• 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 7

Cooper leaned back in his chair as he finished the last of the hastily prepared cupcakes gifted to him by the eccentric Pinkie Pie. While the rest of the ponies in the room made idle chit chat as they ate their snacks, both Cooper and Twilight spoke not a word. They had hungrily devoured the plates provided to them, leaving not even a crumb.

"Well shoot, I think he likes yer cupcakes, sugarcube." AppleJack chuckled, patting Pinkie on the back.

"Oh, oh, oh! You liked them! But did you looooooooove them?!" Pinkie chirped, leaning forward so far that she almost fell off of her chair.

Cooper slowly nodded, "It's... I don't think I've ever eaten anything that tasted that good before." He admitted, his face still conveying a measure of shock from the tasty pastries.

Similarly, Twilight let out a dainty burp into her hoof as she sat upright in her chair, "I almost forgot how good your apples are, AJ. Thanks for letting us have some."

"Aw, don't even mention it, Sugarcube. Ah'm just glad that the two of you finally got some grub in yer bellies. Probably not enough to deal with a month without, but I do know ya'll ain't supposed to scarf down an entire buffet after goin' so long without." AppleJack replied.

Rarity nodded in agreement, "I remember reading about a stallion that was lost in the woods for six weeks before being rescued. He'd lost over half his body weight from starving but when they brought him food, he ate so much rich food that he passed away that same day. Granted, that was a particularly extreme case, but you two should be careful nonetheless."

"Baby steps." Cooper snorted in amusement.

For the first time in so very long, Cooper's stomach was full. It was a feeling that set him at ease and made his shoulders slump in relief. A wave of sleepiness quickly washed over him as he sat in the warm bedroom of his alicorn friend. Even the chair he sat on was designed in such a way that while it was clearly made with smaller equines in mind, it was still incredibly comfortable. Despite his best efforts, Cooper couldn't stop the tired yawn that forced its way past his lips even if he tried.

"Looks like someone's getting sleepy." Twilight smirked, before yawning as well.

"Yawning is contagious." Cooper responded, tussling her mane.

"But you were the first one to yawn?" Rainbow tilted her head to the side, although the urge to yawn was quickly forming in her chest.

"Exactly." Cooper shrugged.

Fluttershy giggled, drawing the gaze of everyone in the room, "I think that's Cooper's way of telling us that he's tired." She offered.

Cooper offered a gruff nod, receiving a round of 'oh's' in response.

"Well you can't go to bed like that, Darling. You should go shower. I know that a hot shower does wonders for me after a long day and I can't imagine how much relief you'll feel once you take one." Rarity suggested, a friendly smile on her face.

"Ah think that's Rarity's way of sayin' that you stink mighty fierce, partner." AppleJack chuckled.

"AppleJack!" Rarity defensively exclaimed.

"It's alright. She's right... been about four years since I took a shower... I know I'm a bit ripe." Cooper admitted.

"I, uh... didn't want to say anything in the hospital but... yeah." Rainbow sheepishly added.

"I imagine I don't smell particularly pleasant either. We should both go shower, Cooper. I have a guest shower down the hall or you can use mine. Whichever you're more comfortable with." Twilight offered, gingerly getting out of her chair.

"I appreciate it, but I'll go take the guest shower. Just need to find my way over there, is all." Cooper acknowledged, getting to his feet as well.

"Go right and take the third door down the hall. That's the guest suite and the shower is attached in the guest bathroom." Twilight instructed.

"Thanks." Cooper replied, heading out the door.

With the human now gone, the rest of the ponies and drake in the room turned their attention back to Twilight.

"Darling, do you need any help rinsing your coat? You know you can't get those bandages wet." Rarity offered.

"Also the doc said you shouldn't be using your magic for a few days to let it recoup." Spike added.

"Thank you, but I think I'll be alright-" Twilight tried to protest, but was quickly silenced by Rainbow zipping in and covering her mouth with a hoof.

"Twi, take it from the expert on getting hurt. You can use the help. At the very least, Rarity can take care of you with her magic." Rainbow said, the look in her eyes leaving no room for debate.

With a small huff, Twilight nodded and turned toward the bathroom, "Alright, alright. I'm not that stubborn. Rarity, could you help me?" She asked, looking back to the white unicorn.

"Of course, Darling. What are friends for?" Rarity beamed, trotting toward the purple alicorn.

"I'm helping too!" Spike declared, rushing over to Twilight's side.

With a playful roll of her eyes, Twilight accepted the offered assistance and headed into the bathroom.

"What should we do?" Pinkie asked, tilting her head to the side.

"We could go and see if Cooper needs any help. His bandages shouldn't get wet either." Fluttershy suggested.

"It would be pretty nifty to see a hue-man without all the clothes." AppleJack nodded.

"Better if you didn't, girls," Twilight called over her wither.

"Why not?" Rainbow asked, curiously.

"Human's... well, they have a certain aversion to nudity. It made sense on Cooper's world since his clothes kept him warm... but even in Sunset Shimmer's world, the human's all wear clothes. I think its a taboo to see each other unclothed." Twilight replied.

"But you've been naked with him the whole time. None of us are wearing clothes and he didn't say anything." Rainbow rebutted.

Twilight shrugged, but quickly winced from the strain put on her wither from even such a small movement, "Well we're all naked, but he isn't." She replied.

Rarity shrugged, "I... suppose that makes sense. Who are we to judge a creature for liking to keep his clothes on?"

"Well is he planning on sleeping in those nasty rags?" Rainbow asked, glancing back toward the direction Cooper was.

"It wouldn't make a lick of sense to get all cleaned up and washed off, jus' ta get back in the clothes he hasn't washed in four years." AppleJack agreed.

"We can wash them for him?" Fluttershy suggested.

"That sounds like a great idea. Rarity, do you-" Twilight began.

"I don't mind in the slightest, Darling." Rarity smiled, quickly turning to Fluttershy, "Fluttershy, dear. Would you mind asking Cooper for his clothes? We'll get Twilight in the shower in the mean time. It shouldn't take me more than a few minutes to get those clothes of his smelling fresh."

"Oh, of course!" Fluttershy beamed, her wings fluttering open and carrying her out the door.

"Now, with that all settled, let's get you cleaned up, girl." AppleJack smirked, closing in on Twilight.

"Thanks, everypony." Twilight smiled, before stepping into the shower.


Cooper stood in shower of the crystal bathroom, his clothes all laid on the floor beside him. The door was closed, but not locked, much to his chagrin, as there was simply no lock on the door at all. He managed to focus his attention on the foreign yet oh-so-familar sight of the hot and cold knobs in the shower. He slowly reached forward, his fingers curling around the cold knob, before twisting slowly.

Almost instantly, a spray of ice cold water shot out from the showerhead above him, completely dousing him in freezing water. The sensation felt like thousands of needles stabbing into his skin from all angles, and while his body curled in on itself ever so slightly out of reflex, he kept his gaze locked ahead, as if he couldn't feel anything.

After a few moments, he started shivering, the cold sapping his body heat more rapidly than he could replace it. Still, he kept his eyes locked on the wall, his face straining to remain as emotionless as possible despite the frigid cold. Finally, after several minutes of enduring the ice cold water, he reached forward and turned off the cold water. While his hand was already there, he grabbed the hot water knob and turned it on slightly, sending another spray of water over his back.

As the water was already cold, it took a few seconds for it to heat up, but soon enough, warmth seeped in through his skin and steam rose from all around him. His eyes fluttered shut as a shuddering sigh escaped him. Try as he might, he couldn't stop the tears that clawed their way out of his tightly clenched eyes and ran down his cheeks, only to be washed away by the water cascading down his body. The tension in his shoulders slowly withered away, and he was able to finally relax for just a moment.

Then a knock came at the door.

"Um, excuse me, Cooper?" A timid, yet oddly excited voice asked from outside the door.

Cooper's head snapped up toward the source of the disturbance, his hand instantly reaching for his rifle, only to find that it wasn't there. For a brief moment in time, all the warmth and water surrounding him vanished, only to be replaced with the bitter cold and frostbitten remains of his city. A blizzard raged around him, sending snow flying through the air and blocking out his sight. He could hear it: the sound of banging on the door. The cold wind blew through the doorway, sending a chill down to his spine and making him shiver once more.

Footsteps, two pairs. Boots on hardwood. They were coming for him. They were coming for his family. The light around him faded to darkness and he felt his throat dry up as his blood ran cold in his veins.

My... family...

The frigid whirlwind of frost around him suddenly vanished, leaving him alone in the shower once more, the hot water rushing over his back and chest.

"Cooper? Are you okay?" The voice asked once more, snapping Cooper out of his musings.

"Huh? What?" He asked, his voice cracking for a moment.

"Oh, um, I was just saying that Rarity would like to wash your clothes so you'd have something clean to wear tonight. Um... would it be okay if I took them to her for you?" Fluttershy's kind voice asked through the door.

Cooper's gaze drifted down to his filthy clothing, the harsh reminders of his injuries still clearly visible as red or copper stains all over the fabric on numerous locations.

"Uh... yeah. Yeah, that'd be alright." He called back.

"Okay! Um... do you mind if I come in to grab them?" Fluttershy inquired.

Cooper slowly turned until he was facing away from the doorway, "No. Go ahead." He answered.

The door opened with a quiet *creak*, revealing a soft yellow muzzle and stringy pink hair. With her eyes glued to the floor, Fluttershy meekly made her way inside and scooped up all of Cooper's clothing with her wings, her muzzle wrinkling at the smell. Just as she turned to leave, however, her eyes were pulled to Cooper's emaciated figure in the shower, and the dirt still practically caked into his skin.

"Um... you probably shouldn't... be getting your bandages wet." Fluttershy suggested, her eyes averting as Cooper looked over his shoulder to her.

Cooper slowly looked back down to his bandaged arm, finding that he was indeed soaking the bandages in water. A sickly crimson color dripped from his arm as the dried blood and caked on grime was steadily washed off. A further glance down revealed that the pristine cream colored tiles of the shower floor ran brown with a mix of blood and dirt that dripped from his person.

"Yeah... you're probably right." Cooper muttered, moving his arm out of the shower's spray.

"Oh, it's not a big deal. I'm sure Rarity can use her magic to dry that out and clean it up. Speaking of, I'll go bring these to her now. They should be nice, clean, and comfy by the time you're done." Fluttershy responded with a genuine smile on her fluffy face.

Cooper stared back at her for a few moments, his expression unreadable. However, as the smile slowly fell from her face, he shook his head clear and nodded.

"Thank you. I shouldn't be too much longer." Cooper replied.

"Oh, there's no rush. I can't imagine how nice that must feel after so long without. Take your time." Fluttershy chirped, before turning tail and trotting out of the room with Cooper's clothes in her wings.

Cooper stared after her for a minute, his mind elsewhere as he thought over the interaction. Eventually, he managed to return his attention to the shampoo and body wash on the counter beside him. Albeit with some fenagling due to his injury,
Cooper washed himself and cleaned the years of filth and blood from his body.

The shower lasted over thirty minutes.

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When Cooper emerged from the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist as water droplets dripped from his clean skin, he walked past the bathroom mirror, pausing in his step. He looked at his reflection for what could've been the first time in years, and once again, he was struck speechless by what he saw.

His hair, long and unkempt, twisted and knotted several times as it cascaded down to his shoulders. His beard, thick and unkept, dripped as the knots and long hairs ran every which way. His eyes, tired and sullen as they might have looked, reflected with the deep brown color he always remembered having, even if he knew his eyes had seen too much. Slowly, he managed to peel himself away from the mirror and head into the bedroom.

True to her word, Fluttershy had returned Cooper's clothes and laid them out on the bed. After so many years of abuse and wear, the fabric of his pants was thin, barely being held together in some places, but noticeably brighter and vibrant than before. His shirt, while also bearing many of the same burns and cuts that his pants bore, was equally clean and vibrant compared to his recollection from only half an hour prior.

Lastly, his cloak was laid out on the bed, the deep bluish-green color standing out prominently against the white sheets covering the bed. While it was tattered, torn, and burnt in dozens of places, it still held its shape. Cooper reached out and stroked his hand against the fabric, finding that unlike what he was used to, it was actually soft to the touch. In fact, all of his clothes felt soft and warm to the touch. Even his boots, weathered and sole-less as they were, looked cleaner than he could ever remember seeing them.

Cooper slipped on his clothes one at a time, feeling the softness and warmth seep into his skin as he did. A small sigh escaped him as he dressed himself, the small act managing to raise his spirits once more. All the same, he pulled the pistol out from the dresser beside the bed and set it on the sheets.

Once he was dressed, Cooper turned and headed for the hallway. It didn't take long for him to pick up on the sound of laughter and mirth from down the hall, and so with a slightly quickened pace, he made his way back to Twilight's room. Subconsciously, he kept his noise to a minimum, ensuring that when he rounded the corner, none of the ponies or dragon present heard him coming.

"Gah!" Pinkie exclaimed, nearly jumping as he suddenly appeared in the doorway.

"Woah, dude, we didn't even hear you coming." Rainbow noted, looking up from the game of cards she and AppleJack were playing.

"Your, um... what do you call them again Twilight?" Rarity asked, gesturing to Cooper's feet.

"They're called feet, Rarity." Twilight responded from her bed, already snuggled up in her sheets.

"Ah yes, thank you, Darling," Rarity replied, before turning back to Cooper, "Yes, your feet make almost no noise at all, dear. Speaking of which, those boots of yours are certainly something else. I've never seen a design like them, but I do know when somepony needs a new pair. They're barely being held together. In fact... most of your clothes could due with a replacement." She offered, politely.

Cooper nodded, "Uh, yeah. I guess I'll need to get on that." He admitted, looking down at his clean but still ragged clothes.

"Come by my boutique any time, Darling. I'd love to whip up something for you to wear. Twilight says you humans are almost always clothed, so I imagine you'll need an entire wardrobe." Rarity offered.

"That's... very generous of you... but I don't have any way to pay you back-"

"Abubub, I won't hear any of that, Darling. You saved our friend's life. It's the very least I can do to thank you, and welcome you to Equestria." Rarity insisted.

Cooper looked at her for a moment before nodded gratefully, "Thank you."

"Think nothing of it, dear. Just come by whenever you can and I'll get your measurements." Rarity smiled, before a realization hit her, "Oh, right! Fluttershy said your bandages got wet. Here, let me dry them off for you."

Without giving him a chance to respond, Rarity closed the distance between them, her horn illuminating in her blue aura before slowly turning orange. Cooper felt heat radiating from the bony appendage into his arm, swiftly drying the moisture that still clung to him and his bandages. Within seconds, he was completely dry.

"There you go, Darling. Can't have wet bandages now, can we?" Rarity smiled.

Cooper stared down at his arm in shock, struggling to find the words, "Wow... t-thank you." He responded, quietly.

"As I said, think nothing of it, Darling." Rarity beamed, before trotting back toward Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.

"Alright, got that letter sent, Twi." Spike called as he trotted in from the balcony.

"Thank you, Spike. I don't know about you, but I am exhausted." Twilight replied, rolling over slightly to take some of her weight off her wither.

AppleJack yawned, "I hear ya', Twi. Whatdoya say we all get some shuteye? It's been a long day."

"You don't have to tell me twice." Rainbow smirked, darting over to her sleeping bag on the floor.

The rest of the ponies in the room quickly followed, leaving Cooper and Spike as the only ones still standing. The purple drake nervously looked up to Twilight, then back to Cooper, twiddling his claws as if he wanted to say something. Eventually he opened his mouth to speak, but Twilight spoke up before him.

"It's okay, Spike. I'm alright." She said, her voice taking a motherly tone.

"A-are you sure?" Spike asked, looking up to her with fearful eyes.

"I am." Twilight smiled, reaching over with her good hoof and tussling his scales.

The sight brought a sad smile to Cooper's eyes, and as he watched Spike run over to his much smaller bed and curl up under his blanket, he couldn't help but feel the reminder of his loss creeping back up in his mind.

"You coming?" Twilight asked, snapping him out of his thoughts.

Cooper glanced up to Twilight, finding that she was laying on one side of her fairly large bed. There was more than enough room for him to climb in with her, a fact that was made even more apparent as she pulled the sheets open with her magic.

"I thought I was in the guest room." Cooper stated, simply.

"Not tonight. Tonight, I'd prefer it if you stayed with me." Twilight replied, smiling softly at him.

Cooper needed no second invitation and walked over to the bed. He crawled in with ease, the soft sheets sending a pleasant sensation across his skin. He quickly found himself spooning the lavender alicorn, his arm instinctively reaching over her barrel and his fingers resting on her chest fluff. Twilight let out a soft sigh at the contact, her eyes fluttering shut as she wiggled further into Cooper's embrace.

Even compared to the sheets, Twilight's fur was indescribably soft to the touch. A wave of sensations went through Cooper's digits as each finger was engulfed in her fur, completely bathing them in her sublime warmth. Her hair smelled of apricots, and felt silky smooth against his nose and cheeks. Whether it was subconscious or not, Cooper couldn't tell, but Twilight's tail soon wrapped around his leg. Even through his pants, he could feel how soft and stringy her hair felt.

"You clean up nice." Cooper murmured, inhaling her scent and squeezing her tighter.

Twilight giggled, "Thanks. You too." She replied.

"I think I could use a haircut..."

"I can arrange that."

"Hmm... goodnight, Twilight."

"Goodnight, Cooper."

The room faded to silence as its occupants fell to slumber's peaceful embrace under the beautiful stars of the night. It was the best night of sleep they'd ever had.

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Celestia smiled as she sat down beside her fireplace, the golden glow of warm flames illuminating the room around her in a soft orange hue. She idly sipped from her cup of hot coco, the sweet chocolatey flavor washing over her taste buds and sending small rush of endorphins through her system. With her favorite book at her hooves, and her soft Yakyakistan rug to provide a shield against the cool tiled floors of her bedroom, she felt completely and utterly at peace.

She spared a glance out the window to see the brilliant sky of her sister's night, the sense of wonder and immaculacy from something so wonderful and otherworldly, filling her heart.

"Every time I see your work, I'm stunned speechless, sister." Celestia murmured, a soft smile on her lips as she looked back to her book.

However, before she could continue where she left off before her impromptu stargazing, a trail of green flames wisped in through the open window, swirling around into a vortex before popping into a small scroll with her regal seal on it. Celestia blinked at the scroll as it hovered in place, just a few feet in front of her face, before glancing over at the clock on the wall.

"It's a bit late for Twilight to be sending me a letter... she's usually asleep by now. Perhaps Spike wanted to tell me something and sent it, himself?" She wondered aloud, her horn lighting up in its golden light to accept the scroll.

Upon unfurling the scroll, Celestia's eyes focused on the small drake's claw-writing, a small frown forming on her brow as she read.

~

Dear Princess Celestia. Firstly, I want to start by saying that no matter what you hear in the coming days, I am alright. I made a rash decision, and it cost me dearly. Having said that, I am healthy, I am alive, and I am with my friends in Ponyville... A lot has happened and while I know this won't make sense until I see you in the flesh and explain it then, I'll try to summarize in this letter.

I tried to go through the portal to Sunset Shimmer's world. Something went wrong, and I was instead sent to a completely different world. This world was... hostile, to put it lightly. I was injured within minutes of my arrival and struggled to escape what would have been my killer.

Now's the part where it gets... confusing.

A human has returned with me from this world. His name is Cooper Slait. He saved my life... more times than I can count. While I can't be certain, I believe I spent somewhere over a month or two in his world. Time dilation means that while it was a month or two for me, it was barely thirty minutes for Equestria.

As I said, confusing. Regardless, I am in need of your help. Bringing Cooper back with me was a decision that I made my mind up on within the first week I met him... that said, he lost so much back home. He lost his family, his home... his world. I was hoping you could come over to the castle tomorrow and help me figure out how to help him adapt to his new life here. I know it won't be easy for him... but I owe it to him to help him in every way I can. As my friend and my mentor, I want to humbly ask you to help him as well. Cooper is a good man, regardless of what his world became.

I apologize for writing this to you so late in the evening. I know it's uncharacteristic of me, but I've only just managed to return from the hospital and get some food in my system. If you could, please come by Ponyville tomorrow. I hate to ask this of you on such short notice, but I don't know what else to do. Please, write back in the morning.

Your Faithful Student, Twilight Sparkle

~

Celestia nearly dropped the scroll from her magical hold as she read and reread the words written on the parchment before her. Her mind raced to comprehend the implications of just what her student was saying, and none of them were good. Having completely forgotten about her book and her hot coco, Celestia pushed herself to her hooves and trotted out of her room, startling the two night guards standing by, outside.

"Your highness!?" They both exclaimed in surprise, snapping to attention before her.

"I need my sister as soon as possible. Please, go get her and bring her to my room immediately. It's urgent." Celestia instructed, giving a grateful nod to the guards as they saluted and rushed off to complete their new task.

It only took the guards a few minutes to return, this time with Luna trotting along after them. The night princess wore a worried look on her face as she trotted into her sister's room, closing the door behind her with her magic.

"Sister? What is it? Are you alright?" Luna asked, concerned.

"I'm fine, sister... Twilight on the other hoof..." Celestia trailed off as she paced back and forth.

"What do you mean? What has happened to Twilight Sparkle?" Luna pressed, a worried frown on her face.

Celestia held up the letter for the lunar alicorn to scrutinize, "Read this." She instructed.

Luna quickly skimmed through the letter held out before her, her eyes slowly widening in shock.

"We must see her immediately." She stated, glancing up to her sister.

"First thing in the morning, sister. I'll have a chariot ready." Celestia responded.

Author's Note:

So things are happening! Yay! We also get to see our first taste of just where Cooper's mental state is at this point. As you can tell, he's very traumatized by the events that happened over those four years. I'll just preemptively say that PTSD is a topic that I take very seriously, considering I have Army friends that have it. Based on what I've read and what I know, I tried to cover it well in this story. Of course, I don't think I could ever do the experience justice. That said, I hope you all enjoyed and are excited for the next chapter.