TiM: What Defines Us

by Twidashforever

The Choices we Make


When Ataxia caught up, the party rounded the bend and started up the hill. Every step Twilight took felt like it weighed a ton. Every hoof-fall like the longest she ever took. Every year it was the same, yet worse. That was the truth of it, the one thing no one ever tells you; it never gets any easier.

You just… you learn to deal.

Twilight reflected on this now as she raised her head to look at their destination. It was the one thing she never wanted to see again yet kept coming back to. The writing was the first thing she made out. It came back to her as if it had simply been yesterday since she had it made.

In loving memory of Dayspring Gleam
Beloved son and brother
The light that shines twice as bright burns half as long

It is so hard… so hard to bury a child.

Not one of them said a word as they walked up the hill. This was not the time for idle chatter or conversation. This was a time for mourning, for reflecting on what was lost, and who was no longer with them.

The tears started next, to Twilight’s surprise they were not her tears, but Rainbow’s. Rainbow and Dayspring had never been close, never as close as she had been with Aurora, but that changed nothing. Rainbow was Dayspring’s birth mother. However close Twilight and Dayspring grew over the years, Rainbow always had that connection with her son.

Twilight wrapped a wing around her wife and cooed softly into her ear. It did not help; Rainbow broke down in tears at the loss of her son. The strong, arrogant, proud mare persona she normally wore was gone. Such things did not matter at a time like this.

Eight years ago today Dayspring gave his life to save his sister, eight years since he made that ultimate sacrifice to save the one he loved more than anything else in this world. So much had happened, but at a time like this, those eight years might as well have not happened. It felt like only yesterday.

Everypony present simply remembered the unicorn that they came here to honor. The little ball of fur that studied every chance he got. The one that would bend over backwards to help everyone he could. He was so talented, so gifted. Even becoming the youngest headmaster for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.

It was a shame that he had been taken from them so early, he would never know his brother, his nieces, or nephews, or the joy that came from watching his family achieve everything that they were capable of.

“I’ll start it.” Aurora was the first to speak, her face matted from the tears she shed in her husband’s coat.

It was the same every year; there was no need for her to say it as they all expected it by now. As Dayspring’s twin sister, Aurora always started these things.

“Day. I owe… I owe....” Her tears got in the way of starting the speech. Icarus ran to her side, offering whatever support he could to help his wife. He had never personally known his brother-in-law, but he knew enough. He owed him everything.

“Day… thank you. You big idiot. Thank you for everything. I have a husband, a family, and a title all because of what you did for me. Because… because deep down you saw all that I could become, and despite everything you’ve done over the years you valued my life more than your own. I… I… I strive to live up to that, every day I strive to do your sacrifice justice. I know you wouldn’t want me to, but I always ask myself if I’m living my life enough for the two of us. “

She paused to place a hoof on the marker, it was not his grave marker, as they never found his body, but it was the official marker for the family. “I think I am. I think if you could see me now, you would be proud of me, that you would know that your sacrifice meant something. I want to tell you with everyone else. Actually we both want to tell you all.” She paused to look at everyone. “I’m going to be a mom again.” Aurora managed a smile at that announcement.

Every head looked towards her and Icarus. He stood by his wife, pride in his eyes. “It’s a stallion, and we’re going to name him Dayspring. After the uncle he’ll never know.”

The cheering provided much needed relief from the gloom. Unfortunately, when it was over, it was Twilight’s job to kill it. Her and Rainbow took Aurora's place next to the marker. “Dayspring, whenever I think back to us, I always remember the hours we use to spend studying. How it was your favorite hobby to just crack open a new book and see what it contained. I never told you this but I would spend hours just watching your face as you learned something new. You would learn so much so quickly. I knew you were always destined for great things.” She paused to wipe a tear from her eye.

“I know you hated when I would ground you from studying, but I only ever did it so you would learn the magic of friendship, so that you would see that there is more to life than what’s in books. It took me a long, long time to learn that lesson. I’m glad I could pass it down to you, and when you… when you….”

Rainbow wrapped her wife up in a wing. “When it mattered, and you had to face that unthinkable decision. You did what you thought was best. You made the call your heart wanted you to make. I’m proud of you son. I always have been and… and I always will be.”

Rainbow held her tightly as she begun to speak. “You were my son, first and foremost that makes you twenty percent cooler than any other pony I’ve ever met. I want you to know, I’ve always kept a place for you in my heart. While I’ve never understood half of what you would do, I’ve always been proud of you. You succeeded at everything you’ve ever tried. I know you’ll never get to meet him, but your brother is quite the troublemaker. I know you two would have gotten along swimmingly… well, after working out a few bumps.” Rainbow laughed a little at her own joke.

“I just want you to know that we all love you, that I love you. I always have, I know I didn’t say it enough but it’s still true. I love you and I miss you, son.” She placed a hoof on the marker and then proceeded to lead Twilight back to the group.

Shimmering Night and Ataxia walked up next. “Hey big brother, I just want to say hi. I know It's been a while since the last time we talked, sorry about that. I was occupied last year and couldn’t make it. I want you to know, it’s coming easier now; the whole Demigoddess of Magic thing. I know if you were still around you would want to run a million tests with me, but since we can’t do that I've… I’ve been doing it for you.” She paused to catch her breath.

“It’s simple really, looking back I’m amazed I didn't catch on before. All I have to do is focus on something, will it to happen and it happens. Well… it sounds simple in theory. Let’s just say I’ve a lot to learn about the way things work before I get into any of the really advanced stuff. I wish… I wish you were here to help. I miss you, BBBFF.” Ataxia lead her wife down to the group. Radiant and his wife Firestar replaced the two.

“Hey Dayspring. I’ll always have you to thank for helping me become the stallion I am today. You were the one who helped me learn how to conjure blades after all. You helped me find my special talent. Because of that I… I found the love of my life. I know if you got to see her now you’d be totally jealous too.” Radiant laughed at that, Firestar kneed him in the gut.

“Anyway, I want you to know that I miss our time together. Learning and coming up with new cockamamie spells was so much fun, even if most of them did backfire on us. I can’t believe it took six months to grow back my fur that one time.” Firestar looked at Cadance at that comment. The alicorn just smiled a knowing smile that said, ‘I’ll show you the pictures when we get home’.

“We all miss you Dayspring. I’ll see you on the other side, friend.”

Luna and Cadance both replaced Radiant and his wife. As one, they each went to a different side of the monument. Touching horns with a corner they spoke in union: “You are in our hearts and minds; know that the love of a family is never ending. Death itself cannot hope to sunder what love has built. The stars themselves will always tell of such love.”

From each of their horns, magic energy came forth. Cadance created a large pink heart, Luna a small constellation of stars that took the form of a unicorn stallion. The different magical energies danced around each other until the constellation finally settled in the center of the heart. As one, it rose into the sky.

Despite the sun still being out, a certain pattern of stars emerged in the night sky. Empowered as they were by the alicorn magic of the two princesses, they shone brightly. The heart and unicorn lined up perfectly with those stars. The tip of the unicorn’s horn was the very same star that Twilight created defeating the reaper. The end of the unicorn’s tail was the star created by Shimmering Night during her battle with Ataxia.

It slowly faded into the sky. Its light superseded by the sun’s.

“Thank you.” Twilight managed between sniffles.

Luna shook her head. “No thanks are necessary.”

“MOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!” A cry came from down the hill, stealing the attention away from everyone present as a very familiar; very panicking voice was heard crying out.

“Vela, what’s wrong?” Aurora turned to her daughter with fear in her heart. It was a rare day to hear such a cry coming from the young hippogriff.

“Taz he… he… he hurt the twins! You gotta go help!”

“Twi!” Rainbow turned to her wife.

“On it.” Twilight shut her eyes tightly and reached out with her magic senses. She searched around, feeling out the area for where the boys could be. It only took her a moment to locate them; a moment was far more than she needed to know that there was something seriously wrong with them. Wrapping her wife in a wing she teleported them both to the twin’s location.


Taz ran, he ran as fast and as far as he could. Unlike before, this was not the run of someone in anguish over being hurt; this was the run of someone who was trying to run from someone they hurt. A subtle difference, but one that makes all the difference in the world.

His hooves carried him without being able to see; too many tears were in his eyes at the thought of what he did, that he might have killed his cousins. It was too much for his five-year-old mind to take. He just knew he wanted to run, he wanted to get far, far away where he could never hurt anyone ever again.

His body carried out the wishes of his mind. He ran; he ran as fast as he could away from the crime of what he did.

He ran right into a unicorn.

“Hey, what’s the hurry?”

“Leave me alone!” Taz cried, as he got back to his feet, ready to take off in a different direction.

“Hang on there kid, what’s going on?” The unicorn surrounded the young colt in a magic bubble and tried to lift him in the air. The bubble did nothing as Taz simply tried to squirm away. Only to find himself locked in a set of hooves. “That’s a neat trick there kid, not too many ponies can break one of my spells.”

Thoughts of what he did came back to his mind. The will to run left him; instead, he just started sobbing, right into a yellow coat. The older unicorn simply let him. Slowly, he ran a hoof down Taz’s back. Allowing the young colt to get it out of his system.

When enough time had passed, he asked the question, “You want to talk about it?”

“No.” Taz sniffled.

“No, huh? Well, let me guess then. Were some kids mean to you?”

Taz shook his head no.

“Hmm, that’s not it. Was someone trying to hurt you?”

Again, Taz shook his head no.

“Did someone get hurt?”

Taz paused before nodding.

“Let me guess, you hurt someone didn’t you?” There was no judgment in the stallion’s voice. His kind blue eyes spoke only of compassion, of trying to understand.

“Uh hu.”

He sat the little colt down. “I need to know, are they badly hurt?”

“I… I don’t know.” Taz admitted.

“Are they alone right now? Is there someone with them?”

“Yes. My… my friends are there.”

He sighed, “Okay. So, that’s why you were running away. You feel pretty bad about it, don’t you?”

“Yes, I… I…” Taz tried to find the words; they seemed as elusive as everything else was at that moment.

The stallion looked around the woods. Focusing his magic in the direction the young earth pony came from, his face went from concern to a grin in ten seconds flat. He swept the young colt up onto his back. “Let’s go back to my place; I’ll make you some tea.”

“Yuck, I hate tea.”

The stallion laughed. “I did too when I was younger, it grows on you though. Tell you what, I’ll make you some juice instead.”

“Ok…” Taz mumbled.

The walk through the woods was rather uneventful. Taz looked around as he finally took in his bearings; he knew this was the Everfree Forest. It had grown back stronger and wilder after its destruction almost a decade ago. Briefly he wondered where they could possibly be going and for that matter, who this stallion was.

“Who are you?” Taz asked bluntly as he rode on the stallion’s back. A brown coat covered most of the stallion’s features, including his cutie mark. However, Taz could see his yellow muzzle sticking out the front of the cloak.

“Oh, where are my manners, I forgot to introduce myself. My name’s Sunshine Spring. What’s yours little one?”


“Taz, that’s an unusual name, fitting though.” Sunshine laughed.

“Where… where are we going?”

“I’m staying in a cottage in the woods, it’s not much but it’s been my home for the past few years.” Sunshine smiled.

Taz did not really feel much like speaking after that. He simply looked around, enjoying the impromptu ride on the unicorn’s back. The two quickly came across the strangest tree Taz had ever seen, one with a door in it.

“That’s yours?” Taz asked, unsure just how a pony could live in a tree.

“Well, it actually belonged to an old friend of mine, a zebra if you can believe it, but she’s gone now. I’m just taking care of it while I stay here. It was a small miracle that it survived the destruction of the forest.”

“Is she coming back?”

Sunshine sighed, “No. She went to a place you don’t come back from. At least you shouldn’t come back from.” He added the last part under his breath.

When they entered the house, Taz found himself intrigued by all manner of strange objects on the wall. Sunshine smiled as he watched the little colt’s overactive mind look over the decorations that still hung up. Strange mystic objects from all over the land.

He quickly went to work making the little colt some juice, while he had not been expecting company, that did not mean he was unprepared. He soon sat down at the table, two glasses magically placed before him. “Thirsty champ?” Sunshine asked.

Taz put a strange mask back on the wall, after the third attempt to get it to hang right, Sunshine magically helped him find the nail. “Thanks.” He said with a sly grin. Taz went and joined his host at the table.

“Mmm, this is good!”

“I added a little something to it, I figured you’d like it a bit sweeter.”

Taz finished the glass in one go, he placed it down with a frown. “Can I ask a question?”

Sunshine smiled, “You just did, but I’ll let you ask two questions.”

“Funny. Why are you being so nice to me?” Taz looked him dead in the eye.

Sunshine sit back. “Well, I know what it’s like to be in your situation. I figured I might be able to help you.”

“Help me how?”

“Let me ask you a question first. Where were you heading when you bumped into me?”

“I don’t know, away.”

“Away from those you hurt?”

“Yes.” Taz looked down at the empty glass. “They won’t want to be around me anymore.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because I hurt them.” Taz looked up at him; it was a strange question to ask, as the answer should have been obvious.

“You think they will judge you for it. That you can’t face them anymore because they will shun you?”

“I don’t know, maybe.”

“You’re worried it might have changed you?” Sunshine asked; a serious expression on his face.

“What?” Taz did not understand.

Sunshine shook his head and smiled. “Tell me what happened.”

Taz found himself recanting the entire tale, from beginning to end. He did not understand why, but something about this stallion just felt familiar. Talking to him was easy, like talking to Night. The words just came.

Sunshine nodded throughout it all. He heard Taz recount the teasing he received by his friends with a frown on his face. Yet, it was when he mentioned Nighttide, and what that filly had said to him that he found his interest peaked.

The story quickly wrapped up after that.

“So you have a very special talent there, don’t you?” Sunshine asked.

“I hate it.” Taz started crying again. “I’m not normal; I can only hurt ponies with it. My mum, she… she told me not to use it like that, I did anyway and now my friends….” He could not bring himself to say the last part.

“Your friends are fine, Taz.” Sunshine said.

It was the small ray of hope that the little colt needed. “Really?”

“Yes, I felt their energy before we came here. Someone got to them already and started healing them. They should be fine by now.”

Taz ran around the table and hugged Sunshine for all his worth. “Oh thank Luna!” He shouted. “But… but, they won’t want to be around me anymore, will they?”

“Why would you say that?” he pulled back, looking the colt in the eye.

"'Cause they know what I did, and I hurt them.”

Sunshine smiled. “Now we get to the root of the problem. You think this one action defines you, that everyone will judge you for it?”

Taz nodded.

“Taz, understand something, It’s not your mistakes that define you, it’s not your family that define you, or even your friends. It is the choices you make that define you. You made a mistake, you got some bad advice and did something dumb. We all do it from time to time, go back, admit your mistake, apologize, and I promise you nopony will hold it against you.”


“It’s a pinkie promise.” Sunshine smiled. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

The smile on Taz’s face was enough to know that he had gotten through to the young stallion. Taz hugged him again and moved to the door, ready to go rejoin his friends. He paused before leaving.

“What’s wrong?” Sunshine asked.

“Can we… can we talk some more, if I need to that is?”

“Sure, but only you, okay? You have to keep our chats a secret. Promise me that and you can come see me whenever you want.”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” Taz ran his hoof through the age-old motion. “Thanks Sunshine!” Taz ran off, back to his friends and family.

“Anytime Taz!” Sunshine shouted. “Good luck, little brother.” He said the last part to himself.

Sunshine turned around and went to the window; reaching out with his magic, he made sure that his brother’s path home was clear of all dangers. He could already feel his mother in the sky, looking for him. With the slightest amount of effort, he cleared the foliage from one of the trees. Enough that Rainbow would easily spot her son, yet not enough that it would be obvious someone was helping her.

When his magic felt Rainbow swoop up the young colt, Dayspring dropped the glamor spell he had been using. His yellow coat turned light purple, his blue eyes turned green, and his orange mane retook on the rainbow coloring it was known for. It was then he sensed it, he was not alone in the house. “You can come out now.”

The shadows on the back wall collected into something real, something tangible. “How does it feel to be a hypocrite, Dayspring?” Nighttide said with a grin on her face.

“Nighttide, I presume?” Dayspring did not even turn around to look at her.

She laughed a little. “Here I am in the presence of the great Dayspring Gleam, one of the strongest, most powerful unicorns on the planet and he won’t even turn to look at me. I’m hurt.”

“You’ll be a lot worse if you ever talk to my brother like that again.” Dayspring said with a growl.

Nighttide’s smile left her. “You think you’re funny, don’t you? I came to give you a warning, Dayspring. Interference will not be tolerated.” The young filly’s demeanor had changed. Gone was the playful jabs, this was business, this was personal. “The masters have plans for him; they will not tolerate you sticking your muzzle where it doesn’t belong. A pathetic unicorn that can’t even face his past should just disappear like the nothing you are.”

Dayspring turned around; the cloak around his body blew off in a wave of magic. “You will fail creature. You and your masters will fail in whatever you have planned. I’ll make sure of that.” The magic energy in the house became palpable, corporeal.

Nighttide was not impressed. She merely sat back on her hunches and chuckled. “That’s the best you can do? Please, I expected so much more from the great Dayspring. Heed my warning, coward. Do not interfere again; else we might have to let your mommies know that you’re still alive.”

Her laughter echoed in the room for several seconds after she faded back in the shadows. “Maybe if you weren’t such a coward you could actually follow your own advice, such a shame.” Her final words stayed with him, the truth has a way of penetrating you to your core.

He turned around from where the filly used to be and looked out the window. Banging his head against it, he sighed. “I am a coward, aren’t I?”

For the millionth time, Dayspring considered going back, of teleporting back to his mom’s side. In his mind’s eye he saw: His mom and mother running up and wrapping him in a hug. His twin sister crying her eyes out at his sudden return from the dead. His younger sister squeezing him for all her worth.

Then he heard the questions, them asking what happened, how he is back, and why… why he did not immediately come back.

The longer he was away, the harder it was to go back. The harder it was to go back, the longer he would be away, and he had been away for so long now.

“I can’t, I’m such a hypocrite.” Dayspring cried as he said those words, his tears falling freely from his eyes.

He would not leave, not with that thing out there. He would stay; he would watch over and protect his family, just as he saved the twins from breaking their necks. He would do it all from the shadows. They would never know, they could never know.

If this creature, if this thing revealed him, he... he would just have to cross that bridge when he came to it.


Rainbow saw the black colt through a break in the foliage. Without slowing down, she zoomed below and swooped him up and onto her back. Taz blink his eyes clear. “What?”

“There you are; you know how worried you had us all?” Rainbow looked back at her son. “You had us all so scared, Taz.”

“I’m sorry.” Taz hung on to his mom’s back while smashing his face against her fur. Rainbow looped around, dropping and catching the colt in less than a second. She held him close to her breast. “Hey, it’s ok, I’m just glad you’re not hurt is all.” she let him cry into her chest as she held him close.

“Are they... are they mad at me?” Taz asked through his sniffles.

Rainbow lightly patted his mane while kissing him on the forehead. “No, they’re not mad at you. They’re just worried is all, you ran away.”

“I’m sorry, I need to let them know that. I… I didn’t mean to.”

“I know sweetie, I know. Let’s get you back and you can tell them yourself, okay?”


Rainbow flew slower this time around. She did not know what happened, Taz was never the type to openly admit he did something wrong. Whatever had happened, it seemed to have shifted something in the young stallion.

Rainbow dropped him off directly in front of the other foals. She went and landed right next to her wife.

“Rainbow, wha-“ Twilight tried to ask, she was cut off by a kiss from the cyan mare.

“Just watch.” Rainbow said with a smile.

Taz looked around, noting that every set of eyes was watching him. He looked for the two that he had hurt. Blaze and Flash were sitting next to their parents; Firestar seemed to refuse to let Blaze go.

“Hey guys.” Taz said timidly as he walked up to them.

Flash replied, “What do you want?” He looked away from Taz and jumped into his dad’s lap.

Part of Taz was relieved that they were ok, Twilight’s magic never failed to work wonders. “I just… I just want to say, I’m sorry.”

All the eyes watching him went wide at that. It was the first time many of them had ever heard him apologize. “I’m sorry I hurt you, I didn’t mean to. I… I understand if you don’t want to be my friends anymore though.” Taz looked at the grass when he said that.

Firestar let Blaze go. He jumped on the ground. “Who said we don’t want to be your friends anymore?”

“Yeah, it was just a stupid game.” Flash added.

“Really?” Taz looked up, despite what Sunshine had said; he expected this to go a lot worse.

“I tell you what, since you can’t use your talent…” Blaze started

“… We won’t use ours either!” Flash finished.

“Wait, you mean?”

Blaze and Flash spoke as one, “Yep, no wings.”

“And no magic.” Starlight added.

Taz turned around, seeing the grin on her face. “Thanks guys.” He said with tears in his eyes.

Ana ran up from behind and hugged him for all his worth. “I’m so glad you're back!” she shouted.

“I guess.” Vela said as she flew over. “Although I do believe your still it, Starlight.” She said with a smile.

“Oh yeah.” Starlight said with a small grin on her face.

“Uh oh!” The rest shouted, as they took off running in every direction imaginable.

“Let’s see if I can tag someone in less than five Celestia.”

The adults watched as all the kids started running around again. Not one time did they spread their wings or use their magic. Yet they all had more fun than they could ever remember.

Rainbow kissed her wife on the cheek. Twilight nuzzled her back.

The day might be in memory of a horrible loss, but watching the next generation run around, Twilight actually found herself smiling.

“Thank you, Rainbow.”

“For what?”




Nighttide approached with her head held low. It was not her fault, but she failed. The blame squarely rested with her now. There was no way out of it.

“Ahh, she’s just so cute. Don’t you want to eat her up?” The condensing voice came from her right. It spoke with a tone that was all too sure of itself. From a being with its head stuck so far up its own ass it could only spew bullshit out of its mouth.

“Silence, Timespire.” The lead voice spoke. “I want to hear what she has to report.”

Nighttide did not look up, she had failed and she knew it. The only way she could make it worse is by trying to deny it. “He’s back with his family. I’m sorry, I failed.”

“Look at me.”

She looked up at the only other being actully in the room. The other two only appeared as dark magic energy, their forms occupied at other spots around the world. A large red unicorn sat on the throne, his black eyes pierced her very soul. Green dragon spikes cut down his head and back. “Tell me, tell me everything.”

Nighttide proceeded to recount everything, everything that happened. Paying close attention to Dayspring’s interference, and the warning she left him with.

“That’s it, that’s all you did?!” A voice spoke up from her left. Nighttide cringed upon hearing that voice.

“It’s all I could do! I don’t have my full power right now!” She turned and yelled at him.

“Oh, you made the baby mad, Mindsink.” Timespire added.

“Silence brothers. This changes things, but not necessarily in a bad way.”

“What do you mean?” they both turned to him.

“We can work with this. This is not Nighttide’s fault; she couldn’t have known that Dayspring would interfere.”

“She should have killed him.” Mindsink commented.

Nighttide turned back to the unicorn in charge, the red unicorn sat there, smiling at her. “I’ll do it, just change me back, I can’t stand being in this young body!”

He grinned at her, “No.”

“But you said!”

“That was before, times change Nighttide. I need you to go to him, befriend him, make him love you.”

“He’s five!” Nighttide yelled out.

“And you’re seven.” Timespire added.

Nighttide turned to him. “Only because of you!”

“Oh, I’m sorry; would you like to be two? We can all take turns changing your diapers. Wiping poop from your little rump.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Nighttide said with a snarl.

“Enough,” the older brother said. “Nighttide, you know what’s at stake, if you ever want your mother back, you will do as I said.”

Nighttide sighed, “Yes father. I understand.” Her form became insubstantial as she went into the shadows. There was a lot of work to do and little time to get it done.

Timespire chuckled to himself, “You think we can trust her?”

Mindsink added, “Oh, I’d love it if she betrayed us.”

The older brother just looked at his two siblings and smiled. “She’ll do her part; just make sure you’re ready to do yours. After all, who wouldn’t go out of their way for family?”

The laughter that filled the chamber echoed for some time.

Preening is a family affair

Eight years later...