Weekends had meant many things to Twilight Sparkle over the years: Respite from the childish cruelty of magic kindergarten, frustrating separation from the Princess, and eventually just another day of the week that offered a bit more flexibility when scheduling. Opening the School of Friendship had brought her full-circle. Saturday and Sunday were a respite once more, all the more so given the literally time-bending schedule she needed to cover her responsibilities as both headmare and princess.
So when a silent magical alarm intruded on her carefully scheduled forty-five-minute bubble bath, telling her somepony—or rather, someone—had just entered her quarternary library, she was less than pleased.
Twilight materialized in front of the mirror portal with all the dignity and menace an alicorn could muster while wearing several towels and a few errant patches of lavender-scented foam. It still came out to a fair quantity, especially after the intimidation lessons Luna had insisted on last Nightmare Night. The voice training helped as well, not quite Royal Canterlot Volume, but certainly enough to make the walls resonate. "Alright, I don't know how you got through, but since you didn't listen to my lecture the first time..." She trailed off as she registered just who had come through the portal. "Oh."
Twilight Sparkle adjusted her glasses and looked up at her counterpart from where she'd nearly cringed a hole in the floor. "I suppose this is a bad time?"
The princess cleared her throat and folded her wings. Well, one wing. She was still drying the other. "No, just unexpected. I suppose keying the portal to my magical signature isn't foolproof when I'm not the only me."
"For the record," added the Pinkie Pie next to human Twilight, who Princess Twilight estimated had a roughly seventy percent chance of being the human one, "we definitely listened to the lecture the first time."
Her fellow traveler nodded. "It's not every day the school puts together an assembly so your equine counterpart can discuss proper interdimensional transit procedures."
"Poor Flash. He kept looking back and forth between the two of you. I'm still not sure if he understood what was going on." Pinkie grinned. "Though I did hear he was late for his next class—"
"So! What brings you two here?" The princess cleared her throat and tried to loom again, which became easier once the towels finished their work. "I suppose Pinkie made another ill-advised bet?"
Pinkie shook her head. "No way. I learned my lesson after last time. Sunset still refuses to eat anything more interesting than plain mashed potatoes."
"That's not a choice so much as a medical necessity right now." The unicorn turned to the alicorn. "No, P-Twilight, we're just here to help a friend."
"No offense, H-Twilight, but I'm going to need more details than that after last time. Even I found myself coming up with a few possibilities to explore after I heard what happened to Sunset, and not all of them were experiments I'd ever actually conduct."
"I thought I might say that." H-Twilight lit her horn, her telekinesis shakily producing an alligator clip-bound sheaf of papers from...
She blinked and looked around her bare self. "I was wearing a backpack. Where did the proposal come from?"
"Why are you asking me?" said Pinkie, currently balancing a lengthwise stack of five spatulas on the tip of her muzzle as she pulled a sixth from her mane.
H-Twilight's nostrils flared, her sides heaving as she edged towards hyperventilation. "Sometimes I think the sole purpose of this universe is to mock and tantalize me in equal measure."
"You, uh, you have a little..." P-Twilight teleported a box of tissues into her magical grasp, wet one in her mouth, and used it to snuff the teal ember smoldering on the tip of her counterpart's horn. "There we go."
Both stared at one another for long enough that Pinkie got up to eight spatulas.
H-Twilight broke the stalemate with a snicker. "That was such a Mom moment."
P-Twilight covered her face with a wing. "I know."
"I have to tell her about this. She'd love to meet you, you know."
Now the princess tried to burrow into the floor with the power of shame. "Could I convince not to mention it to her?"
"I am younger than you. I'm pretty sure it's my duty as a little para-sister to make sure you never live this down."
"Am little sister," said Pinkie, who'd moved on to juggling. "Can confirm."
"We never treated Shining like this," P-Twilight groaned.
H-Twilight snorted at that. "The Crown of the Sibling Supreme."
"Okay, we rarely treated Shining like this. Did he take it with him when he moved out in your world?"
P-Twilight snuffed out the new bit of angry teal and grabbed the bundle of papers. "Let's take a look at that proposal." She flipped through it, finding all of the pertinent information exactly where she expected it. Working with a dimensional counterpart got awkward at times, yes, but it definitely had its perks.
When she looked up from the wonderfully regular and crisp human-world pages—laser printers were definitely near the top of her list of technology to bring to Equestria—she saw her counterpart chewing her bangs in a terribly familiar display. "It's alright, my little pony." Twilight hesitated for a moment before deciding to think about channeling Celestia later, when she could have a nice, long, comforting breakdown about it. "You're performing an incredibly kind and thoughtful act, and I am one hundred percent in favor of it. Though if it runs long, I will have to ask you to return home. I don't want you declared missing persons on the other side of the mirror."
"Theoretically speaking, we might be able to do it at home, but it will be much easier here." H-Twilight made her best attempt at a quadrupedal bow. "Thank you for the opportunity, P-Twilight."
"Happy to help. And be sure to tell me how it goes. Just..." The princess fought to keep herself from looking at Pinkie. "Try not to go overboard?"
"After last time?" Pinkie said from astride P-Twilight. "Come on, Puhtwilight, you know us better than that."
"So," said human Twilight, back in her birth form and bouncing on her heels. "you're probably all wondering why we gathered you here today."
Sunset Shimmer looked around the home ec room. She and most of her friends sat before the front kitchen station. Twilight and Pinkie stood behind it, while... something covered by a tablecloth sat atop it. Sunset wasn't sure which of the two lab coat-wearing girls concerned her more. Each seemed to compete for more bloodshot stare, more disturbing smile, more jitters per second...
"Personally," said Sunset, "I'm wondering how many hours of sleep you two have had in the last few days."
"Sleep is for the weak!" they chorused.
Applejack stood. "Welp, this here's where I check out." She moved to the classroom doors and hesitated when she saw the handles flash purple. She tried anyway and found them locked.
"We really need to talk to the principals about the whole 'classroom doors that lock from the outside' thing," noted Sunset.
Applejack turned to the presenters, raising an eyebrow with the same menace with which a gunslinger might draw a six-shooter. "Fair warnin', I ain't sittin' back down. If this gets much worse, I will bust this thing open."
"Entirely understandable," Twilight said with a nod. She turned back to the bulk of her audience. "Now! Rainbow Dash."
"Uh..." Dash looked from Twilight to Pinkie to the cloth-covered, infant-sized object between them. She gulped and said, "Yeah?"
"You had problems with geometry this year, yes?"
Dash's jaw dropped. "Wait, that's what this is all about?"
"Please answer the question," said Twilight, drawing herself up in a way that would be much more dignified if she wasn't still channeling her inner mad scientist.
"Ugh. Yes." Dash threw up her arms. "It's not even math! It's just memorizing a bunch of rules about triangles I'm never going to use again. I barely passed it even after you helped me study."
Twilight and Pinkie both grinned even more widely, making everyone else scoot back. "Exactly," said Twilight. "And a permanent solution to your academic woes is at hand!"
"If this involves zapping my brain with magic, I'm out." After a moment of thought, Dash added, "Unless there's at least a ninety percent chance of me getting awesome mutant brain powers out of the deal."
Applejack rolled her eyes. "Nice t' see yer priorities are in order."
"No brain zapping here!" said Pinkie. "Just delicious science magic!"
Fluttershy gulped. "That doesn't sound much better."
"When you say 'delicious science magic'..." Sunset trailed off and folded her arms over her stomach, which still ached a bit.
"We may have done most of the prep work in Equestria, but we only used ingredients that exist in both worlds." Twilight held up a shakily written list, likely recorded by hoof or horn, and slapped it back on the counter before Sunset could get a good look at it. "Furthermore, Rainbow Dash's microbiome should be mostly mundane in nature as opposed to your largely magical one, so unforeseen interactions akin to the Sugarless Incident are extremely unlikely."
"How extremely unlikely are we talking?" said Dash.
"More importantly," said Rarity, her raised eyebrow more like a noblewoman's unsheathed rapier, "what about foreseen interactions?"
Twilight nodded at that. "Ah, yes, an excellent question."
Applejack rolled her eyes. "Which one?"
"We never explained what our creation does. Thanks to my understanding of microchip manufacturing and my analogue's familiarity with the finer details of Equestrian magic, I was able to etch a spell into individual grains of sugar. By combining them with several other ingredients and the Pinkies' earth pony magic, we were able to create an edible construct similar to a magical potion, but without the need for reagents that are hard to find even in Equestria."
While most of the girls took a few moments to translate from Twilish, Applejack said, "Hang on. You used both Pinkies for this? Which one's standin' next to you?"
"I fail to see how that's relevant," Twilight scoffed.
"And you lost track," Sunset said knowingly.
"And I lost track."
"So did I!" said Pinkie.
Sunset crossed her arms. "So, how long did it take you to carve runes into enough individual sugar grains to actually matter?"
"I used my understanding of automated algorithms to offload the mental burden of actually inscribing the runes and other relevant symbols to an available alternate mental process." Twilight rattled off the sentence with speed that, since she wasn't Pinkie Pie, spoke of practicing it several times beforehand.
That didn't keep Sunset from actually understanding it. "You got Midnight Sparkle to do a bunch of magical drudge work for you?" She leapt to her feet. "Midnight still exists?"
The mania seemed to drain out of Twilight. She looked down at her fingers as she fidgeted with them. "I mean… yes? In her own words, she’s partially my insatiable curiosity." She managed to look up, trying for a scowl and getting a pout. "I’m not giving that up."
Sunset walked up to the counter, reached across it, and brushed one of Twilight's ragged bangs out of her amethyst eyes. "I just want to be sure you’re not going to lose yourself again because I was too gentle with Harmony magic."
The next pass of Sunset's hand saw it taken in Twilight's. "I don’t mind gentle."
A sharp whistle made the two jump apart. "Break it up, you two," Pinkie said with a good-natured smile. "You can borrow Rarity’s makeout nook after the presentation.”
Indignant beatscoffing filled the room. "It is not a 'makeout nook'!" Rarity cried. "It is a walk-in closet built by a very good friend out of the kindness of her heart and the wood of her trees."
"So…" Fluttershy gave a grin she must have learned from a cat. "It’s a closet... that the two of you can be in together."
Amid the laughter and indignant Rarity noises, Applejack just scratched under her hat and smiled. "Well, she's got us there."
The indignant Rarity noises intensified until another whistle silenced the room. "Snark later!" cried Pinkie. "Science now!" She smiled and turned to her presentation partner. "Twilight?"
Twilight cleared her throat. "Yes, well..." After a few moments, she took a stack of index cards out of one of her lab coat's pockets and started flipping through them. "Excuse me, I lost my train of thought."
Dash groaned. "Look, all I heard for the last couple minutes was a bunch of eggheading and my friends flirting with each other. Let's get to the point. How the heck is whatever's under the tablecloth supposed to help me with geometry?"
"Oh, that's simple!" Pinkie whipped off the cloth, revealing a bowl full of chocolate trifle. She scooped out a serving and brought it to Dash in the blink of an eye. "Try some!" Her gaze hardened. "As per our terms."
Twilight floated a pencil and a worksheet in front of her. "Then answer this."
Once more, Dash looked from one friend to the other, and then to the bowl. She sighed, ate a spoonful, then took pencil and paper in hand, laying the latter on one of the student counters. "Okay, but it's been over a month since I... oh. Oh." The pencil moved fast enough that smoke curled off of the paper. "That was actually simple."
Twilight grabbed the sheet in her magic, looked it over, and beamed. "Absolutely correct! I knew the chocolate would help! I don't know why legumes help with the cognitive infusion, but they do!"
Rarity, who had calmed down enough that her face was merely a bit pink, said, "So eating the trifle gave Rainbow Dash the solution to that geometry problem?"
Both presenters nodded. "That's right!" said Twilight. "The proof is in the pudding!"