• Published 1st Nov 2021
  • 1,816 Views, 64 Comments

And I Hope You Die - Aquaman

“I’m not making you do anything, Flurry," Cozy murmured. “I’m giving you a choice. Me or your empire. And we both know what the right call is.”

  • ...

Before the Sun Rises

Author's Note:

CW: Implicit reference to child sexual abuse

From a thousand feet in the air—or somewhere around that, Flurry had never actually measured it herself—the Crystal Empire looked like one of those holiday models that fancy department stores put up around Hearth’s Warming. In every direction you could see lights twinkling and little ponies puttering around, hear laughter and the sound of music wafting out of restaurants and dancehalls and the occasional bedroom window—and yet none of it actually felt real.

This far away, you couldn’t see the breath clouding in front of ponies’ noses or feel the warmth radiating from the buildings. You just had to imagine it, like you might imagine the miniature lives of plastic figurines that only saw daylight for one month a year. It was eerie and exciting all at once—and as the rest of her 18th birthday night had taught her, alcohol made it feel so much better.

“Why do you still call her ‘Auntie’?”

It was the first time Cozy had spoken in a while. For most of the evening, she’d hung out at the fringes of every pub and club Flurry and her birthday entourage had visited, nursing the occasional vodka soda and seeming satisfied with just watching everypony else party. But as the night waned into the early morning, more and more acquaintances had trickled away to other parties or to their beds, and now it was just her and Flurry left, perched on the parapet of the Crystal Castle’s highest tower and sharing a four-pack of crappy beer with their hind hooves dangling a thousand-ish feet above the ground.

“Twilight, I mean,” Cozy clarified after a moment. “The God-Princess.”

“‘Cause she’s my aunt,” Flurry replied, tilting her can up to get the last sip or two out. “And she’s not a God-Princess.”

“She could be, though,” Cozy mused. Her can was still half-full. She stared down into it as she went on. “And that’s not my point. My point is she rules all of Equestria… like, the whole thing. It’s just her. And I know you’re a Princess too and all, but when you talk about her I picture this all-powerful, invincible… God-Princess, and then you call her ‘Auntie.” And it’s weird. To me, anyway.”

“Yeah,” Flurry murmured, conceding that it was at least a little weird. “I don’t know. I guess she always treated me like her niece, so I still just think of her as my aunt. I don’t see her… be a Princess a lot, y’know? And the Twilight Sparkle I know, she’s not invincible.”

Cozy raised her eyebrows as she raised her beer to her lips. “She kicked my ass pretty good,” she said, her voice echoing inside the can.

“You were twelve,” Flurry countered. “And you were an orphan. Which…”

Cozy glanced at Flurry over the rim of her beer can, and Flurry felt the lowest scum on the planet. “Shit, sorry. I’m so sorry. That was stupid, I didn’t mean…”

“To be honest?” Cozy said, though she sounded more amused than upset.

“That was so shitty, seriously, I shouldn’t have said that.”

“And seriously, no big deal,” Cozy assured her. “Trust me, God-Princess magic hurts more than words. For the record, though, I wasn’t an orphan.”

Still reeling from the emotional roller coaster she’d undone her lap bar on, it took Flurry a moment to process what she’d heard. “You… I didn’t know that. I mean, no one ever told me.” After another moment, she added, “You never told me.”

Cozy’s eyebrows twitched up again. “Well, I’ve never been much of a sharer, so…”

She trailed off, and Flurry was more than happy to assume that was that. She cracked open her second of the four beers they’d brought up with them, and Cozy finished her first without another word. She was two sips into her second when she suddenly spoke up again.

“I was six.”

Flurry turned her head towards her friend. Cozy was staring off at the horizon, where just the slightest blue divot in the sky’s inky blackness betrayed the coming arrival of dawn. “I was six when my parents split up,” she said. “My mom had a crappy job, my dad didn’t, so he got custody. Few months later, he gets a letter from some hospital about still being Mom’s next-of-kin. They hadn’t finalized that part when she got sick. By my seventh birthday, it was just me and him.”

Cozy took a long pull from her beer, seeming to hold the mouthful over her tongue for long enough that the carbonation must have started to hurt. Once she swallowed, the shudder that rolled down her spine landed in her forehooves, jittering the can just enough to shake droplets of condensation off into the thousand-foot abyss.

“For a while, a few years at least, I just assumed it was my fault. No one told me that, not even him, but… y’know, what other explanation was there? For Mom leaving and then dying and… everything else. And a kid that young, family to them is just a fact of life, like grass being green. Whatever your family does, that’s love. That’s just what families are. And if you don’t like it, if you sleep better when your dad brings another nameless mare home, because that means he won’t…”

The whispered words escaped Flurry’s throat with the last of her breath. “Holy shit…”

“It’s your fault,” Cozy said. “Whatever happens, you have control over it, and so you… control it. And if you can’t control it, you run, so… I ran. Got picked up by a beat cop at a train station not even an hour later.” She chuckled. “I didn’t know you needed a ticket for those. They asked me why I ran away from home, I said… something, I guess, that tipped somepony off, and then no more Dad. I never saw him again.”

“Cozy, I…”

“You know what the really fucked-up part was?” Cozy interrupted. She still didn’t sound upset, just impatient, like Flurry had tried to butt in before she was finished telling the whole story. “At this shelter afterwards, they put me in this group therapy, right? Whole room full of mares and a couple stallions who went through shit, and then me, this nine-year-old kid. And I just listened to them talk about how scared they were, how they couldn’t control what happened to them and they didn’t know how they were going to move on, and you know what I thought? I thought they were fuckin’ wimps.”

Cozy laughed again, pausing only for a quick sip of beer. “That’s where my little messed-up head was. It was the only thing I had to cling to, this vague idea of what control was and this unshakeable belief that I still had it, and I clung to it. And now… I don’t know. I think I’m in control of my life. More than I was as a statue, anyway.”

For the first time in a while, Flurry remembered to breathe, but she couldn’t think of anything to do afterwards but hold onto the wall beneath her and wait for Cozy to continue.

“Couple years ago, I looked him up. Not sure why, I guess… curiosity. He had friends in the right places, so he never saw prison or anything. Instead, he just kept going, kept doing business, told anyone who asked that I was living with a relative. And then one day, he drops mid-shift. Heart attack. I could’ve gone to visit him in the hospital if I’d known.” She looked down at the can in her hoof, shaking it slightly to see how much beer was left inside. “I wish I had. I wish I could’ve seen him before he died.”

There was a long pause, broken only by the breeze and the sounds of a new day beginning in the city a thousand miles below. “What would you have done?” Flurry finally asked.

Cozy tipped her can up, drained it in two gulps, then tossed it onto the landing behind her. She looked serenely at the newly rising sun, and answered.

“Killed him myself.”