With a groan of exhaustion, Spike slumped into a chair, half-tempted to simply fall asleep right there. While Twilight was busy with her usual studies upstairs in the library, Spike had dusted shelves A through J, swept the floors, washed the windows, fed Owlicious, aided anypony that had come looking to borrow a book, and even finished the dishes, even though it was Twilight’s night to do them. The day’s chores were done; all that was left was dinner.
Spike didn’t have a problem with chores; not just because it was part of his duty as Twilight’s Number One Assistant, but he was happy to do anything that would let Twilight focus on her own work. Her praise and gratitude were more than enough for him… though it would be remiss of him to reject the occasional jewel-embedded treat.
Spike’s gaze lingered over to the table in the middle of the main floor; sitting upon it was a simple crown—the replacement Twilight had gotten, after returning the Elements to the Tree of Harmony. It had been laid on the table in the same, casual way somepony would leave their bit purse.
It left Spike with a sense of relief; for a time after Twilight’s coronation, he’d worried that she’d be kept in Canterlot, leaving her with no time for him or their friends… Even today, he still felt a glimmer of fear and sadness whenever he remembered that horrible vision he’d had in the Crystal Empire… where Twilight had told him she no longer needed him, and sent him away. It wasn’t so much the idea of exile that terrified him, but never being able to see Twilight again. As such, the idea of Twilight being constantly called away from home filled him with a distinct, if lesser, dread.
But he’d been proven wrong; in fact, things had barely changed… save for Twilight occasionally choosing to fly to her destinations, or being given a Royal duty that would leave her out of the Golden Oaks for the day. Celestia may have had a role in this, Spike mused; she may have ensured that Twilight wouldn’t be cut off from the friends who had helped her come so far.
Contented, Spike sank deeper into the chair, ready for a nice, long nap.
“URGH!!” Came Twilight’s furious shout from upstairs, causing Spike to jump.
Frowning, Spike stood from the chair and hurried towards the stairs. Never a dull moment...
- - - - -
“‘Dear... Princess... Celestia...’” Twilight said aloud, gritting her teeth in frustration as she attempted to write a letter in her magic. This was about the twentieth… time... she’d had to restart her letter, her nineteen other attempts crumpled up and tossed to the floor.
Keep it cool, Twilight… She told herself, though her teeth remained furiously clenched. Just focus, and you’ll get through this. Twilight took a deep, calming breath, though it sounded more like she was preparing to dive underwater than attempting to calm herself. “‘In... my... studies, I’ve found... that—’ HIC!!”
With that hiccup, the quill suddenly swerved, making a vicious streak of ink across the scroll. Twilight’s eye twitched. With a scream of frustration she scribbled furiously across the scroll before setting it on fire. “SPIKE!!”
As expected, Spike came bursting through the door of Twilight’s room almost instantly. “Yes, Twilight?” He asked with a salute, though a look in his eyes gave a hint of apprehension.
“I’ve been trying to write a letter to—HIC!” Twilight shut her eyes, choking down another scream of fury. “...To the Princess, but these stupid hiccups keep distracting me!” Twilight drew yet another piece of parchment from the table.
Spike tilted his head, confused. “Okay… So... you want me to write the letter for you?”
“No!” Twilight snapped, making Spike jump where he stood. “I’m not letting them win!” She said viciously, before angrily turning to the parchment levitating in front of her. “‘Dear! Princess! Celestia! In! My! Studies! I’ve! Found! Tha—’ HIC!!” This time the quill stabbed through the parchment, ink dripping from its point and onto the floor. With another yell Twilight tore the parchment into shreds, panting furiously.
“So… what do you want me to do?” Spike asked carefully, slowly backing towards the door in case he had to make a quick escape.
“Go grab that book downstairs, Arcane Ailment Alleviants, okay?” Twilight asked testily. “So I can get back to work…”
“Sure thing!” Spike quickly said, darting down the stairs to avoid being within range of Twilight’s wrath, should she screw up another letter. With speed only a Number One Assistant could manage, Spike expertly snatched Arcane Ailment Alleviants from its shelf.
“‘Dear! Princess! Celesti—’ HIC! DARN IT!!” Spike heard Twilight scream loudly. He sprinted up the stairs, carrying the book in front of him like a shield, should Twilight descend into the ‘throw everything at hoof’ levels of anger. As he entered the room, he found Twilight curled up in the pile of crumpled scrolls, looking like she was about to start crying, the occasional hiccup escaping her.
“Got it!” He proudly announced, presenting the book to Twilight. She instantly sat up, took the book and flipped to its earlier chapters.
“No, no, no…” Twilight muttered as she flipped through the contents. “Ah-ha! Hiccups!” Twilight levitated the book towards Spike, allowing him to hold it open for her.
“Have you done this spell before?” Spike asked; it was customary for him to ask this by now. He had no doubts in Twilight’s magical ability, sure, but he’d seen her mess up plenty of spells while under stress, and history was looking to repeat itself.
“There’s a first time for everything!” Twilight said, her voice quivering with false cheer. With a look of pride and determination, Twilight focused her magic and read the instructions thoroughly. A haze of her purple magic hovered over her neck, ready to perform the spell. Twilight smiled smugly. “It’s been fun, hic—HIC!!”
The haze of magic fluctuated violently, turning a wide variety of colors. Twilight began hiccuping rapidly, bits of magic flying from her horn and singeing the walls, floor and curtains. Dropping the book, Spike narrowly dodged many of the blasts before diving beneath Twilight’s bed, peeking out from beneath the covers. “Twilight! Get it together!!” He called out from beneath the bed.
Before long, Twilight’s hiccup-powered barrage ended. She sat on the floor, panting, before looking at the book that she’d hoped to be her savior. “Great! Just—HIC!—great!” Twilight yelled. She stomped towards the door, kicking the book to the side. “Some Princess of Magic I am, can’t even cure hiccups…”
Spike tentatively climbed out from under the bed. “Oh, come on, Twilight,” he said encouragingly. “Magic can’t fix everything, even something as silly as hiccups.”
Twilight rolled her eyes as she descended the staircase. “I’ll just wait till they—HIC!—go away, I guess…” she murmured.
“Hey, I know what’ll cheer you up!” Spike said. “How’s about a nice batch of celery soup for dinner?”
Twilight smiled affectionately at him. “You sure know how to kill a bad mood…”
SEVERAL UNIVERSES AWAY…
“Come oooon, Latka!” Tara said encouragingly to her dog, holding up her phone in preparation. “Do something! Look at me! Come on!” Latka obstinately remained lying down on the sofa, trying desperately to avoid becoming the star of another one of Tara’s silly Vines.
“I’ll give you a treee-eeeaaat…” Tara said in a singsong voice, but Latka didn’t move. Tara lowered her phone, defeated. “You’re a jerk sometimes, you know that—HIC!!”
Latka jumped up in surprise as Tara lifted a hand to her mouth. “Oh, that’s lovely…” she sighed, flopping down on the couch and lazily stroking Latka’s head. “Well, at least—HIC!—they’ll keep you awake…” she said teasingly to her dog.
BACK IN EQUESTRIA…
“Here you go!” Spike said cheerfully, pouring Twilight a generous helping of soup. Twilight took the soup in her magic and laid it at her spot at the table. Twilight sat down, took a spoon and prepared to help herself.
“HIC!!” Twilight jerked and knocked the bowl of piping hot soup from the table, spilling it onto her lap. Twilight yelped in pain, quickly scrambling back from the nearly caustic soup, and panted heavily. When she got her breathing under control a scowl fell across her face.
“What…” Her horn lit up. “Is with…” The bowl she’d knocked down became enveloped in her magic. “These stupid…” The bowl lifted into the air. “HICCUPS?!?!” The bowl was flung at the wall where it broke with a brilliant crash. Twilight ground her teeth in agitation, her wings folding and unfolding with each furious breath. Spike cowered in the corner, ready to hide beneath the sink if the situation called for it.
“M-Maybe try that spell again?” He asked tentatively.
Twilight took a calming breath and shook her head. “No, I don’t want to level the library if it goes wrong again. I’ll just… try and keep from doing anything delicate, like… walking. Or breathing.”
Spike relaxed a little bit. “Rrrrrrright, well, good luck with that…” He made his way towards the kitchen closet to get the broom and dustpan.
“Sure, I can stop Nightmare Moon, stop Discord, calm a rampaging Ursa Minor, but hiccups?” Twilight gave a staged gasp. “Noooo, that’s way too—HIC!!”
Twilight’s throat suddenly became enveloped in a white haze of magic. Her mouth was forced open in the force of a vortex of energy deep down her gullet. Spike jumped at the sudden flash. “Twilight?!”
Twilight gave another hiccup—this one significantly louder and distorted with magic. The vortex in her throat gave one last flash and threw something from itself before blinking out. The object thrown, a strange, alien creature, made a loud panicked yell as it careened straight towards Spike, who reacted in kind. The creature collided with Spike and sent the pair flying into the wall with an almighty WHAM!
Twilight shook her head, dizzy from the energies that had spawned in her throat. “Spike?” She asked, once her vision was clear. “You okay?” She quickly stood from her seat and walked around the table towards Spike.
Spike was laying against the wall, rubbing his head from the collision, but Twilight barely noticed as she beheld the creature that she’d “summoned”. It looked similar to the creatures she’d seen at Canterlot High—’human’ was the name, if she recalled—though it had a few differences. This one was smaller, looking somewhat like a male child. His skin was a bright, pinkish hue, as opposed to the wide palette of colors Twilight was familiar with. He had a head of messy brown hair, a set of large, beaver-like teeth, and only four fingers on each hand instead of five. He was wearing a pink shirt, blue pants and shoes (though Twilight couldn’t tell where the pants ended and the shoes began) and a… rather silly pink hat.
The human, too, was rubbing his head from the collision. “What happened…?” He asked wearily, before finally taking in his surroundings and looking directly at Twilight.
Twilight stared at him. “Um…”
There was a beat.
“GYAAAAAAAGGH!!!” The human stood up and sprinted towards the door out of the kitchen.
“Wait!!” Twilight called, hurrying after him as he burst into the library and streaked towards the front door. As the boy gripped the handle, Twilight lit her horn and held the door shut. The boy pulled with all his might on the handle, yet couldn’t make the door budge an inch. When he realized that it wouldn’t open, he turned towards Twilight, pressing his back against the wall and quivering in terror.
“Calm down! I’m not gonna...” Twilight began.
The human, however, was still panicking; he bolted straight past Twilight at startling speeds, and sprinted up the stairs. Twilight made to grab him in her magic, but opted not to; holding somepony down against their will was not a way of reducing panic. As the boy got to the top of the stairs and sprinted down the upper hallway, Twilight teleported to the top landing, directly behind him. “Wait!”
The boy, at random, swung open a door and bolted inside, slamming the door shut behind him. Twilight had skidded to a halt in front of the door just in time to hear the ‘click’ of the lock.
Twilight panted from the rush, though felt a sense of relief; the human had locked himself in the bathroom.
- - - - -
Timmy Turner had seen many, many things since Cosmo and Wanda were made his Fairy Godparents; from cuteness-fearing aliens, to a strange universe where everything could be best described as ‘bulgy’… Essentially every weird thing he’d seen had been the result of one of his wishes gone wrong.
As far as he knew, though, the last wish he remembered making—a bit of extra mustard on his hot dog at lunch—could not have somehow opened a universal tear around him while he was in his bedroom, tossed him through a wormhole and deposited him in the home of some weird, purple horse-thing with wings and a horn.
Timmy, his back pressed hard against the door, glanced around the simple bathroom; he’d cornered himself in here inadvertently, but he held a vague hope that the locked door would give him time to figure out a plan. “Cosmo? Wanda?” He whispered, hoping they’d somehow hear him across who knew how many universes.
“They’ll come for me…” Timmy whispered to himself. “They’ll… they’ll follow whatever took me here, then I can just wish myself home… Just gotta wait for ‘em…” A thought occurred to him. “...Unless they never show up because I’m not there to wish for them to show up!!” He clutched his head anxiously. “What am I gonna do?!”
A knock on the door behind him made him jump. “Excuse me?” Came the voice of the horse on the other side. “I… I’m sorry I scared you… You don’t need to be afraid, though, I’m not gonna hurt you. Why don’t you just come out here, and we’ll… talk?”
Timmy was skeptical; she sounded nice, but he could think of several times when a seemingly friendly approach turned out to be anything but friendly. First and foremost was when his parents first hired the red-haired demon working as a babysitter; then there was the substitute teacher whose initially sweet demeanor was a cover for her much, much darker schemes… And finally, the time a rich rival pretended to start over with him, only to attempt to rid Timmy of his godparents by making his life less miserable, thereby making them obsolete in the eyes of their superiors.
What other options were there? Without Cosmo and Wanda, Timmy was completely alone here. He’d been through plenty of hardships without the ability to simply wish his way out of them, and things had usually worked out in the end. And this creature was at least claiming to be friendly… Timmy would prefer to accept a questionable friendship than make a definite enemy. Maybe the horse-thing could even help.
Taking a deep breath, Timmy turned around, unlocked the door and (after taking a moment to wonder why a race with hooves would have door knobs) opened the door.
- - - - -
Twilight, it seemed, was going to be a bit behind on her studies. She couldn’t, in good conscience, simply tell the human to sit and wait to be sent home until she finished her work. The problem, however, was that she didn’t know any means to send the boy home; that would take a bit of research. Thankfully, she’d borrowed a great many books from the Ancient Castle in the Everfree—among them was likely to be a book that could grant the boy passage home.
First, though, she had to make sure the boy was reasonably comfortable. Twilight brought the boy into the kitchen and sat him down. Spike was cleaning up the soup that spilled with the shattered bowl, but his gaze never left the human once he and Twilight entered. Once he’d finished cleaning up the mess, Spike carried the damp cloth over to the trash bin while Twilight took a couple glasses from the cupboard.
“Everything okay?” Spike muttered from the corner of his mouth as he dropped the cloth in the bin. “He seemed pretty freaked out.”
“He’s calmed down,” Twilight said, nodding. “I’m gonna get him comfortable, then I’m gonna find a spell that can send him home. Simple as that.”
“Is it ever?” Spike asked, raising an eyebrow.
Twilight narrowed her eyes. “Thanks for the vote of confidence. Look, I’ll talk to him; go get those—HIC!!” Twilight grunted in frustration, having thought that she was rid of the accursed hiccups. “...Those books we borrowed from the Castle, and I’ll start leafing through them.” Spike saluted, then hurried into the library. Twilight filled the glasses with water and levitated one over to the boy; surprisingly, he didn’t seem that unaccustomed to magic, given the way he didn’t so much as blink at the glass that levitated towards him.
“Okay…” Twilight said, sitting across the table from the boy.“What say we start over, huh?” She gestured to herself with a hoof. “My name’s Twilight Sparkle.”
“I’m Timmy… Timmy Turner,” the boy responded, taking a sip of water.
“Okay, Timmy… What’s the last thing you remember before suddenly appearing here?” Twilight asked.
“I was just in my bedroom, playing video games with Co--” The word hung in Timmy’s mouth for a second. “Caaaarl, my friend Carl. Then, out of nowhere, this dimensional hole just appeared around me and… now I’m here!”
Twilight frowned in contemplation; whatever had happened, she had an inkling that the strange portal that had spawned in her throat with her hiccup had something to do with this surprise visitor. “Well… whatever happened, once I find the right spell, I can send you home. You can count on me!”
Timmy smiled, optimistic. “Great!”
Twilight grinned; nothing like a problem swiftly mended. Depending on how quick she could get Timmy home, she might still be able to finish today’s work and get a head start on tomorrow’s. Even better, she could solve this problem without anypony else getting involved; all she had to do was keep Timmy in the library, and make sure nopony saw him. “Alright, then; why don’t you make yourself comfortable, and I’ll hit the books.”
With an optimistic air, Timmy and Twilight left the kitchen and entered the library proper. Spike had laid the books from the Castle on the table, drawn the blinds and was now locking the front door; there was no reason for anypony to know about this mishap. Timmy sat in a chair off to the side while Twilight sat at the table and took a book, beginning to leaf through its chapters.
Twenty Seconds Later
A ‘thwump’ from the side made Twilight look up from her book. Timmy was laying flat on his back, a dulled look in his eyes as he stared up at the ceiling.
Twilight frowned for a moment, then smiled as she quickly found a solution. She took a book from a shelf with her magic and levitated it over to Timmy, who took it wordlessly. “Here; it’s the first book in the Daring Do series. That should keep you busy.”
Twilight’s cheerful grin faltered somewhat when she saw that Timmy was staring blankly at the book; the same way a child would stare at socks they’d gotten for Hearth’s Warming. Timmy scooted back until he was laying against the wall, and opened the book to the first page. After a few seconds, however, his eyes came to a complete, bored halt, leaving him staring blankly at the exact same spot.
Twilight strained to keep smiling patiently. “If you’re not into adventure books, I’ve got plenty other genres…”
Timmy glanced up at her. “Comic books?” He said hopefully.
Twilight’s smile fell into a deadpan expression; she hadn’t read many comic books, but she’d had more than enough of them after the whole ‘Power Ponies’ fiasco. She let out a sigh. “Spike?”
Spike, having perked up from Timmy expressing a common interest, was already hurrying up the stairs, a giddy spring in his step. “On it!” Within seconds he’d ran to the main bedroom, and returned with an armful of comic books. Spike ran up to Timmy and began leafing through the “I’ve got Power Ponies issues 78 through 93, plus a few issues of Parables… Ooh, how about this one? Tartarusguy…”
Timmy interestedly began looking through Spike’s collection as the pair sat down. Satisfied, Twilight returned to her work. The book she’d been reading was already hinting at something that could help send Timmy home…
A belch from Spike, followed by a yelp from Timmy, made Twilight jump. Twilight turned around to see a green flame in front of Spike quickly die out, and a letter dropping into Spike’s waiting claw; Timmy had scooched away from him in shock, but seemed to be calming down. Spike held the scroll out for Twilight to take in her magic; Twilight unfurled it in front of her, and began to read aloud.
“‘My faithful student’—HIC!!”
Twilight’s mouth was forced open as another portal suddenly opened in the back of her throat.
The portal blinked out and sent a blue streaking object from it; the object tore right through the scroll, putting an almost perfectly circular hole in the middle. The object, moving at such speeds that it looked like a bright blue comet, suddenly swerved before it could hit the wall and began circling around the library. It was making a high-pitched noise that, Twilight realized, was, in fact, a joyful cheer.
The object suddenly came to a halt above Timmy and Spike, who were trembling with their arms over their heads.
The object was, in fact, another human… though it, too, beared a great many differences to those at Canterlot High. This one appeared to be female, judging by the bright blonde hair tied into short pigtails. She had enormous blue eyes and, to Twilight’s confusion, no nose or ears. Her short arms ended in simple rounded stumps—not a single finger. She wore a simple blue dress with white stockings, and a pair of simple dress shoes. Despite a lack of any wings, she was somehow floating in midair, twirling about joyfully.
“Let’s go again!” The girl said happily, spinning around with a peppiness that reminded Twilight of Pinkie Pie.
Timmy gaped between the girl, Spike and Twilight. “Does everyone just cough up weird stuff, here?!”