Twisted Reflections

by Solana

Chapter 5: Give Until it Hurts

Previous Chapter
Give Until it Hurts

        It was quiet when Alex woke up. The air was laced with a faint humidity that always seems to accompany the rising sun. He yawned and stretched before hopping out of bed. It was incredibly impractical getting up this early, but he couldn’t seem to control his sleep schedule anymore. He did his best to step lightly on his way to the bathroom. Just because he had to wake up this early did not mean his father needed to.

        The hallway to the bathroom was a bit of a minefield as far as his purpose was concerned, every step made the hardwood floor under his feet creak in protest. The walls were a soft comforting white. As a child he used to run his hand along these walls with his eyes closed, and would imagine they were clouds. The paint wasn’t that pure anymore, and he had outgrown such things in any case.

Alex propped himself up over the bathroom sink. The faux black marble counter was cool and pleasant to the touch. He stared into the mirror and a pair of brown bloodshot eyes stared back. For someone who woke up at the crack of dawn every day, he was not a morning person. He ran a hand over his face and sighed. There was more stubble today. He knew he should be proud of it, it should have been a badge of honor to hold over the heads of the other guys, but he wasn’t proud of it. Not even a little bit. He turned the faucet on and wet his hands before running them through his dusty and utterly boring brown hair. Even his hands were starting to get some hair on them. There was just no escaping the changes brought on by puberty, he had learned to avoid making a big fuss over something that was unavoidable. He inspected his precious ‘mane’ of hair carefully. It was starting to get a bit long, his father would probably be pressuring him to cut it soon.

        Alex resolutely fixed his gaze at the wall opposite the mirror and disrobed without looking down. There was a walk in shower cabinet just next to the tub, and with a grumble he stepped inside.

        The water came out freezing cold, but he didn’t bother avoiding it. He cranked it up to as hot as he could stand and fell to his knees, bowing his head beneath the torrent. It burned at first, but that’s what he was counting on. The pain grounded him in the here and now and kept his mind from wandering. Once he adjusted to the temperature he turned the dial back to cold, the temperature change was immediate and if he hadn’t already been on his knees he might have instinctively crashed back against the wall. The cold water had done its job, and he turned the water back to hot. He sarcastically thanked his father for the top-of-the-line water heater when the temperature changed faster than he could even he could tolerate

        Thoroughly shocked out of despondency, Alex lowered the temperature to bearable levels and began to clean up. He didn’t bother shaving because it’d just be back by the end of the day. Why even make the effort with a duration like that? Besides, knowing his girlfriend she’d probably find it ‘sexy’.

        Alex got dressed and headed downstairs to the kitchen, which was honestly bigger than necessary. Alex and his father were the only two people living in the house and it wasn't really occupied the way a house of that size should be.. He opened one of the rosewood cabinets and poured himself a delicious bowl of ‘cardboard’. At least that’s how Alex would describe the taste of the cereal. As long as it had the necessary nutrients he didn’t care how it tasted. He grabbed a spoon and made his way back to his room.

        The computer in his room booted up like lightning. He’d spare no expense when it came to making things run as quickly and smoothly as possible. His father certainly had the money to make it happen, so he had to admit that there was definitely a silver-lining in his life. He opened his chat clients manually and entered in the password. There had been a near miss when his dad had turned on the computer and the client was set to open automatically, complete with history, and Alex had no intention of ever letting that happen again. Almost as soon as he was logged in he got a message.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Hey gurl! :p

[Halcyon]: What?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I just wanna c how ur doing today!

[Halcyon]: Are you practicing Irony or something? Isn’t language sacred to you eggheads?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I’m just trying to have a little bit of fun with my good friend and study partner! What are you doing up so early anyway?

[Halcyon]: It’s not early.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Um... Yes it is? You’re going to keep falling asleep in class again. I can sense it. I have the gift.

[Halcyon]: It’s not early for me, and what room do you have to talk anyway? You’re always awake at this hour too. 

[Butter Twi S Mix]: ... You are exceptionally grouchy today. Did something happen to you?

[Halcyon]: ...

[Butter Twi S Mix]: What is it? Come on, you can tell me!

[Halcyon]: There was more today.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Would you care to elaborate?


[Butter Twi S Mix]: Try to calm down. It’s not the shift key’s fault you were born with a penis.

[Halcyon]: I hate when you say that word, so much.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Yes, but that is because you have psychological trauma stemming from it, of course the word would contain negative connotations for you. It’s just a word though, so it’s not worth getting worked up about.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I still don’t understand why you don’t just see a doctor over this. They have medicine for it now, you know?

[Halcyon]: Drop it.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I would if you’d just tell me why.

[Halcyon]: I’ve already talked to therapists about it.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: And?

[Halcyon]: And they said I didn’t seem very much like a girl to them, end of story. I’m not going to play dress up just so I can get some pills. If I stay like this I’m just weird, if I ‘try to be a girl’ then I have to really try.

[Halcyon]: It doesn’t seem like much of an improvement to me.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I think I understand, actually...

[Halcyon]: Great. So are you going to Cynthia’s little bonfire thing tonight?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Nope! I’ve got more work to do in The Lab.

[Halcyon]: What are you even up to in that basement of yours?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: It’s a secret! I can’t tell you right now.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: But... Maybe later I can? I mean, if you’re still interested. It might be relevant to your interests, I’m not entirely sure yet.

[Halcyon]: Whatever, I guess I’ll just hassle you about it tomorrow.

        Alex turned his monitor off, flopped into bed, and turned his head towards the open window. The sky was a brilliant light blue, his favorite colour. If he closed his eyes he could hear the wind sometimes, whenever it mustered enough force to shake the leaves. He’d been to the top of a mountain once with his father, and knew that up there the wind was ‘always’ blowing. It was too easy to imagine it wrapping around him and embracing him like the mother he never knew.

        He opened his eyes and rolled over and away from the window, tucking his face into his comforter. It turns out money can’t buy you everything after all. He’d never get to be up there, just him and the sky. Sure he could possibly talk his dad into doing skydiving for his birthday, but the idea terrified him. He wasn’t entirely sure he trusted himself to pull the parachute out instead of just closing his eyes and hitting the ground.

        There was a couple of hours left before school started, so of course Alex spent that time napping. He tried to spend as much time unconscious as possible, actually. He morbidly referred to it as 'being dead without the commitment'.

        The drive to school was short. Mostly because Alex drove like a lunatic. It was also freezing with the roof down, but that was kinda the point as far as he was concerned. He’d gotten into a few close calls due to his behavior, but nothing serious, and as far as his dad was concerned, ‘boys will be boys’. Tierra Del Sol wasn’t really a bad school. If it were, he would not be attending it. He and his father had experimented with private schools in the past, and decided it wasn’t really suitable for either of them. Alex was even more miserable than usual—especially if a uniform was involved—and his father, Andrew, was incredibly protective.

        Of course Alex’s study partner had been right, he spent most of his time napping through class. The day was a whirlwind of being unconscious, humoring his peers, and avoiding his girlfriend. He still wasn’t entirely sure how that happened. Cynthia was just into him for reasons that would no doubt confound him if he were aware of them, and a relationship was something he was supposed to be interested in.


        “Hey Alex.” The object of his ambiguous feelings snuck into his presence from just outside his peripheral vision. “You’re coming to my bonfire tonight, right? It’ll be great! There’ll be booze, music, dancing under the moon!” She grinned wickedly. “I’ve even got a surprise for you!”

        “I’m not sure I like surprises...” Alex’s arms wrapped around her thin waist in a well rehearsed parody of affection. He bent down and kissed her cheek after brushing a lock of black hair back.

        Her gray eyes narrowed and expressed her consternation admirably. “Well, you’ll like this one. Or you better, it was expensive!”

        “Yeah, maybe for you it was...” Alex replied with a smirk. Cynthia pinched the skin on his arm and yanked. “Owww! Hey?! What gives? You know I am just being... Fac, Face...”

        “Facetious, Alex, and you should spend less time with Teresa. She’s an antisocial freak. I don’t even know how you got her to talk to you.”

        He shrugged and responded sarcastically. “Probably because I’m amazing, why wouldn’t anyone want to be friends with me?”

        “So you’re coming to the bonfire tonight?” Cynthia purposefully ignored him and changed the subject.

        Alex placed his class books into his locker and slammed the door with a sigh. “It doesn’t seem like I have much of a choice.”

        Cynthia leaned in and kissed Alex on the lips, apparently oblivious to how he flinched. “I knew you’d see things my way!”


        The bonfire was about an hour’s drive outside of town, but Alex nearly cut that time in half with his reckless driving. Cynthia had long since abandoned riding with him, which was if anything, an added bonus. The air whipped through his hair, the night was dark enough and the road isolated enough that he could almost pretend he was flying. It took a good deal of willpower to keep his eyes open. Moments of bliss were few and far between, and Alex almost drove right by the exit. The path up into the mountains was so winding that even he had to slow down.

        He parked his car by all the others. ‘At least I still have the best ride here.’ He smiled half-heartedly. Being better than others counts for a lot when you can barely tolerate yourself. Socializing had already kicked into motion. Alex was fashionably late enough for most of his peers to be buzzed. No one even seemed to notice him unless they were looking for him, and no one was looking for him.

        Cultivated social anonymity didn't seem to be helping him tonight, however. Julia and her fashion obsessed friends bumped into him as he weaved through the crowd. She must have had something to drink, because she actually bothered apologizing to him. “Sorry! Terribly sorry!” Her pale white complexion was flushed red, she pulled her curled black hair out of her blue eyes. “Wait, don’t I know you?” A pair of cookie cutter blondes lagged behind her and giggled from a place of mindless inebriation.

        Alex frowned and took a step back from her. “No, you don’t know me at all.”

        “Oh but I am quite sure I do! Your name is... It’s Dash, right?” She reached out and grabbed his arm.

        Alex cried out and collapsed back into the crowd. He could have sworn he saw something strange covering her arm. It was soft and white, and caught the light from the bonfire almost like a mirror. Before he could even properly respond, another hand wrapped around his and dragged him away from Julia and the other revelers. Amidst the crowd he could see sparks and flashes of light and colour. He didn’t think his classmates had been stupid enough to bring fireworks to the party, and the occasional animalistic sound echoing through the night air caused him some concern. There was no way pot and booze alone could make people act this way.

        “Come on you big idiot!” Cynthia hissed in a not unkind fashion. She was grinning from ear to ear as she dragged him around a small hill and pulled him close. “I was starting to think you wouldn’t show; you're always so quick to get to where you're going!”

        “Yeah uh... My dad wanted me to...” He trailed off, he hadn’t bothered to come up with a good lie in advance.

        She silenced him by cupping his face with a hand and bringing him in close. She kissed him passionately, and he was far too taken off guard to resist. Her tongue darted between his lips, and there was more than just saliva exchanged. Alex pushed her off of him and took a step back.

“What was that about?” He mumbled with a dazed expression. He reached up into his mouth and removed a tiny object, a capsule. She must have slipped it in when she kissed him.

Cynthia smiled and reassured him. “Just take it, seriously.” She moved in close took his hand in her own, raising it up toward his face. “You’re always miserable, you think we’re all idiots or something? Will it kill you to let go of that for once? Just for one night?”

Alex’s mind was a disturbed hive of conflicted feelings and thoughts. This was wrong. His father had been more than accommodating of him in spite of his faults. As long as, or perhaps because, he did not fool around with drugs. He’d never even smoked any weed or sampled a cigarette. On the other hand... Isn’t this the logical conclusion to his self-destructive behavior? Maybe everyone was just like him, maybe this is why everyone got themselves messed up like this. Is burning yourself in the shower and sleeping all day really any different from popping some pills?

        He stared at the capsule quietly and twisted it open. Cynthia groaned with disgust. “One day! One day you’ll open up!” He lifted both ends to his mouth, lifted his tongue, and poured the powder just under his tongue. Cynthia blinked, “What are you doing?”

        Alex lowered his tongue and shook his head with a grimace. “Trying to take it sublingually, Teresa says most drugs can get into the bloodstream more easily that way.” His girlfriend scowled at him when she heard of her ‘competition’. Alex shivered and sat down, he was already starting to feel a bit light headed. “What did you even give me, Ecstasy? Shouldn’t drugs take longer than this?”

        Cynthia smiled and clasped her hands behind her back. “Oh, just wait and see, my little Alex. It’s going to be ‘awesome’.”

        Alex blinked at her. “You seriously creep me out sometimes, do you know that?” That was weird, was his voice getting higher? It still had a scratchy quality, but it certainly seemed like it was different. He yelped and lurched forward onto his hands and knees. “What the hay?!” He quickly turned his head to see what had clearly just bitten him, his hair swished in the air from the movement.

        “Cynthia, seriously, what did you give me?” Alex was sweating bullets now, his whole body was a hot box, and he couldn’t tell if it was over the drugs or the brilliant rainbow coloured tail that was trailing over the seat of his pants. He bit his lip when his back cracked with an audible snap, and something started to struggle against the inside of his shirt. The faint taste of blood filled his mouth.

        Cynthia leaned down and ran a hand through his rainbow coloured mane. “Just some new thing...” She smiled. “It’s not finished yet, though. Here, let me help you out of your clothes.”

        Alex tripped over his shoes while trying to back away. He noted with some dismay that they’d burst off of his... hooves? He hadn’t even noticed when it happened. He let out a very unmasculine whine.

        “Now now, don’t be so fussy.” She reached down and grabbed his shirt, yanking it off with more force than he might have expected from her. Flakey pieces of skin danced in the air like burnt pieces of paper, and in its place was brilliant blue fur, the colour of the sky. Alex couldn’t help but feel a little bit proud, but any pride he felt for his coat couldn’t begin to match the feeling of joy he experienced when stretching his old familiar wings.

        ‘Wait, what? Old and familiar?’

        He didn’t even notice Cynthia reaching down for his pants. He winced as his legs came out from under him and his back hit the dirt. His pants floated haphazardly to the dirt covered stone.

        “What the hell?!” Cynthia’s voice was filled with rage and surprise in equal measure.

        “Huh?!” Rainbow Dash’s voice squeaked out. “What’s wrong?! Did something bad happen? Tell m-” She stopped staring at Cynthia’s horrified face and looked down at her legs that were still up in the air, or more accurately, what was between them. “Oh jeez... That wasn’t there before!” She twisted on the ground and hopped onto her hooves like she was born to it. She looked at Cynthia carefully before speaking, unable to keep a telltale tone of hope from entering her voice. “Does that normally happen?”

        Cynthia’s eyes were narrowed and her nails were digging into her knees. “No. ‘Alex’ That is ‘not’ supposed to happen!” She stood up and kicked dirt at her 'boyfriend'. “What are you, some kind of a hermaphrodite or something?!”

        “Um... Twilight says those don’t actually exist.” Rainbow tilted her head and stared at her pissed off girlfriend. “At least, not in the way I think you mean it. I’m definitely a dude.” Her voice dripped with a kind of grim remorse. She winced and shook her head. “Are you sure my name isn’t Rainbow Dash? I swear somepony called me that earlier...”

        “Your name could be huge jerk for all I care! I can’t even believe you! You tricked me!”

        “I... Tricked you? What are you talking about?”

        Rainbow Dash cried out and jumped to the side. Cynthia had attempted to tackle her and was now kicking in the dust to get back to her feet. “You goddamned liar! I’m going to kill you!”

        She hadn’t really been taking Cynthia seriously until then, heck, ordinarily she might not have been entirely opposed to being killed off, but not now. Not when she was finally like this, finally herself. She flapped her wings to straighten them and then darted back around the hill, screaming like she’d just become a banshee instead of a pony. Her ex-girlfriend wasn’t far behind. The crowd which was now comprised of equal parts human and pony laughed at the little rainbow-maned pony fleeing its angry human.

        “Alex come back here! Stand still so I rip those wings off and beat you to death with them!”

        Three muscle-bound guys stepped out just as Dash tried to swerve around, and she slammed right into their legs. She recognized them from when her father had tried to get her to get involved with track. One of them had brown hair that had grown even longer than hers, and partially obscured his eyes. “Hold on a sec, this is Alex?”

        “Yes!” Cynthia shouted. “Don’t just stand there, grab him!”

        Dash may have been running around like a natural, but there were still some obvious kinks. She cried out for help as the biggest in the bunch pinned her wings down and held her in place.

        “Man, look at that mane, are you gay or something man? I mean we always had our suspicions but seriously...”  

        Dash kicked out and bucked the jock right in the groin. She tumbled out of his arms and into the dirt, once more on her back for all the world to see.

        Everyone went silent, pony or otherwise.

        “Holy shit, he’s a she!” one of the kids in the front called out the obvious.

        A tear trickled out of one of Dash’s eyes, and she hastily wiped at it with a hoof. She crawled to her feet and lowered her tail between her legs to cover the offending anatomy.

        The crowd started to close in around her when a high but dignified voice cried out. Rainbow Dash gaped at the unicorn that had jumped between her and one wall of the crowd. “Rarity?!”

        Rarity turned around, stumbling slightly. Her face was still very red, even with the fur. She stared at somepony a couple of feet to Rainbow Dash’s left, who didn’t exist. “Ah, Rainbow Dash! I knew I wasn’t imagining things!” She trotted over to her and nuzzled at one of Dash’s wings. Dash draped it over her in an effort to help stabilize her. Rarity whispered to her in a voice far more coherent than she would have believed possible. “This is your first time, isn’t it?”

        Dash let out a low whine quiet enough to avoid being heard by others.

        “Very well, just follow my lead. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if I fling you off of a cliff, alright?”

        Dash’s eyes widened as Rarity continued to babble inanely about places and ponies she could barely remember. The crowd was stunned by this sudden change of tone to the scene, and parted as the pair paced toward the back. They didn’t leave them alone, however. People were following them silently like monsters under some kind of spell. Eventually Dash and Rarity reached a cliff side.

        Once more her new friend whispered.  “I know we don’t ordinarily run in the same circles, but I think it is very important we meet again, somewhere less... Crowded. You understand?”

        Dash nodded dumbly.

        “Good, that settles things then. This next part should come naturally to you.” Rarity’s horn flickered gently against the night sky, and a faint blue light enveloped Rainbow before lifting her slightly into the air. She couldn’t help but panic and flail about. And that’s when she was hurled over the side of the cliff.

        ‘Oh Celestia I am going to die. I just got killed by some unicorn with purple hair...’  Rainbow Dash wept bitterly. Her wings flared out and caught her before she could come anywhere near hitting the ground. It was like her body had a mind of its own, and for once it wasn’t doing things that upset her on a deep psychological level! She cried out with joy as she shot up into the air, trailing prismatic light. The crowd was still silent, and she was certain she could see Rarity smiling smugly.

        She couldn’t believe it, she was actually flying! Just like she’d always dreamed of! With a gleam in her eye she flew like a jet to the first place she could think of. Home.


        Michael woke up with a start. A crashing sound had echoed through the house, and it sounded like it had come from his son’s room. He needed to think fast. It was probably nothing, but then, the way his son had been acting lately...

        He reached into his closet and grabbed a metal baseball bat, just in case. A torrent of memories rushed through his mind uninvited. Alex had always been a very weird kid, but he loved him to death. His son's love/hate relationship with sports was something he didn't think he'd ever understand.

        He rushed through the hallway to his son’s room; it wasn’t that far away, though in his urgency it certainly felt that way. He could hear a voice from the room, and it was certainly not his son’s voice. There was nothing on the knob of the door. Once Alex got a girlfriend, Michael had gleefully instructed him on the manly etiquette of informing your roommates when you were otherwise indisposed with your lady friends.

        When was the last time they had been anything but roommates, anyway? Michael couldn’t deny that it hurt, but he had always felt Alex needed a friend a lot more than a father. He charged at the door with bat in hand and barreled through it, but what was on the other side made him drop the bat pretty quickly.

        There was a blue horse looking thing laying in a pile of broken glass. It was clearly dazed, but seemed otherwise unhurt, there was no sign of his son. Michael blinked and rubbed his face with a hand. “What the hell am I even...” He took a step back and leaned against the wall. The creature leapt to its hooves and stopped grumbling. It was panicked, the emotion on its face was just so human.

        “Wait, Dad. It’s me!” She cried out and held out a hoof imploringly.

        That just confused Michael further, and he started to slide down the wall he was leaning against, he had to be dreaming.

        The pegasus trotted forward and curled up on his lap. It stared up at him with large pleading magenta eyes. “Dad... This is me, I swear! Cynthia gave me some drug and...” Dash began to trail off, uncertain of how much of the story to relate.

        Now things were starting to sound familiar. He’d been hearing stories lately. Weird impossible stories. He didn’t have many friends himself, but he did watch the news. Broadcasts were haunted by stories of some terrible drug that was ‘stealing the humanity of America’s youth’. Did Alex really hate himself enough to use something like that? Michael shook his head. Some questions were rhetorical by default.

        “But... Alex is a guy...” Not that he’d ever been content with that, Michael thought bitterly. Alex thought he had his old man fooled, but he wasn’t blind, and he certainly knew how to read chat logs when they popped up right in front of him.

        “No... I’m not,” she sighed and turned her head. “And my name is Rainbow Dash.”

        Michael laughed and roughly patted Dash on the head. “Of course it is... Of course...” ‘My poor delusional son, are you going to be a druggy now on top of everything else? If only his mother hadn’t died.’

        Dash rested her head on her father’s knee and let him pet her quietly for a time, but no silence was made to last forever. “Dad?”

        “Yes?” He felt for the small of the pony's back, between her wings, and started to scratch at it comfortingly.

        “I’m pretty sure this is going to wear off soon, but I don’t want it to...”

        Emotions and responsibilities warred in Michael’s mind for supremacy. What the hell is he supposed to do now? His copy of the fatherhood code never included pages on what to do if your son was actually your daughter, and started taking drugs to turn into a winged horse.

        Dash crawled out of Michael’s lap and headed for the bathroom, there weren't any mirrors in her room. Michael followed behind her silently. When she got to the sink she let out a soft huff and pulled herself up by her front hooves. She stared at her own reflection for a while, stretching her wings or inspecting her hooves. Then she did something Michael hadn’t seen Alex do in years. She smiled.

        Michael was too tired to be dealing with these feelings. He turned around and went to bed without any desire for further input, but his daughter denied him that.

        “G’nite Dad!” She called out cheerfully from the bathroom.

        “Good night Dash...” He grumbled in exasperation.

        The sun was starting to come up when Michael made his way back toward Alex’s room to check on ‘her’ status. He paused before knocking on the door, there were sounds coming from the other side. He pressed his ear against the wood, trying to not make a sound.

        Choked sobs were coming from the other side, and that’s when Michael made up his mind on what he’d have to do.


        Alex walked to the kitchen like a corpse ripped from a wonderful dream. He didn’t bother with any pajamas or morning clothes; he had his comforter wrapped around him like a toga. His father was already up and eating breakfast. It was almost disgusting how cliche everything was. He sat at the small round table with a plate of toast, and a glass of orange juice. He didn’t even look up from the newspaper, or take off his glasses. Alex poured himself a bowl of cereal before sitting down across from his father, though he did not eat it. He stared at his father with red eyes he hadn’t quite been able to clean up. He desperately just wanted to apologize and promptly die.

        He started to speak, but his father coughed, which was apparently old man code for shut up. He folded the newspaper in half, and without even looking at Alex, he removed a stack of cash from the pocket of his robe, and pushed it across the table.

        “Do what you have to do.” He said before drinking half of his orange juice in a single gulp.

        “But... What about school? I don’t think I can just show up like... like that.”

        Michael took off his glasses and stared at Alex. “Like I said. If you need to be... like that, all the time, then I guess you’ll have to be home schooled. Otherwise, I guess don’t go to school as a horse you big idiot?”

        Alex couldn’t help but smile, and he started to eat his cereal.

        “So what happened to your window last night anyway?”

        “I sorta tried to fly in through it, and it was closed.” Alex blushed.


        “Huh, you can fly?”


        Michael smiled for the first time all morning and shook his head. “Nice.”


        Alex trotted back to his room like the world was his best friend. He had his dad’s support, now he just needed to find out where to get more of that amazing stuff. His heart was sinking by the time his rear hit the chair. How the hay was he supposed to do that? Everyone at school hated him now, if they didn’t already before.

        ‘Wait, I bet Rarity can help me!’ He powered on his computer with a smile, then frowned again. ‘But who the hell is that, anyway? I’m pretty sure she’s not Rarity 'all the time'.’ Alex furrowed his brow in thought, and tried to recall anything of value from the night before. What about Julia? She’d been the only one to call her ‘Dash’ that whole evening. It shouldn’t be too hard to find her. Julia’s middle name was networking. He could probably find her on facebook just by searching their school. All he'd have to do is follow the friend lists. Sure enough, Julia’s profile popped up on screen in short order, complete with a list of chat handles. Alex spared a smug smile just as a large rock sailed through the broken window, missed his head, and crashed into the hardwood floor. Alex cried out just as his father walked by the doorway.

        “I’m still going to kill you Alex!” Cynthia called out from outside and below. The screeching sound of tires and the roar of an engine signaled her departure.

        “Is that your ex-girlfriend?” Michael asked nonchalantly.


        “Why does she want to kill you?”


        Alex couldn’t even look his father in the eyes. “Probably because I’m a mare...”

        “Oh, well that’s cool. I’m just going to head downstairs and start suing her father then.” Michael shook his head and turned around.

        “What are you going to sue them for?” Alex asked with concern.

        Michael stopped in the doorway and looked at the glass that had never been cleaned up, and smiled. “Well, obviously because she just broke my window, drugged my daughter, and uh...” He struggled with the next concept. “Did hate crimey things?” He turned and made his way toward his room. “Please don’t clean that up until I take a picture.”

        Alex stared speechlessly after his father, that man really did scare him sometimes, but it takes a clever person to get as much money as his father has, and still hold on to it as well. He opened Skype and prepared to fend off a hoard of messages from people who had somehow gotten his address.

        But there were no messages waiting for him, it seemed. He shrugged and started to add Julia as a contact and stopped. His eyes went up to his display name. He stared at it quietly for a few moments while his dad came in with a camera and took pictures, then Michael turned to exit the room, after leaving a broom and dustpan behind.

        “You broke it, high flyer, you can clean it up.” He said with a smug chuckle.

        “It’s Rainbow Dash, not Highflyer.” Alex replied mechanically, completely missing the detail that his father was teasing him. Michael shook his head and left the room.

        Alex highlighted his display name, erased it, and replaced it with RD. Not too long after that, he did receive a message.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: So I guess the rumors are true then? You took it?

[RD]: Huh? Are you trying to ask about last night or something?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: I guess that I am. Did you take anything... Weird, at that bonfire?

[RD]: Hell yeah I did, and now I’m going to get more of it.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Alex... Is it true what people are saying? Did it really make you a mare?

[RD]: Yes, it did. Problem solved.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: But that’s impossible! I mean... everything about it is impossible, but that just doesn’t even make any sense!

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Alex, please don’t use anymore of that, there’s so much we don’t know about it, and sometimes the effects kind of... linger. It’s not safe yet!

[RD]: You mean it can become permanent? That’s exactly what I want to hear, sign me up!

[Butter Twi S Mix]: You don’t know what you’re talking about...

[RD]: I’m pretty sure that I do, actually.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Really? You’ve considered what life would be like if only your hands were hooves, with everything else otherwise normal, for the rest of your life?

[RD]: ... Has that happened to anyone?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Well, not that specifically. Mostly it’s just tails and eyes and well... I guess things most people would consider ‘cool’, but it’s still dangerous!

[RD]: Gotcha, getting some more stuff now, cya.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Dash, no! I forbid you from using this drug! There are other solutions to your problems that are far less drastic!

[RD]: How did you know my name?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: The rumors, obviously, and the rumors fit your initials here, so they must be right.

[RD] Uh huh. And how are you going to ‘forbid me’ from buying drugs?

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Because, I’m the one making it. I mean, I never meant for it to get out of hand like this! I just needed the money... Being an emancipated minor is rough! I thought maybe I could get some interesting data from the people using it. But they haven’t answered anything! If anything they just leave me with more questions.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: Dash, I never imagined this would affect anyone I cared about.

[RD]: I can’t even believe you. Here I’ve finally found a way to fix myself, and it turns out my best friend has been keeping it from me this whole time.

[Butter Twi S Mix]: It’s not like that! I was going to tell you eventually! Remember yesterday morning? This is that thing! I just... want to make sure I know as much about this as possible before I screw things up anymore than I already have!

[RD]: Yeah, well whatever. I don’t even care if you support me or not.

[RD]: I’m warning you Terry, if you don’t stay out of my way I’ll never forgive you.

[RD]: Ever.

        Alex stared at the screen and waited for a response, and when none came, he huffed in anger, hovered over Teresa’s name, and blocked her. He’d set things right when they both had time to calm down.

        He added Julia’s contact information, and the reaction was almost immediate.

[Rarity]: Rainbow? Is that you?

[RD]: Uhm, I guess so. This is Julia, right?

[Rarity]: Please.

[Rarity]: Julia is my slave name.

[Rarity]: Just as Alex is yours. Though I suspect in your case it’s quite a bit more literal, you poor thing.

[RD]: So... You’re that unicorn that helped me last night, right? Seemed kinda like you remembered me, but not me. Ugh, this is confusing.

[Rarity]: Don’t worry, it gets less so once you start having the flashbacks ;)

[RD]: Do you know where I can get more of it?

[Rarity]: Why certainly! Just come by my parent’s shop sometime and we’ll get you sorted. You know where that is, right?

[RD]: That dry cleaning place? Yeah, I know it.

[Rarity]: ... We are also tailors, dear.

[Rarity]: I’ll see you soon.

[Rarity]: Oh, and Rainbow? Bring money, nothing worth having is ever free.

        Alex started getting ready almost immediately. He was dressed and heading down the stairs in ten seconds flat. Just as his father was hanging up the phone.

        “What are you up to this early in the morning?” Michael asked as Alex paused to slip on a pair of sandals.

        “Oh, uh... gonna go get some stuff.” Alex called back as he headed for the door.

        “Really? That was fast.” Michael shook his head and turned on the television.

        Alex poked his head in one last time before heading off. “Fast is my middle name!”

        Michael sighed and began his pointless channel surfing. “We both know it’s Gregory.”


        The building in front of Alex had seen better days, on the outside at least. The inside was nice enough. Julia’s family seemed to be getting by just fine. He stepped inside and looked around for the girl who could help him, but all he could see was some guy in a crazy hat standing behind a counter.

        “You lookin’ for Julia?” He asked with a thick accent.

        “Uh, yeah... She told me to meet her here. We go to school together?”

        He pointed outside. “Just go around the corner and use the stairs. She lives above the place.”

        “Right, thanks!” Alex brushed a few strands of hair out of his eyes and turned to leave.

        He climbed a set metal outdoor stairs that looked brand new. Even the door looked brand new. It seemed like Julia had just come into a lot of money all at once. It didn't take a detective to figure out how. Alex reached up and knocked on the door softly, but even that force was enough to nudge the already open door forward. This place was much nicer than the shop downstairs, and filled with mannequins and dresses. Alex did a double take when he realized that a lot of them weren’t even for humans. This Julia person was absolutely ‘nuts’. But if she could get him more of that drug, she could be as crazy as she liked. A soft voice like the sound of bells knocked him from his reverie, and he turned towards it.

        “Well that was fast, you certainly haven’t let our time here change you much at all, Dash.”

Rarity came out of the nearby bedroom looking far less buzzed on cheap wine and beer.

        “So... Is it normal to just walk around like that?” Alex rocked on his feet, feeling incredibly awkward in this position.

        “Hmm? Not usually, no, and certainly not outside! But I figure we’re among friends, right?” She smiled at Alex. “I’m sure you don’t remember, but we go way back!”

        “I’ll just take your word for it.” Alex replied while fidgeting. “So, I take it you know where I can get some more of that stuff?”

        “Dear, everyone at that party who had it, got it from me.” She smiled before sitting on her haunches and levitating a tray from one of the many tables over. “I am after all, the pony everypony should know.” The tray stopped in the air, and Alex looked down at it in wonder. Sitting on it was a small blue capsule and a paper cup filled with water.

        “Is this what I think it is?” Alex asked, unable to contain his excitement.

        “But of course, what else would it be?” Rarity smiled. “Now drink up, you don’t need to wear that... ‘ghastly’ form anymore. Not while around me at least."

        Alex tossed aside all inhibitions and swallowed the capsule. He drank the water only as an afterthought, to help it on its way down. The odd pair sat in awkward silence for several minutes before anything started to happen. Alex was about to speak up when the first change started happening. That by now familiar peeling of the skin. He had the presence of mind to at least kick his sandals free this time. The rest of her clothing she did not bother removing until after everything was finished. Once everything had sorted itself out, she stretched out her wings triumphantly and then yawned.

        “It’s so ‘weird’ how badly these things can cramp up when they don’t even ‘exist’.”

        Rarity snickered behind a hoof. “Quite. Welcome back Rainbow Dash.”

        Rainbow Dash shook her head frantically when Rarity called her by that name. Her mind raced with half remembered thoughts and knowledge. “R-Rarity? What am I even doing here?!” Her lower lip started to quiver. “Why am I only like this some of the time? Why am I some... guy?”

        Rarity’s ears flicked with interest. “Ah, good. Then you’re starting to remember too. I was worried I was the only one.” Rarity set the tray aside and smiled. “And I am quite sure Twilight remembers more than she’s letting on. But there is no getting Teresa to open up and stop being a recluse."

‘        Dash’s head was spinning at this point. More than from just the disjointed information Rarity was feeding her, each bit of information was lovingly selected to get her thinking. About her friends, about herself. She found those connections leading to places she hadn’t expected. Places that couldn’t exist, but should.

        “I... How do I stay like this?”

        Rarity’s beleaguered smile turned into a frown. “Unfortunately there is no known way to keep things this way. You’re going to have to keep taking those pills if you want to stay like that full time, and that’s going to cost both of us money.” Her eyes darted around like a mouse mapping escape routes. “A lot of it, actually.”

        Rainbow Dash dug through her pockets and yanked out the wad of cash her father had given her with her mouth. She placed it neatly on the nearby tray.

        Rarity’s eyes widened and she summoned the money over to count it. “Oh my... And they call ‘me’ the element of generosity...”

        Dash tilted her head. “Who does?”

        “‘They’ do.”

        “Who the hay is ‘they’?”

        “Why, everypony, of course.” Rarity hummed happily as she trotted over to a cookie tin and placed the money in it lovingly. “Not to worry Rainbow! I shall ensure you receive only the finest!” She stepped back into the bedroom she had entered from before, and returned with a massive orange medicine tube that was practically filled with capsules, and a small brown paper bag. Using her magic, she fluffed the bag open and placed the drugs inside.

        “There you are! Used sparingly that should last you for months!” She tilted her head. “But er... Given your ‘unique’ trials, I suspect it’ll last you closer to a few weeks, maybe ‘a’ month?”

        Dash groaned and pulled the bag in with a hoof like it were her own foal. “I guess that’ll work... I can always come back for more, right?”

        “Rainbow, as long as you keep bringing in money like that, you’ve nothing to worry about. We’ll keep you from being overtaken by that mean ole’ human body.” Rarity ran a hoof through Dash’s mane in an effort to reassure her.

        “I hope so...” Dash replied apprehensively, she paused to pick up the bag of capsules and hesitated. “And thanks. This really means a lot to me.”

        “Certainly dear, and do feel free to stop by for matters other than business, we are friends after all...”


        The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity. Dash’s father didn’t even need to take Cynthia’s family to court, their family lawyer was more than willing to settle immediately. The school system considered home schooling a given based on the attitude most students had toward Alex, and Rainbow Dash had honestly never been this happy in her entire life. Her studies were actually doing pretty well, now that she had a reason to care. Even her relationship with her father was improving. Michael was able to be her father again, and found that having a daughter wasn’t really the change he was worried it would be. For the most part, Dash was the same as Alex, she was just ‘happy’ while being herself for once. The displays of affection did take some getting used to, however.

        There had been one minor hiccup. There had been a day where Dash was particularly exultant over flying, and in her glee she tried to offer father one of the capsules. It did not go over well. Michael expressed in no uncertain terms that he only supported her because she ‘needed’ this to make her happy. He made her swear that she would never try to pressure him into sharing her ‘medicine’ with him again. As things stand, he was quite content to accept his daughter as somepony with what essentially was a very rare, obscure, and ridiculous medical disorder. To her these pills were medicine, but to him they’d be a base drug, recklessly taken when he didn’t need it to function.

        In all honesty, Dash did not recognize the difference, but she complied all the same.

        Everything was going just swimmingly, right up until she came to  Rarity for a ‘refill’.

        They’d become good friends, even if they didn’t really share the same interests, and Dash’s recovering memories only helped matters, but she had noticed that Rarity was becoming more and more squeamish as time went on. Rarity had started asking her when the last time she had been human was.

        Never, Dash had informed her. She had no intentions of ever being such again.


        This answer silenced her, but she seemed far from satisfied. On the day of the refill she finally come forward with what had been bothering her. Teresa... ‘Twilight’, had spoken with her, and ‘encouraged’ her to stop selling to Dash.

        There had been a lot of crying, a lot of pleading, and finally Rarity had gotten her old friend out the door with three or four capsules she had been pretty sure no one would miss. After all, it was not 'technically' selling if she gave them away.

        Things were only just beginning, however. The public was in an uproar over the the new drug, and there was some mounting pressure to illegalize it, or at the very least restrict it. Especially when unicorns started showing off what they could do with their magic. Dash’s use of it was common knowledge, and pretty soon the school was banging on their door over 'parental negligence'.

        Michael gave his daughter as much money as he could spare, but she couldn’t stay with him. He told her to take off, find some way to stay herself, and do her best to avoid the authorities. “Living by the law is admirable in its own way, but it doesn’t mean a lot if you’re killing yourself to make others happy."

        But her last few pills ran out fast, and for the first time in over a month, Dash was human again.

        She had all the money she could need, but couldn’t get anyone to sell to her. Heck, as far as she was aware, Rarity was the only one with any access to it in the first place. She could have stayed in some nice hotel room. Instead she was curled up and shivering in some alley like an ascetic praying for death.

        That’s when fate intervened, or at least two alicorns filling in for it did.


        Luna beamed down at her restored sister. Now that they were both back to themselves they could finally get around to bouncing back from the debacle with Sophia’s job.

        “Feeling better Tia?” She chirped happily like a songbird at sunrise.

        “Immensely so, thank you Luna.” Celestia lowered her neck and nuzzled her younger sister.

        That’s when they both heard the shallow breathing and a soft scuffling sound. With no small amount of hesitation, they both stepped further into the alley. Curled up on the pavement was a dirty young girl with brown hair and brown eyes. She was practically gasping for air at this point. When she saw them her eyes widened and she started to stammer. “P-Princess Celestia?! What happened?! Why are we here?” She lowered her gaze and started to sob. “You were supposed to protect us... How could you let this happen?”

        Luna quickly started to back away, but her sister stopped her with a swift gesture. “Luna, wait...”

        “Why? She is clearly driven mad and likely to drag us down with her!” Luna sniffed. “Even if she does somehow know your name.”

        “I think... I think she’s like us.” Celestia trotted over and looked at the bag around her sister’s neck. “How many do we have left?”

        “Just the one. Why do you ask?” Luna’s eyes widened as realization dawned on her. “You can’t mean to give this poor urchin some of our medicine!”

        “Luna, it works out. There is only one capsule left, and there are two of us. I would rather give it to her than fight over it ourselves.” She took another step forward. “Please?”

        Luna grumbled and held the satchel out to Celestia, who removed the soon to be empty bottle, and cast it into a garbage can after extracting the last capsule. She moved over to the young girl and nuzzled her. “What’s your name?”

        The girl curled up into a ball and started to recoil at being touched, but stopped after remembering who she was with. “R-Rainbow Dash.” She frowned. “Don’t you remember me?" She turned her head away from the regal creature standing before her. "I suppose you wouldn’t, with me looking like this and stuff...”

        Celestia held the medicine out to Rainbow Dash and smiled serenely. “It’s okay, just take this, everything will be okay, alright?”

        Dash stared at the capsule like a fish staring at a hooked worm. Hesitantly she reached out and snatched it from Celestia’s golden magic. She gobbled it down without hesitation.

        The change was very sudden, and took almost no time at all. Even Luna was impressed by the speed and intensity of the moment. She and Celestia took forever to adapt to the treatment compared to this. What was perhaps even more interesting was that the changes in the girl seemed to be joined by changes in themselves. Luna and Celestia gasped as faint trails of magic sparked from the tips of their horns, and winced as their coats shimmered in the light. Everything about them had become a bit bigger, more regal. It was very similar to the change that had occurred with Luna's wings.

        “Actually, I think I do remember you.” Celestia said with motherly affection and nuzzled Rainbow Dash on to her hooves.

“We’re on our way to see a girl named Teresa. Do you know her at all?”

        Rainbow Dash scowled and bit her lip. “Oh... I know her alright. I can take you to her if you want.”

        “Splendid!” Luna cried out. “Our team has acquired a new member! Truly this is an adventure!”

        She leaned into her sister’s ear and began to whisper. “But what do we do if we start to change back?”

        Celestia leaned a horn that appeared even larger than before, and a much more pristine and unsullied shade of white, against her sister’s. “We wont.”

“How can you be so sure? I admit the effects are lasting longer when we’re together. But that doesn’t mean-”

        Celestia pressed a hoof to her sister’s lips and silenced her. “We won't, because it must not happen. As long as we have faith in each other, it won't.”

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