• Published 12th Mar 2019
  • 683 Views, 62 Comments

Return the Night, or no Deposit - totallynotabrony



Detective Fit is stuck on a case involving a spree of anti-lunar graffiti. There are no clues, and Fit is getting desperate. Desperate enough to call the craziest consultant he knows.

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Chapter 5

In the morning, Fit opened his eyes. In the mirror, he could see Tree Hugger doing her daily routine on a mat opposite the bed. She had a slow, quiet grace that he’d never seen anypony else match. Not even when she balanced on just a single foreleg. Somehow. Fit had the muscle to do it, but not the balance.

She saw him looking and paused, smiling. She came down from her position and walked over to the bed, beginning a a gentle backrub. Fit made a small noise, just to let her know he appreciated it. He felt like he needed it, too, after the workout he’d given himself the previous day. He’d been trying to distract himself from the case.

It was perhaps the first time Fit had ever been reluctant to go to work, even in the doldrums of the previously-dead end case. He didn’t want to find out what Mirror had accomplished overnight this time. It was sure to only have led to more headaches and confusion.

Well, that, and the fact that Tree Hugger’s hooves were like magic. He really loved this girl.

She leaned over and kissed him good morning. “You were super tense, even asleep.”

It didn’t surprise Fit. He couldn’t keep making excuses for Mirror. He was going to have to demand answers from her before somepony started demanding them from him.

That reminded him that he actually needed to accomplish a few things today. He rolled over.

“I’ll lay out your suit for the ball,” Tree Hugger said.

“Oh right, that’s tonight.” Fit remembered the envelope on the kitchen table that contained tickets to the Cop Cavalcade, the annual police ball.

He kissed her again, and got out of bed.

When he arrived at the office, Mirror was already there. Haven wasn’t, which was perfect for Fit. He motioned to Mirror and they went into the interrogation room.

“I recommend you drop charges on both Slider and Tome,” she said, before he could speak.

Fit blinked. “Why?”

“Neither one of them could probably be convicted with the evidence we have. Plus, putting them back on the streets will freak out the ones they’re working for, sending a message and shaking them up just like the article I fed that journalist.”

Fit shook his head. “Are you trying to make this more convoluted? Are you doing it on purpose?”

“Yes.”

He sighed and just looked at her.

“You trust me, right?” she said.

Fit hesitated. “Yes, but it’s a two way street.”

Mirror nodded. “Fair enough. I do owe you an explanation.”

She lowered her voice, despite them being in a soundproofed room. “The EUP is behind this.”

“The Earth, Unicorn, and Pegasus Guard of the Protective Pony Platoons,” said Fit flatly.

Anypony who had been a member of the Guard knew it had originally been formed as the EUP to protect Princess Celestia and keep the peace shortly after she had banished her sister to the moon. Over the next thousand years, it had gradually grown into the Solar Guard, with the Lunar Guard being a relatively recent creation since Princess Luna’s return. The old EUP moniker had been regulated to an auxiliary organization centered around and serving Guard veterans and retirees.

“The EUP,” Fit went on incredulously, “the ponies who run the hospitals and taverns for former Guards.”

“So you can see why I’m doing this,” said Mirror. “Nopony is going to believe me and it’ll take time to put together enough evidence to prove it.”

“But - the EUP?” Fit said. “The most nefarious thing they’ve ever done is take a whole two weeks to get me a doctor appointment. It seems unlikely.”

Mirror held out her hoof. “Case in point. Okay, I’ll acknowledge that it probably isn’t the whole group, but some evil faction within it working for nefarious purposes to return to the old ways - bringing glory to Princess Celestia and diminishing Princess Luna.”

“Like a cult.”

Mirror grinned, fangs poking past her lips. “Now you’re catching on.”

Fit gestured vaguely to the bruise on Mirror’s face. “So, you went to all this trouble, even punching yourself in the face?”

Mirror kept smiling but said nothing. Fit realized the police report on Tome’s assault charge listed her as the victim, though Mirror herself had never explicitly stated that. What she didn’t say couldn’t be used against her.

Fit stared at the table. Mirror was not infallible. More than once he had followed her astray. But Fit realized he’d do it again. This was crazy. This was skirting the fringe of legality if it hadn’t already passed that line. The case was even more opaque than before. But he did trust her.

The two of them left the room. Mirror pulled out her roll of lamp wick. “I can’t smoke in here, can I?”

There weren’t any specific rules about it. Nopony Fit recalled had ever wanted to. But he said, “Probably not.”

She nodded and went out. Bulldog glared after her and swung around to look at Fit. “Is she some kind of junkie?”

A drug problem would explain a lot about Mirror, but just like everything else about her, the simplest answer was probably not correct.

Fit replied, “She’d be calmer if she was.”

Haven came in a few minutes later. Fit debated what he should tell her, and eventually just repeated what Mirror had told him.

“Seriously?” Haven said, voice just as incredulous as Fit had been. “Drop charges and start looking into some veterans’ organization?”

“That’s what she told me,” he said.

“Do you believe it?”

Fit sighed. “I believe in her. And you have to admit, she’s produced at least a few results since arriving.”

“Results that we can’t use to get our bosses off our backs because she wants to let them go!”

“Maybe we can pitch it as a covert surveillance opportunity.”

Haven considered it. “Maybe. But we’d have to be careful.”

She bumped his shoulder with her hoof. “Take off that salmon polo shirt and you’d be unrecognizable.”

“Maybe,” Fit agreed.

He did just that, and Haven borrowed a long dress from the evidence locker. They both also requisitioned hats Then, they asked Bulldog to release the two ponies in holding. He wasn’t pleased, but Mirror was nowhere to be found, so he did them the favor.

Fit and Haven were waiting, covertly, when Slider and Dusty Tome were dumped on the street. The two of them traded uneasy glances and then walked off in opposite directions.

“Which one do you think?” Haven said.

“Dusty Tome,” Fit decided. “I think she knows more than she said.”

They followed at a distance. Tome was either not aware that she was being followed, or very casual about it. She apparently didn’t care much for jail food, either, and stopped at a café.

It was lunch time, so Fit and Haven decided to stop as well. It would be a little bit of a gamble, but the restaurant was crowded and they were able to find a table in the back, well away from Tome.

“I wonder if we’ll turn up anything,” said Haven. She made a face. “This salad is terrible.”

“All salad is terrible,” Fit said.

“You eat it every day.”

“Because it’s good for me.”

“Is Cracked Mirror good for you?”

“I think we can agree that she’s good for the case.”

“That wasn’t what I asked.”

Fit paused, considering his words. “She was the best and the worst boss I ever had. I don’t want to be like her, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a lesson or two.” He frowned. “If her lessons weren’t so obtuse.”

“I can’t imagine working with her on a daily basis for years.”

Fit actually smiled, unexpected reminisces coming to him. “Best and worst years of my life.”

They crammed their lunch down in time to follow Tome back out of the café. She turned for downtown and spread her wings. Haven followed her aloft while Fit quickly summoned a cab. It would be less suspicious than him running.

They were able to keep up, because Tome still hadn’t noticed them. However, as they traced her route, Fit began to get a feeling about where she might be headed.

His suspicions were confirmed when she landed in front of the EUP hospital downtown and went inside.

The hospital wasn’t in a bad part of town, though it was surrounded by businesses and had a slightly industrial feel. A heavy, circular stone hung above the front door was inscribed with the combined crest of the guard. It wasn’t the greatest hospital, government-run efficiency after all, but it was better than nothing. Fit had been there often enough for regular checkups. It also helped him test his willpower to remain healthy, as there was a craft maple syrup distillery next door.

Haven landed on the sidewalk beside him. So did Mirror.

“How long have you been following us?” Fit asked.

“Since you left the station,” Mirror said. “And while I’m proud of you for eating your vegetables, Haven was right: that salad was terrible.”

“I didn’t see you at the restaurant,” sputtered Haven.

Mirror abruptly changed the subject, pushing forward through the hospital doors. “Let’s go see where Tome is headed.”

Fit and Haven followed behind. Haven asked in a low voice, only meant for Fit, “You don’t think she has us bugged somehow, do you?”

“Not that I know of,” Fit said, suddenly troubled that Mirror might. “More likely, she just took off her tail band.”

“Wait, you worked with her for how long and you don’t know what she actually looks like without the bat pony glamour?”

“No, I don’t.”

Haven stared at him incredulously and then shook her head.

They caught up with Mirror, who was consulting a directory near the front desk. Tome had apparently managed to slip away.

“I wonder if she’s associated with somepony who works here or something,” Mirror speculated. She shrugged. “I’m sure we’ll find the connection eventually. There’s still a lot of room for good police work.”

“Is that what you want us to do when you’re done doing whatever it is you do?” said Haven.

“Yep. I just take the shortcuts so the straightaways are easier. Now that we know about Tome, we can figure out where she fits in.”

“How did you find her, anyway?” Haven asked.

“I met up with Mare Do Well last night and after trading some information we put our heads together and figured it out,” Mirror said.

“Mare-” Haven began. She shook her head. “That’s a fictional character Princess Twilight and her friends made up! Everypony has read their friendship journal!”

Mirror tipped her head. “Well, I met up with her last night.”

Haven looked at Fit. He gave her a bewildered shrug.

“Anyway,” said Mirror, “I need to get going. If you need to contact me, I’m in room 101 at the Midnight Motel on Tallpine Street.” She walked away.

Haven stared after the departing Mirror and shook her head. “Unbelievable.”

“She was right about the EUP connection,” Fit pointed out.

“That doesn’t mean I believe we have Princess Twilight or somepony running around Manehattan in a costume.”

“It is hard to believe,” Fit conceded. “Then again, if it’s actually real, it wouldn’t the tallest tale turning out to be true that she ever told me.”

Haven glanced at him, looked like she wanted to say something, but then shook her head and turned away.