• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 8,207 Views, 346 Comments

Alienation - Longtooth

I am not Twilight Sparkle. We share one body, one past, but not our souls. I do not know why I am here, or why I have done these terrible things. This is my story.

  • ...

Group Hug

They were waiting for me, of course. Just the six of them, Twilight’s five friends and Spike. I was actually a little surprised at this. Not that they were there, but that it was only them. I had kind of expected that Pinkie would throw a massive ‘welcome back to Ponyville’ party for me. The fact that she hadn’t should have been a warning sign, but at the time I wasn’t focusing enough on Pinkie to catch the significance. Actually, to be perfectly frank? Even if I had been thinking about Pinkie, I would have missed it.

There were smiles and hugs the moment I stepped onto the platform. Fluttershy was first, giving me a fierce hug and whispering about how glad she was to have me back in my ear. It was pleasant, a little uncomfortably so. Rarity was next, and for her hug she whispered a quick, “I’m here if you need it, dear,” and I nearly bit her. It wasn’t insincere, but it sounded so perfectly rehearsed… More about that later, I suppose.

Dash and Applejack approached me as one, eschewing a hug for a simple touch with their hooves. Somehow that gesture was more meaningful than Fluttershy and Rarity’s full-body contact. “Good to have you back,” Applejack said. “We got the library all fixed up for you.”

“Thanks,” I said, smiling for my part in this farce.

“You got your magic under control, right?” Rainbow Dash asked, as brusque as ever.

My smile for her was more genuine. “Totally under control,” I told her. “No chance of any more accidents.”

“Good,” she said, grinning. “I knew you could do it.”

“Hey, Twilight,” Spike said, toddling up to me. His lower legs were still in casts, but he had a pair of tiny crutches that he was using to propel himself along. I felt a stab of feeling at that sight, but I swallowed it down.

“Hey, Spike, how are you doing?” I asked, crouching down to be more level with him.

“Glad to be out of bed,” he replied, enthusiastic and without a single hint of reproach. He still didn’t blame me. “They say I can get the casts off in a few days. Until then I’m kinda making the best out of it, you know?”

“I get you,” I said, giving him a conspiratorial wink and nodding slightly in Rarity’s direction.

“Come on, Twi,” he groused, cheeks heating. “Don’t make it too obvious!”

I chuckled, looking up to the last of Twilight’s friends. Pinkie stood in uncharacteristic stillness, watching me with her bright, inquisitive eyes. Something about that look unnerved me. Perhaps it was the intensity of focus she was employing, as if she were examining me in minute detail. I didn’t like being examined. I had too much to hide.

“Hey, Pinkie,” I said, if only to get this part over with.

“Hmm,” she said, stepping right into my personal space in a way that was not friendly. I backed up a bit, and she followed me, keeping her face bare inches from mine. “Did you forget something, Twilight?” she asked, accusation in every word.

“Forget something?” I asked, searching my memory for what she could be referring to.

“Yup!” she continued, getting even closer. I looked to the other ponies for some help, but saw that they were resigned to whatever it was Pinkie was doing. Rainbow Dash was rolling her eyes, Applejack was hiding her eyes behind her hat. Rarity and Fluttershy were looking on with the desperate interest of gossips sighting something juicy. Spike just looked embarrassed. “Something important, maybe?”

“You’ve lost me,” I admitted.

“Something small?” I shook my head. “Something in the shape of a little tube?” I shook my head again. “Something daily?”

“Daily?” I repeated, utterly perplexed.

“Letters!” Pinkie shrieked. I don’t know if you realize exactly how high her voice gets when she’s upset. I think she could qualify as an ultrasonic weapon. Actually, that’s an interesting thought. If I could get her properly classified, I could have her banned under at least two arms treaties Equestria keeps with neighboring kingdoms. Wouldn’t that be funny? I’m sure she’d appreciate the prank value.

“Letters?” I repeated again, then recalled the foolish promise I had made to her upon my leaving Ponyville. “Oh! Right. Letters. Well, Pinkie, I, uh… didn’t write any.”

“I know!” Pinkie screamed, flapping her limbs in the air like some kind of demented pink hummingbird. I mean she literally hovered in the air from the motion. Twilight had become complacent with Pinkie’s… eccentricities, but they make my skin crawl. “You didn’t even write a single one! You said you’d write every day, Twilight! Every. Day.” She was gone from in front of me in a blink, grabbing Spike in her forelegs and squeezing him close like he was a large, scaly teddy bear. “Poor Spike! Waiting every day for that one fateful belch that would tell him you cared!”

“Actually, I was cool with not–” Spike began, but she squeezed him into silence.

“But none ever came!” Pinkie sighed dramatically, releasing the baby dragon and returning to being far too close. “Well? What do you have to say for yourself, missy?”

I stared at her for a long moment, struggling with myself. A sudden, incoherent rage bubbled in my gut. I looked at this vapid creature shoving herself in my face and I knew that she did not have the right to demand anything of me. The fact that she even tried was an affront to everything I had done over the past week. All the good I had accomplished, all the pain I had taken, all the effort, and she was berating me for not writing my assistant? I could have crushed the life out of her right then.

But… she was Twilight’s friend. I remembered that friendship. Her joy had been my joy. Her whimsy had delighted me. Even this, the insistence on communication and keeping promises, even this was something Twilight loved about her. She was right, I had said I was going to write to Spike, and I hadn’t followed through.

I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Spike,” I said. “I’m sorry, all of you. I… have excuses, but that’s all they are.”

“You don’t need to excuse yourself, sugarcube,” Applejack said. “We all know this couldn’t have been easy for you.”

“Quite right, darling,” Rarity put in.

“I’m okay, Twilight,” Spike said. “Letter or no letter, I was more worried about how you were doing.”

“I… I…” I didn’t know what to say. The forgiveness was in all their eyes, even Pinkie’s as she lifted my chin to look at her.

“You said you’re sorry,” she said, nodding smartly. “And that’s what’s important.”

“You guys,” I said, forcing myself to tear up because it was expected of me.

“Group hug!” Pinkie cried, latching on to me like a parasite intent on draining me of every drop of blood I had. The others either didn’t see my uncomfortable expression or I was actually doing a good job of hiding it, because they piled on and I was surrounded in a big, furry ball of smiling, giggling friendship.

Getting home after that was just a matter of moving the herd from the train station to the library. It took a while, but wasn’t particularly difficult. Ponies stopped to give their greetings and well-wishes as they saw me, but it wasn’t an onerous thing. If they had kept it up for days, then it would have become a problem. As it was… it was nice to have been missed, even if it wasn’t me they were missing.

Disentangling myself from Twilight’s friends was hard. I don’t know exactly why. Perhaps the forgiveness and love they showed me was something I needed. Craved. It wouldn’t be odd. I am a pony, after all, and we need these things.

Yet… no. I’ve done just fine without it. I don’t need those things. I’m beyond needing the affirmation of any other pony now. I am within myself contained, whole and complete. I need no other.

But still, it was nice. And parting from that warmth felt like it was as difficult as assaulting a lair of addicts without preparation. I made it, though, bid my good-nights to them and made my way inside. Spike was going back to the hospital, at least until he got the casts off, which gave me the entire place to myself.

I had much to do. I had to set up my end of the teleportation circle and test it to make sure it worked. I had to contact Vinyl and find out what, if anything, had happened during my long train ride. I had to continue sifting through the memories I had stolen, finding information I could use. So much to do.

I did none of it that night. I trudged up the stairs to my room… Twilight’s room. And with no further ceremony I fell onto the bed and into a deep, dreamless sleep.