Dawn of a new Day
Twilight arrived in the waiting area of the hospital, breathing heavily and now feeling pearls of sweat on her brow. Spike was still clinging to her neck after holding on for dear life. Her friends were already there; Applejack and Rarity stood up as soon as they saw her. "What happened?" she asked into the group while her mind continued coming up with ever worse scenarios.
"We don't know," Applejack said.
"They wouldn't tell us anything," Rarity continued.
Twilight looked at the other two ponies in the group. Fluttershy was still sitting on the bench at the other end of the room with Pinkie Pie next to her, comforting the nearly crying pegasus. It was early morning and they had all been called to the hospital with the message that something had happened to Rainbow Dash, but it did not mention anything specific.
Twilight saw Nurse Redheart coming around a corner and approaching the group.
"Hello," she said and offered them a warm smile.
"Howdy," Applejack quickly replied. "Can ya tell us what happened?"
The nurse sighed. "Now that you are all here, yes. We found her in the street yesterday evening, badly wounded and losing a lot of blood." Fluttershy let out a quiet gasp. "We took her in and operated, but there was not much we could do except stop her bleeding. You see, she said she was caught in the storm and the last thing she could remember was a bright, white light and a loud explosion. We think a lightning bolt hit her through the wing and burned it. We
had to amputate what was left of it."
The expressions of the six friends had grown with shock at Nurse Redheart's words. Fluttershy was now visibly crying and Pinkie Pie had stopped stroking her mane.
Applejack gulped. "Amputate?" she asked.
"Can we see her?" was Twilight's question.
"Yes, you can," Redheart said. "She woke up about an hour ago. That's why we called you all here. I can show you to her room. But please keep in mind that she just woke up from surgery and still has to regain some strength." With that she turned around and the group followed her to Dash's room in silence.
Once at the room the nurse opened the door and entered. "Good morning, Miss Dash," she said in the typical half-cheery tone that never did anything to cheer anyone up who had the privilege of hearing it. "You have some visitors," she continued.
She made space for the five ponies and baby dragon to enter and settle themselves around Dash's bed. The pegasus had sat up as she saw them enter and wiped some last tears from her cheeks. Sniffing and with red eyes she was now regarding each of them with a sad smile. "Hey, guys," she croaked.
Her friends did their best to put on comforting smiles.
"Are you okay, sugarcube?" Applejack asked, which was regarded as a stupid question by everypony in the room, Applejack included.
Dash snorted softly. "No," she said with the same expression.
"Oh, you silly willy!" Pinkie Pie cried and hugged Dash, burying her face in the side of the blue neck. "What were you doing outside in a storm?"
"I don't remember. Flying home I guess."
"Is it true?" Rarity asked her and gulped. "You lost your wing?"
Pinkie Pie let Dash go and the pegasus sighed and pulled over her blanket, revealing a stump on her side with a wide scar over it, where there had formerly been a strong, cyan blue wing. The group gasped. Twilight's heart dropped at the sight and Fluttershy's eyes filled with tears again. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
"Ain't there nothin' we can do?" Applejack asked the nurse, but she just sadly shook her head.
"Believe me, we've tried," the nurse answered. "It was just too badly burned. The lightning hit her almost exactly at the base of her wing."
"There might be something we could do." All eyes turned to Twilight who was a bit stumped at the sudden attention she received from everyone.
"What do you mean?" Nurse Redheart asked.
"Uhm, have you heard of Tramping's Method?"
The nurse narrowed her eyes in thought. "Yes," she responded slowly. She was about to say something, but was interrupted by Rarity.
"What is it?" the fashion designer inquired.
"Well basically it's a way to regrow limbs," Twilight explained.
Rainbow Dash's eyes grew wide. "You mean I can fly again?"
"You better not be givin' her false hope, Twilight" Applejack said.
"Oh, no," the nurse responded for Twilight, "I've actually seen it work, but only with small body parts like ears or noses."
"Then why didn't ya'll try that?" Applejack asked and narrowed her eyes Nurse Redheart.
"The amount of magic it would take for a whole wing is enormous. It can only be performed by one unicorn and none of our doctors is that strong and the princesses won't do it either."
"Well if anypony is good with magic it's Twilight!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed somewhat happier. Twilight was grateful for the vote of confidence.
"Why wouldn't the princesses help?" Fluttershy asked the nurse.
This time Twilight responded. "Some old law," she said and waved a hoof. "It argues for a slippery slope that the princesses can't give such privileges to just some ponies while denying it to others, which they would have to do, because it requires a lot of magic and concentration to regrow body parts. And doing it for everypony would just be too much for them."
"How does it work?" Dash asked, her wide eyes again focused on Twilight.
"Well, you see," Twilight started, fumbling her hooves with her heart now beating faster. "How should I explain it
"There are two sides to every injury," the nurse helped her out.
"Right." Twilight nodded thankfully. "Two sides. The physical wound and the mental damage, or the 'damage of the soul' as Tramping called it. While physical wounds can happen quickly and suddenly the mind is very inert and reacts to change only slowly, mainly because of habits and memories. With Tramping's Method you can sort of
" she scratched her head, "reshape a lost body part. Restore an imprint that was left in the soul?" She looked a bit desperately at the nurse, but she only shrugged and shook her head. "I'm sorry, it's really hard to explain if you haven't studied magic
or medicine," Twilight added quickly with a look at Nurse Redheart, who just nodded with a slight smile.
"Do you think you can do it?" Dash asked her.
"It sounds like an awful lot of stress," Rarity said.
"Well it's going to require some studying. And a lot of patience on your part, Rainbow. We're going to need at least two, if not three session. I don't think I could do it in one."
"What if something goes wrong?" Fluttershy asked quietly, as if dreading the answer.
Twilight gulped and looked at Rainbow Dash again. She knew what could happen. A deformed wing, a large, ugly stump or simply nothing besides crushed hopes if she got lucky. But seeing her friend like this nearly broke her heart. She had to help her; she would do anything to see her smile again. And who knows, a voice said in the back of her mind, maybe I can get a chance to
She quickly pushed that thought away, however. That was not why she wanted to do help her.
"It won't," she said with a confident smile and looked at Dash again.
"It's okay," Dash said, "I trust you Twi." The pegasus touched her leg and Twilight's heart felt ready to leave her chest. "How soon can we start?" she asked eagerly.
"Hold on there for moment," Nurse Redheart interrupted. "Have you done this before," she asked Twilight.
"Well, once. I regrew one of Spike's scales after an accident in the lab."
"But it turned out perfectly," the dragon threw in from Twilight's back.
The nurse looked skeptically at the pleading faces of Rainbow Dash and Twilight and sighed deeply. "I suppose I can't keep you from trying, can I?" Twilight looked uncertain, but Dash only shook her head with a small smile. "Would you at least accept a medical reference book on the procedure? I doubt you have such specialized material in your library, Miss Sparkle."
"Oh, of course," Twilight replied with a wide smile.
"So, when do we start?" Dash asked again.
"Well, the sooner is usually the better," the nurse said. "But we're going to keep you here for observation until tomorrow. That should give Miss Sparkle enough time to prepare at least the first session. The procedure in and of itself is not that complex if you know what to do. It just requires a lot of energy and the one who performs it has to concentrate for a rather long period of time."
"We should hold the sessions on weekends, though," Twilight said to Dash. "They'll be exhausting for both of us."
"Both of us?" Dash repeated.
Twilight chuckled. "Of course. Where do you think all that energy for the new wing should come from? Not from me, I'll just be guiding the process."
"So how long is this gonna take?" Applejack asked.
"Hmm. With three sessions and the final refinement a week later I'd say about a month."
"A month?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, looking more heartbroken than before. "A whole month without flying?"
Twilight gave her weak smile. "Like I said, you're going to need a lot of patience. But it's better than never flying again, isn't it?"
"Hehe. Yeah, I guess. Thanks, Twilight." Dash gave the unicorn a small grin. "But, where will I stay?" she asked.
Twilight saw her chance and carefully said, "Well, you could -"
"Stay with me!" Pinkie Pie proclaimed and bounced up and down next to the bed. "We're gonna have a month long sleepover!"
Twilight sighed and gave a disappointed look to Pinkie Pie who, thankfully, failed to notice it. She saw Rarity give her an emphatic look and returned a small smile. Maybe this was for the best. She could not allow distractions from the treatment, after all.
"Well, I think this is quite enough," Nurse Redheart said. "Miss Dash needs her rest now. She's just had surgery after all. You can all come back tomorrow afternoon."
With that she urged everypony out of the room and they all left after saying their goodbyes.
There was a knock on the library door and Twilight looked up from the textbook Nurse Redheart had given her. "Coming," she called, stood up and walked over to the door and opened it. She was greeted by a friendly smile from Rainbow Dash.
"Hey, there," the pegasus said.
"Hi, Rainbow," she replied and smiled as well. "You're early." It was Saturday afternoon and they had set the time for their first session to 5 pm, but the watch hoof had just barely passed the 4 o'clock mark.
"Yeah," Dash said with a shy smile, an absolutely adorable sight to the unicorn. "I guess I couldn't wait."
Twilight chuckled. "It's okay. Come on in." She stepped back and towards the couch in front of the fireplace, followed by Dash who had closed the door behind her. "I didn't want to start until the library closed, but I don't think there's going to be another customer showing up today."
"Can't you close the library anytime you want?"
Twilight thought about it for a moment. "I suppose I could. But that wouldn't be fair, now, would it? It's my job after all."
"Twi, it's the weekend," Dash insisted with a small laugh. "Most ponies don't even work on weekends. You need to learn to relax."
Relax when you're coming over? Twilight thought. "So, do you want to start right away? Or do you want me to explain what I'll need to do?"
"If you think I'll understand it." Twilight had an unsure look on her face, but Dash only chuckled softly. "Don't worry, I'm not offended, really," she continued, to which Twilight gave her an apologetic smile. "I know you live for this stuff and I actually don't care about all that magic and science or whatever it is, as long as it works. It is gonna work, right?"
"Oh, yeah, totally. I've got it all under control," she said hastily and bumped her chest with her hoof. I'm making a foal of myself in front of her, she thought
Dash just gave her an amused smile. "So what's the plan?"
Twilight was irritated. "I thought you didn't want me to explain
"No," Dash cut her off and waved a hoof. "I mean the general plan. Like a schedule?" she proposed at the helpless look on Twilight's face.
"Oh, you mean why we need several sessions." The pegasus nodded at her. "Right. We haven't talked about that, yet." She pulled her blackboard that had been standing off to the side in front of the fireplace and flipped it over. The front side was now showing a series of anatomical drawings on the top half, which might as well have been hieroglyphs to Rainbow Dash, as well as a list of planned events with dates behind them. "The book from Nurse Redheart only described the procedure of regrowing various body parts and organs. Muscles, bones, skin and such. Its descriptions are very detailed and I copied some of the anatomical drawings from other books. But it's only a reference book; I had to devise a plan for your treatment myself."
Twilight cleared her throat and pointed at the first date on the list. "Today is the first session. It's not going to be that straining for us, since I'm just going to assess the damage and try to
imprints of your wing, so that it will still be
fresh next week." She was again struggling to find words a laypony would understand, but only got a blank stare from Dash. Twilight sighed. "Today you're just going to lie on the couch, while I do some magic and fiddle around in your head a bit." Twilight felt a shiver run down her back at her last words. That was not how she wanted to say it.
"See, that I understand." Dash smiled happily at her. "But that fiddling in my head part? It sounds a bit dangerous."
"Don't worry, Rainbow. I'll be gentle," she said with a coy smile. She knew she could not really do any damage, not that she would ever try to.
"Alright," Dash said with some hesitation, "I trust you."
Twilight's heart sped up at those words and she took a deep breath. She returned her attention to blackboard. "Like I said, it won't be that exhausting and shouldn't take long, either. About 15, maybe 20 minutes."
"Okay. And after that?"
"After that? Well, I've made some dinner for myself. You're invited
if you want to, that is," she said, now looking at the ground.
sorry. I already made plans with Pinkie." Dash looked irritated. "But I can stay next time," she added with a friendly smile.
"Yeah, of course." Twilight kicked herself mentally. Stupid filly, she told herself. But, hey, she said 'yes' to next time. Could have gone worse.
"But I actually meant what's gonna happen next week."
"Oh, right. Well, next week we're going to need dinner afterwards," she laughed. "The second session next weekend and the third one in two weeks will require the most energy from us. We will regrow the bone and muscle tissue first, together with the skin layers and coat on it. And in two weeks we'll add the feathers," she finished with a smile towards Dash.
"Is it gonna hurt?" Dash asked with a streak of worry on her face.
"No, I'll make sure of that." Twilight gave her a confident smile. "You don't even have to do anything, really. Your body will do all the work for you."
"Seems easy enough. But why are these sessions all a week apart?"
"Well today's exercise won't need that much magic from me or any energy from you, so theoretically we could continue tomorrow." She saw a shimmer of hope in Dash's eyes. "But I haven't read up on the therapy that far yet and didn't really have enough time to prepare. A wing is a lot more complex than a small dragon scale. I'd just feel safer if we waited."
"And what about -" Dash started.
"I'm too busy on workdays," she interrupted the pegasus. "And using that much magic on two days in a row is not safe. I'm really sorry, Rainbow. You'll have to wait a week before we can continue."
Dash sighed before lifting her head with a comforting smile. "You don't need to apologize. I should be thanking you, actually, for doing this." She drew the unicorn into a hug. "So
thank you. You're the most awesome friend."
Twilight's eyes went wide and her heart went wild at the pegasus' embrace. She wanted to say something, but found herself unable to. Instead she just returned the hug and enjoyed the short time she was that close to Dash.
Dash let her go and they stepped back onto all four hooves. "You still haven't told me about the last session."
Twilight tried to compose herself. "Hm?" she asked in her slight daze.
"The last one on here," Dash said and pointed at the blackboard. She stepped closer to it and began to read the note Twilight had written for the fourth session. "What's it say? 'Refinement & checkup'?"
"Oh," Twilight exclaimed. "Yeah. We might not need that one, but it's better to be prepared for it. If we do, I'll tell you about it."
"Okay, if you say so." Dash turned around to her. "Now
let's do this?" she asked with a grin.
"Let's do this." Twilight returned the grin.
"What do you need me to do?"
"You just lie down on the couch and try to relax."
"Alright. Anything I can do to help?"
Twilight thought for a moment. "Well, happy thoughts about what you lost are supposed to help," she offered. "Try remembering how you used your wing."
"Relaxing and thinking about flying," Dash exclaimed. "Nothing easier than that." She saluted Twilight and jumped onto the couch. "I was born for this." She stretched herself and assumed a comfortable position, her eyes closed and a bright smile on her lips.
Twilight giggled like a little filly at that action and the adorable display of the happily smiling Rainbow Dash on her couch. She moved closer to the couch and sat down on her haunches in front of it, her head now near Dash's, only slightly higher. She tried to calm down, closed her eyes, took deep breaths and began to build up energy in her horn. "Try not to fall asleep, please," she said quietly to Dash. With one last deep breath she delved into the cyan pegasus' mind.
Twilight had practiced this spell on Spike before Dash had come by. The baby dragon's mind was fairly organized. She had found sections about food, memories, friends, one entire section for Rarity and what seemed like a catalogue of most of the books in the library. She had wanted to become familiar with interfering with someone else's thoughts and get a feeling for moving around in another mind. But none of her work could have prepared her for what she found in the pegasus' head.
Rainbow Dash's head was a mess. Seemingly random thoughts were surrounding her as Twilight floated through the vast space her own mind created to resemble Dash's. Images, shapes, smells and memories were moving past her. Most of them were connected to flying she could see clouds and the sun, feel the wind brushing through her mane and tail and surges of adrenalin from the high speeds her friend preferred. Then she saw what she was looking for. There, behind a huge memory of a sonic rainboom, she saw a glowing thread of Dash's soul. It looked like a magnified nerve ending to Twilight, only the bright cyan color of it breaking her analogy. As she followed its length the threads branching off of it made the whole system look like a cluster of countless nerves to her.
Thankfully, the pegasus was thinking about flying and hopefully concentrating on memories of her lost wing, because those strands of her soul connected to flying were lit up, seemingly having a glowing liquid pumped through them as auras of light were showing on their surface, travelling in pulses along them. Nonetheless, those that did light up made up more than half of what Twilight could see of the network. Rainbow Dash was a born flyer, nearly every single fiber of her being had to do with flying. Not finding the glowing lights particularly helpful, Twilight focused on the threads and studied the thoughts flowing through them. She found that the one she had been following was mostly about weather clouds, rain, thunder and lightning.
It would be so easy for her now to find out what Dash thought about her, if she could possibly return her feelings. No. That was not why she was in here. She would not forgive herself for abusing her position and betraying Dash's trust like that, even if the pegasus would never know about it. She had a mission and needed to carry it out. She randomly examined nearby glowing veins and moved on through the network. Eventually she found a thread connected to Dash's memories about her body and followed along its path. Eventually she found the part of it she was looking for. She saw the lights reach a particular point in it, pass it, but glowing weaker after it. She moved close to that point and saw small tears and cuts in its vicinity, the glowing liquid seeping out through them and evaporating into the empty space between the strands of Dash's mind. Twilight stopped and looked along the thread towards its end. It was darker than the others. Where they had a bright, lively color, this one seemed dry, the memories at the ends of its branches beginning to fade.
She returned her attention to the damaged part. At first Twilight did not know what to do, but then she remembered that this was not really Dash's mind, only a representation of it. So it probably did not matter if she knew what she was doing. All that counted was the thought. She concentrated on the cuts first, healing them one by one with her magic. Next were the wider tears showing along its length. She willed each of them shut, pushing the fabric of whatever these veins were made of together and sealing them with a flare of her magic. She circled the formerly damaged area one last time, scanning for anything she could have missed, and looked towards the end of the thread again. The lights did not fade anymore and the color was beginning to lighten up again. The memories regained their
opacity? Twilight thought. She would have shrugged if it was possible for her to do so in this place. With one last look at the massive network of cyan blue her favorite color Twilight closed her ethereal eyes and faded out of the imaginary world.
Twilight took in a deep breath as she regained control of her physical body again. She opened her eyes and saw that she was still sitting in front of the couch and Dash was still lying on it with her eyes closed. Her eyes traced along her own body to make sure that nothing was missing and prodded various parts of it with her hooves. Eventually she put her hooves to the ground again and looked up at Dash. "Rainbow," she said. "Dash, wake up." She tapped the pegasus on her head.
"Hm? What?" Dash yawned. "Oh." She stretched again and began to sit up. "You're done already?" Apparently she had almost been falling asleep. A look at the clock told Twilight that she had been combing through Dash's mind for roughly 20 minutes. Dash looked down at her side and a look of disappointment entered her face. "I don't see any difference," she said towards Twilight.
"I told you I'd just be repairing the damage in your mind, so that your memories would still be fresh in the next session," Twilight explained.
"So that's what you meant." Dash traced a hoof along the stump at her side. "Hey," she exclaimed, "the scar is gone!"
"You're welcome." Twilight gave her a bright smile.
"I was beginning to like it actually. A bit. It looked kinda badass, hehe."
Twilight chuckled softly. "Well, sorry, Rainbow. It had to go." She stood up and examined the stump. "Do you feel anything different?"
Dash also stood up and jumped off the couch. She wore a thoughtful look before raising an eyebrow and closing her eyes. She flapped her remaining wing once and her lips formed a smile.
"Uhm, Rainbow?" Twilight stepped closer to the pegasus. "What is it?"
it's weird." Dash opened her eyes and looked at Twilight with a surprised expression. "I know my wing is gone." She turned her head towards her former wing. "I can see it's gone when I look, but," she closed her eyes again and faced forward, "when I don't look it's like it's still there. I can still feel it, somehow."
Twilight sighed out of relief. "Yes, I should have warned you. I sort of refreshed your memory, made it seem to your mind like you've never lost it. It sounds to me like you now have a
They both chuckled at that name. "A phantom wing, huh? Sounds awesome."
"It doesn't feel awkward?"
"No." Dash paused for a moment. "Well, yeah it does, but I guess if I don't really pay attention to it I can feel like I was before." She gave Twilight a wide grin. "Thank you."
Twilight did not understand why Dash was so happy about an illusion, but her stomach tingled nonetheless at the sight of the joyful pegasus flapping her wing once more and she returned the smile. "You're welcome."
"Oh, I can't wait to tell Pinkie. Was there anything else?" she asked, eager to return to her pink friend.
Right. Rainbow has no reason to stay now, does she? Sometimes Twilight cursed the pegasus' insensitive nature, but she could not hate her for it. Oddly it was one of the reasons why she fell for Dash. She always spoke her mind without the restraints politeness would have put on her. Twilight wished she could be that rash, simply shout her secret into the world. But she couldn't. She was too afraid of what might happen. She had only told her secret to one of her friends, the one pony she knew she could trust to keep it. But other than her, nopony knew about it.
"No," she said and smiled at Dash. "I'm already a bit tired." Twilight pretended to yawn. Over the last few months she had become quite good at feigning behavior and emotions. "I think I'll just have something to eat and then go to bed."
" Dash looked a bit unsure of what to say. "See you next week?"
"Oh, you don't have to come over just for the sessions. You can come by whenever you want." Twilight hoped Dash would take that offer. The thought of seeing the blue filly more often made her heart jump. "Anytime, I'll probably be here." It's not like I have much else to do, really.
"Oh, right. Yeah, I might just do that. There's really not much I can do here on the ground."
Twilight laughed quietly. "As if you would do much in the air."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, what were you doing all day, every day? Every time I ran into you, you were either sleeping on a cloud or in one of AJ's trees."
"I did my job well enough," Dash said, faking hurt pride. "You can't blame me for being the fastest at it. Just means more time off. And more time to practice my stunts."
"Hehe. Sure." Twilight loved watching the weather pegasus from afar, practicing her stunts. "But it's still three weeks until you can probably fly again." She started walking the pegasus to the door. "You better find yourself a hobby."
"Oh, I think Pinkie Pie will keep me busy enough." Twilight opened the door for her and she trotted outside. "Thanks again, Twi, for doing this."
Twilight gave her a warm smile. "Anything for a friend," she said and watched Dash leave, become smaller and eventually turn around a corner and disappear. She closed the door and turned back to the now again empty room. She looked at the couch and the place Dash had lain only moments before, trusting her with the most precious thing any pony has. She sighed deeply and looked at the kitchen door. She did not feel like eating and doubted that that would still change today. She just felt like lying on her bed and wallowing in all too familiar melancholy. She slowly made her way towards the stairs.
She could not blame the blue pegasus for not knowing, for not thinking that Twilight would feel a slight pain in her chest every time she called her a 'friend'. She wanted to be so much more than that, but had only herself to blame for it. There had been many times, many opportunities at which she had been alone with Dash and she could have told her. Opportunities like today, but still not quite the same. Today had been different. Rainbow was coming to her for help; she was exposed and still vulnerable, even if she did not show it to Twilight.
She could have told Dash about her feelings today, but it felt wrong for the unicorn to do so, leaving aside that she would have probably been too scared anyway. Dash was trusting her with her life's passion and to force this onto her at such a time? Twilight could not do it. Yet she felt that she was growing closer to the pegasus. Maybe when this was over and Dash was her old self again they would be close enough that she could finally open herself to the brash mare. But that was still a long way ahead of her. All she wanted to do now was what she usually did in the evenings - thinking about Dash while imagining the things they would do together if only she were brave enough to tell her and lucky enough for the pegasus to give her a chance.
"So, what's gonna happen today?"
It was the weekend after Twilight had reinforced the memories of Dash's wing in her mind. The pegasus had come to the library early, just like the weekend before, and could hardly wait to begin the procedure.
"Well, like I said last time, we're going to regrow the main limb. All the bone, muscle, skin and coat, together with the nervous system in it." Twilight pointed to the blackboard which still showed a fairly detailed anatomy of a pegasus wing's limb.
"And you said that needs a lot of energy, right?"
"Right." Twilight nodded. "I've made dinner for the both of us." A light blush spread across her cheeks. "I hope you're fine with hayfries and sandwiches."
"Sure, why not?" Dash smiled at her.
"I can't cook that well. I usually go out for lunch with Spike."
"And what do you eat then?"
Twilight looked away in embarrassment. Her voice became a little quiet "Hayfries
and a sandwich."
Dash was laughing loudly at that. "You need some change in your life, Twi."
Oh, you have no idea, Twilight thought. "Any more questions before we start?"
"Yeah, how long is this gonna take?"
"Well the book says a doctor trained in the technique can regrow an ear and such in about 15 minutes and a hoof in 30 to 40 minutes. But the time drastically increases with size and, more importantly, complexity. I'm not trained in the technique." Dash gave her a worried look. "That doesn't mean it won't work," Twilight said quickly, "or that the result won't be as good. It just means I'll need more time."
"So how much time are we talking about here?"
Twilight sighed. "About three or four hours, consecutively. I'll probably have to take breaks at some points."
"And I'll just lie on the couch the whole time?"
"Pretty much, yes."
"Is there anything I can do to help? Thinking about flying again?"
"You can do that if you want to, but that wouldn't really matter. The memory of your wing is secured inside your mind. Thinking about it just helped me find it last time. I think you can actually sleep during this."
"So, there's nothing I can do to help."
"Try not to move too much?" Twilight offered with a helpless expression. She saw the guilt in Dash's face, probably because Twilight would be concentrating for hours, doing all the work, while she would be snoring on her couch. Twilight stepped closer to the pegasus, mustered her mental strength and put a hoof on Dash's shoulder. "Hey, don't worry," she said with a comforting smile. "I just want to see you happy again."
The pegasus appeared to be on the verge of tears a rare sight for Twilight. Dash quickly blinked a few times and collected herself and was her cool self again. "So, we better get to it soon. The wait is killing me. You said I could sleep?"
Twilight removed her hoof from Dash's shoulder and led her over to the couch again. "Yes. I don't expect you to stay awake for hours with nothing to do. I'll be lying down, too. I'm not going to sit next to you for four hours." She pointed at a pillow lying on the floor next to the couch. "I don't have to be that close to your injury for this." The pegasus climbed onto the couch and lay down on it. "Can you still feel the wing?" Twilight asked. Dash nodded. "Good. Now, relax. It'll be over before you know it." She lowered herself on the floor, rested her head on the pillow and closed her eyes. Twilight's horn began to glow as the magic flowed through it and she focused on the stump on Rainbow Dash's side.
Rainbow Dash could hear Twilight breathing calmly on the floor not far from her. She was beginning to feel a slight pressure at the base of her wing. No, at the stump where her wing used to have its base. It was so easy for her to forget that. The sensation became stronger, but after a while reached its maximum. No doubt, that unicorn was doing something she would not understand to that part of her body. She had resisted the urge to ask Twilight what exactly she would be doing, because she knew it would be very hard for the bookworm to explain it to her and even harder for Dash to comprehend it. But she knew she could trust Twilight; the unicorn knew what she was doing and probably worried more about the procedure than Dash herself did.
For now she just tried to relax, maybe sleep and stop thinking about that filly with the wonderful purple eyes. Wait. Where did that come from? She tried thinking about Twilight's eyes again, seeing her smile at her in her head, and her stomach gave her a weird response. She shrugged that off for now. She was probably just hungry. She sometimes got strange thoughts when she had not eaten anything for hours. Although never anything like this. Well, there's a first time for everything, right? She deeply breathed in and out, careful not to move too much, like Twilight suggested, and tried to doze off.
The procedure had not taken much time in Dash's view. She thought, however, that she had drifted off to sleep more than once during it, while she could feel her body getting weaker and weaker. Twice she had felt the pressure disappear and had heard Twilight standing up and trotting across the room, possibly getting refreshments during her breaks. She had been awake at those times, more or less, but kept her eyes closed and pretended to sleep. Even if she had not been in a sort of drowsy haze, she would have been too weak to do anything else but follow Twilight with her eyes through the room. Instead she had just imagined it, which was much less consuming work.
She imagined her getting up and walking towards the kitchen, her tail and flank wiggling as she
There was that thought again. Why was she thinking that? She had never thought about any of her friends like that. Well, maybe Rarity, but who could have blamed her? Anyway, the session was finally over and she had most likely been lying on this couch for hours, not once changing her position. Her joints felt tingly and her muscles ached. She felt like she had just run another race against Applejack. Her friend had not been kidding; this really was an exhausting exercise. Who would have thought that she could become sore all over from simply lying on a couch?
She could hear Twilight's fatigued voice from somewhere next to her. "Rainbow?" she asked.
Dash only groaned in response, or was trying to. The sound she made resembled more a strained breath, but it was enough to let Twilight know that she was at least awake. She tried to force her eyes open. Her first attempt at that failed and she put more effort into it. With infinite slowness she turned her head and saw the slumped form of her purple friend on the floor, head on a pillow and looking at her through half closed eyes.
"How are you feeling?" Twilight asked her. Dash could only blink in response. A slight smile showed on Twilight's face as she sat up on her haunches and reached for a glass on the floor next to her. She took it with her hooves and moved it towards Dash's face. The glass was filled with a yellow, semi-opaque liquid and had a straw sticking out of it. "Here, drink this," she said and held the straw towards Dash's mouth. The thought of drinking something right now seemed like a perfect idea. Dash took the straw in her mouth and slowly began to draw the liquid through it. When the sweet taste of apples, oranges and a hint of lemon hit her tongue she closed her eyes. After she could only pull air through the straw, it left her mouth and she heard Twilight put the glass on the ground again.
Some strength was beginning to come back to her. She moved her forelegs slightly, then her head and her hind legs under her body. She took deep breaths, with each of them pulling in more strength and finally had enough to try and lift herself. She slowly pushed her body up and lifted her head, pushing harder as her legs were starting to shake. Her movement upwards became slower and slower as her legs were shaking uncontrollably and she finally collapsed onto the couch again, out of breath. She heard barely suppressed laughter from beside her and turned her head in that direction. Twilight was holding a hoof to her mouth while chuckling to herself.
Dash found that she had at least enough strength to speak. "What's so funny?" she asked, but a smile crept onto her lips at the sight of the laughing unicorn.
"Nothing," Twilight answered and her snickering toned down and ended with a soft sigh. "'Exhausting' was probably an understatement from me, huh?"
Now it was Dash's turn to chuckle. "A bit, yeah."
"Do you want another drink?"
Twilight stood up and went to the kitchen with Dash following her every move with her eyes this time. The purple flank in her mind had been nothing compared to this sight. Dammit, brain, stop it! She tried to hit her head with her hoof, but only managed to prod it.
After Twilight came back from the kitchen she offered her another glass of the yellow liquid, this time using her magic to float it towards Dash's mouth. She saw the motherly smile on Twilight's face as she suckled on her straw and she experienced a strange feeling of
safety? When was the last time she had felt anything like this? Dash could not remember. She finished her second energy drink and finally managed to stand up on the couch. She slowly and thoroughly stretched every leg, trying to ignore the soreness in her muscles. Eventually she climbed off of the couch began cracking her shoulders and neck.
"So," Dash said. "Let's see what you did." Dash, for the first time that evening, turned her head towards her injury. Her mouth stood open at what she found. There on the side of her body was a new limb. It looked basically like a rather long and thin leg, folded up at the side of her torso, but she knew this was what her wing looked like without its feathers. She attempted to move it and unfolded it, but took in a sharp breath and released a shrill "OW!" as a stinging pain entered her body's side.
Twilight cringed at the sound and rushed forward, after she had been watching the pegasus stretch, climb off the sofa and regard her new limb. "No, don't try to move it!" she said, panicking, and softly pressed the half-wing back against Dash's chest. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I should have told you before."
Rainbow Dash shook her head and looked at Twilight. "No, it's
it's alright." She gave her a small smile. "It was more the surprise than the pain."
Twilight sighed. "I've only regrown the
foundation if you will. The basic structure. The final
strengthening has to be done by your body itself. I should have told you. I'm sorry."
Dash turned and was now facing Twilight, putting a comforting hoof on the saddened unicorn. "Hey, it's okay, really." Dash gave her a friendly smile, which Twilight returned weakly after a second. "So, I guess I shouldn't try to move it?"
"No, you shouldn't. In fact it's probably best if you just keep it at your side until next week. I have some bandages prepared for that if you want them."
"Yeah, those would probably help. Besides," she looked at the limb again, "it's not really a pretty sight."
wouldn't say that." Twilight looked embarrassedly off to the side, slightly blushing, and began to trot into the kitchen. For some reason Dash did not understand, she, too, was now blushing.
Twilight returned from the kitchen, some bandage rolls and clips floating in the air next to her. She wrapped the rolls around the naked wing, Dash's body and under the other, healthy wing. After she applied the bandage clips Dash looked at her side again. "I guess I shouldn't take them off until next week?"
"No, you better leave them on, except if you want to wash yourself, then you should take them off. You can ask Pinkie to put them on again afterwards. But very carefully."
Dash nodded. "Can I sleep on this side?"
Twilight seemed to think for a moment. "With the bandages, yes, that shouldn't be a problem. Just watch out that you don't injure it or try to unfold it again."
"Okay, no problem. Now, I'm starving. You said something about dinner?" Dash asked eagerly.
"Yes." Twilight's lips formed a bright smile. "It's waiting in the kitchen."
Together they trotted into the kitchen, Rainbow Dash immediately taking a seat at the table, watching Twilight look for their meal in the fridge. Dash caught herself staring at the purple mare's hind quarter again, but could not bring herself to look away, almost hypnotized by the rhythmic motions it performed only a few feet in front of her. She felt her cheeks heating up and she put her elbows on the table and pressed her head on both her hooves, trying to hide her doubtlessly violent blush.
Twilight turned around and floated two plates onto the table, both of them having a big portion of hayfries on one half and two daisy sandwiches on the other. She put one plate in front of Dash's elbows and sat down on her chair after placing her plate at her usual spot at the table. Dash was still holding her face in her hooves and looked from Twilight to her meal and back to Twilight. She did not want to start eating yet and reveal her massive blush to her friend. The unicorn looked slightly irritated, but an amused smile soon spread across her face. "Oh, right," she said. "The hayfries are still cold. Hehe. Here, let me just
" Her horn flared up with magic and after a few seconds the unicorn's and Dash's own fries began to sizzle. "There, that should do it."
Dash was impressed by that trick and forgot about her already fading blush as she lowered her hoof and took one of the hayfries in her hoof and put it in her mouth. It was almost hot enough to burn her tongue, but not quite. It was just the perfect temperature. "Wow," she said after swallowing. "Is there anything that you can't do with magic?"
Twilight was giggling. Dash found that she liked that sound; the purple filly should giggle more often. "That impressed you, Rainbow? I just made your body regrow a lost limb within five hours, shaped new bones, muscles and skin. But heating up hayfries fascinates you?"
Dash was laughing quietly now and rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah, I guess I'm pretty easy to impress."
"Well that's a new one for me," Twilight said with a raised eyebrow. "But to answer your question: yes, there are many things magic can't do. I can't have that connection with nature that earth ponies have, I can't soar through the air like a pegasus. I can't make myself or others smarter. I can't make myself forget things I'd rather not remember. I can't bring back the dead or create new life with it. Magic also does not let you control others' feelings. You can't make them like you or
love you," she added with a sad smile that quickly vanished. "I'll never share that deep connection with animals that Fluttershy has. I'll never be as skilled at applebucking or farming like Applejack, or at designing dresses like Rarity. I don't have the energy or talent at making friends like Pinkie Pie. And I'll never know what it feels like to perform a sonic rainboom," she finished with a slight grin.
Dash's face showed a stunned expression. "I
didn't really expect an answer to that." Twilight only giggled again shortly and began floating a hayfry to her mouth. "But still you can move stuff around with it, even giant things like that Ursa Minor. You can make Spike grow a mustache and heat up these hayfries in no time. You can perform lightshows like that Trixie did. And
you're already the smartest pony I know." A little embarrassed at her last sentence, Dash turned her head to the side.
The unicorn gave her a bright smile. "Thanks, Rainbow. But to be honest, I have a lot of experience with heating up hayfries." At that they both shared a long laugh and resumed their meals. Dash was still starving, so she did not speak much. Instead she was just listening to Twilight telling her one of the few noteworthy stories she had to tell from her time in Canterlot. Dash tried to understand the story, but the content of what Twilight was saying did not occupy her nearly as much as her friend's voice. She was a fast eater, so she had finished her meal long before Twilight who still had to touch, metaphorically, even one of her sandwiches. She found herself staring into Twilight's indigo eyes, her head supported by her hooves again and with a dreamy smile on her lips. She blinked in confusion. What was happening to her? Why was she acting like this?
"Is something wrong?" came a worried voice from across the table. Twilight must have noticed her irritated scowl.
"Hm? Oh, no. I just
noticed the time," Dash lied and pointed at window.
Twilight followed the cyan hoof and looked outside. It was already nighttime, well past sundown. "Oh, right," she said. "You must feel very tired after today."
"Yeah, that's it," Dash said quickly. "I'm tired." By Celestia's beard, she was an awful liar!
"I understand. I don't mind if you want to go home and sleep." Twilight said those words with a caring smile, but Dash saw a hint of something else in her eyes. Was that sadness? Disappointment? Must have been her imagination, she told herself. She had never been that good at reading ponies and, after all, her mind wasn't itself today. They both got up and Twilight walked her to the door, while Dash was somewhat deep in thought. Were those strange thoughts a side effect of the treatment? Well, she could not exactly ask Twilight about it. That would be too embarrassing for her. At the door they said their goodbyes and Dash began her way to her temporary home with the pink party pony. She was struggling to keep her thoughts away from Twilight, but she utterly failed in her attempts. Instead, as she walked through the dark, empty streets of Ponyville, her mind was filled by lilac, violet and streaks of light red and purple.