• Published 26th Mar 2012
  • 15,908 Views, 770 Comments

The Past is the Future - the_panic



A human escaping from a nuclear holocaust brings change to all of Equestria and a certain librarian.

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In For A Penny, In For A Pound

The smooth, undisturbed surface of the pond was broken by the impact of a small bit of floating wood attached to a string.

“There we go, that’s the first step, Spike. You gotta cast out the line far enough away from the shore.”

The young dragon mentally reviewed Sam’s motions. “Alright, seems easy so far, what next?”

“Well, now we just wait. If a fish takes the hook, you’ll see the floater I put on the line jerk underneath the water. That’s when you yank back on the pole and line to firmly hook the fish. Then you just pull it in.”

“Sounds kinda boring.”

Sam leaned back, enjoying the warmth of the sun. “Yeah, only reason I ever voluntarily did this back home was to spend some time with my grandpa. He loved this. But at least now I can get some variety in my diet.”

“Yeah, I feel ya bro,” Spike chuckled, “Don’t get me wrong, I like Twilight’s cooking. I grew up on flowers and salads and other pony food like that. But the things I would do for a good supply of gemstones...” He made several loud slurping noises.

“Heh. It hasn’t been too bad getting used to the food here, I mean I can do fine on a mostly vegetarian diet. Doesn’t mean I don’t still crave a good steak from time to time. ”

“So you actually enjoy eating meat?” Spike stuck his tongue out in disgust.

“Uh, yeah. At risk of freaking you out here, it’s pretty delicious. Before you give me any funny looks though, it’s not like we humans ate other sentient, thinking creatures. I’m actually surprised you’ve never had it before; your teeth and claws suggest that dragons are predatory.”

Spike pondered this idea for a second. “I guess that kinda makes sense, but dragons mostly eat gemstones. I hate to admit it though, when you cooked that last batch of fish I caught you, it smelled pretty good.”

Sam smiled. “How about you try some? If we catch any today, that is.”

“Hmm... I dunno... Maybe just a little. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea.”

“Speaking of gemstones, though, how do they taste? Can’t say I’ve heard of any species before that literally eats rocks as a source of nourishment.”

“Depends. Rubies are kinda spicy, depending on how long you age them. Tourquoise is my favorite though, they’re hard to describe. I’d offer to share some with you, but you can’t really eat them, can you?”

“Nope,” Sam laughed, “Though, when Twilight and I were fighting that machine, I’m pretty sure I got more than a mouthful of rocks and gravel from being knocked around so much.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Dude, those are TOTALLY different. Dragons eat gems, but to us dirt still tastes like dirt.”

Sam rubbed the back of his head. “Somehow, that actually makes sense.”

“So, if you don’t mind me asking, Sam, how did this thing with you and Twilight happen, anyway? I mean, you don’t really seem like the emotional, lovey-dovey type, dude. No offense, I mean, you and Twilight supposedly like each other. I see it from her, but not you.”

“Heh, none taken. That’s actually something she talked to me about a few days ago.” Sam’s tone shifted, becoming more strained and serious. “You gotta understand, it’s a little difficult for me to be as upfront with my emotions as you guys all are. In the situation I was in back in my time, I didn’t have time for emotions. None of us did.”

Spike cocked his head. “Whaddya mean?”

Sam reached for his cane, having recently graduated from crutches, and groaned as he slowly sat up, gently rubbing his still-healing right side. “We had a lot of work to do, getting those time machines ready. Every second delayed was another potential moment that could see us getting discovered or bombed. Sure, we were all under a ton of stress, but we had to put it aside and focus on the job at hand. Losing our focus could result in making mistakes, potentially fatal mistakes.”

“Sounds rough.”

“You have no idea. Live in a high pressure environment like that long enough, bottling up your emotions and thoughts inside...” Sam sighed, “You tend to forget how to relate to people. Remember how sarcastic and unpleasant I was when I got here?”

Spike just nodded.

“But,” Sam’s voice regained its previously genial sound, “I don’t know really what made her want to try, but Twilight was determined to be my friend. Looking back, it’s kinda shocking how much effort she made to comfort me even as I acted like a jerk.” Not to mention how she stopped me from killing myself...

“Yeah, once Twilight gets an idea in her head, good luck stopping her, I’ve tried,” Spike replied, chuckling.

“So I’ve noticed. But I’m glad she did. Gotta say though, if someone had told me a few months ago that a talking unicorn was going to claim me as her boyfriend, I’d probably have contacted the station’s psychologist on duty to check them out.”

Sam pulled the fishing line back in. Seeing that the bait was still on the hook, he cast it back out, wincing as he threw it. It had been three weeks since the big ceremony at the town hall, and nearly a month since his discharge from the hospital. It was becoming apparent that the pain in his right hip and leg was likely going to be a chronic issue. It had lessened in intensity over time, though, provided he didn’t exert himself, and as a result Twilight’s spell could almost completely mask the sharp burning sensation, leaving only a weak ache. However, it had been a few hours since Twilight had last administered the spell, and it was wearing off.

“Hey, Sam, you okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll just need Twilight to use her magic on me again soon.”

“Think we should pack it in for the day?”

Sam shook his head. “Nah, I’m good for a little longer. Besides, my next Equestrian language lesson with Twilight isn’t for another hour, and I’m determined to catch at least one fish today.”

“You sure this is a better method than me jumping in and grabbing them?” Spike asked with a smirk.

“Usually, yes. They just must not be hungry today.”

“If you’re sure. Then again... I’m not so sure how effective my way would be, normally I went for the ones near the shore, and I don’t see anything there.”

Sam shrugged. “Beats me. So what’s the deal with you and Rarity?”

Even Spike’s fireproof scales couldn’t contain the blush that spread across the little dragon’s face.

“Um... Yeah I have a huge crush on her...”

“Yeah, I know, you pretty much told me back when she and I had our ‘disagreement’ back when I first got here. Have you told her? Asked her out, maybe?”

Spike shook his head. “I tried to tell her once, but she didn’t let me finish. I think she knows though... Never asked her out.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I got to thinking about it, and I’m only thirteen years old. Rarity is twenty-two.” Spike began to pout slightly. “I’m still a little kid, you know? So I decided I should wait.”

Sam lightly punched Spike’s shoulder. “That’s pretty mature of you. I’m sure once you’re a little older, she’d be pretty proud to have a guy like you chasing after her.”

Spike perked up at that remark. “Really? You think so?”

Sam nodded his head. Suddenly, he felt a tug on his fishing pole, and gave it a quick jerk, before dragging the hooked fish onto the shore.

“Nice! Looks like your way finally got us one, Sam.”

“Yeah, kind of on the small side, I guess.” Sam placed another worm onto his hook, and cast out again. “Let’s try for a few more.”

---

Twilight was contentedly trotting around her library, enjoying the sensation of walking normally again, as well as the strangely pleasant feeling of the stiff tendons in her healing ankle beginning to stretch and regain their strength as she moved. She was absent-mindedly humming to herself as she searched for the books she would need for Sam’s next lesson in Equestrian language. Twilight had started Sam off using some picture books that the local schoolteacher, Cheerilee, had lent them. Now, she was moving on to a few easy novels; today’s lesson was going to basically be an exercise in translating simple sentences.

It had been tough to get started; in order for the lessons to be effective at all, Twilight had to temporarily remove the spell that translated his speech and hearing after giving a brief explanation of what the lesson was going to be about. After a solid week of daily lessons, Sam managed to pick up enough words that the spell could be canceled without any explanation ahead of time, and Twilight found herself enjoying her new role as a teacher.

As she reflected on the past lessons, the clock managed to catch her gaze and snap her out of her reverie.

“Hmm...” Twilight thought aloud, “Spike and Sam ought to be back any moment now, it’s not like Sam to be late for his lessons. He sure seems to enjoy them...”

Twilight walked over to the window, in case she could spy the dragon and his human companion coming up the path. Seeing the path to be empty, she returned to her task of gathering books for Sam’s language session.

I hope he hasn’t fallen and hurt himself... But that’s silly! Spike would go straight for help if Sam were hurt... I’m sure they’re fine. Just lost track of time, that’s all.

With her horn aglow, Twilight began organizing her books into several stacks near the chair Sam usually occupied during the lessons. Satisfied that everything was ready for class to begin, she took a seat near the blackboard she had brought in, and began idly flipping through one of the books.

As she read, Twilight’s mind drifted back to that first kiss she stole from Sam as well as the nearly horrified expression his face wore in response.

I still can’t believe he actually kissed me back! It was wonderful... I thought he was absolutely disgusted with me at first, though... I know he told me I just surprised him, but I couldn’t help but notice every other time after, he hesitated. Only a split second, sure, but I could see it...

Twilight sighed, and turned to look at a picture taken of her and Sam together at Sugarcube Corner during one of Pinkie’s random parties. Sam was sitting down, with his arms around Twilight’s midsection as she sat on his lap. She felt a smile on her face growing nearly as wide as the one Sam wore in the picture. Twilight shook her head, softly laughing at herself.

I’m just letting my imagination get the best of me... Sam has told me time and time again that he just needs time to get used to seeing me that way and that he really does care about me, and he certainly treats me like I’m special to him. I just need to be patient with him, that’s all!

Just as Twilight floated her book back over to the shelf, the front door burst open to allow Spike in, followed by Sam, limping along with the aid of his new cane. Sam had regained some control and motion in his leg, but the damage to his nerves left the leg weak and resistant to movement.

Twilight felt her already improving mood continue to skyrocket upwards. “Sam! Spike! How’d the fishing go?”

While Sam ambled over to his chair, Spike pointed to a bucket sitting just outside the door. “Pretty well, actually. We spent what, three hours out there? Didn’t get a single bite. Then all of a sudden, Sam catches one. Then I catch one. Fifteen minutes later, we’ve got a bucket full of the things. Anyway, I’m gonna finish sorting this shelf over here.”

Twilight smiled. “I’m glad you two enjoyed yourselves.” She turned to face Sam. “So, ready to try a tougher challenge today, Sam?”

Sam looked up, and noticed the stack of books beside his chair. “I’m guessing these books have something to do with it, right?”

“Yep! Today, I’m going to pick random passages from these novels, and see how well you can read them out loud to me. Then, you’ll pick a few to rewrite in English; once I reactivate the translation spell, you can read it back to me to see if you correctly understood the meaning.”

Sam scratched his head and gave a hesitant glance towards the books. “Twi... Novels? Really? I mean... I’m up for a challenge and all, but...”

Twilight giggled, and levitated one of the books into his lap. “Don’t worry, they’re just children’s novels. Simple sentences and only slightly harder vocabulary than last time. You’re doing a lot better than you think, you know. Just two weeks ago you were still trying to memorize the Equestrian alphabet, and now you can already read and write a few sentences coherently.”

Sam cracked open the book and grabbed his notepad. “Well,” he said with a determined tone, “let’s do this.”

Twilight removed Sam’s translation spell, and began with the usual vocabulary drills as a “warm-up” exercise. The way Sam slowly sounded out the words like a little foal struck her as strangely cute; it was odd for Twilight to see the usually intelligent human practically learning to speak all over again.

Once Twilight was satisfied with the word drills, she picked out a few paragraphs from the book in Sam’s lap, and instructed him to begin reading aloud. As he read, Twilight smiled as he began picking up the pace. After every couple of sentences, he looked up from the pages and was rewarded with an encouraging nod and a happy utterance of “Keep going!” from the lavender unicorn.

Every once in a while, Twilight would notice Sam wincing as he read. Eventually, he finally looked up and spoke the first sentence he’d asked Twilight to teach him.

“Can you do pain spell please?”

“Yes, one moment,” Twilight replied, focusing as she gathered the energy in her horn. Looks like the doctor was right during that last follow-up, he may have to deal with that pain for the rest of his life... At least it’s dulling over time, plus I can help. I owe at least that much to him...

Once the spell had taken effect, Sam sighed in relief, and continued to read as well as slowly rewrite the passages in English.

Twilight patiently monitored his progress, proud of how fast Sam was picking up the language. After a few more minutes of intense concentration on Sam’s part, he set down his quill and looked up at Twilight.

Deliberately, Sam sounded out three words. “I am done.”

Twilight re-cast the translation spell. “Not bad, Sam. You only misread maybe four words in that entire passage!”

Sam scratched his head in disbelief. “Really? I thought I had botched about half of them.”

“Like I said, you’re doing better than you think! Now, read me your translation there,” Twilight replied, pointing a hoof at Sam’s paper.

She listened intently as Sam read out his work, nodding as he spoke. Twilight was thrilled; other than a few mistranslations due to some Equestrian homophones, Sam had managed to get the basic meaning of the passage. After a few more congratulatory remarks, Twilight killed the translation spell once again, and had Sam repeat the exercise with another passage.

Sam stared intently at the new block of text before him, studying the markings to recall their respective sounds. I feel like I’m a damned kindergartener again...

As if reading his thoughts, Twilight stepped towards Sam and sat down next to him in his chair, placing a hoof on his shoulder reassuringly.

“You’re doing great, Sam, keep going.”

Sam caught enough of the sentence to guess at Twilight’s meaning, and smiled. He redoubled his efforts, and continued reading.

Twilight had Sam repeat the exercise with three more excerpts before deciding to end the day’s lesson.

Sighing as Twilight finished recasting the translation spell, Sam set his books and paper aside and looked down at the unicorn curled up next to him.

“So, how’s your leg doing, Twi?”

Twilight stretched her right foreleg out and flexed it a little. “It’s healing nicely, I’d say. I can walk with almost no limp, though it’s still a little swollen.”

“Yeah, I remember when I sprained my own ankle. I could get around fine within a week or so, but it took nearly two months for the swelling to completely go away.”

“That long, huh...”

“So, I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Twilight’s ears perked up in response. “What is it?”

Sam laughed. “Surprise. Just go upstairs and put on your nicest dress, okay?”

“Okay! I’ll be right back!”

“Take your time.” Once Sam was satisfied that Twilight was out of earshot, he motioned for Spike to come over. “Alright, when she comes back down, I need you to get her to put on that blindfold I gave you, and make sure you tell her it’s for the surprise, okay?”

“Sure thing.”

Sam grabbed his cane, stood up, and began ascending the stairs to his own room.

Spike manned his station at the bottom of the stairs, listening as he heard a series of small crashing noises from the upper floor; he wasn’t sure whose room the sounds had originated from, given Twilight’s sometimes excitably obsessive nature and the fact that Sam needed a cane to walk safely.

Minutes later, Sam slowly descended the stairway, wearing a brand new tuxedo that he had Rarity make the week before, complete with a top hat.

Spike stuck out his fist, which Sam promptly met with his own.

“Not bad, Sam, Rarity make that for ya?”

“Yep, I almost got into another fight with her over it though...”

“What now?” Spike groaned.

“I’m only half-serious; she wanted to literally cover this thing in jewels. It’s like she wanted me to be one of those ancient country singers.”

“What does country music have to do with that?”

Sam shook his head. “Nevermind. I managed to talk her down from the idea, but she insisted I at least get the hat, as well as jewel tip for the top of my walking cane. Personally, I think they’re both a little much, but I kinda need the cane. What do you think?”

“I like top hats, myself, but I dunno, I don’t really see it on you. Then again, Rarity is the one with the eye for style.”

“I think I might just leave out the hat. Don’t tell Rarity,” Sam said with a wink. That hat makes me look like one of those over-dressed gangsters from the twentieth century anyway.

The conversation was cut short by the sound of hooves clip-clopping towards the top of the stairway.

Sam lowered his voice. “That’s your cue, Spike.”

Sam stepped out of the stairway’s line of sight, and Spike took his position at the bottom.

Twilight began making her way downstairs, wearing the blue astronomy-inspired dress that Rarity had made her for the Gala roughly a year ago. Once she made it to the last few steps, Spike motioned for her to stop.

Confused, Twilight tilted her head slightly. “Spike? What are you doing?”

“Sam wants you to put this blindfold on and then follow him.”

“Excuse me?”

Sam called out from beyond Twilight’s view. “It’s okay, trust me!”

“Okay... If you insist...” Twilight’s horn lit up, and slowly levitated the bit of cloth over her eyes.

“Alright, ready Twilight?”

“I suppose.”

“Then just stay with my voice. I’ll try to stay on your right side.” Sam turned towards Spike and nodded a silent “Thanks!” as he began leading the blindfolded pony towards their destination.

As the couple walked through town, they were certainly a sight to behold; a limping human with a cane and a dinner jacket leading a beautifully-dressed, though blinded, mare through the streets. Sam was amused with some of the townsponies’ reactions, ranging from pure confusion to straight out laughter; he made sure to signal them to stay silent while they passed by.

Where is he taking me? I think I kind of know what direction we’re headed, but I don’t know why we’d be going to Berry’s wine shop...

A few minutes later, Twilight picked up the faint sounds of violins and cellos playing, and as she continued moving, her nose caught a slight scent of garlic and other assorted herbs.

“Alright, we’re here, you can take off the blindfold Twilight.”

Tossing aside the strip of fabric, she immediately saw Sam standing in front of her with a gigantic, goofy grin on his face.

“I love the new tuxedo, Sam,” Twilight giggled, “but why are we here all dressed up?”

“Surprise!”

Twilight craned her neck to look around Sam, and saw a newly-built building with a sign reading “Il Capriccio”.

Still confused, Twilight once more looked up at Sam. “I’m not sure I get it.”

Laughing, Sam explained. “Do I have to spell it out for you? We’re dressed up, standing outside of what is supposedly Ponyville’s newest bit of fine dining...”

Twilight’s eyes went wide with realization. “Ohhh! A surprise date?”

Sam nodded. “Ever since you and I began ‘officially’ dating, I wanted to take you somewhere REALLY nice, seeing as we already went to the previously-best establishment in town on our ‘mock date’, if you’ll recall.”

Twilight turned beet-red with embarrassment as she recalled the whole bizarre affair.

“Well? Are we going to stand here all evening or shall we go claim our reservation?”

Twilight nodded.

“After you, madam.”

Twilight giggled, and led the way inside.

Once inside, Sam approached the headwaiter, a white stallion with his jet-colored mane slicked back, who promptly greeted him. “Good evening, sir, do you have a reservation?”

“Yes, that would be ‘Mitchell’ for two.”

The headwaiter glanced down at his records briefly before looking back up. “Ah, yes, right this way please.”

Twilight and Sam found themselves led back into the restaurant, which appeared to be more of a concert hall than a dining room. A small stage was set up with semi-circular rows of tables radiating out around it, with each chair positioned so that its occupant would be watching the stage as the meal was served.

Once seated, the chairs side by side rather than across from each other, Twilight began looking through the menu.

“Wow, Sam, this all looks amazing... And I swear I heard a string quartet warming up behind the stage.”

Sam was beaming. “Yes, that’s one reason Rarity recommended this place so strongly. She said that their house salad is to die for.” Only in Equestria would a “house salad” actually mean a specialty main dish as opposed to a light side item...

“See? I told you you’d like Rarity if you made peace with her,” Twilight said smugly.

Sam decided to ignore the comment and attempt to read his own menu. Twilight noticed his effort, and waited a few moments before offering her assistance.

“No, give me a minute Twilight, this is good practice...” Sam furrowed his brow in concentration before laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, nothing... It’s just that, if I’m reading this right, this dish is called smoked grass.”

“...And?”

“Nevermind, I’ll explain later. Was I right?”

Twilight shook her head, trying to stifle a laugh herself. “Sorry, no. You were close. That’s actually a grilled vegetable plate. Good try though.” She scanned through a few more items on the menu. “Oh, I bet you’d enjoy this, Sam, it’s a sort of stuffed pasta, filled with a type of cheese and a few veggies.”

“Yeah, I just got to that one, the picture sure makes it look appetizing.”

As if on cue, the waiter arrived to take their orders. Deciding to trust Rarity’s judgement, Twilight ordered the house salad, and Sam ordered the stuffed pasta plus some wine for the both of them.

Once the waiter left, the string quartet came on stage. Twilight immediately recognized the cellist from the Grand Galloping Gala.

Twilight leaned in towards Sam. “Sam! Do you have any idea who that is?!” Seeing Sam’s shaking head, she continued and discreetly pointed a hoof towards the elegant gray pony. “That’s Octavia! She and the rest of the musicians up there are the best players in Equestria!”

“I had no idea.” Grinning, Sam looked back towards Twilight. “So, monkey do good?”

Twilight playfully nudged Sam’s shoulder. “Oh stop it. You’re not a monkey. And yes, this is wonderful.”

“Well, I AM wearing a monkeysuit.”

The couple sat in silence as the music began to play. Sam couldn’t help but marvel over how, even after millions of years, classical music had re-evolved in an entirely different race and society. He found himself admiring the way the dim, warm lighting of the restaurant-cum-concert-hall played off of Twilight’s features, reflecting from her lovely lavender eyes as she gave the quartet her full attention.

Without warning, Twilight snapped back to reality, and caught Sam watching her. She giggled bashfully as he quickly tried to avert his gaze. The two simply sat, looking each other in the eye and smiling.

Much as Sam had done to her, Twilight took in every detail of Sam’s appearance. Rarity’s handiwork was not something to be underestimated; in his suit and in the glow of the candles, Sam seemed far removed from the once-gaunt and haggard being who originally arrived in Equestria. She had seen the spark in his eyes within only a few weeks, but at that moment, his blue eyes were aglow; Twilight knew he was finally happy.

She began to involuntarily lean towards her companion, her eyes slowly fluttering closed.

Sam saw what was happening; his mind was racing. Well this is new. Never thought I’d see straight-laced, bookish Twilight going in for the romantic candle-lit kiss... Well, best not to keep the girl waiting. He leaned down and reached out a hand as the scent of lilacs accompanied Twilight’s advancing form.

Twilight felt Sam’s hand lightly grasp her shoulder and thought she might burst with bliss as she felt her lips connect with Sam’s. If not for the steady rhythm that the quartet was playing, she would have easily sworn that entire hours had passed before Sam sat back up, taking his hand off of Twilight’s shoulder. She kept her eyes closed a few moments longer, revelling in the emotional high that was crashing into her.

Finally allowing her eyelids to crack, Twilight focused her gaze on Sam. Rather than lovingly staring back at her as she’d hoped, however, Sam was nervously scanning his eyes around the room, as if he thought he was being watched.

I really hope no one was watching us... I saw one couple staring at us, well me really, when we came in. I don’t totally blame them, I guess, but... I know I’m the odd creature around here, but I still just feel strange kissing her, and now in a pretty much public setting? Sam finally stopped glancing around, and saw Twilight looking at him with a confused expression on her face.

“Everything okay, Sam?”

Sam nervously chuckled, his face slightly flushed. “Uh, yeah, Twilight. Everything’s good.”

Twilight cocked her head to the side. “Are you sure? You look anxious about something.”

“Oh, no,” Sam shook his head, “I’m fine.”

“Alright, if you say so,” Twilight responded, eyeing him suspiciously. She could feel her old paranoia creeping back. Maybe he’s ashamed of me, maybe that’s why he’s acting so weird... Maybe he doesn’t want anypony to know I’m his special somepony... But that doesn’t make sense, most of the town knows thanks to Pinkie blurting it out at the honors ceremony a few weeks ago...

Sensing that Twilight might have picked up on his reaction, Sam leaned down again and lowered his voice. “Are you okay Twilight?”

“I’m fine, don’t worry,” Twilight replied, a small smile returning to her face. Oh come on Twilight, don’t be such a little filly, he’s probably just not used to being affectionate in public, that’s all. It’s not anything wrong with me; I should wait until we get home to be so openly affectionate. Besides! I know how reserved and private he is. I should have known better!

“You sure?”

“Yes, I’m okay, sheesh,” Twilight said with a laugh, “I just got a little carried away in the moment and forgot where I was. You have that effect on me, you know.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.” Sam felt his stomach rumbling, and his hip beginning to ache again. “I can’t wait for the food to get here, though, I just realized I haven’t eaten since before I took Spike fishing. Also, I hate to impose on you yet again, but could you hit me with the spell? My hip is flaring up.”

Twilight nodded, and Sam instantly felt the familiar tingle of Twilight’s pain-relief spell. I hope I don’t have to rely on her for that for the rest of my life...

Just as Sam began to relax again, the waiter appeared bearing two dishes on his back, followed by another waiter, a unicorn, levitating two wine glasses and an intricately-labeled bottle onto the table. Once the dishes had been placed on the table, and the wine poured, the two waiters left the couple to enjoy their meal with the music.

Twilight took a bite of her salad. “Rarity wasn’t kidding! This is amazing!”

Sam laughed, after swallowing a mouthful of his own food. “Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone call a salad ‘amazing’, but looks like between you and Rarity we’re two for two on that one.” He pointed to his plate. “I’m certainly enjoying this stuff, good call on the pasta, Twi.”

Simply enjoying each other’s company, not much was said for the rest of the meal; both preferred to let the music float around them, happy to be able to share this moment together.

---

Once the meal and string quartet performance were over, Twilight and Sam decided to take a pony-pulled rickshaw back to the library due to Sam’s hip having a particularly bad flare-up and Twilight’s food-induced drowsiness.

Upon arriving back at the library, Sam paid and generously tipped the cart-pulling pony before helping Twilight down onto the ground. With Twilight safely out of the cart, and the driver satisfied with his fee, Sam painfully hobbled inside behind Twilight.

Sam practically collapsed onto the nearest chair, drawing Twilight’s concern.

“Sam? Are you ok?”

Wincing, Sam replied, “Yeah, just having another bout of pain in my hip. The doctor said I might occasionally have some episodes that were more painful than others. Mind using that spell?”

“Sure, no problem, just a second...”

Once the spell had taken effect, it was clear to Sam that it wasn’t going to be enough this time.

“How does it feel now?”

“A little better,” Sam groaned. “But I’m not sure the spell will quite do the trick tonight. Thanks though.”

“Sorry,” Twilight replied. “Want to watch one of your movies or something before we go to sleep? Maybe it’ll help keep your mind off of the pain.” She asked with a hopeful look on her face.

Sam sighed. “Normally I’d say yes, but I really think sleeping this off will be my best bet.”

“Okay...” Twilight tried to keep her ears from drooping, lest she give away her disappointment. “I guess I’m a little sleepy myself from dinner. Once I get this dress off I’ll join you.” I know he took the hit for me because he cares, but why do I still feel responsible? Better yet... Why didn’t I move?! Nothing to do now but be there for him, I suppose...

Sam gingerly began ascending the stairs, careful not to move his right leg unnecessarily. As he approached his bed, he started dropping his custom-made dress clothes on the floor, and dropped himself onto the mattress.

A few minutes later, he was aware of something moving in the bed next to him. Refusing to open his eyes, he correctly guessed who it was, and reached up to pull Twilight down next to him. As Sam began pulling, he heard a surprised yelp and became aware of a dull ache on his nose and forehead.

Opening his eyes, Sam realized he’d caused Twilight to slam her face into his.

Giving her a confused look, Sam rubbed his head. “...Twi? What are you doing?”

Giving an almost embarrassed grin, shook her head before answering. “Um... I... I was just going to kiss you goodnight...” Twilight then leaned down and did just that.

After she pulled back, Twilight simply laid there, staring almost expectantly at Sam.

Sam finally broke the tension. “What?”

With a sigh, Twilight rolled her eyes. “I could have sworn I’ve told you before, Sam... If your special somepony kisses you, you’re supposed to do it back. Why are you so reserved?”

“Oh, sorry...” Confound these ponies and their affectionate culture. Way to screw up again. “Humans don’t exactly have any sort of rigid custom or ritual like that as far as kissing goes... One of us kisses the other, and we either just keep it going, or return it like this...” Leaning over towards his unicorn bedmate, Sam returned Twilight’s kiss, and dropped his head back to the pillow. “Look, Twilight, I’m sorry if I don’t always come across right. I care about you, really, I do, but it’s going to take more than just a couple of weeks for this to feel normal to me.” Sam once again tried to reach over Twilight and pull her closer to him in an embrace.

“I know, I know,” Twilight sighed, “but don’t think this hasn’t been tough for me, too. I mean, everypony has been perfectly civil about you and me, but I see some of the strange looks some of them give me. But it’s okay, because you’re okay,” a small smile returning to her face, “and as for everything else, at least you’re trying. Goodnight, Sam.”

“Goodnight, Twi.”

---

The next morning, all was quiet as usual until a loud thundering noise erupted at the library’s front door.

“Hey, guys, you home?” Rainbow Dash continued beating a cyan hoof against the library’s door. “Hello?! You’re never gonna believe this, come on already!”

Finally, the door swung open to reveal Sam leaning on his cane. “Hey Dash, what’s going on?”

“What’s going on?! WHAT’S GOING ON?! I GOT TICKETS TO THE WONDERBOLTS SHOW, THAT’S WHAT’S GOING ON!”

“Awesome! When is it?”

Rainbow’s already-wide eyes were nearly popping out of her skull. “It’s today! And I managed to get two extra tickets! You and Twilight should come with me!”

By this time, Twilight had joined Sam at the door. “Thanks Rainbow Dash, but I’ve got a ton of work to catch up on; all that time resting and recuperating set me back quite a bit.”

Rainbow tried to do her best imitation of Rarity’s pleading pout. “Come on! I can’t just let this ticket go to waste... The WONDERBOLTS, Twilight! Do I have to spell it out for ya?!”

Twilight just laughed. “Why not see if Applejack wants to go? I’m sure she could use a break.”

“Ah alright... See ya round, Twi. You still up for it Sam?”

“You know it, I’ve been curious to see what these guys are all about after hearing you go on about ‘em. When should I be ready?”

“Um... Show starts in like an hour, I’ll be back with AJ shortly, as long as I can get her to chill out and take a break. Sure you don’t wanna come Twilight?”

Twilight nodded. “I’m sure. Like I said, thanks for the invite, but I have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Alright, well, I’ll be back later to get you Sam.”

Sam followed Twilight back inside the house, and began putting his shoes on.

“You alright, Twi? Doesn’t seem like you to turn down an invitation like that.”

Twilight sighed, slightly annoyed. “I’m fine, Sam. I just have a lot of work to do. For the third time.”

“Alright, alright. Don’t work too hard, okay?”

“You know me. Have fun with Dash.” Twilight turned back to her books. This would be the point at which a normal special somepony would give me a quick little peck on the cheek before he left. Are humans just THAT reserved? Or is it just Sam?

Sam grabbed his cane, stood up, and hobbled outside to wait for Rainbow. Sure enough, he soon saw a multi-colored blur approaching, with an equally-fast streak of orange staying close.

“Heh, must have decided to have a race along the way,” Sam chuckled to himself.

With both mares coming to a stop, an argument immediately broke out over who won.

“There’s no way you even came close to beating me, especially since you didn’t make me tie my wings down this time!”

“Ah beg ta differ there, RD, we were neck an’ neck at LEAST, an’ Ah’m certain Ah got here a full two seconds ‘fore you were.”

“Horsefeathers, AJ! I won and you-”

Sam had had enough. “Hey! Girls! Enough!”

Rainbow looked back at Sam with a sheepish smile on her face. “Heh, sorry,” She looked back at Applejack, “I guess SOME ponies just can’t admit when they’ve been beat!”

“Now wait jest a minute there, Dash, don’t you git-”

“GIRLS!”

Both mares replied in unison, “Sorry.”

Shaking his head, Sam looked both of them in the eye in turn. “Ok, if we can forget about your little race, maybe we can get to the Wonderbolts show before all the best seats are taken?”

With the group calmed and ready to go, they began heading towards Ghastly Gorge, where temporary bleachers had been set up to watch the show. Rainbow did her best to control her impatience, knowing that Sam was walking as fast as he could, given his recent injuries. Slowly, both Rainbow and Applejack came down from the effects of their adrenaline and began acting like they were good friends again.

“Hey, AJ? Sorry for bein’ such a stubborn mule back there.”

“Aw, shucks, Dash, Ah should apologize ta you! But... How’s about a rematch sometime?”

“Aww yeah, you know it!”

Sam just laughed.

“Ya got somethin’ ta say there, Sam?”

“Oh don’t mind me,” Sam replied, shaking his head, “I just think it’s funny how you two go from nearly tearing each other’s throats out to being best friends all within the span of a few minutes.”

“Aw come on, at tha end of tha day, we both know it’s all in good fun, right Dash?”

“Yep!”

Eventually, the three friends made it to the gaping canyon and claimed their spots in the stands placed on the flat, rocky ground. Sam attempted to push his mind away from thoughts of what had happened at the bottom of that gorge barely a month ago. With still a few minutes to go before the show, Applejack decided to offer to make a run to the concession stand.

“Any of ya’ll want anything while Ah go?”

Rainbow scratched her chin pensively. “I think I’d just like some juice or something, I’m not all that hungry.”

“Alrighty then, what about you, Sam? What’ll ya have?”

“I’m good, thanks though.”

“Be back in a few then.”

Sam and Rainbow Dash shuffled around to let Applejack out, and began watching the Wonderbolts warm up.

“So, Sam, thanks for lending me your... What’d ya call it again? Em-pee-free player?”

“MP3 Player. And no problem. What’d you think of my music collection?”

“Dude, some of that stuff was awesome. Love me some fast rock-n-roll! But uh... That stuff where they had some sorta monster growling, a lot of that was hit and miss for me. Don’t know how you tolerate that.”

Sam chuckled. “It’s an acquired taste, I guess. I mostly like it for the instrument work.”

“Yeah, I can see that I guess. That stuff you call “speed metal” is pretty cool though.”

“Heh, figures you’d like those songs.”

“What can I say? It speaks to me, even if I don’t really understand your bizarre human language. I’m just glad you’ve got that spell that lets us understand you.” Rainbow pulled her attention away from the practicing show-fliers to look Sam in the eye with a devious smirk. “So, how are things going with you and Twilight, huh? You two, um...” She attempted to stifle a laugh. “... ‘Do it’ yet?”

Sam’s face turned beet-red. “Uh, excuse me?”

“You heard me, dude.” Rainbow’s face was almost as red as Sam’s was from her efforts to keep from laughing.

Sam facepalmed. “Things are... Alright with Twi and I. I’m still trying to adjust to the idea of dating outside my species, but it’s nice having her around, and I’m sure she’d say the same.”

“You didn’t answer my other question.”

Sam cocked an eyebrow; he had an idea. “You sure you want the answer to that, Dash?”

“Whaddya mean?"

“Do you even know how humans ‘do it’?”

With a look of confusion, Rainbow replied, “No, should I?”

“Well, the human male chooses a victim, incapacitates it, and injects the embryo into its abdomen, where it lives as a parasite until its ready to be ‘born’. It then bursts out of the chest of the host, and over the course of a few hours, it grows to its full size. Obviously the host doesn’t survive.”

Rainbow Dash’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates, and her irises had shrunk to the size of pinheads. “Uh wha-... That’s... Dude.”

“Yeah, so since Twilight is alive, I obviously haven’t ‘done it’.” Sam allowed an evil grin to play across his face. “Yet.”

Rainbow was still stuttering. “Uh um... A-are you serious?”

Sam turned away from the terrified pegasus, and dismissed her fear with a wave of his hand. “Nah, I’m just screwin’ with you. Humans are mammals like you ponies; we do things pretty similarly as far as I know.”

“Dude. Not cool.”

It was Sam’s turn to smirk. “Maybe, but your reaction was PRICELESS.”

“If you weren't my best friend's special somepony, I would buck you in the head so hard that you’d end up back in your own time period.”

Sam was almost doubled over with laughter at this point. “You think you freaked out? You shoulda seen Twilight’s face when I pulled that joke on her. I had to cook her dinner and reshelve the non-fiction section to get back on her good side for that one.”

“I guess I can’t be too angry, I love a good prank as much as the next pony, after all. Still, that’s messed up, dude. But seriously, did ya?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Dash. Seriously. That’s none of your business. Besides, you realize I’m Twilight’s first relationship, right?”

“Oh... Yeah.”

“So once you consider that, along with the fact that I’m still trying to adjust to the idea of dating outside of my species here... Needless to say we’re taking things slow. Right now, we’re just glad that each of us is in once piece, you know? So to answer your question, no, we haven’t. Satisfied?”

Rainbow nodded. “Yeah yeah, geez, dude. I figured that was the case, we’re usually only REALLY in the mood during THAT time of the year anyway, heh. I’m just messin’ with you. You’re hilarious when you’re all awkward like that by the way,” she said with a grin.

Sam facepalmed. She got me again. Perhaps I should stop calling her “Rainbro Dash” and re-title her “Rainbow Troll”? Nah, doesn’t flow well. “Right, I forget about that. But still, I meant what I said before. Both of us want to be as patient with each other as possible.”

“Yeah, I know. I guess I see your point, though. Just an FYI, dude, Twi is nuts about you, in case you haven’t caught on,” she aimed a threatening leer towards Sam, “so don’t mess that up. There’s a reason why I’m the ‘Element of Loyalty’ and all.”

“Hey now, if I can help it, she’ll be fine. She still seems a little rattled sometimes about the whole thing where I almost died, though. Anyway enough of that stuff, ok? AJ’s coming with your juice, just in time for the show to start too.”

With Applejack settled back in, and Rainbow Dash in the middle of slaking her thirst, the announcer came on over the public address system, and began introducing the individual members of the Wonderbolts.

“...And finally, all the way from Cloudsdale, last and certainly not least, Soarin’ and Spitfire!”

As the two latex-suited pegasi came swooping over the stands, the crowd erupted in excited cheering. Once the two star Wonderbolts rejoined the rest of their team, the entire group immediately split apart into a new formation, and began speeding along, leaving contrails of sparking smoke behind them.

Eventually, it became clear what they were doing, as a large, sparkling recreation of Princess Celestia’s solar cutie mark was overlaid across the sky with the sun illuminating it from behind.

Sam nudged Rainbow’s shoulder. “That’s pretty cool, Dash. I love the way they spiraled around each other as they flew. Must be hard to do that without hitting each other.”

“Oh, man, you have no idea. But if you think that was cool...”

Suddenly, all of the Wonderbolts regrouped, and began hurtling straight towards the crowd, picking up more momentum as they drew near. Once they were close enough that Sam could see the whites of their eyes through their goggles, each pegasus immediately split off into another direction, missing the audience by only inches.

Sam’s only reaction was to yell “Holy shit!”

Rainbow was grabbing her sides and laughing. “It gets better, just watch!”

Applejack shook her head. “Sam, she says that about darn near anything these ponies do. Not ta say Ah don’t enjoy tha show, but... Aw well you get mah point.”

The next hour and a half was filled with Rainbow Dash cheering louder and louder, almost deliriously so, with each new routine. Applejack, while slightly mocking of Rainbow’s fervor, was nonetheless enjoying herself. Sam was simply amazed; the whole show reminded him of the famous Blue Angels flight team from his own time. Though the overall premise had remained the same over the roughly two-hundred and fifty years that the Blue Angels had operated, enhancements in air propulsion technology and inertial-dampening systems had allowed for physics-defying displays of aeronautical prowess that would impress even Rainbow Dash.

Much to Rainbow’s disappointment, all good things must come to an end, and her beloved Wonderbolts show was no exception. However, her grief over the end of the show couldn’t stop her from loudly giving a verbal play-by-play of each trick performed, followed by an explanation on how she could improve the routines.

“...And then, I’d follow up that barrel-roll with a Buccaneer Blaze! As I would get close to the stands, I’d sweep out and fly back over from one side of the stands to the other, spiraling myself the whole time. And of course, I’d have to finish it all off with the one trick that I know the Wonderbolts could NEVER imitate, my Sonic Rainboom!”

Applejack rolled her eyes. “That sounds jest peachy there, RD. Or rather, it did tha first five times ya went over it.”

Rainbow simply stuck her tongue out in response.

“Real ma-toor, Dash. But seriously, we were all there seein’ tha show with ya. Ya don’t hafta keep re-enactin’ the whole thing.”

“Oh yeah? Well, what do YOU think, Sam?”

Sam could feel the glares of both mares bearing down on him. “All I’m gonna say is that I enjoyed the show. Thanks for inviting me, Dash. Kinda glad we’re heading home though, I’m a little overdue for some lunch.”

Placated, Rainbow Dash stopped glaring. “No prob, dude. Glad you liked it. I told ya the Wonderbolts were amazing!”

Applejack laughed. “Ya’ll will tell anypony who listens. But yeah, thank ya Dash, sometimes Ah ferget to take a break now and again.”

Sam suddenly remembered something. “Oh yeah, AJ, what’d you think about that sangria I made for you?”

“Ah liked it. It was nice ‘n sweet, had a bit of a kick to it, though it don’t hold a candle to mah Granny’s special reserve cider in that respect. You’ll have ta make another batch sometime.”

Sam smiled. “Great! And believe me, it’s one of my favorites, so I’m sure if you stop by often enough I’ll have some to share with you at some point.”

“Thank ya kindly, Sam. Well, this is where Ah split off, gotta pick back up where Ah left off this mornin’. Tell Twilight Ah said howdy!”

Sam continued the trek to the library with Rainbow in tow; she wanted to see if Twilight had gotten the latest Daring-Do book in stock. Once they had arrived, Rainbow immediately burst inside to search for the book, while Sam simply sought a place to sit down.

Twilight came cantering out of her study. “Hey guys, how was the show?”

Pausing mid-search, Rainbow yelled out, “IT WAS SO. AWESOME.”

“Yeah, it was a pretty good show, Twi. Get your work done?”

Twilight nodded, seemingly in a much more pleasant mood than she was earlier that morning. “Yep! It’ll take some time, but I worked out a to-do schedule that should get me caught up by next month and STILL have time for your Equestrian language studies, and...” She blushed slightly, “Hopefully at least one more night out like last night.”

Relieved to see her usual chipper demeanor overtaking her earlier irritability, Sam exclaimed, “That’s great! I’ll try to plan something out.”

Twilight shook her head. “Nope. This time, I’m going to plan it out,” she began smiling proudly, “after all, my dating advice books all say that we both have to put in equal effort in order to have a successful, happy relationship!”

At this point, Rainbow was rolling on the floor laughing. “Gosh, Twilight, you really ARE an egghead! You had to read a book to figure that out?!”

Twilight’s jaw dropped as Rainbow’s words hit her. Am I really that naive? I thought that was good advice... I just want to make Sam as happy as he makes me...

Sam saw Twilight’s face turning red from embarrassment and her eyes beginning to water up, and called her over to him. “Hey, nothing to be embarrassed about,” he pulled her into a hug, “I still say you should probably forget those books, but that’s a good idea. I’m sure we’ll have a great time regardless of what you pick or,” he glared at Rainbow over Twilight’s shoulder, “what Dash thinks.”

Sensing that she might have taken her well-intentioned joking too far, Rainbow trotted up next to Twilight. “Oh, wow, sorry Twilight. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything.”

Sniffling slightly, Twilight pulled away from Sam and turned to face her friend. “I know, it’s okay. I just didn’t expect to be laughed at for that...” Calming herself down, she smiled again. “Anyway... I know what you’re about to ask, Dash, and the new Daring-Do book is in the middle of the second shelf from the right.”

“Awesome! Thanks, Twi! And really, I’m sorry.”

“And really, it’s okay. Go enjoy your book! I’ve got to teach some human how to speak Equestrian,” Twilight said with a smirk.

Fifteen minutes later, Twilight had gathered her usual supplies to give Sam his daily lesson. It was going to be a repeat of the previous day’s lesson, though with slightly more advanced novels this time.

Sam pored through his books, and found that the task of translating was getting easier; he attributed this to his attempts to mentally translate every sign and piece of writing he saw in his daily travels around the library and Ponyville at large. He had been able to pick up a few new words, and it kept the rules of Equestrian grammar and spelling fresh at the front of his mind.

Finally, he was finished with the passages Twilight had selected.

Once she had recast the translation spell, Twilight began praising Sam’s progress. “Not bad at all Sam! You’re doing much better than yesterday. Have you been studying outside of lessons?”

Sam nodded. “Sort of, mostly just practicing with everyday bits of text and such.”

Twilight was beaming. I bet this is why Cheerilee loves teaching so much! “Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up! At this rate, soon you’ll have a basic grasp of conversational Equestrian, and then I can take the spell off for longer periods of time. I’ve read that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.”

“Sounds about right. Guess I’ll have to take the training wheels off sometime, eh?”

“Training wheels?”

Sam facepalmed. “Yeah, small wheels placed on the side of a bicycle so it doesn’t fall over. Little kids use them to get used to riding their bikes. Remember? I showed you some pictures from when I went mountain biking once; that thing I was sitting on with two wheels is a bicycle.”

“Ohhh, okay. Anyway, are you hungry? I could use a bite myself.”

Sam realized he’d forgotten to eat lunch after the Wonderbolts performance. “Yeah, I think I’ll try cooking some of those fish again.”

Soon, Sam and Twilight were joined by Spike in the kitchen. Spike was particularly looking forward to this meal, as he was going to take Sam up on his offer to try some fried fish.

Once a few pieces were cooked to a golden brown, Sam set them aside to cool. Spike, however, was too enticed by the scent of the fried food and the bit of lemon that Sam had drizzled over them. Sam reached out to warn Spike, but it was too late; he’d already closed his little claws over one of the piping hot pieces of fish.

“Spike! No! You’ll burn yourself!”

Spike jumped slightly at the volume of Sam’s outburst, but he just casually pulled his claw back from the plate with the fish in his grasp as if nothing was wrong. “What? Dude, I’m a dragon. In the wild, we bathe and swim in magma. A little hot food won’t kill me.”

Twilight made a sincere attempt to stifle her giggling.

Sam lightly slapped his own head. “Oh. Right. Dragons. Makes about as much sense as anything else does around here I guess.”

With the excitement over, Spike tried a bite of his piece of fish. Slowly, deliberately, he chewed the meat, deciding what he thought about the flavor. Finally, he announced his verdict.

“This isn’t half bad, Sam. Not something I’d eat every day, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.”

“Heh, help yourself then.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Would you look at that? My colt- I mean boyfriend has turned my assistant-slash-baby brother into a ravenous carnivore.”

Sam laughed. “Come on now, I eat meat but I certainly haven’t set my bloodthirsty sights on you or any other ponies.”

“I think you came close to digging into Rarity when you two first met,” Twilight replied with a smirk.

“Really? Can we just forget about that? Rarity and I are friends now. We let it go,” Sam chuckled, “mind doing the same?”

Spike simply stood by idly, munching on his fried fish.

“Oh alright. Once we’re done cleaning up dinner, though, do you think we-”

Twilight was interrupted by a loud shout from Sam as he doubled over, grabbing at his hip.

“Twi, I need the spell, it’s flaring up bad again.”

Obliging, Twilight tried to focus as much of her energy as she could in order to maximize the painkilling effect.

“Better?”

Sam shook his head. “Only a little. Seems like it does this on days where I do a lot of walking, like yesterday when I led you to the restaurant or today when I walked to and from the Wonderbolts show with Dash and AJ. It doesn’t get this bad when I just hang around here with you and Spike. Mind floating me my cane? I need to go lay down.”

Twilight did as she was asked, and attempted to help Sam up. She followed him into the bedroom, and tried to make sure he was comfortable before leaving the room.

“Hey, Twi?”

Twilight paused as she reached the doorway. “Yes?”

“What were you asking downstairs?”

“Oh... Nothing, don’t worry about it. Just get some rest. I’ll check on you later. If you fall asleep, then I’ll see you in the morning.” With a feeling of dejection washing over her, Twilight closed the door and retreated to her own room, casually noting that it had been a while since she’d slept in there.

With the door shut, Twilight felt like she could speak her thoughts aloud in private. “Oh, Celestia... You would know my luck; I finally get my feelings out and have them returned, only to have it ruined. I truly care about Sam... I think I might even love him, but he seems so reserved towards me. I know, I know,” She sighed, “he’s still trying to get used to seeing me that way, and I’m trying to be patient. I am. And lately, whenever I want to simply spend some time with him, he can’t,” she threw her forelegs into the air, “because he’s in pain. Because he’s injured. Because I couldn’t BUCKING GET OUT OF THE WAY!”

Taking a few deep breaths, Twilight sat down on her bed in an attempt to stop pacing and calm herself down. What if... No, no way. It would explain a lot, sure, but Sam doesn’t hate me because he got hurt on my account. How could he treat me so nicely if he hated me? And it was his own decision to jump in front of that attack... But he only had to do it because I wouldn’t get out of the way... No, I’m being crazy. Sam cares about me, and I really COULDN’T move. That’s why he took the hit for me. Nothing more, nothing less... Right?

Once Twilight had finished reassuring herself, she quietly trotted out of her room towards the bathroom to clean her face. Satisfied that the results of her emotional outburst had been cleaned away, she reentered Sam’s room, and put on a movie. Sam was clearly already asleep, but Twilight, not yet ready to sleep herself, found it comforting to curl up next to him anyway and let the movie take her mind off of her troubles.

---

As the sun began slowly filling the bedroom, Sam roused from sleep, relieved that the pain in his hip had died down. He noticed an odd weight across his chest, and lifted his head to see, though he was already certain that he knew what it was. Twilight was slumped across his torso, still deep in sleep.

Not wanting to wake her, Sam instead opted to stay in bed a little longer. He drifted in and out of sleep, gently stroking Twilight’s mane and essentially starting his day with a catnap before he had even gotten out of bed.

Judging by the look of my laptop, I’d say she passed out watching a movie while checking on me... Sam felt a smile stretching across his face, matching the feeling of serenity that was filling his mind. That mare is too sweet to me. It never ceases to blow my mind how much she cares about me. I know in the beginning I had my reservations about this relationship, but... This just feels... This feels right. As he thought about everything that had brought him to this point in life, Sam realized that he had never been more at peace with himself and with the world as a whole than he was at that exact moment.

Eventually, Twilight awoke to the sensation of something brushing against the back of her head. She turned her head and was greeted by the sight of Sam smiling at her.

“How are you feeling, Sam?”

“Much better. I’m going to really try to take it easy today. The less I move, the less my hip will hurt, at least I hope so.”

Twilight looked at him with concern. “Well, you’ve kinda been all over the place the last few days. Fishing with Spike, then walking me to our date, then going to the Wonderbolts show with Rainbow Dash and AJ... I think taking it slow for a while would do you some good.”

Sam stretched while letting out a loud yawn. “Yeah. Meanwhile, I’m going to go get some breakfast, you hungry?”

Twilight nodded and followed him downstairs.

After breakfast, Twilight, Sam, and Spike occupied themselves with various tasks around the house: Twilight was in her study, deep in furious concentration and buried in her usual pile of books and rolls of parchment, Spike was alternating between napping and cleaning various corners of the library, and Sam was seated at a desk just a few feet away from Twilight, tinkering with a bit of code on his laptop.

“...Just a few more lines of code and... There!”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “What exactly are you doing again?”

“I’m using what you’ve taught me so far to write up a program to help me practice my Equestrian. Mostly just flashcards at the moment, but eventually I’m gonna use the data from the translation headsets to let this thing act as sort of an automatic teacher.”

“So,” Twilight’s lower lip started to quiver, “you don’t want me to teach you anymore?”

Sam looked down to where Twilight was seated, and saw that her eyes were wide and beginning to mist up. “No! No, not that at all. Like one of your books, this is just something else to help me learn.”

“Oh, I see.”

“Yep, and the faster I get a decent handle on how to speak and write like you, without this spell, the faster I can start doing that consultant work for Celestia and the academy researchers. After all, the Princess did suspend all research related to my information until I’m ready to begin working again.”

A slight smile upon her face once more, Twilight agreed. “I’m sure the scientists are losing their minds waiting on you. I must admit, I’m a little anxious myself to see what technologies they resurrect from your database.”

Sam nodded. “I’m just glad Celestia opted to keep me involved. I’d hate for another replicator incident to occur.” He looked down towards Twilight again, his tone softening into one of concern. “Hey, Twi?”

“Yes, Sam?”

“Before I ask this, just bear in mind that I only ask because I care. Are you okay? I mean, do you want to talk to me about anything?”

Twilight replied with a confused stare. “What do you mean?”

“Well... It’s just that I’ve noticed you’ve been a little different lately, not TERRIBLY different, but, well... All the same, I just want you to know that you can talk to me about anything, okay?”

“Different?!” Twilight exclaimed, a hint of indignation in her voice. “Different how?”

Sam sighed. Why did I even open my stupid damn mouth? Well... In for a penny, in for a pound... “You’ve just been a little moody, mostly, and it just doesn’t seem like you.”

Twilight felt her jaw drop. “Moody?! MOODY? Sam...” Her ears involuntarily drooped. “How could you say that? I’ve been so stressed lately! I mean, between trying to catch up on all the work I put off while I was recuperating, taking care of you,” she stared him down, her expression a mixture of incredulity and sadness, “and trying to teach you our language, I’m constantly exhausted!” Does he not see how much I do for him?!

Sam got down from his chair and sat himself down next to Twilight. He attempted to put an arm around her, but she pulled away.

“Twilight, I’m sorry, I was just worried about you, and I-”

“No! Do you understand just how stressed I am?”

Sam scratched his head in confusion. “...But... I thought you had scheduled everything out to the point that you’d even found time for another nice night out like we did a few days ago?”

“Sam, how do you think I found that time? I squeezed out and compressed EVERY. LAST. SECOND,” Twilight’s right eye twitched as she punctuated each word. She stood up and began pacing around. “...Nevermind, there’s simply no time! I’ve got THIS report for the Princess due,” she engulfed a scroll with her familiar purple aura and flung it across the room, “THAT book set’s purchase order to finish BY TONIGHT,” another stack of books flew into the air, “and ONLY about a thousand more things to do, and the more we sit around discussing how... MOODY I am, the less time I have to work!”

Sam ducked his head to avoid another book sent flying by Twilight’s stress-induced flashes of magic.

His voice taking on a pleading quality, Sam tried to talk her down. “Twi, please, calm down for a minute and sit down with me, you’re going to drive yourself mad if you keep this up!”

Twilight suddenly stopped pacing. “Sit down? CALM down? I don’t think you understand! Ponies are COUNTING on me to get all these book orders and town meeting minutes finished!” Instantly, she was frantically trotting back and forth. “Noooo no no no no... So much to do...”

Sam threw his hands in the air. “Fine, Twilight, fine. I’ll leave you alone. I’m going to go take a walk and calm down. Hopefully you’ll have done the same by the time I’m back.”

Sam waited for a response from the distressed mare; he neither saw nor heard one. Reaching for his cane, he stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Twilight to continue pacing about with her books and scrolls.

After several minutes of pacing and worrying aloud, Twilight finally noticed that Sam had left. He left? But... Why? He usually tries to calm me down... Way to go, I ran him off... He must think I’m cracking up! Great, if he didn’t have a problem with me before, he sure does now... So stupid! Stupid, stupid, stupid! If Sam had still been in the room, he’d have seen Twilight’s right eye beginning to tick and twitch, as a single tear fell down her face.

Twilight sat down, her mind racing. In order to reorganize, and regain her composure, she restacked her books and began reviewing her checklist. Try as she might, her mind could not focus on anything but one worrying thought: He really does resent me...

A few minutes later, Twilight’s ears picked up the sound of Sam limping back inside the library. She decided to meet him in the main room before he reentered the study.

“So much for taking it easy, I see...” Twilight said weakly, her head hung low. “I guess you’re just too sore to stay up a little and watch a movie or otherwise spend some time in private with the pony you supposedly care so much about, even though you have no problems going for a little walk alone...”

Raising his voice, Sam retorted, “Hey! Now that’s not fair. You know all too well that isn’t what’s going on! What’s gotten into you?”

Before Twilight could launch into another tirade, Spike entered the room. “Uh, Sam, Twi, what’s going on?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sam blurted out, “go hang out at Rarity’s for a while, one of us will come get you later. Twilight and I have to talk about a few things.”

“Um... Ok. See you guys later.” It’s always something with one of those two...

Twilight sighed sadly... “Anyway... As for what’s gotten into me, I should ask the same thing about you, really.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me!” Twilight exclaimed, thin rivulets of tears flowing down her face. “Why are you toying with me like this? Why do you hate me?”

Sam’s jaw dropped. “HATE YOU?!”

“Yes... You don’t have to lie to me anymore,” She tapped a hoof against her temple, “I’ve got it all figured out...”

“Twilight, how in Equestria could you possibly think I HATE you?!” Sam stood up and hobbled a few paces around the room, thinking carefully on his next words. Remember what you decided this morning. It’s now or never. He turned around and took a few steps closer to Twilight before kneeling down. With a wavering tone in his voice, Sam began to spill his guts. “Twilight... How could you think I hate you? Do you honestly think I would have taken that hit for you if I didn’t care about you? No, more than that. Twilight Sparkle,” as he spoke, he began to lean towards Twilight, his arms outstretched, “ I love y-BWAAA!”

Before he could finish his sentence, Sam heard the familiar vibration of unicorn magic as he felt himself being pushed onto his back and away from Twilight, whose horn was still glowing.

Sniffling and rolling her eyes, Twilight turned to look over where Sam had stopped, a bewildered expression on his face. “Oh sure, NOW you say it. NOW you finally decide to get over your issues... How am I supposed to know you aren’t just saying that to pacify me?!”

“What? Wh- Have you lost your mind?! Of course I meant what I said! I don’t know what I did but I’m sorry!”

“Shut up! Please, just stop talking!” Twilight began pacing around the library. “No... That’s just it, you see. It’s ME that should be apologizing! I’m sorry, okay?! I’m so sorry that I couldn’t move out of the way back in the canyon, I should have, oh Celestia, I wish I had just moved!” She let out a shuddering breath. “...But we both know how that happened. And now, because of me, you’re in pain every day. You can’t walk without some kind of help, and it’s all my fault.”

“What?! No, Twilight that’s-”

Twilight snapped her gaze back towards Sam, meeting his eyes with her own glowering stare. “I’M NOT FINISHED. I can’t say I’d blame you for feeling just a little resentful about that. But to sit there afterwards and play with my heart?” She paused, waiting to see if Sam had an answer, but decided his confused expression would suffice. “You knew how I felt about you. You KNEW how much I cared about you! But you obviously didn’t let that get in the way of nearly killing yourself in the canyon or treating my emotions like some sort of game afterwards!’

“Game?! Twilight, I have been nothing short of genuine with you. I thought I laid my heart bare on the table for you. For crying out loud, Twi, I nearly died for you! How is that not proof enough that I’m not messing with you?!”

Her choked breaths giving way to a ragged sobbing, Twilight shook her head. “You say you care about me, that you love me, but you act like you’re... Like you’re...” She choked back a sob. “D-d-disgusted with me! You don’t like kissing me, you can’t let go of the fact that I’m not one of your human girls... We’ve supposedly been dating roughly a month now, and you’ve been around me as a friend even longer... So don’t give me your story about needing to ‘get used to me that way’, you’ve had time. I can’t take it anymore.”

Sam was speechless.

Collapsing on the floor, Twilight looked up at Sam, tears streaking her face. “Don’t you think this is an adjustment for me, too? Do you know how many nightmares I’ve had of you meeting my parents, only to have them completely disown me because of you? Ask Fluttershy, she’ll tell you I was just as confused as you were about how to handle a relationship between the two of us. But you know what, Sam? I thought about it and realized that you made me happy, and that was all I needed.”

Sam moved closer to Twilight, intending to embrace her or otherwise attempt to comfort her, only to be shoved away. He felt his own voice beginning to catch in his throat.

“Twi... Please...”

“No,” Twilight responded as she exhaled a shuddering breath, “I’d hoped you’d come around but...”

Sam leaned forward, his arms bracing him against the floor. “Dammit, Twi,” Sam said in between choked breaths, “it just wasn’t that easy for me... Until this morning, I-”

In an eerily calm voice, Twilight interrupted him and simply said, “I think you should go, Sam.”

“Twilight...”

“Please, just go.”

Silently, Sam struggled to his feet. He walked back into the study, and grabbed his laptop. After a quick trip upstairs to gather some of his clothing, Sam reentered the living room. He considered trying to reason with Twilight again, but ultimately decided it was in vain. What the hell have I done...

He slowly opened the door, and exited the library, leaving Twilight Sparkle as a sobbing wreck on the floor.

After numbly and aimlessly walking around Ponyville for roughly an hour, Sam felt his hip screaming in agony at him; to top it off, it was beginning to rain. Knowing he’d need a place to sit and rest while the whole debacle with Twilight hopefully blew over, he began reviewing who he knew in the area. Applejack’s farm was out of the question; even on the edge of town closest to Sweet Apple Acres, it was still a good five-mile walk at least. Pinkie Pie was most assuredly not the type of personality he wanted to deal with at the moment, and Fluttershy’s cottage was on the other side of Ponyville. Unless I grow wings to get to Dash’s place, looks like I’m headed to Rarity’s... And this rain, it’s like something out of a badly-cliched movie...

Once he had arrived at the Carousel Boutique, Sam gave a few feeble raps against the door. Almost immediately, the door glowed a faint blue and opened up, with Rarity at the entrance.

“Oh, good afternoon, Sam! So nice to see you again, how did you and Twilight like your tuxedo? But I’m just prattling on, please do come in, I suppose you’re here to get Spike?”

Sam meekly nodded, and followed his hostess inside.

Once she was certain that Sam was comfortably seated, Rarity wasted no time in asking questions.

“Wasn’t Il Capriccio just wonderful? I dare say I’ve found my new favorite venue; now all I need is a nice, handsome stallion to accompany me there. In that regard I do envy Twilight ever so much.”

Sam cringed at the mention of the lavender unicorn.

“But enough idle chit chat... Spike was rather mum on why he was sent to me. If you don’t mind, care to elaborate for me? You look like you’ve been through quite a bit recently.”

Sam sighed. “Long story short, Twilight and I had a HUGE falling out. We didn’t want Spike to have to hear that, and we knew he wouldn’t object to visiting you, so... Yeah. I hope that was alright.”

If not for her impeccable mastery of etiquette, Rarity knew her jaw would be hanging to the floor.

“Sam!” She gasped. “What in the name of Celestia happened?!”

Sam put his head in his hands. “Has Twilight been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder or any sort of anxiety disorder?”

“Not officially, not that I’m aware of anyway. As much as I hate to say, though, it wouldn’t surprise me. But what does that have to do with your tiff?”

“Long story short, she thinks I hate her, and that my feelings for her aren’t genuine.” Sam felt a stray tear escape his eye.

“Oh, Sam... They are genuine, though, yes?”

Sam nodded. “Yeah... But she doesn’t believe me, because up until literally this morning, I was unsure about this relationship.”

Rarity jumped to her hooves, a look of determination settling on her face. “Then we simply must get you back to the library and work this out!”

“No, Rarity.”

“What?”

“No. Just leave her be. She gave me a few things to think about, and she’ll need some time to cool off...” Sam sat up, and looked Rarity in the eye. “Look, I hate to ask, but she basically kicked me out and-”

Rarity took a step towards him and silenced him with a hoof to his mouth. “Not another word, stay as long as you need. I’m sure everything will work out fine in the end.”

A weak smile played across Sam’s face. “Thank you... You’re not angry that I hurt your best friend though?”

Rarity reached up and placed a hoof on his shoulder. “Sam, you and I are friends, too. We had a rough start, sure, but we’re friends all the same, right? Now, I’m not taking sides with either of you. Maybe this IS entirely your fault, in which case you’ll become the source of my first ape-skin jacket, or perhaps dear Twilight is to blame. Either way, I can’t have one of my friends wandering around without somewhere to sleep at night, especially in such dreadful weather. Now, perhaps later you can give me more details, and we’ll figure out-” a crash from upstairs caught the white mare’s attention, causing her to cry out angrily, “SWEETIE BELLE, I TOLD YOU TO STAY OUT OF MY SEWING ROOM!”

Sam feebly laughed. “Heh... Kids...”

Rarity shook her head, and rubbed at her temples. “Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with that sister of mine... Anyway... Shall I send Spike home?”

“No, give Twilight a little more time to cry it out. If I know her at all, she needs to have a little space right now. Besides, Spike seems to enjoy Sweetie Belle’s company, if all the giggling upstairs is to be believed. Meanwhile, would you mind pointing out your guest room to me? My hip is practically on fire, and I could really use a lie-down.”

“Of course, Sam. Second door to your left, across from Sweetie’s room.”

“Thanks.”

Sam slowly headed upstairs, careful to avoid hitting any of Rarity’s ornately-adorned mannequins. Once he found the guest room, he flopped down onto the bed. It was a bit too ornately decorated for his taste, and a little too small for a human occupant, but it was soft all the same.

While Sam’s intent was to relax, his mind had other ideas and began to race.

I really screwed up this time. This was what I was afraid would happen... You WOULD know that she’d lose it today, of all days. I was finally going to try to somehow show her that I don’t care about our differences anymore. She was right, we made each other happy, and that should have been enough. She is, er, was, I suppose, my closest friend... And I just screwed it up...

Sam tossed and turned on the bed, trying to find a position that didn’t aggravate his hip.

But... Maybe this is for the best... Once she gets over me, she’ll go on to meet some nice normal pony guy, maybe even have a family, a normal life... Sam felt himself tearing up a bit, knowing he would never have that opportunity himself. Meanwhile, I guess my best bet to deal with all this is take Celestia up on her offer to put me up in Canterlot to work directly with the academy... I could stay here in Ponyville, I suppose, but... No, it’d be best if I left.

With no small effort, Sam sat up, grabbed the nearest quill and parchment he had handy, and with the aid of his laptop, he began to write.

Princess Celestia,

I am writing to you with a limited knowledge of your language, so please forgive any mistakes or unintelligible sentences.

If you recall our conversation in the Ponyville town hall a few weeks ago, you left me with a standing offer to have me move to Canterlot to work directly with your academy’s researchers. At the time, I expressed an interest to remain here in Ponyville, though, after recent events, I have decided that it would be best for me to move after all.

I intend to arrive in the city sometime tomorrow, by train. I will be ready to start working as soon as I’m settled in.

Thank you,
Sam Mitchell.

With one letter finished, Sam began writing another one. Upon completing it, he folded it up and placed it into a makeshift envelope before addressing it simply with the name ‘Twilight Sparkle’.

Sam grabbed the letters, and walked downstairs just in time to see Rarity, Sweetie Belle, and Spike cleaning up the kitchen from dinner.

Rarity noticed Sam’s presence, and greeted him accordingly. “Sam! Did you nap well? How are you feeling?”

“I’ve been better,” he mumbled.

“Hey, sis? Where do I put this plate-” Sweetie Belle interrupted her own question with the shattering crash from the plate she dropped. “Um... Nevermind. I’m gonna go upstairs!” Within an instant, Sweetie Belle was gone.

Rarity grumbled as she levitated the broom towards the ceramic remains. “Ohhhh that Sweetie Belle...”

Sam sat down at the table. “Hey, Spike, mind doing me a favor?”

“Not at all bro, whatcha need? And what was up with you and Twi?”

Sam dismissed the question. “Later, Spike. Anyway, you’re about to head home, right?”

Before he could answer, Rarity interjected. “He most certainly is not! Rainbow Dash just dropped by earlier to tell me that the weather team has this rainstorm planned to become quite the thunderstorm tonight! Spike, I must insist that you spend the night. And don’t worry, I told Dash to pass that along to Twilight so she doesn’t worry.”

Spike shrugged. “Alright, thanks Rare. So, Sam, what did you need?”

Sam held up a scroll. “Would you mind sending this to Princess Celestia?”

“Sure, no problem.” The dragon grabbed the roll of parchment, and let loose a green blast of flame, sending the message on its way.

“Thanks.”

“Anytime. What was in it?”

“Don’t worry about it for now, Spike.”

Spike shrugged again, and excused himself from the kitchen to go to bed.

“Sam?” Rarity called out, “I set aside some leftovers for you, we had a fruit salad.”

“Thanks, but I’m not terribly hungry right now. I’m probably going to go back to bed, I thought Spike was leaving so I wanted to catch him before he did. Goodnight, and thanks again, Rarity.”

“Of course. Well, I’m putting the salad in the icebox if you change your mind. Goodnight.”

Sam may have returned to his bed, but he certainly couldn’t sleep.

---

Rarity was surprised to see Sam already awake and in the kitchen, obviously in the middle of making breakfast.

“Good morning, guys. I hope you don’t mind, Rarity, but I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to get up early and make pancakes for you all.”

“Oh, no problem at all, thank you.”

Slowly, Spike and Sweetie Belle joined Sam and Rarity at the table. Once everyone had finished their breakfast, Spike got up to leave.

“Well, thanks for letting me crash here, Rarity. I’ll see you all around.” The young dragon turned to look at Sam. “When are you heading back to the library, bro?”

“I’m sorry, Spike, but... I don’t think I’ll be going back.”

“What?!”

Sam took a deep breath, struggling not to choke on his words. “I’m going to move to Canterlot, Spike. I’m leaving.” Reaching into his bag, he pulled out the envelope bearing Twilight’s name and handed it to Spike. “Please give this to her for me.”

Sweetie Belle chimed in, sensing something was wrong. “Sis? What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Sweetie, go upstairs and clean your room for me, okay?”

“Oh all right...”

Once the little white filly was gone, Rarity wore an incredulous look on her face. “You’re what?! Leaving?! You’re just giving up on Twilight like that, after all you went through for her?”

Spike poked at Rarity’s shoulder. “Mind telling me what’s going on?”

“Long story short, Spike, Sam and Twilight had a falling out, and now he’s leaving.”

“Dude! Not cool!”

“Guys, look, I know you’re probably gonna hate me for this, but I have to go. I don’t have to explain myself.” Sam shifted his gaze towards Spike. “Please, give her that letter for me.”

“Alright, but you better be around soon to explain whatever’s in it.”

Sam reached down by the table, and grabbed his bag. “Goodbye, guys. Feel free to come visit me in Canterlot, sometime...” He stretched his leg, and walked out the door to wave over the pony that was passing by, pulling a taxi cart.

Rarity was in full-blown dramatic panic mode. “Spike! We have to go get Twilight, we can’t let him leave like that!”

“Right, let’s go!”

Before they could leave, another voice piped up. “Whoa, what’s going on here?”

“Rainbow, get out of the way!” Spike and Rarity shouted in unison.

“Not until you guys tell me what’s going on here. When I went to tell Twilight about Spike staying here, she was a wreck, wouldn’t even answer the door.” Casting her gaze to the floor, Rainbow Dash continued. “I would have been over here sooner, but that storm had me so busy last night that I barely had time to get any breakfast this morning.”

Rarity facehoofed. “Rainbow! We don’t have time! Twilight and Sam fought, and broke up. Now Sam is heading for the train station to leave for Canterlot!”

Rainbow’s face immediately contorted into an expression of rage. “Why... that no good feather-bucking colt cuddler! You guys go check on Twilight, I’ll go catch Sam. Go!!”

Immediately Rainbow Dash took off in a multi-chromatic blur. Rarity and Spike hurried off in the opposite direction towards Twilight’s library.

With Spike on her back, Rarity was galloping at full speed towards her destination, and began to appreciate just how hard ponies like Rainbow Dash or Applejack pushed themselves to perform like that. Arriving at Twilight’s door, Spike jumped down while Rarity caught her breath. Both of them began pounding on the door, shouting.

“Twilight? It’s Rarity, open up. Spike and I need to talk to you, it’s urgent, please do come out!”

“Yeah, Twi, it’s about Sam and-”

“No!” A muffled voice called out. “If it’s about him, don’t bother. He and I are done.”

Despite Twilight’s angry tone, she let her friends in. They were greeted by the sight of papers strewn everywhere, a clear consequence of a violently emotional tantrum thrown by someone wielding magic. The wielder herself was a far more disturbing vision; Twilight’s coat was matted, her mane frizzing out everywhere, and her eyes had dark circles the size of dinner plates under them.

Rarity nearly fainted, but did her best to stay strong for her friend. “Oh, dear, Twilight, are you ok?!”

With a nearly maniacal giggle, Twilight nodded her head as her pupils shrank. “Oh, yes, Rarity, I’m fine! Sam’s gone, he won’t be messing with my mind or playing with my emotions ANYMORE!”

Spike nervously held out the letter to the disheveled unicorn. “Here, Twi... Sam wanted me to give this to you.”

Twilight grasped the envelope in her familiar purple aura, and tossed it aside.

“Twilight!” Rarity gasped, “What has gotten into you?! He may have been trying to apologize to you.”

Twilight shrugged, and her left eye twitched. “Nope, don’t care,” she replied, as she began an uncontrollable bout of borderline-evil laughter.

Think, Rarity, think... What was that one spell you managed to learn to help Sweetie sleep?

Concentrating hard, Rarity focused her energy, and cast a sleeping spell on Twilight.

“There, Spike, that ought to calm her down for now,” Rarity said as her purple friend drifted off to sleep.

“Rarity? This is bad...”

---

Come on Rainbow, you’ve broken the sound barrier, you can beat a train, GO!!!

Rainbow Dash was straining every inch of her body, trying to milk every last drop of speed out of her wings.

Finally, she saw the station coming into view, but the train was already loading passengers.

Horsefeathers! Almost there... Almost there...

On the ground, Sam had just bought his ticket, and was heading towards the train, unaware of the blue pegasus headed in his direction. He boarded the train, and took his seat, staring morosely out of the window but otherwise ready to begin his journey.

Rainbow estimated she was only a few hundred meters away, when she heard something that made her blood run cold.

The conductor stuck his head out of the forward car, and yelled, “ALLLLLL ABOARD!”

The train’s whistle blew, and the train pulled out of the station, bound for Canterlot.

Rainbow Dash arrived at the platform just in time to see the caboose shrinking away as it approached the horizon.

“Aww buck it! I could catch the train, but I can’t carry him all the way back,” she sighed, “guess I’d better go see how Rarity is doing with Twilight...”

---

Rainbow arrived to see that the library’s front door was still wide open, so she walked on inside. She glanced around the room, taking in the disturbing scene; it felt unnatural to Rainbow to see the library in such disarray.

Picking up faint voices, Rainbow entered the study, where Rarity and Spike were quietly talking to each other while Twilight lay asleep on the couch.

“How is she, Rarity?”

Rarity shook her head. “She was hysterical. Remember when she thought that the Princess would send her back to magic kindergarten? That was nothing in comparison, I'm afraid. I had to use a sleeping spell to calm her down.”

“Wow.”

“So...” Rarity nervously looked at the ground. “I suppose you were unable to get Sam...”

Rainbow Dash sadly shook her head.

A weak, yawning voice spoke up. “Rarity? Spike? Rainbow Dash?” Twilight looked around as if she didn’t recognize where she was. “Oh... Wow... I’m glad you all are here,” she sniffled slightly, and wiped a few tears from her eyes, “I had the worst dream... Sam and I had a huge fight, and... And... I made him leave... Where is he?”

Rarity choked back her tears as she embraced her friend. “Twilight... I’m afraid it wasn’t a dream... He’s gone. You DID tell him to leave, darling. And so he left for Canterlot...”

Rainbow sniffled slightly. “Oh come on guys, don’t... You’re gonna get me started...”

Twilight pulled away from Rarity, her eyes streaming tears as the memories returned, and buried her face in her forelegs.

“Oh, Celestia... I’ve made a terrible mistake...”

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