• Published 15th Dec 2014
  • 9,851 Views, 575 Comments

This Cruel and Random World - Bluegrass Brooke

It was a simple bet. Spend one month as a pony, and prove to Celestia that he had been right all along. Discord never thought he would actually enjoy it. As the days pass, he finds himself desperate to keep up the façade a little longer.

  • ...

Butting Heads

Discord contemplated destroying the letter, it would be satisfying to say the least. To send the words of that pompous swan to ash under the heat of his flames would be incredibly cathartic. However, that would do nothing to change the fact that he would be leaving Ponyville a week early. The very mention of his needing to “recover” made his hair bristle. What did Celestia know about him? Just because he had one slip up, she decided to treat him like a geriatric invalid. It was the spell, not his age that was affecting him, and he still possessed the common sense to stop himself before any of its effects became permanent.

Like always, she was ruining his plans. Was it so much to ask for a normal, peaceful life if only for a month? Besides, it would admittedly benefit Twilight as much as it would him. From the sound of her letter, Celestia intended on pulling Twilight away from Ponyville the week after he returned, to learn control, as if it were her idea all along. Discord was no fool, and could already see the signs that the alicorn had no intention of allowing Twilight to choose a mentor. He would have to have a conversation with her when this was over.

He was jolted out of his reverie by what sounded like a band marching down the street below. Sighing, Discord opened his window, looking down at Pinkie Pie. The mare was sporting her one pony band, trotting along as though it was perfectly normal. Well, for her it was. He could not stop the small chuckle that came from the sight. “Band practice, Pinkie?”

She looked up, grinning from ear to ear. “Yup a doodles, Entropy. Princess Cadence is coming today, so I’m gonna sing her a ‘Welcome Back to Ponyville’ song!”

“Marvelous! Don’t let me stop you!” Discord shut the window, sinking back on his bed. Seven in the morning seemed a touch early for band practice, but he would not complain, it did wonders to shake up the order of things. Speaking of . . . Discord frowned, tapping his chin with a hoof. Why didn’t Twilight mention Cadence? Deciding to hear the answer first hand, he got to his hooves and started for the library.

“This is going to be great!” Twilight spun around the floor of the library like a little filly. Today was the day that Cadence and Shining Armor were finally coming for a visit. She could not help but be excited thinking about how well Shining would get along with Entropy. After all, he was kind, funny, intelligent, and just about the best stallion in Equestria for her. What was there not to approve of?

Her exuberant dance led her to a headlong collision with Spike. The dragon fell on the ground, glowering at her. “Twilight!”

“Sorry, Spike.” She chuckled sheepishly, pulling him to his feet. “Guess I got a little excited.”

“You could say that again.” Spike eyes went as wide as saucers, “What did you do to your mane?”

“Huh?” It took a second to register what Spike was going on about, and then it hit her. “Oh, you mean the braid? Yeah, I thought I’d try something different. How does it look?”

“Uh,” Spike bit his lip, apparently contemplating the question, “nice? But,” his claw cuffed the floorboards, “a bit messy.”

Twilight winced, accepting that it was indeed a sloppy job. She honestly could not understand how Pinkie managed to do hers up so neatly. Sighing, she started to undo the braid. “Guess I’ll try again.”

Spike shrugged, scooping up a stray book and placing it on the shelf. “Why don’t you just ask Entropy to do it for you?”

“Entropy?” Twilight felt her heart leap in her chest at the mention of her stallion’s name. Her mind immediately fell to the feeling of his chin against her rump. Even if it had been an accident that one time, it was a little disconcerting. She was definitely not ready for that kind of familiarity. Silently she sent up a prayer of thanks that Entropy had the self-restraint not to give into temptation four days ago when she had been under the potion’s effects.

Just as she was about to comment, the door swung open to reveal none other than Entropy himself. “Good morning, dear, you wouldn’t believe the news.” He strode in with all the air of somepony announcing a particularly juicy piece of gossip. “Pinkie Pie has informed me that Cadence will be coming to visit today.” The stallion stopped beside Spike, leaning on the dragon as if he were the podium. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I would have prepared a speech.”

Spike snarled something incoherent, pushing Entropy off of him. “Because you’re an embarrassment to Equestria, that’s why.”

“Spike.” Twilight sighed, rubbing her temple with a hoof. “I wanted it to be a surprise. Plus,” she took one of his hooves in her own, “Shining Armor’s coming with her, and I’d love for my BBBFF spent some quality time with my stallion.”

"Your BBBFF? Pray tell, what is that?”

Twilight could not help but giggle at his response. “Big brother best friend forever, it’s what I call Shining Armor.” She nuzzled him on the cheek, “I hope he’ll be your friend too.”

Entropy chuckled in that soothing way of his, “Well, friend yes, big brother no.” He leaned in, scratchy muzzle tickling her own. “I’m a little bit older than he is,” he breathed, smirking a little.

“Silly, that doesn’t bother me at all.” She held him in a tight hug, savoring his supportive warmth despite the temperature in the library.

“Yuck. Do you have to do that every time you talk?” Spike’s voice cut in, breaking her trance.

Giggling, she pulled away from Entropy, staring hard at the floorboards. “Sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing?” Entropy’s attention fell to the slip shod braid job. “Trying for the messy look? I have to admit, it suits you.”

“No, I was trying to put it up like Pinkie does. But,” she fiddled with the stray strands, “I’m not the best at it.”

Entropy’s booming laugh echoed around the library as it always did. Then, as gently as if she were a kitten, he stroked her forelock back, smiling sweetly at her. “Why don’t you let me put it up for you?”

Her heart leapt a little at the possibility of a reprise from the other day. “You don’t mind?”

“Not at all.” He motioned her to sit on the cushions, and he sat behind her, carefully unwinding her attempt at a braid. “Spike, would you mind getting me something to eat?”

Spike shot daggers at him, cuffing the floorboards. “I’m not your errand boy.”

Entropy continued in a mock-offended tone, “Why not? You’d make such a good one.”

Twilight sighed, “Entropy.” Then, turning to Spike, she pointed to the kitchen. “He’s got a point, we haven’t had anything to eat yet. Would you mind?”

“Urgh. Fine.” Spike stamped off, calling behind him, “I can take a hint you know!”

Entropy chuckled into her mane, apparently trying to stifle another outburst of laughter. Twilight had to admit, it was pretty funny. When it came to the baby dragon, both of them were still learning the idiosyncrasies of asking for alone time. “Sorry, Twilight,” he managed, still sniggering into her mane, “it was the only thing I could think of.”

“It’s okay.” She sat up straight, trying to hold still as he started to work. “No noodles this time, dear.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it.” Entropy hummed while working, slowly combing out her mane with his hooves and sorting the strands. “So, what are you and Cadence planning on doing?” He voice was a little muffled from the hairs, but she got the gist of it.

“Catching up mostly. Though,” She snorted a laugh, “we’re going to attempt to plan a surprise birthday party for Celestia.”

Entropy stopped for a second, releasing her mane. “Why?” His voice was curt, almost cold, a far cry from any he normally used.

Twilight started to feel a little nervous. Almost all the time Entropy had been in Ponyville, he was cheerful and upbeat, but the moment she so much as mentioned Celestia he became stiff and abrasive. She continued in what she hoped was a level voice, “Because she’s our ruler, my former teacher, and one of the most wonderful mares in all of Equestria.”

Entropy scoffed, “Wonderful is she? The very goddess of goodness?”

She could not help but get irritated by Entropy’s tone of voice. Her own came out a little harsher than she intended, “Yes, and frankly you should see her the same way.”

“Really?” Entropy pulled back, getting to his hooves to glower at her. “Do you even know the princess you so blindly serve? Why that goddess,” he spat the word like a curse, “you hold so highly is nothing but an arrogant wench who fails to see her own fault!”

Twilight got to her own hooves now, glowering back at him, “How can you say that?” There was something fundamentally wrong about Entropy’s reaction to their ruler. Celestia might be stuck in her ways, but she was far from a villain. Twilight found her words coming off in a gradual crescendo, “Think about it, Entropy. Celestia not only had to banish her own sister to the moon, but she had to live with that guilt for centuries. Despite all that happened, she was quick to forgive Luna, and the first pony to give Discord a chance at redemption!”

“You . . . perhaps . . . perhaps you speak truth.” Entropy’s voice shook like a leaf, pupils flickering to that strange, blood red color of theirs. For an instant, it looked as though he might actually run off, but he just stood there, staring at the floorboards. “Forgive me, Twilight. I was blinded by my assumptions."

All she could do was stare at him. It was as though she were seeing him for the first time. “Entropy . . . why . . . why do you talk like that?”

He lifted his head, “Like what?”

“Like,” like an out of date textbook, “like Luna.”

“Luna?” Entropy bit his lip, as though contemplating an explanation. “I never realized . . .” he locked gazes with her, “is it terribly noticeable?”

Like a train tearing through Ponyville. Then again, she had not noticed it until now, assuming it was all part of his being a professor. “Where did you learn to talk like that?”

“I uh . . . I . . .” The slightest trace of panic flickered in his eyes. Why in Equestria was he so nervous? “It is but a force of habit, my father insisted on it.”

“Your father?” Twilight made to ask another question, but Entropy leaned in closer, wrapping her in a tight hug. “What?”

He brushed his cheek against her neck, “Forgive me for lashing out, and for speaking like an old codger.”

Twilight snorted, rolling her eyes. “It doesn’t bother me, Entropy.” She closed her eyes, savoring the familiar, earthy smell of his coat. When she rubbed her hoof over his back, he flinched. “Entropy? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He shot her an encouraging smile, though she could see pain flickering in his eyes. “I’m just old, Twilight.”

She burst into laughter, rolling on the cushions. “If you’re old, I hate to think what Granny Smith is!”

Entropy chuckled weakly, rubbing his hoof against the back of his head. “Yes, well, I suppose that is true.” He jerked a nod to her mane, “You want me to finish?”

“Oh yes,” Twilight returned to her earlier position, allowing Entropy to get started again. He seemed unusually silent, and she hoped he was not embarrassed about his outburst. For a long while, he worked in silence, humming a little tune occasionally. Then, once he finished her mane, he spoke softly, “If you . . . if you had a choice of mentors again, would you choose her?”

Mentors? Entropy’s sudden change of subject was more than a little off-putting, but she was glad to hear his voice again. “Well, I guess. Who else would I pick?”

Entropy’s hoof started to stroke the hairs on her back gently. “Well, there is Luna, Cadence, or,” he paused, “Discord.”

“Discord?” She wheeled around to stare at him, mouth ajar. “You can’t be serious, Entropy!”

He gave an innocent shrug, “What? Why not?”

“Well, he’s the Spirit of Chaos for one thing.” Twilight gesticulated grandly around at the library. “Besides, he keeps telling me that he doesn’t want to teach me chaos magic. That’s just about the only subject he could teach me.”

Entropy looked strangely sour for a moment, as though contemplating witty retort. “Very well, forgive the suggestion,” he spat the words, getting to his hooves.

Why’s he so mad? She stood herself, stepping in front of him. “What? You want me to learn chaos magic, is that it?”

“Well . . . yes.” Entropy sighed, “It’s only safe if he teaches you, Twilight. Besides,” he gulped pawing at the floorboards, “you don’t know he’ll say no. Why, I think if you ask him, he’d be honored.”

Twilight snorted a laugh, “Honored? That doesn’t sound like Discord to me.” Her words seem to make Entropy’s irritation grow. I never thought he liked Discord so much. Maybe he relates to him. She rolled her eyes, “Fine, I’ll ask him next time we meet.”

Entropy gave a small smile. “I’d like that, Twilight. I really would.” He looked at the clock, frowning. “There is something I need to tell you.”

“What?” A sinking sensation filled her gut at the serious expression on Entropy’s face.

“It’s just that, I’ve been called back to Canterlot early.” He placed a hoof on her shoulder, “I wanted to stay the whole month, but I’m afraid I’ll have to return a week early.”

“A week early?” The words crashed over her like a cold shower. “But, that doesn’t leave us much time.”

“No, no it doesn’t.” He sighed, “I wish I could stay, however, the university has called me back.”

“But, you’ll come back to visit, right?” There was a touch of desperation in her voice, but she could not help it, this was all happening too fast.

Entropy dragged her into yet another hug. “As often as I can,” he whispered, nuzzling her cheek. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. It’s just so sudden.” Twilight bit back the urge to scream in frustration. Why did everything have to fall apart after it got put together?

Thankfully, Spike chose that moment to interrupt. “Seriously? Can you go for half an hour without going all lovey dovey?”

Entropy chuckled, releasing her with all their air of a criminal caught in the act. “Guilty as charged, Spike.” He walked over to him, patting his scales down, “Finish our breakfast?”

“Finished Twilight’s breakfast,” he emphasized, turning back to the kitchen. “I’m just gracious enough to let you have the scraps.”

“Your generosity knows no bounds, Spike.” Entropy gave her a playful wink before following Spike towards the kitchen.

Twilight giggled a little, following suit. Though today was looking to be as fun as she hoped, she could not stop the new sense of dread creeping in. Entropy was leaving, and soon. A part of her wanted to travel to Canterlot with him, but that would do little good. No, Ponyville needed her here, at least she hoped it did.

Shining Armor was all for spending the day with his sister, but he had not signed up for an entire day with Twilight’s stallion friend. He stared pleadingly at his wife, “You can’t be serious.”

Cadence giggled, ruffling his mane, “Of course I’m serious, dear. It will be quite the experience for both of you. Besides,” she sighed, taking on a dreamy expression, “I want some girl time with Twilight.”

“Urgh.” Shining looked out the window of the train, taking in the familiar landmarks. His hoof cuffed the cushion they were seated on, “But, Cadence, I don’t even know the stallion. What if we don’t get along?”

There was a moment where Cadence simply stared at him as though he had two heads. “Please, Twilight wouldn’t date a jerk. I’m sure you’ll get along well enough.”

Shining grimaced, trying to force a smile. “Sure we will.” From the sound of it, this Entropy was just about the exact opposite of him. Hopelessly unstructured and reckless with his magic, he sounded like the last pony he would want watching his back in a pinch.

“That’s the spirit.” Cadence gave him a playful cuff on the shoulder, smiling in that enchanting way of hers. “It’ll work out, you’ll see.”

Shining made to protest, but the screeching of the brakes announced that they had finally arrived. Taking a deep breath, he stood, holding out a hoof for his wife. She smiled, taking it as they strode out after the guards. Shining nearly started back when a loud blast of music greeted them.

Pinkie Pie danced around the train platform, banging on a one-pony band with her usual exuberance.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome back!
We’re super happy to--"

Cadence pounced in front of her then, holding out a hoof to stop her from continuing. “Thank you, Pinkie Pie, but you shouldn’t be jumping around in your condition. What about the foal?”

“Okey dokey, but, I’m fine, really.” She rubbed a hoof gently over her midriff, “The foal isn’t coming for a while yet.”

Shining watched Cadence tense, but nod slowly. “Sure. I just don’t want you to overexert yourself.”

“Yes, we want the foal to be healthy.” Shining winked at her, looking behind him to watch the guards return to the train. “So, where’s Twily?”

Pinkie sniggered, fiddling with the instrument. “She’s late.”

“Late?” Shining whirled around, unable to hide the look of purest amazement from stretching across his face. There was no way in Equestria his Twily would be late for anything, especially something as important as meeting them at the station. “Are you serious?”

“As serious as,” she paused, apparently contemplating just what was serious enough for his question, “as Nightmare Moon.”

“Uh, okay then.” Shining looked around the relatively deserted station, “So, we wait here, or should we go to the library?”

Pinkie started to hop away. “The library, silly! Got to go, there’s cupcakes in the oven.”

“Bye!” Cadence waved at the retreating figure, then turned back to him. “Shall we head off?”

Shining jerked a nod, keeping pace with Cadence as they moved along. For the first time in what felt like years, he was able to enjoy a relaxing walk with his wife. Of course, they were frequently interrupted by various townsponies bowing and smiling at them as though they were on parade. Truth be told, they were both so used to it by now, that they scarcely noticed, to Shining and Cadence, they were the only ponies in the entire town.

In all too short of a time, they arrived at the door to Twilight’s library. Before they could open the door, it swung open, and Spike trotted out. The dragon looked furiously behind him, slamming the door shut. Apparently noticing them for the first time, he took a step backwards into the oak. “Shining, Cadence, what are you doing here?”

He raised an eyebrow. Really? “Didn’t Twilight tell you we were coming?”

Spike’s palm made contact with his forehead in an audible slap. “Crud! What time is it?”

“Uh,” Cadence frowned, staring up at the sun, “it’s around noon I think.”

“Great, just great.” Spike sighed heavily, reaching for the door, “They’ve been kind of busy experimenting.” From the tone of his voice, this was nothing new to him. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff they’ve destroyed!”

Twilight destroying anything seemed a bit of a stretch. At the worst, she might throw her quills on the floor or bury herself in a mountain of spell books. He looked to Cadence, jerking a confident nod. Slowly, they followed the dragon inside. What greeted them was surprisingly less dramatic than Spike made it out to be. The only thing that stood out to Shining was a tall stallion standing in the center of the room, looking up at the loft with a Cheshire grin plastered on his face. “Do come down, dear. I’ll fix it!”

Twilight’s voice came shrilly from the loft, “Like Tartarus you will!

“Twilight?” Cadence stepped cautiously towards the stallion, following his gaze. She turned to him, “Is Twilight up there?”

“Indeed.” The middle aged unicorn’s golden eyes twinkled mischievously, “Though I cannot seem to convince her to come down.” He shouted up at the loft, deep voice carrying throughout the library, “Twilight, Cadence and Shining Armor are here. If you don’t come down, I’ll drag you out myself!”

There was a pause, then the soft sound of Twilight’s hooves making contact with the stairs. Shining watched as his sister walked towards them with all the air of a dejected puppy dog. It was immediately apparent as to the reason. There, resting above her feathery wings was a set of violently yellow butterfly ones. His sister slunk over to the stallion, casting a sidelong glance at them as she passed. “Entropy, you were supposed to cast the spell on yourself.”

Entropy, shrugged, leaning against the podium. “Why would I do that? Could you see a stallion with butterfly wings? Gods, that would be ridiculous!”

Shining could only gape at the stallion’s casual indifference to the situation. “You cast that spell on Twily?”

“Oh yes.” Entropy stood up straight, puffing out his chest as though he had just run a marathon. “A successful temporary transformation spell, if I do say so myself.”

Twilight rolled her eyes, “Yes, and now you’re going to cast the counter-spell!”

The stallion looked as though he might protest, but one glance at Shining’s withering stare seemed to convince him otherwise. “Uh . . . of course, dear.” He cleared his throat, lighting his horn with the most sporadically controlled magic Shining had ever seen. With a long breath, he aimed it at Twilight. The effect was instantaneous, surrounding the wings and shattering them like a piece of stained glass.

Twilight breathed an audible sigh of relief. “Great job, Entropy.”

“Thank you.” He straightened, turning his attention to them for the first time. “So, you must be Cadence and Shining Armor.” He bent down in an overly theatrical bow. “Forgive me for not introducing myself. My name is Entropic State, professor at Canterlot University and Twilight’s student.”

Twilight rolled her eyes, nudging him in the ribs. “You’re more than that.” She nuzzled him gently under the chin, making his lined face turn a violent shade of red. “He’s my stallionfriend.”

“I see.” Shining could not help but be unimpressed by the whole situation. From what Cadence told him about Entropy, he was expecting somepony around his age. This stallion was nearly old enough to be her father. He squinted at the unicorn, trying to judge his sincerity. “You’re a bit . . . older than I expected.”

Entropy’s booming laugh set him back a step, “That I am, that I am.” His eyes fixated on Twilight, “I suppose I am to leave you girls to catch up?”

Cadence giggled, “Well, only if you want to.”

Twilight trotted over to him, an expectant look on her face. “You don’t mind hanging around with Entropy, do you, Shining?”

He forced a smile, “Not at all.” Truth be told, there was nothing he wanted to do less than hang out with a deranged professor with a penchant for destruction.

Entropy clapped a hoof on his back, nearly knocking the wind right out of him. “Excellent! I have just the idea for us, Shining, you too, Spike.” He started to the door with all the air of a general rallying his troops. Spike trotted along behind him like some errant flag boy.

Why am I not comforted? With one last, long glance at Cadence, he followed the stallion to Celestia knew where. He could only hope that they would return in one piece.

“So, how’s it going?” Cadence leaned forward the instant the stallions left the room, eyes sparkling with a filly-like anticipation.

Twilight could not help but feel nervous, playing with her now braided mane. “Good, I think.”

Cadence’s squeal of delight made her jump. “That’s great.” The alicorn wrapped her in a bone crushing hug. “I’m so happy you’ve finally found a stallion of your own.”

Finally? A part of her wanted to be offended by the statement, but even she had to admit given her personality and position, it was pretty close to the truth. “Yeah, it’s been great.” Great and confusing. She sighed, levitating up a stray spellbook. “I guess I’m going to hear a lot of advice now?”

“Only if you want it.” Cadence began to help Twilight put back the supplies, humming a little. “I want to be there for my little sister, you know?”

Twilight’s heart leapt at the statement. Though Cadence was her sister-in-law, Twilight had always considered her as good as a sibling. They worked for a while, Twilight listening to Cadence’s latest update from the Crystal Empire. As Cadence went on, she could not help but allow her mind to wander back to Entropy. Shining’s reaction had seemed fake, even for his “public face.” A part of her longed to follow them and see how they were faring, but she supposed Entropy would have something to say about that. She settled for a neutral question, “What do you think, Cadence?”

“Hmmm?” Cadence stopped straightening the stack of parchment to raise an eyebrow at her. “About what, Twilight?”

“About . . . about Entropy, and dating him.” She sighed, sitting down on the nearest cushion. “I know it’s a bit sudden, and I guess I’d understand if you don’t approve.”

“Oh, Twilight.” Cadence sat down beside her, drawing her into a gentle hug. “Of course I approve, why wouldn’t I? He’s the stallion you chose after all, and I know you wouldn’t choose just anypony.”

“But,” she gulped closing her eyes tight, “he’s a lot older than me, and I know Shining doesn’t like that.”

Cadence snorted, “He can just get over it, Twilight. He’s been nothing but foalish about this entire situation.” Her hoof stroked Twilight’s back in a motherly fashion. “Does the age difference bother you?”

Twilight had the urge to scream in frustration about that one. Cadence did not even know the start of the problem, perhaps it was time to tell somepony other than the spirit of chaos about it. Slowly, methodically, she began to talk about everything that she had been keeping bottled up inside over the weeks.

When she finished, Cadence just sat there next to her, holding her close. “So you’re asking me if we’re immortal?”

“Yes,” she squeaked, bracing for whatever Cadence was about to say.

Rather than the expected laugh or chide, Cadence just sighed, patting her back. “You know, I wondered about that myself. It used to scare me a lot, but then I realized something.”

Twilight looked up at her, “What?”

“Well, I realized that it doesn’t matter, not as a part of the big picture anyway.” Cadence’s horn lit up in her magic as she scrawled out a heart in the air. “Love is what really makes a difference in this world, Twilight. True love isn’t a fleeting thing, Twilight, it’s persistent throughout our lives.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. Of course Cadence would bring up love, but that did not change the fact that she very well might lose everypony she ever loved. “But they’ll leave us someday, what then?”

Cadence ruffled her forelock playfully, “Listen, Twilight, just because somepony passes, doesn’t mean that you stop loving them. Love is . . . love is a sacrifice.” The heart split into two even pieces, “When you love somepony, you give up a piece of yourself in the process. Then they in turn give you a piece of their own heart, though sometimes you’ll find they won’t and that’s okay too.” She giggled softly, “You’ll never really lose them, Twilight, because they’re every bit a part of you as you are to them.”

The words rang in her ears like hundreds of bells. She could not stop the grin from stretching across her face, “Well, I’m going to have one patchwork quilt of a heart when this is all said and done!”

“Maybe,” she giggled, giving her a supportive pat on the back, “but quilts can be beautiful too.”

Twilight nodded, nuzzling her under the chin. “Thanks, Cadence.” There was nothing to worry about after all. Entropy just might take a large chunk of her heart, but she knew he would leave her with just as large a portion of his own.

Why do I put up with this? Discord rolled his eyes listening to yet another of Shining’s renditions on the new training regimen. Gods, even father didn’t go on about his troops this much.

“And of course I insisted on the twelfth drill manual as a base,” Shining nodded confidently, “it’s the most complete of the set you know.”

“Naturally.” Discord glanced around at the townsponies with a frown. Though they stared at them, and a few pointed in amazement, nopony came to rescue him from the monotony that was Twilight’s brother.

Shining cleared his throat, “So, Entropy, you said you’re a professor. What do you teach?”

How to insult a princess in ten syllables or less. He shrugged, “Theoretical physics mainly, though I dabble in history.” Discord’s eyes tracked the crowded street around them, trying to decide if he would take a leaf from Spike’s book and high tail it out of there.

The commander raised a questioning eyebrow, “So, you don’t teach magic?”

“Gods no!” Discord’s archaic language seemed so set Shining back a step. “I mean, I could not even use magic properly until I started to study under Twilight.”

“Mmhmm.” Judging from Shining’s pursed lips, he was just itching to make a snide retort. However, he apparently had more self-restraint than Discord gave him credit for.

“Well, seeing as how we are stuck together, why don’t we do something productive?” Yes, something, anything to shut up the tin soldier. His eyes drifted to the nearby creek bank, a brilliant, yet surprisingly devious idea coming to mind. “You know, I could use some help gathering materials for a potion Twilight wants me to make.”

“A potion?” A small grin stretched across Shining’s face, “Sure! I used to make potions all the time with Twily, how hard could it be?”

“Indeed.” Discord trotted off towards the creek, grinning maliciously. This was going to be all too easy.

What passes for normal is just what passes for lame!” Entropy’s out of tune singing voice grated on his ears like thousands of horns on a chalkboard. They were standing knee deep in what Shining could only describe as the center of allergens in Equestria. The flowering weeds sent showers of spores in all directions as they tromped through the meadow in search of what Entropy was calling “flufflions” whatever those were.

The annoying song was accentuated by the occasional sneeze from Entropy. Whenever this occurred, a burst of sporadic golden magic would release from his horn, sending up a dense cloud of pollen into the air. The latest sneezing fit resulted in a nearby tree branch exploding, sending shrapnel in all directions. Entropy rolled on the ground laughing, compounding the situation with yet another storm of pollen. “Brilliant!”

“Yes, wonderful.” Shining sneezed a few times himself, glancing around at the meadow. “Have you found any yet?”

“Oh, yes.” Entropy levitated up a nearby Queen's Anne Lace, “See? Flufflions.”

Shining moaned, clapping a hoof to his forehead, “Seriously? There’s plenty of those in Ponyville! Why did we have to come out here for them?”

“Because these flufflions are softer.” Entropy stroked the weed like a kitten, “Isn’t that right little one?”

He’s lost it, he’s really lost it. “So, what’s next on the list?”

“Well, we could always go back to the blackberry bushes.” Entropy raised a hoof, pointing towards the woods again. “We didn’t get quite as many as we needed.”

“No.” Shining was still picking out thorns from his now tangled mane. “Don’t we have enough already?” They had been out gathering “ingredients” for hours now. First it was cattails by the creek, then it was fresh leaves from an oak tree, after that ordeal, Entropy decided they needed to acquire one, just one twig from a timberwolf. Well, the wolf had not been happy about that, and Shining had ended up galloping halfway to Ponyville with Entropy before they could blast it with their magic. So much for a relaxing afternoon with his potential brother-in-law.

“Aweee. Well, yes, I suppose we do.” Entropy got to his hooves, shaking off the pollen like a dog. “Come, let us return victorious!” Head held high, he levitated the saddlebag full of “supplies” and led the way out of the meadow. Shining was starting to feel like he was part of a circus act.

Their progress slowed once they hit the main road. Once again Shining’s eyes fell to the stallion’s uneven gait. At first he had shrugged it off as him goofing around, but now he was not so sure. If he had to guess, he would say that Entropy was in a lot of pain. “Entropy, are you okay?”

“Perfectly fine, Shining.” Though, as he said the words, one of his hooves did a jerky reflexive movement. He turned to him, grinning sheepishly. “Sorry, it’s arthritis, so there isn’t a lot to be done.”

Arthritis? “I see.” Shining continued to walk alongside him, wondering. Just how old was Entropy to have arthritis as bad as he did? He continued in his most would-be-casual voice, “So, uh, how old are you exactly?”

“Hmmm?” Entropy shot him a toothy grin, “Forty-two.”

Shining stopped dead in his tracks, staring incredulously at him. “Forty-two?” And you’re dating my sister?

“Indeed.” Entropy’s cocky grin faltered a little, turning into an almost hurt expression. “Is that . . . is that a problem?”

His hoof cuffed the dirt, “No.” Yes! What kind of creep are you? Shining was finding it increasingly difficult not to smack some sense into the stallion. “Just, have you considered the,” he paused, trying to think of a good word, “ramifications?”

Entropy raised an eyebrow, “Ramifications?”

Shining rolled his eyes. Come on, you can’t be that dense! “Well, you’re a lot older than Twily. Have you considered that maybe you’re going to have trouble down the road.”

Entropy snorted, “Trouble? Shining, trouble has followed me every day of my life. I sincerely doubt any trouble from my relationship with your sister would be much of a threat.”

“Really?” Shining’s harsh tone startled even himself. “You’re the stallion my sister chose, and frankly I wish she hadn’t.” He stamped a hoof so hard against the dirt that it sprayed all over Entropy. “You think dating her is a game? Well, I can tell you that Twily doesn’t see it that way! So, if you really want to keep dating her, you’d better be able to commit.”

“Commit?” He took a few steps backwards into the nearest tree trunk.

“That’s right, and you had better be aware of the consequences.” Shining sighed, trying to control the almost primal urge to kick Entropy senseless. “You’re a lot older than she is, so if you do decide to get married, which I guarantee she’ll want at some point, you had better be able to accept that fact.”

Entropy rolled his eyes in that annoying way of his. “Truly, Shining aren’t you jumping the gun? We’ve only been dating for a few days.”

Of course that was a logical argument, but he was not about to back down. “Maybe so, but you need to think about it. What if you do marry her and she gets pregnant? Will you even be around long enough to raise the foal?”

Entropy pinned his ears, snarling at him. “I’m not some damn cripple, soldier boy!”

“Really? Well you sure were acting like one!” The blood began to rush to his ears as he felt the anger coursing through him like poison. “Can you honestly say that your age won’t cause problems for Twilight down the road? What about your position? Have you thought about what happens if you get married? Will you drop your career and move to Ponyville, because I can bet Twilight’s not going to go to Canterlot with you!”

“Enough!” Entropy’s golden magic blasted him back into the nearest tree. The stallion’s pupils had turned a shade of blood red as he advanced toward him. “Do not pretend to understand me, or think for a moment that I have not considered the consequences. Let me tell you something, boy,” he spat the word, “I know more about this life than your imbecilic mind could possibly wrap itself around.”

Without another word, Entropy spun on his hocks, walking towards Ponyville. Shining followed slowly behind, dreading what would come when they arrived. He had royally screwed over his chances of ever getting to bond with Twilight’s stallion, and he could not say he was upset by that. This Entropy was nothing but trouble, and it was only a matter of time before Twilight saw that for herself. Perhaps he would give her a push in the right direction.

Spike was fairly certain that he could have cut the tension in the small kitchen with a knife. Ever since Entropy and Shining Armor had returned, they had done nothing but glare at each other. They would speak to their respective mares, but never directly to one another. Knowing Entropy, this was a recipe for disaster. Spike scooted the tea cup towards Entropy, carefully choosing his next words, “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Oh, yes, Spike. We had quite the . . . adventure.” Entropy’s tail was swishing so irritably that it more closely resembled a whip.

Twilight cleared her throat, glancing between the stallions, “So, uh, did you have fun?”

Shining rolled his eyes, “Fun is a relative term, Twily.” He shot daggers at Entropy. “And somepony’s idea of fun could use some revision.”

“Oh, is the tin soldier using fancy words?” Entropy sneered at him, “I’m shaking in my horseshoes.”

“Enough, you two!” Cadence elbowed her husband hard in the ribs. “Really, you two are acting like foals. What’s gotten into you?”

“Well now, that would be difficult seeing as how I’m a geriatric invalid.” Entropy stood up so suddenly the table nearly toppled over. “I am leaving, Twilight. I promised to help Cheese today.”

“Uh, okay then.” Twilight’s eyes tracked Entropy until he left the library. Slowly, she turned back to her brother. “What was that about, Shining?”

“You tell me!” Shining looked as mad as Spike had ever seen him. “What’s this about dating a stallion old enough to be your father?”

Twilight shot to her hooves, magic swirling around her horn in an uncanny resemblance to Entropy’s. “It’s none of your business who I date! I love Entropy, his age shouldn’t even be a factor.”

“Really? Will you be saying that when you’re left to raise his foal on your own? When you have to spend most of your life by yourself?” Shining joined his sister, snorting and pawing at the ground like an angry bull. “I’m not going to stand by and quietly let you screw up your life for the sake of one worthless professor!”

“Entropy is not worthless! You . . . you . . .” Twilight’s eyes were misting over with tears as the magic spluttered around her. Spike found himself backing into the corner to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, joined by a shaking Cadence. Twilight’s eyes flashed venomously at her brother, “Dating him is my choice, Shining! I love him, and I want him in my life, why can’t you accept that?”

“Because it’s wrong!” Shining stood, allowing the words to linger like a miasma before continuing in a softer tone, “It’s all wrong, Twily. He’s not right for you, loving him will only cause you pain. Think about it, okay?”

“I don’t need to think about it!” Twilight stamped her hoof against the floorboards, “Get out! If you don’t want Entropy around, then, I don’t want you around either.”

Cadence took a cautious step forward, “Twilight, calm down, I’m sure Shining’s just worried.”

Shining stood in front of his wife, shaking his head. “Enough, Cadence. Let’s just go.” He started to the door, casting one last look at Twilight. “We’ll see you later, Twilight.”

After they left, Twilight headed for the loft, “I’m going to bed.”

Spike trotted after her, “But, it’s only five o’clock.”

“I don’t care,” her voice shook ever so slightly. Gritting her teeth, she turned away, cantering up the stairs.

Spike was left standing in the center of the library, alone once again. Great, now what?

Author's Note:

Finally finished it guys and gals! Sorry for the delay, between Midterms and being sick, it's been entertaining to say the least. I'm planning on trying to finish this within the next week, but we'll see if we succeed. Thanks for reading!