• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 7,549 Views, 342 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.

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I was just finishing up a series of notes from one of the many thick tomes Twilight had brought to the library. Something about multi-dimensional interactions. Nothing that could help me, really, but fascinating stuff. Yes, I was getting sidetracked. No it’s not funny, stop laughing.

Anyways, I was jotting down a few thoughts that I had some idea might be important later, but never were. Then there was a knock at the front door. As I had been doing for the past couple of days, I ignored it. Ponies had been coming by regularly, and I just did not want to talk to them. At all.

This knock wasn’t as insistent as some of the others had been. It was loud, solid, but somehow held a certain quality. I don’t know how to describe it, but the pony knocking was absolutely certain that the door would open for them, and conveyed it through that firm rap on the wood. It was distinct. I should have recognized it right away, but I was… not in the best attention-paying mentality at the time. Too focused on my examination of books that only held an extremely tangential relationship to my predicament. Too focused on the possibilities of another comforting night at the bar. Not nearly focused enough on what was happening right there and then.

“Twilight, I’d like to speak with you,” she said, her voice coming through clearly.

Yes, I recognized the voice. As I said, I wasn’t focused on then-and-there, but I wasn’t dead, either. That voice forms the basis for so much of Twilight's memories, her thoughts and feelings and wants and… everything. Since she was a little filly, watching her first Summer Sun celebration, she has dedicated so much of her life to the promise of a kind word spoken by that voice. How could I not recognize it? How could I not react?

Of course, reaction, in this case, consisted of a panicked teleport up to my bedroom. Where I proceeded to freeze in indecision and fear. You see, I was sure she was going to kill me.

It’s not so strange. I’m an interloper. A foreign entity that has assumed the life of her student without so much as asking. By so many standards of right, I should not be. Celestia has power. More than she’s ever displayed publicly, even when her own life could have been in danger. She also has over a thousand years of experience and a greater understanding of… well, everything, than practically anypony else. What is she capable of, really? I don’t know. Twilight didn’t. Nopony does, save maybe her sister and… well.

So, yeah, I was frightened. So, yeah, I panicked. It might have been what saved me in the end.

When Celestia wants into a place, she gets in. She sensed my teleport, of course, and rightly assumed that I was trying to avoid her. Then, as far as I can tell, she simply asked the door to be open and walked right in. Would it have been simpler to just magic the lock open? I don’t know, because she didn’t bucking do that. From the way she hurried up to me, looking worried, I don’t think it even crossed her mind to try something so mundane.

Sorry, it’s not important. But it bugs me.

I was in the process of trying to hide under the bed when she came into the room. The moment she stepped into view, her eyes soft with concern, her wings open and welcoming, her mane drifting about and glowing like the dawn…

Heh. Twilight and I have a lot in common. Why wouldn’t we? We share everything up until the moment I took over. I pick at the differences like a pony obsessively scratching a half-healed scab, but even I’m forced to admit that we are probably more alike than apart. One of those things that aligns, albeit imperfectly, between us is how we react to Celestia.

She makes me feel… safe. Happy. Loved. I don’t have the right words for it. It’s like a dozen different things melted into an amalgam of emotion. I am in awe of her. Utterly in awe. Twilight loved her, in a way that doesn’t map to how she feels about anypony else, a way I don’t think I have the right to describe. I don’t love her, but I think… I think I could. As a ruler, as a teacher, as a friend.

I still thought she was going to kill me, but with her standing there, staring at me with those eyes that have seen the birth and death of millennia, I couldn’t run.

“Twilight,” Celestia said, her voice concerned, but also stern. She wasn’t happy with me. The memories from Twilight were screaming in neurotic implosion at that, but me, the real me? I was… surprisingly okay with it. That split calmed me down, for some reason. I think the reaffirmation of my separate identity when faced with a figure of such immense importance to Twilight’s life sparked a bit of my inborn defiance. I wanted to establish myself as a distinct being, had been spending the past few nights trying to do that. This… this was a place to show that.

But, and this is key, there was also the issue of the decision I had made to keep my existence secret from Twilight’s friends. I was determined to hold to that decision, as well as the perfectly contradictory one of creating my own identity. So I put on my best insane-Twilight smile and tried my damndest to pretend nothing was wrong. “Princess Celestia!” I gasped. “I didn’t know you were coming! Oh, no! This place is a mess why didn’t anyone tell me you were coming please don’t mind I’ve been studying!”

“Twilight,” Celestia said again, in that gentle tone of admonishment she always uses when Twilight’s getting overly worked up about something. That was good. That meant she hadn’t immediately spotted the impostor and decided to remove me like scraping so much grime from a favourite dish. I took a few deep breaths and toned down the grin. “You’re friends have been worried about you, Twilight. They say you have barely been out of this place for days.”

“Oh, um,” I looked at the ground, scraping a hoof across the floor in a good approximation of embarrassment. “I’ve been… trying to figure something out.”

“I see,” she said. “And why have you not visited Spike? He’s been missing you terribly. You should be by his side, helping him get better.”

“I…” I stopped without continuing. This genuinely got to me. I didn’t care one whit about Twilight’s friends being worried. They could worry, I’d find a way to set them at ease when I was more comfortable with myself. Spike, though? Everything he was going through was my fault, and my fault alone. “I can’t.”

“And why not?”

I hung my head. If Spike was talking, there was no point in lying. “I hurt him.”

“You did? How?”

I nodded. “The kitchen table. I… my magic, I…”

Celestia sighed. “You blame yourself for his condition.”

“It’s my fault. I hurt him.” She reached out with a wing and caressed my face. My reactions to that are tangled up in all of Twilight’s memories. Even now, when it comes to her, I don’t think I’d be able to separate what’s Twilight and what’s wholly me. I don’t know if I ever will be. I wanted to lean into that wing, to drink in the comfort and security it offered. But I didn’t. I pulled back and shook my head. “I hurt him,” I repeated. “I can’t see him now… not like that… not after… not until I’ve figured things out.”

“And why are you avoiding your friends?”

I thought about that for several long seconds before responding with an answer that wasn’t a lie, but also wasn’t entirely honest: “I don’t want them to know.”

“Twilight, sometimes the hardest thing we can do is own up to our mistakes,” she said. “Especially when those mistakes hurt those close to us. But it is only when we do so that we can be truly forgiven for them. I know you did not intend for this to happen. Spike will forgive you, and so will your friends.”

“I don’t deserve it,” I said. “Not yet.”

Celestia sighed. “I am worried about you, Twilight. Just like they are. You can’t stay hidden in your room. The pain will not go away, it will only fester and grow into something terrible. To heal, you must look beyond yourself.”

“I understand, Princess,” I said. “I really do, but… but it was my fault. It was me. I need to… to fix what went wrong.”

“And is sitting here, alone in your library accomplishing that?”

“No,” I admitted. “But…” I was struck with an idea. A good one, a simple one. One that could possibly be the second greatest mistake I made in those first few days. “Princess, can I come back?”

“What do you mean?”

“To Canterlot? Can I… take a vacation? Away from my friendship studies, just go back to Canterlot for a few weeks? Have access to the library there? Try to work through this?”

She frowned. “Twilight, I’m afraid that might just be another form of isolation. Removing you from your friends…”

“No!” I cut in, interrupting her for what might be the first time in Twilight’s life. “I don’t mean like that. I mean seeing my parents again. I mean getting back to the places I went when I was young and learning to control my magic. I don’t want to cut myself off from my friends, I just want… I just don’t want to be around here for a bit. Please. I just need some time.”

I could see her mind working. The way her jaw tightened and relaxed, the twitches of her wings, the cascading sheets of sparkling magic that constantly whirled and eddied about her body, all of it could be used by a pony who knew her well to discern the direction of her thoughts. Twilight knew her very well indeed, and therefore so did I.

“Alright,” she said finally. “But on one condition. You talk to all of your friends first, tell them what happened, and why you are going to be spending some time in Canterlot. And I want you to listen to their responses and take them to heart.”

“I can do that,” I said, though I didn’t relish the prospect.

“And you have to go see Spike as well.” That was the hard one. I winced. “You’ve overcome fear before, Twilight. I know you will be able to do it again.”

“I… thank you, Princess,” I said.

Now the next bit is probably either boring or painful to listen to, so I’ll go through it quickly to… wait.

Damn. Somepony’s coming. I’ve got to go. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Author's Note:

True word count: 12,043. Days 1-8 covered.