• Published 11th Mar 2013
  • 8,057 Views, 1,135 Comments

How my Little Brother Became an Alicorn - WiseFireCracker



I used to love that premise. I thought it made for a fun debate of nature vs nurture and all that. I just never expected it to happen. Now Tom's gone and I don't know what to do!

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Doubts

“Do you understand why you are here?”

Yeah, but really, I’d rather not be. “Maybe,” I said, crossing my arms, eyes narrowed and daring her to call me out.

“Do you believe you should not be here?” Mrs. Thompson asked simply, fingers intertwined and serving as a support for her chin. Her gaze was piercing. It made me... uneasy. It dared me to lie in her face.

I looked away. “I don’t want to be here.”

“I see…” she whispered, becoming pensive for a split moment. “Would you like to lie down for the rest of our meeting? You show classical signs of lack of sleep. A little rest would help you feel more confident.”

Not if I dream about Tom again. “I’d rather not, Mrs. Thompson.”

“As you wish,” she replied, but I barely heard her.

My mind was forcing me to remember. The cocky grins and the boasts, the unending energy and some of the worship I knew he held me in, that pouty lip when he didn’t get his way, the proud yelling when he did, him through and through. My eyes were completely unfocused, as I saw her figure and nodded when she paused, but images of my little brother were all I registered.

“Sam?”

The call of my name brought me back, left me blinking. “Y-yes?”

“Do you have any idea of what I just asked you?”

She got me here.

“…No.”

Surprisingly, her expression did not change. It remained engaging, indulgent, though her eyes were sparking with amusement now. “I wanted to know if you wanted to talk, if you felt the need to.”

Normally, I would have brushed her off without a thought. It wasn’t something I could tell her. It wasn’t something I could tell anyone. And I wouldn’t, of course not… but my brain easily provided me with the sensation I longed so much.

A few hours of peace…

The last time I had visited her, I had left with a lighter heart than ever since Tom’s disappearance. The thoughts that plagued me following the episode had a nauseating quality to them. They were sick… heavy… dark…

“T-there is something…”

Quickly, but at a pace that had me doubting she had been waiting to pounce for her notes, she picked up her pen and gave me an encouraging nod.

“Yes?”

Problem was, I didn’t actually know… “I… huh… it’s…”

“Would it help if I told you to take your time?” She smirked, still not judging me.

That made me chuckle. Of all the cliché lines, that had to be the one I had expected the most. Even as I looked up, her easygoing smile created a simple, relaxed atmosphere. It helped. It really helped.

“Maybe. Are you going to be polite about it?” A small grin crept on my lips.

“Then, Sam, please take your time.” She nodded exaggeratedly, seemingly looking for confirmation.

“Eh, that’ll do.” I shrugged, eyes going to the plain white ceiling. What do I tell her?

Just like that, my good mood evaporated. With that sobering thought, my head was back to being a place swimming with uncertainties and anxiety.

“I…”

The room grew colder. I did not like this. I hated it, but it mattered not. It was something I ought to do, if only to be able to keep going and get a chance to save Tom.

“I’m guilty,” I admitted so quietly Mrs. Thompson had to lean forward and strain her hearing.

“About Tom’s disappearance?”

“O-of course,” I laughed lifelessly. “He came to see me the evening before. He wanted to spend some time with me.”

“Saaaaam, come on, play with me!”

“Tom! I’m in the middle of a raid!”

“What? That’s so awesome! I’m going to join with my assassin!”

“No way! That’s my guild, Tom. They won’t let you join in the middle of the boss fight so you can aggro the whole room and sink us down!”

“No fair!”

“It was about eight o’clock. His bedtime was coming soon so I tried to coax him to come back in half an hour, so my parents would stop him and tell him it was bedtime. Something like that.”

“I don’t do that!”

“Yes, you do, squirt! Just leave me alone and go play with your console!”

“I don’t wanna! Come on! I’m bored. Saaaaaaaaam!”

“Not until I’m done!”

“Of course, being a little brother feeling bratty, he started throwing a tantrum because he was not getting what he wanted. Dad quickly came in to get us both to shut up, a command I was very happy to oblige, so long as I could get on with my game.”

“Will you two keep it down?! The whole neighborhood can hear you!”

“Daaaaaaad! Sam won’t play with me!”

“Tom, it’s almost time for you to go to bed. You will not play with your brother. It gets you riled up and you won’t get a good night of sleep.”

“Not true!”

“My father ended up taking my side of things. Why would I speak up then? In Tom’s eyes though, that was the worst of betrayals…”

“I hate you! I wish I didn’t have to see you ever again!”

“He started shouting things, which got me annoyed enough to shout back. He left my room in tears, muttering curses under his breath. I think he got punished for that too…”

Mrs. Thompson was pensive. Still she didn’t speak up, try to chide in a good word or a bad one. She simply listened to me with interest. It gave me the courage to go on.

“Don’t be mistaken… I love my little brother. It was just a bad night…” My eyes fell on the ground, going to the swirling red motif on the rug.

My breath hitched.

“It... it… My parents had left the weekend before for a ‘second honeymoon’, leaving me with the task of babysitting Tom. I took the job seriously seriously, because in the end, I care about the little squirt and I want to deserve the hero-worship he puts me through. ”

With images of that weekend flashing before my eyes, I found myself struggling to speak more and more. My throat had gotten tighter. It felt as if no air would pass through.

“We spent the whole weekend together. Literally. We were constantly with one another, even when it was time for me to revise for my exams. Eh,” I snorted, amused by the memory. Looking up, I saw she was too. “I guess it helped that I could sit him in front of a TV and put on his favorite movie with popcorn, big brother watching him over from the sofa included.”

She smiled at the picture I depicted. I did too.

“We had a great time, no denying it, but it still demanded a lot of energy from me. After that, I felt like getting a bit of time for myself, but Tom wouldn’t take the hint all week long…”

“So you had a fight,” Mrs. Thompson said as if it was the simplest statement in the world.

It cut my chest open. So that’s what they say when they talk about ‘the last word we exchanged’.

“Sam…” Strangely, her voice appeared a little uncertain to me. “It was a normal occurrence. Siblings do fight and I am in a position to understand that notion very well myself. So, forgive me for asking, but… Why do you feel so guilty?”

I snorted in annoyance. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Humor me,” she asked firmly, with such a tone that I found myself questioning the notion that had been so self-demonstrating over the last week.

I found the words harder to articulate then they ought to be. “Because I pushed him away! B-because I was not there to prevent it from happening!”

Mrs. Thompson’s next question left me baffled.

“If that is so… then do you blame your parents for your brother’s disappearance?”

I froze, completely. Despite the part of me that had instantly screamed in denial, the trust we had spent so little building up was already pushing me to put these thoughts on the examination table.

Do I? Do I blame them? Dad certainly did help getting Tom mad in the first place; Mom didn’t do much at all… Is that why I have been avoiding them all week? Is it less my cowardice than my resentment?

I pictured myself, yelling at Mom and Dad that it was their faults, that Tom wouldn’t be missing if they had bothered to spend the night with him. I saw them blanch with horror, redden with indignation, and the idea struck me at the heart.

I could not do that to them, nor did I felt the desire or need to.

“No.” My answer came vibrant and clear, without any doubt.

A weight disappeared in my chest.

“Then why, Sam?” She went on, forcing me to take a look at my thoughts from the outside and be truthful about them. “Why do you believe that you are responsible for Tom going missing?”

Because it IS my fault. “He wouldn’t have gone missing if not for me!”

Sad, but true. I knew it was the undeniable truth.

Mrs. Thompson shook her head, a slight frown starting to appear in her features. “You cannot know that.”

I’m pretty sure I do, actually, I thought. Outwardly however, I simply averted my gaze.

“Why are you so convinced you are the only one that can save your little brother?”

Because no one else knows where he is. No one else would be willing to believe this ridiculous story. “I didn’t say that.”

“Sam.” She looked at me from over her glasses, clearly not impressed with my attempt at dodging her question. “You are crippled with guilt from an event you have little control over, but cannot find it in you to condemn your parents for the exact same reasons. I don’t believe I am mistaken in thinking the actual reason for this disparity is your belief that you have some level of control over the situation and are unable to affirm it.”

For a moment, I could only stare, stunned. That one had hit too close to home, not to mention how logical it seemed to my own ears. Is that it? Is it because I might be able to help him that I can’t shake off my guilt?

“I… that is…”

“Sam, why do you believe you must be the one to find Tom?”

I have to, he’s my little brother! That’s all! “I…” I couldn’t say it outright. A part of me refused.

“What happened is terrible, but you are not to blame!” She insisted, pressing me with words that I couldn’t block, with a question I couldn’t ask myself. The simple thought had me shaking. “Why do you believe yourself to be the cause of all this? What is the real reason?”

Why?

“Sam!”

Why...? WHY?!

I knew the answer to that. It dawned on me so easily when I dared put words on the emotions and labels on the events.

The words flew out of my mouth.

“IF I HADN’T SHOWED HIM THAT ‘MY LITTLE PONY’ EPISODE, HE WOULDN’T BE GONE NOW!”

For the very first time, I caught a glimpse of Mrs. Thompson’s composure being shaken… or at least I thought it had… I… could not tell. Her eyebrows had furrowed further, I think...

“I… beg you pardon?” she asked, unable to quite proceed the importance of my words.

“It’s… it’s a TV show…” Why am I talking? “A cartoon, actually.” Stop, Sam. Don’t go there. “It’s… huh… not quite aimed at grown men… or boys in general…”

A bitter laugh escaped my lips, but the psychologist in front of me was too busy trying to connect the non-existing dots to truly care.

“I really like it. I’m… what you call a brony. Funny thing is, so is Tom. We’re bros and bronies. It always made us laugh.”

“How is that… relevant?”

For a twisted second, I contemplated telling her the whole truth. It would be so liberating, it would take away this unbearable isolation, tear down the wall I had to build around myself to help Tom. A terrible longing ripped my reserves in half, only to be shown back together by the rational part of my brain. I can’t do that.

“He’s trapped in the show. As a pony.”

My blood turned to ice in my veins.

It had slipped. My desire to speak had overwritten the impulse of common sense and I had confessed to thinking my little brother had gone dimension hopping!

I saw it. Her eyes flickered to my right for a second, betraying a hesitation and an unwillingness to maintain my gaze. A vein twitched in her neck and a small sigh left her mouth. Quickly, however, all traces of unease faded, as she regained composure at a speed that left me wondering if I hadn’t imagined it outright.

Her body language let nothing filter, though I could see beneath the mask. There had to be some ill-conceived pity aimed at me. I was that guy that couldn’t protect his kid brother, that came up with a ridiculous fantasy. It had to be so pathetic!

My heart started beating faster and I spoke quickly, almost desperately. “I know I heard his voice. I know it’s him! ...Y-you must think I’m crazy.”

“No, I do not,” she said with a soothing tone. “In situations of such emotional distress, it is not that uncommon for the immediate family of a missing person to latch unto emotional reminders of their loved ones. For you, it happens to be a children’s show you and your brother both loved, combined with the voice of a boy you find very similar.”

“But I know, in my guts.” My arms wrapped themselves around my torso. Subconsciously, I leaned closer, even as my mind screamed to put some distance between us. “It’s him! It’s his voice! His attitude! His own character!”

“Mister Miller, have you ever mistaken someone’s voice over the phone? In a crowd, maybe?”

I opened my mouth to protest, to say that it wasn’t the point, but the words got stuck in my throat.

“How is your brother like? Would you describe him as energetic, brash, confident, outgoing?”

Yes, on all accounts. I kept my mouth shut.

“You tell me about his personality, yet I find it quite similar to those of many boys I have personally known.”

“But there are too many coincidences to ignore! Things like that just don’t happen!”

“Do they?” she asked with a disturbing calm. Her words had been strong, unshakable. “Thousand to one coincidences happen all over the world every day.”

She doesn’t believe me. She thinks I must be lying. Or worse! “I’m not crazy!”

Still serene, Mrs. Thompson shook her head. “This is not what I’m saying. It is not wrong of you to look for reminders of your little brother, but you must not forget what is real and what isn’t.”

W-what is real? She’s making so much sense… Am I the one in the wrong? For Tom to actually be in Equestria…

“This fantasy of yours is just a coping mechanism, but, ultimately, it isn’t real. When your little brother returns, you must remember that what he went through and what you think he did will be very different.” Her hand fell on mine, its warmth seeping through the contact. It reminded me of Mom… before… “He will need you. He will need his family, united.”

T-this wasn’t just a wild fantasy… right?

--

Why had I gone see Mrs. Thompson? Why?

This is not helping.

On the ride home, I had been unable to focus on anything. Her words kept replaying in my head. I had no control over them. Their echoes would not die.

Was I wrong? Had I been a complete fool and a naïve idiot that could not distinguish the real world from that of fantasies?

It… it can’t be the truth. It’s Tom, I know it’s Tom. But every time I repeated those words, they lost in conviction and gained in fragility. S-soon, Mrs. Thompson’s reasonable explanation would shatter my conceptions and throw me back into this hell of incertitude.

Tom would be unaccounted for again and that thought ravaged my mind.

Gone…

Was it all a fantasy? All just a make-believe story to appease my fears? Tom in Equestria was devastating, but… it also implied the knowledge of his well-being. Heck, if Tom was Blade Darkblaze, then he was having the time of his life, mistakes not accounted for.

Which is it? The dreadful reality or the comforting dream? Which one is the truth?

I had no answer.

I was devoid of emotion when I finally stepped back in the house, all but drained from my inner turmoil. My feet carried me away to my room due to a force of habit alone. I had no desire to actually do so now. Still, I found myself sitting at my desk, my laptop staring back at my lifeless eyes.

It was still opened on that website. Bright colors and crafted characters adorned my browser. The irony of the situation couldn’t touch me anymore.

Following a well-established routine, I let my gaze wander around the screen, taking in the details of each piece of work that was added to the fandom’s archives. It wasn’t very demanding; I could have allowed my mind to wander off to this sight, but… my eyes fell on the thing that could shock me out of this almost catatonic state.

It was a little one-shot, a few thousand words at most. The title was simple enough: “Cupcakes and Blue Wings”. It was classified mature… it had a warning for gore.

The only characters were Pinkie Pie and… B-B-Blade Darkblaze…

I stared at the screen, my whole body frozen with horror. I should not look at this. I already know what this will be.

Why was my hand moving the mouse toward the link? Don’t! I... I could not look away…

The screen displayed the story.