• Published 14th Nov 2014
  • 15,898 Views, 712 Comments

Reformation Buddies - Metool Bard

Can former villains learn from one another without driving each other and everyone else insane? Discord seems to think so. Sunset Shimmer, however, has her doubts. And the Sirens aren't helping matters, either.

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Prologue: Empathic Desires

"All books present and accounted for: Check. Friends informed about the situation: Check. Do Not Disturb sign on door..."

Twilight Sparkle went down her checklist one more time as she surveyed her brand new library. She had just received the last of her new books from Princess Celestia, and the entire collection was neatly placed on towering bookshelves that stretched all around the room. In fact, if it wasn't from a few desks, tables, and a makeshift mirror portal in the center of the room, the entire area would've been nothing but books. To Twilight, there was always a sort of magic to a new library, and the one in her brand new castle was no exception. But since this library belonged to her, there was something special she had to do alone.

"Alright, everything seems to be in order," she said with a content nod. She closed the door behind her, put away her checklist, and took in a deep breath. "It's time to put this new library through its paces. No distractions; no crazy adventures; no emergencies. Just me, these books, and the most sacred of library traditions: Re-Shelving Day!"

She sat down on the smooth crystalline floor and cast a simple spell. In an instant, each and every tome in the room floated off of the shelves and fell to the floor in several heaps. Twilight cast another spell, and the books sprang back into the air, levitating within the glow of her magenta aura. Systematically, they floated around the entire room like a group of soldiers marching in lockstep. As they did so, individual books were drawn from their route and hovered in front of Twilight's face, allowing her to observe their titles carefully.

"Let's see now," she mused, looking at each book in turn. "Bellerophon and the Chimera goes into Pony History. Slumber 101: All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties But Were Afraid to Ask? That's self-help. My new Daring Do collection from Mom..." She paused. "Well, Daring Do is an actual pony, but these books are published as fiction. I'll just reserve this shelf over here for Genre Limbo. Now then, alchemy goes here, Discord book goes there, necromancy—"

A sudden realization broke her concentration, and all of the books that weren't shelved yet fell back to the floor with a series of thumps.

"Wait a minute. Discord book?" she pondered aloud.

She took another look at the tome in question. It was a very odd-looking book with a tan cover and no title to speak of. It was simply a molded version of a horse's head with bushy eyebrow, closed eyes, a fang, and a long goatee. Even more curious, a deer's antler and a goat's horn grew out of the top of the book. Twilight stared blankly at the odd book before breathing out a small snicker and rolling her eyes.

"You seem to be losing your touch, Discord," she told the book. "I know what happens next. When I open this book, the pages are gonna go wild, and you're gonna pop out. Just get it over wi—"

She trailed off as something that felt like a soft pompom tapped her shoulder. When she turned around, she gasped and dropped the book to the floor. Standing behind her was none other than Discord himself, giving Twilight the hi sign with his lion paw.

"You were saying about me losing my touch?" he said slyly.

Twilight chuckled despite herself. "Okay, okay. You got me," she said. She then took a deep breath and sobered up. "So, what're you doing here?"

"Just wanted to drop by and say hello," said Discord, taking a look around the room. "How're you liking your new accommodations, Twilight?"

Twilight shrugged as she started cleaning up the books on the floor. "It's okay, I guess. I still have a few reservations about this place, but otherwise, I'm just taking things one step at a time."

"Hmm. I suppose this is quite an adjustment for you, isn't it?" said Discord solemnly, twirling his goatee around his finger. "Still, for being my complete opposite, that Tree of Harmony does have good taste in interior design."

"I guess that's true," said Twilight, still concentrating on her work. "At least, that's what Rarity's been telling me constantly. The way she's been talking about it, you'd think that she was the one living here."

"Well, who can blame her? It is a nice castle," said Discord absently. "Although I can't say I'm too happy with the throne room's aesthetics. It lacks a certain, je ne sais quoi, know what I mean?"

Twilight turned to Discord and gave him a knowing smirk. "You're still upset about not getting your own throne, aren't you?"

"No, not upset. Merely, disappointed," Discord sighed. "Disappointed in myself, that is. I understand why the Tree didn't give me my own throne, and I completely accept that. But in response to this development, I've dedicated my time to becoming a better friend so that one day, I will have my own throne."

Twilight blinked. "Oh. Um, that's, interesting."

"Indeed," said Discord. "Which is why I need your help with something."

He then snapped his fingers. In a flash of light, Twilight found herself holding a notepad and quill in her magic while wearing a pair of reading glasses. Looking up from the notepad, she noticed that Discord was stretched out on a red psychiatrist couch that wasn't there before. Twilight frowned.

"Well, I was kinda busy when you just decided to barge in, and we might need to have a talk about that," she said. "However, I suppose I could spare a few moments for a friend."

Discord smiled. "I knew you'd say that. Thank you," he said, clearing his throat. "Now, let me just start by saying that I consider you to be a great friend. I wouldn't exactly be coming to you for advice if I didn't. And it's not just you, of course. There's also Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie and all the rest. Heck, even Princess Persnickety has been growing on me these past few days."

"You mean Celestia," said Twilight, raising an eyebrow.

"Whatever," said Discord with a wave of his paw. "The point remains that despite some of my more *ahem* questionable actions, I feel that you are all the best friends I could ask for."

Twilight nodded and scribbled some notes into her notepad. "I'm glad you think that, Discord. Actually, Fluttershy has been telling me that everypony has been more accepting of you ever since you discovered the true value of friendship and helped us defeat Tirek, so I think it's safe to say that we feel the same way about you. More or less, anyway."

"And I'm very grateful for that, Twilight," Discord said with a bow. He then sighed. "Lately, however, I've been pining for something. Something that I'm not sure my current circle of friends can give me."

Twilight looked up and adjusted her glasses. "What's that?"

Discord's brow crinkled as he stroked his chin. "Well, how do I put this? I sometimes have the feeling that you ponies don't fully understand me. And what I mean by that is, well, there's only so many times I can just share bits of gossip with Fluttershy or brainstorm Fourth Wall Theater Troupe performances with Pinkie Pie. I want to talk to someone who's struggling with the same things I'm struggling with. Someone who's seen what I've seen; been where I've been; done what I've done. Are you getting all this?"

"Of course," said Twilight automatically, scribbling furiously as a distinct twinkle flashed in her eyes. "Please, continue."

Discord nodded and cleared his throat. "Anyway, the sad truth of the matter is that I don't know anyone who meets that criteria. Out of all my friends, none of them have fought against friendship and harmony for so long only to embrace it in the end. No one knows what it's like to be bent on conquering this world, face defeat, and then be given a second chance."

"Well, what about Princess Luna?" Twilight inquired.

Discord shrugged and made a wishy-washy motion with his eagle talon. "I kind of see what you're getting at, but I must disagree. Lunatic is great and all, and in a sense, she has come the closest to understanding my plight. We actually play croquet every Sunday night in my dreams using hedgehogs as balls and flamingos as mallets, but don't tell Fluttershy about it. You know how she gets about animals."

"Mum's the word," said Twilight with a nod. "So, have you talked about these feelings with her at all?"

"I have, and she actually suggested the same thing," said Discord. "But I'm afraid I have to tell you the same thing I told her. She knew about friendship and how valuable it was long before she turned into Nightmare Moon. All of this friendship business is relatively new to me, especially considering that I've spent so many eons opposing it. I can't think of a single pony off the top of my head who can truly comprehend what I'm going through."

"I see," said Twilight, thoughtfully tapping her muzzle. "So you're looking for somepony who can properly empathize with you."

"I, guess that's the proper word for it," said Discord with a shrug.

Twilight knitted her brow. "Well, first of all, I just have to say that I think it's wonderful that you're starting to take friendship seriously. This probably is the first time you actually came to me or anypony else with legitimate concerns like this, and I'm glad you're taking that step. However, there is a time and place for this sort of thing, and unfortunately, I'm a bit busy right now. I still need to see if this new library can hold up to Re-Shelving Day like Golden Oak did before it."

Discord's expression drooped. "So, you don't want to help me."

"No, that's not it," said Twilight, shaking her head. "I'd love to help you, Discord. I just can't help you right this second. You're just going to have to be a bit patient and—"

Suddenly, a strange buzzing sound interrupted her train of thought. Looking towards the direction of the buzzing, she saw that one of the books on the floor was vibrating and generating a strange pink aura. Discord swallowed.

"Um, just FYI, that isn't me," he said.

Twilight walked over to the pile and lifted up the glowing tome with her magic. She then smiled and laughed.

"Oh, don't worry about it, Discord," she said. "This book's supposed to do that."

Discord tilted his head. "It is?" he asked, floating over to Twilight and peering over her shoulder. "What kind of book is it?"

"It's a special magic book I got from Celestia," Twilight explained. "See, there's another book connected to this one, and whenever something is written in one of them, it automatically appears in the other. That's why it was glowing like this. It just means I got a message."

"Ah, so you have a pen pal," said Discord, intrigued by this new development. "Anypony I know?"

Twilight gave Discord a concerned look. "Um, I'd appreciate it if you didn't read over my shoulder like that. These letters are kind of, personal."

"Oh, sorry," said Discord, giving Twilight some space. "But you can tell me who it is, right?"

"Hmm," Twilight hummed, stroking her chin and furrowing her brow. After a pause, she shrugged. "I suppose there wouldn't be much harm in it. Just promise me you won't end up reading this book behind my back, okay?"

With a snap of his fingers, Discord donned a Pony Scout costume and saluted. "Scout's honor, Princess of Friendship," he stated.

"Right. I'm holding you to that," said Twilight firmly. She then cleared her throat. "Anyway, the other book belongs to Sunset Shimmer."

The hat part of the Pony Scout uniform suddenly turned into a ticking alarm clock as Discord stroked his goatee. "Hmm, Sunset Shimmer, Sunset Shimmer. Where have I heard that name before?" he mused. After a few ticks, the alarm clock started ringing, and Discord snapped his fingers. "Oh, yeah! Now I remember. She stole your crown at your first Royal Summit in the Crystal Empire, didn't she?"

"Yes, she did," said Twilight with a small sigh. "That was back when we still had the Elements of Harmony. She planned on using the Element of Magic to create an army of drones and use them to conquer Equestria."

"And you traveled to the world of humans to stop her, yes I know that part," said Discord thoughtfully. "However, I think there's a part of this story I'm missing. Why would she be sending you letters?"

"Oh, well, that's easy," said Twilight. "After she was defeated, she actually wanted to change her ways and become a better person. It's a bit of a long story, but the long and short of it is that she's now my friendship student, just like I was Celestia's."

"You don't say," said Discord, brushing his goatee with his talon. "That's actually quite..."

He trailed off mid-sentence, and his expression brightened.

"What is it, Discord?" asked Twilight.

"Let me see if I have this straight," said Discord listing off each item on his fingers. "She wanted to conquer Equestria, she was defeated by you and your friends, she turned herself around, and she's learning about friendship."

"Um, yeah. That about sums it up," said Twilight.

Discord squinted and began stroking his chin again. "There's someone else I know who's like that. Very much like that, actually. And I think this someone would very much like to meet Sunset Shimmer and get to know her better. Pity I can't remember his name, though. Mmm, it's on the tip of my tongue..."

As he said that, his forked tongue lolled out. A miniature Discord was tap-dancing on one of the prongs, holding a large neon sign that said "It's me! Duh!" Twilight deadpanned at the odd display.

"Discord, I know where you're going with this..." she said.

"Hoo boy," Discord sighed, casting his gaze upward.

"...and honestly, that's not a bad idea."

Discord did a double take. "Wait, it's not?"

Twilight smiled. "You're right, Discord. You and Sunset Shimmer have many things in common. Actually, she's just as new to friendship as you are, so having a friend who relates to her struggles would be just as good for her as it is for you."

Discord stared blankly at Twilight. "I thought for sure you were going to shoot me down on this one."

"Why would I? I think seeking out friendships like this is a good thing, especially for someone like you," said Twilight earnestly. "In fact, I'm proud of you for coming up with this idea on your own. Even if you are pursing friendship for the wrong reasons."

Discord's eyes watered, and he smiled. "Th-that just might be the nicest thing you ever said to me. Th-thank you, Twilight."

Twilight flew up to Discord and gave him a friendly pat on the back. "I meant every word of it," said she.

Discord nodded and dries his eyes with his snake tail. "Well, I know now what I must do."

He then snapped his fingers and summoned a pair of empty suitcases. Twilight arched an eyebrow.

"Um, what are those for?" she asked.

"Why, I'm packing, of course," said Discord in a matter-of-fact tone. "I'm not going to become Sunset Shimmer's friend just by standing around here, now am I?"

Twilight's eyes went wide. "Wait, you're going now?!"

"Well, there's no time like the present!" said Discord happily. As he spoke, he tore through a floating dresser and began filling the suitcases with random articles of clothing. "Besides, I could use a vacation from Equestria, and what better way to spend it than to make a new friend?"

"Yes, but—"

"Just picture it, Twilight," interrupted Discord, placing his lion arm around Twilight's shoulder. "Someone out in this world who finally gets me. Someone who will help me grow into a better draconequus. Someone who can help me earn my own throne in this wonderful castle of yours!"

"W-well, those are all good things. However—"

But Discord didn't seem to be listening. He was too wrapped up in his glee. "I'm very glad we had this talk, Twilight. My mind feels so much clearer now. I knew I could count on you to have the right answer."

"Yes, well, thanks. But see, there's something I have to—"

"Up bup bup! You've helped me enough, Twilight. And for that, I'm grateful," said Discord with a bow. "Nevertheless, I want to try this on my own. It's high time I gave myself a friendship test."

"Again, that's very noble of you, but—"

"No time for buts, Twilight! I'm off! I'll be sure to send you a postcard once Sunset and I are the best of pals! Bon voyage!"

"Discord, wait! Sunset—"

She got no further. A large cruise liner appeared in the middle of the room, and Discord had boarded it. He blew Twilight a kiss and tossed a necklace of flowers around her neck before the whole thing disappeared in a flash of light.

"...Shimmer doesn't, know that you're, reformed," Twilight muttered, punctuating her thought with a great sigh. "Ugh, you could've at least waited for me to send a message to her."

She sighed again. "Well, it's too late for that now. And I'm pretty sure Discord would get mad at me if I went through the portal myself and tried to interfere. I don't like it, but I think my Canterlot High friends are gonna have to tackle this crisis on their own. But as long as Discord behaves himself, that shouldn't be too difficult. Besides, Sunset's a smart girl. She doesn't need my help to figure things out."

She then swallowed. "I hope..."