• Published 13th Oct 2011
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The Quiet Place - Aynine



Twilight fights against sinister manipulations, struggling to overcome a deep-seated darkness within. As she battles to preserve everything she cares about, she will sacrifice anything necessary to succeed. But the price of victory may be herself.

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Chapter 2: Battle Royale

The Quiet Place

By: Aynine

[Disclaimer: I own nothing of the MLP franchise and all rights are reserved by Hasbro and the respective parties involved.]

Chapter 2: Battle Royale

Uproarious laughter spilled into the air, much to the chagrin of Trixie. Twilight had dragged her from the stage area to play one of Pinkie Pie's favorite games: pin the tail on the pony. Despite the magician's confident belief that she would easily win such a trivial game, all she had managed to accomplish so far was to collide face first into the wall of the booth the target had been plastered onto. Her horn dug into the wood slightly and she had randomly placed the tail far enough to the side that she would've hit an invisible friend of the target pony instead.

"It was a good first try," reassured Twilight from behind her, suppressing her own laughter. It was an uphill battle with seeing that particular unicorn humiliated in good fun.

Trixie removed the blindfold and turned around to glare at the other unicorn, a hoof delicately rubbing by her horn. "I will win this game before the night is over!" she declared. Her words failed to add any sort of seriousness to the situation as more ponies keeled over in laughter, Rainbow Dash clutching her stomach as she howled. "What?" she barked, oblivious to the hilarity.

Twilight moved to her and took the blindfold, a genuinely happy grin stretching her face. "Oh, I'm sure you will."

"What's that supposed to mean?" retorted Trixie. She walked away from the target grumbling and Pinkie Pie stepped into place a few yards from it, another tail readied in her mouth. Twilight wrapped the blindfold over her eyes and spun her around. The party pony pivoted and twisted in an odd manner, but managed to keep herself balanced despite the dizzying rotations. She paused for a few seconds and aimed her head in random directions before moving slowly towards the target. Pinkie leaned her head forward and gently placed the tail almost perfectly on the target's rump. "How the hay did you do that?" cried Trixie.

Pinkie unwrapped the blindfold and beamed at her successful placing before turning to face the magician. "Pin the tail on the pony is one of my favorite games. I play it at all of my parties," she said proudly.

Before Trixie could say anything else, Princess Luna stepped up. "It is my turn," she announced. She took a tail into her mouth with the assistance of magic, and Twilight put the blindfold on her before spinning her around. Luna's starry mane twirled through the air and it gave a misty visual about the princess briefly. Stopping, she immediately staggered a few steps towards the target and pressed her face against it, nearly toppling forward into the wall.

"Very good, Luna!" cheered Twilight. The princess had placed the mark too high on the rump, but still closer than anyone else besides Pinkie. "Who's next?"

"My turn!" Rainbow Dash flew over the rest of the ponies and landed at the starting position, striking a confident pose. "I've got this. Watch and learn, Trixie." The magician stuck out her tongue and folded her forelegs across her chest. Snickering, Dash took the tail in her mouth and prepared herself. After she was finished being spun, she propelled herself towards the target far faster than any other competitor.

There was a small crunch as the pegasus hit the wall, and then slowly slid to the ground against it. "Hahaha, oh yeah! You sure showed me!" said Trixie between breaks of laughter with the rest of the contenders laughing with her.

Twilight hoisted Dash up with magic and set her on the ground out of the way. "You really shouldn't... umm... rush?" She seemed to question her own way of describing it rather than what had actually happened.

"Ow..." whined Dash, holding a hoof to her muzzle. She gently massaged it while glaring at the magician.

"Hey, at least you got pretty close," encouraged Scootaloo. She pointed to the target and Dash had managed to beat most players, though Luna was still closer.

"At least I beat Trixie." Dash stuck out her tongue at the magician before the next player stepped up.

"Allow me to show you how to properly pin the tail, Rainbow Dash," interjected Rarity. Trixie rolled her eyes as Twilight wrapped the blindfold over fashionista's eyes and placed the tail in her mouth.

Rarity was spun around and nearly fell several times before slowing to a stop. She gave a few more unintentional gyrations, and wavered with unsteady footing, finally managing to right herself without falling. She took several steps forward, wobbling unceremoniously from side to side, before leaning into the open air and falling face first onto the ground. Rarity groaned as Trixie fell to the ground and burst into laughter, leading the audience right back into the peals of joy.

"Oh, you certainly showed her!" the magician mocked. Rarity growled and contemplated hurling something at Trixie's laughing face until Twilight helped her up. "Thank you, dear. At least somepony knows some courteous sportsmanship." She shot Trixie a sour look before rejoining the rest of the ponies on the sidelines.

"Now now, ladies. There'll be no fighting here tonight." Twilight glanced between the dissonant unicorns. They huffed and turned away from each other. Shaking her head, she scanned the crowd. "Anypony else want a turn?"

A short silence followed before a waving hoof could be seen from the back. "I do, I do," chanted the owner. The crowd parted and a grey pegasus with a blonde mane and tail stepped up, a warm smile on her face. "I love this game."

"Alright, here you go, Derpy." Twilight passed her the tail and proceeded to spin her around several times.

The grey pegasus wobbled as she rotated, threatening to fall over, but she stopped instantly, her muzzle perfectly aimed at the target. She giggled and carefully stepped forward. Her movements were lined with heavy swaying, but she stepped up to the target and placed it between Pinkie's and Luna's marks, barely taking first place. "Did I win?" she asked in response to a sudden bout of cheering, slowly removing the blindfold.

"What!?" blurted Trixie. "How can you ponies be so good at this game? It makes no sense."

"Oh settle down, Trixie. It's just a game for fun," Twilight said soothingly. To her disbelief, Trixie simply rolled her eyes.

"Fine, fine..." Her eyes locked with Twilight's momentarily, a knowing look in them, before she ripped them away and looked elsewhere.

What was that? Twilight thought to herself.

The magician's complaints ultimately faded away completely and Rainbow Dash stepped up to the winner. "Wow, Derpy. I didn't know you had such a great sense balance and direction." She snatched her right foreleg and stood up, raising it into the air. "Our new 'Pin the Tail On the Pony' champion!"

The crowd offered claps and woos as Pinkie investigated the winning mark carefully. "Wow. She actually beat me. You're really good at this game, Derpy."

The grey pegasus blushed. "Aw, you guys. I just got lucky. It was nothing..."

"Ah come on, Derpy. Nopony ever beats Pinkie Pie at her favorite games," reminded Dash.

She gazed into the cyan pegasus's eyes and lost herself for a moment. "If you say so..." she muttered absentmindedly.

Twilight grabbed Trixie and pulled her back to the stage. "Hey, what do you want?" Trixie asked as they stopped.

"N-Nothing..." started Twilight, looking down and rubbing one foreleg with the other. "I was just wondering what you're going to be doing from now on. You know, now that your magic career is going to be back on track."

Trixie eyed her curiously and grabbed the brim of her hat, pulling it slightly down over her eyes as she idly examined the Element of Magic. "What do you care what I do and where I go after tonight?"

Twilight bit her lip, but still could not bring herself to face Trixie. "I was just wondering is all..."

The magician looked back over to the crowd playing games. A heavy silence fell between them while she watched the game start over again. Each of Twilight's friends happily joked about each other's failures and praised their successes, none bitter or jealous of another. She smiled faintly, obscured slightly by the shade cast by her hat and the night overhead.

"If you must know, I'm going to be centralizing my acts in Canterlot. It's the best place to perform and gain fame for a magician like me. There are always grand shows to do and the capitol would give me the greatest opportunities and access." She continued to watch the ponies take their turns, her faint smile fading away.

"Oh, okay." Twilight couldn't think of anything else to say. She wanted to say anything to keep the awkward silence away, but nothing came to mind as she kept her gaze averted. Say something, you dummy!

"Aren't you going to be living in the Canterlot castle?" Trixie looked back to the other unicorn, her own curiosity highlighting her eyes.

Twilight finally brought her eyes to Trixie's. "Yes, as a student of the princesses, but-"

"Hmph. Living the high life mooching off of royalty, are we?"

Twilight's cheeks suddenly flushed and burned. "I am not mooching off of the princesses! I've worked very hard to get to where I am," she responded indignantly.

"Oh, really? You're her famed protégé, hoofpicked right from the start. Did you ever even try to challenge yourself?" Trixie's own cheeks burned while staring at the other unicorn.

Twilight stomped her left hoof. "I challenge myself every chance I get in my studies. What about you, huh?"--she pointed her right hoof accusingly at Trixie--"Have you ever even tried to be nice and make friends, or is that too much of a challenge?"

The magician seemed taken aback at first, but quickly bared her teeth. "Of course I have. I... They..." Staring into Twilight's eyes, she lost the fuel for her frustration. Suddenly, everything seemed so regretful to her. When the crowd to the side began to take notice of their argument, she quickly pulled her hat down and turned to the back of the stage. "Perhaps this is a conversation best finished in private."

Twilight looked at her friends and nodded her head casually. They resumed their games and she pulled the magician behind the stage's curtain. It was darker behind it, but it gave a calming feeling to both mares. "I know you're better than this, Trixie. You are better than other unicorns, but you flaunt your talent and you don't try to become a better pony."

Trixie pulled away from her. "You know nothing of me. You're just a royal pet who receives all the training of one."

"Really? Is that what you think?" Twilight moved closer, forcing Trixie to turn around with a hoof. "You never even thought to ask about me. All you've done is assumed things. Why not get to know me first?" She calmed down as she went on, and Trixie felt herself soothed by the other unicorn's voice while outside of the limelight. Despite all of the friction between them, this was the first time she felt truly comfortable around her.

Trixie attempted to look her in the eye, but faltered and glanced to the back of the curtain instead. "I just... I..."

"What is it, Trixie? What's wrong?" she asked.

The magician blushed fiercely, but there wasn't enough lighting behind the curtain to see it, only the high moon's pale glow adding its majestic tint to the darkness. Part of her wanted to run, but part of her wanted to stay--no part of her wanting to act.

"You," she replied suddenly.

She turned, and in a single, fluid motion, leaned forward and brought her lips to Twilight's, closing her eyes. Her chest felt like it would burst, her heartbeat abruptly pounding into a quick rhythm. She found herself unconsciously leaning further into the other mare's space. Her hat fell off and revealed tears rolling down her cheeks from clenched eyes in the moonlight. She poured all of her soul into that unexpected action, letting herself be free in the moment.

Twilight leaned back slightly as their kiss deepened. Her mind deadlocked and the world slipped away with every attempt she made to grasp it. Shocked at first, she soon closed her eyes and leaned into the kiss and moaned, gently wrapping her forelegs around Trixie and pulling her closer.

They broke apart gasping, Trixie doing her best to suppress the noises, and Twilight releasing the embrace. The magician turned away, fearing to look at Twilight for no discernable reason. She snatched up her hat with a quick motion and bolted off of the back of the stage and into the night.

"Trixie, wait!" cried Twilight. She began to run after her, but a puff of smoke consumed the magician after only a few steps. When the smoke cleared, the magician had completely vanished into the darkness. Twilight desperately scanned it, but she couldn't tell which direction she had run. She fell to her haunches and pressed a hoof to her lips, a furious blush unknowingly covering her face. What... was that? she wondered. After a long moment of staring off to where Trixie had vanished, she let out a long, drawn out and pained sigh. She finally perfected her disappearing act... She didn't know how long she'd sat there alone in the darkness, but she heard hoofsteps approaching after a while.

"Hey, Twi, are you and Trixie still back here?" Applejack poked her head through the curtain and into the darkness, peering in as her eyes adjusted. She couldn't make out any of the unicorn's features in the dark, but she could see her body shuddering slightly. "What're yah doin' back here? Some'a the other folks wanna see another round of Trixie's magic if she's up for it."

Twilight shook her head and turned to meet her friend's wondering eyes. She ran a hoof across her face, then rubbed the back of her head casually. "Oh, she had to leave. She has to get some rest and prepare for more shows. Sorry."

Applejack shrugged and motioned for her friend to follow. "Aw. That's too bad. C'mon and join us for some more games. We're doin' some apple bobbin' and I thought yah might want in." Twilight stared through her, rather than at her, for a moment before snapping back to reality, noticing Applejack had closed the gap between them. "Are you really alright, sugarcube?" the farm pony added in a whisper

"I... uh..." Twilight managed between her mind's shifting explanations. "I'd just like to be alone for a little while, if that's okay."

The earth pony looked her over with sympathy. "Alright. Yah let me know if you need anythin', anythin' at all."

"I will..." Applejack moved to step through the curtains, casting one last concerned look to her friend before she disappeared through them. Twilight slumped back to the floor and covered her head with her hooves, allowing her mane to blanket her eyes. "Why... wouldn't you just talk to me, Trixie? We can at least be friends... or maybe... or maybe... I don't know..."

The farm pony returned to her friends just in time to see Rainbow Dash dunk her head in for an apple. Scootaloo and Derpy stood next to her, each eager for their own turns. The cyan pegasus reeled out of the water with an apple locked into her teeth. "Ay, Abbleack. Warez Wilight?"

"Oh, really. Must you speak with your mouth full?" Rarity said with a wry look. She groaned as Dash chomped down on a large bite and caught it in a hoof, making sure to noisily chew it. "I know you're enjoying this," she added, rolling her eyes and threatening to crack a grin.

Derpy stepped up and dunked her head in deep enough to reach the bottom. Threatening to fall in, she immersed herself up to her waist before popping back out with a particularly enormous apple clutched in her teeth. She stood up and let the apple fall into her hoof. "Did I win?" she asked innocently.

Rainbow Dash's jaw hung open as she marveled at how the fellow pegasus managed to acquire such a large fruit solely with the use of her mouth. "Derpy, you really gotta stop one-upping me or the Wonderbolts might take you instead!"

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that, Rainbow Dash." She smiled and began eating the apple.

"Why's that?" pressed Dash.

"Why's what?" returned Derpy absentmindedly.

Before Rainbow Dash could question her further, Princess Luna moved up for a turn. "Allow me to indulge myself in this game for an apple." Luna dunked her head in, her mane spreading out over the top of the water and obscuring it with a starry pattern until she pulled out with an apple, also larger than Dash's. As she pulled away, her magical mane pulled off of the top of the water, completely dry and unaffected. "It seems the grey one has outdone even I." She cast a surprised glance to the winner.

Derpy beamed while Dash let out an exasperated groan. "How am I supposed to earn some cred if you guys keep beating me?" They laughed and she offered a disgruntled look before caving and joining in on their merry expression.

"Yeah, Rainbow Dash. We're sorry, but we think Princess Luna and Derpy Hooves would make better additions to the Wonderbolts than you," chimed in Spitfire teasingly. She patted the newest member on the head and the laughter only grew in volume. Dash flushed and looked around nervously for a moment.

As the laughter died down, Luna glanced in several directions. "Wherever did Twilight go?"

"Ah, she just wanted some alone time." Applejack motioned off toward the darkened stage curtains.

Luna nodded to her and moved towards the stage. "I shall see if she is ready to join for some more fun." Twilight wants some alone time on a night like this? What could be the matter?

The princess of the night stepped through the curtains without checking and immediately found the younger mare in a sorrowed heap on the floor. "Twilight?" she asked hesitantly, softly. "Is something the matter?" The unicorn on the floor raised her head with tears in her puffy eyes. Luna sat down and pulled her into an embrace. "Tell me, Twilight. You are always welcome to speak to me, no matter what."

The unicorn sniffled several times before she could enunciate anything coherent. "I-I think I'm"--she huffed and wiped her face again--"...in love." Her eyes burned as more tears streamed down her cheeks with the unsteady confirmation, her body shuddering. The final interaction of the night played over in her mind, a haunting memory of 'what if' lining the imagery.

Luna's brows lowered at first, but then her expression softened. "Dear Twilight, are you really in love now? With whom do you hold such a powerful affection for?"

"Trixie," she answered all too quickly. "She kissed me, but before we could talk, she just... ran away. Was it... my fault? I didn't think I did anything wrong..." She peeked up to Luna's sympathetic face in hopes of finding an answer from just her expression.

"Of course not. I know in my heart that there is nothing you could have done wrong, Twilight."

"Then, does she still hate me? Why did she kiss me? Why did she run away? Why can't we just be friends, or...?"

Luna grabbed Twilight and sat her up in front of her and smiled. She flinched beneath the mighty, yet gentle touch of the alicorn. "Twilight. I have lived for thousands of years and have witnessed love blossom and fade within the hearts of many. With these millennia of wisdom, I can only tell you that love makes ponies do unusual, unpredictable things that cannot always be comprehended. Everything they do expresses something in relation to their love or their true inner feelings." Twilight continued to stare at her with mild confusion.

"If she loves me, then why did she run away? I just..."

Luna gently pressed a hoof to Twilight's mouth. "Perhaps she is fearful of your love--or her own. Maybe she is not ready for it."

"But... she kissed me..."

"I believe she has shared one of the deepest parts of her soul with you. As I said, she might not have come to terms with her feelings yet."

Twilight looked to the floor for answers, the wood planks offering her no wisdom or comfort in the situation. After several minutes of silence, she huffed one last time and wiped her eyes. Rising to her hooves, she smiled weakly. "Thank you, Luna. I'll give it some time and talk to her in Canterlot."

"I am always here for you, Twilight. If you truly love this mare, I shall support you and encourage you to chase after her heart... despite my own initial reservations."

Genuinely shocked by the response, Twilight blinked a few times. "What? You don't like her? She's a very talented unicorn, though. She can be nice, too!" she insisted quickly.

Luna chuckled and ran a hoof over the purple mare's head. "Oh, Twilight. My sister will always trust in your motives if she sees you lie. While I played along, you are a terrible actor. I know that it was not your idea to lie, but I was curious of the implications."

Twilight blushed as she realized just how deep the princess's wonder went with that statement. "I... uhh... I didn't think of that at the time."

Luna chuckled and pulled her into a hug. "Not consciously, for that I am sure."

Twilight's blush only grew. Her cheeks burned in embarrassment, but she smiled sheepishly anyway. "Thank you, Luna."

"Let us rejoin the others. I believe the Wonderbolts intend to inebriate Rainbow Dash as a sort of initiation ceremony." Twilight giggled at the thought of Rainbow Dash getting drunk with her idols and Luna smiled as the unicorn's sadness melted away completely. They left the back of the stage and returned to the others. Chanting could be overheard as they neared a table of alcohol surrounded by ponies.

"Chug, chug, chug, chug!" they all repeated merrily.

Rainbow Dash was downing an unusually large mug of a frothy beverage. She managed to reach the end and slam it on the table, a mildly distant look of euphoria and triumph taking hold of her features. "What now!?" she shouted, pointing a taunting hoof at Spitfire.

"Oh, you think you're gonna challenge me?" she retorted.

"You betcha. C'mon hot shot. Can you beat that?"

Spitfire frowned, but she appeared to have already been consuming alcohol before the unofficial drinking contest started. "You're on!"

Applejack grinned and refilled their mugs. As soon as they were given a signal they began chugging down the next mug. Spitfire stopped halfway and Rainbow Dash managed to finish the second mug in a single gulp. Slamming the mug on the table again, she raised both forelegs into the air and cheered. She began dropping herself back down to the table to impart a victory speech. Twilight couldn't quite decipher what she tried to open with, but Dash's supporting hoof missed the table and her jaw slammed onto it hard before she rolled off and onto the ground. Spitfire fell onto her back howling with laughter, and the rest of the crowd immediately joined in at the hilarious action.

Derpy cringed and picked Dash up and set her on her back. "Was that really a good idea?"

"Don't worry, she's fiiiine," Spitfire said, rolling her eyes. "Every Wonderbolt gets tricked into drinking until they pass out." The fiery pegasus stood up and patted herself down before sipping casually on what remained of her drink. "She's going to wake up pretty hungover, buuuuuut her first show isn't for a few days. She'll be good by then."

"Wow, I didn't even know she drank," remarked Scootaloo. She peered into the bottom of the empty mug then took it to sample the last few drops. She made a funny face and frowned before setting the mug down. "Blegh. How can anypony drink this stuff? It's so weird."

Spitfire chuckled and put a hoof on her shoulder. "It's an acquired taste."

"Now fer a real drinkin' contest. Anypony think they can drink me under the table?" challenged Applejack.

"Eeyup," said Big Mac, stepping forward.

Applejack cringed. "Awright, anypony think they can drink mah brother under the table?"

To Twilight's surprise, Princess Luna stepped up with an unusual look of subtle excitement. "I challenge thee, Big Macintosh."

Applejack opened up a new keg and refilled their mugs. Setting them down, she rubbed her hooves together in an uncanny anticipation. "Awright. Big Macintosh versus Princess Luna! On your mark..." The two looked into each others eyes. "Get set." Big Mac a fiercely stoic stare while Luna held a smug, but subdued expression. "GO!"

Both ponies took their mugs and downed them with little effort. The next round began as quickly and they continued their drinks for ten minutes, as fast as Applejack could keep them filled, before the effects began to hinder their capacities.

"Thou art a formidable opponent." Luna frowned as Big Mac swayed slightly, but didn't seem to falter much more. "We are ready for another round!" The mugs were refilled on command and they began drinking them sip by sip. After finishing them, both ponies threatened to topple over similarly to Rainbow Dash's graceless fall. Twilight moved to support Luna, but she pushed out a hoof to ward her away. "We shall not be defeated!"

"But princess, I don't think-"

"Silence. We must prove ourselves triumphant." The princess's archaic dialect had taken over, but thankfully she seemed too drunk to put any effort into shouting with the royal Canterlot voice. Twilight watched as Applejack filled their mugs one last time and then handed one to her.

"Ee..." Big Mac paused, staring apprehensively at the murky liquid.

"What's wrong, Big Mac? Are you gonna let the pwetty widdle pwincess win?" taunted Applejack.

His apprehensions vanished and he glanced up at Luna. The princess had already begun sipping on her mug and he attempted to chug his. Big Mac managed to finish his before her. Rather than slamming the mug on the table, he gently set it down and turned to walk away. His first step caused his foreleg to buckle and he hit the ground, already passed out. Luna finished her mug sip by sip and grinned.

Applejack's jaw appeared as if it might unhinge and hit the floor as she looked at her brother in disbelief. "I don't believe it! Somepony actually drank mah brother under the table!"

"Hah-ha!" Luna reached for Twilight, drawing her the rest of the way with her magic, and picked her up, twirling around. The latter dropped her own now-empty mug. "We are the victor, Twilight! We are triumphant!" They spun around and around until Luna fell backwards and dropped them both. Twilight landed on her unsteady hooves and caught the princess in her magic.

"Uh, I don't know what Celestia is going to think about this..."

"We are too drunk to care!" Luna beamed in drunken bliss, but her inebriation had left her in no shape to walk.

Twilight set Luna graciously upon her own back, her legs dangling over hers, and smiled, and forced up a smile as the additional weight began to wear into her. "Hey, Pinkie. I think I should get her to bed. Tell Spike that I'll be spending the night at the library." The party pony nodded and Twilight walked beyond the clearing and into the night, slow, steady steps leading her down the road.

Luna occasionally offered incoherent murmurs and thanks, but her mane constantly shifted into Twilight's face. "Luna, do you mind? I'm trying to see where I'm going."

"But it's funnn," the princess whined amusingly. She moved her obscuring mane out of the way and Twilight almost fell trying to stop when Derpy appeared floating just in front of her. She skid to a stop, her legs wobbling, but she managed to keep steady.

"Wow, you can carry her while flying? I didn't know you were so strong, Derpy."

The pegasus put on a shy smile and rubbed the back of her head. "Oh, she's really not that heavy. Anyway, I'm going to drop her off in Canterlot. I can pass a message along to Princess Celestia while I'm there if you'd like."

Twilight craned her neck around to glimpse the drunk princess drooling on her back. "Yeahhhhh. Tell her Luna is spending the night with me in Ponyville." Her eyes wandered up to the clear night sky, stars flickering proudly beside beaming constellations in their majestic arrangements. Her gaze flowed down the road and out of the city, landing on illuminated city of Canterlot. "Can you tell her to get me a schedule of all of Trixie's magic shows, too?"

"Sure, no problem, Twilight. Have a good night." Derpy chuckled as her eyes shifted to Luna.

"Too late," chimed in the princess with a goofy grin. Neither of the burdened mares could hide their laughter as they parted ways.

Twilight walked on to the library and reached a hoof out to knock on the front door, but hesitated. What am I doing? She inwardly scolded herself and pushed the door open, stepping into the darkness within. Operating on memory, she moved to the stairs and ascended up to her bedroom, finding her old bed still made with her favorite starry blanket. Plopping Luna down, she opened a nearby closet and found a telescope still resting inside. She quickly reassembled it and stepped out onto the balcony and placed it in the center, adjusting it as she prepared to use it. Peering into it, she pointed it to no direction in particular, occasionally rubbing her sore shoulders. This has been an interesting night...

***

Derpy soared through the night, periodically closing her eyes and breathing in the cool air. Despite the athletic and inebriated pegasus resting on her back, she continued to fly at a brisk pace. Dash shifted and mumbled in her sleep every now and then. Aided by the euphoria from the alcohol, she dreamt of herself flying and performing tricks with the Wonderbolts, drinking in the fame and splendor.

At least now I can keep an eye on you. I owe you that much, thought Derpy.

The pair managed to make it all the way to the base of Canterlot, but Derpy was too exhausted to make the final vertical ascent to the city itself. Sweaty and panting, she found an idle nightshift carriage at the mountain's base to catch a ride. She trudged over to them, catching her breath and straightening herself as she neared.

"Oh, had a bit too much fun tonight?" asked a rather young looking colt. Derpy couldn't make him out very well in the dark, but he had a short, dark mane and monochrome coat.

Derpy craned her neck to look at Dash's sleeping face and blushed furiously in the darkness. "Uh..."

"Hey!" An older stallion smacked him on the backside of his head as he came into view. "Such questions are rude, especially to a senior officer! Show some respect!" He had a gruff mustache and the ends seemed to flutter with the emphasis in his scolding breaths.

"I'm sorry, miss..." The colt rubbed the back of his head with a pained look.

"Forgive my new co-worker. Welcome back to Canterlot, Commander Hooves."

Derpy bowed her head graciously. "It's no problem at all. Thank you." She gave another glance to Dash. "She had all the fun. I'm just the designated flyer tonight." Throwing up another grin, she quickly ducked into the carriage.

Whispers were exchanged between the colt and the stallion, but Derpy ignored them and laid Dash across her lap. She chuckled when the colt loosed a small yelp of pain, likely due to being smacked in the head again. Soon the carriage rumbled forward and took to the skies, ascending the Canterlot mountain in a long-winded spiral.

She glanced down to Dash, gently stroking her chromatic mane, then gazed out of the window next to her thoughtfully. You're lucky, Rainbow. Everything is right where you want it to be right now... but maybe there's something more. Something you haven't seen yet.

The carriage shook slightly as it touched down onto a paved road. "We're here," called the stallion.

Derpy blinked as she registered the Canterlot architecture, and snatched up Rainbow Dash before stepping out into the streets. Despite that the buildings were still illuminated by the pale glows of street lamps and the occasional neon sign, the vibrant white scheme of Canterlot's alabaster concrete was dulled by the night. Even in the late hours ponies still shuffled through the main streets with a subtle energy to them. Derpy took in a deep breath of the crisp city air. "Thanks, guys."

She walked down the streets, shooting listless look through every window and at every sign, but stopped when she caught sight of a familiar unicorn crossing the street ahead. The magician...? Derpy observed her, noting the magician's head hung low, and walking so slowly that others were passing her and offering looks of concern. "Hey, Trixie!" she called out just loud enough for her target to hear.

The magician's head shot up. "Who is that..." she mumbled. She turned to see Derpy walking towards her, and failed to immediately recognize her, but she noticed Rainbow Dash laid out on her back. "What are you two doing here? What do you want?"

"I'm dropping Rainbow Dash off at her hotel. The Wonderbolts ended up getting her a bit too drunk. Do you know where they're staying? I forgot to ask before I left."

Trixie frowned, shooting her an incredulous look. "You're just here to spy on me for Twilight, aren't you?" she hissed.

"No...?" Derpy wasn't sure if her own inflection was one of confusion or curiosity. "Did something happen?"

Trixie paused and looked them both over before sighing. "It's none of your business." Without looking, she pointed down the street she was walking. "The Wonderbolts are staying at the Starlight Grand Hotel ahead."

"What about you?"

Trixie harrumphed and continued along the same path ahead of her. "I will not divulge the location of my dwelling to you. You're probably keeping tabs on me." She turned herself and prepared to continue walking.

Derpy rolled her eyes. "Twilight already is. I was just asking is all. You don't have to be so defensive."

The initial words seemed to invoke some form of bubbly curiosity in the magician. She snapped herself back to Derpy and closed the distance between them. "R-really?" she asked so suddenly Derpy stepped back instinctively.

"I thought you hated her or something."

Trixie turned away and looked across the city to one of the Canterlot castle's observatory towers. "I never hated her... I just..." She turned back to look Derpy in the eyes, a pained look of regret casting on the unicorn's features. "I don't know. She's Princess Celestia's protégé. I was so jealous of her magic back in Ponyville. I've worked so hard to get to where I am, but she's always had a head start."

Derpy stepped closer and placed a hoof on the magician's shoulder, offering a reassuring smile. "She's always making new friends. Maybe you're just not ready to open yourself up. It...," she hesitated and glanced to Rainbow Dash, "takes time... I know all about what it's like."

"Do you... Do you really think we could be together--I mean friends?" she corrected herself quickly. "I like her, but I have a reputation to keep and her upbringing just makes me so mad." Despite Trixie's intent, her words came out with an adorable, frustrated inflection instead of one with genuine jealousy.

"You can't wait forever. You'll never know if she feels the same way unless you talk to her."

"What about you? Have you asked her?" said Trixie while pointing at Rainbow Dash.

Derpy blushed furiously, her jaw fluttering open while she attempted to find a response. "I... uh... No," she confessed, lowering her head in defeat. "I know what you're going through, though." Trixie stared at Dash's sleeping face before letting out a small snort. "...What?" Derpy responded confusedly.

"I kissed Twilight."

"What?" repeated Derpy.

"I kissed her and I just... I ran away like a coward." Trixie looked away, the markings of a wistful smile on her face.

"At least she knows. Relationships take time. Rainbow Dash thinks I'm still a klutz..." Derpy put a hoof to her chin before chuckling. "Well, I guess I still am, but that goes for anypony."

Trixie tilted her head towards the hotel and sighed. "If Twilight did ask, I'm staying there as well. She would just find out eventually anyway." Her face flushed and she shook her head suddenly. "Sh-she doesn't get my room number, okay?"

Derpy giggled and nodded. "I wasn't going to ask. You two can talk when you're ready, but I don't think she's the type to give up."

"Thanks." Trixie reached up and pulled the brim of her hat a bit lower. "I'm going to the bar. Good luck with your..." Her eyes trailed from Derpy's face to Rainbow Dash, now drooling onto the grey mare's back in her drunken sleep. "...Romantic pursuits."

The trio continued to the hotel in silence and split at the lobby. Derpy gained the location of Rainbow Dash's room from the clerk and propped her up outside the door. She gently smacked the Wonderbolt a few times to wake her up, finding slight amusement that she could sleep so soundly given her energetic nature. "Hey... Hey, wake up!"

Dash shook her head a few times before opening her bloodshot eyes and wiping her mouth of saliva on instinct. "Wha... what? Where am I?" She blinked a few times, still groggy and lost. "Derpy?"

"Hey. I brought you to your hotel. You seemed a bit too drunk to go anywhere on your own."

"You could've just brought me home... Wait a minute." Dash stood up quickly, but shakily, and whipped her head around. "You flew me all the way to Canterlot? Whoa..." She collapsed back down with Derpy catching her before she could hit the floor, her head suddenly swimming. "I didn't know you were so strong, Derpy." They stared into each other's eyes with Derpy blushing and Dash's face flushed from the alcohol.

N-Now or never...!

Derpy leaned in and pressed her lips to the other mare's. Dash put up a shocked look that quickly faded into her eyes narrowing and finally closing. Derpy could taste remnants of the alcohol in her mouth and gave a soft moan as their tongues touched. Her cheeks burned, her tongue dancing inside of the other mare's mouth. Her heart drowned out all other sounds around as it pounded inside her chest, and after a few moments, she finally relented and pulled away, panting heavily.

"Derpy... have you always...?" Dash opened her eyes fully again and put a hoof to her mouth. A powerful blush overtook the color of her face in tandem with the alcohol's effects. Red clashing with cyan, Derpy procured Dash's room key and fumbled with it.

She hastily opened the door, picking up the other mare and carrying her in. To her surprise, it was a penthouse quality suite, completely furnished with every luxury the hotel could afford. Time was running out and she quickly set Dash onto one of the large cough in the entertainment area and darted back towards the door.

"W-wait. Where are you going?" Dash called while attempting to rise from the couch and face her.

Derpy turned around and smiled, tears glistening in her eyes. "I only kissed you... because I know you won't remember it tomorrow." With that, she closed the door behind her and left the drunken pegasus alone.

Dash slid back onto the couch and attempted to collect her thoughts. She replayed the events in her mind's drunken haze over for several minutes, but it only came as joyful memories she couldn't quite make sense of. Unable to truly understand what had just occurred, she closed her eyes and fell asleep, a happy hoof still resting on her lips.

Author's Note:

12/3/13 -- Should be getting around to adjusting this soon (gonna trademark that). Again, no heavy changes, just improvement on what's already there.

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