• Published 1st Jan 2018
  • 1,897 Views, 140 Comments

Between Arstotzka and Equestria: Papers, Please - A_Storyteller



The border between Arstotzka and Equestria opens. Will these two words be able to coexist? And...How much can the events be influenced by the decisions of a simple checkpoint's Inspector? - A crossover between "Papers, Please" and MLP

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Life in Arstotzka

24 October, 1983 – H 18:00 to 24:00

Hektor stared at the little Sweetie Belle for a long time; in that moment, he wasn't able to think about what he had to do. There was a little child from another world without the proper documents to pass the frontier. Laws were clear for that kind of situation; the consequences of following those same laws were, on the contrary, uncertain.

"Do not worry, little girl...I'm sure that your sister is all right...she was just taken to the portal" Hektor said, trying to smile and to keep a calm voice.

Sweetie Belle wouldn’t look at him, then she raised her head. "Am I in trouble, sir?" she asked with an innocent and disarmingly worried expression to the Inspector, looking straight at him with her green eyes.

Unnoticed by Hektor and Sweetie Belle, Ian came back, slamming the door behind him with a certain rudeness, shaking the entire structure, scaring both of them. "That was a tough client for sure...beautiful, but lethal." He exclaimed with a little grin on his face, before realizing that somebody else was in the booth "What about her?"

"Her passport is expired, but..."

It was clear that the soldier was fed up from the situation; he shook his head, sighing. "The Equestrian Inspectors are doing an awful job, I see," the soldier said, hefting his rifle. "You know what to do." he added coldly, staying in position, in waiting.

Hektor couldn’t turn his head faster to fix the guard with a shocked stare. Sweetie Belle, was clearly frightened by what was happening to her; her worried stare was impossible to stand.

The Inspector lowered his head and, after a long hesitation, he closed his eyes and activated the automatic stamper.

*KACHUNK*

When he opened them, he saw a big, red stamp on the visa of the little girl’s passport.

She took it back, looking at the denial stamp and slowly realizing the situation. "So...do I have to stay here?" She remained silent for a minute, gathering her courage; some seconds had to pass before she was able to raise her head, showing to both Hektor and Ian her wet eyes. "But...but...I don't want to...I want to go back. I don't want to be here alone."

Under his shapka the Inspector was trying to maintain a cold expression, but the situation, the coldness of Ian and those eyes were testing his resolve to the limit. <<Law is law. I did the right thing!>> This was the phrase that was recurring in his head; he had to prove to the government that they could rely on him, especially after the previous citation arrived for his first mistake.

But for every calm thought there was a heart-broken one, evoked by the reaction of the child in front of him, whose only fault was to have an expired document in her little hands.

"We have no time for dramatics!" Ian said advancing on Sweetie Belle "I'll take her to the police station. They'll figure out what to do." When the soldier tried to approach her, she retreated, scared by the blonde guard. She quickly turned her head in Hektor’s direction, desperately pleading for help.

Hektor’s mind began to work immediately; he had to do something. <<Citations be damned! The true crime is leaving this child without a guardian!>>

<<The police station over in Orvech Vonor?No, there’s no room and the people working there had respect for nobody, not even children. Best case scenario, they would put her in a jail cell alone; in the worst one…it was better to not think about it.>

"Wait!" Hektor yelled, raising his hand to stop the soldier "Is the previous Equestrian citizen still near the checkpoint?"

Puzzled by the question, Ian looked at Hektor, "Let me see...I think I saw him trying to speak with somebody in the line, bothering every person near him. Why do you ask?"

At that answer, the Inspector smiled with a newfound calm; he assumed an authoritative posture and put both of his hands on the desk. "Your sister said that she knows him? Do you know him too?" Hektor asked Sweetie Belle with the kindest tone he could, trying to calm her down a little while his mind worked.

The little child recovered some calm and nodded in his direction, cleaning out the tears from her eyes. "I-I know Discord, Mr. Inspector.”

"Good!” Hektor exclaimed, trying to hide his enthusiasm from both Ian and Sweetie Belle “I think you two will have no problem at all finding a room in one a hostel somewhere. Orvech Vonor is famous for it’s hostels.” He stayed silent for a moment waiting for a reaction, before looking back at the little child in front of him, smiling at her. “I'm sure that your sister will come back tomorrow with the correct documents...and maybe somebody will come to help the other Equestrian, too." Hektor gestured to Ian.

The soldier didn’t appear excited by Hektor’s proposal, but the Inspector cut him off before he could protest. "This Discord will probably have some money with him," Hektor then said to Ian, who was listening carefully, if unhappily. "And maybe she has some money with her, too… together they'll have no problem finding a room for tonight." He added, gesturing to Sweetie Belle, who was carefully wiping her eyes.

Emboldened by Hektor’s support, she spoke. “I have money with me, sir. Me and Rarity wanted to buy some clothes, but she didn’t like anything from your stores, so I have with me what I brought from Equestria.” Even though there were still some tears on her face, Sweetie Belle’s expression looked less sad and more pleased by Hektor’s proposition. After mentioning the sister though, her expression turned disappointed for a moment.

Ian looked like he might protest, but then he subsided. "I’m just a border guard, the rest is not my problem...besides, we have already lost too much time. I'll bring her to this Discord guy, then she’ll be out of our hair." He said with a cold expression, before showing to Sweetie Belle the exit door.

Both of them reached the exit and left the booth; before going out, however, Sweetie Belle exchanged a last look with Hektor, spotting the sad expression painted on his face for a moment.

“Thanks for your kindness, Mr. Inspector.”

Hektor looked at Sweetie Bell, stunned; after the door closed behind her, he found himself thinking about the meaning of that phrase. It couldn’t be irony, as she didn’t appear the kind of child that could underline her feelings using irony...so she was sincerely thanking him.

The disappointment from his actions was invading his mind. He needed a moment to reorder his thoughts and to continue the working day.

After that episode, the last two hours passed with no other problems. Out of all the people rejected, the majority of cases didn't cause problems and the approved ones went away with a satisfied expression. It was nice for Hektor to see the excited faces of those who were going to visit the parallel world. Expectations were high, caused especially by the newspapers and by the radio that, for multiple times in the previous days, waxed eloquent about the ‘Great Equestrian Nation’s fantastic and incredible properties.

Finally, the clock announced that it was time to close the booth. Hektor smiled for a moment before grabbing the microphone with his right hand.

"It is 18:00. The checkpoint is closed! Return tomorrow at 07:00!"

He repeated the same sentence another time, before standing up from the chair to stretch his arms. "Never been on a more uncomfortable chair...it will kill me before any angry traveller," he said loudly, without even noticing the presence of Ian.

"You should stand for a whole day outside a booth with a weapon in your hand and with the freezing wind blowing, facing the same travellers you think will kill you then," he said with a little smile.

"It seems that I can’t complain then," Hektor replied while, without looking at the guard, he was making order on the desk "Anyway," he added, now focusing his attention on him. "Thanks for everything. You did a great job."

"You weren’t too bad, either." Ian said, putting his rifle on his left shoulder. "You were able to keep the necessary self-control all day long...even with those two Equestrians...by the way, on the way home, I'll go to the Ministry of Admission office to report the problems we had here. Maybe there will be papers to sign and time to lose, but I think they must know of the awful work of Equestrian Inspectors as soon as possible."

"Speaking of the Equestrians..." Hektor mumbled suddenly, checking his own clothes, trying to appear indifferent to the matter. "Do you know the whereabout of the ones we rejected?"

Ian scratched his blonde hair for a moment with his free hand. "I don't know...I saw them walking toward the city," he quickly explained, showing no signs of worry, "Two travellers from a new world stuck in a place they don't know...and one of them is a child. An interesting situation." he added coldly, turning his back to Hektor. "I hope that goat bearded guy is tough enough to protect himself and that little girl from all the dangers they could meet."

Hektor nodded as Ian began examining his rifle with extreme care. "It's not our problem, after all," he said, not really persuaded by his own words.

"You were just doing your job," Ian asserted. "Next time they'll come here with valid documents...now let's go home. I need something hot."

The Inspector took the plastic bag with his own clothes and, after waving goodbye to Ian, who was closing the booth, he walked away from that place. The first day of work was officially done.

Walking slowly, he began to follow the road that lead to his quarter. He couldn't not focus his attention on all the shabby structures present in that part of Orvech Vonor and, above all, on all the poor people living there, marked by the old and dirty clothes that were barely able to protect them from the freezing evening wind.

All those eyes staring the ground...all those sad expressions...that was what Hektor saw every day he walked through the city, to his well-paying job and back. The snow and the gray weather weren't helping the situation...all around it was just like a surreal sketch drawn in black and white.

While walking, lost in his thoughts, he didn't even realize that his cigarette was almost over; while smoking the last bit of it, he rose his head again, looking at something that caught his attention. With great surprise, he found the little Equestrian, Sweetie Belle.

With greater surprise, he found her talking with an elegant man with a pink scarf and expensive dresses, something uncommon in a place like Orvech Vonor.

By the way he was moving and speaking, it was clear that the man wasn’t someone born there. Those brown curly hairs on his head were too cured; maybe he came from the Capitol city?

Hektor found himself so focused on his thoughts that didn’t realize how near he was to them; when he focused again on the scene, he hid himself in the crowd of people around, trying to catch the conversation between them. "You can come with me, little sweetie...I'll be happy to give you a place to sleep. You don't want to spend the night in the open, right?"

When he rose his head, he saw the little girl who had been blocked at the checkpoint. She was talking to somebody that, for some reason, wasn't unfamiliar to him; his short, curly brown hair and his elegant dress were something he remembered...but he didn't know why.

"I'm really happy that you can help us, good sir," she replied with a big smile, pointing suddenly in an uncertain direction with her little finger. "Can you please just wait for a moment? A friend of mine went there to ask for hospitality...but I see it's not necessary now."

The man made a strange expression after those words, gently shaking his head. "I'm sorry, little lady," he said with a sad expression, posing one of his hands on her shoulders, caressing her light purple curl hairs with his thumb, "But Dari Ludum is a busy guy and can't wait too long...but everybody knows me here," he added, spreading his arms widely, smiling, "So your friend will find us with no problem...besides, we have to travel a little and it's already late, so we have to hurry."

Dari Ludum...Dari Ludum...he knew that name...but why?

"Please, good sir," she said with her melodious voice while looking around herself with a worried expression. As she realized that she wasn’t able to find who she was looking from, she crossed her arms, as she wanted to protect herself from the coldness of the evening and from the world all around her; by the expression on her face, it was easy to see that she was feeling completely lost "He will come back in few moments. I can't leave him behind! I’m the only friend he knows here."

The man in front of her remained silent until that moment "I have to insist, dear" he instantly replied while offering her his right hand "as I said, my house, the Pink Vice, is a little far from here. So we have to move on...your friend will reach us later" he added, focusing his attention on the horn on the child's forehead

Hektor stood there, hearing that conversation; suddenly his face changed completely, as something had frozen his blood. He wasn’t able to move; he could sense that he was having shivers.

<<Dari Ludum...Pink Vice...now I remember>> He thought <<That place, the brothel...and especially the story on the newspapers about the death of a girl near it...the suspects that the death wasn’t accidental...the culprit never found and...>>

While those thoughts flowed in his head, he saw that man getting nearer the little girl, whose smile was a clear sign that she was slowly trusting him.

<<Dammit Arstotzka...If she goes with him...and where is that Discord guy?>> he realized that he couldn't wait longer, as Dari Ludum, famous for his speaking abilities, could really persuade her in following him.

With a deep breath, Hektor put his hands in the pockets of his jacket, moving fast toward them.

"Miss Sweetie Belle, finally I've found you" he said with a loud voice, waving his hand to salute her "I looked for you all over Orvech Vonor, you know?" he added, trying to appear as familiar to her as possible.

The attention of the two was immediately called to him. "Oh hi sir" the child said after recognizing him "But why were you looking for me?" she then asked, inclining her little head to the right and looking at him from the bottom of her short height.

"Well, you see..." Hektor said assuming a serious tone of voice "You have to come with me for further checks at the checkpoint," he added, launching some quick glances at the man near them "it seems, in fact, that there were some..." he stayed in silence for some seconds, trying to figuring out a good excuse "...some...problems with your documents...so the authorities...well...asked me to find you." He assumed a more secure voice "So you have to come with me".

"But...but..." she blabbered, without knowing what to think about her situation "you said that there..."

"Maybe I can fix the problem, my little friend" suddenly Dari Ludum said, getting near to them and taking from his jacket 40 credits "these can solve the problem, right?" he asked Hektor, smiling "And if this is not enough, I can personally guarantee for her .. she is my guest".

He looked at that sum of money for some moment, in silence.Then, he rose his head, looking to him directly in the eyes "Maybe you're trying to bribe an officer of Arstotzka, mister?" he said indicating a person with a blue uniform near them "maybe we can talk about this to him...I'll call him, if you want"

With a challenging look, he observed the man with all the hate within; then, he gave a fast glance to the little girl before walking away "what a pity...a good chance lost" he murmured before going away, without even saluting.

Hektor followed with attention that shady man walking away, before returning to focus on the little girl, with a more calm expression on his face.

"So...I'm in trouble then" Sweetie Belle said, lowering her head.

"Not at all" he exclaimed, smiling a little "and I'm sorry if I had to let it appear as if there were problems, but ..."

"A wonderful façade, indeed, Mr. Inspector" somebody suddenly said, slowly clapping his hands "You looked really serious...and those words to that man! Oooooh I loved that"

Both of them turned back, seeing Discord drinking something from a glass bottle without any brand.

"Discord" Sweetie Belle exclaimed happily "where were you? I feared you lost yourself"

"Me? Lost? Oh, come on" he said, while laughing a little "you underestimate me, my dear Sweetie Belle...by the way, I think that mister Inspector there deserves your thanks" he added, pointing his thumb at Hektor, who was behind him in that moment "the human you were speaking with was not so nice as he appeared...you should be more careful, we're not in Equestria, after all...if you think about ...".

Hektor couldn't not focus on that strange man, on what he was saying and, above all, on how he was speaking to the little girl. He was indeed scolding her, but his voice was not the kind of voice of somebody worried or serious. He couldn't really understand if he was really troubled for her or not; anyway, he could sense that Discord somehow was aware of what was happening during his absence.

"Lets just say I'm smarter than I looks...even if I risked losing my head, thanks to your friend" Discord said with a bizarre smile to Hektor who, hearing those words that looked like the perfect answers to his thoughts, remained astonished.

A moment of silence followed those words. The three of them could feel the wind becoming colder and colder, while the streets began to become deserted "At this rate, we'll not find a place to sleep" Sweetie Belle remarked, clearly worried about their situation.

"Fear not, my little friend" Discord said with a theatrical expression, spreading his little wings and his arms "after all, we faced worse situations where we live...monsters, evil creatures, invasions..."

<<So this Equestria it's not so peaceful like the newspapers showed>> Hektor thought while looking at Discord talking about all the menaces faced in the past, counting them on the fingers of his right hand. He looked at them, crossing his arms and wondering about the possible consequences of leaving them alone. A little girl and a strange guy, both from another dimension, without a place to go in a city like Orvech Vonor. It was not a promising situation indeed...all because he had to follow orders.

He looked back to them, who were trying to figuring out a solution. Then, he interrupted them.

"For this night, you can sleep at my house".

Both Sweetie Belle and Discord turned their head to look at Hektor.

"Really?" the little child asked looking to him with hope in her eyes.

"You're a strange person indeed" said then Discord, touching his goat like beard "first you block us here, then you offer us shelter...maybe it was all a maneuver to have an important guest like me? Love at first sight, I think" He added with the expression of one who is really convinced of his idea, before drinking another bit of the transparent liquid in the bottle he was keeping in his left hand.

Hektor looked shocked at Discord, in silence "Is he always like this?" he asked to Sweetie Belle, who answered nodding her head.

Her head...her horn...and Discord’s wings, too. Those could be problems. Maybe people weren't helping them because they were different.

"Anyway...follow me" Hektor said, putting his hands on his fur hat "before going...wear this" he then added putting the shapka on Sweetie Belle's head, covering her horn "it will keep you warm".

A loud laugh interrupted them; Discord was practically bent in half "what happened to your head, human?" he asked, without being able to stop "It looks like a crystal ball".

Hektor calmly finished putting the fur hat on Sweetie Belle, who was not able to not smile at Discord's reaction "You can still sleep in the open, if you want" Hektor said with firm voice.

Discord, realizing the situation, simply put the finger and the thumb of his right hand on his lips, like he was closing a zip; then, he offered the glass bottle to Hektor "The water you have here is strange, human. It has a...how can I say this...strong flavour".

The Inspector took the bottle, looking at its content "Maybe it's not water" he simply replied, taking a good sip of that liquid, realizing it was a bottle of Orvech Vodka "How did you get this?" he then asked, feeling his throat burning for the strongness of the liquor.

"I'm the Spirit of Chaos, remember?" he answered, as if he was saying the most obvious thing of the world.

Hektor shrugged his shoulder, without saying anything more. He then took few steps forward "Stay behind me and...Discord, do you feel cold on your...wings there?" Hektor then asked, saying the last two words with an uncertain voice "You should cover them under your jacket".

"Which wings, human?" He then asked, looking at him with a strange expression.

Hektor turned his head behind, realizing that Discord had already covered his wings. He smiled, realizing that he was probably not as stupid as he looked; then, he gave a last sip of the bottle, before throwing it in a basket of trash near them and walking forward, following the path to reach his home.

"By the way...my name is Hektor" he said to the two Equestrians behind him, before focusing himself on trying to resist as best as possible the pain caused from the cold he felt on his bald head and to the desire of asking his hat back from the child.

The strange group walked for almost 20 minutes. During the long walk, Hektor tried to not pay too much attention to the comments of the people who, curious about those two strangers, spoke between themselves with low voices.

Maybe it was to let the two Equestrians stay more relaxed, maybe he wanted just to let his mind work...but after some time spent silently, he began to describe as best as he could the landscape around them “There is the old town hall...you can tell that by the huge amount of Arstotzkan flags on it" he said pointing to an old but still elegant gray and white building at their right “And there is the elementary school...the first and the last school built in Orvech Vonor...families that can pay the high fees decided by the government to access the secondary school have to travel for at least half an hour by bus to reach the nearest one.”

“You look like the one that never made his way to the secondary school” Discord suddenly interrupted without even looking at the Inspector, whose expression became a little angry after that answer.

"There should be more colours; it's so sad like this" Sweetie Belle said, gazing at the buildings around without focusing on anything in particular, as she was distracted by something more important "some flowers could help...and a nice light blue instead of this gray would transform it into a nicer place."

Hektor looked at Sweetie Belle and what he saw saddened him for a moment.

The face of the child close to him was dark, as something stole all the will of live from her; she looked distant, paler than before...something was wrong with her.

“Human” Hektor didn’t realise that Discord’s hand was on his right shoulder “In the next hour you should be a loooooot careful with little Sweetie Belle over there” he pointed the thumb behind to point to the little Equestrian who, still distracted, was following them without even looking at the road “We have a case of ‘broken heart by sister act’...In this moment I should snap my fingers to wear a doctor suit and to fly on a pink cloud with my little ill child, but it seems that I can’t, as rules in your world are different...bleah.”

Hektor turned his attention to Sweetie Bell...maybe Discord was right, she was in pain from her sister’s behaviour at the checkpoint. She didn’t focus on Sweetie Belle’s problem, after all...instead, her main concern became her age, her beauty. Even so, he remembered perfectly the panicked impression of the girl when she realized the her little sister was doomed to stay behind. That was something he could not forget.

That was the face of somebody that realized they failed to stay close and protect the one they loved.

He could remember that feeling, too.

He had to solve that problem: sisters must love each other. He had to make Sweetie Belle understand that Rarity loved her...he had to do that at any cost.

This was not the right moment...he had to think about that later...there were more problems to solve.

As this wasn’t enough, there was another problem to account for: the reaction of his Mother-in-law when he tells her that there will be two guests for dinner and for the night <<In the best case scenario, she'll kill me>> he thought, disconsolate.

After the long walk, they finally arrived at their destination: a six floor gray building, with no decorations at all; it was just a big, regular box with a lot of windows. In that moment, there was just silence near them.

After three flight of stairs, they reached the door of the apartment. Hektor swiftly took the key from his jacket to open the door "Katia, we're home".

"Finally" the three of them heard from the inside "You're late. What did you do? And…what do you mean by ‘we’?"

"Hi there" exclaimed Discord, happily waving his hand while entering the central room of the apartment "My name is Discord, pleasure to meet you" he added, bowing like a respectful gentleman.

Katia spread her eyes wide, looking at the two persons. It was impossible for Hektor to read her feelings in that moment; it was something between surprise and the killing instinct. She focused her attention on Sweetie Belle, smiling at her for a moment; then, she stared at Hektor.

"If you wanted to bring guests for dinner, at least you could warn me…this place is a mess" Katia yelled angry "and I couldn't prepare anything, too. Now you have to go to buy something!"

"Erm…well..." Hektor said, clearly embarrassed, scratching his head "They will stay here…for the…night" he added, lowering his tone of voice at every word.

"WHAT??" She replied, suddenly standing up from the couch "What do you think is this? A hostel? Do you have nuts in your head instead of a brain? Did you lose your common sense with your hair???"

"I already like her" Discord murmured at Sweetie Belle, amused from the scene.

"Look, Katia. If they do not spend the night here, they will have to sleep outside. Do you prefer this idea?" Hektor yelled, looking at his mother-in-law with a more determined expression, while pointing his right hand at the door as if he wanted to show to her the cold and dangerous streets of Orvech Vonor.

"If we are a bother, madam, we are ready to leave" Sweetie Belle suddenly said, interrupting the conversation between the two "It's not our intention to cause any trouble to you" she added, lowering her head.

Looking at the child, Katia calmed herself; after a deep breath, she sat down on her couch, relaxing herself "Hektor will have his reason to offer hospitality to you…I hope" she said, launching severe glances to her son-in-law "Besides, you're already here".

"That's the spirit, old lady" Discord exclaimed, looking around the house and walking towards Hektor's room "I'll bring some good laughs in a sad place like this, you'll see", he then said before closing the door of the room behind.

Hektor shook his head "Do not pay too much attention at him, Katia. He's a bit crazy, but he'll cause no trouble" he explained to his mother-in-law, while putting an hand on Sweetie Belle's shoulder "Can you take care of her while I go outside to buy something for the dinner?"

The old lady grumbled a little while standing up again, rising her big body with a big effort "You have to buy some coal for the heater, too…by the way" she said walking near them to give him an envelope with a stylized red eagle stamped on it "this arrived some time ago".

Hektor took the envelope from the old, trembling hands of Katia. "Hektor Popov – from M.O.A." he said reading what was written on it "I think this will let us eat this evening" he added, smiling a little "well…see you later then and…oh" he suddenly changed his expression, focusing his attention at Sweetie Belle "Please little child, can you give me back my hat? As you can see, I have to cover it in some way" he said to her, smiling.

A little laugh came from Sweetie Belle as she took off the shapka from her head, giving it back to Hektor and showing her little and white forehead horn.

Without even realizing that Katia didn't say anything to comment that special feature of the little guest, Hektor opened the door of the apartment, going out from the room.

While descending the stairs, he opened the envelope, finding a bunch of credit inside. He counted them in his mind, throwing the envelope in the first trash can and putting the money in a pocket of the jacket.

While walking, he thought at all the expenses he had to cover: the coal for the heater, the rent of the apartment and, of course, the food for four people. With sadness, he realized that to pay all those things, he had to use some of his savings; it was a risky thing to do, as there were not so much money left and they had to be used only in extreme cases.

"Without those two, I could even save some money, too. Damn!" he said in a low voice, talking to himself while looking at the dirty street under his feet "If I can just think of one idea" he added, figuring out the next course of action.

After almost an hour, he was able to find everything and go back home. While going up the stairs, his attention was attracted by a melodious sound coming from somewhere in the building. A marvellous voice was singing a unknown song about peace, love and friendship.

Hektor could see some people outside the doors of their apartment focused on that voice that was able to warm all their hearts on so cold an evening. It was a big surprise for him to discover that this so wonderful voice was coming from his house.

When he reached the door, he remained for few minutes outside, hearing claps of hands, laughs and that, above all, that splendid voice that, for a moment, reminded him some good moment spent years ago with somebody that, now, is no longer with him.

The sound of the key turning in the door lock suddenly stopped that magic moment, bringing silence in all the building "I'm back" Hektor said while entering the apartment.

The sight of Sweetie Belle on the table and of both Discord and Katia sitting on two chairs with a happy expression left him completely floored, especially for the expression of his mother-in-law; he had not seen such an expression on her face for a long time.

"I see you're having fun, good" Hektor simply said, trying to not laugh at them while putting the two bags he was carrying on the table where the little child was standing on "I hope I didn't interrupt anything".

"Thanks to you, this wonderful moment is over" Katia said to him a bit disappointed "Sweetie Belle was singing something nice for us".

"You're getting along well, I see" Hektor said looking at that strange group there, smiling sincerely amused "I brought the stuff we needed"

"Finally" Discord said spreading his arms and his wings "I expect a dinner worthy of the Spirit of Chaos" he added solemnly, standing up from his chair with a royal demeanor.

"I hope that the Spirit of Chaos will like the Nirskan soup, because that is the menu of today" he replied calmly while, after putting down the bags, he reached again for the entry door.

"Where are you going, young man?" Katia asked raising an eyebrow and looking that as her son-in-law was going out again "You can't leave your guests here"

"I have to go to check something, Katia...and I think I’ll need a lot of time" Hektor bluntly replied to her "Please have the dinner without me. I'll eat something on the way".

While opening the door, he saw the worried expression of his mother-in-law who had clearly understood what was going on. Before going out, he saw the pale face of the little Sweetie Belle, still on the table, who was looking at him with her bright green eyes "By the way…you have a wonderful voice" he said before leaving the room again.

Without speaking again, Hektor left the building, challenging the freezing wind of the late evening by walking around the town without a destination. Seeing that there were not so many credits, he decided to buy the coal, to put the money of the rent in the proper box at the entrance of the building and to buy the necessary ingredients to cook food for three people...just for three, as he decided to not eat to spare money; of course, it was necessary to invent an excuse to go out to not disturb Katia, Discord and Sweetie Belle.

With a lit cigarette as the only companion for that long walk, Hektor stayed for a couple of hours alone. While walking in an almost empty Orvech Vonor, memories of the past and thoughts about the events of the day flowed in his mind; when he thought about the song he heard, he stopped to look at the cloudy sky...it was like hearing an angel sing; it was wonderful...pure. For a moment, he felt himself as when he spent his evening with Sarah and Yara at home; a melancholic smile grew on his as he realized that those were memories of years ago…of too many years ago.

Lost in all his thoughts, he didn't even realize how much time passed and how many cigarettes were lit and smoked. Clouds were not invading the sky anymore and the moon was free to reveal her full brightness; a deep silence reigned over Orvech Vonor…it was clear that he had waited enough. With calm, Hektor reached the gray, plain building where his apartment was and, with his head lowered, he walked in, taking the keys from his right pocket.

Trembling a little for the very cold temperature of the night, he opened the door as slow as possible, to not disturb; the apartment was dark, sign that everybody were already sleeping <<I hope Katia will not be mad at me tomorrow>>, he thought while closing the door behind you.

"Welcome back, human" suddenly he heard from a point of the room that he couldn't recognize "I was waiting for you, I had to decide with you where to sleep. Katia insisted a lot".

Some steps and the sound of a heavy jacket thrown on a couch could be heard in the darkness of the apartment. Suddenly Hektor turned on the light, revealing that Discord was standing near a shelf, pointing his strange red eyes at a particular photo "You could wake up everybody, you know?" he asked with a quiet tone of voice.

"I see the doors of the rooms are closed...and they're probably already in the world of the dreams" Hektor answered while going near the window, opening it a little before taking another cigarette, the last of the package, turning it on with a match.

"I have to tell you, human" Discord began to say, turning himself toward Hektor, smiling as something was amusing him "you're pretty strange...first, you don't allow me and Sweetie Belle to cross the border, dividing a little girl from her sister. Then..." he stopped for a moment, snapping the finger of his right hand "…you reach us, saving our little friend from a sly bad guy who clearly had bad intentions, to offer us a place to stay and, the cherry on the cake, you invent a pathetic excuse to go out to let us eat the few things you were able to buy". Discord spread his arms, smiling again "Sometimes I think my mind is a mess...but perhaps you humans are able to be stranger than me…and that's saying something".

"It was so obvious? The thing with the dinner, I mean" Hektor asked, trying to emulate an indifferent expression.

"Sweetie Belle is naive, like all the ones who haven’t lived long enough to understand how the world goes…she was just worried for you, but some words were sufficient to calm her down. As for the old lady, well..." Discord stopped, shrugging his shoulders "I think she knows you enough to realize what your intentions were…she had fun with us, by the way. She liked to talk with Sweetie Belle a lot" he then added with a satisfied expression.

After those last words, the two looked each other in silence for some minutes, moments that Hektor was using to smoke in peace.

Those moments didn't last too long, as Discord began again to speak with a low tone of voice "I hope to go back to Equestria as soon as possible…this world without magic make me nervous. It's strange to live without something that you use everyday and that makes you stronger".

Hektor rose his head to spread the smoke from his mouth on top of his head; then, a sad smile began to appear on his face "It's true...the things that we love the most and that we take for granted can disappear without giving us a sign...only when we lose what we love, do we understand how much its important for us" he said, looking at the picture on the shelf with a nostalgic expression.

For the first time in the whole day, the face of Discord turned grim, as those words reopened some kind of old wound in his soul...a kind of change that couldn't escape the eyes of Hektor who, at this sight, smiled in a bitter way.

"Knowing the old lady, she prepared the empty room for Sweetie Belle, the only free room available in our home...I don’t know why our house has a guests room, to tell you the truth" Hektor said suddenly, throwing away what remained of his cigarette "You can sleep in my bed. I'll sleep right here" he added, pointing at the couch near the heater … "After all, I have to wake up early tomorrow...in this way, I'll not disturb you".

"If you want" Discord replied, heading to Hektor's room "I hope that your bed is comfortable enough" he then added, stretching his wings before opening the door "Goodnight, strange human" he finally said, waving a hand in the direction of Hektor.

"Goodnight, Spirit of Chaos" he replied, smiling a little at his own words.

When Discord closed the door, Hektor closed his eyes and sat on the couch, looking at the view of Overch Vonor offered by the window. The sky was clear, streets were empty, as the town was living in a comatose state.

No sounds, no voices, just silence...a completely different moment from the one lived just few hours ago.

Hektor’s hand slowly tried to catch another cigarette when, suddenly, a weak, strange noise came to break the moment of peace. The bald man rose his head, as to better understand what was that sound was and from where it was coming from. It was to weak and strange that he had to focus a lot to understand that it was coming from the apartment.

Without making a sound, Hektor stood up, wrapping himself in the wool blanket he was using to keep himself warm. He looked around in the dark, trying to follow the noise; every step led him nearer to the source of the noise.

Step by step, he found himself near the room where Sweetie Belle was. Close to the door, he was finally able to understand what the noise he was hearing was.

Someone there was crying.

The Inspector found himself completely stuck, like a stone statue; it was clear that the little child was doing everything to keep the volume low. She didn’t want to disturb, she didn’t want to be a burden...a thing that was making the situation much sadder.

He looked in front of him and moved his fist slowly, looking for a door that, in the darkness, was not easily to find. When he reached what he was looking for, he knocked on the door making as little sound was possible.

Suddenly the crying stopped and the silence came back for a short moment “W-Who’s there?” the little child asked from the room with the voice was still broken from her feelings.

With caution and patience, Hektor opened the door without making any sound “it’s me miss Sweetie Belle, don’t worry” Hektor whispered looking in front of him, trying to focus on what looked like Sweetie Belle. He walked towards the bed, using his memory to remember where the furniture was, as it was impossible to see a thing in the dark.

Moving his hands in the dark, he was able to touch the bed, finding a good spot to sit; he could still hear Sweetie Bell sobbing.

“My sister left me here alone...she thought just of herself...it’s always the same story”

Hektor could feel all the sadness that the child in front of him was feeling; in that moment, he rose from the bed and took a side of the warm and comfortable blanket that was covering the little child, raising it a little to better to cover her from the cold night.

It was strange...in that moment, he was feeling emotions that he thought he had forgotten.

There was a child that needed solace from the pain she was feeling, a pain in the heart that was one hundred times bigger than the one that an adult could feel, because children hadn’t lived long enough to understand how the world is cruel, painful.

Hektor knew what it was like; after all, it happened before with his own daughter.

Even if it was hard to see Sweetie Belle in the dark of the night, he looked at her, or at least what looked like the figure of her head “Your sister loves you...Your sister loves you above everything. I could understand it from the way she was looking at you at the booth.” He didn’t give Sweetie Belle the chance to reply to his sentence “You’re lucky to have a sister that loves you, little child...” while speaking, Hektor was looking at what appeared to be Sweetie Belle’s head “you didn’t realized it, but there was terror on her face when she realised that she wasn’t able to protect you, to bring you with her…”

By the silence fell in the room, Hektor understood that his words reached Sweetie Belle’s heart. She was clearly thinking about them. He had to take advantage of the situation.

“Besides, tomorrow you’ll have the occasion to check what I’m saying.”

“W-What do you mean?” the little Equestrian asked while keeping both her hands on the blanket at the level of her face.

“If your sister really cares about you, she’ll do anything she can to solve the problem...to let you go back to your world, to have the possibility to ask for your forgiveness.” It was a dangerous gamble to make, but she was her sister after all and it should be a natural thing for a bigger sister to protect the smaller one; at least, that’s what he had always thought.

“Do you really think so, mister Hektor?” Sweetie Belle asked without sobbing and with a tone of voice that allowed Hektor to understand she was feeling calmer.

Slowly, he reached Sweetie Belle’s head with his hand, caressing her soft head in a fatherly way he believed forgotten. He smiled a little, figuring out that he risked to prick his hand with the little horn on her forehead, something he completely forgot about.

“You’ll see tomorrow, little one...you’ll see tomorrow. You have just to believe in your sister.”

They couldn’t see each other in the night...but both of them were smiling.

“Now go back to sleep, little girl” Hektor whispered while rising up from the bed “we both need to recover energy, after all…and before you mention it, you didn’t disturb me, so you don’t need to say you’re sorry.”

Using his memory, he walked a few steps toward the direction of the door as silently as he was when he came. Before closing the door behind him, he could hear the sound of the blanket moving and a melodious voice.

“Goodnight mister” she whispered in the dark, waiting in silence a couple of seconds before adding something

“...you’re a good person.”

He stopped, feeling for a brief moment a sense of happiness he hadn’t experienced in years.

“Goodnight, little miss” Hektor replied while gently closing the door.

Without making a sound, he slowly walked toward his sofa, trying to not hit anything in the room; with his blanket wrapped around himself, he lay down on it trying to find a comfortable position.

He was alone again...alone with the silence of the night...and his memories.

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