• Published 15th Jun 2018
  • 497 Views, 27 Comments

Redux: The Harbinger's Oath - Ringtael



Twilight's been having odd dreams for months now. Snaps and flashes of a life she doesn't remember, places she';s never been, but thers's something consistent in the dreams. The stallion that isn't a pony she knows, but one she remembers.

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Scattered Dreams

Redux: A Scattered Dream

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Dear Diary,

………….. I’ve never had to write anything that wasn’t a report or a typical diary entry. Well, typical for me, that is. The Princess said that I should try writing in vernacular for posterity’s sake, but I don’t really know how to adapt a story from events to… You know…A story. Maybe I should get rid of all those little dots… Well if I’m going to keep making more I might as well make them uniform… And there! All tidy and even!

Dear Celestia, how do I even do this? Maybe I should write Mom and ask… She’d definitely know how to get a story started! Ooh, or Aunt Fleur! She’s an avid reader! I bet she could definitely give me some pointers on what to do to start off! I don’t think I’m doing too badly as it is since I’ve gotsomethingwritten down, but I just don’t know where to pick it up from here. Oh well. I’ll add in a fancy page break and just have my publicist start after that.

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Okay, so I’m never asking Auntie Fleur about anything book related. Some of the titles she let me borrow… Well… I might give them a peek, but it’s just out of pure intellectual curiosity! I just want to understand what Auntie Fleur sees in those kinds of books, though I’ll have to hide them from Spike. It’s not like he ever goes into my room anyway, but still.

Ugh… Sidetracked again… How did Kaid manage to fill an enchanted journal with every little detail and still make it read and flow like a natural story!? This is aggravating like nothing else! UGGGH!!!!!!!!!!

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… I had to ask Rainbow. I’ve never been so scholastically humiliated in my entire life. Not even when I messed up that Apple-Peeling Spell and stripped my teacher… Oh well. The Princess always did say that pride was for the foalish, and I’d hate to act like a foal… at least I know how to start my story now, though I’m starting to get worried about all these page breaks…

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Nothing was out of the ordinary. Summer was finally hitting Ponyville and the weather was abso-lutely perfect, and I do mean that in the best of ways. Spike and I opened up every window in the library to let in the breeze and I used the oil diffuser that Fluttershy had gotten me for my birthday to spread the scent of lavender and jasmine around my house, making it the perfect place to enjoy a cup of ice cold tea and some snacks. However,someponyate all my Mallobarsandmy shortbread cookies, so I had to go to the market and get more, but I’ve always been a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to chores, which is why Spike does most of them. Since Spike wasn’t home at the moment, I couldn’t make him go and replace what he’d sorudelyeaten, even after I told him that the Mallobars were definitely off limits. My day wasn’t exactly soured, but I was a little annoyed by my little brother’s thoughtlessness since he tends to be such a compassionate colt.

With my newfound mood, I decided to find something I hadn’t read four and a half times and settled on an odd navy blue book that I neither remembered ever seeing or buying, and that was particularly strange because I’ve never forgotten a book. Even a boring book sticks in my mind like it’s been stuck to the inside of my head with pine sap and superglue. When I pulled the book from the shelf, I saw that it was most certainly old, but there were so many preservation enchantments on it that I couldn’t accurately date it. The mystery book looked like it had been bound and made with modern paper, which made no sense because the modern style of making books had only been around for about twenty-two years. Before then, books were still coming out with uneven pages, and even now there are still a lot of less popular printers that use uneven pages for authenticity and tradition’s sake. However, there was no reason for the metal-bound, lacquered-wood covered collection of pages to smell like it was a thousand years old, nor was there a reason for the pages to be so yellowed that they could have blended in perfectly with Fluttershy coat.

The book already had me hooked since it was such an unusual find, especially in a library that I’d combed over a thousand times while looking for my next topic to research, but when I opened it and tried to read it, the scribbles didn’t make any sense, no matter what Translation Spell I cast on them, and I even tried a few that would account for penmanship, but there was nothing happening there. I sat around for a good while trying to diagnose the issue with the book since it was obviously highly magical in nature, but I had to give up after an hour of staring at scrawling penmanship that formed words that I doubted anypony knew. For the briefest of moments I wondered if I should get Princess Celestia involved in trying to crack the case, but I figured I’d give it a few days in the lab before I gave up and went to Problem Solver Number One herself.

Feeling a little down due to my inability to do my favourite thing, I thought of what all I had to do and what all I could do and decided that getting my gosh darn Mallobars was far more important than throwing some dirty bras into a silly old hamper. Besides, the more of them I left in obvious places, the faster Spike tended to get out of my room. I know, it’s evil, but Spike really is a bit of a lingerer when you’re not telling him to do something.

Wow… I get sidetracked easily. I shouldn’t have written that down. Or that. Or this. Darn it! Anyway, so I gave up on trying to decipher the book and ignored some pretty unimportant responsibilities to go shopping for snacks, but just as I was about to leave Golden Oaks, I nearly ran into somepony. “Oh!”

“Oh shite! Sorry about that, Love.” The oddly colored stallion said politely, his accent a bit strange. I thought it was either Briddish or Walesh for a moment.

I smiled at him as we both backed up. “We’re lucky I wasn’t a litt-” I saw her too late to move, but I could still say, “Rainbow!”

I tried to make my hooves move, but all I could do was shy away from the collision I knew was about to happen. Not even two seconds after I spotted her, Rainbow lived up to her old schoolyard nickname and crashed straight into the polite stallion who’d just showed up, thus making him crash into me. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds, even if it doesn’t sound fun at all. It got even less fun when I sat up and realized that Rainbow had made the stranger look straight up my skirt! I wassooo embarrassed!I flustered and tried to force my skirt between my legs, which meant that I didn’t realize Rainbow was hitting the new pony up until Applejack pulled her off of him.

“Rainbow! Get ahold of yourself, ya crazy mare! Assaultin’ a buckin’ stranger for no reason!” Applejack yelled, sounding rather upset. For the record, I was pretty upset too, but I’m not exactly a hothead.

“Look! That’s the guy I was telling you about! There’s grass stains on his coat and everything!” Rainbow shouted back, struggling Applejack’s arms.

Out of nowhere , the stallion leapt away from Rainbow and threw something at her faster than I could follow. “Fuck.Off!

“Argh! What the buck!?” Rainbow cried, grasping her arm.

“Leave me the fuck alone before I slit your goddamn throat!” He roared, a lot more upset than me. A lot.

Applejack pushed Rainbow behind her and stared at the stallion. “Did you really just draw blood over some punches!?

“All that pumped up,half-witted, absolute retardhas fucking done since we’ve met is be a Goddamn cunt!She crashes into methen has the fucking nerve to be mad about it! I was leaving a fucking forest with trees everywhere! What kind of shit-brained dumbarse flies at ridiculous speeds in a place where there are dense, hard, potentially lethal obstacles everywhere!? That’s not even mentioning that she followed me to town while trying to fight me! The cunt is fuck-ing psychotic!” He replied, getting his feelings out in the open a little harshly for my tastes, but then again, if Rainbow had been chasing me around trying to hit me all day, then I could see where he was coming from.

Applejack turned and looked at Rainbow. “You know I believe him, right?”

Rainbow flushed. “Hey! That jerk just threw a knife at me!” Only she didn’t say ‘jerk’.

“And you been tryin’ to pummel this guy all day, makin’ me look around town with you.” Applejack said, Big Sister Mode fully engaged. I thought it wise to hold my tongue for the next few minutes.“I ain’t sayin’ he was right to draw steel, but you started this. Ain’t no doubt about it.”

“A-Applejack! Where’s your loyalty!?” Rainbow cried, the look of betrayal on her face making my heart twinge.

Applejack’s basically had to raise Apple Bloom, so she wasn’t really affected. “This ain’t about loyalty. This is about you bein’ bullheaded and gettin’ yourself hurt by somepony scarier than you, so just get outta here and go to the hospital. I’ll catch up to give areal lecture. Trust me.” Applejack ended her sentence a little sternly, but when you’re dealing with Rainbow, you kinda have to be stern.

Rainbow thought she could stand up to Applejack. “You’re not my Mom, AJ. You-”

Go.

“Yes ma’am.” My poor little firebrand said quickly, zipping out of my house without so much as an apology.

“... Holy shite, d-did she just fly so fast she left a rainbow trail!?” The stallion said in utter disbelief.

Applejack turned her steely gaze to the stallion and I felt sorry for him since it didn’t really seem like his fault that he was in the situation in the first place. “I’m gonna ask ya once and only once: Why are you here?”

He pointed down at the floor. “I’m here specifically in this particular spot because I wanted to read up on general knowledge type stuff. I’m pretty sure I’m not from this planet.”

My interest shot clear through the roof, busted a few clouds, and tapped the Mare on the Moon’s nose, making me gasp. “You’re an honest-to-goodness extra-equuestrial!? A real live alien!?”

“Yeah. I’m either an extra-terrestrial or an extra-dimensional. I might just be
having oneHellof an acid trip slash fever dream though, so let’s not rule that one out.” He answered. I kind of thought he sounded a little stressed out, but if he was worried, he didn’t show it.

Applejack clicked her tongue. “The first thing ya do on a new planet is get in a fight with somepony half your size?”

The ‘stallion’ (He could have been a she and I could’ve just made the wrong assumption) gave her a look. “I tried letting that little shit wear herself out by just dodging around her, but she wouldn’t let enough be enough. I mean, like, is she that way all the time?

Applejack grimaced and nodded. “Pretty much. She ain’t always the easiest to be around, but ya won’t find a more loyal mare nowhere in Equestria.”

I sighed from the truth of the matter and watched the stallion look for something over near where Rainbow had been.“I’m sorry about Rainbow Dash, but why did you throw something sharp at her when Applejack pulled her off of you? It was effectively over.”

He gave me an odd look like I was the one throwing knives around. “It might be a cultural difference or something, but do you guy’s have hill-topping here?”

I tilted my head, confused by the relevance of architecture in a brawl.“It means building a garish house on a hill to flaunt wealth, right? Or something close to it.”

“Nah, I’ve never heard of that. In the streets of my country, hill-topping is effectively shoving someone off of their pedestal with a show of force. If you’re nice like me, you fuck up the person who messed with you. If you’re a proper fuckhole, you lay out their family and cripple them for life.”

I felt my jaw drop and now my hooves carried me away from the strange,dangerousstallion as he backed away into Applejack’s reach. She grabbed him a little roughly, but he didn’t seem to be offended by it. “You ain’t thinkin’ a’ goin’ after Rainbow’s family, are ya?”

“I just wanna read for a little bit and be left alone for the most part. If Rainbow lets it die here, then it’ll die here. I don’t like carrying on blood-grudges or feuds if I don’t have to.” He started eyeing Applejack’s hand. “Besides, I never wanted to deal with her in the first place, so avoiding her sounds better than getting my hands dirty over bullshit. Now; would you mind? I know you’re not trying to feel me up ‘cause I barely have muscles.” Applejack must have squeezed too hard because he grimaced and sucked air through his teeth. She let him go and he glowered at her like she’d just hit him for standing there. ”Fuck was that for?”

Applejack lifted her signature hat and scratched her head. “I really wasn’t tryin’ ta hurt ya or nothin’, Sugarcube. I didn’t squeeze hard enough ta do much more than bruise an apple.”

He took off his coat and pushed up the sleeve on his shirt. “Yeah, those are bruises, but I’m no apple.”

I took a closer look, and there were already darkened spots popping up where Applejack’s fingers had been. “Woah…”

“I know you’re tellin’ the truth, but this don’t make no sense. I ain’t that strong.”

I could have sworn that I’d heard Applejack say something like that before, in a situation just like this, with a stallion that looked just like the alien before it hit me; I’d had a dream about this exact moment a month and six days before I stood in front of Applejack and the alien. The gasp couldn't be stopped as I realized that I might have had a prophetic dream, meaning that something big was going to happen.

Sadly, before I could speak, the stallion interrupted my train of thought with, “Oi, what’s your name, Love? I don’t think I’ve had a chance to catch it yet.”

Gone were my thoughts. Hello awkwardness! “Oh… I’m Twilit Sparkle- Er, I meanTwilightSparkle.” I felt my face heat up from my slip up, which is around the same time that I realized that I was looking at the first stallion outside of my family to see my undies.

I wanted to run into my roomso bad.

Then he smiled at me and something made me start breathing again, though I hadn’t realized that I’d stopped. “Ah, just the gal I was looking for then, though I suppose I should’ve guessed that I’d find you in the library. I mean, you’re the librarian.”

And Twilight’s the smartest mare you’re ever gonna meet, so if ya wanna learn more about Equestria and the world overall, your best bet’s gonna be spendin’ time with Twi.” Applejack pointed at me and the stallion gave his attention back to me, which isnotwhat I wanted. I wasn’t really sure how to feel when Applejack winked at me, but my face felt even hotter than before.

“W-Well, I’m sure somepony’s smarter than me-”

“The Princesses don’t count,” My apple-bucking traitor of a friend countered, “and ya know the test scores don’t lie. Tartarus,Celestiamade the test and you beat out everypony’s scores in the last hundred years!”

“Applejack!” I said, glancing at the yet unnamed stallion.

He caught me looking at him, “Oi, there’s no shame in being proud of your accomplishments. If you’re as smart as you are short and adorable, I’m sure you absolutely brilliant.”

Applejack started making kissy faces at me over his shoulder and I reminded myself to put an Itchy-Scratchy spell on her hat. “I-I…” I was too busy trying to think of a way to get Applejack back for practically shoving a strange alien with a sketchy past at me.

“Tell ya what. I’m sure Twilight wants ta learn all about ya and your kin, so why don’t you two start tradin’ info and go from there?”

I couldn’t help but perk up at that. “That’s a great idea! It’d be mutually beneficial!”

The stallion gasped and covered his mouth. “You’re trying to what!? We just met!”

Applejack and I traded a look before looking back to the alien. “... What?” Applejack asked.

Mutually beneficial?” He said, putting heavy emphasis on the words. “I’m a man with morals, thank you very much.” He huffed.

“What’s a man?” I inquired.

“A male. A guy. Dude. Bro. Brothers, uncles, fathers. Men. Man. Manseses.” He answered casually.

Applejack must have got a joke somewhere in what he’d said because she started giggling her head off. “Oh, it’ll be plenty beneficial if ya know how ta treat her. Just don’t go too fast and she’ll be fine.”

I folded my arms and levelled a stern look at Applejack. “I can keep up just fine, thank you very much!”

The alien started coughing in a really weird way that sounded really familiar, and then another dream-memory surfaced in my head. I don’t usually dream with much clarity, but the coughing was the trigger for me to remember something so important that it almost scared me. In the distorted sounds of the dream, I heard myself ask something along the lines of ‘Can… not… is.’, and the alien handed me something that I’d just discovered for the first time.

The alien gave me the blue book.

I don’t know what Applejack and the alien were laughing at, but I suddenly cared a lot less about whether or not they were laughing at me and started giving two rat’s tails about the book. I raced back to the library proper where I’d left it sitting on a table and probably would have torn the book apart if it wasn’t ingrained into my bones to treat books like you would easily tarnished silver or a fine gold chain. With doubts and hypotheses running rampant through my gray matter, I opened the book again, but this time I could read it.

“Twi? You alright in there? We didn’t mean ya no harm.” Applejack said from behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder.

I whirled around, the book clutched to my chest. “I know him.” I whispered.

Applejack cast a furtive glance over her shoulder, but apparently the alien wasn’t in the room. “What do you mean you know him, Twi?” She asked softly.

I tried to find the best words I could possible string together to explain the oddness of the situation. “This morning I was looking around for something to read that I haven’t already gone over a dozen times and I found this,” I held the book out, but kept a firm grasp on it because I didn’t really want her to try and take it from me, “but I’ve never seen it before!

“Twi, you know this library top ta bottom like the back a’ your hand.” My most down-to-Equus friend replied quietly.

“That’s just the thing, Applejack. When I first tried to read the book, I couldn’t. There weren’t any decipherable words, but I’ve had[i ]dreams about him! He was the one who gave me this in the dream!”

“Sugarcube, what makes ya think it ain’t just a coinci-”

“I can read the book now, Applejack.” I said, cutting her off.

“... O-kay. Okay. O-ho-ho-kaaay.

“I know you’re as superstitious as Granny, so just say it.” I sighed.

“This ain’t good, Twi. Knife-throwin’ alien just shows up outta nowhere with some book that he wasn’t even here togive you, and- Wait, are you sure he’s the guy from your dreams?” She asked fiercely, her brows furrowing.

“Y-Yes?” I answered carefully, a little scared.

“Twilight Sparkle, didn’t you just say last week that you had thebest dreamabout gettin’ married an’... What comesafter the ceremony?”

… I’m not proud to say that I fainted, but at least Applejack caught me. When I woke up, she was sitting on one of the chairs in the library while I was on the couch with a blanket over my legs for whatever reason. The alien’s book was still tight in my grasp, and I doubted that I’d let it go before I started thinking about him doing…Stuff. Doing stuff.I shouldn’t have to say what stuff he was doing in the dream, but the more I tried to avoid thinking about it, the clearer the memory became and the more I felt myself being drawn into the moment all over again. The warm, trembling sound of his voice as he said ‘I do’, the look of anticipation and anxiety in his eyes as he waited for me to say my part. I remembered the firm, strong feeling of his lips against mine, the smoky cloud that filled my mind, the scent of charring cherrywood filling my nose as I metaphorically drank him in, made the moment last as long as I could before I snapped back to reality like gravity just came back into the equation. Oh! That rhymed! That was pretty good!

I was pretty thankful that the memory didn’t continue on into the later part of the night since I was already feeling a little… Sticky. I was a little sticky from the pancakes I had from breakfast, and I didn’t want to touch my face or anything because my hands were sticky. I could feel the stickiness as I sat up, garnering Applejack’s attention. “Figured you wouldn’t be out too long. Good dream?”

“Shut up, Applehead.” I huffed.

She smirked at me. “Remember anything else?”

“... No… I do remember the wedding, though…” My fingertips found my lips and I thought about his lips again, knowing them even better than I knew my own, but I didn’t understandhow.

“Was it a good one?”

“It was in a Castle I don’t remember seeing. I couldn't’ really look away from him in the dream-” I gasped and slapped my face with both hands.” Erk! Wait! Where’d he go!?” I looked around frantically.

“I told him to take a hike for a spell until ya came back around. He shouldn’t be too much longer now.” Applejack said, enjoying herself a little too much for my tastes.

“Applejack, just because I’ve had dreams about intimacy with this stallion does not mean that I’m going to throw myself at him or let him throw himself at me! Honestly, can’t you see that there’s a huge mystery behind this!? What if we get to be the ponies who crack interplanetary travel!? Or inter-dimensional!!!” I cheered. “Oh dear Celestia, this couldn’t be a bigger opportunity!!!”

My local friendly farmer gave me a look. “Don’t experiment on the guy, Twi.”

“I’ll ask for his consent.” I replied, offended.

“Not given.” She said flatly.

“Did you already ask?” I said, trying not too pout since it was a bad habit of mine.

“Twilight, nopony’s gonna let you stick a probe up there, male or female. Pony or alien.”

“You never know!”

“Oh, what’d I walk in on? Is Twilight still talking about mutual benefits like a dirty ‘filly’?” The alien chimed from across the library, leaning against the doorframe with a roguish smirk on his face.

“I bathe daily and I’m older than you.” I shot back before I could get flustered.

“I bathe people in my presence and absolve them of their sins, but you don’t see me being all uppity about it.” He snarked.

“What?” Applejack asked probably not understanding the occult implications of what he’d said.

“So you’re a Sin Solver?” I asked hesitantly. To explain, Sin Solvers are a group of ponies made up of a bunch of different races that all have one goal in mind: Hurt ponies that don’t abide by their code. There aren’t any Sin Solvers in Equestria, but they’re a bit notorious in Gryphonia, or so I’ve heard.

“A what?” He asked, crossing the room. “I’m a Human and that’s about it. Caucasian Human, to be kinda exact. Not actually exactly exact, but exactly exact enough to actualize an an exactualization.”

“Is that even a word?” Applejack asked, though she directed the question toward me instead of the pony who said the darn word in the first place.

“Do you want it to be?” The alien asked.

“Kaid, shut up.” I scoffed, not even thinking twice about it.

Applejack stared at me. “Kaid?”

I looked back at her in confusion. “What about Kaid?”

“What is Kaid?”

I blinked a few times. “... Did I say ‘Kaid’?”

“Yeah.” The alien said tonelessly. “How do you know that moniker?”

“It’s a moniker?” I asked.

“Kinda. I go by Max these days.”

“Oh, so you changed your- Maximus.” I stated blankly.

“Okay, you’re freakin’ me the fuck out. I’m out. Bye. Goo-bye-bye.” He did a quick two-fingered salute like the Colt Scouts andsprintedout of the library.

Applejack and I stared after him for a minute or two before I said, “I have to go find him.”

“Eeyup.”

“That guy’s really important to my future.”

“Seems like it.”

“... Why do I feel like he’s going to run as soon as he sees me?”

“S’what I’d do, to be honest with ya.”

“Same here.” I sighed.

“Well… The guy’s an alien, right?” Applejack said slowly.

“We’ve established that Kaid slash Max isn’t from Equus.” I answered at the same pace.

“Then where’s he gonna sleep tonight?” She leaned in a bit.

“At an inn! Of c-”

“With what money, Twi?”

“Ah…”

“We gotta find him before he tries to go camping in the Everfree or something.” She put her book down and I joined her in standing as fast as my hooves would let me. However, the Creator didn’t intend for me to move quickly, so I tripped up on the blanket Applejack had put on me and fell over, but I was okay, so it was perfectly fine. I wasn’t dying of embarrassment again, time aftertime aftertime. Nope. It wasn’t a bad day or anything.

I was a proud young mare who didn’t let her little missteps get in the way and proved to have some mettle after all! It wasn’t very tough mettle since my knee really hurt, but it’s mettle, gosh darn it! Anyway, after Applejack was done being a buttheaded ninny and offered me a hand up, I debated on what we should do since we had no idea where he’d go, and I didn’t know a Scrying Spell since Celestia had forbidden me from doing that until I learned how to scry in private places. There’s a long story behind that one that involves some royal mandates and a teenager named Shining Armor seeing a little more than Celestia probably wanted him to see…

Anyway…

So Applejack and I started asking around nearby, seeing if anypony had seen a strangely coloured pony with stubby ears and a grey jacket walking around anywhere. There was a group of stallions that gave Applejack directions to where they’d sent him earlier, and with that, we were hot on the trail of a Human! It actually wasn’t all that hard to find him since he’d asked for directions to the nearest bar, and the one closest to my house was the Mare’s Tail, though I doubted that he’d be interested in going there for very long. Still, Applejack and I thought it be a good place to start if Kaid/Max (Whatever he wanted to be called at the moment) was looking for a casual sip of something decent.

Getting to the Mare’s Tail was easy, but nopony had seen our alien, so we went to the other bar in town and had similar luck. I wasn’t exactly thrilled that I’d pushed away the first extra-equuestrial that had even been seen on Equus, but Applejack assured me that we’d find him eventually, so we kept on looking for him until Celestia set the Sun. Applejack needed to get home for dinner and to do whatever else it was that she does to finish up her day, and it’s not like I wasn’t pretty peckish myself, so we agreed to ask around tomorrow and check to see if he’d stayed in town for much longer. However, on my way home, it struck me that Max might not be much of a social drinker, so I stopped by the local booze shop because there wasn’t any other place to get alcoholic beverages in town that wasn’t either a gay bar or a pub. While I was there, I picked up a small bottle of wine that I thought looked nice as well as a bottle of Applejack’s namesake since it was a really good year for it. Applejack had finally figured out how to make her liquor as smooth as Big Mac’s and it really showed in the flavour and quality of what she made, but now I’m getting off topic again.

Berry Punch pointed me in the direction of the Bee and Barb since that’s where she’d pointed Max earlier, so I took my beverages along with me just a few blocks down the road and asked the innkeeper if I could speak with the oddly colored pony who may or may not have even had a room there. As luck would have it, Max did indeed get a room and it wasn’t even on the first floor! I was glad that I wasn’t going to have to take any stairs, but the reality of the situation was starting to hit me, and I was realizing that I was about to walk into the room of a stallion that didn’t trust me in the slightest, probably thought I’d been diving into his mind, and most likely wanted to never see me again, but… I had to know. I had to know what connection Max and I had, and as I stood in front of his door, I steeled myself for what was to come.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, holding the bag of booze in one hand and the book in the other. “Alright, Twilight. You can do this…”

“That’s right! You can do anything you put your mind to!”

I opened my eyes and clenched my fist in front of me, still holding the bag. “Yeah! I just have to go in and ask him what the book is about!”

“He’s not gonna know.”

“I don’t know that for sure!” I shot back.

“Yeah, but I do.” The voice said blandly.

I blinked a few times and turned around slowly. Max was standing behind me with an amused smile and I could feel my face heat up like he’d just fallen between my legs again. “... H-Hey there… N-N-Nice weather, i-isn’t it?”

He gave me a lopsided grin, his eyes full of warmth and mirth. I swallowed hard to try and dislodge the lump in my throat, but it wasn’t going anywhere. However, Max didn’t need me to say anything else. “It’s not been too bad. A little warm to be wearing my jacket around, but it is what it is.” He gestured toward the bag I was holding. “Did you bring me a present for being super freaky earlier?”

“Um... “ My face stayed hot and I didn’t know what to say. “... I-I-I brought you some a-a-applejack…”

“Oh? How thoughtful of you.” Max gave me a warm smile and my stomach started doing funny things that I really wasn’t okay with it doing.

“I-I-er… W-W-Well, I…”

“Come on, Love. You’ll share a glass with me, won’t you?”

“I-I don’t really d-drink m-much…” I confessed more bashfully than I wanted to. I didn’t know why I was acting like a filly who’d just been caught doing something she shouldn’t have, but my heart was pounding and my tummy was fluttering like there were dozens upon dozens of butterflies inside.

“So what? You’re trying to get me drunk already? What are your motives?” He questioned playfully.

“I-I don’t have any motives! I-It’s just the book and the you and the dreams and the deja vu all the time and the stuff but I don’t know what-” He put a finger on my lips.

“Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to pop into my room for a few minutes, then you’re going to try and calm down because I understood ‘book’ again, and that was about it. Is that fine by you?”

I nodded.

“Good.” He moved his finger from my lips and held up a bucket of ice that I didn't realize he’d been carrying. “There are glasses inside, so let’s get a move on, yeah?”

I nodded again, but Max just looked at me.

“I need you to move so I can open the door, Love.” He said kindly.

I scurried out of the way. “S-Sorry!”

He gave me a patient smile. “It’s all well and good. I had my doubts about you earlier, to be honest with you, but I’m think you’re more harmless than anything.”

I was pretty sure he’d just implied something, but I couldn’t tell what. “I-I don’t really try to hurt anypony…”

Max opened the door and walked into the room, leaving me to follow him. “Try not to hurt me, will you? I bruise easily, apparently.”

With a few worries on my heart and some doubts on my mind, I entered Max’s room and closed the door behind me, a little anxious about being alone with a stallion that I’d had… Sticky dreams about not even a month ago. “Right…”

“So what’s this about a book? There’s something weird going on, right?” He asked, looking around the minibar for some glasses before finding a pair and filling them with ice.

“W-Well, th-there’s this book that I had a dream about, a-and you were in the b-book- Er! I-I mean dream-”

“Twilight, Love, relax . It’s okay. We’ll figure it out, so just take a few deep breaths and figure out what you want to say.” Max said kindly.

I felt my face flush again. “Right.” I took a deep breath and started again. “It all started a few months ago when I started having these strange dreams about a stallion I’d never met. The dreams ranged from mundane everyday life to special events like a couple of weddings, a walk through the Everfree, arguments… O-Other stuff…” I shook my head to clear it.

He looked at me calmly. “I’m the stallion, aren’t I?”

I nodded a few times, looking at him through my bangs. “... Yeah.”

“And you think I gave you the book?” He asked.

I nodded again. “I saw it in one of my dreams. I think it was your journal…”

“There’s only one way to find out.” He said. “Pour us a couple drinks and lets crack her open.”

“I-Is there a wine glass?” I asked tentatively.

Max smirked. “What, can’t handle a little liquor?”

I suddenly felt a little less safe. “... Wh-Why does it matter?”

He raised a brow at me before retrieving a wine glass from the same place he’d gotten the other glasses from. “What makes you think it matters? I just assumed you only brought applejack.”

“N-No, I-I brought wine too. I-I really don’t drink that much.”

“Ever have brandy?”

I thought about it for a moment. “I don’t think so.”

Max held up a finger and walked over to one of the beds in the room. On top of said bed was a bag and a satchel, though the satchel appeared to be the only thing with anything in it. He reached inside and pulled out three bottles of different liquor and put two of them back once he read the label. Once he had his selection, he came back and handed the bottle to me. “I’m a fan of brandy myself. Makes for a nice casual drink when you’re not trying to get blackout drunk. It’s about twice as strong as wine, but I guarantee you’ll love it if you like spiced wine; especially if you mix it with a little lemon juice,” He made a squeezing motion,” and then hit it with a full orange, no pulp.” Max kissed his fingertips like a chef. “C’est magnifique!”

“... Do you want me to take this home?” I asked hesitantly, handing him the applejack since it seemed like a good time to trade.

“I’m not exactly expecting you to drink it here, and no offense, but I’d kind of like for you to sleep in your own bed because I’m still freakin’ the fuck out and I’ve been doing so since I got to this color-chucked rainbowscape. Knowing that you’ve been having psycho pre-me-getting-to-this-planet dreams makes me really want a drink, so let’s some get bottles opened, shall we?” Max gave me a smile, but for the first time, I looked into his beautiful forest green eyes, glittering like emeralds in the warm lights of the room.

In those ponds lie depths I felt like I could never know, and from those depths called out a voice full of distress and unease, of vulnerability and frailty. I might have been a little afraid of Max, but he was far more afraid of me than I was of him. He just hid it so well that I’d assumed that he’d just been dropped off on Equus and had been fine with it like he’d experienced something like it before and knew that he wasn’t staying long, but the look in his eyes… The look he had at that moment when he ever so casually opened his heart to me for that split second and showed me what was truly on his mind made my heart break for him.

“... You just got ripped away from your entire life.” I murmured.

Max gave me a tight smile. “Yeah, kinda suck- Gerk!”

I wrapped him up in a tight hug and buried my head into his chest, careful not to poke him with my horn. “All this time I’ve been afraid of you and here you are with more reasons to be panicking than I could ever have! I’m so sorry, Max! I didn’t mean to ignore what you’re going through!”

He hugged me back as I sniffled and tried not to let my sympathy make me cry for him and the situation he was in. “Twilight, it’s okay. I’ll be okay. I really truly will be, Love.”

I let him go and wiped my eyes to stop the tears from falling, looking up at Max with more than just a little admiration. I mean, if I’d been sent from Equus to some entirely new planet without any of my friends or family, forced to make my own way in the world… I doubted that I’d be taking it as well as he was. “I-I can’t believe I was worried about you t-trying to get me drunk so you could have your way with me when you just wanted to escape the day for a while…”

“Nah, I was totally trying to put my pee-pee in your mouth.” He answered, almost like he’d been waiting for me to say something like that. He filled both of the glasses with ice and poured two drinks, though I quickly realized that he didn’t intend to offer me one of them (Much to my pleasure since I’d already said that I didn’t want any) when he drained the first glass like it was just water and he was a very thirty stallion.

I felt my face heat up for the billionth time that day while I wondered how he wasn’t spluttering after a full glass of thirty-five proof alcohol. “... Really?”

Max gave me a look and I felt ashamed for even asking. “You should be ashamed for even having to ask, you silly cherry-headed ‘filly’.”

I blinked. “... Cherry-headed?”

“You’ve been bright red since I’ve met you. In fact, I think I might start calling you Cherry.” He said amusedly. Not even a second after that, I felt my heart throb, but it wasn’tpainfulor anything… it was just odd, and before I had time to figure it out, Max’s jaw dropped. “... Holy shit. Twilight Sparkle. Cherry. Plum.”

I swallowed and answered with the fragments I’d remembered. “Kaid Gadai. Amour. Smoky.”

“... Okay. O-fuckin’-kay, this? This is some weird shit. How the fuck do I know you?” he pointed at me, then at his remaining glass of applejack. “You! You’d better start talking before I drink you!” He paused. “Ah, wise guy, yeah? Well let’s see how you like this!” Max picked up the bottle of liquor and started chugging it like it wasn’t hay-harvesting liquor.

“... Are you okay?”

He stopped drinking and stoppered the bottle. “Well, I’m either going to forget that I remember having dreams about you back from before my mother died, or I’m going to get super drunk and remember that I know what your tongue tastes like. It’s wine, by the way.”

“Don’t say that kinda stuff! What if it’s true!?” I cried.

Max blinked slowly before rubbing his eyes. “Alright, Twilight. Here’s what we’re gonna do: I’m gonna get more drunker than I was when I saw you in the hallway, meaning that I’m about to be super fucked. I advise that you get incredibly drunk as well and write down whatever the fuck way you can understand this shit because I’m so lost that I don’t brain no more.”

“I kind of have a little brother at home… I’d really rather not have him see me in a terribly drunken state.”

Max reached out and tapped my horn, making me flinch. “I’d offer to let ya stay here, but I doubt you’d be interested, regardless of whatever promise I made to you. I’ll be by the library tomorrow to take a look at this book or whatever so we can get started on figuring shit out. For the time being, however, thank you for the applejack. It’s pretty damn good.”

I thought about my choices, and there were plenty of them. I could leave without a problem and Max would be by the next day so we could start figuring things out between what the two of us had dreamt about, or I could stay and have some wine with a stallion that I’d possibly married. Max waited patiently for me to say something as I continued to consider my options, time slipping away while I thought of what might happen while I was away from Max. If I left him alone, he could up and disappear or give himself alcohol poisoning since he didn’t seem to care about how much he was drinking or how fast he was drinking it. On the other hand, if I stayed with him, there was no guarantee that I was going to stay in my right mind and make good choices, which scared me, but I did have something that would ensure my safety.

“Well… I-I guess I could stay for a couple drinks if you Pinkie Promise not to try anything…” I replied softly.

Max extended his left hand and offered me his pinkie. “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye that I’m not going to get creepy and try to do weird stuff or anything you’re not cool with.”

I nodded and hooked my pinkie with his and the promise was made. “I guess now’s a good time to mention that I don’t have a corkscrew… Heh. Heh heh…”

Max raised a brow and pulled out a little thingy that didn’t look terribly familiar. “I’ve got one unless you want bourbon, brandy, whiskey, or applejack.”

“Oh! My Dad drinks bourbon!” I said, latching onto a common interest by proxy in my desperation, though I didn’t quite understand why I was so pressed to find something to talk about.

He smirked at me. “I don’t know too many women who drink bourbon, so I’m not surprised that your Dad’s the one drinking it. It’d be a little more odd if you had a fondness for bourbon.”

I gave him a shy smile. “Well, I’ve never actually tried it, so I don’t know if I like it. I’m not exactly fond of liquor.”

“I’ve always been a liquor kind of fellow, but I drink pretty much anything if it’s good. Have you ever had cherry wine?”

“I don’t think I have. I usually stay with plum or grape, but there was this one strawberry wine that my friend Rarity bought that was simply fantastic.”

“I’ve gotta say that blackcurrant syrah is my favourite kind of wine other than a classic grape, but that’s because I really enjoy spiced wines myself. Who knows, maybe if our dreams turn out to be nothing we can still be wine buddies.”

“... What if our dreams turn out to be more than nothing?” I asked hesitantly.

For once, Max was the one blushing, and for some stupid reason, my stupid brain thought his blush was so cute it was stupid. “... Um… Then I guess we… Um… Go from there, I guess.”
“...”

“...”

“I need a drink.” We said simultaneously.

“I miss weed. Do you guys have weed here? Like, marijuana?”

I rubbed my cheeks. “I don’t know what that is, Max.”

“It’s a tree-like plant that has five leaves and grows these odd buds that smell really strong.” He explained.

“Oh, you mean Nightcap Tea Trees?” I asked, surprised that he even knew what they were. “I actually know where to find a few of them. Why do you ask?”

Max started pacing while wobbling like he didn’t have very much balance at all, though I suspected that he was just drunk. “... Oi, would you happen to have a smoking pipe of some kind?”

“Yes, actually. My Dad gave me one for some reason I’m not too sure of.”

“Have you ever smoked Nightcap?” He asked with a devious smile.

I gave him a worried look. “It doesn’t sound healthy.”

“It’s not, but it’s fu~un.” He sang.

“... Are you going to ask me to find some Nightcap?” I asked awkwardly.

“I kinda want to, but it is night outside, so let’s hold off on that for awhile, yeah?”


I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness. I really don’t like going into the woods at night when I don’t have to.”

He shrugged. “I don’t blame you.”

I nodded as he refilled his glass and started sipping it again. It took me a moment to realize that he hadn't actually opened my bottle of wine, but when I pulled it out, Max too it from me and used the odd looking multi-tool he’d had earlier to pop the cork. He poured my glass with a steadier hand than I ever could have after letting the wine breathe, which is always something I forget to do. I was also a little miffed that he’d been able to pour so well without spilling so much as a drop when he was clearly intoxicated, even so much so that he was slurring his words a little, but I might’ve just been envious. When he handed my glass to me, I took a sip and found that the wine was a little sweeter than I’d anticipated, but it was still good. Between sipping our drinks and digesting the goings on that were making life a little more complicated, we were essentially stuck for words.

“... So… How long have you lived in Ponyville?” Max asked, walking over to one of the beds and having a seat.

I went to the other one and climbed on it carefully so he wouldn’t get flashed for a second time that day. “Well, I’ve been here for about four years now, though I moved here from Canterlot, the capital of Equestria.”

“Hmm. What made you want to leave the capital?”

“Well, I didn’t really want to at first, but Princess Celestia personally requested that I help out with something called ‘The Summer Sun Celebration’. Ponyville was hosting it that year, so it was my job to make sure that everything was going to plan, but that’s not even half of the story.” I chuckled and sipped my wine.

Max gave me and amused look and pulled another bottle out of his satchel, placing it on the nightstand closest to him. “I’m sensing that the story gets better.”

“It most certainly does get more lively.” I sighed happily, remembering the day I’d met all five of my best friends.

“Fond memories?”

“Very. The Summer Sun Celebration is what introduced me to my best friends, and the return of Nightmare Moon is what cemented our friendship early on.”

“Nightmare Moon?”

“A great being of Dark Magic that once lived within Princess Luna.”

“... Yeah, I know Magic is real here, but are you seriously telling me that there was some dark overlord that you and some friends beat up to save the world or something?”

“... Well, when you put it like that, it makes it sound kinda silly.” I replied uneasily.

“That wasn’t the intent, Cherry,” My heart throbbed again for no real reason, “I just don’t quite understand how you went from supervising a festival of some kind to slaying-”

“Woah, no! Nopony slayed anypony!” I said frantically. “My friends and I used the Elements of Harmony to purge Nightmare Moon from Luna! We didn’t actually hurt her!

“I guess it’s Nerf or nothing.” Max said drily, mixing about a third of a glass of applejack with bourbon and taking a sip.

“... Maybe you should slow down on drinking? Just a little bit?” I suggested cautiously.

He gave me a look and drained the rest of that glass too. “Look, Twilight; I gotta lotta shit to forget about right now. Yesterday was the anniversary of my brother’s death, got fuckin raped and tortured for a few days, and now I’m on a different fuckin’ magical planet where shit makesnosense and everything’s the fuckin color of the day, except the color of the day changes every second and you blimey painted Pony people keep confusing me.” Max opened the bottle of bourbon and started to pour another drink before just sipping it straight from the bottle. “I don’t wanna remember today. Don’t wanna remember yesterday. I just wanna get to tomorrow in one piece.”

I looked at him carefully, taking in everything about him that I could. Only a foal would be so blind as to ignore the fact that he’d been telling the truth and that he was lost, scared, angry, and in pain. It didn’t take liquid courage for me to join Max on his bed and hold onto his hand. “Max…”

He squeezed my hand and gave me a reassuring smile. “Shouldn’t have complained so much. Sorry you had to hear that.”

I laid my head on his shoulder. “Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you let me be your friend?”

“... I’d like that.” He replied softly.

“That means letting me help you, you know.”

“Friends tend to help friends, yeah.” He yawned.

“Then cap the bottle and pack your stuff. I have a spare room at my house that you can use instead of spending whatever money you have on an inn.” I replied, trying to make it sound like I was the one in charge. It always worked with Spike, Rainbow, and Pinkie, so I hoped that it would work for Max too.

The look he gave me told me that I should have just asked him nicely. “I’m perfectly fine here, but thank you.”

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” I said firmly, actually finding a spine. I’m not that timid, but I don’t really like to boss ponies around. I can , it just makes me feel like a real N-word.

“You’ve been a real sweetheart since we met, but I’m not digging this ‘Do what I say’ thing you’re tryin’ to pull.” He said flatly.

“Would it help if I asked really nicely and said it was out of concern for your health and wellbeing?” I asked, blushing.

He sighed and screwed the cap back on the bottle. “I haven’t even been on this planet twenty-four hours and you’re already manipulating me with cuteness and compassion.”

I blushed a little brighter, not having anything to say to that. I mean, how could I really respond? I know I’m not, like, hideous, but the mare in the mirror is not somepony like Rarity or Fluttershy, or even Pinkie for that matter! Rarity’s obviously beautiful and everypony knows it, Fluttershy’s really beautiful, but she doesn’t like to acknowledge it, and Pinkie’s super cute as long as you see past all the crazy, but I don’t really have anything like that going for me. I’m the average height for a mare, probably a little heavier than I should be, I’m not exactly ‘pretty’, and I don’t think I’ve ever turned a head in my life, but hearing Max say that I was cute? Hearing one of the cutest stallions I’d ever seen, even if he was an alien, was a little flustering, though I was pretty sure that he was just being nice and didn’t actually find me attractive. I still held a little hope that maybe Max actually did think I was cute, but when I realized that I wasn’t ‘hoping’ so much as desperately wishing that he would be interested in me, I knew then and there that I was some kind of bucking bucked.

Max nudged me when he had his things put away. He’d gotten off of the bed while I was in a daze and shook me gently to get my attention. “Cherry? You okay?”

I looked at my crush with apprehension. “Uh… N-Never better! Let’s go, right? It’s a good time to go! I bet it’s great outside where it’s not in here and happens to be outside where it’s not an inn or anything. Ah-heh. Heh-heh. Heeeh.”

I didn’t doubt that Max saw right through my awkward smile and into my inner thoughts, but he didn’t comment on anything if he noticed that I was acting weird. “Alrighty then. I’m following you.”

I nodded and tried not to run out of the room, but when I got off of the bed, I fell for the third time that day, but thankfully my own charming rogue was there to catch me before I could land on my face. With my eyes tightly closed, I waited a moment for Max to drop me because Applejack and Rainbow did that sometimes, but instead of doing what they’d do, he kept ahold of me, his strong arms grasping me tightly while his seemingly delicate fingers maintained a firm though gentle grip on my arms. It took me a moment to realize that his arms was squishing my breasts while we weren’t moving, but I just calmly got my other hoof onto the floor and thanked Max for catching me.

He gave me another amused look, but he seemed to be getting pretty drunk, so I hurried him along and got us back to my house with no real problems. Getting Max settled in for the night didn’t take long since the guest room was already prepared for someone to stay over, but I really just wanted it to be good enough for him to sleep peacefully, and that just made me even more sure that I’d fallen for him. When Max bid me goodnight and I returned to my room to get dressed and changed for bed, I thought about the dreams, Max, and the book. The three were all connected, and so far the only answers I had were that Max’d had the dreams as well. He came from another world, and that I could only read the book when he was nearby. Due to the fact that I could only do the reading when he was close, I cracked the book open and started from the beginning.

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

The entire night was spent reading, and reading was… It was really scary. The more I read, the more scared I became, and that’s not even mentioning the first day recorded in the journal… Max already said in the book that he didn’t want to talk about it, so I kept reading to see if he ever actually did, but I finally had to stop when I got to the part about Max dating Celestia and then breaking up with her because she kept wiping pony’s minds, including mine. I didn’t know what to do with the information I had, and before I realized it, the Sun was on the rise and I had a Human to check up on. With the book in hand, I quietly made my way to my guest room and softly knocked on the door a couple of times, my knocks only being a little louder than my own hoofsteps. When I didn’t hear anything from inside, I cracked the door open a little and saw Max jolt up and glare at the door, making me squeak and hop back out of shock.

“Dear Celestia!” I cried, my voice strangled.

“Twilight? Max asked.

I caught my breath and let my heart stop hammering in my chest long enough to poke my head in through the door. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you…”

“It’s fine.” He said, waving it aside. “Just wondering if I was up?”

“Y-Yeah…”

He glanced downward briefly and seemed to have trouble keeping his eyes on my face for some odd reason that confused me. “Well, now I am. Anything I can help you with?”

“N-No, you can go back to sleep if you want.”

He shook his head and started stretching. “Might as well make the most out of the day with an early start, yeah? Doesn’t have to make everything all complicated.”

I gave him an apologetic smile. “I’ll remember to sleep in tomorrow so I don’t wake you so early.”

He gave me a smug smirk and my heart did a funny little dance in my chest. “Save yourself the trouble and just hop in bed with me. I promise I’ll keep you warm and cozy.”

It actually sounded like a good idea at the moment, but then I realized that my tummy was feeling warm and that there was a breeze on my legs. One thing was bad because it meant that I was starting, and the other thing required me to look down for a moment do a double-take to see that I’d only worn a shirt to bed. “Eep!”

I teleported back to my room so I could get prepared for my day in the wake of Max’s evil little chuckles. I didn’t know why he hadn’t told me that I barely had my undies covered, but then I rationalized it to him not wanting to make me uncomfortable. I mean, most ponies tend to know what they’re wearing at pretty much any given time, so it was more my fault than his that he’d seen so much of my fur… Still, it didn’t mean that I had to be happy about it. In less than a full day, Max had seen more of me than any stallion outside of my family ever had in my entire life, and that made me feel a little queasy. He hadn’t said anything about whether or not he’d actually been paying attention to what I was wearing at either time, and for all I knew, he could have been homosexual and I would have never known. I highly doubted that he was, but still. It was a possibility that made me feel a little bit better.

As much as I despise pants in most forms, I figured that as long as I was going to be spending time around Max, I might as well wear something that would stop him from seeing anything I didn’t want him to see. Granted, it was supposed to be a warm day, so jeans were out, and I didn’t actually own any shorts because I don’t like them, but I did have some really cute capris and camisole-blouse with sheer sleeves that would keep me cool, so I brought my outfit to the bathroom, did my Morning Meandering and took a look in the mirror. I can’t say that I looked good, but I didn’t see anything peeking out that wasn’t supposed to, and my clothes were modest enough for me to be comfortable around Max for as long as I needed to be, but a part of me wanted to dress to impress him, and that was a truly odd feeling for me. I wanted to get Max’s attention and keep it, but I didn’t want him to think I was some sloozy whorse that wanted him for his body or something like that, so I was a little stuck.

Rarity would have known exactly what to do in my situation, but I’d never had a guy that I wanted to impress other than my Dad and brothers. Shining was always proud of my accomplishments and Spike loved learning about half as much as I did, which was saying a lot, so I was a little scared of… Well, being rejected by Max. As an example to explain why I was nervous, it would be like putting one of those creepy looking hairless cats next to a beautiful border collie with the floppiest widdle ears and the widdle puppy tongue and a cute widdle tail that just wags for no reason.

See where I’m coming from here? Max was hot, I was not, and looking in the mirror just solidified that fact. I considered my wardrobe and went back to my room to see if I could find something a little cuter that Max might like, but no matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t find anything that screamed ‘Wear me, wear me! We’ll help you get your stallion!’, but I wasn’t sure if that was because it was just a crush or if my wardrobe was just that pitiful. Most of it was geared more towards comfort and the occasional bout of cold weather, but I didn’t have anything that would both preserve my modesty and make me look cute enough to hopefully get Max’s attention. I dug through my closet one last time until I came across a dress I’d thought was a little too nice to be worn without a good reason, even if it was geared toward casual-wear more so than formal-wear. It was a lovely shade of sweet-violet that paired perfectly with a pair of sheer black stockings that I had, though there was a run high in the thigh. It would be fine since it wasn’t visible due to the length of the dress, though I did feel the need to gather my mane and put it back for some odd reason because of it. I think I was trying to distract myself from the minor fault in my attire by changing my mane up, but when I looked in the mirror, I just wanted to put my hair back down so it would hide a bit more of my chubby cheeks.

I finally gave up on trying to look any better than I usually do before I made myself look worse and headed downstairs, but by the time I got down for breakfast, Max and Spike were practically finished, though Spike was too enamoured by Max’s jokes and the good-natured charisma that was rolling off of him in waves to notice my arrival. My breath caught in my throat as I watched him interact and verbally confuse and circumnavigate Spike in a way that left both of them smiling and laughing. It was great that they were getting along so famously since my little brother honestly needed a male friend in his life, but I didn’t know if I was happy because Spike was finally getting to talk to an older stallion that wasn’t a part of his family or if it was due to the bonding between the two that could benefit me later on. Either way, I was pretty sure that it was a good thing, but apparently I’d been thinking too hard for too long because Max had to get my attention.

“Twilight? You okay, Love?” He asked tenderly.

Yet again my face lit up. “Y-Yeah! I-I’m fine, just spaced out for a bit is all.”

He gave me a lopsided grin and raised a brow. “Does it have anything to do with why you’re looking so fetching, or am I jumping to conclusions?”

“Yes! I-I mean no! Er, Maybe?

Spikie giggled at me and I glared at him until he shut up. “And now’s a good time to get these dishes done.” He said quickly, grabbing his and Max’s plate.

Max gave me an amused smile, his eyes warm and inviting, like he wanted me to laugh and smile along with him. “Don’t worry about some fire-breathing newt’s snickering-” Spike threw a spoon at him, but Max somehow ducked in time for it to miss his head and hit me in the breast. “Knew it was coming, salamander.”

“I’ve got a skillet, Max!” Spike warned.

“Spykoranuvellitar, we do not throw kitchenware in this household!” I said hotly.

“He called me a newt!”

“A fire-breathing newt. That makes you at least two hundred percent cooler than any other newt.” Max said blithely, like he was having too much fun to have a care in the world.

“I’m not a newt!”

“Of course you aren’t; you breathe fire.Do you know of any newts that breathe fire?” The strange alien inquired neutrally.

“Well, no, but-”

“If I’m calling you something you’re not and no one believes that you are what I’m calling you, then why does it matter, Spike? Words are harmless, Mate. It’s actions that matter.”

I made a face. “While I agree with you on some level, it’s still not very nice to go around calling ponies names.”

“I didn’t call any’pony’ anything. I called a Dragon a newt.” He countered.

“It’s the same thing!”

“Last time I checked, you had fur, he had scales. Do all the other races on this planet say ‘pony’, or do they talk like me?”

“Well, how am I supposed to know!? I’ve never been outside of Pony territory!” I shot back.

Max raised his hands. “It was a question, not an attack, Twilight.”

I folded my arms. “Either way, if you want to be a butt, you can be a butt in the library.”

“Would it help if I apologized?” He said, obviously not expecting it to work.

“Yes.”

“Oh.” He looked back at Spike. “I’m sorry I called you a newt. You’re more like a badass gila monster.”

“I don’t know what that is.” Spike said slowly.

“It’s a super cool reptile that doesn’t breath fire, but they’re pretty tasty.” Max licked his lips and Spike and I both froze.

“... You eat living creatures?” I asked in disbelief.

“A-Are you gonna eat me?” Spike asked fearfully.

Max made a sudden move towards Spike and my little brother nearly wet himself before Max started giggling his head off. “Mate, I’m not going to fucking eat you. Like, why would you even think that?” He kept on giggling like it was the funniest thing in the world.

I marched over and took ahold of his ear, giving it a hearty pull. “Now listen here, Buster! The only one allowed to terrify Spike is his big sister!”

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow stop stop stop-”

“Are we clear, Mister!?”

“Crystal; leggo!”

I loosened my grip and walked to the other side of the table so I could get some coffee, keeping an eye on him as he rubbed his ear, glaring at me. “You’re a Butthead.”

“I’ll get you back for that, you know that, right?” He asked, his tone icy.

That didn’t strike me as a good thing. “Wh-What are you going to-” Max suddenly stood and vaulted over the table like he’d done it a thousand times before, mere feet from me out of the wild blue yonder. “Oh Celestia!”

Now, Ponies are some fast creatures. We’re actually one of the fastest races on the face of Equus, but we kind of have a downfall that I’ve noticed a lot during extensive reading into adventure and action novels: we don’t turn well. Note that I was running from the kitchen into the foyer, but before I could even decide which was to go, Max’s leg threaded between mine and his right knee hit the back of my left, making me lose my balance and go into Panic Mode. However, instead of being hit like I was expecting, Max grabbed the underside of my thigh and one of my sides and started tickling me. I don’t know why he started tickling me, but I know he was too gosh darn good at it to be any kind of mad at him for much more than a few seconds. He brought me to the floor gently, making me squirm and yelp under the assault of his deft fingers. There were times where I thought that he was just using it as an excuse to feel me up, but whenever my dress would ride up, Max pushed it back down, and he gave me regular breaks from his torture that were long enough for me to get my breath back, but not my strength.

Maximus was a master tickler and was not to be trifled with.

Once he had me begging for a trip to the bathroom, Max finally asked, “Are you sure you’ve had enough? You can hold out a little longer, can’t you?”

“Puh-Puh-Puh-ple-hee-heease.” I giggled, out of breath again.

“Fine. I guess we can stop here for now.” Max let me up and offered me a hand, which I took after a couple of moments because it took a little bit of time to get the strength back.

“Whew.” I took a few deep breaths and worked some more chuckles out, but while I was trying to catch my breath, Max put his hands on my arms and gave me a grin that melted me on the inside in the gooiest of ways.

“I just like to tease and taunt a little too much, Twilight. It’s not meant with any ill intent. I just want everyone to have a laugh and take it easy, you know?”

I couldn’t help but smile back, my cheeks hurting from all the laughter Max had just put me through. “Yo-You’re st-still a Butt-Butthead.”

“No hard feelings though, right?”

I caught my breath and nodded, giving him a long-suffering smile, brushing a stray lock of my mane frome my face. “No, I-I guess not. Just don’t bully ponies, okay? Even if you don’t mean any offense, it can still hurt somepony’s feelings.”

“I’ll try to tone it down a bit then, but it’s kinda like asking me not to eat cake with buttercream frosting. If it’s got buttercream, I’m going to want a slice.”

“What?” Spike asked from the doorway of the kitchen. I really hadn’t made it all that far, to be fair.

“I think he’s saying that if he sees an opportunity, he’s going to want to take it.” I clarified.

Max nodded. “Yup. That’s pretty much it. I don’t mind chilling out a little bit with the teasing, though.”

“I’ve never heard of a bully tickling anypony…” Spike said curiously.

I looked at Max and put my hands on my hips, not sure what to say, but then Max said, “That’s because bullies don’t like seeing people laugh. I just like it when everyone’s smiling and laughing along with me, which is probably why I like drinking with people, sometimes strangers, so much. It’s just a good way to get the good times rolling and you’re always gonna end up with a story to tell.”

I looked at Spike sternly. “I have a feeling that you shouldn’t be doing many of the things Max does.”

He nodded. “He was telling me a ‘censored’ version of a time he got caught by a gang of old mares that did weird stuff to him.”

I stared at Spike blankly for a moment before looking to Max so I could continue staring. “What? I censored it!”

“All he said was ‘weird stuff’.” Spike agreed, scratching his chin.

I looked back to Max and he just gave me this little smile that made me doubt that it had been a fun time for him, as pained as it was. “It’s a fucking hilarious story to be honest with you.”

“... Sure.” I said slowly, wondering just what could have happened with a bunch of grandmas that would have Max grimacing like that. “Maybe you could tell me the uncensored version sometime?”

“Maybe you could tellmewhy you’re wearing something I’ve never seen before.” Spike interrupted. “And why are you wearing your special shoes that you said you were eventually going to wear for a date? And why-”:

I silenced the treacherous, traitorous newt. “Look here you overgrown lizard! I’ll dress up when I want to dress up, okay!? It just seemed like a nice day for it is all!”

“You do look lovely. You should pull your hair back more often.” Max commented, kind of like how you would point out that a tree had interesting leaves as compared to the other trees around it with mildly less interesting leaves.

“Y-You mean my mane?” I asked, my face already hot from being called out by Spike.

“I guess that’s what you’d called it on a whorse or a Pony, so yeah. Hair equals mane, I think.” He said casually.

I went from incredibly flattered to confused. “... Did you just imply that I was a whorse?

Max gave me an odd look, like he didn’t understand why or what I was asking. “I thought you were a Pony?”

“I am a Pony, but that has nothing to do with that word.” I said, narrowing my eyes at him.

“You mean ‘whorse’? Like a big Pony?”

I stared at him in confusion. “What?”

“On Earth, there are animals called whorses and ponies. Whorses are the ancestors of ponies, and ponies look a lot like whorses, just with shorter legs and generally better temperament. A whorse can be taller than me and a team of them can pull a decently sized train while a pony is about yea high,” He held a hand to around his solar plexus, “and rarely get taller than that. Both are quadrupeds, both like carrots, and both mite bit your fingers off if you don’t feed them right.” He sighed. “I used to have six fingers on each hand, you know.”

Spike and I stared at his hand for a moment, but I decided that Max was just being silly for the last part. “Spell whorse for me, if you don’t mind.” I asked.

“H-o-r-s-e.” Max rattled off.

“No ‘W’?” I asked.

“Oh, you thought I was calling you a whore! No, no, you’re way too timid and innocent for all that naughty business. Sweet as sunshine, if I may say so myself.” Max chuckled and shook his head.

“I’m not that timid!” I argued, albeit meekly.

Max gave me a warm, kind smile that made my heartstrings thrum like he was playing them according to whatever tune he felt was optimal for my enjoyment. “It’s an endearing quality, Cherry.”

“I like it when you get all flustered.” Spike chimed in. “You usually manage to… Er, manage the chaos pretty well, so seeing you get all frazzled is kinda fun.”

“Don’t get grounded for the rest of the morning, Mister!” I warned.

Spike just gave me a smile and finished up with washing the dishes. “O’ Mighty Twilight! Mayhap I could possibly beg thy leniency for a walk to the Carousel Boutique?” He snarked.

“Sure, just be sure not to stare at Rarity’s tail the entire visit this time.” I said flatly.

Spike lit up bright red while Max broke into another coughing fit that I really had my suspicions about, especially since it seemed like Max was biting back a smile. “I’m sure he’s just jealous of Pony-tails. Speaking of, I’m digging your ponytail, though you should let me do it up for you real quick. I promise not to yank on your mane too hard.”

“Dude. Dude.” Spike said, giggling like he’d never heard anything funnier in his life.

I stared at Max. “... Please don’t do inappropriate things to me.” I pleaded in a small voice.

“I’m talking about your mane, Love. I want to let a couple of locks loose so they frame your face and make your cheekbones seem a little more pronounced. You already look pretty cute, but you could be pretty cuter.” He winked at me.

I woke up on the couch in the library again, but this time I heard Max and Spike joking around all over again, though they were talking about how to prank me. I bolted upright just Spike stuck a fake mustache to my lips. When I glared at him, he balked and said, “Blame Max!” and ran like the little butthole he was.

Max was chuckling nearby, so I glared at him too until he pushed my dress down, the hem having ridden up to about mid thigh from when I sat up. I was blushing for the… Wow, I probably need to start counting how many times Max made me blush… Oh well. After Max pushed my dress down, he took the mustache off of my lip. “Figured you didn’t want that to go up any higher. I swear, the universe wants me to look, but I’ve been trying to avoid it.”

I buried my face in my hands to hide my blush, not sure of what to do. I didn’t know how the day could have started any worse, and now I was hungry and embarrassed beyond belief. I felt Max sit down next to me, close enough to touch me with his leg without really having to do anything for the contact to be made. My heartbeat sounded like thunder in the distance and I was so sure that Max could hear it, but I didn’t know what to do. I was lost, and I only got more lost when Max put an arm around my shoulder and pulled me to him. When a mare like me has an unfamiliar pony’s hands on her, it’s supposed to be awkward. It always feels weird when somepony I don’t know touches me, but when I was there with Max, I felt like I was safe and sound, sitting around the hearth with him during the winter months while the blizzard we’d been warned about since fall blew itself out in the wilderness outside. I Could practically taste the cocoa we’d make; Max would spike his with bourbon and make it with coffee instead of just normal milk and I’d ask him to make mine a blondie.

I nuzzled Max, my heart settled for the time being. “... Thank you.”

“I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’ll have a shoulder to lean on for you, Twilight. Whether or not we’ll actually end up together remains to be seen, though we don’t know what the future holds, yeah? We’ll just take it one step at a time and we’ll connect the dots as we go along.” He assured me softly.

“You’re right. We don’t have to figure everything out right now.” I took a deep breath. “However, there is a mare who I know can help us. If you don’t mind, I need a moment to get a letter written out.”

Max let me go and gave me an understanding smile. “Guess I’m going to find something to read then.”

“Ooh! I suggest starting with Equestria: The Spirit of Unity. It’s a really good depiction of the early days of Equestria, and the same author wrote an updated book on some timeless Equestrian customs that should help you avoid nasty words or misunderstandings.”

He rolled his eyes. “Next thing you know, nag is going to be-”

“A bad word, and it’s the worst word Ponies have to call each other. What does it mean on your planet?” I asked.

“An old female horse.”

“Yeah, only broncos and foul-mouthed ponies use words like that, and I’d like to think that you’re above all of those hateful words.”

Max shrugged casually, which wasn’t the response that I wanted. “We’ll see what happens. After all, the future isn’t promised to be any kind of anything.”

“At least promise to try.” I asked reasonably, if I do say so myself.

He raised his chin and gave me a steely look. “If I can ask one thing of you, then sure.”

I couldn’t say that letting him stay in my house was much of a favor since I’d practically demanded that he do so, but I wanted him totryto be a nicer pony. “... What do you want?”

“Why did you dress up today?”

I looked at my lap and stuttered out, “N-N-No r-reason…”

“So you want me to promise you something for a lie?” He asked, all amusement from earlier gone from his tone.

I glanced at him and wrung my hands. “... It’s embarrassing…”

“What if I told you that I would be touched in the right ways if you said that you did it for me?” He asked lackadaisically, as if he already knew exactly why I’d taken so long to choose an outfit.

“... You know, don’t you.” I ‘asked’ softly, not looking at him.

I felt Max’s long, almost spidery fingers place themselves along three points around my chin and turn my head toward him, but I still couldn’t look him in the eye. The smell of his cologne was different than his natural smoky scent. It was something else entirely, and I didn’t know how to describe it other than perfectly representative of his particular brand of masculinity. It wasn’t terribly musky or overpowering, but it held a certain coolness, a mild sweetness that made my mouth water. Even as I tried to resist him, I knew that Max had me; hook, line, and sinker. I was head over heels for him, but I just didn’t want to admit it.

All that changed when he kissed me.


His face came closer and closer, but I didn't quite realize what was going on. I don't don't what I was actually expecting, but I wasn’t expecting him to press his lips against mine, wasn’t expecting for him to take my first romantic kiss, or rather, my first kiss with a stallion. I was stunned for what seemed like forever, the simple contact of his lips upon mine driving every single thought from my mind and sending my nerves into overdrive. His fingers grazed my chin and drifted to my jaw and cheek as Max kissed me with a new, different level of passion than he’d shown in the initial movements.

He broke the contact and kissed me again, his hand sliding from my cheek to the back of my head, the warmth of his touch surging through my main and into my head, filling my mind with the cherrywood smoke all over again, robbing me of the senses that weren’t attached to the kiss. I know I leaned into him and placed a hand on his chest, the heavy beating of his heart resonating through my hand, feeling almost as if it was jarring through my bones, endeavoring to make my heart beat on the same wavelength to bring us closer in the moment.

Max didn’t make any other moves than to kiss me and that irritated me on an instinctual level, my rational thought having defenestrated itself right out of my ear drum and my sense of modesty having taken the slide out of my nose. I pushed Max down and crawled on top of his sleek, toned form, appreciating the firmness of what he called ‘no muscles’. Even through his clothes I could feel that he was nearly smooth in a way that most races on Equus simply were not, even while completely furless. I also knew that I wanted as much of him as I could possibly get, but when I felt Max’s tongue part my lips and touch my own, I was in a pure state of euphoria.

Then, before I could find out whether or not I was actually going to sate the intense hunger for the stallion beneath me, I felt somepony pull me off of his and snap me out of the reverie I’d been in. “Twilight, get ahold of yourself! For Celestia’s sake, Darling, you’re going to smother the poor stallion!”

I rubbed my eyes and came back to Equus. “... Rarity? When did you get here?”

“A good five minutes ago, Darling. Honestly.” Rarity said in disbelief. “I could believe Rainbow Dash or Applejack during such a time, but you?”

I blushed brightly and looked down at Max to see him propping himself up, chuckling weakly. “Mutual attraction much, or am I just oblivious?”

Rarity shot him a glare. “Youshould be ashamed of yourself! I know you’re not congested!”

He looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “What would allergies have to do with a bloody fucking thing? Speaking of things that are actually your business, there’s a crown in a bag in Twilight’s guest room that Stephen Magnet asked me to give to a mare named Rarity who lives in Ponyville. Wouldn’t happen to be you, would it?”

Rarity glared at him and huffed. “If you’re going to play dumb, then I believe you should take your leave.”

“Play dumb to what?” He asked, scratching his head. “Twilight did something cute, I kissed her for it, things escalated a little from there. I don’t really see how it’s solely my fault on this.”

“Rarity, this is Max. Max is from a different planet.”: I explained, carefully getting off of him.

“Oh. So he would have no idea about the time of month?” She asked.

I nodded. Max made a noise of discomfort. “I know Human women have a time of the month, but it involves bleeding and anger.”

“... That sounds far worse than estrus.” I said numbly.

Rarity flapped her hands at me because she’s too proper sometimes. “Twilight!”

Max blinked. “Ah. Maybe I should go stay at the inn for a little while?”

“... You know what estrus is?” Rarity and I asked at the same time.

“Nope, never heard of it, though I did hear that the bird bird bird the bird is the word I said-a the ba-ba-ba-ba-bird-bird-bird the bird is the word, ya heard? Grand diggity, dog, can’t stop won’t stop kinda grind, ya know?” He blathered.

“... I beg your pardon?” Rarity asked.

Max blinked and raised his brows. “Hmm?”

“...What?

“What what?”

“No, what did youmean?” Rarity tried.

“I meant what were you asking about.” Max answered diligently.

“No, when you were saying things like ‘Grand diggity’. What does that mean?” I asked.

He gave me a queer look. “What does that mean, anyway? What’s a diggity?”

“You would think that you would know better than we would.” Rarity said a little irritably. “After all, you’re the pony who said it.”

Max pointed at himself. “Me? A Pony? I’m not a pony at all, I’m a human, dontcha know?”

“I did not, but that does explain why your ears are in such a strange place. I’d thought that you were just a mutant of some kind.” My friend said like a real ninny.

“Rarity! That was just mean!” I chastised.

“Don’t you realize what he’s doing, Twilight? I mean, I’ve completely forgotten the topic of the conversation, haven’t you?”

I thought about it for a moment. “... Oh.”

“What, you think that just because I can’t keep a steady train of thought that I’m up to no good?” Max said darkly. “Thank you for the shred of faith. It’s not like someone started giving me the snogging of a lifetime out of nowhere or anything.”

“And you’ll explain what ‘snogging’ means, or are you going to lead us onto a verbal goose chase again?” Rarity asked.

“Snogging means kissing, and you’re really, truly less pleasant than Stephen said you were.” Max replied caustically, his tone making his words seem more hateful than they actually were.

Rarity glowered at him. “Whether you were aware of it or not, you were taking advantage of a mare in estrus, and that is simply unforgivable!”

“Rarity, that’s just silly. If I didn’t want Max to k-kiss me, I would have told him to leave.” I said a little bashfully.

She cut me an apologetic look and sighed. “Then I suppose I owe you an apology, Max.”

He nodded. “Trust me, I’ll only try to take advantage of Twilight if she’s wearing a French maid outfit and keeps giving me the bedroom eyes.”

Rarity and I both blushed, but Rarity was the one who said, “Do you ever have a thought that doesn’t border along salacity?”

“I’m lewd dude who likes to brood.” He replied cheesily.

I sighed. “You just wanted to rhyme, didn’t you?”

“It was time for a rhyme, and I know that you feel like you’re covered in slime or rime, but you can always relax ‘cause either way you’ll shine!” He smiled like an actual idiot.

Rarity looked at me. “And you were kissing this?

“Oi!”

“He’s actually really charming, he’s just being weird right now for some reason.” I sighed again.

“It’s because I like you more than I like her.” Max said bluntly. “Rarity’s a meanie pants.”

“Perhaps if you acted like agentlecolt, I might be more inclined to be polite to you.” She sniffed.

“A lady’s worth is measured in her actions and in her words.” Max said neutrally. “So far you’ve been showing yourself to be worth less than you are.”

Rarity gave him a steely look that promised retribution for his words. “And just how, pray tell, have I been degrading myself?”

“Obstinate bias.” Max said flatly. “Taking your little shots at me because I don’t happen to fit your ideal of what a man should be, or rather a ‘gentlecolt’. You’re trying to impose your standards on me and that’s more than just a little incredibly fucking rude. And, not to be an arsehole, but you kinda mistook ignorance for malevolence when I’m obviously an alien”

My usually amiable friend blinked slowly and tilted her head. “... I do suppose that I have been expecting an alien to fit Equestrian customs and know Equestrian… Stuff.”

I was tempted to rat Max out since he apparently knew how to act like a decent stallion, but for all I knew, he could have been trying to be on his best behavior. “I don’t agree with how he said it, but Max is kinda right.” I added softly.

Rarity gave me a pained smile. “Can I speak to you in private for a moment?”

We looked to Max and he was already getting up. “I’ll be fucking off then. See you later, Cherry, Rarity. Don’t forget about the crown.”

“I will not. Thank you for bringing it here.” Rarity said neutrally.

Max nodded. “A favor for a favor.” He started walking off, leaving Rarity and I a little confused. However, we chose not to bother him about it since it didn’t seem important at the moment.

When we heard Max close the front door, Rarity asked, “Why do you like him?”

“He’s witty, and it’s not just cleverness. He’s actually intelligent, but he hides it by joking and acting dumb. He’s also the stallion from the dreams, Rarity.”

“... Seriously?” She asked flatly.

I nodded. “I don’t know if the dreams are about possibilities or eventualities, but it’s possible that I marry Max.”

Rarity sighed so hard it probably would have hurt Max’s feelings. “When he comes back, send him to my shop. He can stay with me while your week is passing, and if you still want him like you do after the fog has cleared, then… Then I’ll support you one hundred percent.” She gave me a small smile.

I returned her smile with a gratitude-filled one of my own. “Thank you, Rarity. You have no idea how much it means to me to have your support on this. Max and I have just been so confused between me having this crush on him and Max trying to adjust to being on a new planet full of new ponies, we’ve just been struggling to make sense of it all.”

“... I suppose Max would be having the hardest time out of anypony, wouldn’t he?” Rarity said thoughtfully.

“And yet he’s taking it a lot better than I am. He deserves a little faith, Rarity. He’s just making the best of a horrid situation.”

“Worlds away from all of your friends and family…” Rarity murmured before we both shivered.

“I know. I can’t imagine what Max must be feeling right now.” I replied worriedly.

“... Do you think that he’s being so receptive to your advances because it’s comforting?” She inquired.

“... I don’t know. M-Maybe we should ask him?”

“No, no, he wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings if it was true, depending on if he really is a decent stallion as you say. I believe we’re going to need more tact to suss out Max’s reasonings for being so receptive, other than the fact that he’s a stallion.” Rarity added bluntly.

“Rarity, a stallion as handsome as Max has probably had mares throwing themselves at him since he hit puberty. I doubt somepony like me is going to be much to him.” I said, pursing my lips off to the side.

“Oh posh, Twilight! You are simply an adorable mare, you just need to work on your confidence! Maybe a few curls in your mane to help bring out your cheekbones-”

“That’s why Max said I should pull my mane back!”

“Oh? So he definitely already thinks you’re cute!” Rarity gasped. “Oh, Twilight, that’s great news! I mean, I still don’t want you to spend too much time around Max for obvious reasons this week, but still. That’s a good sign if I’ve ever heard of one!”

I beamed at her. “It’s good to know that Max might be interested in me too, though I guess I should have figured that out from the kiss.” I touched my lips with my fingertips again and tried not to uncross my legs since I’d… Um… Spilled syrup on my lap earlier! Yeah, there was syrup on my dress and I didn't want it to stick to my thighs, so I made my legs stay still.

It took me awhile to realize that Rarity was just giving me a knowing smile, a certain twinkle in her eye. “Twilight Sparkle, don’t tell me that this is your first crush.”

I felt my face heat up at the accusation. “I-It’s not! I-It’s just the first one that might actually go somewhere…”

“Trust me when I say that I understand the feeling, Darling. Whenever you have any questions, feel free to come to your good friend Rarity for answers.” She gave me her patented smile and I couldn’t help but want to give her a hug.

“You’re the best, Rarity!” I said, getting up to do what I wanted to do because I’m a real tough mare who does what she wants!

Or I just wanted to give my friend a hug for being supportive. Either way, Rarity hugged me back and said, “Of course I am, otherwise I’d be striving for nothing.” She said haughtily.

I giggled at her false bravado. “I swear, sometimes you sound as bad as Rainbow in your own special way.”

Rarity made a face and tapped my horn with hers, a Unicorn gesture for ‘Shush, you!’. “Don’t compare me to that bull-headed miscreant, you ninny!”

I faked a gasp. “Rarity! Such language!”

She gave me a look. “Don’t make me beautify you again.”

I flinched at the terribly boring memory. “I’ll be good.”

My ‘friend’ giggled. “You really will have to let me do your makeup again sometime, Darling. I daresay that you’ve never been more striking, more enchanting!” Rarity fanned herself. “Oh, how the stallions would topple over and climb atop each other for a chance to kiss your hooves!”

I pinched her and she yelped. “Will you stop including me in your fantasies? I don’t want that kind of attention at any point in my life. Ever. Never.

She rubbed her arm. “Fine, but I’ll eventually pinch you back, you know this, right?”

“If you pinch my Funbuns in front of Max, I’ll actually teleport you to Canterlot naked.” I said flatly.

Rarity waved my warning aside. “I would never do something so crass in front of your crush, Darling. Do have more faith in dear young Rarity, will you?”

I gave her a look. “I have a feeling that half of Ponyville is going to know about me and Max if you have anything to say about it, so can you just stay quiet for awhile? Just about me and Max?”

“Phooey! And here I thought you were just going to hand over the juiciest piece of gossip this town’s had since Lyra got caught in the stallions restroom at the Mare’s Tail.” Rarity sighed.

“Again?” I asked.

“No, and that’s the sad part.” Rarity drawled.

I gave her the flattest look I could have. “I praise you for two seconds and then you prove to be a gossip hound like no other.”

Rarity gave me a sheepish smile. “I can’t help it! Don’t scientists often find and compare information for the sake of knowledge? How is gossiping any different?”

I looked at her until she looked down. “Okay, that was a little silly.”

“You should feel ashamed.” I said briskly.

“I feel a little embarrassed, but that’s the sum of it.” Rarity huffed.

“You should feel embarrassed. I mean, there was a stallion within speaking distance of you and he wasn’t hitting on you!” I teased.

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Anyways, I came to collect you for a picnic with the girls, though Pinkie said that there was somewhere she had to be. Rainbow went along with her, wherever that somewhere may have been, but they assured me that they would be back in time for us to not be terribly late, and that was coming from Pinkie herself.”

“So even with as long as we’ve been talking, we still have time to go and get ready for the picnic?”

“I believe you’re the only one who needs to prepare, unless you’re already prepared, in which case you should let a lock of your mane down to complete the look.” My ever fashion-minded friend suggested.

“Sounds like Max’s advice.” I said, letting my mane down and redoing the tie. “How’s this?”

Rarity smiled. “Perfect! Let’s get a move on, shall we?”

“Of course!”

With that, Rarity and I were off to the picnic where Spie was already chatting along with Applebloom and Sweetie Belle like neither of them were interested in him in a romantic way. All of the girls knew for sure that Sweetie Belle had a crush on Spike, but Apple Bloom had yet to admit anything of the sort to anypony, though Applejack had her suspicions. I had to admit that the thought of Spike starting a herd with my best friend’s little sisters really appealed to me since it meant that we’d have an even stronger bond binding us together, but a part of me was worried about my little Spikey-Wikey growing up faster than I’d anticipated. I took awhile to notice how he was responding to Sweetie Belle’s subtle little flirts, but the longer I watched, the more sure I was that he had no idea what was going on, making me feel a little bit better about the whole thing.

Rainbow and Pinkie eventually joined us after having met Max at the joke shop while he was buying ‘presents’ that made them giggle, but they didn’t say what he got. Rarity and Applejack both offered to handle Max if he started pranking me too much, but I let them know that I would handle it, and thus we got on with our picnic. We ate the usual picnic stuff like potato salad, watercress sandwiches, marigolds, and Spike had his fill of the useless gems that I’d bought specifically for a good day. It was turning out to be a lovely afternoon, but then Applejack brought Max up and asked about him in depth, like what I’d learned about him and whether or not I’d ‘Partaken of his “lollipop”’, which got Fluttershy and Rarity to gasp and search for Spike, but thankfully he was over with Rainbow and the Cutie Mark Crusaders playing a game of frisbee.

I had to clarify that I had no plans on 'snacking' with Max in the near future, even if I had really, really enjoyed that kiss. Applejack gave me a look that told me she knew that I wasn’t being completely honest with myself, Rarity gave me a look that said she was well aware of just how smitten I was, and Fluttershy just gave me this goofy smile that translated to ‘I wish I was in your shoes right now!’, but I didn’t like any of those looks. I just wanted somepony to tell me that I wasn’t head over heels for a stallion I’d just met, but Applejack liked Max. She liked that he’d been honest about Kaid being another name of his and he’d proven trustworthy so far while Rarity was a bit more on the fence. Fluttershy was just happy that I found somepony to hold my interest.

They giggled and tittered like school fillies at me and my Max problem, but for the most part, it seemed like they all wanted to help me get my stallion, though I wasn’t too sure about whether or not Max was even the right stallion for me. After all, I barely knew the guy and I just so happened to be infatuated with him, which shouldn’t have accounted for much. However, the heart’s always been known for its fickleness, and the more the girls and I theorized about possible scenarios that might pop up between Max and I, the more comfortable I was with the idea of possibly coming in for another kiss. I didn’t think I would mind a little more at that point in time, but then again, estrus is known for making mares make questionable decisions, so I figured I’d just keep my clothes on and pray that Max wasn’t going to try and ‘put the moves on me’ like Applejack said he might.

All I knew when I left the picnic with Spike was that I needed advice from somepony a little more experienced than the girls, even if their opinions were worth their weight in gold to me. No, I wrote Princess Celestia a letter asking if we could have a moment between the two of us and she responded immediately since the sun was passing the horizon. She asked if I’d prefer to keep our correspondence through paper or if I’d like to meet up in person and I replied that meeting up in person suited me best, so Celestia teleported into my kitchen and I prepared her favourite tea before we get down to business.

“So, Twilight. It’s a matter of the heart this time?” Celestia asked kindly, her smile making it clear that she knew exactly how to help me.

“It is. It’s the stallion from my dreams, Princess.” I replied worriedly.

Her brows raised in surprise. “You mean the one who saved you from Discord’s clutches in that nightmare?”

I nodded. “It’s him. His eyes are different colors in different dreams, but one of them is always green.”

“And you only recognize his eyes?”

“And his face. He’s more muscular in a lot of the dreams.” I answered.

“I see… Then they’re most likely visions of the future…” Celestia said, rubbing her chin.

“Princess… What do you think this means?”

“I think it means that Max is waiting for a good moment to interrupt us.” She answered casually.

“It’s better than eavesdropping.” Max said from the doorway to the foyer. Heh. Rhymes. Anyway, then he said, “In any case, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss…?”

“Max, this is Princess Celestia of Equestria, one of the Co-rulers of this fine nation.” I said proudly, presenting Celestia to him. “She’s also the mare who taught me most of what I know about Magic and happens to be one of the single greatest minds on the face of the planet.”

“A little hyperbole I assure you, though I was lucky enough to teach Twilight.” Celestia said kindly, giving me another warm smile before turning back to Max. “You must be the ever famous Max.”

He shrugged. “If a Princess has heard of me I must be doing something right. Or some one. Or I might be doing both, though I could be doing either horribly wrong.”

“... What?” I asked.

Celestia giggled. “A bit of a riddler, I see. Do you have any riddles that might stump an old lady?”

Max scratched his head. “Uh… What speaks, but never says a word; reaches far while staying near, and… Starts strong but fades fast?”

“Are you asking me or giving me hints?” Celestia asked amusedly.

He gave her a look. “What has two Suns, a pair of buns, and a rainbow on top?”

My teacher and personal favorite Princess blinked and stared at Max. “... If you’re talking about me, then I’m going to have a few questions for you.”

It took me a second to realize that Celestia’s Cutie Mark was of a Sun, which was a part of why I wasn’t allowed to do scrying spells anymore. When I did, I gasped and blushed. “Max!”

He gave me a roguish smile that lessened the outrage that had been boiling up. “What? I was just talking about Star-Eye the baker from the Rainbow-Hat tribe. I figured that fairy tale might have carried over since Hansel and Gretel evidently did.”

“Do you know what a Cutie Mark is?” Celestia asked casually.

Max raised a brow at her and snorted. “Sounds like a beauty mark, but for like, a little girl or something.”

“Max, would you mind your manners?” I hissed.

He blew me a kiss and winked at me, making me blush and look toward Celestia who seemed to be more than a little amused about what was going on. “Have a seat, Max, and explain your riddle.”

Max crossed the room and joined us by starting his tale. “You see, Star-Eye the baker was famous across the lands for being able to bake his bread with his eyes. With a single glance, he could bake a loaf to perfection, but the other people of his tribe feared his power because he could bake people too. Well one day, Star-Eye’s kith and kin gathered together, plotting against Star-Eye to make sure that he would only ever be able to use his power for baking-”

“You were talking about my breasts, weren’t you.” Celestia said flatly.

“Yeah.” Max replied, almost as if Celestia had just told him that there was a blade of grass outside.

My jawdropped.

“Well, at least you’re honest about it.” She replied chuckling.

He shrugged. “I wouldn’t have said anything if you would’ve answered the first riddle.”

“Your first riddle didn’t make any sense.”

“Echo.”

“Oh. Darn it.” Celestia snapped her fingers.

I cleared my throat after giving Max a decent kick under the table, a little frustrated that Max had interrupted my time with Celestia. However, there were other questions that I could ask that had to do with the book. “So, Princess… I have a couple of questions for you, if you don’t mind.”

Princess Celestia smiled at me. “Of course you do. I’d be a little worried if Twilight Sparkle of all ponies ran out of questions.”

Max yawned. “She usually just blushes and- Erk!” He grimaced as I kicked him again.

“So, Princess. I have to ask something on a personal level, if that’s okay.”

I ignored Max’s glare and waited for the Princess to say, “Well then, it must be quite the question. Feel free to ask anything, present company withstanding, of course.”

I glanced at Max and he was still giving me a look, so I ignored him extra hard and asked, “Do you ever get tired of everypony you meet showing obedience to you?”

My teacher blinked. “I… I don’t know how to answer that, Twilight.”

“I do.” Max said bluntly. “You’ve been having fun, and more so when I don’t address you with the usual respect you’re supposed to be getting from me. The comment about your chest should have donesomethingtowards making you not like me, yet here I am, unarrested.”

Celestia blushed lightly and cleared her throat. “I suppose that I find your levity and lack of disrespect to be likeable traits.”

Max shrugged. “I find your mane and eyes to be likeable traits. So when are you gonna tell me the secret of the ever blowing wind?”

My teacher gave him an amused look. “It’s a secret that you have to be a Princess to know.”

“Hey, I can be a girl for a little bit. Just give me some glue and I’ll tuck it nice and proper.” He winked and I kicked him again, but this time, Max kicked back and my entire leg blossomed in pain

“Urk!” I grit my teeth and tried not to cry because it honestly hurta lot.

Celestia gave me an odd look, but then Max reached over and placed his hand on my arm, a concerned look on his face, though when I looked closer, I could see in his eyes that he’d meant to make me cry. “Twilight, are you okay? Did you remember something?”

I glared at him. “No, it’s nothing.” I said through grit teeth.

“Are you sure? You look like you just got a mouthful ofbad medicine.” Max said, leaning into the last two words with a vengeance.

“Max, did you kick Twilight under the table?” Celestia asked moments before Max yelped and bolted out of the chair.

“Fucking YEE-OW!” He hopped up and down on one leg, holding the other. “Bloody fucking christ, you pale technicolor-topped twat! Fuckin’ learn to fuckin’ dial it the fuck down like, three fuckin’ notches!”

“Well maybe if you weren’t kicking my poor student, who just so happens to be smaller than you, I wouldn’t have kicked you in defense of her honor.” Celestia replied neutrally.

Max lifted up his pant leg and a hideous purple welt that was darker than my coat seemed to be growing from his shin, the area that was discolored being incredibly swollen. “I’m pretty fuckin’ sure you just cracked my Goddamn shin, so shut your cocksucking vile spitter before I jam a bloody knife in it! I swear, Twilight kicks me three times and you don’t do a damned thing but when I give back what the bloody fuck I’m gettin’, I get fuckin’ what I gave tenfold! How the bloody fuck is that any kind of fucking reasonable!?”

Celestia stared at him before looking at me. “Did he really let you kick him three times before-”

“Oi! Who gives a fuck at this point!? Somebody point me in the direction of a bloody walking stick so I can hobble my arse to the hospital!”

My teacher rolled her eyes. “Alicorns may be a fair bit stronger than most ponies, but I do believe that you’re overreacting.”

Max ran his fingertips across his discoloured leg and turned his palm towards Celestia. His fingertips were red. “Bleeding through my Goddamn skin here.” He growled.

Celestia’s eyes flashed open and she immediately started an incantation for an intensive healing spell: “Oh flesh t’was rent and bone was bent, from the Aether may be peace be sent. Such a trial you have faced, let thy blood and marrow replace. Of burning fur and pounding heart, let the pain ease so healing may start. I chant this spell with wishes well, healing granted upon the bell.” Celestia finished the gestures with a casual flick of her wrist and split the Aether with a well-practiced ease that made me envious.

Max stared at Celestia, then at his leg, then back at Celestia. “... Holy dickfuck.”

Celestia gave him a worried look. “The spell worked, did it not? I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually follied while casting it, but accidents do happen.”

“... Magic isso cool.” Max said in awe.

Celestia gave him a worried look. “Have you never seen Magic before?”

“... I’ve never had that kinda shit happen, nah. I’d be mad at you, but you fixed the damage you caused, so don’t fuckin’ kick me. Bitch.”

“What does bitch mean to you?” Celestia asked.

Max looked at her calmly. “It means female dog, but it also means bitch, focking bitch, motherfocking bitch, and dumb bitch. It just depends on the context.”

She gave him a dull look. “If you called me dumb, then I’m undoing the spell.”

“I didn’t mean dumb. You weren’t paying attention to the context.” Max huffed. “You would think that a pretty Pony Princess would possibly ponder the purposeful placement of my problematic, pre-imagined, positively perfectly perplexing puzzle.”

My jaw dropped.“... Was that a thirteen word long alliteration chain?”

Celestia’s ears flicked. “It wasbeautiful.”

Max gave both of us an odd look. “I like alliteration sometimes. So what?”

How?” Celestia and I asked simultaneously.

“It’s actually super sinfully simple, so to speak. Some stuff susses itself out solidly, shining sincerely, searing away sounds and sights of shadows and suspicions. Sometimes it just shuts shit sideways and soliloquies set themselves up for success or sordid cicumstances.” Max said casually.

“Twenty-gosh-darn-four.”I breathed.

Celestia rubbed her temples. “Even the biggest businesses in Equestria have to hire entire marketing teams to come up with a sensible string of sixalliterative word chains…”

“Call it crazy or call it convenient.” Max said casually.

“Now you’re just showing off.” Celestia admonished mildly.

Max shrugged. “Well, between being abused and being praised, I’d rather just be nagged at.”

“Max!” I gasped.

Celestia gave him a stern look. “Such language is unbefitting of a stallion your age.”

Max rolled his eyes. “First off, how are you okay with ‘fuck’, but when nagging comes into the conversation it’s all bad? That’s like saying…” Max’s eyes grew glossy for a moment and we looked at each other.

“That’s like saying ‘corn’ is a bad word.” We said in perfect unison, the memory of Max, Celestia and I walking around Canterlot with what appeared to be a Changeling.

“... That was odd.” Celestia said slowly.

Max rapped his knuckles on the table. “Alright, so Magic exists here, right?”

“That’s fairly obvious. Did it not exist on your planet?” My teacher asked.

“Not at all, at least, not as far as I know. The thing about this world being Magic is that I don’t know how the fuck I got here, but Twilight has memories of me being here and I have memories of me being here. Anyone following me so far?”

I raised a hand and Max nodded toward me. “So you’re saying that you believe that the dreams are memories?”

“I’ve had a prophetic dream once and I’ll never forget it.” Max said grimly. “I also know what it’s like to have memories run rampant through your mind so viciously that it keeps you up for days on end, and I can tell the fucking difference. Besides, I haven't had a ‘dream’ since I was twelve. These are memories, and that tells me that we’re either stuck in some sort of time loop or you and me, as you me and you, Twilight, are the only ones who got sent back, which means that our memories were either tampered with or they were scattered while we were being shifted through the dimensions.”

Celestia nodded a few times, a pensive look on her face. “As relatively sensible as your hypothesis is, it is equally likely that there may be a higher power at play here.”

Max rolled his eyes. “If there is a God, he evidently doesn’t give a shit about me.”

The second Max finished speaking, I felt pure, unfiltered rage course through my veins like Max had just insulted and beaten up my entire family before taking all of their favorite things and selling them off as his own property. It wasn’t hatred per she that had me so upset, but the tears in my eyes told me that I was more hurt than anything else, which confused me because I wasn’t ‘God’, but hearing Max say that this ‘God’ didn’t care about him made me slap him before I could even think to stop myself. I don’t know how the table disintgrated, and I don't know how I got to my hooves because I don’t remember standing up, but I do know that not even a full heartbeat after I slapped Max, I had him by the lapels of his shirt and was glowering at him with fury unmatched.


“Take. It. Back.

Max blinked a few times and rubbed his face. “... Holy shite.I-I’m sorry.”

Celestia gripped my arm, having joined us quickly after getting over her shock. “Twilight, where did you learn a disintegration spell!?”

I could barely hear Celestia, but I do know that I sent her back to Canterlot with Magic that wasn’tmine. “That’s not what I said. I said take. It. Back. Notapologize.

Max took a shaky breath. “... I-I guess God loves me?”

I stared him down and his legs started failing him. “One. Last. Chance.

“I-I take it back! I technically said that!” Max said fearfully.

I let him go and he sank to his knees, shaking in front of me, not unlike how I tend to shake when an experiment is going horribly, horribly wrong. I bent down a little so I could look him in the eye and spoke without thinking, the words flowing from my mouth in a cadence that didn’t reflect me at all.“God loves all her creations, Maximus. She especially loves you, even if you aren’t one of hers. The sheer depth of Diliculum’s love and compassion for you rings through the Heavens and all throughout the Universal Collective above all else. The Cacophony of Youth is but a whisper to her love. The Aggrieved have a mighty voice born from pain, but her love for you abolished them. Six hundred and sixty-three Creators, beings who create universes and conceptualize realities as a pastime, struck out at Diliculum.”

Max just stared at me, speechless.

“Do you know why?”

“Her love for me?” He whispered numbly.

I gently grabbed his chin and made him nod once. “Diliculum, one woman, stood against her equal six hundred and sixty-threefold as a result of what she did for you. She sacrificed her best friend to gain power. She sacrificed her Aetera to become Fate. She sacrificed her Soul to take from you one last time. She sacrificed her Anima to Nonexistence, a fate worse than any other, to send you back in time. The only thing Diliculum kept was her heart. Because you were already inside, Kaid. The largest piece of yourself that you ever gave to her was your heart, and she traded you happily, only to find that she would lose all but that one beautiful thing.”

“... Are You Diliculum?” Max asked softly, afraid of the answer.

“I don’t know.” I replied. “However, it doesn’t matter. It well and truly doesn’t.”

He swallowed hard as I placed my hands on his cheeks, not saying a word.

I softened my tone and said, “This is your chance for peace, Max. It’s all you ever wanted. Take hold and never let go of it, because there’s no cheese in the Moon and no gold in the Sun.”

“... I’m gonna have to ask if my life is in danger right now.”

“It’s not.”

“Alright, good start. Second question: What do you mean by stating obvious stuff?”

I gazed at Max with the full, torrential force of ‘God’s’ love pouring through me, my words still not my own. “Simple people say that the Moon is made of cheese. It’s not worth the trouble to find out. Simple people lust for the gold in the Sun. Greed will take you and rend your morals from you.”

“... Still lost here.”

I kissed his forehead, letting my lips linger for just a moment longer than I probably should have before pulling away. “Rarity’s expecting you at her boutique. You’ll be staying with her for the rest of the week.”

“Can’t feel my legs, Twilight.”

“It happens sometimes.” I slid my hands from his cheeks to his shoulders, down his arms, then to his hands to I could grab them and get him to his feet.

“Right… So… I’m just gonna like, skedaddly-doo.” Max jerked a thumb behind him and carefully avoided sprinting away from me like I figured he probably wanted to.

Once he was out of Golden Oaks, I felt the foggy flush of power leave me, and I started to feel a little dizzy. My short-term memory at that point was shot pretty hard, so I had no idea why my kitchen table was a pile of dust, why Max hadn’t come back from his walk, or where in the heckity Spike was. A lot of things were leaving me as more things were hitting me, and when a logically minded, fluster-prone scientist such as myself has their brain scrambled, the best idea is for them to grab a glass of wine and sleep, which is exactly what I did. I probably drank the wine a little too fast or had a little too much because getting to my room was pretty blurry too.

… I don’t how to end this chapter. I feel like it’s plenty long already, but I’m not, like, an authoror anything, so I’ve never really had to finish something… I guess I could always go with Plan A.

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

In conclusion, from the day I met Max, life started getting oddly violent and more than a little snippy. I didn’t understand why I was falling for him so hard, but there was a certain charm to his devil-may-care attitude that attracted me initially, but what kept me interested had to be the compassion and tenderness he could show when he thought it was necessary. Time would tell what my friends thought of him, but Spike really liked him, Applejack was already leaning towards a positive view, Rarity had a little respect for him, Fluttershy was all for a stallion that treated me well and made me laugh, Rainbow thought he was alright but shady, and Pinkie just smiled whenever I asked her about what I thought of Max.

Max’s supposition, or rather, his hypothesis about the truth of the ‘dreams’ struck me as the most likely possibility once I was able to actually remember the conversation, but the most worrying thing was the sudden influx of raw Mana that made me nearly implode when it came to me. I don’t know what my connection to Diliculum might be as of yet, but there’s always time to search for answers, especially if Max is supposed to be living in peace for the time being. I thought that I would just have to stay close to him to avoid any trouble, although it seemed a little cowardly to do so. Many ponies would consider it the wise move.

At that point, I needed more data: plain and simple. I also needed to secure Max so some sloozy mare wouldn’t put a ring on his finger before I figured out if he really was the one for me. Also also, I needed to upgrade my wardrobe. It was actually kind of sad that I couldn’t find anything worthy of catching a single stallion’s eye, but then again, it’s not like I wanted to dress like Rarity did on occasion, but now I’m rambling and I just implied that one of my best friends advertises for more than just her business…

Okay, it’s time to stop… Why do I feel so filthy all of a sudden? It’s frankly disturbing, however, I kind of want to see if the detachable shower-head can help me get the syrup off of my clothes…

... Yeah, it should probably be a cold shower...

Author's Note:

Twilight has her own story to tell :twilightsheepish:

As Always,Stay Cool, Kids

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