• Published 29th Nov 2020
  • 175 Views, 8 Comments

Mr. And Mrs. Cake's Crosstime Bakery - Coyote de La Mancha



An anthology of stories about spacetime, confections, alternate realities.... and, of course, ponies.

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2. The Guy with the Mouth.

Sugarcube Corner was unusually full for a Sunday night, thanks both to Princess Cadence being in town and to Princess Twilight having been treating her to dinner there just as the storm had started. One by one, ponies had found their way into the confectionary, the door ringing its merry bells with each new arrival. Some came to see the foreign princess, some came for the food. But as the evening went on, many of them stayed for shelter during the increasingly violent, unscheduled tempest that had caught Ponyville by surprise.

So, the little store was comfortably packed, with the Ponyville ponies chatting happily together, enjoying the cozy fireplace, hot cider, and warm food and confections. Spike the dragon was there as well, happily soaring among the wooden beams above on his new wings, occasionally perching like a pegasus and looking down at the assemblage with satisfaction.

The Cakes and Pinkie shared a few silent smiles as they bustled about. It was looking like a late night, but the good kind, and for all the right reasons. But while the rest of the bakery hustled and bustled merrily, Pinkie Pie often paused, looking out the bakery’s front window with trepidation. The rain continued to come down in sheets, encouraging the clientele to continue their stay. After a while, the Cakes exchanged a look, and Mrs. Cake quietly made her way towards her young friend.

Pinkie Pie ignored her, staring at the lightning crawling across the roiling sky, angry serpents of red, green, blue and gold.

“Pinkie, honey, what’s the matter?” Mrs. Cake asked at last.

The party pony studied her for a moment before responding.

“The storm,” She said. “It doesn’t feel right.”

Mrs. Cake frowned. “Well, now, I’ll admit it does feel a little off,” she acknowledged. “Can you be more specific?”

Pinkie Pie bit her lip, returning to the window. She’d been hoping that nothing would be a surprise to the Cakes. That would have given her a sense of security. But, apparently that was not the case. So, she sighed.

“I dunno. It just… feels wrong. Like it doesn’t belong here. Like maybe it’s bringing...” Her voice trailed off, and she sighed.

Mrs. Cake smiled.

“Well, lots of folk don’t really belong most places,” she reminded her. “That’s why they’re welcome here, even if they’re a little stormy. Now, come on,” she said, guiding Pinkie away from the window, “Worst case scenario, we get some new arrivals coming in. So, let’s get ready for some extra guests.”

Pinkie Pie considered this, then smiled, her hair perking up immediately.

“You’re right!” she grinned. “That means new friends to meet! Hooray!”

As Pinkie bounced merrily into the kitchen, Mrs. Cake paused, allowing her smile to falter slightly as she turned back to look at the storm raging outside once more.

As it happened, she’d seen that particular storm many times in her travels. Each time it had showed up at a different time and place. And each time, it had meant something different coming through. The one thing she was fairly certain of was that, whatever came, she and the other ponies would give it every chance to be nice.

And if it wasn’t, well, she wished it the best of luck. After all, this time there were princesses about.

She went back into the kitchen to get the pineapple upside-down cake she was baking out of the oven. In the end, here as anywhere else, sometimes you just needed to let what was going to come, come.


The stallion looked about himself. Sopping wet, alone, unarmed and confused. Charred soil surrounding him from where the lightning had struck.

He tried to stand on his hind legs. Windmilling his arms frantically for a moment, he succeeded only in falling backwards. Then, he tried again, this time falling forwards. Then, pushing himself off from the mud, he saw his forehooves for the first time.

Even the thunder and the raging winds failed to drown out his fury.


The ponies heard him well before they saw him.

At first, it seemed as if someone was speaking nearby, projecting enough to be occasionally heard over the dismal storm. But as the pony approached, it became clear this was no mere projection echoing over the raging tempest. Rather, despite all expectations and against all reason, this was a rare exercise of the Royal Voice.

And, as its user slowly approached the establishment door, it became clear that it was neither Celestia nor Luna who was about to grace the bakery. For, impossibly, the voice was unmistakably male. After a moment, Twilight heard a small noise from nearby, and turned to see…

“Cadence?” Twilight asked, her voice full of concern.

She had never seen her old friend like this. The Princess of Love was staring at the door in uncharacteristic fury, teeth bared, eyes blazing. Her breath coming in harsh, labored gasps.

“Cadence, what’s wrong?”

The crystal princess was trembling now, her voice reduced to a menacing hiss.

“It’s… him.”

Lightning flashed as the door flew open. And there, in the doorway, he stood, illuminated by the raging storm. Grey coat. Black mane. Horn, not spiraled but crescent-shaped, as if forged from a jewel, glinting red in the firelight.

Princess Cadence’s battle cry was a declaration of war. It was the voice of a punishing fury who had found her quarry, and would finally make him pay for his sins.

“SOMBRA!”

In an instant, she was airborne, arcing towards him in a pink blur of fury. He had just enough time to stare as she bellowed, to say

WAIT

as she moved. And then, she was upon him. A single kick and he went down, instinctively curling into a fetal position as she launched a seemingly endless barrage of attacks into him with her hooves.

“Cadence, wait!” Twilight cried, trying in vain to halt her cascade of wrath. “Stop! Don’t! Please!”

Stompstompstompstompstompstompstompstompstompstompstomp…!

As Twilight and Pinkie Pie each seized their royal friend and strove to pull her away, she thrashed in their arms, screaming, “No! Let me go! You don’t understand! We’ve got to take him down before—!”

It took all of their strength to pull their friend off of him. Cadance was breathing hard, still struggling, her eyes filled with a killing frenzy.

“That’s not Sombra!” Twilight insisted.

“But—”

“Look!”

Seeing the stallion before her, Cadence trembled with barely controlled rage. She could smell the acrid scent of burning tapestries and carpets, hear the sounds of combat and destructive spells, lightning and fire. She could feel her mother’s hooves lifting her up in a controlled panic, reciting the ancient spell even as the Crystal Heart began to glow, even as the great doors flung open, the enemy’s name chanted again and again by his supporters as the Great Tyrant strode into the hall.

Sombra… Sombra… Sombra… Sombra…!

Then, she closed her eyes, tried to control her breathing, her heart pounding against her ribs as if trying to tear its way free.

And, opening her eyes again…

At a glance, the stallion lying at her hooves did look a great deal like the crystal dictator. His coat grey, his disheveled mane was long and perfectly black. His horn even followed Sombra’s heretofore unique shape.

But his was a true horn, not the enchanted ruby that had crowned Sombra’s brow. And the stranger’s horn was only a crimson color at its base. At its middle length it was orange, fading further to an amber color at its tip. His coat was too light a shade. And his eyes, rather than being the crimson hue that still haunted her worst dreams, were instead a black-on-yellow that she had never seen before.

And as if there were any doubt remaining, there was the matter of his cutie mark: an ebony… what was that, exactly? Shackles? Two discs orbiting each other? Certainly nothing like Sombra had ever borne.

But above all, he was too young! The stallion before her was little more than a colt, maybe as old as Twilight had been when Nightmare Moon had returned…

Cadence stared for less than a second, horrified. “Oh, ancestors before me, what have I done?” she whispered. Then she was kneeling before him now, feeling his throat. She felt a pulse there, powerful but arrhythmic.

“He’s still alive!” she exclaimed. “Spike, send a message to Aunt Luna, maybe she can heal…!”

“I can’t,” Spike said. “She’ll be in dream, I can’t reach her there.”

“Celestia’s asleep, but I could teleport—” Twilight started.

“No, don’t leave, I need you here!” Cadence cried. “We’ve got to save him!”

The stallion coughed up some unnaturally bright red blood.

“Are you conscious? He’s conscious!” Moving her face closer to his, she said desperately, “Stay awake, stay with me! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I thought you were him, I thought…”

Blearily, he opened his eyes, managed to focus them on her.

OH, OKAY.

I JUST FIGURED WE’D MET BEFORE, AND I HADN’T MET YOU YET.

Cadence started, then stared. “What?!?”

But the stallion shook his head, still coughing.

NEVERMIND. I’M FINE. YOU JUST BROKE MY ORGAN CAGE.

AND A FEW ORGANS.

AND A STRUT POD.

JUST LET ME GET TO MY RECUPERACOON…

Then he blinked, his shoulders sagged.

OH, RIGHT. FUCK.

Then, he shrugged and struggled to rise, wincing as he did while bones audibly ground together.

“No, stay down, don’t try to get up…” Cadence said in dismay.

THANKS, BUT YOU MISSED MY BLOOD PUSHER SOMEHOW, AND I’VE STILL GOT THREE GOOD FRONDS TO WORK WITH.

I SHOULD GO.

One of his hooves slid out from under him, and he fell back with a crackling sound.

Twilight and Cadence looked at one another in horror.

“Pinkie,” Twilight said, “Clear off a table. Now.

“I’m on it!” Pinkie chirped. Already, a nearby table full of regulars had already stood, grabbing dishes and glasses. Meanwhile, the earth mare rolled the table cloth expertly across the tabletop, collecting the remaining flatware in its folds.

For his part, the newcomer stared at them all, his eyes narrowing.

ALSO, I DON’T NEED YOUR PITY.

“You’re in pain and you don’t know what you’re saying,” Cadence told him.

FUCK OFF.

“Twilight, watch his head.”

WHAT? NO.

NO, I DON’T WANT YOUR FUCKING HELP.

Suddenly, the stallion was surrounded in a warm, soothing, blue glow. His eyes widened, and he stared about himself as wildly as he could without moving his head. His head, of course, being kept still by a separate, purple glow.

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?

“It’s magic,” Twilight assured him.

THIS IS DISGUSTING.

“It’ll keep you more stable than if we used our hooves,” she added.

YOU KEEP YOUR THOUGHT TAFFY TO YOURSELF.

“Okay, let’s start moving him over,” Cadence said.

EW. STOP.

“Mrs. Cake, do you have anything to make splints out of?” Pinkie Pie called.

PUT ME DOWN.

“I’m already there, sweetie,” Mrs. Cake called from a back room. “Be there in a jiffy!”

STOP OOZING YOUR THINK SPHINCTERS ON ME.

“We’re almost there,” Cadence assured him.

GROSS.

With the precision and delicacy only possible to masters of telekinesis, the stallion found himself on the table, the colorful auras fading from around him. There were several layers of padding and numerous tablecloths between him and the table, and he was immediately surrounded by a view of multicoloured faces, all desperate to somehow be of help.

“How is he still conscious?” a voice from further away marveled.

“How is he still alive?” another wondered.

For her part, Cadence looked down, and said nothing.

“Please,” Twilight said to the young stallion, “we need to re-set as many bones as we can. At the very least we’ve got to wrap your barrel and set your broken leg, and Mr. Cake’s left to get potions to help you heal and ward off infection.”

Behind her, the door was gently closing in the older stallion’s wake.

“That’s the least we should do for you, the bare minimum. What we want to do is re-align your ribs and leg so they’ll heal normally, stop your internal bleeding, and make sure nothing hemorrhages further.

“I’d try to do more, but true healing magic is dangerous at best,” she explained. “It risks overriding the body’s idea of itself on a cellular level, basically. Even Princess Celestia doesn’t try it unless absolutely necessary. But we can call on your body’s memory of itself, in a sense, to harmoniously move the separated parts back into alignment. It’s called regenerative tactile-telekinetic thaumoequilibrium, and it utilizes the Law of Contagion with the healing center of the…”

“Um, Twilight?” Spike said.

“Right! Sorry. Anyway, the point is, there’s a lot that we can do to help. But you’re awake, so you can still make informed decisions. So I’m not going to put you to sleep, or do anything else medical, against your consent.

“So, please… will you please let me help you survive this?”

Realizing that he was not only outnumbered, but also broken enough that moving on his own was temporarily impossible, the stallion sighed in defeat.

OKAY, FINE. YOU WIN. BUT REMEMBER, I DIDN’T ASK FOR HELP.

“Don’t worry, kiddo,” Mrs. Cake winked. “We’ll remember.”

MY NAME, he said through clenched fangs, IS KARKAT.

Then Twilight cast her sleep spell, and for a time he knew nothing more.


It was several minutes later when the process was done and Twilight lifted the spell. And, despite the cautions and concerns of the ponies around him, the strange stallion carefully slid down from the table, walked a few paces, then winced and slid a little too fast into a quickly proffered chair. And, finally, questions could be asked and answered.

His name, he repeated, was Karkat. And he was not from Equestria, but from a place called Alternia. And he was not a pony, he insisted, nor “any kind of four-legged ponychromed strutbeast,” for that matter. He was a Troll, the name of both his species and his culture.

When asked how he’d arrived, he said his last memories were of a storm in something he called paradox space, where he and several of his friends had been desperately engaged in the last throes of a war against a single entity he did not wish to discuss.

He also made it clear that he “did not fucking ask to be here, at all.” Especially since he and his friends had been fighting for their lives when he’d been forcefully yanked from his own universe by the storm that still raged and bellowed above Sugarcube Corner.

And, most especially, when said friends were by this point most assuredly very, very dead.


“It sounds like you’ve been through a lot,” Cadence said at last, “And I hope you can forgive my adding to your pain. But, please, since you’re here now, can you tell us what you need? How can we help you?”

WHAT DO I NEED. YEAH, OK.

He sighed.

WHAT I REALLY NEED IS TO NOT BE HERE. LIKE, AT ALL.

“Well, as soon as the storm lifts and I can get to my books, I’ll be working on that,” Twilight replied. “But even if Starswirl the Bearded—”

OH, MY FUCKING GOD.

“What? What’s wrong?”

NOTHING.

NOT A FUCKING THING.

YOU JUST KEEP MAKING WORDS, AND I’LL PRETEND THEY AREN’T MAKING MY THOUGHT MUSCLE BLEED.

“Right,” Twilight said uncertainly. “So, anyway, Starswirl…”

AAAAARRRRGHHH.

Twilight blinked, then pressed on, “…created... many interdimensional mirrors in his time. And one of them may lead to your world. He also left a lot of notes about different worlds besides those.”

Then, reluctantly, she added, “But even with that, dimensional travel has always been rare at best. If we can’t locate your home, I’m sorry, but…you may be stuck here.”

Karkat sat in stony silence. Finally, Pinkie Pie spoke.

“You know, Karkat, Equestria really isn’t so bad…”

But Karkat was looking at the empty water glass he held, chin resting on his other hoof, with the poise of a barfly bent upon complete self-annihilation.

YOU KNOW WHO SHOULD FUCKING BE HERE? EQUIUS SHOULD FUCKING BE HERE.

Cadence frowned. “Who?”

EQUIUS.

HIS COOLANT SECRETION PORES WOULD BE ALL ABOUT THIS HAPPY HORSE SHIT.

“Pony shit,” Spike corrected him as he circled above. “It’s happy pony shit.”

The ponies stared, and he landed on Twilight’s withers, glancing around at them.

“What?”

But the grey stallion was nodding as if this had been the most sensible thing ever said.

PONY SHIT, Karkat said.

GREAT.

FINE.

THANK YOU SPIKE.

I FUCKING STAND CORRECTED.

ON THREE OUT OF FOUR STRUTPODS NO LESS.

BECAUSE LIFE HATES ME.

BUT ANYWAY. EQUIUS.

HE WOULD BE ALL LIKE, I MUST MEET YOUR NOBLEST HORSE NOBILITY. SO THEY CAN COMMAND ME.

ALSO, BRING LOTS OF FUCKING TOWELS BECAUSE I AM STRONG OR SOME SHIT.

ALSO ARCHERY. BUT MOSTLY FUCKING HORSE QUEENS.

AND TOWELS.

YOU PONIES WOULD COMPLETELY RUN OUT OF FUCKING TOWELS.

Throughout the room, the assembled ponies exchanged looks of sheer confusion. The alien was practically speaking gibberish. Was this how they sounded to him?

Twilight made a mental note to get Rainbow Dash involved with the situation as soon as possible. She was best friends with a griffon, after all. Maybe she could reach past Karkat’s apparent universal hostility. And Rarity had been across much of the known world, maybe through some blessed synchronicity something about this would sound familiar to her?

But that would have to wait until tomorrow, when the strange storm had passed. In the meantime, determined to maintain at least something resembling rational discourse, Twilight cleared her throat. “Um, actually, our planet is called Equus. At least by ponies…”

Karkat blinked.

OKAY, THAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU’VE SAID THAT’S MADE SENSE.

“Karkat, I know you’re having trouble with this,” Twilight tried again. “I’ve been to alien worlds, too. And they’re always difficult. But please, we’re not your enemies!”

OKAY, THAT’S FAIR.

The alien in pony form sighed.

LOOK, IF YOU CAN’T GET ME OUT OF HERE.

“Yes?”

JUST KILL ME.

The ponies all stared at him in shock. Finally, Twilight spoke.

“What?”

NO, REALLY.

END MY FUCKING LIFE.

JUST SHOOT ME.

I DON’T KNOW, PRETEND I BROKE A CALCIUM STAFF OR SOMETHING, AND I’D NEVER RUN AGAIN.

“We can’t do that!” Pinkie bounced. “You’re our friend!”

OH JEGUS.

Karkat buried his face in his hooves.

I HATE YOU ALL SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.

For several seconds, the mares and drake at the table exchanged helpless, dismaying looks.

SO MUCH FUCKING HATE, IT’S ALMOST REFRESHING.

“Um… Karkat?” Cadence tried.

A CLEAN, MINTY HATE.

He looked up at them, glaring crazily at all the ponies around him.

YOU SEE THESE WHITER THAN WHITE CHEW STONES? THE ONES I AM GRINDING RIGHT NOW, IN MY SMARM HOLE? THEY ARE WHITE BECAUSE I BRUSH THEM. WITH THE FUCKING HATE I HAVE.

“Karkat.”

FOR ALL OF YOU QUADRAPEDAL MEAT SACKS.

“Karkat.”

AND THEN I FLOSS.

“Karkat!”

WHAT.

“Nopony is going to kill you, okay?” Cadence insisted. “You’re safe here. And we just want to help. Please, we’re offering you our friendship. Why can’t you just accept that?”

The grey stallion stared at the ceiling in silence. It was impossible to tell if he were entering a new phase of contemplation, or if his rage had temporarily surpassed verbosity. Perhaps both.

After another moment, Pinkie Pie uncertainly approached him.

“Um, maybe if you had something to eat?” she asked. Then, after a moment, she added, “Something to help you feel better? Maybe a muffin? Some ice cream? You know, sometimes ice cream can really help when you’re feeling down…”

Her voice trailed into silence. At first, Karkat didn’t move. Then, finally, he spoke.

I WOULD LIKE A NICE TALL GLASS OF POISON, PLEASE.

Then, he turned to Twilight and the others. DID YOU GUYS WANT ANYTHING?

Cadence raised an authoritative hoof.

“Alright. This needs to stop.”

The alien sighed again. YOU’RE RIGHT.

“Look, I know we got off on the wrong hoof,” Cadence started. She glanced at her own hoof resting on the table, winced, and moved it down. “And you’d already been through a terrible ordeal, before that.”

Karkat shook his head. NO, WE’RE COOL, he said.

But the pink alicorn shook her head. “Please, let me explain. I owe you at least that much. You see, many years ago, in the Crystal Empire…”


It took a while before Cadence had finished her story. The bakery had been all but silent, listening to a chapter of ancient history told by the princess who had witnessed it all.

For his part, Karkat had remained silent as well. Sometimes nodding, sometimes wincing. But always listening.

“…and so, that’s why I acted as I did,” she said at last. “Even with everything I’ve done and dealt with over the years since, I didn’t appreciate how traumatized I must have been. And then, when I saw you…”

He voice trailed off, and then she looked away.

“Anyway. The point is, I’m sorry for attacking and hurting you. And I hope you can forgive me.”

For a moment, Karkat didn’t move. Then, he took a drink and addressed the Crystal Princess, still waiting to hear his answer.

I’M SORRY.

Cadence frowned, shaking her head in confusion. “What? No, stars above us, no, I’m sorry…”

NO, YOU WERE RIGHT.

She fell silent, trying to process this. So much of what Karkat said seemed to be borderline nonsense. But then Karkat began to speak again, his continued use of the Royal Voice somehow still demanding attention from everyone there despite their long exposure.

THERE’S… THERE ARE A LOT OF TIMELINES.

He was staring into his glass again as he spoke.

MAYBE AN INFINITE NUMBER. I DON’T KNOW. IN EACH ONE, DIFFERENT CHOICES ARE MADE. IN SOME CASES, THERE’S DIFFERENT RANDOM ACTS THAT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

ARE YOU WITH ME SO FAR?

Still puzzled, Cadence nodded. “Of course. That’s basic transdimensional theory.”

GOOD. BECAUSE I’VE SEEN DIFFERENT TIMELINES. I’VE TALKED TO GHOSTS. I EVEN KNEW A GUY WHO COULD SENSE HIS OTHER SELVES, IN OTHER TIMELINES. THEIR CHOICES, THEIR LIVES, WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THEIR HEADS.

He closed his eyes.

I CAN’T DO THAT. BUT I’VE GOTTEN TO KNOW MYSELF PRETTY FUCKING WELL THE LAST COUPLE OF SWEEPS. AND EVERYTHING YOU’VE DESCRIBED… I KNOW THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME.

IN FACT, I THINK IT WAS.

While most of the assembly stared at him in shock, he continued.

I WAS AN OUTCAST, LIKE HIM. I USED TO WANT TO BE POWERFUL, LIKE HIM. I JUST WANTED TO BE A STRONG LEADER, TO CONQUER, TO BE PART OF… WELL, IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE.

Opening his eyes, he drained the rest of his glass and pushed it away from himself.

THE POINT IS, I’M NOT EVIL. AT LEAST, I HOPE I’M NOT. BUT I AM ABSOLUTELY DESTRUCTIVE, WHETHER OR NOT I WANT TO BE. AND I CAN SEE MYSELF DOING EVERYTHING YOU JUST DESCRIBED, IF THINGS HAD BEEN JUST A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

BECAUSE IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT SOMBRA IS YOUR WORLD’S VERSION OF ME. WE EVEN LOOK THE SAME, EXCEPT HE’S OLDER. WE COULD BE FUCKING TWINS.

SO, IN A WAY… IN A WAY, THINK I DID DO THOSE THINGS.

He swallowed, then made himself finish.

I KILLED ALL THOSE PEOPLE.

I WRECKED YOUR KINGDOM.

I TOOK AWAY YOUR FAMILY.

IT WAS ANOTHER ME. I WASN’T THERE, BUT I STILL DID IT.

He swallowed, his eyes screwed shut.

AND… I’M SORRY.

Karkat heard Princess Cadence move off her seat, take a step to him. Internally, he readied himself for the horn-handing beating that was about to commence. He couldn’t blame her.

Although, he had to admit to himself, telling all that to a creature that had already beaten him nearly to death had been pretty stupid.

But instead of violence, he felt her strut knob wrap itself gently around his shoulders, and felt her kiss him gently on the cheek.

Opening his eyes, she looked like she’d been crying. But she was kind of smiling, too.

He froze in horror.

Oh, crap, he thought.

Do ponies… have quadrants?

The implications chilled his soul. The possibility hadn’t even occurred to him before. But now, looking at the situation, he had to wonder: was she going black on him?

Oh, Jegus, was she going black on him???

How was he supposed to handle this? He didn’t even know this female!

If she began courting him, in public, with the sarcasm of early kismesissitude, as injured as he was he knew he would have no escape.

Fighting down his panic, Karkat reminded himself that he was being ridiculous. Alien or not, she was towards the top of their twisted hoofy hierarchy. There was no way she would embarrass herself like that, he assured himself. And even if she somehow did lose all sense of dignity and self-control, her obvious moirail, Twilight, would certainly intervene.

But then she said, in a quiet, intimate whisper, “Thank you.”

His eyes widened to the size of thirdmeal nutrition plateaus in sheer mortal dread and he heard himself say,

WHAT.

After the word fell out, his mouth just hung open. Yes, he realized with growing apprehension, she was definitely smiling now. The horse-queen of the frozen north was smiling at him, doubtless with years of repressed, freshly-opened hate buzzing around in her fevered, repressed lobe stem like a swarm of talonscreechers around a fresh body.

Karkat’s heart raced like an ovum pummeler in Erebus. Bad enough that he was trapped in some pacifistic alien hellscape, surrounded by a race and culture made up of subjects from Equius’ wildest nocturnal churn-fests. Now he, Karkat, was being dumped headlong into some weird quadrupedal courting ritual that he didn’t understand and had absolutely no control over…

“Thank you,” she said again, still smiling through her tears. “Thank you for the opportunity to forgive him, even if it’s through you. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to, of course. But… I’m going to try.”

And then, right then, with the pink monarch’s face still wet with dismay fluid and Karkat’s eyes darting about the room with more and more terror and desperation by the nanosecond, the insane multi-chromatic aliens surrounding him started to fucking applaud.


It was a short time later when Twilight found herself guiding the alien stallion (Troll, she reminded herself) through the rain to his chosen domicile. She was still racking her brain for some possible parallel between what little she knew of his culture and a creature she might introduce him to, if all else failed and he was in fact stuck on her world.

The Griffons were probably out, she reasoned, simply because most of them wouldn’t be able to see a non-flier as any kind of equal. But she might be able to get some pointers from Gabby and Gilda on communicating with someone so crabby, just the same. And when he’d started talking about the necessity of finding a new temporary ‘hive,’ she’d of course thought of the Changelings. But a few random phrases seemed like a pretty superficial parallel, considering that Changeling society was based in part on the need to consume emotions.

And he wasn’t physically strong enough to deal with most dragons, she thought to herself. Granted, he was certainly durable, for all that she was concerned he might trip and re-open his internal wounds. And he was stubborn enough, and Celestia knew he was proud enough. So much so, in fact, that he had vehemently refused her offer to stay with her and Cadence until better arrangements could be found, or even remain in Sugarcube Corner once the storm had slacked off a bit.

“You know, I can still extend the umbrella spell to cover you,” she tried again. “It’s a standing offer.”

FUCK OFF.

Frowning, Twilight snorted and plodded ahead, rain and wind neatly deflected by her weatherproof force field, with the sopping Troll stallion whatever-he-was behind her. Fine. Let him stay wet. So far as she was concerned, he’d used up any excuse for being such a jerk long ago.

Still, he obviously wasn’t a fool, nor was he uneducated. Before leaving the bakery, when she’d asked if there was anything she could get him to help him adjust, to her surprise he’d actually had a request. And at the time, it had taken her completely aback.

Romance novels? she’d echoed.

And he had confirmed that was exactly what he wanted. Romance novels. As many as she could get to him.

But now, considering the matter, she had to admit that wasn’t a bad place to start. Personally, she would have started with the roots of the culture. When she’d chased Sunset into Gaea, years ago, she’d started out studying creation myths and ancient history, working her way forward to present day. Which, at the time, had seemed completely logical. But she also had to admit that approach had also left her with huge gaps in cultural norms, vernacular, and even table manners for most of her first visit.

Karkat, meanwhile, had insisted that he needed as many and as varied a fare of romance novels and any other similar media as possible. Songs, poetry, plays, everything. But especially novels. And as many as possible, starting with present day and working backwards. He’d read it all, he’d assured her. Word for word. And faster than she might think. He’d said time was of the essence.

Despite her irritation with him, she had to smile a little. She’d never read much in the way of romance novels herself… upon reflection, she was pretty sure she hadn’t read any. But considering the matter now, she couldn’t think of a better way to give one’s self a crash course on a society’s current structure, social rituals, and traditions than stories about ponies’ day-to-day lives and intimate moments. So however crotchety he might be, Ponyville’s otherworldly visitor was apparently a scholar. Or, at least, a sociologist.

She grinned. She herself might have more in common with him than she thought.

Finally, they arrived. It was a small shack just outside of town, only abandoned a year or so ago. When Twilight had mentioned it, he’d said it would be perfect. Said he couldn’t wait to go. Heck, he’d practically run out of the bakery alone.

Now, she opened the door, peering in, the light from her horn illuminating one of the most dismal interiors she had ever seen.

“Oh, geez,” she said, looking around in dismay. “I didn’t expect it to be this bad. There’s stuff living in here. I can help you clean—”

By that point, the waterlogged Troll had pushed his way past her. Lightning crashed violently nearby as he entered, various things scuttling out of his way as he left a trail of rainwater along the floor.

NO, THIS IS PERFECT. THANKS.

“I can—”

GOOD-BYE, TWILIGHT.

And the door slammed closed in her face.

For a moment, she stared in shock. Then, in a sudden fit of indignity, she shouted, “Well, you don’t have to be such a jerk about it!”

She was about to teleport the heck away from him when she heard the sigh from within. There were a few hoofsteps towards the portal, and, slowly, it opened again.

He looked at her from under his soaking mane, not so much sad as resigned.

LOOK, TWILIGHT, I GET IT, he said. YOU TRY TO BE EVERYBODY'S FRIEND, EVEN MINE.

(FOR SOME FUCKED UP REASON.)

AND EXCEPT FOR THAT YOURE REALLY SMART. SO I RESPECT YOU. I DO.

BUT I.

AM.

NOT.

YOUR.

FRIEND.

AND BELIEVE ME, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE MINE.

The princess shook her head. “I don’t believe that, Karkat. Not for a second.”

OF COURSE YOU DON’T, he said with an eyeroll. YOU DON’T KNOW ME. YOU’RE AN OPTIMIST. YOU THINK GOOD THINGS HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. PROBABLY BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW ME.

Taking a step forward, he scowled at her, suddenly menacing despite the rain and his injuries.

SO, TRY TO GET THIS TROUGH YOUR THINK PAN.

I.

AM.

A.

FUCKING.

SHIT.

SHOW.

THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT ME THAT IS GOOD NEWS. AND THE LAST THING YOU WANT IS HAVING ME ON YOUR TEAM, BECAUSE I WILL ABSOLUTELY INFECT ANYTHING I TOUCH.

SO THAT IT FUCKING DIES.

PLANETS.

PEOPLE.

ELDER GODS.

IF FUCKING CTHULU WOKE UP ON MY WATCH, HE WOULD BE DEAD AS DEEP LIPID-COOKED CLUCKBEAST.

He paused, considering for a second, then added, UNLESS I HATED HIM, I GUESS. THEN HE’D BE FINE.

Twilight snorted. “Okay, so, why?”

Karkat blinked, genuinely taken aback. WHY WHAT?

“Why do you think you’re so dangerous to anypony around you?”

HISTORY, TWILIGHT.

MY LIFEPATH IS PAVED WITH THE CORPSES OF MY FRIENDS. ALL OF THEM. EVERYWHERE. ENTIRE UNIVERSES HAVE BEEN INFECTED BY MY FUCK-UPS. MY WHOLE TIMELINE WAS DOOMED BECAUSE OF ME.

EVEN HERE, YOUR WORLD’S VERSION OF ME WAS A SHOCKING PSYCHO. THE ONLY GOOD THING HE EVER DID WAS DIE.

SO, FUCK OFF TWILIGHT. I’M DOING YOU A FAVOR HERE.

IN EVERY WORLD, IN EVERY LIFE, I AM A FUCKING CANCER.

YOU DON’T KNOW ME, AND YOU DON’T WANT TO.

Then the door slammed again, leaving Twilight alone on the alien’s porch. Lightning raged and thunder roared as the storm started to pick up again, sheets of water lashing against her mystic shield. And as she stood there, her mouth thinned, her eyes hardened with determination.

“I have a history too, Karkat,” she said quietly. “I don’t pretend to understand what you’re talking about. And I’ll admit, what you’ve said scares me. Just like I think you meant it to.

“But in my experience, nopony deserves your level of self-loathing. And if you think I’m giving up that easily, then you don’t know me, either.”

Then there was a burst of violet, and she was gone.

Author's Note:

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Comments ( 1 )

And the stranger’s horn was only a crimson color at its base. At its middle length it was orange, fading further to an amber color at its tip.

... You didn't.
:rainbowlaugh: You did!

AND THEN I FLOSS.
“Karkat!”
WHAT.

DON'T YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT I FLOSS WITH?
(sigh) "Is it more hate?"
YES.

Fascinating connection between the two... well, multiverses, really. Now I'm wondering if human Sombra is alive, and what he's like.

When she’d chased Sunset into Gaea, years ago, she’d started out studying creation myths and ancient history, working her way forward to present day. Which, at the time, had seemed completely logical. But she also had to admit that approach had also left her with huge gaps in cultural norms, vernacular, and even table manners for most of her first visit.

I'd love to see this in far greater detail. We got a little of Twilight's adjustment period in the movie itself, but this has so much more potential. (And imagine Sunset's adjustment period!)

Definitely one of the better crossovers of its ilk that I've seen. I do have to wonder if you'll follow up on this given the anthological nature of the story. Whether or not you do, lovely work here. Especially Karkat's complete lack of volume control.

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