• Published 7th Jun 2013
  • 2,755 Views, 193 Comments

Pinkie Pie is Dead - chrumsum



When you lose something worth living for, you get something worth dying for.

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6 - Twilight Sparkle

I’m not a book kind of guy. Not really a reading kind of guy, period. The most I can get into are the funnies at the back of the newspaper every morning. I don’t read the news for the most part, aside from skimming. Not that an article about Ponyville’s latest flower garden opening or a column on how to keep your mane looking fab-ulous isn’t riveting.

All in all, the written word isn’t my thing unless I’m the story. So I’m not a big patron of the Ponyville library. From what I remember, though, it isn’t usually being guarded by a small squad of burly looking Celestial guards.

They’re already glaring daggers at me by the time I’m hardly thirty meters away. I suppose the trench coat and low-slung fedora doesn’t do much for making me look any friendlier. One of them with some exceptionally well-polished armor stops me before I can get much closer. Two of his friends flank me, arms at the ready.

“Name?” he asks.

“Yours first, sugar,” I say dryly, taking another drag of my cigarette.

Name?

“Detective Sideways.”

“Business?”

“Answering stupid fucking questions from a ponce in plastic armor, apparently.”

I’m no good at reading books, but I read ponies. I know just how far I can go with this guy before he sends me on my ass, and yet I’m still dumb enough to try my luck. Moving more quickly than I guessed he could, he smacks the cigarette straight out of my lips, stomping it into the wet dirt.

“Business.” He doesn’t ask it. He says it like it’s two words.

I reach for the inside of my trenchcoat, and suddenly I have two spears hovering at my throat. I slow down and carefully pull a piece of parchment from the inside pocket, not once breaking eye contact with the guard in front of me. His horn glows and he pulls it away from me.

I get a twinge of satisfaction when I see his eyes widen at the royal seal. He’s too proud to stop there, obviously. He opens it up, his eyes narrowing as he reads the signature for the faintest sign of forgery. Finally, he rolls it shut, grimacing with forced professionalism.

“Detective Sideways. My mistake.” The spears go away. “Is there a problem?”

“Not yet, no. I need to talk with Twilight Sparkle.”

“Why?”

I smirk. “That’s classified.”

His eyes narrow again, and I have to commend him for not sticking me one there and then. He steps aside. “Alright, then. This way.”

He escorts me to the door of the library built into the ancient oak at the heart of Ponyville. He gives it a pretty weak knock for a stallion his frame. When there’s no answer again, he knocks once more, louder this time.

“Miss Sparkle,” he calls. I hear the sound of someone coming up to the door.

“Miss–”

The door opens, and there’s no one there. Looking down, a dragon baby is looking up at us. Twilight’s friend and not-quite-servant-for-life, Spike.

“Uh... Can I help you?” he asks uncertainly.

“I have a visitor for Miss Sparkle,” says the guard, jerking his head towards me.

“Umm...” he taps his claws under his chin, looking over his shoulder as if someone was watching him. “Twilight isn’t really taking visitors.”

“There you have it, Detective. No visitors,” the guard echoes, not trying particularly hard to hide the sneer on his face.

“Wait, a detective?” questions Spike. He taps his feet anxiously. “Uh... Wait here for a moment.” Neither of us get a word out before he slams the door shut on our faces. The guard and I exchange perplexed glances. I didn’t know dragons started being cryptic so young. It doesn’t take long before he comes back, opening the door a bit wider.

“Right, Detective, come on in. Twilight wants to talk with you, I think.”

I give him a tip of the hat before stepping past him into the library. The guard watches me leave and moves to follow before being stopped by Spike sticking a claw in front of him.

“Just him. Sorry!” he says meekly before shutting the door in his face. He presses his back against the door and slides down it with a sigh of relief. I can’t help but give him an amused smile. Poor kid. I can’t even begin to guess what it’s like living under Twilight’s roof. The mere sight of her makes me go sour. It’s not her fault, really; it’s mine. She’s the symbol of everything the PPD could be but isn’t.

“You alright?”

“Oh yeah. Never been better,” he says glumly, wiping away a bead of sweat.

“They been here long?”

“Since last night. Don’t know why. Twilight won’t talk about it. Did Discord break out again or something?”

I give him a hard, long look. He stares right back at me, not giving the slightest sign of insincerity. He raises an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Yeah. Discord. Something like that.”

Spike scratches at the back of his neck. A nervous reflex. With all the work he must do, it’s hard to forget that he’s still only a child. Good thing I won’t be around when he’s a big boy. All that frustration is going to make one hell of a grownup. I should know. “Right... Well I’ll go get Twilight. She should be finishing up some experiment real soon. What are you investigating, anyways?”

“Nothing particularly important,” I lie, pacing around the room, my head craned to look up the shelves crammed full of books. “I just need to talk to her for a moment.”

“Well, I’ll go get her real quick!” He races past me, darting through a door on the far side of the library and down into the basement. I watch him go, curious.

An experiment? At a time like this? Twilight Sparkle, what are you up to? It’s almost second nature when I pull out my notebook and start writing. Something about this place is putting me on edge. There’s a sort of weird tingle in the back of my horn, like the breath of something foul and snake-like curled around my ribcage and reaching for my neck. I don’t really pay too much heed to magic studies and sciences, but something just feels... off.

It’s that kind of off that only a unicorn could really feel. Something in the air, something in the way things seem not quite right. Like an electricity under the skin. My eyes linger to some of the books lying about, half opened and disorganized. Twilight is careful with her books.

I pick out one of the heavy tomes. I hardly get a chance to read before a magic far more powerful than mine envelops its pages and rips the it out of my grasp. Twilight Sparkle’s eyes narrow and she slams the book shut, its heavy thud like a shutting coffin.

“It’s not polite to go through a pony’s things,” she advises. The rest of the books start glowing, and without the slightest effort she levitates every last one of them and slots them back into their shelves. The feeling of unease doesn’t go away. It gets stronger.

Twilight and I haven’t gotten along in the past. Granted, we almost never really talked either, but we were like water and grease whenever we did. She was buried in her books, flying high on Celestia’s wings and her own high-falutin’ ideals. I’d learned my lessons in punches to the jaw and kicks to the gut. Two different schools of life, and it usually meant that we didn’t really attract. As much as I hate to admit it, though, too much of it comes from jealousy. She’s smarter than me, higher placed than me, and with more friends than I could ever possibly kid myself into thinking I had. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me. Except she always loved butting her head where it didn’t need to be.

Accident with an apple cart tipping over? No need for the police to get involved, Twilight will just magic everything right again. Town’s being turned upside down? Well, let’s not even give a footnote to the officers who risked life and hoof to keep everything intact, let’s give all the credit to Twilight Sparkle and friends who saved all of Equestria. Again.

“Spike?” calls Twilight Sparkle over her shoulder. Her scaled butler comes running as if his life depended on it. “Could you go down and tidy up the lab? I think I’m done for today.”

“Are you sure?” he asks, visibly disappointed at the prospect of missing out on the action.

“Positive, Spike. Go.” Her eyes don’t leave mine. I don’t say a word.

Alright then, if that’s your game. Get the kid out of the way. You and me, Twilight. Like a showdown at high noon, I feel my hooves quivering, ready to draw my weapon at the signal. Twilight Sparkle’s eyes don’t leave mine. She’s as ready as I am.

The door to the basement slams shut. Draw.

“You haven’t told him?” I fire off.

“He doesn’t need to know,” she says, deflecting the question.

“He doesn’t need to know that one of his friends is dead?” I shoot back.

Flesh wound. She doesn’t back down. “I’ll tell him, eventually. When he’s ready.”

“When he’s ready? Or when you’re ready to tell him?”

Killshot. She blinks in surprise, and looks away. Corpse doesn’t know that she’s dead. “I don’t think what I tell Spike is any of your business, Detective.”

Fine. We’ll call it a tie, then. I holster my gun and draw my quill. “Then let’s get to what is my business, Miss Sparkle. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“I guessed you would,” said Twilight Sparkle vaguely. “I have a few of those for you myself.”

I raise an eyebrow. “That so?”

“It is. Want something to drink?” she offers, motioning towards the kitchen with her head.

I’m not particularly thirsty, but I nod anyways, following her through the library. I can’t help but let my gaze wander to her flank as she walks. Her stride gives her away as older beyond her years, having missed or lost something that would have given her the bounce of a younger mare.

“Looking for something, Detective?” I hear Twilight demand coldly. I let myself get distracted again, and she’s looking at me over her shoulder in disapproval.

“No, I uh... I just wanted to think of how to say that... I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Sparkle.”

The cold look on her face thaws a little bit, and the light catches her eyes in just a way that I can see the lamps of the library glistening in her pupils. It’s not hard to read the grief. But something else glimmers there, darker, somber.

“Thank you, Detective,” she says sincerely. Her stride becomes less tense as she fetches some glasses and lemonade from the counter. She hands me my drink, and I thank her with a tip of my head, keeping it between my hooves as I grab a seat across from her. I don’t touch it. I never drink what I don’t pour.

I place my notebook down on the table, and bring my quill to bear. She watches it as I press it against the page.

“So you’re in charge of the investigation?” she asks, as I write the header to the page I’m consecrating to this interview.

“Yes ma’am. The Princesses made me a royal envoy for this case,” I say carefully.

“That’s a big responsibility.”

“It is. I’m honored.”

“Think you can handle that all by yourself?”

I put down my pencil. Twilight is staring back at me, her expression giving me nothing, but her eyes telling me exactly what I know I’m hearing. A challenge.

“I think so.”

“You think so?”

“I’ve handled similar cases in the past, yes.”

“So Pinkie Pie being murdered is just a ‘similar case’ to you, then?”

“Miss Sparkle,” I say tersely, “Pinkie Pie was as important to all of us as she was to you. I want to see the killer pay for his crime as much as you do. I’d like it if you didn’t question my authority.”

She bites her lip and looks down at her lemonade irritably.

“I know. I want to help.”

“And you can,” I reassure her, picking up my notebook. “You can start by–”

“Show me your notes.”

I stop mid-sentence in disbelief. Twilight Sparkle is holding out her hoof, waiting for me to hand over my booklet.

“Excuse me?”

“I want to see what you know. I can cross-reference it with what I know, and get to the bottom of this.”

“Miss Sparkle–”

She interrupts me again, “You want to find this killer? Then give me your notes and I can find it. You know I can. I have the magic, the knowledge, the skill. You know I do.”

“And you’re implying I don’t?”

“Let’s be clear here, Detective Sideways. As well as you think you know Pinkie Pie, you didn’t know her like I do. You didn’t–”

“Miss Sparkle, I understand your grief and frustration–”

“I’m not frustrated.”

“–But I can’t let you step in on this again. This isn’t Discord turning Ponyville upside down. This isn’t the return of Nightmare Moon. This is a murder, and it is under my jurisdiction to handle this.” I stab a hoof at her for emphasis. She doesn’t flinch. “This isn’t your job, Miss Sparkle. Stay out my business.”

Your business?” she explodes, almost lunging at me from across the table. “My best friend is dead and it’s just your business!?

There’s something burning in her eyes. Something pained and hurt, like a caged animal, wounded, desperate. She’s taut as a fiddle, and I’m plucking at her strings. It suddenly occurs to me that she could vaporize me in an instant, before I could even think to draw my piece. But I’m not backing down.

“This is my job, Miss Sparkle. I’m a member of the police, and I intend to do my duty to Ponyville and Pinkie Pie,” I tell her as professionally as I can, refusing to lean back as her horn starts to spark.

“She was my friend, damn you! I have as much of a right to know as you do!”

“And you will. Let me handle this.”

“I don’t need you!” she screams, slamming her hoof against the counter. “I can handle this myself! Better than you ever could! I want to see this monster burn and I can handle this better than you ever could!”

“Handle this case?” I retort, glaring. “Handle this case? When you can’t even handle the fact that Pinkie Pie is dead, Twilight?”

She jerks back in horror, her eyes wide. “You... how dare...”

I lean in to follow her with the ace in my sleeve. “Because I somehow doubt that you’re suddenly reading into necromancy out of innocent curiosity.”

I get Twilight’s glass of lemonade thrown into my face. And as it drips down my muzzle, blurring Twilight’s eyes as they fill with tears, I can’t help but feel I deserve it. She steps away from the kitchen counter, trembling, her ears flattened. She turns away, leaning against the wall. She’s too proud to let me see her cry.

I sit there quietly, dripping wet, and let her vent. Sometimes being right is a whole lot worse than being wrong. I levitate a washcloth to my face, dabbing myself dry. The lemonade sticks to my coat, a reminder. I place my notebook back into my pocket, and step away from the counter. My heart’s feeling five times too big for my chest as I walk out of the kitchen, raising the collar on my trench coat.

I wish I understood grief. I want to turn around, to say I’m sorry, that I didn’t mean it. But I’m not strong enough for that. I reach for the door.

“I was in the library all day,” I hear Twilight speak. I turn. She’s still staring into the wall, her face matted with tears and her eyes closed. “The day before Pinkie Pie died. I was re-shelving. As I always do on Sunday. She came to me.”

Her wide, glittering eyes turn to look at me, full of not just anguish, but now something more. Acceptance. I nod, telling her that I’m listening, as I draw my notebook once more.

“I knew she would show up. She was a real sweetheart. Always showed up on Sundays to see if I ever needed help, even though I never told her I did. Spike knows the library better than anyone, and Pinkie... well, Pinkie tended to cause more of a mess,” she admitted, sniffling.

I don’t say anything. I just write, letting her speak at her own pace and say what she wants. I act like I’m not there, and she takes it.

“I... Kinda wanted to get her out of my mane. I told her she should maybe go see if Rarity needed some help. I’d heard her talking about some big project all week, and she sounded stressed out about it. It made Pinkie happy to help her friends, so I let her know. So she left. That’s the last I saw of her.”

She wipes her eyes.

“That’s the last I’ll ever see of her. If only I could have–”

“Don’t do that,” I say quietly.

She looks up. “Excuse me?”

“Don’t think about regrets,” I say, closing my notebook. “What could’ve been, what wasn’t. It’s not coming back. You’re not getting that chance again. Remember what was, not what wasn’t. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself insane. I guarantee it.”

Twilight looks away. “Yeah. I guess you’re right. It’s hard, though.”

“It is. Can I ask you a question, Miss Sparkle?”

“Call me Twilight, Detective Sideways,” she answers with a weak smile. “You’re making me feel old.”

I can’t help but grin slightly. “Only if you call me Sideways.”

“Deal.”

Reaching for the inside of my jacket once more, I pull out a rather bulky book. Picked it up from the evidence vault. Damn thing’s a sight heavier than it looks. I levitate it to Twilight, and she inspects it closer. “Does this look familiar to you, Twilight?”

Her eyes narrow with concentration. “Stitch in a Sitch. Yes, I remember this. I loaned it out to Fluttershy about a week ago. Where did you get this?”

“It was in Pinkie Pie’s room,” I respond before I can catch myself. Twilight grins smugly, but hands the book back to me. Clever mare, for a bookworm. It’s easy to forget she’s smarter than she looks, and she’s smart-looking as she is.

“I’m sorry, by the way,” I tell her. “I shouldn’t have–”

“Don’t think about regrets, right?” she says, her smile flickering like a candle in the wind.

We say our goodbyes. It’s suddenly a lot harder to leave than it was to say hello. I shoulder past the guards and they don’t give me so much as a second glance. The notebook in my trench coat suddenly seems a lot heavier than just paper. It’s raining again. I pull my coat close, and go for another light.

There’s a long walk ahead.