• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Every Little Thing She Does

"Hey, Alex! I'm headed off to Canterlot!" I heard my door slam open, jolting me awake and nearly causing me to fall off my bed.

Everything I had witnessed was still a blur, and piece by piece, I was able to remember certain things in relation to her morning announcement.

"Oh, that…!" I realized. "H-Hold on, I need to get my stuff ready."

"It's okay. You don't need come along. I've got everything under control." She assured.

"Yeah, but we're a team." I answered, wiping my eyes a bit.

"I think I can handle a little presentation on the history of enchanted objects in Equestria." She responded with a little snark, rolling her eyes backwards. "Spike's going to be with me. Everything will be fine. Besides, I was actually wondering if you could stay here and do me a favor."

"Um, okay. What?" I asked as I ruffled my mane with my hoof.

"I assigned Starlight to tackle on a friendship lesson while I'm gone. Do you think you can give her a little supervision? I'm not asking you to babysit her or anything, just make sure she's doing well and all."

"Uh, yeah, okay." I accepted without really putting the time to think it through first.

"Hey, maybe Alex can be the friendship lesson!" I heard Spike say behind Twilight.

"Hm…" Twilight thought about before coming to a conclusion. "That isn't exactly a bad idea. She already succeeded in making a new friend. In fact, I was just expecting her to learn more about friendship in general. Even so…" She turned her eyes away from the ceiling and shifted them to me. "You don't have to be the lesson. I'm more than sure you're capable of giving a lesson."

"I'm not the 'teaching' type like you are, Twilight." I pointed out. "I wouldn't know jack from making schedules, drawing examples out with chalk, using pointers, and all that teacher stuff."

"That's why you teach your way." Twilight suggested. "I'm not the only one who's taught friendship to others, am I right?"

Confusion struck me momentarily. "…I've taught friendship before…?"

Twilight sighed. "Ditsy? Vinyl? Octavia?"

"But, I didn't really—"

"Just stick around Starlight for me, please?" Twilight abruptly requested. "I have to get going. I'll be back later on today, okay?"

"Yeah, sure." I scratched my head, still being a little dazed about what Twilight had been asking of me.

"Thanks a bunch!" She momentarily hugged me before she trotted off.

"Good luck!" Spike expressed before following after her with several supplies in his claws.

I sighed to myself and looked around the room. I realized that Athena wasn't around, and I had a good feeling she had actually gotten up before I did. Nevertheless, I walked out of my room and began making my way over to Starlight's. I still wasn't sure what Twilight wanted me to do specifically, but I suppose taking a look at what Starlight was doing wasn't a bad idea to start with.

I approached her door and knocked several times. There was no answer, leaving me unsure if she was in another room, or if she was sleeping. Opening the door cautiously, I softly called out her name.


Once the door was fully open, I immediately found a pony sitting on top of a stool in front of a desk holding up a book. Her face was buried in the book, and judging from her mane and coat, it was obviously none other than the pony I was looking for. However, her body didn't move other than to accommodate her rhythmic breathing. It appeared she had fallen asleep in the middle of studying something in particular. Maybe that 'friendship lesson' Twilight was talking about?

I didn't exactly want to wake her up, but at the same time, I didn't want to just leave her there when she was supposed to be working on a friendship lesson. Iwas supposed to be giving her a little 'supervision'. I took a few steps forward and decided to tap her a little. When all I got back was soft incoherent mumbling coming out of her mouth, I decided to move on to shaking her lightly.

"W-What…?" Her eyes began to twitch open.

"You awake now?" I asked.

"Huh…?" She answered lazily, squinting her eyes heavily. "Who are you…?" She rubbed her eyes as I waited in silence for her to find out herself. "Alex? What are you doing in here?"

"You had a friendship lesson or something to do?" I asked.

"The friendship lesson!" She repeated in shock, immediately turning back to her desk. She proceeded to flail her hooves around the open book before turning her head into various locations by the table. "My note cards! Where are they?!"

My eyes caught something stuck within the confines of her mane and noticed a sharp corner poking out from different strands of her hair. I pulled them out to safety with my magic and hovered them over in front of her. Once she noticed what they were, she giggled nervously before grabbing a hold of them.

"Thanks." She expressed.

"If you don't mind me asking, what were you working on?" I questioned.

"My friendship lesson." She returned, looking over her notes. "I was brainstorming for so long before I ultimately came up with a few ways to learn something before Twilight got back." She flipped through the notes and proceeded to list out what was written on each one. "'Bake cake with Pinkie Pie', 'Scrapbook with Applejack', 'Sew with Rarity', 'Help an animal with Fluttershy', 'Chillax with Rainbow Dash'." Ultimately, she sighed and lightly tossed the cards across the table before laying her head flat like it had been when I first came in. "Ugh… I just really don't feel like doing any of those things."

"I'd say." I answered with, finding what was written on the cards a little off. "All those things kind of sound forced. Plus, you don't really want to do something, especially when it comes to friendship, just because you have to."

"I don't know what to do." Starlight muffled out before she lifted up her head in worry. "I don't want to disappoint Twilight, but there's a reason why I've been avoiding 'friendship lessons' for so long. I'm just scared. I don't want to mess anything up."

"What do you mean 'mess anything up'?" I asked. "Like get into a fight or something?"

"Anything that doesn't make the lesson turn out well." She clarified to me. "It's just: I can't exactly find anything that I share in common with the other ponies. For example, I can't bake to save my life. Animals are cute, but I certainly don't know the first thing to do to take care of them. And as you can see right now, I am most certainly not 'chillaxing' like Rainbow does nearly every day."

"I get what you worried about, but I don't think Twilight was expecting you know those things in order to learn about friendship." I told her.

"How am I supposed to learn about friendship if I don't know those kinds of things? Just talk the friendship out of them? With Trixie, we could at least do something together when it comes to magic, but as for the others…" She paused and restlessly looked away.

Her situation reminded me a lot of another pony who had a similar issue. However, the pony I was referring to didn't necessarily have to worry about learning about friendship like Starlight did. Despite that, she did have a tough time getting to know all of our friends, and she could honestly probably help now that her friendships with everyone else were pretty stable and strong.

"I think I know a pony who might be able to help you or at least give you some good advice." I mentioned.

"Who?" Starlight immediately turned to me.

"You know where Athena is?" I asked.

"Athena…? I think I saw her drawing in the library." She recounted.

"Cool. Let's go." I motioned her over with my hoof.

"Huh?" She returned with a little confusion.

"We're going to go talk to her. Come on." To quicken things up, I grabbed her hoof and lightly pulled her until she was out of her chair. Afterwards, I led her out of her room and into the castle library. Once we were in there, I found Athena working the pencil within her mouth onto the sketchbook in front of her. "Yo."

"Look who's up, brothaaa~." She mentioned strangely yet extremely cheerfully. Ever since she officially got her unexpected yet pleasant cutie mark, her spirits have been at an all time high. She was almost an entirely different pony.

"I was wondering if you could offer some advice to Starlight." I nudged her along.

"Sure! What with?" She completely turned herself away from her sketch and faced us fully.

I waited for Starlight to respond, but all she did for the first few seconds was look at me oddly. "Um, I needed some help in learning a friendship lesson?"

"In other words," I cleared up for her, "She wants to know how she can get to know the others without knowing how to do the same stuff that they do."

"Ooohhh." Athena replied. "Yeah. That was totally hard for me to do at first. In fact, when I first tried talking to them, because Alex forced me to bleh, I felt totally awkward around them. Heck, I may be a lot more comfortable with now, but it wasn't because I pushed myself to be that way. I just naturally interacted with them every so often, even if it was just for a minute or a couple of seconds. Then again, I guess it helped when I spilled all my beans."

"'Spilled your beans'?" Starlight repeated in utter confusion.

"'Spilled the beans'? You don't get it? You know, my cats were out of the bag? My secrets? Duh…?" Athena clarified.

"Oh, okay…" Starlight appeared to understand the minimality of the context Athena was putting out.

"Either way. What I'm trying to say is, I guess just, I don't know, talk to them? Get to know them better? I'm sure you've already done this a few times by now." Athena shared.

"But, if I just 'talk' to them, what exactly is that going to do?" Starlight asked. "You expect me to just sit there and just say some random things? I need something to work with!"

"Oh, boy." Athena appeared to silently sigh before continuing to tackle the troublesome unicorn. "I totally get what you're worrying about, Starlight, but all I can tell you is that you're overthinking things. Remember how you used to want to do anything little thing to help me because you felt bad about what you did? Well, the truth of the matter was that you didn't need to do anything. Being yourself was enough. I guess that's what I'm trying to say you should do…?" She questioned, almost as if she was unsure herself.

Starlight strongly sighed and allowed her head to hang heavily.

In response to this, Athena turned my way and made a nudging gesture with her hoof.

"Alex, why don't you make it clear to her?" She suggested. "You've been friends with them for how long now? You're better at this stuff than I am."

"Yeah, yeah." It was what Twilight wanted me to do anyway. "I've got an idea, Starlight." I mentioned as I faced her. "Why don't we go outside and do something together?"

"What?" She raised her head and looked at me with an uneasy cock of her head. "But what about my friendship lesson? Twilight didn't give me a week to do this. She wanted me to learn something by the time she came back."

"And I'm going to try to teach you some stuff as best as I can." I answered. "Besides, if Twilight comes back and you don't have anything that she wanted you to learn today, then you can just blame me, alright?"

Starlight continued to look at me for a moment before she sighed once more. "I guess it's better than anything else I have in mind. Sure. Why not."

"Cool." I turned to Athena. "You coming with us?"

"Sorry." She surprisingly refused as she continued sketching. "I'm working on a few things for the Crusaders. Plus, I have to go stop by their clubhouse in order to discuss some plans that are relative to, you know, my cutie mark." She winked as she loudly clicked her tongue towards us.

"Uh, okay. I guess we'll leave you to it then." I returned and turned around to begin walking Starlight out. "Let's get going."

"So, what exactly are we going to do?" Starlight asked once we were out of the library.

"I don't know. What do you want to do?" I responded with.

"What do I want to do?" She repeated, placing a hoof on her chest. "What do you want to do?" She turned back around to me. "You're supposed to be the one who's teaching me!"

"I am, and that's why I asked." I answered. "We're going to start off with doing an activity together, and that activity will be something that you're interested in. Now, tell me, what kind of things do you like to do? Well, besides magic."

"Well, besides magic…I, um…" She thought to herself shortly before she came up with an answer. "I guess I really like…um…kites."

"Kites?" I tilted my head to the side, having not expected that kind of answer from her. It was actually sort of random. "You like kites?"

"Yes, I like kites." She returned a little more boldly. "That isn't such a bad thing, is it?"

"No, of course not." I replied as soon as I could, waving my hooves around. "I guess I just wasn't expecting that from you."

"Well, you did ask." She turned away for a moment before turning back to me. "So, if I said I wanted to fly kites, does that mean you'd want to do it with me?"

"Uh, yeah." I said. "I'm totally down to fly kites with you, but there's just probably something I need to tell you first."

"What is it?" She raised her eyebrow, appearing to be concerned with the way I worded my last statement.

"I've actually never flown a kite before." I admitted.

"What?! Really?!" She stopped in her tracks and immediately faced in front of me. "You've never flown a kite before?!"

"Yes, really." I repeated to her nearly devastated face. "Actually, I almost had forgotten they even existed."

"Okay, that's it." Starlight stomped her hoof onto the floor. "You're definitely coming to fly kites with me. I've got an extra one you can use in my room. Come on!" She began to gallop on ahead.

All of a sudden, I could see the sudden yet immense change in her attitude once the subject of her interests came up. She was no longer mopey or unenthused, but she looked like she was ready to take on the day in front of her. And this was perfect. She probably had no clue, but she could actually take a page out of my book if she notices and eventually realizes how I was hopefully using myself as an example in our 'lesson'.

Starlight happily hummed to herself as she held up two different kites in our walk to the park. I walked around with her until she seemed to find a good spot and set up shop. She began unraveling string out of the spool that was attached to the kite and slowly lifted up kite itself into the air.

"Where'd you get that kite?" I asked, finding its three-dimensional cube-like shape interesting. "It looks really cool."

"Made it myself." She responded with an ounce of pride, sticking her tongue out as she continued to carefully lift the kite upwards.

"Whoa, really? That's really good!" I tried to get a look at the details of her craft. "It looks like something you could sell at a kite shop."

"Thanks!" She smiled jubilantly at me before turning her attention back to the kite. "Now, what you want, of course, is a nice breeze going on." She paused and appeared to 'feel' the wind for a second. During this moment, I watched her mane lightly flow and be picked up gently by the breeze around us. "You don't need anything specific, just a light yet firm breeze will do." Afterwards, she turned towards her kite and released it from the grip of her magic. At this point, the kite appeared to be picked up by the breeze itself.

"Uh, okay." I said and turned towards the other kite she had brought me. Unlike hers, it wasn't three-dimensional and instead the average rhombus shape.

"Fun fact. I actually bought that one. It was my starter kite!" She informed me before returning her attention back to her kite.

I picked up the kite that was still on the floor and attempted to lift it up. I slipped up already when I forgot that I needed to unravel the string from the spool, so I worked ahead on doing that. "So, I just…let it go when I bring it up next to yours?" I asked as I slowly lifted the kite up.

"Yup!" She answered. "Although, don't bring it too close to mine. We don't want our lines to get tangled, do we?"

"No, we don't…" I responded softly, giving us some room between each other. Once I believed I was around the same height as hers, I hesitantly broke off the magic holding it. Once I did, I noticed it was moving around a little erratically.

"Have a good grip on the spool and don't let go!" Starlight instructed.

I focused less on getting control over the kite and more on just making sure the spool didn't fly out of range of my magic. Allowing the kite its newfound freedom for a while, it began to settle itself out. Afterwards, we both stood there together watching our kites fly.

It was kind of weird. We were hardly doing anything at all, but there was something memorizing about watching the kite take a life of its own. I suppose it was somewhat comparable to observing art. Starlight's kite was especially beautifully crafted, and I had to admit that it was a lot nicer to look at than the one I had been holding.

"The trick with an S.L.K. is not to make the spars too heavy." She began saying after she noticed me taking a gander at her kite. "But if they're too light, you've got no ballast and then good luck tacking against the A.O.I.!"

"What…?" I questioned, finding her terminology unknown.

"Oh, right." She giggled a little embarrassingly. "You've never flown a kite. I forgot. An S.L.K is a single line kite. A.O.I means Angle of Incidence, otherwise known as the Angle of Attack. It's pretty much the angle the kite takes compared to the wind direction."

Holy cupcakes. She was pretty much the Twilight in kites.

"I see…" I responded even though I wasn't completely in tune with the knowledge she spouted out.

She noticed my lost expression and slightly looked away in embarrassment. "I really like kites…"

"I can tell." I reacted with a smirk before turning my eyes back to my kite.

Starlight and I spent some time maneuvering our kites in the park, but if I could be honest, I spent the majority of the time observing her work with her own kite. She continued to give me advice and other 'fun facts' entirely about kites, but I couldn't really say I was as interested as she was. Despite that, it was really nice to see her enjoying herself. I didn't remember ever having a chance of just hanging out with Starlight, so it was a nice experience for me. When she decided she had enough of kite-flying for one day, I watched her carefully bring in the kite using her magic and spool, later following her movements to pull in mine.

"So, what'd you think?" She asked me with a cheery grin.

"Well, I liked it." I simply said with a slightly sheepish shrug. "It feels like it can be pretty therapeutic and relaxing."

"I know, right?" She replied happily as I returned the kite I borrowed from her. "I always try to make time to come here and fly a kite every now and then, especially since you don't necessarily need anyone else. But, I mean, having someone with you is honestly a lot better. So, thanks for the company."

"Course." I answered, spending a brief moment to consider a break. "You hungry?"

"Oh! Now that I think about it, I'm starving." Starlight responded enthusiastically. "I was up early in the morning practicing magic with Twilight. I haven't had anything to eat since."

"We can stop by somewhere in town. What do you feel like having?"

"Anything really. What about you?"

"Me?" I felt the corners of my lips stretch. "I could actually really go for some hay fries right now."

"So, you want to go to that burger place?" Starlight guessed.

"You know it." I told her before I started walking her towards the way.

Taking a page out of Spike's book, I ordered my hay fries extra crispy once we settled ourselves at a table, and it seemed Starlight caught on to my enthusiasm with hay fries.

"So, I'm guessing you really like hay fries?"

"I love em." I answered. "I swear, I could order a whole plate of them and leave no trace of them behind."

"No way." Starlight placed her hooves on the table and slightly leaned forward. "There's no way anypony could eat a whole plate of just hay fries."

"I can." I confidently said. "I don't even need any ketchup. They're great on their own."

"So, you've actually eaten a full plate of only hay fries before?" She pursued, seeming to find it extremely hard to believe that a pony like me could eat a plate of hay fries without any trouble.

"Well…not exactly." I honestly returned. "I said I could eat a whole plate, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to eat so much that I end up getting tired and sick of them. That'd probably end up a being a tragic thing for me. Besides, I wouldn't want my entire meal to consist of only hay fries."

Starlight chuckled in response as skepticism remained plastered all over her face. "Hehe. Whatever you say, fry boy."

I observed her relaxed and jubilant face as she laughed, and I honestly couldn't help but think out loud in regards to my current thoughts.

"You know what? It's really weird." I began, "If I hadn't been there to see it myself, I never would have believed anypony if they told me that you nearly wiped out our current existence of Equestria. It's so crazy to see how much you changed since then. If I had to be honest, I wasn't so sure what to think when Twilight invited you to stay in the castle."

"Oh? I guess it's not surprising to have doubts about a pony who almost ruined every other pony's life just because she had friend issues when she was younger." She frowned at the thought. "I still feel pretty bad about what I did. I know it was really stupid, and now when I think about it, I can't believe I actually thought it was a good idea at the time."

"Hey, if it makes you feel better," I brought up, "I probably would have done the same thing as you if I had that kind of power. Before I met the other girls, it was probably only a matter of time before I grew to actually resenting other ponies. You know, feeling angry that I didn't have what they had. In fact, I had a couple of those thoughts here and there at the time. I didn't get why everypony had amazing friends and family, and why I had to be the one left out. Granted, I probably wouldn't have been able to do much since I was just an Earth Pony, but if I had the power, I wouldn't be surprised if I caused the same kind of trouble."

"You think so? Hm…" She turned away and thought to herself for a moment before turning back to me. "Hey. I'm curious… When Twilight and I had been looping through time fighting each other, I don't remember ever seeing you around. Did you just not go back in time with her?"

"No, actually." I responded. "I was held up by that one pony that was with you. In fact, can I ask you a quick question first? I never really got to talk to you about this before, but I need to ask. How exactly did you meet him? Above all, why did you decide to work with some pony like him?"

"Oh, you mean that hooded pony?" Starlight seemed to think back. "Believe it not, he kind of found me. He knew who you guys were, and he offered me a way to enact the revenge I so desired at that point. Honestly, at the time, I couldn't care less about who I trusted to help me. I was blind to everything but the satisfaction of getting every one of you back. Other than that, he was honestly a real mystery to me."

Her response was somewhat expected. That "stallion" was practically a mystery to everyone. I don't believe anyone else had a clue about who he really was and, most importantly, what he wanted. He was like the rat that always hid during the times he was vulnerable in the light, no offense to Fluttershy's animals. "Uh-huh…" I simply responded with as I looked to the side and thought silently to myself.

"What's the deal between him and your friends?" She asked.

I sighed lightly. "It's a long story. To sum it up, he's been creeping around us for a while now, and none of us have an idea of what he really wants. In fact, he seems especially infatuated with Twilight and me, maybe even Athena. If you want the detailed story, you can ask about it another time. I don't exactly want our main course conversation to be about some enigma on the loose somewhere."

"Oh, sorry." Starlight apologized with a frown. "I didn't mean to make it a big deal or anything."

I shook my head. "To get back on your original question, he took me on this weird 'memory lane' trip. I later found out from Athena that they were apparently my memories from a different timeline. How did that hooded pony know so much about them? No idea. Apparently, he was looking to change certain events that happened in those memories and ultimately stop Athena from changing the entire past, but Athena managed to stump him first." I paused to look at Starlight's face. She didn't seem completely lost, but she looked as if she was on the verge of tipping over. "Uh…I should probably stop before I confuse you even more. Time travel in of itself is a whole complicated thing. I don't think anypony could explain it clearly. It's just something that can be dangerously manipulated, and I'm stuck wondering if time should have never been able to be messed with in the first place."

"You're telling me." Starlight replied, scratching her head. "I didn't realize what the heck I was doing. And what do you know, I could have caused an epidemic irreversible disaster. No more time traveling for me. Thanks."

Our orders were brought to us shortly after, encouraging me to cease any conversation regarding such a serious topic like our baggage and past regrets.

"Why don't we get back to the present." I suggested, pointing towards the delicious-looking plates in front of us. "That grub is waiting to be picked."

Starlight laughed. "You sound like Applejack."

I merely shrugged. "Well, I guess everypony I meet rubs off on me one way or another."

When we finished our food, Starlight pushed her plate forward and released a sigh of satisfaction. "That really hit the spot. So, what next?" She asked.

"Whatever you want to do." I told her, basically repeating my initial response that got us out here in the first place."

"I already decided on flying kites. You should pick." She recommended.

Although I didn't plan to decide myself, I thought about another thing we could do that secretly correlated with her "lesson". If I remembered correctly, one of the friendship lessons she was struggling with was "chillaxing" with Rainbow Dash, or like how the majority of ponies say it, "relaxing". Relaxing should have been one of the easiest things on the list, but even Starlight couldn't keep herself from worrying about the correct way of doing that. In a way, one of the main reasons I took her out was to not only try to teach her about friendship, but I also wanted her to relax from her studies for once. It was something Twilight could have definitely used back when she was still Celestia's pupil.

"One of the reasons I brought you out here was to take a load off and relax." I said. "We've started doing that by flying kites, so tell me, what's another relaxing thing you like doing?"

"'Relaxing', huh?" She wondered to herself before coming up with an answer shortly after. "Well, nothing's more relaxing than spending some time at the spa. Although, I'm not exactly sure if that's your kind of thing."

"I'm fine with the spa as long as I'm not getting a pedi or anything." I answered. "A nice steam or soak in the herbal bath sounds pretty good."

"Hey, I'm on board with that." Starlight pointed out eagerly. "I don't know how long it's been since I last just had a day off to myself. Of course, it won't just be by myself. You'll be there, but I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I mean…"

"I get what you mean, Starlight." I ceased her worried babbling and offered her an assuring smile.

"Okay, then." She returned with a slightly flushed face. "Let's get going then."

Starlight and I hit up the steam room first, and the two of us sat and spent the majority of the time in silence.

"Oh, this feels so good. I needed this." She expressed with delight.

"It was a good idea coming here, huh?" I asked.

"You said it…" She hung back and covered her face momentarily with a hot towel.

Feeling nearly every part of my body become loose and untensed, I was tempted to just lie down and go to sleep. Nevertheless, I thought I could chat to Starlight a little more and get to know her better. It would help keep me awake either way.

"You want to know something interesting, Starlight?" I brought up.

"Hm?" She pulled off the towel on her face and looked at me.

"There was this family I used to live with when I was a colt, and in that family, I had a 'sister'. You want to know what her name was?"



"What?" She scrunched her eyes, believing I had called her twice as if I was trying to get her attention or something.

"No, Starlight was her name." I corrected.

"Wait, what?" She furrowed her eyebrows. "I'm confused."

I chuckled lightly, somewhat expecting a situation like this to arise as a result. "That girl I was talking about? Her name was Starlight too."

"Oh! Really?" She leaned towards me in interest.

"Yeah. Not sure if Twilight or someone else might have talked to you about her."

She shook her head. "I don't think so. I think I would have remembered a pony that has the same exact name as me. What's she like?"

"I'm not going to lie. She was pretty terrible." I answered. "But, she recently came around. She's pretty good now."

"Oh, wow. Just like me, huh?"

"Not exactly." I said. "She can still be a little…moody at times. You, on the other hoof, are pretty fun to be around with. If you ever see her, don't tell her I said that. She'd probably flip."

"My lips are sealed." She swung her hoof over her lips like a literal zipper. "But, you really think I'm fun to be around with?"

"Of course. I didn't set aside time today for you because I felt that I needed to or anything." Well, Twilight did ask me to give you some "supervision", but that didn't count! "I also wanted to hang out with you and get to know you a little better. After all, you've been spending most of your time with Twilight, and personally, I know how hardcore she can get when it comes to studying."

"She can get pretty 'hardcore'…" Starlight repeated, chuckling to herself as she leaned back. Afterwards, she shifted her eyes to me. "I wanted to get to know you a bit better myself. Of course, after what I did, I wasn't sure how to exactly do it. At first, I was still pretty doubtful you really forgave me after what happened. But, now that we're here together, I feel a lot better. Thanks."

"Anytime, Starlight." I followed her lead and leaned back myself. "It's kind of funny. If I'm not doing any royalty business, I'm getting along with friends. Makes me wonder if that's what I'm meant to do. Not that I'm complaining."

"Well, you are the Prince of Friendship, aren't you?" Starlight asked.

"Uh, I think Celestia labeled me as the 'Prince of Light' or something." I recalled. "But, I can see why'd you think that. I'm starting to wonder if that fits better. Either way, Twilight and I are in the royalty business together, and I'm grateful for that. After all, I feel a lot better when she handles the 'research' and 'stationary' part of the job. It's her thing, and she loves doing it anyway."

"Oh. That's why she went to Canterlot alone today?" She mentioned.

"Yeah." I answered. "I offered to go help, but she insisted she could handle it."

I almost slipped out that Twilight had asked me to watch over Starlight. I didn't want Starlight to think I was only hanging out with her just because Twilight had somewhat asked me to.

"Hey…" Starlight's tone slightly changed. "I've been practically talking about me this entire day. I spent a whole chunk of it telling you about how I love kites. Why don't you tell me more about yourself?" She turned her head away shortly and eyed me with a teasing smirk. "I've heard that you're actually dating Fluttershy?"

It's only a matter of time before anypony associated with us figures that out…

I sighed lightly, but I had no reason to object. "Sure. But let's get out of the steam room. I think it's time to switch over to the herbal bath."

After we felt the immediate change in temperature as we dipped into the pool, each of us released a sigh of satisfaction before I began giving her my side of things, especially on the subject of Fluttershy and me. Since everyone else that regularly hung inside the castle knew, I told Starlight on how we had met and the progress the two of us had made until we finally decided to tie the "relationship knot". Afterwards, I gave her a brief synopsis of the obstacles I helped her overcome, causing her to become a stronger and more assertive pony in the end.

Throughout my entire telling, Starlight eyed me with interest, nodding every once in a while to indicate that she had been fully listening. Once I was finished, she lightly cooed with excitement. "Oh, that's so romantic! I never knew things were so…deep between you and Fluttershy! No wonder her eyes just light up whenever she sees you! When are you two getting married?" She asked, lightly nudging me.

Virtually any pony that has ever seen us together always asks the same thing, and it's pretty obvious they do it to mess with me.

"I don't know. When are you and Sunburst getting married?" I fired back.

She immediately backed away and became utterly dismayed. "W-What?! Sunburst and I are just friends! Why would you ask something like that?!"

"Just messing with you." I folded my forehooves behind my head. "You know. Kind of like how you were with me."

She continued to converse once the redness within her cheeks began to disappear. "Yeah, but you're the one who's actually with somepony. You did say that Fluttershy ended up catching the flowers during Shining Armor's and Princess Cadence's wedding. That is a sign right there."

"When the time comes, it'll come." I merely stated, not exactly wanting to discuss "wedding plans" any more. "Right now, I just feel like there's so much going on. Too much to worry about."

"Like what exactly?" Starlight asked, her expression growing concerned.

I lowered my eyelids halfway and thought to myself for a silent moment. "I don't know. I don't know how to put this into words, but I just don't feel… 'safe'."

"'Safe'…?" Starlight repeated in confusion.

"The time doesn't feel right." I tried to clarify. "Let's just leave it at that."

"Well, I guess you can't rush things." Starlight relaxed in her spot. "Marriage is a big thing after all." She faced the water she submerged most of her body in and stared silently for a while. "Listen, I know you've got a whole bunch of friends to talk to, but I'm here too. Besides, learning about friendship and magic from Twilight, I usually just spend the entire time at the castle by myself if I'm not hanging out with Trixie. If there's anything I can do to help, maybe with a particularly advanced spell or something, you can come to me."

Appreciating her words, I smiled lightly at her and nodded. "Yeah. Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."

After our bath, we shook off any excess water and dried ourselves with some of the spa-supplied towels before we decided to head back to home.

"Haaah!" Starlight sighed in relief. "I feel so refreshed! I really needed that!"

"Glad to hear that." I responded, opening the front door of the spa and letting her walk through first.

"Thank you." She nearly sang and then turned towards the setting sun outside. "Oh, wow! Look at that! We practically spent the entire day together! It's almost evening. Twilight could be back home any minute." She stared at the sun-kissed sky for a moment with a warm smile on her face before she suddenly gasped. "She could be back home any minute!" She repeated with shock tearing at her face.

"Yeah? So?" I replied.

She turned around and faced me with a look of distress, making me worried that our entire time at the spa would end up all for naught. "She's expecting me to have learned something about friendship, but all we did was fly kites and relax at the spa! She's going to think I'm a lazy and bad student!"

"Uh, no." I decided it was time to reveal the lesson of our day together. "Do you seriously think you didn't learn anything today?"

"What do you mean?" She inquired. "Originally, I was supposed to follow what was written on my cards, but I didn't do any of that. I took the whole day off!"

"Wasn't it you who said that friendship lessons could come from anywhere? Think about it. What did you learn today?"

With collective anxiety still running amok in her face, she placed a hoof to her chin and thought. "…I don't know? I learned a lot about you, but I don't think Twilight wanted me to do that. I'm pretty sure she wanted me to learn about friendship from any other ponies besides you, no offense."

"I think she wanted you to learn about friendship in general, but that's the not the point here. Let's go over a few things again. This morning, you were stressing over about how exactly to go about learning friendship lessons, and when I told you I was going to teach you some stuff, I meant it. I can't teach you things in the way Twilight does, but I can at least try to show you. Throughout this entire day, I gave you the option of deciding what we'd do, remember?"

"Yeah…?" She replied with, seeming to not quite catch on just yet.

"Now, imagine you were me, and somepony else, like Fluttershy, was you today. If you were spending time with Fluttershy, like you had planned out in one of your cards, you'd probably be worried about how you'd do in the things she decided to do, like helping animals, right? But, that wasn't the case today, was it? I mean, we flew kites. Something that you knew about, but I didn't. We still had a great time, didn't we? You didn't get after me for not knowing how to fly a kite. You helped me fly one, to begin with. You really think somepony like Fluttershy is going to scold you for not being able to properly take care of an animal like she does? Nope, she'd just walk you through it, and I'm sure you'd both have fun doing it. The whole point of these 'friendship lessons' Twilight assigns you isn't to do something right. It's to bond with that particular pony, and that's just what we did today. Even if you don't want to count our bond today as a completed lesson, I say you still learnt plenty about what it really means to learn friendship when it comes to the others. Bottom line is, you just have fun with it. You should never have to worry about doing things right."

"I can't believe it…" Starlight eyes wandered mine as she seemed to be at a loss for words for a brief moment. "Did you really have this all thought out for today?"

"Uh… I'm not some kind of genius or anything." I discredited. "It's just an idea I had in mind. When I say it out loud, it sounds smarter than it actually is. Like I said, the whole point of these friendship lessons is to relax and have fun. The lesson itself comes naturally."

"Wow." Starlight turned away from me for a short moment. "…I guess I really was overthinking it. All this time, I was looking at it as some kind of test that I needed to study for in order to pass. Turns out, 'friendship lessons' are 'days off' for the most part. I mean baking with Pinkie Pie? I can't bake, but it's not like I need to make a cake as great as Pinkie Pie, right? The whole point is just getting to know her better and strengthen the bond between us."

"You got it." I confirmed.

"Ooh!" She placed a heavy hoof on her chest and sighed out loud. "Thank goodness! Who knows what I could have done if I didn't realize this by the time I started my lessons with the other girls. I probably would have casted some spell to make sure things got done the right way."

"Yeah, you don't really resort to magic when it comes to friendship…" I reminded.

"I can't thank you enough!" She threw her forelegs around me and squeezed me while extending her jubilant grin towards each corner of her mouth. "It's like…you fill in the blanks when it comes to Twilight's lessons! It's no wonder you both are Prince and Princess!"

I knew we were a team, but was it really like that? Twilight being the teacher while I sort of just fill in the holes or something?

Starlight noticed my silence and immediately pulled away. "Uh… Sorry… Maybe we're not at that level of our friendship to be getting all mushy with hugs…"

"Huh?" I noticed and shook my head. "No. That's not it. Sorry, I was thinking about something. I'm really happy for you."

"Let's head back home then!" Starlight suggested, turning towards the direction of the castle. "I want to tell Twilight all about what I learned from you!"

By the time we returned, it appeared that Twilight had just gotten back. She had been setting down her bags when Starlight came running in like a little filly who just aced her exam.

"Twilight! Twilight!" She called, racing towards her.

"What? What is it?" Twilight immediately questioned.

"I've got so much to tell you!" Starlight voiced out loud excitedly. "I learned so much today!"

"Really?! That's great!" Twilight began indulging in that same excitement. "Tell me! Tell me!"

Starlight spent several minutes recalling our activities for the day and my "lesson" behind them. As she heard this, Twilight's eyes grew, and she looked at me every now and then. It wasn't until Starlight finally finished her report before Twilight returned her thoughts on the matter.

"That's amazing, Starlight! I had no idea you were having those kinds of thoughts about pursuing friendship lessons! Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, you're my teacher…" Starlight rubbed the back of her head as she looked away embarrassingly. "I thought you'd be disappointed in me and think that I wasn't learning anything from you at all."

"Of course not!" Twilight answered. "Being your teacher, it's my duty to make sure everything I teach you is crystal clear. You shouldn't be afraid to come up to me if you have concerns or questions about our lessons."

Starlight nodded. "I know that now, but I think I'm going to be okay." She glanced over at me and stretched her smile. "You're lucky to have such a cool prince by your side."

All I could do was slightly look away as I felt my cheeks begin to heat up. By my side, Spike joined me and crossed his claws against his chest, poking me lightly with his elbow.

Come on. I honestly didn't do that much.

"So, do you feel ready to extend your pursuit of friendship even more now?" Twilight asked.

"I think I'm going to be just fine." Starlight answered with a strong sense of confidence.

It wasn't long until everypony began to head to bed. Before I called it a night, I stopped by Starlight's room to check up on her and see how she was doing. I knocked on her door lightly and patiently waited for a call.

"Come in!"

I opened the door and found her lying on her bed. She was facing in the direction of the ceiling, but it was a kite above her that she was staring at. She lightly swerved it round and about with her magic, but she ultimately stopped to sit up and look at me.

"Hey!" She greeted.

"You look much better off than you were before." I mentioned, crossing my forelegs with each other.

"You already know the reason why." She decided to lie back down and focus on her kite. "You've inspired me to take a step forward with my learning. Twilight's especially happy about that." Her speech paused for a moment. She carefully kept her eyes on her swerving kite before separating her lips once more. "Now that I think about it, I can't believe I was worrying so much about how my friendship lessons with the other ponies would go. They're my friends, after all, right? As long as I focus on having fun and bonding with them, there's nothing to worry about. Even if we have troubles along the way, there's always that light at the end of the tunnel to guide us through somehow."

"You've definitely learned a lot in one day." I believed. "You should be proud of yourself."

"Can't wait to learn more." She returned a cheery smile.

"Same here." I began to turn in preparation for my leave. "I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, Starlight."


I closed her door shut and began to swerve my body around in the opposite direction until I came across another identical pony in the midst. "Twilight." I unintentionally said out loud, feeling the pitch of my voice begin down low and soar up high in an odd second from being startled. She approached me with a satisfied grin on her face.

"Hey, thanks for doing me that favor." She said. "I'm really glad something extremely amazing came out of it. I thought I was the only pony who was supposed to show friendship to everyone else, but it turns out you have a knack for doing that yourself!"

"Think of me as your teaching aide." I suggested. "I'm there to help you with your lessons when you need it."

"Me too." Twilight returned. "When you need somepony by your side to help bring light to Equestria, I'll be right there." She concluded with a wink. "You heading to bed already?"

"Yeah." I answered. "Although, I might do something relaxing before. Maybe read a book or something? What about you?"

"I haven't decided yet." Twilight chuckled a little in response. "I'm going to speak with Starlight for a bit, and then I'll decide what to do after."

"Well, like I always say, try not to stay up too late, okay?"

"You know me!" Twilight replied with a familiar phrase in addition with a playful smirk.

That phrase was always vague when it came along the lines of actually heading to bed early for once or pulling an easy all-nighter. Nevertheless, I didn't worry too much about it and wished her a good night before heading to my room.

As I made myself comfy on my bed, another pony barged into the room and excitedly leaned her body forwards in front of me. "So, guess what?" She asked.

"What?" I decided not to bother with a guessing game sparked by the one and only Athena.

"The girls and I were talking, and they decided to assign me an all-important job!"

By 'girls', I assumed she was talking about the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

"Oh, and what's that?" I questioned.

"After talking with Miss Cheerilee, somepony was given the very special offer of delivering a heart-to-heart speech encouraging all the schoolponies not give up on their dreams, especially their cutie marks!"

"And just who could it be?" I played dumb as I smirked and leaned backwards.

"ME!" She nearly belted out. "And this cute mare is honored to give you a front-row ticket! You wouldn't want to let such an adorable girl down, would you?"

She was so full of herself, but I didn't believe she ever had such confidence in herself until recently. So, I didn't have a hard time accepting it. "Just give me the word, and I'll be there, as long as Equestria isn't in any kind of dire danger from the forces of evil."

"You've got time to prepare." Athena turned away to the nearby desk and began pulling out a few pieces of paper and writing utensils. "I don't feel like I need to write a speech, but Twilight always says it's better to be prepared than to wing it like a madpony."

She began scribbling a few things down, and I was left observing her a bit. Not only did I get to witness Starlight's completely new behavior today for myself front and center, but I was also getting to see Athena shaking off her old skin after finally getting her well-deserved cutie mark.

Normally, any other pony would probably think we were in the clear, or, at the very least, in a period of absolute rest. However, despite how everything seemed to have been going so far, I, for one, still couldn't shake off the small lingering feeling of dread inside my heart. I didn't know what it was, but something told me that evil was a lot closer than we thought.

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