Chapter One: The Last Thing You Want to Hear.
They say only the good die young, how true they must be.
The rooms of Ponyville's hospital were usually filled with a mixed air of confusion, despair, and a vast array of other feelings that everypony felt in life. Being in a place where death seemed so commonplace you'd agree that that should very well be the norm. On the day this tale begins, however, the only feeling anypony in that hospital felt was despair, and even the foals born on that day seemed to have an eerie calm about them, as if feeling the imminent shadow of Death's Watcher roaming the halls around one specific room. That room held one of not only Ponyville's best ponies, but one of the best in all of Equestria: the unicorn by the name of Twilight Sparkle, and she'd received the most terrible news.
Twilight Sparkle was to die six months from that day.
It was late in the afternoon now and she was quite through with crying after being given such horrible news, her friends- or at least, those who could get away long enough from chasing their dreams- had cried enough, so why should she cry any more. Instead she took to what she usually found herself doing in times of duress, planning her next move. She watched her teacher's Sun set over the horizon as she pondered what her diagnosis meant for her.
Six months. That's what she was given. Six months to do whatever she felt like with no regrets, to enjoy life before she greeted death with a smile. As she sat in the hospital bed she was confined to for the night she wondered what six months could mean, soon enough becoming deaf to the world. Deaf to the cries of her friends in her mind, to the singsong of the birds in the sky. Deaf to the rampant hoofbeats becoming louder and louder as they came closer to her door.
Suddenly the door to her room slammed open as a cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane tried to force her way through the door, bringing with her the three nurses and assistants holding her back.
"Dammit! Let me through! She's my fucking best friend for crying out loud!" The pegasus screamed, her tomboyish accent plain to hear alongside the tinge of fear. Still, the hospital workers would not let go of her, which must have been quite a feat considering the determination the pegasus had.
"Let her go." Twilight demanded, her voice deceptively calm. At her command, the staff released the pegasus and exited the room solemnly, leaving the door swinging in the awkward silence like a timer. When the door finally shut completely, Twilight began.
"Hello Rainbow Dash." She could not bring herself to say much more. Her pegasus friend had been the only one missing from the diagnosis earlier, for good reason of course, but all the same there was a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach caused by the knowledge that her health had not been the most important thing to her friend at the time.
"Hey egghead," Rainbow Dash responded, then, thinking that statement wasn't grand enough added,"have I ever told you how much I hate hospitals." Her quip had it's desired effect, as the mauve unicorn chuckled softly at her words. More than once had the cyan pegasus been adamant about her feelings towards hospitals, always connecting them with death. The Irony of that thought now was just unfortunate.
"I thought you wouldn't come, with the Wonderbolt's tryouts and all." Twilight said after mulling on the thought of death in silence for just a bit too long. Rainbow Dash smiled, the Wonderbolts were her heroes, masters of the sky like no other. The team of showponies were looking for new recruits, and she had been all too happy to attempt to oblige that request.
Of course this meant that she missed Twilight's diagnosis, and was blissfully ignorant to the figurative bombshell hanging over the both of them.
"It went great Twi, seriously, the moment I took the stage I saw Spitfire and Soarin's faces and was just like, 'oh yeah, I got this.' Then after a swift demonstration, I had them cheering, which is quite appropriate seeing as how they were looking at the fastest pony in all of Equestria. Then Fluttershy rushes in and starts going on some tangent about how you'd passed out and that you were in the hospital, I'd never seen her even talk that fast let alone that loud. So i flew here as fast as I could and the damn doctors wouldn't let me in. So I just pushed my way through."
Rainbow Dash smiled proudly, which caused Twilight to do the same. Rainbow Dash was always proud in her abilities both as a flyer and a friend. A fact helped by her friends' pride in the rainbow-maned pegasus.
"So, what's wrong, you don't look sick to me?" Rainbow Dash added. "You definitely don't look like you need to be here."
Twilight took a deep breath before answering, then spoke just one word in response.
The air in the room suddenly felt thick to them both. Rainbow Dash's mouth went agape and her eyes went wide. The bombshell had blown sky high, and it the results lingered around them until the silence was finally broke.
"Rainbow Dash." Twilight Stated blankly.
"Yeah." Rainbow Dash responded.
"I fucking hate hospitals."
"Me too Twilight, me too."
Luna's moon hung high in the sky, and the two mares were still in the same room. Rainbow Dash had set to sleeping through the night with Twilight, and the staff of the hospital sure as hell weren't about to stop her as she did just that.
Twilight watched the pegasus sleep and sighed, Rainbow Dash seemed so proud and happy even in her sleep. It was a conviction that Twilight just seemed to admire more than anything about the other mare. Not only that, but the cyan pony's sense of life was just downright inspiring, and it brought an idea to Twilight.
The unicorn magicked an ink quill and a sheet of paper from the bedside table in the room and began to use her magic to make a list. By just three hours before Celestia's Sunrise she was done, and sleep took over her, causing her to ignore gravity as the list fell over the covers that wrapped around her body.
Tomorrow, her life really began, with the imminence of death giving her reason to live as she always wanted.
It was quite late in the morning before Twilight's senses returned to her. She tried to will them away and go back to slumber as best she could, but a sudden feeling of a figure looming above her kept her efforts from being successful. Her eyelids parted open to flood her vision with the image of a cyan figure blocking the rays of Celestia's sun. It was still too bright a sight for her, and after a minute of adjusting she was able to see fully her pegasus friend's head above her, coming closer and closer.
Then their lips met.
It wasn't something Twilight was particularly against, sure, but the suddenness of their kiss caught her off guard, and she threw the pegasus away from her quickly. Rainbow Dash landed gracefully though, and smiled proudly at the unicorn laying in the bed.
"What was that about?" Twilight asked, her breath quick from the sudden surprise.
"I'm helping you with your list silly, that's number ten," the cyan pegasus started, pausing to put a quill in her mouth and scratch something off of the list Twilight had been working on the night before," find someone gullible enough to kiss me on the lips."
Twilight's only response was to blush as Rainbow Dash came closer, placing the paper on the bedside table.
"B-but, why, why help me?" Twilight asked, her eyes still wide with shock.
Rainbow Dash sat upon the bed next to Twilight and looked at her solemnly. "Because I know you can't do all of these on your own egghead."
Twilight pointed her head down in response. She knew that much was true, she had made a list that may have been too much for her to handle. The list in itself consisted of 100 items which she'd never done in her life, and she had six months now to do as many of those things as possible. Which was quite a feat, so she guessed a little help with something so small on that list was acceptable.
"So which one do you wanna do next?" Rainbow Dash asked, waking Twilight from a trance she'd fallen into.
"What do you mean?" Twilight responded, shooting the pegasus a quizzical look that caused Rainbow Dash to chuckle.
"You don't honestly think I'm letting you do this alone do you, some of these things just sound too fun to pass up." Rainbow Dash said with a lofty air. Inside though the pit in her stomach grew wider and wider. She knew all too well the death sentence Twilight had been given. She'd seen it before in her father, just before his death. Albeit, her father had a lot less bravery in him than the purple unicorn before her; all the same, knowing you're doomed changes you. She didn't want Twilight to change, and if she did, she wanted to make sure it was for the better.
Twilight could see through Rainbow Dash's lie though, but she didn't call her on it. The idea that her friend wanted to protect her made her happy. As long as she knew that her cyan friend was helping her, maybe she wouldn't feel so alone. Just the same, it seemed so selfish to do all the things on the list alone, she needed a friend to help her out.
"Ok then, let me see the list." Twilight stated after a while. Rainbow Dash smiled wide and pushed the list towards the unicorn with her hoof. Twilight then magicked the list to levitate in front of her, in her mind she prioritized the items and thought hard about what she wanted to do first.
"Uhhh, Twilight." Rainbow Dash stated as she watched the Unicorn concentrate,"need any help?" Twilight looked over the list at Rainbow Dash, who looked back into her eyes solemnly. Twilight smiled, she was being selfish again.
"Of course, sorry." Twilight responded, laying the list down between the two of them and nodding. Rainbow smiled back and they set to work, planning the next months carefully.
By late in the afternoon, Twilight had been dismissed from the hospital and allowed to return home to the Ponyville Library. She and Rainbow Dash had been exchanging ideas about the list all day with the excitement of young foals just getting their cutie mark. Celestia's sun had just set by the time she'd gotten through the door of her library. Her assistant Spike was asleep, which was to be expected of a baby dragon, and her pet owl Owlowlicious remained quiet at her return, almost as if he instinctively knew what had happened to her.
Twilight made her way to bed to lie down, staring at the stars with such admiration. She thought of her friends, and what they must be going through. She thought of her teacher, the princess herself, did she know just as Owlowlicious knew? Most of all she thought of Rainbow Dash, and how being with the pegasus seemed to drive away any thought of her imminent demise. She found herself looking forward to the times they were going to have together in the coming months and felt at peace.
Twilight didn't care that she was doomed, she had someone she could lean on, someone that could make her strong. Twilight closed her eyes peacefully and sighed. She couldn't be any happier.
Rainbow Dash couldn't sleep at all, haunted by a singular image constantly berating her dreams every time she closed her eyes. The image of two graves-her father's and her friend's-side by side upon a backdrop of night. She thought of her father, and all the things he'd said and done before he died. She recalled her mother, who somehow fought through it all for him. However, most of her thoughts centered around Twilight, and how doomed she was. Rainbow Dash promised herself to make Twilight's last days of life the happiest she could ever have. Then she curled up into a ball and cried well into the night.
"I'm not doing this, not at all. No. Nyet. Nein. No way whatsoever. " Rainbow Dash detested, slamming her hoof into the ground, or rather, the cloud she was sitting upon. Twilight smiled at her friend, knowing her pride. Of course, this wasn't exactly an optional duty placed upon the pegasus' back at this moment in time. No, it was quite unavoidable.
It had been a week since the two ponies had begun their adventure with the list. An entire week and only nine items crossed off. They would have had much more of the list had it not been for a slight miscalculation on the exact amount of planning for the tenth item on the list.
Item number 10: Forgive somepony you believe needs to be forgiven, even if they make it hard for you.
Of course, the term somepony was just a generalization here, and Twilight was the one to choose the two they would be forgiving. Thus, it was to Rainbow Dash's chagrin that she found herself in Cloudsdale with her unicorn friend now, in a park during the middle of the day, that she was given the task of forgiving who she believed to be the most irritable griffon in the world.
The griffon's name was Gilda, and she and Dash had once been friends in the past. Though their friendship came to a screeching halt however, when a sudden outburst by the griffon had revealed her true colors for everyone to see at a party in Ponyville one day.
So it wasn't exactly the coolest thing in the world for Twilight to have chosen Gilda for this trial.
"I'm starting to regret helping you," the pegasus retorted, a grimace evident upon her face. Twilight could only chuckle.
"If it helps, I'm not exactly gonna have fun with the pony I have to forgive." Rainbow Dash just leered at her. Since when could Twilight ever not forgive someone, that was just unthinkable. She'd have to be there to believe it.
"Fine, but I get to pick what we do for the next one, and the last one." Rainbow Dash stated, and Twilight nodded in agreement, like there was anything the pegasus could make them do now that she'd regret. She was the dying party after all.
Rainbow Dash just turned away with a devious smile on her face and walked towards Gilda, wondering how in the world she was ever gonna pull off forgiving her though. Then again she guessed it was her duty to do so, she was the element of loyalty and that means standing by her friends, even those that can't take a bit of change in your life.
She caught the griffon's attention as she approached, but Gilda just brushed the blue pegasus' presence off and acted naive. Of course she also managed to acknowledge her presence by ignoring it, which didn't help the pegasus' attitude.
"Look, I don't want to be here any more than you do Gilda." Rainbow Dash stated, her grimace plain upon her face. "But I've really come too far in this to back down."
Rainbow Dash sighed in defeat at the sound of her own words, something Gilda wasn't used to seeing in her old friend. This piqued her curiosity, whatever challenge someone had been putting the rainbow-maned pegasus through must have been something for her to give up like this.
"What the hell has got you down?" The griffon asked, her gruff voice giving away her interest in the subject all too strongly.
Rainbow Dash sighed, she was here to forgive Gilda anyway, might as well grieve to her anyway. After all, next to Fluttershy, she was her oldest friend. So with a reluctance she answered, "I've come to forgive you, for what happened in Ponyville."
Gilda shook her head quickly in confusion, the tuft of feathers on her crown flapping along with her sudden surprise. This was something really unexpected, the brass pegasus letting go of a grudge, how in any way was this even thinkable. She thought back to all of the colts who mad fun of her for her story about the Sonic Rainboom, and how she kept practicing it over and over again, trying to just accomplish it, let alone perfect it. She'd heard of Rainbow Dash's victory in the Best Young Fliers competition and how it involved a Sonic Rainboom. If that wasn't evidence she could hold a grudge, then nothing was.
"Gilda, can I tell you something?" Rainbow Dash spoke, reeling Gilda in from her wild thoughts. She looked at the pegasus for a moment and realized she was crying. OK, someone had to be dying.
Gilda would regret that thought later.
"S-sure Dash," Gilda answered, "what's up?
Rainbow Dash embraced the griffon quickly, burying her face in her feathers and crying as hard as she could.
"Gilda, I think I'm in love, and I don't have much time."
Twilight of course, had left Gilda and Rainbow Dash alone, she knew the pegasus would be angry at her for leaving, but she had her own demons to face. As such, soon after Dash flew off towards Gilda, Twilight performed a nice teleportation spell. She had already planned her meeting with the unicorn in question for her part in this little deal, not that she didn't dread it.
No, she couldn't thing like that, she was here to forgive, and with thoughts like that then she wasn't going to get very far.
She was in a pub now, just on the edge of Ponyville, where certain. . . mischievous. . .ponies could sometimes be seen. If her doctor had seen her here he'd have put her back in the hospital within seconds of seeing her given her condition. Not that any self respected doctor would ever end up here, or at least not one with a hidden agenda or some kind of wibbly-wobbly secrets. No, in a place like this, self respect was often thrown out at the door.
The unicorn she had planned to meet sat at the bar of the pub, the drink in her hoof hardly ever leaving her muzzle. Her eyes weren't glazed from booze yet, but they'd get there before night's end.
"Trixie?" Twilight inquired, as she stepped beside the somewhat slumped figure of the blue unicorn she was here to meet.
"Hmmm?" Trixie grunted in reply, trying to fake the fog of her alcohol already.
"I would like to talk to you, if at all possible." Twilight requested, searching into Trixies eyes for a reply.
"I'll tell you only if you keep sober through the conversation."
Trixie grimaced, the idea of staying sober at all seemed to get to her, ever since Twilight herself had disgraced the blue pegasus in front of a whole town of Ponyfolk. Although Trixie'd long ago realized that it was 'here own damn fault for overestimating her own powers and bragging to such easily manipulated fools.'
Still, the very fact that Twilight Sparkle was here to speak with her must mean something good. As such, Trixie waved the next drink offered to her off, and got up from her bar stool, motioning for Twilight to follow. Twilight complied, and kept close behind, explaining everything she was hoping to explain as they mad their way through Ponyville.
Rainbow Dash had stopped crying now, Luna's moon was hanging over her and Gilda now with an almost comforting glow, and she found herself smiling a faint smile. She had admitted everything to Gilda. From Twilight's cancer, to the feelings she'd had for the violet unicorn. Gilda had listened intently, holding the pegasus close when she need it, letting her lean on her side when necessary, and laughing with her as she laughed.
They'd gotten to be friends again.
"So you really love this mare, huh?" Gilda finally said, as the moon's glow started to glow it's strongest, signaling that it was almost time for them to depart.
"Yeah." Rainbow Dash chuckled out. She smiled her brightest smile at that thought. She was in love, with an egghead, with her egghead. She wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'd have never thought you for a filly fooler but hey, she sounds like a nice broad." Gilda said, and they both laughed. Gilda had told Rainbow Dash about her fiancѐ Markus and how they'd met, and Dash just smiled. It was like they'd never fought at all now. Gilda had asked Rainbow Dash to come to her wedding, and Rainbow Dash smiled. She told her she'd be there if Twilight was. Gilda tried to pay no heed to what she meant with that, but she knew.
Without Twilight, there was no way Rainbow Dash would be able to hold on now. This bond that they'd gained because of this curse was tying them to this world together now. It took all Gilda had not to cry. This could very well be the last time they ever talked.
It was time for them to part ways, and with a smile, Rainbow Dash bid Gilda a farewell. "Goodbye Gilda."
"Don't say it that way Dash." Gilda replied with a belated tone, trying desperately to hide what she really felt, after all, she had to be strong for the both of them now. "Say, 'see ya later."
"I wish I could, but I don't know if later's gonna happen." Dash said plainly, a smile still etched upon her features.
With that, Rainbow Dash made to return to Twilight. She was belated to have regained such a great old friend. She'd have to leave something to that griffon when it was over. She smiled constantly as she trotted back to where Twilight should've been.
A smile that was instantly replaced by horror as she returned to an empty plot of clouds.
Chapter 4: Promise Me
It was like the entire world had crashed on her at once.
Rainbow Dash's eyes widened when she saw that Twilight was not where she'd left her. Sure, she hadn't expected Twilight to sit there the entire time, but she would've come back to meet Rainbow Dash when she returned. Right?
She's just out and about, Cloudsdale is a pretty big place after all. Rainbow Dash thought, planting herself firmly on the spot to wait. After an hour of waiting, she was fed up with it. She shot back and forth throughout Cloudsdale in search of the violet unicorn, only to be disappointed.
Fearing the worst, she flew back to the spot where she and Twilight had parted ways, and broke through the clouds to fly towards the ground below. She searched the entire area that the Unicorn could be as flashes of fear ran through her panicked mind.
What if she's dead? What if she was hit with a sudden burst of weakness and fell through the clouds? Oh Dash you featherbrain, you should have never brought her into the sky to begin with. Rainbow Dash just couldn't shake the fears, mentally berating her self with every image that flashed through her head.
Twilight couldn't be dead,she assured her self, not now, not before everything was finished. She wouldn't let herself die like that.
After searching for another hour, she decided she was gonna get nowhere this way. The fears still flashed in her head, but now she was telling herself that her friend must have gone home, back to the library.
Dawn would be coming soon. She didn't want to waste another second.
It was late in the day when Twilight finally finished her meeting with Trixie. The moon had risen and Twilight had grown tired throughout her oddly cheerful conversation with the Show Mare.She hadn't the strength to magic her self back to Cloudsdale to meet back up with Rainbow Dash, and didn't realize the state that her absence would bring upon the pegasus.
She washed up, had dinner, and then went to her room upstairs to tuck herself away for the night, and went to sleep.
It felt like no time at all before Rainbow Dash was crashing through the downstairs library. Causing a loud enough ruckus that it probably could' have woken up half of Ponyville, let alone Twilight.
The unicorn woke up to the sounds of crashing books everywhere and audibly groaned as she stepped out of bed, her mane disheveled from sleep, and trotted downstairs to greet her noisy intruder. As she came downstairs, she heard Rainbow Dash's voice and sighed, that pegasus sure could be excited over that list. Then as Twilight neared the bottom of the stairs, where she could hear the voice more audibly, she froze.
Rainbow Dash's voice was full of something that Twilight had not expected. Panic. The memories of the night before hit Twilight harder than one of Zecora's sleeping drafts. She had thought her friend wouldn't panic over her like this. That Rainbow Dash would've simply brushed off her disappearance and realized that she had simply returned to the library for the night. She hadn't accounted for this reaction at all.
Twilight shuddered silently. Rainbow Dash's temper was surely going to be hostile, but at the same time it was unavoidable. If Twilight were to go back up to her room, the pegasus would be upstairs to see her waiting and be even more furious.Twilight's followed the panicked cries to the kitchen to see Rainbow Dash frantically searching throughout Twilight's cabinets for Twilight her self. If it hadn't had such a scary undertone to it, the scene would have been quite laughable.
"Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked nervously. The pegasus, startled by Twilight's interruption of her frantic search, quickly started up, smashing her head upon the top of one of the cabinets she was searching through and falling over in pain.
"Owwwwww." Rainbow Dash started, rubbing the sore spot on her head with her hooves before shooting up wide-eyed with realization. She dashed over to Twilight and tightly wrapped her hooves around the unicorn.
"Twilight I-I," Rainbow Dash started, the panic in her tone replaced with relief. Then suddenly she stepped away and galared at her friend. "Where were you? Why did you leave me like that? Do you know how long I've been out searching for you?!" The pegasus started upon the unicorn, glaring at her.
Twilight grimaced, "I was off doing my half of yesterday's trial." Twilight poked her hoof at the ground and pointed her head down. "I know you wanted to be there when I did it, but. . .I just couldn't, you'd think I'd got off easy."
Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight curiously, "Who could you possibly have been talking to that made it look easy."
Twilight's frown grew, and she looke at Rainbow Dash solemnly. "I was talking. . .to Tixie," she finally said.
"That's getting off easy?" Rainbow Dash inquired remembering the very brass blue showmare that at numerous times had shown up and caused trouble among Ponyville.
"It's not who I was talking too, it's who I had to forgive. You see, when I made this list, I realized something, that there were some things that I hadn't been able to forgive about myself, and I felt like Trixie would be able to help me."
Twilight turned her head back to the floor, letting the thought float on the air. Finally she sighed and looked back up to Rainbow Dash. "Are you still mad at me?"
Rainbow Dash hugged Twilight close in response. "I'm not mad, just. . .from now on, we stick together, I'm not leaving your side until the end OK."
Twilight smiled, hugging the pegasus back. "OK, I promise."
They stayed like that until they suddenly heard a door slam in another room, which caused Rainbow Dash to break the hug and turn towards the source of the sound.
"What was that," the pegasus inquired.
Twilight sighed,"It's just Spike, he's not taking this whole cancer thing the best. I think he's angry at me."
Rainbow Dash's eyes narrowed, "why that little, want me to set him straight." The pegasus made a gesture with her hoof as she spoke, almost as if she were playfully knocking some pony over the head. Twilight chuckled at her friends playful gesture and gave her another hug.
"I don't think there's much we can do to help him Rainbow Dash, not much at all." Rainbow Dash only blushed and chuckled, returning the hug and sighing with content.
A week had passed, but Rainbow Dash knew that ever little second counted as the clock they were watching could never be trusted. They still had a lot to do before everything they were working towards was complete. She wished she could say she'd miss this, but in all honesty she knew she would never say that.
Because the clock that was ticking for Twilight, was also one that was ticking for her.