Twelve minutes. It took him twelve minutes to realize it. After the brown pony returned to Twilight with an embarrassed and guilty look, she immediately facehoofed.
"Lost your way, Doctor?" she asked him, mockingly wiggling her eyebrow. To her deepest amazement, The Doctor didn't parry it with a witty remark nor did he smirk and turn away. He took it like a stallion and simply nodded.
"Yes, it seems so. Mind guiding me?" he wondered, smiling warmly at Twilight.
Grr, you know how to make a mare do what you want, she thought in slightest irritation.
"Oh, I do," The Time Lord grinned, taking his place next to the lavender unicorn, trotting peacefully by her side.
Twilight blushed involuntary and mentally groaned at how many times it would happen. Then an idea came to her mind. She moved closer to The Doctor, almost leaning at him.
The brown pony seemed to have not noticed the sudden change in attitude. Twilight lowered her head so that her lips almost touched The Doctor's ear. It tickled, the brown earth pony automatically noticed.
"Doctor?" the unicorn asked, trying not to concentrate on her thought process so The Doctor won't read her thoughts again.
"Y-yes, Twilight?" the Time Lord seemed to remain in an eternal state of calmness but deep inside his mind creepy worries started to appear.
"Would you do me a favour in exchange... a small one? All a nice mare can ask of such a... prepossessing stallion?" she continued, now truly leaning on him.
The Doctor's limbs seemed to have frozen, and he would be really surprised if someone told him they had actually been moving all the time.
"I think I don't really understand you, Twilight..." he tried to move away from the sinister unicorn, but in vain: her magic seemed to have tied him to her body.
"Oh, I believe you do understand me, Doctor... The mysterious, enigmatic Doctor..." Twilight wiggled her brow again seductively. It made the poor brown pony go hot and cold, as if he had been working at a mine for ten hours straight.
No, no, no! he thought, trying to find a solution. If she has a crush on me, she won't meet him, Red Sparkle won't have been born and the whole country... NO, NO, NO! After that, his thoughts united in a strange tangle, rolling through his head.
"I..." Twilight leaned even closer, though it seemed to the brown pony that it was impossible. "Want you..." Twilight's lips touched The Doctor ear. He gulped in fear. "To..." the earth pony could feel her breath trying to break through the tympanic membrane, almost reaching his very brain. He braced himself. Now comes the worst. She is going to kiss him. Now.
"STOP READING MY THOUGHTS, YOU INCORRIGIBLE JESTER!" she shouted into his ear, making The Doctor stagger... no, fly away a couple meters and fall on the ground, deafened and half-alive by that point.
The unicorn couldn't help laughing so she just brought a hoof to her face and somehow managed to keep it to a loud snicker.
Upon rising from the grass, which was growing everywhere, softening occasional falls, The Doctor lovingly touched his head, making sure it was still in the right place. Fortunately, it was. He sighed. Although it was completely not what he had expected, he was glad the scenario turned out to be less... romantic. He let out a heavy sigh.
"I know species that would have called you a 'troll'," he gritted through his teeth.
Twilight blinked in surprise.
"A troll indeed," The Doctor quietly concluded.
"But you are right," he groaned, while stretching his badly affected limbs. "It will be better..." he looked at Twilight, who was still quietly laughing. "...for both of us," he finished, not happy to have started the whole mind-reading in the first place. He closed his eyes and, after a second (1.76 seconds, to be exact - your favourite Time Lord) of channelling magic through his so-called 'cutie-mark', smiled victoriously.
"There!" he said. "Now I can't read your thoughts!"
Twilight shook her head in disbelief. The Doctor approached her, patting her on the shoulder.
"That's true!" he suddenly exclaimed, making Twilight jump in surprise. The Doctor's eyes lit with those adventurous flames once more, the lavender unicorn noticed. "I have proof! Proof! Isn't it just wonderful?!" he pushed his face to Twilight's, making her blush instantly, but immediately pulled it back, running in circles around the young librarian.
"Come on, think of a number!" the brown pony yelled to Twilight, although she was just in a few steps from him.
The unicorn raised her brow, now questioningly.
The Doctor furiously shook his head, making Twilight afraid it would tear off his neck.
"I'm serious! Think of a number, I don't know... From one to million! And you will see I have no power of reading your thoughts! I simply won't be able to guess!" he excitedly shouted.
Twilight staggered a bit.
"I get it, Doctor," she said discontentedly. "Lower the volume, please - I'm getting a headache from it. AND STOP JUMPING!" she raised her voice despite her previous plea.
The brown earth pony stopped.
Silence endured, interrupted by the soft sound of falling leaves. Autumn was slowly crawling near the borders of Equestria, although it was still summer. A vernal breeze whispered something to the birds that were just beginning to sing their marches ever so beautifully. Most ponies were asleep, and no one dared to disrupt the harmony of that peaceful morning. The dusty road the two ponies were standing on was narrow and seemed to be endless, going through the Everfree Forest, skirting countless villages, lakes and mountains, all the way to the Western Frontier of Equestria. Bright, shiny grass was growing everywhere. It looked very delicious, and Twilight resisted the urge to excuse herself and go eat. She still had to get breakfast somewhere. Some creatures had already woken up, like hares and rabbits that were happily jumping across the welcoming fields of Equestria. Celestia's sun seemed to warm everything; not only warm, but also wake and give the very motive to live. Twilight wanted to forget everything and give herself up to the overwhelming feeling of joy and delight ,but a dark shade fell upon her mind when she remembered why they had left the library in the first place.
She nervously smiled.
"All right... A number, you say?" she asked The Doctor.
He simply nodded, seeming to have just experienced the same unity with nature.
"Okay! I'm ready!" Twilight cheerfully exclaimed, shrugging off the dark thoughts.
The Doctor grinned. The hourglass glowed once more. He concentrated but couldn't break through the invisible barrier he himself had built.
"Nope!" The Doctor joyfully replied. "Can't guess it!"
Twilight frowned, displeased. "How can I be sure you're not lying?"
The brown pony frowned as well, trying to remember something.
"A-ha!" he shouted, taking the lavender unicorn by surprise again. "Cross my heart and... and..." he paused for a while. "...And hope to fly!" he burst out.
"Stick a cupcake in the eye?" she finished the famous swear.
The Doctor seemed to have not understood.
"Erm... Whatever you want... Just... Believe me, will you? Trust is very important," he finished very seriously.
"Not typical of him to be so serious... Something terrible is definitely going to happen..." Twilight quietly mumbled.
"Pardon?" The Doctor interrupted her thinking process.
"Let's get going!" she exclaimed, putting on a smile.
They continued walking side by side, bathing in the warmth of the rising sun.
"But you can at least guess," Twilight said suddenly.
"Eh?" the brown pony shrugged in lack of understanding.
"The number. The number I thought of back then. To check your intuition, you know," she smiled.
"Oh yes... Let's say... twenty thousand seven hundred and forty-three," The Doctor joked, keeping walking when he suddenly realised Twilight had stopped dead in her tracks.
"You..." she hissed. The poor Time Lord could swear he saw smoke coming out of her nostrils. "YOU LIED TO ME! THAT'S THE EXACT NUMBER I THOUGHT OF!!" dhe shouted, running into the brown earth pony and pinning him to the ground.
"I... I just..." The Doctor couldn't help laughing. Such coincidences were rare but not impossible. Twilight took his laughter as a sign of her rightness and kept kicking the already beaten (Remember when she shouted at me? That was pretty rough, mind you! - Yours, Time Lord) Doctor, furiously assaulting him with her horn.
"Physical... Violence... Is not... The answer..." the Time Lord managed to squeak between fits of laughter and pain.
"Oh, do believe me, I would have used my magic if you weren't IMMUNE to it!" With that, the lavender unicorn seemed to have calmed down a little and took a step back, allowing The Doctor to rise.
He shook himself and looked at her leniently.
She turned aside from him.
He turned aside from her and somehow managed to cross his hooves.
She did her best 'I'm-disappointed-with-you-mister' impression.
And then something completely unexpected happened. Both ponies burst into uncontrollable, Homeric laughter, falling on their backs, rolling on the grass, tears splashing from their eyes. It was a strange, yet delightful scene for both ponies.
Just when they managed to get on their hooves, they felt embarrassment overwhelming them.
The Doctor nervously coughed.
Twilight deeply blushed.
"Heh... heh..." she forced a smile.
"Well..." The Doctor said, looking at his hooves. Then he jumped up in horror, increasing his pace as he ran along the narrow path, away from Twilight.
"Wait!" she shouted. "What's wrong?"
"We've lost two hours! Two HOURS of our precious time! My plan will go horribly wrong if don't follow the schedule! You have no choice but to keep up with me!" he shouted back, before adding: "And now I do know the way to Fluttershy's! Allons-y!"
Twilight sighed and galloped towards the slowly vanishing dot on the horizon that had appeared in her life so suddenly and changed it so strangely.
Hello, it's me. I mean, The Doctor. I'm terribly sorry for interrupting the narration like this but at this point I must bring forth one of the lyrical digressions I was talking about.
Have I mentioned I am the last of Time Lords? No? Well, I totally am. Not that it bothers me now. My people died fighting a horrible war and, albeit I was not much of a pacifist back then, I became one after it. A peacemaker. A lonely adventurer poking his nose into others' affairs and mending what was broken. And you know what's the most terrible aspect of all of this?
It never ends.
By solving problems, I simply create alternative universes, not changing the future of the initial universe. Nighmare Moon conquered Equestria. Two bloodthirsty totalitarian states destroyed planet Earth in 1960s. The ponies were wiped out by the Griffins.
It all happened. All of it. Although those who live in alternative universes cannot see it, I can. I see it all the time... Blood. Sweat. Pain. Tears. Death.
No matter how I want it not to happen, it happens. I am powerless. I control the Time itself - and I am still powerless. I think that is the curse of a Time Lord. We are meant to witness, not interfere. And, though intervening in the events, I still witness them go by, happen how they were meant to happen.
I don't know what power decided for ponies to die, for the whole civilizations to cease. There is no such power in the Universe. Except Chaos. Anarchy. Entropy. Discord. Discord... I have a story about it... about him. But that is for the next time.
But the worst possible thing ever (as a certain white mare would have said... I miss her. I miss them all.) is that the Time War, the Great Time War that destroyed my nation, still goes on. It is a time war, so it is eternal. It is happening in the past, present and future at the same time (now I can't even chuckle at the pun), making me the witness... and the criminal at once. I can interrupt. I can help my people. But I won't. I won't because I know that the war has no end. The parties will always fight each other, with no regard to common sense.
I am standing above Time, kneeling before it. I am its master and its slave. It is my God and my worshipper.
There were times when I would travel to a newly born planet. Heat, rocks, dust and sand. Sometimes water. That was all the planet greeted me with. I was alone and happy. I could wander around, take a look at the bottomless pit in a vague attempt... But then came the creatures. The civilizations. I watched them grow, like children, like foals in your case. I've seen many a lifespan of a civilization and I can assure you: a civilization either comes to a peaceful existence or dies.
That's why I beg you: make peace while you can. It won't change anything. Your whole existence won't change anything, for a pony is too small to make a change. But make peace for the sake of peace. Make peace to make peace.
I want to end this chapter with an old but still timely (no, I couldn't have said 'topical') phrase, so favourited by a wise and bright human author called Kurt Vonnegut:
So warm... Mmm... I loooove these bubbles! Haven't had such a nice bath in... Screw it - I have NEVER had such a nice bath! If only It could last forever... forever...
"Angeeeeel! I've found you a doctor!"
"You know, once I met an alien who refused to register according to the Shadow proclamation... Let's say... his future was most... miserable."