Forgiveness Pending

by Kiroberos

Chapter 2: Chapter 02

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I realized we were trapped. Sweetie Belle lowered herself nervously to the floor of the platform, slipping in behind my right foreleg as I watched Twilight through the crack. Applejack was behind the only exit to this now very horrifying building. To make matters worse, I saw Rainbow Dash flutter down and slowly start to attempt to work the window open outside to the left.

A rapid pounding came from the door behind me. "What in blazes do ya think yer doin', Mender?!" I heard shortly thereafter, barely audible through the heavy wooden door.

"B-Back, monster," Twilight warned nervously, her horn still glowing angrily as she lowered herself to the stairs. She was scared of me? I started to open my mouth to say something when she opened fire, unfortunately. I let out an exceedingly high-pitched scream, rather embarrassing of my gender, and rapidly raised a shield up using a front leg. The barrier barely deflected the bolt, causing it to tear through the side of my platform instead and knock us back into the door. From my cowering position, I stared in shock at the new hole in my vehicle.

Sweetie Belle peeked out from around the busted section, earning another gasp from Twilight. "Sweetie Belle? Are you okay? Let her go!" the lavender unicorn demanded.

"I-I will! Please, j-just listen," I begged, peeking around the side of the opening, just above the little filly.

Twilight widened her eyes. "M-Moon Mender? What are you, but you were..." she muttered rapidly.

"Just please. Sweetie Belle didn't do anything wrong, so please don't punish her. She only wanted to help me," I begged, lowering the platform to the floor shakily and opening the front so she could get down.

She surprised me by turning around and looking up at me instead. Huh? "You rescued me and stuck up for me?" she asked quietly, suddenly wearing a warm smile.

My mind idled into reverse. Sweetie Belle hugged my left foreleg before I could reply. My magic faltered as I suddenly realized how tired I was. The platform, or what was left of it, anyway, slowly lowered us to the floor. "Oh fer cryin' out loud! Ah wasn't gonna hurt 'er in tha first place," Applejack muttered from the other side of the door.

Twilight recovered rapidly and bounded the remaining two meters towards me. I almost panicked, but Sweetie Belle had a hold of me so there wasn't much I could do! There was no impact or subduing blast though. All I felt was Twilight's warm coat as she latched onto my other foreleg, pushing both Sweetie and I gently into the wall next to the door. I was momentarily bewildered, then turned a deep crimson as she pulled me into a tight hug, Sweetie Belle incidentally getting sandwiched between us. I tried to avert my eyes, shifting them just in time to see a cyan and rainbow pegasus flutter through the now open window wearing a smirk. She landed next to me on my right and unlocked the front door, sticking her tongue out as my eyes widened towards her. I fidgeted, trying to shift from her but Twilight wouldn't budge.

"I'm so, so sorry for everything, Mender! I'm glad you're awake," Twilight muttered into my neck as she squeezed me. Oops, back to blushing. Threat of imminent death can only hold back the feelings of an amazing girl pressed against you for so long, I guess.

"Twi, it's all right. I'm sorry, too," I reminded, realizing Sweetie was right all along. I'm glad I listened to her this time.

Rainbow snickered. "Aww. You two are so cu-," she started taunting with a grin, just as she slid the last lock.

Wham! The door slammed open, taking the cyan mare with it and flattening her against the wall on the other side. "Woo! Totally party time, right here! I brought the cannon," Pinkie assured whimsically as she bounced through the doorway. I saw Applejack flattened on the step, glaring up at the pink tush bouncing away from her. I just assumed she got bowled over as well. Wait, cannon?

"Pinkie! I'm trying to apologize here!" Twilight growled, switching from adoring to irate in a second. Whoa! I was suddenly worried as I was still attached to her.

Pinkie giggled and nodded merrily, seeming unfazed as she spun and cart-wheeled. I got even more tired just from watching her.

"He already knows about Celestia. I'm sorry, Twilight," Sweetie Belle apologized from in-between us, looking up at the lavender mare.

Twilight swallowed and nodded as well, looking back at me instead. "It's all right, Sweetie. Mender, I wrote a letter to the Princess the night I got so worked up. I panicked and didn't know what to do so I kinda ended up telling her everything," she explained quietly, looking more than a little nervous but still clenching me as if I'd fade away should she let go. It wasn't a hug anymore, but instead felt like a strange form of assurance.

"Ya were right ta be honest with tha Princess, Twi," Applejack assured slowly, getting up again and walking inside at a far more relaxed gait than her pink friend.

Pinkie nodded agreement enthusiastically, then tilted her head as a light groan came from behind the door. Rainbow Dash slowly stumbled out, holding her forehead with a hoof. Applejack held a hoof up however, preemptively halting a Pinkie outburst. "But ta do that, ya had ta betray Mender's trust instead. Ah'm not sayin' ya made the wrong choice. It's just somethin' ta think about," she added slowly, as if carefully picking her words.

I swallowed heavily, remembering my nightmare. If Sweetie was right and the Princess helped pull me back then this was definitely the right choice, wasn't it? My memory shifted back to those frigid moments I spent all alone on that ship, in the middle of a massive void and the only other living thing vaguely nearby being a complete monster. I'd wanted so desperately to just let someone else deal with it. I hadn't been brave and strong. I'd just felt tiny and weak, dealing the only hand I had left and hoping it was enough. Truthfully, these ponies meant more to me than I did now. This way of life and everypony in this wonderful world; it was all so pure and beautiful.

I hated myself for risking it. Maybe I should have died with the rest of my race? I tried so hard but did I deserve this outcome? I was all that was left. My old race was gone and everyone I knew and loved, dead. And I couldn't even remember them. Did I deserve to be happy when millions of my race lost everything? It was overwhelming. Screams of pain and despair echoed through my head as I remembered. There was nothing but memories of misery from my past life. I wondered if I had seen anything apart from that.

"Mender..." Twilight whispered gently.

I snapped out of it in time to realize my cheeks felt warm and wet. A sense of disgust came over me as I used my now freed right hoof to wipe my eyes. "Ah, sorry," I muttered, embarrassed.

Whack! I reeled sideways from a moderate blow to the side of my head. Stars exploded nonetheless and I felt a sharp sting tear through my left cheek as I hit the wooden floor and slid. "Applejack! What are you doing?!" Twilight demanded, moving in-between her and I while Sweetie Belle sprung over to check me for damage.

"That there's fer worryin' everypony with yer shenanigans. Ah imagine Rainbow, Twi, an Fluttershy'll have their own two bits ta add later, but consider yerself paid in full with tha rest o' us," she explained, expression neutral and stoic.

All things considered, she probably could have snapped my head off with that hoof hit. She pulled her punch and let me off gently, then. I had expected worse. Slowly sitting up, I rubbed my left cheek and drew back blood on my hoof. Yup. I was definitely going to get a black eye from that one.

"T-Thank you, Applejack," I spoke gently, eyes softening towards her. That oddly made me feel better. Well, mentally.

Her stoicism slipped and she nodded, acquiring a gentler smile. "Then consider yerself forgiven. Pinks an Rare wouldn't'ah voiced as much, so ah knew ah had ta be the one," Applejack added, averting her gaze slightly from the still angry looking Twilight.

"Applejack, I wasn't upset with him at all. Well, maybe a little sad that he almost died. And that he was gonna miss the awesome party I planned, but," Pinkie protested with a little less energy than usual.

Applejack shook her head gently, glancing over at the pink mare. "Ah know yer a forgivin' mare, but he made ya sad still and Ah'm sure he didn't mean ta," she explained in a quiet but sturdy voice. Rainbow Dash still looked shocked and remained quiet.

"Then why did you do that? He's barely out of the clinic an afternoon and you decide to hit him?!" Twilight asked crossly.

Rainbow Dash finally snapped out of it and let out a snicker, raising a hoof between Twilight and her pony of affection. "Relax, Twi. That was barely a swat for AJ here. Plus he seems to have accepted it," she pointed out, now wearing a smirk. Did that mean I did something right in her eyes?

I smiled weakly and nodded, trying not to wince and risk damaging my ego further as I felt my cheek swelling. "She let me off easy for what I did to you ponies. I still feel like I owe you more," I muttered. Sweetie Belle quietly shook her head as she reached up with a piece of tissue in her mouth to dab at my cheek. Whispering thanks, I bent lower to make it easier for her. The tissue felt really soft and I wondered where she'd gotten it.

"I'm not mad at you at all, Mender. You were amazingly noble and if anything, I should be the one to apologize. I gave out confidential information about you without consent or even informing you," Twilight replied, turning around to focus on me instead, albeit with a far more positive expression.

"Is Princess Celestia mad at me?" I asked carefully. I decided to keep the banishment, black ops, and execution ideas to myself for now.

All four mares looked bewildered, but Twilight laughed nervously a second later. "You have quite the imagination, Mender. No, she's happy she helped save you," she assured, trying to smile.

"But?" I questioned, noting her hesitation.

She sighed and noticeably sagged. "She just asked me if it was all right to get an account of the event so she could estimate the level of danger to Equestria," she muttered.

"Er, ah might be missin' somethin', but that doesn't sound so bad," Applejack pondered out loud. Pinkie went back to smiling and enthusiastically nodded her agreement.

"Yeah. Are ya worried that she'll do something to Mender?" Rainbow asked curiously.

Twilight shook her head, to my relief. "No, she reported herself that the link faded after the explosion of the Grosh ship. Mender's not dangerous to Equestria," she assured, making me feel even better. I had planned on asking her if the explosion had worked. But if it wasn't that, I could only think of one other reason for her distress.

"She wants a personal account. From me directly?" I asked gently, masking my nervousness.

Twilight nodded softly. "Sort of. She wants the direct images from your memories, if at all possible," Twilight informed weakly, looking down.

I reeled back in surprise. Oh crap! If Twilight was forceful I could only imagine the level of violation being mind raped by a goddess would bring. She must have seen my reaction, as she rapidly shook both front hooves towards me.

"W-Wait! She said when you're healthy enough to. And she wants me to perform the spell, not her," Twilight rapidly over-corrected, although scarily accurate with the second half.

"Healthy? Is the ritual painful or something?" Rainbow asked from behind her, sounding a little uncomfortable with the concept.

Twilight shook her head, peeking back over her shoulder. "No. It just takes a lot of energy from him. He essentially won't get any natural REM sleep for the night we choose to do it, which might be detrimental to his health at the moment," she reasoned. Oh, I had to be pseudo sleeping?

Rainbow started snickering mirthfully, however. She held a forehoof up to her muzzle as she restrained it. "Better eat some Silphium beforehand," she warned, barely holding back the laughter. Huh? What was Silphium?

"Er, huh?" Twilight muttered, apparently as confused as I was. Pinkie Pie burst into laughter almost instantly.

Applejack chuckled as well and shook her head, though. "It did sound ah tad awkward, but ah think ah get it. He has ta be sleepin' but he won't be rested up after, right?" she asked, smirking still. Awkward? I was seriously missing something.

Twilight slipped back into scientific mode rapidly and nodded. "Yes. I'll be peeking through his mind as he sleeps, which means he can't slip into REM and replenish his natural energies. My mind sort of, well, keeps his awake?" she attempted to explain.

They stared at each other for a few seconds. Applejack looked truly thoughtful but Twilight suddenly looked perplexed. A single beat later, she suddenly went scarlet in the cheeks and glared intensely at Rainbow. "Hey!" she protested. The cyan mare burst into laughter of course. She joined Pinkie Pie in rolling on the floor.

"That is disgusting! You are so horrible, Dash!" she growled, sounding oddly embarrassed.

I was just deeply confused. I'd assumed as Dash was laughing, it was because of what she said earlier but I had no idea what Silphium was. Sweetie Belle looked equally confused so I didn't feel as badly.

Applejack must have noticed my quiet confusion, as she explained a second later, "Silphium, when ingested by ah mare, works as ah potent contraceptive."

"Contra-what?" Sweetie Belle asked curiously.

Pinkie winked at me while upside down, ignoring the filly. My cheeks went scarlet, oddly similar to Twilight. "Yeah, wouldn't want Mender to become a daddy!" the pink mare squealed, sounding deeply amused. What the hell?! Where did they get, oh. 'The night we do it.' I mentally groaned.

"What? Mender's going to be a daddy?!" Sweetie Belle asked in sudden shock. Oh for the love of all that was just and fair! That's it. Twilight was never going to speak to me again.

"Argh! That's it! Mender needs rest so out!" Twilight growled, horn starting to glow menacingly. Dash made a yelping noise, zipping out the window behind her as if trying to escape incoming mortar fire. Of course, Twilight was scary like that.

Pinkie giggled and made a light, excited snorting noise before rolling to her feet. "Aww! We were just playing. But Mender does need his rest! Sleep well, cuz it's totally party time tomorrow!" she assured me, giving a wink before hopping out the door like a rabbit with a sugar high.

"Ug, fine. Tomorrow evening, though!" Twilight called after her, sounding a little tired herself suddenly. Regardless, she followed Pinkie out the door with the warning just to be sure.

"Ah reckon Ah'd best let tha nurse know yer checkin' out an' not in some tree somewhere, rah-ight?" Applejack offered calmly after Twilight wandered back inside, head hung slightly.

I sighed and nodded to her wearily. The aftereffects of using my magic again were definitely felt, even though I hadn't done much. It was like any other muscle, however. I was just heavily out of practice.

"Yeah. I'm sorry about the whole running away thing earlier," I apologized. Sweetie Belle giggled as she finally took the tissue back, rotating it using her tongue. I saw little dots of blood on it.

"Buh iht waas phumn!" she protested, tissue still in her mouth.

Applejack chuckled and patted her lightly on the head, having moved up next to me to get out of the way when Twilight went after Pinkie. "Fun is all fine an' dandy but it's only common courtesy ta let tha nurse know he's all right," she explained, smiling at the little white filly.

I suddenly thought of something horrifying but decided to be as polite about it as possible. "Thank you, Applejack. Um, where am I gonna stay tonight if not the clinic, though?" I inquired as nicely as I could muster.

"Here of course," Twilight answered instead, coming back inside slowly and closing the door.

I was momentarily taken aback, memories of almost getting run over with a mattress coming fresh to mind. I must have looked surprised because she suddenly blushed while Applejack started snickering merrily.

"Ya have'ta admit, you two last part'd on some rocky relations," she reminded, absently waving her hoof in the air.

"Oh yeah. Twilight kicked him out!" Sweetie Belle suddenly seemed to recall, leaning back against my right foreleg. Wait, why was she still here?

Twilight winced and nodded. "I know. We have a few things to discuss but please give me another chance?" she requested quietly.

Smiling, I nodded gently to her. I was just happy she was giving me another chance instead. The day's events rapidly caught up to me an instant later, surprising me. I wobbled suddenly, feeling the slow throb of my headache spike from the magic and a light, warm trickle go down the front of my muzzle from my nose. Too much magic, too quickly.

"Whoa nelly! Ya had best be makin' yer way upstairs an' ta bed. Ya look mighty unstable on yer hooves, so let me help ya," Applejack offered, moving a little closer.

I flinched slightly and shifted away from her. She froze for a moment and her eyes softened, her nod assuring me followed by a gentle smile. I relaxed and gave in, letting her hook my left foreleg over her shoulders and slowly leading me to the stairs. She meant what she said earlier. That punch really was my payment, then.

"Oh, Sis's nose sometimes does that if she works on dresses for too long," Sweetie Belle pointed out, trotting after Twilight as she went up the stairs following us.

"Yes. He overused his magic back there. He'll be fine. He'll just sleep well tonight," she assured.

I heard a weak sigh behind us, regardless. "But he did it to save me. To get me out of trouble," she muttered.

"Oh, fer crying out loud. Ah wasn't gonna hurt ya, Sweetie!" Applejack protested. Again.

I chuckled tiredly and added, "Yeah, and technically I was the reason you were in that position in the first place. I couldn't let anything happen to you."

There was light scratching as we reached the top of the stairs, I noted. Spike was writing gently on a long, unrolled parchment that was spread a good ten feet across the floor.

"Hey, Twilight! I almost finished the first alphabetized segment of," he started to greet before turning around and giving a surprised start. "Whoa! Applejack? Moon Mender?" he added questioningly.

"Hey, Spike. Mender woke up and is going to be staying with us tonight. Can you help Applejack get him into bed?" Twilight requested, coming to the top of the stairs after the three of us cleared it.

Spike tilted his head. "Bed? Is he sleeping with you?" he questioned. Even half asleep I still managed to blush.

"Ug! Spike! Mattress, then. Sheesh," Twilight groaned behind me, a matching blush almost apparent in her voice.

Spike didn't seem to understand his faux pas, but shrugged and guided Applejack and I towards the other corner. I was surprised to see the folding mattress set up there again.

Applejack wordlessly picked up my surprise. "We brought it back 'ere after ya went in the clinic. Twi said she wanted ta have ya close ta run some tests fer ah little while," she explained gently, helping me lie down.

Sweetie Belle helped adjust my pillow as Applejack actually pulled my blankets back up for me. "Um, thank you, you two," I muttered, somewhat unsure of how to gracefully handle their kindness.

"Considering she belted you not even ten minutes ago, that's the least she can do," Twilight muttered, rolling her eyes as I watched her walk around Applejack to examine me.

"Whoa, she what?" Spike asked, sounding a mixture of surprised and amused.

Applejack looked less entertained. "Ah told ya why. Ah let him off easy fer the amount o' needless worry he gave us," she professed.

Twilight narrowed her eyes slightly. "I guess we have different definitions of needless, then. He was brave and honorable, actually ready to give his life to save us," she defended. Er. Brave and honorable? I almost wet myself. If there had been any other option, I would have run screaming. But the only other options I know I couldn't have lived with. You can't outrun yourself.

"He coulda let Dash stay an fly 'em through yer magic even faster. Or held off on tha reckless explosions until yer spell was done. Poor Rainbow almost tore herself apart over all this," Applejack growled, tone of voice rising. Sweetie Belle swallowed nervously and backed away from the two mares, bumping into the edge of my mattress.

"It doesn't work like that. Twice the mass, twice as slow to move! Would you prefer they both almost died? He did that for her," Twilight explained, blush now gone and looking irritated instead. Sweetie Belle climbed onto the mattress, over me, and hid on my other side. Rainbow must have taken this really badly. I wish I could apologize to her right now.

Applejack stomped a hoof down. "He didn't have'ta blow up so soon. It wouldn't'ah been an issue iffin he just delayed ah minute or so!" she argued, gesturing angrily in my direction. I swallowed weakly. She was right, of course. It all boiled down to me being too weak. After I'd gotten hit by that blast in the back, my body just kinda gave out. I should have been stronger. Rainbow could have stayed to the last moment and nobody's feelings would have gotten hurt.

The sick feeling came back and I held in the urge to throw up. "Why are you attacking him?! I screwed up in the first place. If it weren't for my scanning spell, they wouldn't have gotten into trouble at all," Twilight growled, not quite as loud as Applejack. No, it wasn't her fault. It wasn't.

"Why are ya protectin' him so hard, Twilight? Can't ya just let 'er go at tha one punch an' be done?!" Applejack redirected. She growled low and her snarling face burned into my mind. I winced as a low static audio bled through my hearing.

"He's a worthless pile of shit after all! Why protect him in the first place?" Applejack demanded. I reeled in agony as her words tore at my heart. The room started to spin as I fought to close my eyes. Still, she continued, "He's a runt! He failed the breeding examinations and is barely fit to be a janitor, let alone a... Why do you support him?!"

I choked back the vomit and sobbing, eyes opening to a darkened room full of glowing red eyes. My vision warped and distorted, spinning as if I had a massive fever. Maybe I did? I felt like I was burning up. The eyes stared wickedly at me, curved mouths twisted in laughter as I tried to spin away from them. They had me completely surrounded, however, and I cried out, trying to get someone, anyone to come help me. I clutched tightly at the only thing that gave me comfort. A memento. Some called it silly or childish but it was all I had. I...

Everything was washed away in lavender and it felt like I stopped breathing, if but for a moment. A lovely smell and soft feeling drifted over me, even as my beloved memento faded from my memories. My mind felt sleepy suddenly, and I gave way to the soft light as reality bled back into being. W-What happened? The soft sensation solidified into a warm coat and gentle heartbeat pressed tightly into my chest and a harder push against my forehead.

My eyes re-focused just in time to see Twilight's open from an inch away, her horn pressed against my forehead again. She pulled me out of the nightmare?

"Ah can't keep him down fer long with that blasted hoof gettin' in tha way. Could ya hurry it up ah tad?" Applejack asked, sounding a bit irritated. Uh oh.

All of my muscles relaxed instantly as I forced the tension away. The magic focus went with it and I felt the elongated ribbons connected to my left foreleg go limp. The ends drifted away from Applejack's face and hooves as she continued putting her full weight on my waist and back legs, holding me down. My death grip on Twilight's back also lessened, but I saw her blush lightly as my hooves slid off her back.

"Mender, are you here now?" Twilight asked gently, smiling.

I swallowed and nodded quietly, unsure of how to respond or even what happened. "Thank Celestia fer that! Those bandages were darn annoyin' when they kept tryin' ta tangle me up or crawl up mah nose," Applejack muttered, shaking her head rapidly and blowing air out her nostrils a couple times.

Spike, whom I just noticed, let go of Sweetie Belle, who bounded back up onto the bed again. "Are you all right, Mender?" she asked rapidly, sliding to a stop at my left side.

I nodded tiredly as Twilight moved her horn out of the way. "Um, yeah. I just don't know what happened," I muttered.

"Ya started freakin' out an squeezin' Sweetie Belle like ah stuffed animal er somethin'," Applejack informed, causing me to swallow.

"I'm okay. They got me free of the bandages. But are you all right?" Sweetie asked, still sounding concerned.

Twilight frowned, shaking her head as she brushed her horn along my temples instead. Her warm breath drifted down my neck and I tried hard not to blush. "I'm sensing his magic settling down again. It was a panic attack. But your magic activated too, so this could be dangerous if unchecked," she explained. Her tail swished impatiently as her lower half stuck off the side of the bed.

"Is that why his eyes glowed?" Spike asked, approaching on the other side of Twilight and sitting down lazily.

"Ah reckon it's ah good idea ta keep him 'ere with tha magic expert, then," Applejack admitted, finally releasing my stiff waist. "Ya back then, Mender?" she followed up quietly.

Staring at her again, I tried not to shiver while nodding. She hadn't really said that, Mender. Calm down. She doesn't think you're a useless runt. Right?

There was a moment’s hesitation. Something silently noticed or maybe a rogue thought in her mind. I saw her eyes flicker for less than a second, averting her gaze from mine. Then she snapped them back onto me and covered the building frown with a warmer smile. "That's good. Ah guess ya should take 'er easy fer ah few more days," she added, nodding solemnly.

"Maybe you should leave for the night?" Twilight returned instead, glaring at the orange earth mare over her right shoulder.

Applejack sighed and nodded more tentatively this time. "Ah'll get outta yer hair. Ah only seem ta be makin' it worse fer now. Come on, Sweets. Ah'll take ya back to Rarity, too," she finally relented, motioning to the white filly on my cot.

"Aww! Do I have to? Sis is gonna kill me," she whined in protest.

Twilight hesitated for a second before sighing. "Look, I'm sorry, AJ. I'm just a little stressed right now, is all," she interrupted, apologizing.

Applejack stopped at the top of the stairs and looked back in surprise. After a second or two, the soft smile returned and she shook her head. "Ah understand, Sugar. Rainbow's been talkin' with me almost every day 'bout it, an' ah'm ah tad stressed too. Ah..." she started to explain before frowning at me.

Jittery, I looked away rapidly, directing attention to Sweetie instead. She was frowning and looking down at the fabric she'd given me earlier. Wait. Fabric? I suddenly noticed the tiny saddlebags on her sides. Oh.

"That was for Rarity, wasn't it?" I whispered, getting a closer look at the now bloody piece of fabric.

Sweetie Belle looked up at me in surprise, but then smiled. "It's okay. It was for a good cause," she assured hesitantly, absently brushing a hoof over the piece.

"Will Rarity understand that?" Spike asked, sitting on my other side now and looking concerned at Sweetie Belle.

Twilight migrated over to Applejack while we whispered, tilting her head. Applejack seemed to draw assurance from her and nodded to herself. "That's not entirely true, ah 'spose. Ah've been ah bit worried mahself, too. Ah pony grows on ya after ah while, ya know?" she finally offered up. I grew on her? My heart wanted to believe her but my mind was ever the skeptic. I pretended not to be listening.

"Yeah, I know. He's important to me. I just wish I hadn't screwed up so much. It's stressed me out," Twilight returned. I frowned. Important? As a pony or guinea pig?

Sweetie distracted my stalker tendencies by sighing, seemingly paying no attention to the mares. "If she gives me time to explain, it might not be as bad. Does blood wash out?" she asked innocently.

"Way too easily," I assured before I really realized I was talking. I'd had that impression before, I was suddenly distinctly aware of.

"Whew! She might not be as mad at me, then," Sweetie Belle muttered, looking relieved. My darker thoughts lightened a little and I smiled at her.

She perked and returned my expression a moment later, nodding. I assured her, "Don't worry. Rarity will understand. I'll even come by the boutique tomorrow and explain."

Her eyes got as wide as saucers and she grinned, hugging my chest gently. I chuckled and patted her lightly on the head.

"Besides, Princess Celestia left it up to you, right? She still has faith in you," Applejack continued, snapping my attention back to their conversation with that name.

Twilight sighed and shook her head wearily. "It's not her I'm worried about. Still, thank you," she returned quietly. I tilted my head and Applejack smirked suddenly, looking past her lavender friend and right at me.

"Well shucks. Iffin' that's all yer worried about, he's right 'ere ta ask, after all. Hey, Mender?!" she called out, surprising me.

Twilight looked momentarily shocked before glaring at the orange earth mare. "Don't you dare!" she warned. What were they talking about that was so dire?

"Do ta think Twi 'ere is a horrible pony deservin' some punishment?" she asked, totally ignoring the unicorn's sputtering protests.

I blushed lightly, more than a little confused. Sure, I was apprehensive about meeting the Princess, but I trusted Twilight's judgment most of all. I shook my head as Sweetie let go of me and gave a questioning look back at the mares.

Twilight stopped and stared at me in surprise, tilting her head. "You aren't angry that I told the Princess? That I almost got you killed?" she questioned incredulously.

I smiled softly and shook my head. "I was in good hooves. Rainbow's a goddess of flight. I don't think we were ever really in danger after you cast it. It was a simple mistake made during a stressful moment," I reasoned. Technically true. I'd gotten most of the damage due to the communication dish skirmish, not on the first approach to the Aegis.

Twilight exhaled lightly while Applejack laughed. "Careful ya don't let Rainbow hear ya say that. She might try ta court ya next," she warned, wearing a smirk.

I chuckled and shook my head. That I didn't have to worry about, at least. "I don't think she's interested," I observed, brushing the faux warning off easily.

Applejack just snickered and nodded. "Ah didn't think she'd be. Anyways, ah should be headin' home. Ah'll see ya at tomorrow evenin's get tagether," she assured, maintaining the friendly smile through her slow drawl.

Twilight nodded and answered for me, "Of course! Could you also clear Sweetie Belle with Rarity? It'll save Mender having to tomorrow."

"Aww! But I wanted him to visit!" Sweetie Belle complained, frowning sadly. I chuckled, feeling a little more useless than before, but I suppose it's for the best.

"He still can visit if he wants. Plus you'll see him at the party, right?" Twilight reasoned to the little filly, not missing a beat or losing her smile.

Spike snickered and nodded as well. "I bet you could get Rarity to let you come over early and help decorate, too. I'll... help her with your duties in your absence, of course!" he offered, smirking towards Sweetie Belle.

Twilight gave the little purple lizard thing a knowing skeptical look, but Sweetie beamed. "Really? You'd do that?" she asked, sounding absurdly excited. I resisted snorting at his ulterior motives.

"Of course! No sweat," he assured, grinning now. I noticed his teeth for the first time and was surprised to note their razor points. Those kinds of teeth weren't meant for a veggie diet. I found myself debating what he actually ate. Somehow, I doubt he'd be Twilight's assistant if it were too gruesome, though.

Sweetie gave him a gentle hug before squealing, "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Spike! I can't wait to help Pinkie tomorrow."

Applejack gave a soft chortle and nodded. "We best be off then, squirt. Ya have ah long day tomorrow, an' ya need ta get some rest, ah reckon," she pointed out, motioning towards the stairs.

Sweetie Belle nodded, hopping off the cot and excitedly bounding down the stairs. "So much energy," Twilight muttered, shaking her head.

"Youngin's. Ah'll see ya'll tomorrow, okay?" Applejack affirmed as she headed back down the stairs. Twilight giggled and nodded, following after her.

"Yeah. I'll see you two out," she offered before disappearing from sight.

I watched her tail disappear down the stairs before softly exhaling. That had gone better than anticipated, minus the whole 'panic attack and lose control of my magic' bit. Still, if it was going to be a problem, here was admittedly the best place I could be. My attention was drawn to the shivering Spike a moment later, however, who was still sitting next to me. There was a momentary lapse of concern before I noticed his almost predatory grin. Excited jitters?

"Score!" he finally shouted, quiet enough to not carry down the stairs. I couldn't help but laugh at his exuberance. He smirked at me and raised a claw expectantly. Figures. Some things were universal I guess. Rolling my eyes, I gave in and bumped a forehoof into his clawed hand, earning a widening of his grin.

I sat back and watched his tiny celebratory dance while waiting for Twilight to come back...

Author's Notes:

Doom Pie's Audiobook Chapter:

Next Chapter: Chapter 03 Estimated time remaining: 69 Hours, 2 Minutes
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