I sighed and rolled over on the couch. This was so stupidly boring. Like, why did Tavi have to run off – well, waddle – to Philharmonic Hall? I mean, I get that this is kind of important to her or whatever, but we had barely spent any time together the last few days. Sure we had a few hours together here and there when I finally convinced her to hop into bed, but it took so much more work than it did when we were in Ponyville. I was hardly having any fun at all.
Also, shouldn’t Tavi be actually resting? I mean, she is super pregnant, and instead of getting bedrest or focusing on our daughter she’s been wrapped up in this Philharmonic Hall project. Again, it’s totally cool, but she should really be spending that time at home… with me. For her own good.
Dammit! That phrase had been bouncing around in my head ever since I’d heard Tavi’s parents use it. I rolled out of the couch and headed to a nearby vanity. Those stupid words were keeping me up at night, they just kept making me feel like I’d done something bad even though it was totally…
“I’m better than Tavi’s parents,” I said to my reflection, unable to complete the thought. “I actually care about her. Sure, I made the wish for her own good, but she’s happy now.” If I could just break down whatever weird resistance she had to us screwing, that would be even better. The mare needs to be liberated, maybe I could convince her to do a threesome or something once I broke through that wall. At that thought, I felt a wave of warmth bubble up inside me. Yeah, that would be nice… Maybe I could use the monkey’s paw and–
“Don’t you dare,” my reflection said to me. She looked older, like what I used to look like before I drank the potion. So maybe my reflection was talking to me, that was… okay, it was bad, but I didn’t do anything wrong. It was all to help Tavi. “You aren’t helping her. You’re helping yourself, you know that right? Just like Tavi’s parents, you keep thinking you know what’s best for, but did you ever consider that Tavi might be happy with how she was? Or did you just not care about what she wanted when you made the wish? Have you actually considered doing something selflessly nice for her since you drank the potion?”
“Of course,” I said, scowling at myself. “I wished she drank the potion. She’s way happier now, I’m sure, like we’ve been spending so much time together, and our sex life is way more active. We usually do it twice a day, now. What’s the downside?”
“She didn’t want it. Even after you ran off to Canterlot and almost cheated on her, she took you back, forgave you, and tried to make you happy, and how do you repay her? You’ve been nothing but selfish since you drank that potion, and so far Tavi has been tolerant. How long do you think that will last for? If the teenaged her is anything like you, she will abandon you to follow her own interests at some point, and what will happen then? Will you wish for her to come back? Will you completely override her wants for your own happiness and then justify it as ‘being for her own good?’ How far will you go?” my reflection asked, glaring at me and unable to keep the hatred out of her voice.
“Shut up!” I said, yelling at myself and pointing an accusing hoof at her. She returned the gesture. “You don’t understand… you… I did it all for her, I don’t care what you say. She’s happier now, and she won’t leave me… if she does, I’ll… I’ll do something.”
“Brainwash her into loving you?” my reflection asked, anger dripping from her voice. “You know who was great at that? A nice young stallion from Canterlot; if he was still alive, the two of you could trade notes. Ooh! Do you remember the months you spent putting her back together after that? Back when you still cared about her?”
“Yeah, I do,” I said, gritting my teeth. How did she have the audacity to lecture me? I mean, technically, she was also me, but she was being a total jerk. I loved Tavi, how could she even question that? “I remember helping her recover, I remember doing it to help her. For her own good. I don’t see what the difference between that and this is.”
She laughed. “You don’t see the difference between helping her recover after a pony forced his will onto her, and forcing your will onto her? You’re worse than he was, I mean, at least he didn’t say he was doing it ‘for her own good.’ When are you going to take some responsibility and stop doing whatever you want? Because right now, she’s either going to leave you or you’re going to destroy her. Maybe both. You can be better than this, Vinyl. We are better than this. Stop thinking about what you want and try to think about what she wants.”
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I yelled, throwing my hoof at the mirror and causing it to burst into a hundred pieces. As shards of shattered glass fell to the floor, I saw dozens of eyes glaring at me. “It’s for her own good.” I stomped my forelegs on the ground as blood trickled out of one of them. “Why can’t you understand that? Why do you have to keep trying to convince me I don’t love her? I love Tavi more than anything and–”
Somepony behind me cleared their throat and I turned around to face it. Tavi’s mom stood at the doorway, a small smile on her face. “Well, isn’t this a gift from providence? The pony who corrupted my daughter revealing her true colors, sick and twisted.” Her smile grew larger and I felt sick to my stomach. Instead of expressing joy, it was cold and evil, it was like the opposite of what a smile should be. “Tell me, how do you think she will react when I tell her about this? I’m almost certain she will kick you out of the house.”
My mouth went dry and I found myself struggling to form words. “How… how much did you see?”
“Enough,” she said, taking a seat on the sofa. “Enough to know you’re a deeply unstable mare and that you drugged my daughter to force her to regress to a teenager. Enough to destroy you if I so felt like it, and believe me, the thought of seeing you cut out of my daughter’s life makes me an incredibly happy mare. However, as satisfying as that would be, I must consider the long game, and I doubt I will be able to undo all of your influence on her. Instead, I must consider what benefits the next generation.”
“You mean… our daughter,” I said as the room spun around me. There was a pain in my hoof, and I looked down to find the carpet around it was soaked in blood. I guess I’d cut it when I punched out the mirror.
She smiled. “Exactly, Miss Scratch. In exchange for me forgetting this little conversation, I want you to remember something…” She leaned in close to me and I took a step back, causing several shards of glass to dig into my back hooves. “From this day forward, I own you, Miss Scratch. If I want something done, you do it without question or I tell my daughter what I saw today. First, I want you to put a few good words in for me and try to make Octavia charitably disposed to me. That should be a simple enough task, especially for a pony with as much influence over my daughter as you. Obviously, I don’t expect her to forgive me today, but I expect you to push her towards that end. Do we have a deal?”
I wanted to tell her to go buck herself, I did, but if I did that, then Tavi would leave me. I mean, I know she was trying to be all forgiving and stuff, and she was definitely happier now that she was a teenager even if she didn’t admit it, but something told me she wouldn’t be happy if she found out about what I’d done, so instead, I nodded my head while feeling like I was about to vomit.
Landed Estate gave me another one of her gut-turning smiles. “I’m glad to see you can be reasonable. I suppose it goes to show that even the most simplistic brutes can act in their own interest when properly motivated.” She got up to her hooves. “Now get to work, Miss Scratch, and…” she glanced at my bloody hooves. “Perhaps you should look into some bandages, I’d hate for you to bleed out on one of my carpets. It’s worth more than you are.”
Her smile grew and threatened to split her face in half. “Just remember, Miss Scratch, we are doing this for her own good.” She laughed while she walked out of the room and I vomited up onto the carpet she’d told me not to bleed on.
I looked back at the shattered shards of mirror carpeting the carpet as a mare I was quickly coming to hate laughed at me.
An hour later I was downing my third beer to prepare myself for what I had to do. Yeah okay, so I might be betraying my wife’s trust, but it was– I slammed my good hoof down on the table, unable to finish the thought. Dammit! I was trying to help her, wasn’t I? Landed’s laugh echoed in my head and I took another big drink of beer, trying to prepare myself to do something that was… Well, if I kept her happy, that was for her own good, right? It had to be, I wouldn’t hurt Tavi. I loved her, I wouldn’t do something bad to her. One day I would tell her, and she would understand… Just, not one day soon.
I drummed a hoof against the table and took another drink before heading over to Tavi’s work room. She looked up at me as I walked into the room, and a second later, she was by my side, inspecting one of my bandaged hooves. “What happened, Vinyl? Are you alright? You look awful.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, having a hard time looking into her pink eyes. “One of my records broke and it sliced up my hooves.”
“Really?” Tavi asked, raising an eyebrow. “That sounds rather… I didn’t know records could be that sharp.”
“They are when they break,” I said, licking my lips and looking at the floor. “You know, I was talking with your mom earlier–”
“No, it’s fine,” I said as I broke out in a cold sweat, “she was actually…” Nope. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t lie to her, even if it would help her… or me. It was for our own good. No it wasn’t. I had to go. I had to fix the mess I made… I needed to go back to Ponyville, the answer was there. “I have to go to my show, you can stay here.”
“Are you sure?” Tavi asked, frowning. “While I can’t say I was looking forward to spending an evening in a club, it seemed like me being in attendance was rather important to you.”
I tried to smile at her. “Yeah, but you know, it’s not that big a deal… Like, I’ll have plenty of shows to do, and I know that you’ve been busy the last few days. Besides, forcing you to do this for me would be… selfish. Yeah, I’d hate to be that.”
She raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment on that last part. “Well, if you’re sure, I would enjoy having an evening at the house to relax. I will see you tonight?”
“Uh-huh,” I said, walking out the door. “By the way, your mom isn’t that bad, so if she asks if we talked, just tell her I said that, alright?”
“Vinyl, what is going on–” I slammed the door shut. I couldn’t be around her right now, and if I sprinted, I could lose her before I even left the house. Then, I could make it to the train station and everything would be fine. It was all for her own good. It had to be. Otherwise, I was a monster.
Early the next morning, my train arrived at Ponyville station. The sun was just starting to climb up into the sky, and I trotted quickly towards our old house. I hadn’t slept since yesterday sometime, but it wasn’t important. I had to get into Lyra and Bon-Bon’s house, get the paw, and make my wish. If I could do that, everything would be fine. I just had to get to it before her mom could rat me out.
I opened their door and walked inside, if I was lucky– “Vinyl,” Bon-Bon said, “what are you doing here? I thought you were in Manehattan.”
“Had to come back,” I said, heading towards the basement. “Is Lyra up?”
“No,” Bon-Bon said, looking at me from the kitchen, “but she wanted to talk to you and Octavia, she said she found something out about the potion. We were actually planning on heading to Manehattan today.”
“Great, I’ll see you there,” I said, walking down to the basement. “Need to hurry though, need to find the monkey paw before Tavi’s mom destroys me.”
“Vinyl,” Bon-Bon said, following me downstairs, “you know the monkey paw is incredibly dangerous, you really shouldn’t be using it.”
“It’s fine,” I said scanning the room for the paw. “I used the paw to make Tavi a teenager and that worked out fine. Having Tavi’s mom forget that should be just as easy. Easier even. Once I do that, everything will be fine. It’s for her own good.” I opened one of the drawers and threw their contents to the side searching for the paw. When I looked around the basement again, I couldn’t find Bon-Bon. I opened the next drawer and found the paw waiting for me. I picked it up with my magic and turned towards the stairs to find an angry mint-green unicorn staring at me..
“Put it down, Vinyl,” Lyra said, blocking my exit. “The potion messed up your judgment, and unless you calm down right now, it’s going to get worse.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, pulling the paw close to my chest. “I feel fine, better than ever, in fact.” I gave her my biggest smile and she took a step back.
“The potion… I suppose it’s obvious that it unbalances a pony’s mind, but I think it’s contaminated. Hormonal imbalances slowly worsen over time and… look, I need to talk to you and Tavi, but first you need to put the paw down.”
“I can’t,” I said, stomping my hooves on the ground. “I have to… it’s for her own good.” Lyra took a step towards me and I knew I had to make my wish now. “I wish Landed Estate forgot that I used the monkey paw to make Tavi drink the potion.”
“You what?” Lyra asked, taking another step towards me as another one of the paw’s fingers curled up, leaving one left. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? There were no qualifying statements there. You just wished she lost a portion of her memory; you didn’t even specify that it happen now.”
“Are you really going to lecture me?” I asked, taking a step back and heading towards the corner of the basement. I could probably teleport out of her and everything would be fine. I could still fix this. One of my problems was already solved. But there was too big a risk of Tavi finding out from somepony else unless… I could wish she loved me foreve–
I snarled and threw the paw on the ground. “You’re better than that, Vinyl.” I felt myself say. “You’re better than all of this, you just need to remember that and act like an adult. You don’t want to hurt Tavi.”
“I know,” I said, feeling myself snivel in response to my own accusation. “But if she finds out what I did… she won’t appreciate it. She won’t forgive me. It’s easier if she never knows. Do you think I could wish that none of this ever happened?” I looked at Lyra.
“That would be a really bad idea,” Lyra said, shaking her head. “Just think of how badly our kind of small wishes worked out, and then think of how bad a big wish could go. For all we know, it could completely reset the universe. Even if we added qualifying statements, I still think things would go bad.”
“Then what should I do?” I asked, plopping down on the ground and sobbing, while Lyra grabbed the monkey paw with her magic and brought it to her.
“Admit you messed up,” Lyra said. “Ponies make mistakes, and you made a really big one, but the longer you try to keep hiding it, the worse it’s going to be.”
“Besides,” Bon-Bon added, “it would be better for her if she heard the truth from you, as opposed to her mother.”
“Do you think she will forgive me?” I asked, snivelling and looking up at her while she moved to sit next to me and pat me on the head.
Lyra frowned. “Probably. Maybe. If anypony loves you enough to forgive you, it’s her, and if it helps, I will come with you and explain that the potion messed with your judgment.”
“Alright,” I said, suddenly feeling the last few sleepless days catch up with me. She’d forgive me, I thought as my eyes closed. After all, it was all for her own good.