• Published 9th Sep 2012
  • 13,588 Views, 619 Comments

Flipside - Bed Head

A retelling of the first two episodes in an Alt. Universe. Spike is the pony, Twilight the dragon.

  • ...

Chapter 16

Chapter 16

The silence was more horrible than Spike could have imagined.

He'd been prepared for crying, for yelling, even for pain. However, the awkward lack of sound that hung in the air somehow felt worse than all three of those put together. Even if it had only been a few seconds since his confession.

He cautiously lifted his head, only to let it drop again. Most of the others were staring at him as though struggling to register what he'd said. Thunderlane, however, seemed to be struggling with slowly mounting frustration as his eyes narrowed.

Twilight merely hung limp in his hooves. Spike could feel her rapid breath on the hairs of his leg. The dragon's heart was racing alongside his own as they waited for some response from the others.


The silence broke, Thunderlane's hoof rapping off the ground as he took a step forward.

"So it's all your fault that Nightmare Moon got out?" Thunderlane asked, his voice almost shockingly calm.

Twilight twitched in Spike's hooves, trying to shake her head. Spike just squeezed his eyes shut and held her closer. He could feel his legs going numb from fear. Swallowing hard, he gave a slow nod to Thunderlane.

"You're saying that it's your fault we're never gonna see the sun again?" Thunderlane went on, stomping closer, his voice raising. "Your fault Rumble and the others might never wake up?"

"Thunderlane—" Time Turner's voice tried to break in.

"That's right," Spike spoke up, his head sinking lower.

"No!" A frantic voice suddenly shouted.

Something scaly pushed his trembling legs away. Spike gasped and tried to grab hold of Twilight again. The dragon's claws left little scratches along his forelegs as she squeezed from between his legs and chest. She hurriedly placed herself between the reporter and Thunderlane, her arms spread wide.

"Twilight, stop—" Spike started to plead as he clambered to his hooves.

"Y-yeah, maybe Trixie could have stopped this. You don't know what she was like, though!" Twilight shouted, ignoring Spike as she stared up at Thunderlane. "Sh-she treated me like... like some kind of pet... or a trophy"

Spike paused in spite of himself. Thunderlane also seemed taken back as the dragon took a trembling breath. Her body was shaking as she slowly began to wrap her arms around her shoulders.

"She'd never give me a m-moment's peace..." Twilight stammered out. "I'd always be doing something to make her look good! Showing off some 'trick' she taught me or just letting the other students gawk at me..."

Twilight looked tearfully over her shoulder to Spike. In an instant, his body was moving again. He pulled the trembling dragon into another hug, Twilight sniffling as she gripped him tight.

"Spike was the first pony that tried to be my friend," she whimpered, looking back to the others. "That's why I saved his article when—"

"Twilight, that's enough!" Spike said sharply,

"Hang on," Thunderlane cut in, wings flaring. "What was that?"

Spike's hoof darted for the dragon's mouth. Twilight twisted though, keeping her muzzle clear as she took a deep breath.

"I saved Spike's article when Trixie tried to get rid of it!" Twilight spoke quickly, right before the purple hoof clapped over her mouth.

Spike looked up, his eyes wide. Thunderlane had one hoof to his brow as he breathed heavily. His breath snorted through his injured nose as Cheerilee slowly walked up behind him.

"Thunderlane, please," she encouraged, placing a hoof between his shoulders. "Maybe you should calm down a bit?"

"Don't wanna repeat o' the hospital," Big Mac chimed in, plodding up behind the pegasus.

Thunderlane's wings snapped out, forcing the both of them back. His hoof slammed against the ground as his glare darted back up. Twilight cringed, and Spike pulled her closer as the weather stallion began to stomp toward them.

"Thunderlane, wait a minute!" Time Turner shouted.

"Seriously?!" Thunderlane demanded, stomping closer as he ignored the others. "So what? Now it's Twilight's fault too?"

Twilight's claws dug into Spike's hide. Something burned in the unicorn's chest as the light spell around his horn began to blaze brighter.

"No!" Spike shouted, his horn sparking.

Despite his exhaustion, Spike felt power flow through his body. Thunderlane stumbled back several steps as a green aura flickered around him, shoving him hard. Spike grunted, his telekinetic grip flickering as the pegasus strained against it.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no..." Ditzy panicked, her wings trembling.

"Spike..." Twilight gasped out as he started to pant for breath.

"Yes! Okay! Twilight saved my article," Spike admitted, green eyes locked on Thunderlane. "But I'm the one that wrote it in the first place!"

The glow around the weather pony was fading. Spike grunted, pushing Twilight to the side. The little dragon gasped as she stumbled away, and the reporter let out a final sigh as his horn sputtered out.

"Spike—" Thunderlane growled, amber eyes focused on the unicorn.

"I'm the only one to blame!" Spike stated, glaring right back as he moved between Twilight and Thunderlane. "So just leave her alone!"

A dark-gray hoof was over his muzzle before he could say anymore. Spike winced out of instinct as he heard the others gasp out in shock...

He blinked in surprise. Thunderlane was still leering at him, but the pegasus hadn't actually struck. A second or two passed before Spike realized the other stallion was simply holding his mouth shut.

"Would you just be quiet for a minute?" Thunderlane requested, his voice straining to stay calm. "I made the mistake of hitting you plenty of times tonight. I really, really don't want to do it again."

Spike slowly nodded, his wide eyes stuck on the other stallion. Thunderlane took a deep breath, and let it out in a heavy sigh. His wings relaxed back to his sides, slumping down as tension seemed to flow out of him. The others all stood stock still, just watching as his hoof slowly lowered to the ground.

"You know what, Spike?" Thunderlane asked, his hoof scraping along the dirt. "All that nonsense you're spewing reminded me of a little story."

"A... a what?" Spike stammered out, staring at the pegasus in disbelief. "And wait, what do you mean non—"

In a blur of gray, Thunderlane's hoof was over his mouth again. Spike's protest muffled to a halt as the taste of dirt hit his tongue. Thunderlane's wings gave a frustrated flicking motion as he took another deep breath.

"Umm...." Twilight's voice chimed in, as she cautiously approached Spike's side. "Is this really the time for a story?"

"It's a short one, and one Spike should find interesting," Thunderlane assured the dragon, his hoof returning to the scratching the ground. "It's about a little colt that used to live in Cloudsdale. His dad worked at the weather factory."

Thunderlane's expression softened as he backed up a step. Spike's eyes darted to the ground, and his brow scrunched. The scratches that had been left formed a simple sketch of two pegasus ponies and a bunch of clouds.

"One day there was an accident at the factory. A ton of storm clouds broke loose and got all over the place," Thunderlane went on, looking to the others as they started to gather closer. "So of course, the colt jumped in and helped gather them up. And it turned out he was really good at it."

Thunderlane's hoof went back to the drawing and scratched a circle around the clouds. Spike started to open his mouth, but he snapped it shut again as the weather stallion's eyes shot to him. The reporter simply nodded and waved one hoof.

"So... thanks to the colt's help, the clouds got gathered up," Thunderlane went on, starting on another drawing. "They shipped to Fillydelphia in time for a big storm scheduled there."

Spike's eyes widened as the new picture came to a finish. A single cloud with a lightning bolt striking underneath it. His eyes darted around the others, seeing the same recognition in their eyes. It was the same image as Thunderlane's cutie mark.

"The next day, those storm clouds went out of control again," Thunderlane said with a heavy sigh. "They did a lot of damage down in Fillydelphia. And I was left wondering if things would have been better if I just hadn't interfered—"

"What?" Spike gasped out, his jaw dropping. "But Thunderlane, that's ridicul..."

He stopped, his mouth working as his voice stuttered to a halt. Thunderlane raised an eyebrow and motioned to Spike with one hoof. The unicorn's voice wouldn't come though.

Suddenly it was like a haze had been ripped away. Now Spike mind was reeling in the sudden light that flooded it. Stumbling in the blinding realization of what Thunderlane was poking at.

"No. No, this is completely diff..." Spike tried to speak again.

Once more his voice refused to work. Spike simply let his mouth hang open as he stared at Thunderlane in silence.

He couldn't help but notice the satisfied smirk the pegasus wore.

A purple hoof reached out, gently closing his mouth. Spike swallowed, and turned to find Cheerilee by his side.

"You know... I can sort of see. Why you'd feel like it's your fault, that is," she said, lowering her hoof again. "It's just... well—"

"You're being silly, Spike!" Ditzy Doo suddenly broke in, her wings flapping cheerfully.

The teacher looked up and let out a relieved sigh.

"I suppose that's one way to put it," Cheerilee said, a light chuckle slipping out.

A strange numbness was overtaking Spike, his legs shaking uncontrollably. His vision blurred as he quickly wiped his eyes again. A few tears were left on his hoof as somepony else cleared their throat.

"Spike, you were a colt trying to do the right thing," Time Turner spoke from Big Mac's back. "There's no need to blame yourself for... well, for any of this!"

Spike shook his head in disbelief, his hat nearly falling off his head. He could feel something in his throat, forcing him to breathe in short gulps.

"You guys..." Spike realized, looking among the others. "You guys don't hate me?"

"'Course not," Big Mac stated, his voice shocked. "Thar's no reason to."

Spike's breath stuttered to a halt as the words registered. Something sparked deep within as he looked over the others before him.

The only five ponies that had been willing to listen to him.

The ones that, in spite of everything he'd expected, were looking at him without a hint of anger among them.

Twilight raced to his side and wrapped her arms around his leg. Spike looked down to her, his mind still racing. Words and thoughts spun through his head, struggling to find an outlet.

"Thank you..." he finally croaked out, a chuckle actually escaping shortly after.

"Oh thank goodness," Celestia breathed out alongside a sigh of relief.

For a second, even she had been worried about what Thunderlane might have done. As it stood she could feel nothing but relief, a few tears coming to her eyes as Spike finally found his voice again.

"Thank you..." he croaked out.

Spike's voice echoed through the darkness around Celestia. A rather impressive feat considering there was seemingly nothing for the sound to bounce from. It was a strangeness that Celestia had grown used to in the pitch blackness that served as her prison. As far as she'd been able to tell there were only two things not made of shadow in this place.

Herself, and the images Nightmare Moon kept sending her.

Projected before her eyes onto what she could only assume was a wall had been everything Nightmare Moon witnessed. Large enough to take up almost the entirety of the field of vision.

At that moment, the "screen" was filled with an aerial view of the Ponyville citizens in the forest. Spike had his head low, a few tears pooling by his hooves. Twilight swung herself up onto Spike's back, hugging him tight as she did. Thunderlane stepped over, adjusting the unicorn's hat.

"I guess I've been pretty stupid," Spike admitted, lifting his head again. "Haven't I?"

"Well... yeah," Thunderlane said, his wings slumping. "But it hasn't exactly been a good night for anypony."

"Yeah," Ditzy Doo agreed "Especially with the fog, the cliff, the Ursas..."

"I think we get the picture," Time Turner chimed in, patting Big Mac's side. "More importantly, we should get back on task. The elements are still out there, remember?"

"Eeeyup," Big Mac said with a nod.

"Everypony ready to go then?" Cheerilee asked, looking to the others.

Spike simply nodded in response as a chorus of agreements rang around him.

Celestia smiled, and began to try and wipe her eyes. Black chains tightened around her leg, clinking softly as they tugged against some distant anchor. She lowered her hoof silently, feeling the tension around her limbs and wings lessen somewhat.

"How touching..." A sinister voice suddenly hissed out. "Touching and informative..."

The image of Spike and the others suddenly blinked out. Celestia's head snapped up to the darkness before her. Flecks of stars began to pepper two amorphous areas, constantly shifting and twinkling. Shadows peeled back to reveal metallic-blue armor. A sneer appeared beneath a pair of eyes as Nightmare Moon completed her appearance before the captive alicorn.

Celestia scowled and tried to turn her head away. The chains rattled again, preventing even this simple motion. Nightmare Moon was mirroring the scowl as she stomped forward, her armored hoofsteps ringing all around.

"Come to pay a visit?" Celestia asked, her voice as flat as her mane. "I'm honored, sister."

"Spare me the games, Celestia! Is what that little foal said true?" Nightmare Moon fumed, stomping closer. "You had somepony to stand against me... and you sent them away!?"

Celestia remained silent, her eyes darting to the ground.

Her mind, however, was racing. She could feel the invisible chains around her, but her mind turned inward. She could still feel her magic, pent up deep inside. Nightmare Moon was standing right before her. The brief second of silence almost felt like hours to the sun princess as her thoughts spun.

All too soon something cold slithered around her throat. Celestia gasped in horror as Nightmare Moon's mane pulled her head up, forcing the two to lock eyes.

"I'm in no mood!" Nightmare Moon shouted. "Now answer me!"

Celestia struggled to inhale, her eyes catching sight of the aura gripping her. The phantom mane filled with tiny stars. She could almost feel the microscopic lights reflecting in her eyes as something sparked inside.

"It's true," Celestia gasped out around her captor's grip.

The mane retreated, confusion flooding the black alicorn's features. Celestia coughed a bit as she slumped back down. She quickly pulled herself back up, steadying herself into a more regal position.

"This is some sort of trick, isn't it!?" Nightmare Moon shouted, simply staring at her captive. "You're not stupid, Celestia! You knew how this was going to end between us!"

"I'm not perfect either," Celestia admitted, closing her eyes as she let the memories filter through her mind. "If only Spike knew the whole story, he wouldn't have beat himself up so much."

Celestia could feel a flicker of energy passing through her body. She smiled inwardly as she opened her eyes again. Nightmare Moon still stared at her, nostrils flaring as she glared at the white alicorn.

"Even as talented as she was with illusions, I knew what Trixie was doing," Celestia spoke as she lowered her head slightly. "But for so long I'd hoped I could change her."

The bit of magical energy inside grew. Celestia shook her head, trying to keep her composure and focus on her memories.

"Of course I could have made her behave," Celestia went on. "One word of punishment from me and she'd have promised anything,"

"Instead you chose not to act until that foalish little colt ousted her to everypony," Nightmare Moon said with a sneer. "I'd love to hear the reason behind that."

Celestia look at where the projection of Spike had been and let out a wistful sigh. She turned her gaze inwards again, and slowly nodded.

"Trixie had to see that there were opinions other than mine that mattered," Celestia explained, gently rubbing her hoof against the ground. "When I found out about Spike's article, I realized I could use it as a test."

She took a deep breath, and her horn began to shimmer. She could feel the miniscule amounts of magic squeezing past the chains around her. Nightmare Moon gasped, her mane expanding as a blob of light appeared between her and Celestia.

Celestia focused, her magic swirling and settling to the ground. Slowly it began to grow, reconstructing just as she remembered it. A wooden desk in a small office. A white unicorn with a pink mane seated behind it.

The sun princess couldn't help but smile a little at the sight of her old disguise. Nightmare Moon's mane calmed, and she looked over the image. Celestia felt a certain sense of pride as even the Mare of Darkness gave a small nod of approval

"I hoped that the uncovering of her wrong doings would inspire a change in Trixie," Celestia said as she forced more magic through the bindings. "Regrettably, I underestimated two things..."

She swallowed hard as she watched the lights expand further. Slowly a blue filly was added to the image, seated on the other side of the desk. At her hooves appeared a tiny, purple dragon. A purple colt with a short, green mane completed the construct, positioned in the seat next to the filly.

"Just how well written Spike's article would be..." Celestia continued before taking a deep breath. "And how much Trixie cared about her position."

With one last application of will, Celestia's memory began to play out.

"Well, Miss Lulamoon?" Celestia's disguised past-self asked, her voice echoing through the halls of memory and the strange prison. "Care to explain yourself?"

"It's... it's all a lie, Principal Sunny Skies!" the filly shouted, stamping her hoof before pointing at the colt. "Spike's always been jealous of me! He's just tryin' to get me in trouble!"

"No, I'm not!" Spike shouted, shaking his head and looking desperately to the princess. "Trixie's been doing this stuff for—"

"You don't have to say anymore, Mr. Flail. Your article speaks for itself," praised "Sunny Skies". "I have to add, it's quite well done."

Spike fell silent, but a little smile came to his face. He looked to the dragon near Trixie, who smiled back and gave him a little wave. Trixie, however, was gaping in horror as the disguised princess turned back to her.

"Trixie, I'm certain you're aware we do not abide cheating or bullying at this school," the projected Celestia spoke. "I'm afraid Princess Celestia wishes to speak with you privately about this. I'm sorry to say that she's not certain whether you'll continue to be a student here..."

The voice faded as all the illusions shattered. All but Trixie who stood there, staring up Celestia herself.

The white princess's breath hitched as she locked eyes with her own memory construct.

"He took Twilight... and even convinced Principal Sunny Skies to expel me!" the filly Trixie said, tears running down her cheeks. "But... but you believe me, right? Spike's the one that should be in trouble, not me!"

The false Trixie burst apart as well as Celestia lowered her head in shame. She could see fragments of her former illusion scattered about, but suddenly their importance was lost to her.

"That... that was where I made my biggest mistake. Even after everything else, I could have given her another chance," she admitted, her voice fading. "I could have tried to make her see the error of her ways. To change her..."

"But you didn't," Nightmare Moon's voice broke the silence as she stalked closer.

Celestia counted the hoofsteps as her sister moved. Only a small part of her was even sure why anymore.

"I was frightened... and foolish," she admitted, staring at the few specks of light like they'd offer reassurances. "Even faced with what she'd done, Trixie refused to acknowledge it. She was too in love with the power she thought she deserved..."

The hoofsteps continued. Four. Five. Six.

"I became so worried that no matter how hard I tried... that I wouldn't be able to protect her," Celestia's body shuddered as she spoke. "Protect her from giving in to temptation... from falling to the darkness..."

Seven. Eight. Nightmare Moon's hooves were surrounded by the barely visible fragments of Celestia's illusion. Equestria's ruler blinked, her mind barely recalling her plan.

"Just like I failed to save you," Celestia breathed out, raising her head again. "I used Spike to test Trixie... and to test my resolve. And we both failed."

Nightmare Moon stopped in place, eyes narrowing at her prisoner. Celestia simply met the glare, feeling the burn of the hatred. The anger was almost overwhelming as the dark alicorn's horn began to glow.

"So you just pushed her aside like you did me," Nightmare Moon snarled. "Send me to the moon, expel your own student... it's all the same isn't it?"

"If I could change the past, I'd do so in a heartbeat," Celestia stated, looking back to the sparks by her sister's hooves. "As it stands... I'll have to settle for doing what I can right now!"

Her horn flared, and thin lines of light shot between the fragments. Nightmare Moon gasped in horror as the shadows suddenly fled from around her. A web of golden light rose from the ground, tangling into the stars in her mane.

"No!" Nightmare Moon roared, trying to pull away. "CELESTIA!"

Celestia watched as the threads of light only tangled deeper as her captor's mane tried to expand. Slowly, her heartbeat returned as she watched her trap come to fruition.

"You insolent — do you really think this will hold me?!" Nightmare Moon shouted, some of the threads snapping as yanked her head back. "Unlike you, only my mind is in this prison—"

"Which means it isn't out there," Celestia spoke, her own gaze narrowing. "Which means my little ponies have a reprieve, however brief, from you."

Realization came to her sister's face. Celestia felt a small spark of triumph light within as the Mare of Darkness strained against her bindings.