenery. It's been a long time since you...
  2924. >No, wait, you were in a park a few days ago with Twilight. It seems so long ago, too...
  2925. >But anyway, it's been a long time since you've relaxed in a park. If only your fingers weren't threatening with freezing and falling off this would be more enjoyable.
  2926. >You wonder if Twilight's freezing too right now.
  2927. >Hey, maybe she came home a moment ago, and she's waiting outside the apartment or something equally unlikely.
  2928. >If she hasn't then you have no idea what to do. It's not like you have a way to follow her, or even the crown considering she took the damn counter.
  2929. >You might as well just watch the other kids playing with those ugly floating balloons, as you do since elementary school because you never had anyone...
  2930. >Wait.
  2932. >You turn around on the bench and scan the park for colorful things.
  2933. >There it is, a guy selling balloons!
  2934. >With an helium tank!
  2935. >And they all float!
  2936. "Shining Shining Shining Shining!" you say almost tearing his sleeve off.
  2937. >"What's the matter?"
  2938. "I need a balloon! No, two balloons! It's of the utmost importance!" you say pointing to the agglomeration of colors behind him. He slowly turns around to look, while eating a fry.
  2939. >"Aren't you too old for those?"
  2940. "It's for science! I'll never be too old for science!"
  2941. >He takes another glance, and then searches around in his pocket for a few coins.
  2942. >"As long as you don't set the house on fire."
  2943. "Please Shining, as if I ever..."
  2944. >No, wait, you almost did that once.
  2945. >It was... scary.
  2946. "B-But helium is safe. It's more inerter than rocks... I-I mean inert, yeah."
  2947. >"If you say so."
  2948. >He gives you a few coins and you dart towards the cloud of ballons.
  2949. >There, a big bulky guy with a stubble is almost falling asleep waiting for customers.
  2950. "Excuse me sir. How much for two balloons?"
  2951. >"Huh? Uh, 4 bits, kid."
  2952. >4 bits?! That's... a much better deal than last time.
  2953. >You buy them and go back, holding them tight while making a checklist of what you have.
  2954. >You've got the tools, some circuits, batteries... and you're sure there's a big can of whipped cream in the refrigerator.
  2955. >The only thing you're missing is something for the sound.
  2956. >You could... you know, disassemble your scientific calculator and take out the speaker, and anything else you might need.
  2957. >You know how to do math anyway, so if you break it it's not much of a loss.
  2958. >But what if you need to get a standard deviation? That thing is a pain in the ass to calculate on paper.
  2959. >And you can't just demand your dad to buy you another one. Well, you can technically but--
  2960. >"So what exactly are you going to do with those?"
  2961. "I'll make a thing that detects radiation!"
  2962. >"Oh, ok."
  2963. >You'll just be extra careful when taking it apart so...
  2964. >Wait, did that guy back there called you a kid?
  2966. >You're back in the car with both balloons securely tied to your wrist, pressing against the ceiling.
  2967. >Helium as just as great as carbon. What's not to love about an element that even at absolute zero refuses to turn into a solid unless under great pressure?
  2968. >Or that even as a solid can still behave as a liquid?
  2969. >Shining gets inside and turns on the engine, and begins to look for a tape.
  2970. >"Prepare to get your face melted by the best bassline ever made."
  2971. >Shining switches the tape and... sets it to rewind.
  2972. "Wow, so virtuous, such skill."
  2973. >"Shut up."
  2974. >You play a bit with the balloons as Shining gets the car out of the impossibly tight space and then turn to look out the window, absent in your thoughts.
  2975. >To the point you don't even notice when the music finally starts playing. In fact, you only remember you, uh, exist when you see you're close to the apartment.
  2976. >It's quite different to step outside of the car this time. You feel... kind of sleepy, of all things.
  2977. >Everything looks boringer now.
  2978. >More dull, you mean.
  2979. >Duller.
  2980. >Yeah.
  2981. >You're never drinking so much caffeine again.
  2982. >Once you're inside your apartment you go to the bathroom, forgetting the balloons are still tied to your hands.
  2983. >It was certainly awkward.
  2984. >Anyway, once you're done you drag the balloons to your room and gather everything you're gonna need for this, plus some sweets in case you get cravy.
  2985. >Wait, does that adjective exist? Cravy? Someone who is cravy?
  2986. >"Hey, Twilight," says Shining standing on the doorway, trying to avoid your gaze.
  2987. "Yeah?"
  2988. >"Some friends are going to come this afternoon. We'll be in my room but... well, I just tell you so you don't walk around naked again."
  2989. "O-Oh, ok..."
  2990. >You're experiencing absurd amounts of embarrassment right now that you shouldn't even be feeling in the first place.
  2991. >You suddenly don't feel so inclined to do this.
  2993. >Assembling a Geiger counter is quite easy, as long as you have the building experience and the component pieces.
  2994. >And the circuit diagrams...
  2995. >And the technical knowledge, all of which you already have.
  2996. >So yeah, piece of cake.
  2997. >The first step is putting whipped cream into your mouth. That is totally a part of the plan. You take it straight from the can and swallow.
  2998. >Leaving it aside, you connect the battery holder to some cables. You have a cabinet full of cables that you've either left unused or found lying on the street.
  2999. >You find lots of things on the streets, like pennies and... mostly trash honestly.
  3000. >But you've collected 15 bits so far!
  3001. >Ten more and you can buy yourself a cheap ring, for whatever reason.
  3002. >Anyway, now that the boring part is out of they way is when things get interesting. Batteries have a low output voltage, but a Geiger counter requires high voltages to operate.
  3003. >So the battery holder leads directly to the transformer part of the circuit, in which you begin to work immediately.
  3004. >But not before you put some more of that whipped cream goodness into your mouth.
  3005. >[PSHHH]
  3006. >[PSHH]
  3007. >...
  3008. >[PSH]
  3009. >You love this.
  3010. >So voltage is like, a dangerous thing.
  3011. >High voltages will fry some circuits and people, and if possible set things on fire.
  3012. >And since you don't have a voltmeter (you'll get around to that some day), you have to get the transformer just right, and then test it in a bathroom with non-flammable objects.
  3013. >By which you mean things that you could try to set on fire and won't burn, NOT objects that can actually burn explosively.
  3014. >That's autoantonyms for ya.
  3015. >You stop after a few minutes of work to open the windows, because the room smells of smoke, and because you always get pretty warm when you work hunched down like that. You're almost sweating.
  3016. >Sitting like that also gets uncomfortable after a while. You stretch back a little, and eat more whipped cream before resuming.
  3018. >In about 30 minutes you have the transformer finished. You're about 33% done now.
  3019. >Next you're gonna leave the sound part ready for later. You go get the essential piece of equipment.
  3020. >Hello Ms. Calc, my old friend.
  3021. >Although one would think it's called 'Twilight Sparkle' due to the tape on the backside with your mom's handwriting.
  3022. >Hmh.
  3023. >With a screwdriver you open the calculator and take a look at the insides. Amidst the cables and guts there's the speaker waiting to be taken.
  3024. >There's also a blue LED there.
  3025. >...Yeeah, forget the speaker. You pull the LED out and set it aside.
  3026. >Done!
  3027. >You deserve a reward now.
  3028. >You reach for the cream falling on your back, and eat some more of it.
  3029. >This is heaven.
  3030. >You hear the apartment door opening while you rejoice. Those must be Shining's friends.
  3031. >They talk a little and go mysteriously into his room.
  3032. >Ooh.
  3033. >You scoot close to the wall to listen to what they're doing.
  3034. >They're... whispering. You can't make out a word of what they say.
  3035. >Eh, must be doing guys stuff.
  3036. >What do guys do, though?
  3037. >Women talk about... other people? So do guys talk about themselves?
  3038. >That doesn't sound accurate.
  3039. >Oh, there's music now.
  3040. >You have no idea of anything. Whatever. Go mind your own business Twilight.
  3041. >Since there's still too much cream left, you begin to work on the tube part without the tube itself, stuffing your mouth with cream every other minute.
  3042. >You need an anode and a cathode for the detector to work. The anode is a metal wire or bar that goes inside the metal can, which itself acts as cathode and is filled with a noble gas.
  3043. >Whenever a radioactive -or 'magic', whatever the hell that is- particle hits the gas, it produces a little current inside the tube that gives off a spike, be it auditory or visual.
  3044. >More hits equals more spikes. A Geiger counter is truly a simple device.
  3045. >Maybe that's why you got it to work, unlike the other things you've done. Or you're just getting good.
  3046. >Although maybe, just maybe, it was fate...
  3048. >Because, just think about it.
  3049. >What are the chances?
  3050. >Of finding yourself out of all the people in existence that could have gone through the portal, of turning on the counter at just the right moment, of...
  3051. >It's weird.
  3052. >Have you ever stopped to think how weird just... living is?
  3053. >Maybe this is a dream after all, even though you've had other dreams these days and seen no inconsistencies.
  3054. >Not that you'd know that anyway.
  3055. >The more you think about it, the more right and less worried about life you feel you are.
  3056. >Actually, you feel more like laughing of all things.
  3057. >Heh, if everything so far has been a dream, it's been an entertaining one so far.
  3058. >Maybe you'll be rushing to school in a few moments. That be hilarious.
  3059. >You take the whipped cream, and push the cap until you can't fit more cream and air into your mouth.
  3060. >Then swallow and keep doing that lying on your back until there's no more cream left, and let the can fall as you have a laughing fit.
  3061. >Is this it? Did you lost it?
  3062. >Oh God what's this.
  3063. >Your face is hurting. What in the world is happening to you now?
  3064. >You struggle to hold the can still in front of your face.
  3065. >'Contains nitrous oxide'
  3066. >Pfft, this thing has laughing gas.
  3067. "I'm like so high right now!"
  3068. >Oh God you're dying.
  3069. >You should find the other Twilight and so get high together.
  3070. >You're gonna end up doing meth at this pace.
  3071. >This is like... 'Baked Bad'!
  3072. >Oh God y-you can't stop.
  3073. >Ok, stop it.
  3074. >Stop it Twilight.
  3075. >You've gotta finish this. You've gotta find Twilight.
  3076. >You say some stuff aloud and slap yourself on the face but it has no effect. It doesn't even hurt.
  3077. >This is a nightmare, a laughing nightmare.
  3078. "Please no more. It's not funnah anymore."
  3079. >Pffft ahahaha 'funnah', this is killing you.
  3080. "Stop it Twi. Y-You have to put yourself together!"
  3081. >She could be in danger while you're giggling like a fool.
  3082. "You can't do this to her now!" you say futilely trying to sit up and falling back. "Clock. Is. Ticking!"
  3083. >Your bedroom door opens.
  3085. >Your fit stops more suddenly than it came while you lie on the floor.
  3086. >Shining stands under the frame, wearing a wizard costume with bells and a beard and holding a fake wood staff with a crystal ball.
  3087. >He looks concerned at you, and then scans the room kind of uncomfortably before he sets his eyes on you again.
  3088. >"Uh, are you ok Twily?"
  3089. "Y-Yes."
  3090. >"I heard you talking to yourself right now. Were you having one of your freak-outs?"
  3091. "No, no," you say sitting, your body oddly responsive. "I'm fine, thank you."
  3092. >"You sure? I can stay with you until it's over."
  3093. "No, trust me, I'm fine."
  3094. >"Ok. Don't hesitate in calling if you need me."
  3095. >Shining closes the door quietly and leaves you sitting alone in the middle of your Geiger mess.
  3096. >You... You did something awkward now. You're even with Twilight.
  3097. >Getting ahold of a screwdriver, you perforate the top of the can producing a little pop sound, and go to the bathroom to wash it and dry it.
  3098. >Pulling down one of the balloons from the ceiling, you undo the knot and let the helium slowly escape into the can from below. The helium displaces the heavier air, and once it's filled you insert a copper wire and seal the tube with liquid silicone.
  3099. >You connect it up to the circuit and carry it to the bathroom along with some batteries. With a banana in the room you turn the counter on a off a few times to verify it works correctly.
  3100. >You just made a Geiger counter today.
  3102. >After this... thing that happened you're not eating any weird stuff. Nothing! It only brings you trouble and makes you question things you should take for granted to keep some sanity.
  3103. >You put back all the candy you were planing to eat and clean your room. It was needing a cleaning anyway.
  3104. >Seriously, it was. Remember when Twilight got under your bed the first day and had a coughing fit due to the dust?
  3105. >That dust is still there. It still LIVES.
  3106. >Under the bed there were also some mismatched socks you thought lost.
  3107. >You wonder if she saw them too.
  3108. >What must she think of you.
  3109. >Looking through the kitchen you find a cereal box that was, well, occupied. You love how these things magically appear whenever Shining comes.
  3110. >Since you don't think anyone will miss the box itself, you take out the bag and put all the circuits and loose stuff into it, with the whipped-cream tube and its cable coming out.
  3111. >It... looks taken out of some surrealist art collage. This is gonna look weird on the streets.
  3112. >You look for a plastic bag and put it there. This is much better.
  3113. >...
  3114. >You don't know what to do now.
  3115. >Should you just go out then? Where do you start from? The abandoned factory?
  3116. >Or somewhere closer to the city. The counter should take you to the thief.
  3117. >To the... criminal.
  3118. >This is a bad idea, isn't it?
  3119. >Oh dear, what were you thinking?
  3120. >Chasing a criminal was never a good idea to begin with.
  3121. >Twilight said she had guards and a dragon in her world. Why wouldn't she bring them?
  3122. >You can't even run a few meters without tiring yourself out.
  3123. >But then again Twilight fell down some stairs, and she is... clumsy.
  3124. >Ok, you can just... follow the thief around.
  3125. >Twilight has the other counter, right? Then you'll find her eventually. Or maybe not.
  3126. >What if she ran out of batteries, or if she broke the counter, or...
  3127. >Well, she would come back home then, while you're not here.
  3128. >Going out seems to be the slightly better option somehow.
  3129. >You sigh.
  3130. >You should tell Shining.
  3132. >You knock on his bedroom door while his friends are talking, and you immediately hear some hushing.
  3133. >You don't know what to expect here.
  3134. >"Who is this?"
  3135. "Who do you think? There's no one else at home."
  3136. >"...I knew that."
  3137. >Shining takes a peek out in his costume, opening the door only slightly.
  3138. >"What's up?"
  3139. "I was coming to tell you... What's that costume for? What are you doing in there?"
  3140. >"Hmm, nothing."
  3141. "Are you still playing Oubliettes and Ogres?"
  3142. >"No. We're... uh... rehearsing a play."
  3143. "What play?"
  3144. >"Uh... Oubliettes and... Ok, yes, we're playing. But we're doing it ironically now! I swear!"
  3145. >"Come back to play Starswirl!"
  3146. >"Shut up," he says yelling back. You move a bit to take a quick look into the room. There's four other people in there.
  3147. >Including... THAT guy.
  3148. >"Hey, purple flea," says the man dressed with a cape and a hoodie.
  3149. >No.
  3150. >"Hey, I remember that name. Come in and say hi little sis."
  3151. >Shining opens the door fully and steps aside so his friends can see you.
  3152. >Oh and they see you, in some surreal assortment of costumes behind a table full of figurines and papers.
  3153. >Are you still tripping on N2O?
  3154. >You're speechless for a second too long while you think on that, and then wave your hand trying not to look weirded out.
  3155. "Uh hi."
  3156. >Well they greet you.
  3157. >You know most of these people from yesterday with Twilight.
  3158. >Hopefully no one--
  3159. >"Is that Twilight or your other sister? I don't know who's who."
  3160. >Oh dear.
  3162. >"Uh, what? What do you mean Anon?"
  3163. >You try to signal him to shut up while Shining looks at him, but unlike his friends he seems to totally ignore you.
  3164. >"Her twin sister. You know, the one like her. I don't know her name."
  3165. >Shining looks back at you confused, and you try to mask your nervousness by doing the same.
  3166. >"C'mon, don't play the non-existant twin joke on me, we saw them both yesterday, right guys?"
  3167. >They mutter some stuff while looking away awkwardly, and you do even more exaggerated movements to make the green guy get the hint.
  3168. >"Wait, you guys met yesterday?"
  3169. >They suddenly look at you, Anon particularly confused.
  3170. "Uh, yes, in the morning, with that one, and that one, and some red guy..."
  3171. >"Me," says the white knight.
  3172. "And it was in front of that place with the coffees... Sugar... what was it? Guys?"
  3173. >"Sugarcube Corner," says the orange guy wrapped in some sort of blanket with a helmet on his head and what the hell is that meant to represent.
  3174. >"Yes, but you were with--"
  3175. "Alone!" you interrupt Anon. "I was by myself. In front of that big glass pane, which was reflecting me and is probably the cause of this misunderstanding. Right? Guys?"
  3176. >"Yeah, yes, uh-huh," they mutter.
  3177. >"I don't know. I wasn't there," says a bright green guy in an archer costume.
  3178. >"I see. Anon, dude, you should really get your eyes checked out."
  3179. >He doesn't look amused at all.
  3180. >You fake a cough.
  3181. "So, I'm going out and... yeah. Just so you know. Bye."
  3182. >Now to get out of here fast.
  3183. >"Wait, I thought you were in Sunset's house yesterday all day. What were you doing at Sugarcube Corner alone?"
  3184. >Oh c'mon.
  3185. "Yeah. I was, uh, on my way there."
  3186. >Believable enough.
  3187. "Anyway I have to go I'll be back maybe late byeeveryonebye."
  3188. >You reach the door handle.
  3189. >"Hey, call back when you're there."
  3190. >Just.
  3191. "Ok."
  3192. >New sidequest: find a payphone.
  3193. >"Dude, don't be so protective," you get to hear as you close the door, followed a sigh.
  3194. >Ok Twilight, let's do...
  3195. >Ugh, why do you have to do this?
  3197. >You stealthily go out of the apartments, walking down the stairs and then going to the bus stop with your inconspicuous hoodie, backpack with tools and batteries, and Geiger counter in a bag that makes you look like you just bought some cereal and whipped cream at a supermarket.
  3198. >No one will suspect.
  3199. >You wait standing because the metal seats are cold, along with some people who pay no attention to you.
  3200. >Going well so far.
  3201. >You pace back and forth to keep your legs warm, glancing up occasionally, until a really tall green guy in grey clothing comes reading a newspaper.
  3202. >This is a joke, right?
  3203. >You watch him take a seat alone and away, but still sort of... facing towards you.
  3204. >Oookay...
  3205. >Although you try to ignore him, everytime you turn you catch him putting up the newspaper.
  3206. >That is really making you uncomfortable.
  3207. >Oh, there's your bus. You're out of here.
  3208. >You get in and sit at the back for the ample view as always, but then this Anon guy gets on too, crouching a bit to avoid hitting his head on the entrance, and goes on to sit alone in the middle.
  3209. >Ok now. What?
  3210. >Is he following you or going the same way you are?
  3211. >He sits there looking at his phone, and you don't know what he's doing with it because the screen is so dark.
  3212. >10 minutes pass like this. You can almost see his face reflected on the screen. This is seriously creepy.
  3213. >But he's Shining's friend, right? He wouldn't do anything to you, he's harmless.
  3214. >Right?
  3215. >This plan is going badly already.
  3216. >Why do these things happen to you?
  3217. >You turn on the Geiger counter expecting a comforting spiky sound, but you instead get a hidden cold blue blinking light inside the box.
  3218. >Well at least you can look at it, blinking faster and faster.
  3219. >Wait, it IS blinking faster.
  3220. >Are you close? Was it this easy?
  3221. >Maybe there's still hope.
  3222. >You discreetly look at that Anon guy who hasn't moved an inch, and once the bus turns some other way you get off at a stop and run down a street, until you're sure you've lost him.
  3224. >You sit down to rest on a bench at an avenue, catching some air after running for a minute and looking around for signs of him. There's nothing. You lost him. You're safe now.
  3225. >Seriously, what's up with that weird guy? Why does Shining have friends like that?
  3226. >At least you can carry on with your plan now he's taken care of.
  3227. >Oh, and find a payphone, can't forget about that.
  3228. >You get up to follow the LED blue lead from the counter, and head into the city. It briefly occurs to you that maybe Shining sent that guy on some spying mission, but that seems far-fetched.
  3229. >You think he most likely wanted to know what was up with your 'sister'.
  3230. >How he convincingly got off their game is a mystery.
  3231. >Anyway, you've got things to do. You pick up the pace to get this over with as quickly as possible.
  3232. >Soon you find yourself at the commercial district, marked by the presence of big TV screens with flashing ads and banners all over the place.
  3233. >This is... not good.
  3234. >A robber in a commercial district is definitively not good.
  3235. >You really, really hope you only have to get through this area.
  3236. >You also really really hope you don't get lost, because you've never been here before.
  3237. >Well, neither were you at that factory yesterday, but at least you had company, even if Twilight would have been even more lost than you.
  3238. >You should see this is an opportunity to become more independent and assertive. You remember your counselor saying that in regards to... something. You forgot what it was. Maybe about changing schools. Possibly.
  3239. >Man, it feels it was a lifetime ago when your parents were together. Your life before that seems like... more of a dream. Something that didn't happen to you.
  3240. >In a way though, transferring into CPA was a really good outcome.
  3241. >You just wish your dad would have also got something good out of it.
  3242. >And that Shining would have stayed with you...
  3243. >And that the house...
  3244. >Who are you kidding? There were no good outcomes.
  3245. >You just...
  3246. >Oh hey, a book store!
  3248. >You stick your face to the cold glass pane, trying to hold in your breath so as to not cloud up the window and your glasses.
  3249. >This is heaven.
  3250. >Just from here you can see some art books at the front, and rows upon rows of books covering every inch of every shelf extending who knows how far in. And the store even has a second floor!
  3251. >You have to get in. You have to. Where's the door?
  3252. >Wait, you brought money, right?
  3253. >You check your backpack to find some spare change from the school cafeteria from last week, and a juice you bought long ago but forgot to drink.
  3254. >Well maybe you can get a fancy bookmark at least.
  3255. >You'd just really like to read a story on paper instead of on a computer screen.
  3256. >You place your hand on the door handle, but then reconsider.
  3257. >You're going to get stuck here. You don't have time for this.
  3258. >Ok, you'll do it quickly, just take a peek and...
  3259. >No. You can't do it quickly, you know you can't.
  3260. >But maybe you can, just set a time limit and...
  3261. >The door opens suddenly and you step away as a man comes out. He leaves and you look in again. You're wasting more time standing here than anything else.
  3262. >You'll just come back some other day. Maybe tomorrow. You'll be free tomorrow, right?
  3263. >Right. Probably.
  3264. >You're not going in.
  3265. >You step back and go on your way, your soul itching you, almost clawing you from the inside and screaming and kicking begging you to go in.
  3266. >But it's ok! Y-You'll be back next time. You have a lot of free time. Even if it's a bit chilly or if it snows more you...
  3267. >The doorbell suddenly rings and you're inside the store.
  3268. >Oh goodness, it's so warm here.
  3269. >And your hands are so cold.
  3270. >You untie your scarf and save it with the other scarf you have in your backpack as a smile draws on your face. Where do you even begin? There's just too many stuff in here.
  3271. >You'll have to make it quick somehow. You walk to the nearest bookshelf to your left to get started.
  3272. >There are books on art, architecture, music,
  3273. >Science.
  3275. >You... well, you'd be all over that stuff normally.
  3276. >But not today!
  3277. >You just... aren't interested. You want something else right now.
  3278. >Investigating the energy readings from CHS left you mentally exhausted. All you did for six months was read when you weren't attending classes.
  3279. >Sitting in your room for hours, barely eating, learning everything you could on electromagnetic radiation and nuclear physics and even Fourier transforms and New Age quantum theories...
  3280. >Half of a year blurs away on retrospective, all just for more senseless results.
  3281. >So yeah, you just want something else. You could almost say you NEED it.
  3282. >And this is just the perfect place.
  3283. >You walk to the back of the store smiling again, stroking some of the books on display. The pages have that unique feeling and smell of being new and unread.
  3284. >You get to the literature section and look for something that's easy on the mind. You bowed to take a rest during this break, and you're gonna make it count.
  3285. >And besides the school library already has enough science material, so you don't need more either.
  3286. >You glance upon the books with the biggest typefaces, for time is not plenty. Whatever shall you find in this house of leaves?
  3287. >The oldest poems of greeks and romans, or the epic ventures of times forgotten?
  3288. >The unfulfilled wishes of Dandy or--
  3289. >Wait, is that Fifty Shades?
  3290. >O-Oh dear. However you find these things!
  3291. >Ahaha! It seems you've stumbled into the erotica section.
  3292. >On accident...
  3293. >You pick up the book curiously just to see what it is actually about. You know, since people say lots of stuff about it, and you haven't read a single word.
  3294. >You have to confirm it.
  3295. >Seriously.
  3297. >And quickly reading the first few lines, it seems the critics were right. It's not good reading material. You flip through the pages feeling put off by the simplistic prose. This was a disappointment, you could find better stuff on the inter...
  3298. >
  3299. >Ahaha this is so...
  3300. >So...
  3301. >Oh dear. You didn't think...
  3302. >You flip the page.
  3303. >'You're mine, Anesthesia...'
  3304. >Oook, this is... something, certainly 'something', that reminds you should get going...
  3305. >'You're very wet, so fast.'
  3306. >...soon b-because this book isn't meant for your age even though you've seen the girls at your school--
  3307. >'Open your mouth.'
  3309. >You, violently, put the thing down, and then bury it behind other books as if trying to hide a cocaine stash from your dad and look around very nervously because that thing makes you feel funny and you don't want that.
  3310. >Really!
  3311. >Fortunately, it seems the store clerk wasn't paying attention to you.
  3312. >Or anyone else for that matter.
  3313. >That's the good thing about being a wallflower. It's like projecting an aura that makes people not interested in you or what you read.
  3314. >It's good, really.
  3315. >You unzip your jacket (kinda hot in here) and look at the next shelf, which is filled to the top with hopefully chaster romance novels.
  3316. >You used to read a lot of those, sappy as some of them were. Mainly because there were a lot of them at your old house for whatever reason.
  3317. >The good ones, however, always leave that bittersweet aftertaste.
  3318. >You know, bittersweet.
  3319. >You pick up a small book that's within your reach that has two really cute guys on the cover. 'Brokenback Mountain.'
  3320. >You look at the blurb on the other side.
  3321. >Oooh boy.
  3322. >You're keeping this one in mind.
  3323. >You put it back where you found it and slowly walk eyeing the titles.
  3325. >'Turk Fruit', 'Tipping the Velvet', none catch your attention.
  3326. >On the next shelf the first thing you see is a thicker-than-a-door commented Sharkspear's works collection, that's almost daring you to pick it up.
  3327. >Go ahead, try it.
  3328. >You chicken.
  3329. >A few more dramatic works appear here, then historical stuff.
  3330. >'The Ingenious Don Quixote, by Pierre Menarch'
  3331. >A spanish modern classic.
  3332. >Too expensive though.
  3333. >Thrillers, mystery novels,
  3334. >Horror.
  3335. >Do you want to be spooked, Sparkle?
  3336. >A relatively thin book (the ones you've been looking for) sits pressed against the side of the shelf. 'Horror Anthology.'
  3337. >'Featuring the most famous works of Poet, Love Craft, and others.'
  3338. >And it's worth 8 bits.
  3339. >This is well within your budget. You'll consider it.
  3340. >You put it back on the shelf and keep exploring.
  3341. >Satiric books, self-help books, motivational stuff...
  3342. >You just wish you were taller so you could see the titles on the top. Some stairs would be fine, too.
  3343. >You spot 'Go Ask Advice' of all things laid over a row of books.
  3344. >A cautionary tale of how a book's moral will come back to stab you to get the point across at the very last page.
  3345. >You make a space to put it where it belongs, alongside an weird book.
  3346. >'Bully in the Light - An Inspirational Tale.'
  3347. >The image is the silhouettes of two girls standing under the lamp of a darkened school hallway.
  3348. >You're so not buying that.
  3349. >Beyond this are the stairs to the second floor, which if this sign here is to be believed, is full of books in other languages.
  3350. >You should learn a language someday.
  3351. >On the other wall are books on religion, philosophy, language, and many other areas of knowledge.
  3352. >Honestly, looking at all of it feels overwhelming.
  3353. >'Essay on the Robot9000 and the Library of Babel.'
  3354. >'Install Gentoo: Easy Step by Step Guide to a Fully Free/Libre Operating System'
  3355. >'The ideology regarding the educative literary works during the age of enlightenment: Evolution and lasting effects.'
  3356. >Aaand you're now back at the entrance.
  3358. >You come out of the store with a...
  3359. >D...Damn, it's cold out here.
  3360. >And now there's wind worst of all.
  3361. >You bought the Horror Anthology, because 9 stories for 8 bits? They're practically giving them away.
  3362. >And with all these clouds it gets dark earlier, so more time for the spoops.
  3363. >You zip up your jacket and put on your scarf, although rather quickly your hands get cold again with this weather. Of all the things you brought you forgot to include gloves.
  3364. >If only you could live on that store.
  3365. >With a cup of hot coffee and a warm blanket. That'd be the life.
  3366. >But seriously though, it's cold. You can't mentally stress that enough.
  3367. >You keep walking in a straight line for a few blocks, still on the district but with the light keeping steady and pointing you forwards. You pass in front of a not very fancy café that with the yellowish lighting and the smell seems pretty darn warm.
  3368. >Next door is a shop that sells ice cream and has customers somehow.
  3369. >And on the streetcorner is a store that sells those weed tube thingies and other smoking paraphernalia.
  3370. >With some luck you'll come out of here and the thief won't be anywhere near a stealable place.
  3371. >Though of course, you could be following Twilight. Who knows, maybe you'll end up at her friend's house.
  3372. >With some luck you could even get to ask some so needed questions, and ask for a bathroom.
  3373. >You get to another intersection and point the counter around, and while at that you spot by pure chance a very well hidden telephone booth behind a tree.
  3374. >Neat!
  3375. >You move quickly towards it and get inside, leaving your bag on the floor. You haven't seen one of these things in ages.
  3376. >Not counting movies of course.
  3377. >Reading the instructions (or what's left of them) you pick up the cold metal handset and insert your last bit. These booths should include a heater to keep things warm.
  3378. >You dial home and wait tapping on the telephone body. Hopefully the great Starswirl isn't too caught up in his game to answer.
  3380. >After a relatively long wait someone picks up.
  3381. >"Hello?"
  3382. "Hey, Shining."
  3383. >"Twily, what's up."
  3384. "Uuh, I'm just, uh, here. Calling, as you asked. From my friend's house, with absolutely no new injuries on the way."
  3385. >You try to cover the microphone so the street noise isn't heard. Not that there are too many people outside but still.
  3386. >"Really? That sounds awfully suspicious."
  3387. "No YOU are suspicious."
  3388. >"No you."
  3389. >He laughs at his own lame comeback. You have such meaningful conversations.
  3390. >"So everything's good?"
  3391. "Yeah. Nothing noteworthy to..." You trail off as you see on the intersection a familiar guy with a newspaper. "...say. H-How's the game going? Are you having fun?"
  3392. >Why? Why is this guy following you? How did he even find you again?
  3393. >"You bet! We've just gotten the Sword of Kings... back, because we had to return it but Tomato went and set Clover the Clever on fire to keep it. Mango has been lamenting over his ruined epic campaign ever since."
  3394. "That sounds nice."
  3395. >Anon leans on a trashbin and puts up the paper, as if trying to blend with the background despite being like taller than everyone you've ever met.
  3396. >"You bet it is. Anyway, I gotta go back to the game now. Take care of yourself and come back early, ok?"
  3397. "Yeah yeah, don't worry, I gotta go too. See you later Shiny."
  3398. >"See y--"
  3399. >You hang up resting your head on the phone.
  3400. >Just when things were going well.
  3401. >You look up at Anon when he's lowering the paper, and quickly puts it back.
  3402. >Is this what it feels to be stalked?
  3403. >You turn around and look for a escape route. If you go out and run quickly...
  3404. >No, hold on a minute Twilight. What were you remembering moments ago? About your therapist saying you should be assertive?
  3405. >That you should be assertive.
  3406. >And, well, if you think about it very coldly and rationally, uh, there's not much he can do in a crowded place.
  3408. >And there's still the fact he's Shining's friend (probably a close one because Shining doesn't play with anyone), that he went out at the same time somehow...
  3409. >And, uh, if Twilight, the most similar person you could ever hope to meet in the universe barring clones, could stand up to him, then, it stands within reason you could do the same.
  3410. >You can also run away later, because there's not much guarantee you could escape from here without being noticed.
  3411. >Why does that last thing feels as the best argument?
  3412. >You take your bag and look back at him as you come out of the booth, sinking your hands into the jacket. You start taking the steps forward.
  3413. >Then suddenly, when you're a few feet from him, his phone starts to ring with the... Winkz Club theme?
  3414. >He lowers the paper slightly to take his cellphone out quickly, and spots you standing almost in front of him.
  3415. >He panics and puts the paper up again close to his face, theme still ringing loudly in the street.
  3416. "h-Hey, you"
  3417. >He ignores you as the Winkz start singing about being the Winkz.
  3418. "Hey, I'm... talking. I know it's you, Anonymous."
  3419. >He presses the paper so close to his face he's almost wrapping his head with it.
  3420. >"D-Don't know who you're talking about, kiddo," he says trying to sound deep.
  3421. >The theme stops playing momentarily, only to pick up again. A little girl passing with his mother starts singing along behind Anon, being almost dragged.
  3422. >He hurriedly gets his trembling hand into his pocket to retrieve the phone, trying to hold the newspaper with one hand to cover his face. His phone then slips and falls to the floor, the screen cracking and the theme song now playing unmuffled as the girl keeps singing in the background.
  3423. >That's... that's a picture of Shining on his phone.
  3424. >Is this what...?
  3425. >Anon quickly kneels down with the newspaper on top of his head, and grabs the phone to hide it and cut the call, but you already saw enough.
  3427. "Why's my brother calling you?"
  3428. >"I-I, you must be confused--"
  3429. >You yank the newspaper away, as he cuts the call. He's got some glasses on.
  3430. "Why are you following me? What's up with the disguise?"
  3431. >"I-I'm going home--"
  3432. "How do you get off a Oubliettes and Ogres game without raising suspicion?"
  3433. >The phone starts ringing ONCE again but Anon cuts it half a second in.
  3434. >Then he stands up saving his phone, practically dwarfing you.
  3435. >You take a step back. You just don't feel so... confident.
  3437. >He looks down at you with a glare colder than the weather. Cold enough to make you reconsider having talked so forcefully a second ago.
  3438. "uh..."
  3439. >"I don't know who you are, kid. And I don't know who is this 'Anon' you talk about, either... My name is John Doe," he says leaning back against the trash can.
  3440. "Y-You whuh...?"
  3441. >He says that so sure of himself that you even wonder for a second if you've made a mistake.
  3442. >Then you realize he makes zero sense.
  3443. "Ok, that's actually a lie."
  3444. >"It's the truth though."
  3445. >Goodness.
  3446. >This lie is so big you don't know where to even begin.
  3447. >No, wait, you do.
  3448. "Then why is my brother calling you?"
  3449. >"Oh, you're Shining's little sister?"
  3450. "Of course I am! You saw me back there at our house."
  3451. >"Sorry. I wasn't there." GOODNESS. "You must be thinking of my twin brother, Anonymous. He's into all that nerd stuff."
  3452. "You just said you didn't knew him."
  3453. >"I said I didn't knew Anon. Completely different thing," he says shrugging nonchalantly.
  3454. >You can't believe this guy.
  3455. >His cellphone starts ringing again and he immediately cuts the call, and before you can open your mouth he puts up his newspaper between him and you.
  3456. >"..."
  3457. "...Soooo, why aren't you answering my brother?"
  3458. >"That's none of your business, kid. You should go home if you're gonna be a bother."
  3459. >Hey, you're not a kid!
  3460. >It's the second time this day. How annoying.
  3461. >But ok, since obviously this route won't lead you anywhere anytime soon, you are 'going home'.
  3462. "I'm gonna call Shining and ask what's going on."
  3463. >You turn around and start to walk towards the phone booth you just used. You should have asked Shining when...
  3464. >Wait a second.
  3465. >"Hey, wait!"
  3466. >You look back at this 'John Doe' guy while checking your pockets.
  3467. >You're completely broke.
  3468. >He sighs while putting the newspaper aside, and then takes out his glasses.
  3469. >"Ok, you win... I'm actually Anonymous."
  3470. >No, really?
  3471. >"And, uh... Yeah, I was kinda following you."
  3473. >Anon scratches his head for a moment before putting on his hoodie, seemingly the same one you saw him with yesterday.
  3474. "Kinda?"
  3475. >"Ok, totally. It's complicated."
  3476. >How can stalking be 'complicated'?
  3477. "Ok? Soo... Why were you following me?"
  3478. >"Well, I said it was complicated. You see..."
  3479. >He moves his hands in circles as if looking for the right words, and then puts them down.
  3480. >"It's a long story."
  3481. >Good heavens.
  3482. >You take a step back towards the booth.
  3483. >"Wait!" he says standing upright. "Ok, sheesh... It was because your brother was kinda worried. Or something."
  3484. >Worried?
  3485. "Why, what happened?"
  3486. >"Well, shouldn't you know?"
  3487. "Know what?"
  3488. >"About the police and all."
  3489. "The pol...?"
  3490. >Uh oh.
  3491. >That rings a bell that you didn't wanted to hear.
  3492. >But if it was that then Shining or dad would have told you about it, right?
  3493. "What do you mean, exactly?"
  3494. >"Uh... Your brother said something about a cop that called regarding a thing you did the day he arrived. He said it wasn't important, but that he found it odd."
  3495. >It was exactly what you thought.
  3496. >Damn.
  3497. >"And, uh, he also mentioned something about you coming home in a bad state yesterday... I guess one can't trust a secret to that guy."
  3498. "He really said all that?"
  3499. >"Uh, yeah. This was all after he went to your room and then you came in by the way. He said you were behaving strangely ever since you met this girl, what was her name? Uh, Sunset, yeah. Said you were talking with yourself at times and acting weird. I jokingly suggested maybe you were doing drugs and... hmm, he didn't really laugh."
  3500. >Does he actually think that about you?
  3501. >Man...
  3502. >It's not true of course, but still.
  3503. >He's been like that all day, asking if you're *really* ok.
  3504. >And were you that bad at hiding Twilight? Damn walls.
  3505. "So you followed me to see what I was up to, right?"
  3506. >"Yes, sort of. And also due to all that twin sister business. I may have bad eyesight, but my friends and I are pretty sure we saw two of you yesterday, even though it makes no sense."
  3508. >You see.
  3509. >Hopefully, you can clear this up later when you get home. Even if you have to make something up, none of what Shining is thinking is remotely true.
  3510. "Well," you say looking back up at Anonymous, "you can tell my brother everything's fine and that there's nothing to worry about. This is just a big misunderstanding."
  3511. >"Sure. Once I see you enter your friend's house, I'll do it."
  3512. >What?
  3513. "Are you still going to follow me?"
  3514. >"Uh, of course. I promised your brother I was gonna make sure you were ok. I'm not gonna quit just because you saw through my disguise somehow... Besides there's a card on the line."
  3515. "You can't just follow me around the city! It's--"
  3516. >"Why? Are you hiding something?"
  3517. >Oh please.
  3518. "No, but--"
  3519. >"Then what's the problem?"
  3520. "It's just... It's complicated."
  3521. >"Sure it is."
  3522. >Anon's phone began to ring yet once again.
  3523. >"Damn is your brother pushy. I'm glad I'm not an undercover cop." he says looking for his phone in his pocket.
  3524. "Wh-What are you gonna tell him?"
  3525. >"Uh, that I'm still following you."
  3526. >Oh dear.
  3527. >As he takes the phone out you take a few steps forward.
  3528. "Hey, wait! Please don't tell him that."
  3529. >"Why? You got a problem with that?"
  3530. "Well, y-yeah. I just told him a minute ago that... I was at my friend's house..."
  3531. >He silently stares at you for a second.
  3532. >"Maybe you shouldn't lie to your brother then."
  3533. >Oh god.
  3534. >You jump in front of him as he presses the screen with his thumb, and almost grab him by the arm.
  3535. "Ok, look, you wanted to know about my sister right? There's a reasonable explanation for everything that's going on but please PLEASE tell Shining I'm ok and that I got to my friend's house."
  3536. >"Is it really that important?"
  3537. "YES. This has to be a secret!"
  3538. >He contemplates the screen momentarily, and then sighs.
  3539. >"There better be a good reason. This is my friend we're talking about."
  3540. >And this is your brother too.
  3541. >He slides his finger on the cracked screen and answers.
  3542. >"Hello?" he says, and turns his back to you.
  3544. >You can barely hear Shining talking over the phone from where you are.
  3545. >"Yeah, whassup?"
  3546. >Hopefully this goes well.
  3547. >"I know. You almost blew my cover, man. Thrice. Do you pester Cadence this much when she doesn't pick up?"
  3548. >You cough.
  3549. >"Wait, what? Dude, that's... Ok, not gonna judge... I said I'm not gonna judge, dude, don't bother explaining."
  3550. >Shining is kind of... socially weird, in a way very unlike you.
  3551. >"Uh-huh... Oh, yeah, she, uh... got into a house. Totally."
  3552. >
  3553. >"Of course she didn't see me. Who do you think I am?"
  3554. >
  3555. >"No, nothing unusual. I think you just..."
  3556. >
  3557. >"What?..."
  3558. >
  3559. >"Uh, of course, she opened the door..."
  3560. >
  3561. >"Why of all things do you want to know that?"
  3562. >Hm?
  3563. >"I, uh, ok, she was, uuh... a... wait a second." He puts the phone aside and leans down to whisper. "How does your friend look?"
  3564. >Goddamn.
  3565. "J-Just make something up!"
  3566. >"Great," he says, and puts the phone back by his ear. "Sorry dude, I was going through a tunnel. What was the question?... Yeah, uuh... She had..." He looks around the streets and sets his eyes on a big WcDonald sign, "fiery red and yellow hair, sort of like... fire. Or bacon if you will. And she was wearing a leather jacket, a very short skirt and high-heel boots. She looked like a punk basically, and by the sign on her door she's seems like a satanist."
  3567. >W-What?
  3568. >Anon starts to laugh.
  3569. >"I-I was just joking, dude, c'mon," he says turning his back to you again. "But seriously, she seems like a nice girl. She even has a cross on her door. Your sister couldn't have a better friend."
  3570. >Goodness.
  3571. >"...Yeeaah, anyway, I found a music store on the way here, and they're selling some sick vinyls, so I'm gonna see if there's anything worth buying and go back later. Shining, I swear, you better give me that right leg card when I get back or you're NOT gonna live to see another sunrise, you hear me?... Uh, sure, I'll try. Smell ya later."
  3572. >He ends the call with a sigh, and turns around to face you.
  3573. >"Well?"
  3575. "Well...?"
  3576. >"So where exactly are you going? And you better have a good reason. Now I have to get back with an ABBA gold disc and I doubt it's gonna be cheap."
  3577. >Oh man.
  3578. >Between telling Shining and telling this guy, it feels like you were just delaying the inevitable.
  3579. >But it's alright, there's still a glimmer of hope for you. You have to try.
  3580. >Ok, here it goes.
  3581. "I'm... going to see my doppelgänger who came through a portal from an alternate magic pony world."
  3582. >There it went.
  3583. >He looks straight at you without changing his expression, almost completely unfazed, while you struggle to do the same.
  3584. >He blinks a few times and scratches his head.
  3585. >"So you're actually doing drugs."
  3586. >GODDAMMIT.
  3587. "N-No! I was just... joking! You know, a joke, like, it's funny. Heh. Heh..."
  3588. >Please laugh.
  3589. >He doesn't even smile. This is why people don't talk to you.
  3590. >Or more precisely, why they stop.
  3591. >You've come a long way in self-consciousness.
  3592. "Uh, but seriously, I'm really looking for my, uh, sister. My twin sister."
  3593. >Anon raises an eyebrow. You look down at the Geiger counter inside the cereal box, where the LED still blinks steadily.
  3594. >"So she exists."
  3595. "Yeah, she does."
  3596. >"It sounds neat, having a twin," he remarks off-handedly. It kinda is. "So two questions then. Why didn't Shining seem to know about her extra sister, and what are you carrying in that box? I've seen you looking into it every two minutes all the way here. It's weirding me out."
  3597. >He tries to look into it but you hide it behind your back. You obviously won't be fooling this guy easily.
  3598. "Uh..."
  3599. >Why couldn't he be more like your brother? You could have made up any excuse and he--
  3600. >Ok, no. If it concerns you, he would probably be asking even more questions.
  3601. >You could say the box is for a party, but obviously that won't work for long, if at all.
  3602. >The best thing you can do is say as little as possible now...
  3603. "It's hard to explain."
  3604. >...and sort it out later.
  3605. "But you'll understand everything once we get there."
  3607. >Anon disgruntledly agreed to wait and follow, after a bit of convincing.
  3608. >Man were you getting nervous back there.
  3609. >He is now calmly walking a few meters behind you, even though you keep up a fast pace.
  3610. >It makes you feel watched, but least you're certain he's there.
  3611. >You just hope you can find Twilight soon.
  3612. >There are almost no stores at this point, which is good. It puts your mind at ease from the thief a bit.
  3613. >Now you just need to have ready a believable excuse for everything that's happening.
  3614. >Life is a play, they say. A play is like an opera, and an opera shares a word with...
  3615. >A soap-opera.
  3616. >You see, it was your evil stepmother, the one who started it all.
  3617. >You and your twin sister, separated as babies!
  3618. >No one in your family knew what had happened. Somehow.
  3619. >Your stepmother had taken your sister to raise her as her rightful heiress. 'My little princess' she always called her.
  3620. >Your sister lived among the rich, meeting with all the high society snobs and having a bright future ahead.
  3621. >But it was one fateful winter evening, just after the sun had set, that you two met in front of the horse statue.
  3622. >And needless to say, your stepmother was outraged. After she heard of this she became determined to hide the truth from everyone, even if she had to destroy...
  3623. >A highway.
  3624. >You spot a highway ahead.
  3625. >You look back at Anon discreetly, and then into the cereal box. Do you have to go past it?
  3626. >You press the bag close to your body out of Anon's sight and point the whipped cream tube around for a moment.
  3627. >And it says you have to go... still forwards, and a bit to the right too? How close could you--?
  3628. >"What is that?"
  3629. "Ah!"
  3630. >You jump away startled by Anon, and then try to hide the box behind your back, heart pounding fast.
  3631. >"Ok, I just saw a light inside that box. What are you actually carrying there?"
  3632. >J-Just all of your life's troubles.
  3634. "Haha... Eh..."
  3635. >So much for sorting it out later.
  3636. >You lasted a whole five minutes!
  3637. >You should have seen this coming. Honestly.
  3638. >Should you go ahead and tell him the truth? You still have to fit the merchandise into the plot, but it's not like you can pass this thing as anything else and have it make sense.
  3639. >Nothing makes sense anyway.
  3640. "It's a geeeiiih..."
  3641. >BUT WHAT IF he freaks out too and calls the police on you?
  3642. >That's how one half of this mess got started in the first place. You can't get into more trouble with the law.
  3643. >Man, all that really makes you sound like a criminal.
  3644. "...ger counter," you finish.
  3645. >Whatever. Let's roll with it and hope it ends well. It's not like it's dangerous unless you touch a cable anyway.
  3646. >Anon looks down at the cereal box confused, and then back at you.
  3647. >"What's a 'Gayger counter'?"
  3648. "GEIger counter." you correct him. "It's a device that, well, measures radiation."
  3649. >"That measures...?"
  3650. >Anon's eyes go wide immediately. Maybe this wasn't your best decision.
  3651. >"Radiation as in, like when that radioactive capsule was stolen from the abandoned hospital a few weeks ago and contaminated a whole neighborhood?"
  3652. "Well, if you put it THAT way, you make it sound bad but... yeah, among other benign things. L-Like, bananas! Which are a teensy-weensy bit radioactive..." you say trying to downplay the situation.
  3653. >It doesn't work.
  3654. >For once this big guy seems actually alarmed.
  3655. >"Uh, ok, this is another joke, right? Like, 'hah, so funny', yes?"
  3656. >Eeh...
  3657. "Y-Yeah! It is!"
  3658. >Yes. Let's backpedal and pretend you never said any of this. There's no need to involve the cops.
  3659. >"Then what the hell is that thing?"
  3660. "You'll know once we get there," you say again having no idea of where you're even going, and quickly begin to walk again to avoid more questions and keep your legs warm.
  3661. >"You might as well just say it's the briefcase from Pulp Fiction," he says following behind.
  3662. >If only it was that easy.
  3663. >What are you gonna do with this guy?
  3665. >You get to the highway shortly after, and with the counter still pointing forwards, you go to an overpass. At least now you're free to brandish the tube as much as you want, albeit to the puzzlement of the occasional passerby.
  3666. >And Anon.
  3667. >Maybe if you had played up the dangerousness of the counter he would have ran away instead. That would have been funny. And evil. But still funny.
  3668. >And then when he goes to tell your brother, he would be all like, 'Yeah, that's Twilight for ya.' and shrug him off.
  3669. >Too bad it can't be that simple.
  3670. >You will have to content with making up a story that's much less fantastic than magic ponies.
  3671. >You continue planning the second episode of your soapie, for now imaginatively titled 'Twi Twi', as you walk up to the top of the overpass, where a soft breeze gives you the chills to the bone.
  3672. >It's so damn cold.
  3673. >"Hey, for how long are we going to walk?"
  3674. "Eeh, not much," you lie covering your nose with your scarf. You hope it's not much.
  3675. >You also hope Twilight went out with at least three layers of clothing. You've got four, and clearly that's still not enough.
  3676. >Another cold breeze blows by as you go through the corridor. These guys should have put a roof and solid walls on this pass instead of a mesh.
  3677. >And heaters, too.
  3679. >You walk down the stairs at the end, and at the bottom you consult your counter again before continuing. A big faded sign sits on the side of the road announcing a motel near here, with an arrow pointing... pretty much in the same direction you're going.
  3680. >There's also a restaurant the same way, and considering that Twilight likely has no money... Yeah. This is either the thief you're following, or you're going to be walking for a good while. You don't know which is worse. Even this Anon guy seems to be freezing now.
  3681. >You guess you'll find that out soon.
  3682. >You walk for a few blocks following the LED, until you find on a curve the restaurant (empty at this hour) and the motel which is likewise devoid of cars, but connects to the street on the other side.
  3683. >You approach it just to go through to keep on your route, but when you take a closer look at the place you find there's something a bit off about it.
  3684. >Like, there is a lone man resting on the handrail of the second floor while having a smoke, apparently not minding the cold, and near the reception is a hoodied girl clutching a supermarket bag, leaning on a pillar while facing the parking lot.
  3685. >You don't know, but they don't look up to any good.
  3686. >It might all just your imagination of course, but still...
  3687. >"So is this the place?" asks Anon all of the sudden, with his hands deep in his pockets.
  3688. "Oh. Uh, no, it's not," you say checking the counter discreetly, and then look back up in time to see the girl putting on some headphones she took out of her bag.
  3689. >It can't be.
  3690. >You start to walk around the girl from afar, catching the attention from the man on the second floor, until you can see her from the side.
  3691. >Then she takes the headphones out, and notices you.
  3692. >She's Twilight.
  3694. '9° Under the Horizon' would make a better title for a soap tbh
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