Chip was quite sure his soul was standing at the bottom of the staircase, wearing one of those You-go-first-I-watch-your-back expressions. Each step Chip took was announced to the world at large by a loud thump of wood clashing with hoof. There was no way he could sneak up there, take a sneak peak and return, convincing himself that she was perfectly capable of reaching the same conclusion he did – It was an unfortunate accident and he was sorry he put her in such an awkward situation. Again, in only, like, two days.
On the other side, he had to pick up the pace. He and Twilight had research to do. Very important research. They have wasted enough time with the mind mess, and spending it again on small stuff was unacceptable. What would Princess Celestia think of him? No, he would not let her down!
With his resolve renewed and hardened, Chip took another step. The loud clang of his hoof against the wooden stair demanded for him to convince himself anew that he wasn’t crazy.
Twilight was 17 minutes short of finishing the book when one of her alarm spells was set off. Inside her head, an alarm clock rang, signalizing that an intruder was climbing the stairs. Spike? No, too big. Could it be Chip?! NO! NO, nonononono, she wasn’t ready yet! She barely managed to answer those impossible questions!
What to do now?! She couldn’t just shove him down the stairs – he’d climb them again, and again, until she would be too tired to push him back. She didn’t want to talk to him, not just yet! She never, never participated in important conversations without preparing herself to the brink of possibility. This meager little text wasn’t even an ounce of the usual research she would have done beforehand!
What to do now?! He was still climbing the stairs. The protection bubble would stop him, sure, but for how long? The colt was adept at magic, and he must know a counter spell. He’ll tear it down faster than she managed to put it up. Then what? Cast another one? Pointless! He’ll just bring it down like the first one!
What to do now?! Omhygosh, what if he’ll get tired of her resisting and simply teleport to her bedroom?! He was here a few times before; no doubt he remembered the place! Twilight could already feel the magic tingle in front of her, the image of the colt in a mare’s disguise pushing itself through space and time to be here, to tell her what he thought!
“Yes, it is true what you think, it was no simple accident! Embrace me, for I have embraced you! Hurt me not, as my heart lays in front of you!” shouted out the imaginary Chip in front of Twilight, making her cheeks burn up again, a flame that could tackle the most dire of icebergs, one that could turn the cold of void into a bright sunny afternoon.
“Yes, it is true what you think. Our lips pressing against each other was an unfortunate and totally unrelated accident, and I believe that apologies are in order. Allow me to express my grief over my clumsiness, and accept my humble apologies alongside a promise that this shall not happen again. Let us continue our simple, yet full of tension friendship that shall exist only as long as our mutual goal, the research of my noble race, is unachieved,” said the imaginary Chip in a tone that stole away Twilight’s heart into another dimension, leaving a black hole that would consume her, the library, Princess Celestia and everypony else whole.
“End of chapter 5,” whispered Twilight, snapping back to attention. “What? WHAT?! Chapter 5?! But I just read chapter 4…. Oh, nononono!” The terrible realization came onto the librarian with all her might – she just lost 4 minutes reading something she didn’t pay attention to. 16 pages were lost to her memory, and each second she tried to recall them was time taken away from the possibility of re-reading.
The mare couldn’t help it – she repeatedly introduced her head to pages 56 and 57, each time producing a muffled bang.
Chip had to stop. There was something blocking his path. He could already see a glimpse of Twilight’s room from the staircase – there was no eerie light, and the murmuring that he heard earlier stopped, abruptly cut by a very startling yell. That same sound prompted Chip to go and check up on his soul at the bottom of the staircase, but a stern and worried look from Spike encouraged the colt to return to his quest upwards.
But there was no helping it now, was there? There was a blockade here, so somepony didn’t want him to enter. Probably the mare herself. He could just bypass it by teleportation, but then again there was the probability of a few knives or forks being spirited away from the kitchen. By Twilight. Just in case.
Chip gulped. He knew what he had to do – run the hay away from here. But his spark, which with all its might reminded the changeling who was boss around here, wanted to meet with Twilight. Tell her what happened, apologize, and comfort her if necessary. And judging by the smell, she desperately needed some reassurance. The fragrance was thick, so thick one could cut it with a knife. A tool that just might be in the room ahead and in the manipulative vicinity of the distressed librarian mare.
“U-Um… T-Twilight?” chirped Chip.
His voice jerked her away from the book. Her mane was a mess, and the head underneath it was throbbing. If it was confusion or the very futile attempt to muscle the book into her head, Twilight didn’t know. How could she already feel tired? It was barely morning…
Alright, the clock said it was a bit later. That would explain the pasta for ‘breakfast’. And this whole mess? What was wrong with her? He was just a friend. A changeling, sent there by Celestia, her teacher, the only pony she loved, apart from her parents and Shining Armor. Why was it such a big deal?
The book already told her why. The Kiss. The… First. Kiss. The text said that it would be a very special thing, exciting, a first step into a new world. Well… All it really was, was confusing. She could still taste the slightly salty sauce, the one he had on his lips when they ‘touched’. Probably because she didn’t wipe it. And yes, stains were left on pages 56 and 57. It was a tragic event…
What’s the matter with her! She’s acting like a little filly again, overthinking things. It was Magic Kindergarten all over again – everypony was laughing at her, pointing their hooves and snickering. Twilight gave too much thought to too simple things, so the teachers though she was slow. Her parents knew better, and so did Shining Armor, who was very protective of her… But those foals, they were ruthless. This is a no-brainer, they said. Answer now! roared the teacher. But there are so many answers! I would reply. Because, well, when you subtract 2 from 1, that is not wrong. You just receive a negative result. But did the teacher want me to show I know the truth, and answer according to higher grade books, or should I follow her plans, and tell her that we can’t take away more than we have?
“You’re stupid and slow,” cried the fillies with glee, causing Twilight to huddle on her desk.
“Twilight, Twilight, Twilight!” laughed the little demons, mockingly pointing at the poor mare over and over again…
Chip’s ears twitched, picking up the muffled sounds from the room that was still blocked by a protective bubble. Was she crying? Was Twilight sobbing?
He didn’t know she took it that seriously. Spike did explain to him that it was something important and connected to emotions, and with special someponies and complicated ‘love’ lives, but to cry over it? Was she in pain? Was she sad? Did Chip make her feel that way? Well, obviously yes…
Okay. Sharp objects or not, it was time to act. His whole changeling nature, one that always opted for patience, stealth and reason, all that was shoved aside. The colt burned away his disguise and cast himself into Twilight’s room, appearing with a small pop in all his glory in front of the mare.
Her head was buried in a book and she was sobbing – so she was just reading a sad story? Just like that? What relief…
Twilight heard a sight in front of her. The hairs on her body sprung to attention as she saw the black carapace of Chip, in his true form. Ohmygosh. He was here, he was smiling. And he didn’t wear his disguise. Holy Celestia, he was going to say it… And she felt red, red all over, more red than Big Macintosh’s coat with nasty sunburn.
“Geez, Twilight, you got me worried there,” sighed the colt, the reverb in his voice travelling about the otherwise silent room. The mare dared not to breathe. Each and every noise she would make could tip the cosmic balance that prevented her from either reverting into a curled up position or simply fainting.
“Did you like it?” he asked, pointing at her. Did she like it? Did it feel nice? That question was asked by the book, and she read it several times. Twilight was a smart mare, and she knew a lot of answers others wouldn’t even know the questions to. But this particular one…
“Twilight? Are you feeling okay?” Again with the feelings. She didn’t know what she felt, okay?! Chip was a friend, one that came very close in a very short time. The experience they both shared… It was life-changing, and the ripples of that event would be felt by her and the colt for years to come…
He came closer, his face shifting into concern. Twilight was silent – she needed to say something. Anything.
“Did you know that a bee dies as it stings its victim, while a wasp can sting multiple times without suffering such a fate?” blurted out Twilight.
Was she referring to the book or something? So she liked it or not? The answer wasn’t obvious at all – he waited patiently, taking into account the fact that Twilight liked to think long and hard about even the simplest things, such as writing something down or asking a question.
Hesitantly, the colt sat near the mare’s bed, looking her in the eyes without having to look up – their eyes were perfectly leveled with each other. Hers, hiding away embarrassment, confusion, self-criticism and memories of Magic Kindergarten; his, unable to tell if hers developed a spark of insanity yet or is it still safe.
And yes, the silence. Tick tock, tick tock, went the clock overhead. Should the window be opened even slightly, the chirping of birds could probably break the tension. Should Spike not be such a coward, his appearance could have shifted their attention to him, unloading the atmosphere. If the bed creaked just a little bit, they would probably smile and chuckle, making the awkwardness, suspicions and unspoken words vanish into thin air.
But none of that happened. And it was silent. Tick tock. Tick tock.
“Twi…” started Chip, causing the mare to jump. She broke her stare away from the clock. “About what happened…”
“I-” she tried, but he interrupted, blurting out the words.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was such a big deal, don’t be mad, okay? I didn’t mean anything wrong, I didn’t even notice something was wrong, I swear! I didn’t want to hurt you, or make you feel embarrassed like that… Other time… Forgive me please?” He let his ears drop and eyes close, bracing for any possible retribution. Hopefully, his chitin would prevail.