• Published 7th Nov 2019
  • 1,788 Views, 81 Comments

Who I Choose To Be - milesprower06

One of Equestria's youngest and most unpredictable villains faces an uncertain future. After Princess Twilight attempts an unprecedented treatment, things become even more uncertain.

  • ...

The Survivor

Princess Twilight trotted down the Manehattan neighborhood as the noon sun shined overhead. Not even Canterlot got this bustling except for the biggest holidays. She had left her royal chariot at the corner of Avenue A where it wouldn't be as in the way, or as noticeable. She still got a few looks of from ponies who recognized the Princess of Friendship; Celestia told her to cherish these last few months before the growth spurt would really set in and there'd be absolutely no blending into a crowd.

She double checked the address in her file folder, and headed up the brick stairs of the third to last complex, and through the front door. After trotting up two flights of stairs, she found the door for apartment C4, and knocked. She heard muffled hoofsteps on the other side come up to the door, and there was a pause, and she assumed he was looking through the peephole to see who his unexpected guest was.

The chain lock was released, the knob turned, and the door opened to reveal Stratus, Cozy Glow's father, whom she last saw flying away from the Canterlot Castle hedge maze after turning his back on the statue more than a month ago.

"Princess Twilight Sparkle. I can only imagine what this is about." The navy blue pegasus greeted, standing in his doorway.

"Stratus, I wanted to give you an update on Cozy, and see if I could get some help."

"Update away, but I believe my answer was quite clear last time." Stratus answered.

"Well, your 'fire an ethically questionable mind-altering spell' idea is the one we ended up going with. It's been a struggle. But we've given her empathy and a conscience, and are trying our best to help her adapt to it and confront her past." Twilight explained.

"Good luck. I guess if it doesn't work out you can turn her back to stone and take my hammer and chisel idea too."

Twilight took a breath, drawing on her practiced ability of standing on ceremony and keeping herself composed.

"Stratus... We're trying to heal your daughter, how can you be so heartless?" She asked.

"Are you judging me, Princess?" He asked, his gaze narrowing at the alicorn. "How dare you. I don't care what magic you fired at her brain. I don't care what she's like now, and I certainly don't care how sorry she is. It won't bring either of them back. All I remember is what she was like; ten years of me and the love of my life trying and failing to raise that hellspawn properly. And because of her, all of our efforts, and my entire life, literally, went up in flames."

"Fine, you don't care. That's your choice." Twilight began, straining to keep her emotions in check. "But regardless of how you feel, she has been really, really struggling with what she did, and she deserves closure just as much as you do, sir."

"Like hell she does. But fine, I'll humor you if it'll get you off of my door mat. One moment."

Stratus stepped back into his apartment, leaving the door open as he disappeared around the corner into the den. Twilight heard some light clinking of glass, but couldn't make out much else. After a few moments, Stratus came back around the corner with a small bundle of cloth.

"She'll get the same closure I got," the pegasus said, tossing the bundle to the alicorn, who caught it with her magic. "Now keep that murdering bitch away from me and off my property."

With that, he slammed the door, leaving Twilight on the front step, and she looked down at the cloth. As she turned to head back down the stairs to the exit, she carefully lifted away the folds, and and what she saw contained within caused her throat to tighten in anger and frustration.

By the time Twilight had returned to Canterlot and entered her old study tower that had been inhabited by Cozy and Doctor Graymare, evening had fallen over the capital, and Graymare had just served dinner. He saw her come down the stairs as he was setting Cozy's plate in front of her as she sat at the table with her journal.

"Ah, Princess. Good to see you. There's more on the stove if you'd like some."

"No, I'm good, thank you," Twilight began, politely declining. "Can I talk to you upstairs?" She asked.

"Sure. Be right back, Cozy." Graymare told the pegasus, before heading upstairs into the library with the princess.

"So, how did things go in Manehattan?" He asked once they were in the library.

"Honestly, about eight hours wasted. Stratus... Has become rather bitter in the aftermath of what's happened to his family. He has absolutely no interest in helping her, new magical mindset or not." Twilight reported.

"Princess, if I may. I'm not that surprised at Stratus' reaction. From what you've told me, up until just over a month ago, he assumed Cozy died in the fire with the rest of his family. Now you've shown him that she is alive, and very likely the cause of his wife's and son's demise. This news isn't two or three years old to him; it's fresh in his mind. I think we have to leave him to what he decides to make of his life, and focus on the filly downstairs who needs our help more than he does. When I said she needed something physical to confront, I was referring more along the lines of an object that may have survived, and not bitter survivors." Graymare replied. Twilight nodded in agreement.

"In that case, the trip wasn't a complete waste." She said, opening her saddlebags, and came out with the wrapped bundle of cloth, unfolding it and showing him the contents within. Graymare understood what it was within moments.

"Do you think she's ready for something like this?" Graymare asked, his voice lowering to just above a whisper.

"I think I'll let you be the judge of that, Doctor. You've spent much more time with her than I have." She replied, wrapping the cloth back up, and offered it to him.

"In that case, I think I've got something in mind. You can go talk with her while I prepare something up here." Graymare said, taking the cloth in his magic, and began getting to work on one of the nearby tables, leaving Twilight to go back down to the living quarters down on the lower level, where she saw Cozy poking at her food.

"Hey there, Cozy." Twilight greeted.

"He doesn't want anything to do with me, does he?" Cozy asked somberly as she stared down at her plate of vegetable stew.

"What are you talking about?" Twilight asked, trying to feign ignorance.

"I wasn't asleep in the library yesterday when you and Doctor Graymare were talking. I know you went to Manehattan to talk to my dad. I hardly expect him to forgive me, and honestly, you shouldn't waste your time trying to convince him otherwise."

"Cozy, I've taken what Graymare told me to heart. You are a new pony, and we—"

"But I'm not. Not in the whole sense. Princess, this conscience you've given me doesn't alleviate me from the responsibility or guilt for the things I've done. In some cases, it's amplified it." Cozy told her.

"Cozy, what happened to your family was your fault. It was. But if your dad can't or won't move on yet, you can't let that stop the progress you've made. Because you have made progress. The sins of your past might mark you forever to some ponies, but not to Doctor Graymare, not to others, and not to me. Alright?" Twilight asked.

Cozy managed a slight smile.

"Okay. Thank you, Princess." She answered.

"And one of those others is interested in seeing you. You're going to be taking a little road trip tomorrow, and I hope you enjoy yourself." Twilight told her as Doctor Graymare came down the stairs.

"Well, I've got to get going. We'll talk more when you get back tomorrow. You two have a nice evening."

With that, Twilight headed back towards the stairs, passing Graymare, who had a saddlebag on. After Twilight had exited the tower, he sat down with Cozy at the dining table as she finally started into her veggie stew.

"So, kiddo, I wanted to talk to you about your nightmare the other night. I think it's your mind telling you that it's something that you have to confront. But you have to be sure it's something you're ready to do. I need you to decide for yourself when you're really, truly ready for the next step."

Graymare lit his horn up, and pulled a small, polished, hinged oak box out of his saddlebag.

"There's something in this box that I'm not sure you're ready to see," he began, floating the box over to the back center of her desk, and set it gently down.

"I want you to keep writing, reading, dreaming, whatever you feel you need to, and when you think you're prepared to confront and face what you did to your family, I want you to open that box, and decide what to do with what's inside. Not before you're ready though, understood?"

Cozy swallowed her current bite of soup, and nodded.

"So where are we going tomorrow?"

"We're taking the train south. There's somecreature we think you need to see again, to get another point of view. So finish up, you'll need to get to bed early, our train leaves dark and early."

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