"Going to Equestria"
"Naturally, of course."
"Um... how does this work again?"
She could only laugh. "Toby, you're doubting too much. You've just got to calm down, really."
"Calm? Me? I'm completely calm! I've never been more calm in my life! You've just told me that I could go a far away place that I thought at one time was just completely fictional! How could I not be more calm!"
She handed me back the water, "I think someone needs a drink." I started to pace around. Leave this world? This place I've called home for my whole life? I mean, there wasn't much left for me here. But what would I do there? Certainly my injuries would prohibit me from a lot of work. Would I too be a pony? I was left in wonder.
"Twi, what about everyone here? Won't they notice me being gone? People like Bill or Sam, hell, what about my mother. Won't they care that I've suddenly dropped off the face of the earth?"
"Toby," She took a deep breath before she continued. "It would be like you were killed on last tour and I moved away from here. After that day, you wouldn't exist and neither would I. " She looked a bit ashamed when she said that.
I was taken aback. I had fought so hard to stay alive. I slumped to the floor. And if I go, all of that would be for not. I couldn't think. She lowered herself down and sat next to me. "You can do that? With your magic?"
"Yes, though I'm not sure if I'm proud of that." She couldn't look into my eyes. Though, I could understand. Erasing me from the memories of many, and then adding memories of pain and sorrow. I would be dead.
"Then I guess returning is out of the question." I finished off the rest of the water. "Do we have anything stiffer? I probably going to need it." I watched as Twi got up and went to the kitchen to pour me a drink. I would be dead. I couldn't leave that thought. I would be making the ultimate sacrifice to my country without actually partaking of the act. Good? Bad? Well, I did have a slight intention of doing that when I first enlisted. But now? I already know what is like for someone to know that you died. I don't want anyone to experience that again. She came back and handed me a tall glass full of something. A quick sniff made me realize she had used the last of vodka. I took a deep swig of it, the burn of plain vodka was refreshing. I hand her the glass back, she too takes a drink and grimaces in the taste. "If I am to do this, I've got a few things to take care of first. Is that all right?"
"No, I perfectly understand. Would you like me to come with?"
"If you want. I was just going to write my will, then have a few words with a few people."
"Ok then. What would you have me do then?"
"Moral support at this point."
Thankfully, the bar wasn't closed when we go there. Bill was just cleaning a few thing behind the bar before locking up. The chairs were all up on the tables. The lights were a bit dim. He saw us walk in arm in arm, and his face just lit up with a smile.
"Oh the happy couple, what brings you into my humble place of work at this hour?" He chuckled as he continued. "Toby, you clocked out hours ago. I didn't you to be the one to come into work early."
"Nah Bill. Just wanted to stop by and talk. Can't a friend just come in and talk?"
"Of course," he set down the glass he was cleaning and devoting his attention towards us. "What's on your mind."
"Well," I walk towards the bar. Twi stays by the door, waiting for me. I pull of a chair bar and sit down. "Bill, I just come in to thank you for all you've done."
"Toby, this sounds like you're leaving."
"In sense, I will be. There's only so much I can say at this time. But I just had to say that. All those times you've talked to me, keep me somewhat sane. I must say, you've kept my finger off the trigger multiple times. I don't think I've ever had a friend like that. At least someone who's still alive."
"Toby, you forget that's my job. I may serve up drinks, but my primary focus is my customers, why do you think I have so many people come here every night? Because they know I care about 'em."
"I know that, and I can never repay for you." I pulled an envelope out of my pocket and put it on the bar. "But I can at least start."
"Toby?" He took the envelope from the bar. He eyed it with suspicion. "Toby, what is this?"
"Think of it as me paying my tab after all these years and then some," I got up and started to walk towards the door. "You deserve it. Even then, I don't think I can thank you enough."
"Hey kid," I turned around Bill. He threw up a crisp salute. "Soldier on, where ever you go. You've made me damned proud."
I return the salute and stood at attention the best I could. "By your word, it will be done." He dropped the salute, but I kept it up for a few extra moments, then slowly dropped it. Getting to door, Twilight gave me a look, but didn't say anything. She took my arm as we walked out. It was a warm night, the clouds hung lower in the sky than usual. I didn't know what to think about my situation. My mind was like the sky above. The stars of my future hidden by the clouds of uncertainty. Twi didn't say anything. So it was my turn to break the silence.
"And he's not going to remember that conversation tomorrow, will he?"
"No," she spoke quietly. "No he won't. None of that ever happened, it will be like he received that envelope before you left." Continuing to walk back to the apartment in silence, the only thing that changed was that the moon's light began to shine through the heavy overcast. Finally reaching the apartment, an odd feeling surrounded me. Twi dropped her grip around my arm as I walked around the apartment. Here was a place I called home since I moved out. Yet, I felt no attachment to it. I lived of my life on the firing line, that was home. My family, or what was left of it, had all long since pasted. My brothers-in-arms were mostly all I had left. Even then, there was little family left.
"I hate to intrude," Twilight spoke quite softly, very aware of what thoughts pranced around in my head. "But, it's kinda now or never. The Princess is expecting me." A pause. "And you as well. I told her about... us. And she can't wait to meet you."
I stopped pacing. "Wait, when did you tell her."
"The other night, I've been communicating with her about this. She understand your sacrifice and plans to have an audience with you. A change from a human to being a pony is sort of a big deal and she would like to hear from you, directly. And she's ready and waiting with her magic to bring us over. I'm not trying to rush you, it's just because the moon is full and that's when the Celestia's magic is at her highest in this world. We won't have this chance again for another month. I'm just asking, anything else?"
"Yeah," I spoke as I hobbled towards the phone. "Just one last thing." I should've done this earlier, I thought. I dialed a number from long ago. The phone only rang twice before it was answered by a tired voice.
".... Hi Mom."
I hung up the phone on the verge of tears. I had to tell her just about everything. Though she wouldn't remember in the morning. She was my mother and I had to be honest. Though she didn't quite understand because of her age. It was worth to tell her everything.
"Toby," I felt Twi put her hand on my shoulder. "It's about time, the moon will be fully light in a few minutes and at that time will be when Celestia will bring us over." She was ready to go. All her papers and books were in a bag, draped over her shoulder.
"And then I won't exist anymore."
"You will, in the hearts and minds of your mother, Bill, and your men. You'll be gone, but not forgotten. Let that be known."
I walked to the picture of Paul and I. Looking at it for a moment, then turned to Twi. "I'm taking this picture. He gave his life for me, and though I'll never forget that. He was the closest thing I had to a brother." Her nod answered my question, but I was already pulling it out of its frame. I took once last look at it before I handed it to her. "That's all I want to bring." Again, simply nodding, she put it in her bag.
"Now then," I shambled over to the CD player in the kitchen. "Though I'm not the greatest dancer, nor has my injuries helped me in this. I do believe I owe a beautiful lady a dance." Switching the CD player on and slow, melodic piano began to fill the room with sound. I slowly walked back to her. Setting my cane aside and taking her by the hand. "Shall we dance?"
"Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven." She looked at me impressed. "I didn't know you had a thing for the classics. But yes, of course," She pulled herself close to me. "You may have this dance." Slowly we moved to the progression of the piano. Swaying back and forth to the beat. Eventually a small glow began to appear around her forehead. Growing brighter and brighter, its light filled the dark apartment. "Toby, if anything happens."
I looked her in the eyes. "Twi, nothing will. I have faith in you." I gave her a kiss and the light began to grow so bright that it lit up the whole room. So bright, I had to close my eyes. The world began to spin around me, moving faster and faster with every second. The darkness started to seep into the corners of my eyes. I fought the best I could to stay conscious, but it was a fight I know I could not win. And I just let it win. I let the blackness swallow me up. I felt my body drift away from my mind.
Out of the blackness, I heard her voice cry out, "Toby!"