• Published 11th Feb 2014
  • 5,564 Views, 90 Comments

Love, Friendship and Chaos - alarajrogers



"Three's A Crowd" endcap. Why *did* Discord want Twilight to go to the ends of Equestria for him?

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Four

Twilight woke up to the smell of coffee and fresh-baked donuts. Like a sleepwalking zompony compelled forward by a necromancer, she stumbled down the stairs with a serious case of bed head, still blinking sleep crystals out of her eyes, fumbling her way toward the kitchen by memory rather than sight. Of course, memory was not kind enough to remind her of the huge quarantine bubble with the draconequus in it, right in the middle of the main room of the library. She walked directly into the bubble, which was springy and soft. It gave under her weight, leading her to almost, though not quite, faceplant herself directly into Discord's chest.

Discord opened his eyes. "Why, Twilight," he croaked. "I know you're desperate to check on me, but don't you think trying to walk right through that bubble defeats the purpose of having it?"

Annoyed, Twilight reared back, which allowed the springiness of the bubble to decompress and knock her backward on her rear. "Shut up, Discord, I haven't had any coffee yet," she mumbled.

"Twilight!" Oh, how dearly she loved Spike and the cup of sweet sanity he was bearing toward her. Oh, how she hated how high-pitched and loud his voice was. "You're awake! Here's your coffee. There's fresh donut holes in the kitchen!"

"No one told me there were fresh donut holes," Discord grumbled.

"You were asleep," Spike said. "Also, um, now that you're awake... why are you sleeping on the floor of the library in a huge bubble, and why are you green? Pinkie wouldn't answer me. She said that answering questions right then would throw off the zen of baking."

"Well, Twilight and I went to Las Pegasus to get married last night," Discord began. "But unfortunately our honeymoon revelry was cut short when I proved to be highly allergic to something I'd consumed – my guess would be the shellfish – and so—"

Twilight magicked his blanket around his mouth, after her initial attempt to manufacture a zipper didn't work. Even sick, Discord's body was resistant to her magic, but he couldn't prevent her from tying his mouth shut with cloth and telekinesis. "Discord faked being sick to ruin my day with Cadance yesterday and made us go out to the far edge of Equestria to get a thing that would cure him, even though he wasn't really sick, but then this weird creature that tried to eat all of us called a Tatzlwurm sneezed on him and made him actually sick, so here he is, waiting for Fluttershy to get him so I can dump him and his quarantine bubble over there."

Discord pulled the blanket off his mouth. "I liked my story better."

"I didn't."

"You're so mean and grumpy in the mornings. Look at me, half-dead from this horrible unknown illness, yet I manage to maintain my cheery disposition. Spike, how can you stand living with this sourpuss?"

"I ignore everything she says until she's drunk her coffee," Spike said.

"Well, that's quite candid of you. I appreciate the advice."

"That's approximately 90 percent less than I ignore everything you say," Spike said.

"Oh! I'm wounded! Truly a barb straight to the heart! How sharper than a serpent's tooth is a sarcastic dragon!"

"WHO WANTS DONUT HOLES???"

Twilight put her hoof to her forehead. "Pinkie, please, not so loud. I have such a headache."

"Don't drink just the coffee," Cadance said from the stairs. "You didn't have the opportunity to hydrate much, so you spent ten hours flying with no water. You've got a hangover, basically."

"Is that why I have such a terrible headache?" Discord said. "Nopony seems to think it's worth their while to give me more water."

"You'll just drop it on the carpet again," Twilight said testily.

"How could you think such a thing?" Discord declared dramatically, pressing his paw to his heart. "I could never do that! There isn't even a carpet in here for me to drop it on."

"Not helping your case, Discord." Twilight looked over at the stairs. "Are you okay, Cadance?"

"Oh, I'm fine, Twilight. I got up this morning and got myself some juice and some breakfast. Besides, I've been an alicorn longer. The trick is, you don't automatically heal from the things that won't threaten your life, so you've got to recognize they're happening and use spells to compensate. I was a pegasus first, so I have a lot more experience with the idea that you have to stay hydrated during hard exercise. Also, I think I drank half the shower while Spike was giving me a rubdown last night." She giggled.

Discord smirked. "Well. Spike. Finally giving up on Rarity, are you? You've set your sights high."

Twilight lifted Discord's pillow telekinetically and hit him with it. "That's disgusting, Discord. Shining Armor was like a big brother to Spike, too."

"You say that as if it makes the concept impossible, but you do realize, that just makes it all the more intriguing, right?"

"I'm sure the concept of a draconic being falling in love with an alicorn he can't have is very intriguing to you, Discord," Cadance said in a suspiciously arch tone, "but please, let's not forget Spike's youth. You and I both know that when ponies have to exert themselves dragging a sickly, and rather heavy, spirit of chaos across all of Equestria and get home in the middle of the night, we need a rubdown, and Spike was very considerate to wake up and help me considering how tired I was after all Twilight and I did to help you. But of course you know that's all it was, because talk of draconic beings falling in love with alicorns is quite silly, isn't it?"

Discord stared at her for a moment, eyes wide, as if what she was saying was somehow... frightening him? That made no sense, but then very little made sense with Discord. And then he chortled. "Of course! Don't mind me, Spike, I'm just messing with you."

"It's okay," Spike said. "Don't forget I ignore ninety-five percent of everything you say."

"You said ninety."

"No, I said ninety more than Twilight. I only have to ignore her like five percent of the time."

"HERE COME THE DONUT HOLES! PLENTY FOR EVERYPONY! And dragon! And draconequus! And owl if Owlowliscious would like one!"

"He's asleep," Twilight said, telekinetically taking several donut holes off the plate and carrying them to her mouth.

"That's all right, Pinkie, I already had breakfast," Cadance said.

"But you should have some anyway! Because I baked enough for everyone! And sugar in the morning gives you energy! And donut holes are yummy!"

"Don't argue," Twilight said. "Just take a donut hole."

"Don't I get any?" Discord asked plaintively, while Spike grabbed pawfuls of donut holes and indecorously shoved them into his mouth like a ravenous beast.

"Of course you do, silly billy! I have the normal donut holes here, and then here are the special chaotic donut holes! This one has hardboiled egg inside and chili pepper glaze; this one is frosted with pickle relish; this one is full of beet jelly and rolled in coffee grinds before glazing; and this one I soaked in grape juice, then I froze it! So it's a donut ice hole!" Pinkie turned to Spike. "I made special dragon ones too but I left them on the counter because if ponies accidentally eat the chaos donut holes they'll just taste yucky but if ponies eat the dragon donut holes they could get hurt."

"I swear to protect every pony here from dangerous donut holes!" Spike said, saluting. "Ready for my mission!"

"They're to the left of the stove piled on top of the blue plate."

"Yes, ma'am! Those donut holes don't stand a chance!" Spike ran into the kitchen.

"Twilight, can you give Discord some of his donut holes? I don't want to touch them with my hooves, I might get too curious and eat them and then Discord wouldn't get them and besides they're probably gross."

"If you think they're gross, why do you worry you'll eat them?" Twilight asked, lifting the four chaotic donut holes off the tray and levitating them in through the flap to give them to Discord.

"Because they're still donut holes, silly!"

"What time do you need to get to the train station?" Twilight asked.

Cadance looked at Discord before answering. "I'm not comfortable leaving you to have to deal with him on your own."

"It's okay. I know you've got Crystal Empire stuff you need to do—"

"Yes, but what's the point of being a Princess if I can't rearrange my own schedule? I'll stay at least until you can drop him off with Fluttershy. I just need to let Shiny know." She picked up a piece of paper and a quill from the nearest desk.

"It's okay, though. I can handle Discord. I've done it before."

"Yes, but this morning I think Discord and I came to an understanding." She smiled sweetly at Discord, who gulped visibly. Obviously that "understanding" involved Cadance holding something over Discord's head. Now Twilight was very curious as to what, but knew better than to ask in front of Discord. "So I'm sure he'll be better behaved as long as I'm here."

As Spike came back in, mouth full of gem-encrusted donut holes, Cadance magicked her note to Shining Armor away. "You have a dragon in the Crystal Empire?" Spike asked.

Cadance laughed. "No, though I wish I did. Shiny and I both can cast that spell directly, the way Princess Celestia does."

Spike's face fell. "Oh... so nopony really needs a dragon to send messages that way?"

"Not so at all. Only an alicorn or a powerful unicorn can manage that spell; it's as difficult as teleportation. Shiny struggled with it for more than a year, and this was when he and I could only talk to each other with letters because he was in Royal Guard training and I was studying abroad. It's exhausting for a unicorn to cast the spell. Whereas dragons can just do it; it doesn't tire you out at all."

"Yeah!" Spike said, grinning. "One time Princess Celestia sent Twilight something like twenty letters at once and I could do it. I was kind of wiped out afterward, but that was mostly because burping that much wears you out."

Cadance raised an eyebrow. "Twenty letters at once?"

"They were all her friendship letters. We were fighting that guy," he pointed at Discord, "and Twilight was just about ready to give up, but Princess Celestia sent her back all her friendship letters."

"I always wondered how you pulled that one off," Discord said. "Friendship letters, hmm?"

Twilight glared at him. "Aren't you reformed?"

"Of course I am! I'm only curious, Twilight. Why, even if I were to turn back to my nefarious ways, I certainly wouldn't do so the same way I did the first time, so it's hardly as if knowing you beat me with friendship letters could possibly affect the outcome of any future conflict. And besides, that would never happen because I'm reformed!" He started coughing. "Could someone get me a glass of water?"

"You're a little bit obsessed with this water thing, aren't you?" Twilight said.

"As if it's my fault that being sick has dehydrated me." He looked over at Pinkie. "Pinkie, Twilight's being mean to me."

"You were mean to Rarity and Applejack yesterday."

"But I'm siiiiiick."

"So were they, because you got them sick. Twilight didn't get you sick, you did that to yourself! So Twilight's not being as mean to you as you were to them."

"But she did tie me up and turn me into a kite."

"And I still think that sounds like fun! Twilight, will you turn me into a kite someday?"

"Sure, Pinkie. Someday." Twilight glared at Discord. "You weren't actually even sick yesterday when you started this whole water thing."

"Well, technically I actually was. Blue flu is a real illness, you know."

"Really? Because it sounds like something you made up."

"It's actually not," Cadance said. "It used to be – well, not common, but not unheard of, when I was a foal. I thought it had gone extinct, though. I don't think there's been a case in Equestria for at least two hundred years."

"Okay, then, maybe it's a real disease. But you didn't really have it," Twilight accused, turning back to Discord.

"I most certainly did."

"Did not! You even admitted you were faking! Don't try to go back on it now!"

Discord sighed. "Twilight, I haven't been ill in two thousand years. How could I possibly be expected to realistically portray the experience of being ill if I had no experience with actually being sick? I really was infected with blue flu. The part I was 'faking', as you put it, was that I could have cured myself with my powers any time I'd wanted to, and I could suppress any symptoms I didn't want to have. Also, it wasn't affecting my magic at all. I admit that this is completely different because I have no control over this whatsoever; my magic isn't working, I feel terribly weak and the symptoms are far worse than the ones I was having yesterday, and I can't magic them away without working magic. But yes, I really was thirsty, I really was coughing and sneezing, I really did have less physical energy than I'm used to."

"But you did all that to yourself."

"That doesn't change the fact that I was still feeling those things. Though I suppose I should thank you for the compliment, Twilight; you seem to think I'm such an amazing actor, I can realistically portray an experience I've never actually had. And perhaps if I'd tried I might have succeeded, because perhaps I genuinely am that amazing, but I didn't want to take the risk of getting it wrong, so yes. For the sake of verisimilitude, I gave myself blue flu. I admit it. Oh, if only I subscribed to the technical school of acting and not method!"

"Seriously? To start with you can't possibly be a method actor if you're as big of a ham as you are," Twilight said, making Discord blink at her.

"You... actually know something about the schools of acting?"

She grinned. Shocking Discord was very, very difficult to do, but it made her feel great when she managed to do it. "Gee, Discord, I've only read every single book in the Canterlot Library and in this one. I can't imagine where I would have learned anything about modern approaches to drama."

"What are the schools of acting?" Spike asked.

"Technical actors use... kind of formulas and rule-based acting styles, which come across as less realistic but easier to see and understand on a stage. Method actors imagine themselves in the same place as the characters, like, they imagine that they are the characters, and then they just do what the characters would do. Method's better for improv, but technical is better for hamming it up and being ridiculously over the top."

"But what if the character you're playing really is ridiculous and over the top?" Pinkie said. "Like when I play characters I always imagine that I am them but if I play a character who's a big ham then that's who I am!"

"That's kind of who you are in real life, though," Twilight said.

"Well, that's kind of who Discord is in real life, too!"

"Good point," Twilight acknowledged.

"Besides," Cadance said, "formulas and rule-based acting doesn't really sound much like Discord. Though to be fair, method would require a lot of empathy and I'm not sure he has it."

"I am right here," Discord groused. "What is it about you ponies talking behind my back, to my face?"

"Trust me, Discord, we say much worse things about you behind your back," Twilight said.

Discord's face fell, and for a moment he looked genuinely hurt. "As if I don't know that," he muttered.

Now Twilight felt bad. She hadn't intended that as an actual insult – well, she had, but more as witty insulting banter than anything he'd take seriously and be genuinely hurt by. "Sorry," she said. "That was a joke, but it didn't really come out all that funny, did it."

"Oh, don't fret, Twilight, my skin is thicker than that!" Discord said jovially, or as jovially as he could manage with the rasp in his throat anyway. "I hope you don't think my feelings were hurt by your little jape! Your delivery definitely could use work, though; I've heard less wooden attempts at jokes from timberwolves." He lay down. "I really would like that water, though. Sometime today."

"I gave you a whole big pitcher! Did you drink the whole thing?" Pinkie asked.

"Um... well, actually I seem to have knocked it over with my tail while I was asleep."

Twilight facehooved. "What was that about not spilling water on the floor?"

"Oh come now, Twilight, you can't hold what I do when I'm asleep against me! It's not my fault I'm a restless sleeper. And there's hardly room in this tiny bubble for my tail anyway."

"How about you give me the pitcher and I'll refill it?" Pinkie asked.

"Pinkie, no. It's in quarantine with him now. We'd have to sterilize it."

"Well, duh! But you can do that, right? Because I have a hazmat suit you need to sterilize too!"

Twilight's eyelid twitched. "A hazmat suit."

"Because I knew Discord was gonna get sick and I didn't know if it was contagious so I packed a hazmat suit so I could go into his bubble and give him some medicine and soup! But now I've worn it in there so it needs to be sterilized!"

"Where did you put it?"

Pinkie removed a hazmat suit from her mane. Twilight flapped her wings just enough that she could balance on two legs so she could double-facehoof. "Pinkie, you've just exposed yourself to the whatever it is disease!" she yelled, while Cadance simply cast magic health bubble on everypony in the room. "How long has that thing been in your mane?"

"It's not really in my mane. That's just how I get it in and out."

"Well, then where is it really? In your head?"

Discord coughed. "Twilight, unless you're prepared for a deep and complex study of matters you are by personality wholly unsuited to comprehend at this stage of your life... simply take her word for it. I saw where she put it, and it was fully quarantined from anything else, trust me."

"Trust you? The guy who gets himself sick just to annoy me?"

"Yes, well, I have no desire for any of the rest of you to get sick with this." He coughed again. This time it was less of a throat-clearing, may-I-interrupt noise and more of a hacking, wheezing, lungs-might-come-out-his-mouth cough. "I knew I could cure anypony who got the blue flu. I can't do anything about this, and I have no idea what it is, or how dangerous it might or might not be to ponies, and besides, the more of you get sick, the fewer there are to take care of me."

"Well, that I can buy," Twilight muttered. "All right, I guess there's probably no harm done. Hoof over the pitcher." He lifted it with his tail and pushed it against the flap that allowed food and water to enter his bubble; Twilight claimed it with her magic and cast the health spell on it. She levitated it over to Pinkie. "You don't have to get him a whole pitcher of water, you know. He'll just knock it over again."

Pinkie's eyes narrowed, and her face took on a stern expression. "Twilight, how many sickies have you taken care of?"

"Um... one time Spike molted... he was pretty itchy that day..."

"Have you ever taken care of a pony or a dragon with the flu?"

"No...?"

"Then you'd better settle down and let your Aunt Pinkie handle this. I have experience with sickies. And one thing is, water is always good for them! It flushes the yucky out." She hopped off to the kitchen.

"I'm pretty sure I'm older than you," Twilight mumbled.

"She does have a point," Cadance said. "He needs to stay hydrated."

"Yes, but does he have to do it on my library floor? What if the water goes through the floorboards and drips into the basement? I have books in my lab in the basement! Water ruins books!" She spun on her hooves. "Spike, run downstairs and make sure the floor up here isn't leaking!"

"I'm pretty sure it isn't."

"Pretty sure is a great way to get ruined books! Go check!"

Spike sighed. "Okay..."

Discord looked taken aback. "I had forgotten about your neurotic obsession with the condition of your books."

"I haven't forgotten what you did to them, Discord. If you're trying to ruin my books on purpose again—"

"It wasn't on purpose the last time! If I'd tried to ruin your books on purpose, I'd have turned them into candy cane flowers or something. And we already agreed that I was careless and I don't intend to do it again. And I'll promise to do my best to make sure the pitcher doesn't get knocked over again while I'm in your library, if you'll just calm down."

Twilight remembered the last altercation she'd had with Discord over damaged books, and smirked. He'd been at full power then, started out by laughing at her, and ended up negotiating in earnest and offering to repair and/or clean the books he'd ruined. Obviously, he didn't want to deal with her ire on the matter right now, when he was virtually helpless. Of course, the fact that he was virtually helpless meant she wouldn't actually do anything to hurt him, but she didn't necessarily need him to know that. "Pinkie Promise."

"I can't do that. If I fall asleep again I really can't prevent my tail from swishing while I'm unconscious. And this illness is making me so tired I keep falling asleep for no good reason."

"Pinkie Promise that you'll do your best to avoid knocking over the pitcher. I understand you can't control your tail when you're asleep, but you could maybe ask somepony to take the pitcher from you and sterilize it before you fall asleep, and then get more water when you wake up?"

He sighed. "Fine. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a miniature baked confectionary in my eye."

Pinkie came back with the pitcher. "Somepony made a promise here?"

"Discord promised to do his best to not knock over the pitcher this time." Twilight blinked. "Wait, I thought you knew exactly what ponies were promising when we make Pinkie Promises."

"Nope! I only know what you promised if it sounds like you might break it! Discord, here's an idea for you: if you feel sleepy, drink the whole pitcher! Then it won't matter if you knock it over."

"That is an idea. I'll consider that." After Pinkie passed the pitcher in to him, he poured himself a glass and drank it. "When am I supposed to take more of that throat stuff you made?"

"Two hours. Right around when we're expecting Fluttershy, so you might not have to."

"I might have to now. My throat really hurts."

Pinkie looked at Twilight. Twilight looked at Cadance. Cadance shrugged. Twilight turned back to Pinkie. "We don't have any idea what he's got, how fast it's moving, how virulent it is or how bad the symptoms will be. If the throat medication doesn't have anything in it that can harm him if he takes too much of it, then go ahead and let him have the second dose."

"Thank you, Twilight, for finally taking my pain seriously," Discord groused.

Spike came back up the stairs. "No leaks, and all the books are fine," he said. "Just like I said they would be."

"Thank you for checking anyway. Now. We've got two hours or maybe more until Fluttershy comes home, and I don't want to dump this problem on her before she's had a chance to unpack her bags and unwind, so I don't think we should even bother her with it until this afternoon—"

"What?" Discord wailed. "But I need Fluttershy!"

"What you need is treatment for your symptoms and somepony to figure out whether what you have can be cured, or if you'll just have to wait it out. I'm going to ask Zecora—"

"But I want Fluttershy!"

"And I want to not have a sick draconequus in the middle of my library, but we can't always get what we want right away. Trust me, I want to dump you off on her too, but if we want to be good, considerate friends to Fluttershy, we won't bother her while she's still recovering from travel."

Discord pouted, then brightened. "But Fluttershy is too kind to be happy with the idea of relaxing while her dear, dear friend is suffering so," he said. "So in order to preserve her feelings, don't you think we shouldn't wait?"

"No. In order to preserve her feelings, we won't even tell her you're sick and we need her help until after she's been home a couple of hours."

Discord curled up on the bed and buried his face in his pillow. "Torturer. You're enjoying this."

"No, I'm not." Twilight sighed. "Zecora is every bit as competent to treat you as Fluttershy is. Probably more so. Fluttershy would just go to Zecora and ask her to make some potions for you, so we're going to get a head start and ask her ourselves. Spike, take a letter."

"Ready!"

While Twilight dictated a letter to Zecora, outlining the situation and asking for help, Pinkie crawled into Discord's bubble in the now-sterilized hazmat suit, again, and gave him the second dose of the medicated honey. He complained about the taste, but at least he wasn't whining for Fluttershy like a foal for his mommy anymore.

"I've always wanted to see the Everfree Forest," Cadance said. "Spike, would you mind having a companion on your trip to Zecora's? I've also never met her, though I've heard a lot about her."

"I would be happy to be your guide, Princess," Spike said, bowing. "Maybe... um... there's some things I might want to ask you about on the way, if you don't mind? You're the Princess of Love, right?"

Cadance smiled at him. "Feel free to ask me advice about whatever you'd like."

Great. Twilight hoped Cadance didn't encourage him with this whole Rarity thing. She felt bad for Spike – other dragons were jerks – but pony prejudices against xenophilia being what they were... well. She was pretty sure that Rarity thought that Spike was a charming little boy, and that was it. And she didn't want him getting his heart broken because he got too hopeful for something that wasn't likely going to happen.

After Spike and Cadance set off with the letter to bring to Zecora, Discord had a new complaint. "Pinkie? Do you remember that discussion we had about bedpans?"

"Oh! Do you need to pee?"

"I would really prefer that we don't shout about my biological needs at the top of our lungs," he muttered.

"I've already thought of this," Twilight said. "You're obviously mobile enough to attend to yourself if we give you something to use, right?"

"Yes, Twilight, I'm not a foal. I might not have such sordid biological needs very often when I have my magic, but I do in fact know how to use the potty."

"I wasn't concerned with your knowledge but with your physical ability. But you're able to move around in there, you're not so weak you're totally incapacitated. So!" She went upstairs, and came back down with a chamberpot, with lid, and a wide-mouthed flask. And then she looked at Discord, and considered the fact that he was three times bigger than a pony.

"Tell me the truth here... are these going to be big enough?"

Discord peered at them through his bubble. "...Possibly not. I've drunk a lot of water."

"If I enlarge them with magic, is there anything about contact with your – well, contact with you, that would disrupt the spell and make them shrink back to their original size?"

Pinkie started snickering. "You mean like, chaotic poopies?"

Discord might actually have been blushing. With the green fur and the quarantine bubble, it was hard to tell for sure. "To the best of my knowledge, no, but there is a way to test it. Hygienically," he added. "Cast your spell and give me the items, and I'll be able to tell how likely it is for them to spontaneously revert."

Twilight did as he suggested, casting the enlargement spell on the flask and the chamberpot, then passing them in. Discord promptly cleared his throat in the most disgusting-sounding way possible and hocked a thick, goopy, green loogie into the chamberpot.

"Euw!" Twilight looked away. "Did you have to do that?"

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to pee in it to test it against my bodily fluids. I'm sorry, did you want me to cut myself and bleed into it?"

"No! That's just... never mind, it's a chamberpot, it'll get worse." She sighed. "So, spell holding up okay?"

He nodded. "There's no sign of disruption that I can see. I didn't expect there to be any, you know; I don't exactly go about spitting on things to disrupt the spells laid on them. Or peeing on them, for that matter. Although the mental image of doing that to break the spell Celestia had on the Elements, back when you had them, is utterly hilarious. Maybe I should have tried it."

"Maybe that is the most disgusting idea ever."

"Sometimes chaos is disgusting. Like the time I turned Canterlot Mountain into a giant nose and had it sneeze all over the ponies who lived around the base of it." He snickered. "That was unbearably funny. I think even you would have thought so."

"No, I wouldn't have, because that's totally disgusting. Why am I even helping you?"

He made his eyes improbably large and batted his eyelids. "Because you're a heroic and compassionate mare who's dedicated her life to helping those in need?" Discord's expression reverted to normal. "Or, the thought has occurred to you that if what I have is contagious, and transmissible to ponies... well, if it could affect me this badly, I'm sure we don't want to know what it could do to ordinary ponies. So it's in your best interest to cure me as quickly as possible."

"That part's true, but I don't have to be treating your symptoms to be researching the cause."

Pinkie glared at Twilight. "Don't be mean, Twilight. Discord's really sick and he needs our help. You can't tell somepony you'll be their friend and then not help them when they're sick just because they played a really gross prank one time."

"I was just joking, Pinkie."

"Well, it wasn't funny, and that is my expert opinion as the expert on funny."

"I don't suppose you could cast some sort of concealment spell," Discord said.

Twilight turned to face him. "Don't tell me the master of chaos is actually embarrassed by something?" she asked, grinning.

Now he was definitely red. "Perhaps you don't realize this, but I haven't had to do this since getting out of stone. Which I suppose means I haven't needed to use the necessary for over a thousand years."

"I'm pretty sure it's like riding a bicycle!" Pinkie said. "You don't forget how to use a potty!"

"I'm not afraid of forgetting... Oh for the love of anything, Twilight, aren't I allowed to want some privacy?"

"Don't worry, I actually thought of that too." She summoned one of the tarps for the hot air balloon and dropped it on his enclosure. "There we go, that should be nice and private!"

Discord's voice came through the tarp, muffled. "That would be wonderful, if only I could see anything."

Sighing, Twilight removed the tarp. "You just want what? Me to use a shadow spell or something to make it dark here?"

"I'd like you to turn the bottom half of this bubble opaque and leave the top clear for light, but I'd certainly understand if Princess Celestia's student, the Alicorn of Magic, couldn't cast such a sophisticated spell."

"There's no need to be sarcastic about it." Twilight cast the spell, making the entire bubble opaque except for a circle on the very top. "Is that enough light?"

"It'll do," Discord said crankily.

Twilight turned to Pinkie. "Pinkie, do you have to go back to work or would you be able to help me?"

"I took the whole day off! Who knows when Fluttershy's going to get back? She might miss her train or something so I figured it would be better if I could help you out as long as you need it!"

"Thank you, you're a lifesaver. I already know there's nothing in this library about draconequui, but we need to try to find references to any kind of disease that turns anyone green, even if it's a dragon disease or a cat disease or an owl disease or whatever. I'm..." She swallowed. "Going to have to examine his bodily secretions. Magically. So when he's done in there I'll have to take it down to the lab and look at it."

"Shouldn't you look at his fur too? It was his fur that turned green!"

"Good point. Also blood, and that gross stuff he keeps sneezing, and oh no DISCORD! I forgot to tell you to use the flask for urine and the chamberpot for anything else because I have to keep them separate for study!"

"Now she tells me," the voice from inside the darkened bubble said. "Fortunately for you I have eaten almost nothing solid, so that particular issue hasn't come up yet."

"Well, I'm going to need a stool sample... eventually."

"Certainly. Just poke me, prod me, jab sharp instruments into me, stick all my bodily secretions under a microscope – it's not as if I'm a living creature with feelings, after all."

"I'm sorry if you don't like it, but as long as you're a living creature with feelings of being sick, that's going to have to take precedence. Unless you don't want to get better."

"Fine," he sighed.

"Could I give Discord some of the books to read through? He might make it go faster."

Twilight remembered what Discord had told her, shortly after they had reformed him, before she'd become an alicorn. "That's not a good idea, Pinkie, I don't want to have to sterilize the books." This wasn't actually the reason, but she didn't want to humiliate Discord by telling Pinkie that he probably couldn't read without magical assistance, or at least, not well.

"Thank you, my eyes are far too bleary to make anything out anyway," Discord called out. "By the way, you can drop the darkening spell. I'm done."

Pinkie looked troubled. "Twilight, I'm happy to help but... if I'm the only one up here reading, and you're in the lab..."

"Don't fret, Pinkie, I'll keep you company," Discord said. "I may not be able to read the books and help you, but I'm sure I can stay awake long enough to keep you entertained."

"Okie dokie lokie!"

Twilight went down to the lab and came up with sterile containers. Pinkie was already flipping through various books. "Ooh! We found out everything we needed to know about Nightmare Moon from a children's book of legends and stuff, so how about I read you this book of fairy tales?"

"If they're actually fairy tales they're unlikely to help," Discord said. "Legends, folktales and myths are what you want."

"Or medical books," Twilight said.

Pinkie made a face. "You can read the medical books, Twilight," she said. "I wouldn't understand any of the gobbledygook in them anyway. I'll read legends and stuff."

"And I'll make fun of any that have mangled the source history to a ridiculous degree," Discord put in.

"How is that helping?"

"It will entertain Pinkie so she doesn't get too bored reading all by herself. Which, might I add, is a terrible task to give a mare as gregarious as Pinkie, and it's positively cruel of you to demand that she work alone. Why, if I weren't here, the poor dear would be completely isolated, slaving away by her self—"

"If you weren't here we wouldn't be having this problem." She walked over to his bubble. "I need to take samples."

"Oh." He shrank back against the wall of the bubble. "Are you sure about that? I mean, is that strictly speaking necessary?"

"Absolutely." Twilight sent her sterile instruments through the window in the bubble. Discord started hyperventilating.

"Are there going to be needles?" he asked, whimpering slightly.

"Not unless I need a biopsy. Open your mouth."

"What's that tweezers looking thing?"

"It's to take a scale off your tail. Open your mouth."

"Why do you need a scale?"

"To see how much you weigh, silly!" Pinkie called out.

"Oh, ha. Very funny, Pinkie," Discord said.

"Discord, I can't be standing here all day," Twilight said. "Cooperate with me so I can get my samples, or I'll have to restrain you with my magic so I can get them."

"That's really not necessary, really all you should need is some fur, right? I have the urine sample you wanted, I can spit in a cup if you need me to, you don't really need—"

"Can you cure yourself?" Twilight demanded.

"If I could would I be here?" Discord folded his arms indignantly. "I thought we were over questioning me about this, Twilight."

"We are. It was a rhetorical question. If you can't cure yourself, then get out of my way so I can get the samples I need to research what's wrong with you so I can cure you."

"Maybe we should wait for Fluttershy?" Pinkie said. "If he's scared..."

"I am not scared!" Discord's tone rose from indignation to offense.

"And I can't wait that long to get started. So if you're not scared, Discord, then open your mouth."

He did so with bad grace. Twilight shone a light in the back of his throat, which didn't help her see anything because his muzzle was so long, and then used a tongue depressor and a scraper to take samples of tissue from his tongue and cheeks. His eyes were wide and he was breathing hard, which didn't back up his story that he wasn't scared any. Then she plucked a feather ("Ow!"), pulled some fur ("Ow!"), and used tweezers to pry off a scale ("OW! Twilight, stop it, this is torture!"), dropping each into a sterile container of its own.

"Well, if you didn't have so many separate body coverings, I wouldn't have to take samples of all of them," Twilight said.

"I'll just go back in time and tell myself not to grow so many different kinds of body parts, how's that?" Discord retorted, pain making his voice sharp.

"How about you just go back in time and tell yourself not to give yourself blue flu in the first place?" She took all her containers, including the flask full of pee, and pulled them through the barrier, casting magic health bubble on the outside of the containers as she did so.

"What if I need to pee again?"

"Now you can use the chamberpot. This ought to be more than enough urine for me to do an analysis." Twilight sighed. "I really need a blood sample, but I guess I can get started with this stuff and then we can wait to take the blood sample until Fluttershy gets back."

Discord shivered. "You're a peach, Twilight."

"Can I get back to reading? I found some good ones!" Pinkie said.

"Sure, Pinkie, go ahead. I'm going to see what I can find out from this stuff," Twilight said, carrying the materials with her toward her lab and trying to recall everything she'd studied about biology, ever.

Author's Note:

"Chaotic poopies" is a line supplied by Jordan179 in a comment on a different story, that I've been waiting to use for a long time. :-) Yes, bathroom humor. You can't really do a comedy about someone being sick without it.