The Day After

by CaptainPipsqueak

Chapter 1: The Day After

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The beam of sunlight shone from the gap between the curtain and window and directly into her face. Twilight's eyes slowly opened and then snapped shut in the glare. Just like the Princess to ensure her prize student is up and at 'em. Didn't anypony tell her I have an alarm clock?

"Just let me sleep for a bit longer. Please?" she whined weakly. “Five more minutes?” She tried her best to return to her slumber, but the light was insistent, like a mother waking a foal on a school day. A sudden pain in her head joined in.

Well, no rest for the wicked, I suppose. I'm not sure how that includes me, though...

Her head began to throb and she remembered the previous evening.

Oh wait, that's right. Wicked. That's me.

Her head throbbed more insistently, quickly growing into an even sharper pain.

I don't know how it's possible, but I swear I can actually see my heartbeat...

She moaned piteously.

Then the alarm clock kicked in.

She yelped in pain and shock, knocking the clock off the bedside table. It landed with a clunk and the sound of cracking glass.

"Awright...awright. I'm up. Cut it out, already," she mumbled, the murdered alarm clock letting out a few piteous *gling*s before falling forever silent. She gave a yawn and stretched.

She'd slept wrong again and her left fore and hind legs were asleep, nearly collapsing beneath her as she rolled onto her hooves. She stumbled to the bathroom and smacked her lips slightly as she looked in her mirror. A pair of bleary bloodshot eyes greeted her, along with a face that looked like it had seen Tartarus itself.

She was, to put it succinctly, a mess.

Her headache began shouting for attention again, having grown stronger still as Twilight assessed the damage. It now felt as though somepony had taken her horn and stabbed her in the brain with it.

I think getting up was a bad idea.

The pain struck again, this time nearly staggering her with the strength of it.

Yep. Definitely a bad idea...

When the agony in her head momentarily abated, possibly to return with a crowd bearing torches and pitchforks, she took this precious reprieve to cast an analgesic spell.

Ti’leenaal azzprien I’byooprofyn…” she croaked.

Her horn let out a dim flicker, like a used-up lightbulb. A sickly-looking spark wobbled from the tip, burnt itself out with a small 'puff' and soon the pain lessened.

Sort of.

Now it only felt like somepony was bouncing rocks off of the inside of her skull. Compared to a moment ago, however, it was pure bliss.

Now I know what a hang-over is like. Hooray. I guess the saying is true: there really are some things better left unknown. She rolled her eyes. I could just see sending Celestia a letter on the subject: 'Dear Princess Celestia; I accidentally got hammered last night and I've now learned why doing that is a bad idea.' She'd probably laugh her...wings off.

Knowing my luck, she probably can’t even get drunk.

Lucky nag.

She grumbled to herself. 'I've got the punch all set; you’ll love it!' Pinkie says. Bah. I should have just stopped after the first glass, but she was right: the more I had, the more I liked it...

Twilight exited the bathroom and made her way towards the bedroom door, smacking into the wall twice before getting the door open. As she slowly and delicately crept out of her room, she was intercepted by Spike. His green eyes opened wide in shock.

"Geez, Twilight; what happened to you? You look like you've died!"

Twilight growled under her breath. "Yes, and good morning to you too, Spike. And for your information, I feel like I've died."

"Are...are you sick, Twilight? Is it contagious? Aw geez, am I gonna get sick, too?" Spike began backing away from Twilight nervously.

"No, Spike; it's not conta...contee...You won't catch it. I haven't caught a virus; this is the result of a pink pony and her ‘special’ punch. I'm gonna kill her..."

Spike breathed a sigh of relief and then began snickering. Twilight impaled him with a look of pure malice. "Don't you dare laugh at me. I hatched you, and I bet I can put you right back in the egg if I try hard enough. "

"I'm...I'm sorry, Twi...But you should see yourself; you look like a badly abused rug..." his snicker began growing into a laugh.

"Yes, Spike. Thank you, Spike, I'm aware of my appearance. You know, I never make fun of you when you're feeling sick."

"But Twilight, you just said you weren't..."

"Not my point, Spike. Oh, never mind; all this is doing is making my head hurt more..." Her stomach rumbled. "Maybe if I get some breakfast in me, I'll feel better." Twilight grumbled quietly and continued on before coming to a sudden stop.

Oh no. The stairs. How could I have forgotten about the stairs?

She leaned her head forward to look to the distant floor below before vertigo made her pull back. As Twilight considered simply staying on the upper floor and not bothering going down the stairs - each step of which seeming a mile away from the next - her stomach rumbled again.

She ran both options through her mind for a few seconds before there was an even louder growl. "Okay," she whispered, "Shut up, please. I'm doing the best I can here."

The moderately-wrecked unicorn continued to weigh her options. Twilight narrowed her eyes at her banistered nemesis and then came to a decision: She wanted to eat, and she was damned if she was going to let an inanimate object give her grief.

She gently descended the stairs, taking each step with the greatest of care, as though she were navigating her way down a mountain. Fortunately, after having gingerly made her way about halfway down, her pain-relief spell finally began to kick in at full force and her vision cleared, her headache slowly quieting.

Ah. Much better. I think I can manage the stairs now.

Twilight carefully continued down the staircase, feeling better with each step. By the time she reached the bottom she was still bleary, but her mind was clearer and the pain in her head finally fell to a slightly stinging throb.

She had defeated the mighty staircase, and resisted the childish urge to stick out her tongue at it.

Spike leaned over the upstairs railing and called out. "Do you want me to make you something for breakfast, Twilight? You don't look like you're up to it right now."

"It's okay, Spike. I'll just have a bowl of cereal. I'm not sure I want anything more complicated anyway." She trotted towards her modest but well stocked kitchen. She slowly and carefully levitated a bowl and a box of granola to the table.

The fridge door opened with a rattle and a bottle of milk made its way over to her. Twilight managed to fill the bowl without spilling much of it.

She trotted over to the kitchen table and began eating. As she ate, her mind returned to the previous evening.

It had been a good day overall: the book she had patiently been waiting for had finally arrived. It was an extremely rare tome; it had taken close to a month to locate a copy and Twilight almost literally clapped her hooves with joy when it arrived. It was a spell book she had recently heard of, written by the creator of several of the more obscure magics she used in everyday life and Twilight had desperately wanted to see it.

As she engulfed herself in the newest addition to the ever-growing shelves of books, there came a tapping at her door, punctuated by giggles.

"C'mon in, Pinkie", Twilight called, opening the door from her reading desk, her eyes still glued to the tome in front of her.

"How'd you know it was me?" asked the curly-maned pink pony as she entered, a wound up scroll with a pink bow poking out of the mop of hair.

"Magic, Pinkie. Also I could hear you giggling," replied Twilight.

"Oh. Yeah. I do that quite a bit, don't I? Just can't stop once I get started..."

Twilight looked up from the book and Pinkie broke off.

"Anyway, I brought you an invitation!"

"Another party? Didn't you just have one last week when Pound almost said his first word but it turned out to just be gas?" asked Twilight, pulling the scroll over to her and opening it.

"Well yeah, but that was a big ol' 'everypony' party. This one's kinda different. It's a..."

"...'Just For You' party'?" finished Twilight, having read the invitation. "What's a 'Just For You' party, Pinkie?"

"It's this real neat idea I had," she replied. “Like I said; my parties are big parties, or at least the six of us, but what if I had a small party? You know, instead of everypony being there, it'd just be one? A 'Just For You' party, get it? Sort of like a secret party."

Twilight considered for a moment. "You know, that does sound like an interesting idea..."

"Oh, I'm so happy you think so, Twilight! So you'll come, then?"

Twilight thought for a few moments before setting a bookmark between the pages she has been reading and closing the book carefully.

"Well, I've got this new book to work on, but I have to admit to being intrigued," replied Twilight. "It could be a whole new party-market for you. Your parties are pretty boisterous, not to mention busy; I’m curious to see how well you could do the opposite. Count me in."

"Great!" Pinkie squeaked happily, clapping her hooves. "I'll see you later tonight, then. It'll be a party for two; just for me and you. She paused. "Hey, that's a pretty neat rhyme; I'll have to remember that for next time!" She paused again, breaking out into a huge grin. “Wow; I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!”

With a cry of "See you later, Twilight!" she rocketed out of the library. Twilight closed the door after Pinkie had made her exit.

That night, Pinkie arrived to escort Twilight to the party, which was a surprisingly subtle affair. There were no noisemakers or confetti, no loud music or streamers, just a snack table and a couple of balloons.

Okay, some streamers too, but just for a bit of atmosphere. It was a Pinkie party, after all.

Pinkie, as stated, was extremely subtle and low-key. She had said this was 'sort of like a secret party' and it almost seemed as though she actually believed it, trying to make as little noise as possible as if she thought someone might be listening in. The snacks were as wondrous as always and served out in portions that were just the perfect size: not too large and not too small. Later that evening she brought out the punch and things rapidly went downhill from there.

In retrospect, Twilight probably should have realized there was something not quite right with the punch after her first glass, but she’d simply put down the odd yet pleasant aftertaste as a sign of Pinkie’s snack-creating skill. She had another glass and another, praising the mare’s skill with a simple apple juice base in a voice that became steadily more slurred with each glass.

It turned out that the base of the punch contained apples, but…

The rest of the evening was more or less a blur of alcohol-related antics.

The really sad part was that it was actually darn good punch.

The bowl of granola was exactly what she needed right now; a bit of food in her belly made the last of the pain vanish as quickly as the cereal did. Even her mood changed for the better: she was still mad at Pinkie, but she probably wouldn't kill her.


She put away the milk and cereal, deposited the bowl in the sink and stretched her shoulders. She should probably tidy herself up now that she was feeling better. Spike may have put it in an indelicate manner, but there was no denying that she was a mess. She trotted back up the stairs and pulled a towel out of a small closet, which followed behind her like a friendly spirit.

She entered her bathroom and closed the door behind her. Soon there was the sound of water spraying and Twilight singing a simple melody.

Several minutes later the door opened, releasing a burst of humid fog. Twilight exited, the towel draped around her barrel, a brush hovering above her and running through her damp mane. She continued humming the song she had been singing in the shower as she dried herself off.

This must be what it's like for Rarity when she visits the spa after a long day. I think I may seriously consider taking her up on her offer if she invites me again; I feel marvellous.

She sighed happily as she finally dried off, setting the towel in a hamper and her brush back in the bathroom.

Well, now that I'm back to normal and finally feeling like myself again, I should get back to the new book…

Twilight trotted back downstairs and over to her desk, prepared to get in a good day's reading, when she suddenly came to a halt as a thought struck her.

You know what? To heck with the book right now; I'm feeling too good to just coop myself away. I'm in no rush to finish it, regardless; it can wait for a while.

Twilight considered this for a few seconds more.

Yes. Yes, that's exactly what I'll do. A bit of time off never hurt anypony.

Having made her mind up, she headed towards the front of the library.

"I'm going out for a bit, Spike. Mind the library while I'm gone," she called over her shoulder as she opened the door.

Spike ceased sorting the innumerable books the library seemed to have and turned to Twilight, a concerned look on his face.

"Do you want me to come too, Twilight? I mean, in case you need someone to carry stuff for you or something?"

"No, I'm just going for a walk," replied Twilight. "I just want some 'me' time. Now that I'm feeling better I want to enjoy it."

Spike gave Twilight another slightly worried look. "Are you sure you don't want me along? I mean..."

"No, it's fine, Spike; I promise I'm okay."

"Well...if you say so..." he replied as Twilight exited. After fretting for half a minute, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to sorting.

Twilight trotted through the town more or less at random. If ever there was a day to kick up your hooves, today couldn’t have been a better one. The weather was perfect: nice and warm with just the tiniest bit of a breeze to take the edge off. The weather patrol had really outdone themselves.

Spike's sweet to worry for me like that, even if he teases from time to time, she thought, as she enjoyed the sunlight and her stroll. Maybe I'll stop off at the Boutique later and see if Rarity has some spare gems I can give him as a treat.

Many Ponyvillians waved a hoof at her as she wandered. She waved back and smiled, returning greetings when given. The day was turning out perfectly, even considering the start of it.

As she passed Sugarcube Corner, the door rattled open and a bright pink pony emerged, her head drooped down and her body twitching slightly. A voice was heard from inside the shop. "Are you sure you want to go out, dear? You look awfully ill..."

" 'm okay, Mrs. Cake. Jus' need some air s'all..." mumbled the bedraggled pony, unsteadily closing the door behind her.

Twilight smiled evilly as Pinkie limped down the street.

First things first, though. I may have decided to let her live, but she's still gonna get a piece of my mind...

Back at the library, Spike continued his work. He sorted the books by type, ensured each book was on the correct shelf and dusted them when needed, often passing by Twilight's prize possession as he toiled. After a few more minutes of sorting, placing and dusting, Spike stopped and turned his attention to the book. Twilight had been awfully happy when it had arrived, even more so than usual for her additions to the library.

She had been particularly engrossed in the book, having spent most of yesterday reading it - often murmuring appreciatively to herself, going back and re-reading pages and taking notes - and Spike found himself growing curious as to its contents: even after the morning she'd had, Twilight had still wanted to read it before suddenly changing her mind.

I wonder what it's about? It's got Twilight hooked, but I’ve known her to read dictionaries if she’s bored enough. It's probably just some stuffy ol' reference book, but it can't hurt to take a peek, I guess...

Pinkie laboriously raised her head to look to the right of Twilight. "Hi, Twilight," she croaked. Her head lolled over to Twilight's face. "Hey Twilight." Pinkie's head continued to Twilight's left, practically drooping onto her right shoulder. "Howya doin' Twi...Wait. Why are there three of you? And why are you all looking at me like that?"

Twilight narrowed her eyes. "You know full well, why, Pi-"

Pinkie finally managed to get her head upright. She attempted to keep a steady eye on Twilight, both of which were pinker than her mane and appeared to be taking their own time following orders.

"Have you been messing around with your spells again, Twilight? You know the smell from your last mistake took almost two days to clear up." Pinkie's balance failed her and she fell onto her rump. "Oh cupcakes, even my mane hurts.”

"Wait; so you didn't do this on purpose?" asked Twilight, after helping Pinkie up and giving the extra-frazzled mare a few moments to compose herself as best she could.

"Didn't do what?" Pinkie asked, confused.

"Spike the punch."

"What does Spike have to do with anything?"

"No, I'm not talking about Spike, Pinkie. I mean the punch."

"You want to punch Spikey? C'mon, Twilight, that's just mean. Violence is never the answer, you know."

Twilight's teeth ground.

"So anyway, you were saying something about my doing something on purpose? What did I do?"

"SPIKE THE PUNCH WITH HARD CIDER, PINKIE PIE!" shouted Twilight, having finally been pushed to her limit.

Pinkie ducked, as though the incensed unicorn had thrown a brick at her. She moaned lightly and fell again, rolling onto her side and feebly attempting to raise her forehooves to cover her ears, which had flattened protectively. "Oh, that's right; I remember now. Please say that less loud and more quiet next time."

After a few seconds of flailing her legs, Pinkie managed to get back onto her hooves and bring her head upright again. "Now, I like a practical joke as much as the next pony, but that's going a smidge too far. Maybe a few smidges."

Pinkie appeared to give this some thought. After a moment, she piped up. "Can you have more than one smidge?"

Her head lolled onto her shoulder again, overworked by the effort involved in keeping her bloodshot eyes on Twilight. Her forelegs, having forgotten which was left and right, tangled together and Pinkie began losing her balance once more. She stumbled over to the wall of Sugarcube Corner in an attempt to keep herself from falling a third time and possibly losing the ability to stand up at all.

Twilight trotted over and braced Pinkie with her side to keep the plastered pink pony from hitting the ground again. Angry was angry, but poor Pinkie was having an even worse time than she was, and it didn’t seem fair to take it out on her any longer.

Even if Pinkie's current state had been her own fault.

Twilight cast the spell she had used on herself - stronger in Pinkie's case, since she’d had a great deal more of the punch than Twilight had - and, after a short burst of painful whimpering, Pinkie began to visibly strengthen and her quivering soon ceased. Pinkie shook her head and took several deep breaths. "Ah, that's way better. Thanks, Twilight. I'm sorry, Twilight. I swear to cinnamon that I'll avoid drinking juice for a week..."

"So what happened, Pinkie?"

"Well, you know how seriously I take making my snacks, right?"

Twilight nodded.

"And how yummilicious apple cider is?"

Twilight nodded.

"And how, if you've been really busy and not paying total attention to what you're doing, cider cider and cider cider look a lot alike?"

Twilight winced.

Spike set the book he'd currently been sorting back onto the small stack in front of him. He grabbed a hoofstool and pulled it over to Twilight's reading desk so he could see her new book properly. He read the cover: "The Canternomicon" huh? Well, it's got a cool title, anyway. Let's take a quick look...

Ensuring Twilight's bookmark didn't fall out, Spike picked a random page and began to read.

He failed to notice the slight spectral glow from the cover of the book...

After quickly getting Pinkie's pledge to keep a much closer eye on what she was doing when making party snacks, especially punch, Twilight left the still slightly shivering pink pony behind.

Twilight considered meeting up with her other friends, but it turned out most were unavailable: Rarity was busy with a dress order, Dash was off visiting her aunt and uncle in Cloudsdale and Fluttershy wasn't at home.

There was a polite and apologetic note on the front door of her cottage stating that she was visiting Zecora's hut in the Everfree forest and would be back later in the afternoon. Some time ago, Zecora had offered to show the timid yellow pegasus some of her herbal remedies that would help Fluttershy take care of her animal friends and Fluttershy had taken her up on the offer.

The two had really hit it off: Fluttershy found that Zecora, while rather forward and even somewhat intimidating in her way, had many skills that complimented Fluttershy’s own and the shamaness was openly willing to teach her. Zecora herself was rather fond of Fluttershy in turn; apparently the pegasus reminded her of a favorite niece.

That just left Applejack, but Twilight assumed she was working at Sweet Apple Acres. It was getting close to growing season and every second was needed 'to ensure everything grew in all nice an' proper-like', as the blonde-maned pony would have put it.

She didn't want to bother Applejack at so important a time for her, so Twilight decided to head back to the library and continue on with the new book. She'd had her fun, but now it was time to get in a bit of work.

Twilight slowly trotted home and began to hum the song again.

Halfway back, she heard a voice call out from behind her. "Twilight! Goodness, girl, I thought you'd still be at yer library."

Applejack caught up with Twilight. She was wearing a saddlebag filled with seed and supplies that she had just purchased and was about to return to the farm when she'd seen Twilight happily making her way down the street.

"I'm just heading back, actually. I wanted to get out for a bit," replied Twilight, smiling.

"A good day fer that; fine growin' weather, too. An' I can see it done you good as well; you look pleased as punch!" Twilight gave a very slight wince at the mention of punch. "So yer latest spell 'speriment was a success?"

Twilight blinked as Applejack continued.

"I saw the flash through the library window as I passed by. Weren't no smoke or stink, and you weren't rushin' out of the library with your mane and tail on fire like the last time, so I figgered everything was peachy. Then on my way back I see you struttin' along, happy as a clam at high tide. Musta been somethin' awful impressive."

Twilight blinked again.

"No need to be modest 'bout it; you can boast a bit if'n y'want. What's this new one do?"

Twilight blanched. Oh no. He didn't... "Gotta...gotta go, Applejack. I just remembered that I...um...I left a bunson burner...um...bunsoning. "

She galloped off to the library.

Applejack stared after the swiftly retreating unicorn, nonplussed. She pushed back her Stetson and gave the top of her head a scratch. "Was it somethin' I said...?"

The door of the library slammed open and Twilight rushed through in an absolute panic. Her eyes shot over the inside of the library, looking for the dragon.

"Spike?! SPIKE! Can you hear me?! Say something, please!"

Spike's voice came out from behind a bookshelf. "Over here, Twilight..."

"Oh thank Celestia..." Twilight sighed, nearly sobbing with relief. "Are you hurt? Please tell me you're okay; I'd never forgive myself if you were hurt!"

"I'm okay, Twilight," Spike responded. "Sorta. I mean all'a me is here, anyway. Sorta."

"Did you read that book I'd just gotten?" Twilight asked.

"Um...no...?" replied Spike, nervously.

"Spike, this is vitally important: did you or didn't you?"

Spike sighed in resignation. "Yeah, Twilight. I took a quick look at it; I wanted to see what it was that had you so excited. But I just looked at one page and didn't even read all of that. Honest!"

Twilight closed her eyes and shook her head. "Spike, that's a magic book, and a fairly powerful one, too. You have to have training just to read some of those properly."

"Sorry, Twilight..." Spike replied, sounding embarrassed.

"That's okay, Spike, you couldn't have known; this was my fault for not warning you before I left. Now come out and let's see what the damage is, so I can get you back to normal. Why are you hiding from me, anyway?"

Spike was silent for a moment.

"If I come out, do you promise not to react?" he asked, tremulously.

"I promise, Spike."

"Really promise?"

" 'Cross my heart and hope to fly; stick a cupcake in my eye,' " swore Twilight solemnly, raising a hoof and performing the ritual.

"Yeah, but do you really, really, real..."

Twilight rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Spike, if you want me to help, I have to see you."

Spike was silent again.

"Okay, but just remember: you promised."

There was a rustling sound from behind a bookcase and a purple rabbit with green ears and tail slowly crept out. It turned a doleful green gaze up at the unicorn.
Twilight made a supreme effort to keep herself from laughing but she snorted nonetheless, her face breaking out in a huge grin.

The rabbit's eyes narrowed reproachfully…

Next Chapter: Epilogue: A Bushed Pegasus Estimated time remaining: 4 Minutes
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