• Published 2nd Jan 2024
  • 2,234 Views, 218 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...

  • ...

Chapter 3

Twilight stared at the group of ponies and dragon standing in the doorway, the tear streaks still clearly visible on her cheeks. For a brief moment of serenity, all of her friends simply stared back at her, their faces riddled with shock. It felt like a lifetime since she'd last seen them, and even despite the horrible tragedy she'd just witnessed and experienced, she couldn't help the relief and elation she suddenly felt in her chest just from the sight of them.

However, her relief was perilously short lived, as the brashest of the bunch flared her wings and dropped into an aggressive posture.

"Get away from her!" Rainbow Dash shouted, baring her teeth.

Twilight's forming smile was shattered into a look of confusion and hurt. Her brow furrowed as she tried to come to some sort of conclusion as to why her friend would suddenly become so aggressive with no provocation. She glanced to Applejack, hoping that the level headed earth pony would see that Rainbow was being irrational and snap her friend out of her sudden lapse of judgement, however, it was not to be. Much like Rainbow, AppleJack crouched down and pawed at the floor with one hoof, as if preparing to charge.

"G-girls?" Twilight weakly questioned, her voice laced with confusion.

"Twilight! Don't worry, we won't let that thing hurt you any more!" Rarity shouted, her horn igniting in a sapphire hue.

"Yeah! What she said!" Pinkie chimed in, suddenly standing on her hind legs and slamming her hooves together.

"Twilight! Can you teleport out of there!?" Spike questioned, his voice full of fear.

Despite the sentiment seemingly being shared amongst all of her friends, Twilight simply could not understand what was driving them to such hostility. She glanced over to Cooper, finding that he was simply resting on his knees beside her, his head hanging low as he stared down at his bloodied arm. Twilight mentally slapped herself as her eyes were instantly pulled down to her own bloodied and bandaged wither.

"Girls, wait!" Twilight exclaimed, but she was just a fraction of a second too late.

A blur of rainbow color rocketed forward in a flurry of rapidly flapping wings. Cooper didn't even bother to look up to see Rainbow as she barreled toward him at high speed. All of the rest of her friends prepared to charge forward and attack in their own way, but all of them were taken by surprise as Twilight suddenly dove in front of Rainbow.

Reacting with the agility and skill of a wonderbolt, Rainbow managed to bank right and roll to avoid hitting Twilight, but she was forced to miss her intended target and fly up higher to bleed off speed, lest she crash into a wall. Twilight, on the other hand, slammed into the floor just in front of Cooper, the impact making her yelp in pain as she landed on her bandaged wither.

"Twilight! What're you doing!?" AppleJack exclaimed, her eyes wide in shock.

"Stop!" Twilight shouted, her sudden spike in volume taking everyone in the room by surprise.

"W-what?" Rarity hesitantly questioned.

"B-but... Twilight, we're trying to save you!" Spike pleaded, frantically looking back and forth between Twilight and Cooper.

"Yeah, Twilight what gives!? I was about to save you from that monster." Rainbow chided from above, her wings lazily flapping to keep her altitude.

"T-Twilight, what's going on?" Fluttershy timidly asked, hesitantly stepping forwards.

"It's a long story, just... please. Don't hurt him. He's my friend." Twilight responded, making her friends all gasp.

"Friend? Him? Twilight, what even is he?" Pinkie questioned, curiously.

"And Darling, you... are you certain? You're clearly hurt and bleeding." Rarity protested, barely hiding the queasy look on her muzzle at the sight of so much crimson.

"Wait a minute..." Spike muttered, taking a few steps forward.

"Spike, don'tcha get too close now, ya hear?" AppleJack cautioned, glancing over to the drake.

"I know, I know... it's just... wait... Twilight, is that... a human?" Spike questioned, his brow furrowed in confusion.

Twilight gratefully nodded, "Yes. Yes, he is. Spike... girls... I have so much that I need to tell you, but you need to trust me... please." She pleaded, looking up to her friends.

Slowly but surely, her friends abandoned their aggressive postures and eased into a more relaxed stance as they silently observed. While they all still wore weary looks on their faces, they made no move or argument as Twilight turned back to Cooper and closed the distance between them.

As Rainbow landed back beside the rest of their friends, Twilight reached Cooper and nuzzled his cheek with her own. The gesture, soft and small as it might have been, was enough of a shock to finally snap the man out of his daze and bring his attention back up to her. A pair of piercing brown eyes slowly met her purple irises, noticeably bloodshot from the tears shed for the very pony standing before him.

"Cooper... are you alright?" She whispered, her face just a few precious inches from his.

The concern was clear in her eyes, and despite the agony and loss he felt from watching her literally fade away in front of him, Cooper suddenly found her words bouncing around in his head.

you need to be there for each other. Promise me you'll be there for one another... please?

As he stared back into the pools of purple staring back at him, Cooper found himself wanting nothing more than to keep his promise. He shakily nodded as his hand subconsciously reached out and cupped her furry cheek. Cooper idly stroked his thumb through the short furs on her face, brushing the damp spots where her tears had been shed.

"Y-yeah... thanks to you." He replied, quietly.

Twilight felt her heart swell with happiness at his words, and she quickly smiled.

"Thanks to both of us... we made it out together." Twilight replied, softly nuzzling against Cooper's palm.

The group of ponies and dragon watched from their side of the room, uneasy looks on all of their faces. As the two separated and faced the group of friends, AppleJack slowly stepped forward once more.

"Uh... sugarcube... ya mind explainin' what's goin' on here? What happened to you?" She asked, the concern clear in her voice.

"Before we go into any of that, I think we should get Twilight to a doctor. She's... bleeding." Fluttershy spoke up, directing everyone's attention to Twilight's wither.

The bandages wrapped all along her shoulder and wither were slowly turning red as they soaked in her blood, a fact that made all of Twilight's friends cringe.

"Yeah... we should probably go see a doctor before anything else." Twilight relented, turning back to Cooper once more, "I don't think our doctors will know how to help you, but they can at least x-ray your arm and make sure the bone is splinted properly." She offered.

Cooper nodded, his eyes falling on his rusty old AK laying on the floor just a few feet away. He bit his lip as he realized that he no longer had any ammunition for the rifle, and instead his attention was pulled to Gabe's pistol, laying between him and Twilight, and the rest of the ponies in the room. Following his eyes, Twilight frowned ever so slightly.

"Nopony is going to hurt you, Cooper. I'll make sure of that. You don't need to carry those weapons on you where ever you go anymore." She said, quietly.

Cooper let out a sigh, "I... I know. Still..." He trailed off.

Twilight nodded, "You're not going to move unless I let you take it, are you?" She half-smirked.

Cooper snorted, "You know me so well."

With a relenting sigh, Twilight ignited her horn and levitated the pistol over to Cooper, who gratefully accepted it and placed it in his pocket.

"Just promise me you won't use it on any ponies. If you get any kind of hassle, let me try to sort it out first. The last thing I want is ponies to have to experience being hurt by one of those." Twilight cautioned.

"You got it, Twilight. Let's go to the hospital before we both pass out from blood loss." Cooper dryly chuckled while pushing himself to his feet.

"Darling, what... what was that thing you just gave him?" Rarity inquired, her eyes squinting in confusion and concern.

"Nothing that I won't explain to you all once we get back. For now, I think I'd really like to go get something for the pain because... well, my wither is absolutely on fire right now." Twilight responded, offering a disarming smile.

"No it's not, silly. Your wither is bleeding, not on fire." Pinkie chimed in, much to the group's confusion.

However, to everypony's surprise, Twilight giggled at the somewhat tasteless joke, "Oh, Pinkie. I'm glad you haven't changed."

"Well why would I have? It's only been like, a day since I last saw you." Pinkie chirped, a beaming smile on her face.

Twilight's happy face fell somewhat at the response, but she quickly shook her head clear of the thoughts that were plaguing her and nodded toward the doorway. However, before she could even take a step forward, Rainbow darted in front of her, her hooves screeching to a halt as she almost bumped into the purple alicorn.

"Oh no you don't! That wither is beyond mangled. We're taking you to the hospital, ourselves. There's no way in Tartarus we're letting you walk on that." She asserted, forcefully.

Albeit with a moment of hesitation, the prismatic pegasus glanced up to Cooper, his imposing size making her shrink in on herself just ever so slightly, "Uh... t-that goes for you too, big guy. If Twilight says you're her friend, then you're our friend too." She proclaimed, standing tall, despite barely even coming up to the man's waist.

Cooper looked down at Rainbow for a few moments, his expression unreadable. The seconds passed in a tense blur, each tik tok of the grandfather clock at the end of the room serving to highlight the nervous, tense, and awkward atmosphere in the air as the man and pony stared each other down. Rainbow could feel a nervous bead of sweat begin to form on her brow as the seconds dragged on like an eternity.

"Thanks. I can walk just fine right now, but I'll keep it in mind." Cooper replied, holding his hand out.

Rainbow let out a small breath she was holding but stared at Cooper's hand curiously.

"Huh... it's like a minotaur's hand." Rainbow noted, before extending a hoof to meet the gesture.

Cooper's fingers coiled around her hoof and he shook with a surprising amount of gentleness. Rainbow smiled at the acceptance of her friendship as they both returned their respective appendages to their persons.

"Well, now that that's settled, can we get Twilight to the hospital?" Rarity curiously questioned.

"Ah'll go get the wagon. We'll get her there lickety split." AppleJack responded, turning tail and galloping out the door.

"Let's help Twilight downstairs, girls." Fluttershy suggested, quickly taking her place by her friend's side.

"Um... Darling... you're getting blood all over your fur." Rarity squeamishly noted as Fluttershy softly pressed her wither against Twilight's for support.

"It's not the first time. My animal friends get hurt very badly sometimes. It's more important that we get Twilight to the hospital. I can wash it out later." Fluttershy smiled, surprisingly uncaring for the blood soaking into her coat.

"I-if you say so, dear. Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash. I don't suppose you two could go inform Ponyville General of an alicorn and a... um, a thousand apologies, but what did you say he was again, Spike?" Rarity leaned down, looking to the purple drake.

"A human." Spike repeated, his voice all but filled with curiosity and confusion as he looked Cooper up and down.

"Right, a human. Rainbow, Pinkie, can you go tell the hospital staff to prepare for their arrival?" Rarity asked.

"Okie dokie lokey!" Pinkie beamed.

"On it!" Rainbow saluted, before darting out the balcony.

Pinkie quickly bounced after her, although she took the doorway and presumably left through the front door.

With the rest of the group having scattered to their respective tasks, Twilight smiled as Rarity came over to her other wither and supported her much like Fluttershy was.

"As much as I hate the sight of blood... Fluttershy is right. It'll wash out. We need to get you to a hospital, on the double, darling." Rarity announced, giving a slightly squeamish smile to her lavender friend.

"Thanks, girls." Twilight smiled, before glancing over to Spike.

"I'm coming too. Who do you think even went and got all of our friends in the first place?" Spike asserted, crossing his arms.

Twilight chuckled, "Fair enough. Let's go... before I pass out." She said, slowly moving forward.

Together, the three friends managed to make their way from the portal room of the castle and down the stairs. Spike and Cooper were both on either side of the alicorn as she struggled to not put any more weight on her wounded leg, both offering assistance as well whenever they could. Albeit with some minor difficulties, they managed to get Twilight down the stairs and lead her to the castle foyer.

"Spikey? Could you be a dear and go make sure AppleJack is outside and ready?" Rarity questioned, glancing over Twilight and Fluttershy to the small drake.

"You got it, Rarity!" Spike chipperly replied with a salute, before trotting off to the main entrance.

"I suppose it would have been easier to teleport down here... in hindsight." Twilight snickered, before wincing as she accidentally put weight on her foreleg.

"Oh, it's probably for the best, Twilight. We wouldn't want you to strain yourself right now." Fluttershy responded, placatingly shaking her head.

"Indeed, Darling. In your condition, you must conserve your energy." Rarity added.

"Last time you teleported, you passed out, and that was before you were hurt this bad. Probably not a good idea right now." Cooper offered, his sudden contribution to the conversation making both Rarity and Fluttershy pause.

"P-passed out?" Rarity repeated, her voice filled with concern.

"It's... a long story, girls. Let's just get to the hospital first." Twilight stated, her ears drooping ever so slightly.

"R-right. Once you're all better, you can tell us all about it." Fluttershy nodded.

With that, the ponies managed to assist Twilight out of the foyer and to the front steps of the castle, where they found AppleJack already waiting for them with the cart hitched to her barrel. Spike was standing on the last step, helping the orange earth pony mare to back up to the steps. Once she was set up in the most optimal position, Rarity and Fluttershy helped Twilight to the edge of the steps.

As Twilight was helped to the cart, she found her eyes pulled upwards to the sight of Ponyville and the sun slowly descending to the horizon. Her gaze fell on the dozens of ponies out and about in town, going through their daily lives and routines as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. However, the peaceful visage was soon disturbed as ponies noticed her and the human standing just a few feet away from her.

Soft gasps filled the air and ponies froze mid-step as their eyes fell onto the sight of their wounded princess and the equally wounded human. A few fillies and colts exchanged hushed whispers of shock and horror at the sight of so much blood covering the lavender alicorn. Several of their parents covered their eyes and pulled their foals away as they stared on in fearful silence.

Twilight let out a hushed sigh at the fearful responses of the townsponies. She subconsciously glanced over to Cooper, finding that while he was surveying the town with a mixture of emotions on his face, there was at least a noticeable absence of fear or anger.

"Damn... they really do walk on clouds..." Cooper muttered.

Twilight followed his gaze to see a few pegasai sitting on a few of the scattered clouds. They were staring down at him, a mix of curiosity, confusion, and fear in their eyes. None of them were particularly fixated on him for long, however, as their attention was pulled to her as they noticed the blood all over her coat. Several audible gasps and shrieks of concern erupted from the clouds, mixing in with the townsponies' below.

Before Twilight could say anything to assuage their fears, AppleJack spoke up.

"Sugarcube, ya'llright?" She asked, her voice filled with worry.

Twilight quickly nodded, "Y-yeah. I'm okay. Let's go."

With that, Twilight climbed onto the cart, albeit with considerable help from her friends, and laid down on her good side. Spike quickly closed up the back of the cart once she was situated before hopping up and sitting down beside her. Once they were both settled, AppleJack nodded and broke into a slow trot, jolting the cart slightly before settling down as she made way for the hospital.

Rarity, Fluttershy, and Cooper walked alongside the cart, all three of them now covered in a measure of blood that stood out most proximately on Rarity's white coat. As the group headed through the center of Ponyville, the townsponies scattered and retreated to their houses as they passed by.

Within a few minutes, they reached the outer edge of town and the road leading up to the hospital. Twilight managed to sluggishly lift her head to look over AppleJack and see the building growing closer and closer. She could make out the figures of both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie standing by the doorway, both flanked by an assortment of medical staff and doctors. She could recognize a few friendly faces, but many of the staff were ponies she couldn't even remember seeing before.

Oh wow... they really brought out the whole hospital staff for me, didn't they? I hope it isn't that bad...

Author's Note:

Bada Bing, bada boom. Twilight's friends can be reasonable adults! Who would've thought!? Hope you guys enjoyed. I felt like this was a pretty reasonable way for the rest of the mane 6 to react upon seeing Twilight and Cooper in the state they're currently in.