• Published 10th Apr 2020
  • 2,697 Views, 298 Comments

Hearts Beat - mushroompone



A chance encounter at a rave leads to Twilight making an unlikely friend

  • ...
11
 298
 2,697

Bath

Rainbow and I stumbled home together late enough to be considered early.

Well. Rainbow stumbled.

And not back to her home.

"I jus' dunno if I can make it, Twi," she said, her eyelids fighting to open, but never making it more than halfway. "I heard a rumor once th-- that pegasi?"

She took a long pause, and sort of half-collapsed onto my side.

"Uh-huh? Pegasi?" I prompted, giving her a hearty shove with my shoulder.

"Right, right." Rainbow nodded along. She plastered what I'm sure she thought was a very serious expression on her face. "Pegasi. I heard that pegasi-- that their magic, right? It gets… bad. With alcohol."

"Does it now?" I gave Rainbow another push down the dirt road.

Strange how we had traded jobs; now it was I gently prodding Rainbow Dash in the right direction while she tripped over her own hooves.

"It does, it does!" Rainbow insisted. "I swear! And if-- i-if it's bad enough? They can fall through the clouds and splat!" She pounded the ground with her front hooves, as if crushing a bug. "Just like that. Dead on the ground. Isn't that crazy?"

I chuckled. "You have no idea," I murmured. "No need to worry, Dashie-- you're sleeping over tonight."

Rainbow stopped walking to grin at me. It was a warm and heartfelt thing, even with the glassiness in her eyes. "Aw, really?” She fluttered her wings excitedly. “Yay!"

I giggled, and Rainbow Dash giggled along, though she likely had absolutely no idea why. Even in her stupor, she was giddy over the thought of a sleepover. You had to admit: it was pretty sweet.

It occurred to me that, perhaps, Rainbow could only be this giddy absolutely smashed.

I was alright with that.

Rainbow slammed back against my side and began to plod forward once again, wing wrapped tightly around my barrel.

"So. Was I right?" she asked.

I sighed and rolled my eyes, though my smile didn’t fade. "Right about what, Dashie?"

"Didja have fun?"

She looked up at me, a dopey smile on her face, her feelings of superiority--though inaccurate--obvious from her half-lidded eyes. As she waited for an answer, they began to fall closed even further.

I relented and forced a smile back at her. "Sure, Dashie. I had fun," I muttered sarcastically.

"Really?!" Rainbow beamed, having evidently missed the sarcasm entirely. She reared up on her back hooves and tackled me with an enormous bearhug. "Aw, egghead! That's so great!"

Despite the momentum she had going for her, Rainbow weighed next to nothing, and I hardly stumbled.

I gave her a weak pat on the back. "Yeah, yeah."

Rainbow's body seemed to be growing weaker and weaker the longer our embrace dragged on, until her back legs finally gave out under her own weight. Acting quickly, I dipped low and managed to half-toss, half-slide Rainbow onto my back. Once again, all those hollow pegasus bones saved me from real damage.

She talked a big game, but Rainbow was essentially a wound-up parakeet.

It was only a few more yards to the castle, and I managed to lumber along with her on my back all the way up the front steps.

A little, flickering part of me was happy that Rainbow hadn't seen me and the mystery mare. I guess because it would have made it less special. That little encounter was like something out of an adventure novel; a chance encounter with a wise stranger in a tavern, or something like that. It was all kind of exciting! I, Twilight Sparkle, had met somepony in a club! Somepony I never would have met otherwise, who was different, and a little crazy, and…

What she had said about music. About knowing the math and the science, but always pushing. Always experimenting. Always reaching for the cutting edge, the new horizon, fueled by passion and courage. I couldn't help but think about my own early classes in magic and sorcery.

I suppose, to a unicorn whose special talent was in music, music really was magic.

The thought brought a little smile to my face, though I couldn’t truly place why.

The door to my new castle opened slowly but loudly, the groaning of its hinges echoing through the empty foyer. Rainbow Dash kicked weakly with one leg and made a little grunt.

I chuckled to myself. I had been sure to keep tabs on her drinking, though I'd never tell her. Rainbow had had a single hard cider. All this tiredness and tipsy weirdness was either purely from dancing, or simply an act to get her carried home. She was like a sleepy foal after a big day at the fair.

My hoofsteps were magnified on the crystal floors. I did my best to step carefully, quietly. My wings were shuddering from the effort of keeping Rainbow Dash from slipping off my back and into a concussion.

Rainbow needed a little magical boost from behind to make it up the stairs. She giggled a little at the touch.

At long last, I made it to my study room. It was a hidden room, far away from where even wandering guests might be able to find it. The room was practically wall-to-wall plushness; cushions, pillows, bean bag chairs, stuffed animals, and even bits and bobs of my own experimental cloud floating about.

Rainbow all but belly-flopped off my back into her new nest.

"Rainbow?"

"Mmuh," she replied, face-down in a wadded-up blanket.

"I'm gonna take a bath, okay? I smell like…" I paused and sniffed under my foreleg. "Eugh. I don't even know. B.O. and wine spritzers?"

Rainbow made a sound that may have been a chuckle (though it was hard to tell), followed by a long, happy sigh.

Satisfied, I trotted across the hall to the bathroom. I paused a moment, about to shut the door, but decided I would leave it open to keep an eye on Rainbow. She probably wouldn’t need it, but… just in case.

With a sparkle of magic, a twist of the knob, and a little light rumbling in the pipes, hot water rushed forth in a cloud of steam.

As I stood beside the tub, my hoof hanging in the stream of hot water, the mystery mare’s face swirled through my mind. There was just something so itchingly familiar about her! I knew her… somehow. I was almost certain of it.

I had never spoken to her before, that’s for sure. I'm not sure exactly why I felt so certain about that. She had a unique voice, I suppose. I would have remembered it.

Where would I have seen a pony and not spoken to them?

I ran through a few major events in my head. The Grand Galloping Gala, maybe? Shook a lot of hooves there. A lot of hooves. Was hers among them, perhaps?

No, no, that couldn't be it. I would have remembered her outfit! Surely a pony like her would have worn something very sharp and memorable. Something not-quite-a-suit, not-quite-a-dress, just barely formal enough to be allowed by dress code, and yet also outdressing everypony else there. Yes, that seemed like her style.

Oh, who was I kidding? She probably wouldn't wear a stitch of clothing to something like that. Just showed up, right off the street, ready to party with the best of them.

That seemed right.

The kind of confidence she had… walking right up to a princess in a public space. The thought of speaking even to Princess Luna without a proper ‘hello’ was terrifying to me.

I turned the water off with moments to spare and used my magic to let a little extra out of the tub.

Maybe she was at the young fliers thing? That was still pre-royalty for me. I wasn't so focused on public image, or social awareness, or… well. I wasn't so focused. Let's leave it at that.

No, of course not! She's a unicorn, dummy. There wasn't exactly space for unicorns at an event like that.

I lowered myself down into the bath. I hadn't always been a ‘bath mare’. That was probably because I’d never really had a bathtub past foalhood that could fit me. Although, to be fair, I don’t think I would have dared make time for a bath as Celestia’s student, even if one had been right there in the library. Something something efficiency, something something scheduling...

But I was cool now. Interesting. Adventurous. I'd been to a rave!

Gosh, what else had I done?

My mystery mare couldn't have been the coronation, that was friends and family only. A lot of them, to be fair. But… not that one. I would have noticed her. I'm sure I would have.

I took a deep breath and slid even lower into the bathwater. My snout dipped under the surface and the water warmed my whole face, like a powerful blush. I breathed out. The surface of the water foamed up with little bubbles. So cute, like little flowers blooming from the side of a--

That's it!

I gasped lightly, still underwater, and immediately began coughing up bathwater.

My hooves pedaled wildly in the air, grasping at the smooth porcelain in an effort to haul myself out of the water.

Even over my frantic splashing, I could hear an equally frenzied scrambling from my study room, and Rainbow Dash shot across the hall with all the grace of a newborn deer.

"Twilight, are you okay?!" She skidded to a halt before smashing into the tub.

She dove her front hooves into the water and hauled me into an upright position.

I continued spluttering, unable to express my gratitude.

"Oh, gosh, I'm sorry!" Rainbow scuttled backward and shielded her eyes with her wings, peeking out just far enough to watch me cough up the last of the water I'd inhaled.

"Cadance's wedding!" I shouted.

"Excuse me?" Rainbow said, still cowering behind her wings.

I rolled my eyes. "Just put your wings down, Rainbow. You've seen me take a bath before."

Rainbow did as she was told, though still politely averted her eyes by looking up at the ceiling. She seemed a lot more lucid than just a few minutes earlier.

A strange silence filled the room. Only the lingering echoes of distrubed bathwater could be heard.

I looked up at Rainbow. "What happened to you? I thought you were drunk."

"I thought you were drowning!" Rainbow retorted. "It's… it's adrenaline! Very sobering!"

I almost laughed, but ended up coughing more.

"Twilight?!"

I waved my hoof dismissively, still coughing. "The wedding!"

"Uh. Wh-what about the wedding?"

"Do you remember the song we did? Love is in Bloom?" I asked.

Rainbow shrugged. "Like… barely. I feel like we sing at least a song a week "

"Do you remember the DJ who played it for us?" I continued. "White coat? Big, spikey, super-blue mane? Shades?"

Rainbow scoffed. "Come on, Twi. That was, like, a million years ago!"

"That was three years ago!"

"That's easily a million Rainbow years!" Rainbow argued. Weirdly enough, I knew exactly what she meant. "Just get to the point."

"I met her! At the club!"

Rainbow cocked her head. "The DJ?” Her eyes narrowed. “And… you only just realized?"

I nodded and smiled, proud of my work. Not too shabby, Twi!

Rainbow chuckled. “Uh… cool.”

"Ohmigosh, I have to call her!" I stood quite suddenly, almost forgetting that I was in a bath. No, definitely forgetting I was in a bath.

The sound alone from the resulting torrent of water washing through the bathroom could have woken the dead.

"Are you serious, Twi?!" Rainbow jumped back and skittered into the hallway. "Didn't you just get in there?"

"Oh, pfft." I waved my hoof in Rainbow's face. "I was in there long enough. I'm fresh as a daisy!"

"And you got out because…?"

"I have to call her!"

"Call who Twilight?" Rainbow asked. She sounded outright exhausted, which struck me as being rather rude. "The DJ?"

"Tsk, no!" I shook my head. "Cadance! I'm sure she'll find it all very funny. Now stand back, lemme shake."

Rainbow steeled herself. "No way you're gonna shake dry in your own--"

"Here goes!"

I pushed off the ground with both front hooves and landed with a loud, powerful thud. From this new stance I shook my whole body off, head to tail, paying extra attention to my wings.

Rainbow Dash stretched her wings around her face in a vain attempt to shield herself. Her tactic failed miserably.

We stood there for a second, the both of us now soaked with about the same amount of water.

I chuckled. "Sorry."

"Twi, it's 5:30 AM," Rainbow reminded me.

"And?"

She rolled her eyes. Her whole head, actually. "And I don't think it matters how funny you think it is. Nothing is funny over the phone at 5:30 AM."

I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Rainbow, it may be 5:30 here, but in the Crystal Empire it's already 8:30!" I tapped her nose with my hoof. "Timezones!"

Rainbow clenched her teeth. "That's still too early."

I shrugged. "Not when you're a princess! I don't think Cadance has ever slept past 7. Now, scoot."

Rainbow stood stock still a moment longer, but quickly gave up and stepped to the side. One thing she had definitely improved in lately was knowing when to admit defeat. Of course, saying as much to her would probably shatter her fragile ego, and so I kept the compliment to myself.

I had barely made it to the end of the hall when Rainbow trotted up next to me.

"So, wait-- when you say 'meet', you mean… what, exactly?" She asked.

"Oh, you know. We talked for a while. She gave me some ear plugs," I said, turning to my left and heading down a new hallway.

Rainbow paused at the branching hallway, then suddenly does back to my side, chuckling all the way. "I'm sorry, Twi, it sounded like you said she gave you ear plugs!” She gave me a clap on the shoulder. “But that's crazy, right? Nopony would give out ear plugs in a club."

I rolled my eyes. "Look, Rainbow: not everypony likes blowing out their ear drums for music."

Rainbow stuck her hoof in her ear and rooted around a bit, as if for a piece of cotton. "Huh? What's that? I can't hear you, I blew out my ear drums for music."

I came to a stop in front of the telecrystal’s door. "Very funny."

Rainbow chuckled.

I turned back to the door and pushed it open. It was fairly standard as far as these things usually go; a mid-sized room with a structure akin to a birdbath at the center. In front of the bath was a wide seat, about big enough for three ponies sitting side-by-side. Maybe not as sleek as the royal communication rooms, but I was lucky to have something so new. The Golden Oaks library never could have been outfitted with something like this.

"Oh, I've gotta see this." Rainbow galloped into the room and leapt up onto the seat.

I climbed up next to her. "Cadance and I call each other all the time!"

"Do you really, though?" Rainbow asked, smirking. "Do you really?"

"Why are you acting so weird about this?" I asked.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Twilight. You met some mare at a club and now you're just dying to fill in the princess of love?" She leaned her cheek on her hooves, doing her best to look love-struck. "This is totally one of those missed-connection things."

"Oh, give me some credit." I poked Rainbow's shoulder. "I wouldn't let a connection miss me. This is just something fun for sister-in-laws to share!"

"Yeah, but--"

"Shush, I need to concentrate."

Rainbow grumbled a bit, but fell silent.

I dipped one hoof into the pool of water, then shook it dry. Disturbed water makes a better connection, or so they say.

For a unicorn, making a call was as easy as holding a pony's face or cutie mark in your mind and using your magic to illuminate the water. If the pony you were trying to contact had a crystal pool, the light would turn green, and they would (hopefully) be speaking with you shortly. If not, the light would turn red and fade.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on Cadance. Her face was so familiar, always a part of my life, always there, always--

No, no. Cadence had a pink coat.

Refocus, Twi.

Yes, Princess Cadance. That cotton-candy coat, her luxurious curls with the electric blue streaks--

No. Purple. Purple and yellow. Come on, Twilight!

And her cutie mark! Could never forget that powder blue heart, surrounded by musical notes! I mean, ribbons!

"Uh, Twi?" Rainbow tapped my shoulder. "I think you may have made a mistake."

I opened my eyes. The water was glowing red.

"Oh, shoot." I let the light from my horn die out. "Let me try again."

Princess Cadance

Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.

Pink coat, curly mane, princess of love. My sister-in-law. Not a DJ from a club.

Like a gear falling into place, the magical connection was forged, and the light from the pool turned green.

Rainbow held her tongue as we waited patiently for Cadance to pick up. After only a moment, we heard the sound of a door opening.

"Twilight, is that you?" The voice was far-away and tinny, but unmistakably hers. The light from the water pulsed with her voice.

"Cadance!" I shouted. "Hi!"

Cadance laughed. "Hi, Twilight! How are you? Isn't it really early in Ponyville?"

"Well, Rainbow Dash and I just got back from a night out," I said, giving Rainbow Dash a nudge.

Rainbow heaved an enormous sigh. "Hi, Cadance," she said, doing an excellent impression of a foal greeting their grandmother.

"Oh! Hi, Rainbow!" Cadance giggled.

"And the craziest thing happened!" I said.

Cadance laughed again. "You going out at all is crazy enough, isn't it, Twi?"

Rainbow laughed, too.

"Hey!" I whined. "Actually, I met somepony you may remember!"

"Did you?"

"Yes! The DJ from your wedding! Remember? White unicorn mare, spiky blue mane, shades?" I mimicked the shape of the mare's mane, despite Cadance not being able to see me. "Remember?"

There was a long silence. "Uh… sure! Kind of."

My wings dropped in disappointment. "You don't remember her?"

Cadance chuckled awkwardly. "You know, there was kind of a lot going on that day… at that point, I was lucky to be above ground!"

I chuckled sheepishly. "Oh. Right."

"You know what? I actually think Shining Armor was the one who picked her. Hang on." There was some shuffling on the other end. "Honey! Your sister's on the telecrystal!"

In the distance, I could hear Shining Armor's voice. His hoofsteps rushed toward the pool.

"Twily!"

"Hey, Shiny!"

Rainbow slid a little further down into the seat, evidently doubly bored by the addition of my brother.

"Hon, do you remember the DJ from our wedding?" Cadance said this a little lower, directly to her husband. "Twilight says she ran into her at a bar. Do you remember--"

"Oh, my gosh, yeah!" Shining Armor laughed. "Vinyl Spin! No, no-- Vinyl Scratch! That's it. Yeah, she's, like, a friend of a friend. Knows somepony in the royal guard. You really met her at a club?"

"Yes!"

"That's so crazy!"

"I know!" I nudged Rainbow again, a little harder this time.

Rainbow scoffed. "Your family's weird."

"I kinda can't believe you haven't run into her before," Shining continued. "She lives in Ponyville, you know."

I blinked. "O-oh?"

Rainbow, interest renewed, leaned forward slightly, trying to get a good look at my face. I turned away as subtly as I could.

"Yeah! That was why my buddy in the guard mentioned her in the first place. I'd been talking about your move into Golden Oaks," Shining explained. "You know, I bet I still have her mailing address in my-- hang on, just a sec."

"Oh, no! That's okay!" I protested.

Rainbow buried her face in her hooves.

"No trouble! Should be right here in my…" Shining sustained the word over the sound of rapidly flipping paper. "Ah-ha! My trusty rolodex."

"Oh, my gosh, you guys are clones," Rainbow moaned.

Cadance laughed. "He's very proud of his rolodex. Aren't you, honey?"

"Looks like she lives at 412 Pine Avenue in Ponyville," Shining said, ignoring his wife's patronizing remarks. "Gosh, that is so crazy, Twilight! I'm so glad you called!"

"Me too!" Cadance agreed.

I grinned. "Aw, you guys are the best! I'll see you next weekend for family dinner, right?"

"Of course!" They said in unison.

Rainbow slid down in her seat and rolled her head back in exasperation. "All three of you are clones!"

"Love you, Twily!" Shining said.

"Love you, too! So long!"

I dimmed my horn, and the call ended. One thing I hated about the telecrystal was how odd the room felt when a call had ended, as if your friend had vanished into thin air. The room yawned wide. I suddenly felt very exposed.

Rainbow looked over at me.

I ignored her.

She wiggled one eyebrow slightly.

I continued to ignore her.

"So," she said.

"So?" I repeated. "Embarrassed you were wrong? See, Rainbow, some families like sharing little things like that."

"So you have her name and address now," Rainbow said. She smirked. "Planning on… doing anything with that information?"

I scoffed, stuttered a bit, and finally said "no! No, of course not.” I bit down on my lip. “It's just… interesting. That's all."

"Uh-huh." Rainbow crossed her forelegs over her chest, clearly not convinced.

"Although…" I tapped my chin with one hoof. "Well, as the Princess of Friendship, I would be remiss if I didn't at least thank her for a nice night."

Rainbow snorted. "Did you not thank her while you were there? Damn, Twi, your social skills are worse than I thought."

"That's-- that's not--" I sighed. "That is a mischaracterization of the night. Our conversation was incredibly casual, and I thanked her with compliments and company."

"But not, say, the word 'thanks,?"

"Oh, shut up."