• 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 21

Luna impatiently tapped her hoof against the invisible floor of the dream realm. While she typically found the quiet, peaceful nature of her surroundings to be relaxing and soothing to work in, the longer it took for Twilight's dream to appear, the more nervous she got. She took to pacing back and forth, her ears flicking toward the twinkling sounds of dreams as they slowly floated past her. Several of them bore the red color of a nightmare, but despite her convictions practically begging her to go to them, she held firm.

"Twilight will be asleep soon... she has to be. It's only ten thirty, relax, Luna... oh, but so many poor fillies and colts are having nightmares tonight." Luna muttered to herself, gazing up to see the veritable sea of dreams slowly floating past her.

As much as she wanted to go to them and ail their terrors, she knew that if she were to do so and abandon her task of looking out for Twilight's dream, she would surely miss her opportunity and all her time would be wasted.

"I wish there weren't so many foals in distress..." Luna whimpered, biting her lip as yet another nightmare flitted by, the scene of said foal running away from some shadowy monster playing right before her eyes.

Thankfully, she did not have to wait any longer, as Twilight's dream finally materialized before her. Much like it usually was the past week, Twilight's dream instantly turned into a nightmare, and Luna wasted no time at all as she dove into the small orb. She arrived to find Twilight standing beside Cooper, a small army of faceless figures all shouting and firing what appeared to be rifles much like Cooper's at the duo. Twilight desperately tried to fend them off with her magical blasts, as well as defend both herself and her human with shield magic, but the impacts of the incoming bullets were simply too powerful for her magic to contend with.

Just before Twilight's shield could shatter, Luna descended upon the dream, her horn glowing a brilliant white as she blasted away all of the shadowy figures. Twilight looked up, a look of immense relief on her face as she witness the night princess saving her from her fate.

"Luna! There you are. So this is a dream, then..." Twilight stated, her brow furrowing slightly as she began to recall just why Luna was visiting her.

"Indeed, Twilight Sparkle. I will need your help to enter Cooper's dreams. I assume he is holding you as we speak?" Luna questioned, smiling down at her younger peer.

Twilight nodded, "I don't know if he's fallen asleep yet... but he was holding me when I fell asleep."

Luna nodded, her horn igniting and turning the world around them into a swirling vortex of black and white, "Then we have no time to lose. We need every second we can get in his subconscious if I'm to put a stop to his nightmares."

The dream quickly turned into an inky mix of colors that spun and twisted until a single point of light appeared in the center. Without hesitation, Luna leapt into the center, quickly disappearing out of sight. Twilight followed suite, and after simply blinking her eyes, she was standing beside the lunar alicorn, among the rest of the dreams in the realm of slumber.

"You know... I don't know how you ever got used to that... feels so weird." Twilight shook her head.

Luna smirked, "I would say that you get used to it, but the truth is that you do not. Even now, I still get a little dizzy if I jump into multiple dreams in one night."

Twilight chuckled, "Well then, good thing we're only going into one dream tonight."

"Indeed. Hopefully it should appear before us any moment now." Luna muttered, leaning forward slightly as she scanned the many dreams appearing before her.

As if on an invisible conveyer belt, dreams appeared from nothing just a few yards in front of them, before merrily bobbing their way over to the night princess, almost as if they were called to her by their very nature. It was a serene experience for Twilight, to see Luna work, firsthand. Yet her admiration of her fellow alicorn could not last long as the object of their attention appeared before them both within a matter of minutes.

"There!" Luna cried, pointing to the jaded, jagged form that could only be Cooper's dream.

Without giving her an opportunity to hesitate, Luna rushed forward, grabbing Twilight with her magic and pulling the librarian-turned-princess after her. Twilight gasped in shock as she was dragged over to the dream, but she had no time to even voice her opinion as Luna dove into Cooper's dream, dragging her along in as well.

The first unfortunate thing to register in Twilight's mind, was the bitter cold. Biting and stinging, even through her coat, the falling snow clung to her and chilled her to the bone. Twilight found herself shivering almost as if by memory, but her gaze was swiftly pulled toward the sound of yelling in the forest ahead of her. As she stepped forward, the crunching sound of snow under her hooves sent a distinct shiver down her spine, and for just a moment, it wasn't a dream at all. It was as real as it was just a couple weeks prior.

"Twilight Sparkle, come! This way!" Luna called, using her wing as a makeshift windbreak against the bitter chill.

Twilight, despite her mind still reeling from the moment of remembrance, nodded in compliance and trotted along after the dark alicorn. The sound of voices quickly grew louder. The duo trotted toward the voices as the cold wind slowly rose in intensity, pelting them with snow that sent chills straight to their bones. For Luna, it was a minor inconvenience that only made her fur bristle slightly in the wind. For Twilight, on the other hand, the experience was nothing short of Hell.

Each gust of frigid wind sent a chill through her that made her nearly whimper in pain as the harsh memories of the frozen wasteland blinked into and out of her vision. The crunching sound of snow under her and Luna's hooves made her ears stand on alert, constantly flicking back and forth as if she fully expected someone to come out of the blue and attack them both. Finally, her coat, bristling and damp as it already was, did nothing to keep the cold from sinking into her very skin. Within minutes of entering the dream, she was shivering and trembling, jumping slightly with each sound that she couldn't quite see the source of.

"Are you alright, Twilight Sparkle?" Luna asked, glancing over her wither.

"Just... fine." Twilight replied through chattering teeth.

At her response, and the utterly miserable way the young alicorn looked, Luna paused in her step and turned around to face her, "These memories haunt you almost as much as they haunt him, don't they?" She asked, though her words were more of an observation than a question.

Twilight paused, immediately going to shake her head, but quickly found that Luna was right. Her eyes fell slightly as she let out a shaky sigh, "It's just... fresh, is all." She replied.

Luna nodded, sadly, "I am sorry for asking you to come with me. I can return you to your dream, if you wish-" She began.

"No," Twilight interjected, "No, don't do that. I'm here for a reason. Let's find Cooper... he's had to live like this for half a decade..." She muttered.

Luna looked like she wanted to protest, but as Twilight trudged past her, her mind seemingly bent on helping her human friend despite the trauma, she found herself unable to dissuade the younger alicorn, and promptly followed after her. It didn't take long for Luna to catch up with Twilight, and soon enough they found themselves arriving at what appeared to be an desolate and barely standing house. Twilight recognized it instantly.

"This is Cooper's house." She announced.

Luna glanced over to her, then back to the house, "I see... this must be where he lost his family." She noted.

Twilight nodded, "Let's get inside. I have a feeling that he's in there."

With a nod of agreement, Luna led the way to the front door of the snow covered hobble that was Cooper's house. While her hooves crunched the snow beneath her for the entire journey thus far, she quickly found the snow thinning out, and eventually giving way to a small walkway that had been meticulously shoveled of the white powder that covered the world around them. They both soon found themselves at a quaint front door, though Luna couldn't help but notice how tall the door was compared to typical pony infrastructure.

She raised her hoof to knock, only for a scream to halt her movement. She quickly glanced over to Twilight, but one look confirmed her suspicions that the scream was most definitely from someone familiar. It was masculine in nature, though calling it a scream simply wouldn't do it justice. If anything, it was more like a wail- a wail of despair and utter emotional turmoil. Luna could see it in Twilight's eyes; there was only one reason they could be hearing a scream like that.

Quickly but quietly opening the door with her magic, Luna headed inside, followed closely by Twilight as they entered the abode. They found themselves in a dark entrance way that led to a boarded up and dimly lit living room, though there were several broken slats and windows that allowed white light to pour in. On hesitant legs, the duo of alicorns progressed into the house, finding themselves almost immediately greeted with a sight that made both of them pause in shock. Twilight, for her part, was expecting to see the image before her, but Luna, sadly, was totally unprepared for the horrendous sight ahead.

Sitting in the center of the living room, covered in blood that was not his, was Cooper. His back was turned to them, though from the additional body in his grasp, it was immediately clear that he was not alone. The worst part about the sight, sadly enough, was not the blood or the clear signs of a struggle, no. It was the fact that the body was so small and feminine compared to Cooper, that made both Twilight and Luna's hearts break.

"Wake up, baby... please... just wake up... Daddy's got you." Cooper whimpered, holding his daughter's lifeless body in his arms.

While Twilight had shared hundreds of long conversations with Cooper over the months they'd known each other, never, in all her time with him had she heard such despair and grief in his voice. The tears streaming down his face and the utter destruction in his heart from his loss, made his voice sound like nothing more than a desperate plea that simply wouldn't be answered.

Both frozen in place by the shock and despair they bore witness to, Twilight and Luna didn't know what to do or what to say as they stared ahead, mere voyers in the moment of Cooper's worst trauma. Eventually, Luna managed to pull her eyes away from the downright horrifying sight of a man holding his own dead child, and look over to her smaller counterpart. While it was to be expected, Twilight appeared even more distraught than she was. Tears streamed down her lavender cheeks, and even despite the cold, she trembled in anguish from the sight before her.

"Cooper..." Twilight whispered, her lips trembling.

She moved to step toward the human before her, but a navy blue wing quickly blocked her path. Twilight looked over to Luna, finding her slowly shaking her head.

"Please, be patient, Twilight Sparkle. Rushing in to comfort him is a sure way to startle him out of the dream. If we are to help him, we need to approach slowly." Luna whispered.

Twilight gave an understanding, if a bit sad, nod, and backed away slightly. She allowed Luna to slowly and methodically circle around the room, before following after her. The path they took allowed them to quickly come into Cooper's field of view, though it was clear that he was still far too involved in his grief to notice them. Eventually, they managed to circle fully around him in the living room, taking great care to avoid stepping on or over the body of Cooper's wife, in the process.

Once they were standing in front of him, though with nearly twenty feet of distance between them, Luna took the lead and politely stepped forward.

"Cooper?" She asked, gently.

Her voice was soft and gentle but the mere thought that he wasn't alone made Cooper snap his attention up to them. His eyes were bloodshot and weary from the tears he'd shed, but there was also something else in those eyes that made Luna pause: hate. For a brief moment in time, all the hatred and loathing in the universe beheld her from those chocolate eyes that were more red than brown, but just as soon as it appeared, the moment left. Luna took a moment to hold Cooper's gaze, finding that despite everything, he quickly recognized who she and Twilight were.

"So... you can enter dreams..." Cooper muttered, looking down to his daughter's body.

Whatever was left of Sarah quickly vanished into dust, fading away from Cooper's grasp. The rest of the room followed suite not a moment later, leaving the three of them standing along in and infinite white light.

"Cooper!" Twilight cried, no longer willing to say nothing.

She galloped toward him and nearly tackled him in a bear hug, tightly wrapping her forelegs around his back and squeezing him close. Cooper, for his part, returned the gesture, holding her tight to his chest as the tears spilled from her tightly closed eyes.

"I... I knew you found them like this but... I-I just never realized how awful that was to see firsthand... I'm so sorry, Cooper." Twilight mumbled, her muzzle buried in Cooper's neck.

"I... I heard the gunshots... I wasn't fast enough." Cooper replied, hanging his head low as he held Twilight in his arms.

"Cooper... there was nothing you could do. It wasn't your fault." Twilight responded, shaking her head.

Cooper sighed. Much as he wanted to protest, he knew that arguing with Twilight was a pointless endeavor, especially over something that was nearly half a decade ago. Even so, he found that he appreciated the little purple pony's candor and care so much that it nearly moved him to tears. However, there was another alicorn nearby, and it only took one glance from Cooper for her to decide that it was her turn to weigh in.

"I am truly sorry for the loss you've endured, Cooper... Had it been possible, I would have entered your dreams much soon than this to dispel any nightmares lingering from your ordeals." Luna offered, softly.

Cooper snorted, "To be honest, I think I much prefer this. If you had just appeared in my dream without me knowing beforehand... I probably would've reacted poorly."

Luna chuckled, "Tis to be expected, given your history. I'll admit... I'm not surprised Twilight told you of what would be transpiring tonight, though I feel as though I must clarify that I only have your best interests in mind. If the dreamer knows that I am going to try to enter their dreams, they tend to sleep more restlessly, and wake up easier. I also understand there is something to be said about boundaries being crossed, but I assure you, I would never snoop through your mind, even if I could." She explained.

Cooper nodded, "I get it. Still... kinda coming to terms with this all being real, but yeah..." He trailed off.

Luna giggled, "I understand. It is quite interesting for any creature the first time."

With the mood of the group now considerable lifted, Twilight finally parted from Cooper and moved back over to Luna's side, though it was clear that she was happy to stay in Cooper's arms as long as possible. Something of an awkward silence quickly took over the group as they stood around each other, all unsure of what to say next. Luckily, Luna was the one to break the silence for them.

"I believe that we've done what we set out to do for tonight, though I would ask your permission to visit your dreams more often, Cooper. Again, purely as a way to help you sleep better, now that you're here in Equestria." Luna announced.

"I... guess I'd be alright with that. Thank you, Princess." Cooper replied, giving a small nod of thanks.

Luna smiled, "Right, well with that settled, I do have one last thing I wish to give you before I depart for the night, Cooper."

"What's that?" Cooper and Twilight asked at the same time.

Luna chuckled, "Well, maybe two. Firstly, this is a shared dream now, so you two may spend the rest of the evening in this dream together. Secondly, and I truly do hope that this helps you..." She trailed off, nodding toward something behind them.

Both Cooper and Twilight turned around to see that Sarah and Mia were standing behind them, both alive and well. Luna watched on as Cooper's jaw worked to move, but no sound could be made, only for Sarah to rush into his arms, prompting laughter and happiness to positively fill the air. Hugs and kisses were shared among the family, and Twilight was included as if she had always been a part of them.

With that, the lunar alicorn turned and made her exit, a soft smile on her face after a job well done.

Author's Note:

Dream honse did a good deed. Yay!