• Published 2nd Jan 2024
  • 2,409 Views, 272 Comments

Warm - CrimsonWolf360

Returning to the past, Twilight does what is necessary to save Cooper from his fate. The consequences for such choices, however, are not to be underestimated. Only time will tell if it was worth it...

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Chapter 20

"I wish to show you exactly what it is that I have been observing the last week." Luna announced, looking down to Twilight.

Twilight's brow furrowed slightly but she nodded her head, prompting Luna to illuminate her horn. A bright white light beamed straight ahead, as if tearing a hole in the fabric of reality itself, just in front of them. Without a word, Luna stepped into the new hole in the dreamscape she'd created, and albeit hesitantly, Twilight followed suite. Together, they arrived in a misty plain, full of vibrant yet blurred colors that were speckled with millions of tiny white lights that littered the sky.

Twilight found herself staring up in amazement at the sight before her, but before she could get too lost in her awe, Luna politely cleared her throat, making Twilight look back at her. There was already nearly thirty feet of distance between them, indicating that Twilight had been taking in the view for far longer than she thought. With a sheepish smile, she quickly trotted over to Luna's side, and the duo progressed forward.

"Wow... so this is the dream realm?" Twilight asked, looking up to Luna.

Luna smiled and nodded, "Indeed it is. This has been my domain ever since my return." She explained.

"So, what exactly do you want to show me in here?" Twilight inquired.

"This." Luna answered, nodding her head toward an orb just ahead of them.

Unlike the thousands of white lights surrounding it, the little orb of light before them was riddled with imperfections in its shape and texture. While the others were perfectly round and brilliant in their coloration, this one was grayed and brittle. Cracks riddled its surface and the light emanating from it was duller than any of the others. Without even speaking, Twilight immediately knew it was Cooper's dream.

"Cooper?" She whispered.

"Indeed. This isn't even the worst it's looked since he arrived. Do you know what a nightmare looks like, Twilight?" Luna asked, curiously.

Twilight mutely shook her head.

"A nightmare makes the dream turn red or black, depending on the severity of the dream. The texture becomes hard and angular. Spikes form, almost as if the dream itself were becoming a manifestation of the dreamer's defense's trying to protect itself from what's hurting them..." Luna trailed off.

"But... this doesn't look anything like that." Twilight noted, confusion written all over her face.

"Indeed. That is where my hesitation lays, Twilight Sparkle. In all my years, and all the dreams I've tended to, I have never seen anything like this. It's as if the edges were sheared off and dulled from time. The light, so bright and vivid once upon a time, has faded to barely a flicker. The only thing that I can possibly gleam from this dream is that Cooper has had nightmares so often, and for so long... that he's simply become accustomed to them." Luna explained.

Twilight's withers sagged as her eyes fell to the nonexistent floor below them, "How awful..."

Luna tentatively stepped over to the dream, gently leaning forward, as if to examine it more closely, "I have tried, many times in fact, to peer into Cooper's dreams... they usually only last for a few minutes before he wakes up."

Twilight nodded, "He has been an extremely light sleeper ever since I met him. The smallest sound and... well, he's up and ready to fight."

Luna sighed, "Every night has been like this for him... except one." She stated, slowly glancing over to Twilight.

"One? What do you mean?" Twilight pressed, walking over to Luna's side.

"When you sent that letter to my sister, the night of your return." Luna replied.

Twilight scratched her chin in thought, "But... why was that night different? Was it just because he was finally in a comfy bed?" She wondered aloud.

"I cannot say. However, as you can imagine, news of a human in Equestria was certainly startling to me. The timing of your letter was also perfect, as it came just in time for me to enter the dream realm and seek out Cooper for myself. I was able to find and enter his dream on that first night, albeit for a brief amount of time." Luna elaborated.

"You did? What did you see?" Twilight inquired.

Luna bit her lip, her sudden hesitation making Twilight wince, "That bad?" She asked.

Luna regretfully nodded, "I couldn't see much, being only able to view his dream for a few minutes... but there was much death. It's... it was not pleasant." She admitted.

Twilight sighed, "I figured as much... so... how am I supposed to help you to help him? If you can't even enter his dreams, then what can I possibly do? I can't even enter the dream realm like you can." She pressed.

"I need you to remember if there was anything notable you did that night. Anything at all. I believe there was something that helped Cooper stay asleep long enough for me to briefly enter his dream. I want so badly to help relieve him of his nightmares, but unless I can keep that bridge open long enough to make a connection and handle what is causing the nightmare, I simply cannot help him." Luna explained.

Twilight's brow furrowed in thought as she sat on her haunches. Her mind struggled to recall anything of any particular note that first night, but within a few seconds, two things stood out to her.

"Well... all of my friends spent the night there with us... though, I don't know if that helped or hindered anything. Cooper seemed kind of hesitant and untrusting of them that first night." She recalled.

"I see... anything else?" Luna pressed.

"Well... um..." Twilight blushed, "I may have... um... asked him to sleep in my bed... with me." She sheepishly explained.

Luna raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"He just held me and we snuggled for the night... but I do remember him relaxing and actually falling asleep after a little bit." Twilight offered.

"So... is it possible that he was able to sleep more peacefully that night because of his proximity to you?" Luna inquired.

Twilight sheepishly shrugged, "I... don't know. I would assume that it might have had something to do with it but I don't know for certain." She replied.

"Well, there's only one way to find out." Luna declared, her wings flaring ever so slightly.

The Following Morning

Twilight walked toward her friends at their usual brunch spot at the local café. The waiter was just delivering a round of refreshing drinks and appetizers for the girls, and the sound of jubilant laughter filled the air the purple alicorn approached. She overheard Rainbow and AppleJack laughing about some inside joke that only the two athletes of the group would understand, while Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity all gossiped about what they saw at the spa the previous week.

However, all of their mirth halted as they noticed her approach. Five sets of eyes instantly darted over to her, silence reigning over the table as even the chirping birds held their breath.

"Uh, hey, Twi." Rainbow lamely greeted with a small wave.

"Darling? Are you alright?" Rarity asked, giving a worried glance to her purple friend.

Twilight took a small breath before meeting her friends gaze, "Luna visited me last night." She stated, not in any kind of accusatory way, but more as if she were just stating a fact.

The group's combined expressions mirrored one of sheer guilt, but they kept their mouth's shut and held Twilight's gaze, all waiting for her to continue. When it became apparent that she was waiting for them to reply, AppleJack was the first to break the awkward silence.

"Uh... how'd that go, Sugarcube?" She inquired.

Twilight sighed, "Mind if I sit down with you all?"

"Of course, Twilight. You're always welcome to join us." Fluttershy kindly offered, pulling out the chair beside her with her wing.

Twilight gratefully accepted the offered chair, taking her seat with the smallest of winces as she moved her foreleg in a way that sent a twitch of pain up her mostly healed wither.

"Yer' looking better an' better every day... you should be good as new in less than a week." AppleJack noted, looking to Twilight's scar.

"I am healing faster than expected... but that's beside the point. Girls... why didn't you just talk to me?" Twilight asked, looking to all of her friends.

Though it was subtle, there was an undeniable level of hurt in Twilight's voice that made all five of her friends wince. Guilty looks quickly spread across the group, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie being the first to look away in shame.

"Darling... you have to understand, it wasn't that we didn't want to..." Rarity trailed off, looking to AppleJack and Rainbow for help.

Being the most level headed out of the bunch, AppleJack took it upon herself to reply, "Shucks, Sugarcube... we don't want to hurt yer' feelings none... we were just worried 'bout you."

"Yeah... after the incident when Cooper ran off into the woods-" Rainbow began, only for Twilight to suddenly cut her off.

"I said I was sorry for that!" She cried, suddenly drawing the eyes of everyone else at the café.

Twilight held her head in her hooves and let out a long, drawn out sigh of sadness as the rest of the ponies observing her slowly went back to their meals. As for the rest of her friends, however, there was a noticeable smog of tension in the air that made it difficult for any of them to even look away from the lavender alicorn, let alone speak. Eventually, Twilight did break the silence, though the melancholy in her voice stung almost worse than her previous anger.

"I'm sorry... I know I haven't been right since I got back... I know you were all just trying to help." She stated, her eyes falling to the tablecloth between all of them.

Without waiting for permission, Fluttershy scooted over to Twilight's side and gingerly wrapped a wing around her, hugging her close. The contact, while warm and comforting, didn't do much to break Twilight out of her mood.

"Twilight... we know you went through a lot... that's why we went to Luna to see if she could help." Pinkie explained, softly.

Twilight nodded, "She did help me... I was having another nightmare last night and just when I thought it was at its worst, she showed up and helped me. I do appreciate it, girls... I do. It's just..." She trailed off.

"You don't like us goin' behind yer' back to do it." AppleJack finished off for her.

"Yes," Twilight agreed, "I know I'm just being irrational and moody, and I'm sorry for that... it's just how I've felt since I woke up."

"And that's perfectly understandable, Darling. I promise you, if we'd known it would bother you so much, we never would have done it." Rarity offered, kindly.

"Yeah. Whatdo'ya say we make a promise to not go behind each other's backs like that again?" Rainbow suggested.

"That would mean a lot to me, girls." Twilight smiled.

"Then let's make it official." Rainbow declared, sticking a foreleg out.

The rest of the girls all similarly stuck their forelegs out into the center of the table, "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." They all recited, going through the motions and poking their eyes with their hooves.

"Ouch." Rainbow muttered.

"Ah always forget to close mah eye when I do that." AppleJack chuckled.

Much to the group's relief, Twilight giggled at the humorous act, prompting the rest of them to laugh along with her. They quickly found themselves in much higher spirits and better moods within seconds. It was as if nothing had ever happened between them in the first place.

"So, Darling. If you're willing to tell us, what exactly did Luna say to you last night?" Rarity inquired.

While her mood did somewhat diminish, Twilight kept the smile in her eyes as she looked over to her friend, "Well... that's actually the other thing I wanted to talk to you guys about." She replied.

"Oh?" Fluttershy inquired.

"Yeah... I think I might need your advice, girls." Twilight responded.

"With what, Darling?" Rarity questioned.

"Well... Luna wants me to help her get into Cooper's dreams to help him with his nightmares as well." Twilight explained.

Looks of shock plastered the entire group.

"Well... Ah was hopin' she'd talk to you and get you to convince Cooper to get some help, but just jumpin' into his dreams so soon? Ah feel like that might be a bit hasty." AppleJack thought aloud.

"I told her the same thing, but she was adamant about helping him with his nightmares. As far as she can tell, Cooper hasn't had a peaceful night of sleep since he got here... er, save for one night, at least." Twilight replied.

"Just one night?" Rainbow tilted her head to the side.

"That sounds awful." Fluttershy cringed.

"When was the one night he didn't have a nightmare?" Pinkie asked.

"It was... the first night he got here... Luna thinks that it was because he was snuggled up with me that whole night." Twilight sheepishly explained.

"Heh, snugglin' on you helps him sleep. Imagine that." AppleJack teased.

"Snuggling with somepony you love is a great way to reduce stress and sleep better, I've heard." Rarity nodded.

"Alright, so... it sounds like you've already got a plan figured out then. Just spend the night with him and have Luna do her thing while he's asleep. Sounds easy enough to me. What do you need our advice for?" Rainbow asked, curiously.

"Luna wants to help in any way she can... and she thinks that if I don't tell him about her abilities, that things would go smoother with her dreamwalking. The thing is... we all know how Cooper is right now... he's jumpy, and untrusting. Having Luna enter his mind while he's asleep, could completely backfire and make him feel less safe than ever. Not to mention there's the whole 'going behind his back' thing." Twilight sighed.

"Hehe, sounds a bit familiar, doesn't that." Rainbow awkwardly chuckled.

"Well, it seems to me like you've only got one choice, then." AppleJack shrugged.

Twilight raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"Tell him the truth. You two went to Tartarus and back, together. Don't start spoilin' that trust now by lyin' to the fella." AppleJack elaborated.

"But what if that makes it so that Luna can't get into his dreams because now he'll be expecting her?" Twilight asked.

"Darling, he trusts you, doesn't he?" Rarity rebutted.

Twilight nodded.

"Then he'll trust your judgement. He knows you only want what's best for him." Rarity smiled.

Twilight considered the advice for a few moments before looking up to the group with a determined smile on her face, "Thanks, girls. I don't know what I'd do without you."






That Night

"So... you want me to spend the night with you?" Cooper asked, a confused look on his face.

"Y-yeah... that's the most basic part of it, but yes." Twilight replied, blushing slightly.

"So... just so I understand this correctly... your princess... Luna, she can enter dreams?" Cooper slowly stated.

"That's correct, yes." Twilight nodded.

"And last night she came into your dream and asked you to help her see into my dreams?" Cooper finished, raising an eyebrow.

Twilight nodded once more.

"And what if I don't want someone else looking into my head?" Cooper crossed his arms.

Twilight sighed, "It's not like that, Cooper. She can only see dreams, not thoughts-"

"Dreams are thoughts, aren't they?" Cooper interrupted.

"While... technically correct, there's a distinct difference between dreams and thoughts. One is a conscious part of your brain, the other is unconscious. I could get into the subtle differences between the two and explain it but we'd be here all night just talking. Just, please trust me on this? Luna herself has even told me that she can't see anything past a pony's current dream. Any thoughts they have in their head stay private. She would never violate somepony's privacy like that." Twilight elaborated.

Cooper held Twilight's gaze for almost a full minute, his lips pursed in thought as he pondered over what she'd said. Twilight quickly found herself worrying that Cooper was simply going to reject her offer outright, but breathed a small sigh of relief as his posture relaxed somewhat and his gaze softened.

"Alright... I'll trust you. So why does she want to get into my dreams so bad? Is it just because I'm the new weird alien and she's curious?"

Twilight shook her head, "It's... more personal than that. Cooper... she knows that you've been having nightmares ever since you got here." She explained.

Much to Twilight's shock, Cooper laughed, "Since I got here? Twilight, I don't think I've had a decent night of sleep in five years."

While his reaction was jarring, Twilight had come to expect such reactions from her human friend after their time together. However, she still had a trump card up her sleeve.

"That's not true. You've had at least one good night's sleep." Twilight rebutted.

Cooper raised an eyebrow, "I have?"

"The first night when we got back here... when you were holding me that whole night." Twilight replied, blushing a bit more.

Cooper rolled his tongue in his mouth as he thought over Twilight's words. He struggled to recollect the night in question, but he did recall sleeping better than he could remember on that particular night.

"Alright... that might be true... so what? Are we just going to cuddle for the night and hopefully I'll have a good night's sleep?"

Twilight beamed, "That's the plan!" She exclaimed, before trotting over to her bed and hopping on the mattress. She quickly pulled book out of the shelf with her magic and levitated it over to Cooper, "Want to read a bit together before we go to bed?"

Author's Note:

Book horse snuggles always solve the world's problems. Now here's hoping she doesn't accidentally make things worse...