• Published 20th Aug 2013
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Evergreen, Act I - DoctorEvergreen



A traveling merchant arrives in Ponyville, bringing with him good tidings, strange commodities and a mysterious past.

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Chapter VI: Sincere Saint

Evergreen

Fan fiction by Grey McBoyd



Chapter VI

Sincere Saint


It was seven-twenty in the morning and Twi was just finishing up her project after another all-nighter. She had worked on it restlessly since she began two days ago and was very proud to have finished it before Doc’s inevitable departure. So, after she lethargically set her lab tools down and back into their kit, she happily pulled her tired body through the hallway, past Spike with a wave, up the stairs to her little nook of a bedroom and collapsed against the bed with an accomplished sigh. She enjoyed a nap that she would normally never dream of taking so early in the morning. She didn’t care though, she knew she needed it. Outside, the air was rich with the smell of the heavy rain that had died down overnight. Puddles lay as oddly shaped panes of glass on concave bumps in the dirt, refracting the morning sunlight that contacted their surfaces. At the town square, Doc was inside of his caravan, setting up certain pieces of machinery for a task he planned for later in the day. He felt glad that his trip here had gone so smoothly, just as every other visit to Ponyville he’s ever made. He was in the middle of placing a transparent tube in its rightful place amongst an array of machinery that looked like a large chemistry set, when he heard Dash’s voice from behind him.

“Hey Doc!” she said, sounding particularly happier than usual, like she was expectant of showing him something.

He turned around to see Dash leaning on the counter with both her elbows and two ponies he was unfamiliar with standing beside her. One had a coat the color of the mid-day sun and a fiery-orange mane that gracefully, frigidly and casually hung down along the sides of her head. The other was a colt with a coat bearing a somewhat lighter cyan than Dash‘s coat, along with a navy blue mane that flared backwards on his head and down his neck. Both of them wore goggles, the orange pony’s hanging around her neck and the blue one’s resting atop his brow. They looked quite interested with the design of the caravan’s outside as Dash concluded her salutation.

“I have some ponies I want you to meet.”

As she said that, the two ponies turned their gazes away from the caravan’s exterior and focused more on its interior, specifically at Doc with friendly smiles on their faces.

“I’d be happy to.” Doc replied to Dash as he looked directly at the duo and smiled back.

He stretched his hoof across the counter towards them in greeting. They happily shook hooves in the order that Dash introduced them.

“This is Spitfire, and this is Soarin.”

Doc’s eyes widened as he realized who they were.

“Wow!” he said, “…Um, sorry to bring this up if you’re on vacation or something, but I never thought I would meet members of the Wonderbolts, let alone their leader and star performer!”

The both of them grinned, followed by Spitfire responding with her beautiful voice that always had that ounce of spunk in it.

“It’s okay.” she said kindly, “After so many years of meeting fans, we’re kind of used to it.”

She gave a light, friendly sock at Dash’s shoulder as she said “fans”, followed by Dash laughing as she got into a tiny poke fight with Spitfire’s hoof to playfully push it away. Soarin watched the scene with a sort of sentimental look, speaking to Doc with his voice of leadership, experience, youth and daring.

“Yeah,” he said, “and through all our fans, we still find ponies that don’t tear us to shreds in the middle of the street.”

He looked back to Doc as he concluded.

“Ya know, ponies that are actually friends instead of hyenas.”

“I know what you mean.” Doc responded, “But anyway, what fortunate turn of events has brought us the honor of meeting you two in person?”

Dash began powering down the laughter from the tickle fight she and Spitfire’s poking evolved into.

“*hahahahah* *sigh* Oh, that’s right! I haven’t told you yet! I’ve actually known them for a while now.” she said, answering Doc’s question happily, “They instructed me a while ago when I visited the Wonderbolt Academy for a week. After that, we talked, did stuff and just sorta became friends.”

“Yeah,” Spitfire spunkfuly interjected, “and not to mention the fact that you saved our butts years ago when we were headed face first for the ground, unconscious after your friend kicked us in the face.”

Doc grew an exaggeratedly curious and funny look on his face as he quickly and repeatedly stole looks from both Spitfire and Dash. Dash responded to this by motioning both hooves at him in the “back off” sort of fashion, speaking in a friendly manner with a hint of laughing at the start.

“Okay! Okay! I’m sorry I didn’t tell you and I’ll make sure to give you the whole spiel later.”

She concluded by chuckling out the word “Jeez” as she smiled and looked away from his ridiculous expression, trying not to laugh any further than she already has.

“Wait a minute.” Spitfire mentioned as Doc returned to his normal self, “It’s been years since that happened and you still haven’t told him?”

“It’s not her fault.” Doc interjected, explaining to Spitfire before Dash could even give a word of response, “I’ve been up in the more mountain-y part of the country for the last few years, doing research and stuff, so I’ve kinda been out of the loop. In fact, this is actually my first time back, and now I’ve returned to my regular, old travelling schedule.”

“Ah!” Spitfire responded, “That makes sense.”

“Yeah…” Soarin added, “Well, I’m just glad Rainbow got to introduce us to you, especially at a time like this. We don’t take vacations very often.”

“You’re on vacation? From what?” Doc interestedly asked.

“Dude…everything.” Soarin satisfyingly answered, stretching his forelegs as he continued, “Two months straight of no shows, no flight camps, no schedules. Just Spitfire and I livin’ our lives the way we like, and it…is…awesome!”

“Yeah, it’s great!” Spitfire added, following Soarin’s blissful statement, “We barely started a week ago, and we’ve already run out of things to do in Cloudsdale. So, we decided to take a trip out here to the countryside, get a little taste of the nature we fly so high above everyday of our lives. We passed through a few small towns before deciding to come to Ponyville, and when we did, we made it our mission to eventually try out the spa, especially since we’ve heard so many good stories about it. We were approaching it from the skies, and who else would we find working on a cloud directly above the building.”

As she said that, she nudged Dash with her elbow.

“Yeah,” Dash responded, “When I was doing weather duty yesterday, they flew down to my cloud a few minutes after you left.”

“You should have seen the look on her face when we snuck up on her,” Soarin humorously commented, “absolutely priceless!”

Doc looked at the ground blankly and snickered at just the thought of what that must have looked like.

“Once we said hi,” Soarin continued, “calmed her down a bit *heh*, and talked a little, we practically spent the whole day together.”

“It was one of the best days we’ve been on vacation yet.” Spitfire added, “Just spending time with a good friend, no commitments, no limits, no schedules…”

“It really felt like we were just ponies instead of the superheroes someponies think we are.” Soarin added, concluding Spitfire’s sentence, “You need that feeling every now and then when you have lives like ours.”

In response, Doc just smiled…they had no idea how much he really understood how they felt.

“So…” Soarin began as he looked around Doc, into the caravan and at the machinery inside, “what’cha doin’?”

Doc turned for a moment to the mess of equipment, sounding a “Hm?”, then turning back once he realized what Soarin meant.

“Oh, I sell brews and potions here at the caravan, and every time I go somewhere, I sell out of most of them on the first day. I figured that rather than spend my time remaking this stuff on the trail to my next destination, I could just make the next batch here before I leave.”

“Are you leaving soon?” Spitfire asked.

“I’ve got until tomorrow at least, then I’ll probably be off for another year.”

“A year!?” Soarin asked in amazement, “Where are you headed that it takes you that long to get back.”

“Meh, anywhere really. It’s just that can’t stay in one place for too long.”

“How come.” Spitfire asked.

Doc was seriously beginning to notice a pattern, as if Spitfire and Soarin took turns speaking in the conversation. He chuckled quietly at what he noticed, then politely advised.

“I’m going to give you two a little fore-warning about me. ‘It’s a long story’ is an excuse I use a lot, so…sorry. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”

“You sound just like AJ.” Dash happily remarked, “*heh* Say, since this is like your last day, do you wanna join us? We were going to go practice some flying the way these two do every day somewhere way out of town.”

“That’s why we have these.” Spitfire mentioned, looking down at the goggles that hung from her neck by the strap, “We wear them whenever we practice, mostly for efficiency’s sake.”

“Cool,” replied Doc, “I’d be happy to join you.”

“Awesome!” Dash responded before leaning in closer to Doc over the counter and whispering to him, “Could you bring some of the…well, you know.”

She nudged him twice with her elbow as she finished.

“You’re lucky I still have some left.” he whispered back, “It’ll cost you extra.”

She rolled her eyes and placed fifteen bits on the counter, followed by Doc swiping the little golden coins into a money box he kept underneath the countertop at all times of business. He then walked to the other side of the caravan with a smile, opened an overhead cabinet, grabbed a strange, green bottle and placed it back on the counter as he asked the three pegasi.

“Well…shall we?”

*****

“Do we really have to travel this far? I don’t see a problem with just doing this above the square.” asked Doc annoyingly, the bottle that Dash asked for placed in the satchel he wore on his side.

The four of them were trotting along a trail far out from the reaches of town, looking for some open space to do their flight practice.

“*sarcastic gasp* Doc!” Dash exaggeratively said as she turned her head around to look at him, “Are you complaining? That’s not like you!”

Both Soarin and Spitfire, in that order at the front of the group, attempted to contain their snickers at the childish nature of the two friends behind them, but failed embarrassingly as Doc pouted with big, cartoonishly glistening eyes on purpose to act even more childish. After several seconds of making that face though, Doc broke the look of his alleged moodiness and laughed to himself while closing his eyes and looking down for a moment with a smile.

A few moments later, the group stopped as they heard Soarin speak.

“Okay…”

They had halted before a large area of free grassland. It teemed with life as small animals scurried around, flowers swayed in the distance and a surprisingly large amount of free-floating clouds hung above it in a slow, peaceful bliss. Soarin finished his sentence after taking in the beauty of the scene, taking a deep breath through his nose before he sighed out his next words.

“This spot should do just fine.”

“Well then what are we waiting for?” said Dash spunkfuly before she looked up and saw a cloud hanging directly above their heads.

She flared her wings with a crouch, then shot skyward for a few seconds before calmly landing and sitting on the cloud’s edge, looking down at her friends from about seventy-or-so feet in the air. Soarin and Spitfire flared their wings in an identical crouch, before they looked over to Doc who just had a sunny smile on his face.

“Oh…uh…sorry you can’t join us Doc.” Spitfire unfortunately remarked, “Guess you can just um…watch from down here.”

But before Doc could respond, both pegasi were surprised to hear Dash yell to from the cloud above.

“Oh don’t worry, just watch!”

Not knowing what to expect, they looked back at Doc in slight confusion, wondering what the heck she was talking about. Doc’s smile then changed from a friendly glow to a nearly devilish grin as he crouched down in what looked like preparation for a jump. Then, with a slight blast of dust from where he was originally standing, the pegasi watched as Doc rocketed through the air with a superhero-like bound, flying straight up to Dash’s cloud before landing perfectly on it as if he too was a pegasus.

The two pegasi stood in absolute shock to see such a leap from an earth pony, if that’s even what Doc was. They slowly, but naturally flew up to join the strange duet, their muzzles still amazedly agape. As they peaked over the clouds edge, their disbelief grew even more when they saw Doc standing true on the cloud’s cumulus, puffy surface, leaning against a taller section of it on his back with his forelegs crossed over his chest. They uttered absolute gibberish as they tried to comprehend what they had just witnessed, while Dash just sat on her bum with her knees bent upwards, laughing hysterically at their expected reactions.

“Sir…Madam…” Doc said, quickly cutting off their palaver and answering their unspoken questions, “When you said that you two needed to feel like normal ponies instead of alleged ‘superheroes’ every once in a while…you didn’t have a clue how much I agreed with you.”

After a pause of the Wonderbolt idols just staring at him in amazed thought, Dash broke the slight silence.

“Quite an interesting friend, ain’t he?” she said, finishing her incessant snickering.

She then rocked herself back and forth once from her sitting position, hopped out of it and landed back on all fours.

“But anywho, let’s get started already!”

Both of the pegasi blinked twice, slowly and widely to help snap themselves out of their trance, then Soarin shook his head rapidly, ruffling his mane and regaining his focus.

“Uh…why don’t we start out with a little race?” Spitfire suggested nervously.

“Yeah, that sounds…good.” Soarin agreed, the same unsure tone in his voice.

“Alright!” Dash responded simply, ignoring their uneasiness and jumping to one end of the cloud excitedly.

“Who’s first?” she asked, ready for whoever stepped up to the challenge.

Spitfire instinctively stepped forward, trying to act much calmer than how she really felt by giving Dash her signature cocky smile. Seeing that Dash and Doc were good friends, how Doc’s strange qualities didn’t faze her in the slightest, brought Spitfire back to her old self over a little time.

“You sure you can keep up with a Wonderbolt kid?”

“I know I can!”

The guys stepped back to the center of the cloud and faced the two mares as they stepped to one end of the cloud, prepared for take off, Dash counted down with “One…two…three…Go!” and they both shot off at jet speed.

The guys watched as the mares ricocheted from one cloud to another, veering through them gracefully along an unplanned, yet natural track of space between long lengths of cloud. It ran in many turns, curves and inclines until it came back to the other side of the cloud they started at (with a few tweaks from them here and there, of course). Although, the cloud where they began had an overview of most of the racing area, so both of the guys watched it side by side, a few feet from each other with Soarin almost directly on Doc’s right. Doc turned his head away from the race for a moment and looked at Soarin out of the corner of his eye. He noticed Soarin was frantically scanning the patch of cloud Doc stood on while his body still faced the direction of the race. When Doc turned his head to him, Soarin noticed it, yet continued surveying Doc’s hooves, unsure of what strange magic allowed this earth pony to stand in what should be a spot reserved for only winged creatures.

Soarin asked him with slightly increasing volume from start to finish, beginning with an almost irritated whisper.

“I still don’t get how the heck your doing that.”

“What can I say,” Doc responded after a momentary snicker, “it’s a long story.”

Soarin stopped his investigation in its tracks. With his neck still lowered in an inspecting fashion, Soarin looked up at Doc without changing the position of his head.

“*heh* So you do use that excuse after all.”

Soarin retracted his neck back to a straight and comfortable position.

“Well if you knew the actual reason,” Doc mentioned, “you’d be even more suspicious about me, and I’ve tried to keep that a secret from as many ponies as I can.”

Soarin spoke after a short pause of looking at a patch of cloud in front of him. “I’m sorry for asking such a rude question,” he said, “but…what are you…exactly?”

Doc looked at the cloud’s surface as well before he answered with a smile. “*heh* Sorry for the bad first impression but…”

He looked to Soarin and gave a close-eyed, wider and more innocent grin as he said nicely and without a hint of hesitation,


“I guess you could say I’m a monster…”


Soarin simply looked at the white stallion that stood before him out of the sides of his eyes, smiled, then reached his right hoof across his chest and at Doc. Doc looked at his hoof for a second with an interested face, then back up to him as he regained his smile. Doc reached his hoof up and grasped it firmly, giving a single up and down flick of the wrist.

“It’s nice to meet’cha.” Soarin said politely, “Whatever you may be and whatever your secrets are, I have the feeling we’re still gonna be great friends.”

*****

They heard and felt a loud thud against the cloud surface behind them, turning alertedly only to sense another strong thud very close to the first one. They saw Spitfire standing triumphantly as Dash lied stomach down beside her, hooves on her head as she spoke.

“*groan* I lost!”

“Still think you have it in ya ta take on a Wonderbolt, kid?” Spitfire said in friendly mockery.

Dash just looked up out of the pile of clouds that her muzzle and nose lay in with competitive furiousness. It was only the fact that Spitfire was a Wonderbolt and a friend that kept Dash from proposing an identical rematch…she had a much better idea than that.

“Alright then,” she said with a sly grin, “how about a little ‘high-stakes’ rematch?”

She got up quickly, motioning for Doc to pass her the bottle of celeritate before he did so without question.

“Thish bo’le,” she said while holding the container of celeritate in her mouth, then putting it on a table-high chunk of cloud next to her to speak better, “can do things for a pegasus’ speed that you wouldn’t even believe. If all of you, Doc included, can beat me in a race with this in my system,” she nudged the bottle with her hoof as she said this and continued, “I won’t drink another drop of it for the rest of my life.”

The two pegasi contemplated the offer for a moment, but rather than ask what the bottle of strange fluids did, they took turns asking two halves of the same question.

“Quite the offer,”

“But what does that do for us?”

With her hoof on her muzzle, Dash thought of how to answer. She wasn’t really thinking about their victory, but what reward hers would provide. They all turned to Doc as they heard his proposal.

“As much as I don’t like this deal, considering Dashie here is my cash cow for this stuff,” he said, “I have an idea of how to motivate you to win.”

He pointed to the Wonderbolt duet as he finished.

“How about, if Dashie wins, you train her for an entire month as if she was a new recruit to the Wonderbolts, starting the day after tomorrow.”

Dash could barely comprehend his proposition. Why didn’t she think of it sooner, an entire month learning from her fillyhood heroes! It’s perfect! The Wonderbolts contemplated this even further. Half of their entire vacation dedicated to the teachings of an old fan and friend, even if she saved their lives in the past….

“Okay,” Soarin said, “but you still haven’t said what we get if we win?”

Doc thought this through with a speculating groan that lasted several seconds as his eyes rolled to the top of their sockets, hoof on his muzzle…then it hit him.

“How about, regardless of whether you win or lose,” he began slyly, “you can have as much of the stuff in that bottle as you want when I’m in town, free of charge starting the day after tomorrow.”

They perked their ears at the proposition. They were oblivious of its effects, only knowing that it would give them some insane speed boost, a game changer for any performance.

“Deal” Spitfire said before Soarin looked at her, nodding in agreement with a smile.

Soarin looked as though a thought entered his head before he turned to Doc and made a good point.

“By the way,” he asked, “why do all the deal outcomes start the day after tomorrow? Why not just do them as soon as we can?”

“Because I’m leaving tomorrow and won’t be back for another year, remember?”

Their heads fumed. Even if they won, they weren’t going to be able to get any celeritate until Doc got back, he had tricked them.

“Why you little…” Soarin said to himself in a frustrated manner.

Doc had a devilish smile on his muzzle and his eyes were happily open and rolled to the top right of his sockets. Dash laughed at his brilliant negotiating skills before speaking to the duet.

“Well, you already said ‘deal’!” she mentioned before grabbing the bottle, hopping to the cloud’s edge and continuing enthusiastically, “So let’s get started!”

Soarin pouted at Doc for a second, then his lip quivered and he burst into an intense, joyous laughter. Spitfire was surprised by this and by him what he said to Doc a moment later with a smile.

“You really are a clever one.”

He lightly bumped Spitfire with his elbow.

“He’d make a perfect Wonderbolt, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, if he could fly.” she replied, “Speaking of which Doc, how do you plan to race us, not having wings and all?”

All Doc did for a response was give them the same devilish smile he did before he made his abnormal, skyward bound. They knew he could race them somehow, and it frightened them trying to imagine the possible methods. Doc stopped his devilish grin, switched it to a concentrated, but happily competitive glare and moved quickly to the cloud’s edge. He prepared himself in a sprinting position, as if he was going to run his way there. Crazy, but the Wonderbolts went with it anyway and prepared at the starting line as well.

“Okay,” said Dash spunkfuly, “on the count of three. One…”

She pulled the cork out of the bottle’s top.

“Two…”

She swigged it once, just enough. Her body suddenly buzzed as if hit with electricity, vibrating violently in a wave from her head all the way through her tail. She then opened her eyes, her pupils now the size of grains of sand as she concluded with a creepy, energetic and animalistic voice.

“Three!”

*****

They sped out of the starting line, the same as any other racing cliché ever written, as fast as lightning. Dash blasted ahead farther than any of them in the first second by yards. Her stance of flight was more bloodthirsty than that of an aerodynamic professional. The look on her face, eyes wide open, pupils flickering in place and near-pointed teeth sneering in a grin that spread from ear to ear, it showed a terrifying, animalistic effect the Wonderbolts had never seen before. The duet soared like the experts they had trained for years to be, but Dash’s “enthusiasm” left them a little…distracted. Doc’s method of racing them on this track of clouds, however, distracted them even more, leaving them completely baffled. Doc ran on the stretch of cloud to their right that was meant to be the barrier for the race track. What baffled them was not only the incredible speed that his hooves met the puffy surface, but the fact that he dashed like no pony ever should. He ran on his hind legs, leaning forward with quick, gigantic lunges with his forelegs neatly bent behind his back. His face displayed no actual emotion, only concentration in the winding track ahead of him and the placement of every hoof to keep himself stable, reason being that the simple act of standing on two legs was as hard as doing a handstand for ponies. Feats such as that are only seen in certain races throughout Equestria and peculiar sports throughout the world, but mostly in the myth of humans, an ancient race of beings that can walk on two legs, have appendages on their fore-and-hind legs and apparently are evolved forms of monkeys. Utter nonsense in the scientific world that ponies know, but I digress. Dash’s carnivorous attitude and Doc’s intense concentration drove ahead almost equally, leaving the Wonderbolts in a struggle to remain focused and even stay within the possibility of beating these strange, new opponents. The Wonderbolts persisted in competing under such different circumstances. Even though they both fell into last place constantly, they loved every minute of this race. They both knew that they needed a bout like this to get their blood stirring every once in a while, even if they were on vacation. They realized what they really needed was to find passion in racing once more, and this was the perfect place to have it surge into their skin like the wind against their faces. They zipped around every corner quickly and flawlessly, mentally denying the possibility of losing to an inexperienced, hotheaded friend who was hopped up on some sort of speed drug and a strange “earth pony” they could barely even believe was real. Dash bounced furiously from one side of the barrier to the other, ricocheting down the path in a horribly devastating ardor. Doc still zipped along the barrier with expeditious hoof work, refusing to simply jump the gap from one section of barrier to another and straight to the finish line. He wanted to have a nice clean race, not cheat after spending so much time in the slow paced world. They bent around every bend, slid up and down every slope and eventually began to approach the final terminus. Doc was ahead of Dash by several yards and she was ahead of the Wonderbolts by barely any more than that. Doc was about to claim victory, but decided to make a sort of “business” decision. He would lose such a mass of income from Dashie in his celeritate business should he win, and remembered that his victory held no reward, only a negative effect on a good customer and a legendary friend. So, he purposely threw one hind-hoof out in front of the other, tripping himself as he hit face-first against the cloud’s surface and let Dash wiz by him. His face lied in a pile of condensation, hind legs bent and hanging down above his head as he slowly slid just an inch before the finish line. It looked cartoony and hilarious, but all the same, Dash was victorious, followed by the Wonderbolts shortly after. Once Doc easily picked himself back up, he casually strolled onto the platform with a smile of accomplishment and joy for his friends on his muzzle. After several minutes of Dash letting the celeritate wear off by buzzing frantically in place, then promptly rubbing her victory in the Wonderbolts’ faces, they all decided to sit down in a circle in the middle of the platform to recollect themselves. Dash sat on one side of the circle, with Spitfire across from her, Soarin to her right and Doc across from him. Spitfire’s mane was no longer hanging from her scalp in a relaxed fashion, it was now blazed up, just as in the many shows and occasions she has attended throughout the country. The conversation started when they just began sitting down and Soarin spoke in an exhausted voice.

“That was *pant* quite a race.” he said before collapsing onto the cloud’s surface and into a criss-cross sitting position with a bouncy fwump, “We haven’t *pant* *pant* done something like that *pant* in years!”

They all followed his action, practically fainting onto the plushy texture of the brume with a comforting and joyous bounce, much like on a bouncy-house or trampoline. Doc sat on his hind quarters, bending his knees upwards slightly, grasping the kneecaps and letting his hind-hooves rest flat against the puffy alabaster. Dash sat with her hind-legs straight out from her pelvis, bracing herself up with the buckled elbows of her forelegs. Lastly, Spitfire sat almost identical to Dash, the only difference was her lean forward instead of backward and her forelegs and hooves resting limply on the muscle of her thighs.

“Likewise!” Doc replied to Soarin.

He was the only one of the four that didn’t look debilitated, despite the fact that his motions required the most energy and movement.

“It feels so good to get back into the fast track of life!”

He punched the air when he said “good” in a spunky emphasis, then relaxed as he continued.

“*hahahaha* *sigh* And I sure am glad I got to return to it with you three.”

They all looked to him as he said that, and gave subtle, miniscule simpers in return. They knew he was a good friend to feel that way, to care that much for both an old companion he’s known for years and two pegasi he barley met an hour ago.

“And it was a pleasure of ours” Spitfire replied, “to spend a day of our vacation meeting a pony like you.”

“Told you it would be awesome meeting him.” Dash commented, “You just wait ‘til you try some of the stuff I had. This guy here really knows what he’s doing when it comes to brewing it.”

In slight surprise, they both turned to him.

“Wait,” Spitfire asked, “you mean you make that stuff?! I thought you just trade for it with some insane potion expert along your travels. That’s incredible!”

Doc blushed a little and grazed the back of his neck with his hoof, looking to the bottom right of his eyes.

“Y…yeah, I do make it.” he responded, “It’s nothin’ to be proud of though.”

“Are you crazy?!” Soarin asked laughingly, “That stuff turned this little speedster,” he scuffed Dash’s colorful mane with his hoof like some sort of big brother, then continued, “into a freaking animal! *heh* I just hope we don’t have to race her like that during her Wonderbolt training.”

A second later, when Dash’s brain calculated what he just said, her eyes widened up to him and gleamed with ambition. She couldn’t believe she had just heard those words actually come from his mouth. She lunged a hug at him and clenched at his ribs while giving a loud, high-pitched, fan-mare squeal.

“So you’re sticking to our deal?” Doc asked him after chuckling once at Dash’s cuteness.

“Oh, of course!” Soarin responded, “I gotta say, it was clever how you tricked us, but your also just too nice of a guy for us to turn back on it now.”

He then changed his smile to a cocky grin as he mentioned.

“You just better hope you make enough of that stuff for your return. We’ll take every fluid ounce you brew up in one year’s time.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Doc replied, giving a friendly smirk.

Doc got back up on his hooves, stretching his back as he spoke in a pressured tone.

“Speaking of which,” he said, “I have to get back to the caravan. Finish up some brewing and what not.”

Dash stood up as well, stretching her hamstrings and rolling her neck until it popped.

“Yeah, I need to get goin’ too.” she said, “I better rest up and practice some more if I’m ever going to win a race against any of you.”

She looked to Doc as she continued.

“Especially if a certain somepony doesn’t let me win.”

Doc looked embarrassed for a moment before he asked.

“Too much slapstick when I tripped?”

Way too much.” she answered as she smirked in his direction.

Even with her senses under the stimulation of that revolutionary elixir, Doc couldn’t fool her. Nopony could if she didn’t allow it.

The Wonderbolts looked at the connection those two had, and could now see it for what it really was. Doc may be an unearthly being that doesn’t seem to fit right with the natural world, but they saw through that and to the ponies…the friends they knew. They could tell Doc at least belonged somewhere, and right here definitely seemed like a good place to start. Doc gathered his saddlebags and the bottle of celeritate he would have to clean out for the backwash from Dash, then made his way to the cloud’s edge that faced in the direction of town. The three pegasi could see it over Doc’s shoulders as he stopped at the brink, then spun around happily to the three pegasi with a smile.

“It’s been an honor to spend my second to last day with you all,” he said, “especially in the happy glow of a good, old-fashioned race. Be safe and farewell.”

He then fell backwards casually, slowly tipping off the cloud’s edge and out of sight.

*****

Twilight cracked her crusty eyes open, sensing the sunlight that warmed her face and painfully enveloped her eye sockets, informing her that naptime was over. She lifted her head up sidewise from lying on her left bearing when she soundly slept. She sat up, her mane ruffled like a dragon’s scales and her hind legs dangling off the edge of the bed. Her jaw gaped and her eyelids compressed as she gave a long, blissful yawn. She spun around slightly and looked to the clock, two in the afternoon. She would have raked herself over the coals for sleeping in so late, wasting so many hours of precious daylight, but all she felt like doing was smiling. She dazed in the warm afternoon grogginess of her siesta as she faced forward, yawning once again and scratching her loins while smacking her lips, lazily tasting her muzzle’s divide. She hopped out of bed and onto her hooves, feeling the soreness in her left bicep from being slept on. She rolled it twice and felt it pop deeply, then forced her legs to drag towards the door, en route to getting some lunch for her bellowing insides. As she waltzed to and under the kitchen’s wooden doorframe, she saw Spike standing on one side of the kitchen’s island countertop and wearing a chef’s hat as he placed the last finishing touches on a PB and J sandwich. He promptly kissed the tips of his thumb, index and middle finger like a cliché French chef and gave the customary “mwah!” sound that accompanied it. Twi snickered while leaning on the wood of the frame, catching Spike’s attention as he alertedly flicked his head and eyes in her direction. She almost appeared to be injured with how she slanted against the timber, but Spike knew as he saw the smile on her face and her half-closed eyes that she was just up and at’em out of her siesta, slothfully, but up and at’em all the same.

“Mornin’ Ms. Workaholic! Finally finish that thing you were working on?” Spike asked as he placed the freshly crafted sandwich onto a nearby plate.

“Finally,” she tiredly answered, rolling her eyes to the top of their sockets, then walking into and across the kitchen as she continued, “and boy am I glad I did.”

“What were you even doing that it took you that long to finish? A whole new spell for the world to adore you for and make you famous?”

“No *giggle*, it’s just a little thing I have planned for a certain somepony.” she replied before opening an over-head cupboard with her teeth and extending her neck to reach one of the glasses that waited inside.

Spike removed his culinary cap and walked behind Twi as she struggled a little to reach the glass. She succeeded a second later and took it from the cupboard as Spike placed his hat into a nearby drawer.

“Would that certain somepony happen to own a white caravan that comes into town once a year, or do you just feel generous for some stranger out in the town?” he asked sarcastically.

Twi brought her glass to an open space on the island just to the right of where Spike was working, then inverted her neck and gazed at Spike as she responded with a friendly and sarcastic tone.

“Who do you think, Mr. Smartaleck?”

“*heheh*” chuckled Spike, “My bits, if I had any, would be on the caravan-owning gentlecolt we both know and love. But I think I’ll just leave that for you to surprise me with. I like surprises.”

He walked back across the kitchen and to the fridge, opening it and pulling out a gallon jug of milk. He then picked up the box he was standing on while making the sandwich and placed it in front of the spot where Twi’s glass stood, forcing Twi to move a little to her right. He climbed up on it, struggling to lift the jug of milk with him as it weighed half as much as he did. He brought it to countertop level with a thud and great amount of strain, followed by Twi lifting the jug in the air with her magic, twisting the cap off and pouring it into the glass with graceful movements, like she was handling a feathery balloon. Spike pulled his top half onto the counter, letting his chest and chin contact against the countertop’s surface with a solid thump. He looked at Twi with an annoyed expression as sweat beaded down his scaly forehead. She looked back at him directly and squinted her eyes with a wide smile, giving him the face of a cocky, but joking show-off.

“Alright then,” she happily said as she bent her neck backwards and lifted her chin slightly higher than usual, closing her eyes and smiling, “I’ll leave it a surprise and reveal it to you soon enough.”

She lifted the glass of milk and plate with the sandwich on it in her magical grasp.

“Thanks for the lunch Spike.” she said, “I can always count on you, can’t I?”

Spike looked to her, smiled, then closed one of his eyes in a winking fashion, pointed his index finger up and his thumb out while keeping all other fingers closed, then tilted his hand at a ninety degree angle toward Twi. Twi stretched her already current smirk, then turned and left to enjoy her somewhat late meal in the afternoon sunlight.

*****

Twi just finished off the last drop of milk from her glass several minutes after she sat at her desk and began eating. She soaked in the sunlight that poured from the window just across her tabletop. Happily wiping her mouth with her wrist, she looked upwards to see her fluffed mane hanging just in sight over her brow. She wildly shook her head in a swivel, then dragged the side of he foreleg forwards down her scalp, straightening her mane almost as normally as if with a brush. She hadn’t actually thought that would work over the conventional and common use of a brush, but was glad it did all the same. She was honestly too immersed in relaxation to get up and put effort into any of her regular routines, let alone mane control. Yet, even in her complaisant state, something still muscled its way through the slothfulness that anchored Twi to her seat, motivating her to get up and go see Doc again. She knew she would have wanted to see him that day anyways, considering it was the last day he would be in town for an entire year. If there’s one thing Twi has learned since the day she left Canterlot, it was that a year felt a lot longer in Ponyville than it normally did. At the time, the date was a little under two months away from the anniversary of the day she arrived in town. Yet, as she reflected on it, the few years she had stayed here had already felt like a lifetime. So, she knew that to wait another year just to see a friend’s face again was going to be difficult for her, if not unbearable. Of course, while inevitable, Doc’s actual time of departure depended on whether he planned to stay a month or just leave tomorrow. Twi thought she already knew the answer, but still felt she had to check, knowing it would scrape at her mind all day if she didn’t. She hopped out of her chair and made way for the front door, opening it only to see a figure swing down from above, hang upside-down and stop its momentum just before crashing directly into Twi’s face. Doc smiled after stopping his upside-down face an inch away from Twi’s nose and happily yelled.

“Peek-a-boo!”.

She practically had a heart attack as she shrieked, instinctively rearing up on her hind legs, only to fall backwards with a slapstick thud against the Library’s hardwood floor. Doc watched her reaction with an interested expression, eyes slightly wider than normal and his lips compacted lightly to the tip of his muzzle. His expression changed as he saw Twi sit up and rub the back of her head with closed eyes and a little groan of pain. He knew it wasn’t serious and changed his expression from an inquisitive interest to squinting his eyelids slightly and giving a some what devious chuckle through his grinning teeth, a sort of cocky and malicious expression for him to perform.

“*heh* Still jumpy as ever I see.” he added.

“Well, forgive me for not expecting you to show up to my front door and suddenly become a ninja.” Twi said sarcastically before lightly yelling, “What the hay were you even doing up there?!”

“Just thought I’d give you a little buzz when I came to say hi.” Doc said happily before he curled his body inwards, detached himself from wherever he was hanging, tucked his head in and flipped mid-fall to land professionally in the opposite direction of the doorway.

“Sorry if I scared you.” he continued after standing back up and turning around casually.

“It’s okay.” she said while motioning her hoof in a dismissive manner, “I needed it anyway since I just got up from a nap.”

“A nap?” he checked his watch for a fraction of a second, “This late in the day? What were you spending all night working on this time?”

“Long story.” she said in a conceited, mocking tone and a grin that matched it perfectly.

“Ya know,” Doc loudly whispered with a hint of frustration, leaning forward at her with his neck, “you could just say ‘it’s a secret’.”

“Of course I could,” she replied, “but you of all ponies should know of the lack of fun in that.”

Doc stared at her in silence before squinting his eyes a little bit tighter, saying “Touché” before both of them chuckled happily.

“So, mister sneaky-pants, what are you up to?” asked Twi as she motioned a hoof over her chest, inviting him in.

“Oh,” he trotted inside, continuing while facing more of the Library itself, “just coming to see the last, but far from least of my friends that I visit on my second to last day here. It’s just a little tradition I have and I’ve already visited everypony else.”

He stopped and faced Twi as she asked him with a hint of sadness.

“Aw, so you are leaving tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Believe me, I would stay longer if I could, but I didn’t quite get as far ahead of schedule as I thought. I gotta leave tomorrow…or…”

He stopped himself, saying the last few words with a hint of concern as he turned his head away slightly.

“Or what?” Twi asked, suddenly exchanging her friendly tone for a worried one, “Is something wrong?”

Doc took a deep breath through his nostrils and out his mouth, eyes shut as he coped with personal thoughts and the sudden mood change of the situation. He opened his muzzle as if he was about to say something before they heard a voice carry over into the suddenly tense conversation.

“Care for a drink, doctor?”

They both turned in its direction to see Spike, smiling as he stood in a nearby doorway and held two bottles of water in his hands.

“Yeah…” Doc responded, startled tone and expression still evident until he looked down momentarily, slapped a smile across his muzzle within half a second, then looked back up to Spike and said in a much more calm intonation, “Yeah, that’d be great.”

Spike lobbed a bottle at him from across the Library foyer. Doc caught it by quickly flicking his left hoof up at it, but rather than catching it in his hoof, he caught it from about a foot away with the unnatural magic that radiated from his palm. Twi was once again amazed by this strange occurrence and carefully inspected his hoof from where she stood. As Doc twisted the cap off, tilted the bottle up at an angle and happily drank, she could see that this magic was different from the one she saw him use at Sweetapple Acres. The magic he had back then was green and used for healing, while this one was much more like the kind of magic a pony of Doc’s color would have, even if he wasn’t a unicorn to begin with. It was as white as his coat and appeared to be just like any other unicorn’s magic, but that was all Twi could survey in that short amount of time without appearing too obvious. Doc tilted the bottle back to its vertical position and gave a nice *Aaahhh* sound as he exhaled, the bottle was completely empty. He placed the cap back on it before lobbing the vacant bottle back at Spike.

“Think fast!” he said as he sent it at a much faster arch than its arrival, but still allowed it to land in Spike’s empty hand without knocking him back.

“Thanks little buddy.” Doc said before Spike simply replied while turning back into the kitchen.

His face grinned greatly as he winked at them, using his free hand to point, index finger straight, thumb bent and all other digits retracted, he gave same motion as he had given to Twi several minutes ago, the only difference being two clicks that sounded through his teeth. He faced back in the direction he was headed and marched on, opening the other bottle and taking a casual swig of it before disappearing around the corner. Both Twi and Doc stared at the doorway a little longer than necessary before Doc looked at the ground in front of him, sighed, then looked at Twi.

“You have some good friends, Miss Sparkle.” he said, “I plead that you never abandon them under any circumstances.”

She nodded once, slowly and fully with a timid smile and shut eyes. While facing her, he asked in a much lighter tone than before.

“Uh, sorry to ask, but I was wondering…Would you like to go back up to that hill with me? It looks really nice after a rainy day.”

She replied, lightening her tone as well.

“Oh, I’d be glad to! Would you like to go now?”

“Sure!” he answered happily, “I was actually hoping for that!”

He ran over to the door and opened it, letting the still lingering smell of precipitation flood through the doorway and into the foyer. He gestured with his hoof across his chest and a regal bow.

“Shall we?”

“Let’s.” she replied before proceeding out of the entrance.

Doc walked halfway under the doorframe, but looked back into the Library with his left hoof on the door knob, surveying the room once more with a slow scan from left to right with his head, then turning back and shutting the door as he left for what he thought would be a very long time.

*****

They trotted through town, stepping on tightly packed mud and into the occasional puddle that splashed up in a warm burst, heated from the constant sunlight that poured into it through the clouds of the light-grey sky. The two exited town and walked along the trail to the hill, eventually reaching it and hiking up its slightly steep slope, feeling the miniscule squishes that each step made onto the hill’s saturated dirt. As they reached the top, Twilight enveloped the beauty of the scenery once again. She relished the sight of the tranquil oasis at the base of the hill, surrounded by the grim and mysterious Everfree Forest and all overshadowed by the dark, towering mountain behind it, but still covered with the sunlight of the brilliant, white orb that hung in the sky above the tip of the sierra, blazing brightly as it pierced the grey clouds that blanketed the area with thin streaks of light. Twi took in the smell of it all through her nose, then exhaled out of her muzzle as Doc plopped against the dirt at the base of the tree. She joined next to him, sitting in a criss-cross fashion with her shoulders tucked in and her fore-hooves resting on the ground just beyond her hind legs, forelegs straight out from the front of her body. Doc sat on his backside, knees bent up, hind-hooves flat on the ground and fore-hooves on his knees, the same way he sat on the cloud a few hours ago with his pegasi friends. The two stared at the scenery for several minutes in complete silence, the only sounds being birds that chirped their own beauteous anthems and the occasional breeze swaying the leaves above their heads.

“So Doc…” Twi said as she broke the silence, catching Doc’s attention before continuing, “You never really did answer my question. What’s wrong?”

After a short pause, he took another deep breath through his nose and out of his mouth, same as before. Then, while looking out at the masterpiece of nature before them, he asked her in the same serious tone he had back at the Library.

“Do you know why I like this place so much?”

Twi was confused on what point he was making, considering they just talked about that the last time they were here. Doc clarified a moment later.

“And I don’t mean Ponyville, I mean here. This spot, on top of this hill, under this tree, the only place you can really see this” he motioned both of his hooves out at the scenery, “for what it really is. Do you have any idea why I like it so much?”

Twi was still a little confused on where he was going with this, but continued the conversation.

“Well,” she said, “I guess the view is kind of an obvious answer.”

They both laughed a little, then Twi continued with a smile.

“But aside from that, no, I don’t know why.”

“Alright.” Doc added as he nodded very slightly, not looking surprised at all that she didn’t know.

“Sorry for the stupid question,” Doc continued, “but do you remember what we talked about yesterday?”

“It’s okay, that’s not a stupid question.” she responded before giggling slightly at how sweet he was, then answering, “But yes, I do remember.”

“Okay, remember how I said that, to me, Ponyville has always been that little light in the darkness? The one that’s kept me going for so many years?”

Twi nodded.

“Well…” he paused, looking down the slope of the hill for a moment in thought before saying, “Take a look down there. At the oasis.”

They scooted up and changed their positions from a relaxed sit to more of a crouch, getting a better view of the beautiful oasis that sat at the forward base of the hill, surrounded by the dark and damp trees of the Everfree. Twi listened as Doc spoke with the tone and motions of a wise, passionate mentor.

“You see the oasis? How there’s nothing around it but black trees and swampy grass, but it doesn’t let that keep it from being beautiful?”

Twi nodded again, paying very close attention to whatever point he was getting at.

“Okay…” he said, “Now imagine the oasis is Ponyville.”

As Doc said that, his point suddenly clicked into place with the clockwork of Twi’s brain, making her understand almost instantly. But to keep herself from seeming like a know-it-all, she patiently listened as Doc describe the details in his own philosophical way.

“That little pond” he began, “sits in a place where the laws of nature dictate things to look like, what some would consider, pure evil. Water should be murky, grass should be grey, and any life forms, flora or fauna, should be built only to live a carnivorous and violent life. But, despite something as powerful as nature itself telling it what it should be, that little place has decided what it thinks is best for itself and the things around it. It has favored green grass, clean waters and self sustaining plants over the bleak and lonely lifestyle that endlessly surrounds it. And not only that, but that little spot has fought to be itself for so long, the laws of nature no longer compromise its efforts. Now, the forest and that little oasis just live, side by side, not disturbing each other, just happy to exist in their own special ways. It’s that symbiosis, that harmonious acceptance, Twilight, that I strive to spread all over the world. I’d like to change everything for the better, give it that sort of ‘Oasis Mentality’, but sometimes that’s not always an option. So, at the very least, I like to see if I can teach that place the complex art of acceptance. Because, Twi, if I can’t teach ponies the bliss of absolute peace…I may as well show them the first step to getting there.”

A short silence followed of Doc waiting for Twi’s usual response, while Twi remained still, once again amazed by the depth of Doc’s thought processes. But rather than sit there, dumbfounded as she usually is, she chuckled several times with lightly closed eyes, slowly shaking her head and turning her gaze back in the direction of the scenery.

“What’s so funny?” Doc asked with a smile.

“Just that…” she answered, “You are so…you when you explain stuff.”

Doc responded with a short snicker, closed eyes and his signature move of rubbing the back of his head while beaming a large, modest and silly grin.

*****

“Thanks…” he said as he finished his snicker, then returned to his previous tone and attitude as he continued, “But anyways, back on subject. Not only does Ponyville have a firm grasp on that ‘Art of Acceptance’ I talked about, but it also has that beautiful ‘Oasis Mentality’, making it one of my favorite places to visit. But we talked about that already so…I think I’ll finally get down to my point. I’ve traveled through the forest that surrounds that Oasis, A.K.A. the rest of the World, about a hundred times over. And every time I do, the amount of good to the amount of evil is one to one thousand at the very least. But occasionally, I’m lucky enough to have my next stop be at that little place, right down there in the one good corner this world has to offer. The beauty and peace of such a paradise allows me to stay happy, to remain who I am and not become just another beast that roams that malicious forest. If I could, I would stay in that place for the rest of my days, never worrying about the danger that surrounded me and living in true, harmonious bliss. But sadly, I can’t stay, so all I can do when my time there is done is pack up my things, say my farewells and hope that I may return to see it again. So, Twi, to finally answer your question, that is what’s wrong. Even though the Oasis, Ponyville, is such a happy, beautiful place…I know that I will never be able to stay there, that I will always have to leave come one time or another.”

“But why do you have to leave?” Twi interjected, “If it’s about your business, then I bet you’d do just as fine, if not, better with your sales here than you would travelling everywhere else.”

“I know,” responded Doc, “but it’s not about my business. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about my business! All I really wanna do is help ponies. If I could, I would just stay here and make every single one of my concoctions free of charge. But not only do I need money to eat and fix my caravan, but I’ll never be able to stay here because…!”

He paused for a moment, puckering his lips angrily and searching the ground for the right words to say, his hoof slowly drifting up near his head until it smacked limply against his face, dragging down and stretching it as he gave stressful sigh. He then gripped the bridge of his nose and continued in a stressed, but still calm and reasonable tone.

“Look, Twi…” he said, “You have no idea how happy it would make me to live here with you…and Dash…and Zecora…and everypony else but I just can’t. I’m not leaving because I want to…it’s because I have to.”

“But why?” Twi asked persistently, “Can’t you just tell me what’s keeping you from staying here? From doing what makes you happy?”

Doc took a deep through his nose before answering.

“I’m sorry Twi, but…telling you right now would only jeopardize your safety. For now, all I can say is that when I travel the dark reaches of this Everfree forest called Earth, I’m not just sight-seeing and trying to make it a better place…”


“I’m running…”


“Running from a force that I know I’m not strong enough to defeat. A terrible force that has haunted me all my life and is never going to stop until I’m either dead or become part of it. I’ve tried fighting against it in the past, believe me I have, but when I do, all it’s ever done is hurt those I care about…those who are close to me. So, for the sake of you and Dash and Zecora and everypony else, I’ll just keep on running…and running…and running…”

All this talk of mysterious, haunting forces and involuntary life on the road not only scared Twi, but began to discourage her, and it quickly became evident in her expression. Doc, after a slight pause at the end of his gargantuan explanation, saw the brewing concern in Twi’s demeanor. He quickly smiled and gave her a reassuring tap on the side of her shoulder, like a friendly sock on the foreleg, but much softer and more caring.

“Hey, chin up.” he said as he did so, “I know all of this sounds really shady, and I don’t blame you if you get suspicious, but don’t worry. I’m not some sort of escaped criminal or murderous psychopath or anything like that. I’m still just your friendly neighborhood alchemist, same as I’ve always been!”

Doc finished his sentence with a large, close-eyed grin, making Twi laugh a little, reminding her how silly and fun he can be and getting her spirits back up to where they once were.

“So,” Doc continued, “it’s true that I’ll have to leave tomorrow, but there’s no need to be sad about it. I promise I’ll be back in a year’s time, if not less.”

“Great!” Twi responded, “It’s just that, in Ponyville, a year can feel like a long time, you know?”

“Yeah, I understand.” Doc answered, “So, while I’m gone, just remember this. Even though I’m not here, and I’ll never be able to settle down in one place for the rest of my life, this town, this…Oasis, will forever and always be the one place I can truly call…”

“…home.”

Doc began standing up as he concluded.

“Now let’s head back. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be quite an eventful day.”

Copyright 2012

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