• Published 18th Dec 2014
  • 1,968 Views, 91 Comments

Double Trouble: The Flaws Within - Masterius

Two Twilight Sparkles are not better than one, especially when each are stranded in the wrong world! With the Crystal Mirror broken, is there any way for them to find the way back to their respective homes?

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Chapter 23

Chapter Twenty-three

Cue the crickets

With nary a flicker, and sheltered within their hollowed globe, three small flames steadily burned, completely composed and serene, oblivious to the intense gaze focused on them as fragrant scents of vanilla and lavender perfumed the still, calm air.

Wearing identical expressions, Princess Twilight Sparkle and Trixie Lulamoon stared at the three-wick candle sitting between them atop the table, both goggle-eyed and unblinking, jaws dropped, frozen mid-motion and mid-breath. In fact, a cockatrice could not have done a better job of immobility…although they did lack the appealing and practical granitization renown of cockatrices.

“Did I―?” ”Did you―?”

“Not me!” ”No, I didn’t.”

“How did you―?” ”What did you―?”

The flustered series of simultaneously blurted questions abruptly broke the lengthy silence. In concert, both girls ground to a halt, taking that moment to regain composures, though their eyes remained locked on the still-oblivious multi-wicked candle.

“What happened?” Trixie quietly asked, now looking up at Twilight. “Did I do that?”

“Well, I can’t be sure,” Twilight slowly replied, even though she was absolutely positive of the answer. After all, that conclusion was still conjecture, wasn’t it? She hadn’t actually tested that, had she? “But, based upon empirical observation, I’d have to say yes. Yes, you did.”

“Oh,” came the soft, tiny response.

Surprised at the quiet answer, and unable to discern how Trixie was dealing with that revelation, let alone how she was feeling, Twilight quickly asked, “Trixie? You OK?”

Nibbling her lip, Trixie lifted shoulders. “Trixie is…not sure. ‘OK’ is such a broad term.”

“Well,” Twilight revised, “Are you bad?” then blushed as Trixie gave her ‘the Look’.

“Trixie is more at sixes and sevens than she is stricken. Or did you mean ‘bad’ as in ‘rotten, spoiled egg’ bad?” smirking as Twilight flushed a deep, dark rose. “It’s alright, Twilight,” smiling now, “Trixie was just teasing you. She knew what you meant.”

Twilight was not about to repeat her request that Trixie put her persona aside, not after all the sudden revelations that had unexpectedly appeared. And now, in addition to all her other worries, fears, and concerns, was incorporating those surprises into that mix. Gazing down at her Sweet Tea, Twilight made a sudden decision.

“Do you like coffee?”

“Where’re the filters?” “Whaddya mean, ‘there’s no filters’?” “What, pray tell, is a percolator?” “Seriously?”

Those had been some of the “grumbles” Trixie had muttered while the two of them had brewed a pot of coffee, that grousing and complaining very much the distinct “Trixie” quirk. This time, however, Twilight had sensed something different as they’d worked together. Instead of that sounding as it always had before―petulant, impatient, hypercritical―this time, Twilight perceived something very different: a trenchant and pithy running commentary…and one that was automatic and oblivious as well, very much as if a non-stop mental monologue was going on inside her head, with, at times, that stream of consciousness unwittingly becoming vocalized. In fact, if you ignored the source―so as to remain impartial and unprejudiced―Trixie’s running commentary was actually quite amusing!

Sitting back down, steaming mugs between hands, both sat in companionable silence for a while as they contemplated matters between sips of coffee. After several minutes, Twilight finally continued. “Before I go any further,” she began, “I want―no, need―to apologize for any pain or hurt I’ve already caused you, and may likely additionally cause you. That was never my intention. At all. But, as I’ve already told you, you were, and are, my absolute best choice for help regarding this.”

“Trixie is quite flattered. Honored, even,” she added between a sip. “But, well,” focusing her gaze on Twilight, “she would very much like, and appreciate, knowing what ‘this’ is.”

“‘This’,” Twilight so very softly demonstrated, “is this.” Trixie’s eyes rounded as the candle flames just vanished, the melted pool of wax left behind the only visible sign of their having ever existed.

Quivering fingers touching trembling lips, Trixie stared at the now-extinguished candles. Compared to the magicks she’d already seen―foremost in sheer power and intensity being those witnessed and experienced during the Fall Formal and The Battle of the Bands—seeing three small flames magically snuffed should have been small beer.

But, it wasn’t.

Because, this time…

Is…is it really that easy? she wondered, sensing for the first time ever the ebb and flow of…something. The same ‘something’ she’d originally sensed upon entering Twilight’s studio apartment dorm. Picturing that ‘ebb and flow’…now picturing that as ‘flow and ebb’…a sense of…effort…purpose…

A smile of wondrous joy, of astonishing, childlike delight, slowly spread across Trixie’s face as all three wicks’ flames popped back in existence, as if having never vanished at all.

Twilight had no idea what Trixie was thinking or feeling, having just seen Twilight unmistakably using real Equestrian magic before her very eyes, for she had the oddest expression on her face: neither fear nor confusion, instead, almost as if…

Twilight had a moment to sense the flow of power within the aether about, and about Trixie within, and knew what was about to happen the instant before the candles re-ignited.

Sitting back down after topping off their mugs―Twilight having added several healthy dollops of raw honey to hers along with a glug of heavy whipping cream―she quietly and surreptitiously watched Trixie across the table. She’s remarkably composed, she observed, Considering all the levin bolts she’s taken already. I just hope she can continue doing so!

Before Twilight could pick back up the thread of the conversation, Trixie startled her once again when she softly said, “Trixie shouldn’t be able to do this, should she,” in a tone much more a statement than any mere question. “Is this why you needed Trixie’s help?”

“Yes. And no, Trixie,” Twilight replied, holding up a hand in a peacekeeping gesture as Trixie started huffing. “I’m not trying to be confusing,” softly blushing yet grinning overhearing Trixie’s barely-audible-but-decidedly-cranky grumble.

“You’re failing quite well at that.”

Quickly turning sober, understanding Trixie had meant far more than just the candles, and rather proud of her for putting together so many disparate things into a cohesive whole, Twilight explained, “I asked for your help because, in―” my world, she’d started to say, revising that in mid-sentence, “Equestria, there’s only a few powerful unicorns with whom I’m personally familiar. One is Sunset Shimmer, but she’s trapped on the other side. Another is Trixie Lulamoon. And while she, too, is on the other side…you’re not.

“Your analogue is a very powerful unicorn Mage, who specializes in Illusion Magicks as well as general sleight-of-hoof and prestidigitation. Which means, based upon all the evidence—empirical and theoretic—I possess, you were the ideal person to ask.”

“Trixie hates to burst your bubble,” Trixie mordantly replied, “But although this Trixie,” she tapped the center of her chest with a fingertip, “is ‘Great and Powerful’, she is not a unicorn. And although your Sunset Shimmer is trapped ‘on the other side’ and so forces you to look here for help, Trixie wonders why you haven’t sought out the two most obvious candidates to ask on this side.”

Rolling her eyes at Twilight’s blank expression, Trixie thoroughly stunned her when she added, “You know: Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna? Who are better known in Equestria as Princess Celestia and Princess Luna? Who are extremely powerful and talented alicorns?”

“I’m so sorry.”

Sunset Shimmer felt so empty inside as the tears finally ceased. However, unlike the terrifying emptiness the draining of her magic had left behind in its wake, this void was peaceful, the preceding tears cathartic.

The pain might have gone, yes, but the sorrow remained, bittersweet and poignant rather than crushing.

“So am I, my little Sunshine. So am I,” came the fatigued, weak response. Exhausted, yes, but there was no mistaking the love there as well.

“But!” Sunset Shimmer blurted, “But it was all my fault! Everything! I—”

“Shhh,” Princess Celestia soothed, interrupting Sunset Shimmer by gently resting a hooftip against her lips. Inordinate sadness flickered in the depths of her eyes as she gazed at her former pupil, a grief tearing Sunset Shimmer’s wounds open again. “Yes,” she admitted, “the decisions you made were, indeed, your choices.”

That was a knife in her heart; Sunset Shimmer rocked back, tears welling again…then froze as her beloved teacher continued.

“But it was my responsibility to inculcate in you the lessons, morals, ethics, and knowledge to provide you the foundation for making good decisions.” Closing her eyes a moment and swallowing to clear a lump, Princess Celestia gazed at her former student once again. “I may have been a good teacher to you…but I was a terrible excuse for a mother.”

Her heart felt stabbed again, this time for an entirely different reason. “No,” Sunset Shimmer gently corrected. “No, you weren’t.” Tears gently trickled as Sunset Shimmer truly considered all she had lost, all she had thrown away. Gently smiling, she warmly gazed at Princess Celestia. “I can’t—we can’t—regain the years lost because of my selfishness. I’ll never know what I’ve missed because of that: the experiences, the joy and laughter…the love.” A gentle sniffle, then, “But you did teach me—regardless of doing my best to ignore and dismiss it—that actions beget consequences. And the consequences of my decisions are those losses.”

Something deep inside Princess Celestia thawed at the warmth, the love—the release of self-loathing—gleaming in Sunset Shimmer’s eyes as she steadily gazed at her. “I don’t want to forget them as if they had never happened,” she resolutely declared. “But neither will I permit them to define me. Refine, yes; define, no. And, although the past is beyond reclamation…” her voice grew very soft and unsure, “I…I hope we may have a future?”

As Sunset Shimmer burrowed beneath the proffered, opened wing, feeling once again the happy little filly…as Princess Celestia gently sheltered her former student beneath…

…the dregs of their estrangement ceased existing, as their healing became complete.

“Trixie would like to know why you haven’t asked Rarity: a much closer friend than Trixie is.”

Twilight hoped Trixie had not seen her wince, because, truth be told, they weren’t really even friends, let alone close friends. Heck, even acquaintances would be stretching it!

Empathy and compassion rose within her like a quickly rising tide. Trixie didn't really have friends, Twilight realized, and while her abrasive personality and self-aggrandizing braggadocio certainly explained that, they neither excused nor absolved.

She winced again, remembering her initial reaction upon determining the boastful self-proclaimed “Magician” was the logical choice for assistance: she had literally recoiled in dislike and distaste. Yet…

Surreptitiously peeking at her, Twilight could not believe this was the same Trixie Lulamoon she knew. Did she really have an actual doppelgänger? Because this Trixie was funny and clever, whose humor ranged from cutting, biting banter all the way through self-deprecating wit.

And it wasn’t just the comedic aspect, either. There was a core of steel within her that Twilight actually envied. Just watching as Trixie had dealt with, and was still dealing with, the revelations bombarding her was humbling. And as bombastic as she undeniably was, beneath that seemingly empty pretentiousness lurked what Twilight was gradually realizing was a brilliant mind. Just look at the last question she had asked!

So…why the difference? And the moment she pondered that an uneasy, disquieting answer surfaced.

Looking at it totally detached, in complete objectivity, Twilight compared past versus present. Always before, she mused, Trixie was the outsider, looking in. Seeking…yearning…hoping. Never noticed. Never seen. Never belonging. Never welcomed, nor wanted. So…if they won’t notice me, I’ll make myself into someone noticeable. Likeable. Wantable. See? Look! Look! It is I! The Great and Powerful Trixie!

But…this time?

This time…this time, Trixie had been asked. Had been wanted. Had been needed. And needed for herself.

Whatever the reasons, Twilight was thoroughly enjoying interacting with Trixie, both as Trixie Lulamoon and as her third-person persona as “The Great and Powerful Trixie!”.

Why hadn’t she thought to ask Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna for help? For Trixie had been absolutely correct in her analysis: there could be no more powerful analogues here than those two. However, with Trixie’s help, between the two of them, Twilight could reason out why they most likely had not immediately come to mind.

For one thing, they were “adult authority” while her classmates were both her age, and more peers and friends than grown-up superiors. For another, having now—due to Trixie’s prompting—considered them as possibilities, Twilight felt uncomfortable involving either of them with this. For, while both Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna had been amazingly accommodating and understanding regarding “magickal shenanigans” in the past, it had also become increasingly clear they would much rather have things “back to normal”. It was one thing with them becoming, albeit reluctantly, involved with magicks when that involved their school and their pupils, and quite likely another asking them to do so during their recuperative summer break! Besides, as Trixie had finally noted, how easy would it be to contact them? Neither one had their personal contact information, and while that should be easily web searched and found, suppose one, or both, were away on vacation? There was no doubt in either girl’s mind that, should Twilight land this bombshell on them, Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna would immediately drop everything and return.

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of them, had been her immediate answer. And now, after they had deliberated matters, “I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of them,” she repeated. “But, after everything we’ve just discussed, even if I had their contact information, and even if I was absolutely positive either, or both, would be perfectly OK with helping, I’d still rather have asked you.”

At that, Trixie had deeply blushed, looking discomfited, yet shyly pleased as well. Whereupon she had then asked her second, insightful question regarding Rarity.

Trixie looked stunned, as if someone had smacked her in the back of the head with a 2x4, as Twilight sincerely replied, “While Rarity is, indeed, a very close and dear friend, and while she is also extremely skilled within the sphere of her talents, nevertheless you, Trixie Lulamoon, are still my paramount choice to help me with this.”

A fiery, intense blush spread across Trixie’s face at that. However—in both pleasure and surprise—Twilight noted that Trixie neither ducked her head nor lowered her eyes, both emotions blooming more intensely as Trixie softly replied, “Tell me what you need.”

“Trixie hasn’t played ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ since she was a little girl,” she grumbled as Twilight secured the blindfold in place, snorting in mock-outrage at Twilight’s reply.

"Two weeks ago, huh?"


“OK,” Twilight turned serious, as did Trixie in her turn. “It’s obvious you can sense ‘something’,” she stated. “What I’d like you to do is ‘home in’ on that ‘something’. Try and localize the focus.”

“So...basically you wish The Great and Powerful Trrrrixie to locate and find Princess Celestia’s Book where you've hidden it. Is that it?”

“Hab hab habbitta...” Twilight wordlessly babbled, amusing Trixie to no end.

Nudging the blindfold off just high enough to permit gazing at Twilight with a lifted brow—an expression that further sealed Twilight’s stuttering shock, “That is what you want Trixie to ascertain, isn’t it? That Equestrian magic is now flooding our world because her Book is here along with Sunset Shimmer’s Book?”

Shaking her head to regain her composure, Twilight gazed directly at Trixie without any trace of guile or duplicity. “Yes, it is,” she bluntly admitted. “I wasn’t trying to play games with you. Honest. But had I explained any of this beforehand—”

“You risked tainting the results,” Trixie softly interrupted, once more stunning Twilight with her perspicuity and insight. Removing the blindfold, Trixie took several seconds to orientate herself, slowly turning completely around twice, once with her eyes opened, the second with them closed. Slowly breathing, almost meditatively, Trixie deliberately turned around a third time...paused...grew very thoughtful...

Opening her eyes at last, and moving without any hesitation at all, Trixie stopped in front of the cabinet holding Spike’s grooming supplies. Again, without pause, she opened the drawer, reached to the back...

“Ta da!” Trixie declared as she held up Princess Celestia’s Book....without any of her usual self-aggrandizing.

“So...what do we do now?” Trixie finally asked, having been quietly observing Twilight holding the massive tome on her lap as silent tears trickled down her cheeks.

“I...I don’t know,” she whispered, then jerking upright, startled and shocked at Trixie’s immediate—and decisively firm and scolding—response.

“Yes, you ‘do know’,” Trixie chastised. “You just don’t want to admit it...and you definitely don’t want to implement it.”

“Oh?” Twilight fumed. “And just what does “The Great and Powerful Trixie” think should be done?”

There was a flash of sorrow, a flicker of pain when Twilight rebuked her, a reaction that instantly crushed Twilight. And when Trixie answered?

Drawing the mantle of armor about her, Trixie responded with a dignity and gravitas that humbled Twilight, “If Princess Celestia’s Book cannot be returned to her, then it must be destroyed. Obliterated in such a manner that whatever connection currently existing between Princess Celestia and Equestria, and her Book and this world, is irrevocable severed. For only then will the influx of Magicks here cease; a ‘here’ neither equipped to simply and safely incorporate that, nor able to prevent the corruption doing so will ignite.

“And, in addition to all of that,” Trixie very quietly finished, “doing so will stop the drain that Princess Celestia must already be experiencing as her Magicks are drawn from her and transferred here.”

Twilight sat there, stunned and frozen, mouth open in shock. Before she could even start assimilating all of that, deep shame flooded her as Trixie visibly distanced herself, fully embracing her persona as she rose in dignified haughtier. “Now that The Great and Powerful Trrrixie has answered all your questions and provided you with direction, she will be going now, having no further desire to be mocked and humiliated.”

“Stop!” Twilight’s voice was strangled, tripping over her feet as she struggled to stand. “Please. Don’t go.”

Dark grey-violet orbs transfixed Twilight, their intensity cool and dismissive yet fiery and disdainful. And, although they were of similar height and age, somehow Twilight felt as if Trixie was much older and much taller, gazing down her nose as she towered over her.

“Why? Why should Trixie stay?” she asked over her shoulder on her way to the door.

Intercepting her at the door, Twilight replied, “Because I was rude and hurtful, and I can’t properly apologize to you if you leave before I try.”

A series of sharp knocks followed by a double ring of the bell startled both of them into silence and immobility. Placing an eye to the peephole, Twilight abruptly stiffened before pressing her back against the door, a look of horror and despair on her face. Staring at Trixie with an expression of utter hopelessness and complete desperation, Twilight whispered, “It’s Sunset Shimmer!”